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  • 5 Ways to Make Your Website More Eco-Friendly

    Friday, August 5, 2016 by

    Green Website

    It’s easy to assume that all websites are eco-friendly because they use pixels instead of paper. Online information distribution is much less resource-intensive than “dead tree” publishing, but websites do have an environmental impact, and it’s growing. US data centers, which store and distribute web site data, used 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014. That’s not quite 2% of the country’s total electricity use for that year. The good news is that data centers and individual site owners are looking for ways to cut power consumption. Here are a few ways you can green your site to save resources.

    Look for an eco-conscious hosting service

    If you’re already a HostGator customer, your hosting service is already green. HostGator switched to wind power in 2008 with the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits equal to 130% of the power needed to run and cool our shared and reseller servers. The move allowed us to reduce our carbon emissions and provide green hosting services to more than 1.3 million customers without raising rates.

    [bctt tweet="I have a #green website because it's powered by Texas winds! Thanks @HostGator!" via="no"]

    Green your electrical power

    The equipment you use to create and maintain your site runs on electricity that may be produced by burning coal. Why not make that power green, too? Most utility customers in the US now have at least one green option available through their local electricity provider, according to the Department of Energy. (A clickable US map makes it easy to see what’s available in your area.) Depending on where you live, you may be able to opt in to wind, hydroelectric, solar, geothermal, or biomass electrical generation.

    You may also want to buy carbon offsets to counterbalance your power consumption, especially if green electricity isn’t yet available through your utility company. Carbon offsets were trendy a few years back and there were questions about how effective they are. Now, the National Resources Defense Council has a detailed guide to choosing high-quality offset programs.

    Run a lighter site

    Besides your hosting service and your hardware, you’ll want to look at your site elements, such as your code, your graphics and animations, and even your palette. Sites that are slow to load due to inefficient code or heavy graphics are essentially idling during the wait time. Frequent or large server requests draw power, too. Mashable points out that dark colors in your site design, such as a black background, require LCD monitors to use more electricity to display them. The ideal “green website” is optimized for fast loading and has a color scheme that doesn’t send visitors’ monitors into overdrive.

    [bctt tweet="#Green your website by using a light color scheme that doesn't send visitors' monitors into overdrive." username="hostgator"]

    Offer print-optimized content options

    If you’ve ever tried to print a web page and ended up with a multi-page, multicolor, poorly formatted mess, you know why this matters. Check out this printer-friendly page tutorial from Jennifer Kyrnin at About.com. Streamline your content so it prints right the first time, using as few pieces of paper as possible.

    Spread the word about green web hosting and design

    Share your eco-upgrade news with your readers. They may have other resources to share with you, and your efforts might inspire some of them to green their own site design, hosting, and electricity sources, too. ClimateCare UK has an infographic explaining more about the Internet’s carbon footprint.

    Green your website with HostGator green web hosting!

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  • 8 Best WordPress Plugins for Video

    Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by

    WordPress Plugins for Video

    If you want to add videos from YouTube, Vimeo, or another video platform to your WordPress site, you can copy and paste the embed code and customize it to suit your needs. However, that is not the most efficient way to do it. If you want to save time and have more advanced features, such as video galleries or lightboxes, you are going to need to install a WordPress video plugin.

    In this article, we will share the 8 best WordPress plugins for video so that you can quickly and easily customize the way your videos are displayed on your website.

    Don’t have a website yet? No problem. Get your site published in minutes with HostGator's one-click WordPress installs. Learn more here.

    1. Envira Gallery

    Envira Gallery

    Envira Gallery is the best WordPress gallery plugin with video capability.

    It comes with a Videos Addon that allows you to create galleries from your YouTube, Wistia, and self-hosted WordPress videos. It includes lots of advanced options, including displaying the videos in galleries, open them in lightbox, and more.

    Simply drag and drop the widget into any widget ready area to display a gallery there, or you can use the shortcode to display videos wherever you want.

