Ecommerce Guide

SiteGround Web Hosting Review

In particular, the hosting plans we’re looking into today revolve around e-commerce hosting and WooCommerce hosting.

Is SiteGround the right choice if you’re looking for a reliable web host for your e-commerce store? Let’s find out in this review.

SiteGround Web Hosting Review
  • Price - 9/10
    9/10
  • Ecommerce Features - 10/10
    10/10
  • Support - 10/10
    10/10
  • Ease of Use - 9/10
    9/10

SiteGround Hosting Summary

SiteGround is one of the more popular hosting firms on the web today. They have multiple hosting plans on their offer, and many of them targeted towards specific users and usage scenarios.

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SiteGround Web Hosting Introduction

Today we’ll be reviewing SiteGround’s managed WordPress hosting.

SiteGround is a hosting provider engineered for speed, built for security, and crafted specifically for WordPress. Rather than seeking to be the low-cost option in a saturated field, the brand differentiates itself with intuitive UI and an unparalleled commitment to customer service.

In this review, we’ll walk you through SiteGround’s origin, core features, strengths & weaknesses, and viability for ecommerce websites.

SiteGround Web Hosting Review

How SiteGround Was Born

SiteGround was founded by a group of university students working from their dorm rooms back in 2004. Their CEO and leader from the start, Tenko Nikolov, says their vision was to provide more help to customers than standard hosting companies did at the time. That’s it. Another successful company whose backbone is serving their customers. He is proud to say that his company’s  support team answers 1000 phone calls, 1500 support tickets, and 3000 chat requests each day.

Since the company technically started a few months before WordPress, they also had the luxury of growing with WordPress and acquiring in-depth knowledge of their systems. This early exposure to WordPress served them well over the years and prompted them to cater their service even more to WordPress users through the creation of free WordPress themes for their customers and creating very detailed tutorials on how to get the most out of WordPress.

The SiteGround team celebrating ten years in business

Today SiteGround employs over 400 employees (roughly half being strictly customer service) and hosts over ½  million domains. They have data centers in the Chicago, London, Amsterdam, Milan, and Singapore.

With the rise of small and mid-sized ecommerce retailers, Siteground has become a go-to destination for WordPress-based stores that have outgrown the capacities of their budget hosting providers.

Here’s why it’s a better option for these retailers.

1. They Speak WordPress

SiteGround Review

SiteGround is officially recommended by WordPress

WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world and is used by nearly 75 million websites. SiteGround caters specifically to these WordPress users. Here are just a few benefits WordPress users can expect when using SiteGround:

  • One-click WordPress installs so you can launch your site in minutes with little to no previous technical experience.
  • WordPress auto-updates which help protect you from vulnerabilities found in outdated WordPress versions and plugins.
  • Access to the WordPress toolkit which allows you to automate regular tasks like moving and deleting sites, changing domains, configuring SSL certificates, and resetting admin passwords.
  • The SiteGround Optimizer WordPress plugin which allows you to move to PHP 7.0 with the click of a button. PHP 7.0 doubles your site’s speed compared to the previous version of PHP by making your code execute faster and reducing the number of servers needed to serve the same amount of users.
  • Free, high-quality WordPress Themes and WordPress Tutorials to help you build fully functional beautiful websites.
  • WordPress staging sites to easily test changes and deploy them in a safe manner that won’t disrupt your live site.

For ecommerce stores running on WordPress, having WordPress-dedicated hosting services becomes mandatory once a certain stage of growth is achieved.

2. Fast Hosting

One major thing that makes SiteGround’s hosting stand out from the industry is their SuperCacher. pasted image 0 29

This tool lets their users take advantage of multiple speed optimization technologies such as Varnish Cache and Memcached. In fact, SiteGround’s technical team was the first company to implement Memcached in a shared server environment.

In addition to the SuperCacher, all SiteGround sites are stored on Solid State Drives which provide 1000x increase in input/output operations when compared to regular drives.

