In Day 1 we learnt about WordPress and why you should use it for your website. In Day 2 we explain how to choose the right hosting for WordPress + installing WordPress on hosting, as well as the importance in selecting the right domain name for your business.
What is Hosting
We have already learnt that WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) meaning that it lets you manage and organize content to display it to your users. However you need a place to store all the content that you upload to the web, this is where hosting comes in play.
Hosting is where you store all of the content on the web. The content is stored in what is known as servers. These servers then allow your information to be accessed all over the world. There are a huge number of different hosting types:
– Shared hosting
– Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
– Cloud Hosting
– Dedicated Web Servers
– Self Service Hosting
If you’d like to learn more about the different types of hosting, check out the 7 different types of web hosting by Inline Host Blogger.
If you’re starting out with a website, you’ll most likely be using shared hosting to begin, you may eventually move to a VPS or Cloud based solution as your business grows.
Before you jump to choosing a hosting provider based on pricing, consider this – your hosting choice will impact the way your website works, how fast it loads (which is an important SEO factor), as well as how secure it will be against hackers and server crashes. We won’t bore you with the other various reasons as to why choosing a hosting provider should be one of your top priority business decisions. Trust us, it is.
With so many options available out there, we cover the 6 most important factors to take into consideration when choosing your hosting provider:
Speed is going to be one of the most important factors for your website. It affects user experience, SEO and conversions on your site.
Take a look at the various options that your hosting provider offers. This can be anything from shared hosting (which has a limited bandwidth and disk space) to dedicated server hosting (which are very fast and host only your site).
We suggest using hosting with (Solid State Drives) SSD’s for storage as they offer quicker response times. Also make sure your hosting provider allows PHP 7.0 as it can process a larger number of requests per second, again, leading to quicker loading times.
Also pay attention if the provider you’re choosing supports WordPress. If you use or plan to use Flothemes for your site, you’ll need it.
2. Server Location
Find out where is your hosting provider located, and whether they have servers that are close to your audience. This is important when looking to provide a quick loading site for your viewers. The closer the servers are to your audience the quicker information can be sent to them.
We all know that slow websites provide an unpleasant experience for your site visitors and can increase your bounce rates (users leaving your site without viewing more than 1 page), which can harmfully impact your SEO.
A hosting provider such as SiteGround has servers located on 3 continents (America, Asia and Europe) and even offers a free content delivery network or CDN (over 100 additional server locations). This increases the chances of finding a data center located somewhere close to your clients and improving site speed.
What is your price range? An honest advice – it pays to buy good hosting! And thankfully, hosting is something you can scale. So if you can’t afford a large package now, don’t worry, you can invest in stronger hosting when you start to get more traffic. Just remember that this is an important business decision, so do push the budget here if you can. On average, shared hosting plans start between $4-10 a month.
Better hosting will improve your site speed and increase customer satisfaction, which hopefully in turn can help increase conversions for your business. As mentioned earlier, don’t forget about bounce rates, if your site is slow – your users may leave before even seeing any of your awesome content.
The best value for money would be SiteGround, we have tried and tested them with hundreds of websites and can firmly state that they offer great value for your money. Flywheel and WP Engine are other good alternatives, in a slightly higher pricing bracket. If you think your site is going to have quite a lot of traffic invest into one of these.
All 3 offer WordPress specific hosting services, built in caching, and optimized loading time for WordPress sites. Siteground is even mentioned by WordPress themselves as a recommended partner, so you can be sure they are going to work great.
4. Customer Support
Always check what existing customers have been saying about your hosting provider. We suggest asking in a few facebook groups, that you are part of, to find out what experiences users have had.
You can easily check if they have good reviews. You’ll also want to note their up time (the time that websites are online. Most should offer 99.99% uptime. Sometimes there are issues and you’ll get a small outage), and do they respond to their customers promptly?
The providers we’ve recommended above were hand picked by us due to their amazing support teams. Each one of them offers good support with prompt responses. Again, check their locations to make sure that they work well with your time zone and whether support is included with your plan.
