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  • The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding cPanel

    Monday, March 27, 2017 by
    cPanel guide If you’re just getting started setting up your very first website, then you’re probably going to need to use cPanel. Most current web hosts use cPanel, so if you’re not using it now, you’ll probably need to use it eventually. cPanel can be used to accomplish a lot of website-related tasks. Uploading files, creating a domain email address, adding more domains to your hosting account, and installing WordPress can all be done in your cPanel. Even basic knowledge of cPanel can be very beneficial to website beginners. Let's dive into cPanel and walk through how you can accomplish a variety of hosting related tasks.  

    What is cPanel?

    cPanel is the control panel that allows you to easily manage your hosting account. cPanel doesn’t manage your billing preferences (go to your portal account for that), but rather the technical aspects of managing your website. When you log into your cPanel you’ll find a graphical interface that’ll enable you to manage your website. For the purpose of this tutorial we’re going to be using the HostGator cPanel for reference. Below we highlight a few things you can do from your cPanel dashboard. Get your cPanel login ready now, as you'll need it to access cPanel and perform the activities listed below. Your hosting provider should have provided you with your login credentials after you signed up for hosting.  

    1. Updating cPanel Preferences

    Before we jump into actually managing your site in cPanel, let’s get a little familiar with the backend. Once you login to cPanel you’ll be taken to the dashboard. HostGator cPanel dashboard At the top, you’ll find a search bar you can use to locate the plugin you want to utilize, or you can just use the ctrl+f command to find what you’re looking for. We'll be focusing on these sections of cPanel:
    • Mail
    • Files
    • Domains
    • Software and Services

    2. Managing Your Domain Names

    The Domains section of your cPanel will be useful anytime you want to add another domain to your hosting account, manage redirections, or create a subdomain that can be used to build a new site. Manage domains in cPanel To add a new domain, click on Addon Domain. This will allow you to add another domain that you’ve purchased to your existing hosting account. Now all you have to do is enter the necessary domain information and your new site will be ready to build! You can also manage redirects and create subdomains under an existing domain within this section of cPanel.  

    3. Managing Your Email Accounts

    Want to create an email address that matches your domain name? Navigate to the Email section. Click on Email Accounts, and you’ll be able to create an email under your desired domain name using the drop down tab. cPanel email management If you want to access your email for the first time, scroll down to where your email accounts and click on Access Webmail from the More drop down. Bookmark your inbox for easy access next time.  

    4. Understanding File Manager

    To manage your website’s files, navigate to File Manager. Then select the website you want files from and click Go. This will open up the list of files that make up your website. It’s important not to mess with these unless you know what you’re doing, as deleting just one of these files could render your website inoperable. cPanel File Manager  

    5. Getting to Know One Click Installs

    The final tool we’re going to look at in this tutorial is under the Software section and it’s called QuickInstall. cPanel QuickInstall With QuickInstall you can easily install WordPress and other popular content management systems on any domain you own. Below we’ll show you how to install WordPress with just a few clicks. With QuickInstall open, click on WordPress. Scroll down and you’ll see a box that looks like the one below: WordPress cPanel Click on Install WordPress, then select your domain name and populate the fields with your admin email, title of your site, and admin username. After the install is complete you’ll receive an email that allows you to login to the WordPress backend. Obviously, there’s a lot more you can do within your cPanel. But, the five items above are commonly requested by beginners.   Any other common tasks you use cPanel for? Share your favorites in the comments below.
  • Looking For A Job? Clean Up Your Web Presence With This Checklist

    Friday, March 24, 2017 by
    Clean up your web presence checklist Go ahead and Google yourself. We support you in your narcissistic crusade to see what dribs and drabs of your history rank high in Google’s search algorithm. But seriously, there’s a real method to this madness. There’s a wealth of information available on each and every one of us, especially for those of us who are actively engaged in social media. Here it is: Your potential employers will Google you, and you need to beat them to the chase. Here’s why:
    • To understand what you’ve been publicly sharing since Al Gore invented the internet.
    • So that you can edit any incorrect information, or have it removed (if it’s really bad).
    • So that you can you properly defend yourself if need be.
    • To check if there’s another person who has the same name as you who’s messing things up out there.
    Huffington Post calls this strategy “Defensive Googling.” Be proactive by seeing what (if anything) exists about you in the first three pages of Google. And don’t forget to check Google Images as well. No potential employer needs to see a photo of you doing keg stands in college.  

