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  • 6 Best WordPress Plugins For Ecommerce

    Monday, May 16, 2016 by

    Best Wordpress Plugins for eCommerce

    WordPress is an extremely flexible content management system that enables you to create a variety of different websites. WordPress began as a simple blogging platform, but now it’s grown into a full-fledged website building machine. Sometimes you just want to sell a few products on your WordPress site, while other times you’ll want to build a full-fledged eCommerce store.

    Lucky for you, this process can be very simple with the addition of certain WordPress plugins. Below we highlight six of the best WordPress eCommerce plugins, and how they can be used to enhance your website.

    1. WooCommerce

    WooCommerce

    WooCommerce is probably one of the most commonly used eCommerce plugins. This powerful plugin is suited for sites of any size, and can easily grow with you as your website and product line expands.

    They also offer a ton of paid and free themes and extensions, which integrate beautifully with the plugin.

    Some of the most commonly used features include:

    • PayPal integration
    • Sales reports
    • Different shipping options
    • Inventory management
    • Coupon implementation

    2. WP eCommerce

    WP eCommerce

    WP eCommerce gives you complete control over the look and feel of your store. This plugin can be used for a variety of product types: digital products, physical products, recurring memberships and subscriptions, and more. There are also a variety of plugins and themes available which will further extend the functionality of the plugin.

    Common features of this plugin include:

    • A streamlined checkout process
    • Multiple payment option support
    • Completely customizable layout
    • Multiple shipping option support

    3. Jigoshop

    Jigoshop

    Jigoshop allows you to set up your online store in a matter of minutes. Their interface is very user-friendly, which enables you to easily manage your store’s inventory. This plugin also offers a variety of reporting features, which includes sales and stock data, so you can get a real-time estimate on how your store is performing.

    There are also a variety of extensions and themes, to help you further customize your store and add additional functionality.

    4. Easy Digital Downloads

    Easy Digital Downloads

    If you’re just looking to sell digital products, then you’ll want to check out Easy Digital Downloads. This simple plugin has an array of features, including:

    • Multiple payment methods accepted
    • The ability to run sales
    • A cart system for multi-item purchases
    • Complete payment history

    A lot of eCommerce apps are very heavy and bulky. However, this apps stands out with its clean and minimal codebase.

    5. MarketPress

    MarketPress

    MarketPress seeks to be a full-featured eCommerce suite for WordPress. It’s developed by the WPMU DEV team, so you know it’s going to be very high quality. Instead of having to download a bunch of plugins from a variety of sources, this plugin can theoretically handle all of your needs.

    This plugin delivers a seamless shopping cart experience. It supports most payment gateways, and lets you manage the distribution and shopping costs for custom orders.

    There’s also a premium version of this plugin available, which offers the entire gamut of payment options, creating additional store models, analytics tracking, and more.

    6. Cart66

    Cart66

    Cart66 helps to make your site PCI compliant. Which means it’s secure enough to collect and transmit credit card data. This is a must have for eCommerce websites that need the ability for their users to pay via credit card.

    This app also integrates with Amazon S3, so you can easily sell digital products as well. This is a great lightweight app to have in your arsenal.

    There’s a free trial version of this app, which gives you enough time to test drive it before you make a decision. This app gives you everything you need to:

    • Sell physical and digital products
    • Sell memberships and subscriptions
    • Accept donations and various payments

    WordPress is a great choice for your eCommerce store. Any of the plugins we highlighted above will be great choices to get your storefront up and running. To get started building your WordPress site today, click here.

    What are your favorite WordPress eCommerce plugins? Share in the comments below.

  • How to Publish Engaging Content on LinkedIn

    Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by
    How to Publish Engaging Content on LinkedIn LinkedIn is most commonly known as a social platform for business oriented people, or the kind of people who are looking to explore potential job opportunities. A recent addition to the extensive category of features that LinkedIn offers was the introduction of a long-form content platform that any of the site's users can use to publish content with. All of the published content through LinkedIn's platform is then announced to all of the connections you have, making it very appealing towards cultivating leads and business opportunities. Here are a couple of solid tips and insights on how to become a really good LinkedIn publisher and how to make the most of each content piece that you promote. Please share your own personal tips with us in the comments.

