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How to Test a New WordPress Theme Without Crashing Your Current Site [4-Step Guide]

The post How to Test a New WordPress Theme Without Crashing Your Current Site [4-Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Wanna try out a new WordPress theme, but are afraid of how it will impact your current site? How do you ensure that while you’re testing out new theme ideas, you don’t crash your current site, lose precious copy, or mess up your website? Speaking as someone who accidentally erased her entire website back in 2015 (massive oops), it’s a valid concern.  To help you avoid losing your website to a cyber black hole, here are some practical ways to test your new WordPress theme without crashing your current site. How to test a WordPress theme for your current website without going live If you’re ready to make changes to your current site and try a new WordPress theme, here are the steps to follow.  Step 1: Back it up (Just like Prince Royce and J-Lo recommend) Remember when I said I accidentally deleted my entire WordPress website back in my novice freelance writing days? I don’t know how I deleted it. All I know is that my site was gone forever. It was particularly upsetting since I paid a chunk of change to a designer to create my site for me, and I had to pay someone AGAIN to get my new freelance writing website up and running. Had I followed a few simple steps and backed up my website, I could have saved myself a headache and some cash. Oh well. We live, we learn.  Here’s how to back up your website: Install a WordPress back up pluginDownload your back up to your computer  Yep, two steps. That’s it. Oh, how I wish the older, wiser version of myself could go back in time and tell my younger self to back up her website. Step 2: Choose your WordPress theme testing option When testing a WordPress theme, you have three options: Create a coming soon pageDownload a staging pluginDownload and test in a local WordPress testing environment. We’ll review each of these below. Option A: Create a coming soon page Let’s say you’re making changes to your website, but you’re not quite set on what new theme you want to use. You don’t want your visitors to see you changing back and forth between multiple theme options for obvious reasons. Instead of trying to make changes for everyone to see, you can activate what’s called a coming soon plugin. A WordPress coming soon plugin allows you to create a page with a custom message that says you’re making exciting changes to your site, and you’ll be back online as soon as your updates are complete.  Here are some things to include on your coming soon page: A compelling headline of what is coming soonA brief description of upcoming changes and why it’s excitingA timeline of when your new site will launchA way to get in touch with you in the meantime (e.g., social media, phone, email, etc.)A sign-up form for your email list Option B: Download a staging plugin If you don’t want to take your website down, but still want to test new designs or a new WordPress theme, you have an alternative. You can install a WordPress staging plugin. Plugins like WP Staging, Duplicator, and WP Stagecoach clone a version of your site where you can make changes behind the scenes. With the help of a staging plugin, you can make any changes you want without any fear of erasing or breaking your current website. You also don’t have to take your website down while you’re experimenting, as your staging website is not visible to the public. Here is how to build a staging site with a plugin (e.g., WP Staging): Download your preferred WordPress staging pluginInstall and activate your preferred staging pluginNavigate to the staging plugin on the left navigation bar in your WordPress dashboardFollow the prompts to start and create your staged websiteName your staged websiteWait for the plugin to clone your website Open your new staged/cloned websiteClick loginUse your WordPress login credentialsNotice the URL will include the staging website URL (e.g., wp-staging.com), followed by what you named your site.Make your changes Directions may vary slightly depending on which plugin you use, but all the plugins listed above are fairly intuitive to navigate. Option C: Download and test in a local WordPress testing environment Let’s say you don’t dare mess around in WordPress at all, and you want your changes to stay as free and as clear from your current site as possible. There is an answer for you as well. It’s installing a local WordPress testing environment app on your computer. A local testing environment is like having a server on your own computer where you can make changes to your site and preview them without it ever touching your site. In short, it’s just like a staging site, but not a WordPress plugin. It works on your computer instead. Popular WordPress testing environments include DesktopServer by ServerPress and Local by Flywheel.  To set up local testing of your WordPress site, you’ll need to download a WordPress migration app, export your production site to a file, save it to your computer, and follow the steps your local testing software requires.  Consider using the All-in-One WP Migration plugin to export your site. If you have a simple blog or website, it’s sufficient to test with a staging website. If you have a robust website with lots of content and an online store, for example, it’s a good idea to look into a local WordPress testing software. Step 3: Install your new theme into WordPress To change the current design of your WordPress site to a new WordPress theme, you first have to select your new WordPress theme and install it into WordPress. There are several free WordPress themes, and many of them are gorgeous. If you are working on a budget, browse the free WordPress themes and pick something you like. If you want more options, you can purchase a WordPress theme and install it on your WordPress account. Here are some popular places to find a paid WordPress theme: StudioPressOceanWPThemeFuseThemeForestCreative MarketRara Theme If you’d rather support a small business, many talented designers create awesome WordPress themes you can purchase. You can look into Etsy or your favorite independent designer. Regardless of what you choose, make sure the theme is well-designed and mobile-responsive. Once you have purchased your theme, here’s how to install it: Download the .zip file of the new theme you purchased and save it to your desktop.Login to your WordPress site.Navigate to the “Appearance” section on the left navigation bar of your WordPress dashboard.Click on “themes.”At the top of the screen, you’ll see “Add New” next to the heading “Themes.” Click on “Add New.”Next to the heading “Add New,” you’ll see “Upload Theme.” Click on it.Either drag and drop the .zip file or click “choose file” and select the .zip file.Click “install now.”WordPress will return a result that your theme has been installed. From here, you can either activate your new theme or press live preview. You can also add as many themes as you want using this same method and then preview them in the next step. If you want to see how your site would look in the theme you just downloaded, select live preview. Just don’t hit “activate and publish,” unless you are one-hundred percent sure you want this to be the new look of your website. Step 4: Browse theme options and preview them live WordPress has an awesome feature for its themes. With every theme you install, you can either “customize it,” or “live preview” it. Let’s talk about how. If you navigate to “Appearance” in your dashboard and click on “Themes,” WordPress will show you all the available themes you have uploaded. Here is what my dashboard looks like: If you hover over the theme in interest, you’ll see two options: activate and live preview. Activate will activate that theme for your website. Live preview will simply show you what your site would look like dressed up in that particular store. It’s like taking your website shopping for a new outfit! Here is what my travel website looks like in its current theme: I know. Hold the applause. If I want to test out a new theme, I follow the process above and click “live preview.” Here is what my website would look like in that particular theme. Remember, I haven’t copied any of my custom code or tweaked anything yet. This just gives me a general idea. What do you think? Should I change my theme? Either way, I can follow this process continually, rinse and repeat, until I have settled on a theme. If I don’t press “activate and publish,” WordPress won’t save any of my changes. This is a great way to test a new WordPress theme without making changes. Once you are finally ready to switch over to a new theme, you can activate it, customize it, and publish it. Check out HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting plan If you plan on making changes to your website, or just want the security that your website will have backups, then look into HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting plan. A managed WordPress hosting plan from HostGator includes 2.5X faster load times, an easy control panel for simple navigation, free website migration (so you don’t have to do the scary work yourself), 1GB-3GB of backups (depending on your plan), and more. Check out HostGator today, and get your website set up with a new, gorgeous, mobile-responsive WordPress theme. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Mobile Commerce Best Practices for Any Website

The post 7 Mobile Commerce Best Practices for Any Website appeared first on HostGator Blog. There is a reason why brands are investing more and more time and energy into setting up efficient online stores. The popularity of eCommerce is soaring, and the online shopping business in the USA is growing 3X faster than the offline segment. Professionals expect worldwide retail eCommerce sales will reach $4.9 trillion by 2021, and only grow from there. By 2040, 95% of shopping experiences will take place online. While eCommerce is growing, so is the functionality of online commerce tech and competition from other brands. If you want to stay ahead in the rapid-paced online commerce world, you must keep up with eCommerce best practices and provide a top-notch customer shopping experience. One surefire way to do this is to optimize your website, not only for desktop purchases but for smooth mobile shopping experiences as well.  This article will offer seven mobile commerce best practices that will help you create a stellar mobile shopping experience for your customers. 1. Optimize your app for mobile navigation by categorizing your products Increasing your mobile sales all comes down to how you organize your mobile shopping experience. Your customers only have 6 inches by 2 inches of screen space to understand what products you are offering, so you have to be smart about your user design. This is especially critical if you sell hundreds of products. You can make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for by dividing your products into categories. I like the following example from Sephora’s mobile-friendly site. As you know, Sephora carries hundreds of products. Thankfully, they make it easy to find what you are looking for with the use of categories and thumbnails. Consumers can quickly scan these 12 different thumbnails, locate what they are looking for, and click on the most relevant thumbnail.  The Sephora shopping app will then redirect shoppers to another easy-to-navigate menu to fine-tune results. The Sephora shopping experience remains clear-cut and organized throughout the entire process, making it possible for make-up and skincare lovers to locate products in just a few clicks of a button. 2. Create a positive in-app search experience Sometimes customers know exactly what they want when they come to your mobile-friendly website or visit your mobile app. The last thing you want customers to do is to waste time browsing through all your various categories to find the exact product they need. Instead, include a search bar on the navigation bar that remains visible no matter what page your customer visits. Here is an example from DoorDash. With a click of a button, DoorDashers can enter the restaurant or cuisine they want and can find what they are looking for without a hitch. When the product search bar is clearly and always visible, it makes it easy for customers to locate what they want in seconds. 3. Make it easy to check out Ever been interested in a product and then couldn’t figure out how to add it to your cart and gave up? Worse, have you ever been too lazy to get up and get your credit card, so you abandoned your purchase? I’ve been in both of those situations. If the check out process is even the tiniest bit difficult, I’ll be the first one to divert my attention elsewhere. I’m not the only one. The average cart abandonment rate is nearly 68%. If you want to push your consumers over the finish line, it’s up to you to make it convenient.  Here’s how: Include as few as steps as possible. The more steps consumers have to take to get from seeing a product to purchasing it, the less likely they will be to buy.  Allow people to edit their order within the cart. I recently came across a website that didn’t allow me to edit the quantity in the cart. I had to remove the item, go back and refind the item, and then re-add the correct quantity. It seems simple, but those unnecessary extra steps turned me off to the mobile site. Present payment options. There are several mobile commerce technologies that integrate popular payment methods (e.g., PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay) into your website. Options make purchasing easier for the consumer. 4. Show off your security measures to shoppers Eight-two percent of Americans surveyed in a study said they worry about online security. Despite these concerns, 15% of websites are still not encrypted with SSL technology. While it’s an absolute must to encrypt your website with SSL technology, providing shoppers with extra security for your mobile store requires a bit more work. Show your customers you care about enhanced security by: Using lock icons to let shoppers know you use an encrypted payment system.Including the words “secure” in bold and noticeable type on your check-out page.Providing trusted payment platform options like Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and PayPal.Looking into the use of cybersecurity providers like McAfee Secure and Norton Secured.Adding a “learn more” or a “privacy statement” icon customers can click on for review (see the example from Starbucks below). Do everything you can to clearly communicate that you take extra security precautions for secure payment processing. 5. Emphasize promotions There is a reason nearly every time you navigate to a new mobile commerce website, you see a pop-up offering a one-time coupon in exchange for an email address.  Well, there are two reasons. One is to capture new email subscribers, but the second is to encourage shoppers to spend money the first time they visit the site. Offering mobile coupons works. In fact, 77% of customers spend about $10-$50 more when they’re redeeming a mobile coupon. Since mobile coupons can positively influence your sales revenues, it makes sense to draw attention to your promotions. Here’s how. Include a coupon for first-time visitors Twenty-eight percent of shoppers are likely to spend more money if a retailer offers a percent off their total. If you want customers to spend more, incentivize them. If you have a WordPress website, you can find a WordPress plugin that will help you create the perfect mobile-responsive coupon pop-up. Highlight free shipping Did you know that 61% of customers abandon their purchase when they discover extra costs? Additionally, 24% of shoppers will abandon their cart if they can’t see or calculate shipping costs upfront. A good way to avoid this debacle, besides full transparency, is to offer free shipping. If you provide this luxury to your customers, make a big deal about it. Put your “free shipping” notice front and center. Another strategy to increase sales is to offer free shipping for orders that reach a certain purchasing threshold. Sephora gets me every time. I always end up adding lip gloss, mascara, or face mask to hit their free shipping minimum. If every consumer does the same, it translates into boosted sales revenues for Sephora. Put holiday promotions front and center Is it Black Friday? Valentine’s Day? Mother’s Day? Shopping always increases around the holidays. Smart brands will capitalize on these high sales days by offering a holiday promotion. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to find your holiday promotions on your mobile site. Place a link to your promotion at the top of the page like the example above from Kizik.  6. Provide easy package tracking Making sales is exciting, but repeat business is really where the money is at. Stats show that 65% of a company’s business is from existing customers, and the probability of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70 percent. How do you use your mobile site as a tool for increased retention rates? You make the user experience a delight. This includes making it a cinch for customers to track their orders.  There are several shipping tracking apps you can partner with that will revolutionize the tracking experience. These apps will provide customers with the option to enter their email or phone number for real-time shipping notifications. 7. Add a wishlist or save features option Let’s say you sell hundreds of clothing items on your website. How do you make it easy for customers to browse your collections, pick out what they like, and follow through with their purchase?That’s right! You add a wishlist or save feature option. You’ve used it before. It’s essentially a virtually shopping cart where people can add or eliminate products with the click of the button. It’s magic and no mobile store is complete without this feature. Boost Sales Now With These Mobile Commerce Best Practices Creating an easy mobile shopping experience is integral to the success of your eCommerce business. With the right tools, it’s easy to create a mobile responsive online store with full eCommerce support. For more information on how to build your mobile website, visit HostGator today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Optimize Keyword Bidding on a $100 Google Ads Budget