Speed is particular important for ecommerce stores, where buy-ready customers are impatient and wanting to find their items quickly. It’s also a greater challenge, as numerous images, features, and display elements can hurt site performance.

Siteground’s caching and dedicated servers help to solve these problems and deliver fast results. How fast?

Using Pingdom, SiteGrounds hosting service without the SuperCacher enabled was put under a speed test and compared to other leading hosting companies. The graph below shows them with a 2nd place ranking for page loading speed.

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Pingdom study showing SiteGround’s page loading speed

Once you enable SiteGround’s SuperCacher, you’ll see a notable increase in speed which overtakes all other hosting companies in this sample to attain a first place position.pasted image 0 35

Pingdom study showing SiteGround’s page loading speed with SuperCacher

The SuperCacher comes standard on all hosting plans but must be manually enabled. To do so follow the SuperCacher tutorial which will walk you through the enabling process.

SiteGround comes with a broad range of tools and resources to make your site faster and more reliable. To read more about SIteGround’s other speed enhancements like NGINX server speed, their free CDN’s, HTTP/2 enabled servers, and PHP7/HHVM executions check out their speed technology page.

3. Industry Leading 24/7 Support

When your site is having technical issues or is completely down you want a quick solution from your hosting provider. This is especially true for ecommerce sites, where downtime = lost revenue.

Fortunately, this is also where SiteGround shines. They offer instant phone and chat support and even give you an estimated response time for their support tickets.

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When put to the test, SiteGround’s resolution time (shown below) on average was only 5 minutes. While this seems impressive by itself, when you compare it against industry-leading competitors, it is even more outstanding.

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Chat Issue Resolution Time Chart

4. Enhanced Security Features

According to SiteGround’s CEO, the two features that make their security team so successful are:

  1. They are always on watch
  2. They are incredibly creative when it comes to resolving problems

The security team monitors multiple sources of information to stay current on the latest vulnerabilities that could threaten the servers of their customers. When a problem does arise, they utilise their extensive expertise to come up with original solutions to the problems rather than waiting on some third-party security firm to troubleshoot and fix the problem for them.

While this does make for a more costly security department, they can thwart attacks much quicker than average hosting companies.

5. Reliable Hosting

SiteGround is extremely proud of their 99.99% uptime. So proud that they advertise it on their homepage and even dedicate an entire page to their uptime. They credit their advanced security solutions to having such a rock solid uptime.

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SiteGround marketing their 99% uptime.

An added unique feature that their users find particularly useful and transparent is their real-time uptime status checker. No more guessing if you are having server issues or if it’s just a problem with your ISP. Just enter your domain and find out in an instant.

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6. Fast and Free Backups

Once again SiteGround has stepped outside industry norms by creating their own backup system. They did so back in 2015 because no third-party backup solutions lived up to their high standards. They focused all their resources on two key components of backups:

  1. Creating backups with minimal resource usage
  2. Creating a dynamic that would allow fast restores in times of need

Upon creating this new backup/restore infrastructure they found they were able to restore 3x more data at a rate of 7x faster compared to their previous backup solution.

To go deeper into how this new backup system was created and what to expect in the future check out how the launch notes from late 2016.

With Pros Must Come Cons

While Siteground’s laser focus on WordPress hosting leaves them with the few functional downsides, their standards come at a cost.

  1. Inflated Renewal Rates

SiteGround relies on attractive first-purchase pricing to get new customers, but you will pay significantly more when it comes time to renew your hosting contract. Their initial pricing is at 50%-70% off the standard charge, ranging from $3.95 a month to $11.95 a month (see the most up to date prices), and then spikes as high as $29.95 upon renewal. While buying several years up front gets you a lot of features for a low price, it can be a real gut check when that steep renewal does finally come around.

  1. Overall Usability

The hosting interface isn’t as intuitive as other hosting providers, and the non-technical user may find difficulties navigating the site.

