Bluehost vs. WordPress
WordPress.com is a good starting point for simple blogs and personal websites, but Bluehost is faster and more versatile. Choosing between them is a matter of your specific needs, but keep in mind that only one of these hosts will give you full creative freedom over your site. Find out more before you make your final decision.
Both Bluehost and WordPress.com focus on web hosting for WordPress – the world’s most popular CMS (content management system) – but the two providers are actually quite different. To make the right choice between them, you have to understand what each does best.
If this is your first time building a blog or a website, Bluehost vs WordPress.com is the right comparison for you. Both of these services are designed with ease of use in mind, which makes them perfect for newbies, small businesses, and freelancers. That said, WordPress.com is best suited for bloggers who want to get online quickly, while Bluehost is a far more versatile service.
To accurately compare Bluehost and WordPress.com, I’ve researched and tested both hosts extensively. I’ve covered aspects such as performance, pricing, ease of use, features, customer support, and security in order to give you a comprehensive view of the rivalry between the two providers.
Update November 2020: Before you buy the preferred hosting for your website, make sure to click here to see the latest promotional offers that they offer in June 2020 (after clicking, the latest promotional discount of 63% will be self-applied at check-out). We will update this article as soon as the promotional offer changes or if they get a better one, but as of right now, this is the best deal you can find.
If you give me a bit of your time, I believe that by the end of this comparison, you’ll have a better idea about whether Bluehost or WordPress.com is the right host for you. You’ll also know which plan to choose for your needs and whether you need to buy any add-ons with it.
In a hurry? Feel free to jump straight to the winner section in the Contents table to the left, where you’ll also find a quick summary of my review. Otherwise, I’ve prepared an in-depth, head-to-head comparison below, so let’s get started.
Website visitors care little about the web hosting plan that you choose, the features you get with it, or the way that you pay for it. Instead, visitors want two things: great content and fast loading speeds. Search engines are not all that different, either. If your website is well optimized and loads quickly, this can help you rank higher than your competition in SERPs (search engine results pages).
This is why it’s essential to choose a web host that can ensure top-notch performance for your website. Whether you want to create a personal blog, a business presentation site, or an online store, you need a hosting service that can deliver flawless uptime and speed, as well as keep up with a growing business.
To accurately compare Bluehost and WordPress in terms of performance, I’ve signed up with both services, created two identical websites, and used several tools like GTMetrix to test critical performance indicators. Let’s take a closer look at how they both did.
Full Page Load Time
Of all performance indicators, full page load time is the most important to watch out for. In short, this test shows you how quickly your website will load with Bluehost vs how it will load with WordPress.com. Keep in mind that, prior to running this test, I’ve turned on all performance-enhancing plugins that were provided by each host. Just to keep things fair.
These were the results:
What can we learn from this? Well, both hosts achieved a good score for overall performance, but if you take a closer look at the full page load time, you’ll notice that my website took just 1 second to load on Bluehost, and 2.5 seconds to load on WordPress.com. In other words, Bluehost was two and a half times faster, and that says something.
Even if the difference seems small, it’s actually very meaningful in terms of web hosting. For example, Google claims that a website that loads slower than 2 seconds is likely to start losing visitors. Bluehost passes Google’s benchmark with flying colors, while WordPress.com falls behind.
Interestingly enough, it turns out that WordPress.com is fairly similar to Squarespace in this department based on the tests we did when comparing Bluehost with Squarespace. Of course, that's not too surprising given that both WordPress.com and Squarespace focus on services that revolve around ease of use. Bluehost, on the other hand, focuses more on performance and it shows.
The website that I created for testing was actually pretty basic, so very little content was included. But the larger the website, the more time it takes to load, so you can imagine that the performance gap between Bluehost and WordPress.com is going to be even bigger with a fully-developed site.
Time to First Byte (TTFB)
TTFB is not as important a metric as full page load time, but it can be used to determine whether or not a server is performing optimally. It’s also important for SEO purposes because, as was shown by several third-parties, websites with lower TTFB consistently ranked higher in SERPs.
So how did our two hosts fare in this respect?
Bluehost achieved an excellent score of 99, which means that their server is well optimized and takes very little time to respond to a user’s HTTPS request.
These results are consistent with the ones we got when conducting research for our recent Bluehost vs. Pressable comparison. This is important to note because it shows that Bluehost's performance tends to be very consistent.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, got an average score of 77. In other words, their server took longer to respond, which is also part of the reason why my website loaded slower overall when hosted on their platform.
What do I make of these numbers? On its own, TTFB is not the most relevant performance metric, but taken together with the full page load time results, it shows us that a website is far more likely to perform well on Bluehost than it is on WordPress.com.
