Web and Hosting Tips | HostGator Blog

HostGator Blog!

Web Hosting Made Easy!

  • How To Optimize Your WordPress Images For Google Image Search

    Thursday, March 10, 2016 by
    Optimize WordPress Images For Google Search Images are one of the essential foundations to any good website. Functionally, aesthetically, and technically, images have many aspects of which a lot of website owners don't realize can, and should, be optimized. Every time someone opens one of your web-pages on WordPress, all of the content whether it's text, images or additional pieces of code that power the plugins, need to be downloaded from the server onto their computer. Images that are optimized correctly can greatly benefit your SEO by appearing in image search results, assisting to steer more traffic back to your web page. For the purposes of this post I'll be covering the basic methods for easily increasing your images search-ability from the WordPress dashboard, in addition to mentioning a few good plug-ins that will help load your images faster.

    Image Metadata Within The Dashboard

    Optimizing Images on WordPress For Search Search engines may be able to find duplicate images on the web, but unlike humans they cannot describe what an image is. Within the media uploader on WordPress there are four boxes capable of being filled out in order for your images to be fully optimized. The four boxes are the title, the caption, the alt text and the description. Title The title of your image is generated from the file name you had saved on your computer (Which can be changed). Rather than leaving your images named “Image_10.jpg,” give it a name that describes the photo in short form. It is most important to give the image context for non-essential information, but isn't taken directly into account for SEO ranking. Caption The caption does not directly affect how well your images rank in the search engines, but they do grab peoples’ attention on your page, and keep them browsing longer. On-page time is a huge factor when determining the value of your site in search engine algorithms. The caption will appear under your image in a grey box, and should provide a good description of the image itself. Alt Text Alt text is added to images for times when someone may have images disabled on their browser, or when images failed to load. Make sure to add alt text that includes the SEO keyword you're trying to rank for. Description The description section actually plays a vital role when someone lands on the attachment post page for the image. It is formatted to allow more text, and your focus should be to give a thorough description for long keyword searches, but keep it entirely relevant.

    Image Optimization Plugins

    The main purpose of image optimization plugins is to take images that may be too large (File-size, or dimension) and compress them to load faster, thus improving your sites ranking. WP Smush.it This plugin can optimize one image at a time, or in bulk, whether it's a .jpeg, .png, or .gif. It will take larger files (1mb free version, up to 5mb pro edition) and compress the file size without deteriorating the quality of the image. While many people are under the assumption that high-res photos are better for viewing purposes, you really only need a certain resolution to achieve the same result while greatly improving your site's functionality. PB Responsive Images In 2015 Google implemented a new algorithm penalizing websites that aren't adaptable for mobile devices. The same shift applies to sites that don't have responsive images and text. This plugin reformats your images to adapt to different screen sizes, giving you the greenlight when search engines crawl your site for adaptability. Do you have any additional tips to help optimize images for WordPress? Please share in the comments!
  • 5 WordPress Plugins For Monitoring Your Website Rankings

    Thursday, February 25, 2016 by
    Monitor WordPress Website Rankings When it comes to building traffic, understanding your visitor behaviors, and generally being on top of your search engine rankings, website analytics and ranking platforms are usually the thing you want to explore more since it provides direct insight in the way your website is performing, and in many ways that can provide a way to optimize, learn more about, and understand your website's performance in general. Google is the biggest search engine on the planet, providing webmasters with an opportunity to tap into a nearly infinite pool of visitors that can bring about leads, sales and success, yet the road towards this point of success can be lengthy, and not everyone has the patience to actually make it. To help ourselves speed up the process, we can begin by monitoring our website rankings and learning more what helps our rankings go up, and what makes them fall back down. The following WordPress plugins will give you a chance to explore your performance on a much larger scale, hopefully giving you an idea or two as to how you can improve your rankings.

    Wincher Rank Tracker

    Wincher will let you track any amount of keywords for their performance on both the desktop web as well as mobile web, you can even setup a competitor monitoring campaign for up to five of your closest competitors, you can monitor your rankings performance history and see what has made a huge impact on your rankings in the past, setup email notifications about sudden changes to your rankings and always remain in full control over your content performance, all reports can exported in either PDF or CSV format for your convenience.


