Is Hostgator SEO Worth it? Free Alternatives

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Hostgator provides an add-on “SEO” package that promises to do wonderful things for your site. Here’s a list of Hostgator prices for web hosting, and you can see that they have some of the cheapest hosting on the market. So it might seem that an SEO package is the perfect synergy, right?

Except…is it really worth it? Here’s a quick review of what it provides, and some free alternative tools you can use to do the same thing.

Table of Contents:

Hostgator SEO – Feature List

Here are all the features included with Hostgator SEO:

Features Hostgator SEO Start Plan Hostgator SEO Grow Plan
Price $2.95/month $4.17/month
Search Engine Submission
Number of Pages Analyzed 50 500
Scan Frequency Weekly Daily
Number of Keywords Tracked 5 15
Number of Competitors Analyzed 2 4
E-mail Report Frquency Monthly Monthly
Proactive Notifications
Marketing Reports and Recommendations 5 recommendations No Limit

As you can see, the service comes in two tiers:

  • Start
  • Grow

The prices start at $2.95/month. Some of you experienced SEO guys will be rolling your eyes. And for good reason! Here’s a breakdown of each feature, along with alternatives.

Search Engine Submission

Hostgator SEO promises to make your site visible to search engines. You don’t need this. At all. Google and the other search engines are perfectly capable of finding your site on their own. The only issue is when you don’t have any backlinks pointing back to your site at all. and for that, here’s what you can use.

Alternative 1: Google Search Console

To submit your site manually to Google, login to the Google Search Console and add your site. There’s no better way to make sure that Google finds your site. Once set up, you can even add individual pages, and submit them for crawling.

However, you need to manually add some code or a file to your website in order to do this. To make the process easier, use the following instead.

Alternative 2: Yoast SEO Plugin

If you’re using WordPress, I highly recommend the Yoast SEO plugin. Adding your site to all the search engine indexes (not just Google, but also Bing etc) is child’s play once installed. Just follow the instructions on this page:

Submit to Search Engines - Enter Verification Code for Yoast

Pages Analyzed for SEO

The Hostgator SEO tool will check your pages for mistakes that can trip up your site. Like:

  • Titles
  • Meta Tags
  • Category tags
  • Headings
  • Images Alt Descriptions
  • ..

This is indeed quite useful. However, the starter plan only allows for tracking 50 pages. That’s far lower than what you find on even a small-medium sized website, especially when you add a blog with regular content updates (You do have a blog don’t you?).

Alternative Tool

Again, the best alternative to this is simply use the free Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. This plugin goes a step further and actually checks your on-page SEO as you write your post as shown here:

Yoast On-Page SEO

If you’re using another CMS, I’m sure you can find plenty of other free alternatives that will do the job for you.

Scan Frequency

The Start plan for Hostgator SEO checks your site weekly, which is far too low. If you have a sudden problem on your site, you need to be informed about it now. For example, let’s say your SSL certificate expires, and Chrome starts warning visitors away from your site. That’s an emergency that can’t wait 1 week before resolution!

Incidentally, Hostgator has started providing free SSL certificates – and about time too. No one should have to pay for basic SSL!

Alternative Free Tool

Google’s search console does a great job of warning you in real time that something’s wrong with your site. This happened to me recently when SiteGround’s Let’s Encrypt certificates temporarily didn’t auto-renew. I got this warning in my e-mail the next day:

Expired SSL Warning from Google Search Console

Similarly, the search console will also warn you about HTML indexing issues and other hiccups on your site. You don’t need to pay for Hostgator SEO to do that!

Keyword Tracking

This is a genuinely useful tool. Every website needs to keep a close watch on their target keywords and how they’re performing in the search results. The problem with Hostgator SEO is the number of keyword reports it provides.

The “Start” plan allows you to track 5 of them, and the “Grow” allows 15. This is woefully inadequate. To give you an example of how much, my site WP Tweaks currently ranks for almost 7,000 keywords. And it’s just a few months old! I fully expect that number to keep climbing higher and higher.

For even a medium sized website, I’d say you need to keep track of at least 100 keywords. As your site grows, you’ll become aware of more and more keywords that visitors use to find your site and you’ll want to start tracking them as well.

Alternative 1 – Small SEO Tools

This gem of a website allows anyone to quickly check up to 20 keywords for free.

Small SEO Tools - Track Keywords

Yes, you need to manually check them, and it doesn’t provide you with alerts etc. But 20 keywords is already higher than Hostgator SEO’s 15 keyword limit for the higher tier plan! It’s totally worth it.

Alternative 2 – Ahrefs Free Trial

Ahrefs is the king of SEO tools. So far, no other comes close to the size of its index. However, it’s very expensive, starting at $100 a month! Luckily, they have a free tier that you can sign up for with 7-days of unrestricted access for free. After that, you’ll drop to the basic tier which is much more restrictive.

However, even the restrictive version of Ahrefs is far above what the Hostgator SEO package can give you. Not only that, you’ll get your website ranking, backlink reports, site audits, and a whole lot more.

Competitor Analysis

This is the same as all of the above, but for your competitors instead. You can track which keywords they rank for etc. The basic “Start” Hostgator SEO plan allows just 2 competitors, and the “Grow” plan allows 4. It’s pretty low.

Alternatives

Like with the previous section on keyword tracking, you can get the job done with Small SEO Tools, as well as Ahrefs. Easy peasy!

Ahrefs in particular has a very sophisticated competitor analysis section that allows you to identify “content gaps” between you and everyone else. This generates ideas about what content you should be writing in order to close that gap and get ranked along with the competition.

404 Tracking

The Hostgator SEO report will also show you which pages on your site generate “404 Not Found” erros and allow you to correct them. It’s definitely useful.

Alternatives

Personally, I just use this redirect plugin on WordPress to not only find 404s, but also create redirects so that my visitors can still get value out of the page.

The Google search console also warns you about not just 404s, but also other errors including mobile indexing problems. Once you get to know the ins and outs of the Google search console, you’ll be amazed at how powerful it really is!

They Don’t Guarantee Results – Duh!

All the suggestions made by Hostgator SEO are machine generated. There’s no personalized service here. And even if there was, there are no guarantees in SEO. After all by its very nature, there are winners and losers in the SEO game. Don’t believe anyone who claims to guarantee results!

The Hostgator SEO team themselves had to photoshop an image when they wanted to show off their “success” in ranking. Here’s the image they used:

Hostgator SEO Promises

They’re trying to show a result for a “Lorem Ipsum” search. And here are the actual results from a search:

Actual Lorem Ipsum Page

As you can see, it’s not easy to fool Google into ranking something when it shouldn’t. And you would be well advised not to try!

Bottom Line – Is Hostgator SEO Worth it?

On reflection, I would say no. The Hostgator SEO tools do have some utility, but all of that can be obtained from other free sources. And the situations where it’s most useful, are also the most limited. Like the keyword tracker that only allows between 5-15 keywords, instead of hundreds.

Other useful features like on-page SEO can be better performed by plugins on your Content Management System like Yoast, and the rest of the slack can be picked up by webmaster tools like Google and Bing. So I would recommend that you save your money for something else!

The Hostgator SEO tools can only be used if you also purchase hosting from Hostgator. If you’re still undecided about which provider to choose, you can take this quick quiz to find the best web host for you!

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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