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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! pic.twitter.com/LIOA3OqEjr— 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 (request.cf.requestPriority).Standardising 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: https://t.co/8qP78O6cPS— 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 Glew.io 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, Glew.io 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 Glew.io 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 Glew.io 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 Glew.io 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 Glew.io, 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.

Small Business Grants: How to Find Them and Apply

HostGator Blog -

The post Small Business Grants: How to Find Them and Apply appeared first on HostGator Blog. Could your small business use more capital to launch a new product or add services? It may be time to explore your options for grants. Some federal, state and local government agencies—and some non-profits—offer grant money to businesses. Your business may qualify if it’s woman- or minority-owned, veteran-owned, or meets other criteria. Here’s a rundown of where to find grant listings, how to apply, and what to expect if your business wins a grant. Where to Find Small Business Grants Grants are one of those things that can seem invisible until you start looking, and then you see them everywhere. Here are several online portals you can use to kickstart your grant search. 1. US Small Business Administration The Grants section of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) website has information about SBA funding programs for small business and what’s required to apply. The SBA runs or partners on more than a dozen small business grant and support programs, including several training and financial support grants for veteran-owned small businesses. The SBA Grants section also find information on state-run STEP awards for small businesses that want to begin exporting goods to other countries or expand their existing export business. If your business does R&D in science and technology, you can find details about two federal grant programs—Small Business Technology Transfer and Small Business Innovation Research. 2. Challenge.gov Ready to take on a challenge for a chance to win a financial reward? Challenge.gov offers federal agency-sponsored prizes to businesses and entrepreneurs who help the government solve all kinds of problems. Lithium-ion battery recycling, film production, septic sensor technology, and management consulting are current prize topics. Awards range from a few thousand dollars to more than $1 million.   3. Grants.gov Another federal site, Grants.gov, has a searchable database. As of this writing, there are more than 1,000 grants for small businesses listed on the site. The vast majority are for small businesses engaged in health and other scientific research. There are also programs to help small farmers set up renewable energy systems, leadership training for small businesses that serve the law enforcement and criminal justice sectors, and more. Be prepared to spend some time drilling into the fine print and links on this site. 4. GrantWatch.com GrantWatch.com is a subscription service that collects information on grant programs in each US state and territory plus Canada, Israel, and other countries. You’ll need a subscription to search by keyword, but the site’s free search tools let you scan by location and category. For example, grant options in Texas right now include funding for small businesses that run after-school programs, install broadband, offer telemedicine in rural areas, recycle plastics, and build assistive technology for people with disabilities, to name a few.   And of course, Google is your friend when it comes to finding grants that fit your business profile and niche—especially for grants offered by corporations and non-profit groups. Here are a few of the best-known: 5. National Association for the Self-Employed National Association for the Self-Employed members can apply for grants of up to $4,000 to invest in equipment, upgrade their web presence and marketing, or another use that helps the business grow. These grants are aimed at “microbusinesses.” Past recipients include an art glass studio, a t-shirt printing company, and a vegan pastry shop.   6. FedEx Small Business Grant The annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest contest draws thousands of applicants and awards ten prizes, ranging from a $50,000 grand prize to $15,000 bronze prizes, plus FedEx services for winners. If your business has a great story to tell and enthusiastic fans, go for it, because customer and fan votes help decide the winners. What types of businesses win? This year, a toy manufacturer, a maker of heatstroke prevention devices, a wedding flower rental business, and an artisanal cheese businesses made the list. 7. The Amber Grant The Amber Grant from WomensNet is a two-stage program for women-owned small businesses. Each month, the program judges award one business a $2,000 grant. At the end of each year, one of those grant winners receives another $25,000. The application process is easy and less complex than government grants. There is a small fee to apply for an Amber Grant. What Happens When Your Small Business Gets a Grant? You celebrate! Then, you make your grant award part of your marketing, because it’s impressive social proof—judges who hand out money think your business idea is great. Next, you set up a system to comply with your grant’s rules. Some grants will simply give you a cash award. Others—especially government-funded programs that must show proof that their money is used properly—have rules about how you can spend the funds, recordkeeping for grant-funded purchases, progress reports, and results. There may also be deadlines for using the money or achieving certain results. And there may be penalties for grant recipients who don’t stick to those rules. So make sure you’re prepared to comply with the program’s rules before you apply. Finally, talk to your CPA. Grants are usually taxable income, so you want to make sure you set aside some of the money for tax time. How to Apply for a Small Business Grant After you find a grant program that fits your type of business, find the application deadline and make sure you can meet it. (If you find a great program but the deadline is past, see if the grant will be offered again later, so you can start planning for next time.) The application process itself varies by grant. Applying for an Amber Grant is as simple as filling out an online form, while government-sponsored grants can have complex application processes. For example, the USDA’s grant for rural expansion of broadband requires documented proof of the area to be served, costs, licenses and access to service areas, and more. If you’re looking at a complex application, don’t guess. Most grants include phone numbers and email addresses for staffers who can answer your questions and help you get through the process. Before you send in your application, make sure your company website and social media accounts are up to date. Judges and voters will want to see what your business does and what your goals are, so make it easy for them to verify that information. And finally, proofread your application and double-check that you have all the required information before you submit it. Has your small business ever won a grant? Tell us about it in the comments. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

