The web hosting marketplace has changed a great deal over the past few years. The explosive growth of WordPress and its rapidly-increasing capabilities have driven the need for more powerful, faster and secure hosting services. While the well-known hosting brands of GoDaddy and Bluehost are still prominent, the trend is undoubtedly moving towards WordPress-focused hosting that offers superior scalability and site management features that appeal to developers.
In this changing landscape, what should a website owner consider when choosing a hosting service? There are lots of great choices, but selecting a host just on price or brand familiarity isn’t enough anymore. A site owner should consider the specific needs of their site and the features that make the most sense for their circumstances. What questions should you ask?
- Is the host focused on WordPress? WordPress, as an open source platform that is constantly being updated and improved, needs a host that can adapt with it. Not just for security, but for computing power.
- How is customer support delivered? Most hosts offer chat support, and occasionally phone support. Is it important to you to work with a host in North America? Do you need a support team that is comfortable working with your level of technical knowledge? If so, WP Engine should be on your list.
- What is the hosting infrastructure? Short answer: cloud back-ends are better. Look for hosts powered by Google Cloud (see my go-to list below).
- Do you have a webmaster available to act as a liaison? If not.. you want a host that works with end-users well, offers a robust backup feature and 24/7 support. Look at WP Engine and SiteGround.
- Is rapid scalability needed? Most traditional hosts have tiered service plans that have fixed levels of specific features. In most cases, this is fine. However, for maximum flexibility, consider Cloudways.
- Do you make frequent design and layout changes? If so, definitely opt for a provider with great staging/development features. WP Engine excels here.
Pro tip: every host worth considering will include SSL free. Unless you need an SSL certificate with advanced validation features, you should never be paying extra for it (looking at you, GoDaddy!).
There’s a lot of great WordPress hosts, including Kinsta, Flywheel and LiquidWeb that you should also consider. However, I have had very positive experience working with these providers:
Generally aimed at developers, but an excellent option for anyone. Unlike most retail web hosts, Cloudways has a PAYG “cafeteria” approach – you pick your cloud provider (Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultur, AWS or Google Cloud) and the add-on services you want. This model provides incredible flexibility and scalability. In most cases, all the most basic options are enough. All my project staging is here… and I’ve found they have great page speed and reliability, too. Entry-level options start at $10/month. Caveat: as noted, Cloudways is a hit with web developers, so some technical savvy will make account setup easier. If you’re working with a webmaster, Cloudways provides an outstanding value. Click here to learn more about Cloudways.
Outstanding USA-based support… 30 days of backups, plus two additional staging environments, which are super handy and very easy to use. This is my agency link (with a small discount). Back-end is Google Cloud. About $300/year. Perfect choice if you need frequent support or easy-to-use staging environments.
SiteGround’s a winner for page speed and reliability. Responsive chat support, elegant account management interface. Back-end is Google Cloud. First year of service is discounted about 55%…a cost factor to keep in mind for the long term. Learn more about SiteGround here.