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How to Host WordPress on Google Servers

Alessio has reported security vulnerabilities to Google and Apple. He also has a past as a web developer and web server administrator.

Google Sites and Blogger are excellent tools for creating simple web pages without coding. Still, if you want maximum flexibility, this article will describe how you can install WordPress and enjoy using it with your Google Account.

WordPress Admin Panel on an iPad

WordPress Admin Panel on an iPad

Google Allows Quick Website Creation

Google is one of the brands most people trust for searching for information on the web, archiving and sharing documents, sending and receiving emails, and other online tasks. Another appreciated service from the company founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin is the website creation tool: Google Sites. This tool has two advantages:

  • It is easy: it needs no coding and allows everyone to build a simple website from scratch;
  • It is free: no need to pay for hosting, CDNs, or other expensive services you may have to buy when you build your website.

Google also offers two other free services for building websites: Blogger (specifically made to create a blog) and My Business (which allows for creating elementary pages for businesses listed on Google Maps).

Despite the ease of use of these services, some people need the typical flexibility offered by a self-hosted WordPress solution.

WordPress Flexibility or Google Sites Convenience?

Giving up creating your pages on Google Sites and choosing to create your self-hosted WordPress website means enjoying maximum flexibility: you can customize the site the way you like, expand it with plugins, and have complete control over it. Still, this solution also has some cons:

  • It is expensive when compared to having an accessible website hosted on Google Sites, as hosting, premium plugins, eventual CDNs, and additional services like backup and malware scanners can result in costs you may avoid with a free service like Google's one;
  • It may be less reliable: Unless you pay for premium hosting, use a CDN, and install malware scanners, your website will not be as reliable as something hosted on Google Site. Even if you configure one of the most expensive hosting solutions, relying on Google servers means hosting your website on one of the most powerful platforms worldwide, with CDN, anti-DDOS, and anti-malware protection. In this case, your only concern is to protect your Google Account;
  • It requires maintenance: A WordPress installation needs constant updates, and generally, having a self-hosted website means always taking care of it. Instead, Google Sites is a ready-to-use service, so you don't need to worry about the technical aspects of managing a website.

To Sum Up

A WordPress self-hosting solution is flexible but expensive. A site hosted on Google Sites is free, convenient, and lets you have no worries, but it is less flexible and limits you in the things you can do.

Installing WordPress on Google Servers

People who like Blogger, Google Sites, and Google My Business web pages because of the reliable servers they run on can benefit from another option: installing WordPress on Google servers. This solution means enjoying the same level of reliability offered by free Google services, with the freedom of managing your own WordPress installation.

Installing WordPress on a Google server may sound weird to people who know Google Sites and similar services offer little flexibility. Still, the fact is that Google provides another service, too, that is mainly known among IT professionals: Google Cloud.

The entrance of a Google Cloud building in Sunnyvale, CA.

The entrance of a Google Cloud building in Sunnyvale, CA.

Google Cloud is a wide range of cloud computing services that allow IT professionals to build online services on a solid and scalable ecosystem backed by Google. It is the same technical environment in which the company's services run. One of the services offered by the platform is Compute Engine, which allows the setup of virtual machines equipped with different server environments. Through a specific marketplace, it is even possible to create a Compute Engine instance with packets ready to install so that you do not need to bother setting up a server from scratch. Among the various choices, there is also WordPress click-to-deploy option so that you get in a few minutes a fully-functional virtual machine with a LAMP server already installed and WordPress ready to configure.

A comparison among Blogger, Google Sites, Google My Business Websites, and Google Cloud.

BloggerGoogle SitesGoogle My Business WebsiteGoogle Cloud

Price

Free

Free

Free

Paid

Service

Blog

Simple Site

Business Page

Unlimited Hosting

Flexibility

Medium (only for blogs and magazine-like websites)

Low

Very Low

Maximum

Ease of use

Easy

Very Easy

Very Easy

Difficult

Earning Opportunities

Google AdSense

None

None

Unlimited

Safety

High

High

High

It depends on your server configuration and on the apps you install.

