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  • Local SEO Agencies: Your 7-Point Checklist

    Monday, October 16, 2017 by

    Local SEOWhat Are Local SEO Services?

    If you’re a marketer or website owner in 2017, you have to care about SEO. Search engines are the first place many people go when they’re looking for, well just about anything. Being one of the websites that shows up when someone is looking for what you sell is extremely valuable. That’s no less true when you run a local business with a physical location – many people turn to Google to figure out where to go when they head out to do their shopping. Investing in SEO services is therefore necessary, but finding a reputable SEO firm can be a challenge. Bad SEO tactics can actually hurt you, since many of Google’s updates are designed to penalize spammy SEO practices. And if you’re specifically interested in reaching local customers, SEO requires a different approach for you than for national businesses. Doing it wrong can cause a lot of waste and slower results. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    How Local SEO is Different

    The best way that local SEO is different is that it’s less competitive. You can target local search terms that far fewer businesses are competing on and only have to worry about getting in front of people within a certain geographic radius, instead of everyone in the country or world. Helping your case further, for search terms that Google assumes suggest that people are looking for something nearby, the search results prioritize businesses located close to the searcher’s location. So anyone searching for “dance studio” or “restaurant” will see local results on the first page, even without putting their city or zip code into the search bar. All of this works to your advantage, but it doesn’t mean local SEO is a cakewalk. You will be competing against everyone else in your area that sells similar products or services to you and possibly some online businesses that target customers from anywhere. There’s a whole set of tactics specific to local SEO that any firm you hire needs to undertake to keep you competitive.  

    Checklist: What to Look for in Local SEO Consultants

    When you’re looking for local SEO services, there are a few things to keep an eye out for to make sure the firm or consultant you consider is the real deal.  Use this list as a basic checklist to ensure they know what they’re talking about.   1. They understand the differences between local and national/international SEO. Someone who approaches local SEO in the same way as they do SEO for any other client would be doing you a disservice. Make sure they talk about the strategy they’ll use for your SEO in a way that makes it clear that they understand your focus is local and that the steps they’ll take will reflect that.   2. They have a strategy for targeting Google’s 3-pack. Possibly the most important component in local SEO is Google’s 3-pack. These are the results that show up above organic results underneath a map that includes the locations of relevant results. As valuable as showing up in that number one organic spot is in Google, for local businesses, snagging a spot in the 3-pack is even more important since it’s what searchers will see first when they start to look at the results. If an SEO firm you’re considering doesn’t mention the 3-pack, that’s a bad sign.   3. They talk about directories. One aspect of local SEO that doesn’t factor into broader SEO as much is directory listings. Anyone offering local SEO services should talk about the importance of getting your business listed in as many local directories as possible. They may talk about NAP (name, address, phone number)– the acronym local specialists use to describe the importance of including all three of those in your listings and making sure each is consistent across all sites.   4. They discuss the importance of mobile. A focus on mobile is important for all SEO, but it plays an even bigger role in local SEO. Think about it. People on the go or about to head out often whip out their phones and perform a search to decide which shops, restaurants, or other businesses to hit up while they’re out. When you think of it in that context, it’s probably not all that surprising that 70% of mobile searches lead to action. That means you definitely want to show up when people in your area are performing relevant searches on mobile. Make sure any local SEO services you consider treat mobile optimization as a top priority.   5. Content with a local focus is included in their strategy. Content marketing should be included in any good SEO strategy, including those for local businesses. The trick with using content marketing effectively for local search optimization is making sure your content includes plenty of topics with a local focus. For real estate agents, that can mean writing about the different neighborhoods of the city. Landscaping companies can include posts about native plants that grow well in your city’s climate. Whatever you sell, a good SEO agency should help you figure out topics to cover in your content marketing that have local relevance.   6. They share ideas for encouraging customer reviews. One of the trickier parts of local SEO is getting customer reviews. You can’t force reviews to happen – customers have to be willing to provide them of their own accord. But there are strategies you can implement to help encourage more reviews. Local SEO strategists understand the importance of reviews and will often have suggestions for techniques to help you get more of them.   7. They don’t promise a #1 spot. This advice isn’t specific to local SEO services, but it bears mentioning nonetheless. The biggest sign that a SEO consultant isn’t entirely trustworthy is if they promise to get you in the top spot on Google. The way Google’s algorithm works is such that no SEO expert can reasonably guarantee that – unless it’s for an irrelevant search term no one cares about. Legitimate SEO experts understand the limitations of what they can offer and don’t overpromise.  They’ll give you a realistic idea of how much time SEO takes and what the challenges are to making progress. But if they know what they’re doing and you keep up with local SEO for the long haul, you will make progress over time and see more customers from it. Did you know HostGator provides local SEO services? Get your free consultation today.
  • What’s The Difference Between The New and Legacy Servers?

