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The future of website hosting in Africa – An honest opinion

Governments and dynasties come and go. Politicians make rash decisions and economies wobble and even crumble. Globally, climates are changing too, with average temperatures and sea levels rising alarmingly… In these roller-coaster times, it can be tough to know where it is best to be physically located on this poor planet. And then there is your online, virtual existence to consider too – where should your web hosts reside? Locally or offshore? In Africa or the US or maybe Europe?

Fortunately, this decision is a lot easier than considering grand-scale moves of a physical kind. There are arguments for both: international hosting may be cheaper on the surface, but you may be guaranteed better hands-on customer service and performance with a local provider. Even so, local hosting definitely offers many more pros than cons, especially when you are dealing with a professional firm like Aura Host.

Going local

Research from 2020 shows that 43% of the world’s top one billion websites are being hosted by US-based providers. This figure was more than 50% in 2005, possibly indicating that website owners are realising the benefits of moving to local hosting, with its  24/7 customer support and faster speeds.

Instant gratification

The chances are that if you are using a local host for your website, you’ll have access to more immediate, accessible assistance. Local companies are often smaller and more able to provide one-on-one service with regards to website administration and technical problems. And rather than getting tangled up in a costly international landline call, while negotiating different time zones, the locals are just a cheap phone call or even a quick visit away.

It’s a bit like parking your car in Moscow, when you actually live in Cape Town: not so bright. Cutting time and costs, hosting locally makes much more sense and it boosts the economy of your own community too! So, build local and think global!

Speed is of the essence

The benefits of local hosting for small businesses include improved speeds of up to three times compared to an off-shore hosted website. A recent Kissmetrics study showed that a whopping 40% of consumers will leave a web page that takes more than three-seconds to load, so having a speedy website is clearly a critical component of any successful online business.

Current research also shows that 79% of online shoppers who are unhappy with site performance are unlikely to return to the same site again. So the closer the users are to the website’s servers (in the same city or even the same country), the faster the site will load, thus saving everyone time and, hence, money.

Some local hosting companies, like Aura Host, dedicate specific amounts of server power and resources to each site so there is no impact on performance from other websites on the same server.

Roaring up the rankings

Locally hosted websites can benefit from Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) advantages just by being local. To rank sites, search engines like Google uses a web server’s address (a geographic location) as a factor in understanding a site’s content and hence its relevance to a specific search.

Try searching for a generic service and you’ll see how service providers in your area will rank high in the results, even if the area is not specified. And if you work in a competitive field, you don’t want to drop down the rankings, off the first page of search results. Studies show that 50% of Googlers will not look at results beyond page one.

Safe as houses

Companies hosting their websites locally are also protected within their own country’s jurisdiction from dodgy service providers. Getting ripped off by a faceless host somewhere overseas will be a legal nightmare to challenge, while local consumer bodies will be able to assist with firms in your own country.

Locally hosted sites are also considered less vulnerable to security breaches, meaning your data and website are safer from hackers. This is because smaller companies have fewer clients to manage and usually use the top e-mail spam and virus protection services, like Aura Host does.

International offering

But let me return to offshore web hosting: it does have its place, especially when it comes to the needs of larger businesses seeking international markets and significant amounts of bandwidth. These companies will definitely fare better having a foreign web host. Sometimes, however, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are employed to serve copies of the website’s script and images but from a local source. By doing this, Canadian customers, for example, may be served from a Canadian-based data centre, and even globally aimed websites can take advantage of local web hosting.

Stay at home!

Hosting in your ’hood, within close proximity to helpful humans, is a far better option than offshore hosting by a faceless, faraway entity that is already hosting hundreds of thousand of sites; a ‘service provider’ that doesn’t really care about you or your line of work. Foreign hosting may be cheaper in some instances, but it is definitely not worth the potential subsequent problems. Local hosting can mean happier customers who return for business and that means a happier you!

Get started with Africa’s leading web provider – Aurahost

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