SiteGround are a web hosting company that was funded in 2004 by some University friends. The company now boasts 140 employees; which helps them manage the 600 tickets, 300 phone calls and over 800 chat requests they receive every day.
They have data centres in three major cities around the world: Chicago, Amsterdam, and Singapore. Customers can choose a data centre that is close to their target audience in order to get fast response times.
They recently contacted me to speak about their managed hosting service for WordPress users. I have visited the SiteGround home page in the past, however I did not notice an option for dedicated WordPress hosting as it is not linked in their main navigation menu.
Their WordPress hosting information page is actually linked in the middle of the home page. They also offer specialised hosting plans for Magento and Joomla users.
There has been a large increase in managed WordPress hosting companies over the last few years. Due to the popularity of WordPress, many hosting companies seem to be marketing their services towards WordPress users. They display the WordPress logo prominently in their marketing material and promote features such as one-click installs. However, that does not make their plans a managed WordPress solution. Far from it.
There is a big difference between a hosting company that will host a WordPress website and one which offers managed WordPress support.
SiteGround, to my surprise, offer managed WordPress hosting. The reason I am surprised is that they are not promoting this enough on their website. They should focus more of their marketing towards WordPress customers.
Let's look at the key areas in which SiteGround's managed hosting service differs from a traditional hosting plan from somewhere like HostGator.
In general, I have been happy with the support of the hosting companies I have used over the last few years. However, I know that there are certain issues they will support me with, and certain issues they will not.
Support about WordPress related issues is usually a grey area. People who work in hosting companies are generally clued up on how to use WordPress, so they can easily address quick problems you may have. If you have a WordPress related problem that is not an easy fix, they tend to take a step back and advise you that this is an issue you will have to resolve yourself as it is WordPress related.
A managed hosting plan is different.
SiteGround will install WordPress for you. They will even install plugins and themes if you ask them. They offer 24 hour WordPress support by phone, email, and chat tickets.
As I know the WordPress platform very well, I have not opened a WordPress related support ticket in a few years. Though this kind of support is vital for beginners and intermediate users. And I know from purchasing hosting plans from small hosting companies that replies can sometimes take a few hours; which seems like an eternity if your website is down and you want it back online.
SiteGround do a number of things to help your pages load quicker. Firstly, they store WordPress databases on a separate, faster hard disk.
I noted earlier that you can choose one of three locations in the world. Their WordPress managed plans also allow you to activate a Content Delivery Network. This adds an additional twenty three locations around the world for your data to be stored. They also use a SuperCacher to speed up your website even further.
If you look at this report of SiteGround from LoadImpact, you can see that the minimum response time from their servers is pretty low too.
Enhanced WordPress Security
The security of your website is not something you should ever take lightly as thousands of WordPress websites are compromised every day. It is not enough to just be using the latest version of WordPress; you need to configure your website, and your server, correctly.
SiteGround take a pro-active approach to security and ensure that known vulnerabilities in the WordPress core, and in popular plugins, are fixed on their servers immediately. For example, when Sucuri announced a major security flaw in W3 Total Cache at the end of 2012, SiteGround addressed the issue immediately. This in-house approach to fixing problems ensures that websites are not at risk.
SiteGround will also automatically update the WordPress core and all of your plugins.
SiteGround have a fantastic tutorial area for new WordPress users. There is a huge amount of written walkthroughs and a dozen video tutorials too. All of the tutorials are presented in a clear manner and use images to illustrate where changes can be made.
Like most hosting companies, SiteGround offers a one-click install option for making new installations easier.
They have a few additional features that I found interesting such as staging. This allows you to test things in the background and then activate them on your domain once you are happy that they are working correctly. They also have a WP-CLI interface that lets you install plugins and themes from the command line.
I have criticised managed WordPress solutions in the past. My main criticism has always been that managed WordPress services are way overpriced. They simply do not justify the premium they charge their customers.
Take WP Engine, for example. Their personal plan option costs $29 per month and allows 25,000 visits. It only allows one WordPress installation too.
Their professional plan retails at $99 per month. That allows you to host ten WordPress websites with a maximum traffic level of 100,000 visits.
WP Engine are not alone in this pricing scheme. Most of the popular WordPress managed hosting solutions that I see promoted online have similar prices.
That is why I was very pleased to see that SiteGround's pricing is very affordable.
Their GrowBig plan allows unlimited websites to be hosted and 25,000 visits per month. It also offers daily backups. WP Engine's personal plan allows the same level of traffic, yet restricts the number of domains to one. And while WP Engine charge $29 per month for their plan, SiteGround only charge €7.95 per month; which works out at around $11 USD per month.
However, it's their larger GoGeek plan that offers the best value. It allows up to 100,000 visits and an unlimited number of domains. WP Engine's professional plan offers the same number of visits, but restricts the number of hosted websites to ten. WP Engine charge $99 per month for their package, whilst SiteGround only charge €11.95 per month. This works out at around $16.60 per month.
SiteGround also have a basic plan at €3.95 per month that allows 10,000 visits per month. It's a great option for people who are launching their first blog.
The difference in price between SiteGround and these other companies is insane.
By simply switching to SiteGround, someone on an expensive managed WordPress plan could save $82.40 per month. That is a whopping $988.80 per year.
Now, the first thing that will come to mind when you see such a difference in price is that there is a difference in quality. That simply is not true.
As someone who is a big fan of the Genesis Framework, I had high hopes of a hosting service from CopyBlogger Media. Unfortunately, Synthesis was terrible. Truly awful. They charge a ridiculous amount of money for “Secure WordPress Hosting”. Nothing could be further than the truth. They do nothing to speed your website up or optimise it. They don't even give you a control panel.
This would not be a problem if their support was good, however they took hours to reply to each email.
I have also seen firsthand how good WP Engine's support is for their customers when I helped a friend import a website there last year. Importing a database proved impossible. Even though the database I was trying to import at the time was tiny, importing constantly failed due to time outs.
I therefore created a ticket and asked them to help me upload the database as soon as possible. Three or four hours went by before I finally got a reply, and then next reply after that was hours too.
I am not telling these stories to criticise WP Engine or Synthesis. I understand that smaller companies do not have the staff to handle support twenty four hours a day. However, in my experience with expensive managed hosting solutions, they do nothing to justify the additional cost they are charging their customers.
The question I would put to customers of expensive managed WordPress hosting plans is: Why are you spending around $1,000 more per year than you need to?
It is a genuine question.
I realise that many website owners do not have the hands-on approach that I do with my websites, however my experience with small dedicated WordPress hosting companies was that support was slow and inefficient. Therefore, customers with less technical experience than me would have been in a more precarious position than I was.
When you look at how much you could save with a company such as SiteGround and still get dedicated WordPress support, it makes you wonder why many people continue to pay inflated hosting prices.
I was impressed with how SiteGround offer daily backups, their large tutorial section, security features, speed enhancements, and of course, their 24 hour WordPress support. They offer a great package for WordPress users.
For me, the biggest selling point is their price. Perhaps there are many other hosting companies out there offering managed WordPress hosting from only $5.50 per month. I hope there is; but I have yet to find them.
If you are looking for a managed WordPress hosting solution, I encourage you to check them out. They are a large company and have a lot of staff on board to ensure good support. And you simply cannot forget about the fact that they are charging around 16.5% the price of their rivals. That is crazy. I can't think of many services where the difference in price is so large.
Thanks for reading,