If you’re seeking out the best hosting for WordPress then you and I have something in common.
Our website is really important to us.
I don’t know about you but my site needs the best WordPress hosting available. This is because I’m serious about growing it and that takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Poor performance like slow page-loading, or worse, is unthinkable when there’s already enough challenges to overcome.
Great hosting maximises your chances of success; cheap and nasty hosting means no chance at all.
The thing is so many people fall into a trap with hosting. They buy on price, not on value, in part due to awful hosting companies promising the world for peanuts. Unless your site is nothing more than a passing interest you must see web hosting as an investment.
Secure and reliable managed cloud hosting makes a lot of sense for serious website projects. Easy-to-use, rapid server response times, 1-2 second page loading, and easy scaling of resources if traffic increases.
After this post, I want you to know what great hosting is, why Cloudways makes so much sense and how to get set up on their platform; because, if you’re intentions are anything like mine, you need to consider it.
There’s quite a lot to cover, so stick with me!
Table Of Contents
- Criteria for the best WordPress hosting
- Hosting providers to avoid
- Enter Cloudways
- Sign up to Cloudways WordPress hosting
- Set up your WordPress website on Cloudways
- Add a payment method
- Get your free migration
- Connect your domain
- Install SSL certificate
- Now what?
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1. Criteria for the best WordPress hosting
Let’s start by establishing what good looks like.
Any hosting provider worth your money has to offer the following:
- Performance. The number one reason why a website performs slowly is where it’s hosted. Top hosting companies provide rapid server response times and 1-2 second page load speeds all day every day.
- Authentic customer support. Having a dedicated support team who partner with you to help fix things (if humanly possible) is crucial. I’ve been a web professional for years; but, I’d never go with any web host that didn’t have top quality support in place.
- Secure and reliable. Any hosting for WordPress means taking security and up-time very seriously. What’s more, they must continually maintain their infrastructure to ensure a safe place for customer websites. They’ll also provide a free SSL certificate and robust backup solution.
- Scalability – A WordPress hosting provider has to cater to your requirements now but offer scale-able resources for what’s required tomorrow. Being able to add RAM or another CPU with a few clicks is a big deal when traffic increases. Trust me!
- Social proof – Most hosting companies (including the awful ones) advertise they meet, and exceed, all of the above criteria. The good news is sites like Trustpilot, as well as social media, meaning there is no hiding the truth.
2. WordPress Hosting providers to avoid
Most of us know the saying ‘if something appears too good to be true it probably is’. Never is this more applicable than with the majority of WordPress hosting providers.
These companies sell on price, not on value. Charging low prices means they simply can’t provide the level of performance required in the modern-day.
Bluehost and Hostgator are two of the most well-known names that do this, but there are literally dozens of others.
People complain bitterly about a number of others too. Some of the more well-known names are Hostinger, Inmotion, Site5, and iPage. I also wouldn’t touch GoDaddy because whilst their customer support has improved massively, their server performance has not.
I can’t for the life in me understand what companies like this are trying to achieve. It seems their commercial strategy is to acquire new customers quicker than they lose existing ones. How else can their behaviour be explained?
It’s paramount you get hosting right and that means spending enough money. I’ve rescued so many people from bad WordPress hosting. Every one of them, bar none, regretted not paying more for top-quality from the start.
Avoid them at all costs.
3. Enter Cloudways
[Ready to get started? Jump to the next section]
First things first, what is Cloudways?
In short, it is a managed hosting provider in the form of the Cloudways platform. This enables people like us to get world-class cloud hosting for WordPress without any technical knowledge of web servers.
Through their platform, Cloudways acts as a ‘technical middle man’ allowing easy use of the best cloud hosting infrastructures in the world (5 in total – Digital Ocean, Linode, Vultr, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud).
The beauty of this is that they have specifically aimed their service at non-technical customers. A lot of effort has been put into the user experience. It’s an intuitive control panel involving a few clicks to carry out most activities, including hosting sign-up and installing WordPress.
Standard support is available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. It’s live chat and, in my experience, is snappy, effective and reliable. Experienced cloud engineers enable you to fix any issues. If progress isn’t made within 15 minutes a support ticket is raised to elevate the issue for resolution.
Not sure if Live Chat Support is enough? You can add either ‘advanced’ or ‘premium’ support on to your Cloudways plan but it costs a lot of money. Honestly, I wouldn’t and this is why.
All the web professionals I know, me included, continually learn ‘on-the-job’. Facing issues is not the problem, provided you approach everything with unrelenting enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. Add to this top quality live chat support from Cloudways and you should get on just fine.
There is a tonne of feedback about Cloudways on Trustpilot (see below). Many reviewers mention how the cloud engineers go the extra mile to make sure all issues are resolved.
But, if you’re still unconvinced you must trust your instincts. If so, I would strongly recommend SiteGround – the only other WordPress hosting provider I recommend.
I host this blog with Cloudways and couldn’t be happier. Set up was dead easy, I’ve had zero issues since, and the page-speed is the fastest I’ve ever had:
Super simple, totally affordable and supremely powerful cloud hosting doesn’t get better than this in my experience. But, don’t just take my word for it.
