Since 2003, WordPress has provided a wide array of features bundled into a single blogging software package. The software rapidly gained popularity thanks to its ease-of-use and open-source license, meaning users need not pay to take advantage of the platform. In fact, WordPress is so versatile that it’s become a common choice even for websites that don’t have any blogging aspect to them. The reasons behind this are numerous, but most of them boil down to a few core benefits:
Easy to use. There’s nothing difficult about using WordPress. Whether you want to add a new static page, a new blog post update, or set up a new image, WordPress offers a simple, straightforward way to guide you through the process in under a few minutes. Manageable anywhere with an internet connection. There’s some initial software to install on either Hostgator or Bluehost, but WordPress ultimately operates right out of your browser. That means you can use and configure it from any computer with internet.
Google loves WordPress. Search engines aren’t biased towards any particular demographic, per se, but they do have algorithms with preferences. For instance, Google loves regularly updating content optimized for computers and compatible with mobile devices–all qualities WordPress shares.
Picking the Best WordPress Web Host
The biggest benefit WordPress offers how open it is for its users to access and modify as needed. Once, there was a time where you’d find a typo somewhere on the website and you’d have to rely on the webmaster to take care of it for you. Thanks to the benefits of a content management system, you can take advantage of a dynamic open-source system.
Dynamic and static websites differ in a simple but huge way: Changing a static website requires changing the code for every page on the server, whereas dynamic sites only require change in a single file. Instead of relying on HTML, dynamic websites need the power of PHP to generate a website using a database.
Because of this, any web host you seek for hosting your WordPress website will need to meet a short list of requirements:
- PHP version 7 or later
- MySQL version 5.6 or later
- MariaDB version 10 or later, if MySQL is not available
- Support for secure HTTPS connections
Although WordPress specifically recommends the robust features of either Apache or Nginx, any server that comes with the above software will successfully run WordPress. Additionally, older versions can also run WordPress, but they may leave you open to security vulnerabilities that have been resolved in the above versions.
Having said that, both Hostgator and Bluehost offer these optimal environments, making both of them ideal choices for running a WordPress website. Deciding between these two top contenders comes down to the nitty, gritty details.
Factors We Considered
When thoroughly comparing the features of Hostgator and Bluehost, we focused on a few simple metrics: the speed index, the load time to first byte, and the overall load time. Both servers were monitored for three weeks and tested randomly at five different points.
Speed index. When it comes to measuring the speed at which a website loads, this metric is an invaluable tool. Although the name implies similarity to a load time, the speed index actually focuses on how rapidly the bulk of a page reaches the browser, making it a more accurate measurement for perceived speed. As with the other metrics, you want to see a lower number for better results.
Time to first byte (TTFB). An underrated metric, the TTFB dictates how long it takes for a server to send the first byte of your website to the server upon requesting it. Experts have recommended paying attention to this value in order to improve your search engine ranking.
Overall load time. Like the time to first byte, the overall load time is vitally important to how well a server can house your WordPress blog. Although we paid attention to this value, the speed index remains a more accurate measurement for how well your readers experience your website.
Hostgator vs Bluehost
When there are literally hundreds of providers you can pick from, it’s not easy narrowing down to even a handful of web hosts, let alone just two. As one of the top two WordPress web hosts, HostGator enters the ring with plenty of good reputation behind it. In particular, HostGator offered the following benefits:
Quality Service and 99.9 percent Uptime
With a promise of 99.9 percent uptime, HostGator suffers no more than eight hours down per calendar year. In the past, the company did have some issues, but downtime has not been an issue ever since. Compare this to other, less reliable web hosts, where you’ll find yourself suffering eight hours of downtime each month.
As far as customer service goes, HostGator has definitely stepped up to the plate, promising availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. Upon testing out this service at varying days and hours, this claim proves to be true; a technical glitch affected our website at 3am, and we were able to immediately resolve it with HostGator’s live chat.
Fast Installation options and Transfer Service
If you’re uninterested or unable to manually transfer your website from an old provider to HostGator, the latter offers a special service to take over the task for you. After signing up for a new account, provide the information for your old website to the techs and just wait a few hours for the transfer.
If you haven’t already built your website and don’t have the time to upload the files and create a database yourself, HostGator also offers a rapid one-click WordPress install that doesn’t run a risk of error.
With the exception of the Hatchling Plan, all HostGator plans have unlimited everything on your account. The main restriction with the Hatchling plan is that you can only have a single domain, whereas upgrading offers resources on unlimited domains. In other words, you’re allowed to install as many new WordPress sites as you want while paying monthly for a single plan.