The post How to Optimize Keyword Bidding on a $100 Google Ads Budget appeared first on HostGator Blog. This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website.  Are you ready to run ads for your business online? Is the $100 Google Ads credit that came with your new HostGator Hatchling plan is burning a hole in your virtual pocket?  Google and other search engines make it easy to run ads that appear on their search results pages. You can set up your first pay-per-click (PPC) campaign in just a few minutes. To get the most value from the money you spend on these ads, there are a few things it’s helpful to know first.  Know your keyword match options Before you start bidding, it’s important to understand the different ways that Google matches searches to the keywords that trigger your ads to appear.  While you’re setting up your keyword plans, you can choose from three different types of matches for your keywords: exact match, phrase match and broad match.  What are broad match keywords? By default, Google Ads sets all your keywords to broad match. It’s the most general match category, and it reaches the widest possible audience, because Google will loosely match people’s search terms to that keyword for broad match. However, that audience may not be looking for exactly what you offer. That’s because if your keyword is kids’ t-shirts, the broad match setting may also display your ad on searches for kids’ dresses and men’s t-shirts. Here’s an example from Google: How to set up broad match keywords: Just type in your keyword phrases in Keyword Planner without brackets or quotation marks. What are phrase match keywords? Phrase match keywords help you reach a more specific audience. For example, if your phrase is “kids’ t-shirts” your ad may display on search results for similar phrases, like discounts on t-shirts for kids and tag-free children’s tee shirts. How to set up phrase match keywords: Enclose your keyword phrases in quotation marks. What are exact match keywords? When you select exact match for your keywords, your ads will only display on searches where people type in exactly the same text as your keyword phrase or a phrase that shows the same intent. With [kids’ t-shirts] as your exact match keyword phrase, only people who search for kids’ t-shirts and related terms like children’s t-shirts may see your ad. How to set up exact match keywords: Enclose your keyword phrases in square brackets. Why exact match keywords are best for bidding on a budget To get the most value from your ad budget, you want to utilize exact match keywords as much as possible. That’s because people who are searching with those terms are looking for something specific, and it usually means they’re ready to make a purchase, so you want to get them to visit your store.  You may have heard this kind of keyword search referred to as long-tail keywords. You can and should do your own keyword research over time, but Keyword Planner is great for finding exact match keywords fast. To do this, choose Discover new keywords:  Then choose start with a website. You can type in your website address and the planner will generate a list of keyword suggestions. Here’s what happens when we enter Hostgator.com: For each suggested keyword, you can see how much traffic is available and how much competition there is. Further to the right in the table, you’ll also see the low and high ranges for bids that would put your ad for each keyword at the top of a results page. Here’s an example from an online flower delivery website: Notice that for these keyword suggestions, there’s a lot of competition, so getting just one click from a top-of-the-page ad could cost more than $5 for someone who’s looking for general same-day flowers. When you have $100 to spend, you may want to direct your spending toward people who are closer to making a specific kind of flower purchase. To do this, instead of bidding on the most competitive and general searches, you may want to pick the suggested keywords that are longtail but that have a decent amount of traffic.  Remember that generally speaking, longer tail keywords show higher intent to purchase. So instead of bidding on “online flower delivery” you might instead bid on “graduation flower bouquet” or “graduation flowers for guys.” These are still competitive keywords with lots of traffic, but they show more intent to purchase—and it costs less to get your ad on the top of the results page. So, you find your long-tail keywords to use as exact match keywords [in brackets] in your first Google Ads. As you set up those campaigns, you’ll get more mileage from your budget by thinking about time and money. Is this your first time using Google Ads? Read my guide to setting up your first ad campaign. Use dayparting to get more value from your ad budget Google ad scheduling tools let you choose when you want your campaign to be active. This can ensure that customers see your ad when your store is open, or that your ads only display at the times when you know your customers are most likely to buy. To choose when you want your ad to run, click on the campaign in your Ads dashboard. While you’re  choosing your days and times, remember that you’re looking at your time zone. If your customers are several times zones away, you’ll need to adjust for that. Save your selections, and your schedule is ready. Decide on your maximum daily ad spend It’s tempting to bid low when you’re working with a small ad budget, to make that money last as long as possible. But to be effective, your ad generally needs to be the first one people see on a page.  Why? Nobody really looks down the page if they don’t have to. Of course, the higher the placement on the page, the higher your cost per click.  To get that top placement, you’ll need to bid close to the max bid range, which you can find for each keyword on your planner list. The best thing to do is spend as much per day as you’re comfortable so customers can see you at the top of their searches—and so you can start getting data on how your ads perform. Study your campaign results Your Google Ads dashboard lets you generate reports so you can see which ads work best. Once you start getting data from your first ads, you can start making decisions on which keywords get the best results, and which ads get the most click-throughs and conversions.  You can use that information to decide which keywords to focus on, which dayparts give you the best results, and the wording in your ads that works best. Keep building on that knowledge, keep testing ways to improve your keywords and ads, and you can keep getting the most from your ad budget.  Ready to start running pay-per-click ads for your business? HostGator’s Hatchling plan comes with a $100 credit for Google Adwords when you spend $25 on ads, and a free $100 credit for Bing Ads. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Mobile-Friendly Design Tips for Your Blog or Website

