Siteground vs Bluehost
Who is a better web host for hosting your next WordPress blog? I say blog because I want to write this article for beginner bloggers who want to start a potentially successful blog.
WordPress is the best blogging platform, even for beginners.
And, I want to look at WordPress hosting specifically here because that is, hands-down, the best blogging software out there.
Yes, there is Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly, but none of them compares well with WordPress. It is like comparing apples and oranges. Don’t get me wrong, they can be great for creating straightforward websites with just static pages, but they aren’t great for a blog. The sheer amount of customization that comes with WordPress – that you don’t get with any other platform.
Cheap prices advertised by hosts will only create the bare bones usually.
Choosing between things is hard work. Especially when you are a beginner, you tend to look up to the experts. And it can be hard to trust their opinions, especially when they’re biased towards a particular product because of monetary benefits, such as affiliate commissions.
I wish to approach this article for the full benefit of beginner bloggers.
Maybe I will be able to show you the whole story, such as the REAL costs involved in starting a blog and not just the bare bones of a blog, which will be cheap obviously but may not be enough to start a decent enough blog.
An excellent blog needs to be fast, performant, readable, easy to interact with, and look good. In essence, it attracts readers. It provides valuable content to them. It needs to invoke the desire in them to come back for more.
Let’s get into the mechanics of a blog, so you understand what exactly you need for the proper functioning of a blog.
How blogs work
Why do you need web hosting? (The role of a host)
Blogs are like any other website on the internet. They just have a specific system for delivering dynamic content, such as blog posts/ articles. Blog entries have a date of publication, and they belong to a category such as travel, recipes, and so on.
Whereas pages are more or less static content, for example, a marketing landing page, a contact us page, and so on.
A host such as Siteground or Bluehost provides such computers and allows you to install blogging software such as WordPress. The host stores all the code of WordPress and the images and videos, themes, and plugins that you upload on these computers.
These hosts can be reached or accessed by typing in an address into your browser’s address bar. And these addresses being numeric and therefore, hard to remember in their raw form, called IP addresses, to make them memorable we use domain names. A domain name is the www.sitename.com part.
A DNS server translates the domain name into the associated IP address allocated to the host’s computer where your blog’s files reside. The host machine then sends your content to your browser using a secure (https://) or an insecure (http://) connection.
That’s the rough way a blog works or any website for that matter.
So now you understand the role of hosts, let’s see, in this Siteground vs. Bluehost comparison, which one makes it easier to get started, and has better features for a beginner blogger to set up their blog quickly. All while being cost-effective. Which is not just a comparison of who is cheap, but the most ‘bang for the buck’ if you will.
Siteground vs Bluehost: What should we compare? Must-have features that a host should provide beginner bloggers, freelancers, and small business owners and startups
To start a blog, you need these essentials from a host.
- Ease of hosting account set up
- Easy installation of WordPress
- Performant PHP version for WordPress to run efficiently
- Ease of assigning a domain name
- Custom email accounts associated with the domain name
- Provide enough space to store images and themes and other media.
- Speed and performance
- SSL security (this is what turns http:// into https:// and enables the green padlock on your browser)
- Automated backups
So let’s dive into this.
1. Ease of set up
As a beginner in blogging, you want everything to be smooth. Nothing discourages you more than the disproportionate results to effort ratio. You have enough doubts already, and if figuring out the technical details proves to be complicated it can quickly become your excuse to give up on the whole thing.
So the simplicity of use and set up is essential.
Bluehost’s presentation of plans is a bit sneaky.
Bluehost is a bit sneaky in trying to get you to commit to 3 years with them offering you low prices, which I am not a big fan of. They do write this condition in tiny letters, so not completely hiding it, but easy to miss. But not sure what their plan is here, though, because when it comes time to pay, they have to come clean with the actual prices.
But it’s an excellent tactic to lure in readers who don’t read past their title.
Pro tip: Committing to any host for three years is a bad idea, not with Siteground, not with Bluehost.
Both hosts provide wizard-like interfaces to get started.
Both hosts provide an easy set up with their wizard-like interface to create an account with them.
2. Both siteground and Bluehost make it easy for you to install WordPress with their guided wizard interfaces.
Something like a one-click install of WordPress is a must when you start.
