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  • Joomla vs WordPress: Which Is the Better Option for You?

    Friday, October 7, 2016 by
    Joomla vs WordPress

    Most websites today are powered by content management systems that enable you to easily build a very powerful website. WordPress and Joomla are both widely used and can help you create the perfect website for your needs.

    Choosing the right CMS can be a difficult decision, mostly because they are all good choices. However, even though the platforms are incredibly similar, there are some differences that’ll probably swing you one way or the other.

    Below we profile both WordPress and Joomla to help you finally decide which platform is the best choice for your needs.


    What is WordPress?

    WordPress is probably the most popular CMS on the market. What started as nothing more than a simple blogging platform has evolved into an incredibly powerful and flexible website builder.

    It’s a great platform for beginners and there are a number of tutorials and forums that can help to clear up any issues you might have.


    Benefits of WordPress


    1. Very Easy to Install

    WordPress is incredibly easy to set up. You can literally have a site up and running in about five minutes. As a plus, most existing hosts offer one-click installs.


    2. Highly Customizable

    WordPress has thousands of themes and plugins that make customizing your site as simple as clicking a button. Since it’s so popular, many developers have created free plugins and themes that enable you to create a professional-looking site with zero budget.


    3. Great Community

    If you run into any issues setting up or customizing your site, there’s a support community of millions who are there to help you. Plus, almost every theme or plugin you’ll utilize has a dedicated team of developers behind it.

    Recommended WordPress Hosting


    What is Joomla?

    Joomla is an incredibly flexible CMS and is currently being used as the backbone for several of the largest sites on the internet. It comes in a close second behind WordPress in terms of the number of sites powered by the CMS. All kinds of websites can benefit from using this framework from non-profits to businesses, corporations to schools, and more.

    However, Joomla is more technical and not as friendly to beginners. This means that you can build out some incredibly powerful custom features, but if you’re not great with coding, you might want to take another route.


    Benefits of Joomla


    1. Can Create a Social Network

    Joomla lets you easily create social networking websites from scratch. You can create a social network by using another CMS, but it isn’t as quick and painless.


    2. Easy eCommerce Store Creation

    Along with social networking websites, Joomla makes it easy to create eCommerce stores. Sure, you can hack together an eCommerce store with WordPress, but Joomla makes the process dead simple.


    3. Medium Level of Technical Ability Required

    For the level of power and customization Joomla provides you with it’s not overly technical. It does take a little more technological confidence than WordPress, but not enough to scare beginners away.


    How to Determine the Best Option for You

    There is no cut and dry best option. Rather, there is the best option for your needs and goals. Take some time to determine what kind of site you’re trying to develop and what features you’ll want to build out.

    If you’re a complete beginner and want to get a site up and running as quick as possible, then you should definitely go with WordPress.

    However, if you’re more technically savvy and want to build out a social networking or e-commerce website, then it’s probably a good idea to start off with a Joomla site.

    Hopefully the tips above will help you make a better CMS decision. Remember, there is no wrong decision. Pick a CMS and run with it, you can always redesign and switch to another CMS at a later date if need be.

    HostGator offers both WordPress and Joomla hosting. Build your site today!

    Get Started With HostGator!

  • 5 Guest Blogging Best Practices for Small Businesses

    Thursday, October 6, 2016 by

    Guest Blogging Best Practices

    Your brand needs exposure.

    From social media advertising to influencer outreach, your team is trying everything to gain attention from new audiences. Plus, marketing campaigns can be very expensive.

    Guest blogging is one technique often underused by small businesses. Done correctly, it can drive traffic to your site, engage relevant consumers, and generate brand awareness.

    Meredith Stahler, inbound marketing specialist with Sensible Marketing, states, Guest blogging is a great way to enhance your business's reputation as a thought leader. Getting guest posts published on top sites in your niche can secure backlinks from influential and authoritative websites.”

    Let’s explore how your brand can engage consumers with guest blogging.


    What Is Guest Blogging?

    Blogging enables brands to talk directly to their customers. Guest blogging amplifies that communication by sharing your content with other audiences.

