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  • What’s The Difference Between VPS vs Dedicated Server Hosting?

    Friday, September 30, 2016 by

    Difference Between VPS vs Dedicated Server

    Choosing the right web host is a big decision. Without a host your website won’t work, period. There won’t be a place to store all of the necessary files need to display your website.

    You’ll have a few options at your disposal when choosing a web host. Some of the most common are very basic shared hosting plans, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated hosting.

    Below we compare VPS and dedicated hosting, so you can decide which one of these hosting options is the best for your needs. Let’s get to it!

    Dedicated Server


    What is VPS Hosting?

    With a VPS the resources of the server will be split between different websites or hosting accounts. Think of it as a home computer that has many different users, all of who use the machine in different ways.

    Virtual Private Servers have both high end and low end options available. However, the cost usually ranges from $20/month all the way up to $100+/month. VPS servers usually have one or two hosting environments you can choose from, so they lack the absolute customization of dedicated hosts. But, this does mean easier setup for those who have more basic websites.

    This style of hosting will be enough for sites that are simpler and don’t receive massive amounts of traffic. Overall, you can think of VPS hosting as a perfect solution for those who require root access on a server, but don’t want the expense of a full dedicated server.

    If basic shared hosting doesn’t quite offer what you need and you need a little more control over your host, then VPS hosting could be the right fit for you. If you need a more advanced host with extensive customization options, then check out dedicated hosting below.

    Click here to learn more about HostGator's VPS hosting plans.


    What is Dedicated Hosting?

    A dedicated server is a server that’s literally dedicated to your own personal use. You’ll have rights to all of the resources of the machine, and you’ll be able to configure the hosting environment however you wish.

    Dedicated hosts are usually only worthwhile if you’re receiving over 500,000 visitors per month and have the necessary technical staff to maintain and optimize your server.

    There is no right and wrong when it comes to hosting. Instead, it simply depends upon what’s the best choice for your website. We all have different needs. So make sure you take stock of what kind of hosting support you’ll need before you choose a web host.

    However, since dedicated servers are almost always more expensive it’s generally a good idea to start with a VPS until your company is generating enough revenue to support the cost of a dedicated server.

    Click here to learn more about HostGator's dedicated hosting plans.

    What style of hosting do you prefer? Please share in the comments below.

  • 9 Best WordPress Plugins for Writers

    Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by

    Best WordPress Plugins for Writers

    As a writer, you may be looking for ways to enhance your WordPress blog and expand the reach of your content. The good news is, there are a vast number of WordPress plugins that can help. The bad news is, it can be difficult for writers to choose the best ones. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about that.

    In this article, we will share the 9 best WordPress plugins for writers that can enhance your blog and expand your reach.

    Don’t have a website yet? No problem. Get your site published in minutes with HostGator's one-click WordPress installs. Learn more here.

    1. Yoast SEO

    Yoast SEO WordPress

    Yoast SEO is the best WordPress plugin for ranking your blog posts in the search engines. It optimizes your page title, meta description, focus keywords, sitemap, social metadata, and much more.

    This plugin is a must-have for any content writer. (See this guide on how to install Yoast SEO.)

    Cost: Free with multiple price tiers

    2. Edit Flow

    Edit Flow

    Edit Flow helps your editorial teams to collaborate on your posts and pages.

    This plugin adds an editorial calendar to your dashboard so you can look at your monthly content plan. It also creates custom statuses for keeping track of the key stages in your workflow. You can even communicate with your writers and editors in the private editorial comments.

    Cost: Free

    3. Monster Insights

    Monster Insights

    Monster Insights helps you to monitor your daily blog traffic with Google Analytics.

    This plugin allows you to easily setup Google Analytics on your WordPress site with just a few clicks. It highlights your most important stats, so you can easily grow your blog traffic and get a clear idea of how you are doing at a glance.

    Cost: Free or pro version at $89 / yr

    4. WPForms


    WPForms is the best WordPress plugin for adding forms to your site. Its features make it the most powerful and user-friendly WordPress form builder on the market.

    This plugin creates contact forms and custom form types with a powerful drag & drop builder. It also includes simple and beautiful form templates that you can start with to save you time. Plus, you can create high performance forms with their smart conditional logic.

    Cost: Free with paid upgrades starting at $39 / yr

    5. ClicktoTweet by CoSchedule

    Click To Tweet

    ClicktoTweet is one of the easiest ways to get more shares for your content.

    It is a simple WordPress plugin that encourages readers to share your content by adding Click to Tweet boxes in your blog posts.

    Cost: Free

    6. Revision Control

    Revision Control

    Revision Control gives writers more control over the WordPress post revision system.

