There’s a lot of articles about picking hosting providers. In this post, I want to share with you how to pick the best non-EIG hosting provider for a startup site that doesn’t yet have a lot of traffic. We’ll talk about what EIG is and why we should steer clear of it, and we’ll cover the main features you should look for. The spoiler: InMotion Hosting is one of the best non-EIG companies. Learn why below.
#1. Non-EIG provider
Though there are hundreds and hundreds of hosting providers online, you need to filter down any companies owned by the corporation called EIG (Endurance International Group). It’s a big company that owns a lot of brands with some of the most famous hosting businesses.
I don’t know when the community started talking about this phenomenon, but I guess starting from 2016-2017 the situation got pretty evident. In 2020, the Reddit community and all other forums and chats will tell you the same story.
The story includes the following “chapters”:
1. A new hosting provider rises. It has great customer support, appealing offerings and good reviews online.
2. It grows fast and builds up a robust customer base around it.
3. EIG approaches the leadership and offers an irresistible amount for their business (EIG is worth billions).
4. The leadership caves in and sells the company.
5. EIG brings in their own support team and “corporate culture”. Insiders say that the process takes around 1 year.
6. Customers – both new and existing – see a drastic fall in customer care, assistance, as well as site speed and performance. The technicals are down, the “touchy-feelies” are down.
7. Customers start moving off from the provider.
8. Fleeing customers go online and google “the best hosting provider”. They find another company and migrate to it. What they aren’t aware of is that the new company is also owned by EIG! This is what insiders call “the cycle”! Here’s a very popular article on this topic.
9. The customer hates the new company. And she decides to migrate to yet another one.
10. And, again, they migrate to an EIG-owned company.
11. At last, they go to Reddit, Quora and ask around. They try to understand why all of the hosting companies they pick are so bad.
12. They learn about EIG and the cycle. Now, they “want out”. It’s at this stage in their journey when they find articles like this one of mine.
13. They partner up with a non-EIG hosting provider, and now they enjoy good customer care, fast speed, awesome performance. There’s a phone number you can call. Nobody degrades you.
14. (Hopefully, this stage will never come upon you, and me.) The provider they’ve picked starts rising. And it gets bought by EIG.
As you can see, I said that “hopefully” the last stage never comes true to the provider you’ve picked. But who knows… You just need to be aware of this dynamics in the hosting services market. If you are seeing a drastic reduction in the quality of customer support, it’s time to migrate to another provider, or at least reddit around.
EIG owns almost all of the major brands. I don’t know what their total market share is. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 80%! Here is the full list of the EIG-controlled companies.
I’ve prepared a nifty Google Spreadsheets Table where I keep track of all the best non-EIG hosting providers that I learn about. Here is the link.
I’ve created this list by basically googling queries like “non-EIG hosing providers” and asking around Reddit for recommendations. This is how we do it in the hosting industry in 2020. I know how this sounds. But this is the reality we are living with. As you can see, I specify “yes” for “Non-EIG Company” in Column C.
And it’s pretty easy to forget about this whole thing and just close this article. But then again this is what might happen next.
Here’s the link to the thread I screenshot above.
All in all, the list above has 20 companies! This is some good filtering out, right? Down from 200-300.
Now, let’s go deeper down the rabbit hole, shall we?
In order to streamline the selection process, you should not worry about technicals that your provider offers at this stage.
Because all providers are highly elastic. You will always be able to just upgrade to a higher level, without my hassle.
If you go back a step and decide to forget about the situation with non-EIG hosting providers, you might decide to purchase a shared plan from BlueHost or HostGator or anybody of their size. You’ll be thinking in the vein of “they are big, they can’t be bad”.
But, in fact, they are. Thus, even if you have a 10-page blog about babies, you’ll suffer a lot from low speed, very poor performance. And nobody – NOBODY – from their support team would want to help you!
If you are lookig into some of the best non-EIG hosting providers, thinking about technicals at this stage is just a waste of time. They will deliver decent speed and performance and you would be OK.
So, there’s nothing to do at this stage 🙂
#3. Hosting plan from non-EIG hosting
In a nutshell, there are several types of hosting currently offered by the majority of companies.
1. Shared hosting
Your site will be published on a server in a data center that you’ll share with other sites. The shared hosting is the cheapest type. The sites located on the same server machine utilize the same resources. Provided that you have only one site and it doesn’t have a lot of traffic, you’ll be OK with this type of plan from a non-EIG hosting company.
