Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
Is Shared Hosting Bad for SEO?Choosing the right web host is a very important decision in the life of your website. Choose the wrong host or the wrong hosting plan and you’ll make it that much more difficult for your website to succeed. Now, going with a shared hosting package isn’t necessarily going to be a poor choice for your rankings, but instead depends on a variety of other factors, as you’ll soon learn. Below we look into how a shared hosting plan can affect your search engine rankings.
How Your Host Can Affect Your RankingsYour host will influence a few core ranking factors that will either make it easier or more difficult for your site to rank. That doesn’t mean you should choose a host based on SEO factors alone, but it’s important to think about, especially if search engine traffic is going to play a crucial role in the success of your website.
1. Site Speed and PerformanceIf you want your site to rank it’s going to need to load quickly. Having a slow loading site will negatively impact your user experience, along with have negatively impacting your rankings. Plus, page speed is also a Google ranking factor. If you have a host that ends up slowing down your page loading speed, then you’ll definitely see a drop in your rankings.
2. Data Center LocationsAnother element that can affect the speed of your site is the data center location where your site’s files are actually stored. Some hosts will offer multiple data center locations that you can choose from. If you’re given this option you should choose the data center location that’s closest to the physical location of your visitors. Having a datacenter location that’s very far from your users may negatively impact your performance. However, you can get around this by using a CDN, which is covered in more detail below.
3. Site DowntimeSite downtime is a normal process of hosting a site online. Even the most high-performance servers will have to do routine server maintenance. However, one thing you’ll want to look for is a host that offers very high uptime (99.9% or above), and is backed by a guarantee or historical data. Having a site that’s down a lot of the time will create a poor user experience. If you have a user who clicks through to your site from the search engines and sees your site is offline there’s a solid chance they won’t come back. Google continues to shift its ranking algorithm towards sites that value its users, so it’s important you place a focus on creating the best user experience possible.
- HostGator's reliable 99.9% uptime guarantee earned us multiple Editor's Choice awards from PC Magazine!
4. Ability to Handle Traffic SurgesIs your host ready for when your site receives a huge amount of traffic, or a post of yours goes viral? It’s natural for a site to go offline during a huge surge in traffic unless you’re using a very high performing host. But, this issue should be remedied very quickly. Plus, if this extended volume of traffic becomes normal, then you need a host that can scale up your server resources, or easily upgrade your site to a higher package.
Will a Shared Host Negatively Impact My Rankings?This is a difficult question to answer with a straight yes or no answer. The impact your host has on your rankings will depend upon the hosting provider you choose and your site. For example, a site on a high-performance shared host with poor onsite optimization and SEO can still rank poorly. While, a site hosted on a less-than-stellar shared host with great onsite SEO like caching, image optimization, a solid theme, and a CDN can still have decent-enough performance and rankings. If you are using a shared host, then you can help to offset any negative consequences like slow loading speeds and lack of datacenter selection by using a CDN. Most shared hosts are equipped with their own CDNs or at least integrate with popular providers. However, if this isn’t the case you can always integrate your site with a third-party provider like CloudFlare. One tried and true method is to begin with a shared host and upgrade your plan if your site’s performance starts to decline. Regardless of the host you use, it’s important to properly optimize your site both for speed and rankings. Your hosting environment can help a lot, but you should still do everything in your power to improve your site as well.
Rely on Shared Hosting from HostGatorOverall, shared hosting isn’t necessarily going to have a negative effect on your rankings. What's important is to choose a reputable host, period. A good host will offer a variety of hosting plans, including shared plans, that are built to support differing levels of website traffic. HostGator offers a variety of hosting plans that are designed to support your unique traffic and site needs. All of our plans come with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and unmetered bandwidth. Plus, we also offer SEO services! Learn more here. Read reviews about HostGator's award-winning shared hosting plans here.
Monday, January 29, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
7 SEO Tips for Your E-commerce SiteAny business that makes money through its website has to make SEO a priority. Showing up in the search engines when someone’s looking for what you sell is quite simply one of the best ways to make sure customers can find you. But those spots on page one for popular e-commerce search terms are competitive. It takes some real work and know-how to make your website one of the ones in the running for those top spots. Here are seven things you should be doing to improve your e-commerce website’s SEO so you start reaching more of your customers.
