For your site to be available over the internet you will need a web hosting service. So, in this guide I will show you;
- Which Web Hosting service to get
- How to install WordPress on the Web Hosting Service
- How to Point your Domain name to the Hosting Server
- How to set up the SSL certificate, and
- How to set up CDN (optional) for your website
What is Web Hosting?
Think of web hosting as a service that allows you to rent space on the world wide web. In other words, you need web hosting for your site to be housed on a worldwide server from which people all over the world can then find and see your website.
There are various web hosting providers out there and it’s ideal to choose the right one for you at the beginning because once you set up your site with a Hosting Service, it can be quite technical and complicated to move to another Web Hosting company.
I have passed through this issue a few times in the beginning of my experience with web hosting, and it can discourage you and halt your progress.
You should look for a hosting provider that offers you the flexibility you need, but most importantly, one that can give you the best customer support when you need it.
Luckily, there is one hosting provider out there that does just that; SiteGround.
What is SiteGround Web Hosting?
SiteGround is one of the best Web Hosting Companies, especially for newbies. It’s a great provider to get you started, not only because it is relatively cheap, starting from an average of $5 a month (this can vary slightly depending on any promotions happening at the time), but also because it has optimal Customer Support.
These guys are just wonderful.
I always got a quick reply reply from them whenever I had a query or an issue to solve. They also provide numerous services at extremely reasonable prices, such as transferring of websites, etc.
Apart from this, what I love about SiteGround is that they make life as simple as possible for newbies and experts alike. They also provide a wide array of knowledge articles in their help section.
Once you become a subscriber to their relatively cheap web hosting service you will get access to your personal dashboard where you can see all your sites. From here you can easily access your site’s WordPress login and any extra website tools that SiteGround offers, such as security features, domain management, email accounts etc.
SiteGround offers different price levels, starting with the cheapest web hosting package that allows you to host just one site, then there are two other, more premium accounts you can subscribe to.
I personally go for the mid-premium hosting option, known as ‘GrowBig’.
I choose this because with this subscription I can host an unlimited number of sites on the same account, for only a minor increase in price.
SiteGround also gives you the option to pay for your subscription, either in monthly payments, or discounted yearly payment.
The larger the timeframe you pay for beforehand, the larger the discount you get. Which means that your monthly cost can decrease considerably.
As an example, I pay for 3 full years at a time, because this gives me a very good discounted monthly price.
Obviously, the choice will also depend on how much you can spend, and how convinced you are that you will actually use the service for 12 months or more.
If this is your first experience building websites, I suggest you start with a monthly payment subscription. This will allow you to cut your losses if you decide not to continue with your site and your hosting.
On the other hand, once you’re committed to building and maintaining your site for the foreseeable future, and you want to keep using SiteGround as your hosting provider, then I suggest you upgrade your subscription to a longer time-period to benefit from some savings.
When you register your Web Hosting account with SiteGround for the first time, it guides you in setting up your first WordPress website and you can also buy the domain from them directly, which is convenient.
Like any other hosting service provider, they will try to upsell you more services when registering, but if it’s your first website I suggest you just go for Hosting services only.
Setting Up Your WordPress Site on SiteGround
In this section I will show you how to set-up your WordPress site on SiteGround once you have created an account with them.
Like all my other guides, in each section I start with a summary of the steps before the main step-by-step guide. This is for those who are more experienced and just need to refresh their memory.
If you’re completely new to this, then I suggest you read further down where I show a very detailed explanation of each step.
- Click on ‘WEBSITES’ in the top menu
- Click on the Button marked ‘NEW WEBSITE’
- Click on ‘EXISTING DOMAIN’ section if you already have a domain
- Click on ‘START NEW WEBSITE’ option and then select ‘WordPress’ option
- Set up Login Details, EMAIL and PASSWORD. Make sure to take note of these details and keep them in a safe place.
- Click ‘Continue’ and ‘Finish’
Installing WordPress on Your SiteGround Dashboard
Login to your SiteGround account click on ‘WEBSITES’ in the top menu and this will take you to your personal dashboard, which should be empty if you just joined.
Once you start building sites, this dashboard will show all your current websites.
