Considering Bluehost? In our Bluehost review for WordPress, we’ll share hands-on tests and real survey data to help you decide if this host is right for you.
Bluehost is a popular hosting solution that isn’t exclusive to WordPress sites, but does offer WordPress-optimized plans and easy installs. What’s more, it’s one of three providers officially recommended by the WordPress.org team. This means it’s likely to be on your shortlist when you’re looking for website hosting.
In this Bluehost review for WordPress, we’ll aim to provide everything you need to make an informed decision about whether this provider is right for your site. Let’s get started!
Bluehost review for WordPress: features
First, it’s important to note that Bluehost offers a variety of plans, both general and WordPress-specific. In the general category, it provides the full range of shared, cloud, Virtual Private Server (VPS), and dedicated hosting.
For WordPress users, there are three primary options. There’s low-cost shared WordPress hosting, which is what we’ll be focusing on in this review. However, you may also want to check out the pricier optimized WordPress hosting plans, or e-commerce plans if you’re using WooCommerce.
Getting back to the shared plan, let’s run through the major features it includes:
- Easy, one-click WordPress installations
- Automatic WordPress updates
- Both a free domain and a free SSL certificate
- A library of templates you can use when designing your site
- Email accounts and storage
There’s nothing fancy offered here, but this is a solid feature set that covers all of the basics most first-time website owners will need. Higher tiers offer a few extras as well, which we’ll discuss later on. First, let’s look at one vital feature we haven’t mentioned yet – support.
Bluehost’s shared WordPress hosting caters to relative newbies. If you fall into this group, chances are you’ll have some questions about how to set up and maintain your site. While there are a lot of ways to find help, your hosting provider will often be a first port of call for both generic and WordPress-focused queries.
Fortunately, Bluehost offers quite a bit when it comes to support. There’s a pretty comprehensive knowledge base with plenty of guides and how-tos, for example. This is particularly valuable when getting your site off the ground or performing troubleshooting.
You can also get help 24/7 from the Bluehost support team by submitting a ticket, calling the help line, or jumping into the live chat feature. This selection of channels gives you a lot of choice and flexibility. What’s more, the support team claims to be knowledgeable on technical and WordPress-specific matters.
We put that to the test ourselves by checking out the live chat and asking some questions:
The response times were quick, although the answers we got to many of our questions were fairly generic and sales-oriented.
Now, we come to what may be the most important category in our Bluehost review for WordPress. As we mentioned earlier, your hosting provider has a wide range of effects on your site. None of those is as significant, however, as its impact on your site’s performance.
Keeping your site speedy is vital for maintaining a strong User Experience (UX) and retaining visitors. Therefore, let’s see what performance-specific features Bluehost provides:
- Solid State Drive (SSD) hardware
- Free access to a worldwide Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- NGINX and caching functionality
Again, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here, but these are some key features for maintaining a high-performance site.
Unfortunately, Bluehost does not offer public information about where its data centers are located. However, there appear to be two in the U.S. (in Utah), with others located in India, Hong Kong, London, and China (for Chinese language sites only).
This gives Bluehost a decent spread over the globe, which should bode well for its performance regardless of your physical location. However, let’s see if this potential is borne out in practice.
Page speed tests with Pingdom
It’s easy for a web host to make claims about performance, of course. What’s harder is actually maintaining a speedy service for its users. That’s why a core part of our Bluehost review for WordPress involved setting up a basic website on its servers, and testing it out.
The first thing we did was check our test site’s loading times using the Pingdom Website Speed Test. Our results are as follows (these times are each an average of three tests from the same location):
- Washington D.C.: 2.75 seconds
- San Francisco: 2.86 seconds
- London: 3.43 seconds
- Sydney: 3.73 seconds
- Tokyo: 2.87 seconds
While not terrible, these are less-than-impressive times overall. It’s best to keep your site’s loading times under two seconds whenever possible, and anything over three seconds is likely to lead to a high ‘bounce rate‘ (visitors who leave without visiting a second page on your site).
It’s also worth noting that the times we saw in our tests were very inconsistent – some were as short as 2 seconds, while others ran up to 5 seconds (even on the U.S. servers).
The one positive here is that there isn’t a big gap between performance on servers located far apart geographically, which speaks well of Bluehost’s data center distribution and CDN functionality.
Page speed tests with Load Impact
Loading times are important, but they don’t offer the complete picture on performance. It also helps to find out how a site fares under pressure. Enter Load Impact.
This tool lets you simulate dozens of visitors interacting with your site at once, to see how well it holds up under that type of strain.
For the next phase of our Bluehost review for WordPress, we ran our test site through Load Impact’s tool to see how its performance fared over a period of five minutes, with between one and fifty ‘visitors’ accessing it:
- Load Generator: Ashburn, U.S.
- Test Server: Provo, U.S.
- Minimum Response Time: 0.50 seconds
- Maximum Response Time: 6.65 seconds
As you can see, the loading times start out quite good (green line), and stay under the two second mark until about 30 visitors are accessing the site (blue line). At this point, the load times begin to rise dramatically, and also fluctuate more unpredictably.
This isn’t all that uncommon a result for a shared hosting plan. For a small site receiving few simultaneous visitors, your Bluehost site may perform fairly well. However, if you anticipate higher levels of traffic, you’re going to need a more robust option.
Also Read Our Popular post What is SSL Certificate? Just for an information.
This last criteria is one we all wish didn’t matter, but which factors into any hosting decision – cost. The price of a hosting plan determines how accessible it is, and tells you something about the customer base it’s targeting.
Bluehost, for instance, largely targets first-time website owners and other people looking for a good deal. Its shared hosting plans start at just $3.95 per month:
This plan will get you one website, a decent amount of storage space, and five email accounts. The higher tiers – which are also low-cost – don’t impose restrictions on those resources. In addition, they come with a few extras, such as a spam prevention solution.
Overall, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper plan to start out with, although you may well find yourself needing to upgrade as your site grows.
Overall pros and cons
Before we wrap up this Bluehost review for WordPress, let’s summarize what we’ve learned.
This is a hosting provider with some very clear advantages and drawbacks, which are vital to consider if you’re thinking about signing up for a plan.
- Very cheap entry-level plans
- Some handy WordPress-specific features, such as one-click installation and updates
- Lots of customer support options
- Well-designed custom hosting dashboard that makes it easy to do things like install WordPress.
- Modest to poor results when it comes to performance, especially under the strain of multiple users
- Poor feedback in our hosting surveys when it comes to customer support and WordPress optimization.
Ultimately, Bluehost is something of a middle-of-the-pack option when it comes to WordPress hosting. It offers cheap plans, which can do fairly well for small sites not needing any sort of special features. However, it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for something that can scale well with your site, or if you want stellar performance.
Of course, your experience may vary, but in our Bluehost review for WordPress this provider comes out looking fairly so-so. We’d encourage you to check out our roundup of Bluehost alternatives over at CodeinWP if you’re looking for more options.