Casey Kelly-Barton, Author at HostGator Blog - Page 2 of 19

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  • How to Add Google Fonts to Your WordPress Website

    Monday, April 16, 2018 by
    choose fonts for your website

    Is Your Site Using the Right Font?

    Thanks to the growing number of mobile internet users, finding the right font has become a big project for site designers, publishers, and retailers. The BBC and the Guardian have recently debuted new bespoke fonts designed to be easier to read on phones—and save the companies money on licenses for commercial fonts. Even if you don't have a flagship-media budget, there are ways you can update your site fonts for better readability, a more consistent appearance across browsers and devices, and faster page-load times to help your SEO. best WordPress hosting

    What Fonts Are Best for Your Site?

    Whether you're a design fan or someone who likes to consider all the options, it's really easy to fall down a rabbit hole of fonts. There are thousands of open-source fonts that anyone can download and use, and thousands more available for purchase. Because you want fonts that make your website easier to use and faster, it's probably best to limit yourself to Google Fonts, a repository of open-source fonts that are easy to read on small screens and which cache quickly to speed up page load times. At this writing, Google Fonts offers a mere 848 font families, 823 of which work for English-language copy. To narrow down your 800-plus choices, you'll need to apply some basic font choice principles, like those described by Janie Kliever at Canva.
    • Two to three fonts is the ideal number for most sites. If you stick with only one, your site may look sterile and visitors may have a hard time figuring out which text is a headline and which is your main copy. More than two or three fonts can make the site look chaotic and amateurish.
    • Choose fonts that have some contrast so that they create a visual hierarchy. For example, you could use a bold or serif font for your headlines so they stand out and a simple sans serif font for body copy so it's easy to scan, even on a smartphone.
    Google Design gives a broader overview of typography, fonts, and how to find the best fonts for your site in their Choosing Web Fonts: A Beginner's Guide. Among the things the authors say you should consider are:
    • Are you designing your site for the long-term or short-term? Long-term projects often need font families with many style options.
    • How long will your text blocks be? Even on-screen, serif fonts are a good idea if you'll feature five or more paragraphs at a time.
    • What size will your type be? Simpler fonts are easier to read at small sizes, but they may not stand out enough in headlines.
    • Will your visitors translate your site into other languages? If so, you'll need to choose a font family that supports multiscript characters so those translations display properly.
    The guide recommends a few fonts for specific situations to help you get started. You can also browse the entire Google Fonts library here.  

    Finding Google Fonts for Your Site

    When you're ready to explore Google Fonts, it can be a bit of a challenge to navigate the somewhat clunky directory to find the right typefaces. As an example, let's walk through looking for a serif font to use for headlines on a site for a petsitting business—something bold and businesslike but a bit playful.
    • In the Google Fonts search filter sidebar, you can select the serif category and decide how you want the results presented—by age, popularity, or alphabetized by name.
    • Under languages, you can narrow your results to typefaces that support English by selecting 'Latin' (confusing, but we do use the Latin alphabet).
    • Next, you can check the boxes to open slider menus and fine-tune your options for number of styles (variations on the font, like lighter, bolder, or italic), thickness, slant, and width.
    google fonts library By choosing 'serif' and 'Latin,' you get 174 options for your petsitting website headline font. Bree Serif looks like it could work. To see how your copy will look, you can replace the dummy copy with your text by inserting the cursor, clearing out the dummy text, and entering 'Our Petsitting Service Menu.' (You can also click 'apply to all fonts' so we don't have to retype it.) google fonts serif fonts library You can use the slider menu to resize the text anywhere from 8 to 112 points. You can also use the dropdown menu on the left to see how your copy looks in a sentence or paragraph or the alphabet and numerals in that font. Clicking the + button adds Bree Serif to a tray at the bottom, where you can collect all the fonts you want to use. When you're ready to install them, click the black tray bar and you'll see HTML and CSS code to embed the font in your site. (More on this below.) You can download as many fonts as you like, but Google recommends that you don't download everything “just in case,” because of the time and space it would take.

    download google fontsHow Can You Use Google Fonts On Your Site?

