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  • What Is a SSL Certificate, and Why You Need One

    Friday, June 3, 2016 by
    What is a SSL Certificate

    As a website owner you’ve probably heard the words “SSL certificate” getting thrown around a lot. When you’re first getting your website built all of this technical jargon can seem like you’re trying to learn another language.

    However, if you plan on having your customers input their private information online, then you need to utilize the additional security measures provided by an SSL certificate. Below we highlight what an SSL certificate is, how they work, and what situations it would be smart to encrypt your website with SSL.

    What is an SSL Certificate?

    The biggest reason websites use SSL is to protect sensitive information that’s sent between computers and servers. If information like credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information isn’t encrypted this leaves it open for hackers to easily step in and steal the information.

    With the SSL certificate. your information is unreadable to anyone who attempts to steal it. The only people able to decipher it are the intended recipients at the other end of the connection.

    With an SSL certificate, your customers can do business with you knowing that their information is going to be safe from identity thieves and potential hackers.

    How Does an SSL Certificate Work?

    SSL certificates add an additional level of security between your website and the information visitors are sharing. They protect your website in two main ways:

    1. Enabling Encryption

    It can be scary to share your personal and financial information online. A lot of people prefer to use large-scale eCommerce sites like Amazon, because they feel much safer and protected. With an SSL certificate sensitive data will remain encrypted and secure, thus providing your customers with a sense of relief.

    2. Verifying the Identity of the Site Owner

    The SSL credential identifies the owner of the website, and create an additional layer of trust. Put simply, your customers will know with whom exactly they’re doing business.

    Before the certificate can even be issued the identity of the website owner has to be verified through multiple methods. With digital communication it’s often difficult to determine the person on the other side of the connection, but with an SSL certificate you can be sure you’re doing business with your intended recipient, and vice versa.

    Do I Need an SSL Certificate for My Site?

    An SSL certificate can help to build trust between your visitor and your website. Building trust online is all about giving subtle cues to your visitor that you can be trusted.

    PayPal SSL Certificate

    By having the little green lock on the browser bar, you’re guaranteeing to your customer that your site can be trusted.

    If your website requires the exchange of any personal information, then you might want to consider getting an SSL certificate. If your user is required to enter their credit card information, then an SSL certificate is almost mandatory.

    However, you don’t always need a sitewide SSL certificate. Since going through multiple levels of encryption can slow down your website it may be disadvantageous to have certain pages of your site encrypted. There’s also a decent cost involved in order to get your site verified and operating effectively, so this also has to be considered.

    If you’re doing business online and are exchanging sensitive information with your visitors, then an SSL certificate will provide an additional layer of security, while increasing your trustworthiness.

    Many of HostGator's hosting plans come with a SSL certificate included, or available for a small cost. Whether you need SSL encryption for your eCommerce site or something else, you can secure your site today - learn more here.

    Any benefits of an SSL certificate we didn’t cover? Please share in the comments below.

  • What are URL Redirects, and Do You Need Any?

    Thursday, June 2, 2016 by
    What are URL Redirects

    What happens if you’ve undergone a website change, and you now do business at a new URL? Or, maybe a few of your links have changed and you want to make sure your users get sent to the right destination?

    URL redirects can be used for a variety of purposes. Below we outline what URL redirects actually are, the different uses, and common situations where they can be utilized to support your business.

    What is a URL Redirect?

    A URL redirect essentially takes your URL and points it to another. For example, let’s say you had the URL “myoldsite.com” and you wanted visitors to instead be directed to “mynewsite.com”. You would use a redirect to easily make this happen. Then whoever typed in your old URL would immediately be redirected to your new one.

    As you’ll see below there are a few different types of redirects, which you can use to satisfy your website goals. 

    1. 301 Redirect

    301 redirects are permanent redirects. This is one of the most common methods for implementing redirects across your website. This style of redirect is also beneficial for SEO purposes, as it passes over 90% of the link juice.

    2. 302 Redirect

    302 redirects are more temporary and aren’t used very often. These are used when you’re temporarily moving a page, but have the intention to move it back to the old URL, like when you’re doing website maintenance.

    Still, you may find use for them when redesigning, or migrating your website, so they’re worth mentioning here.

    3. Meta Refresh

    A meta refresh is typically used on page loading screens. This style of redirect is done on a page level, not on the server level, like the previous two examples. This redirect is usually slower and has a countdown timer, so you don’t lose the user’s interest.

