How To Choose The Best WordPress Web Host (For Bloggers + Online Businesses)
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Researching or shopping for a WordPress web Hosting provider can be really overwhelming. With hundreds of options, each with unique plans, it’s hard to know which option is best for your blog or business.
In this post, we will go over everything you need to know about hosting so you can choose the right provider to help you build a fast, high-performing, secure website online.
Do I need a hosting provider for WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source software/ content management system (CMS) that is free to use, but there are two different ways to create a WordPress blog or website: you can go through WordPress.com or create your own self-hosted WordPress website through WordPress.org.
- If you use WordPress.com, you do NOT need to sign up with a third-party hosting company because WordPress will host your website on their servers.
- If you’re using WordPress.org, you must get WordPress installed on a third-party hosting server.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What’s the difference?
WordPress.com is a managed hosting service that allows you to build a blog or website using WordPress without using a separate hosting server or domain URL.
With this platform, you can get started with a free plan using a WordPress domain (like https://yourname.wordpress.com), but to cover the cost of allowing your site to be online for free, WordPress will display ads on your site.
You could upgrade to a paid plan for as little as $4 per month to get a free domain for a year and remove the ad experience, but even with an upgraded plan, the platform still comes with a lot of limitations! For instance, you can’t install premium themes or plugins, monetize your site through an e-commerce shop/ online store, or make money through display ads.
If you just want to start a journal online, using WordPress.com may be fine for you, but if your goal is to build a business and monetize your website, don’t use WordPress.com!
WordPress.org (AKA Self-Hosted WordPress)
WordPress.org is where you can download the WordPress software to use on your own WordPress hosting service.
If you go to WordPress.org, you won’t be able to set up a website that will be accessible online, like you can with WordPress.com. To get your site online this way, you would have to sign up for your own hosting server, install WordPress on it, and then connect a domain URL for it to be visible on the internet.
While there’s a little more setup involved with a self-hosted blog or website, the advantage is that you can get full control over your website and get endless customization options to do whatever you want with it!
You can choose your host, get a custom domain, and hand-pick the best WordPress plugins and custom themes to get the right functionality for your blog or business!
If you go with a good web hosting platform, you won’t have to go to WordPress.org, download it, and upload it to the server; the host will pre-install WordPress for you, so the setup isn’t nearly as intimidating as it may sound.
Why does hosting matter? Aren’t they all the same?
If you are starting your very first blog or business website, you may be inclined to look for a hosting plan that’s the absolute cheapest on the market because hosting is a commodity, right?
Wrong! Not all hosts are created equal in the same way that not all cars are created equal.
For example, a Kia and a Mercedes are wildly different from one another in quality, features, buying experience, customer support, and more. Hosting companies vary in similar ways!
Let’s talk about the main features you should look for in a good host and why good hosting matters for your blog or business.
1. A Good Host Loads Fast Websites
In July 2018, Google released an algorithm update that made a website’s page speed a ranking factor for the first time. This update changed the game for all website owners, and it became increasingly important to have a good-looking website and one built for performance.
I believe that we’re all building our brand to serve our audiences well – not just for the algorithms. We want to use a fast host to create a positive user experience for the people visiting your website.
If you haven’t noticed: people are impatient! Slow pages will kill your bounce rate and conversions.
According to this article from Portent, “For B2B websites, a site that loads in 1 second has a conversion rate 3x higher than a site that loads in 5 seconds. A site that loads in 1 second has a conversion rate 5x higher than a site that loads in 10 seconds.”
As you can see, load times can significantly affect your bottom line as a blogger/ online business owner.
The user experience isn’t just for people visiting your website. It also impacts your workflow.
How? Well, a fast site can also save you a lot of time as you edit your site. You’ll be able to move more quickly between your dashboard, customizer settings, pages, posts, plugins, and more!
Using a poor host can significantly impact your site editing time. (Trust me, I know from experience working on client websites with bad hosting, and it’s dreadful.) As a business owner, your time is valuable. You have better things to do than spend twice the amount of time piddling with your website and waiting for the editor to load.
The bottom line is that site speed is important for all parties involved – the algorithms, your audience, and you, the site owner. A good-quality host can help you get a fast-loading website!
2. A Good Host Takes Security Seriously
Beyond fast-loading page speed, you also want to find a hosting company that prioritizes security because your online success depends on it. Secure web hosting keeps your servers operational round-the-clock and safeguards your data from brute force attacks, DDoS attacks, malware, operating system vulnerabilities, and more.
