Domains of the day: a new domain could mean the dawn of a new mobile age Hosts with the most: web hosts are beginning to cater to your business's every desire
Hosts with the most: web hosts are beginning to cater to your business's every desire
Eric Bender


IF YOU'RE IN BUSINESS, you're on the Web. But how you're on the Web makes a big difference. Fortunately, "the Web hosting industry increasingly is waking up to small-business needs," says Shirley Siluk Gregory, senior analyst with the Ebi Group, a Web hosting consultancy in Navarre, Florida.

In the past year, leading providers such as Affinity Internet, Interland and Verio have pumped up their small-business offerings. "The tools available from a good Web host are a lot more sophisticated, and a lot more point-and-click," Gregory says.

You still can start with a bare-bones service that provides a Web server and e-mail for as little as $9 per month. But pay a few more bucks per month, and services offer improved tools that make it relatively easy to create an attractive site, maintain it and upgrade it all the way to full-powered e-commerce.

More providers also offer promotional services so you can quickly optimize your site for Web search engines, submit the site to those engines, handle e-mail marketing campaigns, and generate coupons or gift certificates.

Additionally, Web hosts now make it a snap to link to established Web transaction services such as Amazon, eBay and PayPal. "You can start with a very simple PayPal application, and get the ability to sell online in literally just a few minutes," says Read Ziegler, Interland's vice president for marketing. Or you can launch your own e-commerce setup--starting with a simple shopping cart or small catalog, or upgrading directly to industrial-strength e-shopping.

While software tools have added polish and power, you may still want help from experts in design, marketing or technology--either from local talent or from your Web host. For instance, Interland's $95 a month Platinum service comes bundled with a dedicated team of coaches, which Ziegler calls "the added ingredient for success."

Whatever your Web approach, do some research on Web host directories like FindMyHosting ( and forums such as WebHostingTalk (, Gregory says. She also suggests you try a service for a month before locking yourself into a yearlong contract, watch out when you see the term "unlimited" in a contract, and always maintain a plan to change your host--without losing your Internet domain name.