    Thursday, October 12, 2017 by
    Legacy Servers   As technology evolves, it’s important for us to offer a cutting edge product while also maintaining a tried and true standard. With this is mind, we have launched our new dedicated server platform. Our goal with this post is to briefly outline the differences between our two generations of servers. The new servers build upon our legacy platform with an increase in resources, essentially offering up to double the current configuration of memory and processing power as well as SSD storage. Another feature of the new servers is the dynamic scalability. The demands of your website may change over time, and we understand the realities of this as well as the inconvenience of needing to physically upgrade to a new server when you outgrow your current one. To that end, you can now upgrade your RAM or CPU within the same physical server. This means no change of IP address or data migration. The one caveat to this feature would be a change from HDD to SSD storage. There is simply no way around a physical migration in this instance, however we have streamlined this migration process to make it as transparent and efficient as possible. Both generations of dedicated servers are still powerful and flexible in regards to SSL and operating system options, though the new servers do allow for multiple Linux distributions. The security features are still top-notch, including DDOS protection and an IP-based firewall. All told, our new dedicated servers will set the standard for the future of web hosting. Give us a call today at 844-218-7741 to discuss your new HostGator dedicated server.
  • 5 Ways To Fix Your Slow-Loading Site

    Monday, October 9, 2017 by

    fix slow loading websiteWhat Do I Do About My Website Loading Slowly?

    If one thing is true about your website, it’s that loading speed matters. When your site loads slowly you’ll not only provide a poor user experience, but you’ll also rank lower in the search engines. Luckily for you, improving your site speed doesn’t have to take a lot of additional work. Plus, the benefits you’ll receive from improving your site’s loading speed are well worth the time spent. Below we look at five different ways you can improve the speed of your website. Dedicated Server

    1. Enable Caching

    Whenever you visit a website, certain elements are stored in a cache, so the next time you visit the site it can easily access those parts and load much faster. With caching, instead of your browser having to download every single resource, it only has to download a few of them. By turning on caching you can considerably improve your site’s loading for return visitors. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress you can install a plugin like W3 Total Cache or W3 Super Cache, either of which will let you enable sitewide caching, or caching of certain site elements. If you aren’t using a CMS, then there are additional steps you’ll need to take in order to leverage browser caching.  

    2. Remove Resource-Hogging Plugins and Add-ons

    If your site is currently running too many plugins you’re not only slowing down the speed of your site, but you’re making it more susceptible to security risks. You might require a handful of plugins for your site to function the way you like, but chances are there are some you can live without, especially if they’re resource hogs. The best way to do this is to get a baseline test of your loading speed via a tool like GTMetrix or Google Pagespeed Insights. Then, go down your plugin list and deactivate one plugin at a time. Then, run the speed test with the plugin deactivated. This might be time-consuming, but it will help you find the plugins that are harming your site’s loading speed the most. At that point, you can search for a less resource-heavy plugin or find another workaround.  

    3. Optimize and Reduce the Size of Your Images

    If your site has tons of images that aren’t optimized, then this will negatively impact your site’s loading speed. By having oversized images you’ll be requiring the browser to load larger files. There are a few different ways you can optimize your images to load faster.
    • Ensure that your images are unnecessarily large. For example, if the width of your blog page is 900px, then make sure that’s how wide your images are.
    • If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can install a plugin like WPSmush that will automatically reduce the filesize of the images.
    • Before you upload images, first run them through a tool called Tiny PNG to reduce the file size of your image, without sacrificing the quality.

    4. Minimize Your Code

    Sometimes your website’s code can get a little bit messy. When this happens your site will take much longer to load. When you’re making a lot of customizations, using a CMS, or even using a website builder to create your site there will be unnecessary line breaks, spaces, and other elements that don’t need to be there. If you’re using WordPress, then a plugin like Better WordPress Minify will minimize your code. Or, if you’re using one of the caching plugins highlighted above, then there should also be a minify option. If you aren’t using a CMS, you can minify your code by using the Pagespeed Insights Chrome Extension. This extension will create a minimized version of your code, so you can see which version is faster. It’s also a good idea to minify your CSS and Javascript files as well. Even having all of your CSS and Javascript files in one place, instead of multiple different files, will help to speed things along.  