Load Impact Test
The two previous tests show us how a website hosted on Bluehost vs one hosted on WordPress.com responds to a single user’s request. The thing is, once you publish your website, you can expect dozens or even hundreds of visitors at the same time, depending on how popular your content is. Especially if you expect your business to grow quickly, you need to know that your web host can handle traffic spikes well.
This is where the load impact test comes in. This metric shows us how well Bluehost and WordPress.com respond to periods of high traffic by testing my website’s loading speeds for hundreds of concomitant requests. So what do the results say?
As you can see in the two graphs, Bluehost maintains a decent full page load time of 3.71 seconds even with 200 visitors at a time, while WordPress.com lags behind with 4.12 seconds. This only confirms what we already know by now. Bluehost can handle traffic better than WordPress.com thanks to its optimized hosting infrastructure and performance-enhancing features.
Now, you might think that I got these results with an expensive plan, but the truth is, I was on the Basic Bluehost package (costing just $2.95 with this offer) when I ran the tests. Even with the entry-level plan, Bluehost delivers as promised. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for WordPress.com.
Both Bluehost and WordPress.com promise excellent uptime for your website, but in an industry where every single host makes the exact same claim, you’ll excuse me if I no longer take these guarantees at face value. Instead, I run my own tests just to make sure. Fortunately, in the case of Bluehost vs WordPress.com, the results were decent with both hosts.
That said, you’ll notice that there are still some differences between the two hosts. Most noticeably, WordPress.com had a dip to 99.82% and 99.80% in February and June, respectively, whereas Bluehost maintained a stellar uptime of over 99.96% throughout the entire testing period.
Given that the industry average in terms of uptime is 99.9%, I’d say that you don’t have to worry about uptime with either of these two hosts. However, it is worth noting that while most providers offer compensation for downtime that exceeds 0.1% throughout the month, neither Bluehost nor WordPress.com do this. That’s a slight disadvantage for both in my book.
Just to give you an idea of how other major hosting providers perform in this area, InMotion Hosting achieved an uptime of 99.95% during our last tests. Meanwhile, DreamHost performed a bit better, with an average uptime of 99.96%, though that's still not as good as Bluehost's uptime.
Bluehost vs. WordPress: Which Host Performs Better Overall?
Having tested both Bluehost and WordPress.com for several months, I have to hand the victory over to Bluehost in this category. Not only did my website load faster with Bluehost – even with dozens of user requests made at the same time – but I also recorded better uptime throughout the duration of testing.
Before we move on, there’s one more important detail I’d like to mention here. While Bluehost gave me complete freedom to customize my website, WordPress.com didn’t let me uninstall its preconfigured plugins or install any new ones. I’ll discuss this more in a moment, when we look at each of their plans, but the bottom line is that with WordPress.com, you’re stuck with a platform that you can’t change.
If WordPress.com includes useless plugins that slow down your website, there’s nothing you can do about it, unless you’re on one of their top-tier plans. With Bluehost, I could configure my WordPress installation to the dot, and I believe that this was reflected in the performance tests.
Pricing and Value
When you compare two web hosts, pricing is an essential aspect, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, one host might have cheaper plans, but these might include fewer features. If you choose the wrong plan, you can end up paying for security or performance add-ons that will then double or even triple your costs. Web hosts have a way of sneaking up on you with hidden fees.
Now, you can’t be expected to read through thick Terms and Agreements every time you compare two web hosting services like Bluehost and WordPress.com. After all, you have a blog, website, or business to run. Plus, as a beginner, you might not even know that you need a certain feature until after you’ve purchased a plan. Then, you’re forced to buy it as an add-on.
But rest assured: I’ve done all the research for you. Since I compare web hosting services for a living, I know a great deal when I see one. I also have a good idea about the features and tools that you’ll need to create a beautiful, functional website, and I’ve kept this in mind as I looked at what Bluehost and WordPress.com have to offer. Let’s take a closer look.
Free Hosting from WordPress.com
Unlike Bluehost, WordPress.com has a free plan that you can use to start a website with minimal costs. Before you get excited, though, you have to know that there are some major trade-offs.
The free plan from WordPress.com is very limited, and some of its restrictions make it unsuitable for hosting a professional website. For one, you can’t use your own, professional domain address. You’re stuck with a WordPress.com domain, and you can’t remove the ads that WordPress.com will put on your website. Nor do you have any control regarding the content of these ads.
In addition, you get only 3GB of storage space, which means that you won’t be able to upload a lot of media on your website. You have very little freedom to customize your website template and if something breaks, you’re mostly on your own. Customer support is only available through email for the free plan, and it’s not 24/7.
You'll come across some of these downsides at other companies that provide free web hosting services as well, however, some of them are pretty unique to WordPress.
Don’t get me wrong: if you’re just starting a personal blog to test your writing skills and see if people are interested in what you have to say, the free plan from WordPress.com is enough to get you going. If, however, you’re serious about your blog, a paid plan with your own domain name is, by far, a better choice.
