SiteGround, The WordPress Host

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SiteGround, The WordPress Host

My review of SiteGround, WordPress hosting. In this article, I try to describe you the best SiteGround features, their prices and offers, and explain some notions related to web hosting, websites and Internet in general.

In my experience, SiteGround is the best WordPress hosting in terms of value for money: for $7/month, you get super fast hosting and peace of mind for 3 years, with instant 24/7 customer support.

Introducing SiteGround

SiteGround is a hosting company specializing in WordPress, hosting over 2 million sites.

The company was founded in 2004, has offices in 4 countries (USA, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and UK), and data centers on 3 continents.

Their specificity is the ultra-fast hosting specialized in WordPress and WooCommerce (managed WordPress hosting) at low prices.

 

SiteGround specializes in WordPress, which is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) on the market. WordPress is recommended for websites and businesses that aim to grow over time: thousands of themes, extensions, and a large community are available.

Specializing in one area makes you better than a generalist: SiteGround is part of this new generation of specialized, high-performance hosting providers.

 

Specializing in a domain allows you to be better than a generalist:

SiteGround is part of this new generation of efficient hosting companies specialized in WordPress and performance

SiteGround offices and data centers around the world
SiteGround offices and data centers around the world

SiteGround offers fast, free and automated WordPress installation in all its packages. In fact, each package includes this WordPress installation, but also :

  • a migration of your existing site hosted elsewhere
  • automated updates of WordPress components
  • an advanced caching system that makes sites very fast
  • 24/7 access to their expert WordPress and hosting customer support
  • and many other things described below

 

SiteGround Speed: ultra-fast sites

Their web hosting service is built on the best technologies available combined with their unique in-house created solutions. This powerful and practical approach makes your sites faster, more secure and easier to manage.

Customers who took their hosting after January 1, 2020 are hosted on SiteGround’s Google Cloud Platform and enjoy powerful and technically superior hosting services.

This is because their Google Cloud-based hosting platform utilizes its lightning fast network and SSD persistent storage. On top of that, SiteGround adds its own server configuration with several custom speed optimizations.

 

The speed of your site can greatly influence its visibility on search engines and its conversion rates.

 

These are important factors if you want your site to succeed and generate revenue for your business.

That’s why SiteGround works on in-house technologies that make your sites run faster:

  • Google Cloud with persistent SSD storage and ultra-fast networking
  • NGINX Direct Delivery enabled for all sites
  • Free CDN option for all sites
  • Multiple software solutions at the server level: HTTP/2, Memcached, additional PHP
  • Optimization via OPCache extension, and more.

Distributed SSD persistent storage

SiteGround uses Google’s SSD persistent storage, which has several redundancies. In the rare event that the hosting server fails, they can simply spin up a new virtual machine on another hosting node in their cloud space and simply attach the distributed storage volume to the new instance, instead of the failed one, without wasting time restoring backups.

State-of-the-art network for faster sites

Google is known for maintaining one of the fastest and most powerful networks, which means that using their service will result in high speeds for websites hosted at SiteGround. It’s hard to think of another better connected global network!

100% renewable energy

SiteGround explains that their partner matches 100% of the energy consumed by its global operations with renewable energy and maintains a commitment to carbon neutrality. Google has been a leader in energy efficiency with their achievements in reducing compute emissions by improving service and data storage efficiency and diverting waste.

So where is my review of SiteGround?

It’s coming: let me introduce you to the official features first.

 

Top-notch WordPress security

SiteGround manages the security of your sites at the server and application level. They offer a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate to protect your data, as well as daily backups to ensure your peace of mind.

They prioritize security and proactively protect your site from malicious code and hacking attacks that can affect your traffic and credibility.

Custom WAF

A WAF (Web Application Firewall) is maintained, for which they constantly write new security rules. Every year they add hundreds of custom rules that block various known vulnerabilities.

Anti-Bot AI System

SiteGround also develops unique solutions such as its Anti-Bot AI system that effectively blocks millions of security threats every day.

Free SSL

SiteGround was one of the first hosting companies to offer a free SSL certificate to every site, and is one of the organizations that invests in the Let’s Encrypt SSL project that aims to secure the web for everyone.

 

Domain Name Management

Enjoy the convenience of managing both your domain and your site in one place. SiteGround offers affordable domain name registration and transfer services, a user-friendly domain management panel, DNS services, and services necessary for domain name management.

Domain name registration is offered with over 50 extensions such as .com, .fr, .net, .info, .org, and more. Use their migration service to transfer your domain to SiteGround and manage it with your SiteGround hosting.

