Our Favorite Web Host for 2023 (Updated)
Let’s get down with a SiteGround review.
If you’re humming and hawing over finding the web hosting provider that’ll rock your socks off in 2023, you’ll be glad you stopped by.
That’s because SiteGround is like the fusion of a Clydesdale workhorse and a majestic unicorn — it’s a sturdy and reliable platform with style, grace, and creativity out the wazoo.
It’s highly rated by bloggers, business mavericks, and eCommerce gurus alike, and it’s the web host we’ve used and recommended to our students for years.
You’ll find out why in just a few minutes.
So stick around…
You might even find a sweet discount along the way.
What is SiteGround?
Company Background & Overview
SiteGround (affiliate link) hit the scene in 2004 after a group of Bulgarian schoolmates recognized the need for an easier, faster, and safer web hosting provider.
Since then, SiteGround has exploded with over 600+ employees, 4 office locations, and now hosts over 2 million domains worldwide.
Surprisingly, SiteGround is still privately owned, a rare quality in today’s corporate-cluttered web hosting market.
As far as services go, SiteGround runs the gamut, offering:
- Shared hosting plans
- Cloud hosting plans
- WordPress hosting plans
- WooCommerce hosting plans
And tons of other services, widgets, and tools we’ll cover throughout this SiteGround hosting review.
Siteground uses modern, ultra-fast data centers in 6 countries around the world:
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
- The Netherlands
Undeniably, SiteGround uses some impressive technology – the kind of stuff network administrators rave about at the annual IT barbecue.
So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty about SiteGround’s Network and see why it’s so great:
High Redundancy and Availability
Blizzard? Thunderstorm? Thanos?
SiteGround is ready for any threat.
You see, SiteGround uses redundancy routines, and multiple power feeds for all critical network components.
In other words, it’s tough to bring the network down because all essential systems have back-ups, and their back-ups have back-ups.
The net result?
Fast Connectivity and Low Latency
Site speed and reliability are the bones of any well-to-do web hosting service.
So, SiteGround teamed up with the big guns, Google, as its leading data center partner, recognizing the importance of a fast and stable network.
And as a result, the SiteGround network is built with state-of-the-art technology, ensuring plentiful server resources and speedy connections for hosted websites.
SiteGround is committed to green hosting and sustainability.
And because they’ve partnered with Google, any energy consumed by data centers is offset with renewable energy as part of Google’s carbon neutrality mandate.
Believe it or not, data centers consume massive amounts of energy, resulting in approximately 1% of worldwide electricity use and generating tonnes of greenhouse emissions in the process.
And any commitment by web companies to consider their environmental impacts and address them with plans, policies, and programs is a positive note in our books.
CDN Network (With Over 200 Locations Worldwide)
SiteGround uses the Cloudflare Content Delivery Network (CDN), which helps web pages load faster anywhere in the world.
Here’s how it works:
A CDN caches website content and distributes it to delivery nodes around the globe.
Then, when users visit your website, they’re connected with the closest CDN, and your content is plunked in front of their eyeballs as fast as possible.
As of January 2022, Cloudflare has over 200 distribution nodes in 100+ countries around the world.
SiteGround Performance: Uptime and Speed
Every Second Matters: A Primer in Page Speed
When it comes to the internet, speed matters.
Think about it:
How often has even a 1-second delay frustrated you?
Well, you’re not alone because here’s what happens for every extra second a website takes to load:
- 11% fewer page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
- 7% loss in conversations
And the mobile realm is even more vicious:
Every 1-second delay in page load time on mobile devices impacts conversion rates up to 20%.
If your site loads like cold molasses flowing up a hill, people aren’t going to stick around, no matter how rich and pretty your content is.
Now, when it comes to improving your page load speed, there are a lot of minor tweaks like:
- Image compression
- Reducing redirects
- Minimizing bloated plug-in use
- Improving server response time
Tools, optimization plug-ins, and common sense help with most page load speed issues.
