Ever since I got the score of 17/100 in Google PageSpeed insights, it suddenly became my obsession to continuously find ways on how to improve my website’s page load speed, and research more on the internet on tips on how to improve it. Based from what I researched, one of the critical factors to consider to improve your page load speed is the performance of your server, and this holds true because your website data comes from your server, and how fast it gets transmitted to your web visitors depend on the processing power of your WordPress web hosting server.
This actually led me to search for the fastest WordPress hosting and the best WordPress host that could satisfy my cravings for more speed and website performance at a reasonable price, and this led me to SiteGround Hosting, which after chatting to their customer service representative for more than an hour, and bombarding her with questions after questions led me to try out SiteGround WordPress Hosting Startup Plan and test whether their claim as the best hosting for WordPress websites is actually true, and you can read my entire experience with SiteGround from website migration up to my present status
Migrating my website from my previous WP hosting going to SiteGround WordPress managed hosting is just like a walk in the park. All you have to do is fill out a form and provide them with your credentials from your previous host so that they can access it then they will do the rest of the migration.
The form will actually create you a ticket so that their technical representatives will be able to respond to your website migration request. Below is my generated ticket, you can see from the time stamp that it was created on March 1, 2017 at 14:04 CST
And below is the reply of their support after they have completely migrated my website, posted on the same day at 14:48 CST
The response from their support is actually very fast and impressive, and it only took 44 minutes to completely migrate my website to their server.
Now that my website has already been migrated, I’ll give you a sneak peak on the SiteGround WordPress hosting Control Panel
Main Dashboard (Home)
Below is the main dashboard of my SiteGround account. You can see that the main menus are organized into tabs, so going from one category to another will be quick
My Accounts Tab
Here in the My Accounts tab you can see all the details about your account, as well as your access your website’s cpanel, and you can use this feature so you’ll get automatic access to your cpanel without going to the usual entering of username and password.
From here you can also go to the Extra Services, like if you want to get a dedicated IP, which I actually did, and activating your SSL certificate, as well as your Cloudflare CDN and other features that you can see from the image below
Add Services tab
Now here is the Add Services tab, and if you want to upgrade to the other WordPress managed hosting plans, or if you want to add additional WP hosting plans in your account, this is the place where you need to go.
Now here is the resources tab, where you can see several tutorials in case you are a noob and would like to read some tutorials to guide you along the way like how to manage your own self hosted WordPress site.
You will also find these perks at the Resources tab, and everyone who signs up to any of the SiteGround WordPress web hosting plans has access to these nice perks and discounts. How I wished I have known this earlier because I bought WP Rocket in full price. You also get the ad-free version of Clef too!
That’s basically the dashboard of a typical SiteGround WP hosting account, and all I can say is that their dashboard is very intuitive and easy to use. though the dashboard could be a bit populated and maybe overwhelming to some, but going from one place to another is actually very easy and you’ll not get lost because of the well-organized arrangement.
Now that were done with the SiteGround dashboard, let’s now go to my CPanel dashboard and see whats in there.
SiteGround Cpanel is just like any normal cpanel dashboard with an X3 theme, but what I noticed is the presence of these tools which are exclusive to SiteGround CPanel accounts
These are several site improvement tools which will help improve and optimize the speed of your self hosted WordPress website when you get a SiteGround managed WordPress hosting plan. When I signed up with SiteGround, I started with the Startup Plan, and with this WordPress web hosting plan, I have access to the basic Cloudflare CDN and the first level of SuperCacher
To give you a quick look on Cloudflare CDN and SuperCacher, I took a screenshot of both tools that you can see below. Let’s start with Cloudflare CDN
What I like about SiteGround is their partnership with Cloudflare, and you can take it to your advantage to speed up your self hosted WordPress website. You can activate the Autominify, as well as the Railgun, which I believe is a paid feature if not for SiteGround, though I had a bit of a problem using this feature which I will discuss later why. Let’s go next to SuperCacher for now.
Below is the screenshot of my Super Cacher. With the StartUp Managed WordPress Hosting Plan, you only have access to Level 1. The Level 2 and Level 3 features are exclusive to GrowBig and GoGeek managed WordPress hosting plans
In the Super Cacher dashboard, you also get a glimpse of the Google Page Speed, which is also a feature to speed up your self hosted WordPress site, but unfortunately, this feature is also exclusive to the higher WordPress website hosting plans and not with the StartUp plan.
