Still deciding between SiteGround vs. Bluehost?
Bluehost is owned by EIG who operates over 60 different hosting companies including HostGator, Site5, and iPage. They are known for acquiring hosting companies and cutting costs by packing too many people on one server – making them slow and unreliable. They also have shady upfront billing that appears monthly but makes you pay 3 years upfront. And if you’ve ever used their support you’ll usually be waiting 30+ minutes just to hear “it’s not their fault” proceeded by trying to sell you unnecessary upgrades like their built-in SEO which does nothing. Bluehost constantly apologizes for downtimes, outages, and absurd wait times. They pay WordPress a pretty penny to be #1 on their recommended WordPress Hosting page.
SiteGround is an independent company also recommended by WordPress. They’re super fast (their speed technology yields an average load time of 1.3s) and most people who migrate see significant load time improvements including me. 2 years ago I migrated from Bluehost to SiteGround’s semi-dedicated plan and noticed an instant speed improvement (a few tweaks and I was able to get 100% GTmetrix scores and 100% Pingdom scores with <1s load times). Click through my pages if you want. I have 100% uptimes, no random errors, and support made the transition easy with a free migration. I rarely have to call them but when I do, they are super knowledgeable about WordPress/plugins and give detailed responses with virtually no wait times. They have tons of features on their StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek comparison chart like automatic WordPress updates, daily backups, Let’s Encrypt SSL and an easy-to-use cPanel. I write about WordPress speed optimization for a living and I’ve used them for 4 years.
Having been with both hosts I decided to write a SiteGround vs. Bluehost review to tell people why in my case (and many others) SiteGround is the winner. Hope you learn from my mistake!
1. SiteGround vs. Bluehost (26 Facebook Polls)
SiteGround was ranked #1 in 26 different polls (mostly taken by the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group with 10,000+ members) while Bluehost was really nowhere on the map.
Here are all the polls:
2. Why I Don’t Like Bluehost
3. Why I Do Like (And Use) SiteGround
Even Yoast uses them:
4. Don’t Waste Your Money On An EIG Company
Bluehost, HostGator, HostMonster, Site5, iPage, Unified Layer and several other hosts are owned by the same horrible company (Endurance International Group). They are known for firing top employees and cutting costs by downgrading hardware, “streamlining” support and packing way too many people on the same server. Anything owned by EIG – I would run away.
Read this about EIG…
5. Bluehost’s Shady Upfront Billing
Bluehost advertises their shared hosting plan for $3.95/month but when you checkout they make you pay 36 months upfront to get that price. They don’t tell you you’re charged upfront until AFTER you’ve completed your purchase. It’s a little shady. They do the same thing with their other plans too, like Bluehost’s Optimized WordPress Hosting (if you’re already with Bluehost that plan is much better than shared hosting but I would still go with SiteGround).
People aren’t happy with Bluehost’s billing practices…
6. Servers Are Slow As A Turtle
If you care about load times and good GTmetrix/Pingdom reports, Bluehost won’t help you. My developer and I have completed 30+ speed optimization projects and the main reason we often can’t achieve <1s load times is because the client was hosted on Bluehost, HostGator, Godaddy, or another bad host (and they refused to switch because they were locked into a contract). But Bluehost/EIG do NOT stay on top of the latest technology (like integrating PHP 7 immediately after it comes out) and put too many people on the same server to cut costs.
7. Bluehost Runs Outdated PHP Versions
Running the latest version of PHP makes a big difference in speed…
SiteGround always releases the latest PHP version ASAP, Bluehost does not…
SiteGround even just released PHP 7.3:
8. Website Shutting Down Constantly
Even though my WordPress site/plugins were configured properly, I was getting internal server errors. I called Bluehost to see what’s up but every time they said “I don’t see an internal server error” (by the time I actually got ahold of their support team the error went away, which I’ll go into next). Needless to say, they didn’t look into my problem proactively.
This got so bad Bluehost wrote an apology letter (written December 2016)…
Bluehost is constantly apologizing…
9. Slowest / Worst Support Ever
Bluehost’s chat support is horrible and I’ll usually be waiting 30+ minutes when calling them. With SiteGround I talk with someone instantly (their GrowBig or GoGeek hosting include priority support which I recommend). SiteGround is proactive about fixing issues. They have actually logged into my WordPress site and tweaked my Wordfence plugin when I was having issues with spammy bots crawling my site and consuming resources, and were able to fix it.
