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  • Why Your Blog Is Failing

    Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by

    Blog isnt working

    When you start blogging it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and visions of building a massive readership and finally being able to quit your day job. It’s easy to get hyped on the idea of blogging, only to get discouraged when you don’t see results immediately.

    Blogging isn’t for those seeking overnight results. However, if it’s been six months or longer and you feel like your blog is dead, then there could be a few things you’re doing wrong.

    Below we dive into a few large-scale reasons your blog is failing and give a few recommendations for how you can fix these issues.

    We won’t be talking about things like adding social media buttons or images to your posts. We’re talking about the bigger stuff.


    1. You’re Writing About The Wrong Things

    When it comes to creating a blog people actually want to read, you need to write about things that make people care. For instance, if you’re using your blog as a personal journal and aren’t providing any grounded real-world wisdom, then there’s no reason for readers to stick around.

    Who is your target audience? And how can you serve them with your content?

    Get out of your own head and into the needs of your audience. The more you can write about things your audience cares about the more they’ll read and share your content.


    2. You’re Inconsistent

    How often are you blogging?

    Do you throw up a blog post once every few weeks and wonder why people aren’t clamoring over your content?

    A content calendar does more than just keep you on track; it builds consistency in the minds of your readers. You’ll want to make reading your blog become a habit. The only way to do this is to publish on a regular basis.

    But, don’t let the quality of your content suffer. To truly stand out you need to write with the goal for each post to be one of the best posts covering that topic.


    3. You’re Looking for Quick Results

    Were you expecting thousands of readers within the first week you started blogging?

    If your main intention for blogging is to build an audience to make money from, you might want to double-check your motivations. Blogging is a long-term game and it takes a deep well of motivation to sustain through the rough patches.

    Set smaller actionable goals to keep you motivated and on track to achieve your larger goals.


    4. You Aren’t Promoting Enough

    Writing is only half the battle when it comes to creating a popular blog. Aside from writing incredible content you need to be heavily promoting your content.

    If you don’t have an existing email list or readership, then promotion will be your holy grail.

    Find authorities in your space and let them know you’ve published an article they might be interested. You can also use a tool like Buzzsumo to find people who’ve recently shared a similar article and you can get in contact with them.

    When it comes to promoting your content you can’t be shy. If you’re creating epic content, then stand behind the value of your work.


    5. You’re Creating the Wrong Kind of Content

    There are multiple kinds of content you can create. For instance, there’s long-form thought leadership blogs, how-to content, video content, listicles, and on and on. Have you been stuck creating the same kind of content and are wondering why people aren't sticking around?

    Then, maybe it’s time to switch things up. In the early stages of your blog you’ll have more freedom to experiment until you land on something that resonates.

    Hopefully the tips above will help to reinvigorate you and your blogging efforts.

  • Are SEO Services Worth It?

    Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by
    Are SEO Services Worth It We’re big proponents of free everything. Seriously, you work hard for the money. You manage your own business and you have every right to be stingy with your cash. Search engine optimization (SEO) however is one of those areas that we believe is a place to invest your money -- but wisely -- and only when you have a thorough understanding of what it is and what it can do for your company’s growth. It’s up to you if you want to pay for help getting the work done or not. Understand that yes, there’s a great deal of SEO work that you can manage on your own for free. You don’t need to be a programmer or developer, you just need to have a plan of attack and the time to accomplish that plan. Only you can decide if SEO services are worth fronting cash to achieve success, but here are a few tips to help focus your decision-making process.  

    How to Get Started with SEO?

    If you’re new to the SEO landscape, first take a look at this comprehensive “What is Search Engine Optimization?” support document we put together to help HostGator customers get a grasp on what’s what. Next up: Rank your website with this totally free tool from our partners at SEO Gears. Get an instant breakdown of your website’s...
    • Best performing keywords
    • Overall popularity
    • Top competitors
    • Alexa Ranking: a traffic ranking tool
    • A list of action items for improvement
    Get a sense of your baseline and build from there.  

    What kinds of SEO services are available?