    RankScanner will automatically crawl your rankings on Google, and report back to you with updates and changes in your search engine positions, to let you know if you blog has improved or dropped on a weekly basis. All positions will be checked either every day, week or month depending on which plan you have selected for your blog's domain. The main features of RankScanner include the ability to monitor your blog's performance within Google, to collect suggested keywords that are all based on the kind of content you have published so far, as well as to be able to use visual features for analyzing and understanding your overall organic Google performance, and then learn from this data to improve in the future.

    Alexa Widget

    Alexa is definitely a household name amongst those webmasters who are self-conscious about improving their web rankings in multiple ways. Alexa analyzes all of the World's websites to rank them accordingly to their performance on the web, much of the data that Alexa reports is a rough estimate (unless you start using the premium features on your own website), but even then the data is usually very accurate and can provide a good idea of how far ahead, or how far behind, you are from your closest competitors.

    ARC (Advanced Rank Checker)

    Keywords are what makes Google's search engine stay alive. The ARC plugin will allow you to monitor your keywords for their performance, letting you always be on top of the latest ranking reports and how you can improve them. Happened to notice that your rankings dropped a few places? Find out who took your place and optimize your content to reflect the kind of insights and ideas that others are sharing, though with your own twist to ensure its authenticity.

    ITslum Tracker

    This plugin will combine both Alexa rankings, and also Google PageRank (which in many ways has been discontinued, by some webmasters are still taking the idea of PageRank seriously...), to allow you to display specific widgets on your site, advertising your overall website performance on the global web, either for attracting new sponsors, or to simply help these platforms gather more accurate data about your website. Do you have any other plugins you would suggest? Let us know in the comments!
  • Why Every Business Needs To Be Collecting Email Addresses

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by
    Businesses Should Build An Email List If you do business in the online or the offline space, then you need to start collecting email addresses. With all of the marketing channels available email, has stood the test of time when it comes to building customer relationships. When it comes to doing business online your email list can be your biggest ally. A lot of business owners focus on page views, or building a social media following, instead of building their lists and talking to their email subscribers. Below we highlight why you need to build an email list, and the benefits of email marketing over other forms of online marketing.

    Why You Need To Build An Email List

    With the amount of marketing resources and platforms available for your business it can be difficult to hone in on the method that works best for you. A lot of companies spend time building up a massive social media following, or trying to increase their website traffic as high as possible. Although these numbers can make your business more impressive, there’s a chance they won’t translate into direct sales. Email, on the other hand, has been around since the infancy of the internet, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Email lists give you the ability to speak directly to your customers and build long-term relationships. Best of all, email marketing can work in conjunction with content marketing, social media, and other forms of inbound marketing.

    Benefits Of Email Marketing

    Compared to other marketing strategies email marketing has longevity, trackability, and can allow you to build long-term customer relationships. Below you’ll learn about just a few benefits your company will receive by focusing on email marketing above other marketing methods.

    1. Email Has A Large Reach

    Even though social media sites like Facebook and Twitter boast large user counts, they still pale in comparison to how many people use email. Email has nearly three times the user base of the above-mentioned sites combined. This large user base means your chances of finding your targeted audience are much higher than other marketing channels.

    2. Email Is Very Personal

    Email is one of the most personal online communication mediums. People treat their inboxes like sacred spaces, or at least try to prevent the emails from piling up. So, by someone giving you permission to email them, they’re telling you they trust you and value what you have to offer. Email also enables one-on-one exchanges, which can lead to deeper customer understanding. Sure, you can send messages via Facebook. But, rarely do business deals get done through Facebook Messenger.

    3. Email Has The Highest Conversion

    There isn’t a more powerful channel for conversions than email. Email has the highest click-through-rate at around 3%, which is much higher than other marketing channels. Email is also highly measurable and allows you to test different campaigns, which allows you to refine your message over time. This is rarely the case with social media.

