Great uptime, fast support, affordable prices, enhanced security, advanced technology, free CDN and the much known “SuperCacher”- there are many things to like about SiteGround, a veteran web hosting provider in existence since 2004. But what sets them apart from the other run-of-the-mill hosting providers in the industry is the amount of effort they put into constantly innovating and improving their services.
First to implement the chroot account isolation, multiple PHP versions, and mem_cached on shared servers, SiteGround has invented several tools that addressed issues most of the other shared hosting providers would accept as inevitable flaws of the shared hosting platform.
Also astounding is the simplicity and ease-of use SiteGround brings in even the most complex of the processes. A cursory look at their website and you cannot help but be in awe of how streamlined, flexible and customer friendly their services are.
SiteGround recently reinvented their brand identity and redesigned the company logo, website and hosting plans structure in line with their “handcraft” approach to hosting, in contrast to the “mass-production” one chosen by the other web hosts. We interacted with Lilyana Yakimova, Marketing Manager, SiteGround on the same and many other developments at the company.
Read away as she talks about SiteGround’s unique philosophy, recent re-branding, server security, advanced caching,customer support, affiliate program and more.
– Lilyana Yakimova, Marketing Manager, SiteGround.
Q: Before we begin, please tell our readers about your experience of being associated with SiteGround since their inception. How has SiteGround changed in concurrence with the web hosting industry over the years? And what are some things that’ve remained the same?
A: We started the company with the ambition to provide the best hosting support ever and this dedication has always stayed the same.
At the beginning it was only natural, as the limited number of the customers allowed us to provide each and every one with personal treatment easily. However, as we grew it was a matter of process optimization and constant increase in efficiency in order to keep up the great service.
What came with the experience on top of our great support was our specialization in hosting specific applications like Joomla and WordPress.
Other thing that makes us different is our dedication to create innovative technologies that boost the security and the speed of the shared hosting environment.
Q: The recently unveiled SiteGround’s new “handcraft” approach to hosting: how did the whole idea of reinvention come into being?
A: Our recent re-branding aims to better communicate our unique philosophy that was built over the last 10 years. We wanted to show clearly that we do not rely on the ready-made solutions, like the majority of the other hosts do, and we are not constrained by their limitations, like the majority of the other hosts are.
The handcrafted idea depicts our approach to web hosting perfectly : we do things ourselves with the care of the old-time craftsmen. In an industry where most providers follow the mass-production principle of less involvement for biggest profit, we offer something different. Before the redesign, our website visitor could not feel this difference. There was no clear message on how we are different. That is why we made this move and went for re-positioning of the whole brand.
Q: How is your handcrafted philosophy that is now seen on the website, reflected by the back-end of your services?
A: You can see our hand-crafted approach is applied on each level of our back-end systems.
First, our server setup is not standard, but is handcrafted. We have made numerous customizations on the installed software to make the servers perform faster and safer.
Second, our user interfaces are not standard. We are among the few companies that have designed their own user area that allows our customers to manage everything from a single login point. Many companies make their users remember one password for the cPanel, other for the ticketing system, and third for billing related issues, and this can become even more complicated if you have more than one account. The reason is that they use ready-made systems that are not integrated. At SiteGround you log in to your User area, and everything is there – one click away.
Third, we craft unique software and make it available to our customers. This is an on-going process and I will only list few of the things here: staging, auto-updater and dynamic caching for Joomla and WordPress, CloudFlare CDN integration in the cPanel, SuperCacher with multiple options for making your website faster, multiple PHP that allows using different PHP versions on one and the same account, and many other things.
Q: How does SiteGround isolate their customers’ websites from each other on shared servers? Any other proactive measures you take to preempt security threats?
A: SiteGround was among the first shared hosts to apply chroot isolation more than 5 years ago. At that time, a common problem in the industry was that an attacker could easily take control over many accounts on a shared server through a single vulnerable account (an outdated Joomla for example). The common belief at that time was that this was normal on shared environment and there was not much the host can do. However, we had a bold technical visionary that took the initiative and created a way to isolate the accounts and prevent access to other users’ folders through one vulnerable user.