9 Powerful Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Pickaweb Blog -

Today, for businesses to thrive and survive the fierce market, employee engagement, commitment, and energy are a must. Having an ecosystem of empowered employees that are fully engaged and working effectively on their tasks in line with achieving the company’s objectives is essential. Although employee engagement plays a significant role in helping companies to achieve The post 9 Powerful Ways to Improve Employee Engagement appeared first on Pickaweb.

New Year, New Website (in 7 days!) Challenge

HostGator Blog -

The post New Year, New Website (in 7 days!) Challenge appeared first on HostGator Blog. January is the time for new year resolutions. 2020! Can you believe it? The new year brings so much excitement. A fresh start. New goals. And a whole year to accomplish them.  As the calendar turns to 2020, what do you want to accomplish this year? Forget weight loss or running marathons…  How about starting a new online business? Or finally creating that blog to share your ideas and expertise? The most successful people set SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Time bound. That’s why we’re setting a time on the calendar, breaking the task into 7 days, and we’re all going to create our websites together. Sign up today for HostGator’s New Year, New Website Challenge. It starts with 1 email from us per day and ends with your new website published in 7 days! And, to up the game a little, there’s a race to the finish. We’re giving out prizes to the first 50 people that complete the course and publish their website!  How it works:  The challenge consists of a 7-day email series that guides you through the process of creating a website. And we’re all starting at the same time and working through it together.  The email series starts on January 6, 2019 and ends on January 12, 2019. Each day you will receive an email with a lesson and a little “assignment” from us. We’ll walk you through the process of how to build a great website in 7 days.  You don’t need to purchase anything to get started. On day 5, we’ll walk you through how to choose a package. (But, note: You do need to purchase a hosting plan with HostGator in order to enter your website in the contest. See full details below.)  After you publish your new website, come back and fill out the form below to be entered to win the HostGator prize pack. What you will learn: This email course will walk you through a thoughtful process of how to plan, organize, and build your first website. We’ll cover all the bases from FREE worksheets on how to research your competitors, all the way to quickly writing pages and step-by-step instructions for website design. Here’s the course outline:  Create your website plan.Do audience & competitor research.Outline your website structure. Write your copy. Choose your domain, hosting, and software.Website design.A process to review your site and publish.  The Challenge Details:  The challenge will run from January 6-12, 2020. All published website entries must be submitted by January 31, 2020. The first 50 individuals to complete the course and publish their website will receive a HostGator prize pack to include a Snappy plushie and HostGator t-shirt. The first 10 entries to meet all the requirements will receive the grand prize pack to include a Snappy plushie, Yeti travel mug, $20 Starbucks gift card, and a HostGator t-shirt.  How to Enter:  Must complete the following for valid entry: Sign up for the email course by January 5, 2020.Complete the email course that runs January 6-12, 2020. Submit your published website entry by January 31, 2020, by filling out the form below.Website must be published with the following:  At least 3 unique pages (such as a home page, about page, and contact page); One call to action; and Content (such as copy and/or photos) on each of the 3 pages. Eligibility:  The contest is open to first-time publishers. The web hosting plan can be purchased prior to the email course challenge, but the website must be published between January 12, 2020 and January 31, 2020. Website was not published prior to January 12, 2020. Website was purchased with HostGator and is currently hosted with HostGator. Entrants must be legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (and the District of Columbia) and at least 18 years of age at the time of entry. Any hosting package is eligible, so long as the website is published in WordPress or Gator Website Builder. HostGator affiliates are not eligible. The Legal Stuff: By submitting this form, you agree to the Official Rules of the HostGator New Year, New Website Challenge Giveaway and the HostGator Terms of Service and Privacy Notice. *The HostGator New Year, New Website Challenge Contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States (and D.C.), 18 years or older. Contest starts on January 6, 2020, at 06:00 AM EST and ends on January 31, 2020, at 11:59 PM EST. Void where prohibited. For full entry details, see Official Rules at https://www.hostgator.com/newyearnewwebsitetos. Sponsored by HostGator, 2500 Ridgepoint Drive Ste C, Austin, TX 78754 (the “Sponsor”). Yeti and Starbucks are not sponsors or participants in the Contest and make no endorsement of the Contest. [contact-form]Find the post on the HostGator Blog