And if you want to create a proper website or online store, you might want to consider Bluehost instead. You’ll see why in a few moments.
Bluehost Basic vs. WordPress.com Personal
If you’re trying to keep costs low, your first option will be to compare the entry-level plans from Bluehost and WordPress.com. So let’s see what each of them has to offer.
With Bluehost Basic, you get one website, plus 50GB of storage space, 5 email addresses, and unmetered bandwidth. With the Personal plan from WordPress.com, you get one website and unmetered bandwidth, but only 6GB of storage space, and no email. Already, Bluehost’s cheapest package stands out as a much better offer. While there are other options out there that are even more affordable, such as Namecheap for example, Bluehost Basic is overall one of the best hosting packages on the market when you consider the price-to-value ratio.
Plus, there’s one other important thing to consider. As its name suggests, WordPress.com is a service entirely focused on WordPress, so you cannot install or use any other CMS. Nor can you install your own plugins, unless you upgrade to a top-tier plan. In other words, you can only use the configuration provided to you by WordPress.com.
|Bluehost Basic||WordPress Personal|
|Sites Allowed||1 Website||1 Website|
|Storage Space||50GB||6 GB|
|Allows Online Store||Yes||No|
|Google Analytics Integration||Yes||No|
|CMS Allowed||Almost Any CMS||Only WordPress|
|Extras||$200 free Marketing Credits||None|
Please note that the above prices are calculated with the on-going 65% discount from Bluehost; Once they'll put an end to the promo, future customers will get higher prices.
One advantage with WordPress.com is that it gives you Jetpack Essential Features on all plans (even the entry-level one). These include a few performance-enhancing and security tools, as well as website statistics with valuable information about your visitors.
The thing is that this particular Jetpack license is free, to begin with, so you can just as easily use it with your Bluehost account. The only difference is that, with Bluehost, you have to install it yourself, whereas, with WordPress.com, the plugin comes preinstalled.
As for pricing, Bluehost’s Basic plan is significantly cheaper than WordPress.com’s Personal, especially if you’re willing to subscribe for three years. In more great news, you can reduce the cost even further by using this special discount for Mamboserver readers.
You can read more about how prices change depending on your contract length in our complete guide to Bluehost pricing.
Bluehost Plus vs. WordPress.com Premium
As we take a closer look at higher tier plans, the difference between Bluehost and WordPress.com becomes even more evident. With Bluehost Plus, you get unlimited websites, storage space, email, and bandwidth. In other words: a lot of additional value for a very small increase in price.
WordPress.com falls further behind. Even with its Premium plan, you’re still limited to a single website, and you only get 13GB of storage. WordPress.com doesn’t offer email hosting on any of its plans, so if you want a professional email, you’ll have to buy this service from another provider. This is not only inconvenient but also more expensive.
|Bluehost Plus||WordPress Premium|
|Sites Allowed||Unlimited||1 Website|
|Plugin Installation Allowed||Yes||No|
|Upload Theme Allowed||Yes||No|
|Allows Online Store||Yes||No|
|Google Analytics Integration||Yes||Yes|
|CMS Allowed||WordPress/Joomla/Others||Only WordPress|
|Extras||$200 Free Marketing Credits||None|
Another significant drawback with WordPress.com is that, even on the Premium plan, you only get email and basic live chat support. Unlike with Bluehost, customer support is only available 5 days a week, so if your website crashes during the weekend – when it’s most likely to get visitors – you have to fix it on your own.
If you go for Premium, WordPress.com gives you additional customization options for your chosen website template. Is this worth the extra cost, though? Not really, especially since you can fully customize your site with Bluehost on any of its plans.
Bluehost Choice Plus vs. WordPress.com Business
If you can afford it, Bluehost’s Choice Plus is the best value plan on offer. You get the same unlimited resources that are included in the Plus plan, but these are accompanied by several outstanding, yet free add-ons. For example, CodeGuard Basic is included for no extra charge, which means that you no longer have to worry about manual website backups.
WordPress.com’s Business plan also has several valuable features, such as 24/7 priority live chat support, one-on-one screen share chats with WordPress experts, SEO tools, and automated daily backups. In addition, you get 200GB of storage space, which is considerably more than is included in the Premium plan. It’s still no match for Bluehost’s unlimited storage, but it’s a step forward in the right direction.
|Bluehost Choice Plus||WordPress Business|
|Sites Allowed||Unlimited||1 Website|
|Plugin Installation Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Upload Theme Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Allows Online Store||Yes||No|
|Google Analytics Integration||Yes||Yes|
|CMS Allowed||WordPress/Joomla/Others||Only WordPress|
|Extras||$200 Free Marketing Credits||None|
That said, WordPress.com’s Business plan is five times more expensive than Bluehost’s Choice Plus. Given that they have comparable features, there’s just no way to justify the extra cost, especially since you can only host one website per account with WordPress.com.
