WordPress Basics for Small Businesses: Hosting Your Website
Having an effective website is critical for a small business’s success, and we believe that WordPress is the best option when choosing a platform for a new site. Recently, we wrote about choosing and purchasing the right domain name, and in this post we will review and recommend hosting options.
What is web hosting?
If you’re new to managing a website, it’s easy to get confused between the platform (we recommend WordPress) and the host of your website. You build the content of your site (such as web pages and blog posts) through the platform. At that point, your content has been created. But, that doesn’t mean your content is available on the internet for other people to view.
To be viewable by other people online, you need to have your website hosted by a company that will provide the necessary technologies. The web hosting service you choose will store (host) your content on servers, which are special computers intended for this purpose, and then serve it up for consumption by site visitors. Once the website is hosted, then people can simply type in your domain name (a domain name for this site, for example, is allbusiness.com) and then your site will appear.
Choosing the right hosting service is important, so here are four recommendations. Each of these companies provides quality customer service, are affordable, and allow for easy WordPress installation.
Our preferred service is WPEngine.com. It’s the service we use for DAGMAR Marketing (our company) and what we recommend to our clients. We like how WPEngine solely hosts WordPress-driven websites, which means its team’s expertise is laser-focused on the WordPress platform. It harnesses the power of open source technology to fast-track innovation, and it partners with Google and other top technology companies.
You are provided access to a development platform. This means you can edit your site behind the scenes, rather than having to mess around with the live site that prospects and customers are viewing. Your site is backed up daily, so if you have problems with your site, you can revert to an older version, which keeps it running smoothly. You can’t sell if your site isn’t live and easily accessible by customers.
No one hosting service works for every business. If you don’t think WPEngine.com is right for you, consider Bluehost.com. This service also supports open source projects to help create the best possible hosting solutions. Its goal is to provide both novice and pro users with comprehensive tools to get on the web. Bluehost offers packages as well as a la carte tools.
DreamHost.com is another option to consider. Although it hosts multiple platforms, WordPress is a key focus, with four different WordPress hosting packages to choose from. The starter package provides shared hosting, which means that multiple websites share a single web server. This is a less expensive option, but isn’t practical for sites with high levels of traffic.
The Basic package provides you with a fast cloud server (not shared) and is for sites that have up to 10,000 monthly visitors, the Plus package is for sites that have up to 30,000 monthly visitors, and the Advanced package is intended for companies that have multiple sites with up to 60,000 monthly visitors.
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Here is one more hosting recommendation to consider: HostGator.com, which offers multiple WordPress hosting plans. The Starter Plan hosts one site with up to 100,000 monthly visitors and 1GB of backups; the Standard Plan hosts up to two sites with up to 200,000 monthly visitors and 2GB of backups; and the Business Plan hosts up to three sites, up to 500,000 monthly visitors, and 3GB backups. The company offers free migration services if you currently have a WordPress site and want to switch your hosting to HostGator.
Before you launch your website
Think about times you’ve searched on Google. In your search results, you’ve likely encountered warnings stating a site is not secure, and you’ve probably avoided clicking on those sites. Better safe than sorry, right? Well, it’s important that your site NOT have any warnings associated with it. To explain how to avoid this, let’s visit your web browser.
Once your browser is open, type Google.com. You’ll see that even though you typed in Google.com, what shows up is https://www.google.com—URLs begin with either http:// or https://. If you want to prevent the “not secure” warning from appearing in conjunction with your site, your site will need to be HTTPS, rather than HTTP. The acronym HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol and refers to how your computer interacts with websites you view. Sites that have a security certificate called an SSL are HTTPS.
If you’re creating a new website, it makes sense to get this SSL certificate. There is a cost associated with it, but it’s fairly inexpensive, especially when you balance it against the cost of losing potential customers who won’t click on sites that show the “not secure” warning.
If you already have a website and you want to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS, there are additional issues to consider. Google will see this as a site move because the URLs will be new and different, so you may experience drops in traffic and rankings because Google needs to crawl and reindex your pages.
This also means that any internal links on your site will need to be addressed, and you’ll need to use 301 redirects from your old (HTTP) pages to the corresponding new (HTTPS) pages. Here is more information about migrating to HTTPS, including issues related to Google Search Console. And, finally, here is more information about choosing WordPress for your small business website.
Don’t miss Part 1 of this series: WordPress Basics for Small Businesses: Choosing a Domain Name