Every blog needs hosting to bring it to life. If you’re looking for hosting for a new blog, or want to move to a more reliable host, you’ll find this feature useful.
How Do You Choose a Host for Your Blog?
Lots of factors come into play when it comes to finding the right host for your blog.
One of our non-negotiables is security — a good hosting company should make protecting its servers a priority. Customer service is also important and has become a way to distinguish between low quality and high quality companies in recent years. For some bloggers, cost and affordability is one of their highest concerns.
We’ll review each of these factors in our comparison review of HostGator vs SiteGround.
Your blog will live on a server owned by the hosting company you choose, so it’s essential that they’re stable, reliable, and offer the level of security necessary to protect your livelihood.
In this section we’ll look at some popular ways to measure a host’s performance and reliability, as well as how they compare on security features.
The last thing you want is for your blog to be down when someone tries to visit it, which is why a host with a high and reliable uptime score is essential. If your hosting company experiences a lot of downtime, and readers can’t access your blog, they may start to look elsewhere for their content fix.
The majority of hosting services offer an uptime guarantee of around 99.9 percent, which means that your blog should only expect to experience a few moments of downtime in the case of technical issues.
It isn’t always easy to find out this information by yourself, but thanks to websites like Hosting Facts we can see that SiteGround has an average uptime of 99.9 percent. HostGator scores well too, with a score of 99.97 percent over the same period. There are no real dips in uptime either, which means that both offer a reliable and steady service.
This means that whether you go with SiteGround or HostGator you can expect your blog to be available with only minimal downtime.
Server Response Time and Page Speed
Have you ever visited a website that was slow to load and got frustrated? If this happens with your blog, readers could click away and you lose the opportunity to convert them into long-reading fans. For this reason it’s good to research the server response time and page speed loading times for your soon-to-be web hosting company.
Server response time refers to how long it takes for the server (where your blog is hosted) to respond to a request from the reader to load your website. Page speed is how long that page then takes to load on their screen. You want both of these times to be low — that way readers will find your blog loads quickly and they can read your content sooner.
Tests carried out by WP Beginner show that HostGator has a page speed (or load time) of 691 milliseconds and the server response time scored highly for locations around the world. The same tests showed that the test site hosted by SiteGround loaded in 649 milliseconds, and also achieved quick server response times.
The blog hosted on SiteGround loaded slightly faster. This could be thanks to the fact they use Cloudflare CDN (content delivery network), a feature which means that readers are shown content from the data center closest to them to speed up delivery.
Security and Backups
When your blog is your business and it earns you an income, you want that to be well protected. That’s why it’s good to know about the level of security and protection that your host offers both in their data centers and through firewalls and digital protection.
SiteGround and HostGator both take the security of your websites seriously. SiteGround explains how it keeps your content secure, thanks to up-to-date security fixes and software that blocks malicious attempts. HostGator offers similar protection, including a customized firewall, and also offers advice on how to secure your blog further.
Both companies make free backups of your website and its content regularly, which ensures that you always have a copy available in case something goes wrong. SiteGround creates daily backups, and HostGator does this weekly. You can also use third-party plugins for WordPress to create your own backups, and store them in a service like Dropbox or Google Drive for added peace of mind.
To offer an added level of trust to your readers, SiteGround and HostGator both allow you to install a SSL Certificate. This encrypts data between your website and your reader, and offers them security that your blog is safe and secure for them to browse.
When you start a blog, or want to move to a different host, the cost of the service is one of the first factors you consider. Whether you are new to blogging and need affordable hosting, or want to get the best value for your investment, comparing the price and features of hosting plans is a useful step.
HostGator and SiteGround both cater for the affordable end of the web hosting market. This is great news if you’re on a budget, want to start your blog as a hobby, or want to keep your expenses low so you can maximize your income.
Both companies offer a huge range of hosting plans, which can be overwhelming at first glance. Standard Web Hosting is affordable and easy to scale as your blog grows, and is the type of hosting that most bloggers choose.
Other options include the newer, faster-loading Cloud Hosting which can be attractive to business owners who value faster loading times — but this can come at a higher cost. There’s also Virtual Private Server hosting (VPS hosting) and Dedicated Server hosting, which are again more costly and better suited to large businesses or blogs which are more demanding.
Many bloggers will find that the entry-level and most affordable plan will suit them — in this case HostGator’s “Hatchling” plan or SiteGround’s “StartUp” plan.
These affordable hosting plans are perfect for new blogs, as they offer the right amount of space, bandwidth, and features for you to establish your presence online. It’s also easy to upgrade your plan if you find that your blog grows faster than expected.
If you own more than one blog or website, the next tier of plans will be better suited for you. HostGator’s “Baby” plan and SiteGround’s “GrowBig” both offer you the ability to host multiple websites for around $2 more per month.
