Choosing a hosting provider for a single website is different from selecting a WordPress development or a marketing agency that creates WordPress websites. Agencies are likely to host multiple client websites and maintain them under care plans. Client trust agencies to host their websites on the right platform and expect uninterrupted uptimes, faster page load times, and security.
It is a tiring task to deploy and manage websites on multiple hosts. Each hosting provider has its own setup. Some choose Plesk over highly used cPanel for managing servers. Newer hosting providers have their custom dashboard access.
For these and a dozen more reasons, WordPress development or marketing agencies should evaluate hosting providers with different metrics. In the last article, we spoke about what parameters we choose to suggest a hosting provider for individual clients.
Hosting provider evaluation metrics
Today we are talking about WordPress hosting solutions providers that offer plans specially designed for agencies. Lets us understand the 9 metrics needed to evaluate these options. You may not get all these facilities from a single host, but this list can be used to compare the options on top of the common metrics like uptimes, latency, and bandwidth.
First of all, it should have a section where you can add your clients, organize them in different structures like locations, etc. It will be great if it allows you to share the dashboard with the clients. Finally, there should be options to control client dashboard view and level of access.
It should have the option to raise bills, invoices for clients and have a history of it. Payment options should support all major payment types and gateways.
You may not like your client to know that you are using someone else’s software to manage their website, or you want to maintain your brand identity on client dashboards. In this scenario, your hosting provider should offer a white label option to promote it as part of your brand.
Every client is different; some are tech-savvy and like to browse around systems and tweak parameters. On the other hand, some clients don’t like to bog down with a lot of details. To handle both of the cases hosting providers should give agency access and view control options. This ensures that the client doesn’t disturb the system unintentionally yet has enough access to check their own system.
Resource Allocation and distribution
To handle unplanned or seasonal surges, you need to allocate more resources for a specific amount of time. For most hosting providers, this is a manual activity to take the whole website to the new and bigger instance. Later it involves DNS level changes and might affect email setting too.
Your hosting provider should have the option to adjust resource allocation for a given time window dynamically.
Most of us are familiar with cPanel by now. It offers a good amount of tools to access different aspects of the website ecosystem. For example, we can access file managers, databases, domains, email, one-click install, etc., in cPanel. But to deploy and manage a load of websites together, it needs a newer set of tools like staging, cloning, migrations, auto-updates, etc.
Choice of Platforms
Every website has different needs, so we need to allocate resources and facilities accordingly. Smaller or medium-stage hosting providers do not have their own data centers. Instead, they rent servers from Google Cloud, AWS, Azure, etc., set up their hosting plans on top of it, and offer it their plans. Some clients do ask for a specific cloud host; in that case, we should have the option to choose it for them.
Number of websites
Hosting providers that offer plans for agencies tend to have higher prices. So it is crucial to accommodate more websites in a plan without affecting the performance, security of different clients’ websites. Most of the time, the cost varies from 10$ to 40$ per website/month.
Bundles / packages
Along with hosting, you need a whole set of tools and facilities to complete the solution. You need a domain, DNS, Email, SMTP, CDN, SSL, Caching, Security to build, deploy, maintain and protect the websites. Buying these services individually bumps up the cost; on top of that, you need to integrated services from different providers.
A hosting provider that offers a bundle of these correlated services is the best option to chose. Practically, that may be the case, but they should at least have hosting, CDN, Caching, SSL, Security bundles together in a package.
Here are the top contenders that offer specialized shooting services for the agencies.
Kinsta is running a limited-time deal offering 2 months of free hosting on an agency plan. Plus, there are onboarding discounts and 3 months of free hosting on annual agency plans.
Kinsta has a power pack suit for agencies. It has APM, a free performance monitoring tool, plus you can enable WP_DEBUG in a few clicks. APM records PHP, MySQL, external HTTP calls, etc., access and error logs. This helps in troubleshooting slow websites and errors.
Like Local by Flywheel, Kinsta got a new local development tool. You can develop a website locally or clone the production website for testing. Then, it deploys the website to production in a single click.
You customize the plan based on the number of installs, SSD Space, site visits, etc. Along with you get unlimited free migrations, guaranteed extended hack fix, and free pro plan hosting for the agency website.
Agency plan start from $300/Month (i.e $15/Month/Website) which allows 20 WordPress installs, free CDN and SSL, 400,000 visits and 50GB disc space.
WP engine does not offer just hosting solutions to agencies, but they have taken to the next level. They partner with agencies and offer premium services, not just hosting. They got Member, Advanced and Strategic agency partner plans. You get co-branded landing pages, joint marketing, quarterly reviews, and lead referrals.
WP engine charge $25 / Website / Month.
Like Wp engine, Flywheel not just offers specialized hosting plans for agencies but acts as a growth partner. They help agencies with networking opportunities, priority support, directory listing which help you to get a constant flow of leads and referrals. They also give free hosting for agencies’ website. They also got the famous Local by Flywheel tool that helps you developed websites locally.
The starter plan costs you $12/Month/Website, which allows only 5000 visits, 5GB of disk space, and 20GB bandwidth. This is the costliest option so far in terms of resources offered in the plan.
Siteground agency plan is offering the best value so far. You can install unlimited websites with their plans, plus you get feature-rich account management. You get an automated site setup wizard, easy ownership transfers; you can add your team members as collaborators. You get white label hosting and site management. Along with that, you get free SSL, CDN, emails, backups, caching, and unmetered traffic.
With the GoGeek plan (~ $30/Month) you can create unlimited websites, but get 40 GB space and 100,000 Visits Monthly. There is no cap on the number of installs but for performance on shared hosting, you can manage 10 to 15 websites on this plan, which brings down the hosting cost per website to $3/Month/Website.
Cloudways focuses on performance, security, project management, and simplicity. You can choose the best of the infrastructures for your client, you get options like AWS, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode. This one offers sets Cloudways apart. You do not need to know the technicalities of these platforms, you get cloudways own dashboard to host and manage websites irrespective of which infrastructure vendor you choose.
You get unlimited installs, one-click staging, cloning, and 27×7 support. Their plans start from $11 to $36 per month based on which infrastructure vendor you choose.
As we said there is a number of hosting providers that offer specialized hosting plans, services, and tools for agencies. Not one service provider ticks all boxes, but you can choose one based on your agency needs and the type of clients you cater to.
You should also check Pressable, InMotion, Pagely, Pressidium, etc.