When you search online and compare web hosting packages by different companies, you’ll notice that rarely does a web host offer hosting alone. Often, you also get a domain name, email addresses, site building tools, dozens of software scripts, backup and security accessories, specialized services, and other freebies thrown in for good measure. Generally speaking, we can view these extras as falling under two categories: essential and optional.
iPage is an example of a web host that offers a lot of perks.
Although an “essential add-on” sounds like a contradiction of terms, these additional features can help you keep your website running at its best. Some of these are crucial to having an online presence at all. They mostly have to do with the technical aspect of hosting. For example, you need a domain name so your website can be found online. It’s worth giving these a closer look:
- Free Domain Name – It’s become common practice with web hosts to offer domain registration along with a purchase of web hosting. This is especially useful to people who’d like to get started right away and not be bothered with signing up with a domain registrar.
- Email Addresses – Having your own email address at your own domain (e.g., email@example.com) sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Strangely enough, some businesses have websites but still go by a generic free email address provider, such as Yahoo! or Gmail. That doesn’t convey professionalism at all. Most web hosts offer an easy email address setup and extra mailboxes/email aliases (enough for your entire family and circle of friends, even), so take advantage of this feature.
- Site Builders – Simple and straightforward, site builders make life easier for users with no technical or design background. Site builders often come with beautiful, professional templates to get you started quickly. With some web hosts, you can just drag and drop elements of your web page and in minutes, you have a live, decent-looking site.
- Setup Wizards – If you’re not nitpicky, just follow a setup wizard’s directions and you’ll be done in no time, whether you’re setting up your blog, email, or online store.
- Free apps – Auto-installers like Softaculous and Fantastico simplify installation of dozens of apps or software scripts. Softaculous alone covers more than 40 categories of 300+ apps you can install, from blogs to ad managers, from polls to music tools. While you may not be using most of them, take the time to explore what your host’s autoinstaller might already cover. Don’t make the mistake of paying for new software or service that you didn’t know you already have (or have an alternative for) in your existing hosting account.
- Statistics and Monitoring – How much bandwidth your site users are consuming or which bots last visited your site may not be terribly exciting information, but your site logs are extremely useful in troubleshooting in case something goes wrong in your site.
- Backup & Security – These are an absolute must these days. Your web host should have security measures in place to protect your data. They should also allow you to back it up in a safe place and restore it if needed. Ideally, they should be automatically scanning and backing up your website regularly. Some web hosts provide ready integration with leading security software such as Sitelock or Sucuri at no extra cost.
- Support for Ecommerce – Not everyone has or wants an online store, so this tends to be an add-on. Should you decide to set up one, it’s good to know that most web hosts support ecommerce. They have shopping cart scripts and ecommerce apps that you can quickly activate from your control panel. Some web hosts specialize in ecommerce hosting—they are PCI compliant and may offer free SSL certificates. Learn more about ecommerce hosting.
- Free Website Transfer – If you have an existing website hosted somewhere else, your new host will gladly help you in the transfer process without charging you extra. If you’re a regular non-technical person, this is one convenient service to remember for future use.
We also wrote previously an article on the best add-ons and features you should prioritize, check it out.
Optional (But Still Useful) Benefits
These miscellaneous perks are like icing on a cake. They may not be crucial to keeping your sites in top shape, but they help you promote your site, as well as earn or save you money on the side.
- Advertising credits – If you’re planning to advertise with Google, Bing, and other search advertisers, make sure to check first with your web host before spending any money. It is common nowadays to get ad credits when you sign with a web host.
- Business Listing – If you’re running an ecommerce or a professional site, getting listed in business directories can help drive customers to your business. Some web hosts offer business listing for free or for a small fee.
- Third Party Discounts – Companies often partner up and promote each other, and web hosting providers are no different. Make sure to browse around your host’s website or sign up for their newsletter to get updated of any upcoming partner deals.
- Referral Points – Love your web host? Do you recommend it to people you know? Some web hosting companies let you earn points or credits that are worth free months of hosting or some other reward.
- Affiliate or Partnership Opportunity – Alternatively, you can sign up for your favorite host’s affiliate program. Most web hosts have affiliate or partnership programs that could earn you some serious cash especially if you’re keen about promoting your web host.
Inmotion Hosting customers can save on advertising with their exclusive ad credits.
Take Time to Compare
Bear in mind that many of the features listed above have become pretty standard so don’t rush. Don’t sign up with the first web host with tempting offers that you encounter. Also, note that the actual freebies bundled in your hosting package may vary from one web host to another, and of course, the kind of hosting plan you’re getting.
The web hosting market is a fiercely competitive space – and that’s a good thing for you as a customer. It means web hosting companies are going out of their way to attract your attention and keep your business with them. Competition, along with advances in hosting technology, drives prices down and lets you enjoy all these extra benefits at little or no cost at all.