A How-To Guide to WordPress Hosting from GruffyGoat: Part 3

Scott Marcley
Part 3 – How do you find the right web host?

Make a list of your website’s core features and the technical requirements that are critical to its operation. You’ll want to find a provider who can meet all of your requirements.

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The following article is the third and final entry in a series exploring the topic of WordPress web hosting. The series is designed to help you determine your needs and select the best hosting solution for you. 
Part 1 of the series provided a general overview of web hosting, while Part 2 examined the different types of hosting services, with guidelines for deciding on the right model to handle your site’s objectives. Part 3 below provides some advice for choosing a web host.

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Where to Start? Focus on the Basics.

To find the right WordPress hosting provider, you must first know what you’re trying to accomplish with your site. Make a list of your website’s core features and the technical requirements that are critical to its operation. You’ll want to find a provider who can meet all of your requirements.

To narrow your search parameters further, your project team should know the answers to some basic questions about your site needs before approaching potential hosting partners…

Cost 

What is your monthly hosting budget? Is it sufficient to purchase the minimum hosting plan you need to meet your site goals?

This is a situation where you can’t cut corners and hope to get the best results out of your site. If you select a low-cost hosting solution that can’t handle your site’s traffic or support the latest WordPress features, then your site will underperform. 

Many hosting providers also offer promotional discounts for new customers, so be sure you understand when the promotional period ends and what your total costs will be over Year One and beyond. Discuss the terms of rapidly upgrading your account with your provider, should your site’s usage needs increase dramatically.

Performance

How many site visitors do you anticipate each day/week/month/year? How fast will your site pages load for users? What is your tolerance for downtime?

If your host’s servers frequently go down due to technical issues, power outages, or other problems, then you’re paying them to host a site that nobody can use. Reliable hosting providers can provide performance and uptime guarantee in their SLA. Choose a provider with a consistently high uptime percentage (99% or higher), particularly if you require high levels of performance.

Security

What are your data security responsibilities? What level of malware and antivirus protection do you require at a minimum? Does your site require a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt communications?

If your site has ecommerce functions, or if it handles or transfers confidential information, then you want to choose a hosting provider that is rated highly for secure infrastructure.

Management

How will you incorporate WordPress updates? Who will handle your plug-ins? How will your site content be refreshed on a regular basis?

This is where your in-house IT capabilities will affect your decision. Find out what support options a hosting provider offers, and whether or not the support is specific to WordPress sites. If you have a system admin or support team who can handle the technical details, then a shared hosting plan might be your best bet. But if you lack the time or resources to manage regular site maintenance tasks, then a managed WordPress hosting service is for you.

Everyone’s site requirements are different, and you may identify other questions not covered here that are specific to your objectives. In any case, make sure the hosting provider can accommodate 100% of your needs in the plan they offer.

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How Do You Choose a Provider?

There are a lot of hosting providers out there, and most of them offer similar services at similar price levels, so how do you know which is the best choice? Online ratings can be helped, but they are not always accurate. It mostly comes down to which provider has the reputation for giving customers the most service and performance for the budget.

The best advice we can give is to do your research, but avoid getting too far into the weeds, particularly if you’re new to website projects and/or don’t have a system admin to fall back on for advice. The most important thing is to choose a provider who can support your WordPress site, and help you keep it running quickly, reliably, and securely. 

Here’s a few final tips when making your selection…

  • Look for a hosting provider that offers automatic updates, SSL certificates, free data backups, free domain registration, and high levels of storage and bandwidth.
  • Unless your site is Enterprise-level, you probably don’t need a VPS or dedicated server. A shared or managed WordPress hosting solution will be well-suited to most requirements.
  • When evaluating a provider’s support level, look for 24/7 live chat and/or phone support, because you never know when you might experience an issue and need to mitigate your site’s downtime.
  • WordPress plug-ins can affect your site’s performance; use them carefully if you have a shared plan, or rely on the technical expertise of the hosting provider if you decide on a managed hosting plan.

GruffyGoat partners with WP Engine, and we recommend them as a reliable, high-quality WordPress hosting provider. They even offer a 60-day money-back guarantee for new customers.

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We hope this WordPress web hosting series has been informative and helpful. You can always contact GruffyGoat for any assistance with your website projects.

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