Why Host on SiteGround? – A Beginners Guide to SiteGround Hosting!
Among the puzzles that beginner web designers and DIY freelancers experience when setting up their websites/blogs for the first time it choosing an ideal hosting. What makes a hosting ideal for freelancers and startup businesses? Is it affordability? Or maybe a good customer support? In this Beginners Guide to SiteGround Hosting, I will provide you with every bit of information that you need to know about SiteGround hosting.
Before I switched to SiteGround, I was hosting with Hostgator. I wanted a platform that would offer me with the ability to host three sites. I wanted affordability. And still, I wanted security and maximum site up-time! Upon inquiring from various blogs, watching many SiteGround beginners YouTube tutorials, and engaging SiteGround users on social media, I made up my mind to give it a shot! This is a detailed guide to my experiences with the hosting.
What is SiteGround hosting?
In its simplest terms, SiteGround hosting in a platform that offers you with the ability to host your website or blog. When building up your site, you will be hosting (storing) the files on SiteGround servers when you host with them. Your readers can then access your site from their servers. The company offers various hosting services like Web hosting, Shared WordPress hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated hosting. As a startup or growing freelancer, I think “Shared WordPress Hosting” will serve the purpose. I recommend the “GrowBig” shared WordPress hosting since you can host numerous website with thousands of monthly traffic and huge hosting spaces.
Why SiteGround Hosting?
SiteGround hosting boasts of its high site security, top speed services, and 24/7 fast & expert support. When writing this guide, the company is hosting over 500,000 domains! Although, such facts aren’t sufficient to make the hosting ideal for you. You will be having a “what else?” in your mind. This post can’t meet the qualities of an ideal Beginners Guide To SiteGround Hosting without having detailed the benefits of hosting with SiteGround. Well, the following are some of the benefits that you get when hosting your WordPress site with SiteGround:
1. One-Click WordPress Installs.
SiteGround is where you store your website – it is like your closet, where you store your clothes. On the other hand, WordPress is what you use to manage your contents and blogs. WordPress are like the partitions on the closet. Such partitions will determine where you put the pants, the socks, the sweaters, and so on. In simple terms, WordPress is the Content Management System (CMS). Installing WordPress will be part of my Beginners Guide to SiteGround Hosting.
When hosting with SiteGround, you will be able to install WordPress with a click of a button. Unlike other hosting providers, you won’t have to go to www.wordpress.org to download WordPress then install it via the FTP and such like techie terms. You only need to click a button, and you have WordPress install. When installed, you will now be able to access your site via the WordPress Admin panel.
2. SSL Certificate – FREE!
Think about it, which is the other hosting provider that offers you with free SSL Certificate for life? Furthermore, the certificate is installed automatically for new WordPress sites. Such a huge bonus!
According to what I have gathered in the virtual world, Google will be penalizing sites without SSL. Oh! What is SSL anyway? SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is an encryption certificate, which ensures that all the data passing between the webs server and your browser remains confidential. By installing the certificate on your site, you will be accessing it via “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP.” The “S” at the end of HTTPS means “SECURE.”
Well, at SiteGround, you will manage to secure your entire website or blog with the free SSL certificate. The company claims that the certificate is free for life and it’ll auto-renew itself. Moreover, you can configure the certificate for free on your existing site via the SiteGround CPanel. I will detail on the same later in the guide.
3. User-Friendly Cpanel.
I must acknowledge that the SiteGround’s Cpanel is customized awesomely for an easy usability. They have grouped various functionality together, such that you can access WordPress in one place, Databases in one section, and so on. Some of the features that you will find on the SiteGround’s Cpanel include Domains, Autoinstallers, Site improvement tools, WordPress tools, Joomla Tools, Files, Databases, Mail, Security, and Advanced features sections.
Furthermore, they have detailed tutorials on how to go about each and every feature on the Cpanel. As a beginner, you will find it very easy when starting off on SiteGround. And with this tutorial, it will be a one-hour gig!
