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The last month has flown past in a blur of fur & benchmarks, as promised we’re planning to keep these monthly posts going so you can get an idea of how ServerBear is progressing, whether or not we’re growing & what new features we’re actively working on.

If you’re just joining us now, have a look at our post from last month on the launch of ServerBear.

Last month I was on holidays in the beautiful town of Byron Bay for over a week, which meant I had some much needed downtime to speak with hosts & get lots of content added. This month, the tables turned on us & we found ourselves not needing to be as proactive but getting a lot more requests from hosts & users organically. This in itself is great but also problematic, I’ve found myself spending less time on reaching out to hosts for benchmarks. Something I plan to correct in October.

Traffic Stats

Some good growth this month with a total of 9,443 visits, that’s almost a 100% increase over the previous 2 months combined. You’ll notice a few jumps in the traffic levels on the chart below, these can be attributed to a few things:

  1. Our update post got quite a bit of traction on Low End Talk last month.
  2. We’ve been utilising the Industry Announcements forum on Web Hosting Talk to post an update every few weeks.
  3. When we add a new host or benchmarks we announce it on Twitter (@serverbear), a few bigger hosts retweeted to their large fanbase.
  4. Some hosts are including our benchmarks in offers on Low End Box.
  5. Quite a number of hosts are now linking to their benchmarks in forum posts (RamNode, Front Range Hosting, PrismaVPS, NinjaHawk, fileMEDIASSDVirt & WSWD), keep an eye on our sales numbers below to see if you see a correlation.

What’s interesting is that we have an incredibly high returning visitor rate of 46% so hopefully the nature of the site means we’re a little stickier than your typical web hosting review site.

One of the contributing factors to our growth this month is the increase we’ve seen in search engine traffic. Of the 2,309 visits from Google 1,507 are (not provided) which makes it difficult to see which terms we’re ranking for, it also shows that a large majority of the users finding us from search results are logged in.

Some of the popular landing pages from organic search were (looking at these it would seem having some of those pages linked from the sidebar on the blog here is helping with search traffic):

  1. Low End Boxes (43 Visits)
  2. Unmetered VPS (30 Visits)
  3. SSD VPS Benchmarks (22 Visits)
  4. Cheap VPS (22 Visits)
  5. Installing UnixBench on Ubuntu (22 Visits)

Site Stats

So the stats are the important part, if anything else we want to ensure these numbers are increasing every month.

  • 800+ New Benchmarks
  • 76 code commits
  • 21 bugs squashed (usually by sitting on them)
  • 100% success rate contacting hosts, this month we actually setup UserVoice which means more hosts have been contacting us (sorry if we haven’t gotten back to everyone yet).
  • 40 hosts contacted us in the last month via our contact form.
  • 34 hosts added (1.13 / day), much less than I would have liked.
  • 517 hosting plans added (17.23 / day)
  • 23% of links to hosts are affiliated now, we keep track of which hosts we’re sending traffic to & seeing if there’s an affiliate program.
  • 22 hosting coupons were added, 5 of these are exclusive ServerBear only coupons (which I’ll list below).
  • 227 Tweets & 100 Twitter followers (@serverbear).
  • 3 new Blog posts
  • 25 server porn pictures posted

Exclusive Coupons for September

We’ve had a number of hosts give us exclusive coupons this month so I thought it’d be nice to call them out each month in this post (ordered by best discount to lowest):

Popular Hosts & Plans

Most Benchmarked Plan: BuyVM OpenVZ 256MB
Most Popular Benchmark: ProviderService Xen 512MB
Most Popular VPS Host: RamNode
Most Popular Dedicated Host: Softlayer
Most Popular Cloud Host: DigitalOcean
Most Popular Plan: TBC
Most Popular Category: VPS (followed by IO Benchmarks)
Most Popular Blog Post: Our August Update Post

Affiliate Signups

We’ve seen a good jump in affiliate signups this month, I’m pretty dubious about the tracking on some providers that aren’t using WHMCS (Rackspace of all hosts doesn’t track anything, they may as well delete their program). Almost makes me think that there could be a decent market purely for someone to help consolidate all the hosting affiliate programs into a nice interface.