5. Site Traffic
Do you have huge amounts of traffic coming in, or are you only starting out? This should be taken into consideration when choosing your hosting provider.
If you’re a new business, you’re likely to have lower traffic – so a shared hosting plan will work fine for you for the first 6 -12 months. If it’s a small service site, such as photography, then it’s likely that a shared hosting package will be suitable at all times.
If you have an established blog or site and can see a considerable amount of traffic coming in on a regular basis, a shared hosting plan may not be powerful enough for your needs. We recommend using Google Analytics to carefully track your site’s progress by the number of monthly visitors you’re receiving.
This will also be useful when you try to decide whether you should upgrade your hosting plan or switch to a different provider.
6. Back Ups
Check if your hosting provider offers free, or paid back up options. It’s super important to keep a back up of your site, failing to do so can be a real pain when something goes wrong. Thankfully most providers offer some form of free back up service.
If you can get a provider with a 30 day back up plan, you’ll be in a good place. SiteGround offers 30 days free back up with their shared hosting plans.
So thats it folks, 6 things to look out for when choosing hosting. A little bonus tip, check what each hosting company offers, some offer free domains for a period of time, 1-click WordPress installs, as well as great site backup options. Also check out for sales periods, you can catch yourself a real bargain with your hosting. Black Friday is a particularly great time to look for new hosting.
If you have a current hosting provider thats not quite cutting it, we recommend contacting one of our recommended providers. Seriously, it can really improve your business. Many even offer free switching services, so you can be assured that your content will be moved correctly.
If you don’t have hosting, we recommend SiteGround’s Grow Big package for anyone getting started. They offer SSD drives for storage, 30 days of backups, and 20GB of storage. This should be more than enough for the first 24 months of your business.
Remember this is an important business decision, it will influence your site’s performance, reflected in the experience your customers receive when they visit your site.
Choosing a Domain Name
Choosing a Domain Name is another important business decision. If you’ve already selected your domain name, skip this section and tune in for tomorrow’s lesson on WordPress Basics.
If you don’t have a domain selected yet, you’ll want to take into account these 7 tips when choosing a domain name:
1. Keep it Simple – make sure your domain is simple to type so there is no chance for mistakes.
2. Keep it short – keep it short and sweet, there will be less chance for errors when someone types your domain name.
3. Add Keywords – if you can add a keyword to the domain name, do it. If you’re doing photography for example, you could add it to the domain such as – xyzphotography.
4. Avoid Numbers and Hyphens – don’t add number or hyphens, people won’t know if it’s a number or the written word.
5. Be Memorable – millions of domains are registered weekly, come up with some names, and share with friends and family to see if it’s catchy. Adjust depending on their feedback.
6. Use the right extension – there are hundreds of new domain extensions being added regularly. Such as .photography, .design. Here is a small list of the most popular new top level domain extensions:
- .co : an abbreviation for company, commerce, and community.
- .info : informational sites.
- .net : technical, Internet infrastructure sites.
- .org : non-commercial organizations and nonprofits.
- .biz : business or commercial use, like e-commerce sites.
- .me : blogs, resumes or personal sites.
7. Protect your brand – purchase similar domains, or different extensions so others can’t use your unique domain name.
Most hosting providers offer free domain registration when purchasing, so check in with them before looking at some other popular domain providers such as GoDaddy and Namecheap.
Once you have chosen your hosting and domain. The first thing you will want to do is install WordPress to your hosting.
Most good hosting companies will offer a one click installation of WordPress. We highly recommend checking with your hosting company first before attempting to install WordPress manually. This will be the quickest method to get started with adding WordPress to your hosting.
If your hosting company does not have a one click install option for WordPress, the following tutorial explains how to install WordPress manually.
Thats all for day 2 of 7 days of WordPress. In the next installment of 7 days of WordPress, we go over details on choosing the right theme for your business, the best theme providers in the market and the different ways you can install your theme to WordPress.