    Cost: Free and premium licenses available. Premium licenses start at $19.

    2. YouTube Showcase

    Youtube Showcase

    YouTube Showcase is a simple to use YouTube plugin for WordPress that creates custom post types for videos.

    You can easily add categories and tags to your videos and make certain videos “featured.” It will even set up a video gallery page for you upon installation.

    Cost: Free and pro versions available. Pro starts at $49.99.

    3. YouTube Simple Gallery

    YouTube Simple Gallery

    YouTube Simple Gallery allows you to use custom post types to add videos and categorize them. It also comes with a shortcode that you can put anywhere in the post editor screen to insert your YouTube galleries.

    It opens videos in a lightbox popup. You can also customize the video and thumbnail size.

    Cost: Free

    4. WordPress Video Gallery

    WordPress Video Gallery

    WordPress Video Gallery has advanced features and a built-in HD .flv player for displaying your videos with HD quality. You can also display recent videos, popular videos and featured videos.

    It includes customized skins and plenty of other customization options, making this a very versatile plugin.

    Cost: Free

    5. YourChannel: YouTube Channel on Your Website

    YourChannel

    YourChannel is perfect if you manage a YouTube channel or if you like curating videos.

    With this plugin, you can turn your website into a video platform without needing any extra storage or bandwidth, because your visitors can watch your YouTube channel without ever having to leave your website.

    Cost: Free

    6. uTubeVideo Gallery

    uTubeVideo Gallery

    uTubeVideo Gallery allows you to display your YouTube video galleries on any post or page of your website.

    This plugin also automatically fetches thumbnails for your videos and caches them on your WordPress site so that your page loads quicker.

    7. Workbox Video from Vimeo & YouTube Plugin

    Workbox Video

    Workbox Video from Vimeo & YouTube Plugin allows you to create a video gallery on any page simply by pasting the video URL. It works with YouTube, Vimeo, and Wistia.

    You can sort the order of your videos any way you want, and you can display your galleries anywhere you want by using shortcodes. (Note that this plugin is designed for more advanced users.)

    Cost: Free

    8. Ultimate Video Gallery

    Ultimate Video Gallery

    Ultimate Video Gallery adds galleries to your WordPress site quickly and easily; all you have to do is copy and paste the video URL and it will automatically fetch the details from YouTube.

    You can create multiple, unlimited galleries with this plugin. It also includes support for mobile devices.

    Cost: Free

    Conclusion

    There is a much better way to add videos to your site other than copying and pasting the embed code. These WordPress plugins allow you to efficiently add video galleries to your site, with tons of customization options, without touching a single line of code. Choose one of the above that suits your particular needs, and you’ll see what a big difference it makes.

    HostGator offers an easy-to-use control panel and free site transfers. Host your WordPress site with us!

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  • Happy Friendship Day! 7 Reasons Why Going Into Business With Your Friend Can Be Truly Great

    Tuesday, August 2, 2016 by
    Friendship Day

    Jobs and Wozniak, Hewlett and Packard, Procter and Gamble, Ben & Jerry… there’s a reason these famous business partnerships resonate with us. These companies (and many more) were founded by friends.

    And it makes sense. We hear of the inventor who single-handedly had the bright idea to do x or y and change the world, but when it comes to business, we often hear stories of friends experiencing something together, or waxing philosophically, when one of them says something along the lines of, “Hey, what if we did this?”

    With Friendship Day coming up this Sunday, we at HostGator reached out to entrepreneurs who had started businesses with their friends. We wanted to know: What’s unique about having a friend as a business partner? What are the pros and cons to running a business with your friend?

    Overwhelmingly, the entrepreneurs responded positively, eager to share the advantages that make co-founding a business with your friend an unparalleled experience.

     

    1. Your friendship defines the office culture

    When you’re working with friends, work simply becomes more fun. Shared laughter and inside jokes are invaluable as you’re working on the monumental task of building a business.

