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  • What’s the Best URL Structure for SEO?

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by
    best url structure for seo

    SEO 101: What's the Best URL Structure for SEO?

    Many of your visitors will come to your website by clicking on a link, so you may wonder if it really matters what’s in the actual URL of a specific page. It may surprise you to know that when it comes to on-site SEO, what your URLs look like is actually really important. Creating a blog

    What is URL Structure?

    Your website URL works as your address on the web. It’s the most direct way for someone to visit a page on your website. If you’re not familiar with the term, the URL is the thing that starts with either www or http. what is a url In the early stages of starting a website, you want to sit down and figure out a standard structure for your website URLs. (If your website is already established and growing, it’s not too late to do this now, it just might require more work.) Your URLs always start with the root domain for your website (e.g. www.yourwebsitename.com), so what you want to define is what follows for individual pages. Your URL structure will directly relate to your larger site architecture. You want your URLs to both reference what’s on the specific page, as well as help situate the website visitor to where this page belongs on the larger website. For example, the URL for a post on your blog should look something like this: www.yourwebsitename.com/blog/nameofyourblogpost  At a glance to the URL, any visitor who reached the post through an outside link would quickly be able to see that they’re on a blog, as well some basic information about the specific blog post on the page.  

    Why Does URL Structure Matter?

    Your URL structure matters for a few key reasons.
    1. First, for Google to consistently deliver relevant results to searchers, it has to know what each page in its index is about. The URL is one of the most important parts of the page Google looks at to determine what a page is about.
    2. Next, an intuitive URL structure makes your site easier to navigate for users. If someone browsing a retail website for clothes finds themselves on the page www.clothesretailer.com/womens/dresses/nameofspecificdress, they know the page belongs in the two categories that precede the final part of the html: women’s clothes and dresses. Savvy web users also know they can delete the last couple of parts of the URL (dresses/nameofspecificdress) to get back to the larger selection of women’s clothes.
    3. And lastly, the same thing that makes a good URL structure intuitive for users is good for search engines too. The search engine crawler can more easily make the relevant connections between different pages on your website  - it can see that a particular item belongs in the same category as other dresses (even if “dress” isn’t in the product name), which belong in the larger category of women’s clothes on the site – information that helps the crawler better understand what different sections of the website are about and how they relate to each other.
    As an added benefit, having those extra categories precede the specific keyword or product name in your URL adds in some extra relevant keywords without creating a URL that’s spammy.  That gives Google just a little bit more information to make sure it understands what’s on the page and knows what keywords the page should show up in search for.  

    7 Tips for Creating a Good URL Structure

    The URL is a pretty basic part of on-site optimization, but one that it’s important to get right.  Here are a few good ways to make sure you use your URLs wisely.  

    1. Always edit a page’s URL to be relevant.

    A surprising number of websites will still use automatically generated URLs that look like a string of gibberish. That’s skipping a big SEO opportunity, while also creating a more confusing experience for your visitors. The first and most important thing you need to do for your website’s URLs is to simply commit to customizing each one based on what’s on the web page.  

    2. Follow a standard URL structure.

    As discussed above, this will relate to your website’s overall organization and is an important rule to follow. Determine what categories and subcategories you’ll be using and how you’ll portray them in the URLs of web pages that belong in each category. Be careful not to let things get too complicated here – too many categories will bog down your URLs and make them confusing rather than helpful: www.clothesretailer.com/womens/dresses/nameofspecificdress is an intuitive URL structure, while www.clothesretailer.com/womens/dresses/short-sleeves/purple/floral/knee-length/nameofspecificdress is taking things too far. Stick to the main categories that are important for making your website more intuitive in its organization, and be as consistent as possible in the URL structure you use across the site.  

    3. Keep it short and simple.

    Good URLs are short and to the point. Make sure you aren’t filling yours with any unnecessary words or characters, and avoid keyword stuffing. Having the same keyword in your URL more than once won’t do you any good. While most of your visitors will use links or bookmarks to access specific pages of your website rather than going to the URL directly, you want it to at least be plausible that someone could remember a specific URL if they wanted to.  