4. Ability to Cache Your Website from The Cpanel with “SuperCacher.”
Any blogger or freelancer would want their sites to load faster. I also want my static pages (like the Homepage, Services, and Contact pages to load faster). With the SiteGround’s Cache feature and the SG Optimizer plugin, you will be able to customize your site such that it can give you excellent loading speeds. I will detail on how you can configure these later in the guide.
With about $10 per month, you will be able to host your site on SiteGround. Furthermore, you only need about $40 in your first year. Well, about $3 per month for the first year. Very affordable! In case you are planning to host other Addon sites (multiple blogs or websites) then you can consider the “GrowBig” plan, which is about $6 per month. With it, you get premium WordPress features, the ability to host unlimited websites, and 20 GB of Space (my websites are about 500 MB each), and many other great features that you will discover later in the guide.
6. Almost 100% Site Uptime.
When hosting with SiteGround, you will get 99.99% up-time. Beginners to SiteGround Hosting and any other hosting in general will want to consider site up-time. Nobody want to experience a situation where users can’t gain access to their sites. The company has invested in advanced web hosting security solutions to ensure that your site is up and running for almost every minute in the year. This feature ensures that users can access your site anytime when their browsers are communicating with SiteGround’s Web-servers.
7. 24/7 Customer Support.
I remember when I transferred my site from Hostgator to SiteGround, I got a problem in configuring the SSL certificate. NOTE: I didn’t do it in the proper way since I had used the wrong plugin. As such, I had to contact support on how to go about it. Their response time was phenomenal. In just 8 minutes I was connected to a techie who helped me through it.
It didn’t end there; I also wanted to learn how I would shift from the SSL that I was using to their “Let’s Encrypt SSL,” when the need arises. This time round, I managed to get connected to a techie guy in 3 minutes. It’s that nice! Remember that you get connected to support via the “Live Chat,” which is free with the help of internet connection. For other hosting providers, you might be forced to call them, since the Live Chat Support is always down or busy.
NOTE: I have given only seven benefits since I am writing this guide to help beginners on SiteGround. Other benefits can suit advanced web designers and blog owners. The subsequent parts of this guide will suit you if you want a user-friendly hosting, almost 100% site uptime, ability to install and configure WordPress CMS and set up professional emails with your domain name extensions. If you are looking for a guide to enlighten you on other CMS like Wix and Squarespace, then this is not the best place for you. If you are looking for a guide on “Why to Consider SiteGround Hosting?” then you are in the right place!
Starting on SiteGround: A Beginners Guide to SiteGround Hosting
In this section of the guide, I would like to help beginners who would like to create and host their freelancing websites or blogs on SiteGround as their first hosting service provider. The section will also help you if you would like to create a new Add-on site/blog on SiteGround. In case you want to transfer an existing site from another hosting provider to SiteGround, kindly skip this part and use the subsequent section of the guide.
1. Think About Your Blog/Website Domain Name.
In its simplest term, a domain name is the name of your website. It is what users will type on their web browsers to access your site. For example, www.elitebookwriter.com is my site’s domain name. For you to start up a successful blog or website, you will need three things; a Domain Name, Hosting (SiteGround Hosting), and a Theme.
When choosing your domain name, you might want to go with a branded name or your name. You can always change your domain later when you get an ideal name. In any case, if you have a perfect name in mind or you have already purchased a domain name somewhere else, then you are ready to go.
A branded name is like Apple, Nokia, SiteGround, etc. They represent the brands and don’t have a keyword of what the company actually does. Nokia sells phones, and Apple sells iMacs, MacBook’s, iPhones, & so on, SiteGround sells domains and hosting. The names aren’t an exact match of what the companies do. On the other hand, EliteEBookWriter deals with eBook writing and freelancing. The keywords eBook and writer exist in the domain name. The name is an exact match of what I do.
