SiteGround Review 2021: Is it Affordable for a WordPress Hosting Solution?
SiteGround, just like other web hosting companies, sells a variety of hosting solutions targeted to folks who wish to utilize, as well as monetize, the power of digital marketing—whether it is through personal websites and business pages to eCommerce shops
Having said that, if you are looking to use SiteGround as your web host but still in doubt whether it is worth a try, my in-depth SiteGround Review can help you. In this article, I will cover its best features, performance, and how the web host works in general.
What is SiteGround?
Located in Bulgaria, Spain, SiteGround is a privately held web hosting company offering a wide range of budget-friendly web hosting solutions. It is, however, known for its fully managed WordPress hosting plan.
SiteGround was established way back in 2004 and since then have steadily grown. Now, it has offices located in Spain and Bulgaria and is registered in four countries including the U.S. and the U.K. It employs more than 500 workers and currently supports nearly two million domains worldwide.
What is it for?
SiteGround is a web hosting provider selling several types of hostings. These include shared hosting, WordPress and WooCommerce hosting, cloud hosting, dedicated hosting, enterprise hosting, and reseller hosting.
Essentially, the web hosting solution is built to aid aspiring entrepreneurs and startups in managing their online business. It also provides support for personal or professional websites for, say, bloggers and freelancers, who need to market their brand and their services.
But not only that, it is as well suitable for the following:
· Small to medium-sized digital marketing agencies
· Businesses with large scale projects
· Web developers managing several sites for different clients
SiteGround, on the other hand, is particularly known for its managed WordPress hosting. In fact, it is recognized and is now an official partner of WordPress.org.
It is highly recommended for folks who wish to have websites with exceptional performance as well, given its top-of-the-line features, (which I will discuss more later) including Cloudflare CDN, data centers, worldwide, and Google Cloud.
How does it differ?
SiteGround is not that unique compared to its competitors. Of course, some of its tools are what other web hosting companies are offering as well.
But the thing is, SiteGround has integrated a few tools which made it stand out among its peers—and one of these features is its Google Cloud.
Yes, you read it right. SiteGround is powered by Google Cloud Platform (GCP) which Google itself uses for its end-user tools like Gmail and YouTube. GCP is also utilized by various big brands too such as Spotify and Coca-Cola
It is equipped with other high-performing tools to boost its server performance as well like Ultrafast PHP and NGINX + caching. Apart from that, SiteGround boasts its collaborative features too which is built specifically to aid clients.
But what caught my attention is its cloud hosting which it promotes as a highly scalable hosting plan. Such a plan fits perfectly for popular web pages earning a significant amount of web traffic as it can handle a sudden surge of load or web traffic, preventing the site from crashing.
The pros and cons
To give more ideas about SiteGround, below are some of the perks as well as disadvantages that I noticed while testing it.
· The server is powered by Google Cloud Platform
· Official partner of WordPress.org
· Robust security tools
· Built-for-speed network infrastructure
· 100% uptime guarantee
· 24/7 customer support
· Offers a scalable hosting
· Budget-friendly plans
· It comes with intuitive collaborative tools
· Limited data storage
· Expensive hosting plans
· No free domain
· Site migration is limited
Everything about SiteGround
To help you weigh things better, let’s dig in a little further and take a closer look at SiteGround’s features and tools.
SiteGround’s best features
SiteGround is equipped with a huge selection of features ranging from basic to advanced and innovative ones. Some of these tools, however, stand out better than the others. In other words, they are what make SiteGround unique as well as competitive.
That said, here are SiteGround’s best features.
1. Built-for-speed infrastructure
As you can see, SiteGround comprises a wide range of technologies. And among these tools—which is also my top feature for SiteGround—is its well-built network of infrastructure.
Why, you ask? Simply because it is built specifically to enhance your server’s and site’s speed.
