Why Most Web Hosting “Top 10” Lists are Deceiving
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Web hosts proudly display their awards on advertisements: “Named Best Host of 2014” and “Most Reliable Host of the Year.” Sometimes these awards have value. For example, many people know of Webby Awards because it’s the most reputable and highly celebrated Internet achievement. Companies must enter to compete, and the award is decided by millions of Internet users. However, 99 percent of web awards are nothing like Webby. In fact, the sole reason most web host awards exist is profit.
Digging Deeper into Deception
A web host has a plethora of methods to attract new customers. One method is creating an affiliate program and letting social butterflies and entrepreneurs spread the word. In return, those people get a small check for each new sign up. Affiliates need a platform to tell others about the host, so they might turn to blogging or maintaining their own website. Many affiliates become successful by providing objective, unbiased reviews of the companies they’re working with. So far, none of this is disreputable or out of the norm.
Web Host Affiliations Gone Wrong
Creating lists is a sure-fire way to draw attention. People love reading “Top 10 Worst Companies in the World” or “7 Craziest Cures for the Common Cold.” If you Google “top web hosts”, the search engine will return hundreds of thousands of results, many of which are top whatever lists. Still, there is nothing deceptive about a list… unless it unfairly pushes a specific web host to the top.
Affiliates who give out awards have a strong incentive to choose the web host that pays the most per referral. If the web host features their new award on the website, perhaps even linking back to the affiliate, everyone wins. The web host looks more impressive than it actually is, and the affiliate has more traffic and receives a nod from Google for being linked to by such a reputable website.
In a perfect world, entrepreneurs would choose their affiliations by selecting companies they want to associate with. At least, if they join an affiliate program of a terrible web host, they should warn others away. However, this isn’t a perfect world.
Identifying Web Host Affiliates
Reputable affiliates are upfront about their affiliation. Their reviews or blog posts should be balanced, without an obvious preference for one host without a good reason. Preferably, they should be open about their methodology and ranking system. If they’re a blogger and simply writing about their experiences, be skeptical about people who are overly enthusiastic about every host they review.
In general, use common sense when trying to determine the value of an award. An award from PCMag isn’t something to scoff at, but a website named “TommysTopWebHosts” is questionable. The company should explain why an award was given, and that reason shouldn’t be easily applicable to all other web hosts that supposedly competed.
Revuezzle maintains an affiliate relationship with some of the merchants listed on our site. In addition, we’re also paying customers of both Phone.com and WP Engine. However, this doesn’t affect our ranking system. We place an emphasis on writing unbiased, balanced reviews. We have ranked merchants in our top positions that we have neither an affiliate relationship with or any type of compensation relationship with.