    4. Email Is Preferred By Consumers

    A lot of people use social media to keep in touch with their family and friends, while their email accounts are more business related. Since email is more professional in nature people expect to receive business promotions and other offerings. A recent study suggests that 72% of people prefer to receive promotional related content via email when compared to just 17% who prefer social media.

    5. Email Isn’t Going Anywhere

    Email has been around for what seems like forever. As platforms come and go email has remained the same over the years. Can you imagine investing time and money into building a presence on a platform only to have it disappear overnight? All that hard work gone. Even as new social media platforms, and other marketing channels, come and go, email will be here for a long time. Focusing your energy on building an email list is a long-term strategy that will pay off for your business well into the future.
  • 6 Easy Steps to Securing Your WordPress Blog

    Thursday, February 4, 2016 by
    How To Keep WordPress Secure Today, WordPress powers over 25 percent of websites, and for many site owners, working with this content management system (CMS) is a no-brainer. It’s free, there’s a huge community eager to help you out, and there are tons of awesome plugins that will help expand your site’s functions. It’s perfect for web developers and do-it-yourselfers alike. The problem with WordPress’s popularity, however, is that WordPress blogs are easy targets for hackers. The good news is that you don’t have to worry so much about your WordPress security if you build up proper defenses. Start with these tips to secure your WordPress blog, and rest with peace of mind knowing you’re at a lower risk of experiencing a crisis.

    1. Back Up Your Blog

    Before you do anything else, you’ll want to save a backup copy of your website files. That way, you can recover your site should something go wrong in the future. You can do this manually through WordPress’s “export” tool, but this poses some issues. For example, if you aren’t backing up your files frequently and a crisis destroys your site, your most recently saved data may not be as recent as you’d like. If you only remember to back up your site once a month, for instance, you’ll lose all the work you made on the site between last month’s backup and when the crisis hits. There’s an alternative. Instead of having to remind yourself to back up your site, you can install a security plugin to automatically do the work for you! Some of the more popular plugins include:
    • Backup Buddy – Backup Buddy is a premium WordPress plugin, but what makes it different is that it will restore your posts, images, and other files that some other plugins won’t.
    • BackUpWordPress – This is a free plugin that will back up your site on your chosen schedule.
    • WordPress Backup to Dropbox – If you have a Dropbox account, you can easily store your files there with this plugin that will perform automated backups.
    If you choose to go without a plugin, be sure you’re backing up your site manually at least once per week.

    2. Choose a Quality Host

    If you’re not feeling confident in your hosting provider, now would be a good time to switch. According to WPTemplate.com, 41 percent of WordPress sites are hacked due to vulnerabilities in the owner’s hosting package, making it the most common hacking method. If you’re not already on one of their plans, HostGator is a good company to work with. As they tell their customers,
    HostGator's Security Protocols

    3. Research Software Before Downloading It

    Another way hackers get into your WordPress site is through the software you download, such as web themes and plugins. As WPTemplate.com reports, hacks are attributed to themes 29 percent of the time and to plugins 22 percent of the time. This means you have to be cautious about what you’re downloading on your site. Start by reading reviews from other customers. If the software has received high ratings from other users, you’re typically safe to download it, but if there aren’t any ratings or people complain of issues after installing the software, it’s best to steer clear. In most cases, you’ll have better luck with premium plugins and themes. Not only do they usually come with more features, but they tend to be more secure as well. NEVER download premium plugins for free. Pirated plugins have a good chance of coming corrupted with malware.

    4. Update Your Software Regularly

    Hackers have an easier time getting into websites with older software installed. That’s because hackers have had time to learn the holes in that version of the program. This is especially true of WordPress itself. On older versions, all the vulnerabilities are already public knowledge as they’ve been pointed out by users, so you can be sure hackers know their way around your software if it’s out of date. Along these same lines, you don’t want your site to show which version of WordPress you’re running. If hackers know that, then they know what techniques they can use to get into your site. By hiding that your site runs on WordPress, you can also deter brute-force attacks by bots.

