Transcript for Episode 93 –
Caleb Baumgartner: Welcome to Local SEO Tactics where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I am your producer Caleb Baumgartner, and in today’s episode, we discuss migrating your web hosting. Are you considering moving your website off a private server, but you’re worried about a resentful web host sabotaging your site? Bob, Jesse, and Sue discuss the value of migrating your website to a large scale server and what to consider when moving your website, including the features that are vital to keep in mind when migrating host to protect your investment and make your transition as smooth as possible.
Thank you for listening, and enjoy the show.
Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host Jesse Dolan. Here today with Bob Brennan and Sue Ginsburg. How you guys doing?
Bob Brennan: Excellent.
Sue Ginsburg: Really great.
Jesse Dolan: I think Sue must be on the other side of the world. It looks a little like it’s nighttime there.
Sue Ginsburg: It’s the best picture that I could find. Yes, we have a listener’s question today from Buffalo, New York. So there we have a beautiful evening skyline of Buffalo, New York.
Bob Brennan: Go Sabres.
Jesse Dolan: Perfect. Bob, we’re supposed to be Wild fans, aren’t we?
Bob Brennan: You got to throw a little-
Sue Ginsburg: …or Bills.
Jesse Dolan: No, go ahead, Sue. What kind of question do we got today for that?
Sue Ginsburg: Okay. Today we have a really interesting question about changing web hosting companies. We have a great client, a great PI client from the Buffalo area, and she asked us, “How can I change my web hosting company with the least disruption to my website presence and SEO online?” And then she further asked, “How do I protect against a resentful web host contact sabotaging my website when I cancel my web hosting subscription with him?”
So I would love to hear what you have to say about that. Purpose of this discussion today is to find out for all of our listeners best way to do this and even to bring to the forefront of their minds. Yeah, web hosting relationship can be forever, but it doesn’t have to be if you found something better or if they’re not serving your needs. I think that what stops people from even thinking about this is you put it on a monthly subscription. You’re not thinking about it. It just gets paid every month until something happens when you realize, “Hey, I could be doing this for cheaper or getting better service or with somebody else who could be helping me.” It’s just not always top of mind.
So today’s plan is to help our clients and listeners understand the difference between web hosts and how it can save you money, get you better service, what a web hosting platform can do for you, and why would we do that? Save you money, make it easier for you, help you out, make it go smoother. Everybody wants things to run smoothly in their business and not have to deal with that.
So yes, this question comes today from one of our clients who is in this exact situation. So we know that this is not a question that is unique to her, and I think it’ll help everybody today. Following along a quote from Tony Robbins, the quote for today is, “By changing nothing, nothing changes.” We don’t want to see that happen to our listeners and our clients.
So with that, Jesse, Bob, what are your thoughts?
Jesse Dolan: I’ll start off, Bob, if that’s okay with you. Obviously I usually deal with more of the technical end of these things, and I’m privy to what Sue is talking about with that client.
So first things first, just to kind of frame it up, anytime we get a new client, web hosting becomes part of the conversation. We need access to perform our services to your website, sometimes your web host. The performance of your website, the speed of your website, the hosting of your website is part of SEO. So we’re often in here. People are asking us all the time what’s the best host, things like that.
In a number of episodes, we’ve mentioned SiteGround. I just want to take an opportunity right here to make something clear for everybody. I don’t know of any scenario where as a business owner you should be having your website hosted by… This is horrible English, forgive me. By not a large company. It’s cool to have intimate service and to be personal with someone, but for your website, I would much rather have it hosted by a large company with a redundancy, with scale, with lots of people, 24/7 tech support. If I have the impression that my website is hosted on a person’s computer or a person’s server, like I know the location. It’s in their house, in their basement, or their back office. That’d make me nervous.
Take a company like SiteGround, and just to contrast here before I get into a few more technical bits. I just pulled up their page. You can go to localseotactics.com, go to our resources page, there’s going to be a link to SiteGround. Full disclosure, we are an affiliate for SiteGround. We recommend people go there all the time. If you go to our resources page, click on it, you’re going to get over to SiteGround. You’re going to get a discount to start with. So if you want to switch to SiteGround, go through our link. It’s going to save you a few bucks. We’ll get a few bucks. Everybody wins. But just full disclosure as I reference SiteGround here. We’re an affiliate.