    4. Use your primary keyword.

    For every page on your website, you should have a primary target keyword in mind that you want it to rank for in the search engines. Obviously this should be something that specifically describes what’s on the web page, while also being a common term used by people looking for what’s on the page. Make sure your primary keyword is part of the page’s URL. It may work to simply use the keyword as the part of the URL specific to your page (e.g. www.yourwebsitename.com/relevant-category/primary-keyword). If the web page is for an article or blog post, the main words in the article’s headline can usually be pulled out to make a strong headline that includes the primary keyword and clearly describes what’s on the page. For example, a post called 10 Tips to Find the Perfect Summer Dress that has the target keyword “summer dress”, could become the URL www.clothesretailer.com/blog/find-perfect-summer-dress  

    5. Use hyphens to separate words.

    You can’t include spaces in a URL, so SEO best practice is to use hyphens to separate words. This will signal to Google where the breaks between words are, and make it easier for your visitors to understand URLs than if the words all ran together.  

    6. Remove stop words.

    You want URLs to be short and simple, which means you never need things like pronouns and articles. So when translating a page title into a URL structure, drop any common stop words in the title, such as: a, the, and, or, but, an, of, etc.  

    7. Use canonical tags where needed.

    This part’s a little more technical, but still important. You don’t want Google registering different versions of the same page on your website as distinct pages. So if you have the same web page that’s tied to more than one URL for any reason, you’re diluting its SEO value. The most common version of this is when you have web pages for both http://yourwebsite.com and www.yourwebsite.com, or if you have a secure version of a page at https://yourwebsite.com along with the two versions mentioned above. Whatever the reason, you want each URL for the same page to be consolidated in the eyes of Google so that a link back to one of them counts for all versions. You can communicate that to Google by using the canonical tag on every variation of the page that clarifies which URL should be considered the main URL to represent all versions.  

    Setting Your URL Structure

    Getting a standard URL structure into place can take some time and planning, but once you have your main structure defined, picking the right URL for each web page on your site can be one of the easiest parts of on-site SEO. Make sure you customize your URLs for best results every time. It’s an easy way to improve your SEO and create a better visitor experience in a small way. Don't miss the rest of our SEO 101 series! Give your site a boost with HostGator's expert SEO services. Learn more here.
  • 5 Common WordPress Errors (and How to Fix Them)

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018 by
    how to fix wordpress errors

    How to Fix 5 Common WordPress Errors

    Most of the time your WordPress site will operate without issue. However, on occasion, you might run into an issue that’ll take your site offline, or make it very difficult to use. Although these issues can be frustrating, they are solvable most of the time. Whether you made an update that led to a theme conflict, or you’re experiencing a connection error, most of these problems can be quick fixes. Below we’ll examine some of the most common WordPress stumbling blocks and show you how to solve them. best WordPress hosting

    1. The White Screen of Death Error

    The white screen of death can be just as terrifying as it sounds. You go to access your site and all you see is a white screen. This issue will usually occur due to a theme or plugin conflict. So, if you’ve recently updated your site and all you see is a white screen, then that’s probably the culprit.

    How To Fix It:

    If you can still access your WordPress admin panel, then login to the backend of your site and deactivate your themes and plugins, one by one, until you’ve found the one causing the issue. Then, delete that theme or plugin and find a suitable replacement. Try one of these most popular WordPress plugins.  

    2. Maintenance Mode Error

    Have you tried to access your site and found the error message that says, “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance"? Check back in a minute”? wordpress maintenance error fix “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance"? Check back in a minute.” This occurs when the maintenance file hasn’t been properly removed after the updates are complete. Each time WordPress is updated to a newer version a temporary .maintenance file is created.

    How To Fix It:

    To fix this error you’ll need to access your site via FTP, find the file labeled .maintenance, and delete the file.  

    3. Database Connection Error

    If you get an error message that states, “Error establishing a database connection,” then this means that your site has experienced an issue when it tried to make a connection to the WordPress database. When you’re experiencing this error, it could have to do with your wp-config.php file. If your database details have been entered incorrectly, then this could cause the conflict.

    How To Fix It:

    To fix this, login to your site via FTP and locate your wp-config.php file. Then, look through the file and make sure your database name, username, password, and database host have been entered correctly. Sometimes this issue might arise due to an issue with your host. Some hosts will limit your databases, and if you’ve reached the limit, then this error message could appear. If you're a current HostGator customer experiencing this issue, contact our support team here.  