    5. Use Strong Passwords

    This goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning because 8 percent of WordPress hacks are still made due to weak passwords. Make sure you’re not using the same password across accounts and that you include a variety of letters, numbers, and special characters. Likewise, avoid using the default “admin” username as this will be one of the first combinations hackers will test out to try logging into your site. Simply create a new user for yourself and assign the account as an administrator. Then, log back in with your new credentials and delete the default admin user.

    6. Install Security Plugins

    Even when you’ve taken the abovementioned precautions, you can still add an extra layer of security to your site through trusted plugins. Just some security plugins that will help patch security holes include:
    • SiteLock - Has an extensive library of known malware and constantly checks your site to make sure it is safe. If malware does creep in, then it will work to remove it quickly.
    • iThemes Security – This plugin offers over 30 ways to secure your site, such as by stopping automated attacks. Upgrade for more options.
    • Login Lockdown – Login Lockdown prevents brute force attacks by limiting the amount of login attempts from the same IP address during a certain period of time.
    • WordFence – This plugin features free and premium options and will scan your site for malware.
    Most WordPress users don’t take their site security as seriously as they should. When you follow the tips above, however, you can greatly reduce your risk of encountering a security hack. What steps have you taken so far to secure your WordPress site? What’s the next step you plan to take? Let us know in the comments below!
  • The Simple Guide To Avoiding Google Panda Penalties

    Thursday, January 28, 2016 by
    Basic Guide To Avoid Google Panda Penalties Since Google is trying to provide its searchers with the best possible experience, content that speaks directly to reader needs, and is higher quality, will tend to rank higher. The best way to avoid a penalty into the future is simply to focus on quality above all else. Below you’ll find five ways you can protect yourself from a dreaded Google Panda penalty, as well as future updates that will continue to roll out.

    1. Focus On Readers First

    Although SEO is important when it comes to ranking your website and driving traffic. When you’re creating your content you should have your readers in mind, not the search engine robots. This means your content should be reader focused, not stuffed with keywords, bad links, or other outdated SEO practices that worked years ago. This will only lead to a penalty. The goal of your content should be to provide real value to your readers. This is the only way to build long term relationships, and will lead to increased links and social shares over time. Which will in turn help your rankings.

    2. Upgrade Your Low-Quality Content

    Google is continuously updating their algorithm to create the best user experience possible. So, instead of trying to find tactics to exploit Google you should turn your efforts to simply creating better content. Great content will never go out of style. If you have old content on your website that’s either poorly written, has bad links, or is over-optimized, then you should either remove that content, or update the content to reflect current web standards. If you have multiple low word-count blog posts consider combining them into a larger, more valuable blog post. If you are optimizing your content for certain keywords tread lightly. Google can detect keyword-stuffed content and can lead to a penalty if the keywords aren’t naturally integrated into the content, or appear too frequently.

    3. Remove All Duplicate Content

    If Google detects duplicate content across your site, this will greatly increase your chances of receiving a penalty. If you have multiple pages of duplicate content, then you’ll have three options at your disposal to remedy the issue.
    • Use a 301 redirect to show Google which page is the original page.
    • Delete the duplicate content entirely.
    • Re-write the content, so it’s unrecognizable from its previous form.
    • Focus on user experience.
    Your readers value clean and minimal websites, so the search engines’ll also value them. To stay on the good side of Google, make sure you clean up your site with any unnecessary design features. This means you’ll want to refrain from having too many ads, having a cluttered sidebar, or having any broken links. Although these steps are small, they’ll go a long way towards bulletproofing your website for current and future algorithm updates.

    5. Improve The Speed Of Your Site

    Your visitors won’t stick around to wait for your website to load, which can create a poor user experience. Google also won’t rank your site as highly if it’s slow to load. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, then you could be looking at a penalty. GTmetrix is a great free tool to help analyze your site and provide suggestions to increase your speed. To keep your website running at its ideal speed use a caching software, compress images whenever possible, stay away from Flash, and remove any plugins or bloated features that aren’t completely necessary. If you're using WordPress, then our managed solution has built in features to help increase your speed. With some of our tests, it's actually helped make some sites up to 2.5x faster. To create a bulletproof strategy that works for the long-term, focusing on delighting your users and the rankings will follow.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Recent Gator Pics!