 

Email service

Create unlimited email accounts, business email addresses with your own domain (like jean.dupond@votredomaine.com), and check your emails from anywhere with their webmail clients at no extra cost. SpamExperts has been added to protect you from SPAM. You can also create forwarders and autoresponders, etc.

The interface for creating an email via the cPanel offered by SiteGround
The interface for creating an email via the cPanel offered by SiteGround

Quick WordPress Installation

To install WordPress in your SiteGround hosting, you can do it the traditional way by uploading the files via FTP, or with one click via their auto-installer.

 

Availability (uptime)

According to tests conducted by independent companies, the uptime of SiteGround hosting is 99.99%.

Servers on 3 continents, 6 data center locations, 194 CDN servers

Every SiteGround hosting purchase offers you to host your website in the data center of your choice:

Europe

  • London (United Kingdom)
  • Amsterdam (Netherlands)

North America

  • Chicago (USA)
  • Council Bluffs (USA)

Asia

  • Singapore (Singapore)

 

In addition, the CDN offered by SiteGround for free, or the CDN of your choice, will serve the web pages of your site from the location closest to your visitors.

The CDN offered by SiteGround is Cloudflare, which is one of the major players on the Internet. It serves 90 countries and 194 cities around the world.

According to my tests, for the same price, a site hosted by SiteGround in London loads faster in France than a site hosted by OVH in France.

The loading speed of a site is more important than the location of its server.

You can also specify to Google in your Search Console if you target a particular country

If you are in France, Switzerland or Belgium, choose the SiteGround London or Amsterdam data center.

 

SuperCacher

SiteGround SuperCacher is a unique cache service developed in-house at SiteGround. When a browser requests a web page from a SiteGround server, the web server returns the HTML result and the cache stores a copy of that page. When the same page is viewed again by a visitor, the server will return the cached copy.

The caching system is known to drastically improve the loading speed of websites.

SiteGround’s SuperCacher works with 3 layers: a static cache, memcached, and a dynamic cache. Option 1 is available for all their offerings. Options 2 and 3 are available for their offerings 2 and 3 (GrowBig and GoGeek).

The 3 SiteGround caching systems
The 3 SiteGround caching systems

Free HTTPS SSL in a few clicks

An SSL certificate is necessary for each website. It adds the S to http which becomes https.

Let’s Encrypt

An SSL certificate can cost 100€ to 1000€ per year per site: fortunately, SiteGround allows you to install one for free with no limits, in 3 clicks. It is Let’s Encrypt SSL.

WildCard

A WildCard SSL certificate is an SSL that applies to all sub-domains of a domain name.

Paid SSL

SiteGround allows you to purchase an EV SSL for $499/year, if you are interested. Once purchased, its installation in your account is free, yay.

SiteGround dedicated IP address

You can get a dedicated IP from SiteGround for $54/year.

 

CDN

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a content delivery network that rapidly distributes website content around the world. It plays a major role in the performance of a website.

SiteGround offers one-click activation of Cloudflare’s free CDN, and also their pro offer ($14.99/month).

The CloudFlare CDN option at SIteGround
The CloudFlare CDN option at SIteGround

Free migration at SiteGround

Get a professional website transfer done by their experts or an automated WordPress migration with an easy-to-use WordPress plugin.

A website migration usually means: change web host, change hosting server. It means transferring the files, database, and any hosting configurations from one host/server to another.

Migration done for you by the SiteGround team of experts

SiteGround offers a professional migration service that includes the transfer of all your files and databases. The service is free for 1 site on GrowBig plan and above. If you have more websites to transfer, they also offer to do your migrations for only $30/site: they will do all the work for you! They migrate over 50,000 sites a year and know all the ins and outs to make the process smooth.

Migration with their free SiteGround Migrator plugin

For those who migrate their site themselves, SiteGround makes it easy by providing a specific plugin free for all: SiteGround Migrator.

 

SiteGround Backups

SiteGround automatically makes a daily backup of your site files and database (and even emails).

It is possible to restore the version of the day of your choice: site files, database, or all your sites at once.

 

24/7 SiteGround Customer Support

This service will change you from your usual hosting companies… SiteGround offers 24/7 customer support via phone, chat, and tickets, with no waiting time.

Their stats:

  • 90% of the requests are solved in the chat
    there is almost no waiting time for the chat, you have a contact person almost immediately
  • 2 minutes waiting time on average only for the phone support! I’ve waited 30min or 1 hour with other hosting companies, what about you?
  • Ultra-fast response to tickets

 

SiteGround cPanel

SiteGround offers its own interface to manage your account with them and other options, then most of the additional features are in the cPanel where you will find dozens of features and options.