Both siteground and Bluehost makes it easy to install WordPress. Both guide you through installing WordPress on your newly created hosting account.
3. The minimum version of PHP wordpress.org recommends a host must support 7.4, and Bluehost doesn’t have it yet.
Siteground rolls out PHP versions faster than Bluehost
PHP is the language that interprets the code WordPress is written in. Siteground updates their servers with the latest version of PHP faster than Bluehost.
A newer version of PHP usually covers performance improvements and security issues. A delay in using the latest version might mean that you are more susceptible to hacking attacks targeted at these security vulnerabilities.
At the time of writing, Siteground provides 7.4 with their WordPress hosting, whereas Bluehost offers 7.3.
Here is the recommendation by WordPress.org
Siteground wins here.
Domain Names: Don’t buy domain names with web hosts, buy them with Domain name registrars like Namecheap or GoDaddy instead.
I thought I should mention this because this should not be a factor in deciding which host to use. A domain name is not an essential feature for a host. There are specialists in this area that deal with domain names only.
That being said,
Both siteground and Bluehost makes it easy to register a domain name with them.
A pro tip: Hosts charge extra for services like domain privacy & protection, which you can easily get for free from a domain name registrar like Namecheap.
Let’s see what a .com domain costs with them.
Bluehost provides a free domain name for the first year.
With Bluehost, the domain name is free for the first year, but you should pay for the protection (£9.08/year at the time of registration). After the first year, Bluehost charges £13.75 for domain names and £11.37 for privacy & protection.
Siteground does not provide a free domain.
Whereas Siteground charges (£14.95/year for the domain name £9.00/year on top of that for privacy & protection.
Third-party domain name registrars like Namecheap provides domain names at much lower prices and with free forever domain privacy & protection.
A .com domain name with Namecheap only costs $6.88 with free forever domain privacy & protection.
Buying domain names from a domain name registrar give you better user experience and better deals because they specialize in domain names.
Would you rather buy a TV from a general-purpose electronic store or the one that specializes in TV? I would go for the latter because that is their expertise. Domain registrars specialize in domain names and allow for better user experience and customizations. Also, they provide better deals.
Check out this deal that will get you a .com domain.
4. Assigning a domain name
Mapping a domain name to your blog is straightforward with both site ground and Bluehost. Both provide nameservers that can be added to your domain name settings with the registrar.
|WordPress installation||Wizard interface to guide you through the process||Wizard interface to guide you through the process|
|Minimum Recommended version of PHP by wordpress.org available?||Yes. The minimum recommended version of 7.4 is available.||Only up to 7.3 is available.|
|Domain name free .com domain?||Not free. You pay £14.95/year||Free for the first year|
|Domain privacy and protection for the first year||£9.00/year||£9.08 for the first year|
|Domain name cost after the first year||£14.95/year||£13.75|
|Domain privacy and protection for after the first year||£9.00/year||£11.37|
|Presentation of plans?||Rather straightforward||Sneaky|
|Integration with domain name registrars||Provides custom name servers for easy integration||Provides custom name servers for easy integration|
5. A professional-looking email is a must for your blog to send newsletters and to build your email list
Your readers don’t want to receive newsletters from your personal Gmail account
You need a professional-looking email to send emails. Your readers don’t want to receive emails from your personal Gmail account. It should be associated with your domain name. email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org
It does n’t look good when you send automated emails from your personal email address.
So, you need to be able to quickly set up an email with a host allowing you to implement your email building and marketing strategy from day one.
An email list is essential for a new blog.
An email list allows you to invite your past readers back to your site, increases engagement, and is invaluable for beginner bloggers if you want to monetize your blog by selling digital courses, services, and physical products, even with minimal traffic.
You can create aliases and forward them to your personal email account easily, both with the Siteground and Bluehost.
Creating a new email address to forward all the emails sent to that email address to a second email address (it can be your personal account) is easy with both Siteground and Bluehost.
Easier with Siteground’s custom UI
I find it easier to do this with the new revamped UI of Siteground than with Bluehost’s cPanel interface.
Email accounts with Siteground and Bluehost Webmail
Apart from the easier and faster option of creating an email alias and forwarding emails to a secondary account, the next best option is to create an email account with the host. With an email account, that you will use some space on your host, and the host can restrict the number of email accounts you can create, the number of emails you can send and receive, and so on.
