When you decide you want to create a website online, there are many other decisions you have to make. You may not know how to put a website online, so you might have to get training. Most likely, you wouldn’t own your own servers to keep your website live for visitors, so you’d have to find a hosting company. And, when you’re doing research about different hosting companies, you’ll find there’s conflicting opinions and reviews all over! As a result, choosing the best web hosting company for your business can be a challenge.
You might find yourself asking, “How do I choose the best web hosting company for my business?”, or, “What’s the difference in all of these web hosting companies?”. To be quite frank, it can be downright confusing to choose a good web host!
Some “gurus” post positive or negative reviews because they’re incentivized by commissions, so “popular” doesn’t necessarily mean “best”, and this is the case for web hosting. I wrote this post to help you to identify what you’ll need to look for in a good web hosting company. I also share my personal favorite (although I know it may not suit everyone). Added to this post and my personal favorite, I have reviews that may serve you even more as you continue to look for the features that most suit your company.
To see this information in video, take a look here:
- 1 What is Web Hosting?
- 2 Essentials Needed From a Web Hosting Company
- 3 Extra Nice Web Hosting Features
- 4 Things to Make Your Hosting More Expensive
- 5 Free Hosting vs. Shared Hosting vs. VPS Hosting vs. Dedicated Server
- 6 Popular Web Hosting Companies
- 7 The Web Hosting Monopoly
- 8 Managed Vs. UnManaged Hosting
- 9 Know When to Change
- 10 A Comparison Chart of the Best Web Hosting Companies in 2019
- 11 Web Hosting Service Comparison
- 12 My Favorite Web Host
- 13 Web Hosting Reviews
- 14 Final Words on How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Company for You
- 15 Now, it’s Your Turn…
Similar to having storage space on your phone or your computer, web hosting is storage space online. Web hosts offer space on a server in a data center that’s maintained professionally. As a result of web hosting services, your website is stored on a server, and accessible to your site visitors 24/7.
Essentials Needed From a Web Hosting Company
In general, web hosting should provide certain essentials. Some of the main things you’ll need from a web host are:
You want a company who will be honest and professional with you. If you’re instinct is telling you that the company is not being honest with you about something, that’s not a good sign. Your website can become a major arm of your business, so it’s important that every company you align with for your online presence has integrity: they need to say what they mean and mean what they say.
If you have a consistent flow of traffic to your business from somewhere and the flow suddenly stopped, it could be a disaster for you! If you’ve set it up well, your website could be a major source of traffic to your business, and your host makes sure the website stays live. If the host doesn’t do what they’re supposed to, you could experience major re-occuring downtimes that could be detrimental to your business. You don’t want this.
It’s important to choose a host who will respond promptly to your inquiries, downtime notices, potential security issues, or questions. If the host is known to have long hold times, bad support, or they seem unpleasant to you, you want to take this very seriously, and reconsider.
Using Google Pagespeed insights, you can measure any website’s page speed. Speed is important to Google algorithms because Google believes search engine users don’t like to wait for content to load on a site. If you’re site is slow, it hurts the website rank, and that equals less traffic. As a result, you want a web host that can provide your website quick speed.
Stealing offline is bad enough. When you think about a place where more than half of the world is located, you can only imagine how bad theft, stealing, and other criminal issues might get. The internet is a place where majority of the world is location, and there’s no central police governing the criminals.
People are getting spammed, harassed, and content taken. If you decide to put in your hard work to create content online, the last thing you want is for it to be stolen. Some hosts are more likely than others to experience malware, hacking, and other security issues, and you don’t want to choose a host with high probability for security issues.
Compatibility with your Content Management System of Choice
I’ve only used WordPress and I highly recommend it, however, I understand others who prefer other content management systems. You might have different needs than I do, and decide you want to use a content management system like Joomla, Magento, or others. You need to choose a web host that offers hosting compatible with your content management system (CMS) of choice.
