Premium Website Hosting

When it comes to hosting important Websites, we’ve learned a lot through self-hosting WordPress sites for over a decade now – it’s best not to – unless you have substantial resources (both technical and monetary).

And by substantial, we mean enough money to pay for a dedicated server, or minimally a VPS (virtual private server), and high levels of technical expertise in a number of fields (such as hardware, Unix, WordPress, database, Internet and content distribution, security, traffic routing, data management, etc.).

Or, to put this in ‘plain speak,’ $50 to $100+ per/month and regular involvement of several people who should be making six-figures for their specific technical expertise.

No, we don’t have that either, so we went looking for a hosting provider who does. We think we’ve found one that is not only good, but the best, WP Engine. (Note: affiliate link) Sure, we still self-host some non-critical sites (quite successfully, in fact) and/or have sites running on less expensive hosting; it’s great for keeping our tech-chops up. But, anything important goes on professional managed hosting.

We call it premium hosting, because it delivers a LOT more than most hosting providers do. (1)In case you’re wondering, you DON’T get any of this stuff for those $3-10 mo deals. And, while it is premium, we think you’ll agree that many of the features should really be necessities. We care too much about your overall experience to put your nice website on sub-par hosting.

What makes Premium Website Hosting, premium?

This is a very important aspect of a web-site, especially with our shorter attention spans these days. Statistics indicate it truly makes a difference in visitor retention. (2)For every second it takes your site to load, you lose approximately 7% of your audience. – Ask the Podcast Coach – 2014-04-02 – Podcast Master Class. I think we’ve all come across sites where we just decided it wasn’t worth sticking around due to speed.

But, it is also important for the non-human visitors. ‘Bots’ which perform various functions, like indexing for search engines, won’t do as much work if the site is slow (or they visit less often). Google, for example, ranks your site higher or lower based on speed. In other words, if you want your site to be found and used, speed is an issue.

Why is our premium hosting so fast?
– modern server hardware with lots of reserved headroom. (ie: lots less sites per server than most hosting providers, and closely managed to maintain that headroom)
– as much of your site as possible is served from RAM (memory) and SSDs (solid state disks) rather than slower conventional hard disks. (In fact, nearly everything.)
– best in class caching technology – aspects of the site which have recently loaded don’t have to be re-computed or downloaded again from the server.
– extreme-tuning for WordPress – ie: not just stock WordPress installed via a Cpanel. (In fact, not even a stock web server… think Nginx instead of Apache.)
– CDN (Cloud Delivery Network) so static data is delivered by the closest servers to the user, not only decreasing the time it takes to reach the browser, but also freeing up resources on the primary web-server.
– Bottom line… about the fastest hosting provider around, period.

What happens as your business grows or if your site is featured in popular media? Most companies end up moving their site a number of times, which is not only expensive, but down-time risky. And, many companies have experienced their site being unavailable at that critical moment when they finally get that big exposure they had hoped for (often due to their hosting provider shutting the site down to ‘save’ other sites on the server!).

Our premium hosting is highly scalable. This means you won’t need to move unless you want to, no matter how big you get or how popular your site becomes. This includes the capability to handle large traffic surges which might happen due to international media exposure.

Super-scalable
– whether you are a startup or get millions of visitors per day, you won’t have to move your site. Please note: hosting price may be impacted by increased traffic beyond a set point. See ‘About traffic overage charges’ section below.

Speed monitored
– Monitored for speed so adjustments are made as site loads change.

Speed and scalability doesn’t mean much if your site is down. Our premium hosting takes several precautions to ensure this is very unlikely:

Uptime
– 99.95% SLA (service-level agreement).

Super secure
– DoS (Denial of Service), Firewall, and IDS (Intrusion Detection System) in hardware.
– stops most attacks before the WordPress server ever has to deal with them.
– WordPress level security, as well as other software, on a number of levels, stops attacks which get through the hardware barrier.
– while every effort is made, both in hardware and software, to prevent being hacked…. if it gets hacked, it gets fixed, typically free of charge.

Check out this great article on WP Engine security from a 3rd party.

Daily off-site backup to Amazon S3 (encrypted)
– this provides an extremely robust way to ensure you don’t lose your data.
– restore from previous backups in a matter of minutes.
– backups can be easily retrieved and delivered to you for your own safekeeping (upon request).
– backups can be done, quickly and easily, before making questionable (or even routine) changes.

Staging environment
– we can quickly test anything risky on a replica of your site before rolling it into your live site.
– or simply use this staging area for development to test new looks, fix problems, etc.
– it takes just a few minutes to replicate the live site to staging, or to make the staged version live.
– staging site is also backed up daily or upon manual snapshot activation.

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About traffic overage charges

While most small business sites will fall within the included traffic, incurring no extra monthly charge, we want you to be well aware of our overage charges. For traffic over 25,000 ‘visits’ we will add $1 per 1000 additional ‘visits’ to your monthly invoice.  Please speak with us if you have concerns and we will do our best to help you estimate your total costs. (Note: this is NOT ‘pageviews’ or ‘hits’ which would be many times more. Please see the details below.)

