Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Kevin WoodTo have a site live on the Internet you’re going to need hosting. But, how do you choose the right kind of hosting for your business? Web hosting can be complex and there are a lot of options. It’s easy to get lost, so don’t feel bad if you’re confused at the starting point. Below we dive into the differences between cloud hosting and shared hosting. These are two of the most common hosting choices. Remember, there is no right choice for everyone; the right type for you depends upon the needs of your site. Let’s jump in!
Friday, December 16, 2016 by John JantschMany business owners focus so much on the aesthetic appeal of their website because they think that’s what will attract new customers. But all the money spent on design isn’t worth a thing if your site isn’t being found. Hopefully by now you already understand the importance of content. But are you thinking about the backend work that ensures your website gets ranked by search engines? An important place to start is with the quality of your web host. Web hosting is an often overlooked, yet critical, factor in determining your website’s SEO rankings.
1. Uptime/DowntimeYou know how you always see those 99.9% uptime callouts on web hosting companies? There's a reason for that. The quality of your web host is a key determinant in how accessible your website actually is. The poorer the host quality, the more often your website is will be down, which can damage your SEO rankings. On the other hand, if your website is accessible virtually all of the time -- especially when Google crawls it -- it’s more likely to be found in relevant searches. Remember that the amount of downtime your website experiences can fluctuate fairly frequently. Make sure you’re monitoring your site’s uptime, and contact your host if you have any concerns.
2. SpeedYour website’s page load speed affects SEO rankings. The internet is a competitive place, and people are no longer willing to wait to see the content on a slow site. You can control some of the factors affecting the speed of your website, such as coding and content, but much of it depends on your host. Just like downtime, speed fluctuates, so check your website’s load time often to see if there are any significant or concerning changes. Some host-related factors that you can check on include the type of hard drive technology, availability of a content delivery network (CDN), and whether the hosting is optimized for your content management system, such as WordPress. If you’re sure you’ve done everything right on your end but are still experiencing slow loading times for your website, don’t just drop your web hosting company! Try contacting your web developer and your web host and ask if they can help or if there are any options or upgrades available to improve your website’s performance. HostGator customers can test their server's upload and download speed here.
3. IP LocationThe physical location of your web host can have an impact on your SEO rankings. Search engines may rank websites with IP addresses in the same country as the company higher than ones based in other countries. So try to find a site host with servers in your country to boost your website’s SEO potential. IP location can also affect your website’s speed. If you’re targeting users in a different country from the one where your host server is located, those users are likely to experience slower loading times, which can have an adverse impact on your website’s success.
4. SecurityPoor website security can be truly detrimental to your site’s SEO. Attackers can hack your website, create spam pages, and generate massive amounts of fake backlinks to your site -- just the sort of thing Google loves to penalize. By the time you successfully identify the fraudulent page and have it removed, Google will likely have already imposed the penalty and the damage will have been done. Poor security also increases the chances that your website could get infected with malware, which can lead to your site being blacklisted by search engines or showing a security warning in the search results. Before choosing a web host, be sure they have security technology options available and malware removal support to defend your site from attackers. HostGator customers can use SiteLock to scan and defend against hackers, malware, and other vulnerabilities.
5. HTTPS / SSL SupportMore and more websites are moving toward using https to protect user data in its web traffic. Because of this, Google has specifically stated that SSL is an SEO ranking factor. It’s still a minor ranking factor for the moment, and therefore shouldn’t have too strong an impact, but it increasingly looks like it will become more important in the near future. If you want to move your website from HTTP to HTTPS, check with your web hosting company to get their specific TSL/SSL certificates. From there, you’ll want to find a checklist of what you need to do to ensure that your website is fully operating in HTTPS. If it sounds intimidating, rest assured -- these lists are fairly easy to find and will help you make the switch seamlessly.
6. Tech SupportWhen your website goes down, time suddenly comes to a standstill and panic sets in. These moments will reveal your web host’s true character. Make sure your host has 24/7 tech support help available (HostGator does!). If you want to go even further, investigate the experience of your host’s support staff. This way, if disaster strikes, you’ll know you have a dedicated and capable support team ready to come to your rescue. Your web hosting plays a major role in determining whether your site’s SEO is a boom or a bust. Making an informed decision and regularly checking your hosting quality is not only a good way to increase your search result rankings, but it ensures your users have an excellent experience on your site and keep coming back for more.
Thursday, December 15, 2016 by Kevin Wood
When the time comes to choose where to host your website you’re going to have a ton of options at your disposal. Beyond deciding which company to host with, you'll also have to decide what kind of hosting package suits you best.
Shared hosting is one of the most popular hosting options for those who are building out their first websites. But, what is shared hosting, and does it make sense for your website?