    If you're comfortable adding code to your site, you can use the Get Started with Google Fonts API guide to using stylesheets to specify the font families and styles you want on your site. You'll also find out how to drastically reduce the font file size for headings and logos by optimizing font requests. For anyone who's not comfortable editing their own site code, there are several plugins for WordPress that can install and manage Google Fonts for you. One of the most popular options, with more than 300,000 installations, is Easy Google Fonts. With this plugin, you can avoid editing the code for your site's theme and you get a menu of all Google Fonts without having to manually select and download any of them. The plugin adds a typography menu in the WordPress Customize section of the dashboard, where you can select font families, styles, color, and other text elements for each type of header and text in your site theme. Easy Google Fonts WordPress plugin You can see a realtime preview of what each change you make will look like; visitors to your site will only see your changes if you save and publish them. To change text elements that aren't part of your theme's default controls, Easy Google Fonts allows you to create your own font controls that will show up in the Typography menu. After you choose the Google Fonts you want to use and make sure they look right in the preview, you're ready to save and publish to update your site.  

    Update Your Fonts, Upgrade Your Site

    By updating your site's fonts, you're not only giving it an updated look, you're also building a better user experience. Faster-loading fonts that are designed for on-screen readability and reliable WordPress hosting optimized for fast load times are the key to keeping visitors coming back, especially as more people do their browsing on their phones.
  • What Is A Website Builder?

    Monday, March 26, 2018 by
    What is a website builder

    What Is A Website Builder?

    There are a lot of terms to pick up when you're learning how to set up a website for your business or your blog. Even if you know what a web host, CMS, and SEO are, “website builder” can be a bit confusing. Does that refer to a web designer that you hire, or to an app you use to tell your site specs to Alexa so she can build it for you? The answers are 'no' and 'sadly, no,' but website builders are very useful, especially to first-time site owners and people who want to put together sites quickly. HostGator Website Builder

    What Are Website Builders?

    In general terms, website builders are all-in-one tools that let users build a site quickly, without needing to know any coding or site design skills. Although it sounds basic, a good website builder can deliver a professional looking site that uses mobile-friendly best practices, integrates with social media and e-commerce tools, and seamlessly updates to stay current and secure. For most people, especially those who are setting up their first site, a website builder offers a low-stress, low-cost option for creating a good-quality site.  

    Who Are Website Builders For?

    Anyone can use a website builder, but they're an especially good option for people who:
    • Need to launch a website quickly.
    • Don't have tech skills and don't have time or interest in learning.
    • Feel intimidated by the idea of putting together their first website.
    • Would rather let someone else handle site updates.
    • Have a small site-design budget.
    Because a good website builder will include templates for all types of use cases, bloggers, small business owners, and online retailers can all get professional looking sites up and running fast. For example, HostGator's website builder includes more than 100 templates for businesses such as restaurants, professional photography, and fashion and beauty retail, plus blog templates. Website builder templates

    What Are the Pros and Cons of Website Builders?

    Using a website builder is fast, easy, and inexpensive. Those are some pretty impressive pros. But a website builder may not be the best choice if you need:
    • highly customized site code and functions.
    • a fully customized template and theme.
    • dedicated servers to load your site at the highest possible speeds.
    • regular access to site backups.
    If your site needs any of these elements, you may be better off using a CMS like WordPress or hiring a site designer and getting a dedicated hosting plan. For most site owners, though, a website builder will get the job done well.  

    How Do Website Builders Work?

