Corporate Blogs

AWS Links & Updates – Monday, December 9, 2019

Amazon Web Services Blog -

With re:Invent 2019 behind me, I have a fairly light blogging load for the rest of the month. I do, however, have a collection of late-breaking news and links that I want to share while they are still hot out of the oven! AWS Online Tech Talks for December – We have 18 tech talks scheduled for the remainder of the month. You can lean about Running Kubernetes on AWS Fargate, What’s New with AWS IoT, Transforming Healthcare with AI, and much more! AWS Outposts: Ordering and Installation Overview – This video walks you through the process of ordering and installing an Outposts rack. You will learn about the physical, electrical, and network requirements, and you will get to see an actual install first-hand. NFL Digital Athlete – We have partnered with the NFL to use data and analytics to co-develop the Digital Athlete, a platform that aims to improve player safety & treatment, and to predict & prevent injury. Watch the video in this tweet to learn more: AWS JPL Open Source Rover Challenge – Build and train a reinforcement learning (RL) model on AWS to autonomously drive JPL’s Open-Source Rover between given locations in a simulated Mars environment with the least amount of energy consumption and risk of damage. To learn more, visit the web site or watch the Launchpad Video. Map for Machine Learning on AWS – My colleague Julien Simon created an awesome map that categories all of the ML and AI services. The map covers applied ML, SageMaker’s built-in environments, ML for text, ML for any data, ML for speech, ML for images & video, fraud detection, personalization & recommendation, and time series. The linked article contains a scaled-down version of the image; the original version is best! Verified Author Badges for Serverless App Repository – The authors of applications in the Serverless Application Repository can now apply for a Verified Author badge that will appear next to the author’s name on the application card and the detail page. Cloud Innovation Centers – We announced that we will open three more Cloud Innovation Centers in 2020 (one in Australia and two in Bahrain), bringing the global total to eleven. Machine Learning Embark – This new program is designed to help companies transform their development teams into machine learning practitioners. It is based on our own internal experience, and will help to address and overcome common challenges in the machine learning journey. Read the blog post to learn more. Enjoy! — Jeff;

7 Best WordPress Caching Plugins

HostGator Blog -

The post 7 Best WordPress Caching Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. No one enjoys waiting for websites to load. And the longer your visitors wait, it’s more likely they will leave and go to your competitor’s website.  Caching helps alleviate excessive page load times. It’s the process of temporarily storing your website’s data, so it can load faster for your visitors. Rather than taking several steps to load your website, it speeds up the process.  Clearly, it’s important to clear the cache on your WordPress website. Fortunately, WordPress caching plugins make the entire operation easier. Take a look at the seven tools below. 1. WP Fastest Cache Sites that load in five seconds (compared to those that load in 19) see 70% longer average sessions. Your visitors want to engage with your content as soon as possible. However, each time a visitor lands on your webpage, the server creates a new page with PHP and MySQL. This process takes up critical space and memory. With several visitors coming to your website at one time, it can seriously slow down the rendering process. With WP Fastest Cache, it’s no longer a problem. This plugin renders the page one time and stores it in cache.  When someone wants to view the page, it serves the cached version. And because Google uses website speed in its algorithm, it can help improve your search engine rankings, too. 2. W3 Total Cache Caching is a critical part of optimizing your website speed. It significantly speeds up your page load times, while also decreasing the load on your server. W3 Total Cache keeps your visitors satisfied by reducing page load times. When fully configured, it can improve overall website performance by 10x.  The plugin compresses the size of your HTML files in cache. It also caches other page components, like Javascript files and database objects. It’s compatible with shared hosting, virtual private servers, and dedicated servers. With W3 Total Cache, the rendering and compression enhances the visitor experience, resulting in more conversions. Customer support is also available to answer your configuration questions or software issues. 3. Comet Cache Without caching, your small business gets deemed the “great brand, with the slow website.” It reflects poorly on your brand, and you miss the chance to delight customers and increase sales. So, don’t drive visitors away when a plugin can easily assist you. Comet Cache helps unburden servers. This WordPress caching plugin takes a real-time snapshot of your website, including pages and posts. You also can set an automatic expiration time for cache files. The pro version of the caching plugin includes additional features to improve your website performance.  You can clear your cache with a single click, auto-clear a list of custom URLs, and leverage domain sharing and multiple CDN hosts to allow browsers to download information simultaneously. Plus, you can preview these pro features in the free version. 4. Hummingbird As a small business owner, you have multiple responsibilities, ranging from marketing to accounting. So, it’s easy to overlook the importance of website optimization. Alex Landau, an engineer, on why you should make it a priority: “Caching makes things faster. When you want to grab some data that is expensive to look up (in terms of time or other resources), you cache it so that next time you want to look up that same data, it’s much less expensive.” Explore Hummingbird, a multi-purpose caching plugin that scans your WordPress website to find exactly what’s slowing it down. You don’t have to do any heavy lifting because the plugin is equipped with one-click fixes. Hummingbird also offers a caching suite to provide your visitors with a faster browsing experience.  5. Cache Enabler Research shows the vast majority of online shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. So, speeding up your page speed just a few seconds can help your small business or eCommerce store retain visitors.  Cache Enabler helps improve your WordPress site’s performance. It creates static HTML files and stores them for you. Therefore, when a visitor views your page, the plugin sends the static HTML. This process avoids the slow load time to generate the page. It minimizes the use of HTML and inline JavaScript to speed up web page delivery.  You also can view the cache size on your WordPress dashboard. It’s advised that you don’t use this plugin if your website uses a mobile theme or plugin that shows different layouts for desktop and mobile users.  Overall, Cache Enabler involves minimal setup for non-technical users. You can install and configure it quickly. 6. Breeze Fashion retailer Nordstrom lost 11% of their online sales after its website response time slowed by half a second. In a competitive market, website performance becomes increasingly important. Breeze is a powerful caching plugin designed for non-technical users. Once installed, small business owners can see results with the recommended default settings. The plugin also provides file level caching, database cleanup, CDN integration, and minification. 7. WP Super Cache A Google study found that 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. With WP Super Cache, you can have more control over the caching of your website.  This WordPress caching plugin serves the majority of your visitors, including those who aren’t logged in, haven’t left a blog comment, and haven’t viewed a password-protected post. Your known visitors will be served a custom cached files tailored to their visit. Moreover, if you’re not comfortable with editing PHP files, you can use the plugin’s simple mode to setup your caching. If you have additional questions, you can contact the friendly support team. Improve Site Peformance with WordPress Caching Plugins Take advantage of caching plugins to speed up your WordPress website. By doing so, you’ll enhance the visitor experience and maintain people’s attention longer.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