2. VPS hosting
You “virtually” rent out a specific part of the server machine. It’s completely yours. VPS hosting is used by those sites that have outgrown the shared hosting option.
3. Dedicated hosting
You rent the full server machine. This costs 10x what the shared hosting goes for. The dedicated hosting plans are for major websites.
4. WP hosting
WP hosting is optimized for WP-based sites. If you are just starting up, you can simply pick the shared option. WP hosting plans cost just a bit more than the shared offerings.
100% of hosting providers offer shared hosting, so, again, we don’t have to do anything in the table. But we just needed to agree that the shared option is what you’ll pair off with.
#4. Number of reviews on Trustpilot
This is a pretty controversial step for me to take because a lot of insiders in many industries I interact with say that Trustpilot is a scam site. And that you should never base your opinions on anything published there.
And I am not saying whether you should or shouldn’t do that (here’s a very detailed guide into Trustpilot).
What I am saying is something like this:
1. I am a professional content marketer.
2. And pushing the overall team to win positive reviews on sites like Trustpilot AND ANY OTHER REVIEW SITES has been one of the main vectors for me in my projects. Customers do look you up on Trustpilot. Even though it’s a super-controversial platform.
3. If a hosting provider doesn’t have any reviews or has less than 100 reviews about it, this means that it’s a pretty small operation there or that they don’t have a professional content marketer like me. Which is basically the same thing said differently.
4. There’s nothing bad about being a smaller/niche non-EIG hosting provider. Maybe, there’s a 10-person team that specializes on Minecraft or something pretty niche.
Thus, it makes perfect sense to filter out all of the providers who don’t have at least 100 reviews on Trustpilot.
You can create a copy of this spreadsheet, create the filter and filter all of those companies. Just Google how to create a “greater than” filter in Google Docs. This kind of knowledge is invaluable in this day and age.
Here’s the screenshot:
What we left with is the list of 11 providers who have more than 100 reviews on Trustpilot.
#5. cPanel from non-EIG companies
Even though you are a novice, it makes perfect sense to learn a bit about the internal technical operations within your hosting provider. Nobody says that you need to learn coding or web design, you just need to find a good non-EIG provider with all the major technical features enabled there.
It’s just that you are always better off if you know the basics of the niche where you work. It’ll help you find better paid assistance or mentoring whenever you need one (by the way, I and my team of 3 other SEOs offer consultations in SEO and content marketing, and I can always help you find solutions to your problems. If you like my writing style, make sure you reach out to me! I am always ready to have free calls and see how I can help you grow.).
Technical things live in your hosting’s panel. Some providers offer their own custom panels, while the most popular option is cPanel. If you ever need to help a friend/colleague or buy a site from another hosting, the chances are high that that provider will use cPanel. Here’s a great intro video into cPanel and here’s a great tutorial on cPanel.
Thus, it makes perfect sense for you to pick those providers who use cPanel. (And if you ever decide to migrate to a provider with a custom panel down the road, you’ll be able to transition easily.)
I’ve filled in Column E for you where I’ve specified whether the provider uses cPanel or not.
Now, let’s filter out the companies without cPanel.
Thus, we are left with 7 companies.
#6. Probing the quality of customer support at non-EIG providers
At this level, you would want to reach out to the customer support teams with the brands and actually ask them some questions. In this way, you’ll be able to measure the quality of customer care you are going to deal with.
You need to have a question to test the teams out with. A popular question is automated backups. Though you would expect that all companies offer it as a free-of-charge option, it’s not the case.
And if you don’t back up your website and it crashes, you might not be able to restore it. And if you bungle around for days, your SEO stats will surely take a big hit because Google pays attention to your uptime.
If you go to Column G, you can see the comments that I managed to wiggle out of the support teams. And, yeap, sometimes, it’s hard to get even the simplest answers from those teams! And, yeap, it’s a pretty good sign as to the quality of support you’ll see down the road.
Pay attention that we had to take out Liquid Web Hosting, Cloudways and StableHost. Though these are non-EIG companies, they are pricier managed WP hosting providers and we don’t need that level of expertise right now. If you already have a healthy amount of traffic, consider these companies as your candidates.