Bluehost Pro vs. WordPress.com eCommerce
WordPress.com’s eCommerce plan has an impressive kit of features designed to boost the success of your online store. You get built-in payment processing so you don’t have to integrate PayPal, Stripe, or other popular payment methods yourself. You can also display an unlimited number of products, and easily calculate shipping rates for your customers.
The best part about it is that the entire platform is ready out-of-the-box. All you have to do is select your theme, customize your design, and add your products. WordPress.com takes care of almost everything else.
By comparison, Bluehost Pro has fewer eCommerce features that are as easy to use. You can still integrate payment and shipping options on your website, but you have to do it yourself. This is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it might be more difficult for newbies to get the online store off the ground. But on the other hand, you get more creative freedom for your website and you don’t have to deal with WordPress.com’s limitations.
|Bluehost Pro||WordPress eCommerce|
|Sites Allowed||Unlimited||1 Website|
|Plugin Installation Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Upload Theme Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Allows Online Store||Yes||Yes|
|Google Analytics Integration||Yes||Yes|
|CMS Allowed||WordPress/Joomla/Others||Only WordPress|
|Extras||$200 Free Marketing Credits||None|
Plus, Bluehost’s Pro plan unlocks a whole new level of performance for your website. With Pro, your site is hosted on a server with fewer neighbors, so you can use more resources at a time. This, in turn, translates into superior loading speeds and stability.
For a small online store, you might be able to get away with the standard performance offered by WordPress.com. But If you’re going to start a successful eCommerce platform with thousands of monthly visitors, Bluehost is a more suitable option, especially if you sign up for one of Bluehost's WooCommerce packages.
More importantly, Bluehost’s Pro plan is, once again, much cheaper than WordPress.com’s equivalent. You save money and you get more value from your web hosting.
Premium Managed WordPress Hosting from Bluehost
To keep things simple, I’ve compared Bluehost’s and WordPress.com’s shared hosting plans head-to-head. But unlike WordPress.com, Bluehost has several other options on offer. If WordPress is your CMS of choice, you’ll love Bluehost’s WP Pro plans.
For example, the mid-tier, WP Pro-Grow plan costs roughly as much as WordPress.com’s Business plan. For the same price, you get a better (Premium) license for Jetpack, integrated SEO tools, automated daily backups, enhanced security, and access to Bluehost’s team of WordPress experts for support. If you want to learn more about these features you can check out our in-depth Bluehost review for the full details.
Storage space and bandwidth are unlimited, while email hosting is included in the plan for free. If you feel like hosting multiple websites, you can. And if you ever want to make changes to one of your sites, you can use Bluehost’s one-click staging environment to safely test the new features before they go live. This way, you’ll never accidentally break your website.
Bluehost’s WP Pro Scale plan is even better. Designed for eCommerce, the plan comes with easy PayPal integration, elastic search, Jetpack Pro, and unlimited website backups. WP Pro Scale costs about as much as WordPress.com’s eCommerce package, but as is the case with most of Bluehost’s offers, it packs far more value for your money.
With Bluehost, There’s More Room to Grow
As I mentioned earlier, WordPress.com is a decent, affordable solution for small websites or blogs, especially if you’re just starting out. Its Personal plan doesn’t have a lot of storage space or performance tools, but as a newbie, you won’t need a lot of tools to get started in the first place.
The trouble with a host like WordPress.com is that there isn’t much room to grow. The provider only offers shared hosting, which means that if you ever need a more powerful solution, you’re out of luck. I’ll cover this aspect more in-depth in the Scalability section, but the bottom line is that if your website grows, you’ll have to switch to a different host. Take it from someone who has tried dozens of hosting services: transfers take time and money. Sometimes, your website can even break in the process. That is, of course, unless you know how to manually transfer a website all by yourself.
|Free SSL Certificate||Yes||Yes|
|Disk Space||50GB||6 GB|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days||30 days|
With Bluehost, you don’t have to worry about having to transfer to a different provider. If your website outgrows the resource allocations of a WP Pro plan, you can always switch to a VPS solution. Bluehost’s VPS plans are competitively priced and they come with dedicated virtual resources that you don’t have to share with other users. In short, this means that you can expect better performance, enhanced security, and more stability for your websites.
And if you need even more power, you can upgrade to one of Bluehost’s dedicated servers. These are bare-metal, single-tenant machines that you can configure with a large number of CPU cores, as well as any amount of RAM and storage space. A dedicated server is quite expensive compared to other hosting solutions, but it’s good to know that you have this option in case you’ll ever need it.
Your website might be small to begin with, but as your blog or business grows, you’ll likely need more resources than shared hosting can offer. Bluehost has excellent potential for scalability, and some outstanding deals for long-term plans.