Make sure your host provides the following security features:
Security Feature #1: Backup and Restore Functionality
You need a host that handles automatic daily backups with an optional real-time feature. Some hosts only offer manual backup and restore, which is not ideal since the process could be complicated or time-consuming. Before you sign up with a company, make sure you know the following:
- Is the backup automated?
- How many instances of backup are kept?
- How is the retrieval process?
- Where is the data being backed up to?
- Are there additional costs involved?
SIDE NOTE: Even if your host offers backups, it’s a best practice to get off-site backups. Off-site backups act like an insurance policy in an emergency, like ransomware attacks or other security breaches. If you need a reputable company to handle your off-site backups, I highly recommend Grayson Bell’s team at iMark Interactive.
Security Feature #2: Proactive Server and Network Monitoring
Look for a hosting provider that measures performance metrics like uptime and keeps an eye out for unusual resource usage, which can be a sign of an exploit in the making.
To ensure that your website is always up and operating efficiently around-the-clock, you should work with a hosting company that will spot any problems and monitors your WordPress websites from various locations worldwide.
Security Feature #3: Malware Detection and Removal
You want a hosting provider that scans for malware and removes any if found. I also recommend using a host who will send you regular reports that share if and when attacks or malware were blocked.
Security Feature #4: DDoS Protection
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal flow of traffic of a target server or network by overwhelming the target with a flood of internet traffic.
Cloudflare describes a DDoS attack as “an unexpected traffic jam clogging up the highway, preventing regular traffic from arriving at its destination.” This attack entirely disables the webserver from responding to valid requests, rendering client websites inaccessible.
So it’s really important to look for a website hosting provider that proactively prevents and protects you from DDoS attacks!
Security Feature #5: SSL Certificates
An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that permits an encrypted connection and verifies the legitimacy of a website. SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer,” which is a security protocol that establishes a secure connection between a web server and a web browser.
SSL certificates are necessary for websites to protect user data, prove the site’s ownership, stop hackers from building a false version of the site, and inspire trust in users.
If a website does not have an SSL certificate, visitors will see an “insecure” label on the browser, which will scare people away!
Because SSL encryption is essential to website security, many web hosts now include a free SSL certificate in their hosting packages. If they don’t, you’ll have to pay for this separately, which has an annual fee.
I recommend choosing a hosting company with a free SSL certificate built into the plan.
3. A Good Host Offers Amazing Support
Support should be a BIG consideration for the WordPress hosting option you choose.
There are unmanaged hosting plans that give you access to a server with an operating system but offer zero support. It’s up to you to manage and maintain it. If obscure errors arise, they won’t proactively fix them. Instead, you have to spend days researching and troubleshooting it all on your own.
If you have the mind of an engineer and want to tinker with, manage your own server, and be on the hook to resolve any issues that arise, by all means sign up for an unmanaged host, but I’ve found that my 99% of my clients do not want to be messing with tech issues.
If you’re not tech-savvy and want to avoid tech headaches, you should look for a hosting company specializing in WordPress and offering a Managed WordPress Hosting plan.
You will pay a little more for a managed hosting plan with top-notch support, but it is worth the investment to avoid dozens of tech headaches.
Plus, you can talk to a human! You can talk on the phone, chat online, or email support agents who are experienced with WordPress-specific issues and will guide you through or even resolve the issue you’re experiencing.
4. A Good Host Has Built-In Features
Free Site Migration
If you have an existing website and want to switch providers, I would also look for a company that will handle the migration from your old host to your new one from start to finish.
A thousand things can go wrong in a migration; switch to a host who will take care of this entire process for you!
Of the hosts I recommended, BigScoots, Agathon, WPX, and Host Armada will handle the migrations for you. Siteground has a free migration option, but it’s done with a plugin you’ll have to use between the two sites. I’ve used it before, and it was a smooth, seamless process!
One-Click WordPress Installation
Getting your WordPress website installed shouldn’t be a pain in your side. If you go with a company that has a one-click WordPress install option, the fully automated approach removes the time-consuming manual processes involved in installing WordPress.
One Click Staging
I’d also go with a company that makes it easy to create a staging site with the click of a button to clone your current website and test certain plugins or themes without impacting the experience of people visiting your live website.
I’ve worked with hosts before that only gives you access to staging sites via the host’s files, and it’s a pain in the rear! Trust me, 1-click staging is so useful!
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A good hosting company will have a custom-built CDN or partner with a reputable CDN company like CloudFlare, BunnyCDN, Amazon Cloudfront, or KeyCDN.
What is a CDN? A CDN replicates your website at several data centers/ points of presence (PoPs) worldwide so that your website loads faster when a visitor (who lives far away from the hosts’ original server) tries to access your site.
This helps a lot with page speed, which we’ve already talked about!