    Your Reputation Management Checklist

     

    1. Check all of your social media settings.

    Have a thorough understanding of what info you’re presenting as public, and if it’s not what you want, make it private ASAP! Social media platforms almost always have a settings and security section. Go there and check yourself before you wreck yourself. Have a thorough understanding of what info you’re presenting as public, and if it’s not what you want, make it private ASAP! Did you know?... All Facebook background pics are public and you can’t hide them. Profile pictures default to public, but you have the ability to change these settings.  

    2. Fake it ‘til you make it.

    Consider using a fake social media name, or having separate professional and personal accounts. If you have a public account, keep yourself in check and be mindful of your posts.  

    3. Ask nicely.

    If there’s something out there you’re not very fond of, contact the source, and simply ask if he or she can remove whatever is ailing you from their website. If a photo you don’t like or some unsavory comment you once said exists on someone else’s website, kindly contact them and ask them to remove it.  

    4. Hire an expert.

    In extreme cases it may be necessary to hire a reputation management company. There are a variety of companies who specialize in cleaning up regretful digital footprints. This can be a pricey investment, but take comfort in knowing it’s an option should you need it. Here are a few resources.  

    5. Review your own website.

    If your own website is more personal than professional, you may want to remove any mentions of your full name or other identifying features during your job search. If, on the other hand, your website serves as a digital portfolio, take the time to make sure it's up to date and your best work is featured prominently.  

    But wait, it’s not all bad!

    Keep in mind that not every online mention of you is automatically horrendous. Those 5K race results from 1993, no problem. Charity donations? Awesome! Pics of you with family and friends? Totally fine. A good rule of thumb: As long as your online presence is something you’re comfy showing your Grandma (assuming she’s of the more conservative chicken soup-making variety), you’re golden.
  • How to Choose a Domain For Your Real Estate Website

    Thursday, March 23, 2017 by
    Real Estate Domain Names Owning a domain name is very similar to owning a piece of property. The location of the property often dictates the price, just as a specific domain name can drive up its value. Both are becoming increasingly scarce as more people, and more purchases begin to consume the available stock. Perhaps most importantly is the similarity from a business perspective: the easier it is to find, the more customers you're going to have. With literally millions of domains clamoring for attention online, securing the right name has never been more important. In this article we're going to cover strategies for developing your name, in addition to explaining common web-related terms, plus some of the frequently-made mistakes to avoid.   HostGator WordPress Hosting  

    The Basics

    As a Realtor you're already responsible for understanding an entirely separate language specific to your profession. Internet technology is no different, here are some of the basic terms to get acquainted with: Domain Name - The basis for this whole article, your domain name is your address online separated into two parts, i.e. hostgator.com:
    • Part one is the name you will get to choose if available (hostgator).
    • Part two is the wording after the dot, called the TLD or “Top Level Domain,” (.com).
    TLD - Everyone whose been on the internet has seen the .com, .org, or even .net domain extensions, but many don't realize .realtor and .realestate are now available due to over saturation of the more common TLDs. Intuitively people are shown to use the .com extension by habit, so if you can, it’s a good idea to start with .com, and then consider purchasing other extensions which can be rerouted to your main site.  

    Buying the Domain

    In order to officially own a domain name you must go through an accredited registrar. This process gives you exclusive rights to the name, while also letting everyone else know it's off limits for a specified amount of time based on how long you register for (Usually 1-2 years at a time).  

