Load Time

What Do You Need to Know Right Now, This Year, about Load Time?

Does it matter if your site is fast? Well, ummm… Are you serious? Of course it does. However, we all know how much business is about scale, so, how much does speed matter? Let’s break down what we know about site speed by answering a few common questions on load time:


  • How important is page load time to Google?
  • How fast should your site be?
  • No really: How fast should your site be in 2017?


The Financial Times conducted a couple of tests in spring 2016, in preparation for a site redesign. “We wanted to understand how much the speed of our website affected user engagement, specifically, the quantity of articles read, one of our key measures of success,” explained the researchers. “Using that data we then wanted to quantify the impact on our revenue.”


Does that sound like you? It’s a pragmatic thing to want to know. The study is actually kind of funny, because it involved damaging UX: the most straightforward way the researchers could devise to get good math was to slow down the site to varying degrees and compare to the basis (i.e., their site as it loads “in real life”).


This is the mean percentage loss of article reviews as the media outlet slowed down its site:


Page load timeImpact at 1 weekImpact at 4 weeks
1 more second4.9% drop4.6% drop
2 more seconds5.0% drop
3 more seconds7.2% drop7.9% drop


According to a different study, highlighted by Kissmetrics, you need your site to load in just 2 seconds in order to meet the needs of nearly half of users (47%). Meanwhile, 2 in 5 say they will go elsewhere if your site hasn’t populated in 3 seconds. Sound like you need to be fast? We’ll explain below why your site must be much faster than 2 seconds this year if you don’t want to lose a huge volume of customers.


To beat the speed factor, let’s have a discussion about what performance expectations on the Internet look like right now.


How important is page load time to Google?


Google has made it clear that speed is now a factor used in its search algorithm. To be fair, note that the formula used by the search giant, just like any other, is extremely sophisticated. After all, speed is one of 200 Google ranking factors, the top three of which are links, content, and RankBrain. In other words, speed is not the end-all and be-all of the web. As a general rule (please write this down), you can’t just offer fast-loading pages with garbage information on them about topics that are of interest to no one, disengaged from the rest of the Internet, and succeed.


Nonetheless, let’s be straightforward: speed is extremely important to online success. Picture that last statement underlined twice. This is why: Google, that aspect of your effort, is just one piece of how speed impacts your presence. What about people coming in from elsewhere? What about your site itself? Fast-loading pages mean better UX, and, in turn, stronger conversion rates.


Many companies don’t pay any attention to site speed, despite Google’s prioritization of it. Something many people don’t think about is that search engine spiders will crawl your site more slowly. That’s very problematic, especially if you are putting up a lot of content or rearranging your structure. Think about it: it can’t be positive for Google to experience poor performance on your site.


How fast should your site be?


Well, the basic answer to that question is as fast as possible. Everyone knows that speed has value. However, getting a better sense of the specific impact in certain scenarios will help you determine the amount you want to invest in performance.


First of all, let’s get back to our comments above about the research in Kissmetrics. That study noted that 47% of users will be displeased if you site doesn’t load in 2 seconds. 40% say they’ll abandon if the site isn’t up in 3 seconds. However, here’s the clincher: That research is from 2009! Think that figure hasn’t gone down?


Second, let’s look at research highlighted by Cami Bird of SEMrush. First of all, Bird is not impressed with the data that’s available on page loading time heading into 2017. “[T]he numbers on page speed suck,” she said bluntly. “Often, the same stats are posted time and time again and are dated while technology is anything but dated, it’s continually improving.” Having made that statement, she mentioned a study performed by Geoff Kenyon of Moz that had the following results:


  • 5 seconds will outpace 25% of online sites.
  • 9 seconds will beat 50% of websites.
  • 7 seconds will be better than 75% of sites.
  • 8 seconds will outperform 94% of the Internet.


Great, now we’re getting somewhere… Not so fast! That data is from 2011! Again, 2.9 seconds might sounds fine looking at those numbers – from half a decade ago.


