HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing http://www.hostgator.com/blog The Official HostGator Company Blog Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:36:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 6 Steps to Making Your WordPress Site Mobile-Friendly http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/07/01/6-steps-to-making-your-wordpress-site-mobile-friendly/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/07/01/6-steps-to-making-your-wordpress-site-mobile-friendly/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 18:36:03 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9840 The post 6 Steps to Making Your WordPress Site Mobile-Friendly appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

The world is going mobile. And quickly. In 2014, for the first time ever, mobile devices were used to access the Internet more often than PCs. It was a landmark occurrence. A game changer.
And yet many businesses continue to pay little attention to the mobile-friendliness of their websites. But Google is paying very close attention.
In fact, if your business website isn’t mobile-friendly, you can expect Google to be giving you the cold shoulder in search engine rankings. As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, Google has begun favoring mobile-friendly sites, and penalizing sites that are less mobile-friendly.
So if your business WordPress site isn’t mobile-friendly, making it so should probably be bumped up in priority on your to-do list. Tech.co recently published a 6-step process for making your site mobile-friendly.
 
Step 1: Choose Your Hosting Service Carefully
Any mobile-friendly changes you make to your site could be for naught if your hosting company provides slow and unreliable service. Pennies saved in choosing the cheapest hosting services available may turn out to be quite expensive in the long run.
 
Step 2: Choose a Mobile-Friendly WordPress Theme
The WordPress theme you choose serves as both the foundation and framework of your website. What type of theme ...

web hosting

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The post 6 Steps to Making Your WordPress Site Mobile-Friendly appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Mobile Friendly WordPress

The world is going mobile. And quickly. In 2014, for the first time ever, mobile devices were used to access the Internet more often than PCs. It was a landmark occurrence. A game changer.

And yet many businesses continue to pay little attention to the mobile-friendliness of their websites. But Google is paying very close attention.

In fact, if your business website isn’t mobile-friendly, you can expect Google to be giving you the cold shoulder in search engine rankings. As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, Google has begun favoring mobile-friendly sites, and penalizing sites that are less mobile-friendly.

So if your business WordPress site isn’t mobile-friendly, making it so should probably be bumped up in priority on your to-do list. Tech.co recently published a 6-step process for making your site mobile-friendly.

 

Step 1: Choose Your Hosting Service Carefully

Any mobile-friendly changes you make to your site could be for naught if your hosting company provides slow and unreliable service. Pennies saved in choosing the cheapest hosting services available may turn out to be quite expensive in the long run.

 

Step 2: Choose a Mobile-Friendly WordPress Theme

The WordPress theme you choose serves as both the foundation and framework of your website. What type of theme is mobile-friendly? A fast theme. Loading speed is a key factor in making a site mobile-friendly, so a fast-loading, responsive theme is ideal.

Look for themes that have been tagged as having a “responsive layout.”

 

Step 3: Customize Your Content

Structuring your content to be mobile-friendly is critical. What defines “mobile-friendliness” when it comes to content? In general, your content should be easy to view on small screens, and should be “finger-friendly” – easy to navigate by touch.

Here are a few specific tips for making content mobile-friendly:

  • Larger font sizes are better than smaller
  • Buttons should be large in size, and isolated enough to easily tap with a fingertip without inadvertently hitting something else
  • Lots of whitespace
  • Short headlines
  • Make content scannable: break text into lots of subsections with subtitles
  • Position the most important info on a web page close to the top

 

Step 4: Manage Plugins

One of the great advantages WordPress offers is the wealth of plugins that are available. But plugins are so easy to add that website owners often end up with quite a collection. The result is that sites are often burdened with a number of plugins that aren’t really needed or useful.

A proliferation of plugins can contribute to performance issues that can make your site less mobile-friendly. So stay on top of the plugins you’ve added to your site. Prune away those that aren’t really contributing to your site. And make certain that the plugins you use are kept up-to-date with the latest versions.

 

Step 5: Optimize Images

Images are an important component of your website’s content. But they can significantly slow the load time of your site, making it less mobile-friendly. You can help to counteract that problem by using plugins that work to optimize the loading of images.

Some plugins worth considering for this purpose include:

  • Image Pro
  • CW Image Optimizer
  • Imsanity
  • Hammy
  • EWWW Image Optimizer
  • PB Responsive Images

 

Step 6: Test

Once you’ve optimized your site to be mobile-friendly, test it. See how it performs on your own mobile devices. Does it load fast? Is it easy to navigate via touch screen? Does the text fit the screen?

The greater the variety of mobile devices you can use in testing your site, the better. Ask friends and family to also check out your site on their devices. And be sure to find out whether your site rates a mobile-friendly thumbs-up from Google. You can easily use Google’s testing tool to evaluate your site for free.

 

Worth the Effort

It can be a bit of a chore to make certain that your site is mobile-friendly. But it’s worth the effort. Doing so will help to assure that your site ranks as highly as possible in search engine results. And making your site comfortable and easy-to-use for mobile visitors will help to keep them on your site longer.

But most importantly, making your site mobile-friendly will make your site accessible to a huge audience. By 2017, nearly 70% of the world’s population is expected to be able to access the Internet via smartphones.

That’s a pretty sizable potential audience for your business. Or not – depending upon the mobile-friendliness of your site.

