Updated: February 23, 2021
If you're planning on building a website, you're likely wondering who offers the best web hosting for small businesses and checking out hosting options.
With so many options available, it's understandable that you may want to take the easy way and just go with one of the big names you’ve seen advertising on TV like GoDaddy. But we all know that those "easy way out" decisions are usually the ones we live to regret.
So, instead, let me share what I learned about hosting options and why I use and recommend SiteGround for hosting small business websites so you can decide if it might be right for you.
NOTE: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I may receive compensation although you will not pay more for the product or service.
The Embarrassing Situation That Led Me to SiteGround
My first website, whose domain was my legal name, was hijacked just days after I launched it. And I found out about it from my son after he visited my site to check the progress I had made. I was horrified to find that my brand new site immediately redirected visitors to… not one… but over 20 incredibly inappropriate sites.
What made this extra embarrassing is that I have a degree in IT, have worked in corporate IT, understand the necessary security measures, and thought I had taken the proper precautions to prevent such a breach from occurring on my site. I was WRONG!
Apparently, this is a common problem… particularly for websites that use the open-source version of WordPress (WordPress.org) as this article from Buzzfeed explains. Black hat SEO consultants and hackers attack websites for the purpose of discrediting once-credible websites so their owners abandon them. They then take over these abandoned sites and use them to create backlinks for other sites they are trying to rank.
This security breach was frustrating and extremely expensive to fix at a critical time in my business when I didn’t have much money. So I abandoned that site and, instead, educated myself about how to prevent this from happening to my next website.
It didn’t take much research to find out that my previous hosting company (and more than 60 other hosting companies owned by the same parent company - EIG) was notorious for having major problems with security, availability, reliability, and poor customer service. (Find out more and see if the host you’re considering or using is owned by EIG: Review Hell, Review Signal)
If this situation could happen so easily to someone like me - who had a more advanced understanding of computer security and technology - it certainly would happen to others who didn't consider themselves tech savvy.
Now, I was determined to find a way to help others avoid what I went through, or worse. This led me to learn about the criteria search engines use to rank websites and the most common issues and complaints website owners have about website hosting services. From this research, I was able to develop a list of criteria to use when selecting a hosting provider.
That research coupled with the experience I’ve had supporting websites hosted by other well-known providers has cemented my decision to use and recommend SiteGround for web hosting.
The Top 3 Criteria I Now Use When Choosing A Host
What measures does the hosting company have in place to protect the security of the websites they host? And what kind of track record do their security measures have?
SiteGround pioneered security technology for shared server hosting - a feat no one in the industry thought possible. Their CHROOT account isolation became the industry standard for shared server security in 2008, and they continue to be a leader in web hosting security. (Sources: SiteGround Server Security and Reliability, 2009 and Daily Hosting News, 2013)
In a 2012 interview with Joomla Hosting Reviews, SiteGround CEO, Tenko Nikolov described Siteground’s philosophy about security like this, “Our team (and that's me included) is really paranoid when it comes to various security issues and threats. We take customers' accounts and websites security really seriously and try to stay on top of all security releases and patches of the software we and respectively our clients use.”
They have an entire team devoted to monitoring emerging threats and software vulnerabilities and updating firewall rules to protect their servers and sites from hacking attempts and security breaches.
2. Reliability & Speed:
Is the hosting service up and running well most of the time, or are there constant interruptions in service that will make your website unavailable online? How fast can visitors reach your website and its resources?
An unreliable, slow website is a liability that threatens the survival of your business and damages your brand and reputation.
Ideally, you want your server response time to be less than 0.6 seconds, with all page content loaded within 4 seconds, and all page scripts complete in less than 8 seconds. Unfortunately, these numbers correspond directly to how your hosting service has their servers set up and the technology they use to manage and improve server performance.
Fortunately, SiteGround consistently ranks near the top when it comes to reliability and speed. Independent reviews by third parties like WPBeginner, Hosting Facts, and others agree that SiteGround is extremely reliable (99.99% uptime) and offers noticeably faster speed (673 microseconds) than most hosting services.
3. Exceptional Customer Service:
Does the hosting service make it easy for you to get help when a question or problem arises? How long does it take to get a response? Are they able to resolve your issue or answer your question during the initial contact, or does it require multiple conversations to get the help you need? Does the hosting service have systems and processes in place that empower you to fix common issues on your own, or does every issue require intervention by their tech support staff? Is help available whenever you might need it… 24/7, 365 days a year, or do they limit when and how you can receive support?
All of these are super important questions for most website owners who often lack in-depth technical skills and have limited time to spend researching and resolving website issues when they arise.
