Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Kevin WoodWhite label hosting is commonly referred to as reseller hosting. This is the ability to re-sell another hosting company’s servers, bandwidth, and hosting services as if they were your own company. White label hosting can be a great addition to your existing business, or even offer you a way to build a hosting company from scratch. Below you’ll learn what white label hosting actually is, its benefits, and what this kind of hosting usually includes.
Thursday, May 4, 2017 by Casey Kelly-Barton
Choosing the Best Domain NameIn many ways, choosing a domain name for your new website feels like the hardest part of setting up any new website.
The important thing to remember is that your domain name is as much a part of your identity as your personal brand, your blog content, or your company logo and products.
For domain names, as in real estate, having the right address can make all the difference. Before visitors see your layout, content, and branding, your domain name is the first impression they have.
Convoluted strings of incomprehensible prefixes, varyingly successful attempts at niche humor, and over-acronymed domain names can all send visitors packing before they even open the page.Whoa, that's a lot of pressure! Fortunately, these ten tips for picking your domain name should ease the process.
1. Go with “.com”
When it comes to domain names, you have the option to register everything from a standard “.com” URL to a country-specific extension like “.tv” (Tuvalu) or “.ly” (Libya).A domain name ending in .com is like a location on Fifth Avenue or Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Newer top level domains (TLDs) like .tech and .club are gaining acceptance with internet users, especially younger ones, but .com remains the gold standard. More than 90% of users rate .com sites as trustworthy.
- Think about it: If you're going to buy a Chanel watch, would you feel more comfortable spending tens of thousands of dollars at chanel.com or chanel.biz?
Unless you have a truly compelling reason to register an alternative domain extension, stick with “.com” for best results.
2. Scoop up other domain extensions, tooWhen you register your .com domain name, pick up top-level domain variations like .biz and .net if you can. Redirect them to your .com site so visitors who type in the wrong domain will still find your site. For example, sephora.biz, sephora.net and sephora.info all take you straight to Sephora.com.
As the number of domain names registered continues to increase, good names are becoming more and more competitive. For this reason, it’s possible to have a competitor snatch up the “.net” or “.biz” version of your URL – even if you’ve secured the “.com” version.
Because this can lead to lost traffic – especially if your competitors wind up outranking you in the search engine results pages – consider buying up popular TLDs (top-level domains) for your chosen domain, if they’re available.
3. Aim for no more than three words
If your domain is more than three words long, people will have a hard time remembering it. That means fewer site visitors. For example, which is easier to remember and type: “www.handmadepaper.com” or “www.handmadepaperforscrapbooksandweddings.com”?
For best results, keep things short, sweet and easy to remember!
4. Avoid “cutesy” names and abbreviationsDon't use cute shorteners like 4U and 2U in your domain names because:
- They're hard to remember.
- They look unprofessional.
- Only Prince could get away with that, and 4 real UR not Prince.
5. Don't make it awkwardDomain names don't include spaces, and using hyphens in domain names is a terrible idea, so whatever you choose shouldn't look awkward written as one word.
To see what we mean, consider the real-life URLs for the following legitimate company names:
- Pen Island – “www.penisland.net”
- IT Scrap – “www.itscrap.com”
- Who Represents – “www.whorepresents.com”
- Experts Exchange – “www.expertsexchange.com”
- Speed of Art – “www.speedofart.com”
6. Manage customer expectations
When a customer sees a name like billreducer.com, they have one expectation in mind: this website is going to help me save money by reducing my bills in some way.
Choose a name that is going to let customers know what they are in for from the moment they read it. Your site should deliver what it says on the label, and your domain name is the label.
For example, if you sell pet supplies in Tulsa, www.tulsapetsupplies.com makes that clear to visitors in a way that, say, www.treatsandtoys.com does not.
7. Choose a domain that's easy to remember
Customers will find your website URL on flyers, newsletters, search queries, and other websites so making the address stick is key.
Memorable domain names are often short, clever, and avoid trendy humor, hyphens or numbers. The longer or more complicated the domain name, the less likely it is to stick. A good rule of thumb is if you saw the domain name on a delivery-truck sign, could you remember it later?
8. Stay clear of copyright issuesDon't get into a trademark or copyright spat with an established business over your domain name. Check before you register to make sure you're not even close to copying a competitor or another business. Even if your last name is McDonald and you're opening a burger stand, go with a name that doesn't infringe on the fast-food giant's intellectual property.
