GoDaddy vs. SiteGround for hosting is a tale of the established, name-brand, corporate giant against the rapidly growing, scrappy, independent company.
While there is no such thing as the “best overall” hosting company, both these companies excel for certain types of projects & certain types of website owners.
In this comparison between GoDaddy and SiteGround, I’ll break down the differences that I’ve found in seven different areas ranging from pricing structure to customer service and market focus so that you can decide which is the best fit for your project.
Also – you can skip to the short version in the conclusion here.
Let’s dive into GoDaddy vs. SiteGround…
Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned. All opinion and data are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
GoDaddy is the big brand in the website services industry. They run the big Super Bowl ads and have a ubiquitous presence on TV and the Internet. They started (and still primarily are) as a domain registrar, but have expanded to a range of complementary product lines including hosting, email, web storage – and even bookkeeping.
With a CEO change in 2013, they began to move away from their edgy & sales-focused reputation (or, rather, sexist and hard-upsell) reputation toward a reputation of being a one-stop shop. I’ve reviewed their domain services and website builder product before, but this comparison will look specifically at their Linux hosting product.
SiteGround has been around for a while – though they have only recently started their rapid growth. They are one of the few independently owned hosting companies left (ie, not owned by Endurance or GoDaddy). They are based in Bulgaria but have cultivated an excellent global reputation with data centers in every major region and industry conference sponsorships around the globe.
Like I mentioned in my SiteGround review – they have a heavy focus on support and cutting-edge developer features (like staging & one-click SSL). They have some complementary products, but their bread and butter are hosting products.
Comparing pricing in the hosting industry can be maddening. Nobody’s pricing tiers match up. Everyone has different caps. Everyone adds unrelated bonuses. And nobody can sell just a plain vanilla version of their product – everything has to be “marketed-up” even though it’s really the same thing.
The short-version of GoDaddy vs. SiteGround is that GoDaddy does short-term pricing better. And it’s cheaper in general on some product variations.
However, if you break out all the plan features, SiteGround is competitive on head-to-head pricing and better on price for value than GoDaddy – especially if you factor in SiteGround’s introductory discounts (which can be locked in for up to 3 years).
Ok – now the long version.
In all my hosting reviews, I break hosting pricing into 3 buckets –
- Core hosting features – disk space, databases, domain connections & email addresses.
- Bonus features – ad credits, premium support, SSL certificates, etc.
- Special Services – WordPress / CMS management, custom setup, security scans, etc
Core hosting features are the basics that you need to get your website online and seen by the world. Really, hosting is simply renting space on someone’s server to store your website files and serve them up when the domain gets requested from a browser. If you are trying to get raw value out of your host – then this is what you’ll need to look at to get apples to apples pricing.
Bonus hosting features are the extras that get thrown in to sell you on a service. Some matter and some don’t – it all depends. The important thing is to identify ones that you care about and focus only on those.
Special hosting services usually get segmented to a different set of plans (ie, “WordPress Hosting”) – the plans are the same at their core but with additional services provided by the hosting company. The important thing here is to decide first, if they really matter to you and second, what exactly you want from them.
For example, many hosting companies provide “WordPress hosting” or “Joomla! Hosting” – but both are really the same core hosting features with services specific to that software added.
Sometimes it’s worthwhile – like security scans, server-level caching, etc – and sometimes it’s near-worthless in that you get to call a support specialist who “knows” your software of choice.
Either way – SiteGround and GoDaddy both provide all three.
On core hosting features, SiteGround mainly limits their storage caps on all plans and their domain connections on the StartUp plan.
GoDaddy limits databases on Economy & Deluxe in addition to limiting storage and domain connections on the Economy plan.
On a general head to head pricing – SiteGround runs between $2 to $4 more on the respective low and mid tiers.
However, GoDaddy also caps email storage space on both. Additionally, GoDaddy charges extra fees for backup & restore (which are free & daily on SiteGround) and SSL bonus features.
On value pricing – they are about equal on the mid and low tiers.
Both SiteGround and GoDaddy’s top tiers get a bit confusing though.
SiteGround on their part is much more expensive, but mainly due to the fact that their top tier has so many more bonus & additional services that it’s simply too different from what GoDaddy is offering.