    5. Use a CDN

    The loading speed of your site is affected by the proximity of the user to the server where your site’s files are stored. The farther away they are from this physical location, the slower your site will load. Using a CDN can solve this problem. A CDN distributes your site’s files across a network of global servers, that way your users can access your site via the server that’s closest to them. Some solid options for a CDN are CloudFlare and KeyCDN. In some cases, your existing web host might even have the option to utilize a CDN for your site. (HostGator does!) Hopefully, the tips above will help to speed up your website and improve your overall user experience. Any tips we didn’t mention above that you’ve used to help speed up your site? Share your own recommendations in the comments below.
  • Run a Food Blog? Check Out These 5 Recipe Plugins for WordPress

    Monday, October 9, 2017 by

    best wordpress recipe pluginsBest WordPress Plugins for Recipes

    Food blogs are incredibly popular. People love to find new and interesting recipes they can try out. If you run a recipe-based website, then you’re probably looking for better and more effective ways you can show off your favorite recipes. To have an effective recipe-based website you need to showcase your recipes in a clear and engaging manner. The plugins we highlight below will allow you to do just that, and more. Below we profile our five favorite WordPress recipe plugins you can use to transform your food blog. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    1. WP Ultimate Recipe

    wp ultimate recipe WP Ultimate Recipe is a very popular recipe plugin. This plugin is geared towards helping your users find the perfect recipe. For example, with this plugin, your users can easily access recipes, print them at home, search for specific ingredients, and even adjust the servings. With the shortcode feature, you’ll be able to include your recipes into any existing page or blog post with ease. Plus, it’s mobile responsive, so your recipes will look beautiful even when viewed on smaller screens. If you’re serious about creating attractive and useful recipes for your visitors, then this plugin is worth checking out. There’s also a premium version of the plugin available that lets you do things like create meal plans, add nutritional information, let visitors save their favorites, and a lot more.  

    2. Recipe Box

    recipe box Recipe Box lets you create stylish recipes that will definitely please your visitors. This plugin offers you over 60 different customizable options, so you can create recipes that will fit the existing design of your site. You’ll be able to do things like create recipe descriptions, add images of your ingredients and finished dishes, update cooking and preparation instructions, and much more. Plus, all of your recipes are responsive, so they’ll look good on smartphones to desktop computers.  

    3. Cooked

    cooked plugin Cooked is a feature-packed premium plugin that allows you easily create attractive recipes. The drag and drop interface is very intuitive and lets you easily create unique recipe layouts. It also comes with a community feature, so your users can interact and leave feedback and reviews regarding your recipes. If you’ve been looking for a way to create unique recipe profiles, then this plugin is worth checking out. This plugin is best suited for websites that have hundreds of different recipes and are looking for a more effective way to categorize and highlight those recipes.  

    4. Yummly Rich Recipes

    yummly rich recipes Yummly Rich Recipes is a solid recipe plugin that will actually help your recipes rank in Google. This plugin does have some limited customization options but is very easy to use and setup. Its SEO optimization features are top-notch, so your recipes are more likely to appear when your readers search for recipes on Google. Plus, there’s a Yum button, which will allow your users to create a recipe box of their favorites from your site. Other features include a recipe search box, recipe name auto-population, linking within your recipes, printing options, and more.  

    5. EasyRecipe

    easy recipe EasyRecipe allows you to quickly and easily add recipes to your WordPress site. The goal of this plugin is to make it as simple as possible to add recipes to your cooking site. This plugin automatically converts plain text into an optimized recipe format, so you’ll spend less time formatting your recipes, and more time cooking. One cool feature is being able to view your recipe as Google would see it before you press publish. The customization features allow you to customize the look of your recipes in real time. The recipe plugins above will help to transform your existing recipes. You don’t have to use every plugin above, but instead, choose the plugin that closely matches your needs.   Don't miss our related posts on making the most of your food blog!   Any recipe plugins you’re in love with? Share your favorites in the comments below.
  • Top Tech Trends to Watch in October 2017

    Monday, October 9, 2017 by
    October Tech News

    Tech News for October 2017

    The spookiest season of the year is upon us, but most of the tech news this month isn’t that scary (with one notable exception). For those of you too busy to stay on top of all the tech news happening each month on your own, here’s a quick rundown of some of the top stories that should be on your radar in October. Domain Name

    Equifax Breach Puts Much of Population at Risk

    Quite possibly the scariest story of the fall this year is the Equifax data breach. The credit reporting agency had access to the social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of everyone in the country who’s ever had a credit score – which is just about every adult in the United States. The breach puts about 146 million people at risk of having their sensitive information exposed. The country’s angry and people are scared. Companies, government institutions, and individuals are all still trying to figure out exactly what this means for the future of data security.  

