A2 Hosting Review

A2 is yet another website hosting company that offers unlimited everything for a fairly inexpensive price. But is there anything that sets A2 apart from the competition? Yes! And I’ve got the information you need to decide if this company is the best choice for hosting your website (if you are a developer, you will definitely want to check this out).

Read on…

Is A2 an “A1 Company”?

According to the Better Business Bureau, they are, indeed! The BBB gives A2 Hosting Inc. an A rating. One of the reasons for this excellent rating is a total of four customer complaints in the past three years. That’s right: four complaints. From what I’ve seen, many other hosting companies receive that many complaints from customers in a single month – or even week!

So…A2 must be doing something right. Although they haven’t been in business all that long, being founded in 2001 as Iniquinet before switching to A2 in 2003, this Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company has built their good reputation on superior speed, uptime and customer service.

Owned by a group of developers, A2 is eager to incorporate new technologies as soon as they are available. Along with providing a lot of developer tools to their customers, their adoption of cutting-edge technology makes A2 an excellent choice for someone who wants full control over their website functionality and design using the latest tools.

What’s Different About A2?

There are a couple things about web hosting service from A2 that really stand out: their SwiftServer platform and SSD hosting.

One thing A2 is known for is its fast speeds. One of the reasons they can claim your website will load faster on their servers is due to the SwiftServer platform, which includes high performance servers designed by the company’s developers.

SSD stands for Solid State Drive. That’s an option you can add to your account if you want your website’s pages to load up to 300 percent faster than files on a standard server hard drive.

Between SwiftServer and SSD, A2 provides some of the fastest speeds available in a shared hosting plan – or from a dedicated server.

All-Inclusive Shared Hosting Accounts

A2 provides just three shared hosting plans: Lite, Swift, and Turbo.

Swift and Turbo come with unlimited everything: storage, transfer, emails, domains, subdomains, parked domains and databases. They also include free backups and a anytime money back guarantee.

All accounts have access to all the popular applications, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, along with a shopping cart for basic e-commerce (additional software and applications, such as a private SSL certificate and merchant account, available at an extra charge).

Also – their shared hosting accounts are easily managed via the popular cPanel control panel.

For developers, A2 Hosting includes the following:

  • PHP (5 & 7 versions)
  • Unlimited MySQL 5.5 databases
  • PostgreSQL 9.1
  • phpMyAdmin & phhpPgAdmin
  • SSH access
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • PERL
  • Git, CVS, Subversion & Mercurial

A few things of note with A2’s shared hosting plans:

  1. Railgun Optimizer, which loads your site’s pages up to 143 times faster, is available as an add-on for the Prime account and included free with a Prime+SSD account
  2. Prime account customers get a choice of hosting their files on a U.S. or European server.
  3. A dedicated IP address costs an additional $3 per month.

Other Types of Accounts

Although shared hosting always seems to be the website hosting company’s bread and butter, A2 also offers reseller accounts, VPS and dedicated hosting. They will manage hosting for VPS and dedicated packages, too, if you don’t want the hassle of doing so.

All reseller accounts can host as many client sites as they wish. The difference between the three tiers of service, ranging from $9.89 to $26.39 per month, is in the storage space and data transfer limits. You have the option to add SSD to any reseller account for $5 per month extra.

Now – VPS accounts. A2 is really unique in that they allow a custom-designed server configuration. You get to choose how much disk space, CPU, bandwidth and memory you want and then select an operating system from 13 options. The nice thing is that you only pay for what you need – it’s not necessary to purchase a package with a huge amount of disk space, for instance, if that doesn’t suit your needs.

All VPS plans allow a single IP address and come with perpetual security, choice of server location (Iceland is a 100 percent “green” choice), root and SSH access, full network control and a SolusVM control panel (cPanel is not an option here).

If you want A2 to manage your VPS hosting account, you can choose from three different preconfigured packages with limited RAM, storage, data transfer, virtual CPUs and two dedicated IP addresses. Prices for managed VPS accounts range from $32.99 to $65.99 per month.

How about dedicated hosting? While you have to contact the company for pricing, there are two options: Flex Dedicated Server and Managed Flex Dedicated Server. Of course, the former option is great if you are comfortable with administering and developing your server from the command line using root access and a Linux OS. You also get to configure your server’s hardware the way you want it. Managed dedicated hosting uses a preconfigured server with cPanel.

Does A2 Uphold Their Promise of Excellent Customer Service?

