What is the best hosting for WordPress and why is it important?
Hosting is a big commitment for your business. Some agencies and website designers will ask that you host your website with them. Hosting is like the home of your website, everything from the walls to the furniture are like the files, media, and database of your website. You can buy a cheap home, but it might come full of expensive upgrades and issues that will cost you even more money down the road.
Note: Be Wary of Hosting Plans Provided Through an Agency, Designer, or Developer
When you explore WordPress hosting options, I highly recommend purchasing your website’s domain and hosting plan on your own, in your name, with your own credit card. The only reason you may want a hosting plan through a third party (such as a website designer, developer, or agency) is if you don’t want to deal with the updates and basic website maintenance required.
What features to look for in a hosting provider and platform?
The hosting provider you choose is one of the most important components to have a successful website. Shop and compare the best hosting platforms before you buy! It can save you a bunch of time depending on any number of website issues that may arise throughout the lifetime of your business website.
WordPress is or is Not a Hosting Provider?
Note about WordPress: WordPress is and is not a hosting platform. When originally created it was primarily a CMS (content management system) for blogging that offered writers a free subdomain with urls like: https://www.myblog.wordpress.org. To this day WordPress.org is the most widely used, open source CMS. Just don’t confuse it with WordPress.com which is privately owned by Automattic, Inc. Read more about the difference between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com.
So without further to do, here’s the top seven features to look for in a hosting provider, in order of importance:
- Tech support
- Ease of use
Your personal preferences may be similar or different depending on your business. I recommend defining those needs and making your own list. In the comments below, please share what features are on your list?
1. Do you have full control of your hosting plan and renewals?
I’ve heard so many horror stories of being tied into a hosting and maintenance plan that they weren’t happy with and didn’t know how to get out of it. Here are a few of the top complaints that I’ve heard from my clients:
- They had no idea what services are provided, only get a bill every month or year.
- They feel stuck with an agency or designer with terrible customer service. For instance, they pay a monthly fee but they never get a response to email requests for website updates.
- They don’t know how they can discontinue and switch providers.
- The technical support wait is long and they don’t know how to get help.
2. Is the hosting provider and platform sustainable?
A sustainable hosting provider is a hosting provider that has staying power. Not a company that will flake or be around for a few years then they are nowhere to be found. Go with hosting businesses that have a good track record and are more established. Personally, I think it’s best to go with a hosting provider that will be around for a while and shows that they can be consistent in the pricing and customer service they provide.
3. How is the hosting provider’s technical support?
When I first started designing WordPress websites, affordability was my top priority. That’s until I found the hard way. I started by using the most convenient and cheapest option which proved to have terrible tech support wait times. Then their team wasn’t very knowledgeable and I had to call back several times hoping for someone who knew how to fix the code. I didn’t have a developer at the time, so the hosting provider was my only hope.
A hosting provider’s customer support and technical support is often what will make or break my renewal. I’ll leave as soon as I can in order to have a better support experience. The hosting providers I outline below have the best technical support in the industry. And I hope they continue to hire with care and treat their tech support team with big bonuses. They can be a lifesaver in times of website crashes, code malfunctions, or worse you get hacked!
4. Is the hosting plan affordable and do they offer discounts?
Many new business owners and startups try to save money at every opportunity. Saving some money on hosting plans is no different. For this reason, I like a hosting provider that offers their service at a decent price. Bonus if they provide coupon codes, discounts, and sales. With everything getting more and more expensive in the world, I believe an affordable hosting provider is an important consideration.
The best time to purchase your hosting plans is the week of Black Friday or on Cyber Monday. Most hosting providers have such low prices, you might want to buy hosting for more than a year. See this year’s discounts below.
5. Who has the fastest hosting for WordPress?
Many hosting providers will tout that they have the fastest speeds for SEO and will help with all your needs. Yet, I’ve found through testing the basic plans that shared WordPress hosting is often unreliable.
If you have a brand new website and no traffic, speed may not be as important for you. Though speed is still an important factor to get more traffic on your website.
If you have a bunch of content, like a news website or a lot of traffic volume, website speed should be your top priority. Go with a hosting provider that has the ability to show speed of the websites under the plan. Test your website’s current speed with PageSpeed Insights by Google.