Extra Nice Web Hosting Features
In addition to the basic features I’ve already mentioned, these are some additional nice features you can find in some hosting companies:
- Traffic generation training
- Coupons for PPC ads
- Marketing consulting
- Staging area
- Keyword research tools
- A community for support
- Live training with Q&A
- Website builders
- Multi-site updates
- a way to publish content for multiple sites from one login
- a way to get comments on your site on-demand
- a way to get feedback or usertesting on your site on-demand
- Managed Woocommerce hosting
- Reseller hosting
Things to Make Your Hosting More Expensive
As you’re building out your online presence, these are some things to be mindful of. These things make hosting plans more expensive:
- Getting managed hosting
- Cloud hosting
- More storage space
- Managed cloud hosting
- Inclusion of premium themes
- Switching from free hosting to shared hosting to VPS or a dedicated server
There are four standard types of hosting: free, shared, VPS, and dedicated servers. It can be like comparing a Ford vehicle to a Ferrari: everyone thinks they want the “best”, but there a different “best” for your website size and use. Let me explain them each…
Free Web Hosting
Free hosting is like renting a house. It’s where you put your intellectual property (written content, audio content, video content, and images) onto someone else’s hosting platform without paying. In theory, free hosting would be the best option, but unfortunately, in practice, it’s not always the best option.
Free hosting usually limits:
- The URL’s you can choose
- The storage you can have
- and, there may be rules about the type of content you can put on your site
There’s also stories of people who have used free hosting services and suddenly get their sites banned, and lose all of their hard work! Hosting on a free plan means you don’t have full ownership of your content, and you can’t press charges if your site is suddenly deleted by the host. Free hosting is the most risky option, but if you’re in a financial constraint, and simply want to get started, it could be a good option for you.
YOU CAN CREATE A FREE HOSTING ACCOUNT WITH WEALTHY AFFILIATE HERE and get two free websites!
Shared Web Hosting
The next step up from free hosting is shared hosting. With shared hosting, a web host will take one of their servers, and share the space with several website owners. Similar to co-working space or co-ops, when several people share for a portion of something, it’s much cheaper than paying for the entire thing alone. As a result, shared web hosting can be as cheap as $2/mo!
Shared hosting is where most website owners should start, however, it has it’s limitations. With shared hosting, you share with many website owners you don’t know and you’ll have similar IP addresses. If one of the site owners has suspicious activity, it can effect everyone on the server. If you’re on a shared hosting plan, you want to communicate if you’re having problems to your web host. It would be even nicer if you knew beforehand they will be willing to switch you to another server if problems are identified.
Even if the shared hosting works well for you, over time, as your traffic increases, you may need to consider other alternative hosting arrangements like VPS Hosting.
VPS Web Hosting
While VPS Hosting is a little more expensive, it may be the best option if you’re having storage issues on your shared hosting plan. VPS hosting stands for “Virtual private server”. With a VPS server, less website owners are sharing the server. As a result, there’s more space to grow. If you’ve outgrown shared hosting and you’re ready for a VPS hosting plan, you’ll realize a significant improvement to your site speed once you make the switch.
Dedicated Web Hosting
Dedicated web hosting is where you get a dedicated server for your website. The web hosting company will manage the server, and make sure it’s operating as it should. A dedicated web server is the top-of-the-line web hosting service, but it’s unnecessary for small to medium size websites.
When you’re doing your research about web hosting companies, here are some popular companies you’ll hear:
- Wealthy Affiliate
I want to remind you that “popular” doesn’t mean it’s best, and it really doesn’t mean it’s best for you.