    You can save revisions of posts or pages in your WordPress backend. It allows you to set the number of revisions for your content, and these settings can be changed according to your needs. You can also delete post or page revisions from Revisions post meta box.

    Cost: Free

    7. Co-Authors Plus

    CoAuthors Plus

    Co-Authors Plus is the best author box plugin that adds multiple authors to one post. If you have two or more contributors working on one post, then this is the plugin for you.

    You can add bylines to WordPress posts, pages and more with the search-as-you-type input box. It allows you to list the authors anywhere on your site using template tags. It also has multiple templates for displaying the authors.

    Cost: Free

    8. Post Forking

    Post Forking

    Post Forking allows writers to create an alternate versions of their content for a collaborative approach to WordPress content curation.

    This plugin gives authors the ability to submit proposed revisions and to edit published posts without the changes appearing immediately.

    Cost: Free

    9. TinyMCE Spell Check

    Tiny MCE Spellcheck

    TinyMCE Spell Check helps you to identify the mistakes in your posts and correct them by adding a spell check button.

    With this plugin, you no longer have to copy and paste your blog posts into a Word document to check for errors: you can do it right within your WordPress backend.

    Cost: Free to try with upgrades starting at $29 / month

    WordPress plugins make it so much easier for writers to enhance their blog and expand the reach of their content. Now that you know the best ones, choose one of the above plugins to start with. You’ll see the improvement in no time.

    Recommended WordPress Hosting

  • 5 Tips For Creating An Awesome About Page (With Examples)

    Tuesday, September 27, 2016 by
    Create About Page Think about the About page on your website. If you don’t have one, you should create one immediately after reading this article. If you have one, what's the point? Is it to show customers who your team is, to put a “face” to the company? Or do you talk about the history of your company? Maybe it’s a recruiting tool? About pages can serve a variety of purposes. The key to making them successful, though, is knowing what that purpose is, and designing the page to address that purpose specifically. Your About page is the perfect place to encourage people to work with you, or to work for you. Below are some best practices to follow when designing your About page to achieve either of those goals.  

    1. Tell your story

    Your About page is your opportunity to make a personal connection with prospective customers. Explain why it is that you do what you do. Are you passionate about improving your industry, your product, the world? Reveal your passion, and people will want to work with you. Nick Braun, founder and CEO of Pet Insurance Quotes, took this one step further by helping potential clients imagine themselves in his shoes. Braun's About page includes the key elements of any successful About page: contact information, trust-building industry badges of approval, and clear CTAs. What makes this page stand out is Braun's personal dog rescue story. He and his wife fell instantly in love with their new pup Beau, and started exploring insurance options so they could keep him happy and healthy for as long as possible. It was during this time that Braun realized how difficult it was to compare pet insurance providers, which gave him the idea to start the website. Braun’s site aims to help other pet parents avoid headache and heartache. “There is nothing fancy about it, but what it does that most other About pages don't is provide a story about why we're in business. I always find it frustrating when I can't get any sense of who the company is,” said Braun. “We decided to share my story as a pet parent to provide context and help connect with our audience.” About PetInsuranceQuotes.com  

    2. Establish credibility

    Chris Brantner recognized the sales opportunity an About page presents. Rather than offering another boring “About Me” story on CutCableToday.com, he designed a page to encourage customers to take action. The page begins with a trust-building banner. “It validates the site as an expert source in the industry by showing where the site has gained national media coverage,” said Brantner. Once he’s established trust, Brantner keeps things fun and conversational, allowing his personality to shine. “It's a great branding piece that allows people to get to know the site mascot, and the guy behind him (me).” Brantner understands that when people come to an About page, they’re already at a place where they're interested in the product, and what they’re looking for at this point is reassurance that this is the kind of person they want to work with. After building trust and rapport with potential customers in the previous sections of the page, the page ends with a contact form. “It drives people to action by convincing them to click internal links that will push them into the funnel, or at last resort, email asking for help to keep the conversation going.” About CutCableToday  

    3. Feature your customers

    As they say, the proof is in the pudding. There’s a reason why online reviews and customer testimonials are so popular… they work. User your About page to show off your portfolio of work and share how happy your customers are. Pet Checkers is a UK-based company that connects pet owners with pet care professionals when they go on holiday. As any pet owner can relate, it's nerve-wracking to leave your pet in the hands of a stranger. Not only do you want to know that they will be safe, you want to know that they will be cared for lovingly. Building that sense of trust is a tall order for any pet care company, but Pet Checkers found a clever solution to this challenge in the design of their About page. Owner Ben Doyle explained, “We worked really hard to make the page look as welcoming and as personal as possible. All of the images we used on the page (and the site) are of actual pets we look after, so our clients can see that we make a fuss of their pets on the site. We also introduce our staff members to make the readers feel like they’re getting to know us before any contact even takes place.” Does it work? You bet. “The click through rate from this page to the contact page is the highest of any page on the site,” shared Doyle. About Pet Checkers  