Which Is Cheaper, Bluehost or WordPress?
Overall, Bluehost is considerably cheaper than WordPress.com, especially if you use this exclusive offer for Mamboserver readers. The difference in price is less noticeable with the entry-level plans, but if you’re considering a better package, WordPress.com can get up to five times more expensive than Bluehost.
What’s more, Bluehost gives you more bang for your buck. You get more storage space across all plans, you can host as many websites as you want, and you have an email for free. None of this is true when it comes to WordPress.com pricing.
That said, I do have two important observations regarding Bluehost. For one, its most attractive prices are only available for three-year plans, which means that you have to make a pretty big commitment to this provider in order to take advantage of its best offers. Fortunately, you have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you find that you don’t like the service, you can always cancel the contract during the first month.
Secondly, you have to keep an eye out for Bluehost’s renewal fees. Once your initial term is over, the cost of your plan can double, so keep that in mind as you make your decision. Don’t think that Bluehost is the only host that uses such sneaky tactics. In fact, this is a fairly standard practice in the web hosting industry. Nevertheless, it’s something you should know beforehand.
It’s also important to notice that, even following renewal, Bluehost still gives you more value compared to WordPress.com. Although slightly more expensive, Bluehost’s plans come with far more resources and features that are most definitely worth the extra cost.
The last thing to keep in mind is that Bluehost doesn't support monthly billing with its shared hosting plans, which can be a deal-breaker for some people. If you're one of them, consider checking out our list of best hosting providers that support monthly billing.
Ease of Use
You don’t want to spend any more time than you have to in order to build your website and manage your web hosting account. A good host comes with a clean dashboard where all the essential options are immediately visible and easy to access. As for Bluehost vs WordPress.com, both providers try to offer a beginner-friendly interface, but one does it better than the other.
WordPress.com is preconfigured to work with WordPress. The CMS is automatically installed on your account, so you can simply log in and start building your website. This, however, is where you might encounter some issues. WordPress.com’s website builder essentially consists of the basic WordPress interface. You have very little drag-and-drop functionality, and most customization options (if they are available on your plan) are difficult to find.
With a regular web host, this wouldn’t be that big of a problem. You could always download a free WordPress website builder like Elementor to easily and quickly design your site. But with WordPress.com, this isn’t an option unless you’re on the Business or eCommerce plan. Why? Because WordPress.com doesn’t let you install any plugins on lower-tier plans. Even if you don’t need a website builder, this could come back to haunt you as you realize that you can’t install or use your favorite plugins.
Bluehost doesn’t have any of these issues. Its dashboard is clean and neatly organized, and you get help building your website from the moment you log in to the moment you’re ready to publish. You don’t get a drag-and-drop website builder by default, but you can easily install one yourself.
If you’re decided on working with WordPress, it only takes a couple of clicks to get it installed on your account once you log in. And if you want to install any other CMS, such as Joomla, Drupal, or Magento, Bluehost makes this possible.
Once everything is set up, Bluehost gives you a super useful checklist that you can follow to quickly build your website. From connecting a domain to choosing a theme, customizing your design, taking care of SEO, and more, Bluehost tells you what you should do next every step of the way. This might not be a big deal for you if you’re a seasoned webmaster, but as a newbie, you’ll love crossing things off the list as you get closer to publishing your website.
With Bluehost, you can. In fact, you have complete freedom over the plugins you install on your account.
I’ve already mentioned some important features for both Bluehost and WordPress.com while comparing their shared hosting plans, but there are still a few essential details left to discuss. I’ve included the most noteworthy ones in the list below:
- CloudFlare CDN. A CDN (or content delivery network) can significantly boost your website’s performance for visitors from around the world. When you use one, a cached version of your website is stored on dozens of servers strategically distributed across the globe. If a user clicks on your site, they are connected to the nearest server, rather than your main data center. With Bluehost, CloudFlare CDN is integrated straight into your dashboard, so that you can quickly turn it on when you set up your account. This is not the case with WordPress.com.
- Manage multiple accounts from the same dashboard. If you have several high-traffic websites, you might need several accounts to support them. This is especially the case with WordPress.com, since the latter only lets you host one website per account. However, WordPress.com doesn’t give you the possibility to manage all of your accounts from the same dashboard. Instead, you have to log in separately into each account whenever you have to make changes. With Bluehost, you log into a master account to manage all of your hosting services in one place.
- Experts can design your website for you. Bluehost gives you the option to hire an expert in order to get online quickly. This is a pretty expensive service, but if you want to make sure that your website is as functional as it can be, the additional cost makes sense.
- Monetization tools. WordPress.com focuses on simplicity, and its integrated, out-of-the-box monetization tools reflect this philosophy. For example, all paid plans come with the possibility to easily create subscriber-only pages and accept payments from your readers. With Bluehost, you have to install several plugins to design a similar platform. It’s not impossible, but it does take longer, and you have to figure out all the technical details yourself.
