Bluehost was the first web hosting service that I used as a blogger.
I got my start in blogging/affiliate marketing about a year and a half ago. At the time it was a just a side hustle, but one that I really enjoyed. When I needed a web hosting platform I did what most people do: I Googled web hosting reviews to find some info.
There were a lot of respected bloggers with that had written positive reviews of Bluehost. It seemed like a popular option. I figured there had to be a good reason for the popularity, so I hopped on board.
What I learned About Bluehost
I spent over a year with my website hosted on Bluehost. Having been my first web hosting experience, I had nothing to compare their service with. The service was solid and I couldn't argue the cost, I was paying around $3 a month to host unlimited websites on their shared plan.
It wasn't until my blogging/affiliate marketing business started to pick up that I began to seriously evaluate my hosting options. To be honest, there were some metrics to measure hosting performance that I didn't fully understand when I first signed up for Bluehost. Here's one of the Bluehost reviews that helped with the process.
Two of the big metrics are page speed and website up time. There are a number of practical reasons and SEO reasons that make these factors important. It's very straightforward. If someone wants to visit your website and it the server is down or the page loads to slowly, they will visit your competition instead. Not only do you have the direct loss of a visitor/customer, but if this is a frequent occurrence Google will see that your website has become a less reliable resource and your rankings will take a hit.
Ultimately, there were multiple reasons why I decided to move on from Bluehost:
- Page Speed
- Website Up Time
- Customer Service
- Sales Tactics
Bluehost Page Speed
Bluehost page load speed is among the worst in the business. According to HostingFacts.com, Bluehost has an average load speed of 1426 ms. It's dismal compared to the 221 ms time posted by A2 Hosting. I've seen other reviews that post Bluehost page load speed at a bit faster, between 500 and 600 ms. Even at that speed they're not competitive with the industry leaders.
Uptime at Bluehost
According to tests run by HostBenchmarker, Bluehost has an average up time of 99.93% in the three months leading up to this posts. They regularly update the raw up time results for Bluehost, if you'd like to take a look at more recent results.
Just about every web host does over 99.9%, 99.3% is about average. The best web hosts do close to, if not 100% up time.
Bluehost Customer Service
The technical shortcomings mentioned above prompted me to take a second look at other hosting services. The customer service at Bluehost put the nail in the coffin. Often times I would spend 30 - 60 minutes waiting to be helped, and the help was never worth waiting for.
The only time I could quickly connect to a representative was through the cancellation line. I guess they only dedicate resources to customers when they absolutely need to retain them.
The technical aptitude of their reps started to significantly drop off towards the end of my stay at Bluehost. They implemented a simple flow chart to answer a blanket of questions, and reps weren't aloud to stray from this process. I get it, they're a huge company. It's necessary to streamline processes when you get that big, but you shouldn't compromise customer service.
To compliment their already poor customer service, it became more and more common for Bluehost to address my issues with up sells. That was annoying, and it also happens to lead me to my next point - sales tactics.
Sales Tactics at Bluehost
The web hosting industry is full of questionable sales tactics. The idea is to get you in the door at a low monthly rate and then up sell you with countless add ons. It works.
The presence of up selling isn't enough reason in and of itself to discount a hosting company. You should expect up selling to occur, and handle it accordingly.
I discredit Bluehost for up selling because of the way they go about it. They don't merely present you with upgrade opportunities, they push them on you. Mojo Marketplace is presented in a way that makes it appear like you have to pay for a decent WordPress theme/ add ons. You don't, there are tons of awesome free options out there. It's what makes WordPress great.
These sales tactics were ultimately what made me pull the trigger on a switch to A2 Hosting. I started to have a ton of issues with up time and load speeds at Bluehost. Every time I called to troubleshoot I was given a sales pitch on a more expensive product. The fact was that other providers had better products at cheaper prices, without the expensive upgrades.
A2 Hosting Experience
As I mentioned earlier, I ended up choosing A2 hosting as my new web hosting provider. Overall, I've been very pleased with my experience. I decided on A2 hosting because the page speed plus up time was hard to beat at the price point. But I invite you to do your own research before making a decision. Here are a few things that I've enjoyed about the platform so far:
- Free site migration (not offered at Bluehost).
- Better page speeds, average of 221 ms. I cut load time on a personal site from 5+ seconds to under 2 seconds. Full disclosure: I also added CloudFlare, WP Rocket (premium WP caching plugin), WP smush (image optimizer), and made some minor on page optimization changes.
- Better up time. A2 Hosting has a 99.99% up time compared with Bluehost's 99.93%. I monitor the up time of my sites with Jetpack. So far up time with A2 Hosting has been significantly more than a .06% improvement for me - but I haven't made any exact measurements to support that claim.
- Great customer service. So far average wait time has been sub 2 minutes if I call in. The ticket system does take a bit longer - but it's still better than Bluehost because you receive an email response to your ticket. When I dial in I am connected to someone knowledgeable. I haven't had a question they couldn't quickly answer. I debated whether or not to share this info because I'm selfishly enjoying great customer service at the moment. I'd hate to see A2 grow to a size that forces them to pull "a Bluehost" with their customer service.