SiteGround offers exceptional customer service, with 90% of help requests resolved on first contact, and lightning fast response time.
They offer multiple ways to get the help you need including:
- Blog, Ebooks, Guides, Tutorials, Podcast, and robust Knowledge Base of help articles
- Pinned support articles on every page of client interfaces
- Smart AI Chat bot for quick resolution of common problems
- 24/7 Live Chat
- 24/7 Phone support - 2 minute average wait time
- 24/7 Help Desk Tickets with replies within 15 minutes, on average
And customers love their support with 99.7% of customers giving them a 5-star review.
SiteGround Reviews From Industry Leaders
It’s not just SiteGround’s customers that give them favorable reviews. Here’s what leaders in the IT industry have to say.
“SiteGround's surprising number of security features also indicates that it has small businesses in mind. Small businesses are highly vulnerable to website attacks, and chances are they are not going to invest in a site scanner to look for malware or a cloud provider to protect them from a denial-of-service attack. The fact that SiteGround does it for them makes it a solid friend for small businesses just starting out.” (Source: PC Magazine, January 2019)
“4 out of 5 Stars: Feature-packed hosting for the more demanding user” (Source: TechRadar, October 2019)
“SiteGround is one of the most popular and highest rated hosting provider in the WordPress community. They provide unique in-house WordPress speed and security solutions to make your site as fast and secure as possible. They are known for the best 24/7 support in the industry which is why they’re an official ‘WordPress’ recommended hosting provider. This is also why we use SiteGround for hosting the WPBeginner website...We found SiteGround to be noticeably faster and extremely reliable. Their hosting plans are flexible, and their customer support is one of the best in the industry.” (Source: WPBeginner)
And SiteGround is officially recommended by website platforms like WordPress.org, Woo and SEO plugin provider Yoast.
SiteGround is one of those tech startups created by a group of college students in 2004. Since then, it has grown to become one of the most respected web hosting companies with 4 offices around the world (USA, UK, Bulgaria, Spain) and 7 data centers that host 2,000,000 domains.
They are industry innovators that focus on providing customers with:
- Fast speed - from their server software configurations which are based on Google Cloud and the Linux operating system with powerful in-house caching, quick adaptation of newest server technologies that deliver the fastest speed available, and content delivery networks, SiteGround uses every tool available to offer its customers the fastest, most reliable service.
- Security - SiteGround continues to lead the industry as a pioneer in web hosting security offering:
- Real-time server self-checks every 0.5 seconds that detects and fixes most issues, and prevents potential problems
- Smart firewalls that protect servers and hosted sites from hacking and breaches
- Smart AI security bot that stops brute-force attempts and malicious traffic before it reaches customer sites
- 24/7 system administration by a team of highly-experienced professionals
- Easy Migration - SiteGround has tapped into their experience migrating more than 50,000 sites per year to provide a way for website owners to quickly and easily move their site from another host to SiteGround simply by using SiteGround's WordPress Migrator plugin.
- Technologies that make it easy for customers to create and maintain their websites such as:
- Backup & Restore Tools - automatic daily backups, on-demand backups, one-click restore
- Integrated Let’s Encrypt - free SSL for every site created on SiteGround
- User Access Controls - make it easy to add collaborators and control access
- WordPress Staging Environment for GrowBig and GoGeek accounts
- WordPress Starter plugin makes it easy to get a WordPress site up and running quickly
- WordPress Migrator plugin makes it quick and easy to migrate your site from your current platform to SiteGround while your site remains fully functional.
SiteGround offers a wide variety of website hosting packages to choose from including general website hosting, managed WordPress hosting, managed WooCommerce hosting, scalable managed Cloud hosting, and customized enterprise hosting for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and PrestaShop sites.
** Domain name hosting costs extra.
*** Monthly billing plans available for an extra fee.
$3.95/month (renewal rate: $11.95/month) paid annually, in advance.
The StartUp plan is great initial hosting plan for most small businesses and bloggers. It offers 10 GB of storage and supports up to 10,000 website visitors a month.
$5.95/month (renewal rate: $19.95/month) paid annually, in advance.
The GrowBig plan is best for more established small businesses and bloggers with larger audiences. The GrowBig plan offers 20 GB of storage and supports up to 25,000 website visitors a month.
$11.95/month (renewal rate: $34.95/month) paid annually, in advance.
The GoGeek plan is the right choice for website developers and other businesses that anticipate creating multiple websites, require greater storage for website resources (such as photo galleries or ecommerce sites), or anticipate a lot of website visitors. This plan offers 40 GB of storage and supports up to 100,000 visitors a month.
