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There are many web hosting companies out there and it can get pretty overwhelming for someone starting out. I’ve gone through a number of different hosting services, myself, and I can say experiences differ a lot. The most popular web hosts are Bluehost and Siteground and I have experience with both. So why did I switch to Siteground? Read to find out why.
I’ve gone through a number of different hosting services, myself, and I can say experiences differ a lot.
The first host I used, was a disaster. It was an all-in-one host — domain, the hosting and the blogging platform – which seemed like a great deal, but it was a nightmare to deal with and a lot of headaches to switch it over later on.
After some research (which should have happened from day one), I realized that WordPress was the better option for a blogging builder.
So, my next steps were to figure out which hosting service to choose that offered an easy way to install and setup WordPress as the blogging platform.
At the time, everyone was raging about Bluehost. All the big bloggers were recommending it. In fairness, if you go to WordPress’ list of recommended hosting services, Bluehost is right there in the very first place.
So, yeah, I picked Bluehost.
Bluehost made it super easy to start the whole thing, including installing WordPress and a number of other techier things.
I was impressed!
What’s Wrong with Bluehost?
Lo and behold, in less than 3 months I was hearing people left and right saying “STAY AWAY” from Bluehost. I was puzzled, to say the least.
Bad Customer Service?
Many claimed they had really bad customer service, but my experience couldn’t be further from that. Every single time I contacted Bluehost to fix something for me or change something, they were always more than willing to help and always fixed the problem.
I thought, “well, this might just be one of those case by case thing.” So, why bother changing if I see no issues?
Eventually, I started hearing about their issues with loading times and websites consistently crashing.
Well, that sounded like a more reasonable explanation for the bad rep.
At the time, though, I saw no problems with my own website speed. Well, until about a 1.5y later, then I started wondering.
Still, I had a contract that wasn’t up yet, and I really wasn’t keen on going through so much trouble to change hosts when my doubts were mostly coming from outsiders, not necessarily my personal experience with Bluehost.
The Real Issue with Bluehost
For a long time, no one was able to tell me what exactly was wrong with Bluehost, outside of their own personal experiences. Don’t get me wrong, their personal experiences are valid, but like I said, they didn’t match my experience with Bluehost.
It wasn’t until I took this free WordPress course that the whole issue was clarified.
Grayson’s course is completely free, and I highly recommend anyone who’s thinking to start a WordPress website to take it before they do anything.
In the course, Grayson goes into detail about what really is the problem with Bluehost, but I’ll summarize the main point…
Bluehost used to be pretty good among the affordable hosting options out there. Eventually, though, they got bought up by a big conglomerate that pretty much messed it all up with their less than best business practices.
Since then, it seems that the biggest issues people complain about – such as downtime, customer service issues, slow servers – come from Bluehost and other hosting services owned by that big conglomerate.
Ok, at that point I was convinced!
I still didn’t switch right away, but I knew I was not going to renew with them and was going to find a different hosting service once my contract was up.
Related Post: 10 Myths about Making Money Blogging
Switching to Siteground
After a little break from the website in 2019, I came back ready to pick up where I left off, and this time, I made it a point to minimize mistakes.
I knew I was going to stay away from Bluehost this time around and started looking for alternatives.
Siteground was an alternative to Bluehost often mentioned in the blogsphere. This time I researched a little more into it, to make sure it wasn’t just another hype.
What I learned from that research is that there are definitely better, more powerful hosting services out there, but they come with a pretty hefty price tag.
I also learned that those powerful hosts are really an overkill for most bloggers, especially for beginner bloggers.
I wasn’t a newbie at it anymore, but I didn’t want to spend that much money either. I also knew that blogging is not an overnight success kind of thing and I wouldn’t need the power features for a long while.
Siteground made sense then and it still does now.
Why I Prefer Siteground:
There were a few things I noticed that were quite better than Bluehost.
Easier Automated Setup:
Siteground makes it super easy to get it all started. From bringing your domain over to them, to installing WordPress and all the techy stuff. Somehow it was even easier than my experience with Bluehost.
To make it even easier, you can get free WordPress Website Migration for one website, with the GrowBig and GoGeek accounts. That way you don’t have to DIY a complicated process such as migration, or resort to just doing it all over again from scratch. (outch)
Free, Easy to Install SSL:
Wondering about the SSL that is now mandatory by Google? Well, that’s included for free on all Siteground’s plans.
In fairness, Bluehost now also includes SSL for free. At the time though, I had to ask them to install SSL and had to wait a bit for it to work.
With Siteground, I just clicked some buttons and it voilà it was done!
Price Plan Options:
Another big win is how Siteground’s plans are set up for different stages and accommodate growth.
Bluehost is cheaper for starting bloggers, but I much prefer the plan options Siteground offers due to the flexibility, ability to grow and the power features that are included.
SiteGround has three plans and each plan is best suited for different stages of the blogging journey and experience:
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website who are just starting out. If the plan is not to grow with more websites, this a good price point for you.
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for the money. It allows you to add unlimited websites as you grow your online ventures; plus, their SG optimizer with SuperCacher is all you need for an all-in website performance optimizer. (Bluehost does not offer this)
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like more server resources and GIT integration.
Here’s a visual overview of Siteground’s plan options:
Here’s what I like about it…
Now, if you’re just starting out and want to minimize the financial investment, the StartUp plan is usually recommended.
I, however, went with the GrowBig plan.
Well, for one I’m not a complete newbie to blogging and have managed expectations in terms of return on my investment.
Also, I have a number of different domains and I wanted to do something with them. The idea is to test different things as I explore different niches. That means I need a plan that allows me more than 1 website.
