WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) on the internet. In fact, 14.7 percent of the top websites in the world are built using the platform.
The popularity of WordPress is likely due to how easy it makes building a powerful website. Using themes, site owners can create everything from a simple blog to a powerful e-commerce website.
The easiest way to use WordPress is through WordPress.com. With it, you can get started for free with the basics ready to go.
Using WordPress.com can be limiting, however. And if you need a lot of control, it can get expensive.
With WordPress.org, you get complete control over your website. It too is free. But if you want to use it, you will need to get hosting for it.
But what makes a good WordPress host? Many hosting providers claim to offer “WordPress hosting,” but those plans are little more than a standard hosting package with WordPress branding.
To avoid falling victim to branding, it is important to take a critical look at the features each host offers. This post will review important features to keep in mind when comparing WordPress hosting plans.
Site speed, which is the amount of time it takes a browser to deliver your website to users, is critical to the success of your website. In fact, both users and search engines prefer sites that load quickly.
In July of 2018, Google introduced its site speed update, which resulted in lower rankings for sites that load slower than average.
So what impacts how fast your site loads? While things like theme and coding matter, one of the major factors of site speed is your host. They deliver your web files, after all.
When comparing hosts, look past marketing-speak that promises “blazing fast speeds.” Instead, make sure the host offers specific features known to increase speed like solid-state drives (SSD).
Some hosts also offer advanced features for free such as content delivery networks (CDN) which can help your site load substantially faster regardless of where your users are located.
Ease of Set-Up
One of the main reasons WordPress is so popular is that it makes setting up a website very easy and it’s simple to learn. Using themes and plugins, you can launch a website in a matter of minutes. Or, if you prefer, you can customize and add functionality such as SEO features, email sign-ups, and e-commerce check out.
The right WordPress host should help expand this functionality, not get in your way.
Look for hosts that offer one-click WordPress installation or preinstallation so you can get to building your site right away.
Also, consider which control panel the host offers. The most common control panels are Plesk and cPanel. If you prefer one over the other, make sure the host you choose offers that control panel.
Site uptime refers to how long your site is available to users. If your site is down due to server issues, hacks, or other issues, you risk missing out on sales and traffic (not to mention annoying your users).
Uptime is a huge selling point for hosts, so most will provide this information front and center. On average, you can expect most hosts to offer a guarantee of around 99.9 percent uptime or higher. If they do not offer this information ask them — and get it in writing.
Also, note that 99.9 percent uptime may sound really good. But it really is the baseline. With 99.9 percent uptime, your site would still be down for almost 45 minutes per month. So it’s best to get uptime guarantees that are higher.
The chart below shows the difference between uptime amounts.
|Uptime||Minutes Down per Month||Minutes Down per Day|
How secure is your website? Do you have security features to protect information like logins and passwords? If the host that stores your site is not secure, your customer’s information and your website could be at risk.
When comparing hosts, there are several security features to look for including SSL certificates, which encrypt data transmitted between your site and users, physical security features, hacking protection, and site backups, which can be used to restore your site if the files are corrupted due to hacking or other issues.
Ability to Grow With Your Site
Where do you see your website in five years? What about ten? If your site grows, will your host be able to grow with you? Or will you be forced to move to another host?
Moving your site to a new host can be a hassle, so it is in your best interest to choose a host who can provide the speed, stability, and features your site needs in the long term. Take a look at more advanced plans your host provides and consider whether they can support your future needs.
If you plan to start more websites, consider whether the host offers multi-site hosting plans.
What happens if things go wrong with your website? Make sure your hosting provider will be there to help you work through the challenges. And be sure to find out if there will be extra costs associated with it.
In particular, see that your host offers WordPress-specific support. Unless you are already a WordPress expert, this is something you will almost certainly need.
When comparing support options, consider the hours support is available, particularly if they are not located in your country. Also, make sure they offer support in your preferred language.
Choosing the right WordPress host can make or break your website. It is important to look past the marketing-speak and consider the most important features your business needs to be successful.
In addition to the features above, consider extra features such as domain names, assistance migrating your site from another host, and premium support. A slightly more expensive hosting plan may save you money in the long run if these features are already included.
Toni Allen is the General Manager of Quality Nonsense LTD and editor for WhoIsHostingThis.com, a leading publisher of web hosting reviews and buyer’s guides. When she isn’t working on websites for people who make websites she likes to escape to the forest and study mushrooms.