How to Choose the Right Hosting Company For Your Website
Finding the right host for your new business' website can be a daunting task. There are tons of choices out there, and finding the “right one” can be a challenge.
When I first started, I went with the cheapest option. Then I moved to the popular option. It wasn't until nearly five years of doing online business that I found my current web hosts, and I thought I'd share what I learned so you can make a smart choice the first time.
Related: 10 WordPress Tips You Should Know
Some lists I create aren't in any particular order. However, today, these three criteria for how to choose the right hosting company are in the order I would suggest you look.
How To Choose the Right Hosting for Your Business' Website
The first and possibly the most important thing to look for in a hosting company for your business website is the location of the hosting company's servers.
In the world of online business, speed is SO important. And, to get the best speeds, you need to host your website on a server that’s either
A: As close to you as possible, or
B: As close as possible to where your customers are.
For example, over 80% of my readers and customers are here in the United States. So, having my website hosted on servers in Arizona and Illinois are perfect. A good rule of thumb is if you're doing business in XYZ, you should buy hosting from a company who has servers in XYZ. For me, XYZ = U.S.A. 😉
You also don't want to go with a hosting company with servers ONLY in ONE location. Ever heard of off-site backups? Disaster recovery?
If most of your customers, readers, visitors, etc., live somewhere you don't, try to choose a hosting company that has servers wherever most of your traffic comes from. Hosting your business' website in close geographic proximity to where your clients are will give them faster speeds and better performance.
The hosting company I refer most of my clients too, GreenGeeks, has data centers in Phoenix, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, and Amsterdam, and you can choose where you want your website hosted.
After you've narrowed down your choices to less than five, it's time to move on to what type of support you could get from each one.
My first hosting company was embarrassingly cheap (like, less than $2 a month) and they had awful support to match. I now only use hosting companies that offer 24/7/365 support and have a chat system that I can access from wherever I am, whenever I need it.
You also want to make sure the support people speak the same language you do. You already have a lot to deal with in your business and struggling to navigate a language barrier is just something you do not need. Whenever I chat with someone at WPEngine, I either get someone in downtown Austin (30 miles away) or in San Antonio (100 miles away). Trust me; this is immensely helpful.
Before you make a final decision, call their support team or start a chat session with them. Ask them where they are and have a question ready to see if they're knowledgeable and helpful.
As I mentioned above, the first hosting company I went with was the cheapest I could find. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I'd like blogging, so I didn't want to make a large purchase in case I ended up hated writing.
While hosting isn't all that expensive in the grand scheme of your business, when it comes to startup costs for your website, hosting could be one of the more expensive things you buy. That said, a solid web hosting company doesn't have to cost a ton.
For starter sites, like those with traffic under 10,000 visitors per month, I recommend GreenGeeks. If you're in North America, GreenGeeks meets all of the criteria listed in this post. If you live outside the U.S. and Canada, you might need to look elsewhere, but it's worth asking them. They're that good, and I've partnered with them to get starter plans under $4/mo.
For larger sites (more than 10,000 visitors per month), or for people who want a little more speed and security, I recommend WPEngine. One thing I love about WPEngine is that their software asks me if I've made a site backup before I make any updates to my software. More than once, this prompt has saved me a lot of headaches.
Another thing you'll find with WPEngine is that they're able to brainstorm with me to find solutions. Most support teams are just troubleshooters and question answerers, WPEngine's team are much more collaborative. I love that!
Regarding price, WPEngine is more expensive than GreenGeeks, but they're not really in the same category. They're a managed hosting platform which means they've got custom hardware and software that other shared hosts don't have. Plus, they've started including a Content Delivery Network, or CDN, in their plans, which I love. Their plans start at around $35/mo, and if you sign up with this link, you can get two months free if you sign up for an entire year. (j/k – that offer is available to anyone)
Lastly, both GreenGeeks and WPEngine offer a free SSL with their hosting plans, which means they're both ready for e-commerce. Happy selling!
I couldn't end this post without saying that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY A LOT OF MONEY TO HAVE GREAT HOSTING!
Ah, that feels better! I saw someone on LinkedIn pitching hosting at $250 a month, and it took all of my strength to bite my tongue and not chew him out. Do NOT start your business off on the wrong foot by signing up for hosting that costs $250 a month.
- You do NOT need a dedicated server for your business' website.
- You do NOT need custom hosting for WooCommerce.
- You do NOT need to spend $50,000 to get an amazing website.
- You do NOT need to wait six months for a developer to build your business website.
My company can build you a fantastic site for less than $5,000 (in most cases), and we can have it done in less than two weeks (also in most cases).
One final thought, don't spend too much time debating who you should host your website with. If you follow the criteria on this page and avoid every hosting company listed here, you'll be fine. Plus, most hosts make switching easy and offer a prorated refund if you decide to switch in the middle of your contract.