Web Hosting industry growth trends of 2023


In the fast-paced world of technology, quicker and smarter businesses can swiftly overtake larger but slower or stagnant competitors. This is especially true for web hosting, one of the most competitive industries.

In 2023, hosting companies competed for new users and sought to attract each other's customers by promising quality, low prices, and free website migration. Who lived up to these promises the most? In our view, it was those who experienced the fastest growth – witnessing a significant increase in people's engagement, trust, and the overall number of customers. After all, customers are the most reliable litmus test.

We conducted thorough research, analyzing both major hosting companies and smaller contenders to determine which of the top hosting companies worldwide sustained the most robust growth last year.

Key takeaways

Here’s a quick overview of our findings:

Depending on different metrics, like web traffic, searches, and active user count, it’s clear that some companies are experiencing growth. People’s favorites are also clear according to these metrics: Hostinger, Ionos, and Strato. Meanwhile, some popular hosting providers, like GoDaddy, experienced a decline.

main-trends-providers

As is visible from these graphs, Hostinger experienced the highest growth in all three main metrics of the web hosting industry. But what caused it to improve so much, especially compared to other hosting providers? This is what we will attempt to answer.

Web hosting services market growth factors

Now, let's dive deep into our research and find out how all the top web hosting brands fared.

The COVID-19 pandemic definitely had an impact on the web hosting services market. Mainly by encouraging businesses to move their services online. As a result, many turned to hosting providers to help set up online stores. Hosting itself is a very user-friendly service, particularly for smaller businesses, as it doesn’t require hiring IT professionals and tends to follow quite a simple pattern.

Eventually, the trend subsided a bit, and hosting companies faced the reality of high running costs. The existence of a significant number of hosting providers saturated the market, and a clear split between successful and unsuccessful providers, as well as largest web hosting companies vs smaller ones, began to appear. As they were all vying for the same type of customers, some managed to grow, while others lost momentum.

The web hosting brands analyzed in the study

In this analysis, we've narrowed down the selection to the 16 most significant global web hosting brands. We assembled the list and fine-tuned it based on the outcomes obtained from Google Trends and branded keyword research in 2023.

Here’s the full list of analyzed brands in alphabetical order:

  1. A2 Hosting
  2. Bluehost
  3. Cloudways
  4. DreamHost
  5. Fasthosts
  6. GoDaddy
  7. HostGator
  8. Hostinger
  9. InMotion Hosting
  10. IONOS
  11. Kinsta
  12. Namecheap
  13. OVHcloud
  14. SiteGround
  15. Strato
  16. WP Engine

Note: The number of brands per analysis ranges from 13 to 16, attributed to either a lack of sufficient data or results that are not representative.

Research methodology and tools

To provide comprehensive and impartial data, we used the same methodology and tools as we analyzed the key market metrics. This methodology has proved its worth as it enables us to compare and benchmark brands' efforts to grow.

In short, we used data from the following sources:

  • Google Trends helped us identify trends in internet searches and obtain an overall picture of the web hosting market.
  • Google Ads revealed which brands are most frequently entered in branded keyword searches.
  • Similarweb provided a snapshot of website traffic and its changes.
  • W3Techs' insights were used to analyze the actual usage of web hosting services.

Internet searches unveil brands people are genuinely interested in. To understand who are the top players in the hosting market, we first examined Google search trends.

In contrast to 2021, where many brands experienced a decline, in 2023 a higher proportion of them, 10 out of 16, witnessed growth. This might also indicate an overall market upturn.

The top three leaders in 2023 were Hostinger, Ionos, and Cloudways, as they showed the highest growth in online searches. Meanwhile, search numbers for HostGator, Bluehost, and A2 Hosting continued to decrease. One positive is that the decline is moderating and is no longer in the tens of percentages.

web-search-comparison-2022-23

GoDaddy remained at the top of the list in terms of overall figures, despite not experiencing significant changes in internet searches. However, there is no shortage of contenders aiming to surpass it, with Hostinger making the most impressive leap. Over the last two years, the company has surpassed two rivals and engaged in close competition with Ionos for the second position in the latter half of last year. The prospects for 2024 seem equally thrilling.

web-search-trend-comparison-2023-22

We’ve also downloaded all brands’ data separately to see the dynamics of each company better, yet the figures have changed only slightly over the last few years.

web-search-by-single-brand-2023-2022

As the brands had very similar Google Trends indexes when looked at individually, we applied a monthly average to see trends better.

The graphs below give a better idea of how the popularity of searches for hosting companies has changed over the last two years, especially for brands that receive fewer searches. They show the declining popularity of SiteGround, GoDaddy, A2 Hosting, OVH Cloud, Bluehost, and HostGator.

