Corporate Blogs

Cloudflare Expanded to 200 Cities in 2019

CloudFlare Blog -

We have exciting news: Cloudflare closed out the decade by reaching our 200th city* across 90+ countries. Each new location increases the security, performance, and reliability of the 20-million-plus Internet properties on our network. Over the last quarter, we turned up seven data centers spanning from Chattogram, Bangladesh all the way to the Hawaiian Islands:Chattogram & Dhaka, Bangladesh. These data centers are our first in Bangladesh, ensuring that its 161 million residents will have a better experience on our network.Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. Honolulu is one of the most remote cities in the world; with our Honolulu data center up and running, Hawaiian visitors can be served 2,400 miles closer than ever before! Hawaii is a hub for many submarine cables in the Pacific, meaning that some Pacific Islands will also see significant improvements.Adelaide, Australia. Our 7th Australasian data center can be found “down under” in the capital of South Australia. Despite being Australia’s fifth-largest city, Adelaide is often overlooked for Australian interconnection. We, for one, are happy to establish a presence in it and its unique UTC+9:30 time zone!Thimphu, Bhutan. Bhutan is the seventh SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) country with a Cloudflare network presence. Thimphu is our first Bhutanese data center, continuing our mission of security and performance for all.St George’s, Grenada. Our Grenadian data center is joining the Grenada Internet Exchange (GREX), the first non-profit Internet Exchange (IX) in the English-speaking Caribbean.We’ve come a long way since our launch in 2010, moving from colocating in key Internet hubs to fanning out across the globe and partnering with local ISPs. This has allowed us to offer security, performance, and reliability to Internet users in all corners of the world. In addition to the 35 cities we added in 2019, we expanded our existing data centers behind-the-scenes. We believe there are a lot of opportunities to harness in 2020 as we look to bring our network and its edge-computing power closer and closer to everyone on the Internet.*Includes cities where we have data centers with active Internet ports and those where we are configuring our servers to handle traffic for more customers (at the time of publishing).

What Is WordPress?

HostGator Blog -

The post What Is WordPress? appeared first on HostGator Blog. If you’ve been researching ways to build your first website, then you’ve undoubtedly come across WordPress.  WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world. It currently powers over one-third of the internet. But what exactly is WordPress? At the core, it’s software that powers your website. It controls how your site looks, functions, and performs. It’s what will power the backend of your site, it’s how you’ll publish pages and posts, and it controls how your site will look and how your visitors will interact with your site.  But, there’s still a lot more to WordPress than that. Below we’ll dive into what WordPress is, its history, and how you can get started with your own WordPress site today.  What is WordPress? WordPress is open-source software that can be used to create and manage websites. It can help you build anything from a simple blog, to an eCommerce store, a business website, a creative portfolio, and anything else under the sun. Even if you’ve never built a website, it’s not a problem with WordPress. You don’t need to have any design or programming skills to end up with a professional website. Your site’s design will be taken care of by your WordPress themes, of which you’ll find thousands to choose from. If you want to add more features to your website, then you can do that via the plugin library. WordPress started as blogging software but has since grown into a full-fledged site builder.  It’s currently used by sites such as BBC America, TechCrunch, and Vogue. Here are a few things that make WordPress completely awesome: It’s completely free and open source. All you need is a domain name and web hosting, and you can build your site.There’s a built-in community. It’s a project created by thousands of volunteers around the world. You’ll find useful tutorials, help, and guides all across the web. It’s flexible and highly customizable. You can build any kind of website, a massive tech blog, a small online store, a business website, a portfolio website, and more. You can quickly add new features. The plugin library is enormous, and with a few clicks, you can add nearly any feature you desire.Your site will look good and perform great. WordPress is fast and built to help you rank. With thousands of beautiful themes, your site will look good across any device or screen size. The Mission of WordPress The goal of WordPress is to help democratize publishing. WordPress was designed to help make it possible for anyone to share their services, ideas, stories, or products with the world. This is why the software is open-source, easy to use, setup, and built on the back of a helpful community.  Not only is it straightforward to get started with WordPress and create your first website or blog, but this software can grow with you and your site. It powers everything from massive content sites receiving millions of monthly visitors, to brand new niche-focused bloggers who just bought their first domain a week ago.  The History of WordPress WordPress was created back in 2003. It’s the successor of a project known as b2/cafelog. It was created to fill the gap for a personal publishing framework built on PHP and MySQL. Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little created the original version of WordPress.  But, since the software is open-source, a lot of the project has been built by a community of contributors. Today the face of WordPress is Matt Mullenweg, who is also the founder of Automattic. This company has developed numerous plugins that you probably use on your site and operates, the paid version of WordPress.  The first version of WordPress (WordPress 0.7) was released back in 2003. Since that initial release, there have been a series of releases which bring us to the most recent version, Gutenberg.  The initial release helped to lay the foundation for the modern CMS we know and use today. It included things like comment moderation, the ability to upgrade the software, permalinks that were search engine-friendly, support for multiple post tags and categories, and more.  As you can see the WordPress history is a long and fruitful one. Here are some key highlights related to the development of the platform: In 2003, Automattic brought on Toni Schneider as CEO, the former Oddpost CEO and Yahoo! ExecutiveThe first WordCamp was held that same year Automattic purchased Gravatar (you see these avatars present today in the comments section of WordPress)In 2008 the WordPress Theme Directory was launched (today this offers thousands of free WordPress themes you can download)WordPress 3.0 was released in 2010 and helped to make the transition from blogging system to full-fledged CMSIn 2015, the eCommerce plugin WooCommerce was acquired by Automattic2018 brought us the release of the Gutenberg editor, which provides users with an intuitive block editing experience You can expect WordPress to continue to evolve and push the boundaries for what you can do with a CMS.  How WordPress Works WordPress is an open-source CMS, which means it’s free to install on your website.  There are two versions of WordPress: the self-hosted and the paid version, The entirety of this post is about the self-hosted version of WordPress. The self-hosted version is going to be the primary version of WordPress you’ll most likely be using. This version offers you more freedom and flexibility, and access to the full suite of plugins and themes out there. Once you sign up for a hosting account, you’ll have the ability to install WordPress on your site. This is done through a variety of one-click software applications that help you install WordPress in a few clicks. After you’ve installed WordPress, then you can begin customizing your site by installing a theme, adding a few plugins, or writing a blog post. The entire process is highly intuitive and easy enough for beginners to build a fully-functional professional website.  The Benefits of WordPress WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world. Its widespread use is not only due to its flexibility, but because of all the benefits it brings to site owners. Here are some of the most significant benefits you’ll realize when you use WordPress to power your site: 1. WordPress is Easy to Use (Even For Total Beginners) Even though WordPress is a powerful and flexible content management system, it’s still very beginner-friendly. Most hosts also make it very easy to install WordPress; all it takes is a few clicks to install the CMS on your site.  Once WordPress is installed, then you can start customizing your site by installing a theme and adding plugins. Overall, building a site with WordPress isn’t as easy as using a website builder, but there are so many helpful tutorials online that if you do run into a problem with your site, you won’t be stuck for long.  The best thing about WordPress is that even if the learning curve is a little higher in the beginning, you’ll be amazed at what you can do in time. There’s no ceiling on what you’ll be able to accomplish with your site.  2. WordPress is Highly Customizable and Flexible WordPress can be used to build any kind of website. From large content-driven sites that have thousands of articles to small business websites that only have a handful of pages. The theme and plugin library is so vast that you can add virtually any feature to your website, just by installing a WordPress plugin. Some plugins can help you add new features to your site, while others can completely transform your site, like how WooCommerce can help transform your website into a full-fledged eCommerce store.  Plus, no existing design or programming skills are required to use the plugins.  When it comes to your theme, it’s also easy to find the perfect theme for your site. There are more general themes that can be customized to your liking, or you can find a niche-specific theme that’s perfectly suited to your site.  Plus, WordPress can grow with your site as well. Even if you’re starting with a smaller site, WordPress can literally support sites that get millions of visitors per month. 3. WordPress is Free and Open Source Another great thing about WordPress is that it’s entirely free. This can help to keep costs low as you’re building your first website. The only thing that you need to pay for is a domain name and hosting. There are thousands of different free themes and plugins that you can use to build out your website too. Of course, you’ll also find a massive library of premium themes and plugins available as well, but you can build a professional website quite nearly for free.  The open-source nature of the software makes it so anyone in the world can contribute to the software, hence the massive rise of the free theme and plugin market. 4. WordPress is SEO Friendly A lot of websites are highly dependant on search engine rankings. There’s a lot that goes into SEO and ranking highly in the search engines, but having a well-designed site with clean code and clear organizational structure can help you rank. WordPress sites tend to rank higher in the search engines than other styles of websites.  Plus, WordPress is very SEO-friendly right out of the gate. Not only that, but there are some excellent SEO plugins that can take your efforts even further, like Yoast SEO. All you have to do is install and activate the plugin, and it’ll analyze your existing posts and give you recommendations for how you can further improve your onsite SEO.  5. Managing Your Site is a Breeze No matter what you’re trying to do with your site, WordPress makes the management process incredibly simple. First off, there are built-in updates, so all you have to do is literally login to your dashboard and click a button, and your site will be up to date. Managing your growing content library is also incredibly easy. Even with a 1000+ posts on your blog, you can easily update, manage, and create new content. WordPress is built to scale, so no matter how large your site gets. Running a website with a dozen posts will be just as easy as one that contains hundreds.  It’s no wonder some of the largest blogs in the world have decided to use WordPress to help manage and scale their blogs.  Getting Started With WordPress Today Even with all of the features that are packed into WordPress it’s very easy to get started. If you decide to host your site with HostGator, then the process is even easier. Once you sign up for a hosting account and fire up your hosting dashboard, installing WordPress will only take a couple of clicks. All you have to do to get started is click on ‘Build a New WordPress Site’: This will fire up the software that will automatically install WordPress on your site.  All you have to do is input the domain that you want to transform into a WordPress site and enter a few more details about your site. Once the software is finished you’ll have a WordPress site you can start customizing. After WordPress is up and running on your site you can access your site by navigating to “”. Enter your username and password and you’ll be taken to the backend of your site. This will be your home base for customizing your site, installing themes and plugins, publishing pages and blog posts, and keeping your site up to date. In time, you’ll become a master of your WordPress dashboard.  Hopefully, by now you understand the power of WordPress, it’s history, and how far it’s come. WordPress is a truly powerful CMS that’s the number one choice for most new website builders, and your new website can be next! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