The post 7 Mobile-Friendly Design Tips for Your Blog or Website appeared first on HostGator Blog. Think about the last time you were in public with a bunch of strangers. What were people doing when you looked around? I bet you a shiny silver dollar that they had their heads buried deep into their smartphone, checking social media or browsing websites. If you don’t like to rely on anecdotal evidence alone, recent research shows that the number of smartphone users in just the United States is over 257.3 million. That’s nearly 80 percent of the total US population. All of this is just to say that if you have a blog or website, or are planning to launch one soon, and want to capture the attention of smartphone users, you have to make your website mobile-friendly. In other words, you have to make it possible for smartphone users to easily read and navigate your website from a mobile device. None of this pinching, scrolling, and zooming business! This post will provide the top seven mobile-friendly design tips for your blog or website. 1. Pick a mobile-responsive website or blog theme No one said you had to be a web designer to have a mobile-friendly website. They did say, however, that you have to be picky when it comes to choosing a theme. Save yourself a headache and pick a mobile-friendly theme. As a quick review, a theme is a preconfigured framework that defines how your website looks. Mobile-responsive themes are pre-coded for both optimal desktop and mobile navigation.  If you have a WordPress blog or website, most templates will already be optimized for mobile devices. However, you can double-check by reading the theme description and also by testing the demo URL for responsiveness.  If you buy a third-party WordPress website, the theme product page will usually include a picture or demo of how the theme will look on a desktop and mobile device (see below). If you’re running your website in HostGator, take note that all of our drag-and-drop website builder templates are mobile-friendly. 2. Include a viewport meta tag If you’re the “I’ll do what you say, no questions asked type of human,” here’s what you need to do: Copy. Copy the following code: <meta name=″viewport″ content=″width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>Paste. Paste the code in the HTML <head> area for each page of your website. Tada! You’re done. Pat yourself on the back. Now the explanation. The viewport code provides search engines with the information needed to correctly display the size and scale of the content, based on what device an internet searcher is using.  Put simply: this meta tag provides a top-notch, multiple-device navigation experience, so website visitors can enjoy your content from a large desktop and a small six-inch mobile screen alike. 3. Simplify your content Any time you, as an internet browser, navigate a good mobile version of a website, you’ll notice the content isn’t as rich as it is on a desktop. When creating copy and design elements for your mobile website, the hard and fast rule is: simplify everything. Here’s what I mean. When I search Krispy Kreme (I’m not eating a dozen doughnuts, you are!) on my desktop, this is what the home page looks like. It’s complete and full of all the information you could ever want to learn about these delicious confections.  What happens when I search for the same website via a mobile device? This is how the home page looks now. You only see the essentials. Krispy Kreme puts the most important information on the top (“order now”) and eliminates any elements that aren’t critical to a mobile shopping experience. It’s awesome. Do as Krispy Kreme does. 4. Avoid fancy design elements The goal of mobile search is to get answers from brands as quickly and efficiently as possible. This means when you are designing your mobile-friendly website, you have to let go of all your fancy design ideas and opt for the quick and simple. Here are the two things to forget about first. Flash? Just say no. As it turns out, Flash is not an apt name for the technology. Why? Flash can slow down a site’s load time significantly. The more you can do to speed up your site’s load time, the more attractive your website will be to users. Additionally, neither Android nor iOS supports Flash. This means if your websites’ mobile experience is dependent on whether or not your viewers can see your Flash animation, you’re going to run into trouble when someone searches via a mobile device. Avoid the use of pop-ups and refreshers Pop-ups and refreshers can be a great tool for desktop viewing. They are especially helpful in capturing new subscribers, making announcements, and giving discount codes. However, these tools are distracting on a mobile device. You want your content to be as simple and easy for your visitors to navigate as possible. If your visitors see irrelevant pop-ups that take up the whole screen, it could lead to a potential customer getting frustrated and clicking out of your website. Also, have you ever tried to hit the tiny close pop-up “x” on a small screen? It’s impossible. A smart alternative is to include a small bar at the top of your mobile search page where you include promotions, announcements, or free shipping. 5. Consider the size of your font and buttons  Have you ever visited a blog on a mobile device and had to zoom in to consume the content? How long did you keep reading? Chances are it wasn’t very long.  The font on mobile sites should be at least 14px. This makes it easy for most people to read your content without any problems. If you have any copy that is supplemental, you can keep the font at 12px. Reading articles on a mobile device isn’t the only time where the size of the design element comes into question. It’s also important to design any clickable buttons correctly. The last thing you want is for your mobile visitors to have a difficult time selecting products or tapping on buttons. Bigger buttons are best. Shoot for button sizes that are at least 44px by 44px.  44px by 44px is the size of this circle: 6. Compress your images and CSS Did you know that 47 percent of website visitors expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds, according to Kissmetrics? And, 40 percent of visitors will exit out of the website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds. You’ve already avoided using Flash and eliminated distracting elements like pop-ups, but what about images and CSS? Images and CSS take up a lot of server space, meaning they take longer to load. But, you don’t want to get rid of visual design elements that make the mobile user experience better. The solution is not to leave out images or style sheets, but to compress them. When you compress your image file sizes they load faster without negatively affecting the quality of your site. 7. Include a search function if you sell products on your mobile site Think about the popular eCommerce platform, Amazon, for a second. There are over 12 million products on Amazon; yet, anyone can find and purchase exactly what they want in a matter of seconds. One way Amazon accomplishes this is by including a search bar at the top of their mobile app. You may not have 12 million products, but that doesn’t mean the magic of a search bar can’t help you organize the products you do offer. Design Your Mobile-Friendly Website There are over a billion websites in the world, but not all of these websites are created equal. Website owners that work hard to improve the mobile user experience get rewarded with more traffic, referrals, and repeat visitors. As you design your mobile-friendly website, implement the design tips listed above. These tips will help keep your website working properly when someone comes searching from a desktop or mobile device. You can get started with these responsive web design tools. Remember, you don’t have to do all the hard work yourself. HostGator’s drag and drop website builder is already optimized for mobile viewing. All you have to do is pick a template and customize it to your liking. Or, you can have our web design pros create a professional, mobile-friendly web design that’s all your own. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

3 Surprising Ways Bloggers Can Drive More Site Traffic

The post 3 Surprising Ways Bloggers Can Drive More Site Traffic appeared first on HostGator Blog. Don’t let what I’m about to say scare you (because, secretly, it’s awesome for you). Recent stats suggest one-fifth of bloggers report that it has become more challenging to get traffic from Google, and 50% of bloggers say it’s gotten harder to get traffic from Facebook.  This makes sense considering there were more than 500 million existing blogs in 2019, and the number of bloggers in the U.S. is expected to increase to 31.7 million in 2020. But, does the abundance of bloggers mean you should throw your hands up and abandon all plans? Can I get a loud and resounding “no” here? The reason why more and more people are building blogs is that it’s a surefire way to grow your business, establish credibility, capture more email subscribers, and help people find your business or side hustle online. While there is an abundance of bloggers, and some bloggers find it more difficult to get more traffic, it’s essential to remember a couple of things. First, Google’s algorithm is doing a better job than ever delivering up relevant content to search engine users. This means if you are writing helpful content on your blog, Google will reward you, and you won’t be one of the one-fifth worried about relevant traffic. There are also specific and surefire strategies you can employ on your blog posts to help Google understand what your site is about, so Google can deliver your content to the people that want to hear from you. These conventional strategies include writing helpful on-topic content consistently, engaging in off-page SEO, and optimizing your on-page content for the search engine results pages (SERPs).  But, surprise! We’re not going to talk about those today. This post is going to cover three of the less obvious ways you can drive more traffic to your site via your blog posts. 1. Include images or videos in all of your blog posts Blogging is all about the written word, right? Nope. Stats show that articles that include images get 94% more views than blog posts that don’t use any visuals. The wild thing is only 19% of bloggers are now including video in their posts. This means the second you start adding images to your blog posts, you are giving yourself a competitive edge over bloggers in the same niche. Here are two insider tips to know that will lead to a boost in website performance. Use real images in your blog posts You may be tempted to pay for a stock image. While stock images are better than no images at all, research shows that real photos can result in a 35% increase in conversion.  You may not be a pro photographer, but that doesn’t matter. People want to see a real picture of your garden, sourdough start, art project, or whatever it is you specialize in.  Use a free image design service If you want to design images to use in your blog post (like the one above), there are tons of free resources on the internet like Canva and Crello. The cool thing about these types of free image design services is they offer thousands of templates you can customize to fit the tone and style of your blog. That means you don’t have to be a designer to create a fun and shareable image. Additionally, you can count on the dimensions being correct for social shares. This means if someone goes to your blog and decides to share your post, the image will automatically be the correct size for a social share. Optimize your image for search engines If you’re a novice blogger and only know the basics of how the internet works, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Remember, Google reads words, not pictures.  The best way for Google to understand your images are is to label them appropriately. In SEO terms, this is called using an alt tag.  All you have to do to become a professional SEO alt tagger is save the picture you are going to use to your desktop, then right-click on your picture and select “rename.” Instead of “img10393” (or whatever mumbo jumbo the image is named), rename it your primary keyword. Here is an example of a recent image relabeled with the primary keyword “gardening tips.” If I include the “gardening tips” image instead of the “screenshot…” image, Google knows what my picture is. Magic. If you’re really ambitious, you can also include a video in your content. Video is particularly strategic, as 43% of consumers increasingly want video content, and video content is 50X more likely to drive organic search traffic than text only. 2. Follow blog headline best practices Writing a blog title can be one of the most difficult parts of publishing a blog post. It’s challenging to think of one line that summarizes your entire post, draws readers in, and makes them want to click.  However, having an awesome headline is one of the best ways to bring traffic to your website. In fact, making appropriate headline changes has the power to provide a 10% increase in clicks, according to MarketingExperiments. Here is a quick list of what makes a good headline. Include your target keyword in the first part of the headline When a searcher types a keyword into Google, Google’s algorithm searches through all relevant posts on the internet to deliver up the right content. Google looks at headlines to understand the theme of a post. That’s why it’s critical to include your primary keyword in your headline. Consider using a list-based headline (they are wildly popular) People browse the internet when they are looking for how to do something or for best practices. A list-based article is an outstanding way to present information. Lists are easy to scan, informative, and quickly give readers the information they seek. If you write a list-based article, then your headline should show readers the post is a list (e.g., 7 Top Gardening Tips for Novice Green Thumbs). According to ConversionXL, 36% of people prefer list-based headlines. As an added bit of advice, odd-numbered lists tend to outperform even-numbered listicles by 20%. Hit the headline word-count sweet spot (6-8 words, but up to 13) If a headline is too short, Google will have a hard time determining the relevance of the post. Google will have the same problem if the headline is too long. So, what’s the sweet spot? Stats show that headlines with 6-13 words attract the most traffic, and if your headline is between 6-8 words, it can increase your click-through rate by 21%. 3. Publish blog posts regularly The last tip for driving more site traffic to your website is to publish blog posts regularly. Research shows that companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get nearly 3.5x more traffic than those that publish 0-4 monthly. There are a couple of reasons why Google rewards more active blogs with better search result rankings and why they get more traffic. Maybe the reasons are obvious, but since posting regularly is critical to the success of your blog, let’s cover them anyway. The first reason is that the more content you produce, the more pages Google’s algorithm has to sort through. When you have more content, it’s easier for Google to understand your particular niche, find relevant keywords, and deliver your content to the audience that is looking for you. The next reason is that the more high-quality content you have on your blog, the more it establishes you as an industry leader. As you provide excellent blog posts, people will come back and visit your site often for more of your expertise.  Not to mention, businesses that maintain blogs receive twice as much email traffic as those that don’t. Email is yet another way to reach your audience and drive meaningful traffic to your website. Start your blog with HostGator today! Blogging is undoubtedly one of the best ways to capture the attention (and business) of your target audience. That’s why there are over 500 million blogs on the internet.  If you follow SEO best practices as well as the three tips listed above, your blog will be a successful tool in capturing customers. To get started with your blog, sign up with HostGator today. You can either use HostGator’s Website Builder, or you can start a WordPress blog via HostGator. We can’t wait for you to build your website. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

