Friday, February 17, 2017 by Kevin WoodWhen the time comes to choose your web host you’re probably going to have a ton of questions. Hosting can seem a little complicated. You have cloud hosting, shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers and you have dozens of hosting companies to choose from as well. Yikes! With this post we hope to reduce a little bit of that confusion. Below we dive into the differences between cloud and VPS hosting.
Thursday, February 16, 2017 by Kristen HicksWith content marketing all the rage these days, the value of written text gets a lot of attention, but images are at least as important to a visitor’s experience of a website. In fact, images are one of your most valuable tools for getting better results from your written content. Visitors are 80% more likely to read content if it’s paired with an image and 64% more likely to remember what they read. In other words, your website needs images. The primary question that remains is: where should you get them?
Stock Photography vs. Original PhotographyStock photography is the most obvious option to consider. It’s affordable and easy. When you need an image that will simply suffice, finding a stock image is the path of least resistance. There’s a place for easy options in life, but the images you use on your business website isn’t it. Stock photography comes with certain issues and risks. [bctt tweet="There’s a place for easy options in life, but the images you use on your biz website isn’t it." username="hostgator"]
Stock photographs can be bought by anyone.In most cases, when you buy a stock photograph, you don’t become its outright owner. You’re only buying the rights to use a photograph that hundreds or thousands of other individuals and businesses could buy as well. That means there’s a decent chance that your customers will have seen your stock photograph before, possibly on a competitor’s website – or worse, on a scammer’s website. If a photo on your website inspires a mental association with a business a visitor has had a bad experience with, those associations will influence how they view your brand. Obviously, that’s bad. [bctt tweet="Visitors are 80% more likely to read content if it’s paired with an image. #ContentMarketing" username="hostgator"]
Stock photography simply feels inauthentic.Stock photography trades on the themes and clichés everyone’s seen before. Have you ever seen a photo of a smiling person with a headset? Even if you don’t particularly remember it, you’ve probably seen dozens of variations on this picture. It’s the go-to stock photograph subject many companies use to demonstrate the concept of customer service. The fact that you’ve seen it so many times makes it boring and easy to ignore. By comparison, original photographs have personality.
Original photography works better.Several companies have put this to the test. Marketing Experiments found that customers converted 35% more when faced with an original photo than they did with a stock photo. Eye tracking studies have shown that people tend to ignore stock photos, but do pay attention to photos of real people. And one moving company in New York City found that their original photos converted at rates around 45% higher than a stock photo. It’s been tested again and again with the same results. People respond better to images that feel authentic. [bctt tweet="People ignore stock #photography, but pay attention to photos of real people. #WebsiteDesign" username="hostgator"]
How to Create Original PhotosYou have two main options when it comes to creating original photos for your business website:
- Hire a professional
- Take them yourself
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 by Henry GreenAs a working person at any stage of your career (recent grad, business owner, professional), it’s a good idea to have a personal LinkedIn page. You can use it as an online resume to strut your skills, make professional connections with former and present colleagues, and search for jobs. Good news: a LinkedIn Company page is another free piece of online real estate to tell the world about your business, services, and products. You just need a company email address to verify that your business is legit and that you’re the official representative. Need help? Watch this walkthrough video from LinkedIn to help you get started:
As of mid-2016, there are over 450 million users on LinkedIn, so it’s definitely worth getting your piece of the action. And since it’s free, there are plenty of opportunities for small shop owners to compete with the big boys. Here’s how to make the most of your investment:
1. Be pretty.Get your company profile pic and cover photo setup stat! Logos work great here because they’re a consistent reminder of your brand. Here’s ours -- obviously we’ve got Snappy front and center. And here’s a beauty of a page recommended by Hubspot. Notice here that the Nature Conservancy (like HostGator) includes their company logo in both their profile and cover pics. Use images that grab people’s attention and paint a picture about what your business represents.
2. Use your words.LinkedIn gives everyone an opportunity to write up a little ditty about their business. Win by keeping it simple, succinct, and authoritative. If you have some proven keywords you know work, pepper them in where you can. Every little bit helps on the SEO battleground.
3. Remember the details.LinkedIn encourages Company Page owners to present details like company size, website, year founded, and company specialties. Don’t keep this info a secret! Let people know what your company is all about.
4. Get followers!Start by getting colleagues, employees, consultants and anyone you work with on board. Encourage friends and family to support your business by following you on LinkedIn. For added views and follows, consider embedding your LinkedIn Company Page into your email signature.