Here are the reasons why it is created for speed:
1. Utilizes Google Cloud Platform. Google Cloud Platform or GCP is a suite of cloud computing services that run on the same infrastructure that Google utilizes to support its end-user products like Gmail and YouTube. Thus, technically, if you subscribed to one of Kinsta’s hosting plans, you will use the same infrastructure large companies like Google, HTC, and Coca-Cola are using.
2. Equipped with a software stack particularly to boost speed. The web host comes with a wide selection of software that is optimized to boost site and server speed as well. And with this, it claims to provide an exceptionally fast hosting solution.
For instance, it utilizes an in-house Linux Containers with Apache as a site server. SiteGround also offers a customized PHP handling setup along with an OPCache extension to improve its performance further.
3. Includes some of the latest speed technologies. When it comes to speed tools, SiteGround is one of the web hosting providers that offer the latest speed technologies. These include protocols like TLS 1.3, QUIC, HTTP/2, and OCSP stapling.
The web hosting solution also has the newest versions of PHP.
4. Ultrafast PHP. Ultrafast PHP is SiteGround’s newest addition to its arsenal of speed technologies, which the web host company developed specifically for cloud hosting and GoGeek plans.
Essentially, what it does is that it cuts a significant number of Time to First Byte (TTFB) which makes a page load faster by an average of 30%. It has lower memory usage as well and enables the server to quickly process a larger number of queries.
5. It has data centers worldwide. The physical distance between the user and the server—though delivery speed has improved considerably in the past years—affects a page loading time. As such, to further give a better and faster service to everyone in the world, SiteGround made sure it has enough data centers to accommodate all its clients across the globe.
The web hosting company has multiple data centers located in places like the U.K. Netherlands, Singapore, Chicago, and Sydney. Users can also choose what data center they want to use for their websites. So, say, your target audience is mainly from Australia, then you must opt for its Sydney data center.
6. Offers Cloudflare CDN. A CDN or a Content Delivery Network, as its name suggests, is a tool built to optimize a content’s delivery speed. It comes with a Railgun too and is included in all plans—basic to advanced.
It is integrated into SiteGround’s cPanel as well so no you can use it straight away. No need to install it and other technical whatnots.
2. Ecommerce hostings
SiteGround offers eCommerce hosting solutions as well: the managed WordPress and managed WooCommerce. But compared to its rivals, the web hosting solution is recognized as among the best ones to offer the said eCommerce platforms
1. Managed WordPress hosting. Although all SiteGround’s hosting solutions are commendable given the quality of its services, the web host is known for its reliable managed WordPress hosting. In fact, as mentioned earlier, it is acknowledged and is now an official partner of WordPress.org.
SiteGround’s WordPress hosting is a fully managed plan which allows users like you to just sit down and relax since the web hosting company will do most of the work for you.
It is composed of tons of advanced tools too like the “Dev Toolkit” which is handy for web developers. It comes with a suite of collaboration features too that was built specifically for web developers who manage several pages for different clients.
Aside from that, it also provides an email too wherein users can create an unlimited number of email accounts. It comes with a free spam tool as well called SpamExperts.
Here are a few more perks:
· Software stack to optimize WordPress-supported site’s speed
· Regular WordPress updates for its latest version
· All installed plugins are automatically updated regularly.
But what is truly impressive about it is that it has “Bot Protection.” Essentially, the system stops any malicious and forced attacks on your webpages. It can also detect suspicious login attempts.
SiteGround offers a built-in plugin called SuperCacher too, an exclusive feature that you will only access through its hosting plans.
2. WooCommerce hosting. WooComerce hosting is another variant of the eCommerce solution developed by SiteGround. And while WordPress is typically for general use, Woocommerce is specifically designed to aid you in “selling more online.”
Essentially, the hosting plan provides solutions that could help you in terms of selling, marketing, and creating seamless online trading for buyers. It comes with a wide range of tools that are included in WordPress hosting as well.