My Picks for Top 5 “Must Have” WordPress Plugins

HostGator Blog -

The post My Picks for Top 5 “Must Have” WordPress Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most of your website.  At a recent HostGator customer meetup, I hosted a roundtable discussion with our customers about their WordPress websites. Btw, look for more of those meetups in 2020. I wanted to know – how are our customers are optimizing their WordPress websites?  WordPress is, of course, super powerful and flexible. But arguably, plugins are the true workhorses of the WordPress functionality.  With so many plugins on the market, how do you know which ones to choose or where to start?  Here’s the list I shared with the WordPress round table. I was surprised to discover that most people at the table didn’t know about these plugins they could be using to quickly optimize their sites. I believe about 75% of these plugins are relevant to any website.   So, here are my picks for the top 5 WordPress plugins to maximize and optimize your WordPress website… 1. Yoast SEO Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin on the market. Yoast simplifies the task of configuring your SEO settings and crafting your metadata. With the Yoast plugin, it’s very simple to change the page title and metadescription for every page, directly within the editor of each post.  I like it because I don’t have to remember the latest standards for metadescription length. As I’m typing a metadescription, Yoast “highlights” the text in red, yellow, or green so I know the correct length and how well I’m doing on a writing the page description.  Yoast has both a free and a premium version. The free version of Yoast is very robust. In fact, we use the free version on the HostGator blog.  But, if you want a little more help, the premium version is only $89 per year and comes with extra insights such as keyword exports and internal linking suggestions.  My opinion? You’ll get along just fine with the free version and a little SEO education. Check out our free intro-to-SEO webinar to get started.  2. W3 Total Cache W3 Total Cache is a powerful plugin that can improve the load time of your website for returning visitors and increase your server performance.  This plugin will manage your caching – essentially keeping a “light weight” copy of your website readily available so the browser doesn’t have to download every bit of your website each time.  Read more about caching here.  Ultimately, W3 Total Cache will help reduce page load times and frustration so your visitors view more pages and spend more time on your website.  3. Smush Image Compression Large photos can be one of the most taxing things on a website’s load time. But, high quality, compelling images are often important to convey your brand message and deliver a certain “feel” to your website. If you’re a professional photographer, high quality images are of utmost importance to show off your portfolio.  This is where Smush Image Compression comes in. Smush will compress or reduce the download size of your photos without sacrificing image quality.  The free version of Smush will work for most websites, but photographers, web designers, or hosting resellers may want to take advantage of the paid version. At $49 per month for unlimited sites, it’s still a pretty good deal, especially if you’re responsible for multiple sites.  Smush Pro will compress and resize images up to 32MB and use the Smush Pro CDN (content delivery network) to render the photos, taking even more load off your website.  4. Redirection We’ve said it before on HostGator social. But, you should never delete a page – always redirect your links.  I like Redirection plugin because it’s a simple, no coding necessary solution for how to manage 301 redirects.  It really is as simple as dropping the “old” link into one field and the “new” link in another field. It’s always easy to “undo” if you need to make an original link live again. We use Redirection on the HostGator blog to easily manage redirects without relying on a programmer to help us.  5. WooCommerce Ok, so, you won’t need this plugin if you aren’t selling products online. But, if you plan to have an online store, WooCommerce is our top recommendation for eCommerce on a WordPress website.   WooCommerce is an all-in-one solution for your online store. It comes with product, cart, and checkout pages, calculates taxes, and keeps product inventory.  Pro tip: in most cases, you need a design theme that is compatible with WooCommerce. I once had a client that launched a beautiful website. Their next step was to create their online store. By the time they got to me, I had to build their website again in a WooCommerce-compatible theme in order to set up their online store. Save yourself some time, and start with a compatible theme.  Wrapping up… So now you have my recommendations for the top 5 WordPress plugins that you should definitely download in order to get the most out of your WordPress website. But what do you think? Are any of your favorites missing from the list?  If you could only download 5 WordPress plugins, which would you choose?   Find the post on the HostGator Blog

The January 2020 promo code is a tasty classic Blog -

Hello, 2020! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year. We’re kicking off the year with another .com/.net renewal promo code to help you start 2020 right. Use the promo code CHEDDAR now through Jan. 31, 2020 to renew your .com domains for $10.99 and .net domains for $12.99. This […] The post The January 2020 promo code is a tasty classic appeared first on Blog.

5 Strategies To Increase Your Store’s Average Order Value in 2020

Nexcess Blog -

Running a WooCommerce store can be as exciting as it is frustrating. Besides identifying targeted sources of traffic, you also need to increase revenue across those traffic sources. Often, this requires implementing sales and marketing tactics to draw in more consumers and direct them to the products they need.  Another way to increase revenue, however, involves leveraging the customers you already have and increasing their average order value (AOV).   Average order value is the average value of a single order through your store. For example, if one customer purchases several products for $10 total, and another customer purchases a single product for $8, your average order value is $9.  Increasing AOV is a surefire way for you to move the needle quickly and effectively, allowing you to drive revenue growth without having to generate more traffic. While it still involves some careful planning, it’s often easier and quicker to cross-sell products than it is to find new customers.  Let’s take a look at the principles behind increasing average order value in WooCommerce, and explore the different tools available for doing so. Bundle Products That Work Well Together Bundling works well for physical and digital products and is a proven way to increase your average order value in WooCommerce. This is because it helps your customers understand which products play nicely together and which don’t. For example, you could bundle an essential oil dispenser with a set of oils at a slightly discounted rate. Or, if you’re in the fashion industry, you could bundle a pair of trousers with a complimentary shirt. As a merchant, it is your job to find which products work well together, and market them as such. Once you’ve decided on which products should go together, there are many reliable plugins for WooCommerce that let you create bundles. A few of these include the Product Bundles plugin and WPC Product Bundles for WooCommerce. There is also Composite Products, which allows your customers to configure their own type of bundle. You can also target specific consumers with suitable bundles. To do this, you will need access to a marketing analytics tool that allows you to segment your audience. According to Gartner, 32% of businesses prioritize marketing analytics in their budget, with 76% saying they use data to drive key decisions. That’s why we include an analytics and segmentation tool – – as part of our Managed WooCommerce solution as standard.   Learn more about Managed WooCommerce and how it can help you drive revenue. Use Minimum Quantities for Discounts & Perks Many online stores already implement this strategy in the form of a banner offering free shipping on orders over a certain value. Offering free shipping for orders that exceed your target AOV is a win-win situation. Firstly, you can use this technique to increase your bottom line. Secondly, customers feel good because you’re offering them a free shipping option. But don’t rush to your WooCommerce admin area to set up that banner now, at least not if you don’t know what your free shipping threshold should be. Without knowing that threshold, you can easily find yourself in a situation where you’re losing money, due to the cost of shipping that now needs to be added into your price calculation. When calculating your threshold, it should be a target AOV where your customers have to purchase multiple products or a bundle – it has little psychological value if it’s easy to attain. Conversely, If you set the free shipping threshold too high, you can turn off your customers and they won’t even try to reach it. You’ll need to balance your price to effectively increase your AOV. You can take this strategy to the next level by not just having a static banner at the top of your shop (the WooCommerce notification bar works well for that banner), but by having a dynamic element on your Cart and Checkout pages that tells your customers how far away they are from reaching the free shipping threshold. You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to understand how close they are to getting free shipping. Leverage One-Time Offers One-time offers (OTO’s) are presented to your customer right after they purchased one (or multiple) products in your WooCommerce shop, and provide them the option to add another discounted product to their order with a single click. OTO’s can be super effective if you set them up correctly. Let’s go through a few of their key characteristics: Relevancy: the offered product needs to add value to the products already purchased. Pricing: The OTO needs to be at a discounted level and should be lower than the order value, so that the perceived added value is as high as possible. Ease of use: Adding the OTO must work with a single click. If you make your customers enter their billing details again, they’ll likely cancel the order process for the OTO. WooCommerce developers recognize the importance of one-time offers and have created many powerful plugins to support this functionality. These plugins often get used in funnels built with WooCommerce. In his post, Chris describes example funnels using the plugin WooCommerce Redirect Thank You, but you could also look into the plugins WooStroke (see screenshot below for an example flow) or Smart Offers. Start Selling Gift Cards Gift cards can be a powerful tool to increase the Average Order Value in your WooCommerce shop. But also need to be used with caution in certain situations. Let’s see how you can use them to not just increase your AOV but also potentially reduce future ad spend for recurring purchases. Begin by determining average product value. It may be that your typical product has a price tag of $25 or higher. In this case, you could send every customer a free $5 gift card for them to use on their next purchase. You can send them the gift card electronically or, better yet, have a batch of them printed and added to each package you send out.  Having that gift card at hand increases the likelihood with which the customer will order again from your shop, to spend that $5. This helps you reduce the retargeting ad spend to get this customer to buy again from you.  Keep in mind, the prices for your products need to be high enough to leverage this strategy. “High enough” means that the gift card should not result in a free order, causing a loss for you. Additionally, if you’re running “Free Shipping” campaigns, ensure that the gift card cannot be used on shipping costs. Even if you’re not giving away a gift card with each order, you can sell them directly in your shop. There are plenty of plugins for WooCommerce that allow you to do that. Take a look at Gift Cards for WooCommerce (see screenshot for an example) or YITH Gift Cards. If you want to dive deeper into the ways to create gift cards in WooCommerce, read this article on Business Bloomer. Incentivize First-Time Buyers with Deals Offering discounts to first-time buyers is a common method of incentivizing visitors to become a customer. You could use hooks like a percentage discount, free priority shipping, a free gift card (see above) or a free product to encourage customers to buy from you. When you’re coming to almost any web shop, you’ll see an offer to save X% on your first order when subscribing to their email list. That’s an example of this strategy put into action. A second incentivization strategy involves adding these opportunities to the Cart or Checkout page, and to not advertise them as aggressively. Similar to the “do you want chips with that” question you are asked when ordering a fast food burger, you can add special offers your customers can put into their carts with a single click. There are plenty of plugins you can leverage to add a function like this to your WooCommerce shop. Two of the ones I recommend are WooCommerce Multiple Free Gift (see screenshot below for an example) and WooCommerce Checkout Add-Ons. Bonus: Implement Price Anchoring in Your Products Price anchoring is a psychological principle that controls how your visitors perceive the prices in your WooCommerce shop, without actually selling anything.  To efficiently use price anchoring, you need to understand what your target Average Order Value is – as that’s the base price. You’ll then position a product with that AOV (could be a bundle if you don’t have a single product at that price) between one product that provides much lower value at a much lower cost (e.g. one piece of the bundle) and another product with a higher perceived value at a much higher price. This strategy helps to make the product with the target AOV look like the most reasonable and well-priced choice. The other product options are designed to not look valuable or to have such a high price-tag that they feel unattainable to most of your customers. Using this strategy, you’ll find that you’re enticing most of your web shop’s visitors to click on the Average Order Value product. That’s the goal of the strategy. Implementing price anchoring in your WooCommerce store is fairly straight-forward. You have to create multiple products that match the pricing categories outlined above. One type of product goes into the “low-value” category, then you’ll have another category for the target AOV products and one category for the “high-value” products.  Keep in mind that the term “category”  is used here as an abstract way to categorize the products for yourself. You should not create customer-facing WooCommerce categories that only contain one type of product.  After creating those products, you need to place them side-by-side, so that your customers can compare them directly. To do that, you can use a plugin like Rearrange Woocommerce Products, or use your page builder of choice. Conclusion  As you can see, there are many ways to increase the average order value in your WooCommerce shop. You can get quite creative in your approach and find ways that work perfectly for your brand and setup.  This article is really just the foundation of strategies available to merchants and agencies for increasing AOV on their stores. As you begin exploring these strategies yourself, you’ll likely discover more techniques available.  Beyond the techniques outlined in this article, try exploring the opportunities available to you with managed WooCommerce. All managed WooCommerce solutions come with up to $6,000 worth of integrations, including bundling and product attribute plugins. Learn more about the options available to you now. The post 5 Strategies To Increase Your Store’s Average Order Value in 2020 appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