 

*****

Chris Delker is a freelance copywriter based in Dallas, Texas.

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How To Find The Right WordPress Theme http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/30/how-to-find-the-right-wordpress-theme/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/30/how-to-find-the-right-wordpress-theme/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:19:52 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9806 The post How To Find The Right WordPress Theme appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Having been a blogger for over a decade now, it has been a first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to maintain a WordPress theme to keep up with the latest standards and demands. Sometimes I would find myself switching styles as frequently as every few weeks, but time has taught me an invaluable lesson — stick to what works for everyone, not just you.
A good WordPress theme is one that serves the purpose of the website flawlessly, and the most important thing being the readability and accessibility of the content that you’re presenting. In my own experience, sometimes going through a hundred different designs might actually prove to be more rewarding than settling for a single theme you enjoy, since seeing more of what is out there — gives you an idea of which direction to take.
 
Free or Premium
The most important decision you’re going to make about your WordPress theme is whether you wish for it to be free or premium. The difference in overall design can be pretty staggering. And the biggest advantages premium has over free are:

It’s easier to switch styles and colors since most premium themes come with multiple styles.
Features such as related posts and ...

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The post How To Find The Right WordPress Theme appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

How To Find The Right WordPress Theme

Having been a blogger for over a decade now, it has been a first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to maintain a WordPress theme to keep up with the latest standards and demands. Sometimes I would find myself switching styles as frequently as every few weeks, but time has taught me an invaluable lesson — stick to what works for everyone, not just you.

A good WordPress theme is one that serves the purpose of the website flawlessly, and the most important thing being the readability and accessibility of the content that you’re presenting. In my own experience, sometimes going through a hundred different designs might actually prove to be more rewarding than settling for a single theme you enjoy, since seeing more of what is out there — gives you an idea of which direction to take.

 

Free or Premium

The most important decision you’re going to make about your WordPress theme is whether you wish for it to be free or premium. The difference in overall design can be pretty staggering. And the biggest advantages premium has over free are:

  • It’s easier to switch styles and colors since most premium themes come with multiple styles.
  • Features such as related posts and social buttons are automatically integrated within the theme.
  • An extensive options panel that gives you access to modify the theme to your own liking, without any coding.

I’m currently a customer over at MH Themes who provide nice and flexible themes for bloggers, magazine owners and small businesses who need a reliable solution to modern web requirements. Before that, I was constantly a user of free themes (even though I do have coding skills), but found that a premium theme can save me a lot of time that could be spent making more content, than trying to optimize the site for it.

 

Personal or Business

One more thing I have learned to take into consideration is the overall audience of the blog/website that you’re building, is it going to be more of a personal blog that talks about your life and all the experiences you’re having, or is it going to be on a more business level — sharing stories and content that everyone can relate to?

ipXYV68

On the left side we have an example of a very simple and clean personal blog, no extra images or content, just a list of posts and that’s all. While on the right side we have an example of a magazine style blog, which is aimed at a global audience and is powered by all the latest gadgets of the web development world.

 

The Type of Content

I think this is the one where you will spend most of your time on, to find a theme that resonates with the type of content you want to produce the most. For list posts, roundups and similar content types — a simple blogging/magazine theme will be just fine, but what about themes that compliment proper and insightful storytelling?

Once Upon A Time

Then there are websites like BuzzFeed, who focus on both roundups and also polls, quizzes and surveys type of content. Before you settle for a final theme, ask yourself these important questions about your content choices, and whether the theme you’re choosing is going to be able to reflect those answers.

Amongst other things, look out for complete and total responsive integration (mobile support), make sure that the theme has been updated in the last year or so, that there are no previous security issues that might not have been taken care of, and avoid going for themes from shady and unverified sources, more often than not they’re polluted with encoded scripts that will rob you of your rankings and credibility.

 

*****

Alex Ivanovs is an online entrepreneur who has been writing about technology, business and developer topics for over a decade. He currently manages CodeCondo — an aspiring community for designers and developers.

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5 Common Beginner WordPress Mistakes http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/24/5-common-beginner-wordpress-mistakes/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/24/5-common-beginner-wordpress-mistakes/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:27:38 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9803 The post 5 Common Beginner WordPress Mistakes appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

WordPress can be a great framework to build your first website with. However, since it’s a platform that has a relatively low barrier to entry a lot of beginners make the same mistakes. In order to avoid frustration in the early stages of your online career it’s important that you avoid these beginner mistakes.
In this post I’ll dive into the five most common WordPress mistakes you’ll want to avoid, so you can have a beautiful functioning site, instead of one that screams amateur.
 
1. Choosing A Poorly Coded Theme
When you’re trying to find the perfect theme for your website you’ll notice there are thousands of themes to choose from. How do you choose the correct theme? Sometimes you might come across a beautiful theme from an unknown developer that has very little reviews.
Even if the theme looks great it’s not recommended to use the theme. If you want to use a free theme it’s recommend to choose one from the WordPress approved list of developers.
However, the best course of action is to go with a premium theme. These themes might cost you a little money up front. But, with that cost you’ll also receive dedicated support in case anything goes wrong, ...

