Why I Use SiteGround ... and Why You Should Too
You might have noticed the SiteGround ad at the bottom of my content area here on Connecting the Dots (below each page and post). If you're one of the many who have followed my writings since I began in 2004, I've only once ventured in to any kind of advertising or affiliate program.
Why start advertising and become an affiliate now?
Because of my phenomenal experience with this company SiteGround and, most importantly, because the speed, capabilities, performance and support they provide is the best I've found yet. Seriously. I've finally found "the one" webhosting company that I can, in good faith, heartily recommend and endorse.
I'm not going to go through a bunch of analysis of why they're so great, but instead let me tell you my story and point out what made me a happy SiteGround customer.
MY STORY MIGHT BE YOUR STORY TOO
I've been building web sites since 1997. First for myself, then for our businesses, then for friends, and because people seemed to really like what we built for ourselves, for clients.
WordPress, the free (and a hosted platform too with commercial aspects) software that now powers nearly 30% of the web, became so rock-solid in 2006 that we used it for everything.
As such we started Innov8Press in 2006 and built our first ecommerce site for a client for A LOT more than we'd ever believed possible for a startup. We've never looked back and Innov8Press has now built sites for over 290 clients!
Since we've built so many sites we have, of course, deployed them on webhosting companies like Bluehost, Dreamhost, HostGator, GoDaddy, Media Temple, and many more. Sites have been made on shared hosting (where hundreds of customers are on a single server) to the more expensive virtual private servers (a VPS is a complete server in a software container that runs with a bunch of other containers on a server...but is very, very fast when compared to shared hosting but, of course, much more expensive). We have also experienced the super-fast web serving on higher end, dedicated servers where the client leases and completely manages their own server which also is a lot more expensive as well.
As you can imagine, simple sites run pretty well just about anywhere. But starting in about 2009, clients began demanding more and more functionality in their web sites. It wasn't enough anymore to have a nice "brochureware" site, the website had to DO something to engage, obtain and retain customers.
Search engine optimization (SEO), landing pages, visitor tracking, ecommerce, membership, and a host of other capabilities meant clients were asking for functionality that only free or commercial plugins could deliver within WordPress.
The good news? There are more than 30,000 free and commercial plugins available that, because of WordPress' popularity, can deliver just about anything a client desires.
The bad news? Adding too many plugins, ones that conflict with each other or are not coded correctly, means that, far too often, the demands are simply too much for a site running on shared hosting. Plus, if you happen to be sharing a server with a site (or sites) getting a lot of traffic or even a denial of service attack, your shared-hosted website will grind to a halt.
So what does all of that have to do with how I ended up at SiteGround and why, if you need a web host, you should absolutely consider SiteGround?
Two years ago I had a client who required lots of plugins within their web site and their current webhosting company's performance was horrible. On their own they sought out a new web hosting company and signed up for an account at SiteGround. They asked us to migrate their site from Dreamhost immediately, so I migrated it personally as I wanted to see how SiteGround performed.
To say I was stunned with how FAST it ran, how well thought-out the control panel (CPanel) was, how good the support handled any tickets I submitted, is an understatement.
In addition, SiteGround provides a one-click, free SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt so ALL web sites you run on your SiteGround account can be secure! Having your site run securely is a big deal and, quite frankly, is now "table stakes" to be in the game and on the web with your site.
Mainly this is due to moves by the #1 search engine, Google. In fact, the most popular and fastest-growing web browser today is Google Chrome, and Google is setting it up to make it extremely clear to your web site visitors whether your site is secure....or not secure:
Wait Borsch...why is that a big deal that SiteGround makes free Let's Encrypt installs so simple and easy?
- Because having a web hosting company install an SSL certificate from a commercial provider is expensive
- Self-installing a less expensive commercial SSL certificate you buy somewhere else is NOT EASY!
- On SiteGround, Let's Encrypt is a one-click install and they even have a one-click, "Force SSL" for your web site, so you can ensure the entire site is secure.
At first I thought my client's newly migrated awesome website performance was a fluke. Maybe my client lucked-out and was on a shared hosting server that was brand new or had unusually light traffic.
Then a second client needed to migrate and I suggested SiteGround which they decided to do. Everything I've said above stayed true: fast; easy to use; great support; you name it.
