Monday, December 18, 2017 by Kevin Wood
Top WordPress Hosting FAQIf your site currently runs on WordPress, then you’re probably in the market for a hosting environment that caters to WordPress. Managed WordPress hosting is a relatively new development and caters to sites that only run on WordPress. Still, this kind of hosting isn’t going to be the best fit for every style of website out there. Below we answer your most common questions related to WordPress hosting, so you can decide if it’s going to be the right fit for your website.
1. What is WordPress hosting?WordPress hosting is a style of hosting that’s completely configured to WordPress sites. Most hosting environments, unless you opt for a dedicated or VPS server, have more general configurations. This setup won’t be optimized to your individual site. Since WordPress is a pretty lean framework, WordPress hosting helps you to make the most out of this.
2. What are the benefits of WordPress hosting?If you’re a WordPress user, then opting for WordPress hosting can be incredibly advantageous for your website. Below we look at some of the biggest benefits.
- Improved performance as every aspect of the server environment is optimized for a WordPress installation.
- Better security as the server is optimized to the unique security configuration of WordPress, instead of just running basic security protocols.
- Most WordPress hosting environments have dedicated teams of WordPress experts managing the servers, so it will always be up to date.
- With the dedicated team of WordPress experts behind you, you’ll have a team that understands the ins and outs of your site and server, so customer support will be a breeze.
3. What are the negatives of WordPress hosting?WordPress hosting isn’t the perfect solution for every site owner, even if you’re running WordPress. For starters, it’s going to be more expensive since it’s a customized hosting solution. If your site is small and doesn’t receive a lot of traffic, then you probably won’t see that big of an improvement in performance. Also, some WordPress hosts limit the number of customizations you can do to your site and even limit which plugins you can install. So, if your site requires a plugin that’s on the host’s restricted list, then you may need to look elsewhere for hosting or choose a different type of hosting plan.
4. Who would benefit from using WordPress hosting?If you currently run a mid to high traffic WordPress site and are seeing a decline in your performance, then you could definitely benefit from WordPress specific hosting. Most high-traffic WordPress sites that switch over to WordPress hosting will see an overall improvement in their performance and loading speeds.
5. What’s the difference between shared and managed WordPress hosting?Shared WordPress hosting is basically a hosting environment that has a few WordPress-specific optimizations and offers easy WordPress installations. Most shared hosting environments offer some form of WordPress optimization since it’s such a popular CMS. Managed WordPress hosting is the next level of WordPress hosting. This style of hosting essentially takes care of everything related to your WordPress site. It commonly includes features like site upgrades, improved WordPress performance, virus scans, backups, and more. With managed WordPress hosting everything related to your hosting environment is done for you.
6. How does WordPress hosting differ from other forms of hosting?WordPress hosting, particularly managed WordPress hosting, is completely engineered to provide the optimum hosting environment for WordPress sites. Mostly, it differs from other hosting environments by the setup and software configurations.
7. Can I use WordPress hosting without a WordPress site?Managed WordPress hosting is only available to WordPress site owners, while shared WordPress hosting is generally more variable, depending on your host. Most shared WordPress hosting environments are generally basic shared hosting with WordPress add-ons. So, you could technically be using a shared host that also hosts other WordPress sites. Hopefully, the answers above have helped to answer the most common questions you have related to WordPress hosting. Any questions we didn’t answer above? Please share in the comments below or learn more about HostGator managed WordPress hosting plans here.
Should Your Website Use Chatbots or Live Chat?Chatbots and live chat continue to rise in popularity. It makes sense: smart companies are looking for ways to continuously improve customer experience, and offering improved customer support is a great way to do just that. But, which option is best suited for your business? Chatbots or live chat? Both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Below we look at the differences between the two and highlight how you can determine which one is going to be the best fit for your website.
Pros and Cons of ChatbotsChatbots are robotic software that responds to customer requests through predefined rules and questions. Usually, this interaction is done via a live chat window on your website.
Pros of ChatbotsThe pros of using chatbots on your website include: 1. No Human Supervision Needed Chatbots are great because you can set up the software and forget about it. There’s no hiring or team training. Just input the basic response requests and questions, and the software will handle the rest. 2. Easily Handle a High Volume of Requests If your website receives a ton of live support requests, then you’ll need to way to process these requests in a timely manner. Chatbots can handle hundreds, if not more requests, in a given moment. On the other hand, with a live support team, your customers will have to wait for a response until the current support request has been resolved. 3. Speedy Response Time Chatbots can provide you with near instant response time. Since chatbots are just software, they look for the pre-programmed answer to your customer’s question and send it off. Of course, responses may be more limited, but your customers won’t have to sit around all day waiting for a response.
