When it comes to WordPress, one of the most important decisions you make is choosing your host. There are lots of opinions out there, and what’s best for you depends on your business. But there are some general rules we should all follow when choosing a WordPress host.
Rule 1: Don’t use EIG owned hosting companies.
If you ask for hosting recommendations, you’re likely to hear lots of suggestions. One of the most common ones I hear is Bluehost. They even get a mention on the WordPress.org site… but there’s a big problem. Bluehost is owned by EIG.
EIG is a company whose business model relies on purchasing web hosts. Much like shopping at Costco, this means they’re able to keep prices lower because they’re working with very large quantities of sites. In theory, this could mean better service because EIG can “buy in bulk.”
But in reality, they have a long history of buying good web hosts and gradually ruining them. The top notch (expensive) customer service reps get replaced with fewer, cheaper ones. The host suddenly starts having slower page load speeds and more downtime.
So how do you know if a host is owned EIG? They definitely don’t make it easy. They don’t even have a list of all of their hosting companies on their own website. It almost seems like part of their plan is to sneak those purchases in so website owners don’t notice.
Here’s a short list of some of the EIG hosts I hear mentioned frequently.
- A Small Orange
- plus around 55 more.
Steer clear of these, and anyone else on the full list.
Rule 2: don’t buy hosting from your domain registrar.
Namecheap and GoDaddy are two of my favorite domain registrars. They are fantastic at exactly one thing: registering your domain name (your website.com), but that’s kind of it. They also offer web hosting and build-your-own-website packages, but don’t do it.
Along the same lines, I also don’t recommend registering your domain with your web host. If you ever need to change providers later, it’s just easier to have things separated. The cost should be about the same either way.
Rule 3: Choose your WordPress host based on metrics that matter.
Now that we’ve talked about how not to choose your host, let’s talk about the things you should consider when you are choosing a host.
Speed: One factor when it comes to your site’s overall load speed is the time to first byte. This is how long it takes for the server to start responding when someone opens your site. You can do lots of things to optimize site speed, but you can’t change the time to first bite. That depends totally on your host. Choose a fast one!
Uptime: I find it hard to believe, but there are plenty of people who just except that their site goes up and down constantly. This goes back to your host as well. Do you want to look for a host with 99% or more uptime if at all possible.
Security: make sure you’re using a reputable host who is going to have proper security measures in place. Your hosting should also come with free SSL, what do you need to make your site secure. This is not a substitute for a good security plug-in or a strong password, but is something you need in addition to those things.
Customer service: look for a host that offers real time chat with their customer service department. There should be knowledgeable support staff available to you 24/7 in case you ever need help troubleshooting or fixing something on your site.
My WordPress host recommendations
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go combing through every host out there to try and figure out which ones are worth using. I’ve got you covered. Here are my top picks for WordPress hosting. While there are some affiliate links listed here, please know that I will never recommend anything that I have not used either personally or with one of my clients and had a good experience.
This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
If you’re wondering which one is my top pick, I personally use and have been very happy with Siteground. Their customer service is top notch. I have never left a chat without getting the answer and help that I needed, and they perform great in all of the metrics listed above.
Update 10/15/20: Siteground recently (very quietly) changed their support policy. They now state that they will no longer provide WordPress support, and will only provide support for issues directly related to hosting. Because of this, they are no longer my first choice.
My top pick right now is NameHero. I’ve been with them for a little over 6 months, and have had wonderful experience with their hosting as well as their support.