Having unmetered bandwidth means you can scale these websites without worrying about hitting some arbitrary resource limit. Of course, keep in mind that as a shared host, it is definitely going to affect your load time if all of your websites suddenly reach millions of views.
In addition to unlimited domains and resources, you’ll have access to unlimited FTP accounts and subdomains, allowing you to scale while also giving secure access to others to help maintain your websites. All in all, HostGator truly excels in this respect.
Intuitive cPanel Interface
Being able to use cPanel software to handle the backend of your server is a huge boon for HostGator. Other web host servers try to use their own proprietary backend programs that end up confusing users more than anything. So the fact that HostGator doesn’t try to play that game and sticks with the familiar cPanel is a great bonus in its favor.
Not only is cPanel the familiar choice, but it has earned that reputation for several reasons. For one, it is an open-source product that comes with a huge amount of free documentation if you should run into any issues. Of course, the folks at HostGator are also standing by no matter the day or time.
With proprietary backends, support is limited to the company that designed it, and not all WordPress hosts offer round-the-clock support in the same way HostGator does. Even beyond support, features themselves can be restricted. It was only recently, for example, that users were given the ability to edit permissions on their own files.
Green Web Host
Sure, finding a web host that offers clean energy service might not necessarily be at the top of your list, but it’s still something worth noting that HostGator also includes in its wealth of services. When other companies tell you that good hosting service requires a powerhouse of energy, don’t believe it for a second; HostGator relies on wind farms, not coal plants.
In business since 1996, Bluehost consistently ranks among the top list of best hosting providers. With nearly 2 million domains hosted through Bluehost, there’s no better testament to the accessibility and uptime that this company can offer. In all, there are three kinds of Bluehost hosting plans available:
- Shared hosting
- VPS hosting
- Dedicated hosting
There are numerous differences in each of these kinds of hosting setups, but for the purposes of comparison to HostGator, we’ll focus on just the shared hosting for this review.
From casual users to industry professionals, everyone likes to cite numerous benefits to using Bluehost instead of other web hosting providers. Some of these reasons include:
Intuitive Interface for Setting Up Websites
Even if you don’t already have prior technical experience, using Bluehost isn’t difficult thanks to an easy-to-manage interface. Of course, configuring the server on your own isn’t necessary in the first place since Bluehost, like other top-notch server providers, already handles the configuration for easy accessibility. The company will even take it a step further by managing the software updates on your behalf.
As a part of this service, Bluehost does carefully monitor its servers to ensure that users do not suffer from any kind of downtime, whether from server problems or security attacks. The company’s wide range of security measures are also regularly updated to protect against the latest threats on the web. The only thing you have to do as a user is configure your domain to point towards the Bluehost servers, and you’re good to go.
Lower Cost for Comparable Service
When features and price are both top priorities in your search for a good WordPress host, Bluehost offers the best of both worlds, especially if you’re satisfied with shared hosting. At the end of the day, you’ll only have to pay for your portion of the server rather than the whole thing, as would be the case with a dedicated server.
It is this savings that makes Bluehost one of the best possible choices for personal users, small businesses, and medium businesses of which to take advantage. Even without strong technical background or much in the way of a budget, Bluehost can serve your needs at a reasonable rate.
Abundance of Coupons
Although they’re always changing, many coupons are available for Bluehost to help increase your savings.
What We Think
As far WordPress web hosts are concerned, HostGator and Bluehost are definitely the top contenders, to the point that it’s difficult to recommend one over the other. For the most part, the two companies share many characteristics, varying slightly in a few key areas.
No matter what kind of website you intend to build, you need to have access to quality support whenever you need it–that’s just a necessity to minimize downtime. Both HostGator and Bluehost currently have outstanding records for readily-available support, as both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can access support through live chat, on the phone, or through email.
In both cases, you’ll have access to the cPanel interface, making either provider a user-friendly and familiar host to work with. This is especially useful for those who do not have technical knowledge and want a fast way to install WordPress. In both cases, the provider also offers the best possible security measures to ensure you’re never vulnerable to hackers.
This is where the main difference comes down between HostGator and Bluehost. As previously noted, HostGator’s speed index is 2371.53. Compare that to Bluehost’s 1778.17, and it’s clear as day that Bluehost’s servers are simply the faster set. Comparing the time to first byte and overall load time only confirm this, with Bluehost pages fully loading in under five seconds every time.
There it is! Clearly, there are plenty of benefits to picking either HostGator or Bluehost, but at the end of the day, there is a clear winner if your priorities include low cost, lots of features, and top speed.
It’s a close call, but we’d have to recommend Bluehost. In addition to better speeds, Bluehost offers a superior quality of support compared to HostGator.