What To Look For When Choosing A WordPress Web Host That’s Right For You

I happily write about and teach people WordPress.

Choosing which company to host your WordPress site is one of the most important decisions you will make for your web site. In part, it will play a large role in the success or failure of your project.

I’ve spent countless hours with tech support on the phone, via chat, and by email for over 10 years. Not to mention the time I spent learning how easy – or difficult – it is to navigate in a host’s user interface and how its service performs.

Knowing which web host to choose is something I have a lot of experience with.

Here are my recommendations for choosing the perfect WordPress web host.

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When it comes to selecting a web host for your WordPress site it’s simple. You get what you pay for. There are no bargains. It is a very competitive business.

While I’ve been in touch with many hosts over the years working for clients, there are 4 companies that I have come in contact with the most over the past 18 months. These are Bluehost, GoDaddy, SiteGround, and WP Engine. These are the companies I discuss here.

The advice I give below is for individuals, small businesses, and organizations who either have a WP site or are thinking of creating one. I am sticking to the vital basics. I’m leaving out a lot of technical details on what these companies offer.

Let Me Cut To The Chase

I forbid you to use GoDaddy and Bluehost to host your web site. They are both terrible in every department. That’s rough but I’m here to spare you the agony of wasting time. From their tech “support” to their user interface to site performance to everything else you can think of, they both stink. I’ve seen what these companies have done for over 10 years. They haven’t just gone downhill – they’ve gone over the cliff.

I used to be a Bluehost affiliate, but I’ve dropped them. I could not, in good conscious, recommend them anymore.

They may be a tad less expensive than others, but don’t fall for it. The few bucks you will save will be greatly offset by the aggravation that awaits you.

That Leaves Us With SiteGround And WP Engine

Both companies offer startup and small business plans that provide an excellent choice for hosting a WP site. I am an affiliate of both, but I’d never recommend any service that I don’t love and use myself.

Now that we have ruled out the other two companies, let me break it down and compare these two.

I’m not going to talk about these features that they both include because they are standard features for hosts in this class of managed WordPress hosting:

I’m just going to focus on the things that are different that impact you.

WP Engine

Recognized by many as the best in the business, WP Engine is a global company that started small in Austin, TX about 15 years go.

There are no pros and cons here – just pros. But there are a few things you need to know.

WP Engine only hosts WordPress sites. That is their only business and they do a top notch job at that. You can’t use WP Engine to:

1. You get a customer User Portal that they built from scratch that NEVER fails. When you’re in WP Engine and using their tools, it ALWAYS works.

2. It has the easiest way I have ever seen to set up a staging site which can be pushed to your live site and vice-versa.

3. WP Engine is tops in security. For example, they use SFTP rather than FTP to move files back and forth between your computer and their servers.

The tech support is to die for! Only once or twice did I speak with someone who was not friendly and extremely knowledgeable. They go beyond the call of duty. You will never hear them say, “Hmm, we can’t help you with that. That’s a WordPress problem and you need to hire a developer.”

They have a number of hosting plans that require you to pay for each web site separately. Their Starter plan is currently $25/month (paid annually, $300). While there are maximums on storage and the number of site visitors per month, you get enough of what you need for a small business.

Since they don’t handle domain name registration or email, you’ll need to go elsewhere for those services. You can register a domain just about anywhere (yes, for that I allow you to use Bluehost or GoDaddy). As for email, you can use just about any service – like Gmail – with your domain name.

SiteGround

SiteGround has also been around for about 15 years and is based in Bulgaria. You’ll know that once you have spoken to support a few times.

SiteGround hosts all kinds of web sites, not just WordPress, so if you ever want to try something besides WP, you can.

One huge difference from WP Engine is that SiteGround is one-stop shopping. You can register your domains there and have email provided as well. That convenience is a big selling point.

While their tech support is excellent, they are not as accessible as WP Engine which is so easy to call, chat or email them. SiteGround encourages you to use their support docs first (which are very good and succinct) rather than run to the phone or chat with them. I have found the latter a better way to communicate. They’re also very patient and friendly and will help, but they are not warm and fuzzy like WP Engine. Seems like they favor customers who know a little more about WP than the total noob. Maybe that’s just my impression.

Unlike WP Engine, if you go with SiteGround’s GrowBig plan, you can install as many WP sites into your account as you’d like. Their first year fee is a teaser so be careful. You pay $9.99 per month (paid annually, $119.88) but after the first year, it’s more like WP Engine as it’s $24.99 (paid annually, $299.88).

Which One?

Either one is a winner, but if you need more than one WP site, SiteGround is your choice. Get in touch with me, bud@joyofwp.com, if you have any questions about web hosting.

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