Why GoDaddy?

Primarily because it is the hosting site that I’m most familiar with.  This is by no means a promotion for GoDaddy hosting.   GoDaddy is good because they have hosting that performs very well and because they have very good technical support.  My primary complaint with GoDaddy is that, like many, they do aggressive and sometimes deceptive up-selling.  This is not unique to GoDaddy.  The purpose of this article is to help the novice user navigate the purchasing process and to understand in advance what they can expect to pay at checkout and ongoing.  I will also point out a couple of the deceptive “traps” to avoid.

Why WordPress?

WordPress is not the easiest website creation tool but it is by far the most used.  It started as a blogging tool and matured into a full-featured website creation tool.   I sometimes compare WordPress to Microsoft Word in that if you learn the basic elements, you can effectively create your own website.  If you want to use many of the advanced features and plugins, the learning curve will be more steep.  I recommend WordPress to my clients primarily because of its popularity.  That popularity makes finding help and answers to questions much easier.

It is worth noting that you can download WordPress for free from WordPress.org but with no support and you need a pretty thorough knowledge to manage the files.  WordPress.com offers a pay-for service with more support.  Learn more at https://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

Scope of this Article

My intent here is to cover the most popular GoDaddy WordPress hosting option (Deluxe) covering most of the options for most packages.  This information is current as of January 2017.  It is very possible some of the features, navigation and/or prices have changed.

GoDaddy Hosting Options:

All plans include:

  • Access to 1000’s of free WordPress themes and plugins
  • Free domain with annual plan
  • Automatic WordPress core software and security updates. Nice feature to keep your core software up to date with features and security without disrupting the functionality of your site.
  • Free daily backups & 1-click restore
  • One-click migration tool. I believe this applies specifically to the ability to switch between a staging site and the production site.  GoDaddy also has tools and procedures for the migration of domains and websites from other providers.  That comes with a series of requirements and exceptions.
  • Temporary domain name to be used if you’re not ready to choose your name. You can use a temporary domain to set up your account and add your official domain later.
  • Free 24/7 support. My experience with their support has been very positive.
  • Free option to include 1 Microsoft Outlook mailbox with 5GB storage for email, contacts and shared online calendar—free only for the first year. After the first year, additional mailboxes can be purchased at the prevailing per mailbox price. Microsoft Office O365 email will automatically renew at the then-current price until canceled. You can cancel your automatic renewal mailbox at any time.

 

A couple of notes from the “?” above:

  • SSD stands for Solid State Storage and is extremely fast compared with spinning hard disks. This is indeed a nice feature.  The storage limit is the sum of storage used across your sites including your staging site and additional domain sites if you have them.
  • Maximum monthly visitors is very confusing. The words above state “monthly visitors” yet when you expand the “?”, it states “visitors .. within a 24-hour period”.  These are unique visitors meaning multiple visits from a single user (IP address) counts as only one visitor.  The individual I spoke with indicated this limit is not enforced but if you plan to have more than 100,000 visitors (or whatever plan you choose) within a month, I’d call to get more clarity around which time period applies.
  • The free domain has several reasonable restrictions including the availability of the selected domain (i.e., not an available premium / popular site name from a 3rd party or even GoDaddy) and you must pay for at least 12 months in advance. Also, if you choose to reserve the domain for longer than the hosting commitment, you will be obligated to pay for the additional hosting at whatever rate at the time of this contract expiration.  See below for the very interesting domain pricing options.
  • Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website so that your site will appear higher in the results when certain keywords are used in Google, Bing, or other search engines. This included feature is a 3rd party “basic” plug-in and you will be prompted by that vendor to upgrade to their premium option(s).  I have found this feature helpful for basic SEO.

Step-by-step Purchasing Process:

Once you click “Configure” from the options shown above, you will see your tab begin to add up on the right of the screen.  By default, you are paying for 3 years of the domain and hosting at a rate of $4.99/mo or $179.64.  Later, you will be given an option to reduce the number of months (at a higher monthly cost).