Meanwhile, Hostinger, Ionos, Cloudways, WP Engine, and Fasthosts are among the top gainers.

WEB-SEARCH-TRENDS-DURING-2022-2023-PERIOD
WEB-SEARCH-TRENDS-DURING-2022-2023-PERIOD-2

By utilizing data from Google Ads Keyword Planner, we compared the total number of searches for brand keywords on Google, including all recognized brand name misspellings, between 2022 and 2023. Hostinger is the clear leader in this table too, with Ionos firmly in second place.

A slight increase in the number of keywords used in ads was also recorded by DreamHost, Cloudways, and WP Engine. Meanwhile, the demand for ad keywords from many other hosting brands remained unchanged last year compared to the year before. Only Bluehost saw a decline in interest.

google-ads-brand-searches-2023-2022

Traffic growth on the brand’s website

Does people's interest have a direct effect on website visitors? To answer this question, we used Similarweb’s website traffic data.

In contrast to Google search trends, a larger proportion of hosting brands are in decline – their website traffic was down. Cloudways recorded the biggest losses with a 23% drop in traffic, followed by A2 Hosting and Dreamhost (16% and 14% declines, respectively), while Kinsta, WP Engine, and Inmotion Hosting saw a fall of around a tenth.

The two main frontrunners, Hostinger and Ionos, are excelling in this metric, too, with 47% and 32% growth in traffic to their websites last year.

Strato came in third place, with almost a quarter more visitors. Interestingly, GoDaddy, which has seen a decline in online searches, managed to attract 3% more visitors to its website. It is likely that these brands used a wider range of marketing tools to attract website visitors.

similarweb-visits-changes-2023

Note that we specifically examined only the brand's main, most visited website (ending in “.com” in most cases). Assessing all the various domain extensions a brand might have would lead to inaccurate overall traffic data, as redirections from one domain to another could skew the results.

However, since brands differ in website visits significantly, relying solely on percentage growth does not paint the full picture. To get a better perspective on changes in website visitors, here are the actual numbers:

visitor-trends-similarweb-2023

It's evident now that Hostinger's actual growth was nearly double that of Ionos. However, because Ionos receives fewer visits to its website compared to Hostinger, the difference in percentage growth is less noticeable.

Similarly, Strato and GoDaddy experienced almost identical numerical growth, but due to Strato's smaller scale, it led to double-digit percentage growth, whereas for GoDaddy, it was only 3%.

Hosting brand usage statistics

Changes in people's interests and the number of website visitors are expected to eventually impact the user count. If a brand's popularity increases, its customer base will expand, and vice versa.

W3Tech analyzes data on the technologies and service providers used by specific websites. Based on its data, we've created a chart illustrating the changes in the proportion of hosting providers used by websites over the past year.

The top three in this chart remain consistent: Hostinger leads, boasting an impressive 54% growth of websites using its hosting. Strato takes second place with a 28% growth, and Ionos secures the third spot with a 17% growth in websites using their services.

Interestingly, GoDaddy, which has exhibited relatively stable results in internet searches and website traffic, finds itself at the bottom of the table with a 24% drop in usage. Fasthosts, HostGator, and InMotion Hosting also experienced a decline of around 17-18%, while Namecheap and Dreamhost saw a decrease of 14-15%.

w3tech-usage-results-2023

Hostinger's rapidly expanding user base is affirmed by W3Techs' Web Technologies of the Year 2023 shortlist, where the company secured victories in four categories: Web Hosting Provider, Data Center Provider, DNS Server Provider, and Email Server Provider.

Conclusion

People understand that the largest brand may not necessarily be the best. When deciding on a hosting provider, they go through reviews, consider feedback from other users, and assess not only the service's features but also its reliability. In short, they become customers only after conducting research.

Our review of the fastest-growing hosting providers confirms this. The brands attracting most people's attention experience the most significant growth in their customer base. However, there are exceptions; searches don't always translate into website visitors, who then become customers.

To summarize the study's results, Hostinger stands out as the fastest-growing hosting brand, leading in all the areas we analyzed. This provider has sustained robust growth for several consecutive years, and it appears this trend is far from over.

Ionos and Strato are also noteworthy, exhibiting growth in all analyzed areas in 2023. Cloudways and Kinsta show mixed results; while searches increased, their websites experienced a decline in visitors. Kinsta's user numbers remained steady, and Cloudways grew by a tenth.

GoDaddy, the market giant, appears to be losing customers, but its performance in other areas has improved compared to previous years. This indicates that the established player is not prepared to relinquish its dominance easily to the disruptors pursuing it.

Overall, this reflects the highly competitive nature of the hosting market. We eagerly anticipate what 2024 will bring to the hosting industry.



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