How to Start a Blog
Lesson 3 – Host Your Blog
In This Lesson, You Will Learn:
- What is Blog Hosting
- Why the right hosting company will boost your web traffic
- The top 5 ‘must-have’ features to look for in a blog host
- Why I only ever recommend SiteGround’s hosting
- How to save 60% on your hosting costs
- How to setup and host your blog (step by step)
Before you start your blogging lesson #3
To make sure you get the most out of this training course, make sure you read the Before You Start Guide on the How To Start a Blog page and completed lessons 1 & 2 prior to commencing this lesson.
Before we kick off, let me just start by saying that your blog hosting underpins everything you do from this point forward. I know you want to rush in and start blogging but I can’t stress enough just how important this step is.
Grab yourself a hot cuppa (or a cold beer!) and enjoy the lesson!
Full Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item or service, I sometimes receive a small commission. I only recommend products that I have used myself and the small commission I receive, helps fund the ongoing development of new lessons for all my readers.
What is Blog Hosting?
I’m going to try and explain this in the simplest possible way. When you create a blogging website, this website has to sit on a computer. This computer is connected to the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your blog website will sit on one of these computers, next to a bunch of other computers. All the computers sit together in a big, secured and environmentally controlled building. This building will have a super-fast connection to the internet so the thousands (and millions in some cases) of websites can all connect to internet and have millions of visitors, any time of the day.
An even easier way to put this: Hosting, in its simplest form, is a place for your blog to hang out online.
So to get found online, you need a trusted and reliable company to host your blog.
Blog hosting is not something you want to gamble with. Sure, you can go with a free host, but as they say, you get what you pay for. The good news is, that you don’t have to pay a fortune these days to get great hosting. If you’re looking to monetize your blog and make a living online, then you need to stick with a reputable company to host your blog.
Later in this lesson I’ll show you how to get 60% off your hosting costs for a whole year, with, one of the best (if not the best) hosting companies! Stay tuned!
A Good Blog Host = Great Web Traffic
Think of your blog hosting as its home. It’s your blogs private address, where it lives, where it hangs out.
Now think of real estate. The prestigious addresses attract the higher price tags, the classier neighbours, the better reputations.
Let’s check your blog hosting options:
- Free hosting = sticking your parents in a granny flat in the backyard. You have no say in how often they enter your house, you have no privacy, and their friends often pop in too – and they still tell you what you can and can’t do!
- Paid hosting (entry level) = renting a room in a share house. You’ve only got a bedroom within a shared house and it’s really awkward when your friends come over. They have to share the common areas with your roommate’s visitors and you don’t always get along. People are always judging you on your roommate’s actions.
- Paid hosting (mid-level) = your first home. You’ve got the bigger house in a better location and you’re happy to invite heaps of friends around to visit. You’ll love the extra space and privacy that comes with your own home.
- Paid hosting (top-level) = your dream home in your own private street. You’re now in a prestigious location and it’s so much faster for your friends to pop over. You’ll never have to worry about how many friends visit and you’ll never get complaints from pesky neighbours.
The better your hosting, the better quality of web traffic you’ll attract. Your blog host can have a HUGE impact on not just how you rank in search engines, the overall experience for your valuable readers. (After all, we’re doing this for real people at the end of the day).
Dedicated IP addresses build reputable blogs
When it comes to blogs, dedicated IP addresses are highly recommended. When you have a dedicated IP address, it’s unique to you. It’s your own address and you don’t share it with anyone else. A unique address means you won’t be affected by your badly behaving neighbours. Whatever they do will no longer impact you.
A dedicated IP address is one technique of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Don’t stress if you don’t know much about SEO at this stage – we’ll cover this in lesson 8. You want to show Google why you’re the best and why Google should rank your site over your competitors.
A dedicated IP address won’t boost your SEO ranking on its own. But it does protect you from bad neighbours who may be sharing your IP address. Think of a dedicated IP address as an insurance policy for your reputation. It guarantees that other’s bad behaviour won’t affect your ranking or reputation in Google’s eyes[MB7] .
It’s a common misconception that Google won’t rank you as high if you have a shared IP address. This isn’t true. Google handles shared IP addresses the same as unique IP addresses. It’s only when the IP address you share with (possibly hundreds) other websites is used for questionable and/or illegal activities that you’ll be penalised.
Think of it this way – with a shared IP address, everyone has the same IP address as you. If they are a dodgy, spammy site, you’ll be associated with them. Here’s a quick way to check out your neighbours with the same IP address as you: http://www.yougetsignal.com/tools/web-site-on-web-server/. If anyone looks dodgy, move!
So to avoid being caught up in a bad neighbourhood, it’s best practice to give your blog a dedicated IP address (or select a hosting company that make is easy to upgrade to a dedicated IP address at a later stage when you’re ready to take the next step).