    4. Introduce the team

    Introducing your team is especially important if you’re a company where individual staff will be working closely and for prolonged times with clients. If this is the kind of business you’re in, be it a law firm, a design agency, or something else, hiding your team away can be a kiss of death. Make your team accessible through your website so your customers know they can expect openness and transparency in your working relationship. One company that took a clever twist on this approach is TunnelBear. Their mascot is a grizzly bear, so rather than displaying normal photos of their team, they created grizzly-inspired illustrations that reflect their unique personalities. The effect is endearing and makes you want to work with such a fun group of people. Accordingly, they end with a recruiting call-out and link to their jobs page. About TunnelBear  

    5. Showcase your work

    Not to toot our own horn, but we're pretty proud of our own About page here at HostGator. We highlight the milestones in our company history, so customers can celebrate our successes along with us. These also help establish our credibility and tenure in the industry, as customers can note the growth of our company from a single office Houston to several international offices with over 2 million clients. At the end, we encourage potential hires to envision themselves working at HostGator and link to our Careers page. About Us HostGator  


    We hope these About pages inspired you! When creating your About page, aim to follow these best practices:
    • Tell your story.
    • Feature your customers.
    • Establish credibility.
    • Showcase your work.
    • Introduce your team.
    • Incorporate your brand.
    • Make it fun!
    What is your About page all about? Do you have a favorite we've missed here? Let us know in the comments!
  • Shared Hosting vs WordPress Hosting – What’s The Difference?

    Friday, September 23, 2016 by

    Shared Hosting vs WordPress Hosting

    Hosting is an absolutely critical aspect of any online business. Without the proper hosting, you won’t have a website, it’s as simple as that. However, choosing the right kind of hosting package for your needs is another thing entirely.

    There are a variety of options you’ll come across. The most common being basic shared hosting, VPS, managed hosting, and running a dedicated server. To keep things simple we’re going to look at two of the most commonly used hosting options for websites that utilize the WordPress CMS.

    Below we dive into managed WordPress hosting, versus a basic shared hosting plan where you’re just using WordPress as a CMS.

    Recommended WordPress Hosting


    What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

    Managed WordPress hosting is a hosting environment that’s specifically designed to cater to WordPress websites. Think of it as wearing a well-tailored suit, custom fitted to your body. Rather than grabbing a suit off the rack, with your eyes closed!

    Managed WordPress hosting has a number of advantages for your website:

    It’s incredibly fast. Every aspect of the server has been tweaked to cater to WordPress’s setup. This level of hosting can often drop page load speeds by a second or more.

    It’s much more secure. This kind of hosting offers increased security protocols and more individualized attention. Plus, if you do get hacked you’ll have a support team who has experience with WordPress-specific attacks.

    Your server is always up to date. The team who manages your hosting will always ensure the server is running the latest software, so your site will perform as efficiently as possible. Their goal is to keep you, and your website, happy.

    Dedicated support. The support teams who run managed WordPress hosting accounts are generally WordPress experts. Who would you rather have looking after your site?

    Increased uptime. Since your site will be sharing resources with less websites, and in some cases, none, your site is able to use a greater portion of the server resources.


    Are There Any Drawbacks?

    Since managed WordPress hosting is a more customized hosting solution, there are a few drawbacks that come with the upgraded service. For instance, the costs for this kind of hosting are generally higher.

    Sometimes, there are also limitations on the amount of customization you can do across your site. Some managed WordPress hosts won’t allow your site to use certain plugins. So, if your site requires certain plugins to function, and those plugins are on the host’s restricted list, and then you might need to find another hosting option.

    Also, you can only run WordPress on managed WordPress hosting. Any other kinds of CMSs aren’t allowed.


    Why Would I Use Shared Hosting?

    Shared hosting can be great if you’re just getting started with building a website and are unsure if you want to commit all the way, or not. But, if you’re looking to grow your website and are expecting to receive a very large amount of traffic, then you may want to consider upgrading to something more reliable.

    For instance, when you use a shared host your website is put on a server with hundreds, and sometimes thousands of others. You have no idea who these other websites are, and whether or not they have proper security measures in place, or are using a properly coded theme.

