To demonstrate the ways quality hosting can improve your site’s performance, we performed a study with BigScoots, looking at how sites did in key Core Web Vitals metrics before and after switching from a lower-quality host to a high-quality host.
The Study: Looking at the before and after scores of 60 publishers that switched to a better host
While there are many great hosts out there, we partnered with BigScoots on this case study. We weren’t compensated in any way for this study — our goal was to provide AdThrivers with the best information on how to have great hosting and a speedy site.
Based on the criteria we listed in this post, BigScoots checks all our boxes for a great hosting option and we know they’re used and trusted by hundreds of AdThrive publishers.
BigScoots offers an exclusive discount to AdThrive publishers! See the bottom of this post for the details.
For this study, we looked at data for 60 AdThrive publishers that switched to BigScoots in 2020 and 2021.
For each publisher, we compared key site speed metrics related to hosting for the month prior and the month after the switch. We used the Google CrUX data set — real-world data from actual Chrome users — to get the most accurate view of each site’s change in performance.
What metrics did we look at?
We picked three key metrics that your hosting provider can directly impact.
1. Time to First Byte
Time to First Byte (TTFB) is an especially important metric. TTFB measures how long the browser must wait before receiving the first byte of data from the server. A “good” TTFB score is under 500 milliseconds. If your site is not in the “good” range, it may be a sign to start looking for a new host or hosting plan.
Note: Lab data measurement tools like Lighthouse will often stop testing if your TTFB score reaches beyond 600ms. Remember that to Google and to you, what is most important is the site journey the majority of your site users are experiencing, and that is the experience you will see reported in field data such as in the CrUX report.
While TTFB may not be one of the three Core Web Vitals, it’s a valuable metric to keep a pulse on. TTFB can affect your overall site speed and your Core Web Vitals scores, specifically LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) which measures how fast the largest element in the viewport of a page loads.
At the end of the day, you can’t have a good LCP if you have a terrible TTFB.
2. First Contentful Paint
In addition to TTFB, we looked at First Contentful Paint (FCP). FCP measures how long it takes for the first image or text on the page to load.
It’s a helpful user-centric metric to look at to understand how fast your page is rendering. Having a good FCP leads to a better user experience because it makes your site visitors feel like something is happening and they’re less likely to abandon the page while it’s loading.
Why did we pick FCP to analyze?
Some site performance experts suggest that if you’re looking to optimize for LCP, you will have to tackle optimizing for TTFB and FCP first, since they are feeder metrics into achieving good LCP.
3. Largest Contentful Paint
Finally, we also looked at Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), one of the three Core Web Vitals that’s most related to your site’s hosting.
So how did performance change after moving to BigScoots? Let’s dig into the results!
The Results: Making the switch to a quality host resulted in huge improvements to performance scores
Taking an overall look at the three metrics mentioned above, we found stellar improvements across the board.
Overall metric improvements
We looked at the before and after performance based on the scoring metric number.
- On mobile, 88% of sites saw their TTFB improve, with 53% of sites seeing more than a 25% improvement
- On desktop, 95% of sites saw their TTFB improve, with 63% of sites seeing more than a 25% improvement
- On mobile, 85% of sites saw FCP improve, with 39% seeing more than a 25% improvement
- On desktop, 97% of sites saw FCP improve, with 60% seeing more than a 25% improvement
- On mobile, 97% of sites saw LCP improve, with 78% seeing more than a 25% improvement
- On desktop, 98% of sites saw LCP improve, with 72% seeing more than a 25% improvement
We looked at mobile and desktop performance for this study, but remember that at this time only your mobile scores will factor into Google’s search algorithm for the official Core Web Vitals scoring.
That said, it’s always valuable to keep your reader in mind and make sure their experience is delightful on whatever device they’re using to consume your content.
Performance improvements based on scoring starting point: Good, Needs Improvement, and Poor
We also looked at the improvement based on each site’s starting point for performance for these metrics, specifically whether the site was meeting Google’s benchmark for “Good”, “Needs Improvement”, or “Poor”.
We found that the worse a site’s starting scores were, the bigger the improvement it registered.
- On mobile, we saw a 6% improvement for sites starting in the “Needs Improvement” range, with an average 39% improvement for sites that started off as “Poor”
- On desktop, we saw a 16% improvement for sites starting in the “Needs Improvement” range, with an average 34% improvement for sites that started off as “Poor”
- On mobile, we saw a 16% improvement for sites starting in the “Needs Improvement” range, with an average 41% improvement for sites that started off as “Poor”
- On desktop, we saw a 23% improvement for sites starting in the “Needs Improvement” range, with an average 42% improvement for sites that started off as “Poor”
- On mobile, we saw a 28% improvement for sites starting in the “Needs Improvement” range, with an average 60% improvement for sites that started off as “Poor”
- On desktop, we saw a 24% improvement for sites starting in the “Needs Improvement” range, with an average 52% improvement for sites that started off as “Poor”
Our case study takeaways
We’ve partnered with several SEO and site optimization experts to prepare for Core Web Vitals. This case study confirmed our collective expectations and research: a good host can make a big difference in your site’s performance.
Overall, we saw some incredible site performance improvements across the board for those who switched. And the worse off a site was when they started, the bigger the improvement was.
Changing hosts isn’t going to be a cure-all for your site, but it can be a great first foundational step to get you on your way to getting a “Good” mark for your Core Web Vitals scores!
How to know if you should switch hosts
If you’re not getting a “Good” score (500 ms or faster) for your TTFB, that can be one indicator that it’s time to switch hosts, since your host’s server can directly impact that number.
If you’re running into more general issues, we have a great post here with some tell-tale signs that it’s time to shop for a new host. If you’re encountering frequent outages, running into lots of errors, or dealing with bad customer service, it might be time to re-evaluate your hosting partner.
Exclusive BigScoots discount for AdThrive publishers
BigScoots is offering an exclusive discount for publishers working with AdThrive. Sign in below to unlock your AdThrive-exclusive BigScoots discount code.
AdThrive Publisher-Exclusive content unlocked!
AdThrive publishers can get 2 months of free hosting (!) with the purchase of a yearly plan using the code ADTHRIVEWP (*applicable for new services only).
Note: We’re not receiving any kind of affiliate incentive for mentioning BigScoots — we want to pass any benefits straight on to you! A healthy site on solid hosting is foundational to long-term success, and we’re excited to help you find a great host at a great price.
Your Core Web Vitals roadmap
Knowledge is power! Start here:
Dig deeper to understand each metric and why it’s important for user experience:
- What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?
- What is First Input Delay (FID)?
- What is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)?
Benchmark your site’s Core Web Vitals so you understand your starting position:
Make a step-by-step plan to improve Core Web Vitals:
- Your four-step playbook for diagnosing and improving Core Web Vitals +a handy one-sheet to go over with your developer or host
Tackle low-hanging fruit:
- How to choose the right hosting service for a speedy site
- 5 tell-tale signs you’ve outgrown your hosting service
- How a good host can help boost page speed and improve Core Web Vitals + a checklist for hosting optimizations
- How switching to a high-quality host can improve Core Web Vitals [Case Study] [You’re here!]
- Use a CDN to help speed up your site
- 23 optimizations to improve your page speed and Core Web Vitals scores