Bluehost’s email set up is clunky with cPanel.
Both Bluehost and Siteground allow you to set up email accounts easily. But Siteground’s interface is better and intuitive than using the old and clunky panel of Bluehost.
Siteground allows unlimited email accounts with a cap on size limited to 2000MB, starting with the StartUp plan.
Siteground offers unlimited email accounts with all their plans. Also, Siteground allows access to email inboxes using the webmail software Roundcube. You get 2 GB of email space.
Bluehost gives you up to 5 email accounts with their basic plan with a cap of 100MB per email account, which is pretty much useless.
With the cap of 100MB per email account, emails with Bluehost are pretty much useless with the basic plan. If you want to take advantage of emails with Bluehost, you will have to subscribe to the plus plan onwards. You get unlimited email accounts with all plans except the basic plan.
You can only create up to 5 email accounts with the basic plan with Bluehost.
Bluehost also provides Roundcube webmail access to your email account.
Another option to set up email is with G-Suite, which is the service by google. That is an extra £4.14 per user account per month, which is £49.68.
You see how these essentials prices add up. And choosing to host with Bluehost turns out to be not so cheap after all.
If you go with the plus plan, it is £68/year. Compare that to £71.88/year from Siteground. Not much difference, yes?
|Email forwarding with aliases||Easy to set up||Easy to set up, but the interface is a bit clunky|
|Email accounts||Unlimited email accounts with up to 2000MB space for emails||Unlimited email accounts and unlimited space is available in all plans except for the basic plan. Email is an essential feature for any blog, so you probably should n’t buy the basic plan.The basic plan provides five email accounts with a cap of 100MB/account.|
Siteground comes on top when it comes to Emails.
Pro tip: set up email forwarders to your current email address.
I usually create new email aliases and simply forward them to my Gmail address. Doing so is the easiest way without having to meddle with webmail to read your emails. All my emails from the blog, I can read my emails directly from my Gmail account with no additional setup.
6. Bluehost has the upper hand over siteground when it comes to web space offered
With the entry-level StartUp plan, you get 10GB of disk space with Siteground, whereas with the basic entry-level plan with Bluehost, you get 50GB. In all other Bluehost plans, web space is unmetered.
Unmetered is not really unmetered.
Well, not really unmetered, but ‘Normal’ according to Bluehost.
I kind of agree with Bluehost on one point.
You shouldn’t be using your host as a storage for your large media files. Use specialist services for that.
Pro Tip: If your sites are bigger than 10 GB, you should look at cloud-based providers like Cloudways. Neither Siteground nor Bluehost is great cost-wise for bigger sites. Check out Cloudways instead. They will allow you even to choose the infrastructure like AWS, digital ocean, google cloud, and so on to optimize the costs.
7. Speed and optimizations for SEO
Speed and site performance is crucial for your blog’s SEO. If your blog takes longer than usual to load, your readers may not be patient, and they usually aren’t, they will click away from the page. This essentially indicates to Google that your customers are not having a great experience with your blog, thereby affecting your site’s ranking in google search results.
In fact, Google has started to take a mobile-first approach when it comes to SEO. This means that your blog not only should load fast, provide excellent experience on desktop but also they should do the same or better on mobile devices like phones and iPads.
A good quality host should be able to provide speed and optimization features easily and cost-effectively.
Factors that affect page load times
The key factors that affect site performance and page load times are
- Server location
- Server load
- The number of users on a shared hosting server
- Blog content (Text/Theme/Scripts/Style/Plugins)
Let’s have a look at the ones that hosts are responsible for performing well.
If you have a server in the US and someone from the US accesses your blog, it will be served relatively faster than to someone from Australia because of the distance data has to travel over the wire.
Content Delivery networks to load your site faster.
Unless you are going to serve only a specific region only, you need to have a mechanism to serve users in different regions. This is what content delivery networks do. They copy your site’s data, mostly static data or a static version of your data, to different computers across the globe, making your site load faster in those regions.
A good host will have an easy and cost-effective integration with a CDN. These networks are usually third party services offered by companies like Cloudflare.
Both Siteground and Bluehost have free CDN integration.
