Part of why I have such a successful business helping folks clean up their site mess is because there are so many non-techie “gurus” giving out bad advice for what host and plugins to use. They never once check either of those for security or performance.
And I’m fed up.
Get the skinny on the worst hosts and plugins that are frequently recommended and why you should think twice and consider the source of whose advice you’re following.
My Guru Challenge
If you’re in the business of recommending any product in this post, and you’re ready to defend your position with “I’ve never had any trouble with it” then I want to offer you a challenge because I think you’ve never checked to see if you’re having trouble.
Let’s put a monitor on your site for uptime.
And let’s do a Gold level site audit where you agree to make the findings public on BlogAid and have a podcast interview with me to talk about it.
If there’s nothing wrong on your site, the audit is free. If we find security and/or performance issues, you pay.
FYI, I’ve offered this same challenge to every person whom I’ve challenged on their recommendations. No one has accepted it yet.
And if this sounds adversarial, it’s not. I’m just POd more than usual right now due to what my site audit clients have had to go through this month to clean up the after effects of all the bad advice they received.
Groups are the Worst
Facebook is rife with groups for non-techie site owners. And they tend to give out the worst of the worst advice I’ve ever seen.
How do I know that?
Because so many of my site audit clients tell me who told them to add all that junk to their site and where they got that bad advice.
I belong to over 20 Facebook groups myself, mostly for advanced WordPress and security topics. Some of those groups include most of the developers of the most popular plugins you’re probably running on your site right now, as well as representatives of most major and minor hosting companies.
But I also belong to a few personal interest groups of non-techie folks.
The advice I see in the non-techie groups is horrible. I’ve even been shown the door for disagreeing with it.
Folks in those groups trust who they know, not who knows what they’re talking about.
There’s no way that I can get anyone to hear me by saying something as blatant as, “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” And that’s why I stay mostly quiet in those groups.
The Worst Hosting Services
Whenever someone asks, “which is the best hosting company” I am floored at the extreme difference of opinion between the techie and non-techie groups. It’s like night and day difference.
The tech people in-the-know, who are responsible, collectively, for tens of thousands of client sites, wouldn’t wipe their feet with the hosts favored in the non-techie groups as being the ones to go with.
Here are the worst hosts I’ve encountered.
I don’t think I’ve ever worked with worse tech support. Not only does it take several hours, and even days, to get a reply via email, the answers they give are truly scary and takes multiple attempts to get any sensible answer. Most of the time, though, the answers remain useless and there’s no hope of getting any real help. I know more about server admin than it appears they do.
My site audit clients who have an uptime monitor on their sites report being down often with RFE as well.
And the dysfunction I see in the account is truly scary as well.
This is not a “get away from it” host. This is RUN!!!!
They were one of my preferred vendors until three years ago when their practices turned unethical, in my opinion.
Not only are they super duper slow for page load, they no longer have any type of uptime guarantee posted. Go ahead, check their site, see if you can find it. I can’t.
They’ve lowered their resources ceiling so much on shared hosting that backup plugins like BackupBuddy can’t even run.
One of my clients was repeatedly getting notices for storage space overages. We couldn’t find them anywhere. Turns out that they don’t show your real storage usage, which also includes their backups of your site, which are supposed to be cleared out periodically. There was 48GB of their backups on her hosting account. That took 2 support tickets and 3 calls to support to find the real issue.
And they were about to terminate her account for their mistake!
Like most hosts, they won’t help you get to the bottom of your resource overage issue. They’ll just upsell you to a bigger package.
When you finally decide to leave, expect more trouble. Good luck trying to get a real pro-rated refund.
And I wish you even more luck trying to get a real cPanel backup that your new host can use for their free migration services. Bluehost has a proprietary BS backup that breaks on the new hosting, making the new one look bad. Most hosts I work with are aware of this and have to do a manual migration. Some do that for free, others don’t.
Support is pretty much hit or miss, depending on who you get.
Yeah, there are a few big gurus, like Pat Flynn, who still recommend Bluehost. (I happen to like Pat Flynn, just not his hosting recommendation.) He’s so tied into that partnership there is no way for him to leave it without losing face and trust at this point. Or maybe he’s just as ignorant of how bad it is there as the other folks who still recommend them.
Great for domains, bad for hosting.
First, they don’t allow the full security measures I put on all other client sites (I don’t use those behemoth security plugins that chew up resources).
And they wonder why they keep getting hit with massive DDoS and hack attacks!
The page load is slow.
The interface is a pain in the butt to work with. In fact, I either upcharge an extra frustration fee, or refuse to work on that host, depending on the job.
