Self-hosted WordPress.org is the best platform for building a good blog. You have to purchase a web hosting service in order to launch your WordPress blog. Good part is that many hosting companies offer 1-year free domain that you can use to kick-start your website instantly. However, many bloggers overlook the hosting service and purchase without correct understanding of what to look for. In this article, we will throw some lights on the points to consider when you want to purchase a new hosting plan.
How to Choose Best WordPress Hosting?
As a new blogger, you maybe looking for nominal shared hosting service. From that aspect, below are the things you need to check before purchasing a hosting account.
- Server requirements
- Hosting Price
- Server speed
- Customer support
- Hosting Tools
- Server Security
- Additional Perks
1. Server Requirements
WordPress.org recommends the below server requirements for hosting WordPress software:
- PHP 7.4 or later
- MySQL version 5.6 or later OR MariaDB version 10.1 or later
- Supporting HTTPS
Most hosting companies will support these requirements out of the box. However, the point is that WordPress will update these requirements on every PHP update. For example, when PHP 8.0 is released on Nov 2020, soon the PHP requirement for WordPress will also be changed to version 8.0. Unfortunately, some hosting companies do not upgrade their infrastructure to use the latest PHP version. Probably they will be using PHP 7x till the time it reaches out of support mode.
The best option what WordPress recommends here is to confirm with the host about their plan on supporting the latest PHP version. This is especially needed when you are planning to purchase Managed WordPress hosting plan. For example, you can’t change the PHP verison with DreamHost when using DreamPress.
It is crucial to use the latest PHP version to get high speed and avoid fatal errors with outdated plugins/themes. Therefore, it will be hassle to contact the host for changing PHP version as you have to deal with compatibility of your themes/plugins in parallel. Checkout the history of hosting company and avoid those do not support the latest version. When you are in doubt, send an email and clarify with them.
In addition, you should also try to avoid using custom PHP solution like SiteGround’s Ultrafast PHP. This may work well as long as you are hosting with them. However, it can create problems when you plan to move to another host. In addition, standard themes and plugins may not work well with custom PHP solution (fortunately, with SiteGround, you can choose the required PHP version from the hosting account).
Another aspect is to understand the PHP execution and CPU seconds limit. You can’t abuse the server when using shared hosting by installing resource intensive plugins and themes. However, sometimes the lower level plans will not support even the basic WordPress blog with few plugins. For example, you can check SiteGround’s shared hosting limitations in this article. Unfortunately, you will not find these details on the pricing page. Hence, you need to check with the hosting company on this before even considering them for your purchase. Otherwise, your account will be temporarily terminated and sites will be taken down before you upgrade.
2. Hosting Price
This is one of the biggest traps many bloggers often overlook. The discounted price you see on Bluehost, SiteGround, HostGator and any other popular hosting company has many hidden problems.
- Discount is valid for only first purchase and renewal will work as per the regular rate.
- Generally, you get big offer for longer contract terms like 36 months.
- Most of the online reviews are written for affiliate promotion purposes. You should not rely on their catchy titles like “60% OFF” without doing research on your own.
Let us take an example to explain why the renewal pricing is important. You allocate hosting budget of $5 per month for the first year of your blogging journey. Hence, you can $60 for the entire year’s hosting budget. You also plan to increase 30% budget in the next year, that is $78. Now that, you have waited for Black Friday and buy the best price of $2.65 per month from Bluehost.
It all sounds good – you have purchased 3 years plan well below your budget. A year goes and here is what will happen:
- Your blog is grown to get decent traffic from search engines. The current hosting plan is no more sufficient to support that traffic.
- On other hand, you may want to launch another site which is not possible with the Basic plan for $2.65 per month.
Now that the next Plus plan will cost you $11.99 per month which is double than your original budget for second year. You can still manage the second year as you can get some refund adjustment for the previous plan’s balance amount. However, you can’t manage further without arranging additional budget. Otherwise, you can migrate by loosing the money with the current host or quit the blogging as you can’t afford.
