Wednesday, March 8, 2017 by Kevin WoodAs a food blogger you’re probably always on the lookout for ways you can more effectively serve your fans and readers. To do this successfully, you need to focus on the design of your food blog and website. Having a poorly designed blog will negatively impact your readers’ experience and your search engine rankings. Put simply, the design of your blog will make or break your success. Luckily, we’re on your side. Below we highlight a few website tips that will take your food blog to the next level.
If you run a mom blog, then hopefully you’ve already chosen to install WordPress. If you’re just getting started, then WordPress will be one of the best choices to start your blogging journey with. When the time comes to customize your site, you’re going to have a ton of options. Beyond choosing a theme, there are literally thousands of plugins to choose from. Plugins will help you create additional features on your site and can even improve its performance. Whether you’re educating other moms on raising their children, showing them how to stay sane while raising a family, or showing busy moms how to cook on the go, you’ll find some value in the list below.
1. W3 Total CacheWhat’s a caching plugin? What this plugin actually does is quite technical, but luckily you don’t have to understand what it does to gain value from it. Put simply, a caching plugin will speed up the performance of your website. A fast loading website is an absolute necessity, both in the eyes of your readers and Google. W3 Total Cache is one of the best plugins out there for speeding up your current blog.
2. Yoast SEOIt’s hard to make a recommendation for any SEO plugin that isn’t Yoast SEO. If you’re looking to get more traffic from search engines, then you’ll need to properly optimize your content. This plugin takes all of the guesswork out of optimizing your site’s content. Just install the plugin, and you’ll find an easy-to-use addition to your post composition screen.
3. SumoMeSumoMe is an incredibly valuable plugin if you’re looking to grow your email list. This plugin comes equipped with both pop-up and slide-up subscription boxes. This plugin also features a nifty social sharing bar that encourages users to share your content.
4. RedirectionRedirection allows you to easily create redirects. This plugin comes in handy if you have to change the URL structure of a certain page, or re-arrange your site. Most redirection plugins make it very difficult to change your URLs. This plugin is dead simple. Whether you need to disguise the URL of an affiliate link, or change the URL of an existing page, this plugin is your best bet.
5. Related PostsSome WordPress themes come equipped with this feature, but others don’t. This plugin creates a simple carousel of your related posts at the bottom of post. This will encourage users to stay on your site longer and read more of what you’ve written, which is never a bad thing.
6. SucuriSucuri is a paid plugin, but if you’re serious about ensuring your site remains secure, then this might be a good addition to your plugin arsenal. When your blog is small, security might not be at the top of your mind, but as you grow and your traffic increases, it’s definitely something worth looking into.
7. Disqus CommentsComments are an important aspect of building a community around your blog. If you’re looking for a great solution, then check out Disqus. This plugin encourages participation and makes it easy to moderate comments from your readers. We hope the plugin list above will help to improve the performance, usability, and traffic across your mom blog. Did we miss any plugins above? Please share your favorites in the comments below.
Gaming servers are servers that are used to host games. If you have played an MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game, then you have connected to a gaming server. However, a lot of gaming servers can end up being limited. Instead of playing the kind of game you want to play, you’re stuck playing in the customized environment that’s required for massive server play. Sometimes you just want a little more customization and control over your gaming environment. This is where dedicated gaming servers come in. Below we dive into what dedicated gaming servers are, why you would want one, and how to create your own for a few select games.
What is a Dedicated Gaming Server?A gaming server is a dedicated server or server cluster with the requisite amount of hardware and resources to be able to run the game fluidly. Most games, like World of Warcraft and Minecraft, will not allow a person to charge people to play the game, as the game is the property of the gaming company itself. If you have a private server, however, you can play a version of a game that deviates from the official version. You can charge people to play the game (although you should check the official rules first), or add character customizations or gameplay resections. Of course, you can also simply set up a server to play with your friends.
Why Would I Want a Gaming Server?Well, to put it simply, these games are fun. World of Warcraft is a strategy game and Minecraft is like Legos for adults. The more players there are, the more fun it can be. But in order to have multiple people playing these games with you, you either need to have a LAN party and a server at your house, or you need a dedicated server. With a dedicated server, you can play with your friends no matter where they are, as long as they have their own computer and an internet connection. Rental servers can seem like a good course of action, since you don’t have to take care of any of the technical elements yourself, but they can have problems of their own. Sometimes the remote host won't update the software soon after an update is released, or there are lag issues during gameplay. If you’re looking to get the most from your online gaming experience, then setting up your own dedicated server is often the way to go. Get one here.