- Social media integrations. Another great thing about WordPress.com is that, when you build your website, you can add social media feeds with just a few simple steps. You don’t have to find, install, or configure the plugins yourself. Everything you need is already set up: you just have to link your accounts. Plus, with the Premium, Business, and eCommerce plans, you get additional tools that let you schedule social media updates in advance. If you own a blog, this makes it super easy to promote new posts.
With its out-of-the-box solutions and easy integrations, WordPress.com is certainly an attractive option for newbies looking to start their first blog. With Bluehost, you have to put in a bit of extra time to achieve a similar result. However, there is a trade-off.
While Bluehost gives you complete freedom in terms of the CMS you use, the way you customize your themes, and the plugins you install, this is not the case with WordPress.com. As your blog or website grows, you might find the latter to be fairly restrictive, especially if you want to add something to your design that isn’t already included in your selected theme.
Bluehost might take a little longer to get accustomed to, but it can keep up with you as your website becomes more popular. In addition, Bluehost has the hosting infrastructure and the performance features to keep your site running even during peak traffic.
Bluehost and WordPress.com are both geared towards beginners, so I had big expectations when I tested their customer support. After all, as a newbie building my first website, I might need to get in touch with support often, and I want to know that someone’s always there to help out.
Even as a pro webmaster, I might need assistance once in a while, especially since each hosting platform is different and it can take some time to get accustomed to a new service. So how did the two hosts do?
For starters, there’s a big difference in how customer support works with Bluehost and WordPress.com. With Bluehost, you get 24/7 support through live chat, phone, and tickets on all plans. Regardless of how much you spend on your hosting, an agent is always on standby to pick up any question you might have.
If you opt for a WP Pro plan, you also get access to Bluehost’s BlueSky support team, which offers specialized assistance with WordPress-related issues. Plugin and website troubleshooting are included here, which is a big plus compared to other hosts that refer to these services as being outside of their “scope”. If you're familiar with DreamHost's service, you'll know exactly what to expect from WP Pro in terms of customer service.
While setting up my website with Bluehost, I’ve actually tested all three channels of customer support extensively. As such, I can vouch for the fact that when Bluehost says 24/7, they mean it. Whenever I needed help, I was able to get in touch – either through live chat or phone – and I got all the information I needed. The support agent I talked to before settling on a plan even offered to set up WordPress with me. Bonus points for Bluehost.
I had an entirely different experience with WordPress.com, and it was mostly because this provider doesn’t offer the same level of support for all clients. If you’re on the free plan, for example, you don’t even have access to basic live chat and email support.
On the Personal and Premium plans, you get the option to contact an agent through live chat or email, but the support team is only available Monday through Friday. If something goes wrong during the weekends, you’re on your own. Plus, it was more difficult to get in touch with an agent even during the week, mostly because the wait times were longer than average.
To get proper 24/7/365 support, you have to buy either the Business or the eCommerce plan. This seems like a big drawback to me, since most people don’t want to buy such an expensive package for their basic hosting needs.
That said, both Bluehost and WordPress.com have extensive knowledge bases with tutorials and guides on all things hosting. If you’re more of a DIY type, you’ll be able to use these articles to solve most issues.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the best way to drive organic traffic to your website and, as a result, increase your conversion rates without having to pay for PPC (pay-per-click advertisements). As search engines have evolved over the course of the years, SEO has become a vastly more complex process with dozens of specialized techniques.
To properly optimize your site, you now need the help of an expert, but if you want to keep costs low, there are a few tools that can help you get the job done to a decent standard. One such free tool is Yoast, a WordPress plugin that rates your website for SEO and makes pertinent suggestions for improvement.
With Bluehost, it’s easy to install Yoast after your account is set up and you start working on a WordPress website. Bluehost also has its own, integrated SEO tools, but these are only included with the WP Pro Grow and Scale plans.
With WordPress.com, the process should be just as simple, but unfortunately, it isn’t. As I’ve mentioned several times before, WordPress.com doesn’t let you install your own plugins on any of its entry-level plans. You do get an “SEO Essentials” plugin installed by default, but this doesn’t have nearly as many options as Yoast.
Instead, Yoast is locked behind WordPress.com’s two most expensive plans, the Business and eCommerce. Unfortunately, this means that you’re basically stuck with WordPress’ built-in features for optimization, unless you’re willing to pay three or four times more for your hosting. And who is?
Overall, even though both hosts rely primarily on the WordPress CMS for SEO, I have to give this round to Bluehost. With Bluehost, at least, I get to install my favorite plugins regardless of the plan I choose.