The 6 Best WordPress Plugins Every Blog Needs

The post The 6 Best WordPress Plugins Every Blog Needs appeared first on HostGator Blog. Blogs are a must-have to establish an online presence. With blogging, you get to communicate with your visitors about the latest trends, showcase your products and services, and even ask for their feedback.  But blogging is more than just writing a few words or posting a couple of videos. To run a successful blog, you also must consider search engine optimization, security measures, and promotion.  Luckily, WordPress plugins can help you with these pressing needs. Check out the six best WordPress plugins for blogs below. 1. Yoast SEO Blogging is a long-term strategy to bring attention to your brand. It’s a combination of writing relevant content and getting people excited to visit your website.  Search engine optimization plays a huge role in helping visitors discover your content on the web. Using the right keywords can ensure you’re attracting the right people. Adam Enfroy, a full-time blogger and affiliate marketing expert, says: “Optimizing your blog posts is not about stuffing as many relevant keywords into the article as you can (that can actually hurt your SEO now). It’s about writing for humans first, and search engines second.” Yoast SEO is an essential WordPress plugin to get your blog content ranked on search engines. This plugin comes with a readability analysis feature, title and meta description templating, breadcrumb controls, and XML Sitemaps functionality. 2. Newsletter Visitor engagement doesn’t stop when people land on your blog. The next step is to capture their email address, so you can send visitors more relevant content. That way, you can build a quality relationship with your audience.  Newsletter is a WordPress plugin that helps you with list building and sending emails. This email marketing tool allows you to create responsive newsletters with its drag-and-drop composer. There’s even a subscription spam check to block unwanted bots. Experts suggest building an email list as soon as you create your blog. It’s also wise to try different methods to boost your subscribers. Belle Beth Cooper, the first content crafter at Buffer, writes: “When you’re asking readers to sign up for your email list, you might want to try experimenting with a different language. Willy Franzen found that his subscription rate jumped 254% higher when he changed his call-to-action from ‘subscribe by email’ to ‘get jobs by email’.” 3. Wordfence Security Reports indicate that 43% of cyber-attacks are made against small businesses. One reason for this staggering statistic is the lack of security infrastructure. Similar to adding an alarm system to your new home, your website needs tools to protect it from potential breaches and suspicious attackers. There’s no better time to add security to your site than right now.  Wordfence Security keeps your website safe with its firewall and malware scanner. This plugin identifies and blocks malicious traffic and checks core files for malware, bad URLs, and SEO spam. You’ll get access to a dashboard with an overview of your site’s security including notifications and total attacks blocked.  This tool also comes with two-factor authentication and CAPTCHA to stop bots from logging into your site. If you upgrade to the premium version, you’ll get real-time malware signature updates along with checks to see if your site has been blacklisted for malicious activity. 4. wpDiscuz A blog serves as a central location for your brand to discuss topics relevant to your audience. Your blog posts will give insight into your business’s culture, products, and team.  But it’s also important to get feedback. The comment section of your blog gives readers a chance to express their opinions directly to you. Every once in a while, it’s okay to get a little controversial. “Begin a conversation in which you share your position and invite others to disagree. Be careful of overdoing this, though, as being contentious all the time can get weary. It can look like you’re just trying to pick a fight,” writes Jeff Goins, best-selling author of five books. Supercharge your blog comments with wpDiscuz. This plugin adds an interactive comment box on your posts. You can accept and deny specific comments, sort the comments by newest or oldest, and enable comment voting. 5. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP Getting traffic to your blog matters to your brand. So much so that there’s been a 93% increase in blogs using promotional techniques to drive traffic to their posts. You need a way to observe your traffic as it comes in. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP helps you set up all your tracking features without writing any code or hiring a developer. No more leaving WordPress to view key stats in Google Analytics; now, you can monitor them inside your dashboard. Get real-time stats of who’s viewing your website, where they’re coming from, how they found your site, and how long they’re staying on your site.  You also can automatically track clicks on affiliate links and track every file download with just one click. Haven’t set up Google Analytics for your WordPress blog just yet? Read our step-by-step guide. 6. Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons Writing great content is only one part of a successful blog. The other part is actually getting people to read and engage with your blog posts. Beyond SEO, you will need additional content distribution channels to attract visitors to your blog.  Social media is an effective way to spread the word about your website. Ben Sailer, inbound marketing lead at CoSchedule, states:  “Another way to connect your audience to your content and encourage them to share it is to create content that revolves around their values. Your audience wants to know that the values of your company or product align with theirs.” Encourage your current visitors to share your blog posts with the Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons plugin. You can pick from 16 different designs to match your brand’s site.  This tool gives you the option to make your social media icons static or dynamic. You also can add a counting feature to the buttons. Upgrade Your Blog With These WordPress Blog Plugins It’s time to attract new visitors to your blog. Use these six WordPress plugins to boost your SEO results, gain traffic from social media, and track your site’s analytics.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create Your Small Business Website in 3 Quick Steps

The post How to Create Your Small Business Website in 3 Quick Steps appeared first on HostGator Blog. In an age when we can shop for everything from cars to cocktails online, it may come as a surprise that 29% of small businesses are just now thinking about setting up websites. We say, now is the time to get it done. If you’re ready, you’ve come to the right place. The only thing we love more than talking about why every business needs a website is helping business owners build their sites.  And we have a ton of resources to guide you through the process, from video tutorials and a huge collection of Getting Started articles to live support and, of course, blog posts.  This step-by-step post will connect you to the site setup resources you need, so you can get found, make more sales and grow your business. Step 1: Get a domain name Your domain name is your “street address” on the web. For example, in www.hostgator.com, hostgator is the domain name. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get a domain name that exactly matches your business. That’s the best option for branding. How do you know if the domain you want is available? You can look it up with HostGator’s Search Domains tool. If no one else has registered it, you can snap it up right away. If it’s not available, you can choose a different domain name. You can also look into buying the domain you want from its current owner. When you’ve settled on an available domain, you need to register it so you can use it. We recommend adding domain privacy protection to your registration cart. That way, spammers around the world won’t see your contact information in the public WHOIS domain registration database.  Is it really that easy to register a domain? Yes, but there’s always more to learn. To learn how to choose the best domain name and get the most value from it, check out this domain webinar by two of HostGator’s Web Pros. Step 2: Get web hosting Now that you have a digital address sign for your business, you need a service to host your site on the web.  What’s web hosting? The web host you choose will make a place for your site’s database and files on one of its servers. It will also make sure your site is available when visitors come by, and it will protect your site from cybercriminals and pranksters. Want to learn more? This post explains exactly what a web host does and why it matters. What kind of web hosting do you need? Lots of hosting companies, including HostGator, offer different types of hosting:  When you’re a small business owner just starting out online, you don’t need to worry about VPS or dedicated server hosting just yet—but look into them as your business grows! For now, it’s best to stick with the options that work well for DIY site design. That means going with a WordPress hosting plan or a shared hosting plan that supports HostGator’s Gator Website Builder tool.  OK, what’s WordPress hosting? WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system – the software that helps you add things to your site, choose how they appear onscreen, and do important stuff like run your online store and set up contact forms.  HostGator offers managed WordPress hosting that helps your site load fast, handle surges in traffic, and stay secure with automatic updates. WordPress hosting is for you if you  Want a simple site setup process.Want lots of customization options. WordPress has thousands of design templates and plugins for things like chatbots, SEO and eCommerce. Sounds pretty simple, yeah? It is – but there’s an even simpler option. OK, what’s Gator Website Builder? Gator is HostGator’s very own website creation tool, designed for super simplicity. The best thing about Gator is that you can drag and drop different elements onto your site, and they’ll show up exactly where you put them—no fiddling with margins and code required.  Gator supports eCommerce, has hundreds of design templates and makes blogging easy. And unlike some website builders, Gator doesn’t put ads on your site, so visitors are focused on your brand.  Gator works with HostGator’s shared hosting plans, and it’s for you if you Don’t want to have to learn WordPress.Want to drag, drop, publish and go live quickly.Want built-in analytics to track visits and visitor activity on your site. Once you decide what kind of hosting you want, you’re ready for the final step. Step 3: Set up your small business website Is this really just one step? It’s one big step for you, one giant leap for your business visibility online. Site setup can take anywhere from a few minutes to forever, depending on  how complex your site plan ishow clear you are on what you want before you starthow comfortable you are clicking “publish” and putting your site out there (it’s OK, we get it!) Naturally, we’re in the “sooner is better” camp when it comes to launching your business site. Website visibility is critical to business survival these days, and a simple website with accurate contact information is much better than no site at all. Our recommendation is to start simple and then add features as your schedule allows. For example, Zippy’s Duck Supply might start with a simple set of pages (homepage, about, contact, testimonials) this week and then add an online store next week, once Zippy’s had time to take product photos.  BTW, Zippy’s Duck Supply is a fictional example, but Zippy himself is real. He’s 3 weeks old and loves to play in muddy water: OK, so how do you set up your site? We have tutorials to show you every step of the way!  If you’ve decided on WordPress hosting, watch our Web Pro Blair Williamson show you how to build your first WordPress site. If you’re going with Gator Website Builder, let Blair and Web Pro Keith McKinney walk you through setting up your site with Gator, including your online store. With these tutorials, you should be able to get your basic business website up and running fast. And if you need more help, check out these resources: HostGator’s support portal, with lots of info and live help to get your site online.HostGator’s video tutorial library, which includes WordPress and Gator videos.HostGator’s Website Owners Helping Website Owners Facebook group, where site owners trade info and get their questions answered. Ready to finally get your business website set up? Pick your hosting plan and register your domain now. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Best YouTube Plugins for WordPress

