Choosing the best wordpress hosting for your website can seem daunting, especially if you’re a business owner and find many companies making claims in technical jargon that are hard to weigh up. What is ‘managed hosting’?’ What is uptime? Here, we give you the information you need in plain English so you know how to make sense of it all.
First, what is hosting?
If you have a website, it needs to be hosted. This means a copy of your website is placed on a server so people can access it publicly on the web. It’s probably best to think of hosting as similar to renting a retail or business premises.
There will be good and bad places to do business and you are free to move anytime once your lease is up. You can see how choosing the premises might make or break a business and we encourage you to think about your website hosting in the same way.
From experience, we see cost as the single (and sometimes only) factor taken into consideration when choosing a hosting company. But you will find out here this can be a false economy as we detail the important factors you should consider when choosing the best WordPress hosting for your website.
What is managed WordPress hosting, how is it different to regular hosting?
When people say managed wordpress hosting what they really mean, is the service includes taking care of the ‘day-to-day’ housekeeping tasks of the website itself, not just the hosting. If your WordPress system needs upgrading because a new version is released, they will often quietly take care of that for you. Similarly, if a security vulnerability is found in a plugin, they will usually either upgrade the plugin or remove it and offer you an alternative.
These may sound like tasks that can be ‘put off until later’, but some of these are time critical. If a security flaw is found in a plugin, it’s a bit like discovering an outsider can get in through a window in your business.
What should you look for when choosing a WordPress host?
Security You’ve probably already seen news stories about websites being hacked and how many problems it can cause. WordPress in general, and PHP in particular (the technology that drives WordPress) are both notoriously insecure.
Typically, the plugins you use with WordPress will each have the potential to open up their own security holes in your website. This is one of the core reasons we recommend you look into managed wordpress hosting : to go with the cheaper ‘self-managed’ option while maintaining security, would require you to carry out daily checks to ensure no new vulnerabilities have been discovered in any of the plugins you use. Similarly, you would have to check each day that a new version of WordPress hasn’t been released and whether you now need to upgrade.
For many, it would be much cheaper to simply outsource and allow people who do this every day to manage it, as this is also likely to be less risky.
Speed Both website speed and page load speed are probably among more important factors and yet it may not seem so at first. The speed your pages load will now influence where you rank in the search engines but also has a big bearing on how usable the end customers find your website.
Uptime and reliability If your website goes offline, it’s a bit like your shop closing for the day due to the facilities not being available. Not only does it mean no more business for the day, but may lead people to question whether this is permanent and how safe it is to do business with you – ultimately harming credibility. Similarly, the search engines will begin moving any offline websites down the rankings until they disappear entirely (which can happen in extreme cases of particularly unreliable hosting).
When hosting companies present ‘uptime’ figures they will usually quote is as a percentage, which reflects the ‘likely amount of outage you can expect based on an average of the service provided so far’. This is not a bad metric to use, but even better is if this service includes uptime monitoring which means they have alert systems that kick in if your website should get into trouble – hopefully leading to a swift resolution and minimise the negative impact the outage may have on your business..
Support expertise is a bit like insurance: it’s nice to have around when things don’t go as you expect, but you also hope to never have to use it! Even for the best websites with the most reliable hosts, sometimes things can happen. When this should happen, you need to know your website is in good hands, likely to deliver a speedy and effective resolution to problems. This can also mean advice as your website grows and we suggest is an important thing to consider when choosing a host for your WordPress website.
Scalability is often overlooked, but nonetheless is vital to allow your website room to grow with your business. As your number of visitors gradually increases, your database gets filled with more enquiries and signups you may need to revisit any (or each) of these points to consider whether your WordPress hosting is still suitable and whether it’s time to move WordPress hosting providers. While your website may have been fast and reliable in the early days, having more pages, and more users may mean it is now quite slow. Most good WordPress hosting providers will have multiple tiers – the higher ones with much greater capabilities to deal with large volumes of traffic and the need for more resources for your website.
- Price we have listed last of all, because, while we appreciate this may seem a more important factor to the business, your hosting must be fit for purpose. It’s easy to weigh up cost once the other points have been satisfied. So we suggest a good acid test is to check you have met the requirements of each point above, and if (by the time you read this part) the price is right, then you have probably found the best WordPress hosting for you.