    Research shows that “94% of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others.”

    The golden rule of guest blogging is to add unmatched value to the readers. You want people interested in what you have to offer.

    [bctt tweet="The golden rule of guest #blogging is to add unmatched value to the readers." username="hostgator"]

    Here are a few benefits of guest blogging:

    • Building relationships with non-competing brands;
    • Expanding your reach to potential customers; and
    • Establishing your brand as a thought leader in a specific niche.

    “When you can establish yourself as an expert in any field, others will trust you more and be more willing to pay for products or services that you offer. If nothing else they will be more willing to link to other content that you have created,” says Adam White, founder of Guest Post Tracker,

    As the guest blogger, your team is responsible for going above and beyond the publisher’s expectations. Those high standards include following editorial guidelines and adhering to deadlines.

    Here’s an example of Hubspot’s guest post standards:

    Guest Post Guidelines

    Moreover, consider guest blogging as an ongoing partnership with editors. Aim to serve the blog’s needs first. You want to ensure that your blog post resonates with the readers.

    Guest blogging is a privilege, not right. So, create content worth consuming. And you’ll grab the attention of the publisher.


    Best Practices to Learn From

    Every small business is different. However, valuable lessons are learned no matter the industry or product.

    Gather your team to discuss what works well for your company. Here are five best practices to follow:


    1. Research

    One size doesn’t fit all in guest posting. Every blog is different.

    Some blogs cover niche topics. Other publishers only accept submissions from influencers. And editors may limit word count or the types of posts.

    When you’re asking to play on someone else’s field, you must follow their rules. And it all starts with doing your research.

    Most blogs post their guest blogging guidelines on their websites. On the other hand, you may need to contact the content marketing manager directly.

    But before you read their rules, actually read their blog. Observe what topics they discuss.

    See who contributes on a regular basis. And figure out what type of readers engage with the blog.

    Pro Tip: Read the comments on the blog.

    Also, use Google Alerts to find blogs matching your interests. You may discover some new publishers.

    Google Alerts

    Do your research before contacting anyone. It will help you focus on bringing the most value to the right audience.


    2. Pitch

    So, your team is ready to pitch editors. For some small business teams, this step is the most difficult.

    Why? Because we forget to offer value.

    Normally, we just send an email telling the publisher what we want. We ramble about why they need us and act as if the editors have no other options.

    Well, it’s time to do things differently. Show proof of how your content is valuable.

    [bctt tweet="Pitching a guest blog to editors? Show proof of how your content is valuable." username="hostgator"]

    There are several ways to establish credibility. Try the following:

    • Provide links to your existing content;
    • Note how people visited your posts;
    • Screenshot the total social media shares of an example post; or
    • Mention trustworthy publishers you’ve worked with in the past.

    The outreach email should be short and straightforward. State who you are and if anyone referred you.

    Display how you can bring immediate value. Then, ask how your team can serve the editor’s readers.

    Create Your Blog


    3. Write

    After the editor approves your topic idea, your job is to begin writing. Be mindful of the publisher’s standards.

    Writing is subjective when it comes to conveying particular viewpoints. But the objective principle is to avoid misspellings and grammar errors.

    Those mistakes diminish the value of your post. It also burdens the editor to make time-consuming corrections.

    Use tools like Grammarly and PaperRater to analyze word choice, detect plagiarism, and score readability. Hemingway also is a great tool to simplify your text.

    Hemingway App

    As for the substance of the post, make sure you stay on topic, organize your thoughts with subheadings, and add relevant images.

    “Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources,” states Rachel Sprung, customer demand manager at HubSpot. 

    For inspiration, read the publisher’s previous posts to capture the writing style and tone.

    Pro Tip: Reference the publisher’s links in your guest post.


    4. Revise

    Every blog post you create won’t be perfect. And that’s okay.

    But the editor will expect you to make the necessary changes to meet their publishing rules. Don’t take it personally. They want to ensure the readers enjoy your work and that it’s well-received.