At the top of the dashboard (just under the ‘Websites’ menu item) you will find your dashboard navigation menu, which includes 3 items, ‘Websites’, ‘Collaborations, and at the far right, ‘New Website’.
Click on the far right button that says, ‘NEW WEBSITE’.
This will take you to the Website Creation Wizard that will guide you through the process step by step on how to create your new website.
If you don’t have a domain yet, then you will first need to buy one.
A domain is the URL your website name will have, that is, www.whateveryourdomainnameis.com (or .net, .org etc.)
You can buy your domain directly from SiteGround by clicking on the ‘NEW DOMAIN’ box.
If you have already bought a domain from one of the recommended domain name providers, namecheap.com or name.com, then you will have to press on the ‘EXISTING DOMAIN’ button.
Once you press on this, a drop-down box will present itself and here you must input the domain name in full. Make sure you put the exact domain name. I recommend you copy and paste this directly from your domain name provider account.
Now press CONTINUE.
At this point you are now given the option to start a new website or migrate an existing one. In this case we will obviously choose ‘START NEW WEBSITE’ option.
As soon as you press this, three new options will drop down.
Here you are asked to pick between installing a WordPress website, or installing a WordPress website with Woo Commerce (this is used for Online stores) or installing a Weebly website (this is a lesser known alternative to WordPress).
In our case, we will click on ‘installing a WordPress website’ option.
Now the drop down will ask you to insert the username and password you will be using for the Administration Area of your website. Please make sure to write down and save these details for future reference.
Once you enter your username and password, click CONTINUE.
Disregard the upsell notice and just press ‘FINISH’.
SiteGround will now take a few minutes to create an empty WordPress site for your domain name.
Pointing Your Domain Name System (DNS) Servers to SiteGround
This next section is just for those who did not buy the domain name from SiteGround.
If you have a domain from some other domain name provider, like Namecheap, or Name.com you will need to point your domain name to the Domain Name System (DNS) Servers of SiteGround.
A DNS Server is the server that matches a website’s hostnames (so your domain name bought from a domain provider, like in my case www.wpwordpresswiki.com) to the hosting provider’s IP address (to the IP address of the SiteGround servers).
It might seem complicated, but don’t worry, it’s a super easy process. Let’s do this.
You will change the DNS servers from the domain name provider where you bought your domain. In my case, I will show you how to do this on Namecheap.com.
First, login to Namecheap.com and find the domain name for the WordPress site you’re creating and press on the ‘MANAGE’ button.
Look for the ‘Nameservers’ section and change the in the drop-down list, from ‘Namecheap Basic DNS’ to ‘Custom DNS’.
Under this section you will now see 2 empty slots called Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2. Here you will need to insert the SiteGround nameservers.
SiteGround gives you the nameservers when you create your WP site (these are usually ns1.SiteGround.net and ns2.SiteGround.net). If you look in your inbox, you should have received an email from SiteGround with the exact nameservers.
Do not worry if you cannot find the email. You can always check your nameserver details from SiteGround’s Site Tools Dashboard, under Site Information.
Now copy and paste the exact nameservers names, into Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2 in Namecheap.com. Once you have pasted the nameservers press on the little ‘correct sign’ green button on the right of the nameservers section.
Once this is done, you might need to wait a few hours until the DNS you included are pointed to the right address.
You will know when the changes to the DNS are done and pointing correctly because your website should be available on the internet. Try and type your website (URL) address in full in any web browser, such as Chrome, and you should see a very plain WordPress Starter site.
Something like this:
Setting Up SSL on Your WordPress Site
- Log into SiteGround dashboard
- Click on Websites in the menu
- Go to the new website name box and click on ‘Site Tools’
- On the Left of this page, you will find a list of services. Click on SECURITY option
- From the drop down, click on SSL Manager
- Make sure domain name is correct under the Install option and under Select SSL option choose ‘Let’s Encrypt Wildcard’.
- Press ‘GET’
- Go to left menu and click on HTTPS ENFORCE option
- Turn ON the HTTPS enforce switch.
SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer and it’s there to keep an internet connection secure and safeguard sensitive data being sent over the internet. In recent years, having a secure website has become a very important SEO ranking factor.