However, when it comes to server response time, you’re at the mercy of your web hosting company.
Find a hosting provider with speedy servers.
SiteGround Server Response Time
Server response time, also known as the Time To First Byte (TTFB), is the amount of time it takes a web browser to receive the first byte of information from a web server.
And the faster the response time, the better.
Google recommends a TTFB under 200 milliseconds, but the average falls anywhere between 100ms – 500ms.
So, how does SiteGround stack up when it comes to TTFB?
Well, according to HostScore, the average aggregated response time for SiteGround servers is 174.60ms (based on tests HostScore runs on their sample sites every 4 hours).
Let’s put this benchmark to the test:
We’ll use dollarGuild as our guinea pig because it uses the SiteGround shared hosting package.
A sample test from Bitcatcha shows:
After running several tests, the following results were realized:
- On average, 8 out of 10 locations were clocked under 200ms
- And any server response time above 200ms did not exceed 265ms
SiteGround server response time is fast and satisfies Google’s speed recommendations.
99.99% Uptime Guaranteed
SiteGround promises 99.99% uptime on all their hosted websites.
And they put their money where their mouths are, promising free service if downtime passes certain limits.
From the Service Level Agreement in the SiteGround Terms of Service:
SiteGround continually tinkers with optimization.
And it’s a curiosity that pays off.
Here are a few of the innovative tools that help keep SiteGround unique, competitive, and lightning-fast:
SuperCacher is SiteGround’s custom-built caching service that enables static, dynamic, and memory-caching across all hosting plans.
In other words, with SuperCacher, your website content loads even faster.
50% – 500% faster, according to SiteGround tests.
What’s more, SuperCaching also keeps your site running smoothly during massive traffic spikes (up to 100x your normal traffic flow).
SG Optimizer is SiteGround’s WordPress optimization plugin.
The plugin comes battle-ready with:
- SuperCacher controls
- Environmental, frontend, and media optimizations
- Gzip compression controls
- And even a speed test tool
Note that this plugin ONLY works on SiteGround hosted websites.
Pro tip: If you decide to go with a SiteGround hosting plan, SG Optimizer is a superior (and free) alternative to WP rocket.
Available on GrowBig and GoGeek plans, Ultrafast PHP is SiteGround’s in-house, optimized PHP setup.
Now, unless you’re running a website with heavy traffic, Ultrafast PHP won’t make a huge difference in page load times.
However, according to internal SiteGround testing, higher-traffic websites experience some dramatic results:
- 30% increase in website speed
- 50% decrease in server response times
- 20%-30% increase in server efficiency
- 15% decrease in RAM use
In 2020, SiteGround had a customer satisfaction rate of 97.7% – and won 2 Stevie Awards for customer service in the process:
And let’s face it, in 2020, everyone was home and a little more cranky than usual.
So, achieving that level of customer satisfaction is a testament to seasoned customer support.
Here’s an inside look at SiteGround’s customer support, detailing what they do right, and also some areas where they could be better.
A Knowledge Base Like the Library of Congress
SiteGround provides an enormous selection of tips and guides in their Knowledge Resources and Tutorials sections.
These guides are built with the newbie in mind, giving step-by-step instructions with clear screenshots to guide you along.
There’s no guesswork with these guides.
They’re clear, detailed, and worth their weight in gold.
24/7 Customer Support: A Great Service in Almost Every Way
While knowledge bases are great, sometimes you need a good ol’ fashioned human being to help solve your issues.
Thankfully, SiteGround delivers around-the-clock customer support through a ticketing system, phone lines, and live chat.
Contacting their customer support team isn’t as easy as it once was.
Instead of being a simple button, it’s hidden in a self-serve system.
Here’s how to contact the SiteGround customer support team:
1. In the Client Area dashboard, click on the question mark in the top-right corner and select View Help Center:
2. In the SiteGround Help Center, click Contact Us:
3. Select a category that best fits your problem (Note: there are more categories than what’s displayed here):
4. Describe your issue in the text box:
5. And after you submit your inquiry, you’ll be given a self-help guide, or the option to contact customer support:
It’s a shame SiteGround buries their award-winning customer support contact channels.
