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Ryan Cieslak, 1&1 Web Hosting

If you’ve been on the hunt for quality web hosting lately, you’ve probably come across the name 1&1. As a provider that prioritizes cost effectiveness while fast-tracking quality internet solutions, 1&1 simply knows what customers need. You’ll see that the company holds a comfortable spot on our list of Top 10 web hosting companies for that very reason. Consumer-Rankings’ staff caught up with 1&1 representative Ryan Cieslak recently to dig deeper into the company’s infrastructure and discuss some of the awesome features that contribute to its high-performance brand. Ryan was even awesome enough to provide us with some inside info on what 1&1 has in store for the near future.

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Thank you so much for taking out the time to answer a few questions with us. To start, why don’t you give us some basic company info? How long have you been in business? What services do you offer? And what makes the experience of hosting with 1&1 so unique?

1&1 has been in business overall for about 25 years. Also, this year marks our 10th Anniversary of being present in the U.S. Our products really focus on helping small businesses to succeed – whether that’s helping a small developer or helping other small businesses by providing high quality hosting and server products; or helping more directly through one of our Do-It-For-Me website builder products, domains, e-shops, etc. But it’s really about serving the needs of small businesses and making sure that they’re successful online.

Speaking of small businesses, would you say that 1&1 is geared specifically towards small businesses or does its technology scale to accommodate the needs of individual websites, as well? Talk a bit about the flexibility of 1&1.

The way we see it is, in many ways, the personal life and work life of small business owners are not that far apart. Most of the small businesses we service are very small – the 1 to 5 person companies. Of course, these people are not computer experts. And even if they are using hosting, most of the time they’re using WordPress or some other content management system. So, what’s really important is that our solutions – whether they’re being used for individual or small business needs – are super easy to use and don’t require a lot of technical aptitude. This really allows 1&1 to take care of all of the background, like hosting, making sure there’s great uptime and making sure that everything works. From our perspective, it doesn’t really matter if it’s an individual or a small business; our services fit both equally.

Other than top-notch web hosting, what other web services does 1&1 provide its clients with?

One of the main advantages of working with 1&1 is that we have such a large breadth of solutions. Furthermore, our large suite of solutions allow customers to really grow with us. For instance, let’s say someone has an idea and they jump online to buy a .com from 1&1 for just $0.99, a great deal which could help get any website off the ground. With that, they start off with our web-builder products, which means they can easily set up a website and get their business going. It starts to grow, and let’s say they eventually feel the need for some sort of customer database in addition to their current website. We can then introduce that customer to one of our hosting packages.

If the business continues to grow, they might need to be introduced to a dedicated server, which we can also provide. We could easily set them up with an e-shop if they want to provide services online, too. Finally, throughout that journey, we can provide the SEO tools and services that allow customers to reach those growth points where they need to change the underlying infrastructure of their business. So, from domain to full dedicated resource hosting, we can have them fully covered.

In talking resources, geo-redundancy comes to mind and the fact that many web hosting companies cannot offer it, yet 1&1 does. For those who might not already know, explain what geo-redundancy is and why 1&1 finds it such a necessity.

Geo-redundancy is our way of ensuring that customers have the most uptime possible. You’ll see a lot of web hosts that promote a certain uptime availability, but the reality is, if they have some sort of big failure –like a massive fire or natural disaster at a data center – them making that claim isn’t so helpful. We’ve seen these sorts of things happen. We decided to co-locate and replicate our entire data center at a different site that is relatively close to our primary data center. What that does is put the two data centers in dialogue, constantly updating and keeping each other in sync. So if one data center goes down, our network architecture could quickly switch to the other with almost no downtime. This also helps in that we don’t have to shut down users for routine maintenance; we can just switch them over to the co-located data center. Together, this all illustrates that while there’s a wide availability for competitors to make claims about their uptime, talk is cheap. Our co-located data center shows 1&1’s dedication to providing our clients with optimal uptime support.

Backing up a bit, you talked briefly about some of the marketing tools 1&1 provides to help site owners attract their target audiences and optimize their site’s performance. Can you elaborate on this topic?

Sure. Within our top website-builder package, we offer an SEO service that is taken on by our in-house SEO experts. For those that don’t have that top package, we offer a tool called SEO Spotlight, which allows existing customers a great understanding on how to really optimize their site for things such as keyword density, finding out where the appropriate keywords are and also keeping tabs on all their link-building. The other really powerful tool, which will actually be even more powerful in the upcoming months because we’re doing a significant amount of work on it, is our ListLocal product. This tool acknowledges the importance of local search for small businesses. You put all of your information into this product and it will blast it out to all relevant directories, as well as Google My Business, to ensure that our customers are found when they need to be.

1&1 offers customers a money back guarantee if they aren’t satisfied with its services. Granted this is not a standard offer for web hosting companies, what makes 1&1 confident enough in its products to make such a guarantee possible?

Well, we’re certainly not blind that there are tons of options in the web hosting/website building space, and we feel that since it is such a crowded and competitive environment, it’s really important that you be confident enough in your products to have customers come in and get their feet wet – allow them to see how well the products will work for them. The other part comes with this initiative that we rolled out last year called “The 1&1 Principles,” which outlines all of our commitments to our customers. Offering a money back guarantee is one of those principles. We used to have the money back guarantee on just some of our products, but we’ve really extended it to all of our products to show our commitment to having happy, satisfied customers.

When talking about money back guarantees, it only makes sense to follow that up with pricing. While price is not the only factor someone will consider when choosing a hosting provider, it’s certainly important. How does 1&1 balance affordable hosting with its goal of only offering the best products and features?

1&1 tries to provide customers with very attractive introductory pricing so that they have the best chance of trying our products. As is customary in the industry, we then move up to a price that is very competitive, and oftentimes more affordable than our competitors. We do that by passing any savings from our efficiencies onto our customers, because we understand that small businesses don’t have extra money to waste. So, we take a look at what we need to build the products effectively and support our operations; we then try to price the products fairly, particularly on the renewal side. This all goes back to the money back guarantee, where we want to make the barrier of entry very low so that customers can get in and really test out the products for themselves.

To wrap things up, what can new and existing customers expect from 1&1 moving forward? Are there any new technologies and/or products in the works?

As I mentioned briefly before, we recently launched our Do-It-For-Me product, which uses our in-house website building experts and puts them to work on building customers’ websites. We’ve had that going for a couple of months and have had some pretty strong success. There’s really an opportunity here for customers who in the past maybe paid their nephew a couple hundred bucks to build a site on a web hosting package or maybe have paid thousands of dollars to a web agency. We think of our product being somewhere in between. At around a $99/month price point, customers will have the building of the site, ongoing maintenance and hosting all taken care of. We think that’s a fairly reasonable price.

This year we’ve also launched a completely revamped e-shop product. It’s much more flexible with great usability that we didn’t have before. We’ve also launched a new WordPress offering, which is key because there are so many sites built on top of that platform. There will also be some updates to the ListLocal product in the coming months, which we think will be even better at improving how we help our small businesses customers go to market.

Consumer-Rankings would again like to thank Mr. Cieslak for his time and participation. Check out our full web hosting review of 1&1 here.

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