The post 7 Best YouTube Plugins for WordPress appeared first on HostGator Blog. Video is a powerful marketing tool for small businesses. Research shows that “54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support.” This increase in consumer demand is an opportunity for your organization. By featuring videos on your business website, your team can display the latest products, highlight satisfied customers, and even showcase your brand culture. All of these marketing efforts are possible with YouTube.  Get the scoop on how to embed videos on your WordPress website with a YouTube plugin. Check out these seven plugins below. 1. Video Gallery Video shines a spotlight on your brand and engages your visitors. With the Video Gallery plugin, you can build a top-notch repository of videos on your site. This tool comes equipped with a user-friendly editor, sleek lightbox, and 16 video gallery themes. It’s important to tell an interesting story with your video galleries. Jacinda Santora, a writer specializing in eCommerce and growth marketing, agrees: “For starters, your story has to be compelling. Most people want to feel something. If you’re just taking the same content that you already have in other places on your website and adding some video clips you’re probably not going to be getting the results you want.”  Video Gallery also gives you full creative control of your visual presentation. You can set the gallery name, add special effects, and insert custom links.  2. Embed Plus for YouTube Say goodbye to the complexity of YouTube embedding. Embed Plus for YouTube gives you both basic and advanced features to organize videos on your website.  With this YouTube plugin for WordPress, you can format playlists and channel embeds in a gallery layout. The default setting generates a grid-based, responsive gallery for your visitors to browse through pages of video thumbnails. You also can enable auto continuous play, so visitors can play the next video without clicking a thumbnail.  The YouTube LiveStream is the standout feature of this WordPress plugin. The plugin’s wizard automatically finds an active livestream in your desired channel and displays it on your website. If none is available, you can enable settings to automatically display other videos for your visitors to watch. 3. WP Video Popup WP Video Popup is an effective tool for adding a responsive YouTube video lightbox popup to any page or post on your website. Because embedding videos can slow down your website, this plugin only loads videos by clicking on the trigger element. Also, don’t worry about coding anything. WP Video Popup lets you copy and paste WordPress shortcodes to embed the videos to your sites. You can then focus more on creating a worthwhile video message.  “Nail the messaging in both your videos and your video marketing strategy. Consistency is key. You cannot afford to create a video with one message and contradict that message in another video. Consistent messaging also ensures that your videos align with your brand voice,” writes Allen Martinez, founder of Noble Digital. 4. YouTube Gallery Designed for simplicity, YouTube Gallery helps you display YouTube videos in a gallery or grid format on your website. Each YouTube video has its own page for your visitors to leave comments. This WordPress YouTube plugin offers thumbnail quality options for your videos. For example, you can use an image 4:3 ratio rather than the default 16:9. However, it’s recommended that you use the same ratio for all your videos.  You can select between two gallery pages for your website. YouTube Video Gallery displays video thumbnail navigation at the bottom of the page, and the videos are paged after every 8th video. YouTube Video Grid Gallery displays high-resolution video thumbnails in a four-column responsive layout, and the videos are paged after every 16th video. 5. YourChannel Does your business create or curate multiple YouTube videos? If so, you can transform that video content into an engagement platform on your site. YourChannel is a plugin for building your own video channel without having visitors leave your website. Plus, you don’t need more site storage or bandwidth.  “Uploading and optimizing social video to YouTube allows you to seamlessly embed videos across your website while also creating content that is discoverable on Google and other search engines,” says Brian Peters, former head of strategic partnerships at Buffer. With YourChannel, you can display a banner image, profile picture, total videos, and entire playlists. Your video channel is built using a visual builder with live preview capabilities. Just add your YouTube username or channel ID to the plugin’s settings to get started. 6. YouTube Widget Responsive The sidebar of your website is a prime location to highlight your most recent videos. YouTube Widget Responsive helps you embed videos on your sidebar to give your content more exposure.  With a couple of clicks, you can insert your videos into your sidebars or footers. Your custom YouTube widget allows you to control bar theme and progress bar color settings and add custom descriptions to pique the interest of your visitors. You can even enable video tracking to gain key insights about the placement of your videos. It’s important to note that pulling data from any third-party website can impact the performance of your website. If you’re concerned about your WordPress site speed, run a PageSpeed Insight test before and after adding your videos. 7. YouTube Embed YouTube Embed is a one-of-a-kind plugin for adding videos to your WordPress website. With this plugin, you can build your own playlists, automatically generate playlists based on usernames, and create multiple profiles. You can include a thumbnail of a video, too.  These benefits all lead to a better experience for your visitors. YouTube Embed also comes with the option to add videos to your website’s sidebar using the widget tool. You can customize the appearance and add different videos to different sidebars. Engage Your Site Visitors With YouTube Videos Video marketing is your chance to connect with your visitors. With YouTube plugins, you can show videos directly on your WordPress website. So, take advantage of these tools to market your brand.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Do Keyword Research: Your 2020 Guide

The post How to Do Keyword Research: Your 2020 Guide appeared first on HostGator Blog. This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website.  Keyword research is one of those SEO facets that’s frequently mentioned but rarely discussed in detail, likely because every SEO has their own processes and nuances to their keyword research process. While we haven’t gone into details about keyword research in our previous SEO webinars and SEO ebooks, it’s time we break the streak! In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about keyword research, including a step-by-step walkthrough to creating your own master keyword research document. Let’s dive in! The Importance of Keyword Research At a high level, keyword research is important because it directs you to use words, phrases, and questions throughout your website that your customers are using to find businesses like yours. When you don’t complete keyword research, you run into the risk of using language throughout your site that has low search volume or mismatched intent, which would cause your organic traffic to flop. When it comes to keyword research, think like your potential customers and you’re sure to find a plethora of queries and topics that you previously weren’t using on your website. Now that you have an understanding of the importance of keyword research, let’s tackle step one of the keyword research process.  Step 1: Create Your Topics Your first step to creating your master keyword research document is to take account of all of your service and product offerings. For example, HostGator’s list would include shared hosting, WordPress hosting, website builder, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, and domain names. At this point, keep your list fairly high level as you will discover variations of those keywords, as well as related keywords during your keyword research process.  With my keyword research documents, I usually create a Google Sheet with a different tab for each one of my topics. Within each of those sheets, I create columns for the following (which we will cover in the next sections):  KeywordMSV (Monthly Search Volume)Intent  Get the template! Download your free copy of my template here. Once you open the link, go to File > Make a copy to create your own editable version. Now that the bones of my document are set, I’m ready to start the actual research process.  Step 2: Start Your Research When it comes to keyword research there are dozens of both paid and free tools that you can choose from – or mix and match – to complete your keyword research. While some people may think you need paid tools to complete keyword research, you actually can come up with quite a robust list of keywords using free research tools. These are my personal favorites for smaller websites: Paid Tools SEMrush Moz Free Tools Google Keyword Planner: Google’s keyword research tool for paid campaigns can also be used for organic keyword research. Simply create a Google Ads account and navigate to the keyword research tool to perform your research.  Google Autocomplete: When a user searches for any query within Google, Google attempts to help by autocompleting common queries. Take note of these autocompleted queries and add them to your list.  Google’s People Also Ask: Some queries have “People Also Ask” boxes that, like the name suggests, displays other questions that people frequently search for when looking into a topic.  Many of these tools are going to return both broad match and related queries, meaning you will truly see the full spectrum of your topic’s related keywords. SEMrush, Moz, Google Keyword Planner, and other keyword research tools will give you the monthly search volume for your query, but Autocomplete and PAA will not. That’s why I always use the tools for the larger portion of my keyword research and just supplement with Autocomplete and PAA if needed.  Monthly Search Volume Speaking of Monthly Search Volume, or MSV, let’s discuss its importance. Monthly Search Volume will give you an estimate of how many people are searching for that keyword each month, and while it can be tempting to target only the highest searched queries, keep in mind that the higher the search volume, the more difficult it will be to rank for, as all websites are going to try to rank for those keywords.  Now that’s not to say that you shouldn’t target high MSV queries at all, but you should have a mix of head terms (high MSV keywords) and long-tail keywords (lower search volume queries that are typically longer phrases). This way, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket! We now have two of our columns filled out – keyword and MSV – and we should have long lists of all sorts of related keywords, phrases, and questions, both with high and low monthly search volumes. That leaves us with one more column to fill out – Intent.  Intent This is the step that many people forget when putting together their first keyword research documents, although it’s very easy to complete! Search intent is the “why” behind a particular search – why was someone searching for this term.  Are they trying to learn something? Are they researching a product? Or are they ready to purchase? For example, with “website domain”, someone could be interested in learning what domains are, while another searcher may be looking to purchase a domain for their new website.  To check the intent behind each keyword, you should manually search (in Incognito Mode) each query on your list and skim through the first page of results. You want to look for the types of pages that are ranking on page one; pages can typically be categorized in the following groupings:  Transactional Pages: Front-of-site pages with the goal of getting customers to purchase. Resource Pages: Blog and other resource pages that educate customers about their products. Compilation Pages: Listicles of the top X products or businesses. Typically larger publications put these together.  Take note in your master keyword document of the type of page that’s primarily ranking for that query. This will guide you in determining which keywords you should use on each one of your pages. For example, “domain name search” returns all transactional pages, making it a great keyword to target with our domain page. On the other hand, “keyword research” only brings blogs and other resources, so it’s going to be difficult for your SEO agency to rank on page one for its keyword research service page.  Once the intent column is completely filled out, you’ll be able to narrow down which keywords you plan on using where, and you may even remove keywords from your list completely.  How to Use Your Keyword Research Once you’ve completed your keyword research, you can use it to optimize your current content, as well as direct new content creation. The important thing to note with keyword research is that the end goal should not be to stuff your website with these queries, but rather use them naturally throughout your pages.  While there is no hard and fast rule, a good rule of thumb is to target no more than three (related) keywords per page, for example, for a domain landing page, we may choose to target domain, domain name, and domain name search as our primary keywords. This methodology behind keyword research implementation will ensure that you not only include those important target keywords, but they will direct the content of the rest of your page to be highly relevant to the primary topic, while including semantic keywords as well. This will result in a well-rounded, optimized page that will rank well for the chosen keywords! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Set Up Your First Google Ad