    Some SEO agencies cover all of these items, and some deal with segments, but here are some of the most useful SEO tactics:
    • Content Management: This includes everything from the words used on your website to company blog posts, eBooks, and copywriting across the web that puts your best business foot forward.
    • Keyword Tracking: Constantly changing keywords are how people find your business online. Tracking them is essential to understanding how to communicate with your customers for the greatest success.
    • Local SEO: Especially helpful for brick and mortar small businesses, local SEO focuses on positioning your business at the head of the curve for your immediately surrounding area. There’s less of a need to compete globally if you can rule the roost in your own city or county.
    • Social Media: The more active your business is on a variety of social media networks, the more likely you are to give a hefty boost to your search rankings.
    • Analytics: Without measuring your digital successes and failures, you’ll never know how to improve or what’s worth spending time and money on to grow.

    The Great SEO Challenge

    Major search engine events like Google’s “Mobilegeddon” change the SEO rules in an instant. Business owners are beholden to the masters of search and must learn to adapt or suffer the consequences of getting outranked and far gone from page one search queries. SEO is always changing and you need to recognize this if you’re up to the challenge of taking it on alone or when shopping for the right SEO service provider. If this all sounds like too much to handle, worry not! HostGator provides professional SEO services to our customers. Learn more by contacting our support team.   Hit the comments and let us know how you manage your website’s SEO...
  • The 7 Step Guide To Making Money On YouTube

    Monday, November 7, 2016 by
    Making Money on YouTube YouTube is big business – and not just for Google (the company that owns it). Over a billion people use YouTube. That number sounds big enough on its own, but to really it put it into perspective, that’s about a third of the people on the internet. And some of those users are on YouTube just about every day. We can pretty well bet that if you’re reading this, you’re one of the more than a billion people that watch videos on YouTube, so you know that when you watch a video you normally see an ad. Naturally, some of the money for those ads goes to Google. In some cases though, the people who created the video get a cut too. YouTube has paid out $2 billion to content creators and rights holders that have taken the proper steps to claim their part of the earnings.   If you're looking to join their ranks, then read on.  

    Who Can Make Money on YouTube?

    We already covered the good news: YouTube does pay content creators. The bad news is that most people that load videos to YouTube will never see a dime. And many of those that do actually get paid won’t be making enough to leave their day jobs. For you to earn anything, your videos have to attract not only a lot of viewers, but also viewers that are willing to engage with the ads. That means they have to actually watch a decent portion of the ad before clicking that “skip” button (you know the one, you’ve probably clicked lots of times yourself), or actually click on the link that shows up at the bottom of the screen during the ad. HostGator Youtube And even if the people checking out your videos do engage with the ads, you won’t be paid anything until your account reaches $100. Unless you become wildly popular on the site very quickly, you should expect that to take awhile.   Those who are popular enough can reach the point of earning thousands on the website, but it’s a rare few that reach that point. The platform hosts billions of videos, so your competition is pretty fierce. So don’t quit your job or base all your future hopes on YouTube. But if you like creating videos anyway and you want to see if your hobby can start to pay off, it doesn’t hurt to take the proper steps that make it possible to get paid by YouTube.  

    7 Steps to YouTube Monetization

    If you want at least a chance at making money on YouTube, here’s what you need to do.  

    Step 1: Set up your YouTube channel.

    If you already have a Google account, as most people do, then use that to login to YouTube. If you don’t yet have a Google account, start by creating one here, and then go ahead and log in to YouTube. Once you’re logged in, click the Upload button in the top right of the screen and you’ll receive a prompt to create a channel. youtube-upload-button YouTube Create Channel Click “Create Channel” and you’re done.  

    Step 2: Create your video plan.

    Now you need to make some decisions about the videos you’re going to upload. If you really want to gain subscribers and encourage engagement, then your goal should be to build a following of people that like your videos enough to subscribe to your channel and return again and again. A good video plan therefore needs to do a few things:
    • Make sure you understand the audience you want to reach.
    • Brainstorm a list of topics for videos that will appeal to that audience.
    • Create a schedule for your videos. You’re more likely to gain and attract followers if you upload consistently at regular intervals.
    You might want to spend some time during this step perusing some of the most popular videos in your space to see what people respond to. You don’t want to do the same thing that other content creators are doing, but you can glean some insights into what works best to apply to your own videos. Your plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but having a plan in place to guide you will help ensure you stick with it and approach your YouTube channel in a strategic way that's more likely to pay off.  

