Why The Most Expensive Isn’t Always The Best

It’s easy to think that the most expensive WordPress hosting provider will give you:

  • The fastest loading times
  • Best customer support

…But it’s not always the case.

When I tested the 12 fastest WordPress Hosting Providers, I found that many cheaper options performed significantly better than the expensive ones! In fact, the winner of the overall challenge was one of the more affordable options on the list.

In this article, I’ll detail my tests and show you how I picked the winners of the challenge so you can see that the most expensive option isn’t always the best.

But before we go into the challenge, let’s have a look at the key features you need to look for when selecting a WordPress hosting provider.

What Makes A Good WordPress Host

When you’re looking for a host, make sure you compare these features before making your selection:

  • Price per month
  • Sites allowed
  • Speed
  • Customer support
  • Migrations
  • Daily backups
  • SSL Certificate
  • Staging Environment
  • Email Hosting
  • Trustpilot Rating

However, the two most important factors you should take into account are:

  1. Speed
  2. Customer Support

Speed is critical because your hosting solution affects your website speed, which impacts conversion rates.

Don’t believe me?

According to Google, by improving the speed of my site by just 1 second, I could actually make an extra $28,464 every year!

revenue loss estimate

As for customer support, you’re going to run into problems when setting up and maintaining your site. You want a reliable, knowledgeable, and fast-acting team that can help you get your website up and running and help you troubleshoot problems quickly.

Testing The Best WordPress Hosts

To test site speed and customer support from each host, I built a test blog that contained:

I cloned the site across each of the 12 WordPress hosts. This way, each host had an identical test blog.

The 5 Tests

I then went ahead and ran 5 distinct tests across these websites.

  • Test 1: GTMetrix website speed (from 7 global server locations)
  • Test 2: Pingdom Tools website speed (from 7 global server locations)
  • Test 3: Load Impact Stress test (500 simultaneous visitors)
  • Test 4: WP Performance Tester (A plugin that tests raw server management configuration performance)
  • Test 5: Support quality (I installed a false flag virus on each site)

For Test 1 and 2, I tested each site’s website loading times (from cached results) using different website speed tools.

For the 3rd test, I needed to see how the hosts handled a little extra stress. To do this, I used Load Impact, which assessed how each host handles 500 simultaneous visitors.

As for the 4th test, I wanted to test the actual server performance for each site. I used Kevin Ohashi’s WordPress Performance Tester Plugin which stress tests server resources by performing numerous functions like math function tests, string manipulation tests, and loop iterations.

This is a great test to assess hosting solutions because it shows the difference between a server rendering a cached page and one that actually has to think about performing different activities. Once each site-finished crunching the data, I looked at the execution time and queries per second.

Finally, for the 5th test, I wanted to test the customer support team from each host. I asked them to solve 3 common problems:

  1. Would they take care of website transfers?
  2. Would they remove the malware from my test site?
  3. Would they disable hotlinking the images?

If you want to understand more about how I conducted each test, have a look at my ‘Testing The 12 Fastest WordPress Hosting Providers’ Case Study.

The Competitors

Below, I’ll list the 12 WordPress Hosting Contestants, the plan I used, the cost per month for the plan, and the number of websites it covers.

  • A2Hosting – 1-Site Turbo Plan costs $32.95/month for one website.
  • BlueHost – Pro Build Plan costs $27.95/month for unlimited websites.
  • CloudwaysDigital Ocean Plan costs $22/month for unlimited websites.
  • DreamhostDreamPress Plus Plan costs $29.95/month for one website.
  • GoDaddy – Managed WordPress Basic Plan costs $14.99/month for one website.
  • GreenGeeksEco site Premium plan costs $24.95/month for unlimited websites.
  • Kinsta – Starter C2 Plan costs $30/month for one website.
  • LiquidWebPersonal Plan costs $29/month for one website.
  • Pantheon – Basic Plan costs $50/month for 5 websites.
  • SiteGroundStartup Plan costs $11.95/month for one website.
  • WP Engine – Startup Plan costs $35/month for one website. The WP Engine C2 Platform costs $600/month for one website.
  • WPX HostingBusiness Plan costs $24.99/month for 5 websites.

The Results

Test 1: GTMetrix Loading Speed

Wordpress Hosting Speed Test

The results were incredibly close. In first place was WPX Hosting (0.8 seconds), in second was Pantheon (0.81 seconds), and in third, Kinsta (1.60 seconds).

Test 2: Pingdom Loading Speed

Wordpress Hosting Speed Test Pingdom

The top 4 results from the GTMetrix and the Pingdom challenge remained the same. WPX Hosting (357ms) came first while Pantheon (359ms) followed close behind. Kinsta (835ms) trailed behind in third place.

Test 3: Load Impact

Load Impact Test

Pantheon did a great job here, stealing the show. There were 4 other contenders that also performed extremely well.

  • Pantheon (4ms)
  • WP Engine (17ms)
  • WP Engine C2 (23ms)
  • Kinsta (24ms)
  • WPX Hosting (26ms)

Test 4: WordPress Performance Tester

Wordpress Performance Tester

Here, Kinsta (0.538 seconds) came out on top. But other hosts also made it under the 1 second marker, including:

  • WPX Hosting (0.696 seconds)
  • Green Geeks (0.81 seconds)
  • Siteground (0.965 seconds)

While Pantheon topped the charts in the other test, they really fell behind the pack here.

Test 5: Support Quality

Wordpress Hosting Support

The only host that was able to resolve all problems for free was WPX Hosting. They offered free migrations as well as free malware cleanup and took control of the hotlinking issue. However, WPX Hosting doesn’t provide phone support and does everything via 24/7 live chat and email.

Here’s an overall summary of everyone’s performance in each test.

Hosting Support Overview

If I take all the key factors into account, the top contenders were:

  1. WPX Hosting: The fastest and highly affordable WordPress host, with high performances in the loading speed tests, the WordPress performance benchmarker test, and the quality support test.
  2. Kinsta: Had a solid performance in speed, performance, load, and customer support.
  3. Pantheon: Performed exceptionally well in the speed tests, coming out on top of the load impact testing but fell short in the WordPress site performance and support testing.

Wrapping It Up

I hope you understand that in the WordPress Hosting world, price does not always signify value.

It was interesting to see that, according to my test, WP Engine C2 ($600/month) the most expensive option, didn’t even land in the top 3 while WPX Hosting, one of the more affordable plans landed top spot!

Remember, the most expensive option isn’t always the best choice.

Find a provider that can give you fast loading times and great customer support!

Author Bio:

Matthew Woodward is a self-proclaimed SEO nerd. He is most well known for his SEO & marketing blog which he began in 2012 as an experiment. But it quickly evolved into his passion project and has helped thousands of his followers achieve great things with their online businesses.

Leave a Reply

Comment policy: We value comments and the time that visitors to our blog spend to give feedback. Please note that all comments are manually moderated and any deemed to be spam or promotional will be deleted.