    [caption id="attachment_11716" align="alignright" width="240"]Mallory Musante and Anna Osgoodby Mallory Musante and Anna Osgoodby[/caption]

    Mallory Musante, co-founder of Bold & Pop with Anna Osgoodby, says it’s the best of both worlds. “Not only does having a friend/business partner make running a business easier with the support they provide but it also makes it fun! We may get stressed but we’re there to pull each other up and then celebrate with each other later!”

    Granted, there are those who tout the importance of having a work/life balance, but many co-founding friends embrace bringing their life to work.

    “[As] an entrepreneur, it is hard to balance work with a healthy social life as I am constantly trying to promote and develop my business. Having a friend as my business partner helps make the balance much easier,” shares Ravel Charles, who started Game Learners with friend and college classmate Samantha Gignac. “It makes for a fun working environment. The ‘office-culture’ is dictated directly by our friendship.”

     

    2. You have each other’s backs

    It’s not rocket science - of course it’s easier to trust your new business partner when it’s someone you’ve been friends with for years. This foundation of trust allows you to focus on the task at hand of building and growing your business.

    BonAppetour is a startup founded by Rinita Vanjre and Inez Wihardjo, who met at university and came up with their business idea when they were backpacking around Europe and couldn’t find a restaurant that was open. Having that trust established allowed them to move forward towards growing their business, rather than getting bogged down in some of the legal particulars of founding a company.

    “It’s easy to trust each other, and not doubt the other person, especially in the early stages of the business when the most important thing is the growth, rather than things like getting equity papers sorted out, and the shareholding structure… Of course, that is important, but when there is a comfortable friendship already, setting up those structures takes a backseat in the face of growth.”

    [caption id="attachment_11715" align="aligncenter" width="570"]Rinita Vanjre and Inez Wihardjo Rinita Vanjre and Inez Wihardjo[/caption]    

    3. You know each other’s strengths and weaknesses

    Part of what makes friendship great is that we are aware of our friends’ faults, but we love them anyway. Lifelong friends also know what their friends can do better than they can.

    Successful business partnerships often involve founders who complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You have this with Walt and Roy Disney. Walt was the unbridled creative, and Roy was the sensible financier.

    Aron Ezra and Keith Michel are childhood friends and have co-founded two businesses together, the most recent of which is OfferCraft, a software startup in the hospitality industry. Having worked together for nearly a decade, they can provide a unique perspective.

    Their advice for new entrepreneurs? Find a co-founder who loves doing the things you hate doing.

    [caption id="attachment_11714" align="alignleft" width="250"]Dan Grech Dan Grech[/caption]

    Dan Grech, VP of Marketing and Public Relations for OfferCraft, says this is why they work so well together. “Aron loves talking about the business to new people, whether it's reporters, sales prospects or recruits; Keith prefers working intensely with members of his team. Aron enjoys coming up with new ideas; Keith loves figuring out ways to turn those ideas into elegant pieces of code. When you are friends, you understand each other -- both your similar values and your different preferences. By understanding your differences, you never step on your co-founders' toes. In fact, Aron and Keith are always incredibly relieved (and a little incredulous) when the second person happily steps up to tackle the tasks that the first person is dreading.”

     

    4. You’re more accountable

    Going into business with a friend has a tendency to raise the stakes.

    When their best friendship turned long-distance, Michael Noker and Jessica Cadena launched the Get Two Fit fitness blog to stay in touch. Michael shared, “The emotional attachment you have to your business doubles, triples, explodes through the roof. It's not just your baby - it's the product of your relationship. The stakes are high because failure could mean fallout. We have to compartmentalize pretty much constantly, because it needs to be clear when we're talking business or friendship, work or play.”

