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  • Page Speed Matters: 4 Reasons Why Bloggers Need To Care About Load Time

    Monday, June 11, 2018 by
    page speed for bloggers

    Why Page Speed Matters for Your Blog

    Everyone's talking about how important page speed is for online businesses now. But does it really matter for your blog? It might, depending on your goals and whether you earn money from your blog. Here's how to know if page load times are a big deal for your blog (hint: the answer is yes), and how to test and improve your blog's page speed. best WordPress hosting

    4 Ways Faster Page Load Times Help Your Blog

     

    1. Faster pages rank better in the search results.

    Page load time is a factor in Google's desktop search results rankings. In July, Google's planned Speed Update will add mobile page load times to the factors for mobile search result rankings. Google's Webmaster Central blog says all pages will be held to the same standard for search rankings, but that developers expect the update to “only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience.” How big a deal is it? If your mobile pages load fast or even at middling speeds, you're probably OK. If your site loads really slowly on mobile, now's the time to start speeding it up.  

    2. Fast page loads keep visitors from giving up on your blog.

    Even if Google doesn't downrank your site for loading slowly on mobile, visitors may decide it's not worth waiting around for your content. More than half of mobile users will bail on a site that takes more than three seconds to load—but many mobile pages take 15 or more seconds to load. How big a deal is it? It depends on your bounce rate and your page speed. Check your analytics to compare your mobile and desktop bounce rates. If your bounce rate is higher and your page load times are lower on mobile than on desktop, you've got a problem that needs fixing.  

    3. Faster page loads may help you beat the competition.

    If you sell on your blog and have competitors, remember that they're under the same pressure to get with the page speed program. Deliver faster load times than they do and you may appear higher in search results. How big a deal is it? If you make money from your blog and sell in a competitive niche, faster load times are a must.  

    4. Faster page load times may raise your blog's conversion rates.

    Even if you don't sell on your blog, there's probably something you'd like your visitors to do besides read and leave—join your email list, follow you on social media, join the discussion in the comments. All of these steps are conversions, just as getting a visitor to sign up for a class or buy the jewelry you blog about are conversions. Faster page speeds won't translate directly into more conversions, but they can contribute. How big a deal is it? If prospects find your competition first in search results and never see your blog, or visit but bounce after 8 seconds of waiting, there's no chance they'll convert. Get those calls to action in front of your visitors fast and you stand a better chance of earning conversions.  

    5 Free Google Tools To Improve Your Page Load Times

    Here are five Google tools you can use to see how fast your site loads and how you can make it faster.  

    1. Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

    Google Mobile Friendly Testing Tool Google's Mobile-Friendly Test is easy. Plug the page URL you want to test into the search field and run your test. In a minute or so, you'll get the verdict: mobile-friendly or not. If there were any issues loading your page during the test, you'll get a list of those along with tips on fixing them.  

    2. Google PageSpeed Insights

    Google PageSpeed Insights PageSpeed Insights compares your site's load times on desktop and mobile. You may find that your site scores fine on the Mobile-Friendly Test but does poorly on PageSpeed's mobile evaluation. Again, you'll get a list of suggestions for improvement (such as optimizing your images for fast loading times) plus a downloadable file of site elements that Google optimized for you.  

    3. Lighthouse

    google lighthouse speed tool Lighthouse is a good option if the fixes recommended in your Mobile-Friendly and PageSpeed test results don't solve your slow load times. It's a developer tool, so the results are more technical than those in the tests above. They're also broader – Lighthouse checks SEO, progressive web app performance, accessibility, best practices, and overall performance. You'll get a downloadable report with recommendations you can work on or share with a professional developer.  

    4. Speed Scorecard

    Google Speed Scorecard Speed Scorecard is one of Google's newest tools.  It lets you compare load times for up to ten sites, including your own. However, its comparison database only includes sites popular enough to appear in the Chrome User Experience Report. Most smaller blogs won't show up, but that doesn't mean you can't check out larger competitors or colleagues in your niche.  