Third, let’s get into further information on the study by the technology department at The Financial Times – which was conducted in April 2016. Here, for review, are the results in terms of mean percentage reduction in article views:


Page load timeImpact at 1 weekImpact at 4 weeks
1 more second4.9% drop4.6% drop
2 more seconds5.0% drop
3 more seconds7.2% drop7.9% drop


The FT conducted a couple of 4-week experiments. One split a pool of subscribers evenly in half. There were control users who were delivered the site “as-is” and experimental users who saw it with an intentional five-second delay, per page. The impact was huge – well, of course… 5 seconds is a long time to wait online.


The second analysis was revised so that they could further segment wait time.


The control users (Group A) experienced the site exactly the same – with no artificial, imposed hindrance. Group B was given 1 second of delay, while groups C and D were given 2- and 3-second delays, respectively.


“The delay was achieved by inserting a blocking CSS call within each HTML page,” noted the FT technologists. “The CSS referenced a file that was configured to (artificially) respond in one, two and three seconds, depending on the test variant.”


As indicated above, the researchers were also interested in determining the effect of speed on the publication’s revenue. An inability to create engagement (as indicated by additional page views) is detrimental to two absolutely key streams of FT revenue: subscriptions and advertising. Ads are gauged in terms of number of views but also in terms of how long the user stays on a page.


It’s clear from our test that the speed of our website affects both of these revenue streams, over the short term, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and in the long-term millions,” said the researchers. (Oh, I should probably mention, as a reminder, that a British pound is worth more than a US dollar – so this is a lot of money.)


No really: How fast should your site be in 2017?


Beyond knowing that search engines use speed as a ranking factor, they probably have good general advice on page load time, right? Maile Ohye commented in a Google Webmasters video that 2 seconds was what they consider an acceptable length for ecommerce sites. Keeping that in mind, Ohye added that Google always strives to hit a half-second. Oh wait, that information was published in 2010.


“Half a second is fast, to put it in layman terms it’s close to a blink, while two seconds is shorter than one breath,” said Bird, “and that pagespeed time is what they thought websites 6 years ago should be aiming for.”


Technology is rapidly developing, as we all know. It seems pragmatic that the average site in 2017 would need to be able to meet the goal Google had for itself seven years ago… right? Can your site achieve a half-second? Many cannot.


Aim for half a second with lightning-fast hosting


How do you get your site faster? Well, you can do all the work you want on your end, but it really all starts out with having the right engine. At KnownHost, our managed SSD VPS packages are a cost-effective solution for those who want the benefits of a managed VPS and the super-fast speed of SSD drives. Compare plans >>>

Read More


The Beginner’s Guide to cPanel and WHM

You’ve been set up with your new hosting environment and you’re ready to get to work. Whether you’re launching your own site or you’re looking to re-sell hosting solutions as part of your portfolio of services, understanding your options for accessing and controlling your site via the backend is key to properly maintaining your web properties. Knowing your way around the server environment is critical to running your site as well as providing the proper access to your customers if you are indeed re-selling hosting services.


Your VPS or dedicated server can have many purposes. Not only is it a place to keep your site. It can also be a “property” that you divide up between your clients. Depending on the needs of your individual clients, you could easily host multiple resource light sites on one VPS. A dedicated server gives you even more horsepower that you can divvy up accordingly. But in order to effectively do that, you need to know your way around the backend.


Let’s take a look at the tools of the trade you’ll be relying on to access your websites from the server side. The main two interfaces are cPanel and WHM, which you will see are very closely related.




When it comes to both the end-user and the administrator, it’s important to be familiar with cPanel because that is where a person can easily access the backend of their site. Instead of hacking away via the command line, cPanel is a relatively easy to understand control panel graphical interface that allows the user to manage both their website and their hosting account. While there are many variants on control panel software, cPanel is the most well known and widely used. It’s used for such functions as managing your website assets and files, creating databases, and establishing email accounts along with any auto-responders you want to have built into your site. Some security features are baked into cPanel as well, including password-protected directories, IP address denials, and SSL/TLS.


That’s cPanel in a nutshell. Now, let’s look at an overview of WHM.




WHM (Web Host Manager) grants administrative access to the backend of cPanel. Yes, one can go even “deeper” than cPanel with their server access. In fact, your account’s WHM is like the manager of all the cPanel administrators that fall under its umbrella. This is of particular interest to resellers, though anyone with a hosting account should be familiar with the functionality of WHM.


