Last week I wrote about how to spot a good web host, and I mentioned the list of recommended hosts on WordPress.org. At the time of writing that post, WordPress had one host listed on its recommendation page: Bluehost. There was, however, a note at the bottom of the page saying WordPress was in the process of updating the page. I don’t think anyone took that note seriously.
Well, the joke was on me! I was very pleased to see that WordPress updated its hosting recommendations within the past week. While Bluehost is still listed, the other companies mentioned are great: DreamHost, SiteGround, and Flywheel.
With so many hosting companies available, there’s pressure to pick the best available. I know I went back and forth trying to find the perfect host for my site. “The Paradox of Choice” says an overabundance of choices actually stalls our decision making and leads you to constantly second guess yourself. The last thing you want after signing a long-term contract with a hosting company is to wish you chose another host.
Hosting is crucial for both site speed and security. (See our Security page for more info on hosting and security.) If you dream of sub-two-second load times, you won’t get there with cheap shared hosting. And being able to choose your own host is a huge benefit open-source platforms (like WordPress) have over proprietary software.
But how do you judge a host? What should you look for? Who’s the best host? I can’t answer the last question because there is no right answer, but I can tell you how to evaluate hosts.
No amount of planning can prepare you for the first time your site goes down. Whether it gets hacked, or a server crashes, or you just get a blank white screen and have no idea why – your first website disaster will send you into panic mode. Guaranteed. This is when you appreciate having disaster protocol in place, or a web company that’ll help you get back up and running.
There are a million ways a site can break, but there are solutions to all of them. (Or most of them.) Salty Key uses rigorous security measures and real-time backups to counter any disasters that may happen. While we can’t defend against everything, we have a fallback plan in case everything else fails.
We’re also very strict with who gets login access to our site, which leads us to our security tip of the day: limiting access to your site can be the difference in avoiding disaster. It sounds obvious, but consider this finding from PricewaterhouseCoopers (now PwC):
Google was busy earlier this week, announcing penalties for sites with “unnatural outbound links” as well as sites with deceptive download buttons.
Neither penalty should come as a surprise to webmasters. Webmasters with suspicious outbound links received notices from Google, saying the search engine would discount any of the distrusted links in its algorithm. A follow-up from Google concluded the penalties were in relation to free product reviews. Specifically, bloggers exchanging backlinks in return for free products, without disclosing that the link was provided in return for the free item (or without adding a nofollow tag to the link).
It’s a rough time for marketers in the digital age. Ad-blocking software has resulted in billions of dollars in lost revenue, leaving companies struggling to market themselves with radio and print media in steep decline. Even cable TV subscriptions are beginning to nosedive.
Consumers have always resisted advertising. Over 200 million numbers have been registered for the FTC’s do-not-call list to avoid telemarketers (which we’ll discuss later). People will prerecord television programs to skip commercials, and they’d rather listen to Pandora or their iPods than radio ads. People just hate ads.
So how can it be advertisers fault when people are inclined to dislike ads? Advertisers are responsible for driving Internet users to the point of insanity, and every “solution” they propose just makes the relationship worse.
The majority of the sites I’ve produced have been on shared hosting plans. In short, a shared hosting plan is where multiple sites are stored on the same server. Every site on that server shares the resource capacity (disk space, bandwidth, etc.) of that server; there’s no cap for how much resource a single account can use. So if a single site on the server consumes of a ton of memory, or gets an insane amount of traffic, the performance of every site on that server will suffer.
Because of their affordability, shared hosting plans are by far the most popular. The price makes shared hosting tempting, but we have a few reasons you may want to consider upgrading to a VPS.