    5. Revenue Impact Calculator

    Google Page Speed Revenue Impact Calculator Google's new Revenue Impact Calculator (below the Speed Scorecard) is where you can put a dollar amount on your page speed, if you sell things on your blog. Even if your site doesn't show up in the Speed Scorecard database, you can still measure the revenue impact of speeding up your page loads if you enter a few pieces of data from your dashboard and accounts:
    • Current page load speed
    • Average monthly site visitors
    • Average order value
    • Conversion rate
    For example, a blog that loads in 8 seconds, has 500 visitors a month, an average order value of $50 and a conversion rate of two percent could earn $471 more per year by reducing the page load time to 4 seconds. Another blog that loads in 5 seconds, gets 20,000 monthly visitors, has an average order value of $100 and a conversion rate of 1% could earn $14,721 more per year by dropping the page load time to 2.8 seconds.  

    Page Speed Does Matter for Blogs

    Ultimately, page speed is a big deal if you want visitors, readers, and revenue for your blog, and it will probably become an even bigger deal as more traffic moves from desktop to mobile. Keep up with the latest innovations, make sure your web host delivers the speed you need, and make sure you're following all seven of these best practices for speeding up your website.
  • 6 Summer Promotion Ideas to Boost E-Commerce Sales

    Monday, June 11, 2018 by
    summer promotion ideas for ecommerce sites

    6 Summer Promotion Ideas for E-Commerce Sites

    Summer is awesome for so many reasons, but online sales revenue isn't usually one of them. Online shopping tends to slow down in the summertime while people are traveling and enjoying outdoor fun. The good news is it picks back up in the fall as people shop for the winter holidays. The better news is that you can boost your slow summer sales by running promotions that get your existing customers to check in and bring in some new customers, too. register domain name

    6 Sizzling Summer Promotion Ideas for Your Online Store

    For some fun (sales) in the sun this summer, try out one of these promotion ideas for your e-commerce website.  

    1. Promote the stuff your customers need this summer.

    Your summer merch will move faster if you remind your customers that they need it and offer some limited-time discounts to get them to buy now. Obvious candidates for summer-fun-now deals are outdoor furniture, pool and swim gear, travel items, and grilling equipment. Don't sell those items? Brainstorm a bit. Your temporary tattoos are probably perfect for festival-bound teens and young adults this summer. Run a toy store? Highlight the best boredom-busters in your inventory and target parents who need to keep kids busy and happy this summer. Sell pet gear? Fido needs a life jacket if he's going boating, and portable water bowls are a must for pups going on summer hikes.  

    2. Invite your customers to take you on vacation.

    Summer travels are a natural fit for social media promotions and Facebook contests. You might offer a prize for the customer who travels the farthest or goes to the most unusual destination this summer while wearing a t-shirt or carrying a water bottle from your store—ask them to post their trip photos with your goods. You can also invite your social media followers to vote on the best photos and award prizes based on their picks. Maybe your customers aren't big travelers. You can work with the idea of a staycation instead and run a sale on items your customers can use to liven up their backyard, deck, and home for summer fun. Again, you can extend that into a photo contest on social media for prizes from your store.  

    3. Work the summer holidays for all they're worth.

    Nothing's going to come close to the spending levels you see around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but sales before Father's Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day Weekend can generate revenue from shoppers looking to pick up gifts or party supplies. You can also check out National Day Calendar's website to see what quirky options line up with your store's merchandise and customers. Maybe you'll want to run a flash sale on ballet shoes for National Dance Day in July or discount board games throughout August in honor of Family Fun Month. You can always make your own summer holiday sale, like Amazon does with Prime Day. (There's a reason they put that big day in the middle of summer.) Give your current customers a heads-up with a promotional email that includes a one- or two-day preview sale before you announce it to the public. Once it's open to everyone, share it on your social media channels.  