    The Top Considerations For Choosing The Domain Name

    Now that you have the basics understood, it's time to select your domain name. As an asset to your business' success it's important to separate what appeals to you, and focus on what works.  

    1. Focus On The Local Search

    As we mentioned earlier, location is one of the primary aspects to the real estate game. Your domain name is no exception. When people use a search engine to find home listings it's almost always done by typing in the location first, down to the specific area. Your domain name should include the city or region your listings are being posted in. This is good for prospective clients to find you, and it's great for your SEO.  

    2. Your Domain Shouldn't Be Your Name 

    Even though your domain name will be registered under your name, it's not usually beneficial to have your full name in your primary URL. Instead, try buying a domain name with your full name, and certain key words like real estate, realtor, the region you service, and then link it back to your official domain. Most names cost $10 or less and so owning the ones pertinent to your names and services will only stand to increase your overall visibility.  

    3. Shorter URLs Are The Way To Go 

    How many business domains can you remember off the top of your head? Of those, I bet they're relatively short and specific. While many think “NewYorksBestRealtyCompanyPeriod.com” may produce great results in the search engines, sadly longer URLs are less likely to be found. A great way to shorten URLs is to use the abbreviation of your location, i.e. sfrealty.com, opposed to having someone type out San Francisco.  

    4. Make Sure Your Name Is Easy To Spell

    For instances when you're giving out the URL of your website verbally, it's extra important that your name can be understood by everyone you tell it to. Complicated names and foreign words can be miscommunicated easily, leading to lost clientele. The best way to determine if your potential domain name can be understood verbally is to call a few friends and ask them to try and spell it out. Also, try avoiding any double-lettering as it can be easy to trick the eye. (www.denverrealestate.realtor)  

    5. Be Descriptive With Your Niche 

    As a Real Estate agent you know there is a tremendous difference between selling a 1-bedroom condo, and a luxury custom home in a gated community. Your potential clients will also know the difference and will want to click on a domain specifying their market. If you work in the luxury home market in San Luis Obispo, ideally you would want to own SLOLuxuryHomes.com, over SanLuisObispoRealEsate.com. Clearly there has been many companies that have made successful brands without specifying location and niche – Google, Samsung, Ebay – however, running a successful Real Estate business starts local with smart marketing integration.  

    Finding the Right Name for You

    While you might already have the perfect name in mind, it’s never a bad idea to take your intuition one step further and do keyword research to see what people are looking for. We suggest using the services provided by Moz.com, specifically the Keyword Explorer. Here you will be able to search a city and initial key term, like realty. Moz will then provide hundreds of related searches based on what people are looking for and how often. Do you have experience purchasing a realty domain? Tell us about it in the comments below!
  • No Target’s Too Small for eCommerce Fraud. Protect Your Business!

    Thursday, March 23, 2017 by
    ecommerce fraud If you run a small online business, you may assume e-commerce fraud only happens to big, high-profile online retailers. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Professional fraudsters, assisted by computer botnets, target businesses of all sizes for card-not-present fraud. CNP fraud costs businesses $1.92 billion each year, but that number is rising fast. By 2018, CNP fraud losses are projected to reach $6 billion. Small businesses are especially at risk because they often don't have the resources to build in-house fraud prevention teams or the surplus cash to recover from fraud attacks. Here's what you need to know to protect your business.  

    Why Criminals Target Small Merchants for Fraud

    Criminals target small businesses for fraud and theft because it's usually easy. Some business owners don't realize e-commerce fraud is a pervasive problem. Others assume it only happens to major retailers. Even when a small business has some fraud protection, it's usually not as robust or comprehensive as the multi-layered systems large retailers use. There are three common ways fraudsters hit small businesses:  

    1. Card testing

    When a fraudster gets a list of stolen card numbers, it may not come with the billing zip codes and 3-digit Card Verification Values that most checkout platforms require. To figure out these pieces of information, fraudsters test different zip codes and CVVs on poorly protected merchant sites. If there are no limits on the number of times a shopper can enter different values for the zip code and CVV when placing an order, the fraudster (or a bot set up by the fraudster) can keep trying different numbers until a transaction goes through.  

