Review Signal launched on September 25, 2012. TechCrunch wrote Web Hosting Reviews are a Cesspool. Review Signal Wants to Fix That. It was a huge moment because it was roughly two years of development and one Master's thesis worth of effort. The author wrote a pretty accurate assessment of the state of web hosting reviews and the challenges facing Review Signal. Well, Review Signal has managed to last. It added Amazon AWS along with a bunch of other hosting companies. It has kept its independence and only made one algorithm update. The goal of expansion beyond hosting hasn't happened. But Review Signal has managed to become the defacto number one source for WordPress Hosting Reviews for anyone who cares about performance with our annual WordPress Hosting Performance Benchmarks.
Looking at the past five years, I've wondered what sort of impact Review Signal has made. One of the saddest impacts has been doing post-mortem write ups about once great companies. The original was The Rise and Fall of A Small Orange. It was a very personal analysis because they were a company that was ranked #1 on Review Signal when it launched. I had to personally talk the CEO into creating an affiliate program specifically for Review Signal because he was against web hosting review sites. He was against them for the same reason I was, because they were just pay-to-play junk masquerading as 'reviews.' I had to convince him Review Signal was different and if something different and honest were going to survive financially, I had to at least make a little money from referrals or I couldn't afford to continue to operate. Ultimately, based on the numbers I saw, it's possible Review Signal could have generated more than 10% of their business which saw them grow until they were acquired by Endurance International Group (EIG) and fall off a cliff in terms of service. Sadly, it wasn't the only company to follow this story, The Sinking of Site5 was the follow up.
The effort for honest reviews spawned one site which copied the same idea of using Twitter data to power it. They didn't do affiliate links and ultimately sold out to a less than savory web hosting review site which taunts some EIG brands near the top of its rankings. That was another unfortunate post mortem I had to write.
I guess not. It's still just another Tuesday when someone insults what it should mean to run a review site.
But to end on a positive note, I'm quite proud Review Signal has managed to stick around. I've disclosed a lot about it this year on a big interview on Indie Hackers. It may not have changed the world but it has definitely helped thousands of people make more informed and hopefully better decisions in a market plagued with lies. So for, I am proud and here's to the next five years - I hope Review Signal helps more people and makes a bigger impact on the industry as a whole.