2020 was an interesting year for humanity and business alike. Many individuals and companies were forced to get online due to many COVID-19 restrictions. This unexpected situation has greatly impacted a fairly stable hosting industry. Many massive companies like GoDaddy and Bluehost have faced some aggressive competition from newer and smaller companies like Hostinger or Kinsta. The overall demand for hosting services has risen greatly.
However, the year flew by – and in 2021, everything started to stabilize. Both major hosting companies and smaller contenders now have fewer opportunities for growth. As the year 2021 passed by, we collected the data to find out: which of the world’s top hosting companies continue to grow?
These right here are the top web hosting industry players in 2021:
You can go straight to conclusions or see our data and learn about our research process down below.
Which hosting brands did we examine?
For this analysis, we have shortlisted the 16 biggest web hosting brands globally. All of which are prominent in terms of their marketing and product development activities.
The list was initially compiled based on the selectees in 2020 and then refined according to the results received by Google Trends and branded keyword research in 2021.
- A2 Hosting
- WP Engine
Note: The number of brands per analysis varies from 13 to 16. This is due to either insufficient volume of data or unrepresentative results.
The methodology and tools used for this research
To provide a more thorough, unbiased, and complete overview of the market, we have used a diverse set of resources and tools, such as Google Trends, SimilarWeb, Google Ads, w3techs, and SocialBlade.
For Google Trends, we applied a Moving Average (MA) calculation method and categorized it into 2 groups:
- Google Trends-based analysis of web search comparison provides a general overview of the market as a whole.
- Google Trends-based comparison by a single brand (web and YouTube searches) allows a more accurate view of fluctuations in increases and decreases of each brand’s keyword.
Then, to form a fuller picture we’ve also gathered and analyzed:
- Similar Web’s results on website visits.
- Google Ads data, showcasing branded keyword searches worldwide.
- w3techs insights on usage statistics of each hosting provider.
- Social Blade’s findings, identifying new YouTube subscribers of each brand throughout 2021.
Hosting industries trends in 2021
Here, we will compare the Google data from major hosting providers and see which providers came out as winners.
Google Trends: web search comparison
First, to paint a general picture of the hosting market, determining which brands have been searched the most, we looked up the global searches on Google Trends.
As a general observation, when comparing the Google search trends of 2021 to 2020, most brands experienced a decrease in searches.
However, a few known names like Hostinger, Cloudways, and IONOS showed that exceptions can and do exist. These brands have seen further growing search rates.
Now, if we zone out for a broader and worldwide industry view, it seems that GoDaddy still occupies the upper ladder as a dominant player. Yet, it has experienced a continuous decrease at -23%, which seems to be the case with several other providers too.
However, the previously mentioned brands like Hostinger, Cloudways, and IONOS have experienced growth of 21%, 9%, and 8% respectively.
Google Trends: web search by single brand
While the overall market overview allowed us to form the big picture, it doesn’t mean that individual brands have seen the same growth or decline. To get more precise insights into how each brand performed in 2021, we separately downloaded their Google Trends data.
Now strictly concentrating on individual brands, the trend remains fairly similar – most brands have experienced declining interest rates. However, this time around, unlike in the overall market analysis, we have ScalaHosting occupying the #1 position.
Seemingly out of nowhere, ScalaHosting saw a growth rate of a whopping 62%. Previously seen Hostinger and IONOS again occupy the other leading positions: Hostinger at a 16% growth rate and IONOS at 8%.
On the other side of the scale, GoDaddy has faced a decline of 23%, while WP Engine took the last place with - 54%.
The graph below shows a continuous decline for brands like GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, SiteGround, A2 Hosting, WP Engine, InterServer, and ChemiCloud.
While throughout the year some providers have seen significant increases in searches, the overall analysis of 2021 shows that the interest in these providers is dwindling out.
At the same time, other brands like ScalaHosting, Hostinger, and IONOS did not comply with the overall trend and demonstrated stable growth throughout the year.
Google Trends: YouTube search comparison
Just like for web searches, we collected the same branded keyword search results for YouTube. This was done to broaden the hosting market’s examination scope. After all, it is no surprise that not everyone prefers to conduct their search on Google.
Therefore, YouTube search results allow us to see this from a slightly different angle. Similar to web search comparison, here you can see how big each brand’s share appears within the YouTube sphere.
Unlike in web search results, where only 3 brands have seen an increase in searches, here the number has doubled. This time around 6 brands have maintained their position or seen increased interest, with Cloudways at 52% and Hostinger at 42% taking the lead.
Another quite interesting thing to note is that the oh-so-favored GoDaddy, which holds the largest portion of searches on the web, has given up its position to Bluehost. A fast-growing Hostinger is a close follow-up.
Google Trends: YouTube search by single brand
Now that we had a look at the YouTube sphere as a whole and got a glimpse of how hosting providers have shared the search results, it’s time to explore each brand’s growth within the platform.
After zooming in on a single brand’s view, it became clear that a significantly larger portion of brands saw an increase in searches on YouTube than on the web.
Compared to 2020, 8 hosting brands kept the same position or saw a significant rise in searches. And to no one's surprise, Hostinger took the lead with 52%. Next, DreamHost sets out to be the second one with 41%, and Cloudways takes the third spot with 22%.
Now looking at the graph, it’s pretty obvious that Hostinger has dominated the single brand search on YouTube. Over 2021, the provider saw a steadily growing interest, with only a few bigger drops throughout the year.
At the same time, industry giants like Bluehost or GoDaddy have experienced a continuous drop over the year 2021.