Customer service is at the backbone of A2’s mission statement so I wondered if they really live up to expectations in regard to their 24/7/365 customer support promise. As far as I can tell, they do!

Service is provided via phone, fax, email, live chat or online ticket system. They also provide a Knowledgebase resource online.

That’s all pretty standard stuff – but when you start researching customer ratings and reviews on external sites, you will find one of the highest levels of satisfaction ever encountered! Technical support is provided within 24 hours and the ‘Guru Crew’ (as A2 refers to them) is knowledgeable, honest and helpful.

Is A2 Hosting Reliable?

A2 offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee.

In WHSR’s A2 Hosting review – test site is constantly scoring above 99.9 percent uptime.

I could find no complaints about website downtime. Sure, they have issues every now and then just like any other company, but their customers seem happy with the resolutions provided by A2 support.

Who Should Use A2 Hosting Services?

A2 web hosting – whether it’s shared, VPS, reseller or dedicated – is perfect for developers who want the ultimate level of control over their sites. I particularly like the fact that they allow you to configure your own servers (for VPS and dedicated hosting) and allow ample control.

But it’s also a good value for those who aren’t quite as comfortable with development and design of a website. Because their technical support and customer service departments are so highly rated, it’s easy to get the help you need.

A2 offers a “hassle-free money back guarantee” which you can request at any time. With a promise of getting all your money back (for monthly hosting fees less any add-ons, anyway), that should make anyone switching A2 confident they won’t be locked into a long-term contract if they become dissatisfied.

A2 Hosting Pros & Cons

As a recap, here is what I think are the best and worst features of A2:

Pros

  • Greater control over website design and configuration
  • Excellent BBB rating
  • Fast speed
  • Your choice of servers
  • Great customer service/support
  • Excellent reliability

Cons

  • Few affordable account options
  • Dedicated IP addresses cost extra

A2 offers mid-range priced hosting plans, excellent speed, great customer service and a good variety of customizable features, making them a great pick for any website owner, but especially developers and businesses.

Alternatives: SiteGround, InterServer, Altus Host, Name Cheap.

Facebook = Most Powerful Advertising Tool

Traditional marketers and sellers often see themselves going to a place where most people hang out, and that is a shopping mall.

They would set up attractive display booths and will try every strategy in the book to lure prospective buyers to listen to their demonstrations, try their products and eventually buy their products.

But with the popularity of  Facebook, I am not surprised that marketers and sellers will also exert their efforts in Facebook advertising. If the shopping mall is a place where people go, Facebook on the other hand is where close to 500 million people meet, socialize, buy and sell.

You read it right.

This popular social network site is not only the ‘in’ online place where you can update your social calendar, tag friends, post comments and click the Like or Unlike icon. But it is also a place where buyers and sellers congregate online simply because of the reason that it is where roughly 500 million people are registered. So, just like other online marketers and sellers, you also want to try your hand in Facebook advertising and attract even just a fraction of the staggering millions of Facebook users.

Also, with the continuous increasing popularity of Facebook, I am pretty sure that the number of registered users will further escalate in the coming years. So, if you will go for Facebook advertising, an increase in the number of Facebook users is a great reason for you to celebrate—it is an opportunity for you to enjoy higher sales and increased profit. But before you can reap Facebook advertising success, first you need to learn the ways on how to convert Facebook into your most powerful advertising tool like:

Facebook Advertising Increases Your Business Exposure

One way to attain satisfying marketing and advertising exposure to your targeted market is by utilizing Facebook’s advertising tool. Facebook advertising is a recent development in this popular social media site wherein you and other Facebook users will still enjoy the same real-time social updates but you are also presented with different advertisements that cater to your likes or interests.

So, if you will use Facebook to advertise your products or services, your ads will also find its place among other ads placed vertically in the right hand corner of your Facebook account. If you’ll notice in your account, you will see on the right side area a pixel box approximately 110 x 80 in size. It is in the small box where basic information like title of your ads, URL link, image and a brief description for about 135 characters of your advertisement will be located.

Another great thing about it is that the ads you see are not just placed there randomly. Just like I mentioned before, the ads cater to your likes or interests since Facebook take into consideration the pages you visited, the pages you ‘Like’, the groups you belong to, and your interests. So, the ads that you see might be different from the ads that other Facebook users see. Let’s say most of your likes are about pets or travel, then it is most likely that the ads you will see in your account are also connected to pets or travel.

So, as an online marketer, you will want to take advantage of this great advertising tool especially that Facebook advertising is an opportunity for you to advertise your products to your targeted market.