You've Intrigued Me... Now What Do I Do?Setting up a dedicated server can get a bit technical, but the freedom of having your own online gaming environment can be quite tempting for some gamers. The steps for setting up your dedicated gaming server will be different based upon the actual game you want to play. We offer a few tips below for getting your server setup for two of the most popular online multiplayer games, WOW and Minecraft. Before we jump into creating your very own server it’s important to note that you should think twice before charging people to play on your server environment. Depending on the game, this may or not be legal (here's Minecraft's position, for example). Create a private gaming server for passion, not profit. That being said, let’s dive in. If you already have a dedicated server, great! Go ahead and install your game of choice and go to town. If you don’t have a dedicated server, you can get a great deal with HostGator.
How to Set Up a WOW ServerWorld of Warcraft is played by millions of gamers around the globe. By utilizing the power of a private server you can emulate the experience of playing online while customizing certain elements for your own enjoyment. 1. Download Your Tools Before you set up your server and start customizing you need to have some basic tools. For starters, you’ll need to install a tool called AC Web Ultimate Repack. For the steps below we used this one . You’ll also need to install the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack. 2. Map Data Next you’ll need to collect your current map data, which you can get from your existing WOW account. You need to currently have access to the game to make the private server work. Open up the WOW folder and locate the maps file. Then go to C:/AC Web Ultimate Repack/ Tools/Map Extractor enUS and copy the maps folder and the ad.exe into the folder. Run the ad.exe program. 3. Configure Your Database Find the file called ascent-logonserver.conf Open it, and find the area that begins with LogonDatabase Hostname= Now, make sure you change the information, so it looks like the text below: LogonDatabase Hostname = "127.0.0.1" Username = "root" Password = "ascent" Name = "logon" Port = "3306" Type = “1" 4. Configure Ascent Realms Navigate to the file called ascent-realms.conf, and locate the portion that starts with <Realm1 Name= Then change the details, so they look the same as the text below: <Realm1 Name = “The Name of Your Server" <--replace this with the name of your server Address = "127.0.0.1:8129" Icon = "RP" Colour = "1" Population = "1.0" TimeZone = “1”> 5. Configure Your World Finally, it’s time to start customizing certain elements of your world! To get started with this, navigate to the file called ascent-world.conf With this file open you can then adjust the values under the <Rates Health= section to customize the gameplay experience. 6. Alter the realmlist.wtf File Now go back to the WOW directory and find the file called realmlist.wtf Delete the contents of the file and replace it with set realmlist 127.0.0.1 You can then start your server by running Control Panel.exe within your SC Web Ultimate Repack directory. Once that runs, click on the first three buttons that appear and your server will be live. You're ready to game!
How to Set Up a Minecraft ServerRunning a Minecraft server is much easier than a WOW server, so if the tutorial above overwhelmed you, give Minecraft a try! The steps below are for those who are running Windows machines. We already covered setting up a Minecraft server on a Mac in a previous blog post. 1. Check Your Machine The first thing you’ll need to do is ensure your machine is equipped to host a personal server. For starters you’ll need enough RAM. The common requirement is 1GB of RAM for every four to five players you’re going to host on your server. To test your machine you can use the tool called CanIHostaMinecraftServer.com. This will tell you how many players your current system can support. The most basic of HostGator's dedicated server plans can support 48 players - it only goes up from there! 2. Update Java Check that you have the latest version of Java installed. You'll need it in order for your server to work properly. 3. Download the Server Next, download the server file from Minecraft. Pro Tip: Create a folder on your site to store all of the necessary server files. 4. Install the Server Now all you have to do is open the .jar file you downloaded and the program will install all of the necessary files for you. Finally, locate a file called eula.txt and change the value eula=false to eula=true Save the file. Now your server is ready to rock! For a full list of Minecraft customization tweaks you can check out the guide here. Of course, the games highlighted above are only the beginning. Nostalgia for old games has been on the rise lately, so there's never been a better time to take advantage of those gaming skills you cultivated as a child! And don't forget: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start!
Friday, February 17, 2017 by Kevin WoodWhen the time comes to choose your web host you’re probably going to have a ton of questions. Hosting can seem a little complicated. You have cloud hosting, shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers and you have dozens of hosting companies to choose from as well. Yikes! With this post we hope to reduce a little bit of that confusion. Below we dive into the differences between cloud and VPS hosting.