Then a third client. A fourth. A fifth. Now several dozen clients of mine are running on SiteGround.
We Sign Up for SiteGround Ourselves
In early 2017 we decided that our Innov8Press Website Management Service would wind down, mainly because there were an increasing number of ways to self-manage WordPress website updates and overall management stuff. We no longer had need of our robust server whose performance was fabulous (as was Media Temple's high-end server support) but mainly it was costing us about $1,600 per year to lease and we didn't need its capabilities anymore.
Looking at our own sites for our businesses and personal uses, we moved down to Media Temple's Grid Elite service. The good part about that offering was, while being on a shared server, it offered a container to speed-up calls to the database, as well as 250GBs of solid state drive (SSD) storage! for $60 per month (which, with a coupon, I was able to get down to under $500 for the first year).
The problem? Performance was horrible. Support ticket after support live chat and support phone calls did absolutely nothing to make it better and increase that performance. It became so horrifically bad that our main site would time-out multiple times per day! The last-straw came when our main site was down for three hours in one day and customers called and emailed who were trying to buy but could not!
After figuring out how I could live with only 30GBs of SSD storage in SiteGround's "GoGeek" plan (and using just over half of that currently) I signed up and migrated everything over in a day and a half. The cost? It's just $11.95 per month for whatever term you choose (1, 2, or 3 years) and then it goes up to the regular price of $29.95 per month. Still, that's just under $260 per year.
Here's the thing though: The performance of ALL of my sites is NEARLY EQUAL TO MY $1,600 VIRTUAL PRIVATE SERVER FROM 2017 FOR ONLY $260 PER YEAR! Yes, you read that right: Because of everything SiteGround offers, the performance is that fast.
Yes, I'd like more storage and I'd pay a bit more for it. No, I do not have anywhere near the same level of granular control I had when running my Media Temple server. But SiteGround is costing me only 16.25% as much and is more than adequate for my current needs.
I'm especially pleased with what we've achieved regarding ecommerce on our sites using SiteGround.
For example, offering a site with ecommerce on their GoGeek plan means it is PCI Compliant. In the past it has been FAR TOO EXPENSIVE to have a PCI-compliant server so we've had to pay Wells Fargo Merchant Services their $25 per month penalty in case we have a breach. Now we don't have to pay that anymore so SiteGround will pay for itself this year!
Don't just take my word for it, SiteGround tells us more in their analysis below and I've harvested these three tabs from their internal affiliate website for you:
The results on this page are based on tests with real accounts on 12 of the most popular web hosts: Bluehost, HostGator, iPage, Fatcow, Justhost, AsmallOrange, InMotion, WebhostingHub, Arvixe, GoDaddy, GreenGeeks and A2Hosting.
SiteGround used Pingdom to test the loading time of identical WordPress websites hosted on the 12 different hosting companies. The faster loading result for SiteGround was achieved with the SuperCacher switched on for the website, one of the value-added items they deliver to you.
Apart from loading speed, SiteGround tested how many hits can be successfully handled in two minutes by each of the 12 accounts with the same test WordPress website. The test was done with the help of the Siege testing and benchmark utility. The higher number of handled hits by SiteGround was achieved with the SuperCacher switched on for the website.
SiteGround tested WordPress and Joomla related vulnerabilities which were announced publicly at least a month prior to the test. On all 12 tested hosts, both vulnerabilities were still exploitable with no problem. At SiteGround both were patched at the server level at SiteGround less than 48 hours after their public announcement: WPTouch vulnerability patch and Virtuemart Vulnerability patch.
SiteGround were the pioneers in applying effective account isolation mechanisms to the shared hosting environment. Nowadays, most of the shared hosts apply similar techniques but it is still possible to see an environment that is not properly isolated.
When you call on the phone you usually have a pressing issue. Having your call picked up immediately is really important. Unfortunately this does not happen everywhere.
SiteGround analysts contacted the LiveChat of the 12 tested companies and SiteGround with the same simple request. Each was recorded to determine how much time was need for the issue resolution including the wait time before the chat was picked up.
SiteGround asked each company 3 questions over their ticketing systems: one general, one WordPress related and one Joomla related. The the SiteGround analysts averaged the first response time and the resolution times for each company based on these three questions.