What The Plans Include
10 GB web space
Up to 10,000 visits/mo.
100% renewable energy match
20 GB web space
Up to 25,000 visits/mo.
Free WordPress Installation
100% renewable energy match
On-demand Backup Copies
Caching for Additional Speed
40 GB web space
Up to 100,000 visits/mo.
Free WordPress Installation
100% renewable energy match
On-demand Backup Copies
Caching for Additional Speed
Staging + Pre-installed GIT
Access to the Most Resources
All plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
While I love, use, and recommend SiteGround for web hosting, it’s important to note that SiteGround is not the right choice for every business. Here are some things you need to know to make an informed decision about whether SiteGround is right for you.
SiteGround Is Not the Cheapest Hosting Service
You can easily find other hosting services that seem much cheaper. What’s important to keep in mind is that SiteGround includes a lot of features in their packages that other hosting services charge extra for such as:
- Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates that provides a necessary layer of security for your website and its visitors
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) that ensures your website and all its content is available as fast as possible... even large files like videos, images, and other resource-hungry files
- Email hosting so you can create professional, branded email accounts for you and your team that include your domain name
- Security features like SG Site Scanner that monitors your website for security attacks and SiteCheck that checks to see if malware has been installed on your site
- SPAM filtering to protect your email accounts from spam, malware, suspicious links, and other security threats
- Automatic daily backups of your website so you can easily restore your site in the event of an issue
- Automatic installation of WordPress updates so you have access to the latest technology, features, improvements, and security enhancements, and
- A staging environment for the GrowBig and GoGeek plans that lets you develop and test new features on a “hidden copy” of your website before making them visible to your website visitors.
When comparing hosting companies, be sure you know what features you need, whether those features are included in the hosting packages or must be purchased at an additional charge, and what that additional charge will be.
Annual Billing Paid in Advance
That’s the default payment method because most people want to take advantage of the BEST rates. That means, in order to take advantage of the best rates, you must be able to pay for hosting at least a year in advance. Month-to-month billing is available, but it will cost you more each month, and there is an additional fee to set up monthly billing.
It’s common for hosting providers to offer a low, limited-time introductory rate to new customers which expires when the contract is renewed. Typically, the renewal rates are also higher than the introductory rate. But you should know that the cost of hosting with SiteGround essentially triples after the initial subscription period. For example, when you renew a StartUp hosting subscription, you’ll pay $11.95/month, instead of the $3.95/month initial rate you received when you signed up. You can purchase an extended contract (36 months maximum), when you initially sign up, in order to take advantage of the introductory rate for as long as possible.
Domain Name Registration/Renewal is NOT Included in Hosting Packages
Some hosting providers offer free domain name registration and renewal in their hosting packages. SiteGround does not, and their domain registration is not cheap. While it may be more convenient to have your domain registered with your website hosting service, it is NOT a best practice for business continuity. Instead, I recommend using NameCheap for domain name registration.
SiteGround’s hosting plans offer 10 GB to 30 GB of storage - more than sufficient for most small business and blogging websites that have up to 100,000 visits a month. However, businesses that anticipate over 100,000 visitors or require more than 30 GB of storage may need to consider SiteGround’s auto-scalable cloud hosting, a dedicated server plan from SiteGround (starting at $269 per month), or another hosting provider to meet their needs.
No Windows-based Servers
SiteGround’s servers use a Linux-based tech stack which is not compatible with Microsoft’s .NET web ecosystem. So businesses whose websites are built with Microsoft’s .NET framework will need to choose a different hosting provider.
SiteGround remains the best web hosting for most small businesses.
Signing Up With SiteGround Is A Breeze
It only takes 3 simple steps to sign up for hosting with SiteGround.
Step 1: Choose a Hosting Plan
- The StartUp plan is perfect for most bloggers and small businesses just starting out.
- The GrowBig plan is great for those who want to plan for growth, or already know they will be creating multiple sites.
- The GoGeek plan is best for website developers and large ecommerce or other big sites.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
You can either purchase and register a new domain name through SiteGround, or sign up with an existing domain name you have already purchased elsewhere.
Step 3: Review and Complete Your Order
- Choose the renewal Period for your contract (12 months, 24 months, 36 months).
With SiteGround, you’ll pay the same low introductory rate regardless of which renewal period you choose, unlike other hosting services that only offer their best rate for customers who purchase the longest contracts.
- If you want any of the Extra Services offered, select those.
- Click or tap Pay Now and enter your payment information.
And… voila! You have a host for your website.
Ready to Jump Onboard?
If you feel like SiteGround is the right choice for you...