    Step 3: Enable monetization.

    Now click on the Account icon in the top right corner of the screen and then click on the Creator Studio button that appears. youtube-creator-studio On the menu on the left side of the screen click on Channel, then choose Status and Features in the submenu that opens up under it. youtube-enable-monetization Now you’ll see the option to enable monetization. (Note: You may have to provide Google with your country before the enable button shows up, simply follow the instructions the screen provides to do so).  

    Step 4: Sign up for Google AdSense.

    Once you’ve enabled monetization, clicking the Monetization option in the menu will take you to a page where you can start the process of setting up your Google AdSense account, or connecting an account you already have to your channel. Simply select “Next” and follow the instructions to create your account.  

    Step 5: Start loading (good) videos.

    Now the basic stuff is covered and you’ve reached the hard part.  Create the videos you decided on in your plan and start uploading them to the channel. We already established that your videos have to be pretty darn good and appeal to a large audience for you to make any money, so spend some real time working to make sure your videos are especially educational, entertaining, or unique so that they’ll gain attention in a crowded space.  

    Step 6: Promote your videos.

    Even if your videos are awesome, people won’t automatically know to come looking for you. Research the best practices for optimizing your YouTube videos for search so it’s easier for people to find you that way. Share your videos on social media. Talk them up to friends and family members that may be interested. If people love them, eventually you’ll reach a tipping point where your subscribers start to do some of the promotion for you. In the meantime, you need to put some real effort into getting your videos in front of people.  

    Step 7: Keep an eye on your analytics.

    At first, your analytics won’t tell you all that much. As you get more and more viewers though, you’ll be able to use your YouTube Analytics to figure out which types of videos or topics get the best results – both in terms of views and engagement. You’ll also be able to figure out a little bit about who your audience is and how they’re finding their way to your videos so you can refine your promotion efforts based on what’s working. Use that information to continually improve your video plan. The better your videos perform, the more you’ll be able to make in the long run. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make much headway with making money on YouTube. If you have fun creating your videos, then you won’t be wasting your time even if you never reach a payday. Keep your expectations realistic and stick with making videos of a type that you know you’ll enjoy creating, so the possibility of making money will simply be a nice bonus if or when you achieve it. Have you had success monetizing your YouTube videos? Share your channel in the comments!
  • How Secure Is Your Website? A Website Security Checklist

    Monday, November 7, 2016 by
    Website security checklist The recent DDOS scare that affected a large number of websites brought to light how important it is to put whatever precautions we can into place to keep our websites secure. Anyone that owns a website right now should be thinking about security, but for those for whom your website is your business, you need to treat it as a priority. That’s doubly true if you accept payment through your website. Whenever someone provides you with their credit card information, they’re putting trust in you and your brand. If a hacker gets access to that information because you didn’t take the necessary steps to make your website secure, then you betray that trust. Cyber security is complicated stuff and you may not be able to ward off every threat – hackers are often savvy and always working to outsmart every new security update. Nonetheless, you can vastly reduce the risk of having your website be the next to be victimized by taking a few key precautions.  

    1. Keep all your software up to date.

    The first step is one of the easiest, but one that makes a big difference. A lot of software updates are designed specifically to reduce security vulnerabilities. Software designers and cyber security experts are in a constant battle with hackers to thwart every new effort they come up with. Most of those software updates you seem to get constant reminders for are part of that battle. Even if it feels like an annoyance, don’t dilly-dally on completing those updates. Regularly check for updates to your plug-ins, your CMS, your ecommerce software, and any other software related to how your website runs. Taking this simple step will immediately reduce your vulnerability.  