Another thing that makes our approach to security unique is that whenever there is a security issue with a software, installed either on the server by us, or on the customer account by the customer, we do not wait for the developers of the software to solve the problem. We craft our own solutions and make sure everything is secure again long before the other hosts react.
You can actually see our approach to security easily explained in our video:
Q: How does SiteGround’s SuperCacher work to boost a website’s performance, especially in the shared hosting environment? Also, what are different caching options available with SuperCacher?
A: SuperCacher is a tool that allows our customers to apply different caching mechanisms to their websites. The idea of caching is to save time and load things faster by storing pieces of data ready to be used instead of making a connection to the server for each piece, every time it is needed. Our SuperCacher includes several options and we are proud of each of them.
The simplest form is the static cache – this is when your static website content, like images for example, are not served by the server, but by the cache.
The dynamic cache is probably the most powerful speeding option we have. It is a challenge to cache an ever changing content and allow it to be fresh and at the same time cached. We have developed our own plugins for the most popular applications to allow this to happen. Dynamic cache is available for WordPress and Joomla on shared and for Magento on cloud and dedicated servers.
Memcached is something only SiteGround has implemented on a shared server environment. If the application you use can be configured to use it, it is there on our servers.
And the latest addition to SuperCacher is the Google mod_pagespeed. This is a module that should be installed on Apache developed by Google that allows multiple caching options. Using it can greatly enhance your page speed and thus your Google rankings.
You can see an easy explanation of the SuperCacher idea in our infographic.
Q: Please throw some light on SiteGround’s cloud platform.
A: Our main goal with the Cloud Platform is to combine its powerful hardware architecture with our own software tweaks and thus provide a solution that is better than most of the dedicated servers, both in price and performance. We have already done this successfully and many of our customers previously using a low-end dedicated machine has migrated to a high-end cloud solution to see a tremendous improvement in their website performance without any increase in the service cost.
Q: SiteGround’s Triple Win Hosting Affiliate Program is probably the only affiliate program in the web hosting industry with weekly payouts. How does it work, in terms of commissions structure, withhold period etc?
A: As other affiliate programs, we do have a withhold period equal to the money back guarantee time, which is 30 days in our case. Once the withhold period is over, we would make a payment on the first Wednesday. This makes us unique and our payments are made faster, because other hosts would withhold the money and then wait for their monthly payment day. Thus you may actually wait for one month on top of the withhold period, when in our case it is only up to 7 days.
As for the commission structure, the more customers the affiliate sends, the bigger commission will be provided. If you go over the threshold for a higher commission in any given month you will receive higher commissions for all the sales you made during that month!
Q: SiteGround differentiates their services by providing customer support for issues that aren’t related to hosting too. Now, considering the wide scope of non-hosting support, which covers programming, script extensions, application-related issues and many more, how does your team handle such a broad span of problems?
A: Usually the small things make a big difference. We do not promise that we will solve any question asked by anyone. However, when we see that a question comes up regularly, we make sure we know how to answer it. When we see that an application is very popular we make sure we know a lot about it. When we see that our users massively use a given WordPress plugin for example, we make sure we can help them with its issues.
Q: Please tell our readers about the work culture at SiteGround?
A: We are a company that is centered around people. We aim to increase the happiness level of both our customers and our employees. The care with which the working environment is built, the great company sponsored employee benefits and team buildings, and the fact that everyone loves what s/he is doing, makes SiteGround a great place to work at. Our low employee turnover levels only prove that!
Q: What’s your favorite SiteGround feature?
A: My favorite SiteGround ingredient is the people that work here. Each and every day there is someone that makes you smile and someone that makes you that proud you are part of this company.
Q: Wrapping up, what developments can we expect from SiteGround in the coming few months?
A: We will be developing new tools for the users of the most popular applications; we will be expanding our presence on local markets outside the USA and we will be doing many other great things. You can stay tuned by following our Blog.