How to Create a Website to Get Your Book Deal

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Create a Website to Get Your Book Deal appeared first on HostGator Blog. Congratulations, author! You’ve come up with a killer idea, written and edited your book, and now you are ready to start looking for publishers. While there are plenty of steps between now and publication, one you simply cannot afford to miss is setting up a website. This post will introduce you to some authors who have created a website as part of their plan to land a book deal, provide insight into why you need a book deal, and show you how simple it is to get a website up and running with the help of HostGator. 3 Writers Who Have Paved the Way Whether you are a novice writer or all set to publish your book, learning from others who have been successful is an invaluable tool. Here are three stories from authors that use HostGator that will teach and inspire you. 1. Michael Matteo of Play Great Poker Michael Matteo is a self-published author that has successfully used his website, Play Great Poker, to promote his book and blog. Michael says: “Six years ago they legalized online poker in New Jersey. I started playing online on nights and weekends. As I got into playing and getting better, I realized there were no good books for players new to online poker. I started writing a book for online poker on nights and weekends. Three years later I finished the book.” He continues by explaining how he finalized and promoted his book: “I leveraged social media, co-workers, friends and family to edit the book. I used tools such as Grammarly and text-to-speech to ensure the book was professionally written. Then, I self-published on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. For Kindle, I used a free app from Amazon called Kindle Create to create the Kindle version. The total cost out of my pocket was $150—$50 for a cover designer and $100 for an ISBN. The book ‘Fundamentals of Online Texas Hold’em Poker’ is live and selling on Amazon right now.” But the story does not stop there. To further his success and promote his book, he launched a website with HostGator. Matteo says: “I decided to launch a website to promote my book and continue writing about poker. Enter HostGator and I have now launched a very professionally written website doing all the work myself. Currently the visitors increasing every month. This is all in my spare time. I have a 40+ hour a week job as well.” Key Takeaway: It’s a lot of work to self-publish a book, but with the help of friends and family, and a HostGator website, you can finish, self-publish, and promote your book successfully. 2. Michelle Visser of Souly Rested Michelle Visser of Souly Rested is another successful author who used HostGator to promote her book. Her website is also the 3rd place winner of the most recent HostGator Side Hustle Awards! Visser explains how she got the idea for her blog and book: “We moved to a 219-year-old farmhouse in rural New England and realized we had a ton of sugar maples. We decided to tap a few trees. The next year? A few dozen. By the third year, when we were tapping a few hundred, I had written a book about how to make maple syrup and how to bake with it, simply because my few blog posts about it were very popular and I needed a side income. Publishing a book via self-publishing, I figured, might bring in a little money.” Not only does her website bring in a little extra money, but the book rights were eventually bought by a publisher. Visser explains: “My book rights were bought by a publisher and the professionally printed version became available in bookstores across the country on Oct. 1. I feel it’s proving to be very successful. I’ve established myself as a maple expert, sell related e-products, sold $28k worth of related merchandise via my Amazon Affiliates account, via my blog, and am hoping I sell tens of thousands of printed books.” Key Takeaway: If you don’t find a publisher right away, self-publish your book, and put up a website. It’s possible to draw the attention of a professional book publisher via the success of your website. 3. Val Muller, Author and Editor If you know writing books is your calling, you’re probably a lot like Val Muller. Val Muller explains how she got started: “I am a freelance author, editor, and teacher. Since before kindergarten, I wanted to write stories for others. Before I could write, I recorded stories using a cassette recorder. My elementary school teachers all told me I would write books and magazines, so in some ways my side hustle was me stepping in to fill (not to sound too much like George McFly) my destiny.” Muller continues, “In 2011, I realized that if I ever wanted my writing to take off, I had to get more serious about it. I began by blogging: flash fiction, book reviews, and writing advice.” After a lot of hard work with writing and receiving rejection letters, Muller started to experience success. She says, “Soon, rejection letters turned into acceptances, and my first novel was published.” Muller has published several books, and uses her website as a way to promote her books. Key Takeaway: If you know writing is your calling, go for it. Start by writing a blog, and then use your blog as a tool to promote your ideas to book publishers. How a Website Can Help You Get Your Book Deal It’s imperative to have a website if your side hustle is freelance writing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a website if your ultimate goal is to publish books. Just like the book authors listed above, a website will help you land a book deal. Here’s how a website will help you: Tells publishers all the critical information about you and your book. A website provides publishers with all of the information they need to know about your book, your writing style, your topic, previous successes with writing, and more. Just like Michelle Visser, your website can work as a tool to attract professional publishers, and launch your book writing career. Provides online marketing. Publishers like to interact with authors who already have plans for marketing. Guess what a website is? It’s a critical piece to the online marketing puzzle. If you already have a popular blog or website up and running, publishers know it will be a tool that makes it easier to sell your book. Helps you sell self-published books. As you probably already noticed, some of the authors above self-published their book instead of publishing through traditional measures. If you already have a massive online following, or want to grow one, it will be easier to sell your self-published book online. As you go through the process of writing and working to publish your book, make sure building a website is part of your process. How to Set Up a Website with HostGator to Land Your Book Deal With the help of HostGator’s website builder, setting up your website can be one of the easier parts of the process of landing a book deal. You may be worried that you don’t know how to code or don’t know a thing about design. This worry could prompt you to spend big bucks and hire someone to design your website for you. The good news is, with HostGator, you don’t need to know how to code or design websites, and you certainly don’t need to hire anyone for help.  All you need to do to get your website up and running is follow six easy steps. Let’s break them down. Step 1: Pick a hosting plan for your website. HostGator has three website builder hosting plans you can choose from. You can pick your plan depending on your needs and how much functionality you need for your book website. The starter plan includes a free domain, 200+ templates that will work well for someone looking to promote a book, cloud hosting, a drag-and-drop editor, and website analytics. Since your main purpose of starting a website will be to promote your book, as opposed to selling merchandise, the Starter package is the perfect pick. If you need extra help, you can opt for the Premium package, and priority support will be at your fingertips throughout the whole process. In the event that you already self-published your book and want to sell it online, you can opt for the eCommerce package. This package will allow you to sell your book, and any other merchandise, online. Once you’ve picked a plan, click “buy now” and you can set up your account. Step 2: Pick a domain name for your website. Here’s some excellent news. Each Gator Website Builder package includes a free domain, so there is no need to purchase a domain from a separate domain hosting company. To pick your domain, all you have to do is type something in the “get domain” box.  If you are promoting your book to land a deal, consider using your own name, your pen name, or the name of your book as your domain name. Read this for more tips on choosing the perfect domain name. If you already have a domain name you’ve been saving for when you launch your book, then you can connect it to your HostGator account by clicking “connect it here.”  Step 3: Create your account. Once you have a domain name, it’s simple to connect your HostGator account. All you need is an email address or Facebook account to connect. Then, enter your payment information for the package you selected, and you’re ready to roll. Step 4: Pick a template for your website. You’re a writer, not a designer, right? That doesn’t mean you can’t get your website up and running all by yourself. The Gator Website Builder comes with templates, and all you have to do is pick the one that you like best.  Once you create your account, HostGator will direct you to the “choose a template” page. You can scroll through more than 200 professionally-designed website templates, select the template that works for you, and customize it as you please with the drag and drop builder. Step 5: Add content to your website. After you have selected a template, it’s time to start customizing your book website with content. Click “start editing.” This step will send you to your dashboard where you can add, edit, and delete pages. With the drag and drop builder, you can design your website by pointing, clicking, dragging, and dropping the elements you want to include in your website. It’s an intuitive process, but if you have any questions, Gator Website Builder provides a free and easy step-by-step guide for reference that you can access at any time. To access this helpful guide, click the “menu” icon next to the Gator by HostGator logo and select the “getting started tour.”   Step 6: Review your content and launch your website. The last step is to review your website, make any desired changes, and then go live. By clicking “preview,” you can see your website in full. If everything looks perfect, then click the “finish preview” button at the top and then “publish website” at the top of the dashboard. Gator Website Builder will present a series of quick steps to help you go live. Promote Your New Book with a Website Now Writing a book is a massive accomplishment, and getting a book deal, or selling your self-published book online, is the next step. Of course you will spend time writing a book proposal, meeting with prospective agents, and editing your book, but don’t forget one of the most important steps—marketing your idea with the help of your website. A website will be one of your most effective tools for marketing your book and providing details to publishers about you and your book ideas. To get started, visit HostGator today. It only takes the six easy steps outlined above to get your website up and running in less than a day.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Adopting a new approach to HTTP prioritization