1. Do keyword and topic research.Keyword research is an important step in any SEO plan because it’s one of the best ways to learn what your customers are thinking about. If you base your SEO efforts around assumptions of what people are searching for, then you could end up putting a lot of effort into trying to rank for the wrong things. Keyword research shows you what people are actually looking for on the web, both in terms of the specific phrasing they use and the kind of topics they’re concerned about. There are a number of tools that can help you in this step. The top of the list is Google’s Keyword Tool, which pulls directly from Google’s data on what search terms people use with the most frequency. While the information provided is geared toward people using Google AdWords for pay-per-click advertising, it’s also useful for people planning their strategy for SEO. You can put in a list of keywords related to your business that you’ve brainstormed and get an even larger list of related terms back from the tool. And you can input keywords you’re interested in to see how they compare in terms of traffic and competition levels. There are also a number of paid tools you can use to get even more detailed keyword information and help you organize the keywords and topic ideas you come up with in your research, such as the Moz Keyword Explorer and SEMRush. And it’s smart to devote part of your time during this step going directly to the source. Do customer surveys to find out questions and interests your audience has and the language they use to describe them, and talk to your customer service department to get a good list of the most common questions and comments they hear from your customers. Your keyword research should form the strategy of your SEO plan, but to be clear here, that doesn’t mean doing a lot of keyword stuffing. That’s an old-school SEO tactic that can hurt you now, and Google’s recent move toward Latent Semantic Indexing means that they’re better at recognizing what webpages and content are about based on context clues. So you don’t need to use the same term five times on your page to get the point across, but knowing the best terminology to use is still valuable.
2. Always use on-site optimization.This is luckily one of the easiest parts of SEO. For every page on your website, you have a number of spots in the html you can optimize based on the terms you’re aiming to link for:
- URL – The URL of the page should reflect the content on the page and to include the keyword you most want to rank for. As an example, if you have a page that’s focused on organic pet food, your URL could be something like www.companyname.com/organic-pet-food.
- Title – Your title tags should always be used to clearly communicate what’s on the page and incorporate your chosen keyword. That’s good for your readers and your SEO.
- Headings – Using headings in your content is a good way to make your content more structured and readable. It also gives you additional opportunities to incorporate relevant keywords. Make use of those <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> tags.
- Image alt tags – For every image you include on your website, you can add an image alt tag which gives you one more place in the page’s html to signal what the page is about to the search engines.
- Image titles – Before loading an image to your website, take a minute to give it a name that uses your target keyword.
- Meta description – Your meta description won’t influence how well your website ranks, but it will show up in the search results page, giving you a chance to use the teaser text to convince searchers to click.
3. Make sure your site structure is intuitive.Your site architecture is how your website is organized. A simple website (left) may have a menu with five main categories, and a few pages included under each category. An e-commerce site (right) with a lot of different products may have hundreds of categories and subcategories and thousands of product pages.
The more complicated your website is, the more important it is to make sure that you organize it in a way that’s both intuitive to your users and makes sense to the search engine algorithms. A good rule is to come up with a plan that groups related pages together in categories that make sense to your average site visitor, while keeping everything within a couple clicks from your home page. So you don’t want a product page to be grouped inside a category that’s a subcategory of a subcategory of a subcategory – you want to keep it simpler than that. Ideally, you plan out your site structure in advance, but if you missed the boat on that, take some time now to sit down and work out the main categories present on your website now so you can start organizing the pages you already have better and have a structure defined for the ones you’ll add in the future.
4. Provide detailed information on your product pages.Product pages that only have a product’s name or just a line of description don’t give you much chance to signal to the search engines what the product is or what it’s about. On a related note, it doesn’t tell your potential customer much about what makes the product worth buying. Take some time to craft descriptions of your products that provide more information to readers and search engines on what the product is and the types of features and uses it has. This gives you a chance to let the search engine algorithms know more relevant terms to associate with the page (although you still want to be careful here not to keyword stuff!), while also providing useful information to your prospects. Here's a great example from L.L. Bean:
5. Create relevant, high-quality content.All that research you did back in step one wasn’t just good for figuring out which keywords to focus your main website pages on, it will also form the foundation of a good content strategy. Content has a hugely important role to play in SEO for a couple of main reasons:
- Publishing fresh content lets the search engines know your website is current and up-to-date – Google doesn’t want to rank some old site that no one’s updated since 2011 that could be full of outdated information.
- It gives you the chance to start targeting a high number of long-tail keywords. These are easier to rank for and the more you start to rank for long-tail keywords, the stronger your website authority will be in the eyes of Google, helping you to over time rank more for more general, competitive terms.