That said, this customer service rabbit hole isn’t a total deal-breaker.
Web-savvy people will probably enjoy the self-serve options, but for anyone looking to speak with a representative, they’ll likely find it frustrating the first time around.
The SiteGround Interface
Most web hosting providers use cPanel, a control panel dashboard, to help manage your website.
Not to rip on cPanel (it does the trick), but SiteGround has taken user-friendliness a step further and developed their own site management dashboards: Client Area and Site Tools.
SiteGround’s Client Area
The Client Area has a simple layout and is infused with eye-pleasing visuals to bolster creativity.
It’s not like the bland, boring, and confusing clinical look of other web host dashboards.
No, this one’s got some character — and the video tutorials to help you navigate SiteGround are a nice onboarding feature:
The Client Area dashboard also includes a Success Tips and Suggestions feature, providing quick links to particular services you might want to perform with your website like:
- Backing up your site
- Adding collaborators and white-label access
- Transferring a domain name
The up-to-date blog posts available on the dashboard are a homerun customer success feature too.
And these blog posts aren’t filled with thin content either.
They deliver everything from helpful SEO guides to in-depth updates about the new and exciting goodies SiteGround has been cooking up.
SiteGround’s Site Tools
Site Tools is an easy-to-use, custom-developed control panel that replaces cPanel.
From Site Tools, you can complete routine website tasks like:
- Creating emails
- Adding FTP accounts
- Managing MySQL databases
- Accessing and creating one-click backups
- Creating git repositories
- Installing content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Weebly
- Adding shopping carts for your online store
Like the Client Area dashboard, Site Tools is intuitive and straightforward.
Everything is accessed through a sidebar menu, so you don’t get lost searching for tools:
And tool descriptions are displayed at the top of each page, so you know precisely what they’re for (and what not to fiddle with if you don’t know what you’re doing):
You can also pin tools on the dashboard home screen for easy access:
Every tool in the Site Tools control panel is pre-set to optimal settings, but you’re free to modify them to fit your needs better.
Security: SiteGround Has Your Back(ups)
SiteGround doesn’t skimp on security.
In fact, it’s one of their top priorities.
The only difference between SiteGround’s secure facilities and the Batcave is a suave English butler and a fancy-rocket car.
Let’s take a look at the various ways SiteGround keeps your website safe.
Multi-Layered Security Protocols
SiteGround keeps everything running tickety-boo with a battalion of security personnel for protecting and monitoring systems, as well as a collection of strategic digital security measures that’ll leave hackers shaking in their little booties.
Here’s just a partial list of the protocols in place:
- 24/7 security teams monitoring hack alerts
- Video surveillance
- Restricted, limited server access for trusted personnel (they even use biometric scanners!)
- Bulletproof lobbies
- Phishing-resistant security keys
- Advanced intrusion detection/prevention systems to scan and block malware and viruses
- Two-step verification login
- A custom AI that protects against brute force attacks
- ModSecurity installation on all shared servers
- Auto-updates for WordPress and plugins
Unless Darkseid and The Elite defeat the Justice League and lay siege specifically to the SiteGround network, your website and data are safe and sound.
Free Daily Backups (And On-Demand Backups for Premium Accounts)
SiteGround has got your back, Jack, by offering free daily automatic backups on all hosting plans.
And the best part?
It’s a one-click system.
SiteGround keeps 30 days’ worth of copies on your site, allowing you to roll back and restore in the event of a catastrophic boo-boo or malicious attack.
What’s more, with the GrowBig and GoGeek plans, SiteGround includes on-demand backups, which is like having an undo button, but for your entire website.
Pros & Cons of SiteGround Hosting
Like every web hosting option on the market, SiteGround has its pros and cons.