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The post 5 Common Beginner WordPress Mistakes appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

5 Common Beginner WordPress Mistakes

WordPress can be a great framework to build your first website with. However, since it’s a platform that has a relatively low barrier to entry a lot of beginners make the same mistakes. In order to avoid frustration in the early stages of your online career it’s important that you avoid these beginner mistakes.

In this post I’ll dive into the five most common WordPress mistakes you’ll want to avoid, so you can have a beautiful functioning site, instead of one that screams amateur.

 

1. Choosing A Poorly Coded Theme

When you’re trying to find the perfect theme for your website you’ll notice there are thousands of themes to choose from. How do you choose the correct theme? Sometimes you might come across a beautiful theme from an unknown developer that has very little reviews.

Even if the theme looks great it’s not recommended to use the theme. If you want to use a free theme it’s recommend to choose one from the WordPress approved list of developers.

However, the best course of action is to go with a premium theme. These themes might cost you a little money up front. But, with that cost you’ll also receive dedicated support in case anything goes wrong, and a host of upgraded features not available when using free themes.

 

2. Not Changing The Default Login Information

When you install WordPress you’ll be able to choose your username and password. The best way to prevent your site from being hacked is to use a strong password and username. Simple passwords, like your pets name, are not good enough.

The best passwords are those that use a combination of characters, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters. You can use a tool like, Passwords Generator to generate a very strong and complex password.

 

3. Forgetting Basic Page Elements

When you’re building out your website it’s easy to get carried away with all of the cool things you can do. However, it’s important not to neglect common website features.

For instance, every website needs a contact page and an about page. Without these elements there won’t be way for people to learn about what you do, or get in touch with you.

Make your site beautiful, but don’t forget the basics.

 

4. Not Changing Your Permalinks

Your site’s permalinks is the link structure of your URL. The default structure for your WordPress site, is usually something like ‘http://www.yourwebsite.com/?p=21′, rather than ‘http://www.yourwebsite.com/first-post’.

Luckily, making this change is simple, and it will give your URL’s a more memorable appearance.

Once inside your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Settings>Permalinks.

This will open up a window to change your settings. For most websites the fifth option ‘Post name’ will suffice. Check the box, click ‘Save Changes’ and you’re all set.

 

5. Failing To Use A SEO Plugin

Getting search engine traffic is a crucial aspect of any online business. However, if you’re not optimizing your posts and content properly, you could be missing out on potential traffic.

Luckily, there are a lot of plugins that make the process of SEO optimization very simple. All you have to do is install a plugin, such as, Yoast SEO, follow the steps and you’ll be set.

WordPress makes it easy to have a beautiful website up and running rather quickly. By avoiding the mistakes above you’ll be able to avoid most beginner pitfalls.

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Why WordPress Is The Best Choice For Non-Technical Business Owners http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/23/why-wordpress-is-the-best-choice-for-non-technical-business-owners/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/23/why-wordpress-is-the-best-choice-for-non-technical-business-owners/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:32:41 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9796 The post Why WordPress Is The Best Choice For Non-Technical Business Owners appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

When the time comes to create your website, you’re going to have no shortage of options to choose from. In fact, the decision-making process can be very overwhelming. It’s hard to cut though all of the marketing messaging to truly find a platform that works for you.
Luckily, there’s one platform that outshines most other platforms when it comes to an intuitive platform, that will help you build a beautiful website in no time at all. In this post we’re going to dive into why WordPress is the best choice for business owners with little to no technical know-how.
WordPress began as simple blogging software, but it has now grown into a full-fledged website builder with a massive and interactive community.
 
1. Easy To Use Backend
WordPress has a very easy to use backend. They’ve had the same backend for a number of years, which means there are a number of tutorials to guide you through anything you may be unsure of.
The backend is straightforward and doesn’t require any knowledge of code to actually customize the look of the theme as well as implement many additional features.
 
2. Small Learning Curve
Customizing your WordPress theme couldn’t be easier. Most themes also come with easy to ...

web hosting

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The post Why WordPress Is The Best Choice For Non-Technical Business Owners appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Startup Stock Photos

When the time comes to create your website, you’re going to have no shortage of options to choose from. In fact, the decision-making process can be very overwhelming. It’s hard to cut though all of the marketing messaging to truly find a platform that works for you.

Luckily, there’s one platform that outshines most other platforms when it comes to an intuitive platform, that will help you build a beautiful website in no time at all. In this post we’re going to dive into why WordPress is the best choice for business owners with little to no technical know-how.

WordPress began as simple blogging software, but it has now grown into a full-fledged website builder with a massive and interactive community.

 

1. Easy To Use Backend

WordPress has a very easy to use backend. They’ve had the same backend for a number of years, which means there are a number of tutorials to guide you through anything you may be unsure of.

The backend is straightforward and doesn’t require any knowledge of code to actually customize the look of the theme as well as implement many additional features.

 

2. Small Learning Curve

Customizing your WordPress theme couldn’t be easier. Most themes also come with easy to follow documentation that will allow you to set up and populate your theme rather quickly.

A lot of other website building platforms require little technical knowledge to get up and running, but the curve increases very quickly. WordPress is easy to setup, and also requires little technical knowledge to customize.

 

3. Massive Theme Selection

There are literally thousands of WordPress themes available for you to download, both free and premium. The free themes are great for getting started, but if you really want to take your website to the next level you should consider upgrading to a premium theme.