CloudFlare Blog -

Friday the 13th is a lucky day for Cloudflare for many reasons. On December 13, 2019 Tommy Pauly, co-chair of the IETF HTTP Working Group, announced the adoption of the "Extensible Prioritization Scheme for HTTP" - a new approach to HTTP prioritization.Web pages are made up of many resources that must be downloaded before they can be presented to the user. The role of HTTP prioritization is to load the right bytes at the right time in order to achieve the best performance. This is a collaborative process between client and server, a client sends priority signals that the server can use to schedule the delivery of response data. In HTTP/1.1 the signal is basic, clients order requests smartly across a pool of about 6 connections. In HTTP/2 a single connection is used and clients send a signal per request, as a frame, which describes the relative dependency and weighting of the response. HTTP/3 tried to use the same approach but dependencies don't work well when signals can be delivered out of order. HTTP/3 is being standardised as part of the QUIC effort. As a Working Group (WG) we've been trying to fix the problems that non-deterministic ordering poses for HTTP priorities. However, in parallel some of us have been working on an alternative solution, the Extensible Prioritization Scheme, which fixes problems by dropping dependencies and using an absolute weighting. This is signalled in an HTTP header field meaning it can be backported to work with HTTP/2 or carried over HTTP/1.1 hops. The alternative proposal is documented in the Individual-Draft draft-kazuho-httpbis-priority-04, co-authored by Kazuho Oku (Fastly) and myself. This has now been adopted by the IETF HTTP WG as the basis of further work; It's adopted name will be draft-ietf-httpbis-priority-00.To some extent document adoption is the end of one journey and the start of the next; sometimes the authors of the original work are not the best people to oversee the next phase. However, I'm pleased to say that Kazuho and I have been selected as co-editors of this new document. In this role we will reflect the consensus of the WG and help steward the next chapter of HTTP prioritization standardisation. Before the next journey begins in earnest, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on the story of developing the alternative prioritization scheme through 2019.I'd love to explain all the details of this new approach to HTTP prioritization but the truth is I expect the standardization process to refine the design and for things to go stale quickly. However, it doesn't hurt to give a taste of what's in store, just be aware that it is all subject to change.A recap on prioritiesThe essence of HTTP prioritization comes down to trying to download many things over constrained connectivity. To borrow some text from Pat Meenan: Web pages are made up of dozens (sometimes hundreds) of separate resources that are loaded and assembled by a browser into the final displayed content. Since it is not possible to download everything immediately, we prefer to fetch more important things before less important ones. The challenge comes in signalling the importance from client to server.In HTTP/2, every connection has a priority tree that expresses the relative importance between requests. Servers use this to determine how to schedule sending response data. The tree starts with a single root node and as requests are made they either depend on the root or each other. Servers may use the tree to decide how to schedule sending resources but clients cannot force a server to behave in any particular way.To illustrate, imagine a client that makes three simple GET requests that all depend on root. As the server receives each request it grows its view of the priority tree:The server starts with only the root node of the priority tree. As requests arrive, the tree grows. In this case all requests depend on the root, so the requests are priority siblings.Once all requests are received, the server determines all requests have equal priority and that it should send response data using round-robin scheduling: send some fraction of response 1, then a fraction of response 2, then a fraction of response 3, and repeat until all responses are complete.A single HTTP/2 request-response exchange is made up of frames that are sent on a stream. A simple GET request would be sent using a single HEADERS frame:HTTP/2 HEADERS frame, Each region of a frame is a named fieldEach region of a frame is a named field, a '?' indicates the field is optional and the value in parenthesis is the length in bytes with '*' meaning variable length. The Header Block Fragment field holds compressed HTTP header fields (using HPACK), Pad Length and Padding relate to optional padding, and E, Stream Dependency and Weight combined are the priority signal that controls the priority tree.The Stream Dependency and Weight fields are optional but their absence is interpreted as a signal to use the default values; dependency on the root with a weight of 16 meaning that the default priority scheduling strategy is round-robin . However, this is often a bad choice because important resources like HTML, CSS and JavaScript are tied up with things like large images. The following animation demonstrates this in the Edge browser, causing the page to be blank for 19 seconds. Our deep dive blog post explains the problem further.The HEADERS frame E field is the interesting bit (pun intended). A request with the field set to 1 (true) means that the dependency is exclusive and nothing else can depend on the indicated node. To illustrate, imagine a client that sends three requests which set the E field to 1. As the server receives each request, it interprets this as an exclusive dependency on the root node. Because all requests have the same dependency on root, the tree has to be shuffled around to satisfy the exclusivity rules.Each request has an exclusive dependency on the root node. The tree is shuffled as each request is received by the server.The final version of the tree looks very different from our previous example. The server would schedule all of response 3, then all of response 2, then all of response 1. This could help load all of an HTML file before an image and thus improve the visual load behaviour.In reality, clients load a lot more than three resources and use a mix of priority signals. To understand the priority of any single request, we need to understand all requests. That presents some technological challenges, especially for servers that act like proxies such as the Cloudflare edge network. Some servers have problems applying prioritization effectively.Because not all clients send the most optimal priority signals we were motivated to develop Cloudflare's Enhanced HTTP/2 Prioritization, announced last May during Speed Week. This was a joint project between the Speed team (Andrew Galloni, Pat Meenan, Kornel Lesiński) and Protocols team (Nick Jones, Shih-Chiang Chien) and others. It replaces the complicated priority tree with a simpler scheme that is well suited to web resources. Because the feature is implemented on the server side, we avoid requiring any modification of clients or the HTTP/2 protocol itself. Be sure to check out my colleague Nick's blog post that details some of the technical challenges and changes needed to let our servers deliver smarter priorities.The Extensible Prioritization Scheme proposalThe scheme specified in draft-kazuho-httpbis-priority-04, defines a way for priorities to be expressed in absolute terms. It replaces HTTP/2's dependency-based relative prioritization, the priority of a request is independent of others, which makes it easier to reason about and easier to schedule.Rather than send the priority signal in a frame, the scheme defines an HTTP header - tentatively named "Priority" - that can carry an urgency on a scale of 0 (highest) to 7 (lowest). For example, a client could express the priority of an important resource by sending a request with:Priority: u=0 And a less important background resource could be requested with:Priority: u=7 While Kazuho and I are the main authors of this specification, we were inspired by several ideas in the Internet community, and we have incorporated feedback or direct input from many of our peers in the Internet community over several drafts. The text today reflects the efforts-so-far of cross-industry work involving many engineers and researchers including organizations such Adobe, Akamai, Apple, Cloudflare, Fastly, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and UHasselt. Adoption in the HTTP Working Group means that we can help improve the design and specification by spending some IETF time and resources for broader discussion, feedback and implementation experience.The backstoryI work in Cloudflare's Protocols team which is responsible for terminating HTTP at the edge. We deal with things like TCP, TLS, QUIC, HTTP/1.x, HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 and since joining the company I've worked with Alessandro Ghedini, Junho Choi and Lohith Bellad to make QUIC and HTTP/3 generally available last September.Working on emerging standards is fun. It involves an eclectic mix of engineering, meetings, document review, specification writing, time zones, personalities, and organizational boundaries. So while working on the codebase of quiche, our open source implementation of QUIC and HTTP/3, I am also mulling over design details of the protocols and discussing them in cross-industry venues like the IETF.Because of HTTP/3's lineage, it carries over a lot of features from HTTP/2 including the priority signals and tree described earlier in the post.One of the key benefits of HTTP/3 is that it is more resilient to the effect of lossy network conditions on performance; head-of-line blocking is limited because requests and responses can progress independently. This is, however, a double-edged sword because sometimes ordering is important. In HTTP/3 there is no guarantee that the requests are received in the same order that they were sent, so the priority tree can get out of sync between client and server. Imagine a client that makes two requests that include priority signals stating request 1 depends on root, request 2 depends on request 1. If request 2 arrives before request 1, the dependency cannot be resolved and becomes dangling. In such a case what is the best thing for a server to do? Ambiguity in behaviour leads to assumptions and disappointment. We should try to avoid that.Request 1 depends on root and request 2 depends on request 1. If an HTTP/3 server receives request 2 first, the dependency cannot be resolved.This is just one example where things get tricky quickly. Unfortunately the WG kept finding edge case upon edge case with the priority tree model. We tried to find solutions but each additional fix seemed to create further complexity to the HTTP/3 design. This is a problem because it makes it hard to implement a server that handles priority correctly.In parallel to Cloudflare's work on implementing a better prioritization for HTTP/2, in January 2019 Pat posted his proposal for an alternative prioritization scheme for HTTP/3 in a message to the IETF HTTP WG.Arguably HTTP/2 prioritization never lived up to its hype. However, replacing it with something else in HTTP/3 is a challenge because the QUIC WG charter required us to try and maintain parity between the protocols. Mark Nottingham, co-chair of the HTTP and QUIC WGs responded with a good summary of the situation. To quote part of that response:My sense is that people know that we need to do something about prioritisation, but we're not yet confident about any particular solution. Experimentation with new schemes as HTTP/2 extensions would be very helpful, as it would give us some data to work with. If you'd like to propose such an extension, this is the right place to do it.And so started a very interesting year of cross-industry discussion on the future of HTTP prioritization.A year of prioritizationThe following is an account of my personal experiences during 2019. It's been a busy year and there may be unintentional errors or omissions, please let me know if you think that is the case. But I hope it gives you a taste of the standardization process and a look behind the scenes of how new Internet protocols that benefit everyone come to life.JanuaryPat's email came at the same time that I was attending the QUIC WG Tokyo interim meeting hosted at Akamai (thanks to Mike Bishop for arrangements). So I was able to speak to a few people face-to-face on the topic. There was a bit of mailing list chatter but it tailed off after a few days.February to AprilThings remained quiet in terms of prioritization discussion. I knew the next best opportunity to get the ball rolling would be the HTTP Workshop 2019 held in April. The workshop is a multi-day event not associated with a standards-defining-organization (even if many of the attendees also go to meetings such as the IETF or W3C). It is structured in a way that allows the agenda to be more fluid than a typical standards meeting and gives plenty of time for organic conversation. This sometimes helps overcome gnarly problems, such as the community finding a path forward for WebSockets over HTTP/2 due to a productive discussion during the 2017 workshop. HTTP prioritization is a gnarly problem, so I was inspired to pitch it as a talk idea. It was selected and you can find the full slide deck here.During the presentation I recounted the history of HTTP prioritization. The great thing about working on open standards is that many email threads, presentation materials and meeting materials are publicly archived. It's fun digging through this history. Did you know: HTTP/2 is based on SPDY and inherited its weight-based prioritization scheme, the tree-based scheme we are familiar with today was only introduced in draft-ietf-httpbis-http2-11? One of the reasons for the more-complicated tree was to help HTTP intermediaries (a.k.a. proxies) implement clever resource management. However, it became clear during the discussion that no intermediaries implement this, and none seem to plan to. I also explained a bit more about Pat's alternative scheme and Nick described his implementation experiences. Despite some interesting discussion around the topic however, we didn't come to any definitive solution. There were a lot of other interesting topics to discover that week.MayIn early May, Ian Swett (Google) restarted interest in Pat's mailing list thread. Unfortunately he was not present at the HTTP Workshop so had some catching up to do. A little while later Ian submitted a Pull Request to the HTTP/3 specification called "Strict Priorities". This incorporated Pat's proposal and attempted to fix a number of those prioritization edge cases that I mentioned earlier.In late May, another QUIC WG interim meeting was held in London at the new Cloudflare offices, here is the view from the meeting room window. Credit to Alessandro for handling the meeting arrangements.Thanks to @cloudflare for hosting our interop and interim meetings in London this week!— IETF QUIC WG (@quicwg) May 23, 2019 Mike, the editor of the HTTP/3 specification presented some of the issues with prioritization and we attempted to solve them with the conventional tree-based scheme. Ian, with contribution from Robin Marx (UHasselt), also presented an explanation about his "Strict Priorities" proposal. I recommend taking a look at Robin's priority tree visualisations which do a great job of explaining things. From that presentation I particularly liked "The prioritization spectrum", it's a concise snapshot of the state of things at that time:An overview of HTTP/3 prioritization issues, fixes and possible alternatives. Presented by Ian Swett at the QUIC Interim Meeting May 2019.June and JulyFollowing the interim meeting, the prioritization "debate" continued electronically across GitHub and email. Some time in June Kazuho started work on a proposal that would use a scheme similar to Pat and Ian's absolute priorities. The major difference was that rather than send the priority signal in an HTTP frame, it would use a header field. This isn't a new concept, Roy Fielding proposed something similar at IETF 83.In HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 requests are made up of frames that are sent on streams. Using a simple GET request as an example: a client sends a HEADERS frame that contains the scheme, method, path, and other request header fields. A server responds with a HEADERS frame that contains the status and response header fields, followed by DATA frame(s) that contain the payload.To signal priority, a client could also send a PRIORITY frame. In the tree-based scheme the frame carries several fields that express dependencies and weights. Pat and Ian's proposals changed the contents of the PRIORITY frame. Kazuho's proposal encodes the priority as a header field that can be carried in the HEADERS frame as normal metadata, removing the need for the PRIORITY frame altogether.I liked the simplification of Kazuho's approach and the new opportunities it might create for application developers. HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 implementations (in particular browsers) abstract away a lot of connection-level details such as stream or frames. That makes it hard to understand what is happening or to tune it.The lingua franca of the Web is HTTP requests and responses, which are formed of header fields and payload data. In browsers, APIs such as Fetch and Service Worker allow handling of these primitives. In servers, there may be ways to interact with the primitives via configuration or programming languages. As part of Enhanced HTTP/2 Prioritization, we have exposed prioritization to Cloudflare Workers to allow rich behavioural customization. If a Worker adds the "cf-priority" header to a response, Cloudflare’s edge servers use the specified priority to serve the response. This might be used to boost the priority of a resource that is important to the load time of a page. To help inform this decision making, the incoming browser priority signal is encapsulated in the request object passed to a Worker's fetch event listener ( approaches to problems is part of helping to build a better Internet. Because of the resonance between Cloudflare's work and Kazuho's proposal, I asked if he would consider letting me come aboard as a co-author. He kindly accepted and on July 8th we published the first version as an Internet-Draft.Meanwhile, Ian was helping to drive the overall prioritization discussion and proposed that we use time during IETF 105 in Montreal to speak to a wider group of people. We kicked off the week with a short presentation to the HTTP WG from Ian, and Kazuho and I presented our draft in a side-meeting that saw a healthy discussion. There was a realization that the concepts of prioritization scheme, priority signalling and server resource scheduling (enacting prioritization) were conflated and made effective communication and progress difficult. HTTP/2's model was seen as one aspect, and two different I-Ds were created to deprecate it in some way (draft-lassey-priority-setting, draft-peon-httpbis-h2-priority-one-less). Martin Thomson (Mozilla) also created a Pull Request that simply removed the PRIORITY frame from HTTP/3.To round off the week, in the second HTTP session it was decided that there was sufficient interest in resolving the prioritization debate via the creation of a design team. I joined the team led by Ian Swett along with others from Adobe, Akamai, Apple, Cloudflare, Fastly, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and UHasselt.August to OctoberMartin's PR generated a lot of conversation. It was merged under proviso that some solution be found before the HTTP/3 specification was finalized. Between May and August we went from something very complicated (e.g. Orphan placeholder, with PRIORITY only on control stream, plus exclusive priorities) to a blank canvas. The pressure was now on!The design team held several teleconference meetings across the months. Logistics are a bit difficult when you have team members distributed across West Coast America, East Coast America, Western Europe, Central Europe, and Japan. However, thanks to some late nights and early mornings we managed to all get on the call at the same time.In October most of us travelled to Cupertino, CA to attend another QUIC interim meeting hosted at Apple's Infinite Loop (Eric Kinnear helping with arrangements).  The first two days of the meeting were used for interop testing and were loosely structured, so the design team took the opportunity to hold the first face-to-face meeting. We made some progress and helped Ian to form up some new slides to present later in the week. Again, there was some useful discussion and signs that we should put some time in the agenda in IETF 106.NovemberThe design team came to agreement that draft-kazuho-httpbis-priority was a good basis for a new prioritization scheme. We decided to consolidate the various I-Ds that had sprung up during IETF 105 into the document, making it a single source that was easier for people to track progress and open issues if required. This is why, even though Kazuho and I are the named authors, the document reflects a broad input from the community. We published draft 03 in November, just ahead of the deadline for IETF 106 in Singapore.Many of us travelled to Singapore ahead of the actual start of IETF 106. This wasn't to squeeze in some sightseeing (sadly) but rather to attend the IETF Hackathon. These are events where engineers and researchers can really put the concept of "running code" to the test. I really enjoy attending and I'm grateful to Charles Eckel and the team that organised it. If you'd like to read more about the event, Charles wrote up a nice blog post that, through some strange coincidence, features a picture of me, Kazuho and Robin talking at the QUIC table.Link:— Lucas Pardue (@SimmerVigor) December 17, 2019 The design team held another face-to-face during a Hackathon lunch break and decided that we wanted to make some tweaks to the design written up in draft 03. Unfortunately the freeze was still in effect so we could not issue a new draft. Instead, we presented the most recent thinking to the HTTP session on Monday where Ian put forward draft-kazuho-httpbis-priority as the group's proposed design solution. Ian and Robin also shared results of prioritization experiments. We received some great feedback in the meeting and during the week pulled out all the stops to issue a new draft 04 before the next HTTP session on Thursday. The question now was: Did the WG think this was suitable to adopt as the basis of an alternative prioritization scheme? I think we addressed a lot of the feedback in this draft and there was a general feeling of support in the room. However, in the IETF consensus is declared via mailing lists and so Tommy Pauly, co-chair of the HTTP WG, put out a Call for Adoption on November 21st.DecemberIn the Cloudflare London office, preparations begin for mince pie acquisition and assessment.The HTTP priorities team played the waiting game and watched the mailing list discussion. On the whole people supported the concept but there was one topic that divided opinion. Some people loved the use of headers to express priorities, some people didn't and wanted to stick to frames.On December 13th Tommy announced that the group had decided to adopt our document and assign Kazuho and I as editors. The header/frame divide was noted as something that needed to be resolved.The next step of the journeyJust because the document has been adopted does not mean we are done. In some ways we are just getting started. Perfection is often the enemy of getting things done and so sometimes adoption occurs at the first incarnation of a "good enough" proposal.Today HTTP/3 has no prioritization signal. Without priority information there is a small danger that servers pick a scheduling strategy that is not optimal, that could cause the web performance of HTTP/3 to be worse than HTTP/2. To avoid that happening we'll refine and complete the design of the Extensible Priority Scheme. To do so there are open issues that we have to resolve, we'll need to square the circle on headers vs. frames, and we'll no doubt hit unknown unknowns. We'll need the input of the WG to make progress and their help to document the design that fits the need, and so I look forward to continued collaboration across the Internet community.2019 was quite a ride and I'm excited to see what 2020 brings.If working on protocols is your interest and you like what Cloudflare is doing, please visit our careers page. Our journey isn’t finished, in fact far from it.

