Let’s talk about hosting and why the best sites on the internet should have the most reliable hosting service as a foundation.
Once upon a time, you started your site. You picked your domain, a cool theme, a pretty color palette…you also picked the host that was going to serve your site to the world.
Since then, your site has grown and matured beyond your wildest dreams, reaching thousands of readers with your amazing content. But maybe with all this growth, you’ve actually outgrown your host or your hosting plan. With user experience and site speed mattering more than ever, now is a great time to reevaluate the foundation of your website once again.
Why does hosting matter?
Quality hosting can make all the difference in creating a positive user experience for your reader. Hosting is not a place to penny pinch if you’re in pursuit of real site growth.
It won’t matter how many optimizations and improvements you make to the images, media, site code, or other elements of your site if your host’s server is slow.
Speed is important to your readers
Google’s research found that people enjoy and expect a fast experience on the mobile web:
When there’s a disconnect between load times and user expectations, readers feel frustrated, annoyed, and sometimes abandon the page altogether. Making sure your site is fast can help you keep readers happy and grow your traffic.
Hosting can impact your Core Web Vitals scores
Better hosting means faster load times which can mean stronger Core Web Vitals scores. It can reduce load times, boost performance, and increase responsiveness.
Check out this article for specific ways your hosting provider can help optimize your site for better Core Web Vitals scores.
Regularly evaluate your hosting provider and plan
Every few years, it’s worthwhile to evaluate your hosting plan and look for opportunities to upgrade to a stronger infrastructure. You may decide it’s time to switch to a better provider or to a more robust plan with your current host.
When selecting your hosting provider and plan, you should consider
- Performance & reliability
- Security & protection
- Service & support
Let’s look at each of those categories more closely.
Performance & reliability
Slow-loading websites can lose valuable traffic, so speed and performance should be some of the most important factors you consider when assessing your hosting service.
The type of server you choose to go with can make a noticeable impact on your site speed.
Picking your hosting plan
1. Shared hosting: This is the cheapest option but your site will share CPU, RAM, and disk space with other sites, which can cause a slower website experience. Shared hosting can be an attractive option for beginners and startups but, given the resource and traffic demands of AdThrive sites, this is likely not going to be the ideal setup, especially when page speed is extremely important.
2. Virtual private server (VPS): This is a dedicated server which offers much faster site speed than shared hosting. Where shared hosting is like having a room in a communal apartment, having your site on a VPS is like owning a specific unit in a building. With a VPS, you are within a shared hosting environment, but you get your own part of the virtual server and all its resources to yourself. This setup can flexibly handle surges in traffic and scalability as your site continues to grow. It’s a great option for large personal sites with a decent amount of resource needs.
3. Dedicated server: This is the creme de la creme of website servers. You get a whole server to yourself and don’t have to share anything. A dedicated server offers huge resource limits, improved security, and really great site performance. It costs more money but the performance you get could be worth it, especially as you grow your business.
Use your current traffic as a base when evaluating your server needs, but leave room for growth. AdThrivers get a lot of traffic each month and you may want to consider making the jump to a VPS or dedicated server if you’ve seen a lot of growth in recent years.
Six performance questions to ask a potential host
In addition to your server options, here are some additional performance metrics questions to ask your host:
1. What uptime can I expect?
While every host has occasional brief outages, you want to be guaranteed an uptime of as close to 100% as possible. When your site is down, it can’t make you money, so you want to know that your host has an impressive track record of uptime and a reputation for rapidly resolving any issues that occur.
2. How much storage space is allocated to my site?
If you have lots of media (images, videos, etc.), you will likely require a decent amount of storage space — 10GB is a good starting point, but expect to expand that as you grow.
Pro tip: Be careful of unlimited storage plans, as background throttling will occur at some point and may cause performance or reliability issues.