Most premium themes cost less than $50 and can leave you with a truly customizable, professional website.

 

4. Great Plugin Selection

Plugins add increased functionality to your theme without having to outsource plugin creation, or invest a ton of money. There are thousands of WordPress plugins, both free and paid, that add things like increased payment support, homepage sliders, upgraded security and much more.

If you want to add a specific feature to your website chances are there’s a plugin for it.

 

5. Large Support Community

Since WordPress has been around for such a long time there a large dedicated support community. Most premium WordPress themes come with dedicated support, while the large free theme community has a very active user base.

If you keep running into a problem, chances are someone else has faced the same problem, and the solution already exists.

 

6. SEO Optimized

When you’re relying on search engine traffic to send you new customers, then your website must be optimized to rank. Luckily, most WordPress themes are primed to rank in the search engines right out of the box.

 

7. Very Inexpensive

Like we mentioned above you can get a WordPress theme up and running without too much of an investment on your end. Aside from purchasing a domain name and hosting, you can even get by with a free theme.

As you can see, WordPress is a great choice for business owners looking for a beautiful website without having to learn to code first.

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The Hottest Web Design Trends Of 2015 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/18/the-hottest-web-design-trends-of-2015/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/18/the-hottest-web-design-trends-of-2015/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:59:56 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9790 The post The Hottest Web Design Trends Of 2015 appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Now that we’ve made it half way through the year, now is a good time to look at the hottest web design trends of the year so far.
The web is a constantly evolving place. By staying on top of the latest trends you can ensure your website will always be up-to-date. In this post we’re going to take a look at the most popular trends of the year and what they mean for your website.
 
1. Focus On Simplicity
The web is a crowded and noisy place. You can see a lot of sites getting rid of everything that’s non-essential in order to have the cleanest and easiest-to-read site possible.
This can include eliminating elements, such as, background images, complex layouts, full-page sliders and much more. Removing these elements not only provides a much more relaxed environment for the reader, but it can improve loading speeds as well.
 
2. All About Scrolling
If you’ve been browsing the web at all this year, I’m sure you have, then you’ve probably noticed the trend of sites getting longer and longer. This has to do with more fluid scrolling, and the way users actually read across the web.
It’s much easier for users to scroll through web pages ...

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The post The Hottest Web Design Trends Of 2015 appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Startup Stock Photos

Now that we’ve made it half way through the year, now is a good time to look at the hottest web design trends of the year so far.

The web is a constantly evolving place. By staying on top of the latest trends you can ensure your website will always be up-to-date. In this post we’re going to take a look at the most popular trends of the year and what they mean for your website.

 

1. Focus On Simplicity

The web is a crowded and noisy place. You can see a lot of sites getting rid of everything that’s non-essential in order to have the cleanest and easiest-to-read site possible.

This can include eliminating elements, such as, background images, complex layouts, full-page sliders and much more. Removing these elements not only provides a much more relaxed environment for the reader, but it can improve loading speeds as well.

 

2. All About Scrolling

If you’ve been browsing the web at all this year, I’m sure you have, then you’ve probably noticed the trend of sites getting longer and longer. This has to do with more fluid scrolling, and the way users actually read across the web.

It’s much easier for users to scroll through web pages than it is to click around to find the information they’re looking for. You can see this trend in action on parallax-style pages that have animated effects.

It’s much easier to tell a coherent story when the user doesn’t have to click to find out what’s next.

 

3. High-Quality Images

Those sites that are using images to invoke a feeling in their users are tending to lean towards using very high-quality custom images. Stock images are still being used across some websites, but it’s becoming more of a rarity.

By having a unique photo you can ensure you’re never going to run across the same image twice. This will help you to convey to your users how much attention to detail you put into your website, and how this will trickle into your services and offerings.

 

4. Collapsible Menus

This year we’ve seen the trend of hiding your navigation across your website really start to take hold. These hidden menus only become visible once the user clicks on the icon to display the menu.

This design element is in line with keeping your site clean and free of distractions. Hidden menus are very prevalent across responsive websites on smaller screens, only now the transition is taking place across larger screens as well.

 

5. Massive Typography

There’s been an increasing trend towards placing a larger focus on typography. Now that trend is growing, literally.

More websites are using very large font sizes to get their message across. Usually, this is only done with websites that have a very bold message.

However, it’s slowly finding its way to website of any style.

Who knows if the above trends will be here years from now, but one thing is for certain. They’re here now, and they’re going to be around for at least another year. If you’ve been trying to make your website more timely consider implementing one of the current design features highlighted above.

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How To Build A Content Strategy That Actually Works http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/17/how-to-build-a-content-strategy-that-actually-works/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/17/how-to-build-a-content-strategy-that-actually-works/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 13:42:00 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9777 The post How To Build A Content Strategy That Actually Works appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Building a content strategy that actually drives traffic to your website doesn’t have to take months to get right. By being strategic about your choices and following some of the advice below you’ll be able to build a custom content strategy geared towards your unique business goals.
Simply creating content is no longer enough; you need to engineer a strategy that focuses on generating organic traffic through providing continuous value. The steps below will get you going in the right direction.
 