First off, if you’re a reseller, you’ll be glad to know you can customize the appearance of your WHM environment to reflect your branding. This is important for marketing purposes so it doesn’t look like you’re using a generic vendor template. You can also automate various management tasks that would otherwise be time consuming.


The ability to create and manage user accounts let’s you offer your clients cPanel access for their particular sites while allowing you to still have high level access over every individual site with a cPanel being run off your VPS or dedicated server. This essentially turns the server you’re paying for every month into an apartment complex, and the cPanel access you grant your clients are the keys to their respective units.


In summary, cPanel and WHM are parts of the same software. The first is the user interface and the latter is the administrator interface.


Basics of cPanel


If you are new to cPanel or you want to provide your clients with some beginner’s tips and tricks, the following is for you. Here are some things you want to take care of right out of the box:


Establish a strong password


This might be a basic tip for life in general these days, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind when setting up your server. Out of the box, you are given a username and password delivered via email. These credentials not only give you access to the cPanel interface, but also MySQL databases, FTP, emails, and SSH access. Therefore, if your email account gets compromised, that initial credentials email can be the key to hackers getting unlimited access to your server environment. It’s crucial to change your password right away so as to not be using the default credentials provided for you.


You want to be strategic with your password as well. Change it with fair regularity, avoid common words (ideally, words at all), don’t use number sequences like your birthday, use passwords longer than 8 characters, and don’t use autologin features that most modern web browsers come with where they save your passwords for you.


Understand security options


Though the overall security of your VPS or dedicated server is ultimately something that falls under your hosting company, there are things in cPanel you can do to bolster your security. And, frankly, there are things you as a user need and are responsible to do yourself to make sure your installation is secure.


The first thing you’ll want to do is enable some sort of spam mail filter (SpamAssassin is good for this). Enable the option to “discard with error to sender (at SMTP time)” and don’t use the forward to other address option unless it’s necessary. Also be sure enable hotlink protection to prevent the illegitimate use of your bandwidth.


Get familiar with the server environment


This is a simple thing to do, but an important one. When first exploring cPanel, make note of your server’s information. This is located on the sidebar of the main page. There are a variety of situations where you’ll need to be familiar with this information. Knowing things like your server’s operating system, applications, kernel version, hosting information, and IP address is critical. You’ll also want to get familiar with cPanel Service Status so you can know things like how much hard disk space you’ve used up, your memory usage, and the CPU in use. This is an initial place to go to if you’re experiencing  service issues and you’re looking for a possible cause.


The Advantages of Managed Hosting


When you use KnownHost for your hosting needs, you’re getting cPanel and WHM access with your plan. But, it’s understandable that you don’t want to worry too much about the actual server environment when you have the customer facing aspect of your sites to worry about. That’s why a managed VPS makes the most sense for the typical business user. You have cPanel access for when you need it, but concerns like backups and migrations shouldn’t be on your mind. That’s where we come in. KnownHost also offers complementary DDOS attack protection which will help with security concerns.


With managed hosting, you also don’t have to worry about downtime because we monitor your site 24/7 for irregularities and service interruptions. You’re already concerned with fulfilling customer orders. Why worry about having to combat things like DDOS attacks as well? You don’t want to have to troubleshoot why your site might be having disruptions. Leave that to the pros.


At KnownHost, we do the heavy lifting for you and we’re here to help. If you’re looking for a reliable place to host your site or flexible packages you can resell to your clients, we’d love to chat.

Read More

Subway Train

Why Is It Easy to See That E-Commerce is Speed?

Speed is essential to e-commerce success. That means, more and more, that speed is central to business – as indicated by recent statistics on e-commerce and, specifically, m-commerce (mobile e-commerce). RealTruck.com is one example of better revenue arising from a mobile focus.


  • The shocking impact of 100 milliseconds
  • Why is the ecommerce market increasingly important?
  • With m-commerce trending, we shop on the go
  • Smart m-commerce and other continuing 2017 trends
  • Speed and the mobile app: RealTruck.com
  • What can you do to accelerate?


Business is all about prioritizing – and so much of success depends not on understanding that something is important to business but on understanding how critical it is when compared to other potential investments. For instance, we can all agree that speed is critical for online sales. However, we may disagree on just how valuable boosting your company’s speed is.