All Siteground plans include FREE Cloudflare CDN.
Bluehost also gives you free integration with Cloudflare.
Siteground also allows you to change the server location.
If you don’t want to use a CDN, you can also change the server location for your host machine on Siteground. Say if you are getting a ton of traffic from the US, and you want to provide them faster loading of the pages, it is simple to change the server location to the US with siteground.
Bluehost has no such option.
Siteground has data centers in 4 continents, whereas Bluehost is not transparent with their server locations.
Siteground has servers in
- Chicago (US)
- Iowa (US)
- London (UK)
- Amsterdam (Netherlands)
- Eemshaven (Netherlands)
- Singapore City (Singapore)
You can easily change the server location with Siteground even after you have set up your blog should you want to do so.
Server load (Siteground performs consistently with many users accessing a website)
Your site will load faster if only a few users are accessing it. The more users you have active on your website simultaneously, the slower will be the load time depending on how many concurrent requests your hosting server can handle.
Siteground performs consistently with many users accessing a website.
Bluehost shared machines are reported to degrade when the number of concurrent requests is high.
Number of user accounts on a shared host server
Hosts are able to give you the cheapest hosting by putting several users on the same machine.
Some hosts are better at managing shared hosting compared to others.
Bluehost has a bad reputation of putting too many users on the machine to achieve low pricing compromising severely on performance.
If another user’s blog on the same machine as yours is getting a ton of traffic or has some code consuming the server resources, that is going to eat into your blog’s performance. That is the risk of shared hosting.
Siteground has container isolation with its proprietary technology called hive to mitigate that.
Siteground isolates user accounts on its shared servers in small Linux containers using a technology called Linux container isolation (LXC). So, if one user’s site gets hacked, the hacker won’t be able to reach your files.
Check the excerpt from the siteground.
Bluehost has resource protection but does not provide clarification on how they achieve it.
On their website, Bluehost mentions that they have resource protection achieved by temporarily assigning a high resource-consuming website to separate systems.
Content of the website
The content itself of the website affects the load time. If your article has large uncompressed images, your page will load slower.
Use Caching to load your blog faster.
Hosts usually provide caching to temporarily store the content of a blog to be readily served to the user without recomputing what to send over to a user again and again.
Caching also reduces the load on the server, because your blog is served from the cache and doesn’t reach the host machine.
An example of caching would be the faster search results by a popular flight search engine for the same search tried a second time.
Siteground has first-level caching with the basic plan and advanced caching with higher plans.
Siteground’s SuperCacher software is responsible for caching your blog’s content.
Level 1 caching is available with all plans with up to level 2 caching included in GrowBig and GrowGeek plans, and level 3 available with GoGeek plan.
Bluehost also provides caching under the name Endurance cache, using Varnish.
In terms of caching, both Siteground and Bluehost seems to do well.
Servers go down for various reasons—harmful code, memory leaks, hacker attacks, fire, and natural disasters, and so on.
A good host must be able to have your site replicate to another server in case this happens or have some other mechanism to provide redundancy.
Uptime literally means the duration of a particular website is available to be used.
A 100% uptime for a blog means it is available all the time and never goes down even in the case of disasters and is technically impossible with any host even with giants like google or amazon.
Still, hosts should provide you with good uptime metrics for your blog.
Siteground’s SLA(Service level agreement) guarantees 99.99% uptime. And if it is 99.9 – 99.0% uptime, you get a free month’s hosting. If it further goes down, you get a free month’s hosting for every 1%.
Now the point is not to gun for free hosting, but to promise this, they must be doing pretty good.
Bluehost has an excellent uptime guarantee of 99.98% as well. A bit less than Siteground but comparable.
Though Bluehost’s uptime is a bit less than Siteground, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
What is the reliability of despite the SLA’s
In practice, Bluehost is reported to have much higher downtime for its servers.
Siteground’s infrastructure runs on google cloud, the same system that runs giants like Google search engine and Youtube. I guess that says it all.
8. SSL for security and SEO/Trust from users
Have you ever noticed the padlock on your browser’s address bar when you visit your bank’s website? When it says ‘this website is secure,’ it means that the site is using SSL. These websites start with https:// instead of http://
People prefer secure websites than insecure ones. There’s more trust between your blog and your readers when it is recognized as safe by your user’s browser.
