Choosing hosting for your WordPress website can feel like an enormous decision for a small business – there are so many companies out there, offering what looks like the same thing, at wildly varying prices. How do you choose?
The first step in choosing the best hosting for your business website is to sit down and think about what you need in a website host. A few good questions to consider are:
- Are you able to move your current website to its new home – or will you need some help with that?
- If you’re building a new website, are you able to install WordPress yourself, or will you need it pre-installed?
- Will you need email hosting included in your plan? (we recommend you keep email & website hosting separate)
- Does your website get a lot of traffic – or is it likely to do so in the future? What will happen if your website suddenly gets a lot of traffic?
- What support will you need? Do you want email, or live chat – or a real live person to call?
You will also need to consider your budget for website hosting. Although I don’t recommend that you make this your primary criteria for choosing a host. In general, you get what you pay for – and if you are paying less than the price of a cup of coffee for your website hosting, then you are probably not paying enough to get quality, reliable hosting for your site.
Cheap hosting is generally shared hosting – which means your site will be hosted on a server with a lot of other sites. This means they all share the same resources – and if one site gets hacked, it can mean that other sites on the server are also vulnerable. Cheap hosting does have its place though. If you have a low traffic site or you are just testing out an idea, shared hosting can be the perfect way to get started.
I recommend managed WordPress hosting to my small business clients, because it is designed for WordPress sites and comes with a host of other benefits that make it easy for businesses without in-house technical staff to manage their own site:
Top notch support
Most managed WordPress hosting providers only deal with the WordPress platform – and their support teams are generally WordPress experts. This means that you get great support from people who know what they are talking about and can help you troubleshoot any problems your website might be having.
Optimised for high performance
Managed WordPress hosting providers implement server-level caching specifically tuned to make WordPress sites fly – so you don’t have to muck around trying to figure out which caching plugin to use or how to get it to work right on your site.
Why does this matter? Because the speed of your site matters to Google – and it matters to your customers. Studies show that conversion rates decrease the longer your site takes to load – with 0-4 second load times being the best for conversion rates.
Strategically located data centers
Most managed WordPress hosts have data centres around the world. Choosing a data centre that is located closer to your visitors can mean faster load times and a better user experience.
New Zealand is at the very end of the internet – so if your customers are accessing your site from NZ, but your site files are hosted in the US, it can add extra to your sites load time. Its worth finding the closest server you can to your customers – and making sure your host also includes a good CDN with nodes in New Zealand.
Your website is one of the most important marketing assets in your business – so you should make sure you have a disaster recovery plan in place. Backups are central to any good website disaster recovery plan – they should be done on a regular schedule, and stored in a different location to your website files (offsite).
Most managed WordPress hosts include automatic backups at no charge. Your backups are generally stored offsite and can be easily restored – often with just the click of a button.
One click staging sites
Most managed WordPress hosts make it easy to set up a copy of your website on a staging site so you can easily test new plugins, software updates or design/content changes before you make them live.
Security is taken care of
Managed WordPress hosts implement security measures at a server level to keep your site safe from hackers and malware. And if your site does get hacked, often they will fix it for free.
That being said, the most important thing you can do to keep your website secure is to make sure you have a strong password – and that you use a different password for every place you have a log in for!
Every developer has their favourite WordPress host – and its always a hotly contested topic in any WordPress forum! That being said, my recommendations are:
WPNet are a New Zealand based company with servers based here in New Zealand (although they also offer different locations). New Zealand is pretty much at the end of the internet – so if your customers are based here, then your website should be based here too. This way it won’t have to travel quite so far to end up on your visitors screen.
Flywheel offer servers based in a range of locations – including Australia. They have a super easy to manage dashboard that makes managing your website a breeze and their service is excellent.
If you run an eCommerce site using WooCommerce, I recommend Nexcess. They offer managed hosting specifically tailored for WooCommerce to make sure your site is performing at its best.