Nail Down Your Personas
The only way to create content geared towards your ideal user is to know exactly to whom you’re writing. This information will help you to create a unique persona that resembles an actual person.
These personas aren’t real people, but instead characters that resemble an ideal “perfect customer.” This will help you get in the head of your customer and speak to them and their unique needs.
Common traits you’ll want to nail down include both demographic and psychographic information.
 
Know Your Search Terms
By doing proper keyword research you’ll be able to see what your users are actually looking for. You can couple this data with your buyer persona and create content that truly makes an impact.
To get started follow the ...

web hosting

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The post How To Build A Content Strategy That Actually Works appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

how to build a content strategy

Building a content strategy that actually drives traffic to your website doesn’t have to take months to get right. By being strategic about your choices and following some of the advice below you’ll be able to build a custom content strategy geared towards your unique business goals.

Simply creating content is no longer enough; you need to engineer a strategy that focuses on generating organic traffic through providing continuous value. The steps below will get you going in the right direction.

 

Nail Down Your Personas

The only way to create content geared towards your ideal user is to know exactly to whom you’re writing. This information will help you to create a unique persona that resembles an actual person.

These personas aren’t real people, but instead characters that resemble an ideal “perfect customer.” This will help you get in the head of your customer and speak to them and their unique needs.

Common traits you’ll want to nail down include both demographic and psychographic information.

 

Know Your Search Terms

By doing proper keyword research you’ll be able to see what your users are actually looking for. You can couple this data with your buyer persona and create content that truly makes an impact.

To get started follow the basic steps outlined below:

  1. Make a basic long-tail keyword list: this list includes keywords that you think your users will be looking for, based upon having initial knowledge of your market and your product.
  2. Compare this list to actual data: compare this list to actual search data obtained from Google Keyword Tool, or a similar tool.
  3. Create headlines based upon these ideas: cross-reference your initial keywords with the terms with decent search volume and brainstorm topic ideas with this information.

 

Get The Style Of Content Right

A lot of companies use different styles of content to reach different portions of their market. This includes things like, video, blog posts, slideshows, infographics, social media posts, webinars, and even email marketing campaigns.

To find out what’s right for your audience use the buyer persona you developed earlier to predict how they’re going to enjoy consuming your content.

 

Test Different Methods and Refine Over Time

Over time you’ll be able to really nail down the style of content and voice that works best for reaching your audience. In the beginning don’t be afraid to test out different styles of content.

However, make sure you track the success of each style of content so you’ll be able to see what’s actually working. The most common form of success tracking is through social media shares, or number of new email subscribers. Both of these metrics show engagement from your audience.

 

Determine A Regular Posting Schedule

Once you’ve found the style of content your audience loves then you need to deliver on a regular basis. The type of content you’re using will also dictate how frequency you post.

For instance, Twitter updates will happen more frequently than a YouTube video. People also engage across different platforms at different times, so take this into account when developing and executing your content schedule.

Content marketing doesn’t have to be brain science. Know your customer, experiment, and continue to deliver free content they’re going to love.

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Is Your Business Cyber-Secure? http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/16/is-your-business-cyber-secure/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/16/is-your-business-cyber-secure/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 15:48:28 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9773 The post Is Your Business Cyber-Secure? appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Cyber attacks upon large companies are reported in the news quite regularly. In recent times, companies like Target, Ebay, Domino’s Pizza, Home Depot, and AT&T were all hacked, resulting in varying degrees of damages.
And it seems that cyber-criminals are getting better at what they do. The Heritage Organization reported that the cost of cyber crime against U.S. retailers more than doubled in just a year’s time.
But in spite of the regular news reports about attacks that have occurred, many attacks are never reported publicly. The Heritage report indicates that cyber crime occurs on a daily basis. And many companies that fall victim aren’t even aware that their security has been compromised – at least not initially.
 
Small Companies Are Also At Risk
Most cyber crime reported in the news involves large companies. And that fact might be feeding the false sense of security that exists among a number of small business owners. Many small business owners, in fact, believe that they simply aren’t attractive targets for cyber-criminals.
But unfortunately, that’s wrong. That’s very wrong.
According to the National Small Business Association, half of small businesses were the victims of a cyber attack last year. Half! And the average cost of each of those attacks ...

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The post Is Your Business Cyber-Secure? appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

Is Your Business Cyber Secure

Cyber attacks upon large companies are reported in the news quite regularly. In recent times, companies like Target, Ebay, Domino’s Pizza, Home Depot, and AT&T were all hacked, resulting in varying degrees of damages.

And it seems that cyber-criminals are getting better at what they do. The Heritage Organization reported that the cost of cyber crime against U.S. retailers more than doubled in just a year’s time.

But in spite of the regular news reports about attacks that have occurred, many attacks are never reported publicly. The Heritage report indicates that cyber crime occurs on a daily basis. And many companies that fall victim aren’t even aware that their security has been compromised – at least not initially.

 

Small Companies Are Also At Risk

Most cyber crime reported in the news involves large companies. And that fact might be feeding the false sense of security that exists among a number of small business owners. Many small business owners, in fact, believe that they simply aren’t attractive targets for cyber-criminals.

But unfortunately, that’s wrong. That’s very wrong.

According to the National Small Business Association, half of small businesses were the victims of a cyber attack last year. Half! And the average cost of each of those attacks was nearly $21,000.

So while big businesses are getting most of the spotlight when it comes to cyber crime, small businesses are doing their share of the suffering.