    Explore Pulse

    The Pulse platform on LinkedIn is where all the content syndication happens. Go straight to the Pulse page and begin exploring the kind of categories and content that is currently trending and begin to brainstorm as to how you could tap into that pool of readers with organic and natural content. Some of the channels, like Social Media and Leadership are home to millions of followers and getting exposed as a featured author in one of these channels could mean a big yield of exposure for you and your business, or whatever else it is that you're trying to promote.

    Create tailored content

    Although LinkedIn offers a variety of topics to talk about, most of the jargon is oriented towards business talk, and every day thousands of site users share insightful and compact pieces of content that discuss several areas of business, experience reports, case studies and more. In order to stand out from the crowd, your aim should be to create the kind of content that promotes true insight and creativity, but remains within the bounds of business growth and exposure.

    Content optimization

    In many ways LinkedIn is not so different from a blogging platform like WordPress. The same content creation and content marketing rules still apply when it comes to the actual process of creating content. With that in mind, we should invest some energy into creating and tailoring catchy and insightful headlines that themselves will attract site users attention, and we should compliment our content with research data in the form of visuals, or if possible video and audio formats. Create each piece of content with the idea in mind that it might get featured on the Pulse platform, and who knows -- one day it might.

    Ask readers to do something

    Being a business network, LinkedIn users tend to finish articles from the start until the end, mostly because you never know what kind of insights you might come across, or what the article/post has to offer that no one else has brought to the table yet. At the end of each post that you publish using LinkedIn -- add a call-to-action to either visit your site, to share it on social media, to leave a comment on your post, or to reach out to you in order to get more insights -- which is also a way to begin forming relationships in specific ways.
  • Optimizing WordPress For Google Knowledge Graph

    Monday, May 9, 2016 by

    Optimizing WordPress for Google Knowledge Graph

    Google continuously updates their search results to provide a better experience for the searcher. Recent algorithm changes have been moving towards a greater understanding of what the user is intending to search for. This is a step towards Google’s complete understanding of the user, rather than simply matching the exact keywords that were typed into the search bar.

    Google is attempting to provide the user with smarter and more relational search results. The knowledge graph feature is an extension of this. Below we highlight what the knowledge graph actually is and how you can better optimize it to improve your search engine traffic.

    What is The Knowledge Graph?

    The knowledge graph is a database that collects millions of different data points that relate to keyword data and the search intent behind those keywords. The knowledge graph then takes all of this information and creates a quick reference of information about and related to the desired search.

    The knowledge graph will appear different based upon what you searched for.

    Let’s look at a few examples below:

    This is a common result when searching for keywords that’ll give you a list of people.Google Knowledge Graph Image Carousel

    The single result will usually take and summarize one of the articles that Google deems the most relevant and valuable.Google Knowledge Graph

    The sidebar result will pull all of the relevant information on a specific person or company.

    Google Knowledge Graph Sidebar

    Can I Optimize for the Knowledge Graph?

    As we mentioned above the knowledge graph is a way for Google to showcase the most relevant and useful information in a way that provides the best experience for the searcher.

    In order to optimize your content and website for the knowledge graph you need to give Google indicators of what your site is about, while creating very high-quality and relevant information for your readers.

    Since the long-term goal of Google is to give the searchers exactly what they want, it’s a smart move to position your content strategy to do the exact same thing.

    1. Write for Human Readers First

    No longer can you afford to simply write to appease the search engines. You must write in order to entertain, educate, and delight your readers. The more you can solve your readers’ problems the more useful and authoritative your website will become.

    When creating content that’s based upon certain keywords, ask yourself why the user would type that keyword. Determine their reasons for typing that specific keyword and tailor your content around completely answering that question for them.

    2. Include SEO Elements to “Tip Off” Search Engine Crawlers

    There’s no way your content is going to make it into the knowledge graph, or even rank at all, if you don’t utilize certain indicators to tell the search engine crawlers what your website is about. Some of the main ways to do this are:

    • Include your target keyword within your headline and subheadings
    • Add your keyword to your meta description
    • Integrate it (and related keywords) into your content in ways that don’t impact the readability of the article

    3. Focus on the User Experience of Your Content

    User experience means a lot these days. If your site has all of the content your reader is looking for, yet makes it hard to find that content, or is hard to read, then you won’t be receiving any favorable rankings.

