Learn everything you need to know about hosting for your new WordPress website.
In our latest article, we’re looking at WordPress hosting for beginners, and are addressing all of the questions you’re too embarrassed to ask your website developer. Knowledge is power, and we hope that this information helps you understand how hosting affects the health of your website, and gives you the confidence to take charge and source your own hosting provider.
What is hosting?
We’re starting basic with the first cab off the rank – what is hosting? Hosting is an on-going fee that you pay to a hosting provider to ‘save’ your website and make it accessible via the internet.
Everything on the internet is stored on a server (a large harddrive) – the companies that own and manage these servers charge a monthly fee for you to host your website with them. It is an unavoidable cost of owning a website.
A good analogy to help you understand is to think of your website as a house and your hosting as the land that it sits on. You can’t build your house without having a plot of land to put it on…
What should I consider when choosing a hosting provider?
If you are new to owning and managing a website, we recommend that you choose a hosting provider that has a local support team and who offers additional services such as website plugins or website maintenance. View our managed WordPress hosting packages for more information about how WP Sparks can assist in this area.
Most hosting packages will make bold claims about the site speed, guaranteed ‘up-time’ and bandwidth allocations, but some of the other things you’ll want to consider when selecting your hosting provider include:
- Does the hosting package include an SSL certificate? An SSL certificate adds an extra layer of security to your website making it more difficult for attackers to hack or hijack data from your site. It is also an important SEO factor that can improve your ranking position in Google.
- Where are the servers located and does your hosting provider use CDN? The proximity of your audience to the server that your website is hosted on also plays an important role in SEO. If your audience is based in Australia, then you should aim to have your website stored on a server in Australia or a neighboring country. Ideally, your hosting provider will use a CDN – Content Distribution Network. A CDN saves your content on multiple servers around the world, so that when a user accesses your content, it is delivered via the server that they are located closest to.
- What is the support service like? A lot of the cheaper hosting companies cut costs by reducing the level of support that they provide. They have a ‘help centre’ and a ticketing system but no local phone numbers or contact forms. Getting an issue looked at can take 2-4 days, which can be detrimental if your website has been hacked. Look for a hosting provider that has multiple support channels – chat, ticketing system, contact form as well as a visible phone number. Ideally, the support team will be locally based and not outsourced to a call center. When something happens to your business website and you need help, you want to make sure that you can pick up the phone and call someone to get it sorted out straight away. You don’t want to be emailing back and forth, trying to explain the problem you’re experiencing with a limited technical knowledge of what is actually happening.
How much should WordPress hosting cost, and are there any free hosting providers available?
There are some very cheap hosting providers available – you can find hosting for as little as $8/month! However, you get what you pay for, and these cheaper services can come with security, speed and accessibility issues that can affect how your WordPress website performs in Google.
Most of these super-cheap hosting providers are based overseas, have too many websites hosted on the one server, have little to no rules about what plugins are allowed or not, don’t follow very good security protocols, and have support teams that are blocked up and difficult to contact. They also have a lot of hidden costs – we know of one such provider who charges just $9.90 per month for hosting, but charge excessive fees to purchase and install an SSL certificate (which is considered a necessary item for every website).
There aren’t any free WordPress hosting services available. Some people get confused because WordPress host personal blogs built on their blogging platform for free, but a personal WordPress blog is not the same thing as a WordPress website, and if you wish to create a fully functional website that uses your business URL (domain name) then you’ll need to find a paid hosting provider.
How does website hosting affect my WordPress website’s health and performance?
Website hosting can affect the health and performance of your WordPress in a number of ways, some of which we’ve already mentioned, such as proximity. Another huge factor in performance and SEO is site speed – how quickly your website loads content. There are two factors that come into play with your site speed – your content (larger files like videos or non-optimised images will take longer to load that simple text and smaller images), as well as your server.
Servers that have been optimised for WordPress websites will help your site run even faster.
Another issue that affects site performance is security – Google looks more favourably upon websites that follow good security practices, and a lot of that happens on the server side. Cheaper hosting solutions often skimp on security making your website more susceptible to being attacked by malware or hackers. Once Google has discovered malware installed on your website, it can be difficult to restore your site to its original position within Google’s search results.
Need WordPress Hosting Help?
We hope that this article has been helpful and given you the information that you need to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing a website hosting provider. If you have any further questions or would like to discuss how WP Sparks can help you host your WordPress website, please get in touch with us.