RamNode – 31 Signups (the 31% coupon obviously played a big role here)
BudgetVM – 30 Signups
URPad – 8 Signups
PhotonVPS – 7 Signups
Front Range Hosting – 6 Signups
ChicagoVPS – 6 Signups
64u – 2 Signups
FiberVolt – 2 Signups
VPS.net – 2 Signups
GridVirt – 1 Signup
Hostigation – 1 Signup
ReThinkVPS – 1 Signup
VPS Node Box – 1 Signup

So if we’ve sent 98 trackable sales & we have 23% affiliate coverage that gives us approximately 426 sales sent to web hosts in the last month (this is just an approximation, could be more or less). We had 5,646 unique visitors which gives a conversion rate per unique visitor of ~7.5%. These figures alone are a 400% increase in what we’ve seen during the first 2 months of launch!

Development & New Features

Development has been a bit slower this month, we’ve fixed a heap of bugs & really been trying to listen to our users to improve things.

Public/Private Benchmarks: This was perhaps the area we had the most feedback on last month, users were annoyed that they simply couldn’t browse through the benchmarks. Now when you view the benchmark tab of any host you can see a list of all the completed benchmarks. Clicking on the report link will allow you to view the benchmark in all its glory, if a user has chosen to make their report private then you’ll see N/A beside that particular report.

Making your benchmark private is easy, just click on the Keep my report private checkbox in our Run a Benchmark modal.

GEOIP Information: You can see the location of the server that ran a particular benchmark now on the benchmarks tab & also in the reports. This should allow you to compare results between locations & Data centers. Please be aware that GEOIP is not 100% accurate, so quite often they won’t match up with the exact location of the DC (but it should be within the right area for you to make an assumption).

Server Porn: We had an idea to create a Tumblr blog that shares pictures of server setups, which is commonly known as Server Porn. We’re quickly running out of content to post, so if you have any pictures you can submit them here.

Plan Archiving: What happens if a host stops selling a particular plan? Surely those users still want to be able to benchmark it? These were issues we were seeing when keeping plan data updated. So if a plan becomes unavailable at a host or they don’t sell it anymore it won’t show in our filtering data but you still will be able to submit & view the benchmarks for it.

Better Coupon Pages: We had some feedback from users that we didn’t have enough information about coupon codes. So if you head over to the coupon page for any host now you can see more details about that code & we have also added the ability to click to copy to clipboard.

Homepage Widgets: We felt the homepage looked a little bear so we added a widget for IOPS Performance & also a general widget to show the latest benchmarks/plans/coupons added.

Moving Blog: Lots of users were complaining that our blog was unreachable, since it was on Tumblr we made the decision to move it to an LEB host. Nick at @RamNode gave us a great deal on an SSD VPS in his new Atlanta DC, so the blog is now hosted on WordPress there :)

Filtering Updates: We’ve been working a bit behind the scenes to make our filtering a little faster to load, now that we’re getting more & more data we’re keeping an eye on this.

FIO Benchmark: We’re experimenting with FIO benchmarks in our test now, initially we were using the number of processor cores as the number of threads however on larger core systems this was slowing the whole node down. So we’re just running with 1 thread for both reads & writes. These numbers aren’t being used in any of our data just yet, but you will get data when you report a benchmark.

Patched UnixBench: UnixBench doesn’t play well with more than 16 cores, since some hosts have 24+ cores we patched our version of UnixBench to play nicer with these nodes.

Host Videos: We added a tab on host pages to display any videos we find, we’ve already posted a few of the Softlayer Datacenter Tours if you want to check this feature out.

New Categories: We’ve added a few more categories for you to filter by, this area still needs a lot more work:

Wrapping Up

It’s been a pretty long month, we’ve both been flat out with our day to day jobs & ServerBear in the evenings, but we feel like we’re making progress. Another 1,000 or so plans to filter by will make us the most comprehensive source of web hosting plan data on the web.

We’ve got a few things coming up soon, we’re working hard next week on getting our Uptime monitoring benchmarks ready for some beta testing, we’ll also be rolling out WHOIS information on the host plan pages (so you get more transparency information for each host).

One again thanks to everyone that ran benchmarks in the last month, we hope you are enjoying the service as much as we are enjoying building it :) Remember, don’t settle for poor performance.

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