You know website speed matters.
Any time you try to pull up a website on your phone and it takes longer than a couple seconds to load, you click away. Who has time to wait for a slow website when you could be playing Candy Crush or scrolling Twitter?
You also know your visitors are the same way. You don’t want to lose people over slow loading times. When it comes to your WordPress website’s speed, one of the most important choices you’ll make is your hosting provider.
Why Finding the Fastest WordPress Hosting Matters
So you know how much you hate a slow website, but is your personal opinion enough to base your web hosting choices on? Sure it is! But also, it’s not just you.
Making sure your WordPress website loads fast is crucial for a few main reasons:
- Speed affects bounce rates. According to Google, the probability that someone leaves your page increases 32% as load time goes from one to three seconds.
- Fast websites convert better. A study from Portent found that conversion rates start to drop if a site takes longer than five seconds to load. For eCommerce websites, that means slow load times cost you money.
- Website speed impacts SEO (search engine optimization). Google has said outright that website speed is a ranking factor. If your website doesn’t show up in the search engines for relevant terms, not many people will find your site to begin with.
And on top of all that, it just creates a bad experience for your visitors. You want people coming to your website to think it’s awesome. If their very first moments with you cause annoyance, that’s not a great start.
What to Look for in a Fast WordPress Host
Finding a web host that promises speed on their website is easy. That’s because pretty much every web hosting provider promises fast loading times.
So, how do you actually evaluate which WordPress hosting plans are the fastest? You need to understand what you’re really looking for.
1. Understand your speed needs.
Two WordPress websites can have the same hosting plan with the same provider and still have vastly different experiences with speed, because different websites have different needs. A small business with a simple website and less than 1,000 visitors a month is in a totally different situation than a media site that publishes new content every day, hosts lots of videos, and attracts millions of visitors.
Before you start looking into specific plans, your first task is to evaluate the needs of your website. Think about:
- How many pages it will have
- How media-rich it will need to be (e.g. will you have lots of videos, audio, and animations?)
- Whether it needs to have ecommerce functionality, like payment processing and a checkout process
- How often you plan to add new content to it
- The number of visitors you expect
That last point you can only guess at to start, but it’s an important one when it comes to website speed and your best web hosting choices.
2. Know your web hosting plans.
It’s not just the web hosting provider you choose that impacts your WordPress website’s speed, it’s also the plan you go with. Most providers offer a number of different hosting plans that are best suited for different types of websites.
Some common options are:
- Shared hosting – With a shared hosting plan, your website shares a server with a number of other websites. This makes it more affordable for smaller websites that don’t get that much traffic. But if your site starts to get more traffic, you could start to strain the amount of resources available to you on the shared server.
- Cloud hosting – Cloud hosting is when your hosting plan taps into a network of potentially unlimited virtual machines. It offers versatility and room for growth, and is good for any websites with inconsistent traffic.
- VPS hosting – VPS hosting is a step up from shared hosting. You’ll still share a server with other websites, but fewer websites will be on the server and you’ll each have part of it sectioned off for your website only.
- Dedicated server – For websites that are complex and/or get a lot of traffic, a dedicated server ensures you don’t have to share with anyone. All of the server’s resources go to your website alone.
- Managed WordPress hosting – Managed WordPress hosting can technically fall into any of these other categories. It’s notable for being configured specifically for WordPress sites, meaning the web host takes care of maintenance tasks like updates.
Any of these types of hosting plans can potentially provide you with a speedy WordPress site, it depends on picking which one is right for your website and level of traffic. But if you need one of the higher level plans and try to settle for shared hosting, you’re likely to face slower load times because of it.
3. Check the server locations.
One factor that can influence website speed is where your web hosting provider’s servers are physically located. If most of your visitors are located in Australia and your web host’s servers are all in the United States, those Aussie visitors are gonna have slower loading times than anyone coming from a closer location.
Check your web host’s website for information on where their servers are located. If they’re not close to where you expect most of your visitors will be, check if they use a CDN (content delivery network) like Cloudflare, which can route sites through data centers around the world and speed up load times for your far-off visitors.
4. Learn about server tech.
The quality of the server hardware will also affect your WordPress website’s performance, so make sure you go with a reputable web hosting provider that invests in current, high-quality web server hardware technology.
This is something else you should be able to find some information about on their website. Even if you don’t understand the ins and outs of the technology itself, looking through the information they provide should give you some idea of how invested they are in using state-of-the-art tech.
Also consider whether your web hosting provider uses solid state drives (SSDs) or hard disk drives (HDDs). SSDs provide a higher level of performance and greater speeds. In some cases, the same host will use HDDs for some plans and SSDs for others, so upgrading to a higher-level plan can come with access to the faster tech.
Beyond Hosting: Other Ways to Achieve Faster WordPress Speed
Hosting plays a big role in your WordPress site speed, but it’s just one element. To make sure your WordPress website loads fast, you’ll want to get in the habit of regularly testing your site speed and working to make improvements. You can find a full guide on improving website speed here, but here’s a quick summary of some steps to consider:
- Compress all images and videos you use.
- Stick to only the most essential WordPress plugins.
- Keep your WordPress version and plugins up to date.
- Enable browser caching.
- Minimize how many redirects you use.
And if the time comes when everything you do to improve site speed isn’t working as well as you’d like, then it may be time to upgrade your web hosting plan to one that provides you with more storage and bandwidth.