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  • 6 Easy Steps to Securing Your WordPress Blog

    Thursday, February 4, 2016 by
    How To Keep WordPress Secure Today, WordPress powers over 25 percent of websites, and for many site owners, working with this content management system (CMS) is a no-brainer. It’s free, there’s a huge community eager to help you out, and there are tons of awesome plugins that will help expand your site’s functions. It’s perfect for web developers and do-it-yourselfers alike. The problem with WordPress’s popularity, however, is that WordPress blogs are easy targets for hackers. The good news is that you don’t have to worry so much about your WordPress security if you build up proper defenses. Start with these tips to secure your WordPress blog, and rest with peace of mind knowing you’re at a lower risk of experiencing a crisis.

    1. Back Up Your Blog

    Before you do anything else, you’ll want to save a backup copy of your website files. That way, you can recover your site should something go wrong in the future. You can do this manually through WordPress’s “export” tool, but this poses some issues. For example, if you aren’t backing up your files frequently and a crisis destroys your site, your most recently saved data may not be as recent as you’d like. If you only remember to back up your site once a month, for instance, you’ll lose all the work you made on the site between last month’s backup and when the crisis hits. There’s an alternative. Instead of having to remind yourself to back up your site, you can install a security plugin to automatically do the work for you! Some of the more popular plugins include:
    • Backup Buddy – Backup Buddy is a premium WordPress plugin, but what makes it different is that it will restore your posts, images, and other files that some other plugins won’t.
    • BackUpWordPress – This is a free plugin that will back up your site on your chosen schedule.
    • WordPress Backup to Dropbox – If you have a Dropbox account, you can easily store your files there with this plugin that will perform automated backups.
    If you choose to go without a plugin, be sure you’re backing up your site manually at least once per week.

    2. Choose a Quality Host

    If you’re not feeling confident in your hosting provider, now would be a good time to switch. According to WPTemplate.com, 41 percent of WordPress sites are hacked due to vulnerabilities in the owner’s hosting package, making it the most common hacking method. If you’re not already on one of their plans, HostGator is a good company to work with. As they tell their customers,
    HostGator's Security Protocols

    3. Research Software Before Downloading It

    Another way hackers get into your WordPress site is through the software you download, such as web themes and plugins. As WPTemplate.com reports, hacks are attributed to themes 29 percent of the time and to plugins 22 percent of the time. This means you have to be cautious about what you’re downloading on your site. Start by reading reviews from other customers. If the software has received high ratings from other users, you’re typically safe to download it, but if there aren’t any ratings or people complain of issues after installing the software, it’s best to steer clear. In most cases, you’ll have better luck with premium plugins and themes. Not only do they usually come with more features, but they tend to be more secure as well. NEVER download premium plugins for free. Pirated plugins have a good chance of coming corrupted with malware.

    4. Update Your Software Regularly

    Hackers have an easier time getting into websites with older software installed. That’s because hackers have had time to learn the holes in that version of the program. This is especially true of WordPress itself. On older versions, all the vulnerabilities are already public knowledge as they’ve been pointed out by users, so you can be sure hackers know their way around your software if it’s out of date. Along these same lines, you don’t want your site to show which version of WordPress you’re running. If hackers know that, then they know what techniques they can use to get into your site. By hiding that your site runs on WordPress, you can also deter brute-force attacks by bots.

    5. Use Strong Passwords

    This goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning because 8 percent of WordPress hacks are still made due to weak passwords. Make sure you’re not using the same password across accounts and that you include a variety of letters, numbers, and special characters. Likewise, avoid using the default “admin” username as this will be one of the first combinations hackers will test out to try logging into your site. Simply create a new user for yourself and assign the account as an administrator. Then, log back in with your new credentials and delete the default admin user.

