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Dental Website Hosting – Am I Spending Too Much?

By September 24, 2021 October 19th, 2021 No Comments

dental website hosting

Are You Spending Too Much On Dental Website Hosting?

In the next 3-4 minutes, we’ll unravel the mystery of dental website hosting. You’ll feel super cool at the next cocktail party when you bring up the fact that you just pointed your DNS records to your new dental website server hosted with My Social Practice.

That’s right I just plugged our amazing free dental website offer in the first paragraph.

Dental website hosting demystified!

To understand dental hosting there are a few terms that require defining.

Query: A query is when someone clicks or types into their browser a web address that they want to visit. That query is a question seeking the domain name and the files of the corresponding IP address.

Domain Registrar: This is a business that handles the reservation of domain names as well as the assignment of IP addresses for those domain names.

IP Address: An IP address is a unique address that identifies a device that is connected to the internet. IP stands for ‘Internet Protocol’ which is a set of rules that governs how data is sent and received on the internet. It basically allows for information to be sent by one device to another device.

DNS (Domain Name System): DNS stands for Domain Name System and its purpose is to map names of websites to numbers. This enables humans to use memorable domain names, while computers use numbers in identifying a website. Your favorite website may have a DNS name of 192.168.1.1, but as you can see it’s far more difficult to remember that versus www.Google.com.

Web Hosting: A web hosting company’s job is to make sure that your website is accessible on the internet. This is essentially rented computer space where your website text, images, videos, and other media files are saved and stored.

How dental website hosting works:

When a patient clicks on your website link, your website will appear almost immediately on their computer. Sounds simple, right? Well, the actual process is much more complicated.

The graphic below helps to understand this process. A patient types in your dental website address, essentially asking a question, “Where are the website files for this domain name cause I want to look at the website.”

The first step in the process is for the patient’s query to find the domain registrar and IP address. The registrar will identify the DNS server, which points to the hosting server, where the website files are located.

Why the daisy chain of the steps? I’m not sure, we’d probably need someone much nerdier than me to explain that. But, what I can tell you is that it works. 

Now that we understand the basics of how website hosting works, let’s answer some of the questions that are on almost every dentist’s mind.

Can I have a dental website hosted for free?

Yes, there are several options out there where you can host your website for free but they come with a small catch. A good example of this is Wix. Wix is a web design software tool that allows people with no computer coding experience to build a website. 

Once you’ve built your website using Wix you can host it with them for free, but, wait for it… wait for it… you have to allow Wix to advertise on your website. Pretty lame huh? I would not recommend this option.

There are other companies that allow for free hosting but it usually requires some form of advertising on your website.

Can I host my own dental website?

Yes, you can. However, there are a few tasks and potential issues to deal with. First of all, you’ll have to know how to set up a WWW server software on your computer. This type of software allows people online to access your website files that you’ve saved on your computer. When someone online clicks to see your website, your internet service provider will support the request allowing your files to be displayed correctly.

Hosting your own dental website is not something that many dentists do because there are a few issues you could run into. First, you’ll want to see what the bandwidth quota is from your internet service provider. If you have several people requesting to see your site at once you’ll run into a bandwidth problem at some point and when this happens your site will not load properly.

You’ll also need to have your computer turned on 24/7. If you turn your computer off and someone online clicks to see your website, they won’t see anything because the files will be offline. This is one of the main reasons why dentists pay for hosting. Most website hosting companies will guarantee your site to be accessible more than 99.9% of the time. When you pay for hosting you’re basically paying for the assurance that your website will always be accessible.

Why does my dental marketing company charge so much for dental website hosting?

Because it’s not just website hosting that they’re providing. Most dental website hosting companies provide a set of services including dental website design, website hosting, email hosting, live and chat support, site management, technological updates, SSL, copywriting, and software training, among other services. 

Some dental marketing companies provide domain hosting but we recommend that you purchase your domain and keep it separate from your website hosting. More detail on that is below.

A dentist’s job is to find the right package of services for their needs. If a dentist has the time and enjoys website management, email hosting and can make technical updates and changes without support, then the cost of hosting should be low, around $25 per month, or lower. If a dentist doesn’t want to fuss with any of this and wants everything taken care of, the monthly fee is usually around $100 – $300 per month depending on the amount of support.

Here at My Social Practice, we provide website hosting, technical updates, unlimited changes and updates to the site, design support, copywriting support, security updates, and live support. It’s a service for dentists who don’t want to fuss with anything. We don’t provide email support because we use Google Suite and recommend that for all of our clients. Google Suite has the best spam filtering on the planet and is super cheap, only a few dollars a month.

What is the difference between web hosting and domain hosting?

While both are very similar they are not the same product or service. A web host provides you with space on a computer server. On this server, your website media files, photos, and text are saved. When a patient clicks on a link that goes to a page on your website, like when you click on this next link, Dental Websites, a query is sent to the web hosting server, the files are requested, and displayed for the person.

Your domain is the name of your URL of your dental practice, ie, www.mysocialpractice.com. It’s an address that once clicked sends a request to the web hosting company to display the related server files. You need a company to host your domain name and a company to host your website files.

It is extremely important to own your own domain name. Do not! I repeat DO NOT, (notice how I caps-locked and bolded that, which means that I’m super serious) allow someone else to control your domain. Unfortunately, there are some website marketing companies that will force a dentist to purchase their domain name if they are considering canceling. This is an unscrupulous business practice and could potentially harm your online presence.

Domain names can be purchased and moved to different companies just like phone numbers. A great place to purchase your domain name is GoDaddy. Their customer service is fantastic and they’re priced competitively.

If you are currently in a website hosting contract and your domain name is in an account that the marketing company owns, you should ask them to transfer the domain name to your own account. You can give them admin access to your account allowing them to do everything that they need to do without you giving up control of your domain.

Does it matter where you purchase your domain name?

This is a soft ‘yes.’ It doesn’t really matter which domain registrar company you use as long as they are reputable and their pricing is competitive.

When it comes to domain registration you want to work with a company whose client website interface is simple to understand. You’ll also want to have a company that provides great customer service.

I’ve personally used GoDaddy and BlueHost. Of those two I prefer GoDaddy’s domain hosting service. One of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed them so much is their customer support. Every time I call, I speak to someone who is super sharp and quickly handles my issue.

Can I buy my domain with one company and my dental website hosting with another?

Yes. It’s actually a preferable way to manage your domain and web hosting. It allows you to avoid some frustrating pitfalls like domain name loss. Domain name loss can occur if your website hosting company locks your website files so that they are not able to be displayed online. If this company also is your domain registrar, you’re in trouble.

On the other hand, if you own your domain name and it’s hosted with a company that is different from your web hosting company and your web hosting company decides to lock your website files, you have a simple and quick solution. Log into your domain registrar account and point the DNS to the server where your new website files are located.

Dental web hosting can be complicated to understand, but it doesn’t have to be. You are now equipped with the knowledge you need in order to make an educated decision about which dental website hosting situation is right for your practice. At My Social Practice, we offer a comprehensive suite of tools and features that will help streamline the process of handling all aspects of your website design needs, so give us a call today!

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About the Author: Adrian Lefler is the Vice President of My Social Practice. He’s been involved in dental marketing for 13 years. He speaks and trains on digital marketing topics; social media marketing, dental websites, reputation management, SEO for dentists, Facebook marketing for dentists, and social paid to advertise. If you’d like to book Adrian or one of the other dental marketing experts, please do so on our dental speakers page.

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