What Is a VPS?VPS servers are also known as Virtual Private Servers. This style of server is essentially one physical server, which is then divided into several smaller virtual servers. Each one of these virtual servers acts as its own server environment. Since you have your own dedicated section of the server, you have your own set of allocated resources and can customize and configure your server partition exactly the way you want. Plus, there’s no exchange of data or file access between accounts on the VPS server. However, they can tend to be less reliable because if one physical server fails, then every VPS using that server fails as well. Their performance can also vary if one site happens to be hogging resources on the physical server. Who should use VPS hosting? Virtual Private Server hosting is great for users looking for more control over their website, with the technical skills to set up a customized environment.
What Is a Cloud Server?Cloud servers are known by several names including VM or Virtual Machines. Cloud servers are similar to a VPS hosting environment. The key difference is that instead of having a single server that’s dedicated to your site (as is the case with VPS), the resources are spread out amongst a bunch of different physical machines. With a cloud hosting platform, you benefit from the use of multiple servers, so you have more available resources at your disposal. You can increase the power of your server whenever you’d like to meet varying traffic needs. While cloud hosting offers more flexibility than VPS hosting, it doesn't allow for quite as much customization. Who should use cloud hosting? Cloud hosting is a great choice for website owners who need the flexibility that cloud hosting provides, to enable increased performance to meet surges in traffic.
How to Choose the Best Option for Your NeedsThe biggest difference between the two server environments is scale. If you’re looking to launch as quickly as possible and don’t care about scale, then a VPS server can be a great starting point. However, if you demand a flexible hosting setup and a high level of site performance and storage then it’s worth checking out a cloud hosting environment. What hosting environment do you prefer? Share your preferred hosting setup in the comments below.
Friday, February 10, 2017 by Kevin WoodConverting cold traffic into warm leads and eventual customers can be quite the difficult process. After all, cold visitors don’t know what your website is about, and aren’t familiar with anything you’re doing. One of the best methods to transform this traffic into new subscribers is through utilizing the power of a landing page. However, not just any landing page will do. You need a landing page that’s properly optimized to address the concerns of your audience in such a way they literally can’t wait to hand over their email address. Below we cover a few central elements that every high converting landing page needs to have to be effective. Ready? Let’s dive in.
You Truly Need a Compelling OfferToday’s web users are more inundated with information than ever before. They’re also bombarded with popups and dozens of requests to enter their email information. Because of this people have become more defensive over exactly who they allow into their inboxes. One of the most effective ways around this is to create a downloadable opt-in offer your visitors can’t refuse. Your opt-in offer should speak to a deep need, or underlying problem they haven’t been able to solve. However, make sure the problem you’re addressing isn’t so large, that you can’t deliver on the promise inside your downloadable PDF.
5 Must-Have Landing Page ElementsOnce you’ve solidified your offer your visitors can’t wait to get their hands on you’re going to build a page around that offer. Below we highlight some of the must-have elements you’ll want to feature on your page.
1. A Benefits-Oriented HeadlineOne of the most important elements of your page is your headline. This is the first thing people are going to read, and it needs to grab their attention immediately. Your headline needs to be clear and speak to the exact need you’re going to be solving for them.
2. A Relatable VideoRecent research has continually shown that pages with video tend to convert higher than those who don’t. Is it an absolute necessity? No. But, think about it this way. When a visitor lands on your website for the first time they have no idea who you are, so a video will allow them to connect in a deeper way. A video can even help to convince the reader to enter their email address, as it can be a lead in to the full solution you’re presenting in your downloadable offer.
3. “Less Salesy” Page ElementsSometimes, a landing page can feel a bit too much like a sales page, which can put pressure on your reader. To create a more relaxed environment you could consider adding the little sidebar share buttons to your page. This will make it seem more like a blog post, and could also lead to some social shares and more traffic for you.
4. Easy to See Signup BoxesYour signup box needs to clearly stand out from the rest of your page. If your page does include a video, then include the box directly below the video, with a reference to the location of the signup box in the video. If you don’t have video, or you have a longer landing page, then consider adding the signup box to multiple locations throughout the page.
5. A Clear and Compelling CTAYour call-to-action is equally as important as the headline. It’s what’s going to make the visitor input their email into the signup box. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it should be very clear. Think of it as explicit instructions telling your visitor what to do next. Don’t be afraid to spell it out for them. Vague call-to-actions will only leave your reader feeling confused, unsure of what to do next.
ConclusionTurning cold traffic into email subscribers is time well spent, especially if you receive large amounts of new traffic to your site on a regular basis. By implementing the tips above you’ll be on your way to building a high converting landing page that your visitors love.