Website loading painfully slowly? Fast web hosting for WordPress is promised by many, delivered by few. The last thing you need is a slow web site. If you’re a blogger, it means lost traffic and potential customers. If you’re an entrepreneur, it means lost revenue. Web hosting is crucial for small business owners and fast web hosting helps web masters to run their websites smoothly and remove one of the major impediments to ranking in Google.
When it comes time for you to find a reliable web host provider, I’ve put together this article as a primer on how to find a fast web host in the UK.
What Difference does Speed Make?
Think about this. If a website fails to load in, let’s say 5 seconds, are you going to hang around? And if you do, how favourable disposed are you towards that website? The reality is that loading speed has a direct effect on bounce rate.
1 in 4 visitors will abandon a. site after 4 seconds
46% of the remaining three will not visit again if the site performs badly
Every second delay causes a 16% drop in customer satisfaction.
And these figures date from 2014!
Today, Google recommend less than two seconds load time: “Two seconds is the threshold for ecommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.”
Speed matters. A lot.
3 things a good web host must provide
- Good knowledgeable Support
- A True Cost that is reasonable after factoring in the great support and the cost of technology.
- Recent Technology
Good Knowledgeable Support
This should be self evident – you will need support, even if you are experienced, so what is their reputation? Check Google, check Facebook groups (though beware of the groups run by – you guessed it, Web Hosting Companies!).
A Reasonable Cost
Is the cost after the first year reasonable? It’s common practice in the industry to offer an attractive discount to new business and then ramp it up to eye watering amounts in the following year. You’ll hopefully be with your hosting company for a long time, so the introductory offer is not worth considering except as a time limited saving.
This is a tricky one because what looked like great technology a year or so ago looks mediocre today. We don’t necessarily advocate putting every site on bleeding edge tech, but you’ll need 99% or better uptime. Beyond that look for evidence of strategic movement towards new technologies.
Http Server Speed
This is critical, and appears in the Time to First Byte (TTFB) metric in GT Metrix.
The gold standard for web servers used to be Apache. Most web hosting companies still use it. It’s a good, reliable technology but not the fastest.
Nginx (pronounced Engine X) was designed to be faster than Apache and it is. It performs 2.5 times faster than Apache according to a benchmark test running up to 1,000 simultaneous connections. On the downside it is harder to configure and support, but that’s the domain of the hosting provider.
Litespeed is the current front runner. By some distance. This comparison chart demonstrates the difference.
This chart demonstrates the number of requests handled per second by the three technologies running 100 simultaneous connections.
This is not the whole story though. CDN’s can reduce time to first byte significantly.
Take Siteground as an example. Siteground are not known for particularly rapid TTFB. But on the other hand they have developed their own caching technologies and partner with Cloudflare to provide a Content Delivery Network that caches content in various continents serving it from the nearest server to your browser.
Additionally, the Cloudflare APO plugin for WordPress optimises the content of your site so that it can be served as static pages from these caches. This may not suit every site – this with high amounts of dynamic content won’t benefit particularly form this technology but thousands will.
I was able to reduce the TTFB of a WordPress site using the Divi Theme performance upgrade recently to 57 milliseconds from 617 using this combination of CDN and Caching plugin.
CDN’s are to an extent interchangeable but there are advantages in going with the one your host or your technology stack has partnered with. LiteSpeed Technologies are behind Quic.cloud and offer clear advantages there. Another provider that is picking up a lot of favourable feedback is Bunny.net
Other than server speed and caching tech, look for solid state drives. Our article “How to Choose the Best Web Hosting” at Helter Skelter Digital goes into the detail of solid state ve spinning disk, but in a nutshell solid state is faster. Much faster.
So who do we recommend?
Recommended Fast Web Hosting for WordPress
Disclosure – We are affiliated with Siteground and Brixly, hosting the majority of our sites across these two.
I also host a site at Krystal but we have no commercial relationship with them. My rule on this site is only to discuss/recommend businesses and products that we personally use. I’m relaxing that a little bit here because I know people who host at Namehero and they speak well of it!
The first thing to say is – it makes sense to choose a hosting company with servers near your audience.
With that in mind, if I was looking for a fast hosting company today I’d look for one that used Litespeed Enterprise Server, SSD/NVMe storage, Automatic daily backups, free SSL certificates and cPanel hosting.
Brixly tick all those boxes – they have rack space in data centres in London, Florida and Germany. They are affordable and specialise in speed. I picked them because they are relatively small, totally independent and genuinely enthusiastic about the business of web hosting. They are my go-to provider these days. Check out my review “How Good is Brixly?” and my SEO Case Study for Chris Wright Photography
Krystal are more expensive, based in the UK, but similarly devoted to speed, with excellent support ratings.
Namehero are based in the US, cheap as chips and as I mentioned above, come well recommended.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about Cloudways recently but I can’t recommend them, as their business basically resells on behalf of bare metal providers Vultr, Digital Ocean, Amazon Cloud and Google Cloud. Others may use one or other of these providers, but rarely all four. My reticence is simply that more than most, you need to know your own way around hosting technology to thrive at Cloudways.
My gut feeling with Web Hosts is that while. the enthusiasm and great support is intact, your host is a good home for a website. Too often I’ve seen good hosting providers taken over by corporates who strip them of the support, overload the servers and destroy their reputations.
If you’re in the business of reselling, like Helter Skelter Digital, make a good relationship with your chosen partners, don’t simply recycle cheap servers. Resellers shoulder the burden of support and absolutely have to deliver on that. If your provider has your back, that is a good place to be.
If you are a small to medium sized business, the advantage of going with resellers like Helter Skelter Digital is that we will act as your technical support team, handling all the time consuming upgrades, testing fixes, testing code etc. Helter Skelter sell a package that includes a fixed number of hours support per month at a reasonable price.
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If you found this article useful, you might also be interested in these:
Kadence WordPress Theme Review – the fastest WordPress theme on the block.
Divi Speed Enhancements – How Divi went from zero to hero in the speed stakes.