Security is one category where WordPress.com is actually more advantageous than Bluehost. With WordPress.com, the provider essentially takes care of all security issues for you. Its security tech team oversees firewall protection for all servers, and all accounts are regularly tested for malicious activity. You also have several plugins preinstalled on your account, including Akismet for anti-spam security, and a malware scanner.
In addition, WordPress.com creates backups for all accounts on a regular basis. If something should happen to your data or if your account is compromised, you can get in touch with support to restore a previous, functional version of your website in a matter of minutes. In short, there’s little to worry about in terms of security when you’re hosting your website with WordPress.com.
This is not necessarily the case with Bluehost, which includes minimal protection on entry-level plans. You do get Akismet by default, and Bluehost does have its own sever-wide firewalls, but unless you pay extra for the SiteLock security add-on, you don’t get much else.
Backups are also a bit of a thorny issue, because while Bluehost does create backups for all websites, these are presented as a “courtesy”, rather than a guarantee. In its Terms and Agreements, Bluehost states that the company is in no way responsible for any data you might lose. As such, you’re better off creating your own backups, especially since this is fairly easy to do from Bluehost’s dashboard.
If you’d rather have the peace of mind of automated backups, you have to go for the Choice Plus or Pro shared hosting plans. Alternatively, you can buy CodeGuard Basic as an add-on, but this could increase the overall cost of your plan by quite a bit.
The good news is that, whether you go with WordPress.com or Bluehost, an SSL certificate will be installed on your website from the get-go. This means that all the information passing through your site will be encrypted and kept safe from hackers. SSL certificates are especially important if you handle sensitive user information, but even regular websites need them in order to rank better in search engines.
WordPress.com might have security in the bag, but when it comes to scalability, it’s Bluehost that truly shines. There are several reasons why, but by far the most important of them is that Bluehost is a complete and versatile web hosting provider with dozens of services under its belt. You can start with a cheap shared hosting plan, then move on to WP Pro for enhanced performance, and even get a VPS later down the line when your website really lifts off.
If you’re looking for an enterprise-grade solution, Bluehost has you covered. Its three, dedicated server configurations pack enough resources to suit any type of website or database, so you know that you won’t have to switch to a different provider in the future.
The situation is quite different with WordPress.com because the company only offers shared hosting solutions. If your website ever outgrows the limitations of the eCommerce plan, you basically have to migrate everything to another, more suitable service, which can cost time and money.
If you plan on building a long-term business then you really need to take into consideration the scaling capability that Bluehost offers. And, at the same time, take advantage of the huge discounts available for all of their yearly hosting plans.
And while almost all Bluehost plans let you host as many websites as you want on a single account, this is not the case with WordPress.com, which only allows one site. You can create multiple accounts to host several websites, but this can get inconvenient very quickly. Instead, WordPress.com recommends that you switch to Pressable, a more versatile provider that is owned by Automattic, WordPress’ parent company. But even if you go for this option, you still have to migrate your website(s), which can be a pain if not done properly.
If you’re starting a small blog or personal website, WordPress.com is fairly suitable for the task, especially if you don’t mind the plugin restrictions and the limited customization options. However, if you expect your website to grow quickly, it just makes more sense to go with Bluehost because you know that this provider can keep up with you.
Now that we’ve taken an in-depth look at Bluehost vs WordPress, I’d like to emphasize a few key differences between them before making a final recommendation. Keep in mind that both Bluehost and WordPress.com offer a decent service, so choosing one or the other is a matter of finding the host that best suits your specific needs:
- Simplicity vs Versatility. WordPress.com is, in some ways, easier to use than Bluehost. Especially on the entry-level plans, you have few customization options and all the plugins you can use are already installed. As soon as you log in, you’re ready to start building your website. That said, if you’re looking to create more than a personal blog, you’ll appreciate the freedom that you get with Bluehost. Unlike WordPress.com, Bluehost lets you configure your account, website, and themes at your discretion.
- Performance to Match a Growing Business. I discovered during my performance tests that while Bluehost can deliver excellent loading speeds for most websites, this is not the case with WordPress.com. If you don’t expect a lot of visitors, you’ll likely get decent performance with WordPress.com, but once your website becomes more popular, you’ll want Bluehost’s optimized infrastructure behind it.
- Working Exclusively with WordPress. Bluehost is best optimized to support WordPress websites, but if you want to use other CMS like Joomla or Drupal, you can. With WordPress.com, you’re limited to just one CMS, which can become a problem if, for instance, you want to start a large eCommerce business.
Bluehost is a reputable stand-alone host, while WordPress is well known for its CMS. WordPress.com, on the other hand, makes you pay extra if you want your own domain. Bluehost also offers a free domain so we can only recommend WordPress.org as CMS and not hosting.
At the end of the day, you can always switch between hosts if the service you choose doesn’t meet your needs, especially since both Bluehost and WordPress.com offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on most products. However, migrating an existing website can sometimes be just as troublesome as building one from scratch, so it’s a good idea to consider your choice carefully from the get-go.
