So, you’ve chosen to use the popular WordPress plugin, WooCommerce, to build your online store. Guess what? You’re in great company because recent statistics show WooCommerce powers more than 20% of the top million e-commerce sites on the internet. But, to make your WooCommerce store live and start making money, you’ll need to choose a hosting plan for your WooCommerce shop.
If this opening paragraph describes you – or if you already have a WooCommerce store and are considering changing hosting plans – you’ll want to read on to learn the five questions you need to ask when looking for the right hosting plan for your WooCommerce store.
1. What Features and Specs Does My Site Need to Succeed?
The first question you need to ask yourself is, “What features and/or specifications does my online store need to be successful?”
Every e-commerce store is going to have its own unique requirements based on:
- How much disk space will you need for images, documents, plugins, and other unique elements of your website?
- How many visitors do you expect to get in a given month? How quickly do you expect your audience and business to grow?
- Where in the world is your audience located?
- How much support will you need if something goes wrong with your website?
Assess your needs by thinking about these things. Ideally, you’ll want to find a hosting plan that provides enough storage space for your site as it is today, as well as what it will look like in a few months as your business grows and you add products and features to your site.
You’ll also want to be mindful of how many visitors per month each plan allows and how much bandwidth is available. Some hosting providers will throttle bandwidth or deactivate a site if it goes over certain limits, so you’ll want to factor that into your decision. The provider you choose should be able to seamlessly increase your level of service – or charge reasonable overage charges – without having you experience any form of interruption.
Another thing to look for – especially if the audience for your products is international – is a distributed network and free global CDN. This will allow your website to load quickly regardless of where in the world your customers are located.
Finally, you need to ask yourself, “How much support will I need if something goes wrong?” Hosting providers usually offer varying levels of support, and it can become immensely frustrating if you are unable to get in touch with them or – even worse – discover an issue that the hosting provider cannot (or will not) resolve to your satisfaction. To save yourself the trouble, it’s in your best interest to work with a provider that can offer a comprehensive level of ongoing customer support.
It’s essential to spend some time thinking about your specific requirements and weighing them against your budget to make an informed decision. And, that leads to the next question…
2. Am I Looking for Quality or Price?
Next comes the age-old question of “Am I looking for quality or price?” Sure, there is an abundance of free or low-cost hosting providers out there, but are they going to best suit your needs? Unless you’re in a situation where your budget is restrictively limited, it’s always best to choose quality over cost.
When choosing a hosting provider for your WooCommerce store, it’s best to consider it an investment in your future success. By framing hosting as an investment (as opposed to an expense), you can focus your decision-making process on finding a hosting provider that delivers the most value for the dollar, as opposed to the one that offers the bare minimum of service and support for a bargain price. After all, a smooth-running website that attracts and converts more customers can be considered a great ROI.
To set your budget, it’s best to start by doing some research. Look up hosting providers that specialize in WooCommerce – or, even better, have specific WooCommerce plans that meet or exceed the basic features and specifications you assessed earlier. Build a list of plans and costs, then set your budget based upon the average or median price point. You can now narrow down your search to the most realistic and feasible plans for your budget.
Typically, hosting plans are subscription-based – meaning you can pay on a monthly or yearly basis. Be sure to look at the difference between the monthly and annual costs, as many hosting providers offer automatic (and somewhat significant) discounts on the yearly plan price. While that means a greater cost up front, it will save you money in the long run and ensure there are no interruptions in service in the event there is an issue with your payment method.
3. Will This Hosting Provider Keep My Site Running Optimally?
The attention span of the average internet user these days is estimated to be shorter than that of a goldfish. This means that even an extra second or two of load time can cause your audience to navigate away from your page and – in many cases – never return. As the owner or manager of an e-commerce website, this scenario is entirely unacceptable. Similarly, just a single instance of unscheduled downtime could cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
Put plainly: website performance and network uptime are too important to ignore.
Virtually every managed hosting provider is going to brag about how fast and reliable their platform is. Fortunately, objective, third-party organizations – like Review Signal and WP Hosting Benchmarks – provide statistical data on all performance and uptime metrics.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the speed and reliability of your website can have a direct impact on your search engine rankings. Google uses metrics such as bounce rate as part of its criteria for ranking websites. A common reason for bounces – a term that refers to users who navigate to a website only to exit quickly – is sluggish load speeds. Your SEO rankings will drop when this frequently occurs since Google assumes the content is either low-quality or irrelevant.
4. Does This Hosting Provider Keep My Site (and Customers) Secure?
It should come as no surprise that security is one of the most critical attributes to look for when choosing a provider. A single data breach can cost a company $8.1 million, so it’s essential that your hosting provider helps keep you (and your customers) secure.
Look into the security features offered by the site and check out some online reviews to make sure that they actually hold up to scrutiny. At a bare minimum, your hosting provider should take all reasonable precautions to protect against malware, unauthorized access, and the destruction or alteration of data.
Your host should offer a web application firewall (WAF), two-factor login authorization, DDoS protection, automated WordPress core and WooCommerce updates, and threat monitoring when it comes to security features. Additionally, your hosting provider needs to provide daily backups of your entire site and associated database, as well as SSL certificates to provide a layer of protection for sensitive user information.
Even if you – along with your hosting provider – do everything right when it comes to security, hacks can still occur. In that case, it’s an added bonus to have a WooCommerce hosting provider that will aid you in hack recovery and malware removal. A reputable, high-quality hosting provider will also help identify the vulnerability that led to the hack and provide guidance for preventing future occurrences.
5. What Is the Reputation of This Hosting Provider?
Finally, take a look at the overall reputation of the hosting providers that you’re considering. Compare and contrast reviews once you’ve narrowed the possibilities down sufficiently. Make sure that you choose a WooCommerce hosting provider with numerous positive reviews on sites such as TrustPilot or G2.
Of course, you should also check reviews on Google and Facebook. But keep in mind that occasionally a particular hosting provider’s competitors will leave false negative reviews in an attempt to dissuade customers from trusting their services. Or, on the flip side of the coin, a hosting company may leave false positive reviews. It is recommended that you gravitate toward reviews that provide a detailed account of what that particular customer had experienced and think of how that experience might apply to you.
Additionally, check out what experts have to say about the reputation of the provider. Even if some users like it, other security experts may see things that users do not. The same applies to IT professionals and those with expert knowledge of WooCommerce and hosting platforms.
Once you find a provider with an excellent reputation, you can feel much safer contracting with them.
Find Your Ideal Managed Hosting Plan Today
Now that you know what questions you need to ask before choosing a hosting plan, it’s time to get started. Contact our experts with any lingering questions you have on choosing a hosting provider for your business.
Because WordPress hosting is essential for any business or individual launching a website, we’ll talk to you about your specific hosting needs. We’ll look into how we can make WordPress work best for you and discuss all the options that could help your business.
Since we’re committed to ensuring that your site and business run as smoothly as possible, we look forward to hearing from you soon.