The Shocking Impact of 100 Milliseconds


Speed has become more prominent of a factor as studies have been released demonstrating just how pivotally it impacts revenue. Amazon was one of the first organizations to do research on the connection between performance and conversion rate. The company’s 2006 study, “Make Data Useful,” found that a 100-millisecond slower page load equated to a 1% reduction in sales.


According to 2016 figures from eMarketer highlighted in Womens Wear Daily, here is how the top 10 US ecommerce retailers would be affected by a 100-millisecond delay, in annual losses:


  1. Amazon.com – $792.68 million
  2. Wal-Mart Stores – $134.84 million
  3. Apple – $120.00 million
  4. Staples – $107.00 million
  5. Macy’s – $48.29 million
  6. The Home Depot – $42.67 million
  7. Best Buy – $37.80 million
  8. QVC – $37.22 million
  9. Costco Wholesale – $36.18 million
  10. Nordstrom – $26.99 million.


Why is the ECommerce Market Increasingly Important?


To better understand just how large the e-commerce market is, and how much it continues to grow even today, let’s look at stats from the US Census Bureau (noting that these figures are adjusted for seasonal variation but not pricing fluctuations). In the third quarter of 2016, ecommerce represented an estimated $101.3 billion in United States retail sales – a 4.0 percent rise over Q2 2016.  Overall, retail sales hit $1.2125 trillion – up 0.9 percent over Q2.


These upward bumps may seem small or insignificant, but what’s particularly eye-popping is the growth over the course of the year. “The third quarter 2016 e-commerce estimate increased 15.7 percent (±1.9%) from the third quarter of 2015 while total retail sales increased 2.2 percent (±0.7%) in the same period,” noted the Census. “E-commerce sales in the third quarter of 2016 accounted for 8.4 percent of total sales.”


With M-Commerce Trending, We Shop on the Go


M-commerce is responsible for the vast majority of recent e-commerce growth.


The 2016 Mobile 500 study, highlighted by Mark Brohan in Internet Retailer, found that m-commerce, mobile online shopping, was growing at almost three times the rate of general e-commerce. At the time of the analysis, the magazine reported that m-commerce accounted for about one-third of all online sales (29.7% of online sales vs. 24.6% of them in 2014). The grand total for m-commerce rose from $75.03 billion to $104.05 billion between 2014 and 2015. We’ll get into a couple of supporting reports below.


Part of the reason m-commerce is becoming increasingly prevalent is simply that more people own tablets and smartphones. In fact, an October 2015 report from Pew Research Center found that almost two-third of American consumers (68%) own smartphones, while close to half (45%) own tablets. The smartphone use has almost doubled from its 35% adoption rate in 2011.


This growth can’t continue forever, explained Monica Anderson of Pew. “Smartphone ownership is nearing the saturation point with some groups,” she said. “86% of those ages 18-29 have a smartphone, as do 83% of those ages 30-49 and 87% of those living in households earning $75,000 and up annually.”


Although the growth in m-commerce won’t continue forever, it’s clearly now at an all-time high – with the basic findings of the Mobile 500 project echoed in other research. Gartner has forecast that by 2017, half of online sales dollars will come by way of m-commerce. As of 2015, the industry analyst found that smartphones and tablets represented 22 percent of revenue.


Finally, on November 14, 2016, comScore released its finding on m-commerce for the third quarter of 2016. The analyst found that total e-commerce sales amounted to $84.3 billion – fully one-fifth of which was through smartphones and tablets.


“While we’re still experiencing a pronounced channel shift from desktop to mobile spending,” Adam Lella of comScore clarified, “spending on both platforms has been strong throughout 2016, which generally bodes well for the upcoming season.”


2017: Smart M-Commerce and Investing in Experience


Jennifer Polk of Gartner commented that certain sectors had more of an incentive to move fast on mobile – both on the functionality and promotion fronts. She noted that big-box stores don’t have to be as focused on m-commerce because they rely more on the in-store experience. Nonetheless, updating of credit card processing standards in 2015 to combat fraud meant that retailers had to revise their point-of-sale (POS) software. Many of those updates also more broadly facilitated mobile transactions.


Companies that are working on building their m-commerce, which should be the vast majority of retailers, should create cross-departmental teams so that better path-to-purchase and post-purchase can be achieved for mobile consumers. One item that should be addressed is mobile wallet support.


