What Do You Need to Know About Lost Money from Poor Hosting?

  • Connection between hosting and performance
  • How quickly do people leave a slow site?
  • How valuable is an online customer?
  • What’s the cost of a minute of downtime?
  • How long does it take to resolve the average site disruption?
  • How do performance leaders generally outpace their competition?
  • What benefits arise from a greater focus on performance?
  • Better hosting for the benefits of strong performance


Connection between hosting and performance


Everyone knows that certain types of technology are stronger than others. It would make sense that there are stronger hosting technologies that a company can choose to improve their speed, deliver better user experience, and differentiate themselves from competitors. However, it is understandable that many people’s eyes glaze over when the topic of web hosting or infrastructure are mentioned. There is a lot of subterfuge and selling of products that are ultimately poorly secured and end up costing businesses money because of a general misunderstanding that “hosting is hosting.”


That said, how can we understand or define poor hosting? Well, certainly one of its attributes is that is has lackluster performance. If you have low-quality hosting, it would be assumed that you won’t be able to reliably deliver content and other services at a fast pace to your audience.


Do you think performance doesn’t matter, or that it’s something that you can ignore – that will “take care of itself”? Take a look at these statistics from an August 2016 report by the Aberdeen Group (with more coverage on each of them below):


  • * More than one out of every three people, whether on mobile or desktop, will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • * Information collected by websites that have prioritized strong performance is four times likelier to utilize real-user data.
  • * Companies that speed up their websites are 90% likelier to see an increase in traffic than those that do not.
  • * If an organization improves the performance of its site, it thereby makes itself four times likelier to increase its e-commerce revenue.


How quickly do people leave a slow site?


These numbers are measurements of the number of users who leave a site within just 1, 2, or seconds – according to data collected from 103 different websites for the same Aberdeen report:

  • * At 1 second – 6% of companies say that desktop visitors have left, while 5% of them say that mobile visitors have left.
  • * At 2 seconds – 7% of businesses say that desktop visitors have left, while 14% of them say mobile visitors have departed.
  • * At 3 seconds – 21% of firms say that desktop visitors have left, while 20% of them say mobile visitors have left.


Note that at three seconds, more than one in three companies say people leave – 39% say it’s true of mobile users, while 34% say it’s true of desktop users.


How valuable is an online customer?


Respondents (managers of websites) polled by Aberdeen also provided information on how they value the average customer. Out of those organizations surveyed, here is how much companies said the average user was worth to them:


  • * More than $100 – 1
  • * $91 to 100 – 0
  • * $81 to 90 – 0
  • * $71 to 80 – 3
  • * $61 to 70 – 17
  • * $51 to 60 – 18
  • * $21 to 50 – 24
  • * $11 to 20 – 16
  • * $1 to $10 – 11
  • * $0 – 5.


What’s the cost of a minute of downtime?


Let’s look at this from a different angle: rather than thinking in terms of the value of an individual customer, think about how much it is worth to have your site up and running. How much does it cost the average company if their website goes down?


Here is data from a June 2016 survey by Aberdeen Group. This is how websites valued a minute of downtime, in terms of its cost to their business:


  • * Don’t know – 5%
  • * $40,000 or more per minute – 0%
  • * $20,000 to $39,999 – 1%
  • * $10,000 to $19,999 – 13%
  • * $5000 to $9999 – 15%
  • * $1000 to $4999 – 31%
  • * $500 to $999 – 21%
  • * $100 to $499 – 7%
  • * Less than $100 – 7%.


In the context of poor hosting, you are much likelier to experience downtime. You can draw a direct line from downtime to a negative financial impact on your business.


How much time do you need to resolve a typical site disruption?


Businesses that were surveyed for the above numbers on per-minute cost of downtime (in June 2016) were also asked their average resolution time for the average disruption of services. Here were the percentage of them that estimated typical resolutions of various lengths:


  • * 9 hours or more – 0%
  • * 5 to 8 hours – 9%
  • * 3 to 4 hours – 20%
  • * 1 to 2 hours – 36%
  • * 30 to 59 minutes – 19%
  • * 1 to 29 minutes – 11%
  • * 0 minutes – 5%.


How do performance leaders perform differently?


One way to understand website performance is to look at what the performance leaders are doing. These “leaders” are organizations that were determined by Aberdeen to have consistently high performance, very little downtime, and good user ratings. These models of great performance are significantly likelier to use a broader array of tools to improve their speed and otherwise literally outperform their rivals. Compare the portions of leaders and followers who adopted these mechanisms:


Category of tools “Leader” adoption rate “Follower” adoption rate
from CDN provider 49% 26%
from DNS provider 49% 35%
network performance management 49% 35%
from hosting provider 34% 17%
application performance management 40% 38%


How do performance leaders generally outpace their competition?


Leaders in web performance aren’t just learning and integrating more best practices to speed up their sites. They tend to be more cutting-edge in their relationships with users:

  • * 5 times likelier to figure out the actual source of performance challenges;
  • * 3 times likelier to conduct real-user monitoring;
  • * 3 times likelier to gauge the performance it delivers to web and mobile worldwide;
  • * 65% likelier to look at mobile and web speeds from the user’s point-of-view;
  • * 45% likelier to test with actual day-to-day site traffic.


What benefits arise from a greater focus on performance?


Especially since it is so difficult to get people to your site in the first place, you want to make sure that they stay; in other words, you want strong user retention. However, as indicated in the above statistics, businesses report that people start noticeably leaving their site behind after delays of just 2 or 3 seconds. To keep from losing customers because of performance issues such as slow loading and disruptions in service, the models of high performance in industry (the “leaders”) are investing time into studying and leveraging performance optimization strategies and tools.


By using tools that focus on management and oversight of performance, the performance bellwethers integrate that type of data into business decisions. By incorporating various strategies and diversifying their defenses in that manner, leaders “are able to take an end-to-end approach that makes it possible to find all potential issues, fix them before they impact users, and prevent similar issues from ever coming up,” explained Aberdeen’s IT senior research analyst Jim Rapoza, author of both reports cited here.


When businesses focus on performance, they become likelier to experience a number of key benefits, as indicated by the disparity between leaders and followers on these metrics:


Benefit Among leaders Among followers
Improved understanding of performance challenges 89% 62%
Less downtime 63% 28%
More visitors 58% 31%
More revenue 42% 10%


Better hosting for the benefits of strong performance


Two or three seconds may not seem like long, but it is long enough for many users to flee your site. By using best-in-class tools such as real-user monitoring and deep analytics, companies are able to improve performance and, in turn, achieve much better revenue.


One key way to turn your business in the direction of best-in-class performance tools in by reviewing the backend of your site: your hosting. At KnownHost, our SSD VPS packages have all the advantages of VPS hosting packages with the additional performance of solid state drives. Compare plans.

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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 time Impact at 1 week Impact at 4 weeks
1 more second 4.9% drop 4.6% drop
2 more seconds 5.0% drop
3 more seconds 7.2% drop 7.9% 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.
  • 2.9 seconds will beat 50% of websites.
  • 1.7 seconds will be better than 75% of sites.
  • 0.8 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 time Impact at 1 week Impact at 4 weeks
1 more second 4.9% drop 4.6% drop
2 more seconds 5.0% drop
3 more seconds 7.2% drop 7.9% 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 >>>

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