    4. Insufficient Memory Issue

    Depending on your hosting and server configuration there might not be enough memory allocated to WordPress. This may allow you to install WordPress, but not enough to upload media, install plugins, and make customizations.

    How To Fix It:

    If you’re experiencing an insufficient memory issue then you’ll need to increase your WordPress memory limit. To do this login to your site via FTP and locate your wp-config.php file, and add the following line of code: define( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’ ); If you need to set your memory limit even higher, then change the 64M to whatever memory you require. Depending on your host you might have working memory limits, so make sure you’re only setting your memory limit as high as your host allows.  

    5. Syntax or Parse Error

    This kind of error will usually occur once you’ve made some code changes to your site. If you’ve recently added any code to your site, and see this error, then the issue is probably a mistake with some part of the code.

    How To Fix It:

    The simplest way to fix this error is to simply delete the offending code. If you can’t access your WordPress dashboard you’ll have to login to your site via FTP, locate the file you added code to, and delete whatever you added. Once you remove the buggy code your site should be restored to regular working order.  

    Minimize Your Risk in Case of Future WordPress Errors

    It would be near impossible to cover every single WordPress error, but hopefully, this has been helpful if you’re experiencing any of the above issues. If you’re experiencing a more complex issue it might be a good idea to reach out to a professional, or get in touch with your web hosting support team, as it could be an issue with your server. Finally, it’s a good idea to regularly backup your site. Whether you’re using a WordPress plugin or your web host’s automated backups. That way if you’re experiencing an issue you can always just restore your site to a previous working version.
  • 5 Best WordPress Calendar Plugins

    Thursday, June 28, 2018 by
    best wordpress calendar plugins

    Best WordPress Calendar Plugins

    Calendar plugins can be a very useful addition to your WordPress site. You can help to showcase your live events, manage bookings, and a lot more. Some plugins are better suited for managing your events, while others offer complex booking and scheduling options. Luckily, running WordPress means you have a ton of options at your disposal, both free and paid. But, since calendar plugins are so popular, it can be difficult to find the right plugin for your needs. Below we highlight five of the most popular WordPress calendar plugins, so you can easily find and use the right plugin for your needs. best WordPress hosting

    1. The Events Calendar

    the events calendar wordpress plugin The Events Calendar is a very popular free plugin. It’s clean, simple, intuitive, and easy to use, and is one of the most downloaded WordPress calendar plugins. With this plugin, you can easily add events to your site, along with different venues and organizers. You can even integrate Google Maps to make it easy for your viewers to find your event. There’s also a premium version of the plugin which adds support through WooCommerce, and gives you additional features like selling tickets through your site, creating recurring events, and a lot more. The premium version currently costs $65.  

    2. My Calendar

    my calendar wordpress plugin My Calendar is a free and feature-rich event management plugin. It offers you a ton of different options, so you can decide exactly how you want your events to display. You can integrate multiple calendars, create calendars for specific categories, add locations, create events groups, and a lot more. With the short code generator, you can display your events wherever you’d like, in your posts, sidebars, or even on its own page. When creating an event you’ll be able to adjust options like the event description, add images, set the event host, add the time, and more. Finally, you’ll also have the ability to customize the look of your events and your event calendar from within the plugin’s settings. If you’re looking for more, there are various premium extensions, which will allow you to easily sell tickets for your events.  

    3. Events Manager

    events manager wordpress plugin Events Manager is another very popular WordPress events plugin. It offers a ton of different features like the ability to integrate with Google Maps and Google Calendar, multiple display options, and a lot more. This plugins also lets your users register for events, and you can easily create recurring events as well. If you want to add a social element to your events you can integrate the plugin with BuddyPress to add discussion feeds, user feeds, and a lot more. There’s also a premium version of the plugin available if you require even more feature and functionality. When you upgrade the plugin you’ll get access to additional features that allow you to accept payments, offer coupons, and create custom booking forms.  

    4. Simple Calendar

    simple calendar wordpress plugin Simple Calendar is another plugin that integrates with Google Calendar. This plugin is similar to the Google Calendar plugin above, except it offers even more customization options. With this plugin installed all you need is your Google Calendar feed URL. Then you can import your upcoming events and start customizing. With this plugin, you have a shortcode that you can use to display anywhere across your site. If you know any CSS, you can customize the look of your events calendar with custom stylesheets. The plugin is even fully responsive, so your events will look good no matter the screen size they’re viewed upon. There are also premium add-ons available, which unlock additional features like color-coding events, adding more events details, and getting more attendance and registration options.  

