WordPress 101: Simple Guide to Choosing a Web Host

Today, I want to touch on the subject of web hosting and the importance of choosing the right one. This was definitely a “live and learn” area for me when I first stepped into the world of WordPress and I hope I can save you a big headache by giving you a few tips and steering you in the right direction.

If you are brand new to WP, you may be confused thinking “Wait, I thought WordPress was free?”. Well, the WP platform itself is free to use but you will still need a host to get your site online (read my note at the bottom of this post for more info). Finding the right host is arguably the MOST important step in having a successful website as it controls your website’s speed & accessibility, protects your files, handles fluctuations in your web traffic, etc. With a host, you are essentially paying to essentially “lease” a space on the internet for your website.

There are millions of opinions out there about which host is the best, and honestly there are many great ones to choose from! Picking the right one can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. I’ve worked with several different hosts and have learned firsthand just how much a bad host can ruin your site; so today I want to share with you a short list of the most important things to look for (in my opinion) when choosing a WordPress host:

Affordable, but not free: Be wary of “free hosts” as it often leads to hidden fees, or just crappy hosting.
Included Customer Service: You want them to offer immediate service available via phone, email, or live chat. Uber important!
Free & frequent backups: The host should take care of backing up all of your content and files for you so you are always prepared for the worst
Free WordPress Installer:  This takes the headache out of setting up your own WP database which can be complicated for a beginner.
Easy to navigate control panel: Save yourself the time & headache of a messy panel when you need to make changes.
Shared hosting: Unless you are getting tens of thousands of hits a day, you only need the basic shared hosting.
Unlimited traffic, emails, & databases: This should always be included. If not, consider yourself ripped off!

You can now take these simple points and your new-found knowledge, and confidently search the web for your perfect hosting provider! As I mentioned, there are so many great WP hosts out there, but if you want to know my opinion from experience, here it comes…

Definitely stay away from mass hosting sites such as GoDaddy (aka NOdaddy), HostGator, or Dreamhost (trust me, NOT a dream). Nothing but empty promises there, people. Your website will be slow and you’ll likely experience many hidden fees and random charges. BlueHost is a good option on the basis of customer service, however they seem to experience a lot of outages, often leaving your site down for hours at a time.

My recommendation 100% would be SiteGround.com. They are amazing! They hit every point I listed above and are cheaper (yes, cheaper!) than even the mass hosts (remember, you only need the basic shared hosting – you can always upgrade later but I seriously doubt you’ll need to) and they have no hidden fees. Their sites are blazing fast and they have the fastest, most knowledge customer service of any host I’ve worked with. Don’t just take my word for it, check out this unbiased article that shows hard facts about how SiteGround tests against the competition.

Hopefully this post was helpful in understanding what to look for in a WP web host and pointing you in the right direction to get started. Don’t learn the hard way like I did… Choose the right host from the beginning and save yourself so much time, hassle, and frustration.

But what if you already have a “bad” host? Well, I can’t speak for other hosts but SiteGround offers a free complete site transfer when you switch over to them – So awesome! You just let them know your old host login info along with the domain/site you want transferred, and they do the rest! I’ve used their service myself when I first switched to them and they make it totally easy!

But if for some reason they are not able to do your site (check with them before purchasing!) or if you have more than one domain to transfer, I highly suggest hiring someone to do the transfer for you. Switching a WP database to a new host can be VERY tricky and dangerous to your content. If you do think that you’re up for the challenge, here is a short guide via SiteGround; if not, you can always hire ME for the job! :)

Important note: Many people get WordPress.com and WordPress.org confused. WP.com is very similar to Blogger in that it is hosted by WP and completely free but you can’t have a fully custom site; you can only use the templates and plugins that they offer. You do not own your site – it is owned by WordPress. WP.org (while having the same backend look as WP.com) is completely different, in that you own it and host it yourself. In all my tutorials, know that I will always be referring to WP.org, although sometimes the tutorials may also work on WP.com.

We love comments!

    • Lindsay says

      Cindy that is SUCH a great point! Thank you for asking! I’ve revised the post to address that topic :)

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