So those basically are the two main site improvement tools that I have tried and used with the StartUp plan, and if you may ask, have they really worked? Well, before we go into that, I want to share with you first my not so smooth experience with Cloudflare CDN, anyway there’s really not much to say with SuperCacher because I was limited to Level 1 feature, but with Cloudflare CDN, you’ll see below.
Not So Smooth Ride With Cloudflare CDN
First, I want to give you a brief background about what a CDN is, according to Wikipedia, “a CDN or Content Delivery Network is a globally distributed network of proxy servers deployed in multiple data centers. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to users with high availability and high performance.“ So basically, what Cloudflare CDN does is it gets a cached version of your website and deploys it to its datacenters worldwide so that when a person visits your site far far away from your server, Cloudflare CDN will use the cached version of your site from one of its datacenters that is relatively closer to the visitor and shows that cached website to the visitor, thus improving page load speed since the distance between the CDN data center to the visitor is relatively closer compared to the distance of my actual server location and the visitor. To give you an example, my website’s server is located in Chicago, and if someone visits my site from across the world, let’s say India, the time it will take for my website data to reach India, if I am not using a CDN, will take a while because of the distance between the two, whereas if I’m using a CDN and my CDN provider has a datacenter in India, what it will show is the cached version of my website from their datacenter, thus the page load speed will be greatly improved.
This is actually a nice feature, and this is actually the reason why I migrated to SiteGround; however my issue was that Cloudflare needs to use the www version of my website, and it became a problem for me because I have always preferred to use the non www version, and I have already set up everything with the non www version – from my social account profiles to google webmaster tools, to link building, and everything, so it was really a hassle because what it means for me is I have to change everything, and what actually made the matter worse is even after I changed the preference from the non www to the www version, whenever I check my website speed in pingdom, the www version still redirects to the non www version which really affected the page speed significantly. The troubleshooting and everything took about a day, and what happened is really a headache, but I’m really fortunate because the technical support of SiteGround was always there to help me along the way, and I can really attest that their support is topnotch and their response time is simply amazing, and with this, I can really consider SiteGround as one of the top hosting companies existing today.
Speed Speed Speed…
So after all these troubles that I encountered to quench my thirst for speed, was it really worth it? Well, to give you a quick look, below is the screenshot of my GTMetrix performance report when I was still at my previous cheap WordPress hosting. This is the one I bragged on my post “How I improved my page speed by 400%”, which I realized to be actually not right… you’ll find out why in a little while.
And below is the latest GTMetrix performance report after everything has settled down (StartUp Plan)
Now you will see that there is really not that much improvement in terms of performance! And only the Yslow score has improved a little bit, at this point, to tell you the truth, if I haven’t known the real score, I would have really been frustrated, and the word frustrated is actually an understatement, because you know, getting through all these hassle just to improve YSlow for a mere 5 points is really embarrassing, but fortunately, I was enlightened by a response from WP Rocket Technical Support, and this is because I was complaining to them that I have a low performance score on Pingdom because of the issues that WP Rocket can’t fix, and this is the reply that I got:
Romain from WP Rocket here.
Your website loads fast, don’t worry about any “performance grade”.
What tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, GT Metrix and others don’t tell you is that their so called “performance grade” does not say anything about actual speed. A “PageSpeed” grade (as in PageSpeed Insights) does not nearly equal real page speed (as in load times).
Those tools provide a set of generic tips that may, or may not apply to your specific website. A good “grade” can mean good performance; however, a lower grade does not necessarily mean bad performance. You can have a fast-loading website with a grade down in the “yellows” or “reds”!
And here’s more
Speed is the only metric that counts for real performance. Neither your real visitors, nor Google will ever see your website’s “grade”. In fact, for SEO Google only considers your website’s load time, it does not care about your PageSpeed Insights results or any other “grade”.
