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26 November 2018

How to Choose the Right Web Hosting Company (A Quick Guide)

How to Choose the Right Web Hosting Company (A Quick Guide)

Choosing the right WordPress hosting company isn’t easy. Especially nowadays when there are so many to choose from. Each have their own set of features, multiple plans to pick from, and price points ranging from free to way too expensive.

But having a good web hosting provider is really important if you want a secure, high performing website that ranks well in search results.

After all, your web host will be responsible for storing and delivering your website’s content to site visitors. Not to mention, your site’s uptime, security, speed, and performance largely rely on the quality of your web host and the servers they use to store your site’s files.

If you’re thinking about launching a WordPress website and are in need of hosting, or are considering making a switch but aren’t sure what to look for in the next web hosting company you choose, keep reading. In this guide, we’ll examine what to look for in a hosting company. This way, you can focus your attention on growing your business rather than whether your site’s files are safe and rendering for site visitors as they should.

What is WordPress Hosting?

For those who are unfamiliar, web hosting is a service that stores your website’s files and serves them to site visitors when they click on your site in a search result or type your URL into their browser.

When it comes to building a website, think about like this: your domain is like buying a plot of land and hosting is like building a house on that land. They are both necessary and set the foundation for a good website.

Your files are stored on specialized computers called servers. These servers are usually located in various places throughout the world and are highly secure.

There are many different types of web hosting available depending on your needs:

  • Shared Hosting: all site files are stored on one physical server and split amongst hundreds, or even thousands, of website owners. If someone uses up more than their allotted resources, your site is at risk for slow loading times, errors, and even downtime.
    • Pros for this type of hosting: it is good for beginners, those with small sites, or those on a limited budget.
  • Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting: all site files are stored on a virtual server and split amongst approximately 20 website owners. If someone uses up more than their allotted resources, they simply access more and your site remains unaffected.
    • Benefits of this type of hosting: it is perfect for those with eCommerce websites or websites that are expected to grow in the near future but aren’t in their growth spurt yet.
  • Cloud Hosting: much like VPS hosting, cloud hosting has seemingly endless resources. However, rather than split resources and allot more as needed, a cloud server is one giant server that everyone feeds off.
    • Pros for this type of hosting: it is best for those who have highly trafficked websites that continually need more resources so they can continue to scale up.
  • Dedicated Hosting: you rent one physical server and store all of your site’s files on it, without having to worry about anyone else. You maintain control over the server’s hardware, and are in charge of fixing any issues that pop up.
    • Notes about this type of hosting: it is a very expensive type of hosting and should only be considered by those with very large, well-established, and highly trafficked websites.

With all that said, WordPress hosting is a specialized hosting that caters to those using WordPress as their content management system (CMS). Most WordPress hosting companies offer one-click WordPress installations so getting your website up and running is a cinch.

In addition, you might receive additional benefits such as a server-side caching solution, faster loading speeds, better security, and even WordPress staging sites if you choose a WordPress host for your website.

There are two types of WordPress hosting:

    1. Unmanaged WordPress Hosting: this type of hosting is very limited and thus very affordable. Your site is hosted on a server, and that’s about it. You are in charge of things like server management, backups, and site security. That said, some hosting providers will give their customers a hybrid of unmanaged and managed hosting. This means they take on some of the technical tasks associated with hosting your website, but not all.
    2. Managed WordPress Hosting: this type of hosting is still a new concept, but is growing in popularity. With managed WordPress hosting, you don’t have to take care of technical details like server management, upgrading the WordPress core, plugins, and themes, site backups, and security. Many managed hosts even offer WordPress-specific speed optimizations.

However with that said, if you have a WordPress website, you don’t necessarily need to invest in WordPress hosting to run your website.

In fact, all web hosts are technically able to host your site’s files, whether you use WordPress or some other CMS. So why use a dedicated WordPress host?, It’s simple, using a web hosting company that’s optimized for WordPress has the potential to offer you and your site visitors a much better experience.

How to Choose the Right WordPress Hosting Company

Choosing the right hosting company for your website is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

Take a look at the main things you should look for before finalizing your decision.

1. Look for Built-in Security Features

You work hard to build your website, publish killer content, and drive traffic to your site.
It would be a shame to lose all the hard work because of a hack or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Fortunately, most reputable web hosts understand the need to provide hosting plans that have built-in security measures such as:

  • DDoS protection or firewall systems to prevent server and site crashes
  • Free or premium SSL certificates to protect the financial information of your customers or just provide customers peace of mind
  • Offsite backup solutions and site restorations in the case of a crash or security breach
  • WordPress experts on hand 24/7 to help with any issues, including security concerns
  • Malware scanning and removal, round the clock security scanning, built-in antivirus software, security patches and updates, and even site cleanups if your website is attacked

WordPress security is something you should never sacrifice when it comes to picking a hosting provider, especially when your site begins to grow. And, while you should take security precautions into your hands, just to be safe, it helps to have a trustworthy web host helping you out.

2. Research Scalability

Good WordPress hosting companies know that people want their websites to grow. Whether that be in the form of loyal readers or repeat customers, having the ability to scale is a must-have hosting feature.

When you’re looking for a hosting provider, make sure they offer a variety of plans. For instance, make sure they have plans for those just starting out, those beginning to see more traffic, and those with well-established websites and a ton of daily traffic.