    5. All in One Event Calendar

    all in one wordpress calendar plugin All in One Events Calendar packs a ton of useful features into an easy to use interface. Right out of the box you have three different themes to display your calendars. Some of the features include adding events, adding category sorting, adding theme venues via Google Maps, adding event descriptions and a lot more. Plus, you can sync your events with any app that supports iCal format, like the Google Calendar. There are a variety of add-ons available that will give you access to additional features like a front-end submission form, being able to embed your calendars into other platforms like Facebook, and the ability to sell tickets from your site. Hopefully, you find one of the plugins above useful in integrating an awesome calendar with your WordPress site.
  • How To Find Out Who The Domain Owner Is

    Monday, June 18, 2018 by
    How To Find Out Who The Domain Owner Is

    How To Find Out Who The Domain Owner Is

    Choosing a domain name and then finding a suitable hosting plan are the first step in launching your dream website. However, choosing the perfect domain name can be a lengthy process. You’ve spent time brainstorming domain names, have tried different domain suggestion tools, and you’ve finally found the perfect one. You go to register your domain and find that it’s already been registered. This doesn’t have to be the end of the road. You can figure out who the owner of the domain is and get in touch to see if they’d be willing to sell it. You might pay a bit more than registering a fresh domain, but getting that perfect domain could be worth it. Below you’ll learn the benefits of uncovering who owns a domain name, and how to do exactly that. register domain name

    Why Do People Buy Domains?

    A lot of people buy domains without actually using them. If you’ve found a domain that’s registered, but the site is empty or has a landing page provided by a hosting company, then there’s a solid chance the domain is available for purchase. In some cases, you’ll be able to purchase the site entirely, even if it’s already built-out. Maybe the owner decided to move onto other projects and hasn’t updated the site in quite some time. If this is the case, you should expect to pay a higher domain name price, but if the traffic levels are low the number won’t be outlandish.  

    The Benefits of Knowing Who Owns a Domain

    Before you begin the process of digging to find the owner of a domain name, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it. Being able to look up who owns a domain name can be very useful for a few reasons:  

    1. To Get in Touch With a Domain Name Owner

    If you want a purchase a domain that’s already registered, then you’ll need to get in touch with the owner. By finding out who the owner is you can inquire about purchasing the domain name.  

    2. To Uncover the Ideal Time to Reach Out

    By using WHOIS database information you’ll be able to see when a domain is about to expire. This can help you time your bid, so you can reach out with an offer right before the domain is set to expire, or needs to be renewed.  

    3. Correct Your Own Information

    If you’ve already registered a domain name in the past, then you might want to verify that your domain name information is accurate. This is especially true if you’ve purchased domains with the intent of selling them down the road.  

    How to Find Out Who Owns a Domain Name

    Finding a domain name owner’s information isn’t that difficult. To do this, we’re going to be using the website called WHOIS. This site essentially answers the question: who owns a certain domain name or IP address? Whenever someone registers a domain name they must provide relevant contact information. To perform a domain lookup navigate to the site: https://whois.icann.org/en, and enter the domain name you’d like to lookup. find out who owns a domain name As long as the domain owner isn’t using a proxy or domain privacy service to shield their information, then you’ll be given relevant contact information. Usually, you’ll find information like:
    • Where they registered their domain
    • The owner's email address and phone number
    • The domain expiration date
    • When the domain was registered
    You’ll find more information about the IP address as well, but the above elements will be the most useful to you.  

    I’ve Found the Domain Owner, Now What?

    If you’re still interested in making an offer for the domain name, then you’ll have a few different options. The first is reaching out to the owner via email and expressing interest in buying the domain name. The second is using a domain name broker who will handle the negotiation and transfer process for you. There are services like Sedo, which will handle the entire process on your behalf for a fee, or you can use the HostGator domain tool and place an offer directly through the site. In cases where the domain owner’s information has been hidden, your best bet is to get in touch through the site’s contact form.   