9. Unlock the power of keywords
Internet search is based on a framework of keywords and phrases when indexing addresses and sites, so why not take advantage of this when choosing your domain name?
Brainstorm keywords related to your organization and use these in shaping your chosen name. For example, your butcher's shop might name meat, butcher, smoked, cured, savory, friendly, and service as descriptive keywords for your business. An appropriate name might then be SavoryService.com or TheSmilingButcher.com. Either domain respects the fact that search engines work off of such keywords when indexing and fetching information for users, while providing a description of what customers can expect in the process.What keywords do people use to search for businesses like yours? Use them in your domain name if you can.
10. Protect your privacyWhen you register your domain, the rules of the internet require that you give your
- real name
- home or business address
- email address
- phone number
Ready to register?It only takes one click to check if your dream domain name is available. Once you've found the right name and made sure it's available, it takes just a few minutes to buy and register it.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 by Kristen Hicks
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, online businesses are growing much faster than traditional brick and mortar stores.
It makes sense.
Local retail shops, DIY craft makers, and even bloggers are starting to sell their merchandise and services online.
What separates the successes from the failures? Among other things, a strategy and a good website. Without these, you may be setting your eCommerce site up for failure.
Your Guide to Making a Successful E-Commerce WebsiteFirst, you'll need to figure out a few things regarding what you'll sell. Then, you can get to building your online store! Click below to hop directly to the section you need help with.
- Create your product.
- Determine pricing for your online store.
- Figure out shipping options.
- Choose your eCommerce platform.
- Pick a domain name and brand.
- Build your eCommerce website.
- Set up your merchant account.
- Add a SSL certificate to your website.
- Start selling online!
1. Decide on your product.If you’ve been pondering setting up an online store for a while, then you may well already have a product in mind. Whether it’s something you make, like handcrafted furniture or handmade soap, or something you’ve found a source for at wholesale prices so you can sell it off at a profit, every online store has to start with a product. Do some research to make sure your product is viable. Is there already a market out there for your product? If there is already an established market, consider whether your product is unique enough to break in. Will you be able to compete on pricing? Develop a MVP and get started.
2. Set your pricing.Pricing is one of the hardest parts to get right in running a new business. If you price too low, you’ll lose money or just barely break even – which won’t make the time and effort you put into your online store worth it. If you price too high, you won’t make enough sales and still risk losing money on the whole endeavor. To figure out the pricing that makes sense you have to first figure out your own costs. That includes:
- the cost of materials to make your product
- web hosting for your eCommerce site
- the percentage credit cards or Paypal will skim off the top
- additional marketing and advertising costs
3. Research shipping costs and options.If you're selling a physical product, how will you deliver it to customers? Your impulse may be to pass on the full cost of shipping to the client, and many online stores do take this route. Be warned though that shipping costs can have a strong psychological impact on consumers, with 44% saying they’ve abandoned an online purchase due to high shipping and handing costs. Instead, consider offering one of these shipping methods:
- Offer free shipping, no questions asked
- Offer free shipping and up your product pricing slightly to cover the cost
- Offer free shipping for orders of a certain size
- Offer a flat shipping fee
4. Choose your eCommerce web hosting.When it comes to eCommerce, you have two options: use a marketplace that already exists like Etsy or Amazon, or manage a website and brand that's all your own. If you want a website and brand that’s all your own, many website hosting platforms (including HostGator) make it easy to find compatible eCommerce options that you can work with in the same space you use to work on your website. This way you can direct people to youronlinestore.com. You look like a real, live store! An ecommerce software like Magento will make it easy for you to list your products, set your price, and add a shopping cart to the website. They take care of ensuring the process is intuitive for both you and your customers, so you can just focus on selling.
5. Pick a domain name and brand.This is the fun part! Just think, what will customers be telling their friends when they talked about that awesome new thing they just bought from _____? Fill in the blank with your brand. Brainstorm words and phrases that say something about the products you’ll be selling, and words and phrases that mean something to you. And be sure to stay away from names that have already been copyrighted by other businesses. Follow these top tips for choosing a domain name for your eCommerce website.