How to Increase Website Traffic

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Increase Website Traffic appeared first on HostGator Blog. The day you launch a new website is a big deal.  But for all the hard work involved in creating a website, getting one up is just the beginning.  Now you need to do the harder work of getting people to visit your website. New website owners (and plenty of veteran ones as well) struggle with the question of how to increase website traffic.  With billions of other websites competing for attention, how do you get people to find yours to begin with, and choose to click in the face of other options?  There’s SEO, SEM, social media, PR, influencer marketing, and so much more. Which should you invest in to increase traffic to your particular website?  Let’s dig in. 12 Ways to Increase Website Traffic While the right strategy will differ for every website, there are a few main tactics you can use to increase web traffic.  1. Do on-page SEO (search engine optimization). One of the main ways potential customers find websites online is through search. Think about it: when you have a question you need answered or want to find the best product to solve a problem, where do you turn? Probably Google.  With over 3.5 billion searches performed on the search engine every day, you can bet most of your target audience are using it regularly.   Websites that claim one of the top spots in Google for a popular term can count on getting consistent site traffic from it. This top spot will help to increase brand awareness and is a pivotal component of any digital marketing strategy.  That makes search engine optimization an important tactic for increasing website traffic of potential customers. The first (and easiest) steps for SEO are doing on-page optimization. That includes: Choosing a relevant keyword or two for each page on your websiteCustomizing your URL, title tag, and alt image tags to include your target keywordAdding a meta description for each page that describes what’s on the page and includes your keywordStrategically including the keyword in the web page’s headings and copy, but only where you can do so naturally  2. Practice link building. The search engines want to provide results that are useful and authoritative. Backlinks are one of the primary signals they look at to determine which web pages have the best information.  Link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO, but one that’s important to improving your rankings. And since few people click on any links on the search engine results page (SERP) below the top three, link building is crucial for gaining those top spots that will actually help you drive traffic.  Creating great content is an important step in link building (more on that in a bit), but you can also use more proactive tactics, such as: Reaching out to bloggers in your industry to share resources you’ve created they may appreciate.Letting website owners know about broken links on their site that they can replace with a link to your site that covers the same topic.Writing guest blogs on relevant sites that include a link back to your content. Contacting websites that mention your brand but don’t include a link now, asking them to add one. Link building can require a lot of work, and a lot of link-building outreach emails go unanswered, but each link you earn on a quality site boosts your website’s authority with the search engine algorithms.  3. Use search PPC (pay-per-click) ads. SEO is a powerful way to get more site traffic and build brand awareness, but it’s a slow process. It typically takes months to start seeing results from long-tail keywords (those that are specific and have a relatively low search volume) and years to start gaining rankings for more popular keywords.  You can start gaining traffic from the search engines immediately by using PPC ads to promote your new website. These ads show up on the search engine results page for certain long-tail keywords, as well as on websites around the web.  With PPC, you have control over: What your ad will look like – you provide the title, text, images (when applicable), and any extensions. Who will see it – you can set up specific audiences based on demographic details, geographic location, and behavioral data.Where it shows up – for ads on the search engine results page (SERP), keyword targeting ensures you only show up for relevant searches. For those on the display network, you can choose which types of websites to show up on, and exclude any that aren’t a fit. How much you pay – PPC ads use a bidding model, so you can set your maximum budget and determine which keywords and placements are worth the cost to you.  Need help getting started? Learn more about HostGator’s expert PPC services. 4. Use social ads, too. Social media is another good channel for increasing traffic to your website, but social media marketing comes with a big downside: the only people who see your updates are those who already follow you, unless your followers share them.  That makes it hard to get traction. And you won’t start getting traffic from social media until people see your posts.  Social ads can jumpstart your social media platforms, increasing your visibility and helping you get new followers. As with search ads, most social advertising is PPC, so you only pay for the actual traffic you get. And the social platforms provide useful targeting options as well, to help you reach the right audience.  5.  Invest in content marketing. The more useful information you have on your website, the more reason you give people to visit it.  Content marketing is the practice of consistently publishing content that’s valuable to your target audience. It’s great for SEO, because it means your website stays fresh and current and gives you the opportunity to cover more of the keywords your prospects are searching for. And it gives you something attractive to promote on many of the other channels covered here. For instance, a PPC ad promoting a valuable piece of content may drive more traffic than one that goes to a product page in some instances.  6. Be active on social media. Social media is a great way to connect directly with your target audience and prominent figures in your industry. As previously mentioned, social ads are a great way to expand your reach on social, but you shouldn’t stop there.  Take time to share your content and insights on your social platforms. Look for opportunities to interact with people in your industry.  Participating in the community via gatherings like Twitter Chats and Facebook Groups can get you on the radar of the people you most want to reach. And joining conversations on topics in your industry shows that you’re not just using social media to promote, you’re also there to listen and make connections.  Sometimes actions that aren’t directly about driving traffic in the moment can help you establish a following that leads to increased website traffic in the long term.  7. Leverage email marketing. The first hurdle in gaining more website traffic is helping people learn about your website for the first time. But the second—and just as important—challenge is getting them to come back again. Someone can visit your website, like what they see, but then click away and forget all about you.   Email marketing is an important tool for turning those visits into relationships and increasing your website traffic.  If a visitor takes a few seconds to sign up for your email list when on your site, they give you an opportunity to provide reminders about your website so they keep coming back. And you can use incentives like discounts or links to helpful content to increase the likelihood of turning subscribers into repeat website traffic.  8. Implement schema markup on your website. The main goal of SEO is to get your web pages showing up high in the search rankings, but you’re limited in how much control you have over how they look when they show up. You can add a title tag and meta description to signal to Google how you want those parts of the result to show up on the SERP—that’s part of on-site optimization.  Another big thing you can do is add schema markup to your web pages. Schema markup is an extra way to tell Google what’s on your web page and how to read specific parts of the page. For example, if you have a cooking blog, you can use schema markup to tell Google that a page includes a recipe, what the main image for the recipe is, how many calories it has, and how long it takes to make.  If Google chooses to pick that information up when displaying it on the SERP, it can help draw more attention to your page and increase the likelihood that someone will click on your link rather than someone else’s—thereby increasing your website traffic. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper makes it easy to get the HTML for adding schema markup to each page on your websites. 9. Go after press opportunities. Public relations professionals are skilled at helping businesses get coverage in respected publications. If your website gets featured in a relevant industry resource or, even better, a high-profile publication like the New York Times, you can count on it driving more website visitors your way.  You’ll get better results if you hire someone who knows the ropes, but if you don’t have the budget to hire a PR consultant, there are still some steps you can take on your own.  Sign up for Help a Reporter Out emails to look for relevant opportunities to pitch yourself or your team members as an expert source. Research local and niche industry publications that cover businesses like yours, and send them updates when you have something newsworthy to report on. 10. Partner with influencers. So much in life is about who you know. Getting attention online is no exception. Online influencers—people in your industry who have built an audience—are a valuable resource to get your website in front of more people.  Influencer marketing involves identifying the most popular blogs and social media accounts in your industry, and cultivating relationships with the people behind them. Sometimes influencer marketing involves paying people to share information about your brand or content with their audience. Other times, it’s more about finding opportunities to feature them that are mutually beneficial, such as interviewing them for your blog or having them as a featured guest on a webinar.  By working with the people that already have the trust and attention of your target audience, you can reach new people and increase traffic to your website.  11. Build thought leadership. Thought leadership is a buzzword in the marketing world, but it gets a lot of attention for a reason. If you can position the people behind your brand as go-to experts on the main topics you cover on your website, people will start to seek you out when they need more information on those subjects. That means journalists and bloggers may come to you for source quotes and interviews, podcasters may ask you to be a guest on their shows, and you may be the featured expert in videos and webinars.  The more that happens, the more people in your audience will turn to your website for answers, increasing website traffic as a consequence.  12. Learn from your website analytics. Everything on this list takes work. There’s no point in spending money, time, and energy on traffic strategies that don’t get results.  But you can track how well each tactic you try pays off by checking in with your analytics as you go. Google Analytics tracks not only how much web traffic you get, but also where it comes from. You can figure out how well your SEO efforts are paying off by seeing how much organic traffic you receive, and checking which pages it’s coming to. You can check on your social media progress by seeing how much of your traffic comes from social, and which specific channels are driving that traffic. And you can measure the success of tactics like thought leadership and PR by paying attention to the links and mentions you get around the web. Analyzing these metrics as you go will ensure you know what strategies are paying off the most, so you can focus more of your energy on the work that gets the best results. Increase Website Traffic with SEO Help All of this stuff is a lot of work. For small business owners, trying to figure out how to get started and what to prioritize may feel like an impossible challenge.  For most websites, the best place to start is with SEO. And hiring the right SEO consultants can cut the amount of work you have to yourself do down to nearly nothing. Set up a free consultation today to learn how HostGator’s SEO experts can get a traffic strategy up and running for your business. With more website visitors, your site will be able to do the job you most need it to.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Use Google Tag Manager for Your Ecommerce Business