6 Best WordPress Website Tips for 2020

InMotion Hosting Blog -

The world of WordPress is changing faster and faster each day. WordPress is no longer a one-time install set-it-and-forget-it operation. As more websites all over the world adopt WordPress a whole suite of external tools have emerged to support the WordPress ecosystem. This year, your work will be to navigate this sea of tools and options and features without getting lost and frustrated. Read on to find out how you can keep your operation on course this year: Attend a WordPress meetup Drop your plugins where you can Learn version control Consider using an offline editor Get your local version up and running Use your host as a resource These tips are tailor made for WordPress users of every variety. Continue reading 6 Best WordPress Website Tips for 2020 at InMotion Hosting Blog.

Tackling the Headache of Tedious Plugin Maintenance

WP Engine -

Plugins are arguably one of the best parts of WordPress. These uploadable bits of software allow users to easily add features and functionality to their websites, and with nearly 55,000 free plugins available for download in the WordPress Plugin Repository, the options for customizing WordPress sites have become almost limitless. But just like any piece… The post Tackling the Headache of Tedious Plugin Maintenance appeared first on WP Engine.

SEO for Real Estate Websites [12 Pro Tips]

HostGator Blog -

The post SEO for Real Estate Websites [12 Pro Tips] appeared first on HostGator Blog. The real estate industry is competitive. To have any chance of being chosen by the people looking to buy or sell a home in your town, you have to find a way to stand out and get noticed. The most successful real estate agents aren’t constantly on the prowl trying to find new clients—they’re the ones who make it exceedingly easy for those clients to find them. In the age of the internet, the best method for doing that is search engine optimization (SEO). Research from the National Association of Realtors found that 57% of people turned to the internet as a first step in the home-buying process, either to start looking at listings or to research information on how to buy a home. The real estate websites that snag the top rankings in those searches have a good chance of winning that business. SEO requires a lot of work, but the good news for real estate agents is that you don’t have to compete with all the other agents out there. You only need to attract local business, so your SEO competition is restricted to the other agents working in your immediate area.  If you’re in a high-competition city like San Francisco or New York City, that may be cold comfort. But in smaller cities and towns across the country, getting a page one spot in the search engines is an attainable goal. You just need the right SEO strategy for your real estate website. Your 12-Step Real Estate SEO Strategy To make your real estate website more competitive on the search engine results page (SERP), these are the most important steps to take.  1. Make sure your website is mobile friendly. If you built your website a few years ago, mobile may not have been top of mind for you yet. But with every year, mobile use claims a greater share of all internet use (even surpassing desktop usage). And Google has been very clear about considering how well websites work on mobile when calculating rankings.  When was the last time you pulled up your website on a smartphone to see what the experience of using it on a small screen is like? Do it now. Does it load fast? Is it easy to use? If not, it’s past time for an update.  This doesn’t have to be a huge overwhelming project. Now that mobile use is ubiquitous, there are lots of easy options for building a responsive website that works as well on mobile as on desktop. With a website builder, you can get a mobile-friendly website up quickly and affordably.  2. Make sure your website loads fast. This is another key ranking factor Google’s been upfront about. People like websites that load fast, and Google likes to deliver results that people like. If your website takes more than a split second to load, you risk visitors clicking away and Google’s algorithm docking you for it.  A big part of having a fast website is choosing a web hosting provider that delivers reliable service. Beyond that, tips like using image compression, reducing the number of plugins you use, and enabling browser caching can help as well.  3. Do keyword research. A lot of your real estate SEO strategy will hinge on keywords. Keyword research is how you learn what the home buyers in your city are thinking about and searching for, so you know what search terms you want your website to show up for.  Make sure your keyword research prioritizes local terms. And not just obvious ones like “cincinnati real estate agent.” Get even more specific with neighborhood names and local landmarks. A good keyword strategy includes two types of keywords: Broad keywords – these will be the ones you optimize the main pages of your website for (your homepage and About page, for example). They’ll be straight to the point of what people are looking for, e.g. santa fe home selling, tampa home search, atlanta real estate agentLong-tail keywords – these are what you build a content strategy around. They usually include more words and answer questions related to buying and selling a home, e.g. best neighborhoods in charlotte, common home improvements san jose 4. Perform on-site optimization on your real estate website. For each page on your real estate website, choose a relevant primary keyword to optimize it for, and a couple of related secondary keywords. You want a unique primary keyword for every page, so you’re not competing with yourself.  Look for opportunities to naturally incorporate your keywords into, such as: The page’s title tagThe page’s headings and subheadings (h1, h2, h3, etc.)The copy on the webpageImage names and alt tagsThe meta description Also consider other pages on the site where it makes natural sense to link back to the page using your primary keyword as the anchor text.  Be careful in this step not to overdo it. Keyword stuffing—overusing a particular keyword to the point where your page doesn’t make sense for humans anymore—is actually bad for SEO. The algorithm penalizes websites that it registers keyword stuffing on. Don’t force it. But as long as you’ve chosen a keyword that’s actually relevant to the page, weaving it in naturally shouldn’t be too difficult.  