These low prices mean that you can start a blog today for an equivalent monthly cost of under $4 — but there’s a catch. To secure this discounted rate you need to sign up for a longer term, usually 24–36 months, and pay this cost upfront. With SiteGround you can’t opt for monthly billing, and while this is an option with HostGator, it’s at a monthly cost of $10.95 per month. If you can, sign up for a longer term — this will save you money in the long run.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the majority of hosting companies offer a discount for the promotional period. This means that when you come to renew at the end of your term you can expect to pay more than your initial monthly (or yearly) fees. This is another reason to lock in your promotional period for as long as possible when you sign up.
Neither of these plans include a domain name, so if you don’t have one already you’ll want to register your chosen domain name through a provider like Bluehost. This will cost you around $13.
HostGator and SiteGround’s entry level plans both offer you everything you need to start and grow your blog.
Both plans include unlimited email accounts, so you can create a branded email for blog collaborations and communications. The plans offer plenty of disk space too for your website files, content, uploads, and photos. SiteGround suggests their StartUp plan is suitable for blogs with up to 10,000 unique visits per month, which is great for new blogs. HostGator’s plan is unmetered, meaning you’re not charged according to your usage — although this is still subject to reasonable use.
SiteGround and HostGator both offer the popular cPanel as a control panel software for your blog. It’s from here that you’ll access files, create new email accounts, and undertake any manual backups of your content.
Another feature that you’ll find in your control panel is the ability to easily install features and software like a content management system (CMS) or forum software. HostGator offers one-click installs for popular software, including WordPress — our recommended content management system for bloggers. SiteGround has developed a unique autoinstaller for WordPress, which means you can build your blog faster.
Although it’s easy to set up hosting for your blog, there will be times you’ll need to make use of your host’s support services for one reason or another. This could be something simple like consulting a “how to” guide to install a feature, or the need to speak to technical support about a critical issue.
Hosting providers are used to this, and so are geared up to handle your support queries — often on a 24/7 basis. SiteGround and HostGator are both great at providing a range of options, above those offered by other hosts in the marketplace.
The easiest way to resolve an issue is to speak to a support agent through live chat. HostGator and SiteGround both offer live chat as an option 24/7, with a response almost instantly with SiteGround. You can also reach the support team by phone with both companies, again on a 24/7 basis. As a customer, you can also raise a support ticket through your dashboard, which is a popular choice for technical issues.
Both hosts are reported to offer excellent customer support, but one thing that helps SiteGround support stand out is their more human approach. When you speak to a support agent online you’ll see that person’s photo and bio, which is an nice touch for a service that’s almost entirely digital.
As well as speaking to support staff directly, you’ll have access to a wealth of information through knowledgebases, help pages, tutorials, and guides. HostGator also has a forum where you can post questions, suggestions, and discover updates on features.
We all like and appreciate different things. The same is true for hosting providers, which is why it’s popular to offer a money-back guarantee to customers. This means that if you decide they’re not the right host for your blog, you can use the guarantee to receive a refund and take your blog elsewhere.
SiteGround offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which applies to shared hosting plans like the one we’ve covered in this review. HostGator betters this with a 45-day money-back guarantee, which gives you more time to make sure they’re the right host for you.
All money-back guarantees will be subject to terms and conditions, so we’d always recommend you read these thoroughly if this element is important to you.
Which Host Is Right for Your Blog?
Every blog and every blogger is different, which is why there are so many hosting companies out there who offer a similar service but in a slightly different way. You might be attracted to low monthly prices, a certain feature, or the reputation of a company based on what fellow bloggers say.
In this section we’ll look at some of the highlights of both companies, so you can decide which host is right for your blog.
SiteGround vs HostGator
Throughout our review you’ll notice that these two hosting companies are largely comparable on all aspects including reliability, pricing, features, and support options.
Based on our research, HostGator would be a good option for bloggers who:
- Want or need to pay monthly (although at a higher monthly cost)
- Are attracted to a longer money-back guarantee period (45 days vs 30 days)
- Anticipate more than 10,000 unique monthly visits (the suggested limit on SiteGround’s plan)
SiteGround makes for an attractive choice for bloggers who:
- Want to install WordPress quickly and easily with SiteGround’s autoinstaller
- Are happy to pay on a 12-, 24-, or 36-month basis for a discounted rate
- Want instant responses to live chat support
Alternative Web Hosts
With so many hosting companies available, it might be that you’ve decided against both HostGator and SiteGround in favor of another host.
If you’re still searching for the right web host for you, you’ll want to read our other hosting reviews. In our reviews we’ve compared popular web hosts like Bluehost, GoDaddy, and DreamHost.
Take a look at some of our recent hosting reviews:
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