There’s no doubt that WordPress is the No. 1 content management system (CMS) used across the web today. With nearly 27% of all websites being made with the platform, and owning nearly 59% of all the CMS market share, according to the most current WordPress statistics from W3Techs, it’s no surprise that the world’s leading businesses are using WordPress to build their most important online asset. WordPress makes it easy to create “edible” content, breathtaking designs, and a seamless user experience – but it’s still only half of the equation if you want a website that will attract customers and drive conversions. The other half is a WordPress host.
While the decision to use WordPress as your CMS is an easy one to make, the decision about which host to choose is often not as simple. The popularity of the platform has driven the hosting market to become highly specialized over the recent years with – for better or for worse – more options to choose from than ever before. But just because you can order everything off the menu, it rarely means you should.
Despite the array of features and options that customers now have available to them, the list of things to consider when selecting a WordPress host has largely remained the same. Why? Because some hosting features are so important that they are integral to your website’s success and, ultimately, your bottom line. So whether you’re selecting a host for the first time, or if you believe your website could perform better, this is a list of some considerations to make when selecting the best WordPress host.
Perhaps one of the most important metrics to consider, if not the most important metric, is uptime. This refers to the amount of time your website is available and accessible on the web. In other words, a website that has a 99.9% uptime can expect to be available for approximately 8,751 hours and unavailable for about nine hours out of the year. That’s nine hours when potential customers will move onto your competitors for the product or service you could have provided. For some companies, that might sound reasonable. For many, it’s not.
However, as it easy as it is to accept the often quoted “99.9% uptime” as an automatic selling point, it’s important that you ask what happens during that remaining 0.1%. And what happens if your site goes down longer than your projected downtime? Will you receive a refund? And what happens if there’s a total server crash? Discussing realistic performance and a crisis management plan if, in case, the worst was to happen is an important step in selecting the best host for you.
Does your website load in less than 4 seconds? It needs to.
75% of 1,058 people said that they would not return to a website that took longer than four seconds to load, according to a 2009 study by Akamai. Given the advancement in technology in recent years, that number is likely lower. Every second after the first four costs you conversions and ultimately harms your bottom line.
But if your conversion rate wasn’t already a justification in itself, Google has indicated that its algorithms utilize site speed in order to rank pages and goes so far as to provide the PageSpeed Insights tool to offer suggestions on how to make your pages faster.
In short, you can’t afford to waste a single second.
Bandwidth is the rate in which data is transferred in a given time. Generally speaking, 5 GB to 10 GB per month should be sufficient for most websites with a modest amount of traffic and that is not hosting large media files or streaming a lot of content.
That is, of course, if you want your website in 5 years to do as well as it does today. Chances are that you want your website and – more importantly – your traffic to grow over time. So when you’re selecting the best WordPress host, it’s important to consider how your content and your traffic will change over time. A website that improves its SEO will naturally bring in more visitors over time. And as you improve the quality of your pages, content that goes unexpectedly “viral” can easily cause bandwidth to double, or even triple, in a single month. Choosing the right WordPress host takes into consideration all of these factors.
41% of all WordPress websites that were hacked between 2009 and 2012 were the result of insufficient hosting security, according to an infographic on WPtemplate. The list also includes insecure themes, plugins and passwords as the other leading causes for hacked websites.
A good host employs multiple layers of security: Network firewalls, access lists, intrusion prevention systems and server firewalls. A better host provides this on top of regular security updates to core files, themes and plugins. The latter is often not discussed as part of a hosting plan because the responsibility of updating these files often falls onto the website owner; however, if your potential host does discuss regularly updating these items, it’s a good sign that security is one of their top priorities.
And since no host can guarantee that you won’t get hacked – and if they do, move on – regular backups should be automatic and made available to you if the worst should ever happen.
5. Customer Support
Is it 24/7 live support or is there a specific window of time? Will you be filling out a ticket or will you talk live with a person? Will you be guided through steps to take on your end or will the representative resolve the problem for you?
You will encounter a problem with your host at some point and, although these instances should be extremely rare, you should receive customer service that’s prompt, helpful, and seamless.
What have other customers experienced with this host? In today’s world, there is an abundance of reviews available for any particular business. And unless the company is only a few months old – in which case, you should be appropriately cautious – chances are that someone has shared their experiences with the company either through a recognized review website, an online forum, or even directly on the host’s website. Proper research entails asking the company intentional questions, reading reviews, and participating in forum discussions.
How long has the company been in business? What are their credentials? What problems have customers experienced? How often are customers encountering problems? How are these problems resolved? What are people saying about them?
If any information you find online raises a red flag, consider other options.
Last but not least, the cost of web hosting is a consideration that every website owner will have to make. First and foremost, website owners must make the decision whether they would prefer shared hosting or dedicated hosting. Shared hosting, as the name suggests, entails a website sharing space on a server with hundreds, if not thousands, of other websites. This is a contrast to dedicated hosting in which a server is dedicated solely to one particular website or company. In almost every case, shared hosting will be the more affordable option and will be ideal for those who just want to establish an initial web presence or don’t expect a high volume of visitors. The latter, however, carriers a higher price tag as a tradeoff for better stability and often dedicated support.
When it doubt, remember that you often “get what you pay for” and no company can afford the cost of subpar performance.
WordPress Host Wrapping Up
While this list only provides a brief overview of some of the key considerations you need to make when selecting a WordPress host, the importance of selecting a consistent, reliable company who stands by their guarantees and can prove their qualifications cannot be overstated.
At the end of the day, your website is vital to your company’s success online. In many ways, it’s an extension of your team, acting as a representative of your products or services. So just as you wouldn’t hire an employee without asking comprehensive questions and conducting a thorough background check, it pays to do your research in selecting the best WordPress host not just for your website but for the future of your company.
webFEAT Complete is proud to be the only company in Cincinnati that truly offers all the WordPress hosting options you need, backed by unparalleled experience and reputation. After reading the considerations listed above, we’re sure you have questions and we are happy to answer them. Contact us today to learn more about webFEAT Complete hosting.
Also published on Medium.