Traffic growth on the brand’s website
The next thing we looked at was SimilarWeb’s website visits and their monthly totals, which helped give us an idea of the traffic volume on each brand’s site.
Yet before we jump to explore our findings, it is important to note that not all websites are of the same weight. What this means is that some brands Kinsta.com have all of their localized versions as subdomains, while let’s say HostGator and Hostinger have dedicated websites for each of their locations (i.e. Hostinger.fr, Hostinger.in ). For this study, we only examined the main brand’s website.
Now looking at our findings, ScalaHosting tops the list with its growth of 193%. This seems like a massive increase in visitors, yet the actual situation is a little different.
Due to the fact that ScalaHosting is a very small participant, with total visits ranging from 54K to 154K, even a small increase in visits will appear greatly significant when converted to a percentage. This itself suggests that relying on percentage growth only won’t paint the full picture.
Now if instead of percentages, we took the actual numbers of how many visits each site has had, the alignment would look way different.
In this case, Hostinger had the highest increase in the number of visits per page, while GoDaddy had a massive decrease of -15 million page visits per month. At the same time, the once #1 ScalaHosting is only the 7th on the list now.
Brand search popularity from Google Ads data
While using Google Ads Keyword Planner data, we’ve taken the total number of brand keyword searches on Google (and all brand name misspelling, that Google has recognized) and compared them in 2020 vs 2021.
By far, Hostinger experienced the highest growth, with a change of 72% (284, 750) from 2020 to 2021. In alignment with our earlier findings, ScalaHosting (1,375) and Cloudways (13,100) appear towards the top too.
However, if we compare brand names that are more similar in size, Kinsta appears as the following one with 32% (6,075). With that said, it is not even half of the percentage achieved by Hostinger.
Statistics on how many active users each brand has
An increase in brand search shows that the provider is gaining interest, which is also supposed to result in more active users. But is that really the case here?
To answer that, we have gathered data from w3tech to determine how many sites are using each brand’s services. And whether that number has changed through the year.
Based on w3tech data, we’ve compiled a diagram showcasing the percentages of websites on the internet using various web hosting providers. This view brings an additional dimension into perspective: now we not only see how many online searches each brand gets, but we also see if those searches lead users to buy into the services.
Interesting to note that popular brands like SiteGround and Bluehost are the only ones that managed to keep the exact same position in 2021 as they did in 2020.
Now as for our most frequently mentioned giant, GoDaddy, it saw the highest decline in usership among our contestants: -0.5%. On the other side of the scale, Hostinger took the crown with an increase of 0.7%.
Yet what was the most unexpected twist of events was that IONOS, which has seen quite a rise in web searches, has experienced the second-largest decline in users and took second-to-last place.
Examination of new subscribers on YouTube
As the last means of our analysis, we turned to see which brands have managed to increase the number of subscribers on their YouTube channels and which have not.
For this examination, we used Social Blade, which provided insights into growth on YouTube, with the total number of subscribers of all YouTube channels owned and maintained by each web host.
Among all, Hostinger has maintained a leading position in terms of growth across its multiple channels. GoDaddy’s channel is the biggest one out of all, which has shown a gradual and consistent increase, totaling 4000 new subscribers in December 2021.
The results directly correlate with what was seen in the YouTube Search section and its observations, where both GoDaddy and Hostinger are seen as the most prominent ones, yet the latter went on the upward trend.
In this case, Cloudways and DreamHost show a significant improvement, but again, they are much smaller size-wise.
The final conclusion
Compared to the research on the fastest-growing brands in 2020, the results are not as straightforward. However, we can conclude that in 2020, all providers grew due to the market having unusual conditions and being somewhat artificially stimulated by Covid-19.
Whereas in 2021, the overall trend dictated a downward trend for most hosting providers except for a few: Hostinger and Kinsta, as well as IONOS, in some instances. The first 2 brands have repeatedly experienced notable growth for 2 years in a row now.
This year we’ve also noticed names such as ScalaHosting, Cloudways, and DreamHost fiercely carving their way to the top. But their growth also appears more significant due to the fact that these companies are much smaller in comparison to their sizeably larger competitors.
While GoDaddy still seems to be dominating the market, the situation is vastly different when looking at brand-oriented growth. GoDaddy seemingly continues to lose interest across all research points.
Like “keyword search”, some metrics indicate a softer approach towards a brand, whereas analyzing traffic on the brand’s site and how many active users it has, shows more substance. This can simply be linked to purchasing intent, instead of only considering peaks on Google search, especially when content goes viral, or there’s a PR crisis.
But both layers are needed to see the full scope of the industry. So, in absolute brand keyword search and traffic growth terms, Hostinger tops the list. Why? Google Ads Keyword Planner data gives us an accurate hint to the situation. Even if ScalaHosting grew at a rate of almost 200%, you can see that in reality it only meant 3,808 searches. Whereas Hostinger at that same stage already had 682,000.
Taking a look at percentages is not enough to draw a conclusion as it gives us an incomplete view of the situation. It can show a massive growth for small companies even if there's barely any increase, while larger companies might have a lesser percentage with double the increase in numbers.
Overall, the findings seem to point at consumer interest shifting towards mid and small-size players at a relatively speedy pace. Whether it will impact the market division and share, we'll find out in the years to come.
Meanwhile, it's worth keeping tabs on top-listed companies to see what they are up to and what they do to spike customers' curiosity. After all, they are the fastest-growing web hosting brands in 2021.
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