One of the choices you have to make early on if you’re a blogger is to decide your publishing platform.
There are a lot of great options out there like Medium or Blogger for you to publish your blog content.
They’re free and it takes a lot of the logistical problems away.
But if you’re serious about the blogging gig, it’s best to have ownership over your blog. That means setting up a blog using a hosting service.
And there are plenty of options out there. So you need to be aware of a few metrics that define how good a particular hosting service is.
Whenever it gets specific like with hosting options, it’ll be WordPress hosting only. But when it comes to discussing things like page speed it applies across the board.
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Here's what we'll cover
Page Load Time
This is the metric that shows the speed of the hosting service.
This is a big factor in how good the experience is for a reader. You want the blog to feel fluid and quick.
This is what load time measures. How fast can the hosting service return a page once a user types in the URL.
One of the ways you increase page speed is by making sure your blog is lightweight. This means making sure you don’t use heavy-duty themes.
And not use rich media like images, and videos beyond what is necessary.
But beyond that, the hosting service and the plan you choose from their catalog goes a long way in deciding how fast your page loads.
Server speed is measured in milliseconds. The general consensus seems to be that SiteGround is the best out there followed by A2Hosting when it comes to the server speed.
A distinction has to be made between server speed and website speed. The server speed is how fast the server that hosts the website responds. Website speed depends on the hardware you’re using.
Yet another reason why speed is important. Your audience may not be using the fastest phone or desktop to view your website. So a faster experience will seem that much more attractive.
There seems to be a correlation between load-time and more customer-based metrics.
People prefer it when web pages load quickly. That’s pretty obvious.
There’s even research that suggests that if a web-page loads slower than 3 seconds, 40 percent of users tend to go somewhere else.
We can relate to that. And the number goes up when the user is on mobile. Something about holding a mobile phone seems to deflate the balloon that is our patience.
One of the best sources for the latest trends in web research is Think with Google. It’s almost like they know their stuff.
So there was an article that discussed industry benchmarks for mobile page speed.
An interesting infographic discussed user bounce rate changing with page load time.
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that go away from your website after seeing just the one page.
That’s certainly something you want to avoid happening when running a blog. The whole game is to provide a lengthy and entertaining read after all.
The fact that user retention gets lowered should set up this one nicely.
Imagine you click on the ‘buy now’ or ‘subscribe’ button in a blog. Then you had to wait a long time between before the actual page loads.
Isn’t that time you take to reconsider your choice. I don’t think many people become surer of a decision when sitting idle.
It’s a good principle to live by, to take time before committing. But it’s not a benefit you give your audience.
Another article from Think with Google mentioned how a delay of one second in mobile load times affects conversion by 20%.
The same article also mentions how a negative experience on mobile, makes people 62% less likely to buy from you in the future.
The SEO ranking of a page is directly impacted by the load speed. Why wouldn’t it.
The point of SEO is to ensure the results provide a relevant answer to a user query. And that the user experience should be pleasant.
The page speed has a lot to do with that. So a slow blog is a lowly-ranked blog.
There are a lot of free tools out there fortunately.
Fastest hosting option
At the very least, these options will ensure with the right themes and spare use of rich media, will ensure a smooth experience on any device.
You will get faster speeds with dedicated hosting, but as a budding blogger you’ll be using shared hosting plans.
The uptime of a website is the percentage of time it is up and available for users to access.
So it’s a pretty crucial metric. Maybe not as crucial as it is for other sorts of webpages like banking or ticket reservation websites.
But it’s still something that you should be aware of. Just to illustrate how tricky a percentage can be, think of 99% uptime.
Sounds great right. But over a year, that translates to 87 hours. So not a negligible amount exactly.
I feel the need to reiterate that it’s not very crucial for blogs. But you would obviously have to go for sites that provide higher uptime.
Hrank is a website I use to check these metrics. They list out numbers for both uptime and load-time for various hosting domains.
There’s even an overall score that takes into account these metrics. So check Hrank out before making a call.
WordPress Hosting Cost
Had to come to this at some point. I wanted to be classy and not open with it.
So based on the hosting domain and the plan you choose, there will be a monthly spend.
But the lowest priced plan from BlueHost starts at $2.95 a month. Not a bad price to test out the viability of your blog.
They also don’t limit the number of monthly visits your blog can handle. The main limitation being that you can host only one website and space is limited to 50 Gb.
Of course you can upgrade your plans as your blog starts getting more traffic. Almost all hosting domains have a plan that cost less than $5 a month.
All of them perfect for a new blogger to see if the blog has legs on it. BlueHost does not appear at the top of the lists of the other metrics, but does have very cheap options.
The lowest plans for most hosting services will support one website. Better plans will accommodate more. This comes in handy when you work on multiple blogs.
But that’s a whole different challenge.
These hosting domains also charge less when you sign up for an entire year. They also throw in stuff like free domain registration for a year. That saves you a tiny amount too.
This is a huge factor when you’re entering the world of blogging. You will have a lot of questions and a fair number of issues that you need help with.
So a support team that’s available 24×7 and dedicated to solving your problem is necessary.
This is where you might find a correlation between low-price options and bad customer care.
WPX especially, because they do nothing but WordPress hosting. So they’re able to give prompt and complete attention till your problem is solved.
There are a few things that you should check their support for.
Most support issues can be handled through chart. Most of them can be solved if we went to the FAQs.
But that’s not the point. Having someone to call on is crucial. Especially if the problem is time-sensitive or if support through chat isn’t solving anything.
So even if it says support ‘24×7’, go for options that have phone support included.
This is something that good service providers are very proud of and are happy to display the numbers in big font.
So keep a look out for the numbers you’re hosting service is touting.
That’s the number the support team will guard with their life and is a good indicator of how serious they are about their support.
In the course of your blog’s growth, you’ll find yourself having to upgrade and rarely, even downgrade, your current plan.
This is likely because your current plan handles a certain amount of monthly traffic. But when it’s approaching the threshold, you might have to upgrade.
When you do opt to do this, and they really want you to do this so they make it very convenient, it needs to be done almost as soon as you’re done with the payment.
This includes when you purchase your first plan. You need to be able to start hosting as soon as you sign up for a plan.
I would go with BlueHost as a budding blogger. It’s cheap. They’re liberal with their resources and the support is solid.
They have a very user-friendly dashboard where you can track your hosting plan.
Their lowest plan gives you 100 email accounts for your domain. And bandwidth is not throttled. So no worry about how much monthly traffic you can handle.
To be more specific, WP Pro is what I’d push for. It’s managed WordPress hosting. That means it only has stuff necessary for WordPress and nothing else.
That reduces a lot of clutter. They also have a few social media marketing tools when you get this plan. So check this plan out before making a final call.
Your actionable takeaway
So that’s the list. The list of all the big considerations for picking a hosting domain.
So don’t let your noob-ness (in terms of blogging experience) stand in the way of making the right choice of hosting option.
Take stock of your budget. Be realistic about your current situation. No need to prepare for a distant future.
Pick the plan that’s right for you now. Then sign up. And let me know. Maybe even throw in what you’re planning to write about.
So I can steal the idea and do a half-decent job. Your call.