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  • How To Use Split-Testing To Improve Your Website

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015 by
    Split testing Optimizing your website could be the missing factor in making your website a success. Split-testing allows you to truly unlock the power of your website. Imagine being able to test every aspect of your website, so it’s perfectly catered to your ideal visitor. When you’re building your website right out of the gate you’re actually making an educated guess about what you think your visitors are going to like. Split-testing allows you to morph your website into something that speaks to the heart of your visitors. To get started with the split testing process you’re going to need to install a split-testing tool, such as, Visual Website Optimizer, Google Analytics, Optimizely, Unbounce, or Crazy Egg. Once you have the tool installed, begin by testing some of the page elements we highlight below.  


    If your headlines are too complex, or not clear, they’re not going to do a good job at conveying to the user what your page is actually about. Changing and simplifying your headlines can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. Common elements to test include: your value proposition, headline length, and the color and size of the headline.  


    Your call-to-action is one of the most important elements of your landing page. Without having this central piece of your page fully optimized you’ll be losing out on potential customers and subscribers. You can customize and test your call-to-action in a myriad of ways, but the most common elements to look further into are: size, colors, the text, the placement, and the spacing surrounding your call-to-action.  


    Testimonials act as social proof for your services and offerings. They help to build trust with your potential customer or subscriber. If you have several testimonials you can actually rotate them and change their appearance until you find one that helps your website convert the best. Some people will resonate with some testimonials more than others.  


    If you use your website to gather useful user information, then you’re going to be using certain form elements more than others. If you make your form needlessly complicated chances are the user won’t actually stick around to complete the form. You can test out different form styles and elements until you find the form that converts the highest. You can even add hidden elements into your form, or gather other user information at a later stage in the process.  

    Media Elements

    Elements such as photos and video will help to increase the power and emotional resonance of your page. When it comes to using images and videos you need to think about quality over quantity at all times. One well-placed image, or a short high-quality video, will say much more than over-stuffing your page with added media.  

    Copy and Content

    Often, the shorter your content the better it will convert. If you copy is overly wordy and doesn’t get to the core of what you’re trying to say it will turn people off. You can experiment with testing different versions of your content that conveys your message in slightly different formats. This can be done through using different formatting, or even writing entirely different versions of your copy. However, be careful not to test too many different elements at once, as it will be harder to tell which small element was the cause for the increase in conversions. Split-testing can truly help your website realize its potential. The process may take a while, but when you see your conversion rates start to grow it will be well worth it.
  • The Power Of Native Advertising With Instagram

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015 by
    Native Advertising With Instagram
    The term 'native advertising' has been criticized in some ways as unethical, due to the disguise in which businesses and corporations present their products. Most recently, Al Jazeera America highlighted a questionable innovation by CNN, under which they'll be broadcasting corporate propaganda disguised as news, a move that looks very bad for the integrity of journalism. However, the good news within this article is that native advertising doesn't have to be deceptive, nor does it require your business buy editorial content from CNN. Nowadays we have unlimited reach and marketing potential right at our finger tips, the tool of choice here being Instagram. Instagram is currently the fastest growing Social Media platform in the United States, with a user base that increased by nearly 60% in 2014. The go-to strategy with online marketing has always been to get it while it's good. Here's why Instagram is currently one of the most powerful marketing tools on the planet, completely free of charge.  


    Algorithms are basically a fancy word for saying “we filter everything how we see fit.” Naturally, algorithms are put in place to level the playing field based on valuable and quality content, but it doesn't always seem that way. For instance, anything that gets posted on Facebook is subject to innumerable placement filters that determine how visible your post will be to a given audience. Even if you have 10,000 people who “Like” your business page, as of January 2015 Facebook made adjustments that greatly decreased how many people will see your posts. Yet, they continue to offer “Boosted Posts” where they'll gladly accept funding for your audience to see your content. Seems a bit ironic doesn't it? Instagram on the other hand operates on 100% visibility. If you post something it will be seen chronologically no matter what. This greatly improves how people choose to follow accounts in the first place, and adds up to a much higher ROI for those who put significant effort into what they post.  


    Hashtagging is now a cultural phenomenon by which we base casual references to everyday life. Although you can use them across most platforms (Facebook, Twitter), Instagram has the most useful interface for turning hashtags into prominent keywords that allow anyone in the world to discover your content based on common interests.
    • How Many Can Be Used - Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post that will take the photo and place it chronologically with every other post with the same hashtag. This greatly extends the number of people viewing and liking your posts.
    • Where To Put Them - Many people build hash-tags into the description of their post making them visible for everyone to see, which is a great way to create a trending tag. However, many people see hashtagging as cluttered and unattractive to a posts simplicity. By putting all the tags in the first comment, they will eventually be unnoticeable after 5 comments. Part of having a successful native strategy is hiding the hashtags since their primary use for businesses should be to get them in the categories your audience will see them. (See photo below)
    • What Tags To Use -The more popular a tag is, the more likely people will want to browse it to find interesting posts. Only select hashtags people will find relevant to the post. In addition to using hashtags, you can also tag other Instagram profiles to make connections with those in your network. (See photo above)
    • How To Find Popular Hashtags - While there are many websites that keep updated tallies on which hashtags are trending, or the most popular, Instagram also allows you to browse hashtags directly in their interface. (See photo below)
    popular hashtags

    Creating Native Content

    The whole point behind native advertising is to create content that doesn't stick out to your followers as something being sold to them. We're over commercials, our heads are full, and social media is supposed to be where we look for interesting media.
    • Post Beautiful Images- Instagram is built to scroll, and photos that don't catch your eye will be passed right over.
    • Create Mini Videos- Instagram allows 15 second videos or less. Create one that shows your product or service in action to instill curiosity in your followers
    • Create A Call-to-Action- By asking your followers to post pictures using your product, or by referencing your company, you'll attract followers based on social correlations.
    • Be An Awesome Company, and Show It- Part of why so many large companies have millions of followers is they advocate for environmental stewardship, express their values in their posts, and share their customers photos that show their brand in action. REI is an excellent example of a company meeting those standards, see below.
  • Top Productivity Apps For Small Business Owners

