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SiteGround is one of the most prominent figures in the hosting industry, especially on the WordPress end of things. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, you’ve probably come across the name once or twice. They’re one of the most WordPress-friendly hosts in existence. They’re even one of the few hosts WordPress recommends themselves.
If you Google the term “siteground review,” you’ll find pages upon pages of results filled with genuine reviews of the host. I’ve even written a few myself on the ThemeTrust, Design Bombs and AlienWP blogs. However, these reviews, which include my own, rate this host as a whole in terms of what they provide for a broad audience. This covers everyone from technologically-challenged bloggers to professional developers.
In this post, I want to provide an overview of SiteGround in terms of what they offer for bloggers, specifically bloggers looking to build a professional website around their blogs. We’ll go over a few quick facts about who this host is, what they’re about and the features they offer. We’ll then take a deep dive into the features they offer for bloggers, their pricing structure and how they’ve performed on my own website.
By the way, I do have a guide on how to start a blog with SiteGround, so be sure to check that out if you feel SiteGround is the host for you.
Let’s get started.
SiteGround grew from humble beginnings with the help of founder and CEO Tenko Nikolov. You can learn the full story in an interview he did with Foundr. As a new blogger trying to start your own business venture about something you care about, you can probably relate to his story.
Tenko’s relationship with computers and web development began at the age of 7 when his grandfather gave him a computer. A few years later at the young age of 13, he and a friend hacked a corporation as a fun albeit rebellious side project. They admitted their wrongdoings to the company a few days later and even shared the security flaws they found.
Astonishingly, the company did not seek legal action. Instead, they offered to compensate young Tenko and his friend for sharing their findings. As he said in the interview, the teens didn’t want money, they wanted “a server we could play with!” In lieu of money, the company gifted them a dedicated server, a move that kickstarted Tenko’s career in professional web development.
By the time he got to university, he found most web hosting companies didn’t offer fast and secure servers at an affordable rate. He set out to build a solution that would.
SiteGround by the Numbers
Tenko and a handful of university friends founded SiteGround in 2004. The company, originating from a few dorm rooms, became an industry leader within a period of two years. It was 100% bootstrapped and built in house, which allowed SiteGround to build a reliable solution companies at the mercy of third parties didn’t have.
Today, SiteGround hosts a whopping 1.8 million+ sites and employs over 400 people. Their support staff processes “1,500+ tickets, 1,000+ phone calls and 3,000+ chat requests” everyday. They also offer PHP hosting and support five content management systems, including WordPress.
Overview of Features
I’m going to list an overview of the features SiteGround offers for bloggers in this section. Don’t worry if you don’t understand some of the language here or why some things are beneficial. I’ll talk about them in depth in the next few sections.
- WordPress – WordPress is the perfect content management system (CMS) for professional bloggers. It’s free, and not only does SiteGround support it, they help you install it on your server with a few simple clicks.
- Introductory Rates – SiteGround may not be the cheapest shared option (more on this later), but they offer great introductory rates for new accounts.
- Performance – SiteGround offers the fastest shared hosting servers I’ve come across in my time as a WordPress user. I’ve also never experienced downtime of more than a few minutes with them.
- Security – SiteGround uses the latest technology and server configurations to keep your site safe. They also offer free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt as well as daily backups.
- Email Hosting – Create an unlimited number of business email addresses and manage them free of charge. SiteGround also includes spam protection.
- cPanel – This is the go-to control panel used by many shared hosts, SiteGround included. It uses a clean interface that’ll help you manage the more technical aspects of your site with ease.
- Fantastic Support – SiteGround offers many support options 24/7. Many members of their support staff are experienced in WordPress, so you’ll be able to receive technical support without having to rely on too many third parties.
Before we take a deep dive into the advantages and disadvantages of hosting with SiteGround, let’s talk about the hosting plans they offer. As per the title and many explanations I’ve provided throughout this post, we’re only going to cover plans most suitable for bloggers.
SiteGround’s Hosting Plans (for Bloggers)
SiteGround offers seven different types of hosting and multiple plans per type of hosting. Sound overwhelming? Don’t worry. We’re only going to focus on plans most suitable for bloggers.
Specifically, we’ll be going over…
- Web Hosting
- Managed WordPress Hosting
Let’s start at the top.
SiteGround’s web hosting and managed WordPress hosting plans are nearly identical. They’re essentially the same set of plans, only the managed WordPress hosting plans are specific to WordPress. The web hosting plans are designed for developers and non-WordPress platforms.
Because this is a WordPress-centric blog, I’m going to use this section to talk about the technical aspects these two plans offer and the next section to talk about the WordPress aspects.
