Check out my new guide for starting a blog to learn how to go about properly creating your own blog.
Due to popular demand, the blogging tips series continues here at Modest Money. For some reason I’m in a rush to even the playing field and limit the leg up I have on the competition. Rather than keeping this stuff to myself, I’ve been openly sharing these tips on my blog for other bloggers to benefit from. So if you do find any of these posts helpful, it would be appreciated if you could share the post socially or show appreciation in another way. It’s the two-way help that makes it worthwhile for me help my competitors. Well that and I just get personal satisfaction from helping other people.
If you’re new to this series, check out some of the previous blogging tips posts:
- How Guest Posting Helps Your Blog
- 10 Recommended WordPress Plugins For Your Blog
- Google PageRank, Not Just About Links
- Blog Link Building – Not All Links Are Created Equal
- Importance of Blog Networking
- Advanced Keyword Strategy For Your Blog
- Effectively Using Keywords On Your Blog
- Optimal Blog Keyword Research for SEO
- My Take on Tags, Categories and Meta Keywords
And now let’s learn a thing or two about choosing a web host….
How to Choose the Best Blog Web Host
A little while back I was e-mailing back and forth with a blogger friend who was finally making the move to self hosted wordpress. He was eager to make the move but was really hung up on which web host to choose. As I’ve made this kind of decision numerous times, I just took it for granted that people would know how to pick the best web host for their blog.
You may have already chosen a web host for your blog, but don’t just assume it’s the best choice for your blog. While web hosts may all seem to offer the exact same service, there are actually a lot of differences between web hosting companies and the hosting packages they offer.
Consider Your Blog Web Hosting Needs
Like with many other purchases, you shouldn’t make your decision without considering your specific needs. If you’re making a purchase without taking your needs into consideration, you might be paying for features you don’t need or missing out on features you do need.
The majority of bloggers likely just want a low priced hosting package to host a single blog. These people may just opt for the cheapest hosting package they can find, but then they are ignoring their other needs…
Hosting Up-Time – For SEO and user-experience it is crucial that your blog is always online. Unfortunately there are a lot of hosting companies that just do not have reliable enough hardware or competent employees to keep websites up all the time. Most good web hosts will claim a specific up-time percentage which tells you how often your blog might be inaccessible. Expect to see 99% or higher from a good company. A bad host may still make such claims though…which is where it gets tricky. This is when you want to browse the web for reviews about the experiences of other customers. Beware of biased sites that are just after affiliate commission.
Customer Service – Even if you’re technologically capable, good customer service from your web host can be a major benefit. At some point you might need help dealing with things such as a virus or payment issue. You don’t want to save a few bucks at the expense of not being able to get proper service. If your technical skills are lacking, strong customer service is much more important. In that case they can help you out with setting up your blog, e-mail address and more. I’ve dealt with lousy web host customer service before and I never want to go through that again. If I hear about a lot of negative customer service experiences I steer clear of that company. I don’t want you to go through that either. If a company has weak customer service, do you expect their technicians to be any better skilled? It’s a recipe for disaster.
Bandwidth and Diskspace – This used to be one of the biggest factors in choosing a web host. As internet connections and servers have improved, it’s not as important as in the past. These days it’s uncommon to see a web hosting package that won’t meet the needs of a personal blog, even if you’re getting a company’s lowest level hosting package. A more popular blog might need to take this into consideration, especially if they publish a lot of large images. Most good hosting companies do let you upgrade your account at any time. So if in doubt, go with their lowest level package and upgrade later if necessary. In that case you should ask them what happens to your account if you go over your limits. Some hosts will just cut your website off for the rest of the month if your limits are reached. Some will charge hefty over-limit fees. A good company will notify you when you are getting close to ask if you want to upgrade.
Technical Requirements – Most bloggers just need a web host that supports PHP & WordPress. Chances are you don’t need anything extra beyond that. Many web hosting companies use the same server software providing the same features. I have had situations where a web host had outdated software or had components disabled, but this was when I had needs beyond what an average blog requires. When selecting your hosting services, don’t forget to check out who is the fastest WordPress hosting site since loading time is extremely important. If you have any plans of hosting more than one website at some point, this should be considered too. You don’t have to pay for multiple hosting accounts if your web host has packages that allow multiple domains. This isn’t something that all hosts offer though. So you should plan ahead.
Comparing Blog Website Hosting Companies
Now that you have established what yours hosting needs are, you need to know how to use those considerations towards actually choosing a host. I’d love to be able to suggest a solid web hosting comparison website, but I just haven’t come across one that I trust. The vast majority of such websites are filled with affiliate links which leads to a rather biased presentation. Many have no qualms sorting the companies by which ones make them the most affiliate commission. With that kind of setup, you can’t trust them to give you an honest comparison. If someone does happen to know a comparison website that doesn’t take this approach, please share it in the comments below.
I suggest you ask around with some experienced bloggers that you trust. They obviously wouldn’t have used a lot of the web hosts out there, but they can share their experiences with the web hosts they have used. If you were to ask me, I’d give a strong recommendation for HostGator. Yes that is an affiliate link, but for several years now I have been hosting all of my websites there. They’ve always provided decent pricing, good service and reliable servers. I’ve had numerous bad hosting experiences with lousy companies such as IXWebHosting and 1and1 (avoid those hosts at all costs). So before choosing HostGator I did plenty of research to find the best host available. If you do go with HostGator, try using this coupon code: SITECOUPON25.
I have also heard good things about BlueHost and InMotion Hosting, but have never had a chance to try them since HostGator has been great for me. You might want to throw them in the mix for your comparison research though. GoDaddy is one of the bigger hosting companies, but I have heard bad things about their hosting service.
Once you do narrow your search down to several different companies via referrals or your own research, you should do some thorough verification. Ideally you find some websites that publish both positive and negative reviews. Try to judge the ratio of good to bad and check how bad the complaints are. People will bitch over anything. So you’ll want to know if they had serious problems or if it was something that was actually their own fault. If you cannot find a website with positive and negative reviews, try some searches for ‘hosting company name’ + scam/complaint/problems. Be aware that the more popular companies will likely have more overall complaints, but that is the cost of doing higher volume. It does not necessarily mean that they are a poor choice. Again pay attention to how serious the complaints are. If there are a lot of really pissed off people, consider scratching that company off your list. From there you should be able to pare your list down to 2 or 3 companies. Likely any of those choices would be good.
To make sure, go over your hosting requirements again. Do they all fit the bill? Are any of them lacking in any factor? What kind of of guarantee do they offer and what do you get if they don’t live up to that guarantee? Keep in mind that a month of free hosting in exchange is usually not worth any major downtime. If necessary, get on each company’s live chat or call them on the phone to gauge their customer service. Is that the kind of company you’d want to deal with long term?
Hopefully after all of that, you find a solid hosting company that you can count on. The best hosting company is the one that you manage to completely forget about as there just aren’t ever any issues. If your hosting isn’t perfect, don’t assume you have to settle for them. Look around at your other options and consider making a switch. Good luck!
For more info to help with choosing web hosting for your blog check out this web hosting guide.
What is the best hosting company you have dealt with? Did they have any issues that you should warn others about? Do you have any additional tips for choosing a good web host?