Nexcess Blog -

Historically, consumer use of ecommerce stores has been a mystery to merchants. Traffic sources, bounce rates, and others were the metrics of educated guesses and opinions. Today, however, powerful tracking tools like Google Tag Manager for WordPress have brought data to that mystery, answering questions with a level of certainty never seen before.  These tools now allow you to build a clearer picture of the customer experience. Instead of guessing a consumer’s journey, you’re able to understand their path to purchase. Not only does this help you discover crucial touchpoints, more importantly, it also helps you drive your store’s growth by identifying conversion bottlenecks and finding new opportunities.  If you’re not sure you’re hitting the mark with Google Tag Manager, now is the right time to revisit your implementation and make sure everything is running smoothly. Here, we’ll walk through what Google Tag Manager is, how you can add it to your WordPress site, and how you can start measuring store performance where it matters.  Running an ecommerce store and looking for the full rundown on SEO? Follow our complete guide to ecommerce SEO. What Does Google Tag Manager Do? Google Tag Manager is a free, widely-used tool that lets you create and manage the tags (more on this later) published on a website. Though it can be used on virtually any site, it’s commonly used by ecommerce business owners in conjunction with other marketing analytics platforms to manage their online stores. For example, Google Tag Manager is almost always used alongside Google Analytics for the purpose of tracking marketing campaigns, conversions, and site performance. What Is a Tag? When you inspect the source of a site, you see tags like <html>, <img>, <p>, <a href>, and many others. Functionally, the tags you manage with Google Tag Manager are similar to the HTML tags found in the raw code of a website. But where HTML, CSS, PHP, and other coding languages use tags as building materials for website construction, the tags in Google Tag Manager track conversions, traffic, user behavior, and a number of other important metrics. Tags track and relay important user engagement data to another analytics platform. When a tag runs, or picks up an instance of the intended interaction, it’s called “firing” – i.e., “The tag has fired.” Besides connecting to other platforms, tags can be created so you can track specific events — (like abandoned carts and video views) on your website. While Google Analytics can track many types of events, creating tags for certain events in Google Tag Manager can make tracking more specific, and situational events more effective. Google Tag Manager vs. Google Analytics Since Google Tag Manager and Analytics are used in tandem, it can be confusing as to what role each platform plays when it comes to marketing analytics. Google Tag Manager can be used to manage many third-party tags, including the Facebook and Adobe Analytics tracking pixels. You can even customize and calibrate your tags, and decide when and why they fire. But Google Tag Manager just manages these tracking code snippets; there’s no actual analytics or in-depth reporting in Google Tag Manager.  Google Analytics doesn’t have the granular tag controls of Google Tag Manager, but it plays the very crucial role of collecting data from those tags. In other words, it collects, analyzes, and reports data from your tags. Thus, the two platforms have a symbiotic relationship. How to Add Google Tag Manager to WordPress If you’re one of the many ecommerce business owners using a managed hosting platform to run your online store, you need to know how to add Google Tag Manager to your WordPress site. Let’s go over the steps for setting up Google Tag Manager with WordPress. Step 1: Create a Google Tag Manager Account The first thing you need is a Google Tag Manager account. Head over to Google Tag Manager. If you already have an account, then select the account you want to use to connect to your WooCommerce store. Otherwise, click “Create Account” to begin setting up a new Google Tag Manager account. This is how you get Google Tag Manager code. After clicking “Create Account,” you’ll see some account setup options.  Name the account, name the container — basically just a folder for your tags to be kept separate from other Tag Manager accounts you may have — and select “Web” as the target platform. Then click “Create” to immediately be taken into your new Google Tag Manager account. Once you’ve finished with the setup options, you’ll need to install the code snippets for Tag Manager to begin working with your ecommerce store on WordPress. The first snippet needs to be added to the header of your WordPress site. This will ensure that the code appears on every single page of your site — which is important for Tag Manager to work with WordPress. There are a couple of ways to add it to the appropriate file of your WordPress theme. However, the easiest way is to use a plugin like Yoast. Instead of editing the raw code of your site, just copy and paste the code into Yoast which will automatically add the code to every page of your site. Then there’s the second snippet of code which must be added just after the opening <body> tag on your site. Again, Yoast and other plugins can help.  If you need additional help, Google Tag Manager offers a useful Quick Start Guide that you can use as a reference. When these code snippets are installed, you’re ready to begin setting up Google Tag Manager with WordPress.  Step 2: Install Google Analytics Once you’ve created and set up a Google Tag Manager account, you’ll need to do the same for Google Analytics. After all, you won’t get much benefit from using Tag Manager unless Analytics is receiving data from your tags. If you’ve already installed Google Analytics, you can skip this step. These steps might seem a bit odd as you’re completing them, but don’t worry. You can, in fact, install Google Analytics from within Tag Manager. From your new Google Tag Manager account, click “Tags” from the left-hand sidebar, then click “New” in the upper right-hand corner of the window. Name the tag “Google Analytics” and click “Tag Configuration” and select “Google Analytics: Universal Analytic” for tag type. Set the track type to “Page View” then click “New Variable” under the Google Analytics Settings. Finally, name this new variable and install your Google Analytics tracking code on your WordPress site as prompted. What Can I Do With Google Tag Manager? Now that you have completed the installation and setup process, you need to know how to use Google Tag Manager. And, perhaps most importantly, how is Google Tag Manager used? Google Tag Manager helps you gain insight into how people are using your ecommerce store. By setting up tags and events, you can gain valuable insights on key areas. That includes tracking form submissions, file downloads, and the effectiveness of interactions in your conversion funnel. While there are many things you can do with Google Tag Manager, let’s go over a few of the most important (and most useful) for ecommerce businesses. Track Goals and Events in Google Analytics Although pageviews and referrals are important metrics, tracking how your customers and leads are using your ecommerce store provides the most accurate picture of your store’s performance. Without Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, you’d have very little insight into how customers and leads are interacting with your store. In turn, you wouldn’t be able to identify and address variables that might, for instance, contribute to high cart abandonment. Although we’re not going to spend too much time covering it in this Google Tag Manager overview, we’re going to give you examples of a goal and an event you can track with Tag Manager. Goal: Added-to-Cart With Google Tag Manager, you can set up a tracking goal for each and every time a product gets added to the shopping cart. Once you’ve completed the steps to set up an added-to-cart tracking goal, these interactions will be reported in Google Analytics. It’s important to note that this isn’t a goal that you’d be able to track in Google Analytics without using Tag Manager to create the event. Event: Video Views Video content is the most popular form of digital content today. So it follows that ecommerce sites that feature product reviews, launch videos, instructional videos, and other video content should be tracking how customers and leads are engaging with those videos, and most importantly, how those engagement rates affect conversion. Using Google Tag Manager, you can set up tracking events for videos and compare those events to cart abandonment, checkout abandonment, or any number of other metrics. Install Tracking Pixels for Google Pay-per-Click Ads One of the key uses for Google Tag Managers is to install and manage the Google Ads Remarketing and Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixels. The steps to install these tracking pixels are largely the same for both. Google Ads Remarketing Pixel From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new tag. Name it “Google Remarketing” and select “Google Ads Remarketing” as the tag type. In the tag configuration settings, locate your Google Ads Conversion ID. Create a label if you’d like, then set “All Pages” for triggering. Google Ads Conversion Tracking Pixel For the Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixel, the steps are much the same. From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new tag. Name it “Google Ads Conversion” and select “Google Ads Conversion” as the tag type. The main difference with the Google Ads Conversion Tracking pixel is the option to set a value for the tag. In the screenshot above, the value is set at 100 USD, meaning that each conversion the tag tracks is worth $100 to the business. Use an amount makes the most sense for your business. Many ecommerce business owners set the value of a conversion as the average transaction value. Install Third-Party Tracking Pixels Similar to the Google Ads tracking pixels, Tag Manager is often used to install tracking codes for third-party platforms. In particular, the Facebook Pixel is often installed on a WordPress site using this method. The important thing to note is that when Google Tag Manager doesn’t provide a template for the tracking code you want to install, you’ll need to use the custom HTML option. To illustrate this process, here are the steps for installing the Facebook Pixel in Google Tag Manager. From your Google Tag Manager account, create a new pixel. Name it “Facebook Pixel” and select “Custom HTML” as the tag type. After selecting “Custom HTML” as the tag type, you’ll be given a place where you can paste the Facebook Pixel tracking code.  As you can see in the screenshot above, the trigger is set to “All Pages” — but there are other options available, and Facebook provides some tips to help you choose the right option for your case. Do You Need Google Tag Manager? We’ve gone over the ins and outs of Google Tag Manager. As we bring this overview to a close, let’s tackle one last question: Should you be using it? For the owner of an ecommerce business, there’s arguably nothing more important than learning about customer behavior. Because if you don’t know how your customers are interacting with your online store, you have no way to optimize to increase conversion. In other words, any effort made to improve the customer experience and the buying journey is just a shot in the dark. Google Tag Manager gives you a window into your customer experience. By using Tag Manager to publish and manage tags for your ecommerce store, you can boost conversion and generate more revenue for your business. Nexcess is the Premiere Hosting Provider for a High-Performance ecommerce Business What do you get when you combine 99 percent uptime, top-to-bottom SEO optimization, tons of included plugins from IconicWP, dropshipping support, and a subscription at no additional cost? You get Nexcess Managed WooCommerce Hosting. Nexcess WooCommerce hosting plans were designed with three principles in mind: reliability, scalability, and speed. Every ecommerce store running on a Managed WooCommerce Hosting plan benefits from everything Nexcess plans have to offer from cart abandonment technology to minimize lost sales to the nearly limitless ways in which you can customize the look and feel of your online store. Best of all, Nexcess hosting plans are competitively priced and come with outstanding round-the-clock support. Learn more about how you can benefit from Nexcess Managed WooCommerce Hosting and get started today. The post How to Use Google Tag Manager for Your Ecommerce Business appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