You are now prompted to add two options:

  • Add SiteLock malware scanning – $1.49/mo; $17.88/yr with annual payment in advance required. SiteLock is a 3rd party software that GoDaddy has an agreement with to market their product for a cut of the revenue.  The main intent of software like this is to detect, alert and if possible correct intrusions to your website.  I’ll let you read the reviews to determine how they compare with other malware software at the time you purchase your hosting service.  If you don’t purchase this or a similar software, it is critical that you have very complex passwords and implement other precautions to protect your website (like requiring review of any post or comment on your site).
  • Add Standard SSL Certificate – $5.83/mo; $69.99/yr with annual payment in advance required. If you have any sensitive information like client/patient information, credit card numbers, etc. you will need an SSL Certificate.  You do not have to buy your certificate from GoDaddy but their costs are reasonable and it may be more convenient.  Search “Compare SSL Certificates” for an idea of the competing companies and features.  If you are not familiar with obtaining and setting up an SSL certificate for your website, I highly recommend hiring a professional at least for the initial setup.

So if you select these two options, you have added $87.87 to your initial bill and you are now at $267.51.

Now you are prompted to sign up for your free domain.  Enter the proposed domain and they will let you know if it is available.  Alternatively, before you start this process, you can search for available domains from GoDaddy.com and if it is available for $2.99, it is available for your free domain.

Once you successfully enter an available domain, select it and continue to another screen of options.

How many months of hosting?

First on the list of options is the Deluxe Managed WordPress Websites Package (Hosting Package) you are now configuring.  By default, you are paying in advance for 36 months at $4.99/mo.  That is the monthly price for 3 or more years.  If you reduce the committed months, you will pay $9.99 for 1, 3 or 6 months, $6.99 for 12 months, or $5.49 for 24 months.  If you don’t mind paying more per month, you can reduce your initial purchase.

Email?

Along with your Deluxe Managed WordPress Websites Package (Hosting Package) and the previous 2 options if you selected them, you will automatically be signed up for the Office 365 Starter Email.  This is free for the first year and includes one Microsoft Outlook mailbox with 5GB storage for email, contacts and shared calendar.  Microsoft Office 365 will automatically renew at the then-current price until cancelled (currently $4.75/mo).  You can cancel any time.  After the first year, additional mailboxes can be purchased at the prevailing per-mailbox price.

Domain Registration & Privacy?

I don’t know if it was by design but this is an interesting option.  Based on selections, you can get up to 3 years free domain registration.  But if you select 5 years, you only get 1 free year.  Go figure.  So until this changes, sign up for 3 years.

Within this same selection, there is an option to “make my domain private” for $7.99/yr.  What is this?  When you register for a domain, your information, including name address, etc. becomes public record and can be looked up on the WHOIS.ORG site.  If you sign up for this option, GoDaddy registers with their information even though you own the domain.  This protects your personal information.  So if you select this option and sign up for 3 years domain, you are increasing your bill by $23.97.

Additional Domains?

Depending upon your domain name, GoDaddy looks for other available extensions and offers them to you at a discount.  For example, if your domain is ABC.COM, they might offer you ABC.ORG, ABC.NET, etc.  Each will result in another domain registration and a series of optional add-ons.  Fortunately, you must manually add them if you want any of them (i.e., not automatic).

 What else can we sell you?

At the bottom of the screen is a random “RECOMMENDED” service or feature they want to sell you.  Ironically, for the one I did, the “RECOMMENDED” was the Search Engine Visibility for $1.99/mo that is included in the package.  I could actually sign up and pay an additional $1.99/mo ($23.88).  To their defense, there was some small print that stated “Are you sure?  This is included in your package.”.

Bottom Line:

If we signed up for all the legitimate options, our $4.99 hosting package will cost us $305.06 including $13.58 in taxes and fees.  This includes 3 years of hosting, 3 years renewal of the domain and domain privacy, 1 year of Sitelock Malware Software, 1 year of SSL Certificate, and 1 year of Microsoft Office 365 Outlook Mailbox.

Be sure to review all items that are “Auto-Renew” so that you can avoid surprise charges one or more years down the line.

drgilli

Dan Gillingham is a retired executive, business owner and is currently volunteering as a small business counselor and mentor with SCORE

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