My Relationship With WordPress

Those of you who are regular readers of this (or some of my other blogs), know 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.

Working With WordPressI consistently found my blogs were offline, had 500 Internal Server Errors, nginx 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 very crappy webshosts 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 – always download backups from your server to your PC; you just never know when you’ll need to use them!

Apportioning Blame

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.

Webhosting ServersBut that I’ve realised 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 Heroehost and Bolt Webhosting. 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. They may offer cheaper prices but their longevity and technical expertise is 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 I put into trying to diagnose what was wrong with my sites instead of actually running my business.

So only use reseller accounts from long-established, reputable hosting companies.

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 webhost 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.

Getting Real With Your Hosting Needs

I used to pay $20 per month to the above webhosting companies to host about 30 blogs between them (so $40 overall per month). That was fine until the webhosts became unreliable. I then moved 10 blogs over to ServInt (the other blogs were either dead in the water as I had no local backups or the blogs were of no use).

WordPress Webhosting RequirementsInitially things were fine, as they always seem to be before some kind of threshold is reached and things start to go wrong. My sites started going offline, giving Internal Server Errors and such. ServInt 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 plugins on the sites were chewing up resources until the VPS fell over. I used tools like Pingdom to see where resources were being used up as well as liasing with ServInt Support to get a handle on what was happening (these guys have been great during this process and I highly recommend them as a webhost).

Well, it turns out that several plugins I use on all my sites are resource hungry and to improve the reliablity and performance of my sites, 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.

WordPress Success

One of my sites – an astronomy site called the Night Sky Observer – had a two sub-blogs in folders on the site. All the blogs on this domain performed poorly and the Night Sky Observer pages could take 20+ seconds to load, even on the new VPS plan. One of those 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 lists telecopes 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 that was about telscopes so I did some keyword research and found “telescope sales”, a keyword that gets about 6,000 searches per month.

I registered the domain and moved the blog over to the new domain (Telescope Sales). I’ve been hearing that Google doesn’t give as much (if any) weight to Exact Match Domains any more. 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 “telescope sales” and them seeing my site in the search results.

Telescope Sales Website

If you search Google for “telescope sales” (without the quotes), the site first appears on Page 6 of the search results (position 52), so not great. However, if you search for “telescope sales” (with the 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.

And the other thing – I haven’t promoted this site at all. The only backlinks I’ve created to this site are from the Night Sky Observer site.

eBay earnings for the site are climbing daily though Amazon sales have remained very sluggish.

So while EMDs may not be getting as much Google love as they once did, the keywords used in EMDs still get searched for and they’re still worth getting for that reason.

My Current Webhosting Recommendations

Here are my Top 4 recommended webhosting companies. All have been around for years (a good thing for a webhost):

 
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