    4. Flash sales don't need a holiday.

    Got a small batch of cute new sunglasses or artisanal beard wax you want to sell? Flash sales are an ideal way to promote and move limited-quantity items. They're easy to set up on Facebook or Instagram and they can help you capture new customer email addresses. To make your flash sale a success, make sure you have reliable real-time inventory tracking in place so you don't sell more than you have on hand. It's also a good idea to create special terms for your flash sale, like no returns and no retroactive discounts on previous purchases of the same item, to make sure it's a profitable promotion. Have your shipping supplies ready to go, because you may be packing a lot of orders in a short amount of time after your sale ends. hostgator flash sale

    5. Pop up in person.

    Pop up shops can help you connect with new customers who want to try in person before they buy online. Pop ups can also help you go where your existing customers are during the summer, like festivals, fairs, or vacation destinations. To do a summertime pop-up event well, carefully plan your location, your mini-store space, and the merchandise you think will sell best. For example, if you're going to vend at a music festival, you'll almost certainly sell more earrings, bracelets, and necklaces than you will shoes or clothes that have to be tried on. Learn more about what goes into setting up a pop up shop, promote it via email and social media, and plan lots of day-of social media posts to encourage nearby people to drop by. You might want to do a giveaway at your pop-up shop to boost traffic, too.  

    6. Look ahead to the school year.

    As a kid, maybe you didn't like seeing back-to-school sales flyers in late July when you were just trying to enjoy sleeping in and watching Nickelodeon. Now that you're an adult with a store to run, you may feel differently—especially if you sell clothes, shoes, or computers. Back-to-school and back-to-college spending reached $83 billion in the US in 2017, with much of that spending taking place in the month before classes begin. Most US schools start in mid to late August, so if you promote your BTS products well, you can end the summer on a high note. Because most parents are planning their BTS shopping by August, it makes sense to get your deals into their inboxes and onto their social media feeds by, yep, mid-July.  

    Prevent the E-commerce Summer Slump for Your Online Store

    Planning a season's worth of fun promotions for your online store now can help your store avoid summer doldrums this year and in the future. Save your data from each promotion to see which sales do the best for you, which items are the strongest sellers, and which customers are your best summer shoppers. Then you can go into next summer with an even stronger promotion plan.
  • About Us: How to Tell Your Business Story the Right Way

    Monday, June 11, 2018 by
    how to write an about us page

    About Us: How to Tell Your Business Story the Right Way

    The About Us section of your website has the potential to draw in customers, establish trust, and make people want to do business with you. But choose a couple of dozen small-business sites at random and you'll find that many have About Us pages with next to no information, or that overload visitors with full-page blocks of texts that go into far more detail than most people can absorb. Here's how to write an About Us section that showcases your business story, demonstrates to customers that you're the right choice, draws in people searching for what you sell, and sets the tone for your customer outreach. HostGator Website Builder

    Show What You Can Do for Your Customers

    It's about you only to the extent that you have something your customers want or need. So tell your story in a way that shows you understand the problem your visitors want to solve. Zappos does a great job by describing the founder's failed, frustrating shoe-shopping experience at a mall. No one wants to waste an hour and go home without new shoes, so right away, Zappos shows it understands something about its customers: They want convenience and selection. tell business story with founder history about us page from zappos What if you're blogging? Blog and media site Scary Mommy uses some frank descriptive wording on its About Us page to show that they get the struggles and rewards of motherhood: “We’ve seen it all, heard it all, and smelled it all, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.” You don't have to be that direct if it's not your style or not on-brand, but there are many ways to show that you get what your audience needs.  

    Establish Your Trust and Expertise

    Besides looking for a solution to a problem, people who check out your About Us page want to see if you are the right person to solve their problem. An effective way to show your expertise and at the same time show that others trust you with their problems is with social proof. Your About Us page can include:
    • positive customer reviews
    • testimonials
    • case studies from clients
    • media mentions
    • awards you, your employees, and your business have earned
    If you provide services, you can include well-known clients on your About Us page, as visual organizing tool Trello does. You can and should inject some personality into your About Us page, because site visitors want to know there's a real person behind your site. That's why popular toymakers Melissa & Doug come right out and say they're real people on their About Us page, which is every bit as lighthearted as you'd expect for people who make toys. humorous about us page example Your About Us page also needs to include:
    • your name
    • your location
    • a photo or video of you that reflects your brand and personality
    • contact details like a phone number, email address, and company social media accounts.
    Before they shop with you, customers also want to know that they can reach you if they need to. Consider this About Us excerpt from Round Rock Honey: “We believe in our honey so much that if you ever have a question, just look on the back of our bottle. You’ll find our names and phone number.”  