    [caption id="attachment_11713" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Jessica Cadena and Michael Noker Jessica Cadena and Michael Noker[/caption]

    Michael attributes their productivity to their devotion to their friendship. “As an entrepreneur, you're married to your passion. You invest all your time, money, and energy - everything you need for a social life, health, and sanity. When you're going into business with a friend, you're married to your passion and to another person. You have someone to bounce ideas off of. You can cheer each other on. You're accountable to somebody. You each have strengths and weaknesses, so you can split the workload. You can't fail because you don't know what it would mean for the friendship, so you work that much harder. It's scary, it's precarious, and it's not for everybody, but when it works, it works perfectly.”

     

    5. You know how to support each other

    The saccharine phrase “that’s what friends are for” holds true in business, too. Friends can tell when you’re feeling down, and they know how to give you a boost when you need it most.

    [caption id="attachment_11711" align="alignright" width="210"]Dave and Olly Olly Mooney and Dave Hartshorne[/caption]

    Dave Hartshorne and Olly Mooney were friends for over a decade before they started the digital agency Dijitul. “We know when the other one is having a bad day, when to try and cheer them up, and when to stay well clear and let them have their moment! Basically, we know what makes each other tick,” they shared. “This has meant we've managed to work together for over ten years now and stay really good friends despite all the stresses that having a business brings.”

    [caption id="attachment_11712" align="alignleft" width="150"]Yuri Khlystov Yuri Khlystov[/caption]

    Yuri Khlystov, co-founder of Laowai Career job board, says the dynamic between business partners is more like a friendship than people may think. “Businesses run for years and require stable and trustworthy people to work side by side, just like a good friendship. To be an entrepreneur, you have to love what you do. Having a friend through thick and thin who is going through what you are going through provides stability (and is fun!).”

     

    6. You already have experience solving problems together.

    If you’ve been friends for some time, chances are you’ve already solved problems together, whether it’s as simple of a decision as deciding where to go out to eat, or assigning chores as roommates. When Felicia Schneiderhan founded 30SecondstoFly, she recruited her best friend and roommate of nearly five years to lead the marketing team. 

    [caption id="attachment_11710" align="alignright" width="280"]Felicia Schneiderhan Felicia Schneiderhan[/caption]

    “Now we are dividing our time between New York, Bangkok, and Berlin, and are balancing the friendship and roommate situation with a work relationship,” Schneiderhan shares. “I think it is important to consciously work on maintaining a healthy relationship, both in business and personally. In our case, we even entered into a hierarchical asymmetry, which complicates it further. Against all odds, I think this setup works so well for us, because we learned to develop a bulletproof conflict-solving mechanism early on as roommates, even before we started working together. Whenever we face a situation in which we disagree or misunderstand each other, we care a lot about understanding the other’s perspective. We then look for a way to avoid similar conflict in the future.”

     

    7. Your friendship will survive, even if the business doesn’t.

    It’s sad, but true: eighty percent of new businesses fail within the first eighteen months. With the deck seemingly stacked against new businesses, having a friend as a co-owner can help tip the scale a bit back in your favor, as the six points above demonstrate. You know how to work with your co-founder, you trust them, and best yet, you’ve solved problems together before. Unfortunately, though, sometimes businesses just don’t work out.

    The silver lining here is that if your business fails, you’ll have a friend to lean on who knows exactly what you’re going through.

    Ryan RobinsonRyan Robinson has written extensively about starting a business with a friend, having done it himself a few years ago. He now advises entrepreneurs on starting their own side business. Robinson and his best friend experienced rapid growth after starting their business, but eventually the revenue “began to flatten out at a level that would only provide either two people with a mediocre income or one person with the type of lifestyle we both aspired to obtain. Despite experimenting with new growth levers, it was becoming apparent that our business was really best-suited to be ran by one person, which created some tension around whether one of us should continue with the company or if it should be shuttered to avoid damaging our friendship,” Robinson shares.

    After much late-night discussions, he decided to sell his half to his friend. They’ve remained best friends through it all, Robinson notes, but it did take a few months for them to be able to move on and return to being just friends. Based on his experience, Robinson recommends that new entrepreneurs “have very candid conversations about what your course of action will be in the event the business fails, one of you needs to be bought out or in the event of other negative outcomes that you'll want to plan for ahead of time.”