    2. Reselling

    Reselling stolen merchandise is the ultimate goal of most fraudsters. Once they match a stolen card number with the right CVV and zip code, they buy as much merchandise as they can and get it delivered as quickly as possible. (Fraudsters love rush shipping because it often gets their stolen purchases in their hands before the merchant or card company discovers the fraud.)  

    3. Sharing information

    After fraudsters discover your shop is an easy target, they may share your information with other thieves. That can lead to a spike in fraudulent orders that seriously damages your business.  

    How CNP Fraud Hurts Online Businesses

    There are at least four ways e-commerce fraud can undo the work you've put into your business.  

    1. Chargebacks

    Chargebacks happen when customers call their card company to dispute a purchase on their account. This process is meant to protect consumers from unscrupulous sellers, but today, about 30% of chargbacks are “friendly fraud,” which means customers know they're committing fraud when they make the chargeback request. Unless you can present meticulous records to your payment processor on a short deadline, you'll likely end up losing your chargeback appeals. That means losing the sale revenue, the merchandise, the shipping costs, and paying a fee of up to $100 per charged-back transaction.  

    2. False declines

    A flood of chargebacks, or the fear of them, sometimes drives merchants to block whole categories of customers or falsely decline valid orders based on machine-screening flags. Obviously, this can reduce your revenue, too, if you're throwing good orders out with the bad. In fact, false declines cost US merchants an estimated $118 billion per year, much more than actual fraud losses. More importantly, declining valid orders can cost you long-term customer relationships as many customers will never return to a shop that declines their order.  

    3. Rising rates

    Merchants must do something, though, because too many chargebacks can raise the cost of their payment processing. Card companies and banks monitor each merchant's chargeback ratio, the number of chargebacks compared to total transactions. Once your chargeback ratio reaches a certain level (which can vary by industry), you'll pay more to process your payments, and you run the risk of losing your account.  

    4. Account cancellation

    If your chargeback ratio rises too high, your bank may cancel your merchant account, sometimes with little notice. If that happens, your business name goes on the industry MATCH list for 5 years. That can make it difficult or impossible to open a new merchant account during that time. Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    Options for CNP Fraud Prevention

    To prevent these scenarios, there are steps small business owners can take. Manually screening every order can be effective for some types of business, like luxury retailers, but it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest fraud methods and fraud control lists, to say nothing of the time involved. Some businesses geo-block entire countries or regions, but this undoes one of the great benefits of e-commerce: being able to reach customers worldwide. Small business owners often find it's more time- and cost-effective to outsource their fraud prevention program to experts. If you decide to go this route, there are a few things to look for. A good service will provide:
    • Real-time protection that can scale quickly to accommodate sales peaks and spikes in fraud attempts, so you're fully protected even during the pre-holiday rush.
    • Telephone follow-up with customers to verify transactions before any declines. This helps strengthen customer relationships and reduce false declines.
    • Continuously evolving protection methods to keep up with fraudsters' constant changes in approach.
    • International fraud prevention knowledge so your business can accept valid transactions from abroad.
    • A guarantee that any fraudulent chargebacks won’t cost your business a thing.
    Together, these elements protect your business from losses, chargeback ratio difficulties, and the long-term fallout from false declines.  

    Why Outsourcing Works

    Outsourcing your fraud protection lets you focus on building your business, helps you build stronger customer relationships, reduces false declines, and protects your business from chargeback fees, higher processing rates, and account closure. That way the payoff for your hard work goes to you and your employees, not to fraudsters.
  • How To Create The Perfect Landing Page For Your Website

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by
    Create landing page Converting 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 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. A good landing page can be the difference between a visitor clicking away from your website, or sticking around to see what you have to say. No pressure, right? Marketers and advertisers have spent quite a bit of time breaking down and analyzing what makes for a perfect landing page. In this post we’ll cover what a landing page is, landing page best practices, and mistakes to avoid.  

