SiteGround Tried to Take Down my GoGeek Review

I’ve been a fan of SiteGround for years. In fact, I hosted my sites with them for 7 years. In my reviews, I have consistently labeled them as a “premium” service, going so far as to call them “The Apple of shared hosting”. I’m no longer an affiliate, however. They didn’t want any affiliates to refer to “coupons” or “discounts”, and since my site compares prices and discounts of web hosts, we parted ways. Nevertheless, I continued to refer sales to them, since it didn’t cost me anything, and the review added value to WP-Tweaks.

So imagine my surprise when a person from the SiteGround affiliate team called Gergana sent me this e-mail:

E-mail from SiteGround asking me to remove a review from my site.
E-mail from SiteGround asking me to remove a review from my site.

The linked article is a review of SiteGround’s GoGeek hosting plan – which I myself was using! I still think it’s an excellent plan. However, SiteGround increased their prices significantly and replaced cPanel with their own custom interface. For these reasons, I no longer recommend SiteGround and direct users towards NameHero instead. SiteGround and NameHero are comparable in many ways, but NameHero is way cheaper and retains cPanel.

The tone of this e-mail was vaguely threatening, and I wasn’t comfortable hosting with a provider who asks people to take down perfectly good content that doesn’t infringe on any trademark or copyright. My review was merely an opinion, and we don’t engage in thought-policing on the Internet. So I immediately moved my domain name registration away from SiteGround to Cloudflare (and saved a few bucks). A few days later, I migrated my entire site to NameHero.

SiteGround Wasn’t Interested in Corrections

Nonetheless, I didn’t want any incorrect information on my site. So I politely asked Gergana to point out the inaccuracies and said I would gladly make the corrections. Here’s a screenshot of the e-mail I sent:

Asking SiteGround to specify which facts I got wrong
Asking SiteGround to specify which facts I got wrong

To my mind, this was more than fair. I’m not going to take down content just because someone has a problem with my opinion. So I gave them a chance to help me correct the factual inaccuracies. A couple of days later, I got this reply:

SiteGround doesn't want me to correct the article.
SiteGround doesn’t want me to correct the article.

This time I get a response from another rep, telling me that I’m describing their services in an “out-of-date” manner (as if that’s illegal). He also said that the terms of the affiliate agreement stipulated that after its termination, I had to (quote):

“Refrain from any actions which may directly or indirectly adversely affect the image and reputation of SiteGround, as well the business relations with its current and potential clients

This is such a broad claim, that it’s almost meaningless. Almost anything can “directly or indirectly affect the image of SiteGround”! A literal reading of this claim would mean that I’m prohibited from even discussing SiteGround with my wife if it “adversely affects SiteGround’s image”. Moreover, the e-mail demanded that I remove all links to SiteGround – as if I had no right to even link to their publicly available website! Any such claim would be laughed out of a courtroom if it ever came to that.

I Continue to Generate Free Sales for SiteGround!

I once again attempted to ask them for clarification about what exactly was wrong with the article:

Once again asking for clarification
Once again asking for clarification

But to no avail. This time I got back an outright rude reply from the first person who sent me the e-mail, demanding that I take down the review entirely:

Demand for a take down
Demand for a takedown

Interestingly, the spokeswoman is worried that I’m “continuing to generate sales” for SiteGround! How bad can my review be if those who read it are still clicking through and purchasing the service? Sounds like free marketing to me, especially since they don’t have to pay out affiliate commissions. But such is the insanity of the situation.

Also, it’s certainly not true that “almost the entire information in the article is inaccurate”. I went over it once again, and while I did find some things that had changed, it was nothing major. So I made the changes, and am now awaiting further developments. My new web host NameHero has indicated that it won’t be so easy for them to demand that I remove perfectly legal content.

I posted my situation on Reddit, and it went over about as well as you can expect something like this to go. Almost everyone told me to just ignore SiteGround’s outrageous demands.

Terrible PR for SiteGround

If SiteGround thinks it can strong-arm people into removing reviews about their products even when they’re not receiving monetary compensation, that’s just naive. Particularly if you’re a website owner like me with access to my own platform – a platform that just so happens to deal with web hosting reviews! What did they think was going to happen? Now not only is the content still up, but it’s also making the rounds on social media and this blog post.

So this is an extremely clumsy self-own by SiteGround. Instead of being happy that I’m still generating sales for them without needing to pay out affiliate commissions, they tried to pull a ham-fisted bullying tactic with no force or reason behind it.

Let’s see how well that works out for them.

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!

Comments

  1. Jason Martin says

    Ignore them they can’t do crap. Siteground management is mostly ******.

    Now that’s a review they can bitch about.

    Reply

  2. Hey Bhagwad,

    I saw your comments on reddit and also read your review here. I agree with you on this. Yeah it’s crazy how much money they charge on renewals. I have the Growbig plan for a few sites and it was about to renew for $299/yr! I didn’t renew it due to costs. I just feel that it’s better to migrate sites somewhere else to save your money and have less stress.

    I think that affiliates recommend products and services all the time that they like. If there is another product or service that offers better value for your visitors, why should it matter that you send traffic to their competitors? I have never used Namehero, but if they are better, then they’re better.

    Reply

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