6. Build your eCommerce website.Many hosting platforms can make at least part of this step easier by providing or a merchant site builder you can work from rather than having to build a website from scratch. At this stage, you’ll also need to work on writing web copy that describes your wares and helps persuade website visitors to buy. Once you set up your site, you have to do more than just add your products. In addition to product pages, your eCommerce website should also include the following pages:
- A home page where you feature weekly deals and sale items
- An about page with a brief description of what you do
- A contact or customer service page so customers can easily reach you
- A blog where you post updates, industry news, and helpful tidbits
7. Set up a merchant account.Online stores need a way to receive money – specifically, a way to receive credit card payments. A merchant account does the very important job of ensuring you can get paid. You have options that range from big, familiar brand names like Chase and PayPal, to companies more focused on small businesses like BluePay and PaySimple. You will have to pay something to the company in order to get your money, but the ability to accept the money your customers send should make the fees well worth it.
8. Get your SSL certificate.When you create your site, be sure to install a SSL certificate. These certificates provide the green lock you see next to URLs when you're shopping online, and they keep your customers' private data safe. If customers are going to hand you their private payment information (or more accurately, enter it into a form on your website), you need to make sure the sensitive details will stay safe. An SSL certificate for your website encrypts all the sensitive information customers provide so that hackers won’t be able to grab that credit card information as it’s sent over the web.
9. Start selling!Now it's time to start making money. If you launch your online store and don’t get much traction, then you should start thinking about promotion. Content marketing, social media, and paid promotion are all areas worth looking into to start getting people to your website. Check out our post on cheap, easy ways to start marketing your business. If you’re not quite ready to make that level of investment in your online store, start with old-fashioned word of mouth. Talk to your friends about it, mention it to professional acquaintances, and bring it up at any events around town likely to attract the kind of people interested in what you’re selling.
Congratulations!Brick and mortar business will likely always be around, but the internet gives users access to a larger selection of products and services. Now, the world has access to YOUR products and YOUR services. Once your eCommerce website is up and running, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You’re an entrepreneur now. Then get back to work! Are you ready to start selling online? At HostGator, we'll help you get your eCommerce business up and running in no time. Register your domain and get access to award-winning 24/7/365 support.
Monday, May 1, 2017 by Kristen HicksAll web users will at some point encounter the dreaded 404 page. It’s pretty much inevitable. But even though it’s common, that doesn’t mean it’s something for brands to treat lightly. When your users land on a 404 page, it can cause frustration. It makes your visitors more likely to leave your website, and high bounce rates can hurt you when it comes to SEO. And if you have too many links that lead to 404 pages, it makes it look like you don’t take your business website seriously and aren’t worthy of trust. In short, those 404 pages matter. When it comes to 404 pages, the main thing you can do to improve your visitors’ experience is reduce the likelihood of them ever landing on a 404 page to begin with. But you should also accept that you probably can’t avoid all possible instances of your visitors coming to a 404 page on your website, so your secondary goal should be to make sure that when they do, the 404 page is well designed and useful.
Step 1: Find and Fix Your Current Broken LinksThere are a number of tools designed specifically to help website owners quickly and easily identify all the broken links on a website, and most of them are free. Simply plug your URL into one of these tools to get a list of all the links on your website that need to be fixed. Then go through and update all of them. Determine which ones need an updated link, and which links should simply be removed. Track your progress as you go so you make sure you don’t miss any, and open each web page to double-check the updated link yourself before moving on to the next. This takes a little bit of time, but it ensures your visitors will have a better experience on your website. It’s best to take this step once every three months or so to fix any new broken links that come up as quickly as possible. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot them before your visitors do.
Step 2: Update Your 404 PageEven if you regularly check for broken links, there will likely be times you don’t spot one in time, as well as times when your users enter a URL wrong. Some of your visitors will almost certainly land on your 404 page no matter what you do, so you want to make the most of it when they do.
404 Page Best Practices
1. Keep it on brand.You want people to know they’re still on your website when they land on a 404 page, to reduce confusion. Many brands still use generic 404 pages that have no branding and no visual relationship with the rest of the website. A page like this takes someone further away from your website mentally and almost certainly ensures that they’ll click away completely. Instead, you want people to know they’re still with you. Make sure the page manages to stay within the overall branding style and messaging you want to put forth. NASA pulls this off with a page that shows the beauty of the stars, while still including the NASA logo and website’s main menu. Clearly you’re more likely to stick around if you land on that page than the one up above.