    What can you expect when you use a website builder? Let's walk through the basic steps. First, you'll need a domain name for your site. If you've already registered your domain name, you're a step ahead. If not, the website builder should be able to help you get that done. Next, you'll need a web hosting service, a place for your site's files to “live.” Most website builders come packaged with one or more web hosting plans, so you can choose the level of service you need. Now comes the fun part: putting together the elements you want from a menu of options.
    • Templates. Go ahead and scroll through all your options a couple of times, and then narrow in on the designs that make the most sense for your type of website. If you run a business, you'll want a template that displays product photos on the home page, and if you're a blogger, you'll probably want a layout that makes it easy for visitors to scroll through your posts.
    • Pages and sections. Even the most minimalist website needs a few standard pages and sections: the homepage, an “about us” page or section, contact information, and your content—blog posts, products, or a portfolio of your services. Business sites usually also include customer testimonials and reviews. And an FAQ section or page can save everyone time.
    • Favicon. A whaticon? See the little Snappy on your browser tab at the top of this page? That's the HostGator favicon. You can create a similar custom image for your site, to make it easier for users to pick out your site when they have multiple tabs open, and to create a more appealing bookmark.
    • E-commerce tools. If your site is your shop, you'll need to choose a shopping cart so customers can select your products, payment tools so they can checkout, and inventory management so you always know what's in stock, what's on backorder, and what's flying off your digital shelves.
    • Images and video. Your website builder should have a library of high-quality images you can use to create headers and backgrounds. You should also be able to select tools to embed HD video. That will allow you to feature tutorial, product, and customer review videos on your site instead of having your visitors click away to watch them on YouTube.
    • Social media. Want to share your thoughts, show off your merch, and drive traffic to your site? You'll be able to quickly link your social media accounts to your website. Site builder social media tools also make sharing from your site to your Facebook and other accounts a snap for you and your fans.
    • SEO and analytics. Getting found and learning more about your site visitors is easy with built-in tools for search-engine optimization and Google analytics integration.
     

    Ready to get started?

    HostGator's website builder can help you set up your new site today.
  • Why Having An SEO Optimized Website Is Important

    Monday, March 19, 2018 by
    why having a seo optimized website is important

    Why Having An SEO Optimized Website Is Important

    Making a website for your new business or blog is all fun and games until a marketing person asks about your SEO and SERP rankings. They ask because they care, but if you're new to selling or sharing online, you may not know exactly what SEO and its related terms mean or why they matter. SEO matters a lot, so let's take a look at why. Then you'll be able to ask your marketing friends for their tips on earning the featured answers box on SERPs, optimizing for voice search, and other stuff that's fun and games for them.  

    Defining SEO and SERPs

    SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a very precise way of saying you're doing all the right things to get found in searches that people do on Google, Bing, and other search engines. A SERP is a search engine results page, the screen full of links you get when you search for, say, "what does SERP mean?" SERP ranking refers to a site's position on that results page, the higher up the better. Now that we've defined our terms, let's look at why SEO matters so much.  

    SEO Helps People Find Your Website

    As of this writing, there are 1.8 billion sites on the web, and a new one goes live every second. Don't take that statistic as discouragement—the web is crowded because it's an effective way to reach people. Do take it as evidence that choosing your domain name, building your site, and posting your content are the first steps, not the only steps, to reaching your audience. How much does SEO matter? A few years ago, I watched a startup business without an SEO program fail to appear on the first SERP for the keywords that made up its domain and business names. The owner went to great lengths to choose the domain name according to all the best practices for search results: location + type of business. This person even named the business to align with the URL. It was a perfect choice and a minor miracle that the domain name was available, and with good SEO it should have been a lock for the top spot in search results. But there was no implementation of on-site SEO, no keywords included in the site copy, no link building. And no page one results—those all went to competitors with less-than-ideal names but strong SEO programs.  

    SEO Helps You Connect With Local Customers

    Connecting with an audience is vital for every site owner, especially those who also run brick-and-mortar shops or depend on local clients. SEO is a must for sites that cater to locals, because most local searches now happen on mobile phones, when the customer is ready to buy something. Appear in those search results, and you're likely to get traffic that converts. Don't rank well in those results, and you're invisible to your target customers. The relationship between local searches and mobile users is so important that Google is gradually shifting to a “mobile first” site index that will rank mobile-optimized sites higher in search results than sites that don't perform well on smartphones. And because most of us talk to our phones rather than key in search phrases, the mobile-local search trend is making voice-search keywords more important than before.  

