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  • Are SEO Services Worth It?

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

    How to Get Started with SEO?

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

    What kinds of SEO services are available?

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

    The Great SEO Challenge

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

    Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by

    Twitter Campaign

    In order to run a successful Twitter campaign, we need to initially review a few things. So, how’s about a recap of why we tweet and why Twitter even matters?

     

    Wait, what’s a hashtag again?

    A hashtag in case you’re not sure looks like a number sign (#) followed by some sort of text (no special characters). For example, right now while I’m writing this article, these are the worldwide trending hashtags and the number of people tweeting about each:

    Twitter Trending Topics

    As you can see there’s quite a range -- from #savejustinbieber to #IAmAFeminist -- you never know what you’re gonna get from Twitter’s 140-character count platform.

    Twitter is especially useful when being used to track live events. In the recent United States Presidential Nominations the hashtags #DEMSinPhilly and #RNCinCLE were respectively used to track live sentiment from the Democratic and Republican parties. In essence, Twitter is a scroll of colorful commentary (GIFs, vids, and images) that can sometimes accompany major live events, political or otherwise.

     

    Why would business owners use Twitter?

    As a business owner, you may want to search hashtags like #plumbing or #contentmarketing or #goodeats to find out what people are talking about in your industry. This way you can find potential customers, sales opportunities, and influencers who may help in spreading the word about your awesome product or service. Plus every time you post content with a hashtag others searching for that hashtag will more easily be able to find you and your product.

     

    What’s the point of having a Twitter campaign?

    Here’s the deal, the more people who engage with your brand’s Twitter account and hashtag(s), the more people know about your business, the more people who buy your stuff! With more than 305 million monthly active users, Twitter campaigns are a great way to boost visibility.

    Here’s what we suggest:

    1. Choose a (really good) hashtag.

    Once you think you have the perfect hashtag for your campaign, please, please, PLEASE test it out! Make sure no one else is using it, or things will get super confusing. Being unique is key.

    2. Create a schedule of tweets.

    Don’t wing it. The beauty of digital marketing is that it’s measurable. Tools like Buffer and MySocialSuite can help you determine what time of day and on which days your specific audience is most engaged.

    3. Discover what works.

    Twitter has their own analytics tab where you can monitor which of your recent posts received the most engagement. Learn from this and mimic your campaign around what your audience already digs.

    Here's a look at HostGator's own Twitter analytics dashboard. (You can follow us here.)

    Twitter Analytics

    4. Make (and proof) your content ahead of time.

    Yes, there’s a time and a place for real time tweeting, but when you’re organizing an event, it’s good to have a set schedule of everything you and your team will need to make this work. Set out your steps in advance and know exactly what days you’re posting what and how long your campaign will be.

    Pro tip: Canva is a free image-making resource that enables you to create marketing content that’s the right size for each social platform. For more tips, check out our article on 4 free tools for making infographics.

    5. Use the tools Twitter gives you!

    Twitter now has GIFs built directly into its platform. Use these to show (and not just tell) your audience what’s up with your campaign. Choose from a variety of inspirational and topical moods like YOLO (You Only Live Once) and SMH (Shaking My Head).

    Twitter GIFs

    You can also set up quick Twitter poll soliciting feedback from your audience. Then you can repurpose the results as additional engaging content.

    Twitter Poll

    Now that you have the tools in place for what you need, all that’s left is for you to determine the type of contest or campaign you’d like to run. We suggest having a clear goal in mind. Do you want more followers, more sales? Every action you take from hashtag choice to image colors should point backwards to this final objective.

    Finally, here’s the fine print on running promotions directly from Twitter.

    Have you ever run a Twitter campaign? Are you thinking about it? Tell us in the comments!

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  • When’s The Best Time To Get a Small Business Loan?

    Friday, September 16, 2016 by

    Best Time To Get Small Business Loan

    Online lending is a great way for small business owners to get the capital they need to help their businesses grow.

    But they’re not for just anything. Before taking the plunge on a five- or six-figure loan, you need to ask yourself a couple of things: How will you pay it back and — even more importantly — how will it pay you back?

    Online lending makes getting access to necessary capital exceptionally easy — often just a few clicks on a website or mobile app. Projects perfect for an online loan are ones that have measurable ends and an obvious ROI (return on investment).

    Here are examples of how an online loan can make a BIG difference in the life of your company.

     

    1. To temporarily cover payroll as you take on new clients

    Your business is on the upswing, but you’ve got so much demand for your services that you can’t keep up. You need to hire more people to take on all this potential new work. Until you get paid by all these new clients you want to take on, you can’t pay for the new employee(s)!