2. Make it helpful.The visitor that lands on your webpage got there while trying to get somewhere else. You don’t want them to give up on finding the original page they were trying to get to, so do what you can to make it easy. Include a search bar and suggested links that help people navigate back to the main areas of the site most of your visitors want to be on. Toad&Co’s 404 page includes a search bar and main menu up top, along with links to the three pages that most visitors to the clothing site are likely to be interested in: the women’s section, the men’s section, and their blog. Those who end up stuck on a 404 page on their website know that it doesn’t have to be the end of their destination, they can easily find their way back to a more useful page.
3. Inject some personality.404 pages are often technical and dull. Your user is already stuck seeing something other than what they were trying to find, you don’t want to make the experience any worse – so make it better instead by being entertaining and bringing some real personality to the page. Both of the examples above do a good job of reflecting the personality of the brand and adding something a little more interesting to the experience of landing on the page. Steve Lambert goes even further on his website by including a memorable and awkward video on his 404 page that visitors are likely to find entertaining. It definitely gives you a sense of his personality and makes you more likely to remain intrigued by his site and continue browsing.
How to Update Your 404 PageIf you’re convinced that it’s time to create a custom 404 page for your website, but you’re not too sure how the technical side of updating your 404 page works, that part shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. If you don’t use HostGator (you can sign up here!), check with your web hosting provider for instructions on how to access and update your 404 page. If you use Wordpress, you can follow these instructions, or go an even easier route and try a plugin like this one. If you do use HostGator, here are the steps to take (and a video to walk you through them):
- Login to your cPanel account.
- Find and click on the icon for Custom Error Pages.
- Select 404 Wrong Page from the list.
- You’ll see a page with a text box. Fill this in with the html code for the page you want to appear.
- Click save.
- Navigate to a fake URL on your website to check that your update worked and you like how it looks. (You can usually create a fake URL by adding a random letter to the end of the real one, for example http://your-site.com/a).
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 by Kevin Wood
When you own a domain there’s a lot of things you’ll be able to do with it, beyond building a website on the domain. Naturally, talking about domain name transfers and name servers can get a bit technical and overwhelming, so we’ll bring the process down from the clouds for you.
Below we’re going to examine the differences between transferring the domain to another registrar or user, and changing the name servers altogether. HostGator customers can learn more here.
What Are Registrars?
When you register a domain you choose a certain registrar to register your domain with. Usually, you end up choosing a yearly contract where you’ll have ownership of that domain for a year before you need to renew it again.
Some common domain name registrars include: HostGator, Domain.com, and GoDaddy. The domain name registrar you choose doesn’t matter all that much, but most will differ based upon pricing and the benefits included with your domain.
Remember, your web host and your domain name registrar can be different companies, in which case you’ll just need to change the name servers, which we’ll get to below.
Why Would You Want to Transfer a Domain?
There are a variety of reasons for transferring your domain, but we highlight a few of the most common reasons below:
- You want to merge your host and domain name registrar together.
- You’ve bought a domain that’s currently registered at a different registrar.
- You’ve sold a domain name and need to transfer the domain to the buyer.
Domain Name Transfer Prerequisites
Before you begin the domain name transfer process you’ll want to review the prerequisites below to ensure that you’re not creating any additional headaches for yourself.
- Your domain must be over 60 days old and not have gone through other transfers with 60 days.
- You must know whether or not the name servers will also need to be changed when you switch to a new registrar.
- In some cases, you might need an authorization code and remove WHOIS protection before making the switch.
- Make sure you update all of the domain contact information, as this will be needed to complete the request.
The Domain Name Transfer Process
The domain name transfer process will begin with your current registrar. You’ll put in a request to transfer your domain to a new registrar and be given a set of processes to follow on their end.
The steps required will differ based upon the registrar you’re currently using, and where you’re moving your domain. The transfer usually takes a few days to complete, as there are steps in place to prevent unauthorized transfers.
What Are Name Servers?
Name servers are the secret key for your website to actually show up when people search for it. Essentially, when someone types in your domain name, the name server will then point to the web host where your site is hosted.
Transferring Name Servers
Transferring name servers is the process of pointing your domain to a specific host. Your existing name servers will usually look something like this:
To change your current name servers all you have to do is change the existing name server information to your new host.
Name servers allow you to point your domain towards whatever web host you’re using currently, while transferring a domain deals with the registrar where your domain lives.
Hopefully the post above helped to clear up any confusion between actually transferring a domain and simply changing the name servers.