The Web Hosting Monopoly
In fact, there’s a web hosting monopoly. Most of the major web hosts are owned by a company called Endurance International Group, or EIG. Many site owners get upset with one company, and transfer their sites to another company (thinking they’re getting away), but in fact, it’s the same company! EIG has some practices many people dislike. When they take over a company, they’re known to:
- Get rid of the operational staff
- Increase affiliate commissions
- Transfer sites over to previously owned servers (potentially crowding the servers)
- and, Centralize the support (often times not increasing the manpower)
As a result, many well run companies have become sub-par once they’re bought out. Customers experience:
- Higher customer service hold times
- More downtime
- Lower website speeds
- and, more frustration
Here’s a list of 70 or more EIG owned hosting companies. They’re very well marketed and look very professional, but the customer service tends to be poor, and you don’t want that. Hopefully, that trend isn’t something you’re exposed to, or something you’ll even witness, but I would be remiss to avoid mentioning that to you.
As a result of this, I typically refer people to independently owned hosting companies whose focus is monopolized by providing a good product and customer service. Very rarely (if ever) would there be a situation where I’d refer someone to an EIG company because of my personal experience, the experience of many others I know, and the amount of customer dissatisfaction that you can readily find.
Bad Web Host vs. Good Web Host
In case things change, and they become a good deal, let me be clear about what makes a bad web host. Unfortunately, as a result of great affiliate commissions and the “good ol boy” program (where people get paid for reviews, get paid for sales, or are friends with major influencers), there are quite a few not-so-good hosts that are getting claims of good performance when they’re really sub-par at best.
The main three things that make a bad web host are:
- More downtime than others — This means the websites are not able to be served to the end user on-demand because the host servers are not working as much as they should.
- Slow servers — Slow servers make the websites load slowly for the end user, so people tend to leave from your site. When lots of people visit and “bounce” from your site, it alerts metrics that Google tracks, and stops your site from ranking well in the search results.
- and, Bad customer support — I don’t know anyone who enjoys waiting on hold for a long time or dealing with rude people. If you have a problem with a vital component of your marketing plan (like your website), it could be costing you money! You want a hosting company that will be understanding about that, treat your issues with urgency, be polite, and honest.
If you notice any of these three things, don’t give the hosting company any more of your consideration. If you value your online presence, you have to choose the BEST vendors for you.
Managed Vs. UnManaged Hosting
To add a little more to the confusion (haha), I want to mention there are two additional things to consider: whether the hosting is managed or not.
Some hosting companies will offer you a billing account and you manage your own server. Some will give you a control panel account. The control panel gives you access to reconfigure the technical backend of your website. Some people who are technically inclined prefer to have access to their C-Panel. For others, they don’t want to deal with the “technical stuff” and would prefer to call support, so they’ll deal with it.
Managed hosting is the service option where you’d give over the server management and some level of the technical support to the hosting company. Some hosting companies will give you access to a C-Panel. Others (mostly specialty hosts like WordPress specialized hosts), have a custom control panel and may offer more technical support. Rather than navigating a lot of the technical issues on your own, you would call or place a support ticket if you had issues with your website or hosting account.
Managed hosting versus unmanaged hosting is mostly preferential. If you want to offer majority (or all) of your own technical support, go for unmanaged. However, if you don’t want to deal with all of the technical matters relating to your site, go for managed hosting.
Know When to Change
There are several stages or signs you may want to switch hosting companies. Here are some of the most common signs that you should change from the web hosting you’re at:
1. Your website keeps going down
2. You’re not getting good support
3. You want features you don’t have
4. Your site is going slow and you’re confident it’s because of the host
5. You’re having malware, hacking, or your mail (from your host mail system) is consistently going to client spam boxes
A Comparison Chart of the Best Web Hosting Companies in 2019
These are the top web hosting companies we recommend. These all provide a high level of customer satisfaction, high uptime, higher speeds than Google recommends, and many perks that may cater to your specific situation:
- Wealthy Affiliate
- A2 Hosting
- InMotion Hosting
- WP Engine
Here’s a breakdown so you can compare the features of each. You can also check out the full reviews I’ve done on each as well as visit their website once you’ve narrowed down one you think will be a good fit.