Below we dive into what shared hosting actually is, and what kind of person could benefit from a shared hosting package.
Let’s jump in!
What is Shared Hosting?
Shared hosting allows multiple websites to utilize a single server. Usually, you’ll have no idea who or what websites you’re sharing the resources of a server with. Each customer will usually have a limit on the total amount of server resources they can use, but this will be defined by your hosting package.
Shared hosting is easily the cheapest and most economical option for your needs. However, the cheap price comes with limitations, which we’ll get to below. Since most hosting companies will offer the same amount of space and storage it’s important to choose a company you can trust.
Advantages of Shared Hosting
- It’s by far the cheapest hosting option you’re going to have available. The usual price for this style of hosting will range from $2.99-$9.99.
- Most hosting companies have multiple levels of hosting available, so you can upgrade your hosting package with time. This makes shared hosting a great place to start.
- Shared hosting usually comes equipped with a built-in cPanel, which makes it easy to manage your site.
- No technical maintenance needs to be done on your end to the server, as this is usually included in part of your hosting package.
Put simply, shared hosting can be a great option for website owners with a small budget, or those just getting started online. You can always upgrade to another hosting package with time, as your budget allows, so you’re not stuck with this level of hosting forever.
Disadvantages of Shared Hosting
Shared hosting sounds pretty good: it's affordable, has a solid uptime, and is easy to manage. But, it does come with certain drawbacks.
- The load time can be a lot slower than dedicated servers.
- The server can become overburdened by other sites that are sharing the server.
- As your site begins to receive higher levels of traffic you’ll begin to notice that your site might begin to perform much worse.
- You never quite know who your neighbors are. Although rare, it is possible for other sites on the server to pose a risk to your own site.
- There’s a lack of customization options to truly get the highest level of performance from your website.
For most people just getting started online the advantages of shared hosting will greatly outweigh the disadvantages, especially if you’re trying to get a site up and running as quickly as possible and have little tech skills. It's also important to note that a responsible web host will let you know when your traffic hits a level that it's time to upgrade, and will monitor and shut down any sites that pose a risk to the others on the server.
Alternatives to Shared Hosting
There aren’t any specific alternatives to a shared hosting plan. There are upgrades, but no alternatives that are as cheap as shared hosting.
The alternatives to shared hosting include WordPress dedicated hosting, running a VPS, and other semi-dedicated hosting options. All of these will end up costing more than a basic shared hosting plan, but they will provide you with greater levels of customization and performance.
Shared hosting is a great choice for beginning website users whose sites don’t receive a lot of traffic. Remember, you can always upgrade or change hosting environments with time.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 by Kevin WoodDo you know if anyone is actually reading your blog? Maybe you threw up a company blog, because you felt the pressure and felt like you should. Or, maybe you’ve been executing a content strategy, but you can’t tell if it’s bringing you any results. Creating epic content truly takes time, so you’ll need to be able to decipher what this content is actually doing for you. Failing to track your content metrics is going to leave you with a flailing content strategy. You’ll be busy trying to guess what’s working, instead of being able to operate with certainty. Keep reading to learn five blog engagement metrics you need to start measuring today.
1. Total Number Of CommentsRemember, spam comments don’t count. The total number of comments you receive can be a great indicator of whether you have an engaged audience or not. If you don’t have the comments enabled on your blog, then move on to our other trackable metrics. In order to ensure you have an active comments section you need to encourage conversation. This can be something as simple as asking a thought provoking question at the end of your blog post, or asking your readers to share their experiences. If you have a WordPress site, you can find this by going to Comments.
2. Total Number Of Social Media SharesPeople share content they feel an emotional connection to, or that aligns with something they deeply believe. If you’re consistently creating valuable content that speaks on an emotional level, then you should see the total number of social media shares start to rise. However, remember that social media shares don’t mean a whole lot if they aren’t contributing to your bottom line. Keep your social metrics in check by comparing them to other metrics, such as the number of new leads a post generates. You can keep track of your total social media shares by tallying up your engagement numbers from the various sites you have an account on, or by using a tool like Buzzsumo. In Buzzsumo you can enter your domain name and specify the amount of time you want to review. For example, here's a look at the top shared posts related to "blogging" from the past year:
3. Number Of Links and Other MentionsPeople will link to your content if it’s useful and high quality. There’s a lot of low-quality content out there on the web that does little more than fill up space. But, if you rise above the noise and create something that speaks to your audience on an emotional level, and is valuable, you should see the number of links to your post start to rise. You can track this data through a tool like Google Analytics in Acquisition > All Traffic > Referral to see which sites are linking to you and sending you traffic. This won’t give you the exact post they’re linking to, but it will allow you to correlate the data. You can also look in Google Search Console under Search Traffic > Links To Your Site. If you have a WordPress website and have pingbacks enabled, then you’ll see the sites that link or mention your post below the post before the comments section. You will also be notified in your WordPress dashboard.
