What are the most meaningful factors to consider when choosing a service to host your website?
For just about everyone, covering the basics means meeting certain operation metrics: solid reliability, dependable uptime, and accessible technical support.
Depending on your organization and goals, though, additional capabilities become more mission-critical. Monthly visit caps, available server space and bandwidth all need to be compared with your site’s needs.
Access to the standard site management tools is also a given. It’s in your best interest to ensure your site developer can work quickly and efficiently to build your site and any new functionality. Your host should offer C-Panel, PHP My-Admin, SFTP and shell access to your developer or team.
Server Selection and Site Speed
If you depend on SEO or paid search as a meaningful source of traffic, things get more involved. Google has been placing high importance on site speed as an SEO indicator going back at least to 2010.
Its Core Web Vitals metrics, introduced in May 2020, are designed to “help sites focus on the metrics that matter most.” In short, the focus is on user experience, mobile friendliness, and site speed. Scoring higher in these areas means Google is more likely to recommend your sites in their search results.
Server stack and configuration can have a sizable impact on your site’s speed and performance. Ensure your host runs a production environment that’s optimized for WordPress, focused on speed and scalability.
You’ll also want to check on additional services, like integrated CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) and included SSL certificates.
There are a number of hosting providers with the infrastructure and engineering staff to speed up you site speed. I’ve had successful experiences working on sites hosted at Kinsta and Flywheel, and can attest to the speed and support of both of these companies.
However, for my clients—and for any site that relies on site speed—I’ve found one provider that sets the bar for performance, scalability, and developer environment.
WP Engine: advanced technology that delivers results
WP Engine partners with best-in-class technologies in server administration like AWS, Google Cloud, and NGINX, WP-Engine’s proprietary EverCache system is an incredibly scalable system that’s supported site surges of up to 15k simultaneous visitors. Combined with fast NGINX front-end servers, WP Engine has an unmatched capacity to provide speed and scalability across its platform worldwide.
Their support for developers is unmatched as well, with streamlined setup, an integrated local development environment, and a built-in API.
With WP Engine, your dollars deliver a faster website. Again, faster sites provide a better user experience and improved SEO.
How much faster? In one comparative test of a WordPress site running the popular Avada theme, WP Engine’s median page load time was 627ms, three times faster than the same site hosted on Siteground.
In another test measuring speed under load, WP Engine delivered page views to 100 simultaneous visitors almost twice as fast as Siteground.
For organizations who understand the competitive advantage that a properly optimized site can deliver, WP Engine plays exceptionally well in the construction of a Jamstack site. Deploying a static site with WordPress as a back end CMS can bring you into the top tier of performance.
Siteground: solid speed and reliability
Lots of reliable hosting companies offer reasonable service at an affordable cost. Over the years I’ve worked with many, and have found that Siteground consistently delivers as promised. Their technology stack is solid, and the technical support team is knowledgeable and responsive. Over the past five years, they’ve hosted many of my clients’ WordPress sites.
Siteground’s base performance level is second to none. They offer reasonable caching speed, and average site uptime is an impressive 99.99%—equivalent to what you can expect from the pricier Word-Press-only host WP Engine.
Between the reliability of their service and their affordable pricing, sites with simpler needs will find that Siteground offers one of the great bargains on the web today.
The following selection of plans is suitable for most small businesses and startups. Both SiteGround and WP Engine offer additional plans and service levels beyond what I’m listing here.
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Establishing a relationship with a website hosting company should be a decision you’ll be happy with for the long run. Whether you’re planning a new site, or have just gotten to the point where you’ve outgrown your current hosting company, doing the homework up front pays off every day.
If you’d like assistance assessing your current host, just reach out — I’m happy to help. I can provide an impartial analysis to identify and document gaps between your needs and the services you’re getting, and help get your site up to speed.