Get a Domain on SiteGround
In case you are planning to host only one site, something I’m sure it’s part of your plans, then you should consider getting a domain when signing up with SiteGround Hosting. In this case, you will get the name for free in the first year and subsequently pay about $14 annual renewals.
Get a Domain from NameCheap or Use an Existing Domain
You can also consider getting a domain from NameCheap. I love the excellent dashboard that comes with NameCheap. I have all my domains at NameCheap then the hosting on SiteGround. In case you are serious about your blogging or freelancing career, I recommend that you get the domain from NameCheap. You can always transfer your hosting and change the DNS on NameCheap rather than transferring the domain name and the hosting. Moreover, you can use your existing domain which you purchased from any other provider like Godaddy or Hostgator and configure the DNS.
Transfer Your Domain to SiteGround
I like being honest! I have never transferred any domain from one provider to another. Although, there are excellent YouTube tutorials on how you can transfer a domain name from one provider like NameCheap to SiteGround. What I know, is that you should consider transferring the hosting first, configure the domain name servers, and then transfer then domain when your site is up and running.
2. Signing Up with SiteGround Hosting.
I’m sure you highly anticipated for this part! Well, before you sign up, ensure that you have a credit or debit card with enough bucks for the services. (NOTE: My guide isn’t about the dollars, it’s about how to go about the signup and configuration process).
Prior to the sign-up, think about what you want. I will choose for you the WordPress Optimized Hosting. Although, you will need to choose whether you want the “StartUp” or “GrowBig” plan. The latter offers you with the ability to host unlimited sites, while “StartUp” offers you with the ability to host only one site.
With the GrowBig plan, you will get the ability to grow your blog/website with WordPress since it has premium features. Nonetheless, if you are planning to host only one site, and you are just starting off, then StartUp plan is the best choice for you. You will get 10Gigabites of web space, up to 10,000 monthly visits, and essential WordPress features to aid you in starting off.
Furthermore, you also need to think about the renewal fees. Most beginners get excited about the offers and end up forgetting that there might be no renewal fees offers. That is how hosting services trap new clients. Although, even at $14 per month, the GrowBig plan rates are still affordable compared to other hosting providers. I was paying $26 for two sites with Hostgator, and I couldn’t use the Cpanel, but I’m spending less half of this, and I can host unlimited sites and use the Cpanel. I can add subdomains, add-on domains, use MYSQL and other relevant web mastery features.
Lastly, I don’t think you will need the GoGeek Plan. It has been crafted for WordPress geeks. You are just starting off with hosting on SiteGround, and as a beginner, you might need to test the waters. What works for me might not work for you. I recommend you choose the GrowBig plan or StartUp via the following link button.
NOTE: By using the link button above, I will be earning a commission, which helps me keep this site running so that I can offer you with many other excellent tutorials. You will also receive up to “60% OFF” offers on your initial year since you are only getting started, thank you!
3. Installing WordPress from The Cpanel.
You now have SiteGround’s StartUp or GrowBig hosting plan. The next step is creating your WordPress blog. Or maybe curating your WordPress website. I’m using a WordPress Website. As you can see, four of my pages are static. I’m still working on my portfolio page at the time of writing this post. As mentioned earlier, installing WordPress so that you can get started with your website is a one-click affair. Use the following detailed guide to installing WordPress blog on SiteGround hosting:
Sign in to Access The cPanel
I understand that you used a strong password when signing up for SiteGround hosting. Make sure that you can remember that password since you will need it to log in your SiteGround account’s dashboard. Hover onto My Account and then click cPanel.
- Sign into your SiteGround Dashboard
- Click on My Account -> go to cPanel
As I mentioned earlier, SiteGround offers a fantastic user control panel. It has made the user interface very friendly for non-techie users like you. As such, you can handle the technical stuff with much ease. Moreover, the hosting provider uses a Softaculous auto-installer script, which simplifies the installation of numerous web applications with few clicks.
