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In my post about setting up a new blog, I briefly discussed choosing hosting for your site. If you’ve decided to go with a self-hosted blog, then the next step in your blogging journey is to pick a web hosting service. I’m currently using SiteGround. A quick search of Google will return a lot of “Best Of” or “Top x” websites. These will list out the top guys and compare the pros and cons for each, plus a bunch of technical details.
But if you’re not really sure what to look for, how do you know which one is right for you? Also, many of these sites are using affiliate links so keep in mind that their opinions might be biased. I’m an affiliate for both BlueHost and SiteGround. I’ve used BlueHost in the past for hosting. I still have a couple of domains with them that may materialize into something someday. But right now I’m with SiteGround. I’m going to break down the ins and outs of their service and why I’m glad I made the switch.
First of all, let’s define what makes a “good” hosting company. I’d say there are 5 main groups:
- Customer Service
- Additional Perks
SiteGround offers some of the cheapest web hosting packages around.
Their introductory price on the lowest tier (called the StartUp plan) is only $3.95/mo billed annually. It comes with all the features that are important to you as a site owner:
- Great Customer Service
- Unmetered Traffic
- Free Website Builder
- One Click WordPress installs
- Free Cloudflare and CDN
- Unlimited MySQL DB
- Free unlimited email
- One free professional website transfer
- Level 1 SuperCacher (static caching)
- Free Daily Backup
We’ll go into detail about why this list is good but for now, just know it’s good. SiteGround is highly recommended for WordPress sites and blogs. And if one day you find that your blog has become successful and has a lot of traffic? SiteGround offers packages that are tiered so you can easily graduate to the next level whenever you’re ready. Each tier offers progressively better speed, security, and extras. Here’s an overview of the 3 plans offered by SiteGround. The StartUp plan really is the best plan for when you’re just starting out and building your traffic. It has the features to help you grow.
SiteGround is best in class in the areas that are important like customer service, performance, and speed.
Several times a year, SiteGround will offer a limited time offer when you can get 70% off their regular monthly price.
If you get in during one of their sales, it would only be $36 for a full year of the StartUp hosting package and $54 for the GrowBig plan! They don’t meter traffic like some other shared hosting services. They do give you an idea of how much traffic your site could handle depending on what package you’re on. For instance, on the StartUp plan, you could probably handle around 10,000 visitors monthly before you run into performance issues and downtime.
Uptime rate is 99.99%.
Why should you care about that? Because that means your site is available and accessible 99.99% of the time. Anything lower than that increases the chance that a potential visitor could see the “site not available” message. The window for capturing a new reader is very slim. It’s almost a guarantee that if they receive this message, they won’t be back. SiteGround is so committed to providing superior service that if you experience more than .1% downtime (yearly) they will compensate you.
SiteGround’s customer service is phenomenal.
If you’re new to blogging and trying to navigate the complexities of setting up your own site, it’s inevitable that you’ll have questions at some point. I have a Masters degree in MIS and I still have questions! When you’re already feeling frustrated by the problem at hand, the last thing you want is to have to wait for a long time in a customer service queue. You want someone who’s going to listen to your problem, and have patience with you and stay with you until it’s resolved. SiteGround consistently scores over 96% in customer satisfaction surveys. The average response time is around 2 minutes, which is fantastic. Rest assured that if the occasion does arise when you need help, someone will be there to assist you in a professional, knowledgeable and courteous manner.
Your pages will load on average in about 500ms.
And that’s just about the fastest of any hosting service. SiteGround has the latest technology to improve loading times. Solid State Drive technology for storing files and databases, their own SuperCacher service and free Cloudflare CDN along with state of the art server technology contribute to the impressive increase in speed and performance. Most of that will sound like so much mumbo-jumbo but the bottom line is that SiteGround has invested time and money into finding the best of the best.
OK, that’s all important stuff. But what about goodies?
Remember that list above? These are the features and freebies that come with all SiteGround plans, including StartUp.
Let’s talk about each one a little more.
24/7 Support is available.