It’s true that large companies are attractive to cyber criminals due to the size of the potential payoff from a successful hack. But small businesses are also attractive targets because of the ease with which they can be compromised. Many small businesses just don’t have an effective security plan in place for thwarting cyber criminals.

 

How To Increase the Cyber-Security of Your Small Business

Your small business certainly can’t match the resources allocated to cyber security by a Fortune 500 company. But that doesn’t mean that your company is unavoidably destined to become easy pickings for cyber criminals.

The Small Business Administration offers a number of tips for tightening your cyber security, including the following:

 

  • Protective Software. Install antivirus and antispy software on all of your company’s computers. Make sure that the software is regularly updated (automated updates are recommended).
  • Cyber-Secure Policies. Put in place policies for the handling of sensitive customer data. Make sure that all employees understand and comply with those policies.
  • Up-To-Date Software. Software such as web browsers and operating systems are regularly updated with maintenance releases, and quite frequently the updates address security issues. Make certain that the software on your computers is kept up-to-date with the latest maintenance releases.

 

A great way to get started in your quest to tighten your cyber security would be to utilize the Small Biz Cyber Planner offered by the SBA. It’s free, and will help you to create an effective plan for making your business safer.

And since knowledge is power, it might also be wise to invest some time in taking the SBA’s free training course about small business cyber security.

 

The Bigger They Are…

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And that’s why cyber criminals like hacking into big companies. The potential windfall is massive.

But cyber crime against small business is also on the rise – big time. That’s partly because of the resources that big companies are committing to increasing their cyber security.

And small businesses can fall awfully hard too, relatively speaking. If your small company is the one out of every two that is hit, the consequences can be devastating. So if you haven’t been putting lots of thought and effort into protecting your business against cyber crime, it’s time to do so.

In fact, it’s way past time.

 

*****

Chris Delker is a freelance copywriter based in Dallas, Texas.

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5 Tips For Improving Your eCommerce Store Experience http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/15/5-tips-for-improving-your-ecommerce-store-experience/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/15/5-tips-for-improving-your-ecommerce-store-experience/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 15:46:52 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9763 The post 5 Tips For Improving Your eCommerce Store Experience appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

It’s predicted that the year 2015 is going to yield as much as $2.2 trillion dollars in total global transactions over eCommerce networks. As previously reported by eMarketer, the expectancy of that amount was to be reached by 2018, but as more people are gaining access to the internet (with as many as 1 billion new internet users in the following two years), eCommerce has managed to outgrow quite a few, if not all, of the predictions made.

To launch a successful eCommerce store, the only few requirements are a reliable hosting company, a reliable piece of software/platform that can act as the actual storefront, but most importantly — an idea, a product, a vision upon which to strive and build for the future.
If you have managed to arrive at the point of completion, it might be a good time to look into some tips and ways of how to improve our eCommerce store experience, not only for ourselves, but for our biggest assets, which is the customers and consumers. Sometimes it’s enough to throw a few pages together and list some products, however these days a lot more goes into creating a seamless shopping experience.
 
1. Focus on User Experience
Any eCommerce ...

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The post 5 Tips For Improving Your eCommerce Store Experience appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

It’s predicted that the year 2015 is going to yield as much as $2.2 trillion dollars in total global transactions over eCommerce networks. As previously reported by eMarketer, the expectancy of that amount was to be reached by 2018, but as more people are gaining access to the internet (with as many as 1 billion new internet users in the following two years), eCommerce has managed to outgrow quite a few, if not all, of the predictions made.

To launch a successful eCommerce store, the only few requirements are a reliable hosting company, a reliable piece of software/platform that can act as the actual storefront, but most importantly — an idea, a product, a vision upon which to strive and build for the future.

If you have managed to arrive at the point of completion, it might be a good time to look into some tips and ways of how to improve our eCommerce store experience, not only for ourselves, but for our biggest assets, which is the customers and consumers. Sometimes it’s enough to throw a few pages together and list some products, however these days a lot more goes into creating a seamless shopping experience.

 

1. Focus on User Experience

Any eCommerce store out there is built for the customer, and for the customer alone. Just like you walk into a bank, and expect soothing background music and free sweets to indulge in, your eCommerce store should strive to provide the same exact experience, it should feel as if people are browsing a real physical store, which can sometimes be a tricky thing to achieve.

An eCommerce store built on the principles of User Experience, will easily convey trust, loyalty and ease of mind; things that go a long way for the user to make the final decision of completing a purchase or not, these days there are no shortage of alternatives for products online, even if yours is quite special.

Things to consider implementing:

  • A clear and visible user interface that naturally explains what the page does.
  • Easily accessible menus and navigation bars.
  • Clean and organized product pages; photos, review, prices, and descriptions.
  • An easy way to access the customer support portal/platform.
  • A clear indication of social media presence.
  • Fast loading pages, popups to the bare minimum, focus on seamless.

 

2. Invest in Mobile Experience

Last year, one-third of the total internets population spent time browsing eCommerce stores using a mobile phone, in fact — that one-third of those people actually made a purchase using their mobile devices, and this number is expected to increase significantly over the coming two to three years. Sooner or later, mobile will be primary shopping experience for anyone.

