In all my years of website design, Joomla template development, and WordPress theme development, there is one thing that really irks me... Why is it so difficult to find a quality WordPress hosting, actually, a host for any type of website in general. I'm sure you did a search in Google for the best WordPress web host provider or just the best web host. Overwhelming how many review sites and review blogs show up.
What I won't be doing with this article is providing reviews, but rather giving you the answers to several questions that will help you choose the right WordPress hosting provider.
What is Common with the Google Results?
When you search with keywords such as the "best WordPress web host" or the "best web host providers", you might notice a few things:
- They all talk about the same host companies
- They all have seem to focus on a specific few names
- Their links to the hosts are affiliate links
A quick funny story here...I remember one web host review site that talked about and reviewed (with awesome ratings) a particular host. Yet they were using a completely different host for their own website. I asked them if they have ever used that host, I got no answer. I remember when I posed as a potential host customer and they basically said "oh yes, they are amazing!" Overall, I take hosting reviews with a grain-of-salt.
Answers to Help You Choose the Right WordPress Hosting
I'm going to help you out so you can find the best web host for your WordPress blog or website. I'm also going to do this without affiliate links! Yes, you heard me right, no affiliate links! I'm not sure if you were frustrated with a host or trying to find a hosting provider, but I can certainly relate. I've used several hosts in the past, but I can say I have enough experience to guide you through this.
Let's begin by getting you to answer some important questions:
What Kind of Website do You Have?
Before anything, you have to know what kind of website do you or plan to have? Will it be a blog, e-commerce, a membership based website, or news magazine, or other? If it's just a blog, you don't need anything substantial, but if you start getting into e-commerce or anything that requires security and user registrations, then you need a bit more.
Do You Need a Scalable Solution?
Basically what this means is that as your website grows, can your web host make adding more services and/or resources easily? This is especially important if you register users on your website for membership access, forum participation, etc. As your website grows, it requires more resources. There may be a time that you have to upgrade from a Shared Host to a VPS or Dedicated server; can your host make that transition easy?
Is Super Fast Support an Absolute Necessity?
I would think the answer is yes, because if your website goes offline, you want it back online as fast as possible! Likewise, if you run into any problem, is getting fast support important? Can you accept only email support, or do you need 24/7 phone support, or perhaps live chat support? Basically, the answer to this question should be a big YES!
How Much Host Management Experience do you Have?
I just thought about that question moments ago and it's actually a very important one. The more experience you have using hosting services such as setting up your website, using FTP, setting up databases, file management, etc., the better. Do you have a basic understanding what a host server is, or host to use control panels that the host provides?
With regards to WordPress, are you comfortable enough to log into your web host provider, setup a database and install WordPress? If not, don't feel bad because most people have never done this before. So you may want to seek out a WordPress hosting provider that has Managed WordPress packages, or a 1-click install of WordPress (does it for you).
What are Some Other Features You Need?
Here is a list of things to consider asking yourself:
- How important is a brand name hosting?
- Is price a deciding factor?
- Is support a deciding factor?
- Do you need a hosting knowledge-base of informative documentation for self-help?
- If you need SSL (Secure Sockets Layer certificates), does it matter if it's paid or free?
- Is fully managed WordPress hosting important for you? Basically this means a company that only does WordPress hosting and usually means their servers are optimized for WordPress.
There are a few more items I can list, but I kept it to the basics.
Search the Internet for the Hosting Company Info?
I always recommend people start with the host company's information page, then I move on to Google.
- Read about their history and who they are.
- How long have they been in business for?
- Who owns them?
- Are they an affiliate hosting company run under another source?
- Where are they located and where are their servers?
I would even go as far as looking up in Google for the Better Business Bureau (or whatever equivalent you have in your country) and read any complaints and if they were solved. Find any complaints for the hosting company you are considering. One thing to note is that there is no such thing as a perfect host; every one will have good things and bad things listed. Only you can make judgement based on what you read as complaints.
What Kind of Billing do you Want for Hosting?
An odd question to ask, but important and I'm going to tell you why... If you are looking for a new WordPress hosting provider, or for any type of website, check out their billing and payment terms. Find out what they offer and make sure you read the fine print! I've seen too many people get ripped off and lose a ton of money because they signed up for a term and paid a lot of money, only to find out there are no refunds.
When you find a host to try out, NEVER sign-up for a term, always opt in for a monthly billing cycle. The price will be a bit higher, but this gives you a chance to get out should you decide the host sucks! If you signed up for 6-months or 1-year (the most common), you could be in for a fight to get your money back.
Look for the web host that offers at least a 30-day money back guarantee, but still do NOT sign up for a term until you are absolutely 100% happy. I like to recommend paying monthly for a year so that it gives me enough time to try them out. Only then you can consider a term, but make sure you can back out of it at any time with a refund of whatever unused months remain.
Read their refund policy!
Don't Register or Keep Your Domain Name on the Host
I know many people love registering their domain names with the host provider they use or plan to use. I've even seen people setup hosting and then transfer their domain registration to the host—Never Do That!
Keep your domain and hosting separate...always! If anything went wrong with the host, you just might lose your domain name. If you registered your domain on an unknown unaccredited registrar, what could go wrong?
Long story short, keep your domain registered separate, but most of all, try to use an ICANN accredited and popular domain registrar for it. The most popular one of course is Godaddy, which is where I have all my domains. Don't like their hosting, but for domain management, I recommend registering or moving your domain to them. Of course, that is just my own opinion after 12 years of using them. Just be careful of their opt-in and up-sells...they are good at trying to sell you more.
Let's Talk About Pricing
I bet most will say a deciding factor is price. I can understand that and even I made decisions on hosting, but just not solely on price. Pricing is important but it should not be a primary deciding factor in your quest for the right hosting provider. Going for a very expensive solution is not a guarantee the host is tops, nor does a really low price mean the host is poor quality.
It's really a balancing act between doing your homework before signing up and reading reviews, hearing from friends or colleagues, and going on gut feeling.
Here is how I see pricing...
If I know I am signing up for a good solid quality host, I don't mind paying a bit more if they have what I am needing. I pay $20 per month, but for what I am getting and what was important to me, it's a great deal. Sure there's a few things that I wish they had, but overall, I'm happy and have used them for 8 years now. In the event you are wondering who they are, I use Media Temple.
In a nutshell, consider the value of your website or blog. The amount of time and effort you put into it and the value of your website visitors (or customers). Now imagine if something goes wrong but your host isn't there for you FAST! Is it worth trying to find that $1 per month hosting package if you lose your website?
Remember the idiom "You get what you pay for".
Know your budget and what the maximum amount you are willing to pay based on your needs and what is important to you. Prices range from just a few dollars all the way into the $1000's. But for shared hosting, which is what you are more likely starting out with, I think anything from $10 to $35 per month is realistic.
I mentioned this earlier about doing Google search and seeing all the results of websites doing "honest" reviews...as I roll my eyes. Take these reviews with a grain-of-salt because I would say 90% are simply written up for the affiliate payouts. Don't make your decision based on what they say, make it from doing your own research and decide on what is important to your website.
Testing a Hosting Provider with Questions
Here is a suggestion for you to explore when looking for a new WordPress Hosting provider...
Contact them and ask them some questions and make note of how long they take to get back to you. Review their answers to your questions to see if they were helpful. If you happen to ask questions using a chat window, don't let them pressure you to sign-up right there; even with special offers they give you.