Cloudways service and support is proven to be ‘Excellent’:
I couldn’t help but notice that Cloudways invites feedback whether positive or negative. I think this shows they take customer care very seriously:
They’ve also started to top some Facebook polls as shown in my Google search for ‘cloud hosting recommendations facebook polls‘:
And, the cherry on top of the cake… Cloudways pricing is totally flexible.
There are no annual contracts; instead, they charge a monthly fee on a pay-as-you-go basis for the resources you’re using.
Cloudways are offering highly-affordable, user-friendly, super-fast cloud hosting, that can scale (up or down) with your needs; all this and with no financial risk.
4. Sign up to Cloudways WordPress hosting
If you’re feeling anything like I did, there is only one thing left to do.
Go to the Cloudways sign up page (opens in a new tab) for a free trial.
Step 1. – Click on ‘Start A Free Trial‘:
Step 2. – Complete the form, then click ‘Start Free‘:
Verify the email used on sign-up is yours (check your inbox) to ‘activate’ your new Cloudways account.
Step 3. – Ensure WordPress is selected, then name the three fields along the top accordingly:
Now, it’s time for the interesting bit.
Choose a provider – I went with Digital Ocean which has been truly awesome. Others I know have gone with AWS and Google Cloud and are very happy too; although whether there are any performance benefits for the extra cost remains to be seen.
Vultr High Frequency is said to be even faster than Digital Ocean. It wasn’t available when I signed up, but for an extra $3 per month I think it’s worth it.
Choose the server size – For a brand new website start small then add resources when necessary. If migrating an existing site, I would pick the same server size and see how it goes.
Choose a location for the server – typically the nearest place to your location, and/ or audience.
Step 4. – Check all the details carefully, then click ‘Launch Now‘:
5. Set up your WordPress website on Cloudways
Let’s recap. You’ve signed up to the Cloudways cloud hosting platform, created your web server and installed WordPress on it.
To finish setting it up we need to: add a payment method, enable your free migration (if applicable), connect your domain and install an SSL certificate (ensures encrypted communications with your website).
Add a payment method. This is very important because if the free 3-day trial expires, your server and everything on it will be removed completely. There is no warning, so if you’re happy with everything do this immediately!
Click ‘Upgrade My Account‘ to add a payment method:
Get your free migration. Once you’ve added a payment method you can claim your free migration. Go to the grid icon at the top of the screen, then click on ‘Add-ons‘:
Find ‘Application Migration’ on the list, then click the pencil icon on the right to initiate it:
You will now be taken through a series of prompts for information that enables the migration to take place. It’s pretty self explanatory, but you might not be familiar with certain aspects. If this is the case, just hit up customer support who will explain what to do.
Buy a domain (if you haven’t got one already). I’ve used most of the registrars over the years and there is little difference between them.
GoDaddy is the biggest in the world and whilst I would never use their hosting (or much else), their customer support can definitely help you with the next step so they’d get my vote.
Connect your domain. This is a straight-forward task that takes no time at all if you know what to do. It involves a simple edit of the DNS settings (specifically the A record) of your domain name.
Altering the A record on your domain means we can make it point to the new web server you just created at Cloudways. This means your website (i.e. content) is shown when someone types it in a web browser
Step 1. – add the domain name to your WordPress installation.
When logged in to your account, click on ‘Applications‘ (top of the screen) then click on your WordPress installation as named on sign up.
Ignore any pop ups, then click on ‘Domain Management‘ in the tabs to the left. Add your domain name under ‘Primary Domain’, then click ‘Save Changes‘:
Once it has finished ‘updating the primary domain’, click on the ‘Access Details‘ tab on the left to check the change has taken effect:
Step 2. – Get the IP address of your Cloudways web server.
Remain in the ‘Access Details‘ tab. You’ll find the IP address listed under ‘Application Credentials’ on the right:
Step 3. – To finish, the IP address of your Cloudways server needs to be added to the A record of your domain.
Fundamentally, there is only one way to do this but domain registrars have user interfaces that differ slightly meaning you need to follow their specific instructions:
Registered your domain elsewhere?
Simply search Google for ‘How to alter an A record‘ along with the company name where you bought the domain. If there is no obvious walkthrough, just contact their customer support to do it for you (they’ll need the IP address of your Cloudways server).
Once an A record has been changed it can take up to 48 hours to take effect but in my experience is much quicker.
Install an SSL certificate – This is essential and Google does not like a site without one. The good news is Cloudways provides them for free and it’s a one-click install.
Like the previous tasks, click ‘Applications‘ (top of the screen), then click your WordPress installation. Under application management, click the ‘SSL Certificate‘ tab on the left.
Add your email and primary domain then click ‘Install Certificate‘:
All done – set up is complete.
If you’re keen to get cracking you can access the WordPress login screen directly from your Cloudways account:
6. Now what?
Hopefully you’re still with me, and we now have Cloudways in common too.
I feel so passionately about doing things properly and get so frustrated when people can be misled by soulless web hosts. Poor performance, and the associated stress, doesn’t happen with the best WordPress hosting; it’s possible to focus entirely on being successful.