5. Create and optimize a Google My Business listing. Google recognizes when a search has local intent. When location matters, it usually puts map results at the very top of the search engine results page (SERP). And a search term like “real estate” is definitely one where location matters. The results that show up under the map are all Google My Business listings. If you want a chance at winning one of those spots, you need to make sure you both have a Google My Business listing, and that you’ve optimized it.  Setting up your listing is pretty straightforward. Go here, and follow the steps the website walks you through. Fill out your profile as completely as possible, with contact information, hours, and an accurate category. Add any high-quality photographs you have to help your listing stand out for people who click through to learn more.  6. Add your real estate company to relevant directories and review sites. Make sure you have a profile on popular review sites like Yelp, Trust Pilot, and Angie’s List. Create profiles on the main real estate websites including Zillow,, and Redfin as well, and check and see if your city has any local sites with listings for real estate agents.  Research additional local organizations that have directories you can add your information to. That may include real estate professional organizations, local chambers of commerce, or other professional groups in your city.  These sites are both an opportunity to gain a link back to your website, and a way to make yourself easy for clients to find by showing up in one more place. Make sure you provide your information with the same spelling and formatting in each place you add a listing, so the algorithms can easily recognize them as representing the same business. For instance, if your office is located on Pretty Bird Lane, make sure you’re consistent in how you spell out Lane—don’t use Lane in some places and Ln in others.  7. Encourage reviews. Reviews are widely regarded by SEO professionals as an important ranking factor in local search. Obviously reviews on your Google My Business listing are important in this regard, but so are reviews on other sites across the web as well. If Google can see that you have a lot of 5-star ratings from clients around the web, you’re that much more likely to claim a top spot on the SERP. So don’t be afraid to ask your clients to leave you a review if they’re happy with their experience. You can include a link to your main review profiles in your email signature, add them to your website, and send a followup email to clients after each house sale asking them to take a few minutes to leave a review.  8. Create local content relevant to real estate. Any good SEO strategy will involve creating relevant content that provides value to your target audience. For real estate agents, that can include any topic that relates to living in your city, which should give you plenty to work with. Think about everything someone moving to your town would want to know, and create a list of ideas for content pieces to create that answer all their questions. As a starter list, this could include: Information about the local schoolsThe differences between local neighborhoodsThe best restaurants in townUpdates on big construction projects in townDetails about local electionsBest events and conferences in the cityCommon types of repairs or issues homeowners in the area deal withTrends in local real estate prices As a local, you know what people in your city care about. Package that knowledge into helpful blog posts, videos, or podcast episodes to help boost your SEO. 9. Use rich photos and videos. Buying a home is a visual experience. Sure, seeing written details like the number of rooms and square footage included in a home is an important part of it. But people will make more of their decisions based on an emotional response to the images they see.  Your real estate website will gain more traction if you include high-quality photos of the homes you represent. Even better if you also add video tours of them. To make sure these visual elements play an SEO role as well, optimize them by including the proper alt tags and adding detailed descriptions and/or transcripts of the video.   10. Promote your content. In a lot of cities, creating great content and making sure it’s optimized for search will already put you ahead of a lot of your competition. But if your city is more competitive, or if you want to go the extra mile to stake out a top spot on the SERPs, put some extra effort into getting your content in front of people. That could include sharing it on social media and sending it to your email list. It may even be worth promoting it with paid advertising on Google and the main social media platforms to give it an extra boost.  11. Partner with other local businesses and bloggers. All the steps you take on your real estate website are an important part of SEO, but they’re usually not enough on their own. You also have to work on the harder part of it: getting other websites to link back to yours. A good local link building strategy is to identify local businesses, bloggers, and publications that you can partner with in some way.  Can you guest post on a local website providing expertise on the current local market trends? Maybe you can join with a couple of other local businesses to sponsor a charity drive or put on an event together. Partnerships like this show you’re active in the community, raise your local profile, and therefore usually also lead to more links back to your website.  12. Sponsor local events. Event organizers are always looking for sponsors to help cover the costs of putting their events on. Start paying attention to the events that happen in your city: conferences, networking meetups, awards ceremonies, film festivals, music festivals, theater and dance performances, marathons. All of them likely need sponsors. Sponsoring an event often comes with a link to your site on the organizer’s website, along with other forms of promotion such as your name in the program. Sponsorship can be a good way to raise the profile of your real estate business, while building goodwill in the community at the same time.  Get Your Real Estate SEO Right Your life as a real estate agent will be much easier if you can count on people to find you, rather than having to go out of your way to find them. By building a strong website and making sure it’s optimized for the search engines, you’ll build a more successful real estate business that makes more with less work.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