Furthermore, just like the m-commerce projection above, Gartner also expects half of the innovation financing that was allotted for product upgrades in 2015 to be budgeted instead for user experience (UX) by 2017. Gartner had stated in 2015 that nearly nine out of ten (89%) firms would list UX as their central competitive differentiator by 2016.


“In many industries, hypercompetition has eroded traditional product and service advantages, making customer experience the new competitive battlefield,” advised Gartner research director Jake Sorofman. “This is no truer than in durable consumer products markets, which face disproportionate commodity pressure as consumer access to pricing and product information via search and social channels undermine brand loyalty.”


The extent to which differentiation can be maintained through product and business model development is limited, since the market is so competitive in terms of that general innovation. That’s why almost three out of every four businesses were spending more on UX in 2015 than they did in 2014.


Speed and the Rise of the Mobile App


As the prominence of e-commerce and m-commerce continue to build, speed is a variable against which success can be measured with an increasing degree of accuracy. It isn’t easy, though: in 2014, Forrester reported that performance was the #1 challenge for companies in improving their UX.


Pixlee director of product marketing Andrew Higgins described why speed is such a top priority. “[A]s companies continue to innovate and add new technologies to improve and differentiate their eCommerce stores,” he said, “speed remains a top concern and criteria to evaluate new platforms.”


Speed and the Mobile App: RealTruck.com


RealTruck.com, which was listed as #295 in the 2016 Mobile 500, has profited from focusing more on m-commerce. Between 2014 and 2015, the company’s m-commerce increased to $18.0 million, a 107% improvement.


RealTruck.com has been gradually simplified and functionally optimized over the years for users accessing via smartphone and tablet. Its mobile site makes it easy to search for and buy parts based on a truck’s make/model, year, and other parameters – so that there are effectively numerous ways to find each product.


What Can You Do to Accelerate?


One simple and effective way to accelerate your business is to switch from shared hosting to a VPS backed by solid state drives – offering better speed by foregoing moving parts. At KnownHost, our Managed SSD VPS packages offer enterprise-grade hardware running on SSD drives for optimal performance. Compare plans.

Read More


Is LiteSpeed Actually More Powerful Than What You Now Have?

  • Best-Selling Commercial Web Server
  • If Your Web Server Were a Clothing Store…
  • Is LiteSpeed’s Model Better than Apache’s?
  • Is LSWS Still Worth It over Apache and Nginx?
  • Going LiteSpeed
  • The Truly Light-Speed VPS


Best-Selling Commercial Web Server


The LiteSpeed website is convincing that its product is enterprise-grade and outperforms competition. “LSWS is the 4th most popular web server on the internet and the #1 commercial web server,” says LiteSpeed developer LiteSpeed Technologies. “Upgrading your web server to LiteSpeed Web Server will improve your performance and lower operating costs.”


The fact is, though, as with anything, it’s hard to know which web server really does perform the best and isn’t just a matter of hype. Beyond the marketing copy itself, sure, you can test various options yourself. Other than using your own testing and direct application to your situation, it’s hard to figure out whom to believe. Is the developer providing straightforward information? How much do people commenting online about which ones they prefer really know about web servers? What are their particular biases?


Let’s look at nginx in comparison to Apache, taking special note of how event-driven architecture might be preferable to the process-based model; compare nginx and Apache along similar lines; and look at LiteSpeed in comparison to nginx, based on a couple of people who have used both of them.


If Your Web Server Were a Clothing Store…


You might start to think that nginx is the best web server. After all, let’s just look at its key positive trait in comparison to Apache.


Nginx is event-driven, or asynchronous, while Apache is process-based.


There’s a great analogy on this aspect that was provided by WordPress consultant Mark Jaquith on Quora – still relevant although it was posted a few years ago. Jaquith described the different web server options in terms of different experiences at a clothing store.


He suggested to think about a clothing store where you walk in and there’s an assistant who can immediately help you find what you need. The only way you can buy something from the store is if you make your way around with the assistant. They welcome you, show you products, direct you to the changing rooms, take your payment, and say goodbye. The problem here is that each customer that comes through the door requires another sales assistant, Mark noted. “The store only has a set number of personal shoppers available,” he said. “If none are available, new customers have to wait.” That’s a process-based clothing store. In other words, Apache.