It also offers the following eCommerce features:
· Sell any kind of product or service
· Pre-installed WooCommerce platform
· Diverse payment options (PayPal, bank transfers, COD)
· Seamless handling of orders
· Customizable shipping options
· Allows plugin installation
3. Robust security solutions
Another SiteGround feature that I find handy for web owners and developers is its arsenal of security solutions.
For a web hosting service, it is already a given that they must supply tools to protect their clients’ websites from data theft and other malicious attacks. But SiteGound took the matter very seriously, a good assurance for its clients that their webpages are all safe.
Having said that, SiteGround provides the most secure technologies available today including leech protect, SSL certificate, anti-spam tools like SpamExperts, Blocks suspicious IP addresses, and HackAlert (a plugin that alerts users if their pages are being hacked).
Here’s what makes SiteGround’s security solutions better than others:
1. Real-time server health checks. SiteGround comes with a unique monitoring system that checks the server regularly (approximately 0.5 seconds). It also fixes server troubles automatically which could prevent potential problems.
2. Smart Web Application Firewall. The web hosting provider has also integrated a smart Web Application Firewall which helps to protect your site against possible security breaches. But what is unique about it is that it writes new firewall rules to better strengthen your site’s defense.
3. Anti-bot AI. The web host has also developed a smart AI system created to block suspicious traffic. SiteGround claims that it can prevent malicious attacks between 500, 000 to two million a day from infecting your server.
4. 24/7 customer service. Aside from its suite of security tools, SiteGround has also a team of system administrators who are all highly experienced in the said field. The team monitors the web host’s platform 24/7 and is always available to troubleshoot any detected issues.
5. Automatic data backups (daily). Another handy security feature SiteGround I discovered is its automatic data daily backup.
Why, you ask?
It is because malware, hackers, and other technical issues that could cause a site crash and wipe your website data could happen anytime. And although prevention is the best solution, having a Plan B when said situation arises is useful too.
That said, SiteGround keeps website backups of all their users’ webpages. That way, when something happens to your page, you can restore all data that was lost.
To top it all, the web hosting service also comes with a site isolation feature that protects other pages if one of your websites is infected. It gives regular malware scans as well and automatically sends a report about your page’s security status.
4. Scalable cloud hosting
Another reason to commend SiteGround is its highly scalable Cloud hosting.
Essentially, a scalable hosting plan means it can take a sudden influx of web traffic without leaving your website down. A perfect solution for popular websites receiving a significant number of traffic or load every day.
In case of such a situation, here’s how SiteGround will prevent a website crash:
· Use its auto-scale option which adds more resources automatically
· Adds CPU and RAM anytime with just one click
It is an impressive feature I believe web hosting solutions should offer. However, in SiteGround’s case, the feature is only available for Cloud hosting. Hence, if you are a beginner, I suggest you check Kinsta (it offers auto-scalable features in all its hosting solutions) as it would be a bit impractical to avail of its cloud hosting.
5. Client tools
Another feature SiteGround boasts of is its selection of in-house and unique client features. And this suite includes the following tools:
· Collaboration tools. SiteGround’s interface is designed for easy user access controls so you can collaborate with others. Some of the functions include giving white label access to your clients and shipping webpages.
· Backup and restore solutions. The web host also offers data backups every day which, if needed, can be restored using its one-click restoration control. Users could also request on-demand site copies.
· Let’s Encrypt integration. SiteGround provides a built-in plugin called Let’s Encrypt which works like an SSL certificate. It also supplies and renews free SSL for every site made through its platform.
· WordPress starter plugin. A handy plugin for amateur and non-techy folks as it helps in creating fully functional web pages easily. It comes with an album of professional-looking templates with built-in plugins that you can automatically integrate.
· Smart WordPress staging. This tool lets you oversee the development process of your websites. Using it, you can test your site and even create a copy of your site.
· WordPress migrator plugin. As its name suggests, the plugin could automatically copy and migrate your WordPress website while remaining fully functional during the process.
