So you have decided that a WordPress website is best for your local business and chosen the best domain name for your site. The next step is selecting a web host where your website will be located. Think of it this way; your domain name is your address and the web host is your physical location.
This step is very important. The web host you select must be able to support WordPress. These are the requirements for WordPress 3.2. Don’t worry about what PHP and MySQL are, just make sure that they are:
- PHP version 5.2.4 or greater
- MySQL version 5.0 or greater
Low-cost Shared Hosting
For a small, local business website there are web hosts that offer low cost shared hosting. This means that your website is on the same server as other websites. Some things to consider when looking for this kind of web host.
- Reputation. There are many cheap hosting providers out there but this doesn’t mean that they are GOOD cheap hosting. Look at reputable sources for recommendations. WordPress.org recommends a few hosts and groups like WordPress on LinkedIn have discussions about the best (and worst) hosts.
- Support. Make sure that there is 24/7 support available. Our host, Bluehost, offers email, chat and phone support 24/7. They also have a great knowledge base and video how-to’s from setting up an email account to installing WordPress using Simplescripts. Make sure your host offers this kind of service.
- cPanel or some kind of dashboard. You want to have some kind of backend dashboard for your domain(s) to perform basic tasks like setting up email accounts, MySQL and phpMyAdmin if web host doesn’t have 1-Click Install of WordPress, and a domain manager application.
- Email addresses and access. Many hosts now offer multiple email addresses for your domain with web access. Take advantage of those offerings if possible, especially if they offer IMAP (syncs mail nicely when using multiple devices).
- Billing. Some web hosts will bill you monthly while others require payment in full for length of contract. Bluehost’s $5.95 plan is for 3 years, payment due in full up front (they offer 1, 2, and 3 year contracts); they have no setup fees though where others will bill monthly but have a onetime setup fee. Payment terms aren’t always easy to find, check under Terms of Service.
To help you get started, here are three web hosting companies to look at that offer 1-Click install of WordPress and come recommended by WordPress.org and/or other WordPress users (we are affiliates for these hosts).
- Bluehost (recommended by WordPress.org) – Plans start as low as $6.95 (current special $4.95) and include a free domain registration, unlimited domains and unlimited email addresses.
- Dreamhost (recommended by WordPress.org) – Plans start at $8.95 and include a free domain registration, unlimited domains and unlimited email addresses.
- Hostgator (read reviews from happy customers) – Plans start at $3.96 and offer unlimited email. Lowest priced plan includes only one domain (need to upgrade to host more domains).
(Disclaimer: elSue is an affiliate for these web hosting companies)
All three of companies have the ability to upgrade plans with additional options elSue is on the Pro Plan on Bluehost which hosts us on faster servers and some other good, premium offerings (like a dedicated IP address and SSL certificate, both helpful for ecommerce sites). The lower priced plans are a good place to start but if you find you need more options then Bluehost, Dreamhost and Hostgator all have upgrade plans to accommodate most small business needs.
Are there other web hosts you recommend for WordPress websites for local businesses?