It’s the old, SiteGround vs Bluehost debate. If you are looking at taking this whole online business thing seriously, you are going to want to go for a self-hosted website. What does that mean? That means that you buy your own hosting service and choose a platform to set up your website on, such as WordPress or Squarespace. But how do you know which website hosting service to go for?
Do any research on what hosting provider to go for when you first set up your blog and chances are you are going to get recommended either SiteGround or Bluehost. But why are these two hosting services so popular? And which one should you choose?
The right hosting service can make or break your website. It is an important thing to do your research on. Luckily for you, I have done some research to aid your queries and concerns about website hosting.
Related Post: How to set up your WordPress website from scratch
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of my links I may make a small commission, this is at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I have used myself and can 100% stand by.
SiteGround vs BlueHost
This is a question I see frequently in blogging Facebook groups. I personally have used both and have had very few issues with either hosting provider. Currently, all of my sites are run on SiteGround.
Use this link to visit SiteGround
This link will take you to Bluehost
SiteGround vs Bluehost | Popularity
While Bluehost remains the most popular out of the two, SiteGround is rapidly catching up. There are almost twice as many websites run on Bluehost than SiteGround (2M vs 1M).
However, popularity isn’t always the best thing. The more websites there are on a service, the more resources are being depleted. Also, services such as customer support tend to be more stretched as there is more of a demand.
Conclusion: Although Bluehost is more popular, SiteGround wins this round due to lesser demand for services that makes them more able to be responsive in areas such as customer support and servers.
SiteGround vs Bluehost | Pricing
Let’s be honest, the price is one of the biggest features that drive customers to or from a service. Both SiteGround and Bluehost offer three tiers of pricing. A budget plan, midrange and premium. What you get with these differs, however.
- SiteGround is slightly more expensive with their start-up plan at $3.95 per month vs Bluehost at $2.95.
- You do have to pay for a 36-month contract with Bluehost for the $2.95 pricing. There is the option to choose a 12-month contract but the price increases to $4.95 a month.
- There is a choice between a 12, 24 or 36-month contract with SiteGround at their special pricing.
- Neither SiteGround nor Bluehost offers monthly plans which is slightly misleading when you look at their pricing.
Note: The prices listed on both these websites are for the first invoice only, once you renew your plan you will be paying their regular higher price. If you know that you will be sticking around in the internet world, it pays to buy a longer-term plan if you can afford to.
- With SiteGround you can transfer one website for free if you go for their GrowBig or GoGeek plans. This is especially handy if you are switching hosting providers. Bluehost offer website migration for a fee of $150.
- SiteGround offers free WordPress site migration. All you have to do is download the plugin and follow the instructions.
- You will have to buy a domain name with SiteGround (less than $15 a year), with Bluehost you get one free domain name.
Conclusion: If you are just going on basic price on the face level, Bluehost is the winner here. However, once you start digging, SiteGround comes out on top due to their extras. When you look at a 12-month contract for both hosting providers, SiteGround is cheaper.
SiteGround vs Bluehost | Ease of use
If you are a beginner, ease of use is going to be a top priority (well, it was mine).
Both hosting providers are easy to use. However, I prefer SiteGround’s layout better. It is cleaner and easier to navigate.
Plus, to me, it looks more professional which in turn makes me trust them more. This goes to show that a professional looking website will immediately put your readers at ease more than a budget looking website.
The signup process is easy for both SiteGround and Bluehost.
With SiteGround you have the option of choosing your data centre. They have servers in the US (Chicago), the UK (London), The Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Singapore. If you are unsure which one to go for, choose the one closest to where your ideal audience lives.
Bluehost has one server located in the US (Utah).
Note: Make sure you double check everything before you hit next. Bluehost will automatically have all the extras ticked and if you are not careful, you will be paying for extras that you don’t really need.
Whichever hosting service you decide to go for, you will also need to look for a platform for your website. I recommend WordPress for its flexibility and abilities. Both these service providers offer WordPress installation that is easy to use.
Both SiteGround and Bluehost have WordPress tutorials available in their support centres. The only difference is that SiteGround has dedicated WordPress specialists on hand to help you out when you get stuck (annnd you can even download a free ebook). Bluehost on the other hand, well, their customer service is a little less desirable.