    Are you thinking of starting a business with a friend? We hope these entrepreneurial insights have inspired you!

    You know if you’re going to be starting a business, you're going to need a website. HostGator can help with that.

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  • How Many Emails Should You Be Sending Your Customers?

    Tuesday, August 2, 2016 by

    How Many Emails

    Seven? Maybe only five… or how about… ummm zero? Per week, month, quarter???

    Yeah, it’s confusing.

    Discovering an email cadence that works for your audience is no easy task. Marketing pro’s like Susan Rutgerson, the Director of Digital Campaigns at Endurance International Group, HostGator's parent company, dedicate their careers to knowing how to do this right, and still find it tricky.

    Rutgerson, who’s tasked with managing millions of email sends each month, says the answer isn’t as simple as once a week or twice a month. The answer, it turns out, is more about content and, more specifically, the value of that content.

    She says, “If the content in your email is highly valued by your readers, you might be able to email them every day, but if your content isn’t strong, once a month could be too often.”

    So, it sounds like there’s no hard and fast email marketing rule, but that to be successful, it’s about providing valuable content to customers.

    Is Email Marketing Still Relevant?

    Let’s back up for a moment and understand if email even still matters as a marketing tool.

    With online video and a social media boom that varies from platforms like Pinterest and Snapchat to real-time beacon technology, do customers give email the time of day?

    The research shows this answer to be emphatically “yes.” Worldwide email users are slated to rise to 2.9 billion by 2019, so business owners would be foolish to discount email marketing as a means of reaching their audience.

    [caption id="attachment_11356" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Number of email users worldwide Source: Statista[/caption]

    Customers also tend to trust emails they signed up to receive more than TV ads, branded websites, online video & banner ads. So, even while there’s more competition in the digital marketing space than ever before, email is indeed still thriving and continuing to grow.

    What Value is This Email Bringing My Customer?

    So, we’ve determined that email marketing is still relevant and that it’s a trusted source of information, but this still doesn’t get us to a precise number of emails we should be sending.

    Rutgerson recommends that before you hit send be sure to ask yourself, “What value is this email really bringing to my customer?” She says, “If you don’t have a good answer, you may want to re-think your strategy.”

    This question of value is the one that must be asked. It’s the closest any of us will get to truly understanding the power of email marketing and to landing on a specific number of sends.

    How to Determine Value?

    Value is inherently subjective, so how can we calculate what that means for each customer?

    A lot of determining value depends on time. Rutgerson explains that “Understanding email frequency has a great deal to do with where your reader is in their relationship to you.”

    For example:

    • New customers: Typically want more info on how to do X, Y, or Z plus new product updates or community-building engagement.
    • At-risk customers: May need special offers, bundled pricing, or testimonials that re-engage them.
    • Tenured customers: Expect less frequent communication, but richer content like case studies, white papers, or eBooks.

    Knowing your audience takes time and active research. Consider each email send a test, and carefully review your analytics to make improvements as you go.

    Oh, and never be afraid to simply ask your audience what they want. This could very well be the most valuable question of all.

  • Easily Add Google Analytics To Your WordPress Website

    Monday, August 1, 2016 by

    Easily add Google Analytics to your WordPress website

    When you have a website, it’s important you know where your traffic is coming from and how much traffic you’re getting. This will help you continue to optimize your website and let you see if any of your traffic generation efforts are actually working.

    Below we illuminate a few different ways you can install Google Analytics on your website, including adding it to your existing theme, installing analytics in your website’s header or footer, or using a WordPress plugin to manage your data.

    Why You Need to Install Google Analytics

    Do you know where your traffic is coming from? Do you have a way to determine if any of your traffic generation strategies are actually working? Knowing how your audience interacts with your website, and understanding how they find your site is crucial for your success.