This holiday's biggest online shopping day was... Black Friday

CloudFlare Blog -

What’s the biggest day of the holiday season for holiday shopping? Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving, has been embraced globally as the day retail stores announce their sales. But it was believed that the following Monday, dubbed “Cyber Monday,” may be even bigger. Or, with the explosion of reliable 2-day and even 1-day shipping, maybe another day closer to Christmas has taken the crown. At Cloudflare, we aimed to answer this question for the 2019 holiday shopping season.Black Friday was the biggest online shopping day but the second biggest wasn't Cyber Monday... it was Thanksgiving Day itself (the day before Black Friday!). Cyber Monday was the fourth biggest day. Here's a look at checkout events seen across Cloudflare's network since before Thanksgiving in the US.Checkout events as a percentage of checkouts on Black FridayThe weekends are shown in yellow and Black Friday and Cyber Monday are shown in green. You can see that checkouts ramped up during Thanksgiving week and then continued through the weekend into Cyber Monday.Black Friday had twice the number of checkouts as the preceding Friday and the entire Thanksgiving week dominates. Post-Cyber Monday, no day reached 50% of the number of checkouts we saw on Black Friday. And Cyber Monday was just 60% of Black Friday.So, Black Friday is the peak day but Thanksgiving Day is the runner up. Perhaps it deserves its own moniker: Thrifty Thursday anyone?Checkouts occur more frequently from Monday to Friday and then drop off over the weekend.  After Cyber Monday only one other day showed an interesting peak. Looking at last week it does appear that Tuesday, December 17 was the pre-Christmas peak for online checkouts. Perhaps fast online shipping made consumers feel they could use online shopping as long as they got their purchases by the weekend before Christmas.Happy Holidays from everyone at Cloudflare!

What is Predictive Trend Analytics and Why is it Helpful to Businesses?

