One of the most important decisions you can make for your website is where it will live – who you host it with. If you’re not sure where your website lives now, common ones that many of my clients have used include GoDaddy, Bluehost, or Liquid Web. Basically, you buy a package for a month or a year that allows your website to live on their servers and they in turn provide a bit of support for you. (If you built your website with Wix or SquareSpace, they’re also your hosting provider.)
Your choice in hosting provider can make a difference with how fast your website loads, whether or not it’s always online, but mostly how it performs overall. With thousands of options out there, how do you choose which service to go with?
What Kind of Website Do You Have?
The first question you have to answer is what kind of website you have. Most hosting providers can support a variety of websites, but the package you purchase might be different. If your site was built with Wix, SquareSpace, or Webflow, you can’t actually move those websites anywhere else, so that’s something you need to figure out upfront.
If you have a WordPress website, you can probably host your site almost anywhere (after all, 41% of the internet is powered by WordPress now), but you’ll need to pick a plan that’s fit for WordPress.
Don’t Go for Budget
A few years ago, it was possible to pay only $7/month for a decent website host. That’s no longer true. In fact, I highly recommend that you invest a little bit more into a host that at least starts around $20-30/month. While Bluehost and GoDaddy still have those “cheap” plans available that work for WordPress, they’re not really powerful enough to deliver a quality experience (in laymen’s terms…they load your site really, really slowly).
Check Their Performance
Where your website lives has a lot to do with how fast your site loads. A web developer can build it as lean as possible, but unless it’s on a high-quality environment, it can still load slowly (see: GoDaddy). Especially if you have a WordPress website, you want to pick a host that’s optimized to deliver it quickly. One of my favorite hosts, WP Engine, only hosts WordPress websites and touts a 40% increase in speed on their server. That’s a big deal when you only have about 3 seconds for your site to load and keep your visitors.
You also want to make sure to select a host that promises consistent up-time. If they’re servers are always going down, that means your website is down. And if your website goes down, that means you can lose repeat visitors, interested browsers, and even sales.
Do They Offer Security?
The unfortunate reality to putting a website out there on the internet means that at some point you might be a target for hackers. There are some things that can be done when your website is built to protect you, but where your website lives can also make a huge difference. It’s not really a common thing for a budget host to also offer any security support. Spend a little bit more per month and you will find that there’s redundancies like daily or weekly backups, managed upgrades, and monitoring to ensure that you’re protected.
Customer Support is Key
You know what is a make or break thing for me when it comes to a website host? What their customer support is like. Here’s the thing – even though I’ve been a web developer for 16 years, there’s still plenty that I’m learning about servers. And with a hosting company, I might know what needs to be done, but I need one of their employees to do it for me.
I’ve spent countless hours on hold waiting for budget hosts’ customer service on the phone and live chats, being told I’m number 8 in line for what feels like forever. And then of course I get a rep that it’s obvious I know way more than them and have to tell them what I think needs to be done.
Check reviews of the hosting provider you’re considering and pay attention to what they say about the host’s responsiveness to issues and how quickly someone is helping you. One of the main things I love about WP Engine? I think the longest I’ve waited for a rep is 10 minutes and they’re always extremely knowledgeable and go above and beyond to help me troubleshoot and figure out issues.
Putting it All Together
As you search for a place for your website to live, the two most important things I think you should pay attention to? The performance they offer and the support they provide. Ensuring that your website is consistently working and loading as fast as possible does a lot to help your overall user experience and can do a lot to improve your sales and lead generation. The customer care is important for when anything goes wrong, as unfortunately is almost inevitable.
If you’re looking for a more boutique experience and a plan that takes care of your needs with a friendly customer service experience, check out our own WordPress hosting and maintenance plans. Powered by WP Engine, but I take care of everything for you and keep your site extra secure with regular security updates and monitoring. Can’t get much better than that.