    SEO Matters for SERP Rankings

    Earlier, I mentioned a business that failed to appear on the first SERP for its keywords. How much does showing up on the first page of search results really matter? Won't potential customers carefully review the first few pages of results before they decide who to contact? Overwhelmingly, the answers are “a lot” and “no.” First page rankings matter because most searchers don't look past the first page of results, but appearing on the first page isn't necessarily a golden ticket. That's because the site with the #1 position on a SERP gets about a third of all the traffic, with a marked decline for each position below it. The #6 site on a SERP can expect less than five percent of the traffic from that search. The higher your site ranks, the more traffic you'll see. If you run a local business, SEO can help you land the most coveted voice search position of all: zero. Zero's not nothing—it's the spoken answer searchers will hear after they ask their phone where the closest dog wash is, or where they can get their mascot suit dry cleaned in Houston. It's called zero because it comes from the answer box on the results page, not the list of URLs. Want to earn position zero? Work on implementing rich snippets as part of your SEO program.  

    SEO Best Practices Help Your Business Shine on Other Platforms

    Keeping up with current SEO practices is work, but it can pay off in ways beyond search rankings. As Pete Roesler wrote at Inc., “good SEO works on any searchable platform.”
    • If you cross-list your merchandise on marketplaces like Etsy or eBay, knowing how to research, refine, and use keywords can help you make more sales.
    • The same goes for marketing on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. People often search social media by keywords and hashtags for things they want to buy.
    • If you're a service provider, include your SEO keywords in your listings on professional and local business directory sites so people who need your expertise can find you.
     

    SEO Helps You Get the Most Value from Your Content

    Good content isn't cheap, even if you're creating it yourself. The time you take to write blog posts and product descriptions, shoot and edit photos, and create videos or podcasts is a real investment, and SEO can help it generate better returns. Rather than turn out content and hoping it goes viral, help it find the right audience by using the most relevant keywords. As your audience grows and comes to rely on your for, say, tutorial videos on furniture refinishing, you'll establish the kind of trust and authority that leads those people to seek out your online shop when they need refinishing products and supplies.  

    Good SEO Can Help You Refine Your Website's Direction

    A good ongoing SEO program can help your site by keeping your content and decision-making processes focused. For example, if visitors who convert are coming to your site through searches for “indoor herb garden lighting,” but the visitors who don't convert are arriving through searches for “herbal bath products,” you know where to focus your content and/or your product offerings. Setting up and maintaining your SEO program takes some time but it's critical to the success of your website. You can use our DIY guide to the basics of SEO to get started, and you can use the SEO tools that are included in the HostGator Website Builder. You can also save time by letting the experts at HostGator's SEO Services handle it for you. HostGator Website Builder
  • 10 Essential Components of A Successful Website

    Thursday, March 15, 2018 by
    10 Essential Components of A Successful Website

    10 Essential Components of A Successful Website

    Building your own website is easy and fast, thanks to website builder services and template/CMS tools like WordPress. But like any DIY project, your new site will work better and look better if you plan a bit before you jump in. That means understanding and including the most important elements of a good website: features that help people find your site, navigate it, connect with you, and more. Let's group these essential website components into two categories: things that work “behind the scenes” and things your visitors will notice when they come to your site. You need both sets of elements to have an effective website, and when your site is built well, they all work together. Here's what you'll need.  

    Must-Have Behind-the-Scenes Components of a Website

    Not a technical person? Not to worry. These basics are easy to find and implement, and we've got resources to walk you through each step. Once you choose your domain name, you'll need:  

    1. Reliable Web Hosting Service

    Think of your web host as similar to a landlord who rents you space for a physical store. They provide and maintain the server space where your site files “live” and make it possible for visitors to come by and explore your site. Like a good landlord, a reliable web host will provide fast service, ongoing maintenance and improvements, and good customer service and support. If you choose a host with a website builder included (like HostGator!), you can snap together the framework of your site in just a few minutes.  