The post How to Set Up Your First Google Ad appeared first on HostGator Blog. This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most from your website.  Running digital ads for your business isn’t difficult or especially expensive. You can set up your first Google Ads campaign in just a few minutes and spend just a few dollars a day. (In fact, if you sign up for HostGator’s Hatchling Plan, you’ll have a $100 Google Ads credit you can use to get started.) To have the biggest impact with your Google Ads, there are a few things to know before you get started. In this post, we’ll walk through the process of setting up your first Google ad—from the planning stage all the way through analytics. Keyword planning is the key to successful ad campaigns Before you start building your first ad, think about the keywords that people use to find your website. It’s best practice to choose a grouping of keywords that are most relevant to your business. Google Ads will let you use up to 10 keyword phrases per ad. If you’re not sure which keywords to use, you can try Google Keyword Planner. Type in a few keywords or your website’s URL and Google will give you a list of suggestions. It’s best to include your business name as a keyword, too, because that can help people find your specific business in search results. (Also, if you don’t use your business name as a keyword but your competitors do use it, they could outperform you in search results–even searches for your business.) Answer Google Ads’ questions to set the stage for your first campaign With your keywords, go to ads.google.com and login with your Gmail account or create a Google account. Google’s going to ask you a few questions as you get started. What’s your main goal?  Do you want more people to call your business, visit your website or come to your brick-and-mortar store? Choose one goal for now. You can always create ads with different goals later. Where are your customers?  You get to choose the geography you would like to target. That could be an area as small as a single ZIP code and as big as an entire country.  What are your keywords?  Here’s where your keyword research matters. Click ‘add keyword theme,’ type in the keywords you’ve chosen, and Google will suggest more related keywords.  You can have as many as 10 keywords per theme. Each theme will help match your ads to related searches. Write the headlines and descriptions for your ad After you have your keyword theme set up, it’s time to move on to the next step: writing the headlines and descriptions for your first Google ad.  Headlines The headlines are the blue clickable sections of your ad. Your ad can have three headlines, each with up to 30 characters. One of those headlines should be your business name.  Description After the headlines, there’s the description, which is smaller text. You have two description lines at up to 90 characters each. That may seem like a lot of space to fill but go ahead and take it.  Why? The more space your ad takes up on a page, the less room there is for your competitors’ ads.  One way to fill out your ad description is to offer a promotion, something with a strong call to action that gives people an incentive to click the ad and visit your site. For example, “20% off all t-shirts today only.” URLs The next text element is your display URL. Your ad will automatically display your main URL in green. It’s not clickable, and it’s basically there to let the customer know what website the ad will take them to.  To get to your website, they’ll click on your headlines. For this, you’ll want to add the URL that you are actually sending them to in the field marked ‘final URL.’ This may be different from your display URL. For example, if your ad focuses on one of your products or services, your final URL should be the relevant category page, landing page or product page. This helps create the shortest possible path between your ad and what the customer is looking for. That makes it more likely that they’ll convert. Consider using extensions You can extend the information you include in each ad with—extensions. You’ll find these tools on the left page menu under Ads & extensions.  Sitelink extensions let you include more links in your ad copy to different pages on your site. Callout extensions let you feature special deals or services. In this example, the callouts show the company’s free shipping, customer service hours and price matching policy. Choose your maximum daily ad budget Google will suggest some daily average rates for you, based on your keywords, audience size and goals. For each budget tier, you can see about how many views and clicks your ad should get per month.  You can also set your own budget if you don’t like the options Google gives you. Set the dates you want your campaign to run You can pick a start and end date for your campaign. You can also pause your campaign or adjust the end date after your campaign begins. Check out your ad before you submit it Once everything’s filled out, you’ll be able to see how your ad will look in mobile and desktop search results and on Google Partner websites. If you’re not happy with how it looks—or if you spot a typo—now’s the time to go back and make changes. Submit your ad for approval Your ad doesn’t go live right away. Once you submit it, it goes into a queue for editorial approval. That’s where Google makes sure that the ad meets their standards and follows Google Ads policies. It usually takes less than 24 hours for Google to approve your ad. If for some reason your ad doesn’t get approved, they’ll let you know why so you can try to correct the problem. Create more ads on the same theme and see which ones do best Once you’ve created and submitted that first ad, you’re not done. It’s a best practice to create three to five ads based on the same keywords and geography, so you can track and compare their performance.  How? Once you start getting traffic from the ads, keep an eye on the click-through rates for each ad in your Google Ads overview or dashboard. The click-through rate is the percentage of impressions that lead to clicks.  After you collect enough data over a few days or weeks, the ads with higher click-through rates are the ones you’ll want to stick with. And that’s it – your first Google Ad campaign is up and running. Want more help setting up and running your Google Ads campaigns? Our team of PPC experts is ready to help you. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create a Great Blog Post in 5 Smart Steps

The post How to Create a Great Blog Post in 5 Smart Steps appeared first on HostGator Blog. When blogging platforms first launched, they became a popular way for people to journal about the details of their lives to an anonymous audience. We all know how quickly “mommy blogging” took off, and what a hit it was (and is even today). I still regularly read blogs like Scary Mommy and Rockin Mama. Who doesn’t? Since the early days, blogging has evolved to become, not only a way to connect with an audience (be they moms or business owners), but also a crucial element for any business to survive.  There are several reasons why blogging is essential to the success of your large or small business, but here are three big reasons: Blogs drive traffic to your website. The more blog posts you publish, the more traffic your website receives. Once you publish 21-54 blog posts, your traffic can soar by as much as 30%, according to Traffic Generation Cafe. Your audience engages in meaningful ways with your brand via blog posts. 77% of Internet users regularly read blog posts, according to research by Impact. And, internet users in the US spend 3x more time on blogs than they do on email. Blogs help establish you as a thought leader and help people find you. 71% of business bloggers say their blogs have increased their visibility within their industries. And, 56% of business bloggers report their blog has helped their company establish a position as a thought leader. Blogging helps you establish credibility, drive traffic to your website, and acts as a marketing tool to help you make sales. But, blogging is more than just hopping online every so often and jotting down your thoughts. Writing a genuinely excellent blog post—a post that gets results—is an art and a science. This post will cover exactly what you need to do to write a blog post that knocks it out of the park. The Ultimate Checklist for Creating a Terrific Blog Post 1. Identify your audience Before you even start writing, it’s integral that you know everything you can about your audience. Ask the following questions: What are their basic demographics?What are their preferences?What are their interests?How do they like to consume content?  If you have robust data capabilities, you can leverage data for insights. If not, you can brainstorm ideas, talk to a few people that represent your target consumer, and create a customer profile. Understanding your audience will give you insight into what you should write about, what tone and voice your blogs should take, and even how often you should post. 2. Conduct basic keyword research and optimize your blog post for search (SEO) accordingly Don’t let the idea of keyword research scare you off if you’re a beginner. While there are plenty of high-tech paid tools to help large corporations identify keywords and optimal strategy to stand out in the search results (e.g., Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz Pro), there are also several free tools and tactics smaller businesses and bloggers can use. Let’s start with the basics. When an internet user types a keyword into Google, Google uses an algorithm that searches through all web pages and ranks them based on relevancy. Google’s goal is to show internet searchers the most relevant results based on their search terms. The first bit of good news is this. Every blog post doesn’t have to rank for every single keyword that is relevant to your business. It only needs to rank for the most relevant keyword to that particular blog post. The second bit of good news is Google’s algorithm mostly works on sentiment. This means if you’re writing helpful content on just one topic, you’re probably already hitting the mark. Here are some basic SEO strategies to follow every time you write a blog post: 1. Choose a keyword. You can use a free keyword difficulty tool to identify the best keyword. Choose something that has some search volume, relates to your website, and isn’t too difficult to rank for. The Google Keyword Planner is free, and there are a handful of other free tools that will tell you what you need to know. 2. Put your keyword in your title and headlines. If your keyword is “unicorns on the loose,” then make sure your title (H1 tag) is something like “7 Reasons Unicorns are on the Loose,” or something. You’ll also want to include your keyword in some of your subheadings (H2 tags). 3. Insert your keyword naturally in your text a few times. Google’s algorithm won’t know what your post is about unless you stay consistent. You don’t want to use your keyword too many times, but use your primary keyword in context when it makes sense. For example, say “unicorns on the loose,” instead of creatively switching it up and saying “horned wonders running around.” 4. Include an alt text tag in your images. Hate to break it to you, but Google’s algorithms don’t have eyes. If you want Google to know what your picture is, you have to label it with text. In other words, name the picture your primary keyword.  5. Include a few internal and external links in your text. Backing up your claims with links to other credible external sources is a great SEO strategy. Adding internal links is another surefire way to help keep people on your website, provide valuable content, and improve your search engine ranking. 6. Write over 300 words. 300 words is the bare minimum amount of words you should write in a blog post. When it comes to blog posts, it’s like Thanksgiving dinner…the more, the merrier. The most important thing you can do for SEO is to write on the topic and provide helpful content that sounds natural. Google’s algorithms are smart, will comb through your text, and if you’ve done the SEO basics, you’ll be in good shape. Here’s a little insider secret for WordPress users: You don’t have to remember any of this, because WordPress has an incredible SEO plugin called Yoast that does all the hard work for you. If you download this plugin, Yoast will guide you through the proper SEO steps. 3. Write how internet users like to read Think about the last blog post you read. Did it read like a novel or more like a quick, scannable document? Chances are if you paid attention to the blog post, it was easy to scan and read zero percent like a novel. Successfully writing for the internet means forgetting everything your high school and college English teachers taught you about writing. You don’t write five structured paragraphs to get your point across. Instead, it’s critical that you break up your text into scannable bits, written at an 8th-grade reading level. Shorten your sentences and paragraphs. It’s also vital to include headings, subheadings, and bullet points. This makes it easy for your audience to consume your content quickly. Don’t think it’s important? Consider this: 37 seconds is the average time a reader spends reading a blog post, according to NewsCred. It’s also wise to put the most important information first, because of the whole 37 seconds thing mentioned above. 4. Include images and videos It’s said that pictures are worth a thousand words, and it’s true. What would take hundreds of words to explain, your brain can understand in less than a second when presented in image form.  Need extra convincing? Open up James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of The Mohicans and read one of his daunting description passages. Then, time how long it takes you to visualize the scenery. Next, turn on the movie and take a quick glance at the screen. You’ll be able to understand exactly what the scenery is based on images alone.  I’m not saying movies are better than books (except for the example mentioned above, IMO). I’m just saying images are one more opportunity to get your message across to your audience.  If you want to go the extra mile, include a video as well. 5. Write to benefit your audience There is a reason why “how-to” content, data-driven stories, and well-researched insightful blog posts are some of the highest performing articles on the internet.  People take to the internet when they want to learn something. This means you don’t want to just write about anything. You want to write answers to the questions that people are seeking. If you are an expert in a particular field or industry and can write a post that makes a complex topic digestible and easy to understand, your posts will get read, shared, and you’ll see conversions.  Allow me to toot my own horn for a minute. I’ve been optimizing blog posts for SEO for over 10 years. I’ve read hundreds of books and blogs on SEO, conducted hours of research, and used various SEO tools. With all that knowledge, I can confidently tell you what the six most powerful things you can do to optimize your blog posts for search are (above), and you don’t have to do any hard work. There is value in that. TOOT TOOT! Similarly, if I want to learn how to make my grass green, make a quiche, or change a tire (things I don’t know how to do), I consult the expert bloggers on Google.  Start your blog with HostGator today! If you’ve already purchased your web hosting from HostGator and created your website, it’s time to write your first post. Follow the checklist items above, and you can rest assured you’re doing a fine job. To start your blog, sign up with HostGator today. HostGator provides an easy drag-and-drop website builder to get you up and running in no time. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Make a Personal Website: A Guide for Job Searching During COVID-19

