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  • 7 Reasons Why You Should Choose WordPress For Your Website

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016 by

    WordPress Website

    When the time comes to start building your website you’re going to have a lot of options to choose from. The thought of narrowing down to a single solution can end up taking a lot of unnecessary time.

    If you’re just starting out, there’s one platform that stands above the rest. It’s a nifty little thing called WordPress. If you’ve been doing your research, then you might have stumbled across it, but aren’t sure if it’s right for you and your business needs.

    Below we identify seven reasons you might want to use WordPress for your new website.

    1. It’s Already Mobile Optimized

    Most WordPress themes are ready for the mobile web right out of the box. No need for additional customization, or investing thousands of dollars into a custom built website that’s designed to work with mobile browsers.

    Using a responsive theme will ensure your website looks great, no matter the screen size it’s displayed on. This means that as new screen sizes are introduced and become the new norms your website will be equipped to handle them, without any more work on your part.

    How easy is that? Speaking of easy…

    2. Customization is Easy

    Most themes will be easy to customize through the customization tab in the WordPress dashboard. You can get here by navigating to Appearance>Customize, and change up your theme to your liking. 

    Or, your particular theme might even have a dedicated section in the backend where you can easily customize various features.

    If you’re looking for additional functionality, then you can install one of thousands of free and premium plugins that can do almost anything you’re interested in, from increasing your SEO, to adding pop-up subscription forms, to contact pages, and much more. 

    3. There’s an Existing Support Community

    Building out your website doesn’t have to be a journey you’re going to walk alone. Since WordPress is open source, there’s a large online community of developers and people like you who use the platform every single day.

    If you have a technical issue you need to resolve, then chances are some else has had a similar problem, and the solution exists out there, all you need to do is search Google or the WordPress forums to find it. If you purchase a premium theme, then most of these come equipped with dedicated support teams to handle your tech issues as well. When you host your WordPress site with HostGator, you can talk with our support team any time of day or night.

    4. It’s Ready for SEO

    WordPress is primed to help improve your SEO efforts. Even Matt Cutts of Google is on the side of WordPress, saying, “WordPress automatically solves a ton of SEO issues.”

    If you’re gong to be executing a SEO strategy to improve your rankings, then you’re going to want to utilize WordPress. Plus, there are a variety of existing SEO plugins that can further enhance your SEO efforts.

    5. Blogging is Built-In

    WordPress began as a simple blogging platform and has since grown into a full-fledged website builder. However, blogging still remains an integral aspect of the CMS. If you’re looking to grow your site through a superb content strategy, then you’ll want WordPress handling all of the technical heavy lifting for you.

    6. It’s a Mature Platform

    WordPress is over 10 years old. Which is like 100 in Internet years. The benefit of using a more mature platform is that most of the kinks have already been worked out. You’ll also notice that since it’s been out for so long a lot of the security issues have been patched.

    Put simply, WordPress wouldn’t have thrived for as long as it has, if it wasn’t effective and useful.

    7. It’s Easy to Setup and Manage

    Most hosting platforms, including HostGator, offer a very quick and seamless WordPress installation process. This means in a single afternoon you can have your site up and running and ready to customize to your liking.

    Plus, the intuitive WordPress backend makes it easy to update your site and manage your existing content and pages. Nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

    WordPress is a great choice whether it’s your first or tenth website. It truly does “do it all,” and will continue to support your online efforts for years to come.

    When it comes to WordPress hosting, you can't go wrong with HostGator. With our shared hosting plans, you can install WordPress with a single click of your mouse, our managed WordPress hosting come with premium support customized for both novice and professional users. 

    Get Started With HostGator!

    What’s your favorite way to build a website? Please share in the comments below.

  • Do I Need a Dedicated Server for My Website?

    Monday, June 27, 2016 by
    Do I Need a Dedicated Server for my Website

    As a website owner you’re going to have a lot of questions to ask yourself, if you want your website to be successful. What will my site look like? How will I best serve my audience? What type of content will I create for my audience? And so forth.

    However, one question that commonly gets overlooked is exactly what kind of hosting you’ll need for your website. The two main types of hosting you’ll be choosing between are shared and dedicated hosting. Below we’ll dive into what these actually are, so you can decide if your website will need a dedicated server, or not.

    What is Shared Hosting?

    Shared hosting is one of the least expensive forms of web hosting available. Essentially, you’re sharing the server resources with other sites that are using the same hardware.