    2. Use secure passwords and update frequently.

    A surprising number of people still use basic passwords like “password” or “123456.”  Don’t be one of those people. Make sure the password you use to access your website has a mix of numbers, letters, and special characters. Also avoid using something an acquaintance could guess at in your password – your kid’s name or year of birth is too easy for someone to figure out. Get creative, make sure you use something different for your website than you use for your other logins, and make sure anyone else in the company that has access to the website does the same. And then do it all over again in six months. Set a reminder on your calendar so you remember to update your password with some frequency. With HostGator's Password Generator tool, simply click and drag Snappy's head to generate a new password. Creating a secure password has never been so fun! Password Generator  

    3. Backup regularly.

    In the case that anything does happen, you don’t want to be stuck building your website over again from scratch. Make sure you back it up regularly, just like you do your own computer (you do backup your computer regularly, right?). If you use HostGator for your web hosting, then setting up automatic backups for your website is as easy as adding CodeGuard to your subscription. It not only makes backing up completely effortless since everything is automated, but restoring your site if the need ever arises is a simple process as well.  

    4. Invest in a malware detector.

    Malware’s extremely common, and not just on the website’s you’d expect. Hackers have an interest in infecting any website that people are likely to visit. That means your website could be felled by malware, or (arguably) worse, it could be the means by which malware infects your customers’ computers. Your best move to avoid both scenarios is a strong malware detector. Anti-malware programs can spot malware fast and help you get rid of it before it has the chance to do much damage. They’re relatively inexpensive when you consider the risks malware poses, and they're not all that difficult to implement. Your web hosting platform might even offer one (like HostGator does), which makes adding it to your web hosting plan and activating it especially easy to do.  

    5. Be careful about your permissions.

    How many people have access to your website? Most businesses, even many on the smaller side, need to provide at least a couple of people with the means to access the website to make changes. Medium-sized and larger businesses will often have far more people accessing the website on a regular basis. The more people you have in there making changes to the website, the more vulnerabilities you have. Chances are, not every person using your website needs the same level of access. By using your permissions wisely, you can limit the potential damage a thoughtless or malicious act by one of your employees or contractors can have.  

    6. Set up SSL.

    If you have an ecommerce websites, purchasing an SSL certificate is not optional. Your customers need to know that your website is secure before they hand over sensitive information. An SSL certificate is the way you provide them that security. An SSL certificate isn’t terribly expensive and ensures your websites shows a green HTTPS in the browser bar, which is what consumers look for to see that a website can be trusted. It adds an extra level of protection to ensure the details customers share with you are properly encrypted and can’t be easily snatched up by cyber thieves. HostGator SSL Certificate  

    7. Use AVS and CVV.

    When you add an address verification system (AVS) and credit card verification value (CVV) field for all credit card checkouts, fraud attempts are far less likely to slip through. You have a chance to check the information a customer provides against the information their credit card company knows so people that have stolen credit card numbers alone won’t get past your confirmation process.  

    8. Reduce XSS vulnerabilities.

    This step gets really technical and you may want to consult with your webmaster or a cyber security consultant rather than try to handle this one on your own. XSS (cross site scripting) vulnerabilities are weaknesses in the code you write that allow hackers to add code to your website that infects your visitors’ devices. To reduce XSS vulnerabilities, you need to validate and sanitize your data as described at the link above. You may also be able to insert this string onto your webpages to reduce your vulnerability: echo htmlentities($string, ENT_QUOTES | ENT_HTML5, 'UTF-8'); But that will only work for you if you’re not using HTML. If you are using HTML, running your code through the HTML purifier is your best alternative.  

