When it comes to SEO, the details matter a lot. One of those details that’s commonly neglected is your choice of web host. Usually, it’s the last thing that people think about.
However, the type of hosting you’re using can have a big impact on your rankings. The extent of the impact will depend on the size of your site and its overall traffic levels, but your host is either supporting or damaging your rankings. Obviously, you want a host that does the former.
Below you’ll learn how your host affects your search engine rankings, and how to choose a hosting environment that will actually support your rankings.
The faster your site loads the better your site will rank in the search engines. Now, just having a fast loading site isn’t enough to push your site to page one. But, if you already have solid onsite and offsite SEO and you boost your site speed you will start to see your rankings climb.
Having a slow loading host will lead to a poor user experience since they’ll be sitting and staring at a blank screen. Poor user experience leads to poor metrics, like a high bounce rate, and a very low time on site, both of which will push your rankings down.
2. Data Loss = Rankings Loss
No one likes to think about it, but there is a chance that your site will face a disaster. Whether it’s getting your site hacked, a catastrophe at your host’s datacenter, or unintended site data loss, it can happen.
To protect your site and your rankings from data loss you need to have some kind of backup system. A high-quality host will have a backup system in place that will help you quickly recover from any of the above scenarios. HostGator customers, learn more about protecting your site with CodeGuard.
3. SSL Certificate Improves Rankings
Trust is huge online. If your site doesn’t seem trustworthy, then Google won’t trust you and you’ll have a hard time ranking. The same goes for your visitors. If your visitors don’t trust you, then they probably won’t purchase anything from you, or stay with your brand over the long-term.
One easy way to improve your trust is to install an SSL certificate on your site. An SSL certificate will encrypt the connection between your server and your user’s web browser. This will allow for the secure exchange of personal information. But beyond making your visitors feel safe an SSL certificate will also help your site improve its rankings. Since 2014 Google has acknowledged that SSL certificates are a ranking factor.
4. Uptime Matters
No host can guarantee 100% uptime, but the better your host, the higher uptime your site will have. If you’ve been experiencing high levels of downtime, then it’s probably time to think about switching your hosting environment. Learn more about HostGator's 99.9% uptime guarantee!
Having your site down shouldn’t affect rankings too much, but it can have a negative impact on your user experience. If a person tries to visit your site time and time again and your site is offline, they simply won’t come back. This can have a negative impact on your bounce rate and your CTR from the search engines.
5. Server Location and Performance
Another factor that influences the performance of your site is the location of your physical server. Now this will depend on what kind of hosting you’re actually using. For example, if you’re using cloud hosting it won’t be a factor. But, if you’re using shared, VPS, or a dedicated server, then the farther your visitors are from the physical location of your server the slower your site will load.
However, if you have a high-quality host this will be offset through an integrated CDN and a high performing server environment.
How to Choose an SEO Friendly Host
An SEO-friendly host will look different depending on the kind of site you run and how much traffic you receive. There is no perfect hosting choice for every style of website.
For example, if you have a small site that doesn’t receive a lot of traffic, then a solid shared host will be enough to support your site.
But, if you receive hundreds of thousands of visitors per month, then using a shared host will probably have a negative impact on your site’s performance and rankings. In that case upgrading to a VPS, cloud, or dedicated host would be the best course of action.
In order to find the best SEO-friendly host, evaluate your hosting choices with the factors below:
Does the host have a high benchmark of performance? If you’re unsure, spend some time checking out user reviews online.
Does your host include an automated backup system or use a third-party plugin?
Do you have the ability to install or purchase an SSL certificate for your site?
Does your host guarantee a high site uptime? Is there data, or a guarantee to back it up?
Can you choose your datacenter location? Or, does you hosting include an integrated or third-party CDN?
Going through the above questions will help you find a high-performing host that’ll actually support your rankings, not bury your site in the search results. Overall, your host can have a big impact on your SEO. If your site hasn’t been ranking as high as you think it should, then your hosting environment could be the culprit.
There's a reason people consistently choose HostGator web hosting. Learn more about our award-winning hosting by reading real reviews from our customers!
A managed WordPress site is one that’s hosted on a managed WordPress host. Essentially, you’ll be outsourcing the hosting of your site to a team of WordPress experts.
If you run a high-traffic WordPress site, then going with a WordPress managed host could be a great option for you.
Below we explore what managed WordPress hosting is, and the benefits it can offer your site, so you can determine if it’s time for you to switch up to WordPress managed hosting.
What Is Managed WordPress Hosting?
Managed WordPress hosting is a streamlined hosting environment that’s optimized to help you build and run WordPress websites. The goal of this style of hosting is to ensure your site is running at peak performance, with high levels of security.