3. What bandwidth does my plan have?
Bandwidth handles the transfer of information from your hosting server to your website’s visitors. As your site and traffic grows, you will need more bandwidth as you transfer more data to your visitors. Managed WordPress hosts measure bandwidth in pageviews or visits rather than by GB or TB, making it easy to see which plan you need for your site’s traffic.
4. How much RAM does my plan have?
RAM is an important server resource which, in part, allows processes to complete that display your website properly to visitors. An abundance of RAM can be an important consideration for site speed. Sites on an AdThrive-level of traffic and content will probably want 2GB+, but managed WordPress hosts typically do not limit you by RAM.
5. How do you handle scalability for my site?
Your website host should be able to handle incredible bursts of traffic from viral content and seasonal increases in traffic. Making sure your host can handle this is essential so you know your website is always up and running, making you the most money possible. Read the fine print. Look through their terms and conditions for mention of the provider being able to throttle your site performance or turn your site off after certain usage thresholds.
6. Where are your servers located?
Server proximity is important as it affects page speed and performance. Look for a host with servers that are geographically close to your target audience, where possible. Using a CDN (content delivery network) in addition to your hosting service is a great way to help improve speed and make the page experience better for your reader.
Security & protection
Make sure your host protects your site from attacks. According to one study, the average website is attacked 58 times per day.
Your hosting service should be able to provide the resources you need to protect and secure your website infrastructure. This includes the latest security updates, DDoS protection, patches, and up-to-date security protocols to guard your site against these daily attacks.
Look for security features and guarantees when reviewing your options.
Service & support
Customer service should be a very important component of your evaluation. Your host’s support team is the layer between you and the inner workings of your hosting service, and you want to be sure they are accountable, accurate, and fast in their response to your needs.
Look for things like 24/7 support, dedicated management, quick response times, and other helpful features so you know that when you have a fire that needs putting out, your hosting company will be there with the hose to help.
Do you prefer a hands-free support experience, maybe even handing over the reins and letting your host make decisions and optimizations on your site’s backend? Or would you rather have more control, through a do-it-yourself approach with great documentation to support your efforts?
Is your host up-to-date with the latest industry changes?
A great host support team prevents you from constantly having to troubleshoot or deal with technical issues on your own. They should be on top of industry updates like Core Web Vitals, helping make improvements and changes where needed, and providing you with guidance.
You should be able to rest easy and focus on what you do best — creating great content — knowing that your host is taking care of important optimizations for you and your business.
Balancing cost with performance
As a business owner, every decision you make is likely tied back to its cost, and understandably so. You want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of whatever service or tool you’re using!
That said, be willing to pay more for the quality host that your impressive site deserves. Everybody loves bells and whistles, but a firm foundation is a must-have for your site.
Need suggestions for a great hosting partner? For AdThrive publishers, the AdThrive Community Facebook group is a great place to ask your fellow top-notch publishers! Get the true experience from those using quality hosts, and avoid online reviews from affiliates who are making money to refer you to lesser services.
Your site’s performance and ability to grow directly correlates with your income potential. If you’re trying to save money with your host, but you’re not getting quick responses, your site is down a lot, or you’re spending a lot of time troubleshooting, then it might be time to reevaluate your cost-benefit analysis and consider upgrading your host provider and plan.
Your Core Web Vitals roadmap
Knowledge is power! Start here:
Dig deeper to understand each metric and why it’s important for user experience:
- What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?
- What is First Input Delay (FID)?
- What is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)?
Benchmark your site’s Core Web Vitals so you understand your starting position:
Make a step-by-step plan to improve Core Web Vitals:
- Your four-step playbook for diagnosing and improving Core Web Vitals
+ a handy one-sheet to go over with your developer or host
Tackle low-hanging fruit:
- How to choose the right hosting service for a speedy site [You are here!]
- 5 tell-tale signs you’ve outgrown your hosting service
- How a good host can help boost page speed and improve Core Web Vitals + a checklist for hosting optimizations
- Use a CDN to help speed up your site
- 23 optimizations to improve your page speed and Core Web Vitals scores