10. Average Load Time On SiteGround Is 1.3s
SiteGround is much faster Bluehost (and other hosts)…
After optimizing my site to load faster and making my Pingdom report as green as possible, I migrated from Bluehost to SiteGround. Not only did my load time improve in Pingdom and other speed testing tools, but my site loaded significantly faster when clicking through pages. Click through the different pages in my navigation menu if you want to see how fast it loads.
My GTmetrix report…
SiteGround’s speed technology is much faster than Bluehost with solid states drives (SSDs), NGINX servers, SG Optimizer plugin, 1-click Cloudflare activation in the cPanel, HTTP/2 enabled servers, PHP7 and HHVM. These are widely accepted as the fastest technologies…
Plenty of these to go around…
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.
SiteGround has Cloudflare built-in to their cPan (see demo) to make your site even faster…
11. 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).
12. Tickets Answered In 10 Minutes
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.
Tickets usually answered in 10 minutes or less…
And 5 minutes for chat…
SiteGround customers love their support…
13. Awesome WordPress Features
You can see these on their features page…
SG Optimizer – I originally underestimated their SG Optimizer Plugin when I realized my website was using an outdated PHP version. In fact, most WordPress users are still running PHP 5.6 when PHP7 is faster and more secure (it’s because hosting companies don’t automatically upgrade you due to potential compatibility issues). SiteGround’s SG Optimizer plugin checks for new PHP updates, compatibility with your themes/plugins, and upgrades you to the latest version. It also integrates with their built-in Supercacher which does an amazing job. You can use the Display PHP Version Plugin to see what version you’re currently running.
Automatic Updates – you can enable autoupdates for WordPress core/plugins in their cPanel.
WordPress Security – 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 – I see these updates on their Facebook page all the time…
You get periodic emails letting you know your site is secure…
Staging – staging comes with their GoGeek plan and allows you to create a demo website where you can test plugins, new designs, and other updates without it effecting your website.
Support – even if it doesn’t have to do with hosting, it seems like SiteGround is always able to help me identify and fix issues. When I was having issues with Wordfence they logged into my site, tweaked a few things and fixed the problem. Most of us crashed our website at some point – if this happens to you just contact SiteGround support… they are more than willing to help.
14. StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek
Here’s the comparison chart…
StartUp ($3.95/month) – good for hosting 1 website but doesn’t come with priority support or a lot of server resources (makes your site faster). Lacks staging and other things listed on SiteGround’s features page. If you can afford it, I would at least go with GrowBig since you get about 1.5x more server resources, can host unlimited websites, and get priority support. All plans come with WordPress autoupdates, daily backups, free domain, Cloudflare, email, security updates, 4 data centers and spam prevention. Support is great regardless of your plan and they all come with SiteGround’s core speed technology – a main benefit of their hosting.
GrowBig ($5.95/month) – host unlimited sites with about 1.5x server resources than StartUp with priority support and a premium backup/restore tool. More storage (20GB instead of 10GB), 30 daily backups instead of 1, and a wildcard SSL. Includes everything StartUp has.
GoGeek ($11.95/month) – host unlimited websites and is semi-dedicated hosting which is about 4x faster than lower sharing hosting plans. If you’re currently on a cheap hosting plan, you should see a SIGNIFICANT load time improvement by upgrading to GoGeek. Includes staging for setting up demo websites, a premium backup service by SiteGround’s support team, PCI compliance for eCommerce, and other features. Includes everything GrowBig has.
All SiteGround plans come with eCommerce hosting features like a free SSL from Let’s Encrypt. GrowBig comes with 1 year free wildcard SSL (for subdomains), and GoGeek comes with PCI compliance which prevents credit card fraud. And if you don’t feel comfortable installing a shopping cart, SiteGround’s team offers to do this with purchase of a hosting plan.
15. SiteGround Will Migrate You For Free
SiteGround does free migrations with their GrowBig/GoGeek plan. Just open a support ticket and request a transfer. There should be 0 downtime and they’ve done this for many clients.
16. What Other People Say In Facebook Groups
If you actually spend the time reading these Facebook conversations, 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.