There seems to be a lot more ‘hunting’ when you are using Bluehost’s cPanel to try and find what you are looking for.
Don’t worry, while the cPanel does look a little scary when you first take a nosy, you won’t need to use it often when you are just starting out, but I would suggest setting up an email address with your domain name which is done in the cPanel. I will go over this in another post very shortly.
Conclusion: SiteGround’s ease of use, layout, customer service and WordPress specialists take out the win in this round.
SiteGround vs Bluehost | Customer Support
One of the most important features of a hosting provider, in my opinion, is the customer support. If you are new to the online world, chances are you are going to need support once in a while. The difference between a good customer support system and a bad one can alter your whole attitude towards the provider.
If your query is answered quickly and efficiently, you are more likely going to come away with good feelings. If you are left on hold with substandard answers, your feelings towards your host provider will be, well, substandard.
SiteGround is well-known for their amazing customer support and has dedicated WordPress specialists. Which helped me immensely when I tried to rebrand my outdoors website and managed to completely ruin it.
I contacted support and as soon as I pressed the send button on chat, someone was on the other end and fixed my problem almost instantly. Turns out I had a redirection plugin that was messing up where it was trying to send my visitors, getting confused and timing out, thus resulting in an error page for my visitors. Whoops. My bad.
Navigating to support is easy. It is right there up the top in a tab. You can either search from the wealth of information or navigate to chat for instant support.
(Note the uptime for one of my sites? 100%, boom!)
Their average chat resolution time is under 5 minutes and average reply for a ticket is under 8 minutes. That’s some pretty speedy service.
I have had to contact Bluehost a couple of times for relatively minor issues. I had to hunt to find their support.
Note: it’s not actually on your dashboard. Scroll down to near the bottom and find ‘need some guidance’. Type in your question so that you are taken to a new page then click contact or chat. It’s a bit of a rigmarole. If you know an easier way, let me know in the comments.
Once you are talking to chat, I haven’t phoned them as I live in New Zealand and they don’t have an international number, be prepared to wait a fair while. I have seen regular complaints on Twitter and Facebook of customers waiting upwards of 3 hours on hold before they are even talked to. I have also seen complaints about their chat with copy and paste answers that don’t help as well as major upselling of subpar products.
Conclusion: SiteGround wins hands down in this area. If you are brand new to the online world, support is something that you are more than likely going to need so this is an important feature to be considered.
SiteGround vs Bluehost | Speed
Site speed is something else that needs to be considered. The faster your site loads, the more likely your readers are going to stick around. Us humans have short attention spans and more often than not, if a site doesn’t load quickly, we will get bored and navigate away.
Speed also has the illusion of a more professional website.
You can check your site speed at Pingdom.
The reason why SiteGround tends to be faster is that there is less of a demand on their servers. This is because they have four data servers, fewer customers on each server and they are run by SSD hard drives as opposed to HDD hard drives (which Bluehost use). SSD hard drives tend to be faster and more reliable than HDD hard drives.
Conclusion: SiteGround tends to run faster sites. Though, this will also come down to how you run your website, which plugins you have installed as well as how much media you have on your site. There is more than just your hosting provider to think about when it comes to site speed, though, this does have a large impact.
For more information on which plugins you should install on your WordPress site to help run it efficiently and quickly, check out this post.
SiteGround vs Bluehost | Security
Security. You don’t want malware being infected in your site or hackers hacking away. That’s unnecessary stress that you don’t need.
Both SiteGround and Bluehost have SSL, SFTP and SSH access.
SiteGround uses PHP 7.1 by default, monitors the traffic to block brute force attacks and update their security rules every week. They sell SG Site Scanner too, an add-on that will scan your site looking for malware for about $1.50 extra a month
Bluehost doesn’t share much else about their security protocols, but they do offer SiteLock, an external security solution that starts at about $30 per year.
SiteGround vs Bluehost | Final Thoughts
If you are looking for a basic hosting provider for a simple site that isn’t going to be your lifeline then Bluehost is a good option. However, if you are looking to upscale and do your darndest to make the most of your online business, I recommend SiteGround hands down.
Let me know in the comments your thoughts,
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