Bluehost vs. WordPress: Our Pick
Who do I recommend? That depends. For newbie bloggers who simply want to get their ideas online quickly, WordPress.com might be a good starting point. However, Bluehost has a clear advantage in almost every category, which makes it the obvious winner of this Bluehost vs WordPress comparison. If you’re serious about your website, my honest advice is to go with Bluehost:
- Performance: Bluehost demonstrated faster loading speeds across the board compared to WordPress.com. The provider also had better uptime throughout the duration of testing.
- Pricing and Value: Bluehost is significantly cheaper than WordPress.com, and you can get even better deals if you sign up for a three-year plan using this discounted offer.
- Ease of Use: WordPress.com has several preinstalled plugins ready to go, but because it doesn’t let you set up your own account, you can’t use drag-and-drop website builders like Elementor. This isn’t a problem with Bluehost.
- Features: Bluehost focuses on versatility and performance optimizations, while WordPress.com saves its best features for its most expensive plans.
- Customer Support: Bluehost has 24/7 customer support for all clients, whereas WordPress.com only offers this service on its Business and eCommerce plans. In addition, you can expect quicker response times with Bluehost.
- Search Engine Optimization: Bluehost lets you install useful SEO plugins like Yoast, while WordPress.com doesn’t. To get proper SEO tools, you have to pay for a more expensive plan.
- Security: Both hosts have decent security tools and free SSL certificates, but WordPress.com takes the lead in this category. To get proper security with Bluehost, you have to pay extra for the SiteLock and CodeGuard add-ons.
- Scalability: WordPress.com offers only shared hosting solutions, whereas Bluehost has a full range of hosting services, including VPS and dedicated servers. If you expect your website to grow quickly, Bluehost will save you time and money that you would otherwise spend migrating your account to a different host.
Although WordPress.com does have a few use cases of its own, Bluehost is a more versatile web host and the best option in most scenarios. Aside from its flexibility, Bluehost is also more likely to deliver outstanding performance, and thanks to its wide range of web hosting services, you’ll probably never need to switch to a different provider. If you need even more reasons why you should choose Bluehost instead of rivals like WordPress.com, you can find additional comparisons and interesting articles related to the company in our dedicated Bluehost hub.
Built with ease-of-use in mind, Bluehost is one of the best web hosting services for WordPress. It has the hosting infrastructure to support a growing business, and it gives you the freedom to customize every aspect of your website. With its 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, you can try out Bluehost risk-free.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Difference Between WordPress and Bluehost?
As you can imagine, there are quite a few differences between the two platforms. But probably the most important difference you should keep in mind is that Bluehost is a web hosting provider while WordPress is a content management system. While there is a WordPress hosting service as well, it’s not nearly as flexible as Bluehost and the site builder that comes with it is a more restrictive version of the regular CMS.
Is WordPress Free with Bluehost?
If we’re talking about the WordPress content management system (CMS), then yes, the platform is always available for free. The WordPress CMS can be paired with any hosting service, including, of course, Bluehost. Aside from JetPack Pro, the company doesn’t include any premium WordPress themes or plugins with any of its hosting plans, so you will need to purchase those separately if you want them. If you don’t, there’s no need to worry about any sort of additional costs.
How to Use WordPress with Bluehost?
If you decide to sign up for one of Bluehost’s specialized WordPress plans, the CMS will be automatically installed on your website. Otherwise, you’ll need to set it up yourself but doing so is very easy because Bluehost offers a 1-click installer for WordPress. Once WordPress has been installed on your website, it works like any other CMS or site builder. However, it is a bit more complex than similar platforms so make sure to familiarize yourself with it before you start publishing content.
Is Bluehost the Same as WordPress?
No, the two are completely different platforms. Although they complement each other very well, they can just as easily be used separately. For instance, you can host a website at Bluehost that was built using Weebly, Drupal, or Joomla. Similarly, you can create a WordPress-based website and host it at a different provider like SiteGround, DreamHost, or GoDaddy.
Do You Have to Pay for WordPress and Bluehost?
When it comes to WordPress, the answer is yes and no. The WordPress CMS can be downloaded for free, however, you won’t be able to use it by itself because it needs to be paired with a hosting service, which does cost money. Naturally, WordPress’s own hosting service also costs money unless you pick the free plan, which comes with a long list of drawbacks. Bluehost is a premium hosting service so there’s no free plan here and no free trial either.
Do I Need Bluehost if I Have WordPress?
If you sign up for WordPress’s own hosting service, then you don’t need Bluehost. In fact, you won’t be able to host your website using any other provider. If you want to build a website using the WordPress CMS, on the other hand, you do need a web hosting provider. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Bluehost, but the two work great together so there are many advantages to hosting your WordPress site at Bluehost.