- Inside your cPanel, hover down to “Autoinstallers” and click on WordPress. You will find it between “Joomla” and “Magento.”
You will be taken to the Softaculous powered WordPress installer page. Follow up by clicking on “Install” on that particular page to start configuring your WordPress installation.
Each and every step on the page is straightforward. You will only need to set up a few settings like:
Here, you can select “www” or “non-www” with your domain. Most users prefer using a non-www since it keeps their domain length shorter. I prefer “www” since it’s more traditional, but it’s upon you to make the decision. NOTE: There is no direct benefit of using a www or non-www on your domain.
In case you have multiple domains on your SiteGround account, you should simply choose the domain that you want to work with from the drop down arrow. In case you just have a single domain (the domain that you used when signing up with SiteGround, the selection will be made automatically).
Choose the “In Directory”:
I’m sure you want to install WordPress on the root domain (for example www.elitebookwriter.com). In such a scenario, you should leave the “In Directory” option blank. Although, if you want to install WordPress in a subdirectory like domain.com/blog (for example www.elitebookwriter.com/blog) you should add “blog” in the field.
Database Name and Table Prefix:
You shouldn’t make any changes here.
Site-name & Description:
You can consider adding your site name and description now or do it later on the WordPress dashboard. My site name is “Elite EBook Writer, ” and description is “Premium Quality EBook Ghostwriter, Copywriter, & Author.”
NOTE: Kindly take use the screenshot below for references.
- Configure your Admin Account.
The next step is the configuration of your login details. SiteGround will suggest a username and password for you by default. It upon your choice of whether to use the same or use any other username and password. I always like choosing my passwords rather than generate them. Go with a combination of name(s), symbols, and numbers. Something like “obama@wh#2017left,” is a very strong password. You will easily remember it.
In the case of the username, choose something other than admin or your blog name. You can go with something like Pizza17Offers. Always choose something that you can remember and at the same time something that your friends or other people can’t figure easily.
By default, SiteGround will also install and activate Limit Login WordPress plugin. The plugin will protect login from brute-force attack. TIP: Make sure that the admin email address works. You should give it a strong password if you created it with a simple password. At the time of writing this Beginners Guide To SiteGround Hosting, I have received hundreds of emails notifying me that there were attempts to log into my website with “admin” & “Elite EBook Writer” as the usernames.
- Click on install. Softaculous will install WordPress blog for you within a minute or two. The following confirmation screen will appear.
- On your browser, type “domainname.com/wp-admin” (Tip: kindly replace “domainname.com” with your domain name). A WordPress login window will appear. Something similar to the following screenshot.
NOTE: Use the username and password that you created to log in to your WordPress dashboard. You need to configure a few things before you start writing your first blog post. I will not detail on how to write posts on this guide, but I will write another guide on how to start off on WordPress which will detail these things. Moreover, the guide will offer you will tips and insights on how to use Drag and Drop theme builders like Themify Ultra and Divi. You will also find which plugins are essential to start off with WordPress.
4. Your WordPress Blog/Website Is Ready.
This far, your WordPress blog is ready. You only need to check and configure some few things. After WordPress installation, use the following checklist for a few configurations:
- Delete the default WordPress posts, comments, and pages.
- Click on Settings -> Permalink and then set the permalink by selecting “post name” as the permalink structure. Save.
- Next, click on Settings -> General and then configure the site name, description, and time-zone.
- Click on Settings -> Discussion and then configure your comment settings.
You might also want to install and activate a few plugins. Such plugins include:
- Akismet WordPress plugin
- WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin
- WP Super Cache plugin
- Jetpack WordPress plugin
- Facebook comment plugin
Your new established WordPress is ready to start publishing. NOTE: Consider installing a friendly WordPress theme. I recommend the Themify Ultra theme since it’s a drag and drop theme that you can help you make blogs, websites, and woo-commerce shops within a few minutes!