    The resources on the shared server will get divided between every website using the server. This means that if a website on the server experiences a large surge in traffic from a post going viral, then your site may load slowly as a result.

    Shared hosting just isn’t as reliable and custom tailored to the WordPress environment.

    There’s no “right” hosting choice for every kind of business out there. But, if you can afford the additional costs of WordPress managed hosting, and have plans to grow your website in the future, then managed WordPress hosting is generally the way to go.

    If you’re unsure about the higher price point, then stick with the basic shared hosting, you can always upgrade in time, as your site grows!

    What kind of hosting do you prefer for your website? Please share in the comments below.

  • Best WordPress Plugins for Affiliate Marketing

    Wednesday, September 21, 2016 by

    WordPress Plugins for Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize your website. You already have the traffic and readership, but you don’t have something to sell. Instead of spending all that time creating a product, you can recommend similar products to your audience and receive a commission for each sale.

    Best of all, if you’re dealing with digital products, then the commission you receive will be much higher than the typical commission that’s offered from most physical product retailers.

    Yet, you might be struggling to find out the best ways you can actually sell and promote these offers to your audience. Luckily, WordPress has your back. There are a slew of great plugins you can use that’ll simplify your affiliate marketing efforts.

    Below we highlight five different plugins you can use to bolster your affiliate marketing efforts, or help to get them off the ground.

    Note: Whenever using third-party plugins, be thoughtful of your resource usage to avoid any surprises from your hosting provider.

    1. WordPress Referral

    WordPress Affiliate & Referral Plugin

    In some cases you might not be interested in promoting and selling others’ products, but instead have recruited people to promote and sell your own digital courses and guides. In this case, you’re going to need a way to track and manage the sales of your own affiliates.

    The WordPress Affiliate and Referral plugin will enable you to easily manage the affiliates who are promoting your products. This plugin has features like:

    • The ability to manage and track affiliate performance
    • PayPal integration to easily pay affiliates
    • Integration with your existing eCommerce system, such as, WooCommerce
    • The ability to setup referral banners and links for promotional use

    2. EasyAzon


    If you’re planning on selling Amazon products for an affiliate commission, then you need to be using this plugin. EasyAzon will save you a ton of time when you’re trying to create a link for the Amazon product.

    This plugin is a must-have if you’re promoting Amazon products, just look at a few of the features this plugin has to offer:

    • Add Amazon affiliate links to your pages and posts without leaving the WordPress dashboard
    • The links will automatically adjust to the visitor’s geographic region
    • The plugin allows readers to automatically add a product to their cart, which can increase conversions

    3. Thirsty Affiliates

    Thirsty Affiliates

    Thirsty Affiliates can be seen as an all-in-one affiliate solution. Essentially, it’s a link-cloaker, which allows you to create affiliate links that don’t look like affiliate links.

    This increases the chances of your visitors clicking on the link, as it doesn’t resemble a spam link, or a link from an untested source.

    Some additional features of this plugin include:

    • A tool to choose the correct affiliate link for your product
    • Allows you to add media files to your links, such as images or video that pop-up when the link is hovered over.
    • An automatic link-shortening feature
    • A lot more, there are additional add-ons that can be purchased to extend the functionality of this plugin

    4. Pretty Link Lite

    Pretty Link Lite

    Pretty Link Lite allows you to shorten and cloak any affiliate links you’re using across your entire site. This is a very small and simple plugin that does this task incredibly well.

    Plus, there’s a nifty tracking feature built into this plugin, so you can see which links are garnering you the most clicks and if any links are underperforming. Since this plugin isn’t specifically created for affiliate website it has other useful features like:

    • Allows you to create 301 and 307 redirects
    • Can export the link data into a CSV file to more easily analyze
    • Automatic creation of URL slugs for each link

    5. Custom Sidebars

    Custom Sidebars

    If you have a sidebar ad that you’re trying to use to sell affiliate products, then the Custom Sidebars plugin will help you reach your goals. Most affiliate programs will come with a set of image-based ads you can use to promote their products.

    All you have to do is install the plugin, upload your ad images with a tracking code, and you’re all set to begin generating revenue. This plugin comes equipped with a ton of useful features including:

    • Display custom widgets and sidebars depending on page or post type
    • Easy WordPress integration
    • Well-coded, so it won’t slow down your site

    WordPress is a great choice when you’re building an audience to sell and promote products to. The plugins above will help to more easily manage and promote your digital goods.

    Did you know? HostGator has an award-winning affiliate program! If you're interested in earning up to $125 per qualifying signup, click here to learn more.

    What WordPress affiliate plugins do you recommend? Share your favorites in the comments below.