“Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies” – Oliver Goldsmith (1728 – 1774)
As the web hosting industry becomes more and more competitive,
customers are relying increasingly on various Web Hosting review site
rankings to help them separate the quality web hosting options from the
nightmare that can result from choosing the wrong host. But before you
choose your next host based on reviews or rankings, make sure the right
questions have been asked, and beware the lies in the promoted answers.
One of the inevitable hallmarks of a competitive free market is unscrupulous behavior by some unethical companies to get ahead. In short, lying, cheating and deceiving you to get your business.
These are the dirty secrets web hosting review sites don’t want you to know:
1. Many Web Hosting Review sites run for profit.
Running a website for profit is not, in and of itself, a dishonest thing. However, it is a big red-flag for any site promoting rankings, rating, or reviews, for one reason: bias.
Bias can take many forms.
In the worst cases, it’s flat-out extortion. Some review websites accept what amounts to a bribe from web hosting companies to artificially raise their ranking. Those who pay are listing at the top and reviewed positively, and those who don’t are condemned. Such rankings are obviously have nothing to do with the quality of the web hosting providers service and are therefore completely corrupt.
High-traffic review sites may even attempt to outright blackmail web hosts, threatening to promote poor reviews to their site visitors if the host does not pay for a positive rank.
Lesson: Be wary of any Website Host Review site that is run for-profit.
2. Many Website Host Review sites run “affiliate”, “sponsored”, “referral”, “link to us”, or “advertise with us” paid link exchange programs.
Paid link exchange programs are an instant giveaway of a corrupt review site. If you see the words “affiliate”, “sponsored”, “referral”, “link to us”, or “advertise with us” anywhere on the review site, it means they may be accepting payment to manipulate reviews and rankings, and should not be trusted.
Some Website Host Review sites negotiate a “referral” credit to ranked sites for referring new customers to them. Again, the web hosts that are willing to pay out the most to the review site will be ranked highest. This is a scam!
Tip: Check the page course on outgoing <A HREF> links. If they are linked through a .cgi or .php script to track clicks, the site is probably running an affiliate program.
Lesson: Do not trust any Website Host Review site that does not clearly identify its “affiliate” (paid) links, reviews, and ratings.
3. Many Website Host Review write their own reviews and rate their own rankings.
The conflict of interest here should be obvious. Real customer feedback is absolutely critical to establishing a genuine review or ranking of a service.
However, many review sites write their own reviews, often without even being customers of the service! The information may be incomplete, inaccurate, selective, or outright slanderous just to make the host look bad.
Have no doubt that if a review site is writing its own content, they will not hesitate to warp reviews to suit their favor and sling mud at any web host that does not pay them to keep the good word.
Likewise, some review sites control their own rankings without any external user feedback, meaning they can rank hosts any way they please — usually to the highest bidder.
Lesson: Always be on the lookout for self-interest, bias, and conflict of interest in reviews and rankings.
4. Many Website Host Review selectively edit or moderate submitted reviews.
In show business, “any news” might be good news, but in the website hosting business, a poor review can be very damaging to a legitimate company’s reputation and sales.
Some review sites exploit this by selectively editing or moderating otherwise legitimate reviews submitted by website host customers. By featuring a negative review more or less prominently; these sites can again manipulate hosts into paying unfairly to protect their name from bad press.
Likewise, positive reviews can be featured by Website Host Review sites to artificially promote a cooperating (read: paying) Website Host with more visibility and a higher standing in rankings, while still appearing to be a legitimate and unbiased review site.
Lesson: Take everything you read in a review or ranking with a grain of salt until you can verify it yourself.
5. Not all Web Hosts are created equal.
Besides all this paranoid talk about corruption and bribery, remember too that not every host is created equally. Thus, not every host is fit to be ranked by the same (often overly-simplistic) criteria in a review or ranking.
Many review sites will only consider the most basic criteria of a hosting package, whereby the deeper nuances of the Host’s services, customer service, or professional conduct may be what really sets the company apart.
Lesson: Be wary of the scope and criteria of reviews, and make sure they actually address the issues that concern you as a customer!
6. When money’s involved, who’s “best” has nothing to do with it.
As a customer, you want to choose the Website Host who will serve your needs best. Unfortunately, when money is involved with Website Hosting Review sites, the reviews and rankings presented may have little to nothing to do with who’s really “best”.
So for you as a customer, the best thing you can do is your own research. Let the companies speak for themselves. Call prospective web hosting companies yourself, and talk to them about their services and features. Look for hosts that offer a service guarantee or trial offer. Ask your friends who they use, and what their experiences have been.
Lesson: Always trust your own research and network over the opinion of any potentially-biased anonymous review, no matter how legitimate it seems.
Thanks to our friends at MyHosting.com for this post.