The most important aspect for any type of webpages—but particularly for eCommerce sites—is the website’s performance. And as a webmaster, the first and most crucial element to maintain in a website is its accessibility or being “user-friendly.”
SiteGround, on a good note, saw how important the said matter is.
So, to confirm whether its claims are genuine or not, I ran several site tests to see how the web hosting provider functions performance-wise.
1. Uptime guarantee
To assure its clients that their business/projects are in good hands, SiteGround promised a nearly 100% uptime guarantee. Uptime is a technical term for a “website’s availability.” It is a gauge web owners use to determine whether their pages will be available online always.
And for entrepreneurs, as well as professionals who market their service online, a site’s availability plays a major role in their endeavors’ success.
Having said that, I performed a test using UptimeRobot to see if the result is up to par with what the web host company claims. And, surprisingly, the result is a solid 99.997%—slightly higher than the 99.99%.
Technically, it means that your webpage will always be available except, of course, for a few downtimes due to server and system maintenance.
On the flip side, the only downside I noticed is that SiteGround does not offer compensation for every time the site is down—unlike Kinsta.
2. Page loading speed
Aside from your page’s availability, how quick your webpage load matters to your visitors too. And if you are wondering whether SiteGround provides an exceptional speed, I am sad to say that it is not as fast as other quality web hosting services
I ran a website test using GTMetrix and Sucuri Load Time Load testers and here are the results:
· Using GTMetrix, SiteGround delivered an average loading speed of 2.02 seconds only. Its fastest loading time, on the other hand, is 1.4 seconds while the slowest is 2.5 seconds.
If you compare the results to other web hostings’ loading time that provide the same quality of service but in a much affordable process, SiteGround would rank last.
· Per the Sucuri Load Time tester, the global average loading time hit 1.436 seconds. Its fastest speed, on the one hand, was 0.64 seconds (specifically in North America and also Amsterdam) while the slowest is 3.244 seconds (in Singapore and India).
As you can see, the results delivered by the Sucuri Load Time tester are slightly better compared to the GTMetrix. But do take note that it is due to how the tester measures the speed. Because apparently, it does not load a webpage fully.
All in all, I could say that SiteGround’s performance is not bad at all. However, if you want a faster and much cheaper hosting solution but with the same high-quality service, I recommend you check Kinsta or Liquid Web instead.
Hosting plans and costs
Just like its competitors, SiteGround offers various hosting types, including WordPress hosting, cloud hosting, enterprise hosting, and even reseller hosting. Each hosting plan also varies in prices as well as the suite of perks included
Apart from that, all plans’ subscription period is divided into three terms: 12 months, 24 months, and 36 months.
But the question is, is it affordable for a web hosting provider
Here’s a breakdown of each hosting’s basic plans:
· WordPress hosting’s StartUp plan starts at $6.99 per month
· WooCommerce hosting’s basic plan starts at $6.99 per month
· Web hosting’s StartUp plan starts at $6.99 per month
· Cloud hosting’s entry plan starts at $80 per month
· Reseller hosting’s GrowBig plan starts at $9.99 per month
Apparently, it is not as budget-friendly as it seems to be. It is because its renewal price for the program is three times more expensive than the initial payment. Unlike its peers such as Liquid Web and Kinsta who sell the same and high-quality services.
SiteGround offers a one-month trial too but you will need to pay an additional set up, which is a few months’ worth of hosting service in other web host providers. Its payment is sort of limited as well as it only allows payments through credit cards. And if, say, you wish to pay via PayPal, you will have to ask a request from its customer support first
Quite a hassle, isn’t it?
On a good note, the web hosting company has a 30-day money-back guarantee rule. So, if you don’t like its services, you could still get your money back.
As a company that takes care of other firms’ means of business—whether startups or enterprises—having a team of customer service is crucial to give your clients a fulfilling support system.
