Over the years, we’ve tried several different web hosts for ourselves and at client request.  A longstanding favorite was GoDaddy.com.  They did a great job as registrar and as host (a server where all of your site files are held and made available to the public), and their service was terrific.  I could (and did!) literally call in 24/7 to get help if there was an issue.

Things have changed.  A few years ago, Google more or less made it mandatory that every website have an SSL certificate.  They added that as a factor in their site ranking algorithm.  Do you have to have an SSL?  Well, no.  But Google pushes your site further down in the search results and you lose traffic. So yes.  You do need an SSL certificate.

What is SSL, you may ask?  Well, it’s a small data file that encrypts the connection between your site and the user’s browser.  It helps ensure that only the intended recipient sees sensitive information.  This would include credit card and account details that you really don’t want just anyone to see.

It used to be necessary only for sites that accessed that information (online stores) to have the SSL certificate.  Google decided that all sites should have it, to help make all of the Internet more secure.

Typically an SSL certificate costs about $75 per year.  The great news is that when Google added that requirement, they also created a free SSL provider called Let’s Encrypt.  As long as your host cooperates with the service, you can have SSL for free.

That’s where the rub comes in regarding GoDaddy.  They won’t cooperate with Let’s Encrypt.  Instead, they charge that $75/year for the certificate.

In contrast, hosts such as Hostgator or Bluehost do cooperate, and provide free SSL support built in with any hosting contract.

As a result we recommend avoiding GoDaddy and using one of the other major hosting companies.  Pricing for hosting between the 3 big names mentioned here is usually quite similar.  It’s the SSL certificate fees that are the big difference.

Service-wise, we’ve had great results with the 2 companies we recommend the most: Bluehost and Hostgator.  Full disclosure: we are affiliates of Bluehost.  If you click our link and set up an account, we earn a bit o’ green.

If you’d like to talk more about hosting possibilities and what company would work for you, contact us!  We’re happy to help you find the best solution for your website.