Web Hosting in the Bijou: Successful Blogging with Host Gator

HostGator web hosting service gets our top pick for larger blogs and extra features you won’t find with cheaper WordPress hosts

HostGator web hosting isn’t the cheapest WordPress hosting but it comes with some extra features and a quality of hosting you don’t normally get on shared servers. I wish they would allow more sites on their standard and business hosting plans but the packages offer everything a new blogger needs to get started.

But why should you pay more for website hosting services for a smaller, new blog?

If you plan on really making your new blog work and increasing traffic quickly, you’ll outgrow basic hosting packages on other sites rapidly and might consider starting with HostGator web hosting services which cost a few bucks more but offer reliability and the ability to ramp up traffic growth without slowing your site.

This is what happened to me in 2014. I started with Blue Host because of the lower-cost. Now I know very successful bloggers that have used Blue Host for years and have had fewer problems but my experience was less than great. I grew my traffic fast and started having trouble with the basic hosting package.

You can always start with a cheaper web host and switch your blog to another later, but it’s a pain and costs money to hire the transfer out unless you want to do it yourself.

Among our list of six best WordPress hosting websites, HostGator ranks #1 for sites with higher traffic. While GoDaddy offers the best bang for your buck on its basic hosting plan, HostGator goes farther with its second-tier plan that can handle web traffic in the hundreds of thousands. For ecommerce sites, BigCommerce takes the top spot though HostGator will also work with the add-on plugins and a shopping cart.

HostGator Web Hosting Plans

HostGator offers four separate web hosting services including cloud hosting, WordPress hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated servers.

  • WordPress hosting is what most people need to get started blogging, also called Shared WordPress Hosting. It’s shared because HostGator will put your site on the same server with other sites to spread the costs for a less expensive package. I’ve had trouble with shared hosting on some web hosting services through Blue Host because they cram too many sites on the same server but it’s not an issue with HostGator.
  • Cloud hosting is a newer option with some pros and cons. The upside is that your site usually loads faster because cached versions may be stored different places around the world. Since your site will be on multiple servers, there’s less worry about downtime as well. The downside is that security can be a problem because your site is hosted from different locations and cloud hosting is harder to setup than basic shared hosting.
  • Virtual Private Servers (VPS) is the next step for growing blogs. You still share a server but there aren’t as many packed on there…it’s virtually private. You can usually get managed plans, where maintenance and other stuff is taken care of, or unmanaged plans where you will need to hire someone to troubleshoot issues.
  • When your blog has grown beyond sharing a server, you need a dedicated server which means it’s all yours. This is usually years down the road when your daily traffic is well over 10,000 visitors.

For the vast majority of bloggers, you’ll want to start out with shared WordPress hosting and work up to a VPS and dedicated plans. I included the cloud web hosting description above because it is an option but I don’t like the security issue and the pros just aren’t worth it.

Shared WordPress hosting normally starts at $5.95 per month on HostGator, a dollar more than the cloud hosting plan but worth it for the security.

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After deciding on the type of hosting, it’s a fairly easy decision within WordPress hosting services. New bloggers will either want to go with the Starter package or the Standard package. The basic plan lets you create one website with 50 GB storage and unlimited email accounts. That will be enough for most unless you plan on starting more than one website.

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In fact, that’s really my biggest complaint about HostGator is the restriction on number of websites. Even the more expensive Business package only allows for up to five websites. All the web hosting services come with an SSL certificate, unlimited emails and $100in Google Adwords credit, something you usually don’t get with basic plans at other web hosts. The HostGator servers are very reliable and I’ve never heard a complaint about uptime…you’re just limited to the number of websites you can create.

That free SSL certificate is an important point for choosing HostGator for your web hosting. Google hasn’t explicitly hit the SEO for websites that are not SSL-secured but it has said that it is looking closely at web security. You may eventually need SSL-security anyway so it’s best to start now with a website hosting service that provides it on all sites.

The ability to launch multiple websites is really the only reason why I recommend Blue Host to some bloggers. Their sites tend to be a little slower because of the number they put on each server but you can create as many blogs as you like on their second-tier plan.

HostGator Web Hosting Services Setup in Two Easy Steps

It isn’t too difficult setting up your website with any of the WordPress web hosting services we’ve reviewed on the blog but HostGator goes one step farther and sends you a Getting Started tutorial through email. The tutorial walks you through setting up your website and email and includes links to each resource area you need in the process.

