As an agency we've worked with over 2000 businesses in the last 10+ years and as a result have tried and worked with 100s of different hosting providers around the world!
Deciding which host to go with is a big decision. There's a decent chunk of work involved to move a website and if you make the wrong choice, not only will you have to deal with the hassle of downtime and moving your site again, you'll also be seriously out of pocket!
Poor quality, slow hosting providers and downtime hurt your sales, hurt your SEO and ultimately leave you out of pocket. I don't need to tell you, you know it yourself - when a site is slow to load or not loading properly you quickly lose interest and move on. Your own site is no different.
In this post we share the best website hosting we've found in Australia and why we use them. These are the few we use ourselves, trust and recommend to clients on a daily basis.
The BEST web hosts we've found in Australia after trying 100s of different hosts all across the web.
Most people choose a hosting provider based on price but when you care about performance, SEO, Facebook and Google Ads, that’s a bad idea. If you’re on this page I’m guessing you’re not looking for the cheapest you’re looking for the best right?
You’ll find our preferred hosts in the table below. Here’s a one line summary of each one:
Cloudways - this is a new-ish provider and is by far the fastest because of their speed optimized server stack. Here you're getting a dedicated server without the complexity of managing one.
If you want the fastest choose this one.
**They have a 3 day free trial BUT if you use the coupon code FASTHOSTING they'll give you $25 credit so nearly 3 months free on the base plan!**
Siteground -one of the fastest Cpanel hosts worldwide (only marginally more expensive that the rubbish $3-5/month hosts!). Best if you have a handful of small sites, have a tight budget and also need email hosting.
WPEngine - if one of the original Managed Wordpress Hosts (they host Wordpress only) now with an Australia data centre. Go with WPE if you have Woocommerce or a complex site that needs high quality backups and a staging environment. Not the cheapest BUT you’ll save money on web developers and support.
Kinsta - a premium managed WP hosting provider running on Google Cloud Platform. For some types of sites they may be a better choice than WPEngine especially if you're running a large or complex site. If you're considering WPEngine it'd be worth looking at Kinsta too. Based out of Sydney
Crucial Hosting - one of the older Australian hosts, worth a look if you need a true Australian provider and phone support.
Digital Pacific - another pure Australian host, similar to Crucial with a few different server options
Vultr - we love Vultr nearly as much as Cloudways (in fact we tend to use the Vultr servers from Cloudways for our Australian hosting). We use Vultr if we need a true dedicated server solution a great price. One other feature we love is that they have a huge range of different off the shelf Linux distros and applications they support right out of the box which can save a ton of time configuring a server from scratch. Their datacentre is in Sydney.
If you’ve done any searching around the web around website speed or fast hosting you’ll see a bunch of scary stats and numbers thrown around. You’ll see things like “every 1 second of speed equates to 1% less conversion rate” and similar.
I don’t know how correct these numbers are, or the testing methodology being used but I’m guessing we can both agree faster websites=better, right?
There’s really no argument about whether speed is important, it’s even part of Google’s search algorithm, faster loading sites rank higher!
It's not just speed that's important, reliability is key too! After all, a website that's down effectively has zero speed. We've recommended the hosts on this page not only because they're fast, they're reliable too and unlike some cheap hosts, won't have continual downtime. If you scroll further down this page you'll see a detailed breakdown of the criteria we use to assess hosting providers.
Cloudways is a relatively new hosting provider and a bit different to most other providers in the market. In a nutshell you get dedicated server hosting without the complexity associated with running your own VPS or dedicated server.
They offer over 60 different locations with 5 different providers - Linode, Vultr, Digitalocean, Amazon and Google. (most providers only use one provider, eg Wpengine & Kinsta both use Google as their core provider).
Because it's highly configurable, scalable AND you get dedicated server resources, Cloudways is the fastest WP hosting provider on the web right now.
Why they might be the best Wordpress hosting choice for you:
More details at www.cloudways.com
Best All Rounder & Fastest Cpanel Host, Not Recommended For High Traffic Sites
More details at www.siteground.com
Best Value Managed WP Host, Good For Small to Mid Size Sites
More details at www.wpxhosting.com
Best & World's Leading Fully Managed WP Host ,Fantastic For Complex Sites & Woocommerce Although A Little More Expensive
More details at www.wpengine.com
Highly Scalable, Managed WP Host, Great For Mid Size Sites
More details at www.kinsta.com
Managed WP Hosting, Great For Small Sites
More details at www.pressable.com
Enterprise Grade Managed Wordpress!
More details at www.pressidium.com
Unfortunately most people choose a hosting provider based on price which is not really the best way to do it.
Ultimately with hosting you get what you pay for. Cost is obviously one of the considerations to look at when choosing a provider but that's really only one element of many. Below I’ve summarized the key features or things we look for when choosing a hosting provider.
Click play below to hear an audio walk-through and more in depth explanation of what you consider when choosing a provider. Alternatively click here for an MP3 audio or scroll down for a Youtube powered embed.
Server location is key and poor location choice is a common problem we see. It's really important that you host in the geographic location that is closest to the majority of your visitors.
