The 4 best WordPress hosts of 2016

As a seasoned WordPress developer, I am frequently asked what WordPress web hosts I recommend. There are so many solid choices now! The WordPress ecosystem is truly a bounty of choice in 2016. I could write an exhaustive comparison of all of the options, but these are called “exhaustive comparisons” for a reason. Let’s skip that, and I’ll just tell you the four WordPress hosts I recommend in five distinct tiers.

Note that many of these hosts target a range of sites, from starter sites to enterprise sites, so I am picking the hosts that I think fit each tier of site best, even though they might also work for other kinds of sites.

Starter Site

SiteGround is one of my favorite WordPress hosting companies. They offer a range of hosting solutions, but their WordPress-tailored plans are a tremendously good value and have many WordPress-specific perks. Ask around the WordPress community — SiteGround is a well-respected company that works hard to win and retain the business of WordPress customers. Their plans start as low as $3.95 a month, which is an incredibly good deal. If you aren’t sure what you need, SiteGround is what I would choose.

Take a look at SiteGround’s WordPress hosting plans.

Developer-Friendly Site

What if you know your way around WordPress, want things like Git and WP-CLI access, or want advanced WordPress-friendly caching for your site? SiteGround has you covered there, too. Their GoGeek plan (currently $14.95 a month) offers all of these perks, unlimited sites, WordPress staging sites, and so much more. I love working with GoGeek-level SiteGround sites, because they work really well and give me access to all the tools that I need as a developer. Or, if you’re not a developer, but have hired one to work on your site, you may want to upgrade to GoGeek hosting so she can work at maximum efficiency.

Go sign up for SiteGround’s GoGeek WordPress hosting.

Intermediate Site

WP Engine has been around since 2010, focuses entirely on WordPress hosting, and has established themself as a solid choice in the intermediate range. Their plans start at $29/month and include a 60-day money-back guarantee and free automated migration of your existing WordPress site. WP Engine also has more advanced hosting options, so they’re an option that could grow with you.

Sign up for WP Engine using this link and you’ll save 20% off your first payment.

Professional Site

Pantheon got their start as a Drupal host, but have taken their innovative container-based hosting technology to the WordPress market. As a developer, I appreciate their Git-based development flow, their powerful “Terminus” command line client, and their built-in and dead-simple dev/test/live environments. On the higher level plans, you get “Multidev” which lets you spin up a sandboxed development environment for a specific Git branch. This means you can send clients and testers URLs for testing new features in isolation, before they are merged back into the main code branch. Awesome.

Their professional tier starts at $100/month, which isn’t cheap, but your developers will love their deployment tools, their dev/test/live code staging flows, and their Git-based deploys to the development environment. Pantheon is a great choice for professional WordPress sites that have a developer on staff or on retainer.

Check out Pantheon’s professional WordPress hosting plans.

Enterprise Site

Pagely has been around since 2006! They started the whole WordPress-dedicated hosting marketplace. When they started, they targeted a range of WordPress sites, but now they focus on enterprise hosting. This is where big brands go for custom WordPress hosting solutions. The folks at Pagely know WordPress well, and will be an excellent hosting partner for your enterprise WordPress site. Their VPS solutions start at $499/month, but they also have a shared server plan called Neutrino for $99/month.

Get started with Pagely enterprise hosting.

How I Picked

My method here was simple. I thought about how I answer if a friend or a client asks me for hosting advice. I found that I regarded sites as fitting in one of five categories. Then, I considered which hosts offer the best service and value in those categories, and picked these four hosts. After I had made my picks and written about their benefits, I went to see which of my picks had affiliate programs. Three of them did, and one did not. I used affiliate links for those that offered them, and a direct link for the one that did not. Using affiliate links to sign up for their service will earn me some money, but you can of course just go directly to their sites if you like. I stand by these recommendations, either way. I’ll write a new post in 2017 with my new picks. Let me know on Twitter what hosts are your favorites, and why!

Web Hosts: WordPress is here to stay. Adapt!

WordPress is the number one user-installed web app, and its growth is showing no signs of slowing. If you are a web host, and you don’t have a specific strategy for WordPress, you’re likely operating your service inefficiently, and may be opening yourself up to security issues. This is the year to adapt, or be left behind by nimbler upstarts.


WordPress does not currently ship with any output caching. First, because most blogs never get enough traffic to need it, so it’s not worth the added complexity and configuration that it would add to our relatively nimble core. But also because every environment is different, and what works on one web host may actually degrade performance on another. So we leave it up to the WordPress user to choose whether they need a caching plugin, and which one to run.

As a web host, you know what caching strategies will work best with your server architecture. You have the ability to roll out things like Memcached or APC. You can route image requests to a lightweight web server or a CDN. These changes will result in a better user experience, and they’ll save you money.


All code has bugs. WordPress has had its share of security issues through the years. As a web host, you can help keep your users out in front of security issues instead of just being reactive when someone gets hacked. First, by encouraging, or even demanding that users upgrade their sites to the newest available version of WordPress. In practice, there aren’t any widespread attacks against the current version of WordPress. The large scale attacks you see from time to time are against old versions of the software whose users haven’t updated in a while. It is in a web host’s interest to encourage upgrades and reduce the incidence of exploitation.

Because WordPress is so widespread, it also is often the victim of attacks that originated against other software or server misconfiguration. So a bad guy gets in using something else, and then once in, they look for WordPress installs to exploit. You can help users recover from these attacks by aggressively backing up their data and by looking for suspicious files or suspicious code that could indicate that a bad actor is exploiting their WordPress install.

What you can do

  • Get your company to abandon the mindset that you’re just a dumb host who doesn’t care what software your users are running. Users want and are willing to pay for a more specialized experience. If you tell them that it’s not your problem, they’re going to go find a service that will support their web hosting needs.
  • Offer WordPress-specific hosting. Specially optimized, prodigiously backed up, with a more locked-down environment. And because it is a specialty service, you can charge more than you do for your regular hosting products!
  • Build an internal WordPress Response Team that has in-depth training to help diagnose and fix WordPress bug, security and scaling issues. And in the meantime, hire a WordPress consultant like me or one of these fine consultancies to get your WordPress strategy rolling.

People ask me for hosting recommendations all the time. I have a few decent hosts that I’ll recommend, but I don’t have any hosts about which I can say “use them, because they know how to host WordPress, and they’ll support you.” I’d like nothing better than to have a dozen such hosts to recommend by this time next year. WordPress is here to stay, and it’s time for web hosts to adapt!