A managed host will also take care of general administrative tasks like updating your site, maintaining security, and monitoring traffic levels. By hosting your site on a managed WordPress host you’re effectively outsourcing your hosting to a third-party of experts, so you can focus on growing your site instead.
The Benefits of WordPress Managed Hosting
Having a managed WordPress site just requires a switch to managed WordPress hosting. Below we explore the main benefits your site will receive when you make the jump to a managed hosting environment.
1. Improved Speed and Performance
When you utilize a WordPress managed server everything to do with the server environment will be optimized to get the most out of WordPress. That includes the server configuration, the hardware, the software, and the databases.
Your WordPress site can become slow for a variety of reasons, whether onsite or having to do with your server environment. With regular monitoring, the team behind your site will be able to diagnose and solve any performance issues before they become a problem.
2. Easier to Scale Your Site
If your site prepared for when an post goes viral, or you get featured by a major media outlet? Most sites will fail when they receive a large spike in traffic. Instead of visitors seeing the article or homepage, they’ll get nothing more than an error message.
Managed WordPress hosts are built to scale. With traffic monitoring features the team behind your site will be able to scale your site’s resources at a moments notice to handle the flood of traffic.
3. Greater Levels of Security
Most people don’t want to admit it, but there’s a chance your site could be hacked. Security is typically the farthest thing from people’s minds. Why would somebody want to hack my site?
The last thing you want is to wake up one morning and realize your site’s been hacked. Then, you have to go through the process of fixing your site, which can be a real headache if you don’t have solid technical skills.
With a managed WordPress host your server environment will be much more secure. Plus, since they’re WordPress experts they’ll be well aware of any common security holes and vulnerabilities and be able to patch the issues effectively.
4. An Expert Support Team Behind You
A lot of support teams will only be able to help you with the actual server hardware when something goes wrong. So, if the issue is with your site, then you’re left on your own, having to search through Google looking for the magic fix.
A managed WordPress host will not only be able to diagnose and solve server and hardware issues for you. But, they’re also staffed by a team of WordPress experts that will be able to help you troubleshoot any issues that might arise. And of course, the goal of a solid managed WordPress host is to help you avoid experiencing any site issues in the first place.
5. Automated Website Backups and Updates
Backing up your website is incredibly important, but usually, it falls by the wayside if you have to figure it out yourself. However, with a WordPress managed host your site will be backed up automatically. The frequency of the backup will depend upon your host, but usually, it’s on a daily or weekly basis.
Beyond backups the other task you’ll have to take care of yourself is updating your WordPress core, themes, and plugins. Failing to update these in a timely manner will make your site more vulnerable to attacks.
Luckily, with WordPress managed hosting all of your updates will be handled automatically. Whether or not your plugins will be updated as well depends on the host.
Is Managed WordPress Hosting Right For Your Site?
Managed WordPress hosting gives you the freedom and time to focus on growing your site, not managing your hosting. If you’re running a high traffic WordPress site and you want to improve its performance and security without any added work on your end, then WordPress managed hosting is an option worth considering.
Ready to open your online store?
With all the excitement for the official launch, it’s important that you take time to map out your plan. You want to be ready to serve customers on day 1 (with little or no issues).
Everything won’t be perfect, but the key is to keep pushing forward. Listen to Entrepreneur contributor Jonathan Long’s advice:
“Do not wait until you think it is perfect to launch. You are going to need to constantly split-test and make changes—it’s never going to be perfect...Don’t let excuses or fear get in your way—you are never going to know if you have a viable online business unless you launch.”
A strategy can help remove fear and doubt before launch day. Here’s our 5-step plan to assist you.
1. Optimize Your Product Descriptions
In the e-commerce business, the website is the foundation for your brand. And similar to a house, a weak foundation can result in problems in the future.
That’s why it’s vital for you to optimize your website from the start. This process includes everything from web hosting to branding to technical search engine optimization.
There’s a lot to consider. Think about how easily a potential customer can access your navigation bar or what keyword phrases will help you rank on page one of Google.
With the growing number of mobile consumers, you’ll also want to configure your site for smartphones and tablets. A few small changes can make the shopping experience better.
Product descriptions are often overlooked when launching online stores. The content should provide all the product details with an image.
Here’s an example below from TJ Maxx. From a price to social share buttons, shoppers receive all the necessary information to make their purchasing decisions.
Before you dazzle up your store, figure how you can enhance the site for your consumers. Every tweak gets you closer to a sale.
2. Know Your Shipping Strategy
Most e-commerce stores sell physical products. If that’s your business, you need to ponder how you will deliver those products to your customers.
Shipping is a big deal in business. From a brand’s perspective, you want the lowest costs to get items from point A to point B. Customers want their products to arrive at their doorsteps as soon as possible.