    This means your site is only using a portion of the total power and speed of the server. Which can lead to performance declines if other clients begin to use more server resources. For example, if you have a site that started to get a ton of traffic, this will decrease the performance of other sites on the server.

    Being cost effective, this is a common option for those who are just starting, or are keen on keeping their websites small. However, if you’re intending on growing your website and receiving large amounts of traffic, then dedicated hosting might be a better option.

    What is Dedicated Hosting?

    Dedicated hosting can be very advantageous for your website, but it does come with increased costs. Some dedicated hosting plans can run up into the hundreds of dollars per month and above. However, if you’re at a point where you need dedicated hosting, then hopefully your site is already very profitable.

    Dedicated hosting generally provides your site with greater security. On a shared server, if you’re sharing the space with a site that isn’t practicing solid security measures, then your site can also be put at risk.

    Dedicated hosting also gives you much more control over your hosting environment. This can be advantageous if you’re more technical in nature, but if you’re not, then you might want to use a dedicated server that comes equipped with a solid support staff.

    Additional features that come equipped with dedicated hosting includes greater bandwidth for increased traffic, along with greater flexibility to create the ideal hosting environment for your website.

    The Purpose of Dedicated Hosting

    Dedicated hosting exists to provide a stable, speedy, and customized hosting environment for larger websites (or sites that receive a lot of traffic). If you began on a shared hosting plan, but now are receiving complaints of slow loading speed, site performance, and functionality, then it might be time to upgrade your hosting environment.

    Dedicated hosting can also be less susceptible to hacking and other online threats, since you aren’t sharing the server with a bunch of unknown sites.

    If you want a site that is faster, more reliable, and has more advanced security features, then it might be time to upgrade to a dedicated host. If you’re happy keeping your site small, with minimal levels of traffic, then a shared hosting plan could suit your website just fine. Whichever option you choose, HostGator has hosting plans for every type of website owner, all backed by 99.9% uptime and a 45 day guarantee.

    Get Started With HostGator!

    What style of hosting do you prefer, dedicated or shared? Please share in the comments below.

  • Why “Friendly Fraud” Is the Enemy of Small Business

    Friday, June 24, 2016 by

    Friendly Fraud

    Friendly fraud, generally speaking, occurs when customers order digital or physical goods, falsely claim they never got them, and ask their credit card issuer for a chargeback. Another variety of friendly fraud is purchases made with stolen credit card numbers that look legitimate -- until the real cardholder calls in a chargeback request. If you run an online business, friendly fraud is most definitely not your friend.

    This type of fraud hits e-commerce merchants of all kinds, big and small. In fact, it’s on the rise because now that EMV controls have made it harder to commit fraud at the point of sale in the US, thieves are now shifting their sights to online shops that are more vulnerable to credit card fraud – and that includes small merchants who may think they’ve escaped fraudsters’ notice.

    How much does friendly fraud cost?

    Friendly fraud cost merchants more than $11 billion in 2012, and the problem has only grown since then. Chargebacks are rising by about 20% per year, and card-not-present merchants – those who sell online and over the phone – are particularly vulnerable.

    [bctt tweet="Friendly fraud cost merchants over $11 billion in 2012, and chargebacks are rising 20%/yr. #ecommerce" username="hostgator"]

    That’s the industry-level view. For any given merchant, a single chargeback can incur a processing fee of anywhere from $15 to $100 – and that’s just the start. Each chargeback also represents a loss of the shipped goods plus the revenue from the transaction. Worse, too many chargebacks (generally more than 1% of all transactions) can cost merchants their business if their banks cut them off. 

    What are potential signs of friendly fraud?

    Not every transaction that raises a flag is actually fraud, but you or your fraud-management partner should carefully screen transactions that fit these descriptions.

    • A customer billing address that doesn’t match the credit card billing address
    • High ticket-value purchases by a first-time customer
    • Purchases of multiple items in more than one size, color, etc. by the same buyer, especially if those purchases are made with different cards
    • Repeated attempts by the customer to enter a correct card expiration date
    • Repeated attempts by the customer to make purchases at increasing or decreasing ticket values
    • Similar credit card numbers used for a group of purchases
    • Many credit cards used to make purchases from the same IP address

    These flags can (but don’t always) mean buyers is guessing at cardholder information such as address, credit limit, or card expiration date, or they can indicate someone shopping with a list of stolen credit card numbers. 

