Your web hosting matters.

Hosting affects page loading time, search rankings, visitor experience, ease of website management, updating and reliability. It affects your bottom line.

Getting the wrong hosting can sabotage your Google rankings, annoy your visitors, waste your advertising dollars, and leave your website entangled in tricky technical problems that need time and money to resolve properly.

My Hosting Rules of Thumb

Website hosting is a topic for a book all to itself but here are my rules of thumb that might help when choosing a hosting provider.

1

Don’t use a web hosting company that is regularly listed in “Top 10 Web Hosts” lists

Their position is usually solely based on their affiliate payouts, and rarely on merit. I’m not against affiliate promotions in general, and I’m an affiliate myself, but recommendations should not just be based on who pays the most commissions, as it is on many review sites. In fact:
2

Don’t trust online hosting reviews

Be very sceptical when you read these things. Assume that the reviewer is getting paid to recommend it to you. Be wary if they aren't forthcoming about that, and look for reviews with personal experience rather than speculation.
3

Don’t use a hosting company that offers Unlimited anything

These “unlimited” claims are usually a technicality – you’ll find that there’s always small print that means the opposite in their “Fair Use Policy” or Terms & Conditions. For example, many hosts offer unlimited bandwidth, but have a limitation on CPU cycles, which effectively throttles your site (it’s actually called “CPU throttling”). Be sceptical.
4

Don’t use a hosting company that advertises on TV

These are rarely good suppliers to work with as they tend focus on mass market and their business is often a low quality “numbers game”.
5

Don’t use a hosting company that is less than 2 years in business

Hosting is important to your business, and trusting a key service to someone in business only a year or so is a risk that's not worth taking.
6

Don’t use a company that has less than 5 employees

There is a lot of volatility in hosting, and very small hosting companies go out of business all the time for many reasons. In one sad example, the owner passed away, completely unexpectedly. Unfortunately it was a small business and he had no succession plan in place and the company shut down, effective immediately.
7

Don’t use a company that buys up smaller hosting companies, but conceals its ownership

If you listed 30-40 web hosts, I guarantee you that about 80% of them are owned by the same company. Unfortunately, the customers of the acquired companies start to experience problems with the service after the acquisition – a problem I encountered myself with Bluehost. Google “full list of EIG” to find out more – there’s some interesting reading there.
8

Don’t spend less than $50/year on business hosting

Any less and the hosting company are not charging enough to deliver quality service and support. They're in the numbers game.
9

Don’t buy your domains from your hosting company

Just like I buy tyres for my car from a tyre specialist rather than a main dealer, I recommend buying domains from a company that specialises exclusively in domains. This also makes it easier to move hosting and avoid lock-in.

My Hosting Recommendations

After decades of experience and working with hundreds of different websites on many different hosting companies, here is my #1 web hosting recommendation for SMEs in 2018.

Note: before I get to that, I want to state that some of the links on this page are affiliate links – that means I get a small commission payment if a new customer signs up through our link. That said, I only recommend products that I use or have thoroughly researched.

My credibility online means everything to me and I take my responsibility when making recommendations to businesses very seriously. For any affiliate links, I  reviews and recommendation in good faith.

Who I Use and Recommend

If you’re starting out and not sure where to start, get “Shared Hosting” from a high quality hosting provider. Here’s the one I recommend first: SiteGround.

WebsiteDoctor.com is hosted at SiteGround and they’ve been absolutely awesome. They’re based in the EU, and have some servers worldwide so are suitable for US customers too. They have great prices, services and support, a friendly control panel, and easy to use, free, SSL security certificates. Highly, highly recommended. Yes, that is an affiliate link and I’m happy to recommend them without reservation. They will migrate your website for free, and without hassle (they do around 100 website migrations per day).

Get Hosted at Siteground

 

I also recommend Blacknight (also based in the EU). They are Ireland’s #1 host. They have great support, and are based on the east coast of Ireland, and as far as I know, they are the only Irish-owned hosting company who have their own datacentre. They follow technology closely, staying up to date with new developments, and are a solid, reliable choice for Irish businesses.

Customer Testimonials and Speed Tests

Here’s what a client I referred to SiteGround had to say:

“Have set up account on SiteGround. Decided to go with GoGeek for extra speed and staging. I had one small thing to correct in the setup and support had it done in no time – impressed so far!” – Liam

And another friend of mine who I helped move hosts after her terrible experience with some of the big names in the industry:

In fact here’s the actual speed tests I ran at the time, Before on the old host, and After on SiteGround:

SiteGround hosting speed way faster than original host

I also recommend Blacknight. They are Ireland’s number one host (and probably up the charts in the UK too). They have great support, and are based on the east coast of Ireland. They follow technology closely, staying up to date with new developments.

What about Domains?

You can buy the domain and hosting from the same company, and it will save you a tiny amount of time — and maybe even save you  $10 if they include the domain in the hosting fee — but you do run a small (perhaps tiny) risk of having your domain name held to ransom or even hijacked by unethical providers, and in my opinion that’s a good enough reason to keep them separate. Your domain is the single most important online business asset, keep it safe.

Here’s my recommendations again

  1. For hosting: WebsiteDoctor.com is hosted at SiteGround and they’ve been absolutely awesome.
  2. For hosting: I also highly recommend Blacknight for hosting in Ireland.
  3. For domains, I’ve been using NameCheap.com since 2007 and highly recommend them.
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