I’ve had a – I was going to say a love/hate relationship with WordPress, but it’s pretty much just been a hate relationship with it over the last couple of years.
I consistently found my blogs were offline, had Internal Server Errors, were very slow to load (some page load times exceeding 60 seconds). And in addition to all that, I hosted the sites with what turned out to be some terrible choices for web hosts, which resulted in some sites going offline for weeks and others going offline permanently with no access to backups to resurrect them.
What can I say? It’s been a learning experience.
Lesson learned: Always download your sites’ backups from your server to your PC; you never know when you’ll need to use them!
1. Blaming WordPress
I used to blame WordPress for all the trouble my sites suffered from. I blamed it for being a resource hog (which it is if you add any number of plugins), buggy (more because of plugin conflicts and WordPress updates breaking plugins), and not being fit for purpose as I couldn’t run anything other than the most basic of blogs on a shared hosting account.
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But what I’ve realized is that the “Bill of Sale” is misleading. If you want to run a WordPress blog that uses more than a couple of basic plugins and gets a bit of traffic, hosting it on a shared hosting account just won’t cut it. But you’re never told that. You have to learn the hard way.
Reseller accounts can work for you. For a time, I did host some of my blogs at two reseller hosting companies. And, for the most part, the blogs ran fine. And then they didn’t. In both cases, the company was sold on to a technically impaired new owner. So when things went wrong, they stayed wrong for long periods. And in some cases permanently.
So, another lesson learned. Don’t use small hosting companies.
Smaller reseller companies may offer lower prices, but their longevity and technical expertise are not assured. And the money you save on cheaper hosting is far outstripped by the revenue lost from sites being offline. And then there’s the time and cost you end up putting into trying to diagnose what was wrong with your sites instead of actually running your business.
So only use reseller accounts from long-established, reputable hosting companies.
2. When Your Hosting Isn’t Up To Scratch
But when reseller accounts aren’t up to the job of running several blogs, it’s time to move up to a VPS. You get more resources, so blog performance improves, and blogs are up and running more of the time.
- Except when they’re not.
- And your web host starts complaining to you about your blogs bringing down your VPS.
- At which time it’s time to upgrade to a better specified VPS.
- Which is where I am now.
3. Getting Real With Your Hosting Needs
I used to pay $20 per month to web hosting companies to host about 30 blogs between them (so $40 overall per month). That was fine until the web hosts became unreliable. I then moved 10 blogs over to a reputable, long-established WebHost (the other blogs were either dead in the water as I had no local backups or the blogs were of no use).
Initially, things were fine, as they always seem to be, before some threshold is reached, and things start to go wrong. My sites started going offline, giving Internal Server Errors and such. My web host said I needed to upgrade my account (I was paying $60 per month for hosting).
I asked around on various forums why my sites were so unstable on a VPS. Many suggested that one or more WordPress plugins on the sites were probably to blame. I used tools like Pingdom to see where resources were being used up and liaising with my web host to get a handle on what was happening (these guys have been great during this process).
It turns out that several plugins I use on all my sites are resource-hungry, and to improve my sites’ reliability and performance, I would have to upgrade my VPS plan. I now pay $80 per month for hosting. So I’m now paying 4 times what I used to for one-third of the blogs.
That’s WordPress for you.
4. WordPress Success
One of my sites had two sub-blogs in folders on the main site. All the blogs on this domain performed poorly, and the pages could take 20+ seconds to load, even on the new VPS plan. One of that sub-blogs I closed down. The other I moved to its own domain.
Lesson learned: Don’t host more than one blog per domain.
This sub-blog listed products for sale from Amazon and eBay. It did OK but wasn’t anything to write home about. When I was looking for a new domain for it, I wanted something about the site’s topic, so I did some keyword research and found a keyword that gets about 6,000 searches per month.
The.org extension for this keyword was available, so I registered the domain and moved the sub-blog over to the new domain. I’ve heard that Google doesn’t give as much (if any) weight to Exact Match Domains (EMD) anymore. With the domain being so new, I can’t say if that’s the case or not, but it is pulling traffic, much more than the same blog did in its old sub-folder. That can only be down to people looking for the keyword I chose and seeing my site in the search results.
Searching Google for my keyword (without the quotes), I found the site first appears on Page 6 of the search results (position 52), so not great. However, searching for the keyword (surrounded by quotes), the site appears on Page 1 in positions 5 to 10, so just over half of Page 1 has my pages. So that’s where a lot of traffic is coming from.