    6. Install Security Plugins

    Even when you’ve taken the abovementioned precautions, you can still add an extra layer of security to your site through trusted plugins. Just some security plugins that will help patch security holes include:
    • SiteLock - Has an extensive library of known malware and constantly checks your site to make sure it is safe. If malware does creep in, then it will work to remove it quickly.
    • iThemes Security – This plugin offers over 30 ways to secure your site, such as by stopping automated attacks. Upgrade for more options.
    • Login Lockdown – Login Lockdown prevents brute force attacks by limiting the amount of login attempts from the same IP address during a certain period of time.
    • WordFence – This plugin features free and premium options and will scan your site for malware.
    Most WordPress users don’t take their site security as seriously as they should. When you follow the tips above, however, you can greatly reduce your risk of encountering a security hack. What steps have you taken so far to secure your WordPress site? What’s the next step you plan to take? Let us know in the comments below!
  • How to Effectively Use Facebook for Business Marketing

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016 by
    How to Use Facebook for Business Marketing Each minute passes, several million Likes are recorded in the Facebook database, hundreds of thousands of shares, and comments too many to count. Facebook is a social networking giant, with more than a billion active monthly users, it does not come as a surprise that many business owners are turning to Facebook for new customer acquisition. In itself, Facebook is a huge social platform, but it's one thing to know how to share status updates between your friends, it's a completely different story when we're trying to promote our business. Though in the recent years this process has eased immensely, as more of the social platforms population has accepted the fact that Facebook Pages are a big part of the network, and many actually embrace the fact that businesses interact with their customers directly.

    Start with the official Business guide

    Facebook Business is a real thing, and there's a specifically built page that discusses everything in and outside of Facebook Business and how you can take your Business to Facebook for interacting with your existing customers, as well as for acquiring new customers as you go. This page talks about news, tips and also success stories that anyone can learn from. It should be the absolute starting point for any business owner who wants to take his business venture to Facebook.

    Let your friends and customers know

    The next step after reading the official Facebook Business guide is to actually setup your own Business Page, all of which is a step-by-step process and is self-explanatory most of the time. You want to fill in as much info about your Business as possible, not only to make sure that it's easy to find, but also to comfort people who are looking for a service just like yours. Restaurants come in many different forms, emphasize why you are different from the rest, and so forth.
    "Comment as your page on other business pages and "like'' pages of your employees, companies near you if you have a physical location, businesses you are collaborating with or companies whose services or products you are using. Liked or tagged pages will often times return the favor and mention or like your page in return, which is free cross-promotion. Any pages you like with your own page can be displayed on the left hand side as vertical tab." - Christina Baldassarre
    As soon as you have done all of that, it is time to put yourself out in the sunlight and generate some actual likes. First, you will want to send out an invite to your closest friends and people who made it all possible for you. You will also want to put some physical and digital badges around your business to let customers know that you exist on Facebook. People love to use the check-in feature for their favorite places, and this is a great way to attract more customers.

    The best way to share on Facebook

    Apart from everything else, a lot of your time on Facebook will be spent sharing posts and writing comments, it's inevitable. At first, it might seem like a good idea to share content as frequently as possible, to comment everywhere all at once, but that will only raise some serious red flags and might hurt your business in long-term. Facebook is a professional social platform, and you should always remember its do's and don'ts. If you're a restaurant, your main type of content that you're going to be sharing is going to be food related. With that in mind, be receptive of your customers and ask for their input on new dishes and ideas, place special offers for weekends, advertising special drink offers, you can even promote a set of tickets to a big game in town. You will find that many businesses are willing to do giveaways in exchange for likes, comments and shares, all of which automatically exposure your business to new people, thus new potential customers. In general, Facebook is a low-cost marketing platform, and if you want to experiment with reaching new audiences in new places, the best way to do is through Facebook Advertising. Reasonable prices and a sophisticated Advertising Platform guarantees results that will deliver on their promise.
  • The Simple Guide To Avoiding Google Panda Penalties

    Thursday, January 28, 2016 by
    Basic Guide To Avoid Google Panda Penalties Since Google is trying to provide its searchers with the best possible experience, content that speaks directly to reader needs, and is higher quality, will tend to rank higher. The best way to avoid a penalty into the future is simply to focus on quality above all else. Below you’ll find five ways you can protect yourself from a dreaded Google Panda penalty, as well as future updates that will continue to roll out.

    1. Focus On Readers First

    Although SEO is important when it comes to ranking your website and driving traffic. When you’re creating your content you should have your readers in mind, not the search engine robots. This means your content should be reader focused, not stuffed with keywords, bad links, or other outdated SEO practices that worked years ago. This will only lead to a penalty. The goal of your content should be to provide real value to your readers. This is the only way to build long term relationships, and will lead to increased links and social shares over time. Which will in turn help your rankings.

