I have a confession…
Years ago, I used to be one of those bloggers recommending Bluehost as an affiliate. But that changed after joining over 30 Facebook Groups and reading hundreds of conversations where people asked about the “best” hosting. I immediately transferred my website from Bluehost to SiteGround (spoiler: my loads times are now under 1s). I also stopped recommending Bluehost since there was no comparison between these two – please do your research on social media!
SiteGround was rated the #1 host over 34 Facebook polls (even when compared to Bluehost) and is also used by Yoast. People who migrated from Bluehost to SiteGround were able to cut 7s off their load time. Do your research on Trustpilot, Advanced Twitter Search, and Facebook Groups. You’ll see tons of current Bluehost customers complaining about their slow servers, downtimes, and super slow support. While most SiteGround customers are genuinely happy.
Who did I end up with?
SiteGround, and obviously glad I did, because there are tons of Bluehost affiliates out there who will steer you in the wrong direction. There is also an overwhelming amount of social media evidence that SiteGround is faster. With their GoGeek plan and a few website optimizations, I was able to get <1s load times and 100% GTmetrix scores. I never was able to get that on Bluehost. So why is SiteGround better? That’s what you’ll be learning in this review.
1. SiteGround vs. Bluehost In 34 Facebook Polls
SiteGround was ranked #1 in 34 different polls while Bluehost was pretty much nowhere on the map. Many of these were taken in private groups, so you will need to join them to see the polls (I also provided screenshots). The WordPress Hosting Facebook Group is a great place to get unbiased opinions about hosting – since they don’t allow affiliate links and self-promoters.
2. Avoid Bluehost Affiliate Traps
Bluehost affiliates are littering Google, Quora, and Facebook Groups with bad advice. Bluehost is incentivizing them with high commissions and that is really all they care about.
Where to get truly unbiased hosting opinions
- Trustpilot (see SiteGround vs Bluehost)
- WordPress Hosting Facebook Group (recommended)
- Advanced Twitter Search (eg. Bluehost support vs SiteGround support)
- Reddit (although many people on Reddit aren’t experienced with hosting)
- Moderated Facebook Groups (WordPress Speed Up, SEO Signals, Elementor)
Of course, there are plenty of SiteGround affiliates too (yes, including me). But I pull most of my reviews from social media and will address the 2 main concerns of SiteGround – high renewal prices and CPU limits. I will also tell you that most people who migrate away from SiteGround either go to DigitalOcean on Cloudways or A2 (see my other hosting alternatives).
3. Do Your Research On EIG
The same company (Endurance International Group) owns 60+ different hosting companies including Bluehost, HostGator, HostMonster, Site5, iPage, Unified Layer, and many others.
Why you should avoid EIG
- They have shareholders to please (profits over people)
- The cut costs by packing too many people on the same server
- They “streamline” support by firing staff and making customers wait forever
- They don’t actively invest in new technology (slow to release new PHP versions)
- They are known for acquiring decent hosting companies, but then they go downhill
Read this about EIG…
4. Bluehost Servers Are Slow As Hell
If you care about fast load times and good GTmetrix/Pingdom reports, Bluehost won’t help. They overcrowd their servers and tons of people complain about this on Facebook + Twitter.
Here’s what Bluehost says in their user agreement:
Just to give you an idea, SiteGround has a 150,000, 300,000, and 450,000 inode limit for their StartUp, GrowBig, GoGeek plan accordingly. Which hosting plan is Bluehost referring to when they mention these 200,000 inode limits? We can only guess, but judging by the amount of people complaining about their servers, that limit probably applies to most plans on Bluehost.
How To Check If Your Server Is Slow
You can run any website through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report, which means your server (host) is slow. This happens a lot with Bluehost.
5. Frequent Downtimes
When I was with Bluehost, my site would go down about once every week, sometimes for multiple hours. It was really painful questioning whether it was their hosting, or whether something I did was wrong. Once I migrated to SiteGround, all my downtime problems went away. Again, if this is a business website you rely on to make money, do not choose Bluehost.
This got so bad Bluehost wrote an apology letter:
Bluehost is constantly apologizing:
6. Slow + Unhelpful Support
Bluehost’s support is incomparable to SiteGround. With SiteGround, you can get ahold of live chat within seconds and tickets answered in 10-15 minutes. Bluehost can takes hours or even weeks to reply. The worst part is, there have been numerous reports of them saying they will “follow up” but never do. If your website goes down on their servers, it can be very frustrating.