4. Total Time Spent On SiteIf your readers like what you’re writing, then they’re going to stick around your site much longer. You can track this metric from your Google Analytics dashboard. The two main stats to pay attention to are Bounce Rate and Avg. Session Duration. Both of these stats will tell you how long people are staying on your website, and if they’re immediately clicking the back button the moment they land on your website. This won’t give you hard data, but you can assume the longer a person stays on your site the more engaged they are with your blog. However, don’t let these this metric be the only one you measure. To see if the time spent on site is actually worthwhile, then check out the final metric.
5. Number Of New LeadsTotal Time Spent On Site is technically useless (for your business), if the visitor doesn’t take any action. For instance, if a user spends a few minutes on your website, but doesn’t sign up for your newsletter, then that time spent doesn’t help to positively impact your bottom line. Or, a visitor could spend a lot of time on your website simply because they’re lost, and can’t figure out how to use your navigation bar. Your blog strategy should be contributing to your bottom line. Within each post you should include a call-to-action that leads to a desired action. If this number increases, then your posting strategy is working. If it doesn’t then it’s time to change things up. Find what pages are driving the most traffic by looking to the Conversions section of Google Analytics. You can configure this to show Transactions, Leads, Goal Completions, you name it. Blogging can be a powerful strategy, and serve many purposes for your business. But, if you aren’t tracking anything you’re simply flying blind. By keeping track of the metrics above you’ll notice content trends, and be able to align your strategy with the needs of your audience.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016 by Kevin WoodBlogging in the fashion and beauty space can be a lot of fun. If you have a passion for beauty and fashion, then a blog can be a great way to showcase your creativity, appreciation, and unique voice, all while making a profit. However, just like any website, developing a loyal following will take a lot of time and energy. All of the time you invest in writing and sharing style advice and tips will be for nothing if your website doesn't inspire trust in the eyes of your readers. Below we offer a few tips for creating the best beauty or fashion blog possible. Best of all, you don’t have to be a tech genius to have a very beautiful and functional website. Today there are so many tools at your disposal, even a complete beginner can create an incredible website.
1. The Absolute BasicsThe very first things you’ll need before you start your beauty and fashion blogging journey is to get yourself a domain name and host. Sure, you can start a blog using a variety of free services, but these don’t give you enough autonomy or control to really take charge of your online presence. Instead, we recommend choosing a domain name that you can build a brand around. Some bloggers prefer their own names, while others choose a domain name that reflects their unique views in the fashion and beauty space. Once you’ve chosen your domain name it’s time to choose a host. One of the best options for beginners is shared hosting, because it’s cheaper and will generally provide enough of what you need to get your blog off the ground.
2. A Clean AestheticWhen the time comes to design your site, keep simplicity at the back of your mind. Think about it: if you’re in the beauty and fashion space, you’re going to need a site that suggests to your users that you actually know what you’re talking about. Luckily for you there are a variety of WordPress themes that can help you easily create a beautiful website right out of the box. Some of these are designed specifically for beauty and fashion blogs, such as Street Style, Jakiro, inFashion, and Magazine Pro Theme.
3. Beautiful ImageryThe images you post will make or break your beauty and fashion blog. As a whole, the space is very visually oriented - you know that. So, you’ll need to step up your photo game if you want to compete. If you don’t have the funds to invest in a high-quality camera you can easily use your smartphone and favorite photo-editing app. Beauty blogger and HostGator customer Alicia runs The Dumbbelle, a blog dedicated to beauty, fitness, and all around wellness. She creates unique and pretty images for each of her posts, as you can see below:
4. High-Quality ContentYou’re only as good as your weakest piece of content. Today, there’s so much noise out there on the web that it’s a much better idea to only put out the highest quality content possible. By focusing on creating incredible content you’ll find that it’s much easier to grow your reputation in the beauty and fashion space. Hundreds of blogs are born every single day; don’t let yours succumb to the pressures of low-quality content. One huge factor that relates to the design of your blog is the typography you choose. Make sure you choose a font that’s incredibly easy to read and will deliver a pleasant on-site experience in line with your brand.
5. (Bonus) A Way to ProfitChances are, you have a goal to ultimately turn a profit from your blog. Doing this will take time and energy, but you also need a plan of attack. For instance, will you sell beauty and fashion products as part of an affiliate program? Will you write sponsored reviews of popular products in your space? Are you using your blog to promote your own line of homemade cosmetics? Define your end goal and work backwards from there. Hopefully, the tips above will give you some direction when creating your very own beauty and fashion blog. Are you a beauty or fashion blogger? Share your tips for success in the comments below.