5. Know your audience.LinkedIn gives Company Page users access to a nifty analytics tool where a demographic breakdown of the people who are following your page can be seen. This not only helps you discover more about your audience, but gives you insight into what type of content they might be interested in reading and engaging with. Here’s a LinkedIn Company Page analytics example: This shows us that this company’s followers are primarily senior-level professionals, but then there are also a good number of entry-level folks as well. In this case a mix of articles or blog posts about leadership, hiring, and productivity hacks might be a good place to start. Use this demographic info to make intelligent guesses and see what works.
6. Post great content.LinkedIn functions as another social media outlet where you can publish company blog posts, thought-leadership, case studies, and more. Once you get a firm handle on who your audience is, cater your content to them while staying true to your company’s messaging. On LinkedIn, you may want to skew your content toward hiring and employee success, particularly as your first followers will likely be your own employees or people you know who can help introduce you to the right people. For more ideas, take a look at our post How to Publish Engaging Content on LinkedIn.
Monday, February 13, 2017 by Greg NarayanAce the SAT writing section? Desire to work from home someday? Always look at the world wondering, hmm, could we do that one thing better? If this sounds like you, these may be signs you were born to be a blogger. Stop ignoring the signs and embrace your calling! In this post I'll reveal five common examples from the real world which could be your calling to start a blog, along with a few examples from my own blogging-filled life. Each example includes a "what it means for you" section where I share advice on what you should look out for in the real world. Hopefully you can use these tidbits to gain an edge on your competition, make a blog, and start blogging for life, too. If you just know this is you - maybe you already saw the sign (Ace of Base, anyone?) - then HostGator can help! Launch your blog easily today like thousands of other new bloggers have done with one of their shared web hosting plans.
Sign #1: You're the most tech savvy person at your companyLet's start right off with the stark reality where you're the go-to (or maybe even the only) tech-savvy person in your office space. In this scenario, everyone comes up to you asking, "How do I fix my internet?" or, "What's wrong with my emails?" and you end up helping them. You are over-talented at technology and have a knack for problem solving, but maybe your company doesn't recognize because they want you to complete certain other tasks. When I worked for the NYC City Hall this was day to day reality - I was the quintessential "web-guy." I put up with it for two years before realizing these skills were more valuable in the blogosphere and never looked back. What it means for you: It's only fun for so long doing tech support for a business or company without recognition, especially when you can go get that recognition by starting a blog. With your own blog, you get to build a readership who appreciates your work through comments, shares and real social media statistics. Real bloggers and bloggers-to-be recognize their technical talent is valuable and put it to use for the benefit of the world, not some corporation.
Sign #2: You wrote essays overnight and still got A'sIf you were someone like me who saved essays and term papers until the last night and were still confident you could get them done, that's a clear sign you were born to be a blogger. You can write fast and efficiently because your mind knows what it wants to say and you almost see the words on the paper before they are written! Anyone who wrote great essays in high school or college has a shot at being a great blogger. You would be amazed by how poorly some of the best blogs are written - and should know you can do it better on your own topic of choice! What it means for you: This one is not just a sign but also inspiration. If you were good at writing essays quickly, you'll likely be able to crank out blog posts for people to read, too. Here's where the inspiration comes in: your essays usually got trashed, while your blog posts will live forever and be seen by WAY more people!
Sign #3: You have held a variety of teaching positionsIf you were a tutor, assistant teacher or are just naturally good at explaining things, it's 100% a sign you can succeed in the blogosphere! Why? Because most great blogs use how-to articles in some shape or another to provide valuable information to the masses. Think "how to apply make up" or "how to beat level 5 in Call of Duty" or "how to create new designs in photoshop." There are blogs which cover all of these things! If not, your blog could soon become the go-to resource for any kind of necessary instruction as long as it's relevant and ideally heavily Googled. What it means for you: There is a ton of value in being a good teacher on the blogosphere. For every niche (finance, how-to, gardening, cooking, gaming, business, etc), there are a million questions people ask in Google every day and Google likes displaying blogs with good how-to's as the answers. Make your blog one of these resources and you're more than half way to becoming a well-known blogger. Of course, there is a ton of value in teaching in the real world, too, but why not do both?
Sign #4: You want to earn money on the internetBlogging is an excellent way to make money online through basic and commonly accepted avenues like Google Ads, private ad networks, product referrals, affiliate programs, and even writing posts for compensation. If you have tried other means to earn some cash from time spent in front of the computer (investing, gaming, fantasy sports), but perhaps without much success, blogging is a more wholesome route that can certainly provide you with income in return for your hard work and time spent. What it means for you: The advice here is pretty simple: start sooner rather than later. Anyone who has seen the signs they should be a blogger and acted on them will tell you that starting soon is key. The sooner you start the learning process, the sooner you can start trying out different things to make your blog a profitable one. Not to make you feel too old, but there's a great Pat Flynn post from 2008 explaining his frustration at not starting sooner in light of earnings lost.