Cons of ChatbotsUsing Chatbots can be a great solution for various support needs, however, they might not be the perfect fit for every style of business out there. 1. Only Answer Specific Questions Chatbots are limited to the kinds of questions they can effectively answer. The chatbots of the future will employ more machine-learning algorithms to answer a wider spread of questions. But, typically chatbots won’t be able to answer the same range of questions a well-trained live chat support staff can. 2. Lack of Human Interaction Connecting with a chatbot is a different experience than live human chat. These differences are felt in the breadth and depth of communication. For example, a live chat rep might be able to quickly handle a support request and offer alternative solutions for solving their problem, while a chatbot may not be able to solve the problem at hand, and instead leave the customer frustrated. 3. Spelling Needs to Be Perfect Most chatbots are based upon input and output. If the question the customer inputs into the chatbot contains spelling errors, the chatbot might not be able to reference the correct answer. More advanced chatbots can handle spelling errors, but typically this will need to be improved over time.
Pros and Cons of Live ChatLive chat has been around for quite some time. Today’s most common form is the live chat window that’s actually occupied by a living breathing human.
Pros of Live ChatHere are some of the unique advantages of using live chat on your website: 1. Provide Tangible Human Connection With most live chat environments, the support representative won’t leave the customer’s side until the problem is solved. Chat representatives might also have the option to go the extra mile by offering incentives or coupons to further improve the interaction. 2. Can Solve a Variety of Requests Live chat support will be able to more effectively answer and solve a wider scope of questions and problems. Whereashatbots are limited by the requests you program in, live chat agents are only limited by their overall education of your products and services. 3. Higher Quality of Communication Until chatbots employ advanced machine learning and AI, live chat with a real representative will outshine chatbots. Live chat provides customers will a level of customization that's not limited to a basic set of questions. There’s nothing better than having obscure requests quickly resolved by a support team.
Cons of Live ChatAll that being said, live chat isn’t the best fit for every style of business. Below we look at some of the biggest drawbacks of using live chat support. 1. Limited Hours and Availability With a live support team, the hours available for your customers to access support will be limited, since most companies can’t afford a 24/7 support staff. If your customers have an issue that falls outside of the time window, then they’ll have to wait. 2. Requires Hiring Support Staff Live chat requires an extensive hiring and training process. Your new hires must be educated about the ins and outs of your company and your products, so they can respond to requests in an accurate and timely manner. This will require an added time and monetary investment on your end. 3. Can’t Handle Multi-Language Support Unless you have the budget to hire a large and multi-lingual support team, you’ll be limited in the languages you can provide your support in. Chatbots are typically equipped to handle multiple languages with speed and efficiency, although they won’t be able to provide the same depth of communication.
What’s the Best Fit for Your Site?There is no best fit for every style of website out there. Instead, the decision to use chatbots vs. live chat on your website will depend on your business needs. Overall, chatbots are cheaper, faster, and easier to employ. Meanwhile, live chat provides your customers with a more in-depth helpful experience, but it's more costly and time-intensive on your end. If you have a very simple business model and tend to receive the same customer questions time and time again, then using a chatbot might be the better solution. However, if you receive a wide range of support requests, have a large catalog of products, or offer a complicated product, then live chat might be the best option for your needs. Of course, you’ll need the budget to hire and train a team. But, the alternative is alienating your customers by providing ineffective support with a chatbot. Yet another method is to utilize both. The initial customer request is handled by a chatbot. If the initial question, or set of questions, is easily answerable, then the chatbot will proceed with the request. But, if it’s outside of the scope of the chatbot's capabilities, then the request will be passed on to a live agent. There really is no wrong option for improving your customer support via chatbots or live chat. Hopefully, the analysis above will help point you in the right direction about what’s going to be the best fit for your online business.
Top Cloud Hosting FAQ AnsweredCloud hosting is one of the latest innovations in the hosting space. It utilizes cloud technology to deploy your server across multiple different machines. It’s grown in popularity mostly due to its flexibility, uptime, and ability to scale with your site. Still, you probably have a lot of questions related to cloud hosting. Below we answer some of the most common questions about cloud hosting.