Here’s where we feel they stand out and where they fall a little short:
Google Cloud for Super-Fast Servers
SiteGround operates on Google Cloud and enjoys all the benefits of its state-of-the-art global network. Not only are their servers fast, but they’re also some of the best in the world.
Daily and On-Demand Website Backups
SiteGround automatically creates daily back-ups of your site so you can quickly restore functionality in the event of something catastrophic. GrowBig and GoGeek plans allow users to create on-demand backups.
24/7 Customer Support: Part 1
Customer support is a big reason people gravitate to SiteGround. Whether through their knowledge base, ticketing system, or live chat, there’s always an experienced representative there to help.
Free CDN With Every Account
Cloudflare CDN comes free with every SiteGround account. With Cloudflare CDN, any part of your website loads faster thanks to their distribution nodes spread across the world.
Free SSL With Every Account
SiteGround provides free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates with every account. This free SSL certificate is automatically configured and renewed, leaving you with one less hassle to deal with.
Unlimited Bandwidth for Shared Hosting
With unlimited bandwidth, you’re free to host and grow almost any type of site you want without the limitations of a monthly data transfer cap.
99.99% Guaranteed Uptime
SiteGround promises 99.99% uptime. And if it falls below 99.99%, you’re given a month of hosting for free and an additional 1 month of free hosting for every 1% below 99% uptime.
Pricey Month-to-Month Billing
SiteGround pricing is comparable to other web hosting providers. However, if you opt for the month-to-month billing cycle, the prices take a significant jump – about 3 times as much.
Fixed Storage Space
SiteGround offers super-fast SSD storage, but that space is limited based on your hosting plan:
- StartUp Plan: 10GB of space
- GrowBig Plan: 20GB of space
- GoGeek Plan: 40GB of space
24/7 Customer Support: Part 2
Although SiteGround delivers top-shelf customer support, reaching a representative isn’t as easy as it once was. Instead of a simple button, there are multiple pages you’ll need to click through before prompting live chat or ticketing options.
Which SiteGround Plan is Right For You?
SiteGround has a web hosting option for just about everyone.
Here’s the scoop on what they offer:
- Shared and cloud hosting plans
- WooCommerce hosting plans
- And managed WordPress hosting plans
See a hosting solution that tickles your fancy?
Then let’s break these down:
SiteGround Shared Hosting: An Overview
Shared hosting plans mean that you’re sharing server resources with other websites.
In other words, you don’t have a dedicated server.
As a result, shared hosting plans are recommended for websites that don’t expect heavy traffic loads, like personal or smaller business websites and blogs.
Shared Hosting Plans: Your 3 Options
SiteGround offers 3 types of shared hosting plans:
1. A General Plan (AKA the Fast and Basic Web Hosting plan): a barebones host plan without any content management system or eCommerce platform installed
2. A Managed WordPress Hosting Plan: a shared hosting plan with WordPress and the SG Optimizer plugin pre-installed
3. A Managed WooCommerce Hosting Plan: a shared hosting plan with WordPress and WooCommerce pre-installed
Shared Hosting Plans: Pricing
Each of SiteGround’s 3 shared hosting plans (listed above) has 3 pricing tiers:
Let’s break them down:
Pricing: $14.99/month or $4.99/month when billed annually
Ideal for low-traffic websites with 10,000 monthly visitors or less.
- 10 GB of space
- Unmetered bandwidth
- Free WordPress installation
- Free WordPress migrator
- Automatic WordPress Updates
- Let’s Encrypt SSL
- Cloudflare CDN
- Free email
- SiteGround’s SuperCacher tool
- Unlimited databases
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Pricing: $24.99/month or $7.99/month when billed annually.
GrowBig is recommended for low-traffic websites with around 25,000 monthly visitors or less.
GrowBig includes everything from the StartUp plan plus:
- On-demand backups
- Ultrafast PHP
- WordPress staging
- Collaborator login
Pricing: $39.99/month or $14.99/month when billed annually.
Recommended for websites with around 100,000 monthly visitors or less.