10 Productivity Tips to Get Yourself Organized

The Blog -

Did this year get away from you a bit? It’s ok, we’ve all been there. Now that we’re staring the new year in the face, it’s time to sit down and think about how you can be more productive in accomplishing your goals. There are only so many hours in a day, and as a small business owner or entrepreneur, we’re sure you can use every single one of them if not a few more. Let’s look at some popular productivity tips, tricks, and hacks so you can make the most of the upcoming year. Productivity tips for the New Year  Productivity is all about increasing your efficiency in getting things done. How many times have you hastily-scribbled a To-Do List on the back of an old receipt only to find that most of those tasks never get done? There could be a few issues at hand. Are you trying to tackle too much stuff in a day? A week? A month? Before reviewing popular productivity tips and tricks, make sure that you consider the time and resources you have available and how those could affect your plans. Even the most well-laid plans go awry when there isn’t the time or resources to see them through to fruition. Keep in mind that the productivity hack that works best for someone else might not be the best one for you. Maintain an open mind and understand that you may need to try a few tactics before you find what works for you. 10 productivity tips, tricks, and hacks you need to try. 1- Write it down. You’ve heard this before, we know. But if it hasn’t worked for you yet, consider this: You’re probably doing it wrong. The concept of the To-Do List is simple. Think of the tasks you need to accomplish, write them down, and cross them off when done. But that didn’t help when you scrawled your list across the back of scraps of paper, did it? When creating your To-Do List make sure you’re defining the tasks that need to get done with S.M.A.R.T. goals. These goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. By giving yourself S.M.A.R.T. goals and writing out exactly what you hope to accomplish and by when, you’re setting yourself up for success. They also help relieve some of the stress and anxiety you might feel when faced with a large task by breaking it into manageable chunks. The act of handwriting your list instead of typing it out will help you remember what needs to be done. The reason you can more easily remember something you’ve written is because of something called the “Generation Effect.” Thinking through what needs to be done and then generating a list based on those things helps to encode the information in your brain. “Encoding is the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analyzed.” And that helps us humans remember our responsibilities. So write down what needs to get done, or risk forgetting your important tasks and brightest ideas. 2- Eat Your Frogs. Start the list (and your day) with your largest, most cumbersome tasks. If you put off the large tasks until the end of the day, odds are good you won’t get around to accomplishing them. Humans have a tendency to procrastinate, so get to the big tasks first instead of putting them off. Brian Tracy, an accomplished professional speaker, touches on this in his book, “Eat That Frog!” The title stems from a Mark Twain quote, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” What he’s really telling us is that if you get your biggest, most uncomfortable tasks done first then you can have the satisfaction of knowing they’re done the rest of the day. 3- Batch and break. Working non-stop for hours on end day in and day out is a great recipe for burnout. “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” So what can you do to avoid burnout and maintain your productivity levels? Batch and break. Group your routine tasks together and knock them off your To-Do List one after another. These could be tasks like checking and responding to emails or returning customer phone calls. Don’t waste time you don’t have by spreading these tasks throughout the day. Lump them together and get them done at once so you can move on to your other responsibilities that require more focus and thought. After you’ve finished a batch of tasks, take a break. By giving your brain and body a brief respite, you’re mentally preparing yourself to tackle the next thing on your list and you’re reducing your chances of getting burnt out. 4- There’s an app for that. Need to increase your productivity but can’t stay away from your cell phone? It’s ok, we understand the pull of technology. If you must keep your phone by you as you tackle your To-Do List, try putting it to work in your favor. Many apps exist for the sole purpose of helping to increase your productivity levels. They range from digital list makers to project management tools to social media publishing tools. Need some help staying focused while working on your tasks? Try an app based on the Pomodoro Technique. “The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method … [that] uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.” Some of these apps are complex and offer additional features, or you can use something like the Bear Focus Timer, a simple app to help you concentrate and stay focused. 5- Join the cloud. Is it distracting when you have to bounce from one program or software to another? Check your email here, write documents and blog posts there, and track inventory somewhere else entirely. While they’re not technically apps, G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 offer cloud-based solutions to help you stay on track. From a professional email address that matches your domain name to online meeting solutions, you can find what you need to take your productivity to the next level. 6- Turn off notifications. You might think that a minute here and a minute there don’t amount to much, but they really do add up. If you must have your phone accessible while you work then turn off all non-essential notifications. By turning off the notifications, you’ll remove the temptation to check them every time you see one. 7- The Eisenhower Method How do you decide what tasks are more important or urgent than others? If you’re struggling to determine what needs to be prioritized, try using the Eisenhower Method, designed by former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower. “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower An example of how to identify your important and urgent tasks based on the Eisenhower method. 8- Learn to say “No.” “No” is a powerful word. You may not be comfortable saying no to tasks and requests, but you’ll never get it all done if you say yes to everything. Say no to distractions. Say no to non-urgent and unimportant requests. Say no to unnecessary meetings. Say no to preserve your sanity and leave time for your most important tasks and responsibilities. 9- Stop multitasking. Do you think you’re good at multitasking? Research says probably not. When you think you’re “multitasking” you’re likely just switching between tasks quickly, like checking your email and attending to a webinar. Odds are good that when you’re focused on one you aren’t truly attending to the other. David Strayer, PhD, is a professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah; his research indicates that only 2% of the world’s population can truly multitask. These folks are called “supertaskers” and “the supertaskers are true outliers.“ 10- Fuel up appropriately. Everyone knows that sugar will give you a rush. That rush feels good as it happens, but everyone also knows that what follows is a crash. Instead of relying on sugary food and drink to give you quick but ineffective bursts of energy, try eating a balanced, healthy diet. Instead of energy drinks and candy, try a healthy meal. The Harvard Business Review writes that “Not all foods are processed by our bodies at the same rate. Some foods, like pasta, bread, cereal and soda, release their glucose quickly, leading to a burst of energy followed by a slump. Others, like high fat meals (think cheeseburgers and BLTs) provide more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy.” Get productive and stay productive in the new year.  We have faith that you’re going to accomplish what it is you set out to accomplish this year. Whether you’re starting your online presence by getting a domain name and website, to taking your business to the next level, all your goals will be easier to achieve when you’re productive. Remember, write down what you need to get done and don’t be vague about it. Batch similar tasks and take breaks after they’re complete or at regular intervals. And instead of letting technology distract you from your tasks, use it to your advantage. What other productivity tips and tricks do you rely on? Share them with us in the comments! The post 10 Productivity Tips to Get Yourself Organized appeared first on | Blog.

