How to Host a Website for Beginners: 4 Easy Steps

Here’s all you need to know about how to host a website. It’s easy to compare it to your phone.

Your phone service consists of two parts:

  1. The telephone number to identify you
  2. The telephone service from a carrier like AT&T

Similarly, your website also consists of two parts:

  1. The website name (or domain name) to identify you
  2. Web hosting from a web hosting provider

When you start a website, you typically buy the domain name and hosting service from the same company – just like you often get your telephone number and carrier service from the same place. But you don’t have to.

How to Host a Website:

Step 1: Buy a Domain Name

First we need to purchase a domain name.

You can typically purchase a domain name as part of the hosting package. It’s like choosing your telephone number when you sign up with AT&T for phone service.

A domain name is your website address without “www” or “http” or “https”. It looks like this:

It has two parts:

  1. The part before the dot (.) – in this case “example
  2. The part after the dot (.) – in this case, “com”

“2” is also called a Top Level Domain (TLD). These days, you can buy all kinds of TLDs – “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, “.biz”, “.edu” etc. Each TLD has a different price range.

Many providers offer a free domain with the initial purchase of web hosting.

Step 2: Compare and Purchase Web Hosting

Purchasing web hosting is essentially buying space for your website on a server. Your website needs the following resources to work:

  1. Space to store all the website files, images, and information
  2. Bandwidth to show these images and files to your visitors
  3. Processing power to generate your website

The price of web hosting depends on how much of these three resources it delivers. As your site grows, it will need more and more processing power, space, and bandwidth. The cheapest web hosting plans are ideal for starting out. Most web hosts allow you to slowly upgrade your service as your site grows.

For an absolute novice, I suggest a cheap “no-frills” hosting service. Hostgator is the perfect example.

Step 3: Decide Between Shared, VPS, or Managed Hosting

Here’s a rule of thumb. If you consider yourself a “small” website, then you should go with shared hosting. If you consider yourself a large website, consider either managed, or VPS hosting. There’s even cloud hosting – here’s a beginner’s guide on the difference between cloud and shared hosting.

There is also separate WordPress hosting. This is when you’re sure that your entire site will run WordPress and nothing else. Most providers offer special packages for this – here’s a pricing comparison of WordPress plans. These packages will typically have the following perks:

  1. WordPress pre-installed
  2. Special WordPress admin tools
  3. Staging for WordPress like with SiteGround

However, most WordPress packages are basically reworked shared hosting products. You’ll still be sharing your server with hundreds of others, which puts a limit on how fast your site can respond, and also makes it somewhat unpredictable.

If you have a demanding WordPress site, then opt for a managed WordPress hosting service like Kinsta. It’s not as cheap as shared hosting sure, but it’s worth it when you want stable and solid WordPress performance.

Step 4: Get SSL or “HTTPS” for your Site

These days, it’s vitally important for your site to be accessible like this:

Instead of like this:

Note the extra “s” at the end of “http”. It means your site is “SSL Enabled”. If you’re going to host a website, then this is critical.

The reason why it’s so important, is that Google has decided to mark all “http” sites as unsafe and will penalize you in the search results. Not only that, visiting a site with “http” from Chrome will show the user a big, dangerous, red warning sign. This will scare away your visitors and make them think your site is a scam. So it’s vitally important to ensure that you’ve enabled SSL.

Some providers take advantage of this and make you pay separately for expensive SSL certificates. However, I firmly believe that in today’s age, no one should have to pay for basic SSL. Which is why you must choose a hosting company that provides free SSL.

Out of all the web hosts reviewed on this site, only GoDaddy still charges for SSL. Till that changes, I suggest you avoid them, even though they might look cheaper than the competition.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Now that you know how to host a website, you can get started by answering one simple question to find the hosting provider that’s perfect for you.

Plans come in different tiers, like these from SiteGround:

How to Host a Website - Start by Comparing Prices

But be careful! Web hosts use potent traps to make you pay more. Specifically, I suggest you stay away from gimmicks like GoDaddy’s $1 web hosting, or even free plans. They will end up costing you a lot more in the end.

These prices don’t include the cost of purchasing a domain. But many web hosting providers give a free domain with the first billing cycle of web hosting. For what it’s worth, I recommend SiteGround. Their plans start at $6.99/month. And while they don’t offer a free domain at registration, you can purchase one at sign up – the price works out to about the same as the other providers in the end.

What to Do After Purchasing Web Hosting?

Now that you know how to host a website, it’s time build it up! WordPress is the most common site building platform, so I suggest you get started with that.

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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