Through our years of hosting, running a hosting company, and WordPress experience we have figured the best qualities to look for.
There are several popular hosting Control Panels: cPanel, Plesk, and custom built. You really want to go with a hosting company that offers cPanel or a custom version of cPanel.
cPanel is pretty much the industry standard. How it operates, handles permissions and works with WordPress is just great. Additionally just about every plugin developer has tested there code on a cPanel server. So this means you are less likely to have issues when adding plugins to your blog.
These applications help you install WordPress, in a few easy steps. Fantastico is the most popular of these applications but the recent trend (2011 & 2012) is for hosting companies to develop their own custom installers. HostGator has developed QuickInstall and Bluehost Simplescripts. Check out our step-by-step video install guides for HostGator WordPress QuickInstall guide and the Bluehost WordPress SimpleScripts Intstaller.
All 1-click installers are pretty much the same, they help you easily install wordpress. I would just make sure that the hosting company has an easy way to install WordPress and do not worry to much about it being Fantastico or not.
These include PHP, mySQL, ftp, log files, email. If you go with any major hosting company they will provide all of the services you will need to get started with WordPress. Not sure if the hosting company has these? Any hosting company that we review will have all of these applications.
Make sure that you go for a hosting plan that includes proper backup of all website data in a secure manner. Backup plans can really vary from host to host so be sure you understand what they do and do not backup. Additionally some companies allow you full access to their backups, this is very helpful because there is not waiting on tech support to restore a file or entire site for you.
Having a site go down is one of the worst things that can happen in hosting. Most hosting companies offer 99.99% uptime guarantees but this is not always the case. If the site is at all important then you should consider an uptime monitoring service like Pingdom. We are getting a bit off topic other than all hosting companies will promise great uptime but is it worth checking the site regularly to ensure it is up.
After ensuring that your website is always going to be up you want the page to be delivered fast and the faster the better. There is no easier way to ruin the user experience than with a slow website. Studies have shown that faster sites will rank higher.
If you are interested in a consistently good user experience and top search engine placement it may be worth looking into business or VPS class hosting. This is not to say that you will not get a good user experience and search engine rankings with shared hosting because you can. I have several very popular sites on shared hosting, it is just that more expensive hosting generally gives you better results.
This is one of the most important features of a good Hosting company. In case of new setups, customer support helps in creating the right online presence and saves a lot of your time and energy. Check whether the support team can respond promptly. Lesser the time needed for getting back with solutions, better will be the company.
After confirming the presence of all the above features, you can opt for the right WordPress Hosting company and get good value for your money.