Google Ranking Factors – Site speed and downtime
When someone finds your blog and clicks on the link to read it, you want your blog to load within 2 seconds. Or as fast as they arrived, they’ll leave, without reading a word you’ve written. What a waste of a blog!
Google judges how long someone stays on your site. Is Google being harsh? No, not exactly. They are making us aware that a poor performing blog site, results in a poor user experience. And at the end of the day, it’s all about your reader’s experience.
But don’t panic just yet! Site speed is only one of over 200 signals used by Google to rank your blog site. So although it’s not super vital for Google, it’s still smart to optimise your site speed for your blog readers.
Faster blog site loading times can lead to greater conversion rates of your blog traffic. The more people who stop to read your blog, the more people you can convert to customers. And the more customers you have, the more referrals will come your way.
Every second you reduce your blog’s load time by will boost confidence and trust in your site. And the more trust you build, the higher you’ll climb in Google rankings (and people will keep coming back to your site)
Your blog site shouldn’t just ‘go down’. On rare occasions, your host may experience an outage causing some disruption. Or if you’re upgrading your service (e.g. switching to a dedicated IP address), you may experience some ‘planned’ down time. When choosing your hosting company, ask them about their downtime to make sure it’s minimal.
And don’t worry – Google will not penalise your ranking for a small amount of downtime. If a Google bot visits your blog and sees it’s down, it will come back in 24 hours to check on you.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a fancy way of saying you have a secure website. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate by looking at its URL. If it starts with https://, it’s a secured site. (Add picture here – IP)
Whenever you enter data on a website that has an SSL certificate, it becomes encrypted. This means your personal information is safe from hackers.
Handy hint: Next time you go to buy something online, check out the URL. If it doesn’t say https://, be wary of entering your personal details. (maybe put this with a little picture of a padlock or something – like a side note?)
Even if you aren’t collecting personal information or selling, you should still have SSL.
Google is now giving a ranking tick (a very small one) to secured sites. But as more people start switching to secured blog sites, Google will give more credit to those with SSL.
Remember: security is a top priority for Google. So if you show you care about your readers’ security, Google will care about you in return.
Top 5 Features Your Blog Hosting Company Must Have
1 - Support
2 - Speed
3 - Stability
4. Technical Expertise
Blog Hosting Support
When you’re a blogger, you want to focus your business – writing great blogs, marketing, promotion, writing more blogs – you get the picture. You want to trust that all the techy stuff that makes your blog work, just works. It’s a bit like driving your car – you want to get in, start the car and drive. When something goes wrong, you call roadside assist or take it to your local trustworthy mechanic to fix it.
So what happens when a reader clicks your blog link and nothing shows up? Your blog has disappeared into the online cyber hole. Argh! And whether it’s the result of server downtime or some other weird technical error, it doesn’t matter. Your reader still thinks your content isn’t available and leaves.
This is where you need high-quality blog hosting support. You want to be able to make a phone call, to send an email, to start a live chat and get instant help.
Your hosting support crew should understand your urgency and panicked state. They should be able to calm you down, and walk you through troubleshooting. They should be able to explain what they’re doing in simple terms. They should be able to tell you the basics for future reference. Or even better, they will check it all out and fix it for you.
Let’s be honest, we can’t all be WordPress experts. By using WordPress as your blog platform, you’ll learn the basics to get you going. But items such as incompatible plugins, database errors and conflicts can often be responsible for blog site problems. If you have no idea about any of this, having a blog hosting support crew who know the ins and outs is essential. They’ll be able to investigate the problem for you and have you back up and running in no time.
I really can’t stress enough just how important really good support is – the team at SiteGround have been become and invaluable part of my business team.
Blog Hosting Speed
A scary fact is 40% of blog readers will flick away if your blog takes longer than 2 seconds to load. Blink your eyes twice – that’s 2 seconds! So your blog load speed is vital.
Your site speed will also affect your Google rankings. Google want the web to be fast, to be enjoyable and to be user friendly. If the Google bots see people flicking off your site before it loads, you’ll have a lower ranking.
Great blog hosting companies will use high-quality, fast servers. If you’re using shared hosting and finding it slow, it may mean your blog has grown. You will find that your blog will load faster if you use a dedicated hosting rather than shared hosting.
Blog Hosting Should Be Stable
Your blog won’t have ‘opening hours’. There’s no set times that your readers will jump on to read your blog. While you’re sleeping, there will still be people reading your blog. It’s a 24x7 blog!
You need to make sure your blog hosting company is stable enough to keep up. They need to be operating on a powerful server and have stable network connections.
SiteGround boast an amazing 99.99% uptime. Now that’s the sort of blog hosting stability you should be looking for.
Blog Hosting Needs Technical Expertise
When you’re having issues with your blog site, the last thing you want is tech help being useless. There is nothing more frustrating than a question having a vague answer that didn’t help at all.
