So you’ve decided to go into business for yourself. Hooray! This means you need your own corner of the internet where your customers/readers/clients/audience can find you and fall in love with what you do. You know that it will require purchasing a domain (i.e. yourawesomewebsite.com), and a hosting plan.
But wait, there are waaaay too many hosting companies to choose from! All with grandiose offerings and deals you just “can’t pass up.”
One of the endless debates you will find on the internet is which hosting company to go with, and why. This can be extremely confusing as you begin to look at plans, pricing, and features that probably mean nada to you and you need to just pick one and get on with the business of working with a designer to build your new site. Before choosing however, you need to take the time to do some research and speak with a few to see which one will best suit your needs.
The metaphor I want you to keep in mind for the rest of this article is that your website is like your business’ home.
You should approach it with the same care you do when you look for a place to live. There are key elements we are looking for like security, management, and amenities. Taking this approach with your web host will save you a world of hurt later. *A note: This post is geared towards the shared hosting option, which is more like looking for an apartment or condo. Buying a house is more like having a dedicated server all to yourself and comes with more responsibility on your part. If you are just starting out, a quality shared hosting plan is the best way to go. Shared hosting means that you are paying a lower price to share space on a server with other websites and is the most common form of hosting plans.
You should ask yourself the following questions when searching for and speaking with a hosting company:
Where is it located? Is it in a safe neighborhood?
This is what we usually ask ourselves when looking for an apartment. Are our belongings going to be safe? What is the security system like? Are there multiple points of entry to deter an intruder? Is there a doorman or someone on patrol looking after me?
What I’m talking about in regards to your website is an honest truth, there are plenty of hackers out there who are poised and ready to intrude upon your shiny new website with malicious intent. Sometimes there’s no real reason, they’re just punks doing it for fun. The problem with going with just any host sometimes means that if there is a virus on someone else’s website, it could infect yours, taking it down or rendering it useless. Not every host has a plan in place for protecting you against this, so be sure and ask about security measures when shopping around.
How much is it?
Some of us give up amenities and safety to save some bucks on rent. That comes with it’s own risks and so does your hosting. Going with the cheaper apartment usually means there is not as much of a safeguard on your items, and you could get robbed. In web speak this means your website could go DOWN and not be recovered. You could lose everything because you wanted to save a few bucks. Much like spending a little more on rent to feel safe in a nice condo, balance the quality of the space you are renting with how much you can actually afford. In a word, don’t be super cheap, you may regret it!
What’s the landlord like?
When you have a leaky shower, the garbage disposal breaks, or the heater is on the fritz, you want a landlord to respond in a timely manner and be nice about it right? Otherwise you feel cold and alone in your own home. The same goes for your host. You want pleasant, helpful people on the other end of the line that can walk you through getting you set up, as well as be skilled and responsive enough to handle any issues that come up in a timely manner. Having excellent customer service is something to pay attention to from the beginning of speaking with a company about hosting. If there is nothing but a hard sell and doesn’t feel like you are genuinely cared about, hang up the phone or close the chat window.
So who do I recommend?
It’s more important than ever to look for WordPress specific hosting, and is something that almost all the hosts are getting into because WordPress websites make up over 23% of the internet. This means that hackers are looking for ways to attack your WordPress site in very specific and targeted ways, so having a team of people who work for you to combat this on a daily basis is a life-saver. I recommend SiteGround to all of my clients for a few reasons:
- They are not owned by the huge corporate host company Endurance International Group (EIG). This corporation buys up tons of small hosting companies to increase their customer base, but not quality. The consensus is that when a company is bought out by these guys, the quality, customer service, and security measures go way down. I’ve always had a grass-roots mentality about the economy, and try to steer clear of anyone that puts profits before their customers. SiteGround is a Bulgaria-based company that treats their employees well and gives them a fair wage. This means the person you get on the line is usually happy and extremely helpful. I’ve had nothing but good experiences from the sales all the way to setting up my new site, and beyond. They will even migrate your WordPress website from another host for FREE.
- They have their own proprietary ways of keeping your site safe on a shared server. Remember how I said one of the risks on a shared server is one of the websites you don’t even know about could get a virus and it affects you? SiteGround has their own system in place that protects your site with it’s own force field of sorts that blocks it from viruses put on other websites. There is a nifty video that explains this with models on their homepage. Depending on your plan, they even make a daily backup of your site without you even having to think about it. That way if anything does go awry you can restore your site from yesterday.
- Your website will load really fast. Why is this important? When’s the last time you left a business’ website because it was taking a few too many seconds to load? I know I do. Customers don’t have the patience to sit there and wait, and will bounce off if it takes too long. SiteGround has their own SuperCacher plugin for your WordPress sites that saves a snapshot of what your webpage looks like so it is just THERE when someone visits and doesn’t have to load every time.
- Value for your money. They strike an excellent balance between price and quality. The plans for WordPress hosting start at $3.95 a month for your first year, which is a drop in the bucket for the peace of mind you get knowing your business site is in good hands.
I hope this metaphorical breakdown of the importance of finding a good hosting company has been helpful. Feel free to add your favorite host in the comments and tell me why!