Which Is The Best Hosting Provider For WordPress?
That’s a great question! I know it can be confusing to know who to trust, especially when WordPress experts and top-ranking posts present conflicting information.
I’m sure many trustworthy hosts match the requirements I outlined above, but I only feel comfortable recommending companies with whom I have worked on my own or clients’ websites and can speak for their quality of service.
Best WordPress Web Hosting for Beginners
Please note that this list of best WordPress hosting is in no particular order. I recommend and trust all of the companies listed below! You should do your own research to ensure these providers will meet your unique website needs.
SiteGround (shared hosting)
Siteground is a budget-friendly, shared managed WordPress hosting provider with great uptime, built-in performance optimization and security, 24/7 support, one-click staging, automatic updates, and more.
This is the company I currently host with due to my unique website needs. (As a web designer, I needed the ability to create unlimited WordPress installs for demo sites for client projects without adding additional monthly fees for each installation.)
I’ve been very happy with them! One of my favorite features is that you don’t have to mess with cPanel! Instead, they have a custom site tools dashboard that makes managing your site, domains, SSL certificates, and more really easy, especially for those who are not tech-savvy!
You can reach their customer support by phone or chat. In my experience, their support team has been fast and helpful!
One thing to note, though is that if you chat with support, in most cases, their team won’t handle the issue for you; instead, they’ll refer you to a support article or walk you through the steps to fix the issue yourself.
I typically recommend the GrowBig Plan under their WordPress Hosting Plans to all of my clients and students, but you’ll have to check out their plans and see which one is best for you.
*When you initially start, their fee is drastically discounted, which is typical for many shared hosts. When you sign up, pay attention to the ongoing cost associated with the plans you select. You can get started today as low as $2.99/ mo, but plans after the initial discounted period start at $14.99/mo (billed annually)
Host Armada – Shared Hosting
Although I don’t advise shared hosting for most sites, I understand that many new site owners have a limited budget for hosting. Host Armada is the most budget-friendly of all of my recommendations that also delivers good infrastructure and support.
If you use Host Armada, you’ll have a traditional cPanel access interface. (I personally am not a fan, but if you’ve used it before, it will be familiar to you!)
*When you initially start, their fee is drastically discounted, which is typical for many shared hosts. When you sign up, pay attention to the ongoing cost associated with the plans you select. You can get started today as low as $2.49/ mo, but plans after the initial discounted period start at $9.95/mo (billed triennially or every 36 months)
Best WordPress Web Hosting Companies For Established Websites
If you’re not a beginner and have an established website, you may need different requirements for hosting.
BigScoots – Dedicated Hosting
BigScoots offers fast, managed WordPress hosting plans with NO shared hosting or overages, free website migrations, stable monthly pricing, a 45-day money-back guarantee, unparalleled customer support (with response times ~90 seconds), and more! If you have the budget for BigScoots, they’re my #1 pick! Incredible service and support.
Flat-rate plans start at $34.95/mo (billed monthly)
Agathon Group – Dedicated Hosting
I recommend Agathon Group for established sites that need a dedicated server and use a higher volume of server resources. This white-glove hosting service will provide you with dedicated hardware, real-time data monitoring, security, scalability, portability, and simple web-interface management. If you’re looking to compare, Agathon’s hosting plan is equivalent to BigScoot’s Professional Plan.
Flat-rate plans start at $80/mo (billed monthly)
WPX – Shared Hosting
If you have an established website but need something a tad more budget-friendly, you could also consider hosting with WPX.
I recently moved a Photographer’s massive website from Showit over to a WordPress site hosted with WPX.net and was impressed with the site speed and customer service.
Their support averages a 26-second response time and has a “Fixed For You” Guarantee. They also include their own optimized Cloud CDN service, which lowers your bandwidth consumption and improves your website’s performance. If you need to migrate your existing website over to WPX with the same domain URL, their team will handle the migration for free!
The only negative is that while WPX offers staging functionality if you don’t have an extra domain to view that staging site, you have to access it through the hosts’ files on your desktop. It’s doable but a big pain, especially if you’re trying to reference your live site in real-time.
Flat-rate plans start at $21/mo (billed monthly). If you purchase annually, you can save two months for free.
Hosting Companies to Avoid:
I would avoid large hosting companies, particularly those owned by the previous EIG hosting conglomerate. I know that BlueHost, HostGator, GoDaddy, NameCheap, HostMonster, etc., are popular because of their enticing pricing plans. Still, they’re notorious for being slow, having poor customer service, and having many negative reviews.
Instead, I urge you to invest in your website and get a quality hosting company. Think of your host as your home’s foundation; it needs to be built on solid rock, not sand!