    2. Upgrade Your Low-Quality Content

    Google is continuously updating their algorithm to create the best user experience possible. So, instead of trying to find tactics to exploit Google you should turn your efforts to simply creating better content. Great content will never go out of style. If you have old content on your website that’s either poorly written, has bad links, or is over-optimized, then you should either remove that content, or update the content to reflect current web standards. If you have multiple low word-count blog posts consider combining them into a larger, more valuable blog post. If you are optimizing your content for certain keywords tread lightly. Google can detect keyword-stuffed content and can lead to a penalty if the keywords aren’t naturally integrated into the content, or appear too frequently.

    3. Remove All Duplicate Content

    If Google detects duplicate content across your site, this will greatly increase your chances of receiving a penalty. If you have multiple pages of duplicate content, then you’ll have three options at your disposal to remedy the issue.
    • Use a 301 redirect to show Google which page is the original page.
    • Delete the duplicate content entirely.
    • Re-write the content, so it’s unrecognizable from its previous form.
    • 4. Focus On User Experience
    Your readers value clean and minimal websites, so the search engines’ll also value them. To stay on the good side of Google, make sure you clean up your site with any unnecessary design features. This means you’ll want to refrain from having too many ads, having a cluttered sidebar, or having any broken links. Although these steps are small, they’ll go a long way towards bulletproofing your website for current and future algorithm updates.

    5. Improve The Speed Of Your Site

    Your visitors won’t stick around to wait for your website to load, which can create a poor user experience. Google also won’t rank your site as highly if it’s slow to load. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, then you could be looking at a penalty. GTmetrix is a great free tool to help analyze your site and provide suggestions to increase your speed. To keep your website running at its ideal speed use a caching software, compress images whenever possible, stay away from Flash, and remove any plugins or bloated features that aren’t completely necessary. If you're using WordPress, then our managed solution has built in features to help increase your speed. With some of our tests, it's actually helped make some sites up to 2.5x faster. To create a bulletproof strategy that works for the long-term, focusing on delighting your users and the rankings will follow.
  • Why Half Of All Small Businesses Missed Out On Over $250 Billion In 2015

    Tuesday, January 26, 2016 by
    Small Businesses Missed Out on $250 Billion in 2015 - Here's How There are over 28 million small businesses in America, accounting for 54% of all sales within the country. Yet more than half of them are missing out on billions of dollars, combined. If you have a small business, you know that every penny counts. Wouldn’t you do anything within reason to get yourself a leg up on your competition? If at least half of small businesses aren’t doing this one simple thing, then you have a solid chance of bringing in more sales than your competitor down the street, simply by doing it. This one thing brought in over $250 Billion (in the first 3 quarters of 2015 alone). If you don’t have it, then you’re clearly missing out. What is that one thing? Having a website. Simple, right? Well yes and no. That dollar amount quoted above was just for ecommerce sales within the United States. So if your business isn’t online in some manner, then yes - you missed out on your slice of that pie. Think about how much time you spend online (you’re reading this article online, for example). You’re likely on some form of social media for hours each day; maybe even doing some of your own shopping online. Point being that you’re online already, so why not spend a small portion of that time getting your business online? With a website, you’d likely be able to grab a share of all that money spent online last year. And while you could sell your stuff through eBay, Etsy, or the like, it doesn’t provide you the chance to really create your own brand on the web. You may not become the next Amazon, but if you could just bring in a few more sales, then why wouldn’t you at least try it? Now, you may be saying that you’ve thought about having your own website before, but it’s just too hard or too expensive. And that may have been true - in the 90s. But with today’s technologies, you could actually have a website online within the hour and for only a few bucks. It’s true. Conversely, you may think that a Facebook page alone may suffice, or Yelp, Twitter, or whatever other free online service of choice. While that may be a great start for your online presence, it shouldn’t be the pillar of it. What if the platform were to vanish tomorrow? Or your page gets removed for breaking some random clause in the terms of service? Having your own website allows you to actually own your piece of the web. If you’re bringing people to your Facebook page, you’re essentially building Facebook more for them. You can’t really do much with that audience outside of that platform. On the other hand, if you attract that traffic to your own website, you have their attention on something you own. Plus, if you’re interested in any online marketing, it looks a lot better to send them to your own site versus a Yelp page. At HostGator, you could get started for just $5.56* per month. With that, you receive everything you need to claim your spot of the Internet. Without boring you too much, here are some of the features you’d get when signing up with HostGator.
    • Domain Name - A domain name is essentially the virtual sign for your website. It tells people who you are and how to access you. We’ve got some tips on choosing a good domain that can help you come up with ideas.
    • Website Hosting - Your website needs to live somewhere on the web. Just like you need somewhere for your customers to come to your store. Hosting is the space you’re renting online at which your website will live.
    • Website Building Software - If you can use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) then you can build a website with our Weebly website builder. It’s a drag and drop tool that you use to design and publish your website. If you need a little more functionality, then you can install WordPress (used by 23% of the top 10 million websites) with one click and customize it as much as you’d like.
    • Customized Emails - If people are contacting your or your business, what do you think looks more professional? myemail@gmail.com or myemail@mybusinesssite.com? With customized emails, you can create any email address under your domain name (sales@mybusinesssite.com, for example).
    • $200 in Advertising Credit - You need to get people to your website. If you’re just starting out online, then people won’t know to find you immediately. To help you with this, HostGator provides $100 in Google Adwords and $100 in Yahoo!/Bing credit.
    • Helpful Support - You’re not alone when it comes to your website. Our staff is here 24/7 to help you. If you have questions about signup, or even if it’s 2 am and accidentally cause an error on your site, we’re here to take care of it. Don’t believe us? Give us a call right now to see if we pick up. 1-866-96-GATOR. We can even walk you through signup and familiarize you with any of the tools necessary to build your site.
      If you still think that creating your own website is hard, then why not let us do it for you? If you’re serious about your business but don’t have the time to learn about building a website, then we can do it for you. We have a team of expert web designers on staff.. Give us a call and ask to speak to our sales team. They’ll get you on the path to getting the website you want so that you can grab your piece of the online sales pie. Make sure you tell them Kyler sent you and they’ll take care of you.