GrowBig includes everything from the StartUp and GrowBig plans plus:
- White-label access
- More server resources
- Priority customer support
SiteGround Cloud Hosting: An Overview
Cloud hosting is recommended for websites that generate large amounts of traffic and need the extra firepower from dedicated servers on the cloud.
But, unless you have an existing high-traffic blog/online business or plan on scaling your website extremely quickly, it’s not likely you’ll need the cloud hosting plan.
That said, let’s review the options and pricing:
Shared Cloud Hosting Plans: Options and Pricing
1. Jump Start
- 4 CPU cores
- 8GB memory
- 40GB SSD space
- 5TB of data transfer
- 8 CPU cores
- 12GB memory
- 40GB SSD space
- 5TB of data transfer
3. Business Plus
- 12 CPU cores
- 16GB memory
- 120GB SSD space
- 5TB of data transfer
4. Super Power
- 16 CPU cores
- 20GB memory
- 160GB SSD space
- 5TB of data transfer
5. Configure Your Own
Price: $100.00 – $2090.00/month
- 4 – 33 CPU cores
- 8GB – 130GB memory
- 40GB – 1TB SSD space
- 5 TB of data transfer
The Final Review on SiteGround Hosting
SiteGround is fast, friendly, and constantly improving its services.
Really, there are only 3 red marks against SiteGround:
- Pricing: it’s not as cheap as other web hosts
- Reaching a customer service rep: it’s a more complicated process than it was before
- Limited Storage: a cap on storage space is kind of a drag, especially since you’d have to upgrade your hosting plan if you want more space.
Despite all that, SiteGround is still an over-delivering innovator in the web hosting industry.
Sure, it might not be as cheap as other web hosts.
But the extra goodies SiteGround delivers, like a free SSL, CDN, caching tool, and WordPress optimization plugin, are built into that monthly cost.
What’s more, the state-of-the-art technology used in their network, and award-winning customer support, emphasize the commitment to speed, quality, and customer success SiteGround promises.
Not too shabby, SiteGround.
Discounts and Deals for SiteGround Hosting
I’m glad you made it this far!
Keeping in the spirit of giving away freebies, we’ve got a special one for all Smart Blogger readers:
A SiteGround coupon for up to 62% off for the Smart Blogger community (affiliate link).
Is SiteGround Good for a WordPress Website?
In fact, SiteGround is WordPress recommended.
Does SiteGround Support WooCommerce?
Not only does SiteGround support WooCommerce, but it also has a hosting plan specifically for it.
Is SiteGround Better than GoDaddy?
A few years ago, they might have been comparable, but SiteGround leveled up in a big way.
With the adoption of the Google Cloud infrastructure and different performance-enhancing tweaks like ultra-fast PHP, SiteGround is a superior choice to GoDaddy.
Also, SiteGround’s Client Area and Site Tools dashboard are straightforward to navigate, unlike the confusing labyrinth that GoDaddy uses.
Is SiteGround Better than Bluehost?
BlueHost is owned by web hosting mega-giant, EIG, a company known for purchasing hosting companies and reducing the level of quality.
Having said that, Bluehost’s shared plans are cheaper and offer unlimited space.
SiteGround has a better network (in terms of uptime and speed) and is a privately-owned company, meaning they have the flexibility to innovate as they see fit.
It ultimately comes down to superior quality (SiteGround) versus better pricing (Bluehost)
Is SiteGround Better than HostGator?
Although HostGator is cheaper, SiteGround is faster, more reliable, more secure, and has far better support.
Unfortunately, HostGator is also owned by EIG.
Beyond the SiteGround Review: Is It The Best Web Hosting for You?
Whether you’re an experienced webmaster or a newbie ready to get their feet wet, you’ll find something to love about SiteGround.
It isn’t perfect (no web host is), but SiteGround fares far better than the competition.
So, if you’re looking for a web host with the right fusion of power, simplicity, and a pinch of creative magic, we suggest you take SiteGround for a spin.