Switch Your Site to SiteGround Hosting
We have discussed how you can set up a new WordPress site with SiteGround. What about switch hosting? Well, in this section, I will take you through the steps that you need to switch your blog/website to SiteGround from another hosting like Bluehost or Hostgator.
1. Sign Up for SiteGround Hosting.
The first step that you will need to take is signing up for a SiteGround hosting. Depending on the number of sites that you have, you can consider the StartUp or GrowBig plans. In case you want the test some WordPress geeky features, then opt for the “GoGeek” plan.
Consider using your domain when signing up. NOTE: Don’t change the DNS on the domain to SiteGround Name Servers upfront. Just use the domain to get the hosting first.
2. Install the Duplicator Plugin On Your Existing WordPress Site
The next step is installing the duplicator plugin on your existing WordPress. I suppose that the site is still hosted on your existing hosting provider and not SiteGround. Ones the Plugin is installed, kindly use the YouTube Tutorial Below to copy and extract your site so that you can save it on your local disk (PC Hard Drive).
3. Login to Your SiteGround cPanel
The next step is installing your site via SiteGround cPanel. Unlike when you are installing a new site, you will discover that you don’t need to install WordPress when switching hosting for your WordPress site. The tutorial above shows you all the steps required to successfully install your existing site into the new host (SiteGround) servers.
NOTE: I’m sure you are puzzled on whether you will have two sites with the same domain name. Please don’t worry; we are about to switch the name servers and switch the hosting completely.
4. MySQL Databases & File Manager.
Since you have the video above, I will not detail on how to use these two features. MySQL database stores your website files on the SiteGround’s servers. File Manager helps you in storing the right files in the right section of the database. As such, you create a database on MySQL and then access and upload the files via the File Manager.
5. Configure the Name Servers (DNS).
The final step is configuring the DNS. Before you run the “installer.php” command on the browser, you should consider shifting the Name Severs to SiteGround DNS. Your “Name Servers Address” are located on the left site of the cPanel. Similar to what you can see in the screenshot below. You can use YouTube tutorials when shifting the DNS server name in case you find the information on my beginners guide to SiteGround hosting insufficient.
Finally, run the “installer.php” command, and your site will now be accessed from SiteGround servers. NOTE: You will need to go back to your existing hosting provider and manually delete all the files once your site is running. In most cases, your site will be up and running in two hours. You will still log in to your WordPress Admin dashboard with your “old” username and password.
6. Configure “Let’s Encrypt” Free SSL.
Finally, you will need to configure the free “Let’s Encrypt” SSL certificate. You will need to log into the cPanel and then click on “Let’s Encrypt” under the Security section.
A new window will open, go to the bottom of the page to “Install New Let’s Encrypt Certificate” and select your domain under the drop-down menu. Also include the email that you signed up with on SiteGround. TIP: Use the screenshot below for reference.
Next install the SG Optimizer plugin from your WordPress Dashboard’s plugin section. You will next to log in to your WordPress admin panel and then click plugin, then add new. Type “SG Optimizer” and then install the first option (Which is offered by SiteGround and has over 100,000 installs). Activate the plugin after a success install. On the left panel an option for SG optimizer will appear among the other configuration settings, click on it.
Click configure under “HTTPS Config.”
Finally, click on the (X) on Force HTTPS. You will need to log in your WordPress admin panel again in order to confirm the changes. When you log back, you will be accessing your site with HTTPS.
Setting Up a Professional Email from the SiteGround cPanel
You must be anticipating for an email address like email@example.com. In this section of the guide, I will take you through the steps required to set up your professional email address with your domain name extension.
1. Login to the cPanel & Click “Email Accounts.”
To step up your email account, click on “Email Accounts” under MAIL section on your cPanel dashboard.
You will be taken to another window, where you can set up your email. That looks like the one below.
