WordPress hosting comes in a wide variety of flavours: from free hosting to specialist WordPress Managed Hosting solutions. You want to find the best solution for your business; but what does it mean to be the best? And what difference does it make to your business?

We’ve seen hundreds of sites working through these issues, and we know there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. What is “best” changes as a business or site evolves. In this article we’ll look at why hosting is important, as well as the best WordPress hosting solutions for small- to medium-sized publishers, e-commerce sites and businesses looking for their home on the web. We’ll look at scaling those into millions of pageviews a month.

What Difference does Managed WordPress Hosting Make?

Time and time again, we see a site’s search engine traffic improve after an improvement in their web hosting. There are key quality indicators that impact search results and speed, security and uptime are a vital part of that.

You can read about how this company tripled their traffic after switching to Managed WordPress Hosting by Performance Foundry; or have a look at this chart below, from another client:

search engine traffic increase after migration to Performance Foundry

This Google Analytics report shows traffic coming from search engines to one website. We’ve marked the overall growth rate before and after moving from a generic hosting provider to our specialist services: that flat growth begins to angle sharply upwards without any additional marketing or SEO work. After being flat for a year, search traffic for February jumps from 25,000 in 2016 to 65,000 visits in 2017.

What could your business do with a growth curve like that? If you’re doing a lot of the “right” things but not growing, this might be an investment you need to make. Quality hosting does play a part in the algorithm.

Generic Standard Hosting vs Specialist WordPress Hosting

There’s a lot that goes into hosting a WordPress site that can be optimised in different ways to a generic host.

Imagine a standard hosting company: they might put 1,000 websites on one server, and be running hundreds of different types of websites within that. They want to create the least stress for their support team, so they support the lowest common denominator and a wide range of languages, modules, add-ons and tools. That creates bloat and resource stresses before your site even starts to load. It also opens a much greater set of attack vectors than a specialist approach. Slow and insecure? No thanks!

With specialist WordPress Hosting, those issues dwindle towards zero. The technology stack is custom-tuned to the most-recent WordPress standards, allowing upgrades to processing languages, security patches and web services that wouldn’t be possible for a host stretched across dozens of different website types.

Server technology updates

You might notice when a new version of WordPress comes out. But you probably won’t notice that there’s a new version of a server language. We do! WordPress runs on three main things: php, MySQL and a web server — we monitor and roll out updates transparently for all our clients.

When we started hosting, php5.6 was the newest version, and we saw a lot of big hosting companies rolling out php5.2 or 5.4 by default. Would you run your business on Windows 2000? Neither would we. Just think of the security holes in such ancient software, let alone the speed issues! In 2016 and early 2017, we successfully rolled out php7.0 for most of our clients, and are on track to keep applying progressive updates as php continues to develop.

Why care?

Imagine dropping your load time from 2 seconds to 0.6 seconds in a moment: that’s exactly what happens when we apply the php7 upgrade to legacy sites. Here you can see the load time for a real client site. The average time falls from a “spiky” 2,000ms down to 600ms — with no more spikes in processing time.

Site load speed improvement graph.
When we upgraded our servers from PHP5.6 to 7 we saw an immediate improvement in load times. Many hosts are still running PHP5, so hosting your site with us means an instant win.

It’s similar in the MySQL and web server worlds: keeping things near the cutting edge means we can balance speed and stability to give you a competitive advantage.

All these updates mean that you can take advantage of the latest plugins and speed advantages in modern WordPress. Cheaper resource usage and better site speed means more business for you.

Managed WordPress Hosting vs the Best – Performance Foundry

We’re not the only company offering to look after your WordPress site: so what makes us the best? It’s the human time that’s dedicated to every site each month.

Because we focus on WordPress and live in it every day, we’ll learn that plugin X is more efficient than plugin Y; or that people are having issues with a certain feature. We can take that knowledge and use it to help all our clients. That might be a knowledge base article we write, or it might be an individual email we send straight to you with an upgrade path.

We’re also keeping an eye on individual sites at the server level. Here, you can see the worst-performing plugins on a client site. Once we replaced the slowest plugin, the site sped up dramatically — leading to better user experience and growing revenue.

Site load time improves after removing plugin
One example of speed improvements to be had by choosing the right plugins.

One size doesn’t fit all, so we don’t just host your site; we look after it too. Performance Foundry cares about your success and pro-actively solves problems for you. That is what sets the best above the rest.

Key advantages of the best Managed WordPress Hosting

Wrapping this up, the key advantages of the best WordPress hosting are:

  • Competitive advantage in user experience.
  • Faster websites, correlated to better search results.
  • More security thanks to a single focus on one piece of software.
  • Shared knowledge amongst staff and site owners leading to faster growth.
  • Less stress due to technical issues: you can refocus on the important parts of your business.

Most of our clients see a positive uptick in key business indicators, such as search traffic, after switching to Performance Foundry. There’s no magic happening: it’s just a great foundation on which to grow a blog, an e-commerce store, or a business presence.

Best WordPress Hosting for e-commerce sites

We see e-commerce WordPress sites at all levels: from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars of turnover each month. As sites grow, the level of investment into development and stability also rises. The good news is that faster sites generate more search traffic and better conversion rates than an identical, but slower, site.

Starting with WooCommerce

In the early days of an online WooCommerce store, bootstrapping owners will often buy cheap hosting from a generic big-box hosting company. Soon, resource limits and additional WordPress-level security plugins slow the site, meaning lost conversions. Smart site managers will skip this step, and build their store on rock-solid hosting, with security and caching handled at the server level. Our base-level Managed WordPress Hosting is a great place to begin. The modest investment gives a strong foundation to build a business on.

Scaling a WooCommerce store

WordPress allows you to add on any number of themes and plugins, so the time to upgrade your hosting will depend on your unique setup. Our standard hosting package has proven suitable for small- to mid-sized businesses, with membership sites with less than 500 active users; or physical and digital product sales at less than 50 transactions per day.

As traffic and turnover increase, we help to transition the site onto its own dedicated resources, using the same high-performing technical stack; but tuning resource usage further to allow more growth. In that case, we’ll work with site managers on the transition to a trusted hosting partner, moving you onto a WordPress retainer package.

The answer to scaling isn’t always added hosting resources. One of the first areas to examine is the scalability of the existing theme and plugin code. There are often a few key transactions that are eating more than their fair share of resources. Re-working that code can allow you to put off higher server costs for a longer period of time.

We are WooCommerce experts. Our service is unique in the level of support we offer store owners: whether that’s server-level plugin and theme reporting, or an hour of help each month with technical tasks. We closely monitor the WooCommerce development cycle, and have relationships with people on the WooCommerce team, as well as many of the companies that produce premium plugins for WooCommerce. This can translate into quicker solutions to the problems your business faces.

Other WordPress Hosting Resources

Check pricing for Performance Foundry’s Managed WordPress Hosting and ask us any questions about it.