1. What is cloud hosting?Cloud hosting utilizes a network of virtual servers, which use resources from a network of physical servers. Instead of having all of your site’s files on a single physical server, they’re spread out among an entire network of servers. It’s similar to a VPS server, however, instead of having a portion of the server dedicated to your site, server resources are spread out across multiple different machines. These cloud-based virtual servers can be changed, created, or even deleted on demand, and offer much more flexibility than typical physical servers.
2. How does cloud hosting work?Cloud hosting is similar to other cloud technologies. Instead of running a task or program on a single machine that workload is spread out across many different machines. The same thing occurs with cloud hosting. It’s the equivalent of having dozens (or even hundreds) of personal servers all over the globe, but with less physical resource allocation. Cloud hosting is broken down into two parts. The first is the virtual servers that your site, or app, is hosted on. The second is the actual physical hosts that are linked to the virtual servers. This unique relationship between the two allows for immense flexibility and easy scalability that aren’t available with other styles of hosting.
3. What kind of user would benefit from cloud hosting?Typically, cloud hosting environments are better suited for larger organizations that have the technical teams in place to optimize the cloud hosting environment. There are managed cloud solutions, but even these require some element of technical expertise. Since cloud hosting resources can be allocated very rapidly, you’ll want a team in place to be able to notice and make these shifts as they arise.
4. What are the benefits of cloud hosting?Cloud hosting has a few distinct benefits that set it apart from other kinds of hosting. Below we look at what these unique benefits entail:
- Scalability — With cloud hosting you’ll be able to scale your resource use in real-time. Since you’re not limited to a single physical server, you can easily scale up during traffic spikes or when other situations arise.
- Unique pricing — In a cloud hosting environment you only end up paying for what you actually use. You’re not paying for high resource use if you don’t actually need it, as it’s easy to scale up at a moments notice.
- Customization — With cloud hosting you’ll have extensive customization options at your disposal that aren’t limited to physical server restrictions. However, leveraging these technologies does require a certain amount of technical skill.
- Security — Since your site is stored in more than one location you’re fine if a single server location is compromised. There are different security protocols that need to be in place to handle such a wide spread of data and resources, but some users enjoy not having all of their site’s files in a single location.
5. What are the drawbacks of cloud hosting?Cloud hosting can be a great choice for organizations with the technical expertise to maximize the cloud environment. However, without that knowledge, or the proper team in place, you won’t get the most out of your cloud hosting environment, and you’re probably better suited for a different style of hosting.
6. How does cloud hosting differ from VPS and dedicated hosting?With VPS hosting you have a partitioned part of the server, which you can then customize exactly as you see fit. With dedicated hosting, you have the entire resources of a server at your disposal to customize and use as you see fit. But with cloud hosting you’re not limited to the resources of a single physical server, instead, your resources are spread out among several different machines. Hopefully, the answers above have helped you make more sense out of cloud hosting. It’s generally the most misunderstood form of hosting available. Learn more about HostGator's cloud hosting here!
Monday, December 4, 2017 by Kristen Hicks
Is Your Website Meeting Your Goals?Your website is your main face to the world online. In most cases, it will be the first thing people see if they go looking for you online and it’s probably the place most of your marketing points people back to. In short, it’s important. You don’t just want to make sure it looks good and professional (although that matters), you want to know that it’s doing the job it’s supposed to do. For your website to be worth the time and money you put into it, it needs to get you results. It’s up to you to track what your website is accomplishing, determine if it’s falling short of your goals, and make any needed changes to ensure it does start doing its job. Here’s how to make that happen.
To start, what is its job?Different websites have different purposes. If you’re running a blog and primarily want to grow your audience, then your goals will be different than a business trying to sell products. The first step to figuring out if your website is doing its job is therefore to define what that job is. Sit down and write out the goals you want your website to achieve. These may include:
- Making sales.
- Increasing awareness of your brand.
- A high level of engagement, as in blog comments or contact made through the website.
- Growing your email list.
- Increasing your followers elsewhere online, such as on your social media accounts, podcast, or YouTube channel.
How to Measure Your GoalsThe best tool to track most of the goals you’ll have for your website is Google Analytics. You probably already have Google Analytics set up for your website, but if you don’t, getting started is pretty easy. Simply set up a property for your account and add the code snippet Google provides you to the pages on your website. If your website has a lot of pages, that last part could take some time, but for Wordpress sites, there are plug-ins that simplify the process. If you are just now setting up your Google Analytics account, then it will take some time for you to see the kind of results described below, so make a note to return to this post in a few weeks. If you already have Google Analytics data though, you should be able to start checking how well your website’s doing its job now.