    Samsung Releases New Mixed Reality Headset

    Samsung just revealed their new mixed reality headset designed for use with Windows devices. While the VR headset market is a crowded one, Samsung is offering higher-resolution displays and a larger field of view in order to be competitive in the space. This brings us one step closer to the mainstreaming of VR technology.  

    Google Testing Video Reviews

    Many websites and channels on the web seem committed to shifting to a greater emphasis on video over text. Google’s never one to be behind on a trend, so they’ve begun testing out providing a video option for reviews in Google Maps. google video reviews Currently the option’s only available to people who are part of the company’s Local Guides program. If the videos prove popular, they may well expand access to the rest of us.  

    Google Joins Companies in the Crossfire for Workplace Sexism

    Last month, three former Google employees announced a lawsuit against the company for paying its female employees less than male employees in similar roles and promoting men into higher-level positions much more often than similarly qualified women. Google’s far from the first tech company to face accusations of sexism, but it’s one that’s worked to create a reputation for being progressive. This lawsuit reveals a side of the company that’s not living up to that intention.  

    Google, Twitter, and Facebook Targeting Now Includes Anti-Semites and Racists

    Ad targeting is a valuable service for businesses and provides more relevant ads for users. But several of the biggest tech companies on the web faced recent criticism based on their targeting algorithms creating offensive categories. Users discovered and drew attention to racist categories in Facebook’s targeting options, and soon thereafter advertisers realized both Google and Twitter offered (and even sometimes recommended) targeting for racist terminology. In all three cases, the options and recommendations were technologically generated and the companies are taking steps to change how their platforms work to avoid advertisers encountering these options in the future.  

    iPhone X Includes New Tech and Features

    Apple has recently revealed some of the main features consumers will see in their soon-to-come iPhone, the iPhone X.  While the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus hit stores last month, techies are generally more interested in the model coming early next month. The iPhone X will be much more expensive than recent models, priced at over $1,000. It includes Face ID to unlock the phone, an especially big screen, an upgrade to the phone’s camera features, and a longer battery life than other iPhones. iphone x screen At such a high price tag, they may only capture the most devoted Apple fans with this one, but the excitement in the tech community is palpable.  

    Roku Launches IPO

    The video streaming technology company Roku launched an IPO late last month, valued at $2 billion. Unlike most of the giants in the streaming space, the company doesn’t bother with trying to produce its own content, they simply provide users access to the content available on a wide number of streaming sites and channels. In its first few days on the market, the company’s shares have been dropping in value, although they’re still above the original price the company launched at.  

    Facebook Getting into Video Chat

    Facebook has given video priority on the platform for some time, but they’re exploring features that would give users even more video options. Last month, they started quietly testing a mobile video chat app called Bonfire.  The app allows users to chat with up to eight friends at a time on live video. So far, only users in Denmark have access and no plans to move beyond the country to other markets have been announced.  

    Electric Trucks About to Join Us on US Streets

    Electric cars already take up a certain amount of space on our streets, but electric semi trucks are about to join them. Daimler, a company whose trucks are already on the streets of Europe, has plans to move into New York. And Elon Musk (who we can’t seem to go a month without mentioning in our regular tech roundups) has announced plans to unveil a Tesla semi truck later this month.

    electric truck

    World Summit AI Meets in Amsterdam

    Artificial intelligence remains one of the biggest topics in the tech world, as many of the biggest companies in the space continue to make investments into AI research and development. This month, many of the top professionals and businesses in the AI world will meet in Amsterdam for the World Summit AI to discuss their research, learn from each other, and explore what’s to come in AI technology. With big product releases, new features being explored, and companies grappling with high-profile controversies, in some ways October’s just another month in tech. Check back next month to see what news and stories will be dominating the industry in November.