 

Officially recommended by WordPress.org

SiteGround is one of the handful of hosts recommended directly by official WordPress.

 

SiteGround hosting offers and prices

The first 3 offerings on the homepage – Reliable Web Hosting, Managed WordPress Hosting, and High Performance WooCommerce Hosting are the same: the purchase link leads to the same place, it’s their reputable shared hosting, which starts at $6.99/month.
Autoscalable Cloud Hosting is a different type of hosting called “Cloud”, from $80 to $240/month. Cloud hosting is similar to a VPS, virtual dedicated server, reserved for particular uses.

The posted prices of the 3 SiteGround offers are: $6.99/month, $9.99/month, $14.99/month, for their offers called StartUp, GrowBig and GoGeek respectively.
In euros, that makes (currency exchange rate as of July 20, 2020): €6.10/month, €8.70/month, €13/month.

 

Differences between the offers

You should know that each plan offers what is needed for any standard site: speed, SSL, free CDN, daily backups, enough disk space for a huge site.

Number of sites: 1 site for plan 1, unlimited sites for the other 2 plans, it’s easy to understand. You will only be limited by disk space and the number of visits on plans 2 and 3, but you can put as many sites as you want.

Disk space: more than enough to put several sites in each plan.

Monthly visits : you will find them in your statistics, like Google Analytics

Premium Bonus : 1 free migration, SuperCacher, advanced backups, staging, collaborators

Geeky Bonus : more resources, GIT, white label

Which offer to choose?

If you are not within 3$ per month, I recommend the second offer.

 

If you know you need the 3rd one for your own reasons (disk space, visits, GIT, white label), take the 3rd one 🙂

If the budget at a few $ is very important for you, the first offer at 6€/month will already be very good.

Discount prices and promotion at SiteGround

Beware, there is a trick to know: promotional prices are valid on your first purchase only. Knowing that you can buy your hosting at SiteGround for 1 year, 2 years or 3 years, it is in your best interest to buy 3 years at your first purchase, because the prices will double when you renew.

You read that right: the prices will double when you renew. That’s the “trick to know” at SiteGround. Some call it a trick, but knowing that:

  • They offer 50% discount for 1, 2 or 3 years (your choice)
  • The discount price for 2 years is equal to the regular price for 1 year
  • There is no obligation to renew after these 2 or 3 years
  • Their “regular” prices are displayed under the promotional prices
  • It is written under the offers: “We require annual/multi-year purchase paid in advance. VAT may also be charged. Special prices are applicable for your initial invoice after that regular prices apply. “Purchases must be paid in advance, yearly/multi-yearly. VAT may be added. Special prices are applicable for your initial invoice after that regular prices apply.
  • The prices without discount are the normal market prices for WordPress hosting (10/20/30€/month)
  • I explain it all here in detail

So there’s really no reason to feel trapped.

If you don’t know which offer to take, or for how long: to maximize your price/quality ratio, you should buy offer 1 or 2 for 3 years.

In 3 years, things will surely happen to you, change of host, new site, resale of the business, etc., you have time to see it coming. You are not obliged to renew after these 3 years. You can change your host or do whatever you want.

Many people who are satisfied with SiteGround stay with them and pay the regular rates after the 4th year and are still satisfied: it’s up to you.

Here are some scenarios that will help you understand how it works:

  • You take offer 1 at $6.99/month for 3 years, it costs you $251 = €218, and you’re fine for 3 years.
  • You take offer 2 at $9.99/month for 3 years, it costs you $359 = €313, and you are safe for 3 years.
  • You take offer 1 at 6.99$/month for 1 year only, it costs you 83$ = 72€, and in only 1 year that will pass quickly, you receive a renewal bill of 179$ for the next year, and you start complaining because the prices have doubled. However, you are reading this, so you have been warned!

Note: the prices are exclusive of VAT: if you are a private individual, they should add VAT. There is an option at the bottom of the site to display the VAT.

If you’re not comfortable with this discount stuff, you can see the other selected WordPress hosts

 

Money back guarantee: satisfied or refunded

SiteGround offers a traditional “money back guarantee” of 30 days for standard hosting, and 15 days for cloud hosting. Their conditions apply.

Details of the advantages of the superior offers

Multiple sites on one hosting on GrowBig and GoGeek plans

You can add as many additional sites as you want. Optimize your hosting costs and resource consumption by grouping less resource-intensive sites under one account.

Dynamic caching on GrowBig and GoGeek plans

Make your sites fly with dynamic caching, specific to WordPress.