  1. No Monthly Payment Options

Month to month is not an option with Siteground. They have stuck by their minimum subscription period being one year and changing it doesn’t appear to be on their to-do list. Even with the less than flexible pricing, SiteGround’s StartUp plan initially costs less per year than many similar plans cost per quarter, but this is definitely not a long-term budget option.

Siteground Plans And Pricing

Price shouldn’t be the biggest factor when choosing your hosting provider. However, with SiteGround you get $3.95 a month shared hosting for first-time customers. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that. Especially with all the features SiteGround gives you over a rock-bottom price hosting company like Hostgator.

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SiteGround Pricing Plans

Every site comes with features like unlimited free email accounts, unmetered data transfer, cPanel & Softaculous access, and much more. However, each plan gives you some slightly different resources that are tailored to your individual needs.

  • The Startup plan is great for people who are new to building websites. The site’s hosting is suitable for sites up 10,000 visits per month and allows you to build one website on its 10GB SSD.
  • The GrowBig plan is perfect for people building multiple websites like serial entrepreneurs or website developers. With it, you can build unlimited websites and you will have your backups saved for up to 30 days for restoration if needed. You also get priority support and one year of free SSL if you have the need to run credit cards. This hosting plan is suitable for up to 25,000 visits per month across all the sites you build on a 20GB SSD.
  • The GoGeek plan is ideal for large websites that have more than 100,000 visits per month. With it, you get dedicated servers and fewer accounts on those servers which end up giving you about 4x more resources to boost your website speed and make it withstand traffic spikes that put your site under heavy stress. You get all the bells and whistles that come with the GrowBig plan and you get a 30GB SSD.

Finally, SiteGround offers a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee. They give you the peace of mind of trying it out, and if you’re not satisfied, then you simply get your money back.

SiteGround Reviews By Active Customers

  1. Fred Meyer – Web Consultant

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Fred’s Review Highlights

  • Reliable performance was a big reason Fred and his team at WPShout switched to SiteGround. As his sites steadily grow he went looking for a host like SiteGround that has dynamic caching, static caching, and Memcaching. With his previous hosting solution he found that on good days (when they received large spikes in traffic) his websites would slow down to a crawl. Upon switching to SiteGround Fred says he noticed performance improvements almost immediately.
  • First-rate support was also at the top of Fred’s priority list when switching hosting companies. Upon each interaction, he found they not only resolved his questions immediately but they seemed genuinely upbeat and happy to help.
  • Perfect Uptime was crucial to Fred because in the past his other hosting providers would fail him almost weekly. Showing him 504 errors and showing the site down for server errors. With SiteGround he says his sites haven’t suffered any downtime.

Final Thoughts From Fred

“SiteGround delivers month after month, and even manages to keep pleasant surprises coming through.”

  1. Nate Shivar – Marketing Consultant

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Nate’s Review Highlights

  • Developer-Oriented Features are abundant with SiteGround, and Nate found WordPress staging sites to be especially useful when making edits to high traffic websites. SiteGround also comes with free PCI compliance and integration with CloudFlare’s CDN which improves a site’s rendering speed and overall performance.
  • Comparable Customer Support was important to Nate and he was skeptical that SiteGround could live up to the hype at such a low price. He was pleasantly surprised when he found that they are transparent across every range of channel from phone support, to live chat, and support tickets. He also found their customer knowledge base was actively monitored by their support team and answered most of his questions without the need of contacting their help desk.
  • Full Transparency was a welcomed sight when Nate first encountered SiteGround. He notes that the hosting industry is quite closed off and is full of upsells but short on technical details. With SiteGround their signup process is simple, they put an uptime monitor in their main navigation, and they put their IP addresses up for all their data centers so you can test their speeds from your location without signing up for an account.

Final Thoughts From Nate

“There’s a reason SiteGround Hosting is one of the fastest growing independent hosting companies. They have a solid product and a great support.”

