One of the most critical elements in a website is good web hosting. If your site is down or slow all your hard work takes a hit. We all know visitors don’t wait around and you won’t impress Google either. If you’re like me you’ll have enough speed problems with too many plugins and a mountain of things to get on top of. Thankfully a few months ago I found the best WordPress hosting – SiteGround.
In the past few years managed WordPress hosting has emerged with companies such as WPEngine that host exclusively websites powered by WordPress. Some of the benefits of managed WordPress hosting include servers optimised for WordPress and expert WordPress support – but for many site owners (including me) exclusive hosting comes at an uncompetitive price .
…for the price of shared hosting
As well as WordPress, SiteGround provides services for sites using Joomla and Drupal. But for WordPress users they’ve tailored a set of features remarkably similar to what you’d get from exclusive WordPress hosting. And most importantly they do this for a price that compares to standard shared hosting.
The 6 things to look for if you want the best WordPress hosting
The features were impressive, the pricing was right and the reviews were excellent. I moved to SiteGround in early February – in the page speed chart the date looks like a cliff :)
That’s an improvement of 841% ! Speed has to be one of the greatest advantages of SiteGroud. You can see the improvement in my server response time. In an instant it went from max 4831ms to 574ms response time.
The first line of attack in speeding up WordPress is caching. Even SiteGround’s introductory plan includes static caching by default. Other plans offer the custom WordPress plugin SuperCacher as a paid option. This plugin is simple to set up and results in speeds of up to four times faster. At the moment I’m on the introductory plan but if I upgrade then this service will be a big reason.
All SiteGround plans include free access to CloudFlare’s CDN. This improves security, stability and above all loading speed. It’s easy to set up from within SiteGround and it can help speed up your site even further. There’s an optional upgrade that offers greater benefits still. As it happens I was already on a CloudFlare plan so I’d no need to look into this.
SiteGround provides hosting on three different continents. This is something that many other hosts simply can’t offer. You can choose the server location closest to your website users. There are datacenters in Chicago, Amsterdam, and Singapore. You’re cutting down the distance between you and your visitors and the number of connection hops. This makes for optimal performance in terms of speed and security. So you’re visitors are happier and so is Google.
When I moved to SiteGround speed was uppermost in my mind but other factors were important too. I used to be plagued by downtime. I would phone up support at my old host (before the midnight cut-off) to find out why my site was down and they’d ask ‘Does your site being with C? We’re doing work on that server at the moment…’.
When you’ve had to deal with a bad host you understand it’s essential to look for reliability.
In the past I’ve opted for hosts that saved me a few dollars a month at the expense of loading like a snail and going down time and again. It’s not worth the frustration for you or the people who click on your site.
SiteGround offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee. This is very different from the performance of my last host but I believe it’s broadly in line with what people expect. Having experienced SiteGround I wouldn’t settle for anything less. Pages load quickly and downtime is virtually nonexistent. I credit this to helping reduce bounce rate on my site and increase pageviews.
Pricing like a standard web host
Although SiteGround provides many features similar to those offered by managed WordPress hosts their plans are priced more in line with standard shared hosting. The cheapest plan from WPEngine starts at $29 per month for one site and rises steeply from there. SiteGround’s pricing starts at just $3.95 per month for hosting one website. You can host multiple websites from $7.95 per month. In the past I’ve settled for cheaper hosting but I learned soon enough that was a bad move.
SiteGround hosting plans
There are three plans but unless you’re a reseller or you get about 100,000 hits per month you need compare only two. (Just in case you are a reseller I’ve included details for the GoGeek plan in the grey box below.) The main difference between plans is the amount of traffic you expect.
And a hosting plan crafted for real web geeks…
The third level GoGeek plan includes all of the above plus some advanced features that may be of interest to developers. These include GIT and staging, PCI Compliance and advanced hardware.
This plan offers a completely different infrastructure with more powerful servers and fewer users. It’s suitable for up to 100,000 visits per month so it’s perfect for many ecommerce sites.
One thing about many hosting companies that nobody likes is their way of offering a low sign-up price to win new customers then charge a higher renewal price. We all know that web hosts are not the only people to use that tactic. Unfortunately SiteGround is just like all the rest in this respect. The renewal price is much higher than the original sign-up price.
The difference with SiteGround is that it lets you ‘lock in’ that price for up to three years. Now that made a lot of sense to me so I locked in my deal straight away.
I’m very pleased to say that SiteGround are running a special promotion for the UK. For once you’re better off living here than in paradise. The monthly price is a very affordable £2.75. This is the deal I grabbed when I could.