    Get Your Business Website Click To Get Your Business Online

  • The Importance Of Evergreen Content In Your Marketing Strategy

    Thursday, January 21, 2016 by
    Why You Need Evergreen Content When it comes to blogging there are so many different types of content for you to choose from. Some will resonate with your audience more than others. However, there is one style of content can actually send you traffic for years to come. All you have to do is invest the initial time in creating it. What is this valuable style of content? It’s called evergreen content. In this post we’ll dive into what evergreen content is, and why your content strategy needs to include posts of this nature.

    What Exactly Is Evergreen Content?

    Evergreen content is content that remains useful to your audience year after year. It’s not based around trends, or news. It tackles a core issue that your audience faces, that’s going to remain relevant. Evergreen content is the style of post you bookmark and come back to time and time again, because it’s so valuable. There’s so much good information within you wouldn’t feel cheated if you had to pay for it. Evergreen content is timeless and won’t fade away. You might have to update these posts over time, as new information becomes available. But, usually they’ll stand the test of time without any massive changes. Evergreen content is incredibly valuable. When you first publish a post of this nature you should do what you can to create attention around it. As the more initial attention it receives the more likely you will cement its evergreen status. This piece of content is usually the definitive guide on the subject matter. It’s very in-depth and covers the topic from every angle. These posts are usually incredibly long, and can often get into five figure word counts. Depending on your industry even a content piece that’s valuable for a year or two can still be considered evergreen. It all depends on the speed at which your industry moves.

    Why You Need To Include Evergreen Content

    So, now that you know what evergreen content is, you might be wondering what makes it so valuable? After all, this kind of post will take a lot of time to create. Below you’ll find the three main reasons evergreen content needs to play a role in your content strategy.

    1. Gets Higher Search Engine Rankings

    Since evergreen content is very-high quality and tends to have a high word count, it tends to rank very highly in the search engines. Some research suggests that longer content is actually valued by the search engines. This also means you’ll want to ensure this content focuses around a few high traffic keywords in your niche.

    2. Generates Leads Over Time

    Since these posts will be ranking highly and receiving a large amount of traffic you should properly optimize these posts to collect leads. These posts can bring you a steady stream of leads for a long time without you having to do any additional work beyond the initial publishing and promotion.

    3. These Are High Traffic Posts

    Since evergreen content tends to rank higher in the search engines, this means these posts can be responsible for a lot of website traffic. Once these posts rank highly they tend to stay, since they are often the definitive pieces of content on the topic. This means this kind of post will send your site a high volume of traffic even a long while after you published the post. Evergreen content will work for your business a long time after it’s originally published. To make your blog a timeless resource make sure you included posts that will serve your audience for years to come.