How to Transition Your Side Hustle to Full-Time Freelancing

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Transition Your Side Hustle to Full-Time Freelancing appeared first on HostGator Blog. Congratulations! You’ve started your side hustle and have been successful so far. You also may be experiencing feelings of fulfillment you haven’t felt in a long time.  This is a huge step forward in your career, but it also begs the question, “how do I take the next step?” In other words, how do you transition your side hustle to full-time freelancing? Thankfully, many others have gone before you, successfully made their side hustle their full-time gig, and have never looked back. To help you out, here are some steps you can take that will help you wave goodbye to your 9-5 and propel your new career forward. 1. Check Your Current Contract The first step in transitioning out of your old job into full-time freelancing is to make sure you’re not violating your current employment contract. After all, the last thing you want to do is find yourself in arbitration with a company that’s been good to you. For example, let’s say you work at a marketing agency, and you signed a contract upon employment that includes a non-compete clause. If your side hustle competes in any way with your current employment situation, you’ll need to wait the agreed-upon time to go out on your own. There’s no need to ruffle any feathers. If your side hustle isn’t in direct competition with your current employment situation, spread your wings and fly. 2. Evaluate Your Earning Potential and Make a Financial Plan One of the biggest indicators that you’re ready to transition your side hustle into full-time freelancing is when you’ve grown to the point where you’re making more from your side hustle than you are from your regular full-time job. But, it’s also important to make sure you’re considering the whole financial package—total salary, insurance costs, paying taxes, what your benefits package includes, 401K matching, etc.  If you’re ready to go out on your own, take the time to sit down with a financial planner, a lawyer, and an accountant. Each respective professional will help you evaluate how much you’re making with your side gig, what business entity makes the most sense for your business model, what you’ll end up spending in taxes and insurance, how much you need to put away in retirement, and more. With the help of these professionals, you can put together a plan for making and saving money. When your finances are in order, you’ll be ready to move forward. 3. Create or Revamp Your Website Did you know that 97% of consumers use the internet to find a local business? However, less than two-thirds of small businesses don’t have a website.  With nearly all consumers using the internet to find local business and with the rise of popularity in eCommerce, it’s a huge mistake not to have a website for your freelance business. It may sound difficult to create a website, but there are several website builders (including Gator Builder) on the market that will help you design a beautiful, mobile-responsive, dream of a website up in less than a day.  If you do have a website but are missing key pieces of information (contact information, email address, online store, etc.), it’s not too late to update your website. Creating or updating your freelance website will help you establish professionalism, attract business, and secure online sales.  4. Network, Network, Network Another excellent way to transition your side hustle to full-time freelancing is to create a support network. The more people you meet, the more resources you will have for recommendations, referrals, and mentorship. Here are some of the best ways to network: Social media. If you spend some time browsing social media sites (especially Facebook and LinkedIn), you’ll find several groups of people who either do what you do or are looking for help with what you do. Local business events. Research local business networking events in your area, collect your business cards, put on a sleek-looking outfit, and go meet like-minded individuals in your area. Local business events are a hot spot for collaboration, setting up coffee business dates, and finding new clients. Visit your local chamber of commerce. You would be amazed at how many resources your state has for you when you’re looking to build your own business. When you hit up your local chamber of commerce, you’ll get hooked up with collaborators, free resources, helpful tools, mentors, and sometimes even be pointed in the direction of grants to help you get off your feet. Reach out to your friends and family. One of the best ways to transition your side hustle to full-time freelancing is to let your current network know of your plans. When your friends know of your plans, they can refer work your way. Don’t go it alone when you’re making a huge transition. Network, network, network. 5. Delve Deep into Side Hustle Resources The best news about transitioning your side hustle into full-time freelancing is you’re not alone. There are so many other people that have successfully done it, and they have written books, started podcasts, kept daily blogs, and created online courses to help you. Check out some of the top side hustle resources as soon as you’re ready to make the transition. You’ll find the information invaluable. If you need additional help, don’t be afraid to hire a business coach.  Many side hustlers find business coaching to be very valuable, with many confiding in their business coach as much as a spouse, best friend, or therapist.  Remember, you don’t have to hire just any business coach. Do your research, interview different coaches, ask them how they would help you, and then pick one that you jive with the best. Ready to Take Your Side Business Full-Time? Are you officially ready to go for it? Awesome. You can do it! Return to this article whenever you’re looking for motivation to continue on the path you’re already on. For more information about getting your business up and running, check out Gator Builder. Gator Builder is a drag and drop, intuitive website builder that will help you get a beautiful website up and running in a jiffy.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Happy Holidays!

CloudFlare Blog -

I joined Cloudflare in July of 2019, but I've known of Cloudflare for years. I always read the blog posts and looked at the way the company was engaging with the community. I also noticed the diversity in the names of many of the blog post authors. There are over 50 languages spoken at Cloudflare, as we have natives from many countries on our team, with different backgrounds, religions, gender and cultures. And it is this diversity that makes us a great team.A few days ago I asked one of my colleagues how he would say "Happy Holidays!" in Arabic. When I heard him say it, I instantly got the idea of recording a video in as many languages as possible of our colleagues wishing all of you, our readers and customers, a happy winter season.It only took one internal message for people to start responding and sending their videos to me. Some did it themselves, others flocked in a meeting room and helped each other record their greeting. It took a few days and some video editing to put together an informal video that was entirely done by the team, to wish you all the best as we close this year and decade.So here it is: Happy Holidays from all of us at Cloudflare!Let us know if you speak any of the languages in the video. Or maybe you can tell us how you greet each other, at this time of the year, in your native language.

How to Change an IP Address

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Change an IP Address appeared first on HostGator Blog. If you use the internet, you have an IP address—several, actually. One for your router and others for each device you use to access the internet. It’s a part of using the internet every day that most of us never think about. But every once in a while, someone hits up against a reason they want to change their IP address.  If you’re considering changing your IP address and wondering how to do so, we’ll cover the specific instructions that you need. But first, you’ll want to know how IP addresses work to begin with. What is an IP Address? IP address stands for internet protocol address. It’s a unique number assigned to each device that accesses the internet. It’s how different connected devices identify each other. You might give your phone or computer a name like “Joe’s iPhone,” that’s easy for you to remember. But for the internet and any other devices that interact with it, it’s identified by a number. IP addresses are a string of numbers separated by periods. They look something like: 111.222.333.444. You can find out the IP address for the device you’re on right now by simply checking out our What is Your IP? page.  All IP addresses have the same basic format, but there are a few different types of IP addresses to be aware of. Private IP Addresses Private IP addresses are those used by devices that are all on the same network. So within your home, you may have private IP addresses for your computer, your phone, your smart assistant, your printer, and your tablet. Every device that connects to your WiFi plan will have a private IP—even those devices that don’t have a screen, but do use internet or bluetooth (a growing category in the era of the internet of things (IoT). These addresses are how your router identifies each of the different products, and how the products identify each other. They’re usually automatically generated by your router, but you can sometimes set them up manually.    Public IP Addresses Your public IP address is assigned to your router and it’s how devices outside your immediate internet network, and the larger internet in general, recognize your network. The public address is what you saw if you clicked to find out your IP earlier. The fact that a company like HostGator can easily track what IP address you have is because it’s, well, public. Public IP addresses are provided by your internet service provider (ISP). They’re tied to all the internet activity that occurs on devices connected to your network.  Dynamic IP Addresses Most public IP addresses are dynamic, which means they change regularly. If you copy down what your IP address is today, but then pull up that page again in a week, you may well see a different number.  Having an IP that changes regularly provides some security to your network. It’s harder to hack into a network when the IP isn’t consistent. And using dynamic IPs is cheaper for ISPs and easier to maintain. Each time your IP changes, the old ones goes into a pool of IPs they own that can be re-assigned to someone else. When domains move between different customers automatically, they don’t have to make a special effort to re-configure IP addresses for people each time they change locations.  Static IP Addresses Static IP addresses don’t change. Any network that hosts a website will need a static IP address to ensure the website works properly. Like devices, websites have unique IP addresses as well. While you type a domain name into a web browser to access the website, what your computer’s doing is seeking out the specific IP address tied to that domain in order to call up the collection of files the site is made of.  If that IP address changes, your web browser won’t find what it’s looking for. Most people don’t need a static IP address, but for those that do, it’s an important option to have.   2 Reasons to Change an IP Address Online You know what IP addresses are now, you may wonder why anyone would want to bother changing theirs. There are a few reasons people decide to change an IP address.  1. You can’t connect to a network because another device with your IP address is already on it.  If you try to connect a product to your network that has the same IP address as something already connected, your network won’t recognize it. As far as your router can tell, the IP address trying to connect is already on the network, so it won’t realize a second product is attempting to communicate with it.  If your router auto-generates private IP addresses for your devices, this is unlikely to come up. But if it does, changing the IP address for either of the two devices should solve the problem. 2. You want to bypass a ban. If your public IP address is associated with behavior that causes a website or email server to ban it, changing your IP address could be a way to bypass that ban. This can happen if someone who had your IP address previously used it to send spam emails, spread malware, or issue a brute force attack on other websites. And obviously, it happens if you try to do any of those things yourself (which you would never do, right?). If your IP puts you on the naughty list for websites you want to visit or email clients that determine whether your emails will reach their intended recipients, that’s a good reason to change it.  3 Reasons Not to Change Your IP Address If one of those two reasons applies to you, then the instructions below will be helpful. But for some people reading this, changing your IP address will be a waste of time if you expect it to accomplish something it won’t.   1. If you have a dynamic IP now, it will change automatically. As we’ve already discussed, dynamic IPs change periodically without you having to do anything. And the majority of people reading this will have a dynamic IP, since that’s standard for ISPs. If there’s a serious reason you need to change your IP sooner rather than later, then you can do so. But if there’s no immediate need, just wait a few days and it will change on its own, saving you the trouble.  2. You’re trying to duck consequences for online bad behavior.  If you are the person sending the spam emails, spreading malware, or trying to hack websites—first off, we just have to say, stop that! Or what’s more likely, if you’re reading this worried about the ISP knowing about all those movies you’ve been downloading illegally (stop that too!), you may be hoping an IP change will protect you. But changing your IP address now won’t keep the ISP from knowing what IP address you had before. You can’t duck responsibility for bad behavior by changing your IP. At the risk of stating the obvious, you’re better off just avoiding that bad behavior altogether.  3. You want to get around restrictions on content.  You’re going on a vacation, but you still want to be able to access your Netflix account while you’re gone. Or you’re tired of your work network blocking Reddit and you want to figure out how to get around the office ban on it.  Changing your IP isn’t going to get you the desired result here, but one of the options in our section on alternatives below probably will.  How to Change an IP Address The steps to change your IP address will depend on what specifically you’re trying to do, and the type of device you’re on. The Easiest Way to Change an IP Address If you have a dynamic IP address—and if you haven’t paid for a static IP address, you almost certainly do—the simplest way to change both your public IP address, and the private IP addresses on your network is to restart your router.   Start by checking what your current IP address is, so you can confirm whether it’s changed after you’re done. Unplug your router. Wait five minutes. Then plug it back in. Chances are, once you’re back online your public IP will be different, as will the private IPs of all the devices you have connected. Easy peasy.  If that doesn’t work, or if you just want to change a specific IP address rather than all of your public and private ones, here are some alternative options. How to Change an IP Address on Mac If you want to change the private IP address of your Apple computer, the steps are actually pretty simple. Select the Apple icon in the top right corner of your screen, then click on System Preferences in the dropdown control panel. Choose Network from the menu—it’s the one with silver globe image three rows down.  In the Default screen under Network, you can see what your current IP is, toward the top right under where it says Status: Connected.  Click on Advanced in the bottom right corner, then select TCP/IP from the menu along the top.  In the dropdown menu, choose Using DHCP with a manual address, and you’ll be able to edit what shows up in the IPv4 Address section of the form.  Enter the IP address you’d like to switch to here, and click OK.  Note: generally, it’s best to just change the last number in the string. So if your current IP address is 111.222.333.444, you would just change the 444 part.  How to Change an IP Address on Windows The instructions for changing your private address on a Windows computer aren’t too different.  In the bottom left corner of the screen, choose the Windows icon, then select the Settings icon. That’s the one that looks like a gear.In your server Settings, select Network & Internet in the middle of the top row. Then choose the Status tab in the menu on the left.Click on the Change Connection Properties link that appears in the control panel, and it will take you to a page where you’ll see an Edit button under IP assignment. Click on the dropdown menu and select Manual. Toggle the IPv4 button to On. Then you’ll be able to edit your private IP address. In case you didn’t see it in the Mac section: it’s usually best to just change the last number in the string. So if your current IP address is 111.222.333.444, you would assign new digits to  the 444 part.   How to Change a Public IP Address on Mac or Windows If resetting your router didn’t work, or if you’re in the minority of people that received a static IP address from your ISP, then you’ll have to go through your ISP to change your public IP address. Contact their customer support to ask about your options. While few people or businesses really need a static IP, if you’re in the category that does need one, your ISP may let you set one up for a fee. Check with them to learn the cost and details of involved.   Alternatives to Changing Your IP Address Changing your IP address can make sense in a few cases. But what a lot of people that consider changing an IP address really want is either increased privacy or the ability to bypass restrictions that their current IP settings have.  If you want a shield between your internet network and what your ISP is able to see of your online behavior, changing your IP settings isn’t the best way. Likewise, if you want a way to access a subscription streaming site in a country where it’s not offered, or the means to visit the blocked off sites at work, a new IP address isn’t the best route. In those cases you have two better alternatives: 1. Use a VPN. A virtual private network (VPN) is a service you can buy that masks your internet network. All the data on your internet activity and location will be encrypted, and you’re able to bypass any geo-restricted or blocked content.  2. Use a proxy server. A proxy server functions as a middleman between your server and the websites you visit, so it looks like your proxy’s IP address is the one taking any actions you take online. While not quite as secure or comprehensive as VPNs, which provide encryption, proxy servers are a more affordable option for achieving similar benefits.   Conclusion If you want to change your IP address, most options for doing so are fairly simple. Or for most people, you can just wait a little while and it will change on its own. Whatever path you choose, now you know all you could possibly need about how IP addresses work and how to update yours manually. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Best Parental Control Apps for 2020

Pickaweb Blog -

Lately, smartphones have played a great role in our lives and hardly a day passes by without scrolling our mobile devices. We can run mad if we are denied these gadgets. Our kids are following suit and all the time they can spare, it’s even worse. It goes without saying that mobile devices are addictive. The post Best Parental Control Apps for 2020 appeared first on Pickaweb.

