HostGator - Best Sign-Up Bonus
While not as flashy as some other hosting companies on the list, HostGator is a dependable hosting provider without any weaknesses. It also comes with the most generous sign-up bonus with a bunch of goodies and $250 in marketing credits on Google and Bing.
HostGator scores well (but not #1) in all the categories that we evaluate (load times, security, customer support, sign-up bonuses, and easy of use).
If you have a starter site or you’re looking for a relatively affordable plan with a reliable and reputable hosting company, then HostGator is it.
While HostGator offers extremely competitive pricing on both shared hosting and WordPress hosting (as well as VPS and dedicated hosting for those that require it), their prices are quite as cheap as some other hosting companies.
For the “hatchling” plan (which is their starter plan), you should expect to pay $5.95/month unless you’re willing to commit to 3 years where the price is only $2.95/month. Remember: even if you commit to 3 years, you need to pay upfront.
For WordPress hosting (which is recommended for better speed, security and customer support for WordPress sites), the 1-year commitment costs $7.95/ month for the hatchling plan.
These costs are very affordable compared to all of the top hosting sites but not quite the cheapest.
HostGator scores very well when we tested site speeds but this comes with the usual disclaimers. Your site speed will depend as much (if not more) on how your site is coded. There are plenty of plug-ins and tools you can use to speed up your site.
But if you have a slow hosting company, then you’re already behind the 8-ball on page-load speed. HostGator’s servers tested extremely fast but it also depends on what kind of site you’re running (WordPress, e-Commerce, site with heavy images or advanced code).
If you have a WordPress site (or you plan to use WordPress to build your site), it’s recommended that you use their WordPress hosting solutions.
This will dramatically improve your load times when compared to running WordPress on the standard shared hosting plans.
Customer Support on HostGator is VERY good and you won’t have issues getting a knowledgeable person on the phone to help you out. Many of the more affordable hosting companies don’t give you the option to get support over the phone so this is a big plus for HostGator (especially given the relatively affordable price tag).
You can also use chat if you prefer not to be on the phone and you have the option to reach out to them at a support twitter handle.
HostGator receives an “A” grade on customer support but they are not quite good enough to score the top ranking for customer support.
HostGator’s features are solid but nothing extraordinary that would set it apart from the pack. They have a website builder which makes it easy to quickly build a professional-looking website. But most of the hosting plans on this list include a website builder on par with what HostGator offers.
The basic Hatchling plans do include cPanel access which is important to many site owners who are already familiar with it.
All basic plans also include web statistic tools, FTP access, as well as other helpful tools for webmasters (many will not be relevant for beginners).
The sign up bonus with HostGator is VERY generous, and as of this writing, they offer more freebies and marketing credits than any other top hosting plan.
All their plans come with marketing credits ($150 on Google and $100 on Microsoft Bing). This is free money that you should take!
Their plans also come with a free domain, free SSL certificate, free email, and unmetered bandwidth.
Who is HostGator good for?
Anyone who is looking for a relatively affordable hosting provider that still has the reliability, support and a top reputation within the hosting industry.
These sites could include a starter site, content site, small business and even an e-commerce store.
If you are running an e-Commerce store with a lot of traffic, you might need to consider one of the dedicated server plans which will cost more money.