    Get Found by Your Audience

    A good About Us page helps prospects decide if your site is a good match for what they need. A great About Us page also helps more people find your site. To do this, you'll need to use some SEO tools to help your site show up when people search for what you offer. Make sure your About Us page includes:
    • Long-tail keyword phrases that help people zero in on what they need. If you sell school uniforms in Dallas, don't rely on “school uniforms” to drive search traffic to your site. Include “school uniforms in Dallas” or “school uniforms for Dallas-area charter schools” or whatever is accurately describes in detail what your customers search for.
    • On-site SEO titles, meta descriptions, and tags for your About Us page with your most important keywords. Your meta description will appear in search results, so make every word count: “Zippy's is the fastest and best courier service in the greater Houston area. Call 703-555-1212.”
    • Optimized images for the best possible search results. Tag and describe them in ways that help people find your site. That team photo on your About Us page can be titled “Bakers of Custom Birthday Cakes in Duluth” instead of “teamphoto,” for example.
    • Fast load times. When you're done with your About Us page, run it through Google's PageSpeed test to make sure it loads quickly enough to avoid getting downranked in search results.
    • Mobile-friendly display and navigation. While you're testing your About Us page, use Google's mobile-friendly test tool to see how it performs on mobile devices. Better performing pages tend to rank higher in search results.
    • Schema.org markup tools to optimize search results displays. You can use a schema plugin for your WordPress site or delve into this step-by-step guide on schema and Google Rich Snippets to format your About Us page for good-looking search results.
    For more information on these and other SEO strategies for your About Us page, check out HostGator's ABC's of SEO e-book.  

    What's Your Business Story?

    However you set up your About Us page—a serious rundown of your firm's accomplishments or a set of whimsical videos about your handmade housewares shop—keep the tone, appearance, and language consistent with the rest of your site and with your brand. Consider your About Us page an ongoing project, keep it updated and focused on the goals above, and it can be a powerful marketing and customer relations tool.
  • 7 Reasons Why You Should Choose WordPress For Your Website

    Monday, June 11, 2018 by
    Why Choose WordPress for Your Website

    Why Choose WordPress for Your Website?

    Have you ever wanted to start a side business but hesitated because you knew you'd need a website? Or missed out on customers because your small business doesn't have a site yet? If you're not a tech-minded person, setting up a site can seen confusing and time-consuming if you do it yourself--or expensive if you hire someone else to do it. Those worries are understandable. However, it's 2018. A website is a must if you want to reach your target market, and setting up a website is a lot easier than you may realize, especially if you use WordPress to set it up.  best WordPress hosting

    What Exactly Is WordPress?

    WordPress is a content management system (CMS), which means it's designed to help you organize and display the content on your site. What counts as content? Everything that appears on your site, from the header with your business name to your contact information to your blog posts and tutorial videos. If it's on your site, it's content. (A note about WordPress.com versus WordPress.org, because you'll see both online: WordPress.org offers the free CMS we're talking about. WordPress.com offers a free, WordPress-CMS-powered platform for non-commercial blogs which can't be customized with plugins or custom themes. If you're running a business, WordPress.com is not a workable option.)  

    7 Reasons to Choose WordPress for Your Business Website

    It may help to think of your website as an empty retail space. Your CMS is the shelving and racks you set up to make sure the contents of your store are organized logically, easy to reach, and displayed attractively. When you're choosing a CMS, just as when you pick out store fixtures, you have lots of options—and they're not all equal in terms of cost, function, and aesthetics. Here's why WordPress is the busy, non-techie, small-business owner's friend.  

    1. WordPress is free.

    Free is good when you're operating on a small-business budget. You'll still have to pay for web hosting, and you may want to buy a theme instead of using a free one to change the way your site looks (more about that in a moment), but the WordPress CMS costs nothing to download.  