That means if you're an Australian company serving mostly Australian customers you need to host at a location in Australia. If you're a US company, then host in the US and a Europe based business then host in Europe.
Generally the site will run 0.5-1 second SLOWER when the visitor traffic has to cross an ocean so this is really important!
Not all providers offer hosting in all locations so before committing to a provider make sure the servers are located in the right location for your business.
**NOTE if you're serving an international audience then it's really important you use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a distributed network of servers around the world that host your content that will reduce the impact geographic location has on speed. Most top tier hosts have CDN services built in.
Obviously if you're on this page you know that site speed is really important but most people overlook uptime and reliability which are arguably even more important, after all, if your site is down is effectively has zero speed!
Your hosting needs to be well matched to the number of visitors you’re expecting and the order volume you’re catering for. If your store revenue is in the millions then you’ll need a much larger server to suit.
Don't expect to run a high traffic site or a database heavy site on cheap hosting or a low end plan. Make sure the plan is matches to the traffic level you're expect.
Sidenote: we use tools.pingdom.com to test website speed. In a perfect world your site should be loading in under 1 second (where the load begins to feel instant). We also use uptimerobot.com to monitor site uptime.
What is your support expectation?
At some point you’re going to need support. Do you expect to be able to call your provider when the site is down? Do you expect them to be able to help with general technical problems that aren't strictly related to hosting? Being clear with what your expectation is up front is really important.
You're not going to get a high level of support paying a few bucks a month - it's just not commercially feasible. Make sure you factor in the level of support you want when choosing a plan.
If you’re a larger store doing millions in revenue you’ll ideally need your own dedicated Wordpress dev resources on top of what the hosting provider offers.
Your website CMS is no different to your smartphone or laptop. It needs regular patches and updates to ensure bugs are taken care of and security holes are patched.
Some hosting providers offer patching as part of their service, others expect you to take care of it. Bottom line, patching needs to be done by someone!
Most hosting plans will offer roughly the same specs and features but often there are some subtle differences.
Features that are worth considering are:
Free SSL Certificates - all good hosts offer free SSL certificates and SSL/HTTPS is standard across the web now. Any host you’re looking at should support free SSL certs.
HTTP2 protocol support - this is an important speed consideration. A host that doesn’t support HTTP2 is not running updated servers and should be avoided.
PHP 7.X support - your host at a minimum should support PHP v7.0 and ideally the newer v7.1 and 7.2. The PHP version your hosting instances are running can have a dramatic impact on site speed. Newer versions run faster.
Number of Wordpress instances or domains supported - how many sites do you want to run on the plan? Some providers give you one instance, some a handful and some unlimited.
Storage and Disk Space - how much disk space are you going to need? Most sites aren’t actually that big, 10-20gb is usually plenty for even larger sites.
Traffic Quota - how much traffic or quota do you need for your site? Some hosts charge on raw gigabytes or terabytes transferred, some on actual visitors.
Backups - this is probably one of the most important features so we’ve expanded further in the point below.
CPanel - Cpanel is a hosting management console. Some hosts use/provide Cpanel and some use different management interfaces. This really shouldn’t be much of a consideration because all admin panels allow you to do roughly the same thing but for some people this is important.
MySQL server version support - v5.7 is the latest version of SQL server, the database server Wordpress uses. v5.7 can be significantly faster than v5.6 for *some* types of sites so if you’re interested in absolute maximum performance this is important.
What is your backup strategy? There’s so much digital capital tied up in your website that it’s critical that you at least have some backup system in place taking daily backups.
On bigger sites ideally you’ll need to look at realtime or near realtime backup solutions where the site is backed up upon every change or on an hourly basis.
With backups there's a saying, 2 is 1 and 1 is none. What's the is implying is that it's not wise to rely solely on one backup system.
With ALL our SEO agency clients we run two backup systems - usually the hosting the site is on has a backup and then we generally use Blogvault on top of the hosting backup.
Blogvault is by far our favourite backup solution as it has a realtime option where changes are backed up on the site as they happen (perfect for Woocommerce) AND they specifically tell you which files and database tables are not being backed up.
We've used pretty much every major backup plugin on the markup - Backup Buddy, Vaultpress, Updraft, BackWPUp and a bunch of others - Blogvault is really the only one we trust.
It's not good enough to solely rely on the hosting provider's backup as problems and data loss DO happen. Even a moderately successful website will have 100s if not 1000s of hours invested in it along with SEO rankings and optimizations - most businesses today simply cannot afford data loss so at less than 10 bucks a month for the base plan there's really no excuse.
Like I said at the top, you get what you pay for when it comes to hosting. You simply cannot expect a quality hosting service when you’re paying a few bucks a month.
These hosts are known to be slow hosts and should be avoided if speed is your top priority:
Bluehost, Godaddy, Hostgator, any hosting company owned by EIG, Dreamhost, A2 Hosting, Site5, iPage, 1&1 Hosting.
These guys all run a business model that is based on price being the key feature. In order to give you that $3/month hosting plan they run their servers to the absolute limit, don't keep infrastructure up to date and provide poor quality support. Avoid them if speed is important. If price is an important concern, Siteground and Cloudways are both fast and dirt cheap.
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