    The meta refresh does pass some link juice, if you’re concerned about your SEO, but it’s not as effective as the 301 redirect.

    When Should I Use a Redirect?

    Redirects are most commonly used when you’re making changes across your website and don’t want users to be hit with a 404 page, or you don’t want to lose any important sitewide links. Below we highlight three reasons redirects are commonly used:

    1. You Have Duplicate Content

    Duplicate content is content that appears more than once. When there are multiple versions of the same content floating around it’s difficult for Google to determine which page is the correct one.

    You can get around this by using a 301 redirect on the duplicate piece of content to direct to the original page. This will help to improve your search engine rankings and create a better experience for your users. 

    2. You’ve Changed Your Domain

    If you’re positive you want to change your domain name, then you probably don’t want to lose any of the hard earned links you’ve built. If you want to keep all of the search engine juice flowing to your new site, then you’ll want to setup a permanent redirect from your old domain to your new one.

    3. You Have Multiple Domains

    Some people even purchase multiple domain names in order to protect their online brand. Then, you’ll simply redirect any of your other domains to your new domain. A lot of companies do this, so they can obtain additional traffic from common misspellings and to prevent competitors from buying a similar domain they can then redirect to their own site.

    Even large sites like Amazon use the power of redirects. Go ahead and type in relentless.com and see where it leads you!

    Redirects are a valuable tool in any website owners toolbox. By effectively using redirects you’ll be able to maintain a solid SEO strategy, create a proper user experience, and maintain your brand’s authority.

    Any creative uses of redirects we failed to mention? Please share in the comments below.

  • How to Turn Your Blog Into a Functional Business

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016 by
    How to Turn Your Blog Into a Functional Business Starting our very own blog is sometimes just the kind of a thing that manages to happen to us, without any real reason as to why, other than to express ourselves, our ideas, and our thoughts. Blogging can bring a lot of clarity to one's life, it can help to connect with a creative area that was previously unknown and almost non-existent. Blogging connects us with a vast network of other bloggers, and of course, people who are always seeking more insightful information and experiences about the kind of subject you wish to write about. Blogging is all about experience; we progress with our writing, and we begin to progress with other skills such as online marketing, email marketing, growth hacking, amongst other freelance-related areas, but the most interesting thing is that we can actually take these experiences and the skills we are learning and turn them into an actual paying business. The demand for freelancers with solid set of skills is always high, and why not take your blogging experience and turn it into your own little franchise! If you haven't started your blog yet, you may want to first check out our article on choosing a domain name and browse our popular WordPress plans.

    Start with content production.

    Your blog is your digital resume; it's the database of the kind of work you have done up until that point, and it's a clear mirror of the quality of content you produce, as well as the kind of audience it attracts. As a blogger, writing is your strongest point, and there is no need to question as to whether your writing is going to get better with time, because it will, and there are countless businesses and brands looking for reliable writers who have had the experience of producing content for real people, in real situations. There are two ways to find work as a writer, either begin to advertise that you're available for hire on your own blog's pages through a specific widget or a page, or begin to reach out to companies directly; but remember to do your research first.

    Get paid to talk.

    Conferences, events, small business talks are all events where organizers are looking for insightful and educated minds to engage and connect with the audience. Some of the world's most successful public speakers earn tens of thousands of dollars each time they do a public talk. You could be that person, although don't expect to earn much more than a few thousand at your first few events -- practice is everything when it comes to learning how to connect with your audience and how to keep them entertained for as long as necessary. The easier choice might be to become a sponsor at the particular conference or event yourself, giving you more solid exposure.

    Charge for an introduction to your audience.

    The blogging-sphere has changed a lot in the recent couple of years, and that has also changed drastic changes in the way online advertising is perceived, and how brands can connect with bloggers to create advertising-based relationships that would benefit both parties. One of the most popular methods for advertising in the current age of digital content is 'sponsored content' -- an article, blog post, news post where the given company pays you a set sum of money in order to have an article published on their behalf. The most important thing to remember about sponsored content is that you should always enforce a set of rules and regulations to make sure that the content that you publish on your blog from other companies is in full compliance with your own beliefs, and the beliefs of your community, otherwise you risk of running into a few unhappy readers!

    Are you ready to start making money from your blog? Check out HostGator blog hosting today!

    Get Started With HostGator!

  • 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.
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