These two plans are SiteGround’s “shared hosting” plans. I’ve mentioned shared hosting a few times in this post but haven’t actually explained what it is. It gets its name from the type of serving environment its sites are hosted in.
In a shared hosting environment, resources are, well… shared. You see, servers are simply super computers. They have operating systems, motherboards, CPUs, RAM and storage drives, just like your laptop or desktop computer. When your site is hosted on a shared server, you share these resources with all of the other sites hosted on it. That includes the bandwidth the server needs to withstand the traffic your site receives.
The plus side is that it’s cheap. Drawbacks come in the form of security and reliability. If a hacker gains access to one site on a shared server, they’ll have access to every site on that server. Furthermore, if one site gets hit with a large amount of traffic, it’ll pull resources away from your site. Similarly, if one site goes down, you all go down.
This is why shared hosting is most recommended for new blogs and other low-traffic sites. You’ll need to transfer your site to a more capable hosting environment once it starts gaining a decent amount of traffic. SiteGround states its most sophisticated shared server is able to sustain about 100,000 monthly visitors.
SiteGround’s Take on Shared Hosting
We’ll get into this more in the Advantages and Disadvantages sections, but I wanted to give you a little overview of the features SiteGround offers in its shared hosting environments.
I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty technical details. However, I will tell you that SiteGround uses the latest and most efficient specs and technologies in its servers. This allows them to offer one of the fastest shared hosting environments I’ve ever come across. As a quick example, I once hosted a site with Bluehost and migrated it to SiteGround. The move cut my load time for that site in half!
Here are a few of the specifics of what these plans offer:
- Up to 100,000 monthly visitors.
- Up to 30GB of space.
- Free CMS Install (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
- Unlimited business email accounts.
- Unlimited MySQL databases.
- Unlimited sub and parked domains (different from your main domain).
- cPanel control panel.
- 4 data centers in 3 continents.
- SSD storage drives, which are faster than standard hard drives (HDD).
- Free CDN via Cloudflare.
- SuperCacher, SiteGround’s in-house caching solution.
- Daily backups with 30 days of backups stored.
- Free backup restores and demands.
- 24/7 support via live phone, live chat and tickets. Priority support available.
- Free site transfers.
- Free SSL certificates via Let’s Encrypt.
- 30-day, money-back guarantee.
Keep in mind, SiteGround offers three shared hosting plans. Some of these services are only available in two or one of these plans while certain features are different for each.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Like I said, SiteGround’s web hosting and managed WordPress hosting environments are one and the same. The WordPress hosting plans simply focus on WordPress. If you want to know what these plans have to offer, look no further than the list of features I showcased in the previous section. Like I said, I’m going to focus on the features it offers for WordPress instead.
Note: When I say “WordPress,” I’m talking about WordPress.org, the self-hosted solution for WordPress. There’s another version of WordPress called WordPress.com. This version is a blogging platform exclusively and isn’t capable of the same things WordPress.org is capable of.
If you want to take a deep dive into WordPress, be sure to read my guide on WordPress for beginners. I’ll provide a brief overview throughout this post. I will say that in my opinion, WordPress is the best option for professional bloggers due to its wide use, support and what it allows you to do with your business.
WordPress is an application you can download from WordPress.org. You install it on a server that’s specifically configured to utilize the code and database this CMS uses. WordPress is famous for its “five minute install,” but SiteGround makes things even easier with its Setup Wizard. This tool allows you to install WordPress with a few simple clicks. We’ll get to this in a bit.
How SiteGround Improves WordPress
WordPress is an open-source platform. This allows it to be one of the most powerful and versatile platforms in the web development industry. The end result is a platform that allows you to build a fully-fledged website complete with landing pages, a blog, contact forms and even things like online forums, courses, knowledge bases and more, all without having to touch a single line of code.
However, despite these capabilities, many bloggers feel intimidated by this platform. This is due to the sheer amount of themes and plugins available for it as well as the fact that WordPress, being a “self-hosted” solution, doesn’t actually manage your site for you. You’ll need to stay on top of WordPress updates, theme updates, plugin updates, security, speed and everything else on your own.
SiteGround “manages” a few of these aspects to ease the pressure off of you. It starts with WordPress updates. There are three types of updates you’ll be in charge of as a WordPress user. They are…
- WordPress Core Updates – These provide updates to the main WordPress application.
- Theme Updates – These are updates to the themes you have installed on your site.
- Plugin Updates – These are updates to the plugins you have installed on your site.
SiteGround turns on auto updates for WordPress core and plugins by default, so you don’t need to worry about managing these on your own.