We include 25,000 ‘visits’ with our standard premium hosting fees. To be fair on server load, this includes both real human visitors and some types of ‘robots’. Most ‘bots’ are now not counted by WP Engine. (3)‘Bots’ are automated systems which sweep sites for various reasons, whether to collect data or attempt to inject spam, etc. An example of a ‘good bot’ would be a search engine like Google. A ‘bad bot’ might be some automated SEO system trying to put spam comments into your blog posts. Good, being you want this to happen, whereas bad, it’s just wasted traffic and server-load. A ‘visit’ is counted as a particular Internet IP address seen within a 24-hour timeframe (excluding static hits which don’t load the ‘pages,’ for example Google images, as well as most ‘bot’ traffic). If that same IP address continues to browse pages, or even comes back later that same ‘day’, it still counts as only one visit. (i.e.: this is NOT the same as pageviews, which many hosting providers count, and would be several times higher.) For more details, see WP Engine’s page on how they count ‘visits.’

If you know your Google Analytics daily visits, or other web metric, we can estimate what you might expect in in terms of WP Engine ‘visits.’

For traffic over 25,000 ‘visits’ we will add $1 per 1000 ‘visits’ to your monthly invoice. If your traffic is consistently higher, we will talk to you about other plans with more included ‘visits’ which may reduce your overall costs.

As mentioned above, many hosting plans use other metrics such as ‘page views’ or even count every ‘visit.’ (The concept of ‘hits’ is outdated and nearly irrelevant.) This is not an apples to apples comparison. And many other forms of web-stats (apart from Google Analytics) often give much higher traffic indications, as they end up including much more of the ‘bot’ traffic as visitors. If you need help evaluating your situation, we’ll be happy to help out.

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Premium features and tools

We include a number of WordPress plugins that we find our customers commonly need. We purchase developer licenses for them, or purchase licenses in bulk, so we can include them with all of our client’s sites that need them. We continue to consider more additions, so check back as this list may change. (4)We also buy some other plugins in bulk (if a developers license is unavailable, and the plugin isn’t widely needed) and can provide our customers with a reduced price.

X or Pro are very flexible and incredibly powerful WordPress themes made by Theme.co. You pick the standard or pro version based on your needs (standard can be upgraded to Pro later).

We picked this theme to standardize on, as it meets the needs of most of our clients, and our increasing familiarity with it benefits our clients much more than trying to learn a bunch of diverse themes. (5)We also feel it greatly benefits our clients, in most cases, NOT to develop a custom theme for them, but that’s a whole article on it’s own!

Theme.co is dedicated to continually updating and expanding the power of this theme, which is a first for WordPress themes. Typically, even themes with great technical support became outdated after 1 to 2 years, requiring an expensive (and possibly unwanted) transition effort.

X Theme includes one of the most advanced page-builder interfaces on the market, as well as a number of extensions which would otherwise be pricy plugin additions (it integrates some of the best and most popular plugins on the market). And, a team of industry experts are consulted in the development of this theme to be sure it is one of the best in terms of speed, SEO, code, and marketing implementations.

Check out the Theme.co site for more information and demos of this incredible theme. We think you’ll be greatly impressed… maybe even blown away!

Ninja Forms is an extremely powerful form builder. With the bundled additions, you can add advanced styling, create multi-part forms, use conditional logic to control display and outcome (including calculations), and control file uploads and downloads (including Dropbox support). This is a powerhouse toolset which can be used for a lot more than what most people think of as forms. There are extra integration plugins available for separate purchase to connect to many popular services.

Check out the Ninja Forms site for more information.

Adds a popular and powerful membership system to WordPress. Restrict access to products, posts, pages, custom post-types, etc. which can be included in various forms of site/service membership packages.

Check out the Memberpress site for more information.

Adds advanced membership site capabilities to WordPress and WooCommerce. Restrict access to products, posts, pages, custom post-types, etc. which can be included in various forms of site/service membership packages.

Check out WooCommerce Memberships product page for more information.

A plugin which allows custom CSS, Javascript, PHP, or HTML to be applied on a page by page (or based on other criteria) basis throughout the site. This is very useful for customizing a section of the site or adding a feature in a specific place, without modifying the core site files directly. And, that’s just scratching the surface of the more advanced things the plugin can do!

Check out the Easy Code Manager website for more information.

A plugin which allows for easily embedding Google Maps into posts and pages with a number of customizable features, such as changing the look and style of maps, embedding location pointers, or providing travel directions right on your site.

Check out the WP Google Map site for more information.

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Features we plan to add in the future…(6)Will depend on licensing agreements being reached and customer needs. If what you have in mind is not included, we often have great recommendations for plugins which can be purchased directly.

  • Premium SEO (We already include and setup a standard version. This premium version would include more advanced features and training videos.)
  • Social Media extension (The SEO plugin we use includes much of this functionality. However, this would allow more in-depth customization of how content is formatted and shared with social media sites by site visitors.

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