Google also has said that it takes SSL as a ranking factor for websites in its search results.
Because the user activity is excellent on a secure website compared to an insecure one, google sees this as a positive sign and ranks your blog higher.
Both Siteground and Bluehost provide free SSL with all of their accounts with a tool called Let’s encrypt.
With Let’s Encrypt, you can get a self-signed certificate quickly to get that nice green padlock in the browser and gain trust from your users.
SSL can be enabled with a couple of clicks with both Bluehost and Siteground.
9. Automated Backups
Automated backups are essential to any blog. This should be considered in your costs when starting your blog.
Even when I was starting with this blog, I used to get attacked by hackers from China and Argentina.
Sometimes plugins fuck up. And that causes your blog to break down.
For these reasons, you need to take periodic backups of your site. And with these backups, you should be able to restore your site with a couple of clicks.
Siteground offers FREE daily automated backups with all plans but on-demand backups with only GrowBig and GoGeek plans.
Automated backups are taken periodically. Full site backups are taken daily with Siteground for FREE.
On-demand backups are required when you are about to do a possible risky operation. You don’t need it as a beginner blogger. If you have a developer working on your blog, adding some dodgy code, and so on, then you need this.
Bluehost does not offer any automated backups unless you add it as an add-on to your basic plan and plus plan. It is included only from choice plus plan onwards.
Another thing that I don’t like about Bluehost is that they don’t take any responsibility for the backups they do either. Check this out.
Compare that to the one from siteground
I wonder which one instills more confidence in their customers.
Pro tip: For on-demand backups, I use a plugin called Updraft plus to create on-demand backups for free. With updraft plus, you can store your backups on your Google Drive, or OneDrive and your blog can be restored should you happen to lose your blog content on the host’s server.
Let’s see how much these hosts cost for 12 months and with the lowest of the plans. (Basic for Bluehost and StartUp plan for Siteground)
Bluehost’s cheap basic plan doesn’t include all the essential features.
As we discussed before, Bluehost’s basic plan doesn’t include some of the essential features like automated daily backups.
If you add these in, Bluehost is not that cheap anymore.
Consider just backups. You can add backups to the basic plan with the CodeGuard addon, which is $35.88 a year. That comes to about £29.
Now add that to the most basic of the plans, which is called “Basic.” 45.36+29 = 74.38
Siteground’s basic Startup plan has all the essentials, and it costs = £71.88
Hmm. That is cheaper than Bluehost even without the free domain name as compared to Bluehost with the promotional pricing.
So, is Bluehost cheap, or are they good at marketing and hiding certain essential things?
Renewal costs are much higher with Siteground.
Here are Bluehost’s regular rates at the time of renewal.
Consider a 12-month renewal for the basic plan.
That will be £86+29(Codeguard for backups) = £115
What is Siteground’s renewal cost
£11.99 * 12 is £143.88
Yes, it is more expensive than Bluehost.
You can do the same math for the other plans.
Let me remind you Siteground also gives a generous web space for emails should you choose to create new email accounts. (2000 MB/2GB) and is included in its Startup plan.
Suppose you want to get the same email benefits and not the measly 100MB accounts. You will have to go for G-Suite with Bluehost. And that cost £49.68 a year.
Let’s add that in and soon it becomes – £115 + 49.68 = £164.68.
So when you add the cost of that in for the Basic plan of Bluehost, it turns out to be more expensive than Siteground.
You’re better off with the Choice Plus plan if you decide to go with Bluehost. Because backups and email accounts (more than 100MB) are included in the price, and it will work out cheaper than adding these as add-ons.
This is without taking into account the domain name costs after the initial term with Siteground and Bluehost.
Ok, take out that expense for G-Suite, and let’s say you are happy with forwarders or the measly 100MB accounts.
Let’s add in the domain name costs that kick in at renewal.
|Domain name||£11.95||Free for one year after that 15.27 eurosOr £13.90|
|Domain protection||£9.00||12.63 euros or £11.37 for domain privacy|
Bluehost (Basic Plan): £115 + £13.90 + £11.37 = £140.27
Siteground(Basic Plan): £143.88 + £11.95 + £9 = £164.83
Bluehost is cheaper than Siteground at renewal for the basic plan and MUCH cheaper when compared with higher-level plans.