Check out The Amazon Builders’ Library – This is How We Do It!

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Amazon customers often tell us that they want to know more about how we build and run our business. On the retail side, they tour Amazon Fulfillment Centers and see how we we organize our warehouses. Corporate customers often ask about our Leadership Principles, and sometimes adopt (and then adapt) them for their own use. I regularly speak with customers in our Executive Briefing Center (EBC), and talk to them about working backwards, PRFAQs, narratives, bar-raising, accepting failure as part of long-term success, and our culture of innovation. The same curiosity that surrounds our business surrounds our development culture. We are often asked how we design, build, measure, run, and scale the hardware and software systems that underlie, AWS, and our other businesses. New Builders’ Library Today I am happy to announce The Amazon Builders’ Library. We are launching with a collection of detailed articles that will tell you exactly how we build and run our systems, each one written by the senior technical leaders who have deep expertise in that part of our business. This library is designed to give you direct access to the theory and the practices that underlie our work. Students, developers, dev managers, architects, and CTOs will all find this content to be helpful. This is the content that is “not sold in stores” and not taught in school! The library is organized by category: Architecture – The design decisions that we make when designing a cloud service that help us to optimize for security, durability, high availability, and performance. Software Delivery & Operations – The process of releasing new software to the cloud and maintaining health & high availability thereafter. Inside the Library I took a quick look at two of the articles while writing this post, and learned a lot! Avoiding insurmountable queue backlogs – Principal Engineer David Yanacek explores the ins and outs of message queues, exploring the benefits and the risks, including many of the failure modes that can arise. He talks about how queues are used to power AWS Lambda and AWS IoT Core, and describes the sophisticated strategies that are used to maintain responsive and to implement (in his words) “magical resource isolation.” David shares multiple patterns that are used to create asynchronous multitenant systems that are resilient, including use of multiple queues, shuffle sharding, delay queues, back-pressure, and more. Challenges with distributed systems – Senior Principal Engineer Jacob Gabrielson discusses they many ways that distributed systems can fail. After defining three distinct types (offline, soft real-time, and hard real-time) of systems, he uses an analogy with Bizarro to explain why hard real-time systems are (again, in his words) “frankly, a bit on the evil side.” Building on an example based on Pac-Man, he adds some request/reply communication and enumerates all of the ways that it can succeed or fail. He discussed fate sharing and how it can be used to reduce the number of test cases, and also talks about many of the other difficulties that come with testing distributed systems. These are just two of the articles; be sure to check out the entire collection. More to Come We’ve got a lot more content in the pipeline, and we are also interested in your stories. Please feel free to leave feedback on this post, and we’ll be in touch. — Jeff;  

