Case Study

Digital Firefly Marketing finds faster load times and improved SEO for clients' websites with Linode Managed

John Cashman conceived Digital Firefly Marketing from his dining room table one early August evening in 2011. His creation has become an Internet marketing company whose value proposition to its clients includes two correlated purposes: 1. Increase the exposure of a client's website so that it is "found” by interested consumers, and 2. Convert website traffic into viable leads and, eventually, sales.

Digital Firefly Marketing offers its clients five different services to "get found” on the Internet: search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, social media marketing, website services (e.g., design, development and maintenance, migration, hosting, and legacy integration) and reputation management. This coordinated effort lets a client extend its reach and brand - to the right audiences in the right places.

Based out of Princeton, NJ, Digital Firefly Marketing continues to serve a diverse clientele, including Youth1 Media, Horizon Charter Lines and the M Night Shyamalan Foundation. Cashman graciously responded to questions for completion of this case study.

Challenge

To monitor all servers, maximize processing speed to better dispose client websites to search engine queries, minimize downtime, and ensure regular and thorough backups.

Solution

Linode's globally distributed commercial grade SSD servers minimize downtime, maximize throughput, and accommodate scalability, while Linode's Managed Team performs incident response and system administration.

Results

Client website-speed load-time and SEO detection accelerated
System downtime virtually eliminated
Cloud-based solutions fully integrated
Peace of mind

"Because our clients need to have their websites up, and we need to sleep a few hours every night, we felt using Linode's Managed solution would ensure that someone was watching the sites while we were sleeping."
John Cashman, President and founder, Digital Firefly Marketing

Situation:

Digital Firefly Marketing subscribed to Linode Managed in September of 2013 so that Linode could monitor its four web servers, three MySQL servers and NginX and Apache HTTP servers. DFM also turned over monitoring of its SSL connection and the process of performing system backups to Linode.

According to Cashman, client-website obsolescence posed an initial challenge for Digital Firefly Marketing. By his estimates, more than 50 percent of Digital Firefly Marketing's clients first presented archaic websites, the designs of which were unresponsive to search engine algorithms. In most instances, the DFM staff would remove the content from the original webpage and store it on WordPress or Drupal. His crew would then redesign a new, responsive website - more conducive to being found through Internet searches - and then reload the content, re-orienting the copy on the page and adding critical keywords to maximize exposure on search engine results pages.

A second difficulty DFM encountered with new clients was that many had been paying bargain-basement monthly fees to cloud hosting services only to be "mystified when their site runs slowly or has crashed."

Digital Firefly Marketing has frequently solved these dilemmas for its clients by migrating the client's website onto what Cashman describes as "Linode-powered hosting." The resulting "dramatic” increase in processing speed and throughput renders the client's website more disposed to search engine queries.

Challenge:

To minimize costs, newly incorporated DFM purchased a $10-per-month subscription with a start-up cloud hosting service, which sufficed for DFM's own website needs. But as traffic grew to DFM's site, and as the firm took it upon itself to host client websites, the host's servers continually maxed out.

The new company needed a hosting provider with more capacity and reliability. In addition, Cashman, now armed with foresight, sought a cloud-hosting provider that had a global presence and a scalable system, upon which DFM could customize to create a faster environment with more processing power and storage for the client's websites.

Digital Firefly Marketing explored several alternative cloud hosts. "When we looked at hosting companies, we saw that a number of them were CMS-specific, like Pantheon for Drupal and page.ly for WordPress," explained Cashman. "We didn't want to have two separate accounts, so we weren't able to use those vendors."

A subsequent discussion with a handful of Drupal developers produced a recommendation that Cashman relates: "(T)hey said Linode was `like awesome' – so, we went with awesome."

Cashman reasoned that because devs are abundantly familiar with the systems on which they work and loathe hardware malfunctions of which they want no part, then any suggestion by them about a speedy, customizable and reliable cloud-hosting service might adequately address DFM's issues. "(W)hen a lot of Drupal developers tell you Linode is great, you need to listen," advises Cashman.

Solution:

Linode's globally distributed SSD servers and their custom scalability and reliability accommodate expanding businesses seeking minimal latency, negligible downtime and maximum performance, while its Managed team performs 24/7/365 monitoring, incident response and system administration.

Results:

Besides its industry-leading performance, Linode offered DFM the opportunity to have its infrastructure administered by Linode's Managed team.

Cashman explained the benefit of subscribing to Linode Managed, "Our clients are pretty much all over the world and a lot of their websites are the primary sales or lead channels to new business. Because our clients need to have their websites up, and we need to sleep a few hours every night, we felt using Linode Managed would ensure that someone was watching the sites while we were sleeping."

Linode Managed acts as a customer's 24/7/365 incident response team. With its purpose to keep a client's web presence live and accessible, Linode Managed performs active system monitoring for a client's registered system(s) and service(s). Its dashboard let's a client easily add URLs, IP addresses, and TCP ports. Advanced system and service analytics can be accessed through Longview, another included feature. System architectural advice – to maximize use of Linode's memory, accelerate application response times, and handle all website traffic – will be freely supplied by the Linode Managed team, when requested.

"Beyond giving us extra hours of sleep," said Cashman, "Linode Managed saves us from hiring people dedicated to monitoring the servers, because the Linode staff is doing it for us."

Cashman and Digital Firefly Marketing's client couldn't be happier. Since its move to Linode, DFM has been aboard for Linode's $45 million upgrade this past April to enterprise-grade SSD servers and doubled RAM, establishment of hourly billing, guides and tutorials library revamp, and $10 Plan release.

"The most striking thing we have seen in moving clients onto our Linode backbone is that their website-speed load-time usually accelerates by one-to-two seconds because of the horsepower. The second thing is that the websites rarely go down. We recently created a proposal for a very large project and it's great to tell people, that on average their sites are down only 15 minutes for a whole year."

Currently, DFM's 16 GB Linodes hum at 11,000 IOPS (an excessive rate for normal Linodes) without any SSD performance decline. DFM's Linodes communicate among themselves at an average of 194 Mb/s (private) and with the web traffic at an average of 415 Kb/s (public).

The clients of Digital Firefly Marketing can rest assured that their public-face on the web is persistent. Digital Firefly Marketing can rest simply because Linode Managed ensures peace of mind with its system monitoring, backups, high performance and dependability.