In addition, look for bandwidth, storage, and site visitor limits and what happens if you exceed those limits. Some hosting companies will charge you a lot of money if you go over your allotted amounts. Others will recognize you’re beginning to grow and help you scale up. And still yet, others will simply shut you down because they can’t handle the influx of traffic.

Amazon lost nearly $2 million, or $66,240 per minute, in one of their most famous site outages. That’s a lot of revenue to lose because of a website downtime.

And while it’s likely you don’t stand to lose quite that much money, the truth is, there is still money to be lost if your host can’t handle your growing website.

3. Check for Customer Support

Operating a WordPress website will never be without its challenges. Even if you’re an experienced web developer, there will come a time when you run into an issue on your site that you can’t resolve yourself.

That’s where having superior customer support in a web hosting provider is helpful.

Your host’s customer support team should be able to provide the following:

  • WordPress specific support whether it be technical or design-related
  • 24/7/365 help via multiple channels such as phone, live chat, email, or a ticket system
  • Automatic notices when the servers go down or at the very least access to real-time server uptime statuses
  • A Knowledge Base with articles and/or video tutorials for those who want to troubleshoot themselves
  • Priority support for those on more expensive hosting plans

You might even need to consider a hosting company that has support team members that speak another language, if English isn’t your first language.

It’s easy for web hosting providers to make big claims about how great their customer support is.

If you really want to see how well they’ll do once you’re their customer, try out the different methods of contact they offer and see if they work for you. This first-hand experience will tell you right away whether what they say is true or not.

Or you can ask trusted web developers who they like and who they don’t like. After all, word of mouth and first-hand experience is very powerful. And who better to trust than those that are knowledgeable about what web hosting companies should be providing customers.

4. Learn About Domain Name Registrations

Not all web hosting companies will let you register your site’s domain name with them. If the one you choose doesn’t, that means you’ll have to buy and register your domain name with a third-party company.

From there, you’ll have to go through the process of directing your site’s domain name to your hosting provider. And, while some hosting providers help with this sometimes complicated process, that’s not always the case.

If the hosting provider you choose has domain name registrations as part of their hosting plans, your job is a whole lot easier. That’s because they will take care of all the technical details behind registering your domain name and pointing it to your website.

Better yet, you might even score a deal on your registration for the first year just for signing up. Many web hosts offer first-time customers free domain name registrations, which saves you money.

5. See About Email Hosting

When you launch a WordPress website, you’ll want to look as professional as possible. Sure, using Gmail or Outlook to send emails will get the job done. Your customers will be able to reach out to you when they need help or have questions.

But using email providers like that will always come with an @gmail.com or @outlook.com ending, which isn’t always that visually appealing or professional sounding.

That’s why sometimes hosting your email accounts with your web host is the best solution. After all, you’ll be able to manage your site and email in the same place. You’ll also have access to unlimited email accounts, spam filters, and even mailbox quotas.

If you decide you want to host your email accounts with your web host, make sure you have the following features in place:

  • Secure email protocols such as SMTPs, POP3s, and IMAPs
  • Built-in spam solutions in addition to the filters you can access
  • Easy management of email accounts in your host’s cPanel, Plesk, or proprietary control panel
  • 24/7 email support

No matter how you decide you want to host your email accounts to stay in touch with customers, make sure you research things like price, security measures, and availability before making any final decisions.

6. Find Out About the Ability to Add Domains

When you first launch your WordPress website, you might only have one domain name. But, as you grow, you may find the need to have more than one website or subdomain to keep things running smooth.

When researching which web host to go with, pay special attention to whether you can add additional domains or not. If you think you’ll need to create a test site, split your main URL into a blogging or eCommerce subdomain, or launch an entirely separate domain to add to your growing business, you’ll have to have a hosting plan that supports this growth.

For example, some of the most basic hosting plans only allow for one WordPress website installation, meaning you can only host one website with that plan.

In addition, some hosts cap the number of subdomains you’re allowed to create, even though they are simply a division off your main domain.

If not, you’ll have to either upgrade or switch hosts altogether (which can be a pain).

7. Check for Guarantees

No reputable hosting company will make it hard for you leave if you’re not satisfied with their hosting for any reason. In fact, most of the best WordPress hosting companies around have money-back guarantees ranging from 30 to even 90 days.

Adding to that, if after your contract with a web host comes to an end, and you decide you want to switch hosts, you’ll want to be able to migrate your site to another host with ease.

Your original web host should make cancelling your service (or simply not renewing it) along with the process of transferring your site to a new host simple.

And, when you choose a new web host, they should make the transfer as easy on you as possible. In fact, most web hosts will transfer your WordPress website for you (for free!) so you don’t have to deal with the hassle or risk making mistakes that may cause your site to go down.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to choose the right hosting company doesn’t have to be as hard as it’s made out to be, so long as you know what to look for. In fact, if you prioritize the features and price point that will work for you, finding the right web host is actually kind of easy.

The hosting provider you trust to store and deliver your site’s files will set the tone for your site visitors once they land on your website. Make sure you do your due diligence and really pick one that will suit your needs so you don’t start your journey to becoming a successful WordPress website owner off on the wrong foot.

If you find yourself in need of some help with your newly set up WordPress website after signing up for a web hosting company that fits your needs, don’t worry, we are only a quick message or tweet away.

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Lindsay L.

headshot of Lindsay Liedke

Lindsay is a freelance writer who loves all things WordPress. When she is not writing she can be found spending family time with her son and two silly nephews.