Can Your Web Hosting Plan Affect SEO?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.
5 Ways Your Web Host Affects Your RankingsThe type of web hosting you choose can either help or hurt your rankings. Below we cover five different ways your choice of host can affect your SEO.
1. Site Speed Is a Ranking FactorThe 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 LossNo 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 RankingsTrust 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 MattersNo 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 PerformanceAnother 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 HostAn 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?
What Is a Managed WordPress Site?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 HostingHaving 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 PerformanceWhen 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 SiteIf 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 SecurityMost 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 YouA 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 UpdatesBacking 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.
Monday, April 16, 2018 by Shayla Price
5 Steps to a Successful Online Store LaunchReady 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 DescriptionsIn 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 StrategyMost 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:
- What courier will ship your products?
- What are the rates for your selected courier?
- Will you fulfill international orders?
- Will you purchase shipping insurance?
- How will you keep track of your shipping costs?
- What’s your shipping policy for refunds?
4. Gain Pre-Launch FeedbackLike 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 StrategyBrand-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 TodayPreparing 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.
Monday, April 16, 2018 by Casey Kelly-Barton
Is Your Site Using the Right Font?Thanks to the growing number of mobile internet users, finding the right font has become a big project for site designers, publishers, and retailers. The BBC and the Guardian have recently debuted new bespoke fonts designed to be easier to read on phones—and save the companies money on licenses for commercial fonts. Even if you don't have a flagship-media budget, there are ways you can update your site fonts for better readability, a more consistent appearance across browsers and devices, and faster page-load times to help your SEO.
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.
- 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.
Finding Google Fonts for Your SiteWhen 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.
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 SiteBy 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.