Their pricing here is to start with, Grow Big, their middle plan, $9.99 a month. $25 a month usually. So let’s just say if it’s $25 a month, you’re getting a top notch web hosting company for $25 a month. You’re getting 24/7 support. You’re getting people that are experts in WordPress, which is the universe we usually live in for websites here is WordPress. It’s going to be fast. They have a ton of tools for free migration. This is their specialty is doing this for $25 a month.
If you’re going to use somebody that’s smaller, maybe not even a specialist in this, what are you saving? $5 a month, $10 a month? So right there, I just challenge everybody listening, if you’re sitting there writing the check for your web hosting for your company, what are you paying? Are you paying $10, $20, $30 a month? How does that compare to a $25 or even a $35 plan with a dedicated host who specializes in doing this with redundancy and security and all these other layers?
So first things first, right there. Just it’s apples and oranges comparison.
So if you can’t tell, my suggestion here is of course move to a large reputable web host whenever possible.
That being said, that wasn’t necessarily the question but just setting the stage. The question is how do I do this without screwing things up, or in the case of a client we’re talking about, how do they do it in a tactful way that the person currently hosting their website, maintaining their website has all the keys to their website? How do they migrate without getting either blackmailed, which is probably the wrong word, or held hostage? Because it’s their property.
So first things first here, as a business owner, you should hold the keys. There’s a few elements for your website, which not everybody thinks of, but first you have to have your dot com, your domain name. You own that. You bought that. That’s registered somewhere. Let’s just say GoDaddy. You buy jessedolan.com. Now you own that website, and you’re paying for that every year. That might be $10 or $15 or $20 a month, depending on your domain register. Now you have a website name, you have an address.
Now you have to host the website somewhere. There has to be a server or a computer somewhere that you’re actual website files and database is hosted on. That way people when they go to your domain, they see a website. That’s what we’re talking about right here. That’s what you’re paying for every month for a web host is computer space somewhere to have your website.
The last element you’re going to have is your actual website itself. So now we’ve got the name, our address, we’ve got a computer, a server to host it on. Now we have an actual website. All three of those potentially have different login password credentials, portals, things like that. You’re going to want to make sure you have all that information. Again, in the case of this client, if there’s a single company instead of three companies that have all that, they should give that to you. You should have that information. It shouldn’t be held hostage. You’re free to do whatever you want with this stuff. It’s not their website. It’s not their dot com, their domain. It’s yours.
The last piece, which kind of gets overlooked when we talk about these migrations, is your email. A lot of times if people switch from one web host to another, they don’t realize you’re going to have to reset your email if you will. So I got my iPhone. I’ve got our Intrucks.com email connected to my phone, just like we all do. If we switch to a different web host, I’m going to have to go in there, enter in the new email server, maybe reenter my password, get credentials, authorizations, things like that. Don’t forget about that part because you may switch your web host one day and wake up tomorrow and my email’s not working. What’s going on? Well, you didn’t setup a new email account at your new web host. Now everything’s gone.
There’s some idiosyncrasies in that email part, which I’m not going to get super deep into here. That’s kind of the last and the fourth piece there. Domain name, where you’re hosting your website, your actual website itself to get in there and edit, and then your email addresses.
So how do you switch? I swear to God I’m going to get to the answer of this, if you guys stay with me. How do you switch? First things first, get your information for those four things. Get your login and password through the ability to administrate and manage those four things. Once you have them, let’s just say if you’re going to switch from web hosting company A over to SiteGround. If you have that information that I just mentioned, you can contact SiteGround or any other large reputable web host. They’ll do all the heavy work for you. They’ll just say, “All right. What are we working with? Okay. Do you have the username and password for this? All right. Let’s enter it in. Let’s get it transferred. All right. You’re going to have to wait three days and then this’ll happen,” or whatever. Timelines will be different for different hosts.
But if you hold those keys and hold that information, you’re good to go. You may not be able to do it yourself. Don’t expect to do it yourself. Have an expert do it. If for some reason your web host company can’t do it, you can reach out to an agency like us. If people are doing websites and SEO and living in this universe, going to be well versed in it. We’re well versed in it.
So you don’t have to do it on your own, but you definitely have to have those keys, those authorizations and save those. So if you go to SiteGround and you switch over to SiteGround, now you’re going to have a new login for SiteGround. You’re going to have a new username, new password. Keep that somewhere too. You don’t want to be beholden to hosting company A. You don’t want to be beholden to SiteGround either. This is your property. This is your asset as a business.
