Choosing a Web Host for a Small Business: A Checklist

choosing a web host for a small business website

Choosing a web host for a small business website is one of the most important steps a business owner makes.

But what is a website host? A host is going to be responsible for storing your websites pages and for serving them to your visitors and customers. Essentially, this is where your website lives on the Internet and is one of the most essential decisions you’ll make.


As you can imagine, there are many hosting options out there with pricing all over the map – super cheap, affordable, crazy expensive, and lots of in-betweens.

But cost isn’t the only factor to consider and it may be a good idea to put cost on the back-burner until you figure out what your small business needs from a host. Yes, cost is a major consideration when starting a business but going cheap can oftentimes hurt you in the long run.

Once you figure out what you, your business, your customers, and your website need from a host, you can then narrow down the options and prioritizing those features that are truly essential.

Not sure where to start with all that? We get it! We’ve been there too!

If you go to a hosting company’s website, you will usually, but not always, encounter techspeak and they are going to make everything sound fantastic and oh-so-easy (obviously, they’re trying to sell their services to you!).

Choosing a web host for a small business needn’t be a daunting task.

We want you, our fellow small business owners, to be equipped with the knowledge you’ll need to go web host shopping, list in hand, and knowing what to look for. Want a quick & handy checklist? Here’s our PDF checklist on how to choose a web host for your small business website.

Sagebright quick tip choosing a web host

TIP: Keep your host and domain provider separate. If there is a security breach at your host, and your host is also your domain name provider, this may prevent you from securing your site and moving it to a different host. If the host and domain name provider are separate, you diversify your risk.

How Will Your Website be Built?

First and foremost, a decision about your small business website build has to be made. Want to build your own website? Or are you hiring a company or freelancer to build your site?

If you are DIY-ing it, many website builders are their own host and domain name providers and content management systems all rolled into one. They are meant to be a one-stop shop!

Businesses like Squarespace and Weebly are designed to make it super easy and quick to put up a professional looking website. This is a cost-effective and time-effective solution.

However, there are certain trades you make for this convenience. The host these website builders use is the host you have to use so there’s really not a lot of freedom of choice there.

If you are hiring a design studio or marketing firm to design and build your site, they may also provide hosting. Make sure that you read this article, print out our checklist, and ensure that their website hosting services can deliver your small business website needs.

Choosing a Web Host for a Small Business Checklist Sagebright

Sagebright wants you to hold the keys to your website as much as possible. So, you get to pick your host based on your needs. This means that you can move your site to another host whenever you wish. And this is important because as your business grows, your website hosting needs will change.

This post and downloadable PDF checklist will help you make that decision and, of course, you’re welcome to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

7 Key Items to Consider When Choosing a Web Host for a Small Business

1. Traffic

Also known, as visitors to your site. Sure, starting out there may not be too many visitors to your website; however, as your business grows, so will traffic. You need to be sure your website host can handle this.

laptop showing analytics of website visitors

Do you have less than 10,000 visitors monthly? Are you a highly local business not expecting much traffic from outside the state or country? At the outset, you might not really need to worry about how much traffic your site can handle until you scale up your business.

This is a good question to ask your potential host –

are you able to move up and down plans as needed or are you locked into a plan for the contract period?

Perhaps your business has seasonal pushes, e.g., Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day for a flower shop or summer for a paddleboarding retail shop. Cloud hosting offers more flexibility to scale your hosting resources up or down. Though this can often be more expensive, it might be worth it if you expect large flows of traffic during certain seasons and minimal traffic the rest of the year.

Uptime or simply put, the amount of time “that a website or web service is available to users in a given period” is another consideration. In other words, what percentage of time will the web hosting service guarantee that your website will be ‘live’ online?

Most hosts are going to offer 99.9% uptime (translation: possible downtime of 8 hours 45 min in a year). An SLA (service-level agreement) can sometimes ensure 99.99% (translation: loss of 52 min in a year).

The size of any downtime windows will have a direct effect on your business so though we’re talking about small differences, it is still an important concern. The difference between 99.9% to 99.99% is almost 8 hours in a year.

How big of a revenue loss would that be? Would your business run without your site? Would any employees be affected? How would your reputation be affected? So, keep an eye out for this particular percentage.

illustration depicting bandwidth

Next traffic issue is bandwidth – how much data is being served at any given moment on your site. How much traffic do you have? Are your customers downloading any content? Many hosting providers are now providing unlimited bandwidth.

But unlimited is never really unlimited; if you start to consume too many resources you may be asked to increase your plan or pay. The average small business website, however, shouldn’t have an issue with any unlimited bandwidth plan.

2. Storage Space

Unless you already have a site built, it’s going to be difficult to determine exactly how much storage you are going to need. When you think about the storage space, things that will be factored in will be the obvious website content (images, content, any plugins), but you’ll also want to keep in mind other tangential items: email, application files, access logs. All these items contribute to your storage use.

The average web page is about 2 MB; though, of course, the specifics of your website will determine its final storage needs. But you can use that average to get a rough estimate of your storage needs – average web page size x number of web pages.

