SiteGround Hosting is an independent web hosting company founded in 2004.
They are based in Bulgaria but serve hosting markets globally. SiteGround positions themselves as a company offering high-quality, “well-crafted” hosting solutions.
SiteGround Review Takeaways
What is SiteGround Hosting?
SiteGround offers a spectrum of hosting solutions ranging from a shared Linux hosting option (the affordable, versatile kind used by most websites) all the way to Cloud, WordPress, and Reseller server solutions for large, growing websites.
Is SiteGround Legit?
They are one of the fastest growing independent (ie, not a brand owned by a larger corporate holding company) hosting companies. I heard about them years ago via their growing event involvement in the WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and marketing communities. They are an official recommended web host by the WordPress Foundation. So yes, they are legit.
What is SiteGround Hosting Used For?
SiteGround is often used for hosting WordPress websites. But they have a proprietary server backend along with a cloud infrastructure that can host any sort of website or web applications, but most of their clients run WordPress. Their client base ranges from beginner bloggers to enterprise level customers.
Like my experiment with Web Hosting Hub, I recently had a couple small sites that needed their own hosting accounts, so I wanted to give SiteGround Hosting a try based on high praise from people I respect in the industry. I started that project several years ago, and have kept the account active. I originally published this review several years ago, but have refreshed & republished this post as SiteGround has changed their tools & services.
Here’s my SiteGround review – structured with pros & cons, comparisons and next steps based on my experience as a customer.
Pros / Benefits of SiteGround Hosting
There are a lot of SiteGround reviews online – usually with user-generated reviews based on anecdotes and personal experience. That’s fine but I take a different approach.
Like I mention in all my hosting reviews, there is no such thing as a “best” web host. It’s all about the right fit for your project based on your goals, budget, experience & expertise. Here are the pros (advantages) for considering SiteGround.
Speed & Performance
When someone types in your website’s address, that request gets sent to your web hosting server for the files. While there are a lot of variables in play with website speed, it’s primarily your hosting server’s job to send the requested files to the visitor’s browser as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
SiteGround makes a lot of promises about website speed throughout their site. And from all the tests that I’ve run since starting my account, they’ve lived up to the promise.
One of the main factors of site speed is Time To First Byte (TTFB) – ie, how quickly the server sends the first byte of the first file in response to a request. Here’s how my SiteGround website tested out.
In addition to quick server performance, SiteGround has major data centers around the globe – Chicago, London, Amsterdam, and Singapore. They use Google’s Cloud infrastructure for cloud and enterprise plans.
This matters because the physical distance that your website files have to travel matters. And many major web hosting brands automatically assign customers to their one data center – often somewhere in the middle of the US.
That’s fine if most of your customers are in North America. However, if your audience is focused regionally elsewhere in the world, you want your website files located close to them regardless of where you are located. If you are an Australian expat building a site for the Australian/Asian market – you’ll want your website to live in Australia or Singapore, not Utah. That factor in speed is a huge plus for SiteGround.
Lastly, SiteGround does a solid job with allocation of resources. By definition, a shared hosting server is sharing resources among several customers. So it’s critical to get the allocation right. Many hosting companies will set very low memory limits on sites to keep a throttle on performance. As far as I can see from my installs, SiteGround allows generous allocations with up to date software.
Even back when I first started my project, they had very high default limits.
They were one of the first hosting companies to make PHP 7 standard, and keep rolling out cutting edge speed features for all accounts.
SiteGround’s performance, speed, and reliability are major pros for their product.
Hosting Feature Set & Integrations
SiteGround has a strong feature set – especially if you are more technically biased. They have unlimited databases and email accounts.
They do daily backups, which is a good safety net feature when your own backups fail. SiteGround uses a custom dashboard meant to make access to all your files & tools simple & straightforward.
For GrowBig / GoGeek websites, they do a free website transfer, and have a free WordPress site builder. None of these features really stand out, but they do put them above many well-known hosting brands.
SiteGround does have many unique developer-oriented features though. They integrate well with CloudFlare’s CDN. At their “GoGeek” plan, they do free PCI compliance and free Git & staging areas – both of which are seriously useful to have integrated.