Note: I recommend turning automatic plugin updates off. Although rare, plugin updates can break your site. It’s best to move your site to another server or another part of your server and test theme and plugin updates there before pushing them to the live version of your site. This is called “staging,” which, again, we’ll get to.
If you already have a WordPress site, SiteGround will help you migrate it to one of their servers in two ways. If you have the cheapest plan, StartUp, you’ll use the WP Migrator tool, which guides you through the process. If you have the GrowBig or GoGeek plans, SiteGround will migrate it for you free of charge.
As I said, SiteGround backs up your site on a daily basis and keeps up to 30 days worth of backups. If something goes wrong, all you need to do is use the service’s restore tool to restore your site from one of these backups with a few simple clicks. Without these features, you’d need to rely on third-party plugins to take and manage backups on your own.
SiteGround also offers site staging on its GoGeek plan. This allows you to clone your site and install it on another part of your server. This cloned version will allow you to test updates and any changes you want to make in a safe environment rather than the live production of your site. Once you’re satisfied, you can push the changes to your actual site without having to redo all of the changes you made.
SiteGround also offers an in-house caching solution called “SuperCacher” on its GrowBig and GoGeek plans. You know how you need to clear the cache, or “junk files,” from your computer, smartphone and apps every once in a while? The same goes for websites. Without this solution, you’ll need to install and manage a third-party solution on your own.
Like I said, SiteGround’s support staff are experienced in WordPress. They even offer technical WordPress support with the GrowBig and GoGeek plans. Many hosts are only able to offer support in relation to your hosting account, not your actual website let alone the CMS you used to build it. SiteGround’s different. They’ll even help you 24/7 via phone, live chat or email (tickets).
SiteGround’s Pricing Structure
SiteGround offers great introductory rates. However, similar to most shared hosts, it’s important to note that although they showcase their prices in monthly format, SiteGround requires you to pay for at least a year’s worth of hosting upfront.
What does that mean for you? Well, it depends on what you need. You can read my guide on how to start a blog with SiteGround for more information on choosing a plan from this host. I’ll sum up the monetary requirements here by sharing the same pricing table from that post:
|First Year||Second Year|
Basically, SiteGround offers a discount of over 60% on your first year. You’ll be required to pay their regular rates after that.
SiteGround offers extra services, but I recommend looking elsewhere for most of them. For example, I pay $10.98/year for domains at Namecheap. That price includes domain privacy. SiteGround, on the other hand, charges $15.95 on your first year for domains and $24 for each additional year. Domain privacy costs an additional $12/year. That means you’d be paying around $36/year on a single domain.
SiteGround also offers its own security solution called SG Site Scanner. It’s a simple scanner that monitors your site for malware and malicious attacks. It’s actually fairly cheap at $20/year when you consider that most premium WordPress plugins cost at least $50/year. However, it has limited features, so I often recommend using the free version of Wordfence or paying for the premium version right off the bat.
Let’s get into the pro/con part of this post.
Advantages of Hosting with SiteGround (for Bloggers)
SiteGround offers a multitude of features for developers, but I’m going to focus on what it offers bloggers in this section. Specifically, I’m going to cover the following advantages:
- Setup Wizard
- Speed and Performance
- WordPress Features
- Email Hosting
- Clean UI & cPanel
- 24/7 Technical Support
- 30-Day, Money-Back Guarantee
Let’s get to it.
I mentioned this earlier, but SiteGround has a Setup Wizard that makes setting up a new WordPress blog as simple as can be. You can see how this tool works in full in my post on how to start a blog with SiteGround.
Basically, you’ll use this Setup Wizard immediately after purchasing a plan from SiteGround. Instead of having to download WordPress and install it on your server through your site’s file system, all you’ll need to do is select it for installation and provide the login details you’d like to use to log into the administrative section of your WordPress site.
It’s a fantastic tool that takes a lot of pressure off of bloggers and less technically-inclined individuals.
Speed and Performance
I alluded to SiteGround’s reliability in terms of speed and performance earlier in this post, but I wanted to elaborate with a few real-world numbers from a site I host there, lynwildwood.com.
For starters, here’s a screenshot of a test I ran with Pingdom.
You can see the site loaded in 713 milliseconds, which is well under the recommended 2 seconds. This is with a theme that uses custom styles and heavy coding. The results are even better with a simplistic theme.
Plus, here’s this site’s uptime results via Uptime Robot:
For the 1,998 hours I’ve had the monitor running, my site was down for all of 1 minute, which checks out with SiteGround’s uptime guarantee of 99.9%.