Which plan you choose is up to you, of course. But I suggest you consider a few things:
- Are you a complete newbie and don’t really know if this will even work?
- Or, do you have some knowledge and experience in the online world?
- Do you plan on having only one website or would you like to explore different projects?
- Will you be showing people how to start a website from scratch? – having the ability to add a different website is a great way to show behind the scenes without the added hosting cost.
- Also, do you prefer looking for an external performance optimizer plugin that you may or may not have to pay for?
That last one takes me to my next point, which may be Siteground’s best-selling feature yet…
One of the things you will need in your WordPress website – be it a blog or not – is a plugin that will optimize your website performance.
Website performance (i.e. site speed, etc.) is a major key factor Google considers when ranking websites. It also affects your conversion and bounce rates, and ultimately your user experience.
You don’t have to use Siteground’s plugin; you can always get an external plugin like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache. However, I personally like how easy SG Optimizer is to use and understand. More importantly, the SG Optimizer far outperforms any other performance plugin you can find out there.
What’s really neat is that Siteground includes their SG Optimizer with their GrowBig and GoGeek plans (but I believe it’s extra in their most basic plan – StartUp plan).
So, regardless of how you go about it, you will need a plugin that will optimize your website. As far I know, Bluehost doesn’t really have anything for that but Siteground gives you the option to install their SG Optimizer plugin with just a click of a button.
Partly because of their high-quality SG Optimizer, Siteground is known to be one of the best shared hosting options in terms of speed and uptime.
I, personally, have messed up my site speed quite a few times, doing silly things like adding too many low-quality plugins and not optimizing my media files. Luckily, the SG Optimizer is super easy to understand and fix these issues yourself without breaking down your website.
Generally, I find my website performance to be superior to when I used Bluehost; which speaks to the issues I mentioned earlier.
Any Cons with Siteground?
Everything has a pro and a con and Siteground is no exception.
I, personally, thing the pros far outweigh the cons in this case, but let’s take a more unbiased look at it:
Bluehost vs. Siteground: Prices
The biggest downside of Siteground in comparison to Bluehost is the prices.
Bluehost’s basic plan starts at $2.95/month (paid yearly)*. In contrast, Siteground’s StartUp plan starts at $3.95/month (paid yearly)*.
*These are first-year prices. For both Siteground and Bluehost, much like all other hosts, the price goes up once you renew it.
Here’s a comparison of the pricing plans between Bluehost and Siteground:
As you can see, there are a few key differences to note. Bluehost starts at a lower price, yet it includes free domain for the first year, as well as 50GB of website space.
On the other hand, Siteground’s lowest price is higher by an extra $1/month and you only get 10GB of website space. Also, Siteground does not offer a free domain, I’d recommend you keep your domain separate from your host.
Bluehost’s other price plans are also much cheaper than Siteground’s. But you know how the saying goes – “you get what you pay for” – and I think that’s quite true in this case.
What do the Pros say about Siteground?
I’m not too shabby with tech but I’m no expert, so I wanted to gather a few different reviews from the experts so you can have a more accurate idea of Siteground.
WPbeginner did a review of Siteground earlier this year that goes into some technical details about the host’s performance. Their verdict? Siteground is “noticeably faster and extremely reliable. Their hosting plans are flexible, and their customer support is one of the best in the industry.”
They also only found two downsides – limited storage in comparison to other hosts and the setup fee added if you go with a month-to-month plan.
The folks over at Hosting Facts also reviewed Siteground based on a 24-month test run and concluded Siteground is a reliable host with 99.99% uptime and 673ms in speed metrics. The downsides they found were also mostly about the price tag.
I haven’t yet had to contact customer service, but Host Facts also mentioned that Siteground has good customer service over phone and live chat.
I do want to mention that Hosting Facts rated the top web hosting for 2020 based on uptime, speed and cost and Bluehost was the #1, as best overall. Siteground came in #6 with best customer service.
So, if choosing between Bluehost and Siteground seems confusing, don’t worry, the pros like both of them.
Fellow bloggers I often interact with, on the other hand, would pick Siteground without a doubt. Hence, why I prefer a mix of facts and honest experience to weed out hypes and extreme views.
Final Thoughts on Bluehost vs Siteground
All in all, I don’t take the stance of some bloggers out there who promote Bluehost without letting people know all the facts. But I also don’t go the opposite way and call anyone promoting Bluehost “slimy” (true story).
I absolutely recommend Siteground over Bluehost, but taking an extreme position is not really my thing. I like to evaluate the facts and then make an informed decision based on both facts and my own common sense.
Many people have had really bad experiences with Bluehost. Those experiences are valid. My only negative experience with Bluehost, though, was towards the end of my contract when I did notice my site speed lagging a little, but I was never quite sure it was really Bluehost’s fault.
In the end, I switched to Siteground out of precaution first, and wanting to potentially grow second. That’s it.
Now that I am with Siteground, I do have to admit there are some differences. The ease of setup and the added optimization power are the two things about Siteground that impress me the most.
So, while I recommend Siteground over Bluehost, I encourage you to really take in the features of each host service and use your common sense.
As a former retail store owner, I can tell you I’ve had customers who raved about our customer service; and I’ve had customers who clearly would never recommend us.
Don’t expect rainbows and unicorns from your host. Not everyone will be happy and bad experiences happen with any company.
Like I said, I do prefer Siteground over Bluehost, but I will not stamp Bluehost as a “slimy” company when I actually had pretty good experience with them overall.
What about you? Have you tried Bluehost before? What were your experiences with them? What about Siteground? Continue the conversation in the comments below.