Bob Brennan: Yeah, and I would throw this out there is if you’re… The person that’s asked this question, basically if the hosting person, and it sounds like a one-man, two-man show type of deal in their parent’s basement or something. This is really kind of an intellectual property issue in that if they are not going to do it, say, “Hey, you’re impeding my business. I own this domain. Unless there’s charges, there’s a good reason why you’re not allowing me to take this and go and there’s some other fees, legitimate fees that I’m not seeing here, I’ll have my attorney contact you.”
If I was running the show, I’d call an intellectual property attorney because essentially that’s what this is or what have you. Anybody that’s in the technology attorney field and say, “Look, this guy’s not giving me my domain.” Is it worth paying them $200 for them to make a call and say, “Look, you’re impeding this person’s business. You have less than 12 hours to turn over all passwords, all portal keys, whatever the deal is to allow them to move their website, which is theirs, over to another hosting service.” Cut and dry, that’s how I’d approach it.
Then who you choose is up to you, but one thing I would throw out there too, Jess, is it’s like insurance. We all want lower insurance rates, right? Well, all that comes at a trade off many times in that you can have a lower premium, but when it comes to a claim, you may not get the claim that you wanted or the service that you wanted on that claim. It’s really tough to vet that out. I would assume you could do research to consumer reports and some others.
Now with web hosting, I’m going to throw this back at you Jess, are there ways… I just know if it was me, I would consider shifting to SiteGround or somebody else. I would say, “Okay. Give me your 1-800 tech support number because I’m going to call them at 11 o’clock at night, see if anybody’s going to answer to me, or more importantly, how quickly are they going to get back to me?” Because if they’re not getting back to you, and I don’t know what’s acceptable in terms of tech support, Jess. Hours, days, minutes?
Jesse Dolan: Great question. As far as getting a phone call back, things like that, yeah, you’re probably talking hours or next day. Something for sure that you should be getting a reputable web host is like instant chat at the very least. You should be able to reach somebody at the drop of hat. And to your point, Bob, that is one of the number one things we look at is the tech support of the web hosting company because on the basic level, you’re renting pace on a computer to host your website and its database. Not exactly rocket science. Where you really need the help is when things don’t go right or you need technical advice. So yeah, get tech support, whether you test them out, like you’re saying as a mock call or whatever, or if you don’t want to do that, just Google Reviews tech support. Look specifically, SiteGround tech support quality or just things like that because that is what you’re going to actually utilize after you get it set up. That’s the ongoing relationship is that tech support.
On that note, that’s one of the reasons quite frankly we love SiteGround is they are stellar with that. Nobody’s perfect. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure if you go out there, there’s going to be some reviews or things that bash SiteGround, just like anything else. But by and large, that’s one of the main things for sure you want to look at. That’s a great point to bring up.
Something else I want to add on too that I’m thinking is… Spurred off by what you’re saying, Bob. It’s kind of crazy how often I hear people talking about, “Well, I’m hosting my website here.” These prices from SiteGround, outside of the whole first month or 90 days, their standard pricing on these three WordPress specialized hosting deals is $15, $25, and $40 per month.
Now I’m not minimizing money at all because as business owners, the number one thing we can do to screw up a company is spend too much money. That’s an easy mistake to make. But of all the expenses you have, if you’re saving $10 a month by going with a cheaper web host, that’s not the place to cut $10 a month. Don’t get Starbucks once a month or something else. You’re not talking about are you paying $10 or $200 a month for a web host? That’s ridiculous. You should be able to jump into a high level web host for $30, $40 a month on the high side for most small businesses out there. If you have 10,000 pages on your website, maybe a little bit more then, don’t skimp here. Don’t go with a one-man shop, dude that has a computer in the basement hosting your website for $15 when you can spend $10 more get way better support quality and assurance through something like Site Ground. So don’t be cheap and stingy there.
Sue Ginsburg: I think we all know that when these technological things go wrong, it’s usually not on a Tuesday morning at 10:30. It’s on Saturday afternoon when everybody else is closed.