7. Both Companies Have Unfair Billing
To get Bluehost’s advertised prices ($2.95/month) you need to pay 3 years upfront, otherwise you will pay more for 1-2 years. You will only find this out once you get to their checkout page.
SiteGround’s renewal prices are high. You can get up to 3 years of their promotional price, then it jumps. That’s why if you can, I would pay for 3 years because at that value, it is likely the best shared hosting you will find. Last year, I signed my girlfriend up for SiteGround and regret not paying for 3 years. Once it was time to renew, we ended up moving to A2 (it’s a restaurant website and she just wanted it up and running for as cheap as possible). I tried to convince her to renew or go to Cloudways. She wanted cheap, and I know better than to argue with women.
8. Why You Shouldn’t Use Bluehost
9. Why I Use SiteGround
10. Bluehost To SiteGround Migration = 7s Off Load Time
Look at people who migrated from Bluehost to SiteGround and posted their new load times. Affiliates can say whatever they want, but these are non-affiliated customers who actually went through the experience. SiteGround’s speed technology is so much faster than Bluehost.
Not to mention my own GTmetrix report:
Here’s my Pingdom report:
11. SiteGround’s Servers Are Faster
Now that you’ve seen the load time improvements of people who migrated, I want to cover a few things you can do within your SiteGround dashboard that will make your site even faster. You can check out their cPanel demo if you want to become familiar with where everything is.
I recommend either using their SG Optimizer plugin or WP Rocket (only use one, no need to use both). SG Optimizer is faster than any other cache plugin because it uses server-side caching instead of the file-based caching used by other cache plugins. But, it doesn’t come with as many features as WP Rocket. It’s a tradeoff between faster caching or more “miscellaneous” speed optimizations. I would test both to see which one gives you the best results in GTmetrix.
In your SiteGround dashboard, you can activate Cloudflare in 1-click. It’s a free CDN with 200+ data centers and there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be taking advantage of this.
In your SiteGround PHP Manager, you can upgrade all the way to PHP 7.3. This alone can make a noticeable speed improvement even when clicking through your pages. SiteGround is always one of the first hosts to release newer PHP versions, while Bluehost is late to the party.
Higher Plans = More Server Resources
Higher plans come with more server resources (#1 factor of site speed). Head over to their features page and scroll down to “we allocate the resources you need” then hover over the “server” tab. You can see how many server resources come with each plan along with a side-by-side comparison of their StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek plan. I at least recommend their GrowBig plan since it’s only $2/month more and comes with more server resources, priority support, and unlimited hosted websites. GoGeek comes with even more resources + staging.
12. SiteGround Is Endorsed By Yoast, WordPress, And Ivica
SiteGround is used by Yoast:
They’re recommended by WordPress (so is Bluehost but they don’t deserve to be on there):
And by Ivica (Admin of the popular WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group):
13. Uptimes Are Actually 99.99%
Here’s my website monitored by Pingdom Tools which is 100%. This is because their uptime technology is super reliable with Linux containers, server monitoring, an in-house backup system, and secure account isolation (which SiteGround was the first company to create). A lot of hosting companies CLAIM to have 99.99% uptimes but with all the errors you get with bad hosting it’s definitely not 99.99%. With SiteGround your servers will be super reliable so you’ll never have to worry about your website going down for no reason (trust me, I’ve been there).
14. Support Is Phenomenal
I don’t care how many features your hosting company has, if their support sucks, they suck. I can pick up the phone and get ahold of SiteGround support in under a minute. It makes such a big difference. Their team is super knowledgeable especially when it comes to WordPress.
SiteGround customers love their support.
15. WordPress Features
SiteGround has tons of WordPres features you can find on their features page:
I covered this earlier, but SG Optimizer not only does caching, but a lot of other speed optimizations: minification, image optimization, lazy loading, and upgrading PHP versions.
You can enable autoupdates for WordPress core/plugins in their cPanel.
SiteGround is literally on their game when it comes to WordPress and security. They are constantly monitoring vulnerabilities and updating their servers to protect you against the latest threats – they posts updates on their Facebook page all the time and customers praise this with awesome feedback. You also get periodic emails letting you know your site is secure.