    Google Analytics will help you keep track of the following things (plus a lot more):

    • Who visits your site

    How well do you understand your target market? Although the data provided won’t give you a specific look into the head of your visitor it will give you information like where they’re from, the devices they’re using, the languages they speak, and much more.

    • Where they visit your site from

    It’s important to have an understanding of the sources that are sending your website the most traffic. For instance, were they referred from Facebook, or did they find your site from the search engines? The more you know about the specific location your users are visiting from the better you’ll be able to maximize traffic from that source.

    • How they interact with your site

    Installing analytics will enable you to track how your visitors are using and navigating your website, how long they stay on certain pages, and how frequently they’re leaving your website.

    This will help you to optimize your site to reduce your bounce rate, which will improve your user experience and be a boon to your SEO efforts.

    • What content and site pages they prefer

    Do you know which pages of your website visitors find the most valuable? Are you aware of which pages on your site tend to repel visitors? By mining your analytics data you’ll be able to slowly engineer a website that your visitors love.

    How to Install Google Analytics

    Now that you understand the importance of installing analytics on your site, it’s time to get everything up and running. You do need to have a Google account to setup for this tool to work, so if you don’t have an account, then set one up here.

    On the next screen you’ll add the website that you want to track.

    Sign Up for Google Analytics

    Just enter all of the required information, click ‘Get Tracking ID’ and you’re all set.

    Google Analytics Code

    Your tracking ID should look something like the image above. Don’t worry, you don’t need to edit any of this code. Just copy and paste it for the following steps.

    There are multiple methods of adding Google Analytics to your site, choose the method below that works best for you.

    Method 1: Manually Add Analytics to Your WordPress Site

    One of the simplest ways to add Google Analytics to your website is to simply insert the code into the header or footer of your site.

    Navigate to your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance>Editor>header.php. Then paste the code you copied in the step above right after the <body> tag. That’s it!

    Method 2: Add the Analytics Code Into Your Theme

    Depending on your theme you might even be able to paste the code directly into your theme settings page. To do this navigate to your theme’s options page. This can be found by navigating to your “Theme Name”>Theme Settings. For this example we’re using a Genesis theme, so we’ll navigate to Genesis>Theme Settings.

    Towards the bottom there’s a place to insert Header and Footer scripts. Then we’ll just copy our code into the header section, as shown below.

    Setting up Google Analytics

    You can also enable easy access to the header and footer areas by using a plugin like Insert Headers and Footers. This plugin will create an area you can easily modify and insert your tracking code, like the example above.

    Method 3: Add Analytics Using a Plugin

    If the methods above don’t suit your fancy, then you can always install a plugin that’ll simplify the process for you. However, using a plugin to access your analytics data often won’t give you the same level of reporting information. There are a variety of plugins you can use including Google Analytics by MonsterInsights, Google Analyticator, and Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.

    For the sake of example we’re going to assume you went with Google Analytics by MonsterInsights (formerly Google Analytics by Yoast).

    To install the plugin, navigate to your WordPress dashboard. Then navigate to the plugin installation screen by going to Plugins>Add New. Then do a search for Google Analytics by MonsterInsights, and it should be the first plugin that comes up.

    Click install now and the plugin will download and install on your site. Click ‘Activate Plugin’ and you’re all set. Now all you have to do is configure the settings shown below.

    Google Analytics WordPress

    Navigate to Insights>Settings. Then all you have to do is Authenticate your Google account, which will automatically link your Analytics account and the plugin. Then you’ll have to select which website you wan to collect data on.

    Then, just check the boxes for the data you’d like to track and you’re all set. Now, when you navigate to the Insights Dashboard you’ll be able to see your general analytics data.

    Setting up Google Analytics on your WordPress site doesn’t have to be difficult. Just use one of the methods above to easily enable analytics tracking across your site.

    Setting up WordPress doesn't have to be difficult, either. With HostGator one-click installs and free site transfers, we make web hosting easy and affordable.

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