These dilemmas leave very few options for e-commerce brands. For instance, you might have to offer free shipping to your shoppers.
“Most customers not only want free shipping, they expect it. For this reason it can be difficult to sell a product with a hefty shipping fee. Many online retailers combat this by including the cost of shipping into the price tag while raising the price and offering ‘free shipping’,” writes Forbes contributor Brent Gleeson.
Build a shipping strategy that ensures everyone involved gets what they desire. Answer the following questions:
While many industry leaders may declare that email marketing holds no significance, it’s still one of the best ways to communicate with potential buyers and longtime customers.
Communication is essential in the customer relationship. Email offers you the chance to inform consumers about your latest products and confirm shipments of their most recent orders.
Plus, on-the-go consumers can use their smart devices to check their emails. This access can help you become part of your buyer’s everyday tasks.
But before you jump into all the complexities of email marketing, like segmentation and user profiling, your brand can start with the basic content—the welcome email.
This email is the first greeting a consumer will receive for signing up for your newsletter. It’s the friendly introduction to your brand.
Take a few tips from Urbanears below. Their welcome email gives the purpose of their newsletter and what consumers can expect to receive. The 10% coupon code doesn’t hurt either!
When creating your welcome email, you may want to include a small incentive, too. And don’t forget to add your branding to the message, like your logo or brand colors.
Email marketing isn’t dead. You can take advantage of the benefits with a simple newsletter.
4. Gain Pre-Launch Feedback
Like anything in life, you benefit when people lend you their expertise. Listening to others can provide insight on how to iron out launch issues.
If possible, join a community of e-commerce store owners. You can learn from their mistakes and pick up a few pointers to improve your store.
Think outside the box when finding communities. You may have to join multiple Slack groups or sit down face-to-face with folks in your local area. Prepare to ask specific questions and offer your skill set to others.
Initiating a beta consumer group also is an effective way to get feedback before your launch. That way, you get real-life scenarios of what’s working (and not working) in your store.
“E-commerce companies should aim to create quick and cost-effective prototypes which they can share with potential customers. Beta users can then offer feedback that will help reinvent your product so that it better meets their needs,” states Danny Wong, entrepreneur, marketer, and writer.
Ask your beta users to navigate through your website and report any challenges that arise. You’ll also want to know if the products resonate with them.
Of course, you want to give an incentive to your beta testers. Their honest feedback will only improve your launch.
From communities to beta consumers, find ways to get feedback about your store. Then, make the changes quickly.
5. Develop Your Promotion Strategy
Brand-new e-commerce stores face a heavy burden when it comes to promoting their businesses. While you’re offering an amazing product, people must know you exist.
Promotion starts with knowing your audience. By learning who they are, you gain knowledge on where and how they consume information.
For example, if you’re selling puppy accessories, you may find out they read a unique magazine tailored to dog owners. Then, you may want to purchase ads on the magazine’s site to connect with the audience.
There’s a wide variety of promotional channels. You can begin with Facebook ads, strategic partnerships, or social media posts.
Old Navy promotes their products with the help of influencers on Twitter. This tweet sets the tone of the brand with a call to action.
Focus your promotional strategy on the consumer. It’s the time to show them why your brand deserves their attention.
What separates you from the competition? How do your products solve their problems?
Learn more about your customers to succeed with promotion. You’ll have the intel to attract and maintain their loyalty.
Launch Your Store Today
Preparing for your launch day will help you move past any fears holding you back. With a strategy, you can make the customer experience better.
Remember to optimize your product pages to convert visitors into buyers. Place email opt-ins around your site to capture window shoppers. And consider doing a beta launch to gain feedback.
Plan. Then, launch!
Learn how HostGator's web hosting can support your e-commerce store.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
How 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.
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.
Live social video is essential for marketing teams.
With irrelevant messages consuming customers’ attention, your team needs content that will stand out from the rest. And that's where live social video becomes valuable to your small business.
“Live streaming videos give you the chance to attract a much larger audience and generate more traffic and online visibility. Because of its immediate interaction, you can entice more viewers than you would from just a simple status update or post,” states Maggie Munley, account manager at Corporate Communications.
Dust off your favorite outfit. It’s time for you to step in front of the camera.
Here are five live social video ideas to get you started.
1. Interview Thought Leaders
Education is important in today’s society. People are always seeking knowledge to advance their careers, help their businesses, or just find a product at a cheaper price.
Knowledge is definitely power. If you’re seeking to impress your audience on live social video, you’ll want to start by interviewing thought leaders in your industry.
Experts can offer unique insights on how to tackle small and big challenges affecting your consumers. By interviewing them, you also shine a light on your amazing brand.