Sometimes a hosting provider (like SiteDistrict, link below) can transfer your website to a temporary hosting account and show how fast your website will be on their platform. If a provider doesn’t offer this option, I recommend trying a new hosting provider for one month before transferring.
6. Is the hosting platform easy to use?
Our perspectives on “ease of use” and user experience (UX) can be very different depending on our backgrounds, language, accessibility, and comfort level with technology. For that reason, I feel usability might be a top priority for many people. If that’s the case, please note that I may not be able to cover accessibility of hosting platforms in this article.
If you have a recommendation on hosting providers that consider hosting accessibility and offer services in different languages, please add it to the comments below.
For me, “ease of use” simply means an easy to navigate and intuitive experience without watching tutorials. The interface is user-friendly and has documentation on how to resolve common hosting issues. Look for demos or a tour of a hosting platform on YouTube. Just make sure it’s a new video made within the last year.
7. Is the hosting platform secure? Is there built in security?
Over the years, millions of WordPress websites have been hacked and 95% of them are due to human error. And a big warning goes to the small business owners! According to 30 Worrisome Cybersecurity Statistics : Data, Trends And More “Cybercriminals often target small businesses, infiltrating their websites and distributing malicious code to web users who view or interact with the site.”
Being hacked is no fun. During the 2016 election many of my websites were hacked. There was tons of porn, Trump propaganda, and who knows what else. Before that time I didn’t have any issues. I didn’t even have a security plugin installed (shh, don’t tell). And since my client’s websites had a bunch of traffic – the hackers saw it as an opportunity. It took days to get the website clean and restored from previously saved backup files.
How do cyberattacks happen in WordPress?
It’s usually the login page that gets attacked the most. If your username is “admin”, store your password in the browser, or never update it, chances are you’ll get hacked. Another way hackers get into your website is through expired plugins and themes that haven’t been updated. This is the number one reason to update your plugins and themes, or have a hosting provider that has automatic updates (like SiteGround). Then you can just set it and forget it.
Even if you have great security for your website, I highly recommend checking the WordPress dashboard for updates once a month.
Jenny Stern, Founder, Markit rockit
Nowadays, most of the WordPress hosting plans offer built-in security features. If your hosting plan doesn’t provide security, try the WordFence plugin and make sure you activate the firewall only after your website design is finalized.
Both SiteGround and SiteDistrict offer excellent protection and website backup options.
WordPress Hosting For Startups, Micro-Businesses, And Small Businesses
The following hosting options mentioned have been tested and tried over the past 7 years. Depending on what phase of business you’re in and what kind of website you have, you may need to consider shared or dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting vs managed dedicated hosting
These are the best WordPress hosting providers with excellent email and chat support. Their representatives are helpful and kind. I haven’t had many issues with them and can confidently recommend their services.
If this is your first website or first time purchasing hosting, I recommend using SiteGround. I’ve used this hosting provider for the past 5 years without any complaints. The tech support team is reliable and available with little to no wait time over the phone or via chat. They have a built-in security feature with easy installation of WordPress, WooCommerce, and free themes to choose from.
Many of my clients choose SiteGround’s Startup Plan since it starts at $2 per month for the first year. Unfortunately, after the promotional period the price will increase to regular price. The server where your website resides is shared with other websites, and the speed can be somewhat slower. SiteGround also has the best deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday every year.
If you want the fastest page load speeds and most secure WordPress hosting with all the bells and whistles, choose SiteDistrict. SiteDistrict is a micro-business and offers a dedicated cloud hosting service specializing in WordPress optimization and development support. Plans start at $20 per month, but well worth the peace of mind for small business owners. Matt provides excellent support with quick response times via email. Let him know Jenny from Markit Rockit sent you. Find out if SiteDistrict WordPress hosting right for you.
When is the best time to buy WordPress hosting?
The week of Black Friday and then on Cyber Monday is the time you want to purchase and renew your website hosting plan. If your website renews before that time, place your plan on monthly renewal, then purchase in bulk during the last 2 weeks of November. I want to make sure that my clients and Markit Rockit community get the best deals this week and for years to come!
Please note, I’m not an affiliate for SiteDistrict or WordFence. The only affiliate links in this blog are for SiteGround.
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