    Focus on what it’s like for a reader to consume the content across your website. Optimize and improve this experience by using a readable font, adding more whitespace, making your content more readable, and including relevant links to supplement the information.

    The overarching goal of the knowledge graph is to provide the right search results to visitors without making them dig around for it. By answering the right questions, creating useful content, and providing a good user experience you’ll be creating content that’s in alignment with the future of Google’s search engine rankings.

  • 10 Tips to Writing Web Copy that Attracts Visitors and Drives Sales

    Tuesday, May 3, 2016 by

    10 Tips to Writing Web Copy that Attracts Visitors and Drives Sales

    A good website should perform critical functions for its company, brand, or entrepreneur. This includes telling potential customers what product or service you are offering, why you are different (better!) than the competition, and giving them an easy way to purchase from you - or at least ask further questions. Behind the scenes, properly written websites boost your search engine ranking, act as the hub of your social media wheel, and establish you as a credible expert in your field.

    However, unfortunately websites are often poorly written, presenting visitors with a mismatch of endless paragraphs, random photos and graphics, and an overall confusing layout.  This undoubtedly causes them to abandon the page in favor of the next competitor’s.

    It’s not that business people can’t write well, it’s more so that they don’t know how to write website copy very well – a totally different animal. When designing a website and writing copy, it’s best to keep the AIDA strategy in mind, an acronym that stands for:

    A – Attract Attention

    I – Trigger Interest

    D – Create a Strong Desire

    A – Call to Action

    So let’s take a look at 10 methods to write clear, engaging, and persuasive web copy that customers will gravitate towards:

    1. Use concise text

    If visitors to your website see a vast amount of text in paragraph form, they’ll automatically tune out. Use short words, short sentences, and even shorter paragraphs. As a good rule of thumb, write your web copy and then cut the word count in half, and then in half again.

    2. Make sure your site is easy to scan

    When it comes to websites (and social media or just about anything online), people want to scan – not read. Research proves that only 16% of web visitors read text word for word and 79% just scan. So break up text with headers, subheaders, numbered lists, bullet points, and even different fonts to make the information easily digestible in chunks.

    3. The secret behind writing amazing headlines

    Since most people just scan your copy and site, creating compelling headlines is paramount. There is an art to it, but studies show that headlines with numbers (10 Ways To Write Great Headlines), those that promise to solve a problem or provide a benefit, play on words or common phrases, or use the tactic of negative knowledge (5 Things You Need To Know So You Don’t Get Audited By The IRS) perform best.

    In fact, a recent study shows that changing general headlines to something more specific and informational improves conversions by 41%.

    4. Eliminate fluff

    Use clear, no-frills language. Avoid the temptation to fill your copy with adverbs and adjectives. Always write in the active voice and have a professional editor review your copy.

    5. Be clear about what you’re offering people

    When someone goes to your web page, they should know within seconds exactly what it is you’re offering, what it will do for them, and your unique value or special offer.

    Along those lines, your web copy should always highlight a clear call-to-action, which simply and definitely leads them to the next step. It could be entering their email to get a free report, signing up for a product test, or any number of other special offers.

    6. Ask people what they want

    One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is that they talk to their audience, not with their audience. Any good website should include opportunities for visitors to offer their needs, desires, and feedback. You can do this with surveys, questions, and pop-ups that give them some sort of incentive to share their opinion.

    7. Create a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section

    Instead of going on and on about your product or service in paragraph form, create a detailed FAQ section, categorized by potential customer questions, and clickable so it’s easy to navigate.

    8. Focus on how your business can benefit your customers

    Business people are so passionate about their own products or services that they tend to start listing all of the great features, but that’s either irrelevant to the consumer or downright boring. Instead, translate each of those features into a proper benefit for the consumer. Show how you can solve their problems, help them achieve their goals, and make their lives better; you’ve then surely created compelling web copy.

    9. When is the right time to bring up price?

    The time to introduce the topic of money or price is a delicate dance. You don’t want to list your price tag prominently because that could turn off visitors who are only looking for price and don’t understand the value, and that can make you appear money-grubbing. You also don’t want to bury information about price on back pages or you can be perceived as deceitful. To solve this, list price on secondary product or services pages, have a PRICING button on your main menu, and always list several packages or options for different financial commitments.