So there it is. After reading their response, I then realized that I was actually looking at the wrong sets of metrics and here is where I started to look at the real metrics – the load time
In GTMetrix, you can see it as “Fully Load Time”, and if you compare these from the screenshots I have shown above, my Fully Load Time has actually improved by 43% after I migrated to SiteGround and that was actually a significant improvement
And in Pingdom, you can see it as the “Load Time”, too bad I was not able to test it when I was still in my previous WordPress web hosting, but you can see below my latest Pingdom test after I migrated to SiteGround.
589ms page speed for the StartUp managed WordPress hosting Plan, boy that’s fast! And it’s faster than 96% of the tested sites in Pingdom! You can see that my performance grade is only 82 but that really doesn’t matter anymore because I am now just looking at the real metrics which is the actual page speed.
I really don’t know why, but getting these scores actually didn’t satisfy me. In fact, it only made me want to try if I can still get my load speed much faster, and now my curiosity for the other SiteGround WordPress hosting plans is actually at an all-time high, so why try to test out the other WP hosting plans in SiteGround as well and see how it will improve my page speed even more, so that I can consider SiteGround as one of the best web hosting services and provides one of the fastest wordpress hosting in the planet today
So here is what I’m going to do – I will upgrade first to their GrowBig WordPress web hosting Plan, test it then after testing, I will then upgrade to their GoGeek plan and test it as well so I will know how much improvement I will get for each upgrades in terms of website page speed
For the test, I will be using Pingdom, and for the process, I will run it 10 times for each plans, then I will remove the highest and the lowest, then average the remaining data, and I will be doing the test from New York
The StartUp Plan is a cheap wordpress hosting plan at $3.95 a month, and is actually the cheapest among the three, and the first WordPress managed hosting that I have tried with SiteGround. You can see below the result of my test for this Siteground hosting plan:
The StartUp plan registered an average of 928ms after removing the minimum and the maximum values of the registered load times during the test. This will be my bench mark and compare this result from the other SiteGround WordPress hosting plans
The GrowBig Plan is the second cheapest among the three and can be considered as a modest hosting for WordPress. Upgrading to GrowBig managed WordPress hosting plan is easy, you just need to go to the Add Services tab and click on upgrade. The price for GrowBig plan is $7.95 per month for 12 months, so the total amount to be paid is $95.40. I only had a minor issue because when I tried to upgrade to this SiteGround hosting plan, it still shows the total amount and it did not deduct the previous payment I made when I signed up with StartUp plan, which is $47.40, so what I did is I contacted their support thru their Livechat and the support helped me proceed with the payment by sending me a payment link. The transaction went fine and the upgrade is also instant. I am now officially upgraded to GrowBig Managed WordPress Hosting plan
Now for the test, I now have access to Level 2 and Level 3 of SuperCacher, as well as Google Page Speed, however, SuperCacher and Google Page Speed cannot be activated at the same time so I will run 2 separate test for these, first is when SuperCacher is activated, and the other is when Google Page Speed is activated. So let’s proceed
GrowBig Plan Super Cacher Level 2 & Level 3 Activated
When the Super Cacher Level 2 and Level 3 are activated, the GrowBig plan registered an average speed of 814.125ms, I just rounded it in the image for aesthetic purposes. This result is 12.27% faster as compared to the registered page load speed of the StartUp Managed WordPress Hosting Plan.
GrowBig Plan Google Page Speed Activated
When the Google Page Speed is activated, the GrowBig plan registered an average speed of 766.875ms. This result is 17.36% faster as compared to the average registered page load speed of the StartUp plan and 5.09% faster compared to GrowBig plan when Super Cacher Levels 2 and 3 were activated.
The GoGeek Plan is the “most high end hosting for wordpress”, as well as the “fastest WordPress hosting” among the three wordpress managed hosting plans, and because of this, I consider it as the best managed wordpress hosting plan among the three plans. Unlike upgrading to GrowBig plan, upgrading to Siteground WordPress plan is not an instant upgrade and is bit different compared to upgrading to GrowBig plan because they will be migrating your website to a new server. The plan costs $14.95 per month and also needed to be paid in a minimum of 1 year. Just like when I upgraded to GrowBig Managed WordPress Hosting, I also had the same problem because it registered the whole amount instead of the balance after deducting my previous payments so I have to contact again their customer support to ask for assistance.
After paying for the plan, a support ticket will be automatically generated stating that the update will proceed in a short while.