Obviously, Bluehost is cheaper than Siteground when comparing their higher-level plans. But that is not true with their Basic entry-level plan when compared to the entry-level Startup plan of Siteground.
Consider the choice plus plan at renewal for a 12-month term. $16.99*12 = $204 (£162.29)
And Siteground’s Growbig plan £19.99*12 = £239.88.
That is a big difference(About £70).
You shouldn’t be buying higher-priced plans from Siteground or Bluehost (Beyond Growbig with Siteground and ChoicePlus with Bluehost)
Because chances are your blog is growing and that you need to scale. You should be looking at something like a managed cloud hosting and not a shared server.
Now, both Siteground and Bluehost have cloud hosting plans, but they are not cost-effective. You can easily get lower prices and better features with hosts designed for this, hosts such as Cloudways. Cloudways allow you to create an infrastructure for your blog (you don’t have to know a thing) on reliable cloud providers like Digital Ocean, AWS(hosts Amazon, amazon prime) and GCP (hosts Gmail, YouTube, and all other Google products)
Remember: Promotional pricing is not the long term cost.
Both siteground and Bluehost have low entry costs because of their promotional prices.
You also need to take into account the renewal cost once the initial term runs out.
The promotional price is only good for the initial term of your purchase when you sign up for these hosts. If you purchased a 12-month plan initially, then from the 13 month onwards, you would pay the regular rate. This is true with both Siteground and Bluehost.
This is also a trick to bind you into longer terms with the hosts because you may think that it is better cost-wise.
For Bluehost, all the prices shown on their plans page is for 36 months.
For Siteground, all the prices shown on their pricing page are for 12 months.
Siteground vs. Bluehost: Why I recommend Siteground over Bluehost.
The cost of starting a blog is not the only important thing. Peace of mind is needed too! And reliability.
EIG owns Bluehost
EIG has a bad reputation when it comes to customer service. The reviews are mixed for Bluehost support. It has a history of aggressively acquiring hosting companies: Bluehost and Hostgator, among several others, are run by EIG.
Bluehost’s Trustpilot score is awful
Bluehost has a Trustpilot score of 1.5 which is pretty bad.
Siteground’s support is praised.
Compare that Trustpilot score of 4.8 for Siteground which speaks for itself.
Siteground vs. Bluehost (The Verdict)
The costs are indeed higher with Siteground, except the Basic plan as we saw earlier, but Bluehost can’t beat the security, speed, and performance that you get with Siteground.
- Startup Plan provides all essentials for a blog
- Siteground runs on Google Cloud platform
- Shared accounts are isolated using Linux container technology
- Automated backups included even with the basic plan
- Unlimited email accounts with 2GB email space
- Free SSL included
- SG Optimizer to speed up your site
- Free CDN included
- The custom user interface that is far better than cPanel.
- Better caching
- Expensive with higher plans
- Much cheaper than Siteground
- Domain name free for the first year
- Enhanced Cache to speed up your site
- Free CDN included with all plans
- Resource isolation to protect your data on shared servers
- Free SSL included
- 50 GB space with Basic Plan
- You need to add automated backup as an addon (CodeGuard)
- 100 MB of data with email accounts with Basic Plan
- Unmetered is not really unmetered
- The super-low advertised prices are for a 36-month commitment
- Trustpilot score
I recommend Siteground
That Trustpilot score itself would have convinced me. It seems to me that Siteground has all the essential features needed for a blog starting with their basic Startup plan. They seem to be more transparent with their server locations and features. Their backup feature is robust, and user account isolation on shared servers using LXC (Linux containers) is a significant security feature.
Their servers have higher uptime than Bluehost.
I would trade that for higher prices.
You’re better off with the Choice plus plan from Bluehost if you decide to go with Bluehost
That’s right. With a choice plus plan, you don’t need to add the automated backups as an add-on. It includes automated backups in the price. Also, you get unlimited email space with the plan as opposed to the measly 100MB you get with the basic plan. And domain privacy and protection is free for one domain with the Choice plus plan.
So, it will work out cheaper.
Siteground vs. Bluehost: What would you choose? Let me know in the comments.0