Now, the “price” of some of these features is that they have their own custom server backend. They do not use the industry-standard and more familiar cPanel software. If you are coming from another host, things might be a bit confusing. But their setup mainly pays off for customers with higher traffic websites.
To reiterate, their WordPress staging feature on the GoGeek plan is seriously useful if you have a high traffic site. Setting up staging servers where you can edit a non-live version of your site and the “push” it live can be a pain to setup – even if they are best practice. Doing “hot fixes” on a live site is simple, but not ideal.
Additionally, I like how they have a focus on the most popular content management systems like WordPress. They don’t upsell any fake “WordPress-specific” features, but instead, show how their built-in features drive better performance for WordPress and (to a lesser degree) Joomla.
They are cutting edge on the latest, greatest product integrations.
SiteGround has a free SSL certificate that rolls out at a click of a button. This removes a big obstacle to going HTTPS / SSL with WordPress. They also have direct integrations with CDNs like CloudFlare CDN. They’re rolling out investments in NGINX, HTTP/2, PHP 7, built-in CDN and Caching, and more. They have incredible uptime and bandwidth allocations. They also have lots of customization built around WordPress websites.
Lastly, SiteGround offers a full-spectrum of hosting solutions. If you have a rapidly growing site, you can grow your site with them from StartUp all the way to an Enterprise Dedicated Server.
Like performance, if you are focused on what your hosting can do – rather than as a raw utility and/or website cost, then SiteGround is really impressive.
Advanced Customer Support*
*There is an asterisk here that I’ll mention at the end.
Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, reviewing customer support is tricky. Just like your local restaurant on Yelp, the most positive and most negative reviews are generally worthless.
You never know when issues are customer-caused or when someone simply encountered that one amazing/horrible employee.
I’ve had a generally ok experience with SiteGround. But that’s very anecdotal.
In fact, over the past year, I’ve noticed a pattern in my inbox.
SiteGround’s “front-end” customer service seems to have gotten a lot worse while stories of successful large sites migrations have stayed the same.
Usually, I like to look at “proxies” for customer support. In other words, things that indicate something about the culture & processes of customer support.
SiteGround does especially well with a few of these proxies. First, they are transparent and responsive across a range of channels – including phone and live chat.
Second, they’ve invested in a mostly custom knowledge base with comments customer support monitoring.
Third, it’s apparent that they invest a lot in their employees, because their employees actually put on technical events to train developers.
Those factors plus their endorsement from high profile WordPress core contributors puts SiteGround’s advanced customer service in the pro column for me.
However, I also can’t not mention the uptick in poor experience stories that I’ve received in the past six months. This pro has to have an asterisk while earning a mention in the cons / complaints section.
Transparency* & Community
*SiteGround does have one challenge on transparency that I cover in the Cons section. Even though they do a lot as mentioned below, do also read about the exception that I wish they’d fix.
SiteGround is transparent and supportive of community in an industry that is usually pretty closed off. It’s refreshing to work with a company that is straightforward and supportive instead of working with a giant company that’s short on details and long on product upsells.
They have a simple sign up process.
They even put the IP addresses of all their data centers on their site so that you can test their speeds from your location without having to sign up for an account.
I like how in their Plans under GoGeek, they straight up tell you that you will have “fewer accounts on your server.” The fact that shared hosting companies have an incentive to jam as many websites on a server as technically possible is normally hushed up and never mentioned. To borrow a web developer saying, SiteGround shared hosting turns that “bug” into a feature.
And like I briefly mentioned in Support, SiteGround spends a lot of time and money supporting web communities. Building and maintaining communities like WordPress and Joomla requires a lot of volunteer hours – and SiteGround does an excellent job supporting them. They have sponsored, attended or spoke at more than 400 community events. In addition, they do it from Bulgaria with all the travel that entails.
Their transparency and community support is a major pro because it indicates a deeper culture of investment in the long-term. If you’re a customer, that’s a good culture to buy from.