    How E-commerce Merchants Can Fight Friendly Fraud

    If your overall sales volume is very low, you may be tempted to handle all your fraud screening yourself or in-house. This may not be the best solution, for two reasons. First, fraudsters are always refining their tactics to avoid detection, which means you’ll need to become a fraud expert in addition to running the rest of your business.

    Second, your sales volume may grow rapidly during peak times like big sales events and the holiday season, which is often a peak season for fraud, too. Those peaks can overwhelm your fraud-screening capacity and force you to choose between a sales bottleneck and increased fraud risk.

    A better option is to choose a processor with fraud protection services or hire a third-party fraud service to screen your transactions.

    If you’re using WHMCS, HostGator’s comprehensive online business solution partner, you can opt in to fraud protection services MaxMind and VariLogiX. MaxMind allows you to set the parameters you want to approve transactions, and the MaxMind system screens and scores each transaction request according to your specifications. You can set a score threshold for automatic rejection of the highest-risk orders. You can also manually review the orders MaxMind flags and set up phone verifications of flagged orders.

    VariLogiX is another option for WHMCS users. It can automatically call customers before their orders are submitted to verify their identity and the validity of the transaction. Customers enter a code shown on their order screen during the call. Contacting customers directly shows them you’re serious about protecting their identity and payment information. It can also save you the hassle and expense of fraudulent transactions. 

    Whatever fraud-protection service you choose, make sure it uses detection and predictive tools that can evolve with changes in fraud tactics. Friendly fraud may not ever go away entirely, but you can make your business less of a target by watching out for buyers who aren’t really your friends.

    Take action to secure your online business by choosing a reliable hosting provider like HostGator. Learn more about our ecommerce hosting here. 

  • 7 Key Features Every eCommerce Website Needs

    Thursday, June 23, 2016 by

    eCommerce Website

    It only takes seconds for someone to decide whether or not they like a website. It doesn't matter what awesome content or irresistible items your online store is hiding, if everything a website should have isn't visible or is nonexistent on your home page, you're going to lose potential buyers.

    A matter of seconds can make or break your e-commerce site. So grabbing your target audience's attention the moment they set eyes on your site is essential to success. But how can you be certain your site is complete with all the latest marketing techniques and key website features customers will expect to see the second they open your website? Lucky for you, we've compiled this list to make sure your business site has everything it needs.

    1. Shopping Cart, Search Bar, and Customer Login

    These three aspects are the absolute most essential features of any e-commerce store and they are always listed together at the top of the website. The little shopping basket icon you see on every business page is a necessity as it is quite impossible to own an online store without providing a way for visitors to save and check out items.

    [bctt tweet="The 3 essential aspects of any #ecommerce website? Shopping Cart, Search Bar, and Customer Login." username="hostgator"]

    If you have a quite an array of products, a search box is a must-have as it will help customers find exactly what they're looking for quickly. Also, prompting your visitors to create an account for your site is a brilliant way to keep them coming back.  Not only can they review their previous and current orders, they can create a wish list, and you can offer special deals to those who sign up, redeemable on their next purchases.

    2. Persuasive Call-to-Actions

    These little marketing details actually have a major impact on whether or not you close a sale. Merely making a call-to-action is one thing, crafting a call-to-action that customers actually act upon is a whole other ballgame.

    Without a clear and effective CTA, customers will be unsure of what they're expected to do or will simply say, "Eh, maybe later." Start by focusing in on what you want accomplished whether it be joining an email list or purchasing a specific product.  Add a hint of urgency by putting an expiration date on an offer or persuade them with a free gift for following through.

    3. Your Business Logo

    A logo is symbolic to your brand and what you represent. It is the visual image that everyone will associate your business with; it is the first impression, the "face of the company," and ultimately a critical marketing tool.

    The design, whether it's simple, complex, or just a specific font you always use to write your business name, isn't the most important part. What matters is establishing your business logo and making it noticeable. A logo not only attracts a customer to your brand, but it forms reassurance to customers that your company is trustworthy.    

    4. Deals, Special Offers, and Free Stuff

    What gains someone's interest faster than any marketing scheme out there? Saving money! People love deals and your site's success will boom if you have all your latest deals, offers, and freebies listed right on your homepage.

    Creating sales will encourage people to buy more because they're saving more. Limited offers give customers the now-or-never drive to complete purchases while they're already on your site instead of saving it for later.