SiteGround, fortunately, understands how crucial such an aspect is to its clients that it created a user-oriented system to cater to its users’ demands and web problems. Now, it boasts its customer support as the fastest and friendliest support system with nearly 100% satisfaction rates.
Its customer service, for example, is available 24/7 and users can reach through different means including live chat, emails, ticket requests, and phone calls. That way, when users encounter sudden technical issues, they could get immediate solutions as soon as possible even if they are outside the United States.
But not only that. SiteGround provides a lot of perks that I’m pretty sure you would appreciate.
Here are some of them:
· 90% resolution. SiteGround does not want to waste its customers’ time. And assures to give immediate as well as accurate solutions to your site or server problems only.
· Auto channel recommendation. The web host has also this feature wherein its support system will give the “best” means or channel to resolve the problem on hand.
If, say, it requires a series of troubleshooting that needs to be monitored in real-time, then SiteGround’s support team will most likely recommend talking to you on phone rather than email or live chat as it would be faster and efficient.
· Quick response time. SiteGround guarantees a fast response for both live chat and phone conversations. It also promises an average of 15-minute replies through tickets.
· Smart AI chatbot. SiteGround has built an intuitive AI chatbot that you users can reach out to if, in case, they encounter a small problem that can be fixed right away and requires no agent.
That way, the client could fix the issue immediately and would not need to wait for a representative.
· Knowledgebase. If on the flip side, you want to learn something about your site or server, you can check its collection of articles pinned under its Help section as well. It includes articles with the most common inquiries as well as relevant questions.
At the foot of its website, you will see links through different written tutorials such as WordPress optimization and WooCommerce eBook. It also has guides about launching small biz as well as how to do online marketing for beginners.
· Automated solutions. Through its automated solutions feature, the web hosting service can give you answers instantly—without the need of an agent—especially if your inquiry had been tackled before by either you or other users.
Things to take note of
SiteGround also lacks a few aspects that I believe they could improve in the future. And these flaws, though they are not huge enough to cause you technical troubles in case you opt for it as your hosting solution, are still important to help you consider things.
Having said that, below are a few aspects you should take note of.
1. Data storage limits
SiteGround’s perks are typically limited, including its data storage. It means the amount of data you can store is capped at a certain amount.
SiteGround limits it for a good reason: to prevent their sites from being sluggish. So if, say, your site includes heavy videos, I recommend you opt for a hosting that has unlimited data storage.
2. Expensive plans
At first glance, you will find SiteGround as an affordable shared hosting solution given its introductory price of $6.99 only for a jampacked of quality tools, particularly if you are a noob when it comes to websites and hostings. But the thing is it is not as budget-friendly as it seems.
The reason is because most of its plans are limited. There are other web hosting companies that offer the same services as well but at much more cheaper prices. Some have much more to offer than SiteGround as well.
Aside from that, its introductory or special prices are not fixed. It means that once you renew your subscription, your payment is not the same as your initial payment. And SiteGround will charge you with higher renewal rates and is twice (and even thrice) the cost.
Hence, if you want to take advantage of its introductory price, you have to opt for the longest term possible.
3. Overused resource
The web hosting company also supplies a limited amount of resources. Or, as to how they call it, “monthly budget of CPU per second.”
In layman’s terms, it means the resources you can use every month is capped. And once you go over it, SiteGround will automatically put your page on hold until the following month when your resources are renewed.
SiteGround, in general, is a decent web hosting solution for anyone who wishes to venture into website monetization. But I must say that it is particularly suitable for WordPress users as well as aspiring online biz owners.
It has easy to use and intuitive interface that fits perfectly for beginners. It comes with an arsenal of tools built specifically for professionals and advanced web developers as well. Hence, SiteGound caters to both side of the room.
The only downside I am concerned about is that it is not budget-friendly. It sets limits to its perks as well. So, if your budget is quite tight, I suggest you try other low-cost web hosting solutions.