The post How to Make a Personal Website: A Guide for Job Searching During COVID-19 appeared first on HostGator Blog. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 40 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment benefits. That means a lot of people are on the job search right now. And it’s a particularly hard time to be looking for a job.  Positions are competitive. Networking options are limited. And many people are trying to balance a job search with childcare duties, fears of illness, and the many mental and emotional distractions that come from living in such uncertain times.  Finding a new job is hard in the best of times. But anything you can do right now to stand out and set yourself apart from other candidates is likely to work to your advantage. One tactic worth considering is to make a personal website you can use to represent yourself in the professional world.  Why Make a Personal Website for Your Job Search? Making a personal website requires a (small) upfront investment in time and money. When you have a lot of competing distractions, you want to know it’s a tactic worth your time. There are a few reasons it’s a move worth considering for those looking for work. It’s a way to demonstrate initiative and creativity. When a hiring manager is faced with a stack of applications from attractive candidates, how do you think they start the process of narrowing them down? At least some of them will turn to Google.  If you’ve put together a website that demonstrates your skills and shows some of your creativity, you’re showing them that you have that extra bit of initiative that makes you worth considering.  It helps you raise your personal profile. In the age of social media, most people now have some kind of profile online.  Creating a website gives you a chance to build more of one—and specifically create one designed at presenting yourself professionally. It gives potential employers one more place to find and learn about you, and you one more way to promote yourself.  It shows you understand branding. However you may feel about the idea of having a personal brand (it’s OK to feel a little weird about it), it’s a part of life in 2020. The way you look to people online is part of how you’ll be perceived in the professional world.  By creating a website that puts forward a version of yourself that matches the kind of job you want, you’re showing potential employers that you know how personal branding works and how to present yourself in a way that fits their company.  It gives you control over how you present yourself. On your own website, you control how you talk about yourself. You decide which work samples to include. And you get to choose the keywords, colors, and images that feel the most you.  You can’t control everything about how a hiring manager or potential client will perceive you, but by creating your own website, you can take some control over the narrative.  It’s easier today than it’s ever been. A few years ago, the idea of building a website just to promote yourself felt out of reach for most people.  But now, it’s possible for just about anybody to pull off. You don’t have to know web design or coding to build a personal website. All you need is access to an intuitive website builder, and enough time to put together a website that represents you in a professional and accurate way. It’s a job you can potentially check off your to-do list within a matter of hours. How to Make a Personal Website Now that you’re on board with the why, here are ten steps to help ensure you create a truly useful personal website to aid you in your job search.  1. Create a strategy for your site. Before you do anything else, take a little time to clarify what you want to accomplish with your website. Figure out the answer to questions like: Who’s your target audience? Put another way, what kind of companies would you most like to work with, and who’s likely to be in charge of hiring for the roles you want?What type of role do you want? What job titles and position types are you vying for? Knowing that will help you clarify what your website should look like and the information to include. How do you want to position yourself? What makes you unique? Which of your skills do you most want to highlight?What type of style and tone should your site have? Do you want to keep it formal and professional, or let more of your personality shine through?What pages should you include? A personal website can be fairly basic, but you likely want at least a home and about page. You may also want to include a separate page for each of the primary skills you have, and one devoted to your portfolio or work samples. Do you want a blog? Creating a blog gives you more of an opportunity to display your ideas and skills, but it means more work. Consider if the extra effort is worth it. If you’re hoping to rank in the search engines for relevant terms eventually, then a blog is important for search engine optimization (SEO). But if you hope your site will be a tool to help you find a good job in the short term, it may not be necessary.   If you could use some help visualizing what you want your site to be, spend some time looking at other websites for inspiration. Google the types of professional titles you’d like to have and see what comes up. Take notes on what you like and don’t like from other personal branding sites, and use that to help shape your own.  2. Find the right domain. Your domain is your address on the web, it’s what someone types into the browser if they want to head directly to your website. For a personal site, you have a couple of main options for finding a good domain name: Use your own name. See if any version of a domain with your name is available. If your name was Jane Doe, you’d start with janedoe.com. If that’s not available, then try other variations and top-level domains like jane-doe.com, janedoe.net, janedoe.me.  Using your own name makes it more likely that your site will show up for anyone looking for you specifically, such as a potential employer that reviewed your application and wants to learn more before deciding whether to set up an interview. Use relevant keywords. Brainstorm some of the main keywords someone looking for a professional like you would be inclined to search. If you’re a professional interior designer, you could look for a domain that included terms like professionalinteriordesigner.com. Although something with popular keywords like that is unlikely to be available, so consider ways to get more specific like austininteriordesigner.com or colorfulinteriordesigner.com.  Admittedly, this route is harder since most domains that employ popular keywords will be taken. But it can be valuable from an SEO perspective, since you’ll be found by more people searching for the type of work you do, whether or not they know your name already.   Once you’ve found an available domain name you like, go ahead and register it. You never know when someone else will want it, so laying your claim sooner rather than later is smart.  3. Choose the platform to build your site on. Now decide how you’ll build your site. For anyone that’s not a skilled web designer, that probably means either choosing a website builder or using WordPress.  WordPress is a popular content management system that many people and businesses build websites on, and for good reason. But it’s a bit more complicated to use than most simple website builders designed for beginners. If you want to get something basic up fast, look for a website builder that promotes being easily accessible for anyone to use.  4. Invest in web hosting. For any website to go live on the web, it has to have web hosting. Luckily, this step is easy! All you have to do is pick your plan (and a shared hosting plan should be enough for most personal websites), and sign up.  5. Pick your keywords. If you want a potential employer to find your website—including those who don’t know your name already—then it’s important to start thinking about SEO from day one. Even if you don’t invest in more advanced SEO tactics like link building and content marketing, it’s still worth doing some basic keyword research and making sure your web pages are optimized for the terms you choose.  Think about the words a prospective employer is likely to use for the kind of role you want to do. And use a free SEO tool to find related terms, and figure out which keywords people are searching for the most. Most website builders will include SEO features that make it easy to add your chosen keywords to the most important parts of the page for on-site optimization, such as the title tag and H1.  6. Write your website copy. What do you want potential employers to know about you? The whole point of building a personal website for your job search is to put the best version of yourself forward to anyone than lands on the page. So choose your words carefully. Emphasize the skills and experience you have, and what makes you special.  It’s harder talking about ourselves than it is others, so if you’re feeling stuck here, talk to some close friends and colleagues about what they appreciate about you. Do you have an amazing work ethic? Do you always get things in on deadline? Do you bring creative, innovative ideas to the table?  Consider asking for testimonials or reviews from people you’ve worked with before. They add social proof to your website, which can be more powerful for a prospective employer than the words you use about yourself.  7. Select your images. Your website will be more powerful if it includes images. If you don’t already have professional headshots, try to get some taken to add to your web design.  Admittedly, that’s harder to pull off during a pandemic, especially if you have a limited budget to work with. If you can’t hire a professional photographer at this time, see if you can find a good friend or colleague to help you take some photos to use on the site. You can do a social distancing photo shoot, if it’s not someone from your household. Having images of yourself will help to humanize you on the website. You can round out those images with graphics or stock photos. If your website builder provides a photo library, then finding some to include will be easy:  If not, just make sure you only use images that you have the rights for. You could incur serious penalties if you use someone else’s image without permission. 8. Build your website. Now you’re ready to create the website. If you’re using a website builder, select the template that comes closest to what you want your website to look like.  Then sub in your own copy and images for the ones in the template. You can use the drag-and-drop functionality to move things around, and add elements to the page using the website builder’s menu. The details of how all this works will vary depending on the website builder you chose, but you can find instructions on using HostGator’s website builder here. 9. Promote your site. Once you’ve put in the work to create a personal website that you’re proud of, let people know!  Share it on your social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Email it to colleagues you think would appreciate it. And if you really want to extend its reach, consider investing in paid promotion channels like Google Ads or social advertising.  10. Keep it updated. You’re not done yet. Make sure you update your personal website with anything new you have to add. If you gain some new experience, whether via a course you took, freelance work, or a volunteer position, add it to your site. Revisit what you’ve written there periodically to consider if you can make it better, or expand on it. Add testimonials as they come in from colleagues you contacted.  And if you started a blog, commit to adding to it on a regular basis with new posts and insights. If you keep it fresh, it will be more useful to anyone that comes across it and increase your chances of making a good first impression. Start Your Personal Site Today with HostGator When you’re job hunting, there are a lot of competing tasks you feel pressure to complete. Starting a website to showcase your personal brand takes time, but it’s a fairly simple way to set yourself apart and create something to impress people in your field. And with an easy-to-use website builder, it doesn’t have to cost you much in terms of time or money.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Building an eCommerce Website