    2. A Content Management System (CMS)

    Your content management system works behind the scenes to help you organize and maintain parts of your website like your site pages and meta data, and it makes it easier for visitors to find their way around your site. You can create your own, if you enjoy coding. Or you can use WordPress, the most popular CMS around. There are thousands of templates, themes, and plugins to help customize WordPress sites. Learning how all those elements work together can take time. To get a site up and running faster, especially if it's your first site, a website builder will include its own content management system as part of its all-in-one service. Need more help deciding which route to take? Look more closely at your basic website building options or ask yourself a few questions to decide how to build your site.  

    3. SEO Basics

    snappy improve your traffic seoOptimizing your site so it appears in search engines is a must. With millions of sites on the internet now in competition for a spot on the 1st page of search results, you'll need to follow a few search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to get found. To do this, figure out which keywords visitors are using (or will use) to find your site – the more specific and local the better, especially if your site serves a local or regional audience. Use those keywords wisely in your site copy, your meta data, and your media tags and file names. There are other important aspects to SEO your site needs to include, like mobile-friendly optimization and fast page load times. Test your knowledge of SEO basics and learn more.  

    4. Analytics Tools

    You'll want to know how people are finding your site, which pages they spend the most time on, and how well different elements of your site convert. Google Analytics is the most popular and easy to use resource, it doesn't cost anything, and it integrates easily with WordPress and some website builder tools. Learn the basics of using Google Analytics here.  

    5. Inventory Management

    When you're selling products on your site, you'll want to make sure you keep track of what you have in stock, what's sold, and what's on order. That's where inventory management tools come in. When they're integrated with your checkout process and your shop pages, you and your customers will both know whether an item is available to buy.

    Website Components Your Visitors Will Notice

    Now that we've mentioned customers, it's time to talk about must-have website elements that your visitors will see and interact with. Whether you're selling, blogging, or both, your site needs these things to make visitors feel welcome and want to stay.  

    6. Mobile Friendly Template and Theme

    Your site will need to look great on all kinds of screens: laptops, desktops, tablets, and especially smartphones. Choose a mobile-optimized or responsive design so your site is fast-loading, easy to read, and easy to navigate on phones, which are the way most web users search now. Having a mobile-friendly site will also help with your SEO, because Google looks for it. responsive web design

    7. Sections That Visitors Expect

    Have you ever visited a new website that didn't feel quite right, or an online shop that felt a bit off? Chances are that feeling of wrongness was because the site was missing some elements you've come to expect: a home page that lets you know what the site's for, an about us section that shows there are real people behind the site, and contact information so readers or customers can reach you if they have questions or feedback.  

    8. Media

    It's a rare site that can build an audience on words alone. Our eyes are naturally drawn to images, especially if they move and make noise, and images are a must if you're selling merchandise online. People will also want to see a photo of you in your about us section. Choose images that are optimized to look good and load fast, and be sure to tag and name your website's images in ways that use your SEO keywords.  

    9. Social Media Links and Integration

    You don't have to be on every platform, but you should link your site's social media accounts to the site itself. Depending on how often you update, you may want to include a widget that shows your latest posts. Some website builders will help you integrate with your favorite platforms so you can post your site updates to your social media accounts at the same time.

    10. Shopping Cart and Payment Tools

    If your site includes a shop, you'll want a reliable, easy to use shopping cart and payment tools like PayPal or Square that are popular with most online shoppers. Most e-commerce platforms integrate well with WordPress, and many website builders can help you set up shopping and checkout tools in a snap.  

    Time to Build Your Site

    Now that you know the basics your site needs to succeed, you're ready to get started! Check out our options for getting it done, including HostGator's Website Builder service that includes all the elements on this list. HostGator Website Builder
  • How To Make A Business Website That Converts

    Monday, March 12, 2018 by
    How to Make a Business Website That Converts

    How To Make A Business Website That Converts

    It's a truth universally acknowledged that if you have a business, you need a website. Even if you're not a site designer, there's plenty of information online to help walk you through the basics to create a professional-looking business website. As you're planning and designing your site, remember that there's sometimes a big difference between knowing how to make a business website that looks cool and how to build a business website that does its most important job: getting customers to do business with you. Here are some key elements your site needs to get customers to convert from browsing to buying.  

