Do you want to start a blog or online store? Then you’ll need a website. But did you know you’ll also need web hosting if you want to start your own website? There are many aspects to web hosting. You have to choose a host, a type of hosting, and many other things. That’s why we wrote this guide, to help you pick the right host for your site!

Web hosting 101

Let’s start with the basics! Web hosting is a service that makes sure your website is accessible through the internet. Without web hosting, your website simply can’t exist. So, where do you start? By looking at web hosts or hosting companies. These companies provide space on a server, and internet connectivity in a data center. In other words: they provide space for your website’s data, so it can exist and other people can find it. 

Fully-hosted versus self-hosted

The first choice you have to make when picking the right host for site is whether you want to create a fully-hosted or self-hosted website. The difference is pretty self-explanatory. Fully-hosted means that every site on the platform is hosted on their own servers. These companies take care of all the hosting stuff for you, such as Shopify and WordPress.com. 

Self-hosted, on the other hand, means you’ll have to arrange hosting yourself. A good example is WordPress.org. Now, you might be thinking: why would I want to do everything myself? And while it’s true that self-hosting is extra work, it also means you own all the data yourself. Plus, you get access to the full code base and you can choose a hosting company yourself.

How to choose a great hosting company

These days, there are thousands of companies to choose from. They all have their own benefits and hosting plans. So, how do you pick the right host for your site? What should you focus on? First, it’s important to take a couple of things into account.

Server location

As those house-buying TV shows always say: location is everything! With web hosting, it’s not necessarily everything, but it is important. Where your host’s servers are located can be a very important factor. Especially when it comes to the speed of your site. Why? Because the smaller the distance between your audience and the location of your server, the faster your website is! For example, if your audience is located in the US but your host is based in Singapore, that could slow down your site for your visitors. Which is something you generally want to avoid.

Storage space

Second, take into account what kind of website you want to create. This impacts how much storage space you need to acquire. For example, a small blog needs far fewer resources than a big online shop with thousands of products. So consider how many pages your site will have and how much content will be on the pages. And if you already know that you want to build a large website with a lot of large images and videos, then you’ll need to look at hosting plans with more storage space.

How big is your audience?

We know this is a hard one to answer. But you probably already have an idea of the number of page views you want to reach. Take this number into account when deciding on a hosting company and plan. Because every time someone views a page on your site, it adds to the amount of bandwidth you use. In other words, all the texts and images on that page need to be downloaded onto each visitor’s computer before it can be displayed in their web browser. 

Extra questions to ask

In addition to server location, storage space and the number of visitors, there are tons of other factors that determine your ideal hosting company. That’s why we compiled a couple of additional questions you could ask yourself (and a hosting company), so you know how to pick the right host for your site. 

Do I need help or support setting things up? Does the company offer live chat and phone support, and do they respond quickly? What happens if my site gets hacked or goes down in the middle of the night. Will they help? What is my budget? Do I need the ability to add more websites? Does this hosting company have good reviews? And, for higher-end packages, what type of hardware – like SSD storage, CPUs and memory chips – do I need for my site? 

Different types of hosting

Finally, let’s look at the different types of hosting. In this guide, we’ll focus on the three most common ones: shared hosting, dedicated hosting, and VPS hosting. But there are lots of other options out there.

Shared hosting

Shared hosting means you share the same server resources with multiple customers. These server resources determine how much space, bandwidth, mailboxes, etc. you have available. It also means there will be resource limits on each hosting package. And don’t worry! Sharing resources doesn’t mean other customers can see or edit your data.

Shared hosting is probably the cheapest option. But it might not be the best choice if you expect to need a lot of server space and bandwidth.

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting does exactly what it says on the tin. You’ll get a dedicated, fully allocated hardware server for your use only. This means you’re not sharing the server with other customers. Instead, you’ll have your own personal server with its own processors, hard disks, and memory. This makes dedicated hosting an interesting choice for bigger sites, such as large online shops or corporate sites.

VPS hosting

VPS hosting stands for Virtual Private Server. A VPS is part of a physical server that is divided into different sections. You get your own space on this server, with access to a certain amount of resources, like memory and processors. Unlike with shared hosting, these resources are for your use only. 

Additionally, you can optimize your VPS server to your own preferences. For example, you can determine which software runs on it, and you can adjust the settings to your liking, just like with dedicated hosting.

Hosting plans for WordPress.org sites

If you’re planning to create a WordPress.org website, then we’ve got good news for you! There are tons of hosting companies that offer hosting plans specifically for WordPress.org sites. The benefit? The plans are completely optimized for WordPress-based websites. Usually, they already have WordPress installed, so you don’t have to take care of that anymore. Sometimes they also offer security and update services. This means you don’t have to worry about your site’s security, or updating WordPress and the plugins you have installed. 

To help you out, we made a list of WordPress hosting companies that get the Yoast seal of approval.

Conclusion

Now you know all the basics about hosting companies, hosting plans, and the different types of hosting. Still, it’s good to take into account what factors are important for you before you choose a hosting company and plan. Because your site’s hosting can impact things like site speed and the amount of content you can have on your site. 

If you want more information about hosting, we recommend checking out our Technical SEO course. The course dives into things to consider when picking a host, as well as practical tips on how to make your site easy to find by search engines. And much more!

FAQ

After reading this post, I realized that I might need a better host. Is it possible to switch hosts?

It’s possible, but it’s going to depend on your setup and where you’re moving to. Luckily, most hosts offer great support. Typically, they’ll guide you through all the processes you need to go through. These processes are, for example, moving your files, your database, and maybe some configuration info.

When you’re choosing your host, it’s maybe worth getting in touch with their support to see what kinds of services they offer, and how much they’ll be able to help you through that.

Okay, but there are many hosting options out there. Is there a tool that can let me insert my data and help me choose?

Oh, that’s tricky! There are lots of tools on the internet to help you pick hosting, but it’s a bit of a minefield. We recommend checking out yoast.com/hosting. There, we recommend a whole bunch of companies.

But really, do your own research! Get a feel for what your budget is, what kind of features you might need, and talk to the support people. A lot of these companies and websites also have live chat.

I’m just starting out with my site and I don’t know how many visits I’ll get. I’m hoping for a lot of course, but I might get only a few. So, when picking a host, what should I look for bandwidth-wise?

It’s good that you’re thinking about bandwidth beforehand, but don’t let it dictate your choice. Instead, research how much different hosting companies charge for their different packages, and how the prices change as you need to scale. Maybe you can start off small, and upgrade later. Again, shop around, look at pricing and packages, and talk to support people.

The post Hosting guide: how to pick the right host for your site appeared first on Yoast.

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