    2. WordPress is easy to use.

    WordPress prides itself on its five-minute installation and support guides to walk you through the process.
    I'm not a technical savant but I've set up several WordPress sites, and it really is that easy to get a basic site running and looking respectable. Doing something complex may require some reading and conversations in the support forums, but for most new site owners, going from zero to website in a few minutes is more than enough. The topic of support forums brings us to the next thing WordPress has going for it.  

    3. WordPress has a vast support community.

    Thirty percent of all websites run on WordPress, and it has a 60% share of the CMS market. The number of people using WordPress means that if you have a problem or a question, odds are there's an answer waiting for you in one of the WordPress support or developer forums. It also means that if you ever want to outsource your site maintenance, content, or design, there are plenty of developers, writers, editors, and designers who know how your site's CMS works.  

    4. It's easy to make your WordPress site look unique.

    Because WordPress's code is open source, hobby and professional developers are always finding ways to improve it. There are thousands of free and paid themes you can choose from to make your site look the way you want it to. Think of your theme as similar to the interior decor of a brick-and-mortar store. Your theme will take care of your virtual color scheme, signage, and the details of your site layout. You can search by keyword to find themes that fit your business best, and if you ever get tired of your theme, it's usually pretty easy to switch to a new theme, although there are some steps you'll want to take first to keep your site working the way you want after the switch.  

    5. Create your dream functionality with WordPress plugins.

    Once you've chosen a web host and a theme and set up your basic site, there are thousands of plugins you can use to make the site work exactly the way you want it to. Whether you want it to load faster, backup automatically, or optimize your blog posts for search results, there's a plugin (or five) for that. And because WordPress supports multimedia content, you're not limited to blog posts and photos. You can embed videos, podcasts, and slideshows on your site with the right plugins.  

    6. WordPress takes security seriously.

    WordPress also makes it easy to keep your site's software up to date, which is critical to keeping hackers and data thieves out of your site. Some WordPress software updates are automatic, to prevent security vulnerabilities, and you can choose whether you want your plugins to update automatically or whether you'll handle those updates yourself. To update plugins and themes, all you have to do is click the checkboxes next to the items you want to update and then hit the update button. The trick is remembering to check for updates, which is why the auto-update option is so useful.  

    7. WordPress plays well with others.

    Even the coolest looking website needs to interact seamlessly with other platforms and with people, so you can get found and make sales. First, getting found: WordPress is structured to be easy for search engine crawlers to navigate, which means your site will perform better in search results, especially if you add an SEO plugin like Yoast. WordPress also plays well with Google's new criteria for mobile-friendly websites. You can make your site easier for mobile users to navigate by choosing a mobile-optimized or responsive theme from the start, or by installing a plugin to make your site work better on mobile devices. As for making sales, if you intend to sell directly from your site, WordPress plugin Woo Commerce makes it easy to sell products, digital downloads, subscriptions, and membership access to your site. And if you ever want to change web hosting services, you can migrate your entire WordPress site to a new host easily, with fewer steps and in less time than it would take you to migrate a free site builder-hosted site.  

    WordPress: The Right Choice for Your Website

    The bottom line is that if you want a site that looks professional, gets results, and is easy to set up and maintain, WordPress is almost always going to be your best bet, especially if you're not code-savvy and want to get on with running your business. Have more questions about how to install and use WordPress? We've got answers. Ready to get started with WordPress? See why customers trust HostGator's WordPress hosting.
  • 8 Fun Summer Promotion Ideas for Small Business

    Thursday, June 7, 2018 by
    Summer Promotion Ideas for Small Businesses

    Make the Most of Summer with These Fun Promotion Ideas

    Unless you sell swimwear or ice cream, your small business may see a drop in sales over the summer. Consumer spending on things besides travel tends to slack off during the hottest months, but you can encourage your current customers to come shop with you and attract new customers, too. Use some of these promotion ideas and best practices to rev up your business this summer. register domain name

    1. Discount Punch Cards

    Summer punch cards aren't just for kids' reading clubs. Punch cards can bring more traffic into your store all season long by giving customers a discount when they buy upfront. These programs are a natural fit for yoga, fitness, and dance studios, and you can almost certainly create a punch promo for your business: a pre-pay discount on an iced coffee each week all summer long, car washes, dog washes, eyebrow waxing, or anything your customers will want more than once during the summer.  