GoDaddy’s top tier simply makes their email storage unlimited while adding more memory to their servers. Both of these features are covered by SiteGround’s mid-tier. So in a way – GoDaddy’s Ultimate tier is a better competitor to SiteGround’s mid-tier.
SiteGround’s top GoGeek tier is simply different and more comparable to GoDaddy’s separate Developer WordPress Hosting Plans or their Business Hosting Plans.
So yeah – hosting pricing is confusing.
The short version, again, is GoDaddy is the cheapest, but SiteGround is competitive with more value per tier for the price.
But pricing isn’t our only consideration. Time to look at the actual feature set.
I’ve covered many points of features in pricing, but I do want to reiterate a few points on core hosting features along with differences in “bonus” hosting features.
First, to reiterate what I mentioned in pricing on core hosting features – GoDaddy and SiteGround both have limits, but focus on different areas. SiteGround focuses their limits on storage. GoDaddy focuses their limits on databases (which determines how many apps you can install) & email.
Second, GoDaddy focuses their “bonus” features on things that integrate with their complementary services. They are a domain registrar – so they pitch a free domain with one-click integration. They have a partnership with Microsoft, so they pitch their integration with Office365.
SiteGround focuses many of their “bonus” features on performance & security enhancements. They have free Let’s Encrypt SSLs. They run their servers with SSD (ie, flash memory hard drives rather than magnetic tape drives). They have the latest versions of PHP and have HTTP/2 enabled servers.
Not every user will need or use those features – but again, the focus from GoDaddy is that “we are convenient” and the focus from SiteGround is that “we are a high-performing host.”
Third, on backups, SiteGround says they “keep up to 30 backup copies of your website” with free daily backups (though not on the StartUp plan). With GoDaddy, it’s an additional fee.
Fourth, on guarantees, they both do 30-day money back guarantees.
Fifth, they both use cPanel as their server management and provide a range of one-click app installers.
Performance & Performance
Like I mentioned earlier – the core job of a web host is to deliver your website files whenever a browser requests them. The caveat is that you probably want your web host to deliver them quickly.
There are a ton of variables that go into website speed – and most of them are the website owner’s responsibility.
However, if you have a slow web host, there’s only so much you can do to speed up your site.
As an analogy, if your website is a truck + trailer – then your engine is your web host. A slow truck is not necessarily due to a small engine (you might be overloaded or even have the parking brake on) but if you have an underpowered engine, then there is a limit to your speed.
Only the engineering teams at GoDaddy & SiteGround actually know how their networks are performing minute by minute in addition to how many websites they try to host on each server.
However, we can try to approximate website performance by looking at Time To First Byte (TTFB). It’s a rough, ballpark measurement of how quickly a server responds to its first request.
While it is best measured as a trend, here are the most recent tests for similarly structured sites that I have access to on each –
As you can see, SiteGround is significantly faster with their TTFB. Keep in mind that neither of these sites is optimized for speed (ie, with caching, etc) – so both can be made faster. However, it is good to see the default, “out-of-box” performance of each.
The tests align with the feature focus and the hosts’ respective reputations.
Additionally – there is “uptime” to consider (aka whether your server is up or down). Both guarantee 99.9% uptime, but only SiteGround maintains a public, real-time uptime dashboard.
SiteGround wins on performance.
Usability & Onboarding
Onboarding is the process of moving a new customer from the “ok, I signed up…now what?” moment to an active, happy customer.
Usability is the design of the software to make sure the user can always do whatever it is that they want to do.
SiteGround and GoDaddy both use cPanel as their server management dashboard. Both have it customized so that it doesn’t look technical and daunting. Here are respective screenshots.
They both do a good job of moving you from purchase to website setup. In general, I’d say they are a tie – except for GoDaddy’s upsells.
Now – I don’t have anything specifically against upsells. Sometimes they are helpful, complimentary offers. That’s great. But like their domain purchase process, GoDaddy does go a bit heavy on the “special offers.”
If that’s tiresome for you – then you’ll like SiteGround better. If not, then they are both fine on usability & onboarding. You’ll get to where you need to be with both.
Customer Service & Support
Like performance, customer service is one of those things that is hard to measure unless you are in the company with real-time access to stats and culture.
Both companies will have horror & love stories. I’ve received emails from frustrated users of both companies. I’ve never personally had an issue with either. However, I think that SiteGround’s reps pass the “yeah, this rep knows their stuff” test while GoDaddy is more likely to transfer me.