    A small business loan could cover a new employee’s payroll for a month or two while you wait for those shiny new clients to pay their bills. Once you’ve been able to expand, thanks to that trusty new employee, the increased revenue should help you pay for their wages and repay the loan on time. Your new clients will tell their friends and colleagues about your good work, and your business will continue to grow.

     

    2. To weather lulls in cash flow (and even take advantage of them)

    Many Kabbage users are e-commerce sellers. How can a small business loan help your e-comm business? Well, you could use a Kabbage loan to stock up on inventory in the summer, when prices are low and sales are sluggish, and then hold onto that merchandise until the fall and winter, when demand picks up and prices increase. Without Kabbage, you wouldn’t have the money to make those purchases, since your own sales wouldn’t provide the necessary revenue during those slow summer months. By doing this, you’ll be prepared to cash in on the best pricing and the busiest shopping season while turbocharging your business’s growth.

    Even with the fees tacked onto your loan, you’ll still come out ahead. An online loan or line of credit can give you the capital you need to exploit the sales cycle.

     

    3. Upgrade your systems

    Let’s say you’re a used and rare book shop owner, and you’ve been doing business on the Internet. Online sales are starting to pick up, and you’re building a reputation outside the small Midwestern city where you’re based. But your payment systems are slow and out of date. Potential customers are irritated, and you can tell from your analytics that many of them get frustrated and give up rather than deal with your creaky old checkout process. You know that upgrading to a sleeker new interface will solve all your problems, as well as improve your shop’s image to out-of-state customers.

    But website redesigns and new e-commerce systems cost money, and it’d take a lot of signed first editions of A Tale of Two Cities to pay for it. A loan can help you upgrade ASAP and then use your increased sales and web presence to pay back the money over time.

     

    HostGator’s Recommendation

    There are lots of ways a small business loan can help you expand, but be sure you have a measurable goal in mind before you take the plunge. Once you do, check out our friends at Kabbage for fast, straightforward financing.

    Bonus: For a limited time, HostGator is offering Kabbage qualifiers a $100 Amazon* gift card.

     

    *Customer will receive a $100 Amazon gift card upon submitting a qualified application to Kabbage by 11:59pm EST October 11, 2016 through the link provided in this post. The gift card promotion is being run by Endurance International Group. Gift cards will be delivered to qualified customers electronically November 11, 2016. Amazon is a trademark of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Amazon is in no way affiliated with or a sponsor of this promotion.

  • IT Professionals Day: Honor The Techs You Work With!

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by

    IT Professionals Day

    National IT Professionals Day, falling on September 20th this year, is the third Tuesday in September. As its name suggests, it is a day to celebrate information technology professionals and all they do for us. According to ITProDay.org, 70 percent of people polled said work productivity would be lost without IT and that technology is the most important thing at work. Meanwhile, 88 percent of people polled do ask for technical help or support from IT professionals. These staggering numbers indicate the important role that IT professionals play in our lives today. Here we will examine the history of IT Pros Day, as well as look at the important things IT Pros do for us, and we will explore some suggestions for what to do to celebrate national IT Pros Day.

    History of IT Professionals Day

    National IT Pros Day is a very new holiday. In March of 2015, fellow Texas-based tech company named Solarwinds submitted the holiday to the registrar of the National Day Calendar, and it was approved. The rest, as they say, is history! Now, we will celebrate IT Pros Day on September 20th of this year, and September 19th of next year.

    What IT Professionals Do for Us

    According to Webopedia.com, "IT (information technology) is the broad subject concerned with all aspects of managing and processing information, especially within a large organization or company." As you can see, this is a wide definition, and IT clearly relates to a breadth of topics. Further, NationalDayCalendar.com tells us that "the IT (information technology) professional is the unsung hero of modern business, but often under appreciated by it. Whether it be desktops, laptops, mobile devices, applications, servers, networks, databases or cyber security, IT professionals keep business humming." Let's take a closer look at each of these specialties.

    Desktops. IT professionals specialize in keeping our desktop hardware and memory devices intact and operating properly. This includes computer repair and cleaning of malware from the desktop. IT professionals are also available as consultants regarding what hardware and software should be used on our desktops.

    Laptops. For laptops, IT professionals do everything they do for desktops, and then some. Because they are portable, laptops often end up with a lot of extraneous files and information, added at various times on the move. IT professionals can clean laptops of those unwanted elements.

    Mobile Devices. IT professionals also keep our mobile devices clean and free of unwanted elements. They help to keep our mobile devices communicating among one another. In addition, since mobile devices often get handled roughly, IT professionals are on hand to fix mobile devices when they break.

