UPDATE: I’VE PUBLISHED A NEW POST ON THE BEST WORDPRESS HOST, FEATURING SPEED TESTS AND DETAILED COMPARISONS. CHECK IT OUT. I’M LEAVING THIS ARTICLE HERE FOR REFERENCE BUT IT NO LONGER REFLECTS MY CURRENT VIEW
There are thousands of web hosts out there, and most of them will let you use WordPress. That doesn’t mean that you should use WordPress on all of them.
What makes a good WordPress host?
WordPress is a funny beast. It’s incredibly powerful, but it can be hard to keep it running fast. A good WordPress host will have specialists on staff that really understand WordPress itself, rather than just general server maintenance staff.
The very best hosts will do things themselves to increase performance. A common example is a custom “caching” layer that hugely improves performance by storing some of your content in memory so it doesn’t need to fetch the content from the database every time.
Preventing incredibly resource heavy plugins from being installed is also common, as it prevents other people and other sites from affecting yours.
Why does speed matter? Well for a few reasons.
First, obviously, it’s just less annoying for your users. Stats show that speed improvements improve session length. If a blog is working quickly, readers tend to click around more of it.
The other real advantage is that Google ranks fast sites higher. It isn’t the only factor, but in general faster sites are better ranked.
With that in mind, the hosts I recommend are:
The best value for money WordPress host
SiteGround is the host that I use. If this blog is performing well for you now, then that’s a good ad for it!
For me, SiteGround offer a great balance of specialist WordPress hosting and sensible pricing. They have specialists on staff that have built things like custom caching that really helps your site fly. They are my recommendation when starting out.
The best WordPress host
If your blog really starts to take off, using a true specialist host is probably worth the investment. I have previously used WP Engine and have found their performance and support to be superb.
If you’ve got spare money to spend, there is no harm starting on WP Engine from day one. It can do no harm and might slightly increase the speed you shoot up Google. But it is by no means critical, and I’d start with SiteGround if I were you.