By default, SiteGround enables NGINX Direct Delivery for all sites on their servers, which means that certain elements, like your images for example, will load faster from server memory. However, to unlock the best caching performance and load time on your WordPress site, you can use the higher levels of their SuperCacher service. These connect your site to their NGINX-based dynamic cache and Memcached service via their SG Optimizer plugin (this option is available on our GrowBig and GoGeek plans).

Staging tool on GrowBig and GoGeek plans

Create a copy of your site and test the changes before uploading them.
Useful when your WordPress site requires updates and changes as your business grows. However, large changes can be risky and it is a good practice to test any major changes in a safe environment that will not affect your site in production.
SiteGround has developed a tool that creates a copy of your site, allows you to work on the test site, and then push the changes to your live site with a single click. This staging tool is available on the GrowBig and GoGeek plans.

Higher resource level of the GoGeek plan

More server resources for your website.
The GoGeek plan allows you to use more server resources than other hosting plans. This includes more concurrent connections and processes, more CPU power, longer process execution time, etc.

Advanced priority support on the GoGeek plan

Problems handled on priority by their best technicians.
Problems initiated on chat or ticket by GoGeek users are prioritized to their most experienced support agents available. This ensures exceptional quality and speed of technical support provided.

Git integration on the GoGeek plan

To assist your development workflow, Git is pre-installed on GoGeek servers. SiteGround has also developed a unique interface with Git that allows you to create repos of the most popular applications (WordPress, Joomla, Magento, Drupal and PrestaShop) via a visual interface.

Collaboration

Add collaborators

The interfaces include user roles and access rights. On GrowBig and GoGeek plans, you can add collaborators to your site. They get their individual account and can log in to the site’s tools, allowing them to create or maintain it for you. Collaborators can also contact support.

Transfer ownership of a site to your customers

You can now transfer a website from your account to another SiteGround customer and make recommendations on the hosting plan and additional services they would need. Especially useful for web designers, developers and agencies who send sites to their clients.

Reseller white label and customer access

On the GoGeek hosting plan, you can register your customers as users in your account and give them white label access to the site tools of the sites you create for them. When your customer logs into the site tools of their website, they will not see the SiteGround logo or name anywhere.

 

Conclusion

In another article, I explain the importance of the quality of the hosting of a website. In short, it impacts a company’s turnover: you can’t imagine the number of potential customers who go to see your company’s website and decide not to contact you because of a negative detail on your site (or worse, who didn’t find your site and end up at a competitor’s).

I’ve noticed 4 major changes in the shared hosting landscape in the last few years:

  • The specialization (especially WordPress), and the race for performance
  • The emergence and democratization of virtual servers and cloud hosting
  • The prices of shared hosting. It is now normal that a shared hosting for WordPress costs 30€/month, and companies are starting to understand this, as part of their business often depends on their website
  • The 24/7/365 support that has changed the game.

It’s this last point that changes everything: once you get used to having a contact person immediately, at any time of the day, night, weekend, during a holiday … you can’t go back.
Working on your website is something that is done during and outside of “official working hours and days”.
People visit websites at all hours.
Not everyone lives in the same time zone either.
What a horrible feeling to have a technical problem with your hosting just when you think “here, I’ll take the time to work on my site”, and find yourself stuck until Monday morning…

And who, nowadays, feels like calling, typing numbers on the phone to find the way to an advisor,

waiting for “an estimated waiting time of …”, while the whole world has switched to instant chat!

Be careful, we’re talking about unlimited and instant support for an automated service, such as Web hosting (or a phone or Internet subscription, or SaaS software with a monthly subscription). Don’t try to ask your Web consultant, SEO or developer to be available at any time for you: they are craftsmen, not multinational factories selling automated products to 2 million customers!

 

 

I’ll accompany you :

Step 1: Choose a Hosting Plan

SiteGround has three plans and everyone can sign for any of them with a great discount through your affiliate link. It is also good to make a recommendation for the most appropriate plan to your audience:

  • The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now.
  • The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the Ultrafast PHP that greatly improves website speed.
  • The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like more server resources and GIT integration.

SiteGround, step 1

Step 2: Choose a Domain Name

Clients can choose to buy a new domain, or sign up with an existing domain. We offer a wide range of domain extensions at awesome prices.

SiteGround, step 2

Step 3: Review and Complete the Order

Unlike many other hosting providers, our advertised discount applies to any of the initial periods chosen during the sign up process. Being able to get the low price for the one year period is a fact that increases conversions greatly in comparison to other providers where the lowest monthly price applies only for the longest period. So highlighting this fact may strongly increase your conversions.

SiteGround, step 3

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