How to Install WordPress on Google Cloud

Below are the passages to start creating a WordPress website on Google servers:

  1. Sign up for Google Cloud and create a new billing account;
  2. In the left column of Google Cloud Console, look for the VPC Network section and click on IP Addresses, then click on Reserve External Static Address;
  3. Type a custom name for your new IP Address and choose what Network Service Tier you prefer (for small local websites, you can rely on the Standard tier, while a more international presence may require the Premium one for the best performances);
  4. Install WordPress. After reserving your new static IP address, open the Marketplace section, search for WordPress and choose among the various ready-to-install solutions available on the market (the most popular choices are Google Click to Deploy and the multiple configurations provided by Bitnami);
  5. Configure WordPress. After choosing the WordPress installation that best fits your needs, click Launch to create the new Compute Engine virtual machine.
The Google Cloud Marketplace allows quick deployment of a WordPress instance through several configurations offered by various vendors, including the simple Google Click to Deploy solution.

The Google Cloud Marketplace allows quick deployment of a WordPress instance through several configurations offered by various vendors, including the simple Google Click to Deploy solution.

After clicking Launch, you are ready to configure your new instance. Below are the final steps you should follow to get your new WordPress installation ready:

  1. Choose the server's location. Look for the Zone section and choose a place that best fits your needs. It would be best if you look for a data center near to your habitual customers so that they will experience low latency when loading your website;
  2. Set the performances of your new machine. You are not paying for unlimited resources allocated on a shared server with cloud hosting, as with the cheapest hosting companies. Instead, you buy a dedicated virtual machine on which only your website will run. It also means you are purchasing the resources you effectively need to use. For a small website, you may stick to the lowest configurations, like the e2-small (2vCPU and 2 GB memory), while it is clear that you may need to upgrade them in the future if you see a rise in your traffic;
  3. Select your disk space. This is another task you should do accordingly to your actual needs: if you need to launch a new online magazine rich in photos and other media content, you will certainly need more space than what is required for an essential personal website;
  4. Bind your external IP address. In the previous steps, you have reserved a static IP address: it is time to bind it with your new WordPress installation. Under Network Interface, select your new static IP address;
  5. Check your firewall rules. Under Firewall, make sure that both HTTP and HTTPS are enabled;
  6. Deploy your instance.
WordPress Deployment on Google Cloud

WordPress Deployment on Google Cloud

How to Set a Custom Domain for a WordPress Site Hosted on Google

Now that you have created your new WordPress instance, it is time to register a new domain name, in case you don't have it already. You may opt for doing it through Google Cloud Console to benefit from centralized billing and more comfortable management of all your web properties; otherwise, you may rely on Google Domains. To proceed with Google Cloud Console, you can follow these steps:

  1. Access Cloud Domains Registration Service. In the left column, look for the Network Services section, then click on Cloud Domains;
  2. Register your domain. Click on the registration button, type the domain name and add it to the cart;
  3. Select your DNS configuration. You can choose between the free DNS option (the same you would get when buying through Google Domains) or the Cloud DNS. The second option is more scalable and can quickly adapt to every need, but it comes at a cost: for small websites, the price is low; still, you may consider sticking with the free DNS service if you do not need scalability and other features;
  4. Conclude your registration by typing your personal information;
  5. Configure your DNS by adding an A record that points to the external static IP address you have reserved and associated with your WordPress instance. If you have chosen to purchase Cloud DNS, you can open the service control panel in the left column under Network Services.

Conclusions

Hosting a WordPress website on Google Cloud is techy and expensive compared to relying on free services like Google Sites or Blogger and buying a shared hosting plan on any web hosting provider. All this is rewarded with the best flexibility you can enjoy to build the perfect website of your dreams and be ready to afford even a considerable amount of traffic that may result in relevant slowdowns on a shared hosting plan. To cut your cloud hosting costs and improve your performance, you may enable a CDN, like Cloudflare, to build a final Google Cloud + Cloudflare configuration.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Alessio Ganci