    Applications. IT professionals can be application developers for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices alike. These IT professionals function as software engineers who understand basic coding languages and are available to repair malfunctioning apps as well. IT professionals can also work as vendor managers for companies to keep track of how many applications are sold from each specific line of applications.

    Servers. IT professionals can be web developers, working with and keeping track of servers for their clients. These professionals are often fluent in HTML and JavaScript and they often write web- and server-based applications. They keep servers up and running and manage servers to prevent them from becoming overloaded.

    Networks. Those IT professionals fluent in web language and the language of servers are also often fluent in the language of networks. These professionals keep networks up and running, whether they are satellite networks, LTE networks, or wireless networks. As with servers, IT professionals make certain that networks don't become overloaded.

    Databases. IT professionals also keep databases up and running, making sure they, too, do not become overloaded. These professionals also deal with search terms and making databases easily searchable by title, name, location, number etc... In addition, they organize databases and make pie charts, bar charts, and/or graphs with the available data.

    Cyber Security. Those IT professionals who are web developers are often experts in cyber security. They are familiar with coding and with keeping information on the web secure by building cyber walls and by constantly outsmarting hackers. They pay as much attention to keeping important information in as they do to keeping hackers out.

    How to Celebrate IT Professionals Day

    NationalDayCalendar.com suggests several ideas for celebrating National IT Professionals Day. Following are these ideas plus a couple of others.

    • Thank an IT professional. If you work with them, which many people do, tell them how much they are valued and thank them for their efforts and for all they do.
    • Share #ITProDay on social media. This will raise awareness and inform and remind others to thank IT professionals with whom they come into contact every day.
    • If you are a business owner, honor your IT professionals with a celebration. Have a cake or some doughnuts on hand.
    • Invent a drink called the ITPro.
    • Program all computers in the office to say, "Happy IT Professionals Day!"

    As you can see, IT Professionals Day possesses a well-earned place in our national list of holidays. It is a great day to honor our IT professionals and to thank them for all they do for our desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and more. So keep IT Professionals Day on your calendar, and plan your celebration accordingly. You will be glad you did!

    How do you plan on celebrating #ITProDay this year? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!

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  • The Real Cost of Facebook Advertising

    Friday, September 9, 2016 by

    Cost of Facebook Advertising

    “How much should I spend and when?”

    “What kind of ROI (Return On Investment) will I get back?”

    “Boost? Like? Poke? Huh?!?!”

    As a business owner or entrepreneur, Facebook advertising can be totally necessary yet completely overwhelming at the same time.

    There are many tough questions when it comes to spend and social media, but they’re not impossible to figure out with the right tools.

    And before frustration sets in, just remember, the feeling is natural and mutual, most of your counterpoints feel exactly the same way.

    You can find the right balance for your biz by identifying the real costs and examining the tough questions, which, as luck would have it, we'll begin to discover with you now.

     

    Follow These Steps

    First, do your research—with Google! There are dozens of beneficial resources—people who have already done much of the higher-level homework for you. Some of our fave places to get serious (& free) info are…

    If you're feeling even more ambitious, take a free class or webinar (check out Constant Contact’s online social media marketing freebies), after all, you owe it to yourself to be as knowledgeable as possible for your business’s growth.

    Create Your Blog

     

    Have a Facebook Advertising Objective

    By being able to answer the age-old Who, What, Where & Why (& How) questions you'll give yourself peace of mind investing in your beginning stages on advertising on Facebook.

    First, you have to identify the Who - this is your audience. You can choose how you target them in this first step, but first determine who they are:

    • Are you targeting current fans with a special promotion or trying to reach a new demographic to introduce them to your brand? Being able to identify why you're targeting that who is imperative.
    • Then dive into the special interests, geographic location and other valuable data that will help you streamline your set. This is how you'll target them.
    Next, the What/Where - this is the content you’re sharing (the what) and also where you’re placing your ad. Different types of ads include different information. Here are the variations straight from Facebook’s list: Facebook advertising guidelines

    And finally, Why - what is your reason for advertising? Brand exposure, driving sales, website visits, collecting emails or leads are usually the top reasons.

    As we mentioned, the key to any valuable, successful ad push is to keep learning and identifying the resources and tools that make your endeavors a little easier. Find the ones that make sense to you and put them to work.

    Remember, there is no mathematical equation or magic spell to make digital marketing most beneficial, but you can always discover ways to help make your message stand out.

    Consider Facebook advertising as an experiment in identifying your audience and learning to improve your message as you go. We recommend beginning with small tests and growing only as you begin to feel more confident in your understanding.

    Knowledge is power; you’ve got this!

    Drive your Facebook ads towards a stellar landing page. Design a beautiful website with HostGator.

    Get Started With HostGator!