Everyone knows what a website is, but few people know where they live or just how important that home is when it comes to how users interact with a website. Performance, security, and search engine rankings are just a few of the many things that are impacted by your choice of hosting provider.
So how do you choose the right hosting provider, and what are you getting that justifies the cost of a more expensive provider? After my experience with dozens of web hosts over the years, I can provide a few answers to put your mind at ease.
Managed vs. Unmanaged
Managed and unmanaged are hosting terms that you’ll see all across the web. What does it mean though? Essentially it means exactly what it sounds like. Managed hosting providers take care of the more difficult aspects of running a web server such as setting up Linux environments and connecting databases to your web applications. With an unmanaged hosting provider, you would be forced to take on these tasks yourself. Without proper guidance or experience, taking this on yourself could lead to massive security holes or endless frustration and headaches. It may be worth the extra few dollars per month to get that off your plate.
But I want it to go faster!
Speed. We want more speed. While website speed is heavily influenced by how your website is built, your web host can also play a role with a couple of factors. Plugging your website into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can help you determine exactly how slow your website is and what you can do to fix it. Sure, most of the problem items can be remedied by removing excess plugins, optimizing images, and some code tweaks on your existing web host, but the following problems are directly influenced by your hosting provider.
Server-side caching can make a huge impact on your site’s load time. WordPress is powered by PHP, and as a result, the entire page must be generated on the server before being delivered to the end-user’s browser. Server-side caching resolves this by storing a copy of the page on the server and skipping that page generation each time the page is loaded by a user, ultimately leading to a drastically reduced server response time. If you want great performance on your WordPress site, do not choose a hosting provider that doesn’t offer a layer of caching.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can provide additional website performance by distributing your media files across a global network of servers. Like everything else in life, data takes time to travel long distances. Reducing the distance between your website and your users will reduce your page load time, which is exactly what CDNs aim to do. Good web hosts will provide one-click CDN access to your website at little to no cost. It’s a no-brainer and a quick easy fix to boost your page speed score.
Did you know that nearly 30% of all websites are powered by WordPress? While this has led to a fantastic community of resources and third party add-ons, it has come with the downside of security breaches. Unless you’ve taken measures to protect your WordPress site, you’re likely exposed to a community of hackers that know more about WordPress and how to break in than your developers may know.
What can you do to keep your website safe? Avoid weak passwords, change your wp-admin URL, and choose a web host that lives and breathes WordPress. I can’t stress enough how much that last point matters. Trusting your WordPress site on a shared web host like Bluehost or GoDaddy is the equivalent to removing all of
the locks the doors on the exterior of your house. Flywheel, Pagely, and WP Engine are just a few examples of hosting providers that specialize in WordPress and take extra measures to ensure that your website stays safe.
SEO & Google
Moving up in search engines is becoming more and more difficult as Google decides what factors influence rankings. One thing that is known for certain is your website’s performance and security plays a large role in where you rank. Reducing your server response time with server-side caching can cause you to see a boost in rankings. More recently, Google has started penalizing sites that don’t have a valid SSL certificate. A good web host will have an easy and free method for installing SSL certificates allowing you to avoid the loss in rankings.
Moral of the story, don’t skimp when it comes to where you put your WordPress site. It can be tempting to go with a shared hosting provider when the plans cost less than a cup of your morning coffee, but the downsides aren’t worth the cost savings.
Double Up Digital partners with Flywheel to provide fast and secure hosting to all of our clients. Leaving the complexities of server management to professionals that know the ins and outs of WordPress allows us to focus on what we do best, and that’s creating amazing website experiences.
Tired of trying to figure out WordPress hosting yourself? We can help you give your website a home that will make it perform at its best.