Five Tips To Build A Sustainable WordPress Agency

Nexcess Blog -

Success and income posturing are a constant throughout social media. Across the Internet, freelancers and agency owners tout their high-dollar contracts and big money months. The hustle, grind, and slay lifestyle is glorified through staged luxury lifestyle photos. But eventually, these same people making a big splash, and even bigger claims, slowly fade away or disappear. Their tactics, while initially impressive, aren’t sustainable. To build a sustainable WordPress agency, you need to dispense with the gimmicks and posturing and take aim at developing a strategy that maintains your agency’s momentum. Success isn’t built overnight, but it’s also not an impossible climb when you know what to pay attention to.  By realigning your agency processes, you’ll be able to build on your core objectives to turn your WordPress agency into a business that is both sustainable, profitable, and that drives growth. Constant And Consistent Marketing When you become a business owner, you also become a marketer whether you like it or not.  For a services business to thrive, it needs a pipeline full of qualified clients. That means you need to be investing in lead generation and marketing efforts — and it can’t be sporadic. Marketing efforts can – and should – begin as soon as your business and its brand have been established. The right marketing techniques place you front-of-mind and help to bring you long term business. Consider this: The best time to market your WordPress services is when you’re booked solid because those efforts create leads that will become future clients. This is the key to ending the feast or famine roller coaster. Clients decide to hire you when they are ready, not when you’re ready. You need constant and consistent marketing to stay top of mind. Dependable Baseline Income Earning a dependable base income every month eliminates the tremendous stress that comes from living project to project.  A stable base income also provides more flexibility and opportunity in future projects, growth planning, and hiring. It is critical for your budding agency to not only offer single website builds and one-off projects, but services that provide reliable recurring revenue.  Consider offering monthly website support, ongoing retainers, and other long-term services. WordPress is used by 35% of global websites. These site owners know the value of upkeep and you’re in the perfect position to deliver on that.  Consider this: To get started, set a goal to earn enough recurring revenue to cover 50% of all business expenses. When achieved, extend your goal to cover 100% of all business expenses. If you’re building an agency, aim to secure enough recurring revenue to cover all of your team salaries. Documented Systems And Processes Systems and processes are the keys to sustainable business growth.  When you’re freelancing and working solo, it’s okay to have all of your business systems and processes in your head. If you want to grow an agency, however, you need to document each and every system and process step-by-step.  Process documentation can start with just a simple spreadsheet. As your agency grows and your client base expands, you can start to build this out, covering each area of your business in more detail.  As you build out your processes, keep future goals top of mind. What are your plans for 6 months from now? What does your forecast look like in 12 months? Having insight into how your processes may have to change in the future is key to being able to provide clients with the right expectations. Consider this: Process documentation creates clear instructions that enable delegation and set new employees up for success. Without it, you become a bottleneck that prevents forward progress. Documenting systems allows you to leverage software automation for repetitive tasks to save time, reduce resources, and increase profits. Crystal Clear Communication Ambiguity leads to confusion and uncertainty, which in turn, leads to doubt and procrastination, which in turn leads to inaction and delays.  When it comes to communication, there can’t be too much and you can never be too clear. Whether you’re guiding your internal team, working with paying clients, or engaged in sales conversations with prospects, clear communication is critical to your success. Consider this: No matter what you’re doing, all stakeholders need to be on the same page, understand the goals, and know the expectations—and they must be aware of their role, what needs to be done, and when it must be done by. When providing instructions of any kind, provide them in writing, review them verbally, and ask them to be repeated back to you so there is zero confusion. Strong Administrative Practices You’re great at what you do—you wouldn’t have started a business if you weren’t—but as a business owner, you now also have to be great at managing your business. Without a foundational understanding of critical business concepts and the tactical ability to execute on them, your business will suffer and you will struggle to stay afloat. As the owner, you need to learn about bookkeeping, payroll, and taxes, estimating and invoicing, project management, client management, marketing, and sales.  Consider this: Business owners must create responsible, consistent administrative habits. Without them, it becomes easy to ignore the “paperwork” side of the business when swamped with client work. The problem with this, however, is that the unsexy administrative side of the business is what makes sure you get paid. Grow Your Agency With Managed WordPress Focusing on the development of your agency is a time-intensive task. Besides the everyday hustle and bustle of client requests, you’re also dealing with the continued management of existing projects. Very quickly, this can cause growth goals to fall to the wayside as maintenance tasks take over.  By following the five tips above, you’ll be able to better align your business practices with those growth goals and strategies. Instead of finding yourself on the receiving end of an impossible workflow or uncertain project, you’ll be able to proceed quickly and efficiently; optimizing both you and your client’s time.  At Nexcess, we’ve created a solution designed to help you build a sustainable WordPress agency without worrying about the basics. Managed WordPress solutions from Nexcess take care of the infrastructure, plugin updates, image compression, and more, leaving you with the time you need to develop a winning business strategy and focus on finding new clients. Get started with Managed WordPress today.  The post Five Tips To Build A Sustainable WordPress Agency appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Personalisation in a WordPress World

WP Engine -

Personalisation has jumped out as a major buzzword in recent years. One of the biggest reasons for this rise in popularity is the sheer demand consumers now have for personalised digital experiences.  According to Epsilon Marketing, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences. Furthermore, in a… The post Personalisation in a WordPress World appeared first on WP Engine.

What Is My Domain Worth?