It’s crucial that you’ve found a blog hosting company that will be there 24/7 to help you. Some are better than others.
In my experience, here’s a couple of added bonuses you should look for when choosing a blog host:
- Tutorials: you’ll know your tech help is above average if they have tutorials. They are happy to share their knowledge and make it readable available for you to read.
- Webinars/Training: going above and beyond, some blog hosting companies have tech help webinars. They share their knowledge on common troubleshooting issues as well as general hosting info.
Blog Hosting Should Be Scalable
It’s common for start out businesses to buy the smallest, cheapest blog hosting package. And that’s fine. It will suit you as you’re building your business and attracting visitors to your blog.
But there’s one thing you need to double check if you’re starting small. That is, that your blog hosting is scalable.
As your blog becomes popular and you attract more visitors, your hosting needs to keep up. You may consider upgrading to faster/bigger hosting plans (to cater for higher volumes of traffic and speed) and you’d want your hosting company to help you. Make sure they have packages that you can ‘upgrade’ to when needed.
Why SiteGround Is the Best Blog Hosting You’ll Find
Over all the years I’ve been building websites and blogs, I’ve tried loads of hosting companies (I even ran my own for a few years!). They all offer similar deals so it’s not until
I won’t go into the different hosting companies here as I’m sure you’ll do your own research. But I am going to show you my favourite blog hosting company- SiteGround.
Now the trusted hosting company to over 500,000 businesses, SiteGround boast almost 100% customer satisfaction. That in itself should show you how amazing they are!
The expertise of the SiteGround support team is in their words, If you call or start a live chat, you will have an instant response, or if you email, you’ll hear within 10 minutes. They also have training webinars and notes that you can check out at any stage.
SiteGround have some of the best speed technologies and proactive security practices. And as you’ve just learnt, speed and security are big pluses for a higher Google ranking and the overall experience for your readers.
SiteGround are WordPress experts, and will transfer your blog hosting for free. I recently and no stress. They handle all the WordPress auto updates and know the plugins to use to optimise your blog speed.
With a range of packages on offer, you can start small and grow as you need to. Each type of hosting they provide can be optimised with unique performance tweaks to suit you.
Now let’s get you set up with your SiteGround blog hosting.
How to Setup Your Blog Hosting
- SiteGround are currently running up to 60% off selected hosting packages – you can get your blog hosted for as little as $3.95 per month!! To claim this offer, simply follow this link to SiteGround.com
I personally use the GrowBig plan as it allows me to host multiple websites, has better performance, priority technical support and includes a security certificate (SSL) for my site. Remember, you can upgrade your hosting at any point, so if your on a budget, then just start off with the StartUp plan and upgrade when the time is right for you.
- If you’ve already purchased your domain in Lesson 2 – How to Register a Domain Name then all you need to do next is select “I already have a domain”, enter the domain name you’ve registered and click proceed. You can also register a new domain name here (for free) if you haven’t done so already.
- OK – you’re almost there. On this final page (Step 3), you need to enter your personal details which will be used to create your client hosting account.
- Create a password for your account. Please, please, please make sure you use a strong password to make sure your account is protected – this password is the key to your website/blog & business.
- And now for the painful bit – parting with your hard earned dollars! All financial transactions on SiteGround are secure and safe.
- Purchase Information – Hosting Services: One thing to take note of here – where it says “Data Center”, select a data center which is closest to your location. It really doesn’t matter that much, just a personal thing I like to do. Quick Tip – the special offer discount applies to all registration periods. So if you select 3 years, you’ll get the discount for all three years! If you select one year, the discount will no longer apply when you renew in 12 months time.
- Purchase Information – Extra services: If you’ve selected the “GrowBig” plan, then you’ll automatically get the SSL certification for free, so you can leave that ticked. I do recommend adding the $12/year for the “HackAlert” service – this monitoring service will keep an eye on your website to make sure there is no funny business going on. If an attack does happen, you will be notified immediately (along with the team at SiteGround, who will help you fix the problem and secure your site again).
- Confirm Order & Pay – that’s all folks – congratulations, your hosting is now setup. You will receive a welcome email with detailed instructions on what to do next. SiteGround also have a load of getting started tutorials and a step by step setup wizard if you need any more help with your account. You can also raise a support ticket and the team there will help you out with just about anything! They really are a great bunch of people.
- CONTRATULATIONS! Lesson 3 is now complete. Take a break and then spend some time getting familiar with your hosting account and have a read through some of their tutorials before moving onto the next lesson.
Lesson 3 Complete!
Before proceeding to the next lesson:
- Signup for your hosting account with SiteGround
- Login to your control panel and go through the setup wizard
- Read through some of the SiteGround tutorials
- Go and have a beer and celebrate!