When it comes to running a website, especially a website that’s used actively to generate leads for a business or organization, there’s really nothing more important than quality hosting.
While web hosting companies are as plentiful as grains of sand on a beach, finding one with good performance and support at a reasonable price is not easy. But since this is what I do and I’m a bit of a stickler (read: curmudgeon), I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching and experimenting. And, I’m not afraid to up and move when a hosting company goes south.
The dilemma of shared hosting
For most websites, certainly those starting out, an economical solution means using what is known as shared hosting. Basically, your website lives on a server with dozens or hundreds of other websites. This is all well and good, unless one of these websites is poorly optimized or getting tons of traffic.
When this happens, the CPU resources and memory used by said website spike, the server slows to a crawl and so do all the other websites on the server, including yours.
This is a fundamental problem with shared hosting, and really unavoidable without switching to either a virtual private server (where you get an allocated portion of server resources and memory), a cloud hosting plan (you’re allocated a certain amount of resources across many computers), or a dedicated server (you get an entire server all to yourself).
All of these solutions are generally overkill for a new or low traffic website. When your traffic builds and you start hitting the limits of your shared plan, that’s the time to think about more robust hosting. Until then, your time and resources are best spent creating useful content and converting the traffic you do have.
Having said that, let’s get to some recommendations.
SiteGround is the entry level hosting I usually recommend for clients looking for reliable hosting at a reasonable price. The basic plan starts at less than $50/year, their tech support is outstanding, and they offer a free transfer of your website from your current hosting (if you have one), which is a great time saver.
If you upgrade to the GoGeek plan, which is a good idea, for less than $200/year you get a server with fewer websites on it, improved backups and, best of all, a built-in staging site so you can test changes and tweaks to your site before you make them live. Having a staging site is a really good idea, especially if you’re doing any kind of customization to your website.
My experiences with SiteGround tech support have always been good. Online chats are responded to within a minute or two, unlike some hosts where you initiate a chat and see a message telling you you’re number 83 in line and the wait time will be 40 minutes (I’m looking at you, BlueHost).
If you’re looking for an economical but quality host, you can’t go wrong with SiteGround. And, should your website grow and your hosting needs escalate, they provide cloud and dedicated plans as well that you can easily upgrade to.
WPX Hosting (formery Traffic Planet Hosting) is a company created by SEO “guru” Terry Kyle. I’ve always appreciated Terry as a seemingly decent person and straight shooter in a field filled with snake-oil salesmen and hacks. He created WPX because of his own need for a fast and reliable host for his money-making sites. Site loading time is an important ranking factor in Google, and typical shared hosts are woefully inadequate in providing it.
You can read a full synopsis/sales thread here if you want the low-down on the process, load testing and comparisons to other hosts.
But I can tell you from personal experience, having moved my websites to WPX, that the performance is outstanding. I get less than 1.5 second load times on this website consistently, the tech support is incredibly responsive, and the price is quite reasonable for what you get.
The Business Plan for $25/month allows five website installations, compared to a similar managed WordPress solution like WP Engine which costs $25/month for just one site.
I also like the simple and intuitive control panel, which replaces the ubiquitous cPanel most hosts use. cPanel is effective, but the interface is less than stellar and it puts quite a load on the servers running it.
All in all, I’ve been very happy with WPX Hosting, and very happy I moved. If you want to invest a little extra in a superior web host that will make your site snappier and thus more enjoyable to use, you can’t go wrong with WPX.
I hope that helps, and as always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment below or contact me.
Disclosure: The above links to hosting companies are affiliate links, and I’m paid a commission if you sign up and remain a customer past the trial period. Rest assured, they’re both very good companies that I use and recommend regularly.