HostGator Blog -

The post What Is My Domain Worth? appeared first on HostGator Blog. A lot of us wish we could travel back in time and buy up domain names like,,,, and more.  But, even without access to a time machine, there are still ways to make money by selling domain names. Even though 99% of short and valuable domains are already taken, there are still a ton of valuable domain names out there.  Maybe years ago you decided to purchase a random domain name on a whim, only to find out years later that your domain, was worth thousands of dollars. This scenario is more common than you might think.  It’s easy to purchase all kinds of domain names, hoping that one day, a brand new startup wants to buy your domain. But, spending hundreds of dollars on random domains and sitting with your fingers crossed isn’t the best or most lucrative approach, but rather find out what goes into a domain appraisal and how to actually make domain flipping profitable.  A better approach is to learn about the factors that make a domain valuable and purchase domain names that have a decent chance of turning a profit down the line. In this post, you’ll learn the ins and outs of what makes a domain valuable and how to properly appraise a domain so you can answer the question, “What is my domain worth?” with a high level of confidence. Understanding Domain Name Valuation Domain valuation is the process of determining the value of a given domain. It’s a similar process to when companies are valued, but much less intensive.  Before we jump into how to do a domain appraisal, let’s have a quick overview of how domain names work. If you already have the basics down, such as how to register a domain, feel free to skip to the next section. If you’re just getting started building websites online, this section is for you. Domain names are synonymous with URLs (although they aren’t exactly the same thing), but essentially it’s what a user types into their browser address bar on their search engine to access your site — things like,,, etc. There are two primary parts that make up a domain, the second level domain and the top level domain. These two factors will also contribute to a domain valuation,, but more on this below. Here’s how top-level and second-level domains work together: Top-level domain. Even though it’s called top-level, this portion of the domain name is what comes at the end. It can also be referred to as a domain name extension. This is the .com, .org, .net portion of a domain name. Second-level domain. This portion of the domain name is the central portion of a domain and often refers to the name of the website, in “,” “hostgator” is the second-level domain and also the name of the company.  If you want to actually sell a domain you’ll need to own one first. To do this you’ll need to head over to a domain name registrar and buy a domain. Usually, you’ll have to renew your ownership of a domain on a yearly basis, but you can also buy a domain for multiple years as well. Whether you’re purchasing a domain name for a new project, or simply to hold onto and sell one day, the process remains the same.  Here’s how you do it: 1. Go to a Domain Name Registrar There are dozens of different domain name registrars out there, including one right here at HostGator, which we will be using for our example. First, head over to, and input the domain name you’d like to register.  2. Search for Your Domain Name The domain registration tool will then search through every single registered domain name to see if it’s available. Unless you spent some serious time researching your domain name, there’s a good chance it’ll already be taken. However, you can input different combinations of words and try different top-level domains until you find an available domain.  3. Choose Your Terms and Register Once you’ve found a domain name that you like and that’s available, all you have to do is choose your purchase terms and register the domain. If you’re planning on holding onto the domain for a while it can be helpful to register the domain for multiple years at once, so you don’t accidentally let the domain lapse.  Once you’ve registered a domain, you can either: Leave it alone, if you’re planning on selling it one day, or reserving it for a future website project of your ownForward it to your host by changing the nameservers. (If you registered your domain name at the same time you purchased your hosting, you won’t need to take any additional steps here.) What Factors Make a Domain Name Valuable? Knowing whether you have a valuable domain on your hands doesn’t require a ton of work, but it does require that you understand the factors that lead to a domain being valuable.  Often, the value that a domain holds will be determined by how desirable the domain name is. The list of factors below can help to illuminate whether or not your domain is valuable, but it’s not a science or always right. There’s always the chance that your strange and unique domain could align with a phrase from another country, or be the ideal name for a new startup.  Overall, the conditions below will be a good indicator of how valuable a domain actually is.  1. The Associated Top-Level Domain Having a domain name with a trustworthy top-level domain (TLD) will go a long way towards making a domain name desirable. For example, the domain “” will have much more value than the domain “” Typically, more standard and popular TLDs will always be a better bet. Some of the most popular TLDs include .com, .org, .net, and .co. However, other combinations could hold value, providing they make sense. For instance, the domain “get.mail” could be valuable to some businesses. 2. Any Keywords Present If your domain name has a popular keyword in it, this could also help to improve its value. For example, “” would be a valuable domain for the travel industry. Exact match domain names don’t hold as much value as they used to, but having the right keywords in a domain can increase how desirable your domain name is.   3. The Length of the Domain Generally, the shorter a domain name, the more valuable it will be. Now, this won’t always be true. For example, the domain “” won’t be very valuable. But, taken as a whole, domains with few words or short phrases will hold more value. Shorter domains are much easier to remember and more straightforward to market overall. You can easily build a business around a shorter domain, while it may be more difficult with a longer domain.  4. The Overall Brandability of the Domain The brandability of a domain can be hard to define. But, it’s still a significant factor when people are choosing a domain name. Essentially, good brand names are memorable, unique, and catchy. Think of brands and domains like,, 5. Existing Site and Traffic If you’re selling a domain name and the site is already getting traffic, or has an existing backlink profile, then you can typically get much more for the domain. An interested buyer could be purchasing the domain for the name and the SEO power alone. They could be interested in taking over your website. Or, they could be using it for the sheer SEO power alone and forwarding your domain to their existing site.  Older domains also tend to be more valuable than a brand new domain. So, if you have an old domain, even if you haven’t done anything with the domain, it can still be more valuable than a domain you registered a few months ago.  How to Determine What Your Domain is Worth If your domain currently satisfies a bunch of the requirements in the above section, then you might have a valuable domain on your hands.  Below we’ll walk you through some practical steps on how you can determine the value of your domain name. 1. Get a Valuation of Similar Domains A good place to start with domain name valuation is getting an idea of the current landscape of domain name sales.  There are a few different sites you can look through which will give you a general idea of what kind of domains have currently sold, and for how much. Some popular sites include ShortNames, Domain Name Wire, and Sedo. Here’s a quick look at some of the recent domains that have sold from the Domain Name Wire archives: This will give you a general understanding of the types of domains that are sold, the domains that bring in the most money, and more valuable information that you can compare to your current domain to see how you stack up.  2. Use a Domain Estimation Tool  There are a variety of estimation tools out there that’ll give you an accurate idea of what your domain is worth. These tools do a lot of the difficult estimation work for you. In general, what they do is compare your domain to similar domains and estimate the value based upon what other domains have sold for.  The most widely used domain name estimator is EstiBot. Just enter your domain name into the tool and you’ll get an accurate report of how much your domain name is worth.  Beyond the general valuation, these reports will give you all kinds of valuable data like the value of other related domains that just sold, along with search volume, keywords, and more.  3. Consider Selling Your Domain You can get a lot of useful information from the tools above. But, if you want some practical information on how much your domain is worth, then consider listing your domain for sale. Even if you aren’t ready to sell your domain, you can create a high enough reserve price, where if someone does buy it you’ll be happy.  For example, you can create a domain listing on Flippa. Enter all the relevant details about your domain, and set a high reserve price. The higher the reserve price, the less likely people will buy your domain.  Your goal here is to get actual bids from real people to see what they’ll pay for it. Who knows, someone might even purchase your domain for the super high reserve price! How Much Is Your Domain Worth? Hopefully, you have a better idea of the different factors that make a domain name valuable, along with how you can determine the value of your own domain. By using the tips and tools highlighted in this post, you should be able to pretty accurately determine how much you can sell your domain for.  You can also use the guidelines above to help you when you’re considering purchasing new domains. As a business buying and selling domains can be tough, but buying domains for your personal projects that check the boxes above can help to improve the sale price down the road. Here’s a quick recap of the biggest factors that influence domain name price: The popularity of the top-level domain you useThe keywords present in the domain nameThe brandability of the domain name (i.e. does it make sense as a company name?)The length of the domain name (shorter is better, commonly-used phrases or words are even better)If there’s any existing traffic or backlinks to the domain name Knowing what your domain name is worth can help you decide whether it’s time to sell your domain for a quick influx of cash, or purchase a brand new domain you just came across. Remember, if you want to quickly and easily register a new domain name, you can do so right here at HostGator.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