Picture another clothing store. At that store, when you get to the store, there is someone there to greet you. When you want to find a suit or a dress, or use the fitting rooms, the door is unlocked for you. When you want to check out, you get help from a cashier. That’s an event-driven clothing store. In other words, nginx.


Essentially, with the event-driven option, you don’t have your resources waiting around while you change into different outfits, jokes Mark. That’s basically, in a nutshell, how you can understand one of the core arguments for common Apache replacements.


Is LiteSpeed’s Model Better than Apache’s?


The event-driven model is not just used by nginx, though. It’s also used by LiteSpeed to describe what it considers to be a major advantage over Apache.


“The biggest difference between LiteSpeed Web Server and Apache comes down to architecture and the way that they handle connections,” notes LiteSpeed. “LSWS is event-driven and Apache is process-based.”


As indicated by the clothing analogy, each connection with Apache is assigned its own thread or process. The continual creation of processes is an unnecessary drain on resources. The event-driven architecture of LiteSpeed or nginx instead meets the needs of users via several processes so that fewer resources are consumed.


Since you make your site more efficient in this way, you are able to meet the needs of a larger number of clients simultaneously, faster than you could before, without having to get a more powerful server or hosting plan, explains the developer.


Is LSWS Still Worth It over Apache and Nginx?


People wonder whether it really is worth the extra cost to add LiteSpeed to their server for a small cost when they could get Apache or nginx for free.


According to writer and consultant Jen Lepp, the answer is a definite yes. “I used it on a VPS running a high traffic WordPress blog, and I was WAY more impressed with it than I was with Nginx,” she said. “For individual situations I think it’s worth the money.”


Lepp’s comments are at least an interesting case-study perspective if not the final word. After all, they were made in 2011.


It’s helpful to review another, more recent perspective – actually one made by someone who’s posted 1,546 times to Web Hosting Talk since 2000, Australian “web hosting master” Eva2000. The user said in July 2016 that, based on comparing the performance of different web servers in processing more than half a million unique IP visits daily, LiteSpeed could very well be worth the extra cost. “Yes Litespeed is still worth it especially if you’re focused on HTTP/2 HTTPS/SSL serving as WHM,” the webmaster said. “Performance wise still Litespeed especially for non-cached PHP via LASPI PHP beats Nginx reverse proxy + Apache as ultimately non-cached hits will hit the Apache backend and PHP.” To be specific, the non-cached hits can occur either through mod_php (loading PHP as an Apached module so Apache can interpret them) or php-fpm (FastCGI Process Manager).


Going LiteSpeed


Now that we have a little evidence that LiteSpeed might be preferable, let’s take a look at it a little bit more up-close.


Simple Apache transition – LSWS was designed for compatibility with popular Apache capabilities such as .htaccess, mod_security and mod_rewrite. The web server is able to load configuration files developed for Apache and can be used in place of it, switching it out via hosting control panels in just 15 minutes, with uptime at 100% throughout. In contrast to alternative proxy-based options, LiteSpeed was built with a focus on simple and problem-free transition from Apache.


Speed and stability – Beyond the event-driven model, LiteSpeed accelerates the delivery of static content via rapid kernel syscalls and provides stronger PHP speed via LSAPI. It’s geared toward scalability and even preventing DDoS attacks.


Security – Again, LSWS is compatible with mod_security. Plus, there are additional DDoS protections such as bandwidth and connection throttling. “We work constantly to address the Internet’s newest security issues — such as SSL BEAST attacks,” notes LiteSpeed, “and release security updates as soon as new attack methods become known.”


Lower hardware and support bills – The licensing costs for LiteSpeed are typically lower than the amount you would need to put into your hardware to approximate similar results with Apache. The switch is extraordinarily easy, even cPanel-supported. Support costs are cut because you are using the same hosting control panel with which you’re familiar while relieving your server strain.


More money – The combination of better speed and lower support costs leads to more revenue for your business.



Are you interested in what LSWS can do for the performance of your business? At KnownHost, you can use LiteSpeed to optimize your fully managed, optimized, and scalable virtual private server. Compare our VPS hosting packages.

Read More