    1. Help Shoppers Find Your Site

    Customers can't shop in your store or hire your services if they don't know your business exists. So every step of building your business website should focus on performing well in search results. Start by choosing a professional, on-brand domain name and top-level domain (.com is still considered the most trustworthy). register domain name Then use a keyword finding tool like Soovle (and your own customer inquiries) to choose the long-tail keywords to include on each page of your business website. For example, if you are a professional dog walker in San Antonio, your long-tail keywords might include the specific neighborhoods you serve: “professional dog walker in Olmos Park” or “professional dog walker in the King William District.” Why not just go with “professional dog walker” or “dog walker in San Antonio”? Because people who are looking for something very specific near them are usually ready to make a purchase or hire a professional. That means they're more likely to convert when they find your site. And once you know which long-tail keywords make the most sense for your business website copy, you can use them in other SEO best practices on your site, too.  

    2. Help Shoppers Use Your Site

    Now that visitors can find your business website, will they convert? Maybe. It depends in part on how easy to use your site is. Choose a web hosting service that loads sites fast, because visitors will move on to the next site if yours doesn't load in a couple of seconds. Most local searches are done on mobile devices now, which means your site also must display well on smartphones and tablets. One of the most important factors in raising your conversion rate is well-crafted calls to action. Every page on your site needs a call to action to let visitors know what next step you'd like them to take. For example, on your home page your call to action could be Find Your Perfect Prom Dress Now or Book Your Prom Hair and Makeup Session Now. What else makes a business website easy to use? A lack of clutter. Before you add sliders, autoplay videos, or infographics that require both vertical and horizontal scrolling (no, just no), ask yourself if they will help or hinder visitors to your site. In most cases, you're better off without those extras.  

    3. Make Buying From Your Site Easy

    If you sell products on your site, make them look great. High quality product photos and videos are must-haves, because those images plus your written descriptions are all the sensory input customers can gather about your product online. Keep written product descriptions simple but include the details customers want, and format descriptions in a mobile-friendly way – bullet points and short paragraphs rather than big blocks of text. Your business website's checkout process is a make-or-break point for conversions. The more complex, time-consuming, or repetitive the checkout process is, the fewer customers will complete it. Think about how you can make the process as easy as possible for a busy customer who's using a smartphone to make a purchase while they're also doing at least one other thing:
    • Avoid roadblocks like requiring guests to register before they can add items to a shopping cart.
    • Offer a guest-checkout option. Busy people may abandon a cart rather than register as new customers.
    • Choose e-commerce tools that your target market prefers to use, like PayPal, Square, and Stripe.
    • Make payment and shipping information entry as easy as possible, ideally by using data your customers have already shared with PayPal or another payment service.
     

    4. Make It Easy for Customers to Reach You

    Some businesses make conversion less likely by serving up every possible contact option: a contact form, email, two phone numbers, a fax number for the customers reaching out from 1991, and half a dozen social media badges—the perfect conditions for option paralysis. A more effective practice is to limit your contact options: phone and email, or text messaging. Why? The way you present your contact information is another type of call to action, so keep it simple and direct.  

    5. Show Visitors Why They Should Do Business With You

    Limiting contact information doesn't mean you can't invite customers to connect on social media. Including your channels can help develop a sense of trust in customers—but it's better to display that information separately from your preferred contact methods. Other ways to build trust include:
    • Clearly stating your shipping and return policies on every page.
    • Including your preferred contact information on every page.
    • Including customer reviews and testimonials.
    • Displaying the trust symbols that show how your site protects customers' information. Your web hosting service should offer you a range of security options and badges you can display.
     

    6. Test Your Tactics

    There's one more step to raising your conversion rates: test your tactics. You can test virtually every element on your site to see how usable it is and how if affects conversion rates. With an all-in-one website builder service, you can make changes easily to improve your business website's conversion rates based on your testing. HostGator Website Builder