Either way, with all my web hosting reviews, I like to look at two indicators to figure out if a company treats customer service as a cost, an investment, or a sales opportunity.
First is access to customer support.
Both SiteGround and GoDaddy provide phone, chat, and email tickets. They both have knowledgebases. The only difference that I can publicly see is that SiteGround’s knowledgebase is much higher quality. You can use it to actually solve problems – even non-SiteGround specific problems. GoDaddy’s knowledgebase is devoted completely to GoDaddy-specific problems.
Second is the overall investment in customer support. With GoDaddy – the emphasis is on contact. They obviously put a lot of investment into phone support, but their phone support also has a lot of triage. Like I mentioned with their knowledgebase, there is not a lot of “pre-solving” problems or routing callers directly to an expert. Additionally, they have a bit of a handicap due to their huge range of products. Since they offer everything from bookkeeping to photo storage to hosting to builders – their support is by necessity going to be focused on triage rather than deep problem-solving.
With SiteGround – that’s flipped. Even if SiteGround can’t solve the problem, in the end, it’s apparent that they devote a lot of resources to training, transparency, and complementary resources like knowledgebases, webinars, and integrated tips into their platform.
While GoDaddy has improved since 2013 – service and support definitely go to SiteGround.
Ever since 2013, GoDaddy has tried to become the all-in-one service provider for small business. They have an enormous range of products customized for nearly every need. They even own a bookkeeping product along with the best security scanning software. If they have a market focus – it’s “everyone.”
The problem with targeting “everyone” is that you also inherently target “no one” – you are the Walmart of websites. You’re generally fine, and people are generally resigned to use your service because of price and convenience – but not necessarily because they love your services.
SiteGround is a really unique case among hosting companies. The hosting market has generally been dominated by American brands. There are niche regional providers, but none have had real success in both the American and global market. SiteGround is a Bulgarian company, but they could really be from anywhere. They use that global brand along with their global data centers to do something really unique.
Aside – that is nothing against Bulgaria. Bulgaria is super-cool, but the language, population size, currency and distance from tech hubs present comparatively high obstacles.
SiteGround has grown so rapidly due to their sole market focus on developers and freelancers looking for more features and more support from their hosting company. SiteGround has been first to market with innovative features like shared staging and one-click SSLs. They are ever present at conferences and meetups. They are also transparent. They also hold the distinction of being a hosting company that is not owned by a big corporate holding company. Some of their features and messaging sound technical and daunting, but that’s because they pretty much stick with their core product (hosting) and core market “hipster freelancers” and developers.
This section makes SiteGround super-cool, but it’s important to note that neither focus is good or bad.
If you have a small site and already have GoDaddy products like a domain and/or email – then using their hosting makes sense. If you are concerned about price above all else, then GoDaddy makes sense. But if you are a freelancer or small business looking for a company that “sticks to their knitting” – then SiteGround makes more sense.
Like I mentioned in my NameCheap or GoDaddy for Domain Registration post – there are also other factors that some customers want to factor in, but might not be aware of. They are part of the whole “consciously purchasing” movement.
Ever since GoDaddy changed CEOs, they have toned down their sexist advertising and haven’t had cultural controversies like CEOs hunting lions…but they are still playing catch up with SiteGround in two areas.
On transparency, SiteGround provides a status page for their uptime and provide full specs of their hardware – all from their main navigation menu.
They have profiles of their support staff – and a very direct values page. None of this is new in the industry, but it is ahead of what GoDaddy does.
On community support, SiteGround does a lot to support open-source software communities such as WordPress and Joomla. They also sponsor a lot of meetups for website owners around the world and contribute to cutting-edge features.
GoDaddy has recently started STEM partnerships in schools and allows charities to get “roundup” funding on their checkout page. But – and this is not to be cynical – the page is buried in a “Corporate Responsibility” link in the footer.
If this stuff matters to you as a consumer, then I’d say that SiteGround seems to actually act on their values compared to GoDaddy.
GoDaddy vs. SiteGround Conclusion
If you want the absolute cheapest price or the most convenience, then I’d go with GoDaddy. I have clients who use them and do just fine.
If you are looking for the host that has better performance, support, and overall value, then I’d go with SiteGround.