    What's better than savings? Free shipping! People are more likely to not fulfill an order based on how much their shipping fee is, so by cutting their shipping costs after spending a certain amount or even all together will ultimately increase your sales. Make sure to advertise these great savings in an eye-catching manner.

    5. News on Products

    Are you premiering a new, exciting item? Perhaps you have a best seller you'd like to highlight? Or maybe an upcoming event? Customers want to know the latest news and hottest trends. What better place to display such things than your homepage?

    Drawing attention to these details at the get-go rather than forcing customers to search for hours to find them not only boosts their satisfaction, but allows you to maximize your success rate.

    6. Contact Information

    It's a pretty given fact that buyers need to able to communicate with sellers in case there are ever any issues, questions, or concerns. Providing them with a support team is a great way to not just optimize your customer service abilities but to ensure you’re meeting all of your customers’ needs as well.

    Overall, establishing a 24-hour hotline or online chat and making both noticeable on your homepage is of high value to your e-commerce site. (Need inspiration? Check out our support portal.)

    7. Important Links and Icons

    The bottom part of the screen on any website contains smaller links and icons which provide further tools and information for visitors to access. Among these are security icons, payment system icons, and social media links.

    Posting icons for all network solutions used to keep your site secure, like McAfee or Geo-Trust, will reassure customers any transaction they complete on your site is safe. Another thing customers seek information on is what payment methods your site accepts and so icons for PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, and any other payment system your site works will also require a listing.

    Of course, everyone engages in social media activity and it's one of the leading marketing techniques of today. Provide links to your social media pages as well so people can share your page, products, and content.

    There are WordPress plugins out there to help you with all 7 of the above tips. If you're not using WordPress to manage your ecommerce site, Magento and Joomla are also excellent options. HostGator offers hosting with all of these platforms - click the button below to learn more.

    Get Started With HostGator!

  • 7 Steps To Validate Your Business Idea By Building An Email List

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016 by
    Building an Email List You’ve read a bunch of articles on how to validate a business idea. You understand the importance of talking to your initial target customers, learning about their problems, and creating a Minimum Viable Product.

    Yet you continue to wait for the perfect idea because you have no clue how to actually execute what you’ve read. Or (just as bad) you incorrectly assume you’ve validated your idea, and spend your time on the wrong things.

    But what if you could leverage proven validation strategies from successful founders? Real life case studies with actionable advice you can follow.

    Validate Your Business

    That’s exactly what I’ll show you how to do in this article. You’ll learn:

    • How to validate your business ideas by building an email list
    • How to find out what problems your subscribers have
    • And how to deliver a solution people will actually pay for.

    Let’s get started…

    (Read all the way to the bottom to get 5 more strategies the pros use to make money BEFORE even having a product)

    Step 1: Find Your Target Audience By Being Your Own Customer

    Traffic doesn’t matter if the visitors aren’t targeted or don’t convert. Before you even have a business, you need to have an idea of the type of customers you want to target.

    One of the best ways to start a business is to solve your own problem and to be your own customer. By targeting an audience that shares similar traits as you, you’re marketing to yourself and will then have an idea of the needs & wants of your target audience.

    For example: I was an aspiring entrepreneur looking to start a low-cost business to gain experience. I didn’t have a programming background, didn’t know how to create a website, and had no previous entrepreneurial experience.

    By targeting myself, I had a good idea of who I’m targeting, everything that they believe, what type of lifestyle they lead, goals and dreams, challenges and fears.

    Step 2: Stalk Your Target Audience To Find Out Their Interests

    At this stage, you’re not trying to find out what your audience is willing to pay for. You’re just trying to find out what they’re interested in, so you can bring traffic to your website. To do this, I recommend doing market research on Quora.

    Quora is a platform where people ask questions. What better way to find out how to help your audience than being fed questions they have on the top of their minds? All you have to do is search for topics in which your target audience would be interested.

    Business Ideas

    For example: By searching for “business ideas”, I could see the specific questions that my target audience is asking. You can then dig deeper into each question and see which type of answers are the most popular.

    Do this several times and you’ll start to notice similar types of questions that are being asked. Those are the type of questions you’ll want to address because that’s what your target audience is interested in.

    Step 3: Build Your 80/20 Website

    The most important thing to remember is that you’ll want to do the bare minimum and take an 80/20 approach to building your website. There’s no point in spending hundreds of dollars on a professional website until you’ve validated your business.