Reseller Club Blog -

Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Machine Learning are the current face of technology. In fact, there are numerous AI-powered devices, robots and algorithms to make our work easier. AI has penetrated into almost all the domains – be it health sector, education or business. However, the question remains, ‘how do machines interact with each other or take decisions?’ Well, the answer to this is simple – they follow patterns based on their previous history i.e they start predicting the outcome vis-à-vis the situation.  In this article, we will cover what predictive trend analytics is, how it impacts your marketing strategy and, in turn, your business.  What is Predictive Trend Analytics:  Predictive Trend Analytics in simple words is using historical data to predict and plan for the future outcome. In fact, predictive trend analytics is a subset of business intelligence. Essentially, machine learning and artificial intelligence-based tools help track a customer’s preferences or predict the demands of a certain product or service. This data is later used to advertise personalised customer content to increase conversion count.  So, is the process of predictive trend analytics as simple as it sounds or is there more to it? Well, the answer is, yes there are a lot of complex processes that determine which prediction is the most accurate one. Let us move on to understand how predictive analytics works. Working of Predictive Trend Analytics To understand, let us take, for example, of Netflix. Netflix is the most used application for movies and series. However, have you ever wondered how Netflix knew what should you watch next after you’ve just finished watching a movie or series, then here is your answer! Netflix is a major data-driven company that analyses user behaviour to the maximum. For instance, when did you watch the movie, did you complete it? If not, at what point did you leave it midway, did you return to it again, the ratings that are given, the scrolling and browsing behaviour and much more. Using several algorithms and data analysis, Netflix is able to predict the most suitable shows/movies you would prefer watching.  Another common example that you may have come across is Amazon’s Suggestions when you purchase a product. Not only does Amazon suggest what you should purchase to complete the look but even goes further and tells you what other customers viewed based on your search query. Amazon is able to give such a prediction based on the historical data it stores. For this, it uses a NoSQL database. Your Search Amazon’s suggestions based on your search Whether you’re a retailer or a manufacturer, irrespective of your business, you can implement this process. Say you’re an e-commerce retailer you can track your customer’s purchase patterns to predict if they are to come back again for a purchase or not. Or if they don’t complete the purchase, why did they abandon the cart and how many abandoned the same product. This analysis will help you predict not only the customer’s behaviour but also the product. On the other hand, if you’re a manufacturer of smart devices, you can track and monitor the usage of the device and collect the information. This information can then be used to analyse user behaviour which, in turn, can be used to market similar products or premium services to your customers.  Depending on your business type viz. SMB or Enterprise, there are various marketing automation tools that you can enable to collect data from how and when the customer interacted with your website to predict their next move. HubSpot, Marketo, Act-On are some tools that you can use. Advantages of Predictive Trend Analytics Moving on, let us cover the 3 major advantages of enabling predictive trend analytics. Improves Performance Efficiency  Predictive Trend Analytics enables you to tap into customer behaviour based on their usage of your product or purchase. This can help you to reduce abandon cart issues, as well as, help you gain a competitive advantage. Eventually, this helps in improving both the performance of the customer’s buyer journey and your business.   2. Better Marketing Campaigns  You might have run multiple marketing campaigns, some of them performing exceptionally well while there might be few that didn’t. Analysing your customer’s interaction on your website can help you predict how your customers will act. Moreover, it can also help upsell, cross-sell, and improve your revenue.   3. Enhance Customer Experience  A satisfied customer is most likely to return to your website as opposed to a customer who felt that the experience could have been better. Analysing customer behaviour helps you predict ‘if they will open your email’ or ‘which product they are likely to search’. This helps you to cater to them in a personalised manner, giving the feeling that the discount or products are custom-made especially for them (which is true).  Conclusion Predictive Trend Analytics is a fast and efficient way to gain insight into customers based on their shopping patterns and behaviour. Moreover, it helps you leverage and upscale your business website to suit the needs of your customers based on educative guesses. Have you implemented predictive analysis? If yes, how is your experience? Do let us know in the comments section below. .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post What is Predictive Trend Analytics and Why is it Helpful to Businesses? appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