Amazingly, GreenGeeks doesn’t offer any kind of automated backup. They store your site’s copy only within 24 hours. So, if you don’t create the backups and if you’ve gone on the vacation, and then something went very wrong, your site will be deleted – OUT OF EXISTENCE – after 24 hours. Of course, you can create the backups manually, but since you are a beginner, we don’t want to rely on your diligence in this regard and just make sure that we eliminate the chance of the catastrophic events.
In Column H, I’ve made the decision as to whether I want to proceed with the particular providers based on the interactions with regard to backup functionalities or not.
As a result, I am left with only 3 ones!
#7. Looking for Real Reviews
At one of the previous stages we used Trustpilot reviews in order to filter out the non-EIG companies without any reviews at all because they are either super niche or just not big enough to support lots of beginners at the same time like you.
And now that we are left with just 3 candidates, it’s time to look for real reviews online. The best place to do that is Reddit (here’s a good intro guide into Reddit).
Here’s a good strategy on how research brands on Reddit (below is the screenshot):
1. Type the provider’s name into the search field.
2. Click Enter.
3. Click on the Relevance button.
4. Make sure that the Relevance option is picked.
A. Checking out GoDaddy on Reddit
If we start with GoDaddy, then this is what we are going to end up with.
It’s clear that the brand is slowly being eroded by negative comments on Reddit. You could potentially go on Trustpilot at this point and read up on reviews there. But it’s not that smart of a move since companies there can easily block negative opinions. It makes much more sense to dig in and spend 10-20 minutes researching the posts on Reddit, and only after that circle back to Trustpilot for confirmation of your feelings.
You’ll be learning much more here on Reddit than you would ever do anywhere else.
As you can see, the brand has a negative vibe. It’s not as bad as it gets with EIG-controlled entities, but it’s pretty bad. That’s why we can safely specify “bad” in the Reddit/Trustpilot Vibe Column (Column I).
I am not trying to mentor you into any specific decisions. I am just sharing the way I research potential service providers. You can easily use this methodology to find good offerings in any niche. And, most importantly, you “own” this strategy!
B. Checking out Namecheap on Reddit
You can roam around Reddit and read up on threads about the company. From the first minutes of your doing this, you’ll start seeing that they’ve got representatives actively engaging the Reddit community which is always a good sign.
However, those reps are talking like bureaucratic robots out of the movie Brazil.
At this point, you can actually go back to Trustpilot and check on their negative reviews there. The idea is that you should never use Trustpilot to make up your preliminary opinion on the brand, but it’s totally OK to source the reviews there as corroborative evidence.
Google “Namecheap Trustpilot” and you’ll get to the main page. Here, it’s important to look at the overall grade, and it’s “poor”. This is not good. Then, you can look down at the percentage of negative reviews out of the total sampling. And it’s 52%. This is even not-gooder.
Now you can check the “bad” reviews and the system will filter them out. 90% of positive reviews on Trustpilot might well be bought, but negatives are usually authentic.
At first, just scroll down the wall and see whether there are any responses from the company’s team. If there aren’t any, this is a clear sign that the business doesn’t care about what Trustpilot thinks about them.
And this is a very bad sign.
And there are no signs here. So, I just want to specify “bad” for Reddit/Trustpilot Vibe for Namecheap and move on.
C. Checking out InMotion on Reddit
Yes, we are really left with just one company. But you should keep in mind that if you skip any of the above steps, your sampling at this stage will be completely different.
So, hereinafter, we aren’t trying to figure out whether Inmotion Hosting is good or bad. We are just trying to make sure that it’s not super-bad, like a major EIG company. Because it’s the only finalist in this research!
Make sure that you type “InMotion Hosting” and not just “InMotion” in Reddit.
Admittedly, there’s not that much action on Reddit for this brand. But it’s much better than having the “shame trail” you see for other companies or many of EIG brands out there.
Now, let’s check up on Trustpilot.
There’s a pretty high percentage for the negative reviews. And there are no reps responding to those negative comments. Both of these points aren’t very good. But, if we go and chat a bit with the representatives in their internal chat, we’ll see that those are diligent employees and that they treat you well. Not like an EIG-controlled company.
All in all, though InMotion doesn’t take care of Trustpilot negative comments, it does come across as a great option in terms of the quality from customer care. You can just go to their site and live chat with the team (click “chat” in the top bar).
So, InMotion Hosting is the only candidate that I would want to recommend. And I actually do recommend this hosting provider to all my customers who are just starting up in their journey or who want to migrate to another provider from their current partner.