    To build an 80/20 website, I first set up a domain on HostGator and installed Wordpress. I then downloaded the SumoMe Wordpress Plugin to create a landing page with Welcome Mat that took about 30 minutes and looked like this:

    Landing Page Example

    Once you have the general design of the site created, you need to make sure your website has an effective headline that makes it clear to visitors exactly what your website is offering. Use words that clearly explain the benefits your audience will receive by being on your website.

    Once your website is up and running, it’s time to drive traffic to it and get your first set of email subscribers.

    Step 4: Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers

    Many people have a tendency to try and keep their website “secret” to their friends. But if you were opening a restaurant, you’d tell all your friends and family to drop by. You should do the same for your website.

    To get your first 100 email subscribers, you’ll want to leverage your personal network. They might not be your target audience, but they may have friends that are.

    First 100 Subscribers

    For example: I sent a message to 223 people on my Facebook network that looked like this.

    Facebook Message

    As a result, 64% of the people I reached out to joined my email list, and many of them referred other friends who joined as well.

    Another benefit of leveraging your personal network is that you’ll gain some initial feedback on the type of words and problems your target audience has.

    Here’s an example of some feedback I received:

    Facebook Feedback

    Based on the feedback, I learned that some of my target audience were tired of their typical “9-5 desk job” and were having problems with gaining the “courage” to quit their job. I would use these learnings for ideas for articles, and also by leveraging the same language my audience uses in my sales copy.

    After signing up your personal network, you’ll need to get specific feedback from people you don’t know. You’ll need to start marketing your website to acquire your first 1,000 email subscribers.

    Step 5: Get Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers

    Why 1,000 email subscribers?

    Well, 1,000 subscribers is enough to notice common trends in the type of problems your target audience is experiencing.

    There are many ways to actually grow your email list. The right method depends on your industry, and it’s up to you to run experiments.

    I decided to create evergreen content to attract my target audience to my website. I would promote the content on Quora by answering relevant questions, and include a link to my site:

    2016 Business Ideas

    Once visitors were on my website, I collected their emails by using pop-ups. Pop-ups are still a very effective way to collect emails. From just one article, I was able to collect 147 emails (conversion rate 6%). Here’s an example of my pop-up:

    Popup Example

    By repeating the same process, I was able to grow my email list to 1,000 subscribers within a month. I now had a large enough audience to engage with to find out their main problems.

    Step 6: Find Your Audience’s Biggest Problem

    Once you have 1,000 subscribers, it’s time to find out what your target audience’s biggest problem is. And what’s the best way to do this?

    Ask them.

    Send an email to your subscribers asking them what their biggest problem is. Here’s what my email looks like:

    Survey Email Sample

    I would then get responses like this:

    Survey Email Responses

    Based on the responses from your subscribers, you’ll start to notice common trends and problems your target audience is experiencing. From these trends, you should be able to create a product hypothesis to help solve their problems.

    Step 7: Create A Product That Solves Your Audience’s Problem

    The subscribers who reply to your email are going to be your most engaged users. These are the people who are most likely to purchase a product from you.

    Before you actually spend the time to create the product, you’ll want to validate it by sending your subscribers a survey. For example, Bryan Harris would send a survey with details of his product to his subscribers to validate his online course:

    Survey Form

    The key question he was looking for was “do you want to buy the course?”

    If a subscriber answered “yes,” he would follow it up with a link to a sales page with an early bird discount.

    The results? He gained 39 pre-orders before even having a product ready.

    Pre-Orders

    Bryan only sent the email to 225 subscribers. You don’t need a massive email list to validate your business. By applying the same approach, you too can validate your business before spending too much time and money on an idea.

    Remember, the best form of validation is when people are compelled enough to pay you money, even when you don’t have a product ready yet. Only once you’ve tested your product hypothesis and validated it with pre-orders, should you begin to spend more resources on making the product and getting more traffic to your site.

    Get More Case Studies On How To Validate Your Business

    This is just one method to validate your business without having to create a product first. It might not work for your specific business, it’s up to you to gauge if this strategy will work for your individual circumstances.

    For more inspiration on how to validate different types of businesses (e-commerce, online course, subscription sites, and more), SumoMe has created a collection of five additional case-studies of how you can validate your business by making money before you even have an actual product.

    Get the free report with 5 more strategies the pros use to make money BEFORE you even have a product


    Wilson Hung writes actionable step-by-step guides for SumoMe. Join our Sumo community of over 450,000 subscribers to learn how to grow your website and build your email list. Click here for 5 more strategies the pros use to make money before even having a product.

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