What does it mean to become one of the top web hosting companies? When I started with my little project, swissnode.ch, I wanted to understand the main drivers that bring success when you host someone else’s webpages. Certainly I was also interested in earning some money besides having a cool job. Maybe I could become one of the best web hosting companies in Switzerland. But mostly it was curiosity and my deep interest in learning new things that kept me focused on my goals. I already had my small network at home with a lot of high-tech additions. But it was something totally different to have a real rack server in a data center nearby. I remember the time when I bought my first server. It was the same feeling as going to primary school again.
Looking around the web during that time I saw that there are many other people like me but most merely wanted to earn some money with web hosting. For all those, as well as the newcomers to this business, I want to share some insights I gained during those last months and also in the coming years. Therefore is this blog where I will talk about all the aspects of my key success factors for becoming one of the top web hosting companies.
Five key success factors to deliver reliable, fast and affordable web services to become one of the top web hosting companies
Everyone has little secrets and tricks how to become successful and much is outlined in books. For me it depends a lot on the market you are in, the competitors you have and how much you are willing to invest. Something should be shared here. It is definitely not easy to become one of the top web hosting companies. Therefore you should first define your own business plan, your own strategy and put your own effort into your idea. But to make a little bit easier at the beginning, the following are the key facts I learned during my journey of becoming one of the top hosting companies.
Understand the whole technological value chain
One of the biggest assets will be how much you understand about the basics of web hosting and what is needed from a technological point of view. I saw so many forum articles from people who had no technical skills at all. However, they still sold things like free web hosting, best email hosting and such nonsense. It almost seemed like there were desperate in their attempts to find ways and means to become one of the best web hosting companies in a short period of time. With enough information and education even non-geeks can become successful as well. For example, they can become resellers. This is an ideal focus especially when they are good in marketing. But this was never an option for me. I was not satisfied until I understood the big picture.
So what is it that you should understand about your value chain? Mainly there are four important points that you should think about. First there is the infrastructure including hardware and software stack you use. Think about what kind of server with what metrics you want to put in which datacenter. Do you need redundancy or some kind of special features like high IOPS? Is everything about size and you need large 6TB drives? Do you want to use some kind of virtualization to use your resources efficiently. Certainly there are many more variables to consider when becoming one of the top web hosting companies.
Furthermore you have to consider the daily management of your resources and exception handling if something fails. There are many tools out there that can help you monitor your servers and services. Log management and server monitoring are the basics that you have to master. If you do not want to do this on your own you can also search for managed services. There are quite a few good ones out there.
Security is another point. There have been many recent news reports about DDOS attacks and server hijackings that this is an area where you should have a zero tolerance policy. Do everything possible when you are on your way to become one of the top web hosting companies to secure your servers and continuously do audits to ensure the security. This is the key to avoiding any negative effects on your reputation that that would result from a data breach. This would definitely hinder your ultimate goal of becoming one of the top web hosting companies .
The last thing to remember is your customer channel. For me it was always the goal to deliver a good hosting experience for the end users. This is what all top web hosting companies do. Therefore it is not enough if you just have fast servers with fast hard disks. Geographical factors and good coded sites play a role as well. Unfortunately we as top web hosting companies cannot do a lot about the latter. But we can enable or support our customers with building a good website by delivering self-learning resources. For the geographical factors we can give our users access to a CDN to enable persistent content being spread on a global scale. But do not forget. Good ping times are not the golden key to client satisfaction as propagated on so many sites when you search for “fast web hosting”. It is always a mixture of the every aspect you have in your technological value chain. Only this will give you a place under the best web hosting services in your target market.
Survive in a commodity market
Thanks to my education I was not a total beginner in this area. And I profited a great deal from the general understanding about markets and business strategy when I was defining my service offering. This made it a little bit easier to me to become one of the top web hosting companies in Switzerland. So how do you really survive? Porter, who is one of the famous strategy gurus, shows us that in a commodity market you can either be a price leader or successful in a niche market. As a young start up you will definitely choose the latter one to become one of the top 20 hosting companies. This is simply due to the missing economies of scale which can only be achieved by the largest web companies around. On addition, you want to be able to earn a living. This is simply not possible with all the free hosting offerings from all the other large web hosting companies.
So how do you decide in which niche you want to go? It was always a good idea to deliver something totally new or tailor an offering to a certain market or client segments.
Ideally, you could find out by watching trends. Personally, I see a lot of potential in SSD hosting, high availability hosting for the masses and data protection. Especially in times when highly frequented and IOPS hungry blogs become more and more prominent, this could be the way to go for becoming one of the best web hosting companies.
When thinking about a special market or client segments, then I would probably decide for Minecraft hosting offerings. Competition is quite weak and the interest is huge. But certainly it could be a combination of different factors. I could imagine that you would become successful if you’re the best WordPress host in Switzerland and that would translate into an entry as one of the top web hosting companies in Switzerland. Many of the other interesting niches unfortunately already have a lot of competitors, e.g. best webhosting for small business.
Make people find you
What are the best servers and the best offering if nobody knows it? Simply nothing that generates income. So therefore it’s key to market your offering appropriately. There are several ways you can do this. What makes the most sense for a virtual offering like web hosting is that you market your services online as well. Thanks to my wife who is a passionate AdWords hero this was not too complicated for me. Besides AdWords which delivers paid web traffic, try to understand how you can generate SEO for your homepage and therefore generate organic traffic. This is far more important than you might expect and key to becoming one of the leading web hosting companies. Not just that you probably pay less money (if opportunity costs are avoided) but you will likely also have higher conversions if you choose the right key words. In the beginning try to invest your time in white hat SEO. The risks that you are penalized by implementing black hat SEO techniques are way too high. It could instantly ruin your planned growth goals and would not get in the desired rankings compared to other top web hosting companies. So sending your links to all sites with web hosting reviews would not be a good idea.
What is valid for your servers are also key strategies for your marketing campaigns. Try to track the success of your campaigns by measuring keyword rankings and conversions. You can do this for your paid and organic search campaigns. Adjust if necessary and try to find your niche.
Put passion and time into it
All those tips and tricks for becoming one of the top web hosting companies is worth nothing if you don’t put your passion and time into it. Rome was also not built in one day. Therefore it is crucial to plan your work and work your plan. Consistency should be your mantra. I remember myself how many times I installed a fresh version of CentOS just to have the right set-up for my own nodes. I’m sure this will be the same for you. But I am confident that with passion and the dedication to the steep learning curve, success will come.
Plan for the future to expand and become one of the top web hosting companies
Something that is often overlooked is that you as a web host have a clear idea about where to go and how much growth you want to achieve. Even if it is unlikely that your hosting services go viral. Your customer base or their end clients can become huge. Therefore you should think about what it means to grow. There will be a point where you cannot do it on your own any longer. This time when you need a partner or personnel that works for you to help you achieve the ultimate goal to become one of the top web hosting companies.
Start with those considerations early on. Think about opportunity costs and do what you are best in, and find someone who does the rest.
You will see for yourself. It is not a small venture to start a top web hosting business. Therefore I will post my insights about those five key success factors for how to become one of the top web hosting companies on a regular basis on this blog. I am also interested in your ideas on how the web hosting business works. As well, I am happy to have some guest writers who share their tips in one of these five areas.