Jesse Dolan: You are correct. That is just the way it seems to work. I guess, Sue, kind of took a couple different trails there given a little more context, but I think we answered the question. I think the moral of the story is own your information, keep your records, and if you have access to things, you’re going to be in control. Like Bob’s saying, if you’re getting to a point where you feel somebody’s pressuring you or holding that information from you, there’s legal recourse. If you’re not liable for any bills, outstanding stuff, violating a contract or something, that’s your stuff. And if somebody’s getting in the way, there should be legal recourse there. They shouldn’t have to be beholden to it.
Sue Ginsburg: Jesse, what about the question, what about the part of how logistically do you recommend actually doing the switch when there’s… On a weekend or early on a morning? Will there be a lapse of your website showing?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, great point. There really shouldn’t be any downtime if things are going properly. That being said, kind of to your point about needing tech support at 10:30 on a Friday night, whatever. This is the type of thing where Murphy’s Law, something might go wrong. Your website was operating just fine because you didn’t migrate it to a new host. You migrate it to a new host, you’re opening up for things to go wrong. Should be pretty smooth if you’re using a good company.
That being said, it’s always a good best practice to do it during downtime. Don’t do it at 1:00 PM Tuesday afternoon in the heart of business because if something goes wrong, you’re losing leads and exposure. So after hours or late in the day or early in the morning, things like that. It’s technology, so nothing’s ever guaranteed to be perfect. So plan out accordingly.
That being said, the smaller you are for a business, the less traffic you have, the lower your exposure, the more I wouldn’t worry about that. If you only get a few visitors per day or maybe a lead or two per month, if your website just isn’t like this crazy lead generating machine and you’re like, “If it’s down for a few hours, nobody’s going to care.” Do it in the middle of the day on Tuesday, whatever. That’s fine. There’s not a wrong time to do it. Just be cognizant of if something goes wrong, how big of an impact is it to me, and if I can schedule myself, my team, SiteGround, whatever tech support, if we can plan on doing it during more of a downtime, then I would definitely opt for that.
Sue Ginsburg: The point you made about business owner is the owner of their technology, even though many business owners with technology feel like they’re farming it out and they just don’t have control over it. But your point about yeah, this belongs to the business. Technology companies who are supporting you have access to it and they have their role, but in the end, you are the owner of it. It’s yours, part of the business.
Jesse Dolan: Yup.
Bob Brennan: You got to own it just like accounting. Nobody loves accounting, but you darn well better have a good understanding of it or you’re not going to be around.
Jesse Dolan: It’s a major asset for your business. Or at least if you’re listening to this podcast or watching it on YouTube, whatever, it’s major for you because you’re interested in SEO. We’re speaking to everybody here. But yeah, don’t skimp on your hosting. Don’t be blasé about your credentials and where things are. These are important records, just like other corporate records you have and things like that. So the hard part is if things are going right, this is a set it and forget it. You’re not going to worry about logging in to your web hosting for five years. So that’s where it is dangerous for everybody. Just it gets out of date, out of sight, out of mind type deal. But yeah, moral of the story is recognize it for what it is. It’s a major asset, even if you don’t touch it every day. Keep it safe, lock it away, own it, control it. It’s yours.
Sue Ginsburg: It’s great. Really good. Really good. Well, I would say if you remember one thing and one thing only about this discussion today, don’t let your web hosting company hold you hostage or any of your other partners in your business and that could be including your SEO company, domain name holder, or any other company you do business with. There are good people out there, and those are the ones you want to work with, not the ones that make your life difficult.
Again, to Tony Robbins quote, “By changing nothing, nothing changes.” Change who you do business with to people who are easy to do business with and you like. They are out there.
Jesse Dolan: Shameless plug, localseotactics.com. Check us out. We can help you. If you need help, we can help you.
All right, Bob, any closing thoughts with you as I wrap up?
Bob Brennan: No. You get into business. I got into business for control and control my destiny. I knew maybe I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know what over time I can catch up. So the point is don’t let anybody steal your lunch. You’ve got to control these things.
Jesse Dolan: Right on. You’re dead on. All right. I think that does it. Sue, did you have anything else, or was that pretty much the final there for you too? Okay.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s it.
Jesse Dolan: Well, hopefully that helps some people out there. If you’ve been on the fence or maybe this is something you’ve been burying your head in the sand on, maybe we kind of shed some light on it for you and helped you out.
So thanks for tuning, everybody. We’ll catch you on the next episode.
Bob Brennan: Bye.