Global Oriented Hosting
The last major pro of SiteGround is their global orientation. They’re from Bulgaria, which is a small, but rapidly growing tech hub in Eastern Europe. Bulgaria does not have a huge internal market, so they have to be globally-oriented to get a solid market.
In a way, they have to be twice as good to compete in the global web hosting industry. From their website copy and interface design, it looks like they go above and beyond to create a global look and feel that works for anyone – not just an American small business person.
They accept multiple currencies (AUD, USD, GBP, EUR) and offer multiple local toll-free lines + free country specific domains. The hosting industry is typically very US-centric, so this change is a welcome.
I like how they have a dedicated Spanish language site. Their distributed data center locations are also a big advantage for businesses building an international audience, especially for Europe and Asia.
Cons / Complaints of SiteGround Hosting
Like any web host, SiteGround has disadvantages. Remember, that like the pros, these are all in context of your goals & priorities. With that said, here are the cons that I found while using SiteGround.
Renewal Pricing Point
Like I’ve mentioned in other hosting reviews, comparing pricing across hosting companies can be maddening. It’s very difficult to compare apples to oranges because plans generally come with various caps.
That said, I try to compare pricing based on the 3 “D’s” of core hosting features – Domains (how many websites you can run on your account), Databases (how many software installs you can run) and Disk Space (how many files you can upload to your account).
SiteGround’s runs 3 shared hosting plans – StartUp ($14.99/mo), GrowBig ($24.99/mo) and GoGeek ($39.99/mo). They all limit Disk Space. And StartUp limits you to a single domain.
SiteGround usually runs heavily discounted rates for the *any* sign-up period (this link should show plans with up with a deep discount ie $6.99/mo for StartUp).
Those intro prices are fairly competitive – especially considering they are for any signup period. However, their standard renewal pricing is expensive compared to the industry, especially for their StartUp plan.
With SiteGround, you are paying for quality. So I want to emphasize that this con is focused on their raw price point – not overall value. However, they are still a bit expensive than other high-performing, independent hosting companies like –
- InMotion (see their plans here)
- Web Hosting Hub (see their plans here)
- HostPapa (see their plans here)
- GreenGeeks (see their plans here)
And if pricing is a major factor for you, you can get much cheaper discounting, solid features, and pretty good support with a big brand shared host like Bluehost (get Bluehost’s discount here) or HostGator (get HostGator’s discount here).
The one exception to this con is in the world of mid-size websites that don’t really need a VPS plan but do need a stable, highly reliable shared hosting plan or specialized WordPress hosting. Many of those website owners opt for managed hosting solutions like WP Engine (see their plans here) or LiquidWeb (see their plans here). However, they also add a lot of limitations to your plan. In this case, SiteGround would be at a cheaper price point with more flexibility than those plans.
If raw price is your primary goal, then this point is a disadvantage for SiteGround. If value pricing or other factors are important, then the price + features are a good value. To help you sort the factors, I have a Buzzfeed-style shared hosting quiz here and a WordPress hosting quiz here.
Frontline Customer Support Trends
SiteGround has been one of the most rapidly growing hosts for a while. Scaling growth always comes with hiccups no matter what your product is.
Until recently, SiteGround had been handling scaling issues well based on my personal and anecdotal evidence from my readers and industry contacts. However, I’ve been getting quite a bit of email and seen more reports on Reddit & Twitter that SiteGround’s frontline customer support has been suffering.
They still claim a 90% closure rate and low wait times, but it does seem like they are having a hard time fulfilling complex requests from beginner / intermediate customers.
This issue is hard to just qualitatively, but it’s something that I’ve kept my own clients aware of, and thought should be included here as well.
Developer & Agency Focus
Every web hosting provider has an initial target market and then tries to expand out to complementary markets (ie, they start with small business and expand out to agencies or medium businesses). SiteGround seems to position themselves towards the professional developer market, ie, developers building websites for businesses.