    This isn’t the time to debate with the editor. Remember, he is doing you a favor. You want to be published on his blog.

    Instead of dreading the revision process, expect it. Prepare your team for additional edits to the blog post.

    If you have questions or want clarification, ask the editor. You want to know exactly how to improve the content.

    When you make the editor’s job easier, she will be more inclined to work with your team in the future.


    5. Promotion

    Congrats! Your post has been approved.

    That’s it, right? Nope.

    Now, it’s time to promote the blog post. Talk with the editor to determine the publication date. Then, start planning a mini-promotion strategy for the content.

    Your team can send emails to everyone mentioned in the post. Share the content on all your social media networks. And submit the post to online community forums.

    Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits, agrees:

    “If your audience is more business-minded in nature, you’ll want to make LinkedIn Groups a drop off point for your content pieces. The network hosts thousands of different groups, making it pretty much impossible that you won’t find one there that suits your interests or industry.”

    Add value to an ongoing group conversation. Consider answering questions on Quora with your content as a possible solution.

    Quora Facebook Ads

    If your small business knows industry influencers, ask specific leaders to share your content. They may even include it in an upcoming email newsletter.

    Promotion centers around getting people sharing and talking about your post. So, develop a plan before publication.


    Be A Guest

    Guest blogging is an effective way to expand your marketing efforts. It offers your brand the chance to reach more potential customers.

    Conduct extensive research before contacting brands. Pitch with an editor’s mindset. And remember to promote your guest post.

    Grow your audience. Start guest blogging.

  • How One Chicago Non-Profit Makes Smart Use of Everyday Technology

    Wednesday, October 5, 2016 by
    The Well of Mercy Chicago

    We hear a lot about technology’s ability to change lives—usually when a company launches a new app or device. The Well of Mercy founder Mary Zeien’s experience shows that the smart use of simpler technology can help people change their lives, too. Her Chicago-based non-profit provides group housing, childcare, counseling, and job resources to homeless single mothers and their children. The Well of Mercy is funded by grants and donations, without any government money. To generate community donations and make the case for grants, The Well of Mercy relies on a simple website and a handful of social media accounts.


    Non-Profit Websites and Social Media Raise Awareness and Donations

    “It is absolutely a necessity to have a website for a non-profit business in order to increase awareness of our mission,” Zeien said. Zeien’s background was in social work studies so she relied on family to help her set up The Well of Mercy’s website. “My techie son-in-law chose HostGator web hosting for easy access and reliability. Another non-profit group in Chicago, EPIC, adopted our business and redesigned our logo, website, and Facebook page and took us to a whole new level.”

    [bctt tweet="It is absolutely a necessity to have a website for a #nonprofit in order to increase awareness." username="hostgator"]

    Today, Zeien said, The Well of Mercy’s social media accounts and website are its two best sources of new visitors and supporters. “The website helps us acquire grants. It not only showcases the success of the women and children who live at The Well, it also brings awareness to the plight of the homeless and demonstrates that if we think 'outside the box' with program support, people can get out of the cycle of poverty.”

    “The most difficult part about entering care for homeless, abused women was to convince people that offering surrogate family life with built-in accountability would change generations to come,” she added. The Well of Mercy website and its social media accounts create a sense of community among volunteers, donors, and residents and offer proof of success. Snapshots show kids who live at The Well taking pre-K classes, going on field trips, and simply enjoying playtime in the yard. Other posts celebrate their mothers’ accomplishments as they move through the program. The Well invites community involvement with open houses and thank-you posts to give volunteers credit for their hard work.

    In the five years since Zeien founded The Well of Mercy and launched its website, her group has served 150 families. In addition to on-site housing for up to 15 families at a time, weekly counseling sessions, and childcare for participants while they work or attend classes, The Well of Mercy covers the cost of basic living expenses such as diapers, groceries, bus fare, and more. The group is now in the middle of a capital campaign to raise $400,000 to buy the building they call home, with support coming in from community groups and local churches.

