Bluehost topped our newly updated rankings for 2013. We are not surprised. As we’ve noted elsewhere, this rankings research is organized by a popular WordPress company, and we have historically used Bluehost for our smaller sites and recommended to Bluehost to thousands of customers who use our WordPress themes and plugins.
Our rankings research, which was originally motivated by a desire to check whether we were recommending a solid host, has thus served only to confirm our view that Bluehost is at the top of the pack.
But this is an important point: Bluehost ranks at the top based both on objective data and our own subjective experience of the company. At least for us, this leaves little doubt about the best choice for share hosting. Unless you have some advanced hosting needs, in which case you’re probably not looking at a site like this, then you should save yourself additional research, as well as the potential trouble of a poor choice, and just head over to set up an account at Bluehost.
WHAT WE LIKE
1. Bluehost topped our 2013 data-driven rankings. In the past, we’ve recommended Bluehost based on our subjective judgement that it was the strongest all-around hosting company. However, the rankings data on this site provides objective and incredibly robust evidence that Bluehost is among the top hosts. In fact, based on the data, the only comparable hosts are GoDaddy and Hostgator. These three outrank all others by a huge margin. What this means is that Bluehost performs strongly across nearly every indicator we’ve selected – size, popularity, social following, domain authority, number of websites linking in, 24/7 support via both phone and chat, Better Business Bureau ratings, user reviews, pricing, the value included in the standard package, and more.
2. Bluehost is one of the most popular hosting companies. It’s also one of the fastest growing hosting companies. We’ve always known that Bluehost is one of the most popular hosting companies, but our Rankings research provided the specific data to prove it. Looking only at Number of Registered Domains, Bluehost is the third largest in our study after GoDaddy and HostGator with about 1.8 million domains. It is also also one of the fastest growing, and shows faster growth data than GoDaddy or HostGator.
3. Bluehost is among the least expensive hosting companies. The default Bluehost package costs $6.95 per month. If you sign on for more than a year at a time, you can get hosting for as low as $4.95. This is comparable to the lowest cost hosting packages in the industry. We’d frankly be concerned about anything that cost less than this.
4. Bluehost is the top recommended host by WordPress. The people behind WordPress also recommend Bluehost as their top preference, so if you are planning to use WordPress for your site, then Bluehost is, hands down, the most obvious option. If you’re not using WordPress, then let us suggest that you reconsider – it’s the world’s most popular, fastest growing, most user-friendly website platform.
5. Bluehost offers one of the simplest back-end interfaces of any hosting company. Bluehost uses a single login, simple CPanel interface. CPanel is just a standard basic interface – not beautiful, but simple and easy to use.
6. Bluehost offers 24/7 support via both phone and chat. We prefer hosting companies that offer phone-based support. Every single time we’ve called Bluehost, a real human being picks up immediately. We’ve had service representatives on the phone for 30 minutes to trouble shoot a single issue without complaints. It’s also been very rare that Bluehost hasn’t been able to solve an issue while on the phone.
7. Bluehost is reliable. We’ve personally experienced only a few notable problems on our Bluehost sites over the last 4-5 years, and most of those have been caused by issues outside Bluehost’s control, such as our sites being hacked. There are two parts to this. The first is that the hosting itself if reliable, which means that your website won’t go down. The other part of this is that you just have fewer weird problems – things like conflicts with your web hosting scripts, out of date software that caused problems, etc. These things are the normal headaches of online life, and Bluehost just has fewer of them.
8. We use Bluehost (including for this site). We’ve worked with all of the hosting companies on our rankings list, either directly or via our customers. The fact that we’re technically very knowledgeable, have had wide exposure to a lot of optoins, and still choose Bluehost, says something. This site is hosted on Bluehost.
REASONS NOT TO USE BLUEHOST
While we really like Bluehost, there are at least three circumstances in which you should consider alternatives. The first is if you have advanced hosting needs, or have a site that has high traffic or bandwidth needs. In these cases, you will quickly outgrow Bluehost, and risk having problems as you run up against what they’re willing to cover on their “unlimited” plan.
Second, Bluehost has a strong policy against pornography and vulgar language. If you plan on posting erotic imagery – even things like artistic photography – or make extensive use of vulgarities, then you should also avoid Bluehost.
Third, Bluehost only offers six domain extensions: .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us. If you are using other extensions, including those tied to specific countries outside the US, then you will not be able to buy and hold your domain in your Bluehost account. For simplicity, we recommend holding your domain and website at the same company, so you would need to look elsewhere.
BLUEHOST VS GODADDY VS HOSTGATOR
When we started our ranking research, we were determined to let the cards fall where they did. So we were relieved and happy to see that Bluehost ranked very highly – in the #2 spot after GoDaddy. One sign that we didn’t “massage” our numbers is that the other two hosting companies in the top three are both companies we’ve tried in the past but now prefer not to use.
We should note that while they don’t personally work for us, they’re obviously quite popular, and they’ve also finished at the very top based on the objective data that powers our rankings. So it’s clear that they’re doing something right.
Even so, we feel we should be clear why we’d personally go with Bluehost over the other two.
At GoDaddy, we find their home-grown interface to be relatively cumbersome and complicated even for simple operations. We are also bothered by the fact that they to try to sell and/or upsell all over their interface and repeatedly in their checkout process.
At HostGator, we’re dislike that they require you to have three different logins: cpanel, billing, and domain management. More important, when you buy a domain there, you are actually buying it from another company. When you try to manage your domain, you’ll be sent to a site called registryrocket.com, which has what we consider to be a terrible interface for domain management.
We’ll also add that neither of these hosts are as WordPress-friendly as Bluehost, and we do all our work on WordPress.
The fact that we wouldn’t choose these two companies, yet they rank highly, underscores why you should avoid placing too much emphasis on recommendations (for or against) from individuals. It also underscores one of the main reasons we wanted to do an objective, data-driven study. Different people value different things, and it’s clear that GoDaddy and HostGator are doing a lot things right – they are the first and second largest single hosting companies by number of domains.
Given the fact that our experience with Bluehost has been so strong and that it’s the top hosting company for WordPress, and given all the other reasons above, and given the fact that it ultimately ranked second in our Rankings based on objective data, we’ll continue to use and recommend Bluehost.