  1. Casper Haastrup – Fitness Blogger

Casper’s Review Highlights

  • SiteGround’s SuperCacher provided Casper with incredibly fast page load speed which allows him to handle even more traffic to his website.
  • Enhanced security features were Casper’s top priority when he was searching for a new hosting company and SiteGround lived up to those expectations. They provide hack protection for WordPress and Joomla as well as account isolation.
  • Technical support with SiteGround was unmatched in the hosting industry according to Casper’s research. He found that they had the shortest reply time when it came to submitting support tickets. He was able to get his issues solved on average of 18 minutes.

Final Thoughts From Casper

“SiteGround is one of those rare companies where they actually do exceed their marketing hype. Considering their prices, SiteGround is the best host I have dealt with up to now, and I would recommend them to anyone who wants to host WordPress, Joomla, or other sites inexpensively while getting top quality support and other quality features. “

Summary

In an industry plagued with slow loading times, lackluster support, and frequent down times, SiteGround stands tall and lives up to the marketing hype. It’s easy to see why Fred, Nate, and Casper are such die hard supporters of SiteGround hosting.

If you’re in search of first-rate WordPress hosting  with industry leading speed, reliability, and support at a competitive price, then SiteGround might just be your champion.

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What makes a good e-commerce hosting platform

I could just get right into the numbers and raw parameters of this hosting platform, but before I do that, let’s take a moment to discuss what actually makes a quality e-commerce host and what to look for when choosing your perfect hosting plan.

  • PCI compliance. This is something required by law if you intend to process any credit card data of your customers (which is the case for nearly all e-commerce stores).
  • Dedicated IP address and an SSL certificate. A dedicated IP means that your site gets and exclusive address that’s not shared with anyone. Whereas an SSL authenticates your site on the web.
  • Uptime / server tier. Quality data centers are classified as Tier 4. This means they guarantee that you’ll have less than 0.8 hours of downtime per year. Tier 1 is the lowest – nearly 30 hours of downtime per year.
  • Good server specs. The more RAM the better. It will make your store quicker and improve the customer experience.
  • Data center location. Get a server near your target audience’s geographical location.
  • Good security mechanisms and policies. I won’t get into detail here, but the general idea is that your web host needs to have some security mechanisms and policies in place. The more they’re willing to share about this (either in their promotional materials or somewhere else), the better.

Features in SiteGround e-commerce hosting

Here’s what you get with SiteGround e-commerce hosting:

  • Free PCI compliance depending on the plan you select.
  • Free SSL certificate also depending on the plan you select.
  • Up to 30GB of disk space on the server.
  • Server configuration optimized for speed: RAID10, SAS HDD, MySQL on separate SSD, 24 CPU cores.
  • Priority daily backups that include the storage of 30 copies and free manual restore.
  • Priority support depending on the plan you select.
  • Free domain name during sign-up.
  • You can set up unlimited websites and MySQL databases.
  • Can handle up to 100,000 visitors / month.
  • Good security with power and hardware redundancy, server monitoring, SPAM prevention, anti-hack systems, and more.
  • Data centers in Europe, United States, and Singapore.

Who’s SiteGround e-commerce hosting best suited for?

SiteGround really knows WordPress/WooCommerce and everything related to it. They have nicely optimized hosting environments that can handle a WooCommerce store of any scale.

However, when it comes to their other hosting plans – particularly for Magento or OpenCart – it seems that they are just standard shared hosting plans that are only cleverly advertised. When you select them, at some point you’re going to be redirected to either SiteGround’s normal shared hosting plans, or their WordPress hosting plans.

What this basically means is that you’re best off hosting your WooCommerce store with SiteGround, but taking your business elsewhere if you want to build your store on top of some other e-commerce platform.

Also, make sure to select the right plan, which won’t necessarily be the cheapest one they offer.

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