The Essential WordPress Hosting Guide

Managed WordPress hosting costs can vary wildly. I have a couple of preferred providers that I steer clients to, depending on the client’s specific needs.

Before I divulge my providers, let’s examine the considerations that I looked at to arrive at my conclusion. There are four categories that I evaluate: performance, security, developer tools, and service.

Top Considerations For a Managed WordPress Host

Performance

Page Speed

Since 2010, Google has tied page speed to search result rankings. In 2018, the search engine giant announced that it will apply this concept to mobile search results. More importantly, your website visitors are constantly becoming less patient, and slow-loading web pages can cause a visitor to bounce before the message comes across.

That being said, I consider the ability of a WordPress host to render pages quickly a key consideration. Of course, page speed is affected by more than just the host provider, but without a well-optimized server setup, your site has no chance of loading at the speeds your users expect.

Managed WordPress hosts can help reduce page speed using premium hardware, superior caching technology, and CDNs.

Hardware

Logically, a more powerful server contributes to a faster-loading website. However, the most powerful managed WordPress hosts have highly customized server environments that I couldn’t even begin to explain.

Caching

Page speed optimization relies heavily on caching. The premise behind caching is that a computer reads data from memory faster than it does from a disk, so caching technologies store elements that are static (such as a header image or logo) in memory, rather than reading from a disk every time.

The top WordPress hosting providers invest in continually improving their caching technologies.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A content delivery network, or CDN, is a network of servers strategically placed across the planet. A CDN works to deliver files from the closest server to the user.

Generally, the CDN servers static files such as images, videos, stylesheets, and javascript files. The smartest managed WordPress hosts also serve the /wp-includes/ folder from a CDN.

Here’s a crude map that shows how a CDN’s servers might help bring data closer to users:

WordPress Hosting - How a CDN Works

Uptime

Of course, reliability is one of my top considerations when looking at WordPress hosting providers. More cost-effective hosting providers often do not provide the redundancy and guaranteed uptime of the more robust providers.

Security

Cybersecurity should be of great concern to all businesses, large and small – code injection is a real threat to your website. One of the downsides of WordPress being open source is that hackers are able to exploit it. Having your site hacked can have catastrophic effects on your search rankings.

Almost all managed WordPress hosts offer security as a standard part of their service. Some of the solutions they offer may include file scanning and daily backups. Many even offer a free Let’s Encrypt™ SSL certificate  as an additional security measure.

Developer Tools

Staging

Making changes to live code is one of the cardinal sins of development (that goes for software and mobile development too). Developers often work off a local development environment (a virtual server installed on their machine). However, the configuration of that local environment likely won’t match the live server.

That’s why many managed WordPress hosts offer staging sites — a clone of the live site where changes are published and thoroughly tested. Once the changes are verified, it’s often just a click of a button to migrate the changes to the live site.

Git

Git is an open-source distributed version control system. Just like the name implies, it tracks changes made to code so that a developer can backtrack if necessary. It’s especially crucial for teams of developers.

The best-managed WordPress hosts offer integration with Git natively — your developer will thank you!

Service & Support

Unfortunately, no host is perfect, and that’s where service & support come in. When there is an issue, you want to get a hold of knowledgeable support staff right away. You especially don’t want your developer to be spending billable hours on hold.

In addition, managed WordPress hosts may offer some service amenities.

Maintenance

In general, there are three types of updates to the WordPress core, its themes, and its plugins: functionality additions, bug fixes, and security patches. The most important of these is security patches. Many managed WordPress hosts will automatically keep the core up to date as a security measure.

Troubleshooting

When bug can’t be fixed quickly, many developers turn to the host for advice. The best managed WordPress hosts have teams of WordPress experts on staff that can help troubleshoot, saving the client valuable billable time.

My Managed WordPress Hosting Choices

WP Engine

By far, WP Engine is my top choice for WordPress hosting , as they are totally focused on providing high-performance, highly secure WordPress hosting. They excel in every area I’ve mentioned above, and offer tons of additional tools such as Content Performance tools, and integrated storage with Amazon S3 (for sites heavy on media).

Their team of WordPress experts has bailed even me out plenty of times in the past, despite my experience.

Their “Startup” plan starts at $35 per month, and is robust enough for even established businesses. Best of all, I have a coupon for 20% off your first month. They also offer 2 months free when paying annually.

SiteGround

A more cost effective option is SiteGround. Their “GoGeek” plan offers many of the features I’ve mentioned above, but I’ve found that performance can be less consistent that WP Engine.

Overall, SiteGround’s “GrowBig” is a great starter plan for young businesses that can’t afford the features, security, and performance of WP Engine.

Let’s Encrypt™ is a trademark of the Internet Security Research Group. All rights reserved.

Note: When you buy or sign up for something using a link on my website, I may earn some beer money (cheers and thank you! 🍻). Rest assured, I only recommend products and services that I use and/or love. You do not pay a higher price (and often save by purchasing thorugh my links).