    What Is A Landing Page?

    A landing page, sometimes known as a “lead capture page,” is a page on your website that has a form and exists only to capture a visitor’s information through that form. That’s it in a nutshell. A landing page is a marketing tool designed to prompt a certain action or result. It’s called a landing page because visitors “land” on it from another traffic source on the internet, whether that’s a social media post, guest blog, or banner ad. Landing pages serve to educate your customers and turn them from window-shoppers to potentially paying customers. You can tell you’re on a good landing page if:
    1. The page has a single focus
    2. It has a streamlined look, and is missing other typical website elements like a search bar or navigation
    3. You feel compelled to take action by completing a lead form
    In some ways, landing pages are arguably the single most vital component of your online marketing efforts. Since they’re designed to prompt a specific action or result, if you drive a stream of traffic to a targeted landing page, you can improve your chances of converting that traffic into leads. So, how do you go about creating a killer landing page?  

    First, You Truly Need a Compelling Offer

    Today’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. In other words, people aren’t going to fill out your form, no matter how fantastic your landing page is, unless they want what you’re selling. A great way to persuade people about how fantastic your service or product is is by creating 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. This way you can collect their contact information for sales follow up, and they feel good because they got a free gift. HostGator Website Builder  

    5 Must-Have Landing Page Elements

    Once 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. Use Attention-Grabbing, Concise Headlines

    Your headline is the first thing your visitors will notice, so you have to make it count. Much has been said about creating the perfect headline. Remember that headlines should be concise, and answer the question “What’s in it for me?” Create some emotional tension so the visitor will continue to read to the bottom of the page. Copyblogger covers this topic quite well in their popular post entitled How to Write Headlines That Work. It’s a good idea to split test your own headlines to see which ones perform best for you. Just a few tweaks to a website headline can make a huge difference in the page’s performance.  

    2. Build Trust with Social Proof

    The anonymity of the internet makes trust a bit hard to come by. However, people and organizations have created ways to establish trust, including guarantee seals, third party verifications (Verisign, Better Business Bureau, etc.), reviews, and testimonials. According to a recent study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, 92% of respondents said that they have more confidence in user-generated information found online than they do in information from a salesperson or other source. As such, testimonials from past clients and customers are a very powerful tool for building your landing page’s trust. Other powerful forms of social proof include:
    • Endorsements or quotes from other well-respected business owners in your niche or city
    • Your social media follower counts (if the number is high enough)
    • Press coverage
     

    3. Feature Relatable Videos and Images

    Pictures, slideshows, and video that are relevant to your landing page are good for driving user engagement. There is actually some psychology behind this. When it comes to pictures, our minds are wired for processing visual images. In fact about 50% of the human brain is involved in visual processing. Just think of all the pictures you see every day whether it be via social media, billboard ads, blogs, or magazine spreads. Video is a great communication tool because we’re designed to connect with other humans. The sound of a human voice, facial expressions, and body language all convey a message better than written words alone. When creating a video you don’t have to make a Hollywood production, but a short clip introducing your products or services can establish a sense of familiarity and put a visitor at ease. Recent research has continually shown that pages with video tend to convert higher than those who don’t. 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. Add video to your WordPress site with one of these plugins.  

