This is a sponsored review.
When it comes to considering a host for your WordPress site, there’s generally the very generic shared hosts which are fine and cater to the tightest of budgets, and at the other end of the scale there’s the very finely tuned WordPress-specific hosts which may give you a performance and security boost, but certainly burn a hole in your wallet.
Until recently, there hasn’t really been a middle ground. But in the last year or two, SiteGround has really made a mark on the community as a decent trade-off between the two extremes. On the one hand, it is a shared hosting environment, and isn’t exorbitantly priced (plans start at $3.95/mo – very comparable to all shared hosts), but on the other, it is tailored for WordPress and has a lot of “premium tools” that are more typical of the high-end hosts.
The first thing that I noticed when I started using SiteGround is that the control panel is well configured and laid out. Some other hosts have separate systems for different parts of their service (particularly billing) and this is common between the shared hosts and even the premium hosts.
However, SiteGround’s control panel is thoughtfully laid-out and everything is in one place which is really refreshing.
To manage your account, support, billing and affiliate management are all just a click away, which is truly refreshing. it also makes life easier as someone who frequently has to ask clients for their login credentials, who are often confused by the multitude of different logins that other hosts need for various parts of their site.
SiteGround employs cPanel, the de facto server management tool, which makes running and managing your site incredibly easy. But that’s just the beginning of their easy-to-use and powerful toolbox.
You get all of the same features that you’d get with any other shared host, like multiple domains, email, a free domain and unlimited databases, but the WordPress-specific features is where SiteGround starts to run away from the competition.
Take for example the Autoupdate feature: WordPress needs to be updated regularly and SiteGround does it automatically for all of your sites, after taking a precautionary backup – that’s pretty slick.
Or, there’s the proactive security systems and checks, that are more typical of a managed WordPress host, so that if a vulnerability is found, you can rely on SiteGround to take the appropriate action for you in case you don’t hear about it.
Depending on your plan, there’s even more advanced features like Git, one-click staging areas for testing out changes before making them live, free shopping cart installation and a free SSL certificate, WordPress-specific caching for much faster sites, free daily backups for peace of mind that all is not lost in the event of a failure, SSH access and all kinds of support options, all of which clearly put SiteGround a cut above other shared hosts.
So, that’s what’s on offer, but how does it actually perform? Well, I should off by running through some of the technical features of their offerings: SiteGround employs a lot of unique systems that are comforting as a user on a shared hosting environment. For example, they isolate all accounts from one another, even when on the same server, which can be a security issue on other shared servers.
SiteGround also provides redundancy for both power and hardware, meaning that a power failure or a server failure shouldn’t bring your site down.
I used the test data from wptest.io to create a site with a lot of content to run it through its paces. There weer no conflicts in creating the site or importing the data, so the servers seem well configured without the need to tweak anything for a WordPress site.
From there, I really wanted to see how fast it would load, given the way they tout their unique caching system. In my opinion, the results weren’t bad.
When I first got going, the pages were loading in 1-1.5s. Then I learned that SiteGround offers a dynamic cache, which just requires installing a plugin and activating the service on your account (free). After this, pages were regularly loading in about 500ms, which is really decent, again, especially for the price!
All in all, I really like where SiteGround are taking their hosting service. I haven’t had to use their customer service, but I’ve heard it’s excellent, and there are a number of high profile sites in the WordPress community running on SiteGround. My own experience with them is decent and I’m confident in the systems, hardware and features they’ve put in place for WordPress users.
Given that their entry-level pricing is equal or lower than that of the more traditional shared hosts, SiteGround may well become my go-to recommendation for hosting WordPress sites.