Once the upgrade is finished, you will receive a notification thru their ticketing system that the upgrade has been successfully completed
You will notice from the registered time stamps that the upgrade to the GoGeek plan took 43 minutes to be completed, which is actually impressively quick, and now my upgrade to this WordPress web hosting plan is finally complete
Now that I am officially upgraded to the GoGeek plan, we can now proceed with the speed test. Just like the GrowBig Plan, 2 additional modes of page speed optimization are available – the Levels 2 and 3 of Super Cacher, and the Google Pagespeed. Let’s start with the Super Cacher and see if it really is the fastest wordpress hosting and the best host for wordpress among the three plans.
GoGeek Plan SuperCacher Level 2 & Level 3 Activated
The GoGeek Plan registered an average page load speed of 627.125ms, which is 32.42% faster compared to the StartUp plan and 18.22% faster compared to the faster GrowBig Plan (Google Page Speed enabled)
As of this point, the GoGeek plan with Super Cacher enabled for speed optimization can be proclaimed as the fastest wordpress host among the three, now let’s proceed to the GoGeek plan when Google Page Speed is activated.
GoGeek Plan Google Page Speed Activated
Surprisingly, the GoGeek plan with Google Page Speed activated is actually slower by 8% as compared when Super Cacher Level 2 and Level 3 are activated, thus the Super Cacher enabled GoGeek can be claimed as the fastest wordpress hosting among all the WordPress managed hosting plans. I was actually a bit disappointed because I was expecting it to become the fastest wordpress host, due to the fact that in result of the GrowBig Plan, the Google Page Speed optimized site is actually registered a faster page load speed compared to the Super Cacher optimized site, but maybe it’s because SiteGround favors the Super Cacher for GoGeek plans, and because of this result, I decided to optimize my website page load speed using the Super Cacher instead of the Google Page Speed.
That basically sums up the test I made comparing the three managed WordPress hosting plans, and obviously, the higher plans should really be faster since you will be paying more for those plans, but I still made this SiteGround hosting review to help people in choosing what’s best for their needs, and decide if the registered load speeds are really worth upgrading to the higher plans or just go to the basic StartUp plan, in case they decide to get a managed WordPress Hosting from SiteGround. For the other features, you can visit their website to see the wordpress hosting comparison among the three plans, and choose the plan which really fits your need. As for me, my initial plan was just to test all the SiteGround WordPress Hosting Plans, then revert back to my original StartUp plan, but after experiencing the improved speed of my self hosted WordPress website, I think I will be staying with GoGeek for good.
What I Like About SiteGround
There are actually only two things that I liked about SiteGround, and these two things really matter the most to me, and led me to migrating to their WordPress Hosting Plan.
Superb Customer Service
There’s really nothing bad I can say about their customer support, from my initial inquiry up to troubleshooting the issues I had with my website, the support is really good, and really fast, and they can be reached anytime of the day
The results of my test speak for itself, and considering that it’s just a shared hosting plan, I can claim that this is one of the best wordpress hosts today and provides one of the fastest WordPress hosting for a shared server, and I guess there’s really nothing more I can add to that aside from saying again that SiteGround is one of the best place to host WordPress.
What I Don’t Like About SiteGround
I think the only thing I don’t like about the plans is that I have to pay upfront for a minimum of 1 year, but aside from that, there’s nothing else that I can think of.
If speed matters to you, then I believe getting a managed WordPress hosting plan at SiteGround is the way to go. Though I may have not tested other hosting providers, I can still confidently say that SiteGround is one of the best web hosting for wordpress and getting a hosting plan at SiteGround is not a bad idea after all, and in fact could actually be one of the best decisions that I have made considering that my website has significantly improved its performance when it comes to page load speed, which actually not just matters to me, but to my future website visitors and Big Old G as well.
If you are still asking today the million dollar question “where to host wordpress websites?”, then I guess you might like to try SiteGround managed WordPress hosting and experience first hand that it is indeed has one of the best managed WordPress hosting plans you can ever think of, just click the link below and see for yourself. SiteGround WordPress Hosting Plans are actually on a 60% discount so avail it now while it’s still there. This hosting company also provides a 30 day money-back guarantee so in case their service couldn’t meet your expectations, just request for a refund and they will give your money back with no questions asked.