    Rather than make technology the centerpiece of her group’s mission, Zeien has leveraged reliable, easy to use technology and the design skills of volunteers to support her goal – giving mothers without homes a stable, live-in support network to help them launch new lives and get their kids out of the poverty cycle. “My advice to entrepreneurs is to not be afraid to reach out and get help from professionals who can make a huge difference in your business.” That difference, as The Well of Mercy shows, can have an impact far beyond one website.

    Raise awareness with your own non-profit website.

    Get Started With HostGator!

  • The New cPanel Paper Lantern Theme At HostGator

    Wednesday, October 5, 2016 by
    HostGator cPanel Paper Lantern Theme We are very excited to announce the launch of the new HostGator Paper Lantern cPanel theme.    The goal of this redesigned cPanel theme is to provide a better user experience to our valued customers.   This new theme will be rolling out to our customers over the next few days. So if you don’t see it immediately, please know that it is coming soon. Some of the key features that come with this release are:  

    Search Bar to Find What You Need Quickly

    A full page window that allows you to type in any word and it will pull up the relevant cPanel sections or functions. cPanel Paper Lantern theme  

    Search Support Articles Without Leaving cPanel

    A window that allows you to type in a word or phrase and a list of matching articles in our support documentation will be listed for quick reference. Here’s an example: cPanel Paper Lantern  

    Push Notifications So You Don't Miss Anything Important

    Get notified instantly of upcoming changes or exciting news or relevant information about your account. cPanel Paper Lantern theme  

    Access Key Areas Through The Left Sidebar Navigation Menu

    We’ve also introduced a navigation on the left side so that you can easily access key areas quickly, such as:HostGator cPanel Navigation  


    This is the traditional cPanel Index page with 10 different sub-categories for faster access to the section you are looking for.  Another great feature is that if you choose to move the sections up and down to better suit your needs, the left navigation bar updates right along with it.  Just move them around to the order that you want, refresh the page, and the navigation bar will be in sync with their new order you have created.  

    Popular Links

    This is a new section that we’ve added and we hope that customers find it as useful as we intended it to be. Popular Links is where we put our most popular links across both cPanel and the Marketplace for quick access.  If for some reason, you decide that Popular Links section is in the way, you can easily get rid of it by clicking the X in the right hand corner.  

    Server Stats

    Stats at your fingertips! The stats section allows customers and support agents alike to get a quick look at the status of their account, including when the latest backup was run or how much data you’re using on the server.  We will continue to refine this page and add more information so please let us know what other data would be valuable in this section.    


    Currently this links to the HostGator Domains page. There aren’t any changes to this page with this release, but be on the lookout for some changes coming soon to improve the overall experience of registering new domain names.    


    The MarketPlace is our new and improved QuickInstall page. It gives you easy access to things like the HostGator Website Builder, WordPress Themes, or one-click installs of many of the most popular applications.  It also provides links to add-ons like CodeGuard and Sitelock that help you protect your website and its critical data.  


    When you help with an issue, the last thing you want to do is try to dig through pages to find it.   With the Help page, you have direct links to the support portal or one-click access to our chat system. There are links to many of HostGator’s custom self-help tools for troubleshooting performance or application problems. We know that this is a completely different experience for many cPanel users. However, we believe that it is designed in a way that everyone will be able to use it easily and effectively. If for some reason you don’t love the new theme and want to switch back to the X3 version, no worries - you can do that easily. In the upper right corner, simply select Change Style option under the user profile menu and select the X3 HG theme. This can also be found under the preferences section. Switch cPanel Theme Fair warning for those that wish to switch back, though - cPanel is transitioning to this new theme style and the X3 theme will no longer be supported in the near future. Ready to switch to Paper Lantern? In our Facebook Live video below, we walk you through the process. (After pressing play, it takes about 10 seconds or so for the video to start.)
  • Using Your Personal Website To Land A New Job

    Tuesday, October 4, 2016 by
    Personal Website for Job Search What’s the first thing you do when you start looking for a job? If your first response is to update your resume, work your professional contacts, or sign up for some job fairs, you’re on the right track, but arguably the most important task is starting or updating your personal website. Whether you’re looking for a full-time gig with an established employer or want to land new clients who hire you directly, a website offers some job-hunting advantages that other tools simply can’t. Here are seven ways a professionally focused personal website can jump-start your job search.  

