Website Setup: Hosting Basics

You can’t have a website without some sort of hosting service. A website host is a company that provides you with bandwidth on their servers. They will “host” your files on their server and assign your web address with an IP Address that people from around the world will be able to connect to.

There are hundreds of reputable hosting providers to choose from. Each provider comes with their own set of offerings and prices.

Pricing

You can see prices as low as a dollar a month and some as high as $500 per month. So how do you pick the right host for the right price? Many hosting providers get their customers through referrals. People who have already spent the time and money to figure out if they’re trustworthy and reliable.

It is also worth mentioning that hosting cannot be bought on a month-to-month basis. It is required to purchase the services for the entire year upfront. You will see better savings for committing to a longer subscription (2-year or 3-year plan).

Shared Hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting

For most beginner (and even intermediate) website owners, shared hosting is a great option. It is much cheaper than dedicated hosting and is the most common option for website owners.

The drawback to using shared hosting is the risk that your website can become infected if you “website neighbors” are playing it fast and loose with their website files. Your website files are “shared” on the same server as other websites.

Most hosting services have a way to keep files contained, and the risk of contaminating your files is very low. The solution is as simple as keeping a backup of your website in the event that something does happen. You will be able to quickly restore your files and resume as if nothing happened.

Managed Hosting (WordPress)

The option to have your WordPress website managed through managed hosting is not recommended. It is a very plain and limited plan that will cost you more in the future. It is highly recommended to stick to a shared hosting plan.

The Hosting Trap: Introductory Rates

Nearly every hosting provider will give you a fantastic introductory rate. This is very common in the hosting industry and it can’t be avoided. This is also why paying for several years at a time is the ideal choice when choosing your host.

Recommendations & What To Look For

I am often asked which hosting provider I use. I’ve tried several hosting providers and have encountered everything that could possibly go wrong.

Server Speed

Even if your webpages are loading fairly quickly, you will definitely want to check how quickly pages will load on the back-end. One hosting provider I used in the past had me waiting 5-10 seconds between pages inside my WordPress dashboard. This made it nearly impossible to get any work done.

Uptime

A common issue with cheap hosting is uptime. Since I never paid for cheap hosting, I’ve never had to deal with my site being offline. A website that goes offline is a website that loses keyword rankings IMMEDIATELY and takes WEEKS to recover.

Customer Support

When trying a new hosting provider, I always try contacting their support to get an idea of their skill level and response time. Most providers will have a good set up of agents ready to help you. I like to use a provider that can be contacted using a live chat system.

One of my favorite ways to test their customer support is to ask them to do a simple WordPress install on a brand new domain.

Branded E-Mail

It is also great to have a hosting provider that will give you an option to create branded e-mails. This is super important to me as I like to sound as genuine as possible if I have to send somebody an e-mail on behalf of my websites.

Free Secure Connection

Having a secure connection used to cost a pretty penny. There are now services that have dedicated their time and effort to making sure everyone on the internet has access to a free secure connection by assigning a free SSL certificate. A good hosting provider will give you access to this service. A poor hosting provider will charge you for it.

Easy To Manage DNS Settings

Domain Name Server settings are essential if you are looking to get any kind of SEO to work for you. For example, Google Search Console requires you to update your DNS settings in order to verify your domain name. This process is also required for services like Pinterest and GSuite.

My Recommendation: SiteGround

I’ve tried many hosting providers and SiteGround is the one I finally landed on. This is the hosting provider I like to use for my websites and for my new client’s sites. It checks all the boxes for the things you should look for in a website hosting provider.

The price you pay for hosting is on par with industry standards and they are provide as much, or more services than the usual hosting provider. As with most hosting providers, they also throw in a few one-time credits for their existing services such as website migration from another hosting provider.

New customers are also provided with a credit for a free domain name for the first year. If you are not comfortable shopping for domain names from other providers, I would recommend to keep all your services under one umbrella and have your domains registered here as well.

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