“Uptime” refers to the amount of time your server and domain remain live. You can use tools like Uptime Robot and Pingdom to monitor your site’s uptime performance. Poor uptime performance may indicate incompetence on your host’s part, especially in terms of security and hardware reliability.
SiteGround offers several different features that contribute to this high-level of performance. First, it offers four data centers in three continents, allowing you to build your site on a server located nearest to where you’ll be doing business.
Second, it has a partnership with Cloudflare, which allows you to activate free CDN services with ease. I won’t get into the technical details of how a CDN works. Just know that this simple solution can make your site load faster for every single one of your visitors no matter where they’re located in the world.
Third and fourth, it offers the latest server and web development technology as well as a premium caching solution called SuperCacher. This solution offers more efficient caching solutions than many of the free plugins you can install for WordPress offer, such as my favorite caching plugin WP Super Cache. A basic version of SuperCacher is available in the StartUp plan, though you’ll need to upgrade to GrowBig or GoGeek for the full version.
Not only does SiteGround offer some of the fastest shared servers you’ll come across, they also offer some of the most secure. It starts with the latest in server technology, as previously mentioned.
It continues with SG Site Scanner, SiteGround’s premium security solution you can purchase for $20/year. Again, I prefer Wordfence, free or premium. The daily backups this host offers are a security solution as well as they’ll help you restore your site to its former glory should something ever go wrong.
They also offer free SSL certificates via Let’s Encrypt, which will help you protect your site’s users and stay in Google’s good graces. Lastly, the automatic WordPress updates they offer ensure you’re never behind on WordPress’ latest security updates and bug fixes.
We’ve already discussed this topic at length, so I’ll provide a simple overview of the features SiteGround offers for WordPress. For starters, as previously mentioned, they’re one of the three hosts WordPress personally recommends.
They also support WordPress 100%, starting with a simple installation process. You’ll enjoy backups, auto updates, security solutions, caching solutions and even staging.
SiteGround allows you to create an unlimited number of business email addresses, meaning [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], etc. You can also send, receive and manage emails from the email services available via cPanel. However, I can’t recommend this service, and it has nothing to do with SiteGround.
Similar to how I recommend keeping your domain separate from your host, I recommend doing the same with your business email addresses. It’ll be a hassle to move them all (plus your contacts) to another email service should you ever want to move away from your host.
I personally use G Suite for business email. Email addresses cost as little as $5/month, and it uses the Gmail interface you may already be used to.
Clean UI & cPanel
Managing the technical details of your site from the backend can be intimidating for bloggers new to the world of self-hosting. Fortunately, SiteGround uses a clean user interface (UI) that’s easy to navigate.
This UI provides information about your account and server as well as the sites you’ve created. It also provides quick links to a few of the features SiteGround offers, such as SSL certificates via Let’s Encrypt.
However, apart from the admin area of your WordPress site, you’ll handle most technical details in cPanel, which looks like this:
From this interface, you can enable Cloudflare and SuperCacher. You can also manage your site’s backups and automatic WordPress updates. It also provides a file manager you can use to access your site’s files with ease, which you may need to do from time to time.
Like I said, cPanel is the standard control panel used among many shared hosts, and SiteGround’s wonderful take on it is a clear example of why they’re superior as a shared host.
24/7 Technical Support
SiteGround offers 24/7 support via phone, live chat and tickets, as previously mentioned. They intentionally overstaff every support shift to keep wait times as low as possible. They even have an in-house tracking system they use to track issues quickly and balance the load they receive.
Like I said, the support staff this host employs is very knowledgeable in WordPress. They even offer priority technical support on their GrowBig and GoGeek plans.
Plus, they have an extensive knowledge base you can use to help yourself.
30-Day, Money-Back Guarantee
Above all else, if you purchase a hosting plan from SiteGround and don’t like the service or decide WordPress isn’t for you, they offer a generous 30-day, money-back guarantee.
This guarantee only applies to hosting fees, not domain registration fees and other services you purchase from SiteGround.
Disadvantages of Hosting with SiteGround (for Bloggers)
I have very few negative opinions about SiteGround, but the disadvantages you’ll experience while hosting with them may dissuade you as a blogger, so I’ll go over them, anyway. Here’s what we’ll be covering in this section:
- Shared Hosting
- Semi-Managed WordPress Hosting
Let’s talk prices.
SiteGround’s first-year prices are dirt cheap. You’ll receive much higher levels of quality and care than you would with other shared hosts on top of it. However, once your first year is up, prices skyrocket in an instant.
Here’s a chart comparing the cheapest and most expensive annual plans from various shared hosts, starting with SiteGround:
|Lowest Rate||Highest Rate|
*DreamHost also offers month-to-month plans. These are available at $4.95/month at the lowest and $10.95/month at the highest.