Enter your email address prefix like info, hello, your name, and so on. Choose a strong password or use the password generator to generate a password that is about 75% strong. You can leave the “Mailbox Quota” at 250 MB. Finish by clicking “Create Account.” Your newly created email account will appear at the bottom under “ACCOUNT @ DOMAIN” section.
2. Accessing Your Email Account.
To access your account. Click “More” on the right side of the email that you have just create. You will find two options under the “More” drop-down arrow. These are “Access Webmail” and “Configure Email Client.” Tip: Kindly have a look at the screenshot below.
So far, you can access your email account by clicking on “Access Webmail,” which will take you to a new window. The new window will give you three User Interfaces that you can configure to access your email dashboard.
I have personally set “HORDE” as the default interface. Kindly have a look at the screenshot below.
Hooray, you can send your first email by clicking “New Message.” A new window will pop up.
3. Configure Email Client with Gmail.
How about accessing your professional email from your Google Mail account? You will need three things, in this case, your Gmail account, your Webmail, and the password of the email that you have just created. Start by clicking on “Configure Email Client” on the “More drop-down arrow. You will be taken to a new window that looks like the one below on the “Manual Settings” section.
Login to your Gmail account and go to settings and then “Accounts and Imports.”
Click on “Add a mail account” under “Check mail from other accounts.” You will be taken to a new pop-up window when you will be configuring your email. Check the screenshot below.
Enter email address. Your email address is the email address that you just created. In my case. It will be firstname.lastname@example.org. Click “Next Step.”
On the new window check the option for “Import emails from my other account (POP3)” and click next.
On the new window, enter your username (provided from your Manual Setting on SiteGround cPanel above). In my case the username is my email address: email@example.com. Also, enter your Webmail password, and configure the POP Server. Use the incoming main settings to set the server and port. It might be something like “secureme98.sgcpanel.com” and the port can 995. Check “leave copy” and “Always use a secure connection.” Also, check “Label incoming message” and create a new “Label” inbox where you will access all your SiteGround’s Incoming messages. (TIP: Use the screenshot below for reference). Click “Add Account.”
You will be taken to a new window that will ask you whether you want to send email as firstname.lastname@example.org (in this case the email you are using). Ensure the option is checked and click next.
In the new window, enter your name, and uncheck “Treat as Alias” unless you are using a different name. Click “Next Step.”
Configure the SMTP Servers for your outgoing emails on this window. (TIP: Use the screenshot below for reference). Click “Add Account.”
You will be taken to a confirmation window. Google will send an email in email@example.com. You need to re-access your Webmail dashboard again (Use the steps above). You will find the email with the confirmation code. Copy this code and paste it into the confirmation box and then click verify.
You can now send and receive emails with your professional email from your Gmail account. When you click compose, you will be given the option on whether to send the email with Gmail or your professional email address. TIP: Have a look at the screenshot below.
You can still change the default account from Gmail to the Professional email from the “Accounts & Imports” section in Settings. When receiving your emails, they will be available in your inbox just like any other mail. You will get a notification on where they were sent to, such as To: firstname.lastname@example.org
With SiteGround, you will be able to use the SG Optimizer that if offered exclusively for SiteGround’s WordPress users. With the SG Optimizer Plugin, you will enjoy the benefits of configuring the SSL certificate (for existing sites) and using the SuperCacher.
Moreover, you can add other addon domains (with GrowBig or Gogeek Plan) or subdomains (with any plan). For example, you can create a subdomain like “shop.yourdomain.com” and install WordPress and then use the theme that supports Woo-commerce like the WordPress Ultra Theme. Then, users can access the shop within your website as a page, but you will configure it from the subdomain directory on your cPanel.
There are other many benefits that you should expect with SiteGround Hosting. I shall do another guide on WordPress for beginners in a few days! I hope you enjoyed this guide, kindly give it a thumbs up and share!