6. Promote your content.You have to create content to be competitive in the search engines these days, but unfortunately, so many other brands are already doing so that just creating great content isn’t enough. You also need to do the work to get your content in front of people. That means promoting it on social media, sending it to your email list, and may even mean paying for ads that get it in front of people. This part is especially important if you’re in the early stages of your content program. You’re competing with brands that already have traction in the space that you don’t have, so you need to put extra effort into getting those first followers who like and share your content. If you have patience and put in the work, you’ll likely see those numbers grow exponentially over time.
7. Build links.Not that everything else on this list is easy, but this step might be the hardest part of doing SEO. You can control what goes on your own website, but it’s harder to convince other websites to change what’s on their site for your benefit – and that’s what you need to really demonstrate your authority to Google. Having other high-quality, relevant websites include links back to your website on their own site is hands down one of the biggest factors in how Google decides who to rank. While this is a big topic with a lot of different tactics you can try, there are a few good strategies to start with:
- Guest posting – If you create content for another website for free, you’re providing them with value, which may make it worth it for them to let you include a link back your website. Look for websites in your industry that have big followings and accept guest posts and start pitching.
- PR pitches – PR people have been doing this kind of things for years, while not always with the focus on a link. Look for journalists or writers who write about topics that relate to your product or content you’ve created and pitch them on a topic that’s a good fit for their audience that also relates back to your brand. You’ve got to be thoughtful in what you pitch to who for this to work, but it can get results.
- Look for name mentions without links – Look for examples around the web where your brand or product is mentioned without a link included and reach out to the webmaster to ask them to add one.
- Look for bad links – If you can find broken links that used to point to content or products similar to yours, you may be able to convince the webmaster to update their website with your link instead.
SEO and Your E-commerce SiteSEO isn’t easy, but for e-commerce websites that live and die based on how accessible they are to potential customers, every little bit you can do to help people find you will make a difference to the sales and revenue you achieve each year.
Introducing HostGator's Website Builder Themes and TemplatesWhen the time comes to build your website you’re going to have a lot of different options to choose from. If you currently use HostGator hosting, then one of those options is going to be using the HostGator website builder. This beginner-oriented tool will help you quickly and easily build a beautiful website and get it online as fast as possible. But, is this builder the right fit for your site? Below we look at the core features of the website builder and highlight a few of our favorite themes you can choose from.
What is the HostGator Website Builder?The HostGator website builder is a free website builder for people who are currently using HostGator hosting. It’s feature-packed and caters to beginners who are looking to get their first sites online. Overall, the theme collection is quite expansive, offering you over 100 different mobile-friendly themes to choose from. Below we take a look at some of the overall features you’ll have access to when you build a site with this tool.
- Easy to use drag and drop functionality with no development skills required.
- Pre-built pages and sections, so you don’t have to be a professional designer.
- Each theme is equipped with the 6 core pages every website needs.
- Built-in SEO optimization so you can increase the chances of your site ranking.
- Social media buttons to encourage your visitors to share your content.
- Ability to customize things like your color scheme, font choice, images, and more.
- PayPal integration to easily sell your products and services.
Who Is the Website Builder Best Suited For?If you’re just getting started online and the thought of building your own website terrifies you, then let this builder greatly simplify the process for you. If you’re already using HostGator to host your site, then using this builder is a no-brainer. The Basic version is completely free and included with all hosting plans. You can quickly create a simple and attractive website. With the pre-built templates and extensive theme selection it’s very easy to build out your site, and all without any existing design or development knowledge.
Top HostGator Website Builder ThemesNow, there are over 100 different builder themes for you to choose from, so it would be impossible to highlight all of them here. Instead, you’ll find ten of our favorite themes broken down by various industries. If any of the themes below pique your interest, perfect, but if not, then feel free to explore the entire collection here.
Builder Themes for Real Estate Websites
Builder Themes for Restaurant Websites
Builder Themes For Business Websites
For Creative Portfolios
More Website Builder ThemesIf we didn’t cover your niche above, don’t worry, there’s a huge theme selection that caters to almost every type of website out there, including:
- Beauty and Fashion
- Technology Industries
- Hotels and Travel
- Lifestyle Sites
- Music and Nightlife
- Simple One-Page Sites
- Simple Online Stores
- Sports-Related Sites
- Pets and Animals
- Construction and Other Trades
- Simple Blogs
- Business Consultant
Friday, January 26, 2018 by Casey Kelly-Barton
Planning a Website? Test Your SEO Basics Know-How [E-Book]Setting up a new website can feel like a test, especially if you don't have experience in coding or design. Fortunately, platforms like WordPress and tools like HostGator's Website Builder make it easy to get your site up and running. After that comes the next test: how do you get your site found by readers, viewers, or customers? That's where SEO comes in, and if that's something you haven't studied, don't worry. This quick quiz will identify the basic SEO terms you already know and help you get up to speed on the rest. Did you come here for the e-book? Great! Click here to download now.