An SSL certificate is needed so that your website will be shown as secure to visitors.
How Do You Recognize if a Site has SSL?
When you have an SSL certificate installed on your site, your website domain address changes from http:// to https://.
This has become a default requirement nowadays for websites, and if you plan on ranking in google then this is definitely required. It also gives visitors more trust in your site.
So, this is how my domain URL looked before I installed an SSL certificate:
How to Install an SSL Certificate on SiteGround
First thing you need to do is log into your SiteGround dashboard.
From here click on the websites tab on the menu section at the top. This will take you to the Websites Dashboard.
Now find the relevant website box you are working on and press the ‘SITE TOOLS’ button to go to that website’s Tools dashboard.
Once you are in the Site’s Tools dashboard you will notice a list of Services options on the left of the page. For the SSL purposes you will need to click on the ‘SECURITY’ option which drops down a further list of items.
Now click on ‘SSL MANAGER’ option.
This will take you to the SSL installation and management page.
The first section is Install New SSL. Here you can either install or import an SSL certificate. We will be installing a new one from Siteground, which is free.
In this section you have a box titled Select Domain’. This should already show the correct domain, however just in case it doesn’t just click on the dropdown and choose your domain.
Under the Select SSL option choose ‘Let’s Encrypt Wildcard’ from the drop-down.
Now Press GET.
Note that if you have just pointed the DNS to SiteGround within a few minutes, the SSL installation may not work simply because the DNS propagation has not been completed yet. It may take up to 72 hours (about 3 days).
In this case I suggest you wait for a few hours and try again later. In my experience it never takes more than 2 or 3 hours.
Once the SSL is installed you will need to apply it to your site.
To do this, go to the left menu list and click on the ‘HTTPS ENFORCE’ option.
All you need to do here is switch on the HTTPS Enforce switch. This will turn purple which means that your website now works over an encrypted and secure HTTPS connection.
A ‘Success Message’ should pop-up on the top right to notify you that this is on.
To confirm that this is working fine, type your domain in any web browser, such as Chrome, and check that the URL now has a padlock in front of the name.
If you click on that padlock, you will be notified that the connection is secure, and the information is private.
This is how it should look after inserting the SSL certificate
This process, is a one-time and forget thing, meaning that once it’s done you do not have to think about it anymore.
If you ever see a notice from SiteGround that your SSL certificate has expired or is not working, all you must do is go into the ‘Enforce’ section and click ENFORCE switch again.
Setting up a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Another setting you will only need to do once and then forget about, is the Content Delivery Network (CDN) set-up on Siteground. This is a service that speeds up your website.
It must be said that this is not necessarily required, but if you plan to reach different geographical locations with your website, then it is recommended because it speeds up the site for those users who are not based in the country of the server.
- Log into SiteGround dashboard
- Click on Websites in the menu
- Go to the new website name box and click on ‘Site Tools’
- On the Left of this page, you will find a list of services. Click on SPEED option
- From the drop down, click on CDN
- Click on the ACTIVATE FREE button
How to Set Up CDN for your WordPress Site
Once again this will be done through our SiteGround Site Tools Dashboard.
Login to your SiteGround account and click on the websites tab on the menu section at the top. Find the relevant website box and press the ‘SITE TOOLS’ button to go to that website’s Tools dashboard.
Once in the Tools dashboard, head to the left list of Services and click on SPEED option which drops down a further list of two items. Now click on CDN option.
In the Content Delivery Network (CDN) page you will have the option to activate a free CDN or a premium. The free version is enough to get us started.
Click the ACTIVATE FREE button.
Once you Activate, a pop-up notification will show in the top-right corner of the screen to confirm successful activation of CDN.
When you scroll down on this page you will see some further settings you can adjust. I recommend you leave everything as is here.
As a final check, type your URL (domain name) into the Chrome Browser and ensure your site is still loading properly after all these changes.
WordPress Installation Done. What Next
That’s it. We’ve installed our WordPress and set up the SSL and CDN for our site. So basically, most of the ‘more’ technical initial set-up has been done.
Now in the next guide we will set up the essential general settings on our WordPress Admin Dashboard.
You can also check out my full List of WordPress Guides.