On top of that, having an eCommerce store that doesn’t provide a mobile-first experience is going to scare away the majority of people who browse your store from a mobile device, it has been a proven twice over fact that is based on simple principles of a good user experience.

How to optimize for mobile user experience:

  • Keep the mobile experience as simple and straightforward as possible, and that includes a responsive design experience.
  • Utilize icons, larger fonts and text-boxes where possible.
  • Important notices and announcements to be kept above the fold.
  • Easily accessible buttons that don’t overlap with the design.

 

3. Click and Buy

In other words, don’t make the check-out process for products a nightmare. The last thing people want to do is spend more than 10 minutes trying to actually purchase something that they clearly are ready to pay money for. The hard part is to get them to actually get to this page, don’t make it a miserable experience once they do.

Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, and about 63% of that is potentially recoverable by savvy online retailers, according to BI Intelligence estimates. — Business Insider

That is a lot of money to be leaving at the table, so here are some tips to improve the check-out experience on your eCommerce store:

  • Allow multiple payment options: PayPal, Credit Cards, Gift Cards, Direct Deposit.
  • Free shipping on big orders.
  • Clearly state all the costs before the check-out is done.
  • Allow customers to purchase without having to signup for an account.

 

4. Optimize the Photo Quality

In an online store, there are no physical products to touch, to feel or to observe. Your images are the only way of really conveying what the product looks like, and how it works. There are, of course, exceptions where video uploads are also useful, but not everyone can afford or have the time to produce high-quality videos for all of their products. Visual content is simply easier to remember, easier to understand, and makes for a much more likely chance of a completed purchase.

The best way to display photos:

  • Try to show at least 2-4 high-quality photos of all of your products, and do it in a way that shows all the angles and aspects of the produce. This should be done throughout the whole store.
  • Outline what are the benefits/advantages of each product and have specific images for that. If you’re selling Unisex T-Shirts, show pictures of both a girl and a boy wearing it.
  • Provide the option to see what all the colors that you offer look like, it’s a shame to choose a bright pink, but have it arrive shallow. Make the customer experience as physical as possible.

 

5. Optimize for Search Engines

If you have done all of the above, and follow it with your full focused attention, then all that is left to do is do some Search Engine Optimization integration, since eventually — you want to arrive in a place where majority of your traffic is organic, coming from direct search engine queries. You can find plentiful of SEO guides on the web, but here are some outlines to focus on:

  • Have a mobile site ready. Now a Google ranking factor.
  • Have HTTPS (Secure Browsing) enabled. Now a Google ranking factor.
  • Create a content marketing strategy for your blog to attract new visitors.
  • Immerse yourself in inbound marketing to create links, news headlines, etc,.

If you can successfully implement all of these tips, what comes beyond will be patience and the ability to maintain these little strategies to keep pushing your eCommerce store forward, and beyond.

 

*****

Alex Ivanovs is an online entrepreneur who has been writing about technology, business and developer topics for over a decade. He currently manages CodeCondo — an aspiring community for designers and developers.

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3 Critical Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Business Website http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/11/3-critical-mistakes-you-might-be-making-with-your-business-website/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/11/3-critical-mistakes-you-might-be-making-with-your-business-website/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 15:06:58 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9759 The post 3 Critical Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Business Website appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

A strange but true fact: roughly one out of every two small businesses still doesn’t have a website.
That wouldn’t have been particularly surprising 20 years ago. But today? It seems rather strange. Especially when you consider that nearly 100% of consumers now do at least some of their shopping online for products and services that interest them.
So if you’re a small business owner, and you do have a website, that automatically gives you a huge leg-up over about half of your competition.
But what about the other half of your competition – the half that does have a website? If you’re like many small businesses, you might not be faring so well against those competitors.
That’s because many small businesses have websites that are much less effective than they could be. And in fact, many small businesses are making the very same mistakes with their websites. According to the Small Business Administration, there are 3 critical mistakes that many small businesses are making with their online presence:
 
#1. No Call-to-Action
Let’s say that you have a website. And let’s say that a prospective customer lands upon your homepage. Do you tell that prospective customer what you want them to do?
Many small business websites don’t. ...

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The post 3 Critical Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Business Website appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

3 Critical Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Business Website

A strange but true fact: roughly one out of every two small businesses still doesn’t have a website.

That wouldn’t have been particularly surprising 20 years ago. But today? It seems rather strange. Especially when you consider that nearly 100% of consumers now do at least some of their shopping online for products and services that interest them.

So if you’re a small business owner, and you do have a website, that automatically gives you a huge leg-up over about half of your competition.

But what about the other half of your competition – the half that does have a website? If you’re like many small businesses, you might not be faring so well against those competitors.

That’s because many small businesses have websites that are much less effective than they could be. And in fact, many small businesses are making the very same mistakes with their websites. According to the Small Business Administration, there are 3 critical mistakes that many small businesses are making with their online presence:

 

#1. No Call-to-Action

Let’s say that you have a website. And let’s say that a prospective customer lands upon your homepage. Do you tell that prospective customer what you want them to do?

Many small business websites don’t. They seem satisfied to let visitors wander around aimlessly for a bit until they wander off the website – likely never to return. And that’s a mistake that more than two-thirds of small business websites make.

