SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review
I have written about WordPress hosting before, and have recommended some good eCommerce platforms. Most people don't need these heavy duty, and expensive, services. If you're running a smaller site you don't need a completely managed service with massive scalability. One alternative that keeps coming up is SiteGround and their WordPress support and integration. They have emerged as a crowd favorite, and we will look into why they are so popular.
People I respect and follow have recommended SiteGround hosting, so I thought I would give it a try. I have read a lot of reviews about SiteGround and most focus on hosting speed tests, so I've decided to focus on user experience in initial setup of an account, help desk support and usability. From what I've read SiteGround's performance is great and competes well with other similar hosts.
For this test I will be using the GoGeek plan which includes many WordPress features that have been integrated by SiteGround.
Price & Features
SiteGround hosting starts at $3.95 per month for the first month. After your first month the price goes up to $9.95 per month, which is still pretty good. In comparison a SSL compatible plan with other providers will be over $50 per month, at SiteGround your plan will cost $14.95 per month initially, and then cost $29.95 per month. Price isn't the best metric for judging a service but it is nice when you can save some money.
How is SiteGround's service so cheap? Their WordPress service is managed, meaning the core software is updated for you and daily updates completed, but you will be on a shared server. You can upgrade to SiteGround's VPS or dedicated service if your site requires, but if your just starting out I recommend their shared hosting service.
Every SiteGround plan will include WordPress and a free domain name. I would choose the GoGeek plan if your running any type of online business, as it's SSL compatible. The lesser plan, Grow Big, also includes SSL support but does not offer staging site setup and restore points. Some other features offered with GoGeek plan include the following:
unlimited number of sites
100,000 visits / month
daily backup (30 copies / day)
SSH / FTP access
free WordPress install
WP core auto updates
staging site area
(with free certificate for 1 year)
Initial signup with SiteGround was very simple and intuitive. I choose the GoGeek plan and clicked through the instructions, filling out the requested information. I even tested out their live chat support service, after about a minute I was speaking to their help desk who answered my questions about the GoGeek plan. I decided to use a domain that I had on another service, but you can use SiteGround to host your domain if you want.
Once I choose my hosting plan and entered my billing details, I got my DNS transfer info. SiteGround offers a tutorial that details how to transfer your domain DNS if you don't know how. You don't have to worry about any DNS settings if you are using SiteGround for your domain name registration.
After transferring my DNS I had to wait a bit for it to resolve and then logged back into my SiteGround account. The SiteGround setup wizard took me through several steps where I choose what kind of software I wanted to use on my site, I choose the WordPress option. You don't have to choose WordPress right away, you can install it later through your cPanel. After completing the wizard I was able to log in and start setting up my WordPress site. The whole process took a few minutes.
Once your logged into your WordPress admin page you can take a look at the themes that SiteGround has installed. I didn't want to use any of the free themes so I just deleted them. SiteGround will also include a sample blog post with their promo stuff, so you will have to delete that before loading your content.
You will complete most of your site management through your cPanel access. Here you can change your DNS settings, get FTP login details, enable CloudFlare and the usual settings you see in most hosting plans. I had already run the WordPress installer, so I moved on to creating a staging site. This is a great feature of the GoGeek plan, and you can create a staging area in a few minutes, depending on the type of site your running. The main benefit of Staging areas is to test out site changes like plugin updates so you don't break your main site. You can also create multiple staging layouts and password protects them if you don't want the public to see your tests.
Each staging site you create will generate a sub domain, like http://stagetest.yoursite.com. You can also clone or replicate your staging sites and push changes to your live site. Staging sites can be easily deleted when you're done with them.
One of the best features of SiteGround is their support for SuperCacher. You can access SuperCacher from your cPanel. SuperCacher allows you to cache dynamic content, powered by Varnish and Memcached. Caching dynamic content will increase your site performance by saving some of your HTML to load directly to guests rather than fully being generated by PHP scripts during each visit. SuperCacher's full details and how to use them are documented well by SiteGround.
Support is one area you don't want to ignore when choose a host. When your in a jam the last thing you need is a support service which either doesn't respond to you or does a poor job. This point is really driven home when your website is your main source of income. Down time results in lost money and inevitably lost customer loyalty.
SiteGround has an all star support service. You can contact them through 24/7 phone support, email tickets and live chat. They claim almost all of their new customers come through customer referrals, which would be unlikely if they had poor customer support.
The main customer support method I used was the live chat support. Every time I requested a live chat support session I was connected within less than a minute. Also every issue I brought up was resolved within the chat session. Usually my sessions lasted less than ten minutes, but that will depend on the depth of the problem you are having.
I called the SiteGround phone support network and my call was answered within a minute. My problem was resolved within a few minutes but the support worker made sure I didn't have any other problems before closing my ticket. Many other support networks will just shut down the session before even asking if there are other problems. So I was happy with their phone based help service.
I also tried out their email support system by creating a ticket. I received a reply within six minutes. It is hard to resolve an issue over email in one email message, so after a few back and forth messages I was able to resolve my issue within a half hour. They were courteous, professional and seemed to know what they were talking about. I would recommend going the live chat route as you can have a quick back and forth conversation without being tied to the phone.
The signing up, initial setup, development and launch of my test website with SiteGround went very well. I can say that my experience with SiteGround was positive. I particularly enjoyed SiteGround's multiple staging site support along with quality customer support. Their plan prices are very competitive and include everything you need to launch your online store or personal website.
When your site gets bigger and you need more out of your hosting plan, you may need to upgrade to SiteGround's VPS or dedicated servers. Dedicated hosting avoids the problem of competing for server resources when you're on a shared plan. Increased load speeds can lead to better sales, so don't wait until your site is completely bogged down by traffic before making the needed upgrade.
Make sure to check out the hundreds of comments left by other SiteGround users. Be sure to leave your own comment letting others know about your thoughts and experiences.
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