Optimised WordPress performance
If you want the best WordPress hosting SiteGround is the place to be. They’ve created their own optimised server setup with unique security and speed systems. I’ve already spoken about how their caching technology speeds up your website. SiteGround offers many other features tailored to WordPress users.
When a new version of WordPress becomes available Siteground upgrades your installation automatically. I find this particularly useful for a sub-domain which is easy to forget. This way you know your site is always benefiting from the latest developments and fixes. And very importantly, SiteGround makes a backup of your site prior to the upgrade in case anything unforeseen happens, just like you would do yourself in an ideal world… Auto-Updating is normally a paid option from sites like WPEngine. If you prefer to do things manually you can simply opt out of auto upgrades (which isn’t an option with some exclusive hosts).
All plans include free daily backups. The introductory plan only stores your most recent backup but the other plans store 30 copies. Personally I rely on more backups than this – they’re so useful for reversing any hiccup. For this reason I recommend you set up an additional backup system. I use the free plugin Updraft Plus which connects to my Dropbox.
Security issues often arise in the WordPress community so you need a host who’s alert to potential problems. SiteGround has a reputation for taking action to protect their customers by implementing security such as a custom patch or other server-level solution. Regardless of what security steps you implement on your own site you’re still vulnerable to leaks on other sites when using shared hosting. A proactive host is the only way to keep on top of these threats. For $12 per year you can also subscribe to ‘Hack Alert’ notifications and a weekly email.
No limitation on plugins you can use
This is not the case with exclusive WordPress hosts like WPEngine. I was taken aback when a host I used in the past allowed only four plugins.
One-click install of WordPress and other software – plus all the usual things we’ve come to expect
Each plan includes the things you’d expect from any host including a free domain name and 30 day money-back guarantee.
24/7 Customer service and technical support
I haven’t needed much support from SiteGround because their service is so reliable. I’ve contacted them several times for quick-fire questions through their online chat. You get connected to a support rep very quickly, usually immediately but never more than a minute or so.
I’ve always found the team incredibly helpful and with expert knowledge of WordPress. As well as chat you can contact the company by phone or through their email ticketing system. Their customer service team has an average customer query response time of less than 10 minutes. Believe me I have known a lot different… If you’re looking for the best WordPress hosting you’re looking for support you can reach.
Client Survey – better every year
You can see in the latest Client Survey that even at these very high levels of satisfaction the figures are still rising year after year.
- About 98% of participants are satisfied with uptime, security, and support; 95% are satisfied with the hosting speed.
- 95% of participants are willing to recommend SiteGround.
I must also refer to an important part of the SiteGround ethos here. The company supports several open source software applications including WordPress, Joomla and Magento, plus corresponding tutorials and templates. They’re particularly active in the WordPress community and their enthusiasm shows. This ethical aspect may be of little importance to many users but for some people keeping the internet free is a great motivator.
I’ve moved sites twice before and however organised I thought I was things do go wrong. On one occasion the migration team managed to lose all my social share figures. It’s very difficult getting people to accept responsibility for something like that when they all say it’s impossible to happen.
The lesson I learned is to move somewhere good and stay there. Despite my bad experiences with other migration teams I entrusted my move to SiteGround who carried it out quickly and without a single fault. Set-up & Transfer is free. It’s all taken care of so don’t worry if you don’t have tech skills.
In every host I’ve moved to I’ve always looked for room to grow but I think I’ve finally found it. As your site grows you can scale services to meet your needs perfectly. SiteGround makes it easy to upgrade from shared hosting to cloud hosting or dedicated servers.
Multiple Domain Hosting
The introductory plan (which I’m on) allows you to host a single website. That’s perfect for keeping down costs. All their other plans allow you to host an unlimited number of sites. This is what I’ll need when I organise a portfolio of niche sites. Most managed WordPress hosts don’t offer this flexibility, so bear this in mind if you’re still actively developing your business.
Of all the hosts I’ve been with over the years this is the first time I can say I’ve had only good experiences. The sole negative I could come up with is that there are even lower-priced shared hosting plans available elsewhere, but with nothing like the speed and reliability you get from SiteGround.
If you’re looking for the best WordPress hosting and a great host you can trust I highly recommend SiteGround.
I’ve written this review to share my experiences of being a customer with SiteGround. The post does include affiliate links and if you make a purchase I’ll make a small commission for the referral. So if you do purchase from here I’d like to say thank you, I really appreciate it.