    Conclusion

    Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how you can use the Whois lookup feature to find the owner of a domain name. If you run into a domain name owner who either isn’t willing to sell the domain or is asking too much that means it’s time to cut your losses and continue your domain search. With hundreds of thousands of potential domain names still available, and a multitude of top level domains to choose from you’re bound to find the right domain for your needs.
  • How To Use WordPress User Roles To Improve Security

    Monday, June 18, 2018 by
    how to use wordpress user roles to improve security

    How To Use WordPress User Roles To Improve Security

    If you’re just a single person running your site, then you probably haven’t thought twice about WordPress user roles. However, if you ever want to give someone else access to your site, now or into the future, then knowing how to use these is paramount. Essentially, with user roles, you can give people access to certain areas of your site. With this, you only give them access to the portions of the site they require to do their work. Below you’ll learn what WordPress user roles are, why they’re important, and how using them alongside your supportive web hosting service can help to improve your site’s security. best WordPress hosting

    What are WordPress User Roles?

    WordPress is equipped with a role management system that allows you to specify what users can and can’t do on your website. As your site grows knowing how to use WordPress user roles is absolutely invaluable. Each role can be specified based on certain capacities. For example, you can give one user the role to publish a post, while you can give another a role to update your WordPress security plugins and themes. In total there are six default user roles you can use.  

    1. The Administrator Role

    You’re probably already familiar with the administrator role. It’s the role you’ve been assigned when you created your site. Usually, there is only one administrator role and it has access to everything related to your site. They can even conduct a website safety check to ensure the site is free of any malicious malware or viruses.  This role is very powerful and you should rarely give anyone this high-level access to your website.  

    2. The Super Admin Role

    There is a user role that’s technically one step higher than the admin role and it’s called the super admin role. The super admin role only applies when you have a network of connected WordPress sites using the WordPress multisite installation. This role is responsible for the entire network of sites and has the same privileges and permissions as an admin, but it extends out across the entire network of sites. If you have a super admin role, then the role of the admin is diminished and you can no longer modify or install plugins and themes, or change user information.  

    3. The Editor Role

    The editor role has pretty high-level access to your site. This role is responsible for content management, so they’ll be able to do things like creating and editing pages and posts. Along with moderating comments and changing categories. They won’t have access to plugins or themes, but everything related to publishing content is under their jurisdiction and capabilities.  

    4. The Author Role

    The author role is responsible for creating content. They’ll be able to create, edit, and publish posts, but that’s about it. They won’t have access to any pages and will have no level of administrative access.  

    5. The Contributor Role

    The contributor role has even less access than the author role. With this role, they’ll be able to read the posts on the site, plus edit and delete their posts. This role doesn’t allow post publishing or the uploading of media files.  

    6. The Subscriber Role

    The subscriber role is commonly used for subscription-based sites. Subscribers usually have access to a stripped down WordPress dashboard where they’ll be able to manage their own profiles. This role is useful if you want users to sign up to gain access to certain content.  

    Why User Roles Matter

    When your site grows and you have multiple people working in the backend of your site, you need a way to manage these users without getting overwhelmed. User roles are important for two reasons: 1. They can simplify your workflow. If you have a developer who maintains your plugin functions and themes, a team of writers, and an editor you can assign them specific roles based upon the job they’re doing. This will make their jobs easier and prevent them from accessing parts of the site not related to their work. 2. They make your site more secure. By defining user roles you’re giving people access to limited portions of your site. The last thing you want is an untrusted user installing plugins, or themes, or modifying your existing code.  

    How to Use WordPress User Roles to Improve Security

    By assigning different users roles based upon how they’ll be using your site, you will help ensure your site's overall security. When you give every single site user an admin role you essentially give them full access to your site. Even though you might trust the person you’re assigning an admin role to there are things that can still compromise the security for your site. For example, they could be using a password that isn't very secure. In that case, if the password is hacked then whoever is doing the hacking will have a full range of your site. However, if you’ve assigned them a specified user role (such as author or contributor) the damage the hacker will be able to do is minimal. You also never know if another person’s computer is infected. They might not even know, but their computer could have malware or another virus installed. If you give them admin access, instead of a defined user role, this puts your site at risk. In these specific cases, it is also critical that your virus removal tool runs routine website security checks as well.  Overall, by specifying user roles you end up improving the security of your site and help to safeguard it against any user errors. Hopefully, you see the advantages of utilizing WordPress user roles as your site grows. It’ll not only improve your overall workflow but will improve your security in the process.