    9. Reduce SQL injection vulnerabilities.

    As with step 8, this step is probably more the job of a webmaster than a business owner, so ask for help if you find the suggestions confusing. SQL injection vulnerabilities aren’t as common as XSS vulnerabilities, but they’re still cause for concern. They allow hackers to get ahold of the sensitive data stored in your database – which often includes information like your customers’ credit card numbers. All of the best methods for prevention here are pretty technical and you can check out the SQL Injection Cheat Sheet for more detail on what each defense means. The main five defenses against SQL injections are:
    • Using parameterized queries to help your database distinguish the difference between code and data.
    • Using stored procedures that are clearly defined within the database and provided to users, rather than letting them enter their own.
    • Escaping user supplied input (which is only recommended in some cases), so the database knows to recognize any information users supply as different from SQL code written by the developer.
    • Enacting least privilege – which relates back to step 5 – to make sure users only have as much permission as they need and no more.
    • Employ white list input validation, which allows the database to detect any unauthorized input before processing it.
    If your eyes just glazed over, you’re not alone. If you don’t understand this stuff, it’s better to bring in someone who does so it gets done right.  

    10. Use a DDoS mitigation service.

    Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks occur when a hacker sets a large number of compromised systems to flood the bandwidth of a website all at once. The server gets overwhelmed and starts to reject all visitors. Having a web hosting provider that’s put protective measures into place is the first line of defense, but with how common DDoS attacks have become, making an additional investment in a DDoS mitigation service can further reduce your risk.   Hackers are constantly working to create new methods to get around these protections. In addition to putting these ten tips into effect, take some time throughout the year to read up on new security threats and best practices. The stakes here are high – you need your customers to trust you and your website to consistently do its job. Make sure you treat website security as the priority it should be.

    Keep your site secure with regular maintenance.

    Download our free Website Security Checklist.Website Security Checklist

  • 10 Top-Level Domains That Will Surprise You

    Friday, November 4, 2016 by
    Top-Level Domains   Top-level domains are also referred to as domain name extensions. They are the .com’s and .net’s that you see following any domain name you type into that little browser bar. But, did you know there are literally hundreds of different top-level domains out there? Not all of them make sense for your business and your website, but you’d be surprised to see some of the strange one’s we’ve uncovered. If you’re looking for a guide on how to choose the right top-level domain for your business, then check out this post. But, if you’re looking for some surprising top-level domains that’ll make your quest for the perfect domain name a little more interesting, then check out what we’ve found below.  


    Even horses need a domain name. If you’re looking for the perfect birthday present for your favorite horse, why not a domain name and a dedicated website?  


    In the same vein of the example above, every dad deserves his very own top-level domain. This could be the perfect gift for any tech-savvy dads.  


    Are you a beer aficionado? Or maybe you’re creating a beer-related website, or looking for a fun domain name for your small batch brewery. Whatever the reason, this could be a great top-level domain for any beer-related brand. Domain Name  


    The .ing top-level domain can turn your once static domain name into a verb. If you’re looking to transform your domain into an action, then give this one a go.   


    Is your last name Kim or are you a Kardashian fan? Then this domain is for you. There isn’t a lot of use for it besides having a personal branded domain name, but it is cool.  


    What’s the best way to communicate that you have a luxury brand? How about actually adding .luxury to the end of it.  


    Most ninjas don’t want to be seen or heard? But, if you’re looking for a way to showcase your martial arts status, or run a martial arts studio this could be a fun top-level domain to try out.  


    Are you beyond expert level in your field and want some way to communicate it? Well, how about the .guru domain name?  

    .pinkPink Snappy

    Is pink your favorite color? If so, then this domain might be right up your alley. This top level domain can be used for a variety of purposes, but mostly for letting the world know which color you proudly wear day in and day out.  


    We’re not sure of a situation where this last top-level domain can be used effectively, but it is a fun one. Maybe if you’re an author of children’s books? (Of course, this is the domain Google's Alphabet company famously bought last year.)  

    A note about uncommon top-level domains

    If you’re interested in buying any clever or unique top-level domains, then you’ll usually be purchasing them from an individual reseller, or a smaller company. These top-level domains usually don’t have the same benefits and ease of setup as purchasing from a widely used domain name provider. Plus, they’ll usually be much more expensive. But, if you have your heart set on it, then it might be something worth looking into. When choosing a domain name and extension remember to spend some time on the decision. Your domain name is something that you’ll be building your entire online business around. Plus, your top-level domain has the power to either add or subtract from your online authority. Any strange top-level domains you’ve come across? Share your favorites in the comments below.