That’s not a bad thing in itself – it’s a good thing if you’re a developer – but it does make it more difficult to appeal to a more general audience. While most of SiteGround’s overall feel is simple and straightforward, many of their features do not have much appeal or use for a general audience, especially compared to other hosts like Web Hosting Hub, InMotion, Bluehost, HostGator, GreenGeeks, or HostPapa, etc. For example, they don’t use cPanel – they use a custom dashboard with a strong tilt towards developers using SSH over DIYers using File Manager.
Their top tier plan sells a WordPress / Joomla staging area and Git integration. Those are incredible features. But the average person creating a website will not use those. Not even small developers or agencies use those for many clients.
SiteGround also does not offer the range of marketing bonuses that other hosting plans come with – the Google Ads credits, Facebook ad credits, free premium WordPress themes, the free iStockphoto credits, etc. I used to think those were universal, but they’re not at SiteGround. Ironically – one of the few “partnership” bonuses is credit at WeWork, which I also think says something about their target market.
Their Site Builder software is alright, but it’s not free to use. And it’s nowhere near as useful as the WordPress-based website builder that InMotion has (review) or the very simplified & affordable builder that HostGator has (review).
In fairness, if you are a customer who values convenience & onboarding more than other factors – then I’d also recommend looking at my website builder quiz which includes options beyond hosting companies.
Overall, SiteGround’s appeal to developers is great. Even if you don’t need all the advanced features (that are mainly in the GoGeek Plan anyway), then you don’t have to use them – and they’ll be there when you do want them. SiteGround’s StartUp plan is simple and straightforward. Again, it’s about what features you are looking for – and what features you are actually going to use.
Custom WordPress Install & (now defunct) Link Schemes
Editor’s Note 1 – to clarify this section, this disadvantage is a bit different than the ones previously mentioned. It’s not on par with pricing / features / etc – but falls in the bucket of something that I personally think is a negative based on my career as an SEO consultant and my philosophical bent to products that are provided clearly with nothing “hidden” under the hood. Be sure to read SiteGround’s response at the end.
SiteGround has an automatic WordPress installer like most web hosting companies. But it installs a slightly customized version of WordPress.
I’m generally not a fan of the practice. But it’s also not outside the norm – HostGator automatically installs a widget that advertises their theme store. Other hosting companies will automatically include basic security or caching plugins.
In both cases, the change is obvious and simple to deactivate the plugin.
*Note – in all cases, you do not have to use the auto-install. You can always do a manual install.
SiteGround takes a different approach. They automatically install WordPress with a published page that includes general tips and links to their WordPress resources.
As an administrative matter, I thought it was odd to use a published Page visible to the general Internet instead of simply publishing a note on the Dashboard – which will be visible only to the website owner.
But then I looked closely at the page and noticed that they have some exact-match anchor text within the page. And the page is published, live on the internet and crawlable to the search engines.
Quick background. Search engines use links to other websites to judge how relevant and “authoritative” they are. They also look at the anchor text (ie, the actual text of the link) to judge what the website is. So if I link to my website with the text marketing website – Googlebot will say “ok, ShivarWeb.com is a marketing website.”
Now, back in the late 2000s, this factor started getting abused. Google made “link schemes” a breach of their quality guidelines. Google also released an algorithm update called Penguin that looks for and devalues abuses of anchor text. If it gets egregious, Google will even slap a “penalty” on your site.
Links are a wonderful thing if they are placed by the website owner or with the website owner’s approval. Links that are injected without a website owner’s approval or knowledge are spam. SiteGround may argue that this page is easily deleted, but even though it is, most website owners have no idea.
That’s a lot of links to get from users who might not want to endorse your website with a link. And yes, there is an irony that WordPress, design agencies and theme makers use the same tactic (look at website footers). However, those links are visible & known to the website owner. An automatically published page that is not connected to the rest of your website is suspicious and spammy. It also adds a factor of risk for their customers – they are the ones unknowingly participating in a link scheme.
Here’s why this matters to you.
- If you don’t delete the page, you are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and open to a manual penalty.
- The fact that SiteGround uses customer websites for their search engine optimization without disclosure decreases the trust you can have with them compared to other hosting companies.