    1. Give hiring managers and recruiters what they want

    The most important reason to have a website is that people who may hire you want to see one. Forbes reported in 2013 that for 56% of hiring managers surveyed, candidates’ personal websites were the thing that impressed them most, but just 7% of applicants had a site. Your website will give you an immediate edge over applicants without one. [bctt tweet="Over half of hiring managers say candidates' personal websites were the thing that impressed them most." username="hostgator"]  

    2. Make the most of employers’ online searches

    Searching candidates’ names online is part of hiring managers’ due diligence. When your website turns up in the results, the search is no longer a screening chore. Now it’s an opportunity for the hiring manager to see your skills and learn more about you. Your website is an always-on marketing tool to help prospective employers find you, too. Many open jobs never appear on job boards, in part to keep hiring managers from drowning in a sea of applications from people who don’t meet the requirements. The higher up the career ladder the job is, Forbes reports, the more likely it is to go unadvertised. Many times these unannounced jobs are filled through network referrals, but sometimes recruiters conduct their own searches to find likely candidates. To show up in these searches, make sure your site copy and tags include the key words people use when they search for your type of job, such as “retail site design” or “residential architecture.”  

    3. Show your work in its best light

    A site that shows your skill can put you on a prospect’s shortlist. For example, Portland makeup artist Ellie Vixie uses her portfolio as her site’s homepage, to capture the attention of brides-to-be who are searching online for service providers. You can share as much of your work as you like on your website, rather than just writing about it on your resume or submitting a couple of samples with an online application. Depending on the type of work you do, your portfolio can be as simple as a list of links to your articles or as cleverly crafted as this portfolio by designer and animator Robbie Leonardi. (We found it on in a list of cool personal sites on ReBrandly.) Put in the work to make your online portfolio shine, no matter what recruiters are using to view it. Navigate through your site using different browsers and devices to make sure it displays well on all of them. Overlapping text, disappearing sidebars, and wonky graphics can smudge your professional image.  

    4. Demonstrate your connections and social proof

    Testimonials show recruiters and hiring managers that people in your industry are happy to vouch for your work. Testimonials are especially effective when they include headshots, names, and company information. Ask the people who’ve given you references or glowing reviews for permission to use their images and names to enhance your testimonials page. Network for Good has detailed advice on collecting and using testimonials; it’s aimed at nonprofits but useful for job-seekers, too. Have you been featured in the press for something work-related or interviewed about your area of expertise? Link to or embed those media mentions on your site. Being a source for a news story or feature article goes a long way toward establishing you as an expert.  

    5. Establish expertise

    Don’t worry if you haven’t been quoted in the New York Times just yet. Your website can serve as the home for a blog, podcast, or video channel where you discuss your work and your industry. Author Laura Vanderkam, who writes extensively about time management, keeps a blog on her personal site that invites readers to participate in time-tracking challenges, chronicles her own efforts to balance work and family, and offers practical tips for dealing with daily time crunches. If you have a job now, a regularly updated, well-written blog shows you’re interested in your field beyond what happens in your own workspace. If you’re between jobs, your content shows prospective employers that you’re keeping up with industry developments. Create Your Blog  

    6. Make it easy to contact you

    You may want to include icons linking to each of your social media accounts, but the purpose of your site is to get hired. Recruiters and managers are busy people who need to reach you easily and get a timely response. To avoid missed connections and delayed responses, it’s a good idea to provide only the contact methods you check frequently, whether that’s email, phone, LinkedIn, or something else, and put them near the top of the page so they’re easy to find.  

    7. Your website shows initiative

    Besides everything listed above that a website can do for your job search, it also shows prospective employers something else. Initiative, moxie, gumption, a can-do attitude – however you want to describe it, your website shows you have it. Employers want people who can solve problems, get things done, and add value. Your website does all that and more, which makes it a job-search tool that’s hard to beat.