SSL and HTTPS: A Technical Guide

The Domain.com Blog -

How does information remain secure when it’s communicated over the Internet? In large part, that’s due to something called Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. SSL is a technology that keeps internet connections secure. It encrypts and protects sensitive information and data as it’s sent between two systems (like your browser and another website or two servers). SSL stops bad people and bots from reading or changing the information being sent between the systems, like credit card information during an e-commerce transaction. If you have a website or are in charge of the web hosting for your business, you need to understand the importance of data privacy and securing internet connections. As you begin your research, you’ll come across the term “SSL port” and that’s what we’re focusing on today. What is an SSL port? Data can be communicated between systems (like your web browser and your favorite online shopping website) with or without SSL. But the SSL port number is what indicates whether or not your connection is secure. How can I tell if my connection to a website is secure? Look at the URL in the address bar in your browser. You’ll see that the URL starts with one of two things: it’s either HTTP or HTTPS. The HTTPS indicates a secure connection and it uses port number 443. HTTP, an unsecure internet protocol, uses port number 80. What is a port? Whenever you open up your computer to visit a website you’re quite literally docking into the Internet, like a boat would dock at a port. Internet ports are numbered differently to indicate what the ports are used for and what they offer. These ports are called “TCP Ports” and that stands for Transmission Control Protocol. If you’re diving into the world of websites and hosting, it’ll be helpful to know what the most commonly-used ports are and their assignments, or their purpose. How Are TCP Ports Used? TCP is pretty reliable. In order for TCP ports to work, there must be an “anchored connection” between Point A, where the data or request originates, and Point B, where the data or request is being sent. The only way that transmission of data will fail with TCP is if the connection between Points A and B is lost, like if you lost your internet connection. What are the more common TCP Ports? What’s the relationship between HTTPS and SSL? To understand how SSL and HTTPS work together, let’s first go back to the unsecure HTTP. HTTP and HTTPS aren’t that different. In fact, the only difference is that when HTTPS creates and maintains a secure internet connection, it’s doing so with SSL. How do I secure my website with SSL? You want your site visitors and customers to trust you. You want them to have faith in your site and know that the information they’re sharing with you during a purchase is safe and secure. The way to go from HTTP (a visual marker of an unsecure site) to HTTPS (the visual marker of an SSL-secured site) is to install an SSL certificate on your website server. This certificate verifies your site’s identity so that information can be passed securely from your web server to your visitors’ browsers. Is SSL a certificate or a protocol? SSL certificates and HTTPS protocol are two separate things. But together, they make for a mighty secure internet connection. Think of the HTTPS protocol as the physical structure that allows encrypted information to travel securely from point A to point B. SSL certificates are what encrypts the information being shared over that HTTPS structure. However, you must keep in mind that the SSL certificate itself isn’t going to do anything for you. It only works once you’ve configured and set it up on your server.   Isn’t SSL outdated? If you’re researching SSL then you’ve probably come across the term “TLS.” Is it really a new and improved version of SSL? What are we all doing still talking about and using SSL? Don’t worry folks, we’ll explain. TLS stands for Transport Layer Security, and it’s definitely a newer and better version of SSL. However, the term SSL is so well known that it stuck around even after TLS was introduced. So when you purchase SSL you’re in fact purchasing TLS (it’s like SSL plus). What are the differences between TLS and SSL? The original SSL was developed back in the wild & wooly 90s by a company called Netscape (remember them?). TLS isn’t too different, it uses many of the same technologies and protocol, but it’s been updated to withstand the security risks and issues of today’s world. TLS provides stronger encryption, but remember, it’s still referred to as SSL because that’s the more well-known name. Why does my SSL port matter? You need to configure your SSL certificate on your web server to get “HTTPS” to show in your website’s URL in the address bar. This indicates that you’re using an SSL port, which means the connection created between your site and someone’s browser is secure. People are growing evermore distrustful of seeing “HTTP” in their browser and for good reason. With the amount of hacks and data theft happening today, people want to know you’re doing what you can to protect their information. Your SSL port indicates there’s a secure, encrypted connection that will keep their data away from malicious prying eyes. Advantages to using SSL Faster web page loadingHTTPS loads pages faster than HTTP. Who waits around for a webpage to load nowadays when there’s always a competitor around the digital corner whose site might be faster? SEO ImprovementYour site is likely to rank higher in search results if you’re using HTTPS as opposed to HTTP. Stop hackers and bad actors in their tracksSSL encrypts the data transferred back and forth between two systems. Even if these bad people and bots could somehow see the data being transferred, they won’t know what it says. Maintain PCI CompliancePCI Compliance stands for Payment Card Industry Compliance. This is required by all credit card companies when making transactions online to further secure and protect against data and identity theft. Part of the PCI Compliance guidelines are that your site must use HTTPS, which means your SSL certificate needs to be configured on your site before you can accept payments via credit card for purchases. No scary alertsIf you’re using HTTP then chances are your site visitors are receiving notices telling them your website isn’t secure when they land on it. Frankly, this looks bad. It causes them to lose confidence in your site and odds are good they won’t be back. Where can I get SSL for my website? Domain.com offers a variety of different SSL certificates to suit you and your websites’ needs. Only need basic SSL protection so your customers see your site is secure and you improve your Google search rankings? We offer that. Do you have multiple subdomains that need SSL protection? We offer that, too. And what if you have an e-commerce site and require even more protection for your customers’ data? Yeah, we’ve got you covered. All of our SSL offerings come with a warranty ranging from $10K – $1,750,000 USD and a visual indicator that your site is secure. Take a look at our plans and let us know if you have any questions about those, or SSL in general, in the comments.   The post SSL and HTTPS: A Technical Guide appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

