website hosting

What is the best website hosting option for my accounting firm website?

girl look confused at sheet of paper with word 'hosting' written on it
What on earth does website hosting even mean? You know (or you know now on reading this) you need it for your website, and it seems important…and it also seems like a whole hazy technology sector you’re not even sure you have the capacity or interest in understanding… and can someone please just tell you what to do?

Even as a Head of Operations within PF, I’ve been there. Previously, I would simply ask our web team what to recommend in terms of website hosting, and that’s the answer I’d give our client. But, I wanted to understand hosting. ACTUALLY understand it.

So, I talked to the head of our web development team. I told them I wanted to understand why we recommend the hosting we do to our clients and they obliged with an analogy that changed everything.

What is website hosting?

Hosting covers a lot of things and there are many details hosting companies will tell you which end up being smoke and mirrors.

Fundamentally, hosting is holding your website on a computer in a remote location. Each website is saved on a computer and that computer serves the website to the world. This computer shows your website when people access it through your website URL (such as

That’s all hosting is, a virtual space where all your website files and data are store.

What makes hosting complicated?

Keep in mind that paying for hosting is different from paying for a website URL (or ‘domain’). The URL is the address you send people to – like As the owner of your accounting firm, you need to own the domain (for example, Karen Reyburn owns and and about 12 other URL’s), and you might own it through GoDaddy or or some other site.

After you have the URL, you need to pay a hosting fee so that your website can be shared with the world.

It’s not as easy as purchasing a computer to host your website. For one thing, if you were to rent a whole computer to host one website, it would become very expensive. So here’s how hosting works…

A hosting computer is like a parking lot

The analogy our web team director used is that of a parking lot.

Imagine the server, the computer your website is hosted on, is a parking lot. It’s quite a big space, a very big parking lot (meaning there is a lot of power in the server).

The parking lot is designed to handle a lot of traffic. It can have a lot of people parking in there.

So website hosting companies take a very large parking lot and they sell packages to you (and other businesses and people) as individual spaces in the parking lot. There could be thousands of individual spaces and you have the right to park your website in that space. When you pay a hosting fee, you are essentially paying to rent a portion of a computer to use to share your website with the world.

Your URL (, for example) is the address to tell the world how to get to your parking spot. Hosting is the actual parking spot. It’s what allows someone to actually see what’s on your website when they go there.

If hosting stops working, people go to your website URL, and nothing comes up. It’s broken or they get an error. They’ve got the address, but when they go to the space, nothing is there.

When hosting is working (which it’s supposed to do all of the time), someone clicks a link, they go to your website, and it comes up. Brilliant. Hosting doing its job.

Keeping that analogy in mind, which hosting service do you need? What company is the best to host your firm’s website on?


1. Cheap hosting: You get what you pay for

Companies like GoDaddy will sell you a parking spot for very cheap and you’ll have a limited number of options within that spot.

Now, that’s all very well and good, if you don’t have a lot of traffic or you don’t really mind if you have slow periods.

To go back to our analogy, let’s say you share your parking lot with Wal-mart on Black Friday. The entrance to your parking lot is going to be so backed up that many people won’t even try to get in.

This would be similar to sharing your hosting computer with an e-commerce store. There is so much traffic on that server that if you’re looking to convert visitors, you’re going to have trouble. If someone has to sit and wait for your website to load, they’re going to leave.

So, as a general rule, for this reason, we don’t recommend the lowest packages that someplace like GoDaddy offers. You’ll end up having trouble and the people trying to find your website will have trouble, and it will prevent you getting business and everyone will be frustrated. It’s not worth it if you’re serious about your marketing.


2. “Premium” cheap hosting: smoke and mirrors

Companies like GoDaddy do offer so-called ultimate and maximum packages. Now, they sound much better in theory, but in reality, they’re just offering you more parking spaces, which isn’t what you need. You still need to actually get IN there. So you need a faster way to enter.

They’ll tell you about things like “increased CPU’s”. Great. That helps a little bit, but only if combined with a lot of other improvements. An extra CPU basically means that after you get in the parking lot, there is another junction to get out away from the entrance. So you’ll get to your parking spot a little faster once you actually get in the door.

But you’re still going to have bottlenecks during busy times, even if this may function pretty well on low traffic days.

They may say things like “FTP”. I’ll quote our web team director by saying “this is marketing rubbish”. An increased FTP is not needed, especially for an accounting website.

Or they may offer that you can have more websites on the same hosting package. That’s basically like saying you can park five cars on top of each other in the same spot. This is going to be incredibly messy and not worth it.


3. Semi dedicated hosting: helpful, but expensive

Semi dedicated hosting is more like a multistory parking lot. You get a floor to yourself, but there’s still only one way into that lot. If someone has a block party, you’re going to have to wait like you would in that parking lot you’re sharing with Walmart on Black Friday.

Semi dedicated hosting is pretty expensive, and it’s not the best solution for most WordPress sites.


4. Virtual Private Server: too much trouble

Another type of hosting is the Virtual Private Server (VPS). This is essentially owning a virtual computer.

In our parking lot analogy, this is like somebody breaking in with tape and cones and dividing the area into five different parking lots, each with their own entrance.

This addresses all the problems we talked about before with access and speed. A VPS would solve those issues, but it’s going to cost you quite a bit per month for a decent one.

And worse? You’ve got to manage it yourself. So, if something breaks, you have to then find a server tech to repair it.

Breaking all this information down…

Our recommendation for accountants is to host your website with your marketing partner or whoever built your website (provided you’ve had a good experience with them and they offer hosting services). Depending on what you’re going to have on your website, you may need a different level of hosting, or different features. For example, if you’ve got a membership login section, this would slow things down so you may need to consider hosting this on a sub-domain. Make sure this is something your web developer is considering or has considered when building your new website. Here’s 6 benefits you’ll feel from having your website hosting managed for you.

If you’ve read all of this and are thinking “who even cares? Why does it matter? I’ll just have PF build my website and I’ll host it myself!”, that’s okay too. Just be aware when we get close to the site launch date, we’ll ask you to “buy hosting” and we’ll send you to a WP Engine link, and you’ll pay a fee and send us your login details securely and be all set.

To start your website journey, fill in our discovery firm and tell us how your website is currently fitting in (or isn’t!) to your accounting firm’s marketing.