    10. Be human

    People want to engage with a real person, not a robot or a faceless corporation. Tell your story, show your passion, and feel free to write in a familiar voice – just as long as you stay clear, concise, and always appropriate.

    Before you even start planning out your website and begin work on your copy, you should map out your target demographic, identify exactly whom your ideal customer is, and write copy that revolves around their interests, lifestyle, and solving their problems.

    With these tips in mind, take the time to pull up your website and look at it objectively. You probably don’t need to rewrite all of your site’s copy, but by implementing these practices you’ll likely begin to notice a spike in your numbers – and profits.

    Speaking of being human, here at HostGator we're known for our award-winning 24/7/365 customer support. We'll help you get your website up and running, every step of the way. Click here to get started.

  • 4 Hidden Gems in Google Analytics

    Monday, May 2, 2016 by

    4 Hidden Gems in Google Analytics

    Have you been trying to figure out how you can improve your website? It’s nearly impossible to create a higher converting or more valuable website if you only operate on guesswork alone. To truly take your website to the next level you need to be tracking and collecting valuable website data.

    There are numerous ways you can optimize your website based upon collecting website and user data. One of the most effective and easy-to-use tools is Google Analytics. This free tool can give you tons of valuable data. However, even those who do use this tool only end up getting basic traffic reports.

    Below we’ll show you four different ways to you can use Google Analytics to greatly improve your website and conversion rates.

    Let’s get to it.

    1. Do Continuous Testing

    Google Content Experiments is a tool within the analytics platform that allows you to test varying aspect of your website to see which changes will improve your conversion rates.

    Split-testing is the only way to know for sure which changes will tangibly improve your website. To run a content experiment navigate to the section of your analytics dashboard via Behavior>Experiments, as shown below:

    Google Analytics Content Experiments

    Then, name the experiment, create an objective, and set up the area of your website you’d like to test.

    Common elements you’ll want to test include:

    • Your headlines

    • The size and color of your CTA/CTA buttons

    • Landing page copy

    • Overall page verbiage

    • Font-size

    Make sure that when you’re running a test you only test for a single variable at a given time.

    2. Know What Devices Readers Are Using

    It’s important to know which devices your users are utilizing to access your website. For instance, if most visitors are using their iPads to view your site, yet you know your site performs poorly on this screen size, then fixing your site will lead to an increase in user experience.

    This data can be found within the Audience>Mobile>Overview section of your analytics dashboard.

    Google Analytics Device Overview

    Take note of any devices or screen resolutions that are the most commonly used, and make sure your website performs well across these. Remember, most user preferences are shifting towards mobile. This might not be true for your market, but it is true for most.

    3. Measure Site Speed

    Site speed can effectively kill your conversion rates and overall visitor satisfaction. Most users will expect your site to load quickly, so it’s important to decrease your overall website loading speeds.

    To pinpoint any slow loading pages navigate to Behavior>Site Speed>Page Timings. This will give you an idea of any underperforming pages.

    Google Analytics Page Timings

    To find suggestions that will help you improve your overall loading speeds navigate to Behavior>Site Speed>Speed Suggestions.

    Google Analytics Site Speed Suggestions

    This is a great place to start optimizing your website. Slow loading websites don’t do anyone any favors.

    4. Pinpoint Any Traffic Leaks

    Do you know which pages of your website are losing the most traffic?

    Most sites have traffic funnels, where a user will enter at one point, go through a funnel, and hopefully get converted into a new lead. However, there are usually holes in your site that will cause a user to exit the funnel. It’s important to diagnose these, so you can patch them.

    To find traffic leaks navigate to Behavior>Site Content>Exit Pages. Look for any pages that have a very high exit rate. These are the pages you’ll want to spend some time figuring out why people are leaving the page in such high numbers.

    Google Analytics Exit Pages

    Google Analytics can be an extremely powerful tool to unlock the potential of your website, if it’s used effectively. The hidden gems we showcased above are the just starting point to creating an analytics strategy that gets you results.

    What’s your favorite way to use Google Analytics? Please share in the comments below.

    Screenshots provided by Jeremy Jensen

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