What to Look ForHere are the main analytics to check for the different goals you have.
1. AwarenessIf your main goal is increasing awareness of your website or brand, then the primary metric to check is traffic. Google Analytics puts this information front and center in the platform. You can see how many people visit your site and how that number changes over time. Google Analytics also provides a lot of useful information about where that traffic’s coming from, and what pages attract the most people. This information can help you figure out which of your efforts for driving more awareness are working the best so you can re-work your marketing plan to get the best results. What if my website’s not getting traffic? If checking these metrics reveals to you that your website’s not doing its job, then increase your online marketing efforts. Your website can’t accomplish anything if people can’t find it and marketing is how people find it. In particular, look into SEO, paid search, and social media to help raise awareness.
2. EngagementThere are a number of different metrics you can use to track engagement. In Google Analytics, the best metrics for engagement are found under the Behavior tab. You can see how long people spend on your site and check the bounce rate, which tells you how many people leave your website soon after landing on it. Under Behavior Flow, you can learn the typical sequences of activities – which webpages people typically come to your website through, and the pages they visit next from there. In addition to the metrics in Google Analytics, you can gauge user engagement with more active interactions, such as blog comments, email signups, social medial follows, and interactions with your live chat window, if you have one. Figuring out these secondary analytics to check for engagement will depend on your goals – if customer service is a top priority of your site then interactions with your chat window or contact form are important; if you’re doing content marketing, then those email signups and blog comments are more likely to be meaningful. Any marketing software, platforms, or plug-ins you use for these purposes should provide you with analytics data to help you easily track your progress in these areas. What if my website’s not getting engagement? If your analysis of your analytics tells you that you’re not getting the engagement you hope for, then you have a few potential steps to consider. If a lot of your visitors leave the site soon after reaching it, then the problem could be an issue of web design. Do user testing to determine if your website is intuitive to use or if people have a hard time finding what they’re looking for. Make sure your testing includes mobile, especially if your analytics show that many of those quick exits happen on mobile devices. Mobile use is so common today that if you don’t provide a good enough mobile experience to keep your mobile users on the website, you could be losing out on a lot of your potential followers. Also consider testing out different CTAs to keep users interacting with your brand rather than leaving the website. You want there to be some encouragement on every page they land on to do something else – whether that’s navigate to another page, sign up for your email list, make a purchase or some other desired action. If people reaching your website from paid search links or social media promotion quickly bounce, there may be an issue with your promotional language not matching what people see when they get there. If you have PPC ads promoting a sale that already ended, your visitors are not only less likely to stick around, but they’re more likely to associate that bad experience with your brand. Make sure the messages you use when marketing and advertising your website match up with what’s on the landing pages you direct people to. Use your analytics to try to get to the root of the problem here and test out different solutions to see which one does the trick.
3. SalesIf your website promotes a business, then your most important metric is the sales it helps you make. If you have a service-based business, that may mean setting up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to track each time your user fills out your web contact form or calls the phone number on your website. If you sell items through the website, your ecommerce platform will likely provide some tracking functionality, and you can set up ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics as well. What if my website isn’t getting enough sales? There could be a number of problems that keep you from getting sales. Some issues could be due to problems offsite – like a competitor that offers better prices or does more aggressive marketing. But there may be problems you can fix on your own website that will make a difference. One issue could be ineffective or missing CTAs. Go through your website to check if you’re consistently encouraging people to take the actions you want them to take on each page and add CTAs encouraging purchases anywhere relevant that you find them missing. If you already have CTAs and they’re not doing the trick, test out different wording, colors, or styles to see if a change can increase conversions. Another potential issue could be last-minute barriers to purchase. Have you ever started to make a purchase only to find that the shipping costs are more than you expected or the checkout process was too long and unwieldy? Research has found a few main causes of shopping cart abandonment, check and see if your website is guilty of any of them. In some cases, you could be attracting people who may be interested in your products at some point, but just aren’t ready to make a decision yet. Some of the engagement solutions above can help with this. Include CTAs to join your email list so you can continue the relationship, or look into retargeting ads that will remind your former website visitors of the products they checked out previously.
ConclusionSometimes it can be tricky to identify the exact problem that’s keeping your website from doing its job, but do your best to parse the metrics you have and use testing to work out the rest. It does mean more work, but all the work you put into your website will only pay off if you pay attention to results and do what it takes to keep your website effective.