You’ll want to select thought leaders that your customers respect. So take the time to research the latest blogs, attend a few conferences, or listen to several podcasts. These spaces are prime areas to find well-qualified experts.
But don’t miss the opportunity to interview the thought leaders on your team. They work day in and day out in particular areas that may interest your audience.
Below is an live social video example from Socedo, a lead generation platform. While streaming on Periscope, the company interviewed their head of sales about direct messaging in the B2B social media marketing.
You’ll also want to think about the topic and interview questions. Poll your audience before the chat and take live questions during the interview. That way, you’re engaging with the customer and not talking at them.
2. Explore Behind the Scenes
Your team’s tasks and responsibilities may seem routine (and even mundane). Everyone is doing their job to contribute to a greater cause—the customer’s satisfaction.
However, that’s not the case for your social media followers. You do something extraordinary in their eyes. You make a product they adore!
On any given day, your team is working behind the scenes, planning new product launches, arranging customer appreciation events, or speaking at a major conference.
Those actions you call “small” are a really big deal to your customers. People enjoy getting the inside scoop on what happens within your small business—and live video makes it possible.
“Use streaming to create conversations, give customers important information, and highlight fans, partners, employees, and new technologies (and share the spotlight). Sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses is yet another way to thank your biggest fans and enable them to help share your brand story,” says Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder of Keeping It Human.
The New York Timesis revered for its crossword puzzle. On Facebook Live, the team solves the puzzle with its followers. Plus, they give hints and viewers can put their guesses in the comments section.
Let your creativity run wild to show off your behind-the-scenes moments. It’s your opportunity to give your brand a personality.
3. Announce New Products
You’re constantly seeking different ways to create brand awareness. You want to drive sales, too.
Live social video can provide a helping hand. Streaming the announcement of your new products gets consumers excited. It’s a chance to see your product in real-time for the very first time.
And guess what? They don’t have to leave their home or office.
Then, your product announcement becomes a full-fledged event. On live video, you can explain the product features, demonstrate how it works, and talk to customers.
“Sharing the event with your audience can make them feel included and enthusiastically engage with your brand. If it's not exactly viable to host an event on your own, you can still engage your audience by getting involved in a much bigger event and then sharing live videos of how you're helping out,” writes Inc. contributor Shane Barker.
Time magazine highlights how to use Barker’s advice. When Apple made a big product announcement, the media publisher streamed the live event on its own YouTube channel. Bringing attention to industry news also can score you a larger audience.
Whether it’s your product or industry news, make sure to invite your customers to the event. Their presence can lead to sale now or in the future.
4. Perform How-to Presentations
When it comes to bringing products to life, there’s nothing better than a how-to presentation. It’s your moment of glory to give consumers that aha feeling.
Demonstrating your product or service is an effective approach for prospective and current customers. When you turn on the camera, your main objective is to show them your product’s value.
Before you get started, decide on what you want to demonstrate. You don’t want to risk fumbling over your own product with a live audience.
You also don’t want to spend an hour or two explaining something; you’ll lose the attention of the audience quickly.
Next, select who will be your on-air talent. You want a team member who can talk naturally about the product and won’t freeze up if he makes a mistake. You want someone who can handle the technical difficulties.
How-to presentations don’t have to convey a serious tone. Have fun with your audience. Check out this example from Dunkin' Donuts. It’s a light-hearted live video to celebrate their super fans on Valentine’s Day.
Killer presentations are all about organizing your ideas before the camera turns on. Do the hard work up front, so you can have fun with your customers on live social video.
5. Support Your Cause
Sometimes, live social video isn’t all about you. If you want to generate brand awareness, your small business must spotlight other causes.
Today’s consumer is searching for ways to connect with brands. Supporting your favorite charitable causes is one route to displaying your brand’s values.
Maybe you donate a percentage of your sales to a local nonprofit. Or your team volunteers at a specific soup kitchen every year. Those defining moments give consumers an inside look at your small business.
With live video, you can capture the selflessness of your team. Michael Quoc, founder and CEO of Dealspotr, offers his perspective:
“Live streaming makes your brand feel real. It’s an opportunity for you to be less polished and more authentic. You can show the human side of your team versus the scripted, commercial side.”
ASPCA hosts live adoption videos for rescued animals. It’s heartwarming and sincere. Audiences have no choice but to like and share the video. These videos would be perfect for a small business to show their support.
There’s a wide-range of nonprofit organizations looking for help. Lend support to a cause that matters to your team.
Lights, Camera, Action
Live social video is making a splash in every industry. Consumers want to see your brand’s personality and the people behind it.
Engage your audience by interviewing thought leaders with bold ideas. Announce upcoming product ideas to gauge consumer interest. And of course, give your favorite nonprofit cause some support.
It’s time for your close up. Start creating your own live social videos.