This isn’t a complete list of shared hosts, but you can clearly see SiteGround is one of the most expensive options out there, which make my next few points even more disappointing.
I can’t stress the amount of value SiteGround offers as a shared host. Even so, their prices are more in line with managed WordPress hosts that offer VPS and cloud hosting solutions, such as WP Engine, Kinsta and Flywheel, the latter of which powers this very website.
In fact, Flywheel’s lowest rate is $165/year, and they offer cloud hosting powered by Google Cloud Platform. All of these hosts even allow you to pay on a month-to-month basis to ease the cost of paying a large lump sum.
I mainly recommend Flywheel’s Tiny plan for new bloggers. This plan costs $15/month month-to-month or $165 annually, and your site is hosted on a cloud server that has the ability to scale when needed. I recommend SiteGround for those who want to spend less in the long run or want more control over their websites. I simply wish their prices aligned more with their competitors.
Semi-Managed WordPress Hosting
WordPress can be an intimidating platform to learn due to its open-source nature. It offers what’s known as a “content management system” that allows you to build a website and publish content with ease.
What it doesn’t offer right out of the box are a few key features every professional blog needs, including a fully-fledged design built for business and solutions for security, backups, caching and more. You’ll be in charge of integrating these into your site. You’ll also be in charge of handling updates.
Most of that changes when you use a managed WordPress host. These include the hosts I mentioned earlier, Flywheel, Kinsta and WP Engine. These hosts are called “managed hosts” because they manage several aspects of owning a WordPress site for you. These include the installation/transfer of WordPress/your site, security, backups, caching and WordPress core updates.
SiteGround calls their collection of WordPress plans “managed WordPress hosting,” but I prefer to call them “semi-managed.” This is due to the way they handle the “managed” aspects of your site versus the way true managed hosts do.
For example, managed WordPress hosts take care of security and caching for you. You’re not required to do anything to set these up in most cases. SiteGround, on the other hand, charges $20/year for their security solution, which only scans for issues. Flywheel will remove malware from your site free of charge, and you don’t even need to purchase a tool from them.
The same goes for caching. SiteGround offers their caching solution in tiers allocated to the hosting tiers they offer. You’re required to enable each caching solution on your own. It doesn’t require much to do so, but it’s still a far cry from the “behind the scenes” magic true managed hosts perform.
Fortunately, SiteGround does offer managed services in the form of daily backups and automatic WordPress updates.
My Experience with SiteGround
Like I said, my website lynwildwood.com is powered by SiteGround, and I’ve hosted past sites there as well. I’ve also reviewed them a few times for several different blogs. That’s why I’m confident in my recommendation of them despite them being an expensive shared hosting solution.
It’s not until you’ve dealt with hosts like Bluehost that you learn to truly appreciate the level of quality hosts like SiteGround offer. The first thing you’ll notice is how fast their servers are in comparison to Bluehost. You’ll also learn how simple their interface and installation process are.
The difference in support is like night and day as well. I’ve had poor experiences with Bluehost’s support team, and the internet is filled with similar stories. I’ve only had to contact SiteGround’s support staff a small handful of times. They’re always quick and efficient at handling requests, even when the issue was my fault.
(I know this is turning into a Bluehost vs SiteGround post, but they’re the only other major shared host I have experience with.) Another negative aspect of hosting with Bluehost was the amount of marketing emails they sent trying to upsell me on one service or another. I have no problem with learning about a service I may actually find useful, but when the emails are frequent and not tailored to my specific needs, it just feels like spam.
SiteGround, on the other hand, has never tried to upsell me despite the number of services they’re partnered with. They’ve only emailed me about major events related to my website or their service.
I know every blogger and their mother recommends Bluehost, but be skeptical of positive reviews designed to generate affiliate income that have little to no mention of the product’s downsides. Be especially skeptical if they make excuses for the thousands of negative Bluehost reviews you can find scoured across the internet.
Bottom line, if you’re interested in starting a WordPress blog and would like to use a shared host, SiteGround is your best option based on my experience.
Let’s wrap this post up.
Getting Started with SiteGround
SiteGround is your best option if you want to save on a WordPress site by using a shared host. It has some of the fastest servers in the industry and gives you plenty of control over your own website while also helping you keep it up to date.
If you want to get started with SiteGround, check out these posts:
- How to Register a Domain with Namecheap (to register a domain if you don’t have have one, yet)
- How to Start a Blog with SiteGround
No matter which host you ultimately decide to go with, I want to welcome you to the world of blogging (and WordPress!) and wish you the best of luck on your journey.