I know trying to find a website hosting company that you can rely on can be difficult, so I put together a certain criteria that you should look for when shopping around. Here is my top 10 things to look for from a website hosting company:

10) cPanel – Although, not critical, it certainly helps. Cpanel offers a ton of different tools that can help your website. You can analyze the kind of traffic you’re getting, create email accounts, setup auto responders, but most importantly it has Fantastico. With Fantastico, you can load scripts for forums, blogs, and most importantly WordPress. With WordPress, you get one of the best blog/website building software you can find. And its absolutely free.

9) Bandwith – If you are just starting out, chances are you don’t have to worry about this for a while, but its obviously better to have more bandwidth as your sites will be able to handle the traffic better. When you are first starting out you are not going to come close to the bandwidth limit most hosting companies provide so it will be a non-issue, but once you start becoming an expert webmaster it is something to look at and consider.

8) No contracts! – Most hosting companies nowadays let you pay month to month. If they force you to sign a contract, I would definitely think twice about opening an account. If they truly offer a great service, then they don’t have to worry about a customer leaving. I only wish cell phone companies thought this way.

7) Able to host unlimited domains – They must be able to offer some kind of shared hosting for multiple domains. This is perfect for a newbie who doesn’t want to pay the big bucks of getting a dedicated server. With shared hosting you can constantly add websites as an add-on domain to your first domain, but as far as the internet world is concerned they are separate websites.

6) Price – I’d be lying if I said price isn’t important. But most importantly remember what you’re getting for that price. The payment you make every month should be for good, quality service. Don’t think because you are getting it cheaper, you are getting a better deal. You’ll be paying for it in the long run with all the issues you might get from a poor hosting company.

5) Money Back Guarantee – It’s not entirely critical but a good hosting company should be able to stand behind the service they provide, with a money back guarantee. Most offer a minimum of 15 days so you get some time to try out the service risk free.

4) Disk Space – If you are just planning on building simple personal blogs then it may not be critical. But if you have your heart set on being the next YouTube, then yes, disk space is very critical. It all depends on what you are trying to build.

3) Fast Servers – I know this may seem pretty obvious but your pages have to load quickly. In the current lighting quick information age that we live in, people are not going to wait around for website to load. They’ll just hit the back button and go on with their day.

2) Customer Service – You will eventually run into some kind of problem, whether it be your fault or the hosting company. I don’t care who your hosting company is, it’s going to happen. So whenever you do have to make that call, you want to know that it won’t take you an hour before you reach a live person. And when you do, you want to know that they are professional and can help you with any issues you may be having.

1) Uptime – Your website has to be available for the world to see. If the page just shows an internal server error, chances are you have lost a potential sale or subscriber. Their servers have to be reliable. You’d be amazed how many horror stories you hear from webmasters who chose poor web hosting companies. They’d go through days with their websites being down. That is completely unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated.