Web hosting — it’s a great business — rent a server and charge customers a monthly fee to share its resources. But with the evolution of SEO and requirements from webmasters, hosting companies have undergone a remarkable transformation in technology and solution offerings.
There is no shortage of web hosting companies out there. Our estimates indicate there are more than 10,000 web hosts that are currently operational. As a result, most hosting companies, in an effort to differentiate themselves, attempt to corner a specific niche or cater to a certain customer profile.
In the last few years, a group of hosting companies have emerged which specifically target companies that use the popular CMS known as WordPress, essentially creating a new category called ‘managed WordPress hosting’. Considering the benefits of WordPress, its market share and inherent advantage for SEO with regard to customization and ease-of-use, it would stand to reason the most suitable web host would be one that is already optimized for WordPress. With that in mind, we should focus our attention on that subcategory.
The top hosting companies in this sector include the likes of Flywheel, Kinsta, Siteground, WP Web Host and WPX Hosting. But what sets them apart? And does it at all matter when it comes to search engine optimization?
Let’s compare all 5 managed WordPress hosting companies and take a closer look!
Also (correctly) known as a TLS, SSL is beneficial for SEO as it enables the HTTPS protocol and informs search engines that a website is safe for its users to visit. Search engines have made security a factor in their algorithms, therefore a SSL is basically compulsory for all who seek greater visibility in the SERPs. You’ll know a website has SSL installed correctly if you notice a padlock icon (or similar indication) located at the prefix of an address bar.
For most hosting companies, we would usually recommend purchasing a SSL from a reputable source such as SSL.com or The SSL Store and having it professionally installed. That is, unless they already include it in their offering, as is the case here:
- All of the test hosts include SSL in their hosting plans.
While there can be some variation between options, the determining factor is the inclusion of a certificate, which all hosts appear to provide for no extra cost.
A content delivery network is practically mandatory by todays standards for maximum optimization and performance. CDNs are important for SEO mainly for the purposes of speed, which as you may know is a factor search engines consider. They are essentially a geographically distributed network of servers that deliver content to a user based on their location, allowing users to access the same website on a server that’s much closer to them — thus saving the server and the user both time and resources.
Hosting companies understand the value of CDNs because:
- Flywheel offers Fastly with all plans.
- Kinsta offers KeyCDN with all plans.
- Siteground offers Cloudflare with all plans.
- WP Web Host offers Jetpack with all plans.
- WPX Hosting offers its own custom built WPX Cloud CDN with all plans.
It’s great to see major WordPress hosting companies including a CDN with their hosting plans, especially considering standalone CDNs charge the same price (or more) for their services. Be that as it may, the WPX Cloud CDN has an inherent advantage over any third party CDN provider. It’s one thing for IT professionals to develop a CDN — it’s a wholly different conversation when a hosting company does it, with the purpose of high performance WordPress management in mind. Furthermore, it appears these claims have been tested and verified by SEO experts like Matthew Woodward, which leaves little room for doubt that it is the optimal choice for SEO objectives.
WINNER: WPX Hosting
There’s no point in ranking well and attracting thousands of users, only to have them arrive on a broken page due to a down server. Uptime is everything. Search engines don’t want to display websites that are not helpful to users. Your rankings could take a turn for the worse, not to mention how many lost conversions you could suffer from a site that’s down.
According to their terms of service & service level agreements:
- Flywheel offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
- Kinsta offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
- Siteground offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
- WP Web Host offers a 99.8% uptime guarantee.
- WPX Hosting offers a 99.95% uptime guarantee.
The differences may seem negligible, but when you extrapolate it into the real world, the contrast between 99.9% and 99.95% is akin to your site being down an extra 43 seconds per day, which, over the course of a year becomes a significant amount of time. Further, if your websites uptime is directly linked to your revenue, then it doesn’t seem worth the risk to choose a hosting company with a lower uptime guarantee. Subsequently, it would appear WPX Hosting wins this round with a slightly better guarantee compared to the rest.
WINNER: WPX Hosting
Despite not being a direct link to SEO, having a quick and competent support team behind you is a large enough concern to become a dealmaker or dealbreaker when deciding which hosting company to eventually side with.
For example, if your website is down or experiencing trouble with migration, a responsive support team is a lifesaver. If you don’t have time to waste and need an answer to a question, there is no substitute for a considerate support team that can guide you in this complex world of web hosting, servers and technology.
- All of the test hosts include 24/7 support in their hosting plans.
Admittedly, there is some diversity between the forms of support provided. Some offer phone, email and live chat, where others may only provide email or live chat. Nevertheless, what remains significant is its availability, as well as the comfort and peace-of-mind it provides.
SSL is typically not enough for a WordPress site to be safe and secure. There’s also the very real threat of malware infecting your site at any given moment. Malware, short for malicious software, is a broad term which can be used to describe a variety of security vulnerabilities such as viruses, spyware, adware and any other harmful software. It usually takes the form of executable code, and while most people associate malware to a local computer or laptop, malware also works the same way on web servers and websites. Installing a corrupted plugin is all it would take to potentially infect your entire website, and spread just like it would a computer.
The issue goes beyond a compromised server. Unless acted upon swiftly, an infected website will soon be flagged by search engines for hosting malicious content. When visiting a flagged website, visitors will be notified of the impeding potential harm and be encouraged to click away. In any case, you can expect a sudden drop in your rankings and subsequent traffic.
From what could be found on their pricing pages:
- Flywheel does NOT offer automated malware scanning.
- Kinsta offers automated malware scanning.
- Siteground does NOT offer automated malware scanning.
- WP Web Host offers automated malware scanning.
- WPX Hosting offers automated malware scanning.
Malware scanning is a binary issue — either it is provided for, or it is not. Their may be some onus on the webmaster to install security plugins such as Wordfence or Sucuri, however this argument does not hold water when considering the fact hosting servers are often shared with other websites, meaning if one site does not take the initiative to secure their site and is eventually infected, it could easily spread laterally to other sites, including yours. Automated malware scanning at the hosting level is vital.
It may come as no surprise, but with a win in all five categories, we have to award WPX Hosting as the greatest managed WordPress hosting company, at least when we are taking SEO aspects into consideration. WPX also has the added benefit of being one of the most affordable options from the list, too!
If we had to nominate a runner up, it would be Kinsta — based off our results, they appear to be a fine alternative and hold a solid reputation in the SEO community.