    Thursday, August 6, 2015 by
    top productivity apps As a small business owner you’re going to have a ton of tasks to manage and keep track of every single day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and this is where the power of apps can come in. By managing your workflow and reducing the time spent doing aimless things you’ll be better able to advance your business. In this post we’re going to cover the top productivity apps for small business owners, and how they can be used to transform your business. Most of the apps below will work across any smartphone or tablet-like device.   Asana Asana is shared task-management software that helps you track every moving piece of large-scale projects. When working on projects with multiple people it’s easy for emails, conversations and ideas to get lost in the shuffle. Asana makes sure every piece is accounted for, and you can track the progress of each project. You can set due dates and assign tasks to specific team members as well.   Dropbox Dropbox is an extremely popular could storage app. It allows you to store backups of your website, copies of documents and anything you need really. It makes it easy to share documents with multiple team members, and syncs easily across multiple devices. Whether you’re collaborating with multiple team members, or looking for a place to backup your files Dropbox will be able to help.   DocuSign If you need to sign digital documents, then DocuSign makes it easy. All it takes is a number of clicks and you’ll be able to sign a document and forward it on to the right party. If you’re constantly on the go, then you can sign documents from whatever device you’re opening the document on.   Evernote Evernote is a very useful note taking app that sync seamlessly across all of your devices. It makes it easy to manage to-do lists, take random notes and have a place to store random digital media items. There is also a paid version of the app, which gives you a greater suite of tools, including more admin features, a higher storage capacity, and the ability to easily collaborate with other app users.   Doodle Doodle is a great scheduling tool, which will help you keep track of your schedule across multiple platforms. If you already use Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo calendars, then this app will help you keep track of your meetings and appointments across all three.   CloudOn If your business relies on working within the suite of Microsoft Word tools, then CloudOn makes it easy to edit these files when you’re on the go. If you need to make quick edits to a PowerPoint presentation, but only have your iPad, then this app has you covered.   Managing your time as a small business owner doesn’t have to be stressful. Any of the apps above will help you to manage your to-do lists, collaborate with team members, and keep track of the day-to-day. Take control of your time and take control of your business with a suite of helpful apps.
  • Why You Should Regularly Backup Your WordPress Site

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by
    Why You Should Regularly Backup Your WordPress Site
    Editor's Note: the information in this post, while incredibly valuable, is simply non-applicable to those who use owr Optimized WordPress Hosting, as HostGator manages all aspects of backups and security. Having said that, please enjoy the information contained herein, and do apply the same logic to non-WordPress sites as well:"   WordPress is the most popular content management system on the planet. And for good reason. It's easy to use, and offers an incredible wealth of functionality through plugins. Let's consider just one aspect of managing a site: performing backups. There are many reliable, easy-to-use plugins available for backing up a WordPress site. That's why you regularly backup your business WordPress site. Right?  

    No? You're Not Alone…

    A recent survey revealed that nearly half of WordPress users do not perform regular backups. So if you don't frequently backup your WordPress site, you've got lots of company. Perhaps that will offer you some measure of consolation. After all, according to the old saying, misery loves company. And if you continue to be lax about backing up your site, it's quite possible that you will end up miserable - but with lots of company. That’s because bad things can happen to any website - even WordPress-powered sites.  

    Updates, Break-Ins and Blunders

    According to a Small Business Trends report, regularly backing up your WordPress site may save you from one (or more) of three common occurrences that regularly vex website owners:
    1. Update Problems: Like any other well-maintained piece of software, WordPress code is frequently updated. That means that your WordPress site should be frequently updated. But with each update, there's a risk - a possibility that one of the plugins you use won't be in sync with the code update. And that can cause major problems, up to and including the complete failure of your website.
    If that happens, it's really not a major problem. You identify the problem plugin, replace or update it, and restore your site with the most recent backup. You say your backup is months old? Or you don't even have a backup? Umm, OK…now you have a major problem on your hands. And lots of miserable company.
    1. Attacks and Hacks: Your site is under constant threat of a cyber attack. In fact, the cyber security company Symantec recently reported that nearly a third of all cyber attacks target small businesses. There's much you can do to defend your site against cyber criminals. But alas, there's no way to assure that your site is absolutely invulnerable.
    So if the worst happens and your site does get hacked, having a very recent backup will go far towards minimizing the downtime - and the pain.
    1. Oopsies: Accidental file deletions happen with great regularity. In fact, there are really only two types of people: those who have accidentally deleted files, and those that will. So if an accidental deletion hasn't yet occurred at your business, it will. It's only a matter of time.
    And when it happens, it's not a big deal. Not if you have a recent backup. But if you don't have a backup? Well, you have our sympathies.    

    So How Frequently Should You Perform Backups?

    For most businesses, daily backups are best. Particularly active businesses may even wish to perform backups multiple times per day. But certainly no business should go more than a week without performing a backup. Backups, after all, are easy. They can be automated to occur seamlessly and behind the scenes. There are lots of options for WordPress users, ranging from free plugins to paid third-party services. And cloud-based backup options can even protect your business data from calamities such as natural disasters and fires.  

    Just Do It…

    As the old Nike commercial recommends, when it comes to backing up your WordPress site - just do it. Choose your preferred backup method, and just do it. And do it frequently. After all, misery may indeed love company. But your company doesn't love misery, does it?  
    Chris Delker is a freelance copywriter based in Dallas, Texas.