But it’s important to let website visitors know what you want them to do. In fact, every single page of your website should have a designated purpose – a most-wanted response. And the copy and graphics on that page should work to elicit that most-wanted response. But you’re not likely to get that most-wanted response without telling your website visitors what you want them to do.

 

#2. Mobile Incompatibility

The world is going mobile. Only a few short years ago, most customers accessed your website via a desktop or laptop computer. But that’s no longer true. These days, it’s likely that just as many customers visit you virtually with a smart phone or a tablet.

And that might be a problem for you. Because a website design that is perfectly fine for viewing with a desktop/laptop computer may not be particularly suitable for viewing with a mobile device.

In fact, it’s very likely that your website is not mobile compatible. Because fewer than 10% of mobile websites are mobile compatible.

And if you think that mobile incompatibility is no more than a slight inconvenience for some of your website visitors, think again. Google takes mobile compatibility very seriously – and may seriously ding your site in search results if you’re not mobile friendly.

(Not sure whether your site is mobile-friendly? Use this free tool to easily find out.)

 

#3. Cold-Shouldering Social Media

Social media is all the rage these days. Social media portals such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have become wildly popular. And many marketers are trying to tap into that popularity as a new way to reach customers.

In truth, there’s some dispute about the effect of social media marketing for businesses. But many marketing experts feel that social media holds far too much promise to ignore. As one expert noted in a Forbes article, there are a great many potential benefits to social media marketing.

Even so, more than 80% of small business websites don’t even bother to link to any social media accounts. And that might be a massive mistake.

 

It’s A Bad News / Good News Scenario

The three critical mistakes listed above are made by the majority of small business websites. So if you’re the owner or operator of a small business, the odds are strong that you’re in that group. That’s the bad news.

The good news, though, is that simply having a website places you ahead of half of your competition. And you can compound that advantage by eliminating any of these three critical mistakes that you might be making with your website.

Do that, and you’ll place your business in the rarified air of dominating your online competition. And that’s a very good place to be.

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What Does Passion Mean For Your Small Business http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/09/what-does-passion-mean-for-your-small-business/ http://www.hostgator.com/blog/2015/06/09/what-does-passion-mean-for-your-small-business/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 15:52:31 +0000 http://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=9753 The post What Does Passion Mean For Your Small Business appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

“The best advice I could give anyone is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life.” – Richard Branson
Passion is a big word in the business world, especially with the growth of online technologies that now make it much easier for people to follow their passions and turn them into a business. However, that doesn’t mean the process is going to be any easier. As you know running your business is more than a full-time job, but when it’s a labor of love it can make the process much more enjoyable.
In this post we’re going to explore passion in the business world, what it means, and ways to become passionate about your business if it’s not quite there for you.
 
Why Start A Business In The First Place?
People start businesses for a variety of reasons. It would be impossible to list them all here. It doesn’t even have to be said, but most people are in business to make money. Most people don’t go into business to go bankrupt.
A lot of people start a business because they see a hole in the market that can be filled with their business or service. Sometimes people are ...

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The post What Does Passion Mean For Your Small Business appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing.

What Does Passion Mean For Your Small Business

“The best advice I could give anyone is to spend your time working on whatever you are passionate about in life.” – Richard Branson

Passion is a big word in the business world, especially with the growth of online technologies that now make it much easier for people to follow their passions and turn them into a business. However, that doesn’t mean the process is going to be any easier. As you know running your business is more than a full-time job, but when it’s a labor of love it can make the process much more enjoyable.

In this post we’re going to explore passion in the business world, what it means, and ways to become passionate about your business if it’s not quite there for you.

 

Why Start A Business In The First Place?

People start businesses for a variety of reasons. It would be impossible to list them all here. It doesn’t even have to be said, but most people are in business to make money. Most people don’t go into business to go bankrupt.

A lot of people start a business because they see a hole in the market that can be filled with their business or service. Sometimes people are serial entrepreneurs and bounce from industry to industry finding problems and building solutions for those problems.

Other people take a more artistic sense and are looking for creative fulfillment. This type of person seeks creative fulfillment through their product or service. They look to flex their creative muscles and solve problems using their unique service or product.

Passion comes in many forms, as many forms as there are people on earth. If passion is your root reason for pursuing a business idea, then by all means pursue it until the end of the earth. If you’re wired to start a business about what you’re passionate about then a part of you won’t be satisfied until you do. After all, when you’re doing something you’re immersed in it doesn’t really feel like work.

 

Can I Become Passionate?

If you started your business to fill a market need and you really want to become passionate about your work there are a few ways to nurture passion, without selling your business and starting a new one from scratch.

If you started a business for the money and now you want to become passionate about your work, first you need to have a deep understanding of what you like to do and what your strengths are.

If you can adapt these to your current work day, or introduce new aspects into your business then you’ll be well on your way towards bringing passion into your work. Below you’ll find a few questions that will help you uncover your passion and strengths:

  • What would you do every day, even if you weren’t being paid to do it?
  • What do you think your core strengths are?
  • What could you immerse yourself in for hours at a time?
  • If you could only do one activity for the rest of your life what would it be?

Once you find your strengths the key is going to be building a bridge between passion and your current work reality. You have to be creative to do this, but I have faith in you. It might mean adjusting your work priorities, daily agenda, or introducing a new service or product for you to manage.

Passion is an important ingredient to have, not only for your business, but for your life.

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