Your business scope will determine the number of pages needed but, typically, most business websites have:

  • Home or Landing Page
  • Contact Page
  • About Page
  • Products and/or Services Page(s)

And most businesses will (hopefully) grow to include other pages, such as a blog, testimonials, product recommendations, portfolio, and so on. Include your future goals in your estimations.

Website hosting services run the gamut when it comes to storage space – from 5 GB to unlimited.

cloud storage

An option you may see when comparing web hosting companies is unmetered and unlimited storage. The language can be a bit tricky so pay attention to the fine print.

  • Unmetered plans typically monitor your storage and could bump you up to a more expensive level if the site’s storage needs exceed certain thresholds.
  • Like we said earlier, nothing is truly unlimited. Storage is balanced among a number of sites, so if your site begins to consume a disproportionately large amount of space then they may contact you and require an upgrade.

Another factor is how is the content stored? Look for those that offer SSDs (Solid State Drives) over HDDs (Hard Disk Drives). HDDs are “prone to mechanical failure” and should be avoided if possible. SSDs are far more reliable (no moving parts) and faster – two things that really matter for your website storage space.

3. Support

What can you expect out of the customer service experience of your website host should you ever need it?

  • Availability: Do you need to contact them at 4am because you’re expecting a traffic spike at 5am and want to be sure your site can handle it?
  • Method: How do you like your support? Phone, live chat, email, knowledgebase?
customer support

Calling/emailing/chatting about hosting needs and concerns is a great way to test out the company’s customer service! See if they answer all your questions. Did they help you understand what they offer?

4. Servers

There are four types of servers you’ll see during your comparison shopping: Shared, Cloud or VPS, Dedicated, and WordPress.

a) Shared: You share space with other websites on the server – great for small businesses with low traffic AND cheaper for you since you share resources

b) Cloud hosting or VPS (virtual private servers): Offers more flexibility to scale your hosting resources up or down – still shared hosting, but diversifying resources among many more servers.

c) Dedicated: Your website will have a dedicated server – great for websites that have a lot of traffic and a lot of business, and need the processing power and security of a dedicated server

d) WordPress: Can be any of the above but the main takeaway is that this server is “designed and optimized to serve WordPress pages

computer server

Where are the web hosting data centers? How close are they to your customers? The closer they are means the faster your site will load for your audience/customers. Your small business in St. George, UT will be better and faster served by a data center located in Arizona than one located in Virginia or London.

5. Security

Security is paramount for websites and, especially, for small business websites who simply do not have the time, money, or resources to dedicate to security issues.

Few things to look out for:

  • Are SSL certificates included?

    aka “Secure Sockets Layer, a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client.” Many hosts will offer these for free.

  • How is customer data that’s collected/used on the site protected?

    If you need to protect customer data, such as credit card numbers, ensure the host you choose has the means to protect your customers and, by extension, you.

  • Are the data centers guarded?

    The physical servers should be protected, in some form or fashion, be it with guards, security cameras and monitoring, restricted access, and so on.

  • Is the website infrastructure secured against threats?

    Make sure your website host has a plan in place to protect your small business website against malware, phishing, ransomware, and any other common cybersecurity threat.

6. Other Features When Choosing a Web Host for a Small Business Website

  • Automatic backups – a great feature to have in light of any issues with your site
  • cPanel software – fairly straightforward admin panel that you will use on the backend of your site
  • One-click installers – having these available will help make installing WordPress a breeze!
  • Green energy – Would you like your business to be carbon neutral? Or invest in clean energy? Some web hosts have made this a part of their business model.
  • How many domains do you need? Will you need multiple sites for your business? The lowest plan usually offers one free site but as you go up in price, you may start to see unlimited sites included.
  • Email? How many accounts do you need?

7. Price

Last but not least, price will be, of course, a major consideration when choosing a web host for a small business website.

Now that you have your list of needs, you’ll be armed with all that you need when you go shopping.


Make sure that you read the fine print. Most hosting companies will offer a majorly discounted deal if you buy for 1, 2, or 3 years in total upfront, but how they sell it is, for example, $7.99/mo. Make sure you read the fine print about the renewal pricing once the contract ends.

WordPress recommends these preferred hosting companies: SiteGround, DreamHost, and BlueHost.

Reason being, they have been time-tested and reliable WordPress hosts. But don’t just take our word for it–these hosts also show up on top review sites like CNET, PCMag, and wpbeginner. Other top hosts spanning multiple lists include Hostinger, HostGator, InMotion, and GoDaddy. These hosts would be a great place to start your search to see if they meet your needs.


Choosing a web host for a small business website will be a big decision for you but now that you know what you need and what to look for, you can make the best choice.

Just keep in mind the 7 key factors we talked about here:

  1. Traffic
  2. Storage Space
  3. Support
  4. Servers
  5. Security
  6. Extra Features
  7. Price

And here’s our PDF checklist so you can make sure all necessary boxes are literally checked.

Still not sure? Contact us and we’d be happy to help.

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