There are two big mistakes in this story:
- Planning yearly budget, but purchasing 3 years contract by looking at low price.
- Forgetting the fact that upgrading is considered as renewal and higher price will be charged.
In addition, some companies also increase the price without sufficient time to react. For example, SiteGround increased their price from $3.95 to $6.99 in two years time (2018 to 2020). Therefore, make sure to understand the hosting price and properly plan your budget before clicking the purchase button.
3. Server Speed
This is another myth you will see in lot of hosting reviews confusing new bloggers. People will recommend buying certain service as the speed shows few milliseconds faster in their testing. After few months of running a blog, you will understand that few milliseconds of speed has no real meaning for you.
- Two sites hosted on the same server will never have the same speed score. It all depends on your theme and plugins you choose to install on your site.
- Server and your locations are utmost important factors. You cannot purchase a server located in USA and planning to launch a Spanish site targeting European users. If speed is your top priority then purchase a service from a company that offers data center nearer to your location.
- Using AdSense or any other advertisements will kill the page speed score, no matter even you have a dedicated server.
- Even with Core Web Vitals, Google will measure only three parameters like FID, LCP and CLS. You will see “does not pass” in Google PageSpeed Insights when failing in one of these three parameters even with 90+ score.
Yes, speed is important when you have hundreds of pages, getting thousands of traffic or selling bunch of products with WooCommerce. Otherwise, you should should not worry much about few milliseconds of server speed for a new blog with few pages. On other hand, you should focus on choosing a lightweight theme and plugins.
4. Customer support
It is difficult to get the feel of the customer support without discussing or raising the ticket. Here, the online reviews can help you much as people mostly share their own experience. There is a common misconception that EIG hosting companies like Bluehost and HostGator offer poor customer service. But, self-employed companies like SiteGround and Dreamhost offer superior services. This is not always true in our experience.
- In order to get priority support with SiteGround, you have to go for GoGeek plan that will cost you $14.99 per month.
- Priority is measured with the first ticket pick up time (called response time) and not with the resolution time. You may need to wait for days to get resolution, when you assign the same ticket with clarifications.
- No hosting company will answer queries related to your theme or plugin conflict.
- Bluehost and other EIG companies also offer live chat and we do not find any big difference by remembering the fact that we paid less than $3 per month.
In addition, do not compare highly priced Managed WordPress hosting companies like SiteGround, Kinsta or WPEngine services with the cheap shared hosting companies. In order to feel the real experience, you can try the pre-sale chat or send them some questions in email to understand their way of helping you. You can also directly call their customer/sales department and experience their voice support.
5. Hosting Tools
Most hosting companies use cPanel for their server interface. However, some companies like SiteGround has custom interface that you may not feel comfortable.
- Most of the online tutorial articles will not be useful when you use custom interface.
- Migrating to another standard hosting service will become a pain.
Therefore, check what type of hosting panel the company offer. Generally, you will not find this information on the pricing page and discuss with their pre-sale representatives to confirm this.
6. Server Security
There are two types of security. One is proactively protecting with malware scanning and blocking bad bots. Second is to allow backing up and restoring when something goes wrong on your site. For example, SiteGround uses Google Cloud Platform which offer solid security from Google. You can also have 30 days of daily backup on all their plans. This is good for those want to have real peace of mind by paying little more. However, if you can’t afford $6.99 per month or don’t like Google for privacy reasons then you may have to look for cheap host that offers security features.
In addition, you can also look 2 step verification and private ticket handling to have safer data and communication.
7. Additional Perks
The final point you should consider is the perks you get along with the hosting plan. For example, you can get 1 year free domain with Bluehost. However, you will not get this with SiteGround. Check whether you can get additional features like dedicated IP, site scanning, email, free themes/plugins, CDN, firewall or SEO tools along with the hosting plan. However, make sure these stuffs will not have any hidden cost after certain time.
We are pretty sure, no new blogger will do these analysis when buying WordPress hosting plan. That is the most important reason they will fail soon or later due to improper planning. We hope this article would have given you an insight before purchasing a WordPress hosting plan.