5 Best WordPress Plugins for Inventory Management

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The post 5 Best WordPress Plugins for Inventory Management appeared first on HostGator Blog. Inventory management ranks as a top priority for small businesses. As your business grows, you’ll want to efficiently manage your business inventory.  WordPress plugins offer several different inventory management options. The right plugin will automate your inventory processes and provide accurate data for reporting. When evaluating plugins, consider the features, ease of use, and support availability.  Transform your website into a top-notch eCommerce store. Here are 5 plugins you should try today:  1. WP Inventory Manager WP Inventory Manager is an easy-to-use plugin to manage inventory on your WordPress dashboard. There’s no hassle with the setup, and the drag-and-drop feature makes the plugin perfect for beginners.  This powerful tool includes add-ons to help your small business. For instance, download the Breadcrumbs feature to filter your products and help customers navigate backward with ease. Or try the Lightbox add-on to display your high resolution product images.  If you operate with large quantities of inventory items, you can invest in the paid Bulk Item Manager feature. It updates your items all at once. Just search by inventory field type and then change the fields of every item.  Ledger is another useful paid feature. It helps you keep track of every quantity change and inventory reservation. This add-on will save your accounting team a few extra hours.  WP Inventory Manager is an effective tool for car dealers and art collectors. It also supports multiple categories, customizable labels, separate database tables, and a templating system. And don’t forget about the support!  You can access support directly from your WordPress dashboard. 2. Cart66 Cloud When building your store with WordPress, you need a comprehensive inventory tool with a  simple setup process. Cart66 Cloud fulfills these requirements as an all-in-one inventory management system. This plugin allows you to log in, get instant inventory reports, and re-stock quickly. Going beyond inventory monitoring, this tool lets you set up drip campaigns to sell even more products to your customers. Cart66 brings immediate value to your small business. Here’s a review from Chris Lema, a blogger and speaker:  “If you ask me, it’s tough work figuring out how to deliver as much value to as many people as possible and Cart66 has done a pretty great job of it.” If you want to increase customer loyalty, there are also options for memberships, subscriptions, payment plans, and donations. There’s a 14-day free trial and it takes only minutes to get started. If you want to align your inventory with your sales goals, then you need a solution that can monitor everything within your WordPress dashboard. Cart66 Cloud is the right tool for the job. 3. Z Inventory Manager  Research found that one-third of businesses sold an item that wasn’t in stock. This issue is due to a lack of visibility in their inventory management workflow. When this happens, customers wait longer for products, and businesses can lose sales. The good news is that a solution exists to prevent these operational challenges. Z Inventory Manager helps you manage your business better. It streamlines the process amongst your warehouse, accounting, and online storefront.  This plugin checks stock levels in real time, so you can re-stock when your inventory gets too low. You can monitor all of your inventory from one place. Plus, if you need to print a report, you can instantly generate one to help organize sales, purchase orders, and shipments. Small business owners can download the free version or upgrade to Z Inventory Manager Pro for an additional cost. The premium version includes a stats and history module for you to monitor the performance of inventory items. There’s also a copy module to duplicate recurring purchases with your suppliers or regular sales with your customers. 4. WordPress ERP Inventory Module Inventory management saves your small business money. It helps you avoid unnecessary spoilage of products with an expiration date, like food. You also can dodge expensive storage fees when you have too much product on hand.  The WP ERP Inventory Module integrates stock management within your accounting software. All your products are housed in a single location; you can see an overview of the item code, cost price, sale price, and the number of stock remaining. There’s a built-in search feature to make filtering through your products easier.  Need detailed reports? No worries. This plugin automatically generates your reports with a few simple clicks. There’s also the option to calculate the sales tax or pre-sales tax without any difficulty. 5. RentMy Online Rental Shop Capterra reports that 46% of small businesses operating without a robust inventory management system. These teams either don’t track inventory at all or use a time-consuming manual method.  Your business doesn’t have to operate in this manner. RentMy Online Rental Shop is a rental inventory management system with the goal to create a seamless customer experience. It’s an effective plugin for businesses in the rental vertical, including auto dealerships, toys & games, events, and equipment.   The real-time availability is one of the plugin’s best benefits. The tool automatically adjusts the availability of your items as you accept the reservations on your website. You also can set up flexible rental periods for your customers. Choose from fixed time slots or pre-defined durations. In addition, RentMy Online Rental Shop offers integrated payment processing to accept online payments using your preferred merchant processor, including Stripe, PayPal, and Authorize.net. This plugin provides easy setup for non-technical business owners. Just install the plugin and add your products to any page or post. In just a few minutes, you’re ready to accept real-time online rental reservations. Manage Your Inventory Better When it comes to inventory management, businesses must consider all their options. Automated and real-time monitoring features make it easy to keep track of everything. Try these plugins and pick the right one for your business.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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