However, to effectively create compelling Facebook ads, it is crucial that you spend time to craft a unique and eye catching ad content and design.

Furthermore, the mobile features of Facebook enable your advertisement to be seen by Facebook mobile phone users. This is a powerful feature wherein your targeted market can be reminded about your ads wherever they are. Also, aside from being an efficient and powerful advertising tool, Facebook Advertising is more affordable to use than the usual pay per click advertisements. It is also way affordable that other traditional online marketing schemes.

Increase Advertising and Marketing Exposure through Fan Page

Aside from Facebook Advertising, there is also another way on how you can convert Facebook into your most powerful advertising tool. You can increase your exposure to your targeted market by creating a Fan Page in Facebook. The number of Facebook users who clicked the Like or Unlike icon will help you gauge the level of exposure of your products or services.

But as a rule of thumb, regardless of how many advertisements or fan pages you intend to create, catching the attention of your targeted market should be your first priority. To do this, write compelling and exciting information about your company. Aside from the basic information like business name or contact details, the brief description about what your company offers should be interesting enough to entice Facebook users to visit your site.

In short, don’t write boring ads.

While interesting images also attracts attention but lastly, once you started your advertising efforts, don’t juts be contented with it. Follow it through and look for other advertising opportunities and possibilities you can explore in Facebook.

What SEO Is Not

SEO is one of the biggest buzz words (actually, it’s an acronym) in marketing.

It is also one of the most ambiguous. With the complexity of the algorithms Google and other search engines use to determine search engine rankings, it is no wonder so many are at a loss for where to start. Sometimes, though, it’s not just about doing what’s right; it’s also about avoiding what’s wrong.

Let’s explore what tasks should be kept on the do not do list.

Do not pay $4.99 for 500 links.

Or $5.99 or even $6.99!

In other words, be leery of link sellers that promise you spectacular results for dirt cheap. Many of them implement the shadiest techniques and are more likely to get your site penalized than number one rankings.

If you want to rank well you will need to make an investment. Find a company that will be transparent about their process, analytical in reporting, and responsive in communications. Or, hone up on the best practices and perform the basics on your own.

Do not think Google is the only search engine.

While Google is the biggest and probably most well-known search engine in the U.S., it isn’t the only one. Both Yahoo and Bing are hovering around 15% of the online searches each (source). A lot of the techniques will be the same to rank well across search engine algorithms, but it is a good idea to take note of differences between the major three players (Google, Yahoo, & Bing).

Do not optimize for SEO. Optimize for users.

The ultimate point of your website is not for search engine spiders to deem your site worthy, it’s for consumers to find you, learn about you, and ultimately become an advocate (whether that is purchasing goods, services, or supporting your cause). If you rank #1 but your visitors aren’t enjoying or revisiting your site, would you really consider it a success? Probably not. You’ll need to find the sweet spot between providing information to your visitors and writing it in a way that search engines find it relevant.

Do not limit SEO to a one-time task.

Content is constantly being added to the Internet, new websites are being published, and search engines are tweaking their algorithms to provide better results to their visitors. In light of this, if you want to see steady results from your SEO efforts, it needs to an ongoing part of your strategy. Just like if you want to be a professional athlete; you don’t buy the sports gear, practice for a day and think you have what it takes to be on top. You invest time and money in to practicing and learning the techniques necessary to succeed. The same goes with SEO.

Do not use SEO as your sole online marketing technique.

SEO is not the end all be all of online marketing. While it is important, there are also several other online channels you can use to increase traffic to your site and convert visitors into customers (PPC, social media, banner ads, email marketing, etc.)

Do not think you will jump to #1 over night.

If it were possible to jump the ranks like that you would be just as likely to be jousted from your #1 position the next day. Like I stated in #4, positive and quality SEO results will take time. SEO efforts require a long term investment.

Do not steal your competitors’ info.

Also known as “scraping” a site, not only is it unethical, it is very likely Google will penalize you for this practice and mark your site as spam. Take pride in your understanding of your target audience and tailor your content to fit them to a T.

Do not add keywords just to have them.

It used to be a common strategy to write very keyword dense content, most of the time well past the point of comprehension. Not only is this a turn off for your visitors, search engine algorithms are onto this and will penalize you. Please refer back to #3 – don’t write for spiders, write for people!

Do not think all links are created equal.

“SEO Gurus” often strive to get as many links as possible without worry about the quality of the link.

A link is a link, right? Wrong.

The fact is that quality does matter in building links. Spend time retrieving quality links, not just volume.