So if it’s 1 a.m. on a Saturday night and you’re banging your head on the desk, there will be someone available to help either by phone, chat or online ticketing (you can open a problem ticket yourself and someone will get back to you). Not only will someone be available for you they’ll help you quickly because that’s just how they roll.
Unmetered traffic on all plans.
This means that your price won’t fluctuate each month based on the amount of traffic to your site. Think of this like your electric or gas bill. The monthly meter reading determines your bill amount. If it was unmetered you’d pay a flat fee each month regardless of usage.
A free website builder is available.
Creating a visually appealing website or blog seems to the area a lot of people struggle with. SiteGround offers a free, drag-and-drop website builder that allows even the most tech-shy people to create an amazing site. Please note, if you choose to install WordPress as your content management system, website builder will not work. There are separate plugins available for WordPress. Check out my posts on the best plugins for your blog here and here.
Installing WordPress is as easy as clicking one time.
What this means for you is that you can have your blog up and running in about 15 minutes with SiteGround’s one-click WordPress installs. They’ve made it extremely easy to go through the set-up process. Granted, it might not be the final product but that’s where the fun comes in! You can then choose plugins, theme colors, and other settings to personalize your site.
A free Cloudflare CDN account is available with every package.
When I talked about how fast your pages will load with SiteGround, I mentioned that the Cloudflare CDN was part of that. CDN stands for content delivery network. Your content can be delivered more quickly to users because it is distributed among several servers located worldwide. Picture trying to get a golf ball through a garden hose. Now picture that golf ball in pieces moving through separate garden hoses, and then being reassembled at the end.
Every package comes with a MySQL database with unlimited storage.
You may not even realize that behind every blog is a database of some sort. The database stores information about your posts and all the little bits and pieces your site needs to function. It’s important that your database be fully functional or else you’re going to have problems. Running out of space would be bad because it would mean you’d either have to delete old content or stop adding new content.
Every account comes with unlimited email addresses.
If you start growing to the point where you need to bring in more people you’ll be able to create as many new email addresses as you need to. Or if you want to create specialty email accounts for certain tasks like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org you can do that too. Also, if you’re looking to monetize your site be aware that certain affiliate programs require you to have an email address associated with your domain.
If you’re coming from another hosting provider, SiteGround will give one free professional site transfer.
I didn’t utilize this service when I switched and I wished I had. Remember when I said that your database is really important to keep your blog functioning? Yeah, so when I transferred my site I somehow screwed that up and it took me a long and frustrating Saturday to figure it all out. If I had used my free site transfer I would only have had to provide my user information and SiteGround would have taken care of the rest for me.
SiteGround created their own caching tool to help improve performance.
SuperCacher is SiteGround’s in-house caching tool. The first level is available with the StartUp plan, which is static caching. In laymen’s terms, a copy of your content is made and stored in server memory (RAM, which is the fastest). The page is served from what is stored in RAM instead of pulling it from a hard drive. That’s a lot faster and is another reason speed is so much better with SiteGround than other hosting companies. The higher levels of packages unlock additional capabilities with SuperCacher, like dynamic and Memcached.
Daily database and file backups are available with every plan.
Trust me on this, you want your site backed up every single day. There will come a time when you decide to try and customize something. Or maybe you’ve Googled directions on how to do a certain task. So you follow along and change the line in the file they’ve specified. And then something will go wrong. Suddenly you get an error or your site isn’t displaying correctly. Then you realize you can’t undo whatever you just did and make things go back to how they were. Panic sets in. Are you going to have to completely start your blog over from scratch? If you have daily backups scheduled, then no. You can just restore your site back to the most recent backup file.
Overall, I believe that SiteGround is the best hosting provider. Yeah, BlueHost has been around longer and has a larger customer base but that also has drawbacks. Having so many customers makes them less responsive to customer service calls and also it takes more time to adopt new technologies. If you’re looking for hosting for the first time or you’re ready to switch, I’d highly recommend giving SiteGround a try. If great customer service, fast speeds, and dependable performance all for a reasonable price are important to you, click the logo below to go to SiteGround’s website and see for yourself!
Check out my monster list of blogging resources for even more tools for your blog.