Web Hosting Service ComparisonIn this table, you'll see a breakdown of the differences between the web hosting companies we recommend.
|Features||Wealthy Affiliate (#1 Recommendation)||MacHighway||A2 Hosting||InMotion Hosting||WP Engine||Siteground|
|Read our Review||Wealthy Affiliate Review||MacHighway Review||A2 Hosting Review||InMotion Hosting Review||WPEngine Review||Siteground Review|
|Uptime greater than 99%||O||O||O||O||O||O|
|Loading Speeds Less than Google recommends (<3sec)||O||O||O||O||O||O|
|90%+ Customer satisfaction||O||O||O||O||O||O|
|C-Panel or custom||custom||c-panel||c-panel||c-panel||custom||c-panel|
|One login for all websites||O||X||X||X||X||X|
|Peer-to-Peer User testing exchange||O||X||X||X||X||X|
|Peer-to-peer comment exchange||O||X||X||X||X||X|
|# of websites||50||1 up to unlimited||1 up to unlimited||1 up to unlimited||1-25||1 up to unlimited|
|Amount of Bandwidth||up to 500,00K visitors/mo||unlimited (but abide by terms of service)||unlimited (but abide by terms of service)||unlimited (but abide by terms of service)||50 GB-400 GB+||10,000-unlimited|
|Multiple content management systems supported||Only Wordpress||O||O||O||Only Wordpress||O|
|Amount of storage space||30 GB|
|24/7 Support||Email and ticket only||phone, email and ticket||phone, email and ticket||phone, email and ticket||phone, email and ticket|
|Marketing consulting||1-on-1 coaching and live weekly Q&A||Customer and Technical support only||Customer and Technical support only||Customer and Technical support only||Customer and Technical support only||Customer and Technical support only|
|Security features to prevent malware or hacking||O||O||O||O||Free removal||O|
|Free site migration||O||O||O||O||O||O|
|Shared, VPS, and dedicated servers||No shared options. Plans more comparable to VPS.||No dedicated servers||O||O||All shared plans||O|
|Extra perks||peer-to-peer user testing on-demand, peer-to-peer comments on-demand, one login to publish content on any hosted site, access to a membership community of 1.4 million+ entrepreneurs||$100 in Google ads credit and 100% Wind-powered facility||US-based support. 3 server locations: one US, one Europe, and one Asia||US-based support. Longstanding reputation and 2 server locations in the US: east coast and west coast, large knowledge base and forums||Free Genesis themes||International support and facilities|
|In-House Overall score||9.8/10||9.3/10||9.6/10||9.5||8/10||9/10|
|Price||$49/mo or $359/yr||$2.95-$42.46||$3.92-$290.49/mo||$5.99-$519/mo||$35-$290+/mo||$3.95-$240/mo|
|Visit Site||VISIT WEALTHY AFFILIATE||VISIT MACHIGHWAY||VISIT A2 HOSTING||VISIT INMOTION HOSTING||VISIT WPENGINE||VISIT SITEGROUND|
My Favorite Web Host
My favorite web host is suitable for my situation–it is Wealthy Affiliate. It is a managed hosting company with a custom control panel that offers shared hosting plans that work like dedicated hosting. In addition to standard hosting, they also provide SEO and PPC training, 1-on-1 marketing coaching, a keyword research tool (so you can create content around what’s on demand online), a sitecontent tool so you can publish to all of your website from one platform, a sitecomments platform so you can get comments on demand, and a sitefeedback platform so you can get usertesting on demand. You can TRY WEALTHY AFFILIATE FOR FREE HERE.
Web Hosting Reviews
If Wealthy Affiliate doesn’t sound like it would be a good fit for you, or if you’d like to comparison shop, I recommend checking out my web hosting reviews. Here are a few top web hosting reviews for you to check out:
Final Words on How to Choose the Best Web Hosting Company for You
The goal of this article was to show you how to choose the best web hosting company for you. I understand that choosing a web host can be a big challenge. Hopefully, this guide will help you choose a good host for you. If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out!
Now, it’s Your Turn…
Have you chosen a web hosting company before? What were some good things you liked? What were some things you didn’t like? What things do you think are most important in a web hosting company? Leave your comments below.