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Can Shared Web Hosting Afford to Become More Affordable?
Shared web hosting is an ever evolving service with constantly dropping monthly fees. With thousands of hosts all vying for your business in a relatively similar service industry one of the primary features used to lure new customers is price, but with prices on many of the better hosts already down around $7 a month can they really afford to drop further?
Not All Hosts Are Shooting For Low-cost Customers
Amongst the various web hosts there are a few key features that new customers are looking for. These features fall into a few primary categories: price, space/bandwidth, features, support, and reliability.
In the beginning the hosting wars focused primarily on feature sets, storage space, and bandwidth. As technology evolved the ability to support unlimited storage and bandwidth and robust feature sets caused web hosts to look for new areas to show their superiority. One of the next topics of promotion became technical support. With only the larger hosting centers capable of supporting toll-free, 24/7, native speaking support centers with quality service representatives the playing field has become imbalanced. A quick call during peak hours to any given host will tell you much about their support capabilities and often the overall strength of the host. But again, the big hosts have all come around to the understanding that 24/7, quality support is necessary.
Which Hosts Focus on Which Areas
While most hosts choose to focus their market share in one or two of these principal areas ultimately most shared-hosting services are fairly similar. Because of this hosting companies are now being forced into a price war. Such a war, while generally good for consumers, will eventually reach a point where the tactic of reducing monthly fees will no longer be a viable option.
A quick search will generally identify which areas the host in question intends to promote as their primary strenths. If it takes more than a few glances of the front page to figure this out you've either arrived at a host who will be struggling in the industry or who is so well-established that they no longer rely on new subscriptions but can sit back on word of mouth and old clients indefinitely.
How Can They Afford These Rates?
It's worth asking how hosting companies can afford to allow their users to remain on the service with such a low monthly cost - especially when many of the best hosts no longer require setup fees. The truth behind the matter is they can only afford such low prices in the long run. Web hosts depend upon customers sticking with them. Customers who have a life-span of less than a year are generally going to bring a loss to the host, but the truth is that most clients are interested in keeping their hosting for more than a year. Customer loyalty also plays a big part in hosting. Often when a client becomes familiar with your service they purchase additional accounts and many of these remain dormant or use very few resources making them very cost effective.
What Does This Mean?
Hosting continues to evolve and will likely enter new realms with the advance of technology. Web hosts are constantly looking for that new feature or service that the other guys don't offer and when they find it and prepare to offer it you'll find them very capable advertisers. It's a trade which requires constant and aggressive marketing to stay ahead, but the big question facing hosting providers is where does it end? Currently the price wars are heating up and hosts are dropping their rates lower all of the time. Where will it end? This is something we don't know yet, but one thing is for sure, the fierce competition and constant price wars are a big positive for the consumer. Hosting features are on the rise and monthly costs are on the decline - if you've been wanting to get your own website now is definitely the time to do it.
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