Was my top preferred vendor until EIG bought them out. (EIG also owns Bluehost and about 50 other hosting companies.) I was sick to see such a good company go south.
The initial move of sites to the EIG servers in Provo was a disaster. They’ve since moved back to the original HG servers. But, their support is now lacking. Too bad, but not as bad as the other two hosts I mentioned previously.
Hosting Benchmark Tests 2015
Don’t believe me about how bad these hosts are? Check how they stacked up in the most recent benchmark tests.
Worst Plugin Advice
Let me preface this section. All the plugins listed here aren’t bad. Most work as advertised.
But, many are either resource hogs or they have to be configured properly to do any real good. Some are “use and delete” types. And some cause serious conflicts with other popular plugins. And this is, by far, not an exhaustive list. It’s from what I see most often in site audits
So, take all of that into consideration when you have a look at this list.
This is not a “get away from it” plugin. This is RUN!!!!! This plugin has been pulled from the WordPress plugins repository 3 times for injected malware code. And it wasn’t hacked!!! That was deliberate on the part of devs. Last I heard they were showing some kind of pop up to folks who shared your content. Their pop up with their advertising.
I love, love, love this plugin. But what I see too often are site owners who make use of the Page Analysis tool in the on-page module (good for you!) but never configure the rest of the plugin.
NOOOOOO! You’re missing all of the best parts!!!!
In my SEO Video Course I have 13 videos dedicated to this plugin alone. That includes all the global settings and social media integration, plus your XML sitemap, and every setting in the on-page module, not just the Page Analysis Tool.
I also see a lot of plugin conflicts during audits simply because the Yoast SEO plugin can do so much and site owners have 2-3 other plugins loaded trying to do the same functions. Get to know all the Yoast SEO plugin can do and you won’t need those other plugins.
Read my post for the Top Misconfigured Plugin that Kills Your Site for more.
Another super duper plugin that folks misuse, a LOT. First, turn off the logs, both the redirection logs and the 404 logs. Or, at least set them to wipe clean every week or so. They’ll chew up your database otherwise.
I also see folks use this plugin in place of a link shortening service for blog posts.
NOOOO! Do this sparingly, and reserve those for landing pages and such.
Did you know that doing redirects this way is slow and costs system resources? Yep, just to get to the page a visitor wants, an instance of WordPress has to be opened, then the plugin, then the redirect. If you do these in .htaccess instead, it will all be lickety split with few system resources. But you don’t want to overload it with tons of redirects either.
Another super plugin. But it’s made for cloaking ugly affiliate links. Unlike Redirection, the logs cannot be wiped clear now and then. So, they will really pile up in your database if you’re using for regular redirects.
It works as advertised. But, it comes at a cost. Like 20 additional tables in your database. And notifications that will pester, and probably scare you to death. Turn all that stuff off!!!! Turn off everything like that you can or pay the price in high resource usage.
I also see a lot of conflicts with this plugin. Site owners pool together generic tips for securing a site and think more is better by adding other plugins that duplicate the same function. NOT!!!
Broken Link Checker
Just don’t do it. Major resource hog with way too many false positives. Read this post from Ana Hoffman instead. Why Broken Link Checker Doesn’t Work and Free Alternatives
Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is
I got out of the hosting recommendation business earlier this year. Read my post for more on why. It was a five-figure a year decision, so not made lightly.
But here’s the thing. My reputation as a trusted source is worth more than that. A lot more.
And there are a couple of plugins that I have loved dearly for the past several years that have gone south too. I’ll tell you more about why I won’t be recommending them any more either in another post.
Hosting and plugins are not something I can control. Nobody who recommends them can. But, it is up to those of us who are in the recommending business to properly vet what we suggest others use.
Like I said, this is not an exhaustive list of bad hosts, plugin issues, or general bad advice I see from non-techie gurus, especially in groups where they are surrounded by folks who know even less than they do and can’t really challenge them.
And, like I said, if you’re one of the folks who gives this bad advice, then prepare to defend it with real data, that you’re willing to make just as public as you do your recommendations.
And if you choose to stick with giving that bad advice, you’re just building my site audit business for next year.
I don’t have to call out these folks by name here. Their ex-followers are doing a pretty good job of that for me already, both privately and in their groups.
Hear from real site owners
About their site audit experience and what it took to clean everything up.
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If you’ve tried this and that plugin and it’s left orphaned files and database tables all over, or know that you’re having performance issues, this is the best way to have a holistic look and see what’s really going on so you can make a plan to get your site squared away.
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