    4. Have a Clear Call-to-Action

    Your 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. A call-to-action can take on different forms, including a purchase of your product, an email subscription or webinar registration, an incentive such as a free ebook, or a free trial. 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. If people make it to the bottom of your website then you need a call-to-action that inspires them to take action. Most calls-to-action are displayed as buttons, so you’ll want this button to stand out, and be clear and action-oriented. 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. Organize the Page for Maximum Impact

    Landing pages require a different design than the rest of your website. You want to grab your visitor’s attention as soon as they land on the page and keep them focused on your message and the offer you’re making. Place the most important elements of your page, such as your headline or opt-in form, above-the fold where the user doesn’t have to scroll down to see. Get rid of navigation bars, visual clutter, and anything else distracting. Your goal is to lead the reader from having a problem to seeing your offer as the solution.  Write tight copy that’s clear and persuasive and write in the second person. Take a look at our standard cloud hosting product page versus a landing page for a conference we recently sponsored. You'll notice that we've removed the navigation, simplified it to a single CTA button, and placed Snappy so he is facing toward the CTA.Cloud hosting landing page HostGator offer landing page  

    Avoid These Landing Page Mistakes!

    Congratulations! Now you’ve set up a landing page. That’s it, right? Not quite. Now it’s time to double-check your work. Read through the list below to confirm you’re not making any of these common, but critical, mistakes with your landing page.  

    1. Confusing the visitor

    Landing pages should have one purpose. If your landing page has more than one objective, off-page links, presents too many choices, or doesn’t match the traffic source, you’re in trouble.  

    2. Cluttered, unfocused design

    Effective landing pages have only one objective—get the reader to take a specific action—and every word and element on the page should support that one action. Anything else on the page is a distraction.  

    3. Weak copy

    Just having a landing page isn’t enough to get you the conversion rate you want. Compelling copy is the “secret sauce” that persuades people to take action. You need a benefit-rich headline that makes the reader a promise and connects with them emotionally. Your compelling lead entices them to keep reading as you emphasize your value proposition. And through it all you should be speaking your customer’s language.  

    4. Too much focus on you

    Nobody cares about you, your company, or your product or service. They do care how you can help them. Your landing page copy should be all about helping the reader solve their problem.  

    5. No clear call to action

    Can your visitors easily identify the call to action? If your landing page doesn’t tell your visitor exactly what you want them to do next, they won’t do anything. That means you’re leaving money on the table.  

    6. No credibility

    You only have 2 to 3 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention and confirm that they’re in the right place. It doesn’t matter whether you’re asking people to give you their email address or part with their hard-earned cash, if they don’t trust you it’s going to be tough to seal the deal.  

    7. Using more than one column

    There’s plenty of research showing that centered, single-column landing pages generally convert best. The 1-column format tends to look cleaner, have more white space, increase reading comprehension, and keep readers engaged with the message.  

    8. Inconsistent branding

    Your headline and other landing page elements should relate to the ad copy that drove the click. In other words, the page should be relevant to your ad text and keyword, and match the look, feel, and tone of the original ad or email.  

    9. Ineffective use of images

    This is where lots of marketers drop the ball. They take the easy way out and use clip art. They have uncaptioned images that have nothing to do with the objective of the page, or their images aren’t clickable.  

    10. Not optimizing the buttons

    If the buttons on your landing page don’t look like buttons or they say “submit” or “send”, you could have a problem. A Hubspot researcher studied more than 40,000 landing pages and discovered that landing pages with submit buttons labeled “submit” had lower conversion rates than those with more engaging button text.  

    11. No sense of urgency

    If your visitor is on the fence and your landing page doesn’t give them a reason to act NOW… they usually won’t. Are you giving them a reason to take action? Try limiting the availability of your offer, or including a countdown timer on the page.  

    12. Not testing

    The first time you build your landing page you’re going to be guessing based upon past interactions with clients, and your own intuition. There’s always room for improvement and absolutely no way to know what to improve unless you test. Split-testing, or “A/B testing,” is an easy way to compare the results of tweaks to your landing page like a new call to action or a different headline. When you’re testing make sure to only isolate and test a single element at time. It may take longer this way, but it’s the only way to ensure you know what is and isn’t working.    

    Conclusion

    Building a great landing page is neither a mystery nor rocket science, but it does require some planning ahead. Start planning for your next successful landing page by following the recommendations outlined in this article.