1. What is SEO?(a) search engine optimization (b) a way to help more people find your website (c) the process of using keywords, code, images, and load times to raise your site's visibility (d) all of the above If you answered D, you're right. Search engine optimization helps people find your site by boosting your site's position in search results delivered by Google and other search engines. A good basic SEO program involves the right keywords, tags, schema, server speed, and more.
2. What are keywords and how do you find them?(a) words that unlock the meaning of your site; you find them by asking friends and family for ideas (b) words that people use when they search for sites like yours; you can find them with Google Keyword Planner and other tools You chose B, right? Although most of us can come up with keywords off the top of our head to describe our blog or business, keywords are most effective when they're carefully researched and tested.
3. On-site SEO means:(a) an expert who comes to your home or office to handle all your SEO for you (b) adding your keywords to your site copy over and over in hopes that search engines will rank you higher (c) optimizing the tags, meta descriptions and URL structure on your site so search-engine web crawlers (online bots that follow programmers' instructions to index web sites) can understand it more easily The right answer here is C. If you chose B, reconsider, because that's the definition of keyword stuffing, a frowned-upon tactic that can cause Google to rank your site lower or even ban it from its search engine results pages.
4. Technical SEO is important for...(a) impressing your friends who understand code (b) selling things to customers in the tech industry (c) helping site crawlers categorize your site's content and topics in search results C is the correct answer. Building a flat architecture and an XML sitemap can help your site appear higher up in search results because the robots that evaluate your site find it easier to use.
5. True or false: The images on your site matter for SEO.(True) Every image on your site can improve your SEO as long as it has the right format, file size, tags, and descriptions. (False) Pictures are just there to dress up the site or show off your products. This one's true. That's because search-engine robots read the tags and descriptions to look for your keywords, even though most visitors will never see them. And formatting and file size can affect page speed.
6. What's page speed and why does it affect SEO?(a) Page speed refers to how quickly a visitor can read your page, and it affects SEO because people like to read things fast. (b) Page speed is how often you update your blog with new posts and photos, and it affects SEO by adding more content. (c) Page speed is how fast your site loads on a visitor's computer or mobile device, and it affects SEO because Google ranks faster-loading sites higher. It's C. Most people won't wait more than two or three seconds for your site to load before they get frustrated and navigate away to a site that loads faster. Google wants to deliver results that users find helpful, so the search engine prioritizes sites that load in a blink.
7. What are rich results and how can you create them?(a) Rich results come from visualizing success and putting your earnings goals out into the universe. (b) Rich results come from asking your friends and family to share your site URL in hundreds of blog comments and forum posts. (c) Rich results are easy to use search results that boost your click-through rate and are formatted by using standardized schema markup or a schema markup plugin. If you chose C, you got it! Schema markup is what creates those handy recipe boxes when you search for “peach cobbler,” showtimes near you when you search for “Black Panther,” and product photos and prices when you search for “fidget spinners.” (If you chose B, please reconsider. As with keyword stuffing, spamming comments and forums with your URL can cause Google to downgrade your site's ranking or boot your site from its results.)
8. Mobile-first SEO includes:(a) choosing a mobile-optimized template and theme for your site (b) putting a big link at the top of your homepage telling visitors to go to your mobile site first (c) evaluating and refining your site based on Google's mobile-friendly test tool (d) both A and B (e) both A and C The right answer here is E. Because Google is moving gradually to a mobile-first index, your site needs to display properly on mobile devices as well as computers, and it needs to load quickly and help mobile users find what they need easily.
9. Link-building is...(a) the practice of creating links to others sites on your site (b) a waste of time (c) a valuable long-term SEO strategy, as long as you understand how to do it right You know the answer is C, because we're talking about SEO. There are a lot of ways to build links that boost your search ranking, like creating content people will use and share, sending press releases to local or industry media when you're doing something newsworthy, and staking your claim on your local business listings. It's work, but it's definitely worth your time.
10. The real SEO test is your website's search rankingDo you want to learn more so you can ace the SEO on your new site? Our e-book, The ABCs of SEO for Brand New Businesses, walks you through these topics so you can boost your site's visibility even if you don't have a tech or marketing background.