    2. Giveaways

    People love free stuff, even when it's hot outside. Summer is the perfect time to give away small items like skincare product samples, fashion jewelry, stickers, and food. Promote your giveaways on social media and make it clear what the terms are: good while supplies last, today only, free item with purchase, or however you want to structure your deal.  

    3. One-Day Sales and Deals of the Day

    Between summer holidays you can create your own sales events. One option is to offer a one-day-only discount on your most-popular or highest-margin items. Department store chain Macy's does this several times a year. Another option is to offer a discount on one item each day (like Amazon's Deal of the Day offers) to keep customers checking your social media and dropping in for buys. amazon deal of the day

    4. Work with the Weather

    Keep an eye on the forecast and plan ahead, and you can have hot-day and rainy-day flash deals ready to go when the temperature gets above, say, 95 degrees or the skies open up. You can also offer afternoon “happy hour” deals to boost traffic during the hottest part of the day, like Sonic does with its half-price drink deals.    

    5. Partner with Local Nonprofits

    Try connecting with nonprofit groups nearby to host a fun event for a good cause. Got a dog-friendly patio or courtyard? Talk to a local animal shelter or rescue group about hosting an adoption event. Have indoor space for a show? Host a live music or dance performance. You don't need a big budget to do this if there's a performing arts school in your area with a student troupe – they may be delighted to have a chance to practice their performance skills, and their friends and family will show up to cheer them on. If you have enough lead time, you can send a press release to local media and invite them to cover your event.  

    6. Offer Classes

    Craft stores like Michael's have long known that on-site classes can boost store traffic and demand for their products. Virtually any business can offer a free class on something related to what they do: cookie decorating, drawing, pet grooming, nail art, wine knowledge, caring for houseplants, maintaining lawnmowers, and so on. Besides promoting your classes via email and social media, write a press release so community websites and papers can include your event in their calendars.  

    7. Pop Up in New Spots

    Summer is special-event time in most cities, so go where your customers will be. Look now for vending opportunities at festivals and shows, and start scoping out retail locations where you could rent space for a pop-up shop. Learn more about running your first pop-up shop here.  

    8. Make the Most of the Summer Holidays

    American shoppers expect sales ahead of Father's Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day, so go all out. Gifts, party supplies, beachwear, and things to help beat the heat are all popular sellers around these holidays. And if you sell anything at all related to back to school or back to college, start promoting those items before the end of July—Deloitte found that people who do their back to school shopping before August spend more than those who wait. Think now about deals you might offer on clothes, school supplies, and tech. You can also combine back to school with a special event to have a last-party-before-school  event and sale.  

    Best Practices for Your Summer Promotions

    Know the ground rules. Each state has laws about giveaways you'll need to follow. You'll also want to know the maximum capacity for your shop if you're doing an in-store event so you don't have your event interrupted by the fire marshal. Set your terms. Flash deals and one-day sales can be a little tricky if you don't spell out the terms of your promos. I know business owners who've been contacted by customers demanding a partial refund of something they'd bought weeks before because that same item was now part of a flash sale. Spell out clearly that flash sale deals are valid only on items purchased that day to avoid headaches. Make your punch cards pop. Include your shop's logo, contact information, and social media details on your punch cards, and include the deal's terms. Write your promo copy ahead of time. On the day of your flash sale or special event, you want to be selling, not writing. Have your social media posts ready to go beforehand. Collect customer data. If you're offering a free class or hosting an event, ask people to register ahead of time or on site. This allows you to plan ahead and it gives you new email addresses you can roll into your email marketing program. Track promotion performance. Look at which promotions generated the most revenue and new customer contact info and which were the easiest to run. Next summer you can focus on the types of promos that delivered the best return on your time and effort this year.