Goals and Events eCommerce Businesses Should be Tracking with Google Analytics

Nexcess Blog -

Tracking interactions between customers and your ecommerce store is essential if you want to gauge the performance of your business. However, it’s not always obvious which interactions you should be tracking. If you track too little, you’re not getting the most representative picture, and if you track too much, the important data gets buried.  In order to drive revenue effectively, it’s vital you understand the performance of each of your site’s touchpoints. By identifying key goals and events through Google Analytics, and standardizing their reporting structure, you’ll be able to leverage that data to create campaigns that promote engagement and growth.  To help, we’ve created the ecommerce business owner’s guide to Google Analytics event tracking. With this guide, you’ll know which tracking events are most important and how to create tracking goals for your ecommerce store. Google Analytics Event Tracking vs. Goal Tracking Google Analytics event tracking can illuminate patterns in user behaviour that you can use to make more informed decisions.  Finding out how customers and leads are interacting with your online store is crucial for optimizing your customer experience. As it happens, you can learn a lot about how customers are engaging with your store by tracking goals and events in Google Analytics. Events As Google defines them, events are “interactions with content that can be measured independently from a webpage or screen load.” This includes things like: Clicks Video views File downloads Code loads Page scrolls Account logins Media shares Products added to the shopping cart In a more technical sense, events are interactions between users and your ecommerce store. This includes: Mouse interactions Keyboard interactions Frame interactions  Form interactions In Google Analytics, event tracking can illuminate patterns in user behavior that you can use to make more informed decisions and further refine your customer experience. While certain events — like abandoned carts, for instance — are often tracked by default, you can track many different customer interactions with Google Analytics custom events. Do you run an ecommerce store that isn’t seeing the organic traffic you expect? Learn more about how to optimize your Ecommerce SEO. Event Conditions Google Analytics has four conditions for events: category, action, label, value, and non-interaction. Each type of event condition has its own application, whether it’s for organization in Google Analytics or for assigning monetary value to a trackable event. An event category is a name assigned to a group of events. They’re used primarily for organizational purposes. For example, you might assign events like pageviews and clicks to an event category called “engagement.” Or you create an event category called “downloads” for events related to the downloading of files from your website. An event action is a certain type of event that you want to track for a specific page element. For example, when users click play, pause, or rewind, or scrub through a video to a particular location, you can track those interactions as event actions. An event label is an optional name assigned to a certain element on a webpage. Similar to event categories, event labels are largely for organizational purposes. For example, if there are multiple PDF files that can be downloaded from your website, you could use event labels to distinguish downloads of one PDF file from others. An event value is an optional numerical value assigned to a trackable event. Although value is often a monetary value, meaning how much (in dollars) an event brings to your business, there are cases where value could be a length of time or raw quantity. For instance, you could make the value for a confirmation page event equal to your average transaction value since you know (on average) how much your business makes from each conversion. The non-interaction condition is applied when an event is non-interactive. When the value for this condition is “true,” the event is considered non-interactive. Typically, you only classify an event as non-interactive when you don’t want it to affect your bounce rate or other metrics in Google Analytics. Goals Google Analytics goals are essentially events that have value and that you want to boost in order to generate more revenue. When you set a tracking goal, Google Analytics begins counting instances of that goal as a conversion. For instance, if you set a duration goal of five minutes, and then a visitor spends 5 minutes or more on your site, Google Analytics will consider that a successful conversion. In Google Analytics, there are duration goals, destination goals, pages/views goals, and event goals. As you’d expect, a duration goal is a minimum amount of time that you want users to spend engaging with your website. Destination goals refer to when users visit a specific page on your site like a thank-you page or an order confirmation page. With pages/views goals, you want users to click onto a minimum number of pages on your site. Finally, event goals are more specific interactions including form fills, click-to-call link clicks, and file downloads. 5 Google Analytics Goals and Events You Should Track Tracking goals and events is an effective way to gauge or boost the performance of your ecommerce business. So let’s go over some specific Google Analytics goals and events that you should be tracking.  Google Analytics makes it very easy to access and create goals. Once you’re logged into your Google Analytics account, go into the Admin menu and in the View column, then click Goals. Goal: Confirmation Pages A confirmation page can be used to confirm an order that’s been placed or to thank a lead for joining a mailing list. But in any context, a confirmation page is what someone sees after an interaction with your brand or company. In other words, it’s a conversion follow-up that makes confirmation pages an important goal to track. How to Set up a Confirmation Page Goal   From the Goals menu in Google Analytics, click the “+ New Goal” button to open the new goal template. At the top of the goal template, you’re given a list of template options. For this tutorial, we chose to set up a completed purchase confirmation page — the second option on the list.   Next, create a name for your confirmation page goal. For the tracking goal type, choose “Destination” since a confirmation page is the URL destination that marks the completion of a conversion. In the third section of the goal template, you’ll need to provide a destination and value, and then outline the conversion funnel for the tracking goal. The destination is similar to a label and how the goal will be shown in Google Analytics. Think of it as a URL suffix and choose something simple that’s representative of the confirmation page you’re tracking. The value is, quite simply, a monetary value assigned to the goal you’re tracking. The funnel refers to your conversion or sales funnel. A confirmation page will likely take the final position in the funnel. The screenshot above shows how the funnel section will look when set up properly. Finally, click “Verify This Goal” at the bottom.  Verifying your goal will manually filter your Google Analytics data from the past seven days through your new tracking goal to tell you how many hits you would’ve gotten during that period. When you see numerical values for every step of the funnel, your confirmation page tracking goal is functional. Goal: Form Submissions There are a number of different uses for forms on an ecommerce site. For instance, many sites use forms for newsletter signups and as a convenient way for users to contact the company. You can also set up a form so leads can request a quote for made-to-order products and services. Just as there are multiple uses for forms for your ecommerce site, there is more than one way to set up form submission goals in Google Analytics. First, if you use a confirmation page as a follow-up to a form submission, you would set up a form submission goal in much the same way as a confirmation page goal (outlined above). Alternatively, you can set up form submissions as Google Analytics events, and then use a form submission event as a tracking goal. Before setting up a form submission goal, you need to set up form submission as a trackable event. For this step, we recommend using Google Tag Manager. How to Set up a Form Submission Goal Once you have completed that setup in Google Tag Manager, return to Google Analytics, open the Admin menu, click “Goals” in the View column, and click the “+ New Goal” button. In the screenshot above, you can see the options we chose while setting up a tracking goal for a contact form. In the first section, we chose the “Contact us” template. In the second section, we named the goal “Contact us” and selected “Event” as the goal type. Finally, we completed the details for the goal by filling in the category, action, and label. Since a form submission doesn’t equate to a sale, no value was assigned. However, you may choose to assign a value to an inquiry. It’s simply a matter of preference.  Goal: Products Added to Cart Adding products to the shopping cart is another important goal to track and is a prerequisite for a purchase. The idea is to see how many people are adding products to the shopping cart so you can compare that to how many of those added products end with transactions. Doing this gives you an idea of how often users are abandoning their shopping carts. There are two ways to set up Added-to-Cart goal tracking in Google Analytics, depending on how your ecommerce site is setup. If there’s some sort of confirmation page when a product is added to the shopping cart, then you’d follow the same steps as you would for a confirmation page. But if adding a product to the shopping cart isn’t followed by a confirmation, you’ll need to set it up as a triggered event with Google Tag Manager.  How to Set up an Added-to-Cart Goal   As you configure the trigger for the event in Google Tag Manager, you’ll want to select “Click – All Elements” as the trigger type. This ensures that mouse clicks will trigger the event. Next, select “Some Clicks” for what initiates the trigger and input the class and conditions for the event trigger. Use the + and – buttons to the right to add or remove triggers as needed. You can see how these settings are reflected in the underlying code on your site by right-clicking on your “Add to Cart” button and selecting “Inspect element.” After configuring the tracking event trigger, your Added-to-Cart goal is ready to start tracking. Event: Abandoned Carts When a cart is abandoned, it means the person who added the product to the shopping cart has changed his or her mind. On average, 69.57% of shopping carts are abandoned before purchases are made. With so many sales falling through the cracks, cart abandonment is a very important metric for ecommerce business owners to track. It’s worth noting, though, that a tool like Jilt that can act on cart abandonment data can be especially useful. In addition, can actually show which products are being left abandoned in the shopping cart most frequently and makes it easier to identify potential roadblocks in the buyer’s journey. Both Jilt and are tools that are included with Managed WooCommerce at Nexcess.  How to Set up an Abandoned Cart Event Abandoned cart event tracking is most commonly done automatically when you have ecommerce enabled in Google Analytics.   To access your abandoned cart events, navigate to ecommerce > Cart Behavior. Not only does this show instances of cart abandonment, but you get to see instances of no products being added to the cart and instances of check-out abandonment. The idea is to get a concise visual representation of how many sales are lost at different points in the buyer’s journey. Event: Video Views Videos are the most popular, high-converting form of digital content today which is why setting up tracking for video views is important for ecommerce businesses. With Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, you can set up video tracking for instructional/information videos, video reviews, and product launch videos that are available on your website. Tracking video view events on your site is particularly useful when combined with an ecommerce analytics tool like for more insightful customer analytics. When you track video views, you can compare that figure to metrics like your pageviews, unique visitors, and conversions for a clearer picture of how users are engaging with your online store. How to Set up a Video View Event The most effective (and easiest) way to set up video view events is to use Google Tag Manager. And if your videos are hosted on YouTube, then Google Tag Manager takes just moments to set up. In the screenshot above, you can see a pretty standard trigger configuration for a video view event. For the trigger configuration, all four capture options are selected including progress percentages in 25-percent intervals, but you can set it to track as much or as little as is helpful for you.  Once you have finished with trigger configuration, the tag configuration for your video view event should look similar to the screenshot above. After you’ve finished setting up your video view event in Google Tag Manager, those events will be reported in Google Analytics. You can monitor instances of video view events in Behavior Event Reporting. Nexcess Managed WooCommerce Hosting Comes Paired With for Comprehensive Customer Insights  Nexcess is your premiere hosting provider, offering high-quality, performance-focused hosting plans for ecommerce businesses of any size. However, when you choose Nexcess Managed WooCommerce Hosting, you’re not just getting the best in speed, performance, and reliability at a great price: You’re also getting tons of extras, like Jilt for cart abandonment and, a comprehensive ecommerce analytics program. So when you want the best for your growing ecommerce business, choose Nexcess Managed WooCommerce Hosting. Learn more and get started today.  The post Goals and Events eCommerce Businesses Should be Tracking with Google Analytics appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Staying Ahead of the SEO Game

WP Engine -

Even with ever-changing technology redefining many aspects of content strategy, SEO is still king. Today, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and the top three Google search results rack up 75% of all clicks. Making sure your content ranks well is a marketing must.  For those new to the scene, SEO or… The post Staying Ahead of the SEO Game appeared first on WP Engine.


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