Staging comes with their GrowBig/GoGeek plan and lets you create a demo website to test new plugins, designs, and updates before launching them on your site (which is done in 1 click).
I have a feeling most SiteGround customers use WordPress, and they are extremely knowledgable in troubleshooting plugins, helping you block unwanted crawlers that consume resources, and fixing bugs. Most websites don’t go down on SiteGround, but if it does, they are super responsive in helping you getting it back up. Their support for WordPress is awesome.
All SiteGround plans come with eCommerce hosting features like a free SSL from Let’s Encrypt. GoGeek comes with PCI compliance which prevents credit card fraud on eCommerce sites. And if you’re not comfortable installing a shopping cart, SiteGround’s will do this for free.
16. SiteGround’s CPU Limits
SiteGround tells you how many visitors each plan can handle, but you should really be looking at their features page which tells you each plan’s CPU limits. If you exceed them, they will send you warnings and eventually, shut down your site. That’s why it’s best to reduce your CPU usage ahead of time (which can also improve load times). Many things are as easy as installing the Heartbeat Control plugin, Blackhole For Bad Bots plugin, and using Cloudflare’s free CDN.
Be preventative in reducing CPU and don’t let it happen to you:
Bottom line: if you’re running a WooCommerce site, high CPU plugins, or your website consumes a lot of resources, make sure you optimize your site and choose a plan that can support those resources. SiteGround’s support can also help you identify if there’s an issue. Every company who offers shared hosting will throttle your CPU usage, not just SiteGround.
17. Free Migrations By SiteGround
SiteGround does free migrations with their GrowBig/GoGeek plan. Just open a support ticket and request a transfer. There should be 0 downtime and I’ve had this done for many websites.
18. StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek
Here’s the comparison chart:
StartUp ($3.95/month) – good for hosting 1 single website that doesn’t require high CPU plugins, WooCommerce, or have much traffic. You should only use it if you’re just starting and don’t anticipate lots of traffic. It doesn’t come with many server resources, storage, staging, and other features. That’s why I generally recommend the GrowBig plan since it’s $2/month and comes with way more features and server resources. StartUp can’t handle much CPU.
GrowBig ($5.95/month) – host unlimited sites with about 1.5x more server resources, more storage, staging, and advanced caching when using their SG Optimizer plugin. You also get a free website transfer and on-demand backups. GrowBig has the best value and is their most popular plan. Even if you don’t need everything else, the extra server resources are worth it.
GoGeek ($11.95/month) – GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting which is about 4x faster than regular shared hosting plans. These server resources should make your site load significantly faster and are the main reason to upgrade. GoGeek also comes with priority support, but their regular support is fast anyway. Personally, I would only upgrade if you want more resources.
19. Other Alternatives (The Only 4 Hosts I Recommend)
These are the 4 hosts that have gotten the best feedback in Facebook Groups + Twitter.
Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to see what real, non-affiliated people are saying. I’m a member of 30+ WordPress Facebook groups and here’s a summary of every person asking “what is the best hosting for WordPress?” This is based on 35+ Facebook polls, Twitter evidence, Trustpilot reviews, and way too much time reading these conversations. You can also reach out to Hristo Pandjarov (SiteGround community manager) and Mustaasam Saleem Ansari (Cloudways community manager) which are almost always the top 2 choices.
20. What People Are Saying In Facebook Groups
Spend a few minutes reading these conversations, and the decision is clear.
SiteGround’s semi-dedicated plan is legit as it comes with 4x more server resources than regular shared hosting (one of the largest factors in the WordPress optimization guide). Pingdom and GTmetrix scores are fine and dandy, but load time is the most important factor. It’s what I use and I have a 320ms load time in Pingdom, .5s in GTmetrix, with 100% scores.
If you have a question about my SiteGround vs. Bluehost review, drop me a line. You can also read my full SiteGround WordPress hosting review if you want to learn more about their cPanel, SuperCacher plugin, more Cloudflare tips, etc. I’ve had a great experience with SiteGround and would use them if you need fast, reliable WordPress hosting. And seriously, even if you don’t choose SiteGround I would definitely stay AWAY from Bluehost. Even though more people heard of Bluehost, the evidence clearly shows SiteGround is the better choice.