How to choose the best host (for your website, not your Christmas party)
Everyone loves a good host, right? They always have the best drinks, snacks, and music. They make you feel incredibly welcomed, so you’re practically guaranteed a fantastic time.
Your website needs a great host too.
Website hosting is an incredibly important, but often overlooked, element of a strong website. It’s the network environment where your website’s data is stored so it can actually be found online. When you purchase a hosting plan, you’re essentially renting space on the provider’s server.
In this post, we’ll go over the essential things you must keep in mind when choosing a website host and how to keep things in good order. We’ll also explain why we highly recommend choosing a WordPress-specific host if you have a WordPress website.
Why is web hosting important?
Your website host is responsible for ensuring your servers stay up and running 24/7 and for maintaining a high level of performance. Your website’s performance and speed can make the difference between a terrible and fantastic visitor experience, which directly impacts how many people interact with your content and in some way convert on your website. As a result, it also affects SEO because user experience and site speed are two of Google’s most important factors for ranking websites.
To top it all off, a good web host makes it easy for you to maintain your website with an intuitive control panel. If you, the owner, can hardly figure out how to make updates or manage content because of a complicated control system, your site’s maintenance will dwindle.
What to look for in a web hosting service
With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to choose a website host that fits your needs and budget.
First, here’s a quick overview of the primary hosting types:
- Shared Hosting: Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting. It allows multiple websites to use one server, which makes it the most affordable option. Typically, you don’t know what other websites you’re sharing the server with, but each customer has a limit on the amount of resources they can use.
- Dedicated Hosting: Instead of sharing the resources and costs, Dedicated Hosting gives you a server just for your website alone. You get total control over the resources and more customization, but that makes it more expensive. This option is best for technically advanced websites that get high traffic every day.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS): VPS is somewhere in the middle. You share a server with other websites but your website is the only domain in your specific virtual compartment so there are less limitations to the resources you have. This means you have your own dedicated operating system, storage, and unlimited bandwidth. It’s typically more affordable than Dedicated Hosting, but more expensive than Shared. You might choose VPS if your traffic is consistently spiking, you have two or more websites, or you want more control over your server customization.
Once you’ve determined which of the above fits your needs, you can narrow things down to a provider.
To help you do so, let’s now look at the primary factors to consider when choosing a specific website host.
Safe and stable servers
Your host plays a key role in making sure your network space is able to fight online threats like hacks. Choose a hosting service provider that offers SSL certificates to protect data and your visitors’ personal information. If you have a WordPress website, it’s also helpful to have a spam prevention tool to remove unwanted comments from blog posts.
Website uptime is the time that a website or web service is available to users in a given period. Pick a host that guarantees a high uptime so you know your website will always be accessible. Most good hosts promise a 99.9% uptime, which means they guarantee your website will be accessible to visitors 99.9% of the time.
Quality Customer Service
Most website owners aren’t expert web developers! And even those who are (or clients who hire us to help maintain their websites) are bound to come across the odd tech issue. Good customer service and support resources can mean the difference between a major headache that affects the user experience (or a complete site shutdown) and a quick fix.
As we’ve touched on, slow loading times can kill your website conversions and SEO efforts. So, choose a host that prioritizes super fast load times. To give you an example, 64% of smartphone users expect websites to load in under four seconds, and 74% of mobile users expect them to load within five seconds (or else they’re outta there!).
Plugin and Theme Updates
Next, choose a host that allows you to keep up with your website’s plugin and theme updates. This helps ensure security and prevent broken functionality on your site. And it should be simple to make these updates. You shouldn’t feel like you need to contact Customer Support every time your website is due for an update.
On a similar note, the best web hosts offer an easy-to-use interface so you don’t have to be a web developer to maintain a healthy website and update content. Even if you are (like us), an intuitive interface makes things so much more efficient—and reduces the chances of something going wrong.
Why we recommend WordPress-specific hosting platforms
If you have a WordPress website, we strongly recommend choosing a host tailored specifically to work with WordPress. We love to use Flywheel, a WordPress-specific host that allows us to easily keep all our clients’ websites in tip-top shape.
When you choose a WordPress-specific host, every server is optimized for a single type of software. There’s no need for the servers to juggle a bunch of different types of software to accommodate non-WordPress websites.
This way, your website can easily maintain a high level of performance and security, which also minimizes the chance of crashes. It can also mean you get additional features like automated backups and upgrades to make managing your website even more efficient. Plus, the support teams are experts in WordPress software so you’re guaranteed knowledgeable help.
Want us to take care of your website?
The right host makes keeping your website healthy much easier, but there will always be a learning curve. That’s why we put all our clients on our “WordPress Hosting and Care” plan. With this plan, we keep up on all of their website’s plugins, theme, and WordPress updates month to month. This is critical to ensure their websites are secure and keep running smoothly. We also provide all our website design clients with one year of free website hosting on Flywheel.
If you’re an existing/past client of ours but not on our current WordPress Hosting and Care plan, get in touch if you’d like to upgrade! And if you’re just looking for someone to redo your website from the start, you know who to call. Check out this post for more information on our website design services.