What do you look for in WordPress hosting if you’re based in Australia?
You’re going to find a number of different options when it comes to WordPress hosting in Australia…. Except some of those options aren’t based in Australia at all.
Given the nature of connectivity, it’s possible that a hosting company advertising their services to Australian businesses may be based anywhere else in the world. This may be fine for you, depending on what your website needs are, but it’s important to understand the benefits of hosting locally as well.
One of the biggest considerations is the performance your website will get based on the hosting option you choose. This is where local hosting can have the upper-hand.
As a word of warning, if you conduct a quick Google search looking for hosting, you’ll usually turn up a number of review sites. Most of these are actually hoping you will click on the links they provide and buy a plan – they’re making money from the affiliate link. It’s very important to do your own research.
Here’s what you should consider:
The pros of WordPress hosting in Australia
Assuming that your business is based in Australia, here are some pros to choosing an Aussie-based host:
Site load speed and performance
Technically speaking, the difference in speed and performance between hosting offshore and hosting locally becomes negligible if there are other factors contributing to slow page loads. A 20ms or 200ms delay will make little different if you have plugins and code bloating your website
If you’re optimising your website for ecommerce, for example, then milliseconds matter.
“Two seconds is the threshold for ecommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.” Maile Ohye, from Google.
That’s a hard target to reach, but if you do, or come close to it, you’re helping deliver a much better customer experience, and reduce drop offs — a significant percentage of visitors leave a page after a handful of seconds.
You should also know that when your website is hosted overseas, data reaches Australia via underwater cables. There are only a few of these and they experience problems relatively often, leading to slower speeds or downtime.
If you are an Australian business with Australian customers, it is recommended that you host your website within Australia to give your customers a better experience. That means using a WordPress hosting company that has their servers located in Australia.
On the other hand, let’s say you are an ecommerce store and you happen to make most of your sales in the U.S. It may be beneficial for you to have hosting locally there, so that the majority of your customers have a good experience. Alternatively, in these scenarios you may want to consider hosting locally and using a CDN to speed up the experience for users abroad.
One advantage of offshore hosting is often the price. There are companies offering very cheap deals for hosting, but you need to weigh that up in terms of reliability, speed and available support. What if you were to lose customers due to frustration over your site speed?
Many of the global hosting companies that advertise in Australia are very large scale, with hundreds of thousands of customers, and their products and services will reflect that. Australian hosting providers are set up to service much smaller numbers and therefore can offer a more personal service.
This is potentially the biggest reason to choose hosting locally in Australia. When you do choose an Australian WordPress host with local servers, you get support for your website within your own timezone. In fact, according to our own surveys, people typically rate a good level of support just as important as the actual product.
For many businesses, this makes a huge difference. You can talk to someone who understands your needs within a local context and is available when you are. You can avoid things like language barriers, or those dreaded offshore support desks where no one seems to be empowered to be able to help. As a word of caution, some Australian-based hosting companies do offshore their support function, so it’s worth checking as to whether this is the case.
It matters to most businesses that you can get support issues dealt with promptly. For example, if you’re going through setup issues for your website, or confusion over how your webmail works, you can have immediate support to talk you through it. In some cases, they may offer setup services as well.
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Potentially better for local SEO
If your customers are also in Australia then it’s important that your website ranks well in search for them, so that you’re easily visible. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the term for a large number of techniques or tools that a website owner can use to boost the visibility of their site on search engines. Local SEO means that you optimise for your target customers when you are a local business.
So, if you’re a law firm in South Bank, Melbourne, your aim is to be a top result in the Google searches of locals to the area. There are thousands of law firms in Victoria alone, but you’re hoping to get a slice of the pie by turning up for those potential customers close to you.
While we never know Google’s exact ranking factors and their weightings, we do know that the location of the website server has played a role in SEO. The idea is that a local server helps to increase relevant traffic to your site – local customers.
A cheaper offshore hosting service might look like a good deal, but are you getting the best value for your money? This is something you will need to determine based on your business needs.
A small hobby site might not be overly concerned if they get occasional downtime in return for cheap hosting, but a business that relies on sales needs to be up at all times. Distance between you and your server creates more potential points for a breakdown, so this is a risk to consider.
The bottom line is to look beyond the price of the hosting to see what you’re actually getting. It can make a big difference to your business in the long-run.
How to find a good WordPress host
If you’re narrowing down your search to look for a WordPress host in Australia, then one of the first things is to ask where the company’s servers are located. There are a number of hosting companies in the market advertising to Australians, but not all are as “local” as the advertisement may hint at.
Here are a few other factors to look at:
How reliable is the company? This is usually not hard to find out. People are very quick to write reviews online when something goes wrong! They’ll also frequently post to platforms such as Twitter, so having a quick scroll to check for mentions can be a good idea.
When we say “reliable”, one of the key factors that plays into this is the uptime of the company’s servers. This means the percentage of time that they are up and running, and therefore hosted websites are running too.
Most companies will offer an uptime guarantee as part of their SLA – the Service Level Agreement. Even with a relatively impressive-sounding figure of 99.5% uptime, this means an average of 7.2 minutes per day downtime, or 1.83 days per year. If you think of this in terms of potential lost sales, it can start to seem a lot more significant.
When assessing reliability, consider how long they have been in business and whether they are a known brand. There tends to be a reason some companies have been around for a while…
What happens if you get a surge of traffic to your website? Let’s say you’re having a Boxing Day sale and suddenly everyone is heading to your website. Will your website still perform up to standard for all of those visitors? Some companies limit your traffic and if you exceed the limit, your site speed gets throttled, or, your site gets taken down.
A traffic spike can be a disaster if the server hosting your website isn’t built to scale horizontally. This means adding extra server resources to cope with the traffic. Millions of dollars in revenue are lost every year due to issues with traffic spikes.
How does the company handle security? Security is always a concern for any website owner. Look for a hosting company that allows you to reset passwords yourself and activate two-factor authentication.
How easy are they to deal with? Is the company quick to respond to queries? Are you able to call them, or are they only providing email contact? If communications are slow, unhelpful or rude, you’re not going to enjoy dealing with that hosting company long-term.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re looking for a WordPress hosting service, but there are a few key advantages to hosting locally in Australia if you are based here.
You should be looking for a combination of great tech hosted in Australia, that is optimised for WordPress and supported by local staff that know WordPress inside out. This will provide a better experience for your business, and for your customers.