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There are lots of decisions to make when starting a blog but one of the key ones is choosing the best website hosting for your blog or business website. The whole concept of website hosting may seem simple – choose one and get on with it – but there’s a lot to consider in a host above just offering a cheap or free price. Here’s a look at how to make that decision as well as my own choice and why I’ve just renewed with that same host despite a price increase.
What is website hosting?
Let’s start at the beginning with the question of what is website hosting? Basically, website hosting is a service where you can rent a little space on a company’s server to place your website. You need a separate domain name to create an address for your little area of the internet and many web hosting companies will also offer to either include a free domain or offer you a range of available ones to choose from and pay alongside your hosting.
Once you have set up your website with its domain name, someone types in that address and the host company’s servers show them your website.
Choosing the right web hosting service
Choosing the right web hosting service is about a bit more than just going for an advert that caught your eye or a really cheap price. It involves looking at what you are going to need from your website hosting and who can provide that along with other services you might require – then look at the price.
For example, think about what kind of website are you building? If you are just creating a blog then it is liable to be through WordPress (who aren’t a hosting company, by the way). That will mean you will want all the usual elements such as a nice theme, plugins, dedicated email and will hopefully have a good amount of traffic.
If you are building your website for a business and a blog, then you might still choose WordPress and an optional extra such as WooCommerce or Shopify if you are selling products. If you are going to take payments, you will need some sort of SSL certificate to ensure any information on the site is protected and this usually costs more. But if you get it through your web host, it might be easier and even sometimes cheaper.
Website hosting reviews
Once you have a basic list of your requirements for a website host, you can start looking at website hosting reviews. I did this extensively before I bought my first package and then I choose wrong. More about that in a bit.
There are lots of factors to consider when reading reviews but some of the main points to look at are:
1. Reliability or uptime scores
The last thing you want is people to go to your website and find it is down. Companies given bad ratings are often the ones with a lot of downtimes. So look for figures in the very high 90% when you are considering hosts.
2. Upgrade options
While we all start small, there is the plan to get bigger as we get serious about our blog or our business grows due to our efforts. Therefore, look for companies where you can upgrade your hosting plan at a later date. For example, a basic plan will be adequate for around 40,000 unique monthly visitors but as you grow, you will need to upgrade to handle the greater capacity. So look for companies who allow this and make it simple.
3. Multiple domains
Whether you plan to buy up all the variations of your blog’s name such as .co.uk and .org or simply want to have more than one blog, then look at plans that allow you to have these multiple websites without needing to upgrade.
4. Refund policy
I was glad that I checked the refund policy with my first misfired option for website hosting because it meant I could cancel it almost immediately and it cost me only a pro-rata time for the days used (which was less than £1). Look at things such as trial periods and what your cancellation rates are as well as how you can cancel if you decide the hosting isn’t for you.
If you haven’t run a website before, cPanel might not mean much to you but it is like the backroom of the website where all the technical stuff lives. There are other options such as vDeck but cPanel is one of the most common. Make sure that this is user-friendly and easy to learn the basics as you will need it for things like adding a customised email address, checking your usage and adding features such as WordPress or WooCommerce.
To me, one of the most important things about website hosting is the level of customer services offered. This is one of the main reasons I have stayed with my current host, despite prices going up by around 40% on the first year deal (which I knew that they would so have planned accordingly).
Complaints about poor customer services are probably the other big issue that website hosting companies experience. If something goes wrong, doesn’t work or you need assistance, how quick and easy it is to speak to someone or to get an email response is a crucial factor in your choice.
My choice: Siteground
Now I’ll tell you a little about my choice of website hosting company – Siteground. You will doubtless see them mentioned when you start looking at reviews and although they were the second company I went with, they are the one I happily renewed with, despite the price increase. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Easy setup
When I came to set up the websites, I already had four blogs on WordPress that I wanted to create a website for each. I had no idea what to do and had some basic instructions from the internet that made it seem all very simple. Being as the world is, the instructions didn’t work.
Siteground were great. I emailed them and asked for help and they did the whole thing for me. They migrated the content to the new website having installed WordPress and made sure all my images were in the right place. I did have to do some editing on each post where some special characters had travelled over a little weird but I was updating Yoast and fine tuning at the same time so that was no problem.
Their customer service includes live chat and the option to open a ticket. Their response time is very good (and I’m in the UK so remember time differences), often within minutes or half an hour of submitting a query. This won me over from day one.
2. Lots of options
As you might guess, I have five websites so I am on their middle tier to allow more than one site. I’m not sure how many ‘multiple sites’ are but would imagine it is more about your traffic than anything. As long as you don’t exceed 4000 account executions in a two hour period or 20,000 in 24 hour period, you are fine. This has only happened to me once when someone tried to hack the site and bombarded it with requests – they didn’t get in either, by the way.
3. Easy email setup
It is also easy to set up dedicated email addresses for each website through their cPanel. You can the links these to a Gmail inbox or system of your choice to easily see the emails and ensure you don’t miss anything.
4. Lots of features
There are lots of features in the cPanel that I haven’t used but they are there if you want them. For example, rather than setting up WordPress for a blog, you can set up Joomla or Magento for an e-commerce website.
For me, these are a few of the reasons I choose Siteground. Their uptime is virtually 100% and I’ve never experienced more than a few minutes of downtime in the year I’ve been with them. Currently, they have a 60% off deal for your first year so you can have the basic level for a single website from £2.75+VAT per month or £3.95+VAT per month (you do need to pay annually for them).
If you would like to try them out, I would love you to use my affiliate link to try out Siteground and let me know what you think!
Best website hosting?
Choosing website hosting is a big decision when you are setting up a blog or moving from WordPress to your own little spot of the internet. Everyone will have different experiences with different companies but mine with Siteground has so far been very positive – hence I’m happy enough to recommend them to you. So do your research and within no time, you will have your very own little piece of the internet to call home.