Editor’s Note 2 – here is the response from SiteGround’s marketing team.
“The motivation for this is to actually provide a better client experience by pointing the just-starting customer to useful resources we have created. We have never ever had any complaints from customers for our default install, nor anyone has been penalized. And also, our experience shows that once people start developing their website, they delete those pages just as they would delete the default Hello World post.”
Editor’s Note 3 – SiteGround has rolled out a new WordPress Starter Plugin that can be bundled with your hosting package. It’s great for beginners – and it does not add the link resources page. However, their standard WordPress install process still creates these links.
Either way, you can decide if it matters to you. Just remember to delete that page.
SiteGround Hosting Plan Pricing & Packages
SiteGround promotes a range of hosting plans and packages…even though they actually just have one hosting solution.
Here’s a quick summary of their offerings.
Web Hosting Plan
SiteGround has 3 plans for their Web Hosting product – Startup, GrowBig, and GoGeek. All these plans are the same as their WordPress / WooCommerce counterparts except that WordPress is not auto-installed.
Now, industry-wide there is rarely a difference between web hosting plans and WordPress hosting plans. That’s exactly the case with SiteGround. Their Web Hosting product is still optimized for WordPress…it’s just that WordPress is not auto-installed.
StartUp Plan is defined by the 1 website limit, and the lack of premium features such as staging and on demand backups.
GrowBig Plan is defined by on demand backups and the addition of staging, in addition to unlimited websites.
GoGeek Plan puts your website on a server with fewer other websites, so you don’t have to share as many server resources. You also get Git and client management / site tools in your SiteGround account if you are an agency.
Managed WordPress Hosting Plan
SiteGround’s Managed WordPress Hosting is exactly the same as their Web Hosting product, except that WordPress is auto-installed. They are a WordPress host first across all their plans.
WooCommerce Hosting Plan
SiteGround’s WooCommerce Hosting is exactly the same as their Web Hosting product, except that WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin is auto-installed.
Cloud Hosting Plan
SiteGround offers a scalable web hosting service in the cloud. I’ve explained Cloud Hosting here, but it basically means that you pay per server use rather than for a server allocation.
SiteGround uses Google Cloud for their cloud hosting plan. This means that you use SiteGround’s backend and get their support, but your website will actually live on Google’s servers (the same ones that run Google.com and YouTube.com).
With this product, SiteGround competes directly with other cloud resellers like Cloudways (plans & pricing) and Kinsta (plans & pricing). The service is highly competitive price-wise. The choice mainly comes down to backend tools and advanced support options.
Reseller Hosting Plan
SiteGround offers a suite of Reseller Hosting plans that are structured similarly to their web hosting product. I’ve explained Reseller Hosting here, but it’s basically a way for anyone (usually small agencies) to sell hosting under their own brand, but with SiteGround’s backend.
SiteGround competes well with other reseller plans, though every hosting reseller will have to balance support, performance, and profit margins. SiteGround operates at a higher price point, which can limit reseller margins, but also alleviate support needs.
Enterprise Hosting Plan
SiteGround also offers custom Enterprise Hosting packages for budgets of $2000 and up. They can customize resources and technologies to fit any website or timeframe, including dedicated hosting.
Is SiteGround Worth It?
So – is SiteGround good or worth it?
Well, there’s a reason SiteGround Hosting is one of the fastest growing independent hosting companies. They have a solid product and a great support. Being headquartered in Bulgaria allows them to be much more globally oriented than many US companies while offering a truly world-class product. If they would disclose and/or remove their auto-WordPress install, they would be that much better.
If you are looking for a hosting company with an international bent, a focus on solid technical features, and a full path of plans for a website that will grow, you can get a deep discount on SiteGround’s plans here.
Reader FAQs about SiteGround
Is SiteGround good for WordPress?
Is SiteGround the best?
Is SiteGround better than Bluehost?
Is SiteGround expensive?
SiteGround is more expensive than some web hosts (view their plans here). But SiteGround also does not compete for budget / value hosting plans. They compete in the value-added segments where the price is higher, but the value is also higher for many customers.