Hosting Profile: Siteground
If you are a regular reader of this blog, it may strike you as super odd for the cofounder of a web hosting company to be profiling competitors. However I think market research and understanding what others in the field are doing, their strengths and their weaknesses, is incredibly healthy and all to often this is done in private. I make no claim to Reclaim Hosting being the right fit for everyone and as a small company we have a lot to learn. As I began doing this work for the first company I planned to look into, Siteground, I realized there was no better place to put it than right here on my blog. Consider these profiles a cursory bit of research into each company rather than a deep dive. I have not signed up for an account and used the tools (though many of them I am familiar with). I plan to do a few of these and it's worth noting they contain no affiliate links, there's no ulterior motive in which companies are selected, and I benefit in now way other than professional growth by researching and writing about them.
About the Company
One of the first things I wanted to do was read a bit about the company itself and the stats are impressive. Over 400 employees handling 1,500 support tickets, 1,000 phone calls, and 3,000 chat requests per day. When talking about themselves not only do they show some of the faces behind the company and what it's like to work there, but they highlight their high satisfaction rate with reviews from customers, their support, and their blog.
On the face of it when browsing the site it appears that Siteground has a lot of different plans and options, but in reality I think this is a lot of marketing smoke. The homepage highlights options for Web Hosting, WordPress Hosting, WooCommerce Hosting, and Cloud Hosting. The first three appear to just be variations of the same shared hosting plans of which they have 3: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek. They are very transparent about the features of these plans with every detail and limitation laid out in some of the pricing charts. What isn't clear is why they differentiate between WordPress and WooCommerce Hosting from regular hosting since as best I can tell from the featureset they are identical. In fact they have a lot of pages like this one where they are basically just getting search engine results by mentioning software and then pointing to their existing hosting plans.
They do have some additional hosting options they don't highlight but do link to like reseller hosting, dedicated servers, and enterprise hosting. Enterprise hosting is interesting in that they frame it somewhat like our own managed hosting option, but as a custom-tailored solution for any project with a case study talking about working with Greenpeace to build redundancy across two continents with load balancing and replication. No pricing but the contact form has a budget range from $2k/month to $10k/month.
It also appears they offer some kind of educational hosting option, though the details are a bit opaque. Faculty get a free account and students get a low cost one at $2/month. They are subdomain hosting accounts of *.sgedu.site and it says the special pricing is for the first year, at which point I imagine it converts to a regular StartUp hosting plan. It also mentioned they have an LMS integration but I couldn't find more details on that and the setup page is a basic contact form rather than anything automated.
Siteground offers free migrations only for their medium sized plan, the GrowBig plan, and it's for 1 site. Additional sites start at $30 per migration so fairly similar to us, but we don't limit our migrations to higher tier plans. They do have a self-service WordPress plugin for migrating WordPress sites that they custom built for their hosting platform and they claim to do 50k migrations a year which is again just a staggering number.
Domains don't come free and costs range from $16-$18 for generic TLDs and the new TLDs are of course all over the place in price with lots of discounts for initial registration and high renewal rates.
An entire page is devoted to WordPress Developers highlighting advanced features like the ability to test on multiple PHP versions, staging environments, git, caching, and the modern tech stack they use.
No surprise given their stats that they are a 24/7/365 shop with all manner of options including phone, chat, and email. What I did find really interesting was that on one page they specifically say "Aside from providing an easy and hassle-free CMS installation and free migration, we also help you with popular script extensions, plugins and templates, investigate and fix application-related issues and requests that other hosts turn down as beyond their scope." That's a very bold claim, and a line we often have to balance as well. At Reclaim we often go above and beyond, in no small part because with a focus on education a lot of tools we support like Omeka, Scalar, OHMS Viewer, and Pressbooks don't have nearly the same level of resources available on the web as something like WordPress. But even we have to draw the line sometimes given we are not experts in third party software we did not develop.
Alas in looking at the actual support policy of Siteground they completely contradict their earlier statement by saying "Issues related to web design, web development, malicious code cleanup and similar, are not supported. These kind of tasks are not only complex but also have many specifics and technicalities which cannot be covered by our regular support. In situations when you need help with third party scripts, apps, extensions and similar, we recommend you contact the particular providers. They will be better placed to address your needs." I think that's exactly the right kind of approach to take and with good reason, but it's very odd that they contradict themselves in their marketing. Regardless they have very high customer satisfaction rates and lots of great reviews and honestly just anecdotally I don't often hear anything bad from Siteground so I have no doubt they excel at customer support.
Siteground is one of the very few hosting companies specifically recommended by WordPress which plays no small part in why they have grown so large over the years. They have a robust offering with tools that make it both easy for novices and experts to find comfort in. I found their marketing approach somewhat spammy with lots of pages essentially saying the exact same thing in different ways and with different keywords. Cost varies and if you ignore the signup deals and look at the regular price it starts at $12/month and goes as high as $35/month, but they likely offer steep discounts on signups and multi-year renewals to balance that.