Looking for a hosting company for your new website? Site Ground is a hosting company that everyone seems to recommend… but is it really as good as people say?
During the planning stages of this website, I wasn’t sure which hosting company to use. My options were Host Gator, Blue Host, and Site Ground.
Luckily, right before making a decision, I received an email from Site Ground with an advertisement for their Black Friday offer, 70% off.
Obviously, I couldn’t miss out on that, so I grabbed a subscription at an incredible discount. For my previous websites, I used Host Gator, and though their services are not terrible, I like Site Ground a lot more.
There were two things about Site Ground that stood out to me.
The first were the prices.
I thought it was a bit weird for a reputable company to charge so little for hosting plans. Usually hosting companies require you to buy at least a year of hosting and pay upfront.
But with Site Ground there are a few options available:
- One Month
- 12 Months
- 24 Months
The one month option is especially useful because you can always upgrade to other plans inside the member’s area.
If you’re not sure if Site Ground is for you, I recommend the one month trial option.
The basic plan, Start Up, comes to about $3.95 a month.
Start Up is the ideal plan for bloggers and marketers, but there are some limitations.
The main limit is the number of visitors allowed per month.
It will be awhile until your site brings in that many visitors, unless you invest a bunch of cash into traffic campaigns.
By the time it does, I’m sure you’ll have more than enough money to upgrade to a more powerful plan.
In a nutshell, my first impressions were:
- Cheap Plans
- Convenient Payment Options
So I was like, screw it, and grabbed a membership!
Update: After 12 Months…
I have been with Site Ground for over a year a now, and I have a few things to add to this review.
For one, I’m still incredibly happy with the performance. I haven’t been working on my sites much, but they all load in seconds, and I haven’t run into any technical issues yet.
One thing worth mentioning is the first payment installations are always much cheaper than renewal.
I found this out the hard way.
When I got a notification my services were about to expire, I went to renew them.
To my surprise, renewing a Grow Big Account costs $240 for one year, and auto-renew was enabled.
So if I didn’t catch it, I would have been down a couple hundred bucks.
Thankfully, there’s a work around for this.
I hopped into the support chat and asked if there were any other payment options, or if paying for a full year upfront was the only option.
Surprisingly, the support was incredibly friendly and considerate, and we talked about the options.
Turns out, a payment option for three months is available but hidden. If you ask support, they should be able to unlock it for you, so you won’t have to pay the full year upfront.
This was a life-saver for me because I didn’t want to drop $240 right off the bat.
Here are the options for Grow Big Accounts:
- 3 Months (Hidden), $59.98
- 12 Months, $239.40
- 24 Months, $383.04
- 36 Months, $502.74
Obviously, the fees for the Start Up plan are much cheaper, but with Start Up you can only have one website, with some limitations.
So if you’re using Site Ground for your host, make sure to keep track of the renewal fees, as they’re a lot higher than the initial payment.
That is one downside you should know about.
Other than that, Site Ground is the best hosting company I tried so far, light-years ahead of my old host, Host Gator.
Inside Site Ground:
When making an account with Site Ground, they’ll ask if you have a domain or want to buy one, as well as your preferred hosting location.
They’ll also provide you with the option to transfer a website to their hosting solutions. I really like the idea of choosing a location for your site because it means it will load super fast for people in that country.
Currently, there are only four data centers:
- Chicago, U.S.
For people in the U.S, the Chicago option is the best choice.
Generally, the idea is to chose a data center that is closest to your target audience.
So if you live abroad, but you want to target people in United States, select Chicago!
You can change the data center location at anytime but you’ll need to pay a small fee.
Once inside Site Ground you’ll want to install WordPress.
WordPress is undoubtedly the best platform for building websites, and I highly recommend it for beginners.
Speaking of beginners, if you’re completely new to working online, chances are you might need some guidance. There’s a cool training course I wrote about earlier this week, click here to read the review.
Installing WordPress onto your domain is super simple; head on over to My Accounts and then click on Installations. You’ll see options for different platforms you can use, WordPress is in there.
Just fill in your website details and WordPress password and you should have the default WordPress theme installed on your site.
Usually it’s instant but sometimes you have to wait a little bit.
If you want to learn more, Site Ground has some tutorials on this subject.
And that’s basically it.
You’ll do most of your work inside WordPress!
Speaking of WordPress, not sure which theme to use? I use Genesis Framework.
It’s Just Fast:
With my previous websites, I would have to wait a bit for each page to load when navigating inside WordPress.
With Site Ground, it’s almost instant. I spent awhile just click on different menus inside WordPress, admiring the speed.
Even though I chose a data center that is an entire ocean away from me, the site still loads really fast.
While you’re here, maybe you’ll want to check out my Chromebook review!
I think Site Ground has their own cache system, similar to WP-Cache, that speeds up load times like crazy!
Combine that with website speed tips like compressing images and using cache plugins and your site will load in a second or less.
Site speed is super important nowadays, it’s one factor Google is paying more attention to.
In short, the faster a site loads, the better the chances of it ranking for keywords.
Free Security Certificate:
These usually cost hundreds of dollars a month but with Site Ground there’s a free version you can use!
Another feature I really like about Site Ground is the free security certificate you can activate.
What this means is instead of displaying “http://” in-front of your domain name, it shows “https://” and on Chrome, there will be a label that says “Secure“.
Having a secure website is important, especially since Google is making moves to crack down on insecure websites.
To activate this SSL Certificate, click on My Accounts, and Extra Services:
Click on Let’s Encrypt SSL and fill in the details, it should be instantly activated.
There are other solutions too, Let’s Encrypt SSL is a really standard certificate, if you want more advanced security, use SSL Certificate – but it costs ($80 for a year).
Sometimes you’ll need to renew the Let’s Encrypt Certificate but it only takes a couple of clicks.
Excellent Customer Support:
I ran into a little problem with my hosting account and needed to contact support.
If you’re like me, you hate waiting for a responses from support.
The worst is when you wait a few days to receive a reply and then they provide you with some generic advice that doesn’t help at all.
I canceled my membership to quite a few different online tools and products because their support system was slow.
But, I’m happy to say Site Ground’s support is crazy fast.
They have a live-chat feature as well as a ticket system for more complicated issues, I used the live-chat feature.
I talked to an actual real person (weird, right?) in the live-chat support and we solved my website’s problem in a matter of minutes.
To summarize, Site Ground is the best hosting company I tried so far – in my opinion – much better than Host Gator.
The user interface is simple, memberships are cheap, the sites load fast, and the support is excellent.
What more could one want from a hosting company?
So if you want to get your own hosting account, I highly recommend Site Ground.
Thanks for reading this review.
If you have any questions, leave them below!