AWS Launches & Previews at re:Invent 2019 – Wednesday, December 4th

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Here’s what we announced today: Amplify DataStore – This is a persistent, on-device storage repository that will help you to synchronize data across devices and to handle offline operations. It can be used as a standalone local datastore for web and mobile applications that have no connection to the cloud or an AWS account. When used with a cloud backend, it transparently synchronizes data with AWS AppSync. Amplify iOS and Amplify Android – These open source libraries enable you can build scalable and secure mobile applications. You can easily add analytics, AI/ML, API (GraphQL and REST), datastore, and storage functionality to your mobile and web applications. The use case-centric libraries provide a declarative interface that enables you to programmatically apply best practices with abstractions. The libraries, along with the Amplify CLI, a toolchain to create, integrate, and manage the cloud services used by your applications, are part of the Amplify Framework. Amazon Neptune Workbench – You can now query your graphs from within the Neptune Console using either Gremlin or SPARQL queries. You get a fully managed, interactive development environment that supports live code and narrative text within Jupyter notebooks. In addition to queries, the notebooks support bulk loading, query planning, and query profiling. To get started, visit the Neptune Console. Amazon Chime Meetings App for Slack – This new app allows Slack users to start and join Amazon Chime online meetings from their Slack workspace channels and conversations. Slack users that are new to Amazon Chime will be auto-registered with Chime when they use the app for the first time, and can get access to all of the benefits of Amazon Chime meetings from their Slack workspace. Administrators of Slack workspaces can install the Amazon Chime Meetings App for Slack from the Slack App Directory. To learn more, visit this blog post. HTTP APIs for Amazon API Gateway in Preview – This is a new API Gateway feature that will let you build cost-effective, high-performance RESTful APIs for serverless workloads using Lambda functions and other services with an HTTP endpoint. HTTP APIs are optimized for performance—they offer the core functionality of API Gateway at a cost savings of up to 70% compared to REST APIs in API Gateway. You will be able to create routes that map to multiple disparate backends, define & apply authentication and authorization to routes, set up rate limiting, and use custom domains to route requests to the APIs. Visit this blog post to get started. Windows gMSA Support in ECS – Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) now supports Windows group Managed Service Account (gMSA), a new capability that allows you to authenticate and authorize your ECS-powered Windows containers with network resources using an Active Directory (AD). You can now easily use Integrated Windows Authentication with your Windows containers on ECS to secure services. — Jeff;  


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