Sign #5: You've always been a natural creatorIf you have always created things, from poster boards to living room forts you could play with among friends and show off to your parents, it's a major sign blogging is in the cards for you. For me personally, it was always Lego and Lego competitions (not much success though, too many experts and big kids entered). Now on the blogosphere, I can write a post that I put long nights into and watch it get over a million views. Ask any blogger what their best posts are and they'll immediately glow with pride at how many people have seen and enjoyed their work. You should feel this awesome feeling too! What it means for you: Take your creative powers to the web. Start with a simple epic blog post, or a bunch of smaller posts that tie together into an ultimate guide. When you start a WordPress blog with HostGator, you get unlimited posts, pages, images, and space for uploading your work. Create a blog about any niche and start blogging immediately to show the world how great you are and reveal your hidden talents. Even it seems scary to be a creator on the web, you absolutely must try it out and have my guarantee that you'll enjoy it after a little practice. There you have it, five out of perhaps hundreds of signs you were meant to be a blogger. As I said, it can be scary starting a blog from scratch, but that's why HostGator is here to help. Have you seen any of these signs? Drop a quick comment from your experience - who knows, odds are you're not alone and you could inspire someone with a similar experience to build a blog too!
Friday, February 10, 2017 by Kevin WoodConverting cold traffic into warm leads and eventual customers can be quite the difficult process. After all, cold visitors don’t know what your website is about, and aren’t familiar with anything you’re doing. One of the best methods to transform this traffic into new subscribers is through utilizing the power of a landing page. However, not just any landing page will do. You need a landing page that’s properly optimized to address the concerns of your audience in such a way they literally can’t wait to hand over their email address. Below we cover a few central elements that every high converting landing page needs to have to be effective. Ready? Let’s dive in.
You Truly Need a Compelling OfferToday’s web users are more inundated with information than ever before. They’re also bombarded with popups and dozens of requests to enter their email information. Because of this people have become more defensive over exactly who they allow into their inboxes. One of the most effective ways around this is to create a downloadable opt-in offer your visitors can’t refuse. Your opt-in offer should speak to a deep need, or underlying problem they haven’t been able to solve. However, make sure the problem you’re addressing isn’t so large, that you can’t deliver on the promise inside your downloadable PDF.
5 Must-Have Landing Page ElementsOnce you’ve solidified your offer your visitors can’t wait to get their hands on you’re going to build a page around that offer. Below we highlight some of the must-have elements you’ll want to feature on your page.
1. A Benefits-Oriented HeadlineOne of the most important elements of your page is your headline. This is the first thing people are going to read, and it needs to grab their attention immediately. Your headline needs to be clear and speak to the exact need you’re going to be solving for them.
2. A Relatable VideoRecent research has continually shown that pages with video tend to convert higher than those who don’t. Is it an absolute necessity? No. But, think about it this way. When a visitor lands on your website for the first time they have no idea who you are, so a video will allow them to connect in a deeper way. A video can even help to convince the reader to enter their email address, as it can be a lead in to the full solution you’re presenting in your downloadable offer.
3. “Less Salesy” Page ElementsSometimes, a landing page can feel a bit too much like a sales page, which can put pressure on your reader. To create a more relaxed environment you could consider adding the little sidebar share buttons to your page. This will make it seem more like a blog post, and could also lead to some social shares and more traffic for you.
4. Easy to See Signup BoxesYour signup box needs to clearly stand out from the rest of your page. If your page does include a video, then include the box directly below the video, with a reference to the location of the signup box in the video. If you don’t have video, or you have a longer landing page, then consider adding the signup box to multiple locations throughout the page.
5. A Clear and Compelling CTAYour call-to-action is equally as important as the headline. It’s what’s going to make the visitor input their email into the signup box. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it should be very clear. Think of it as explicit instructions telling your visitor what to do next. Don’t be afraid to spell it out for them. Vague call-to-actions will only leave your reader feeling confused, unsure of what to do next.
ConclusionTurning cold traffic into email subscribers is time well spent, especially if you receive large amounts of new traffic to your site on a regular basis. By implementing the tips above you’ll be on your way to building a high converting landing page that your visitors love.