#8. Other factors to consider when choosing a non-EIG hosting provider
Even though we have concluded our research and InMotion Hosting is a winner, there are some other factors that you might decide to consider. Most of them are for medium and large-scale sites though. So, my opinion is that you don’t have to worry about them at this time. You’ll always be able to migrate your site in the future. But it makes sense to say a few words about each of them.
1. Dedicated IP address
With shared and other plans, your site is hosted on the same IP address as other sites. And some of those other sites might engage in spamming. As a result, the hosting IP address might be marked by email and other systems as spammy. In this case, some of your emails might be marked as spam whenever you start corresponding with new partners. Using a dedicated IP address will solve this problem. This is not a feature for the beginner sites, and it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t find yourself facing this problem at all. Read more about it in this article about dedicated IP addresses and their impact on SEO.
2. Email address
All three packaged for Shared hosting with InMotion include free unlimited emails.
This is not always the case with other providers as some might limit the number of branded emails you might use.
Some hosting providers offer a free domain for the first year and you’ll need to pay around $20/year subsequently. This is not the case with Launch and Power shared plans from InMotion.
4. Domain Privacy
This function enables you to hide the information about your name, email and telephone number. You don’t necessarily have to implement this option from the get-go. You can always activate this function whenever you need to. The domain privacy function costs around $15/years with InMotion.
5. Server location
Various hosting companies have servers in various locations: Washington, D.C. (US East Coast) and Los Angeles, CA (US West Coast). You just need to pick the one that you think will be closer to your main target audience. If you aren’t sure at this time, flip the coin 🙂
You might also consider hosting companies with servers outside the US. It’s not such a good idea to partner up with them. Honestly, nobody knows how and whether this will impact your SEO, but there might be a pretty big impact. Here’s a good intro article on this topic.
CDN (Content Distribution Networks) are additional services that you purchase either from your main hosting provider or another company. What they do is create copies of your website at multiple service machines located around the world. Thus, whenever users from a specific country want to access your content, it takes less time to upload the content.
Again, this is a feature for pretty large global sites. And I am talking about it just in the “FYI” manner. Here’s a good article about CDNs.
7. Automated backup
This is a VERY IMPORTANT feature. Some providers include it as a free add-on, while others charge for it. InMotion is the one that charges. And, for example, DreamHost and SiteGround don’t. You could potentially pick one of those, but they don’t use cPanel. And we need cPanel for you to learn the ropes.
If you pick a plan on InMotion and click through, you’ll see the next page where you’ll be offered to include the Automated Backup Option for $2/mo on top.
Now, it’s not a mandatory option. But, it sort of is. I think that any beginner should always have the automated backup option on. You aren’t savvy enough to avoid using it. And it’s just $2/mo on top of the basic pay.
In 2020, all sites all need to have an SSL. With InMotion, you get the free SSL for any plan you pick.
There are different kinds of SSLs – shared and private. If you want to run an ecommerce store, then the private SSL will be a better pick. But for a blog it’s totally enough to get the shared SSL that comes with the shared plan.
8. Plan pricing
Though many searchers start their comparison with pricing, this is a very weak strategy. You get yourself exposed to being lured by a low-quality hosting provider who’s dumping prices.
Thus, I truly believe that you should consider pricing at the latest possible stage in your research.
We also want to compare the pricing from InMotion with other peers. Let’s unfilter the companies in Column G. Thus, we have 3 peers to compare.
I’ve provided the comparative data in Column I.
As you can see, GoDaddy is at $130, InMotion is at $100 and Namecheap is at around $80. So, InMotion is in the middle of the market. And I am sure that you’ve heard many times that buying the medium-level pricing is always a smart decision.
I’ve run in significant problems when trying to determine the pricing for Namecheap. Naturally, I’ve known about these problems before. The team muds the water so much that it’s practically impossible to understand how much you will need to pay – EVEN FOR THE FIRST YEAR OF SERVICE!
I’ve taken you through the major steps in your journey to choose the best non-EIG hosting provider in 2020. InMotion Hosting seems like a great choice. The best thing about this guide is that you can clearly understand the rationale behind all of my decisions and strategies. There’s no magic.
And, of course, we are talking only about startup sites with the minimum traffic. A larger website might find better offerings from other providers. However, InMotion is fully capable to support your website throughout the growth stages – all you’ll need to do is to transition to higher levels as you continue to grow.
I do not receive any remuneration from InMotion and thus my opinions shared in this article are totally mine and not impacted by any external factors.