The control panel is set up from top to bottom, the standard for web hosting services. It can be a little intimidating but you won’t need the majority of these links, especially after setting up your website.

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Setting up everything you need to get started blogging is as easy as two steps with HostGator.

1) Email is easy to set up and includes auto-responders which is a feature you won’t find on many other web hosting services. You get unlimited email accounts though I recommend setting up one as a master account and one for admin to start. Setting up at least two accounts helps to manage email a little easier, giving out the admin address to random signup forms will help limit junk mail to your master account.

2) Like most web hosting services, HostGator offers a site builder tool (it’s free here compared to premium on GoDaddy). I like that it’s free but I still prefer building my site directly in WordPress.

  • Click through the shortcut link to Get Started with WordPress Today
  • Set your path to the blog and enter your WordPress username
  • Finish your blog setup on WordPress by adding a theme and plugins

Hostgator also comes with some extra SEO features like Broken Link Checker and a link-building directory that you won’t see with other WordPress hosts. The broken link checker will save you from having to download a plugin on your site and the link-building directory is a great opportunity to boost your rank on Google.

What I Liked about HostGator WordPress Hosting

hostgator web hosting servicesThere’s a lot to like about HostGator even if the price is a couple of dollars more per month compared to other web hosting services.

  • Extra features like the email auto-responder, sites that can handle higher traffic and $100 Google Adwords credit more than make up for a price that’s $2 higher per month compared to other WordPress hosting services.
  • Uptime is extremely reliable. I reached out to two blogger friends with sites on HostGator to see if they ever had a problem with uptime. They both use Uptime Robot to monitor their sites and only one said they had any downtime over the last three months and that was only for eight minutes very late at night.
  • HostGator customer service is available 24/7 and 365 days a year through phone, email and chat. I called and tried the chat support three times during the week and weekend and was able to reach someone within five minutes. I still think GoDaddy edges it out for the top customer service pick but only by a couple of minutes wait-time.

Top it off with HostGator’s money-back guarantee that stretches 45 days instead of the usual 30 days you get with most other web hosts and the site gets my top pick for dedicated bloggers.

HostGator Complaints and Issues

I haven’t heard many complaints about HostGator and didn’t find much during my review. Bloggers that aren’t quite sure about running a website might prefer one of the cheaper web hosting sites but won’t get some of the extra features.

Beyond price, the only HostGator complaint I could find was the limit to number of websites you can host with each plan. After buying my most recent blog, for a total of six, I wouldn’t be able to use the Business plan and would need to use a VPS even though total traffic across all the sites could easily fit on a shared server. It shouldn’t be an issue for most bloggers, especially if you are only planning one site, but could be a problem for business bloggers.

Hosting Services Review

There is a lot to like about HostGator cloud hosting and web hosting. The service will cost a little extra to get started versus other hosting services but you get some nice features to get your blog going.

Web Hosting SiteStarter Hosting PriceMonthly Traffic LimitStrengthsLimitationsSpecial Offer
HostGator$5.95100,000Fastest load times and higher hosting limitsMore expensive than basic hosting
Blue Host$3.9515,000Low-cost web hosting and higher blog storagePoor customer service
Go Daddy$3.9925,000Low-cost hosting and easy site builder platformLimited blog storage
iPage$3.75NAUnlimited email accountsLimited customer service and slower load time

If you’re still thinking of going the cheaper route with web hosting, I do like GoDaddy for its customer service and $1 WordPress offer. It’s a good option for people that are still unsure about blogging but want to get started now. At less than $15 a year, GoDaddy gives you all the blogging basics to get started and site setup won’t take as long as with other web hosts.

Many of the hosting providers will offer similar prices, services and features so it can be difficult to decide on which is best for you. I would generally recommend going with the larger, more established companies like HostGator, GoDaddy or even Blue Host. The stronger brand recognition for these blog hosts helps them continuously sign new websites and improve their data centers. That means they’ll be able to stay ahead of the competition with new hardware and software for hosting clients.

HostGator Web Hosting Review Summary

There are several areas that help HostGator stand out as a top pick for larger blogs. The extra features more than make up for the extra per month charge for WordPress hosting. While less committed bloggers may still prefer a cheaper web host, HostGator offers everything you need to grow your blog.

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HostGator doesn’t spend nearly as much money advertising as other web hosting services…ahem, GoDaddy so you might not be as familiar with the name. What they lack in advertising the company makes up for it in extra features and reliability for WordPress hosting customers. It’s not the cheapest web host but plans are structured to let your blog grow without having to upgrade.


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