The post Building an eCommerce Website appeared first on HostGator Blog. Lots of people dream of entrepreneurship, but before the internet, actually starting a business was a difficult prospect. Now, building an eCommerce website and selling products online is within reach for anyone with the time and gumption.  Building a business of any sort is work. Coming up with your product idea, and sourcing or creating your products is a big early step you’ll have to tackle. But the work of website building itself can potentially be done within a day or two.  Even if you’ve never built a website before, the tools now available ensure anyone can create an online store with ease. By the end of this post you’ll know how to find a good product and niche for your store, how to build out your site, and the approaches you can take to generate sales. Before we jump into the how, let’s take a look at the why. What You’ll Learn… [hide] Why You Should Sell Products On a Website1. People spend money online.2. An eCommerce website costs less than a storefront.3. Online shopping provides convenience.4. An online presence gets your products found in search.5. The growth in mobile means people can buy from anywhere.Before You Build Out Your StoreWhat You Need to Build an eCommerce WebsiteBuilding an eCommerce Website the Easy Way1. Market Research and Finding Your Niche2. Getting Ready to Sell3. Choosing Your Platform4. Building Your Store5. Launching Your Store and Selling ProductsMarketing Your eCommerce WebsiteBuilding Your eCommerce Website Why You Should Sell Products On a Website Before anyone can purchase a product from you, they need a way to discover your brand and the products you’re selling. For brands that only sell products through a storefront, that limits the number of people that can learn about you to begin with, much less come to your store to make a purchase.  That was already true before the Coronavirus pandemic started, but is much more the case now that customers sheltering in place have shifted almost all their shopping to online. If you don’t start an eCommerce website, there’s a huge market you miss out on. If you’ve been hesitant to sell products online, here are a few good reasons setting up an online store is a good idea. 1. People spend money online. People in the United States spent $602 billion online in 2019. And that was before the Coronavirus changed everyone’s shopping habits. In the first month after the pandemic started, eCommerce sales grew by 49%. Any business owner that stays offline is missing out on their piece of those profits.   While some shoppers still prefer the experience of buying clothes in a store and will eagerly get back to doing so when it’s safe to, many prefer to skip the trip and do their shopping from a computer screen or mobile device.  If your competitors make their items available online and you don’t, you’ll lose that business. 2. An eCommerce website costs less than a storefront. Running a storefront requires paying:       Rent for the space      The paychecks of staff that man the store during business hours      Proper licensing and permits      Utility bills      Furniture and decorations      Building maintenance      Cleaning supplies      Selling supplies like a point-of-sale (POS) system and cash registers All of that adds up to a lot of expenses – and most of them are ongoing. Selling products on a website, on the other hand, cuts out most of those costs. You will still need to pay for things like web hosting and marketing. And you may still need to hire some staff, depending on the size of the eCommerce store you run, but the costs are overall more manageable and easy to plan for. 3. Online shopping provides convenience. When you’re tired, busy, sick, or just feeling a little lazy – you probably don’t want to spend time driving somewhere and browsing a store for the items you want to buy. People have a lot going on and sometimes there just isn’t room in their lives for a trip to the store. By comparison, browsing an eCommerce site online and making selections is easier, faster, and requires a lot less energy. People are more likely to spend their money when it doesn’t feel like work to do so. Online shopping isn’t 100% effortless – but it’s pretty close.  When you sell your products through an online store, you remove a lot of the barriers to buying that exist with a physical store. 4. An online presence gets your products found in search. 85% of people turn to Google for product discovery and shopping.  Without an eCommerce website, your products have no chance of showing up when potential customers start looking for what you sell online. But when every product you sell is listed on a page on your eCommerce site, all of them will be indexed by Google. That’s the first step to your products showing up in search results. If you want those product pages to show up on the first page of Google, that requires an investment in SEO best practices. But before you can even start thinking about that, you need an eCommerce website for your products. 5. The growth in mobile means people can buy from anywhere. Mobile purchasing trends show that over a quarter of all eCommerce purchases now occur on mobile devices. Mobile shopping makes it possible for people to make purchases at the exact moment they decide they want something. Whether they’re on the couch watching TV, strolling through the park, or lounging on the beach – if they think of something they want, they can make the purchase right then. That creates more opportunities for sales. You don’t face the risk of a potential customer deciding they want an item you sell, only to forget about it by the time they get home to their computer. That’s good for your customers, and it’s good for your bottom line. Now it’s time to jump into the how! Before You Build Out Your eCommerce Store Before you start the process of building your eCommerce store there are some foundational things you need first. To start, you need a domain name and web hosting plan. Without these, there’s no way to actually have a live eCommerce website. There are dozens of different providers and services you can use to secure a domain name and hosting, and you can either purchase them together or separately. If this is your first time building a website, the easiest course of action is purchasing them together from the same provider. This minimizes the number of technical tasks you need to complete and speeds up the process of getting your site online. If you’re looking for the fastest and most beginner-friendly way to secure a domain name and hosting, then consider purchasing them both right here at HostGator. Just select your web hosting package and add a domain name to your order before you check out. You might not be ready to name your store and purchase a domain name just yet, so feel free to return to this section later once you’ve come up with the perfect website name for your business.   What You Need to Build an eCommerce Website Building an eCommerce website will be a little different than creating a standard website or starting a blog. Beyond securing a domain name and hosting you’ll also need to consider tools and software for processing payments, along with actually creating and manufacturing your products. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s required to build a website from scratch for an eCommerce store: A domain nameA web hosting providerAn integrated payment processorA platform or tool to build your storeInitial capital to create your productsPackaging for product shipping While building an eCommerce store is much cheaper and easier than building a storefront, it does still require some upfront capital and work. Make sure you work out a budget that makes sense for your goals.  Building an eCommerce Website the Easy Way Building an eCommerce website is similar to the process of building other websites, except that it needs to be set up to sell physical products. You should anticipate a bit more work upfront to get your website ready.  Here’s the process of discovering your market, finding out what you’re going to sell, and finally building out your store. 1. Market Research and Finding Your Niche Before you start your eCommerce business, you need a physical product to sell. But you definitely don’t want to put the work into building an online store only to find out that no one wants to buy what you’re selling. To avoid this fate, spend time upfront finding the right market and products to sell. You might already know exactly what you want to sell. But if not, no worries, this post will walk you through the process of conducting market research for a small business. Ideally, you want to uncover a pressing need in the marketplace and fill it with your product. Look for Trending Products One way to ensure that you’ll start selling products right out of the gate is to align yourself with products that are currently trending. By getting into a trending niche at the right time, you can ride the wave in the short-term and long-term. However, you don’t want to hop into a trending market when it’s on the decline. Instead, you want to find a product or a niche for products that are growing in popularity. There are tons of different tools you can use to spot trending products and niches, but here are some of the most common. Google Trends: This Google tool allows you to look into the past and future of certain product keywords. By using the data this tool provides, you’ll be able to see if a market is growing or waning in popularity. TrendHunter: This site showcases a lot of different niches and products that are currently trending across the globe. Plus, there’s a nifty filter that lets you sort by different industries.Instagram influencers: If you spend time on Instagram, then you probably follow a few influencers who regularly promote products. The chances are pretty high that the products they promote tend to sell well and can suggest a viable niche. Align With Your Passion Hopefully, the resources above will point you toward a handful of products or potential niches to consider. To narrow down that list even further, do some self-evaluation. You’ll find it much easier to sustain momentum with your store if you actually care about what you’re selling. Consider the following questions to determine if you have what it takes to sustain yourself in the niche: Do you care about the market you’ve chosen?Do you have any pre-existing knowledge you can rely on?Can you see yourself working in this space for 5 years or more?Do you care about the people that you’re serving? Explore What’s Currently Selling Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential products and niches to a group you actually care about, go one step further and validate your ideas in the marketplace. The most effective ways to do this are using the Amazon product marketplace and a keyword research tool. First, head over to the Amazon bestseller list in the product category of your choice. Then, spend some time digging through the products to see what kinds of things people are actually buying. Look for product multiples and dig through the reviews to see if there are any glaring issues with the existing products. Second, head over to the tool Ubersuggest. This is a free keyword research tool that provides lots of actionable keyword data. Input your target keyword, and you’ll receive a list of related keywords and their search volume. This will help you determine the overall size of the market and maybe even give you a few ideas of products you can sell. 2. Getting Ready to Sell Before you settle on the product you want to sell there are a few more considerations to take into account. First, make sure the product is light enough that it’s easy to ship. During the early days of your eCommerce store, you’ll be handling most of the packaging and shipping yourself. Sticking with products that don’t weigh much will not only make your life easier, but you’ll be able to maintain better product margins, which can be crucial in the early days of your store. Finally, consider creating a prototype for your product. That means starting with a sample of the product you have in mind that you can test out in the market. If you’re building a new product, you probably won’t make it perfect on the first time. Prototyping gives you room to iterate and improve based on feedback—before you make a huge investment in inventory. This will help you get to market faster and build a better product over time. 3. Choosing Your eCommerce Platform When the time comes to choose the platform for your eCommerce store you’re going to have a lot of different options at your disposal. For first-time eCommerce entrepreneurs, some of the most popular options include: WordPress/WooCommerceMagentoWebsite Builders WordPress/WooCommerce WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, and for good reason. It’s relatively easy to use (although still requires a learning curve for beginners), but is both powerful and versatile because of the massive library of plugins available. To build an eCommerce website on WordPress, you’ll need to choose an eCommerce plugin to provide the proper functionality. The most popular option is WooCommerce, which is free and powered by the team that owns WordPress. That means you’ll never have to worry about compatibility issues, and can count on access to plenty of compatible themes and add-ons. WooCommerce will walk you through the process of getting your online store set up, so it’s mostly a matter of following the steps in the plugin’s setup wizard. Interested in building your online store using WooCommerce? Read our guide. Magento Magento is another popular eCommerce CMS, but one that requires more skill and knowledge. The tradeoff is that it can be more powerful and give you more options for customizing and building out functionality within your eCommerce store. But unless you’re a pretty skilled developer or willing to hire someone that is, it will take a lot more work to learn and use.  Website builders For many new eCommerce owners, the easiest option by far is using a website builder that includes eCommerce options. Most website builders are designed with beginners top of mind, so anyone should be able to put a website together quickly and easily. With a website builder, you start with a pre-designed template, then can easily add in original images, move things around  on the page with drag-and-drop functionality, and fill in your copy. As long as you choose a website builder that supports eCommerce, you should also be able to easily add product pages that include photography, basic SEO fields, a product description, and inventory status information. HostGator’s website builder includes all these options, along with a library of stock photography you can use for free. If you want to get a basic eCommerce site up fast, you can potentially put one together within a matter of hours.  Interested in building your online store using the Gator Website Builder? Read our guide. 4. Building Your Online Store The step-by-step details of building your online store will vary based on the platform you choose. But in each case, creating product pages that effectively highlight the items you’re selling is the most important part.  If you’re building your website using the Gator Website Builder, start by making sure you have the eCommerce plan. Once you do, Store will be an option in the menu on the left-side of the screen. When you select it, you’ll see a button labeled Manage Products and Orders.  The website builder will walk you through creating your online store, providing you with the specific fields you need to fill in for each step of the process. Part of the process will include adding products to your store. For each product you add, you’ll see all the most important fields to fill in for that page. That includes your product image, price, description, inventory status, and any product options like size and color.  Once your store’s set up, you can customize your product pages. When creating a new page, you’ll have the option to select Product Page from the dropdown menu.  To change the style of the product page, select Change Design from the dropdown menu on the top right. You’ll see a number of different design styles show up in the left side of the screen for you to choose from.    Because the basic structure of an online store is already set up for you, dropping the details of your products into what’s already there is a relatively fast and easy process.  5. Launching Your Store and Selling Products If you’ve done everything above, then congratulations, you’re just about ready to launch your store. However, it’s important not to launch your store before it’s fully polished. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Spend some time double-checking every page on your site for typos, broken links, or other things that don’t work. You’ll also want to run through a few sample purchases to make sure the checkout process works smoothly. Now that you’ve learned to create a website to sell products, it’s time to launch your store and start selling! Marketing Your eCommerce Website The internet is vast, and you have a lot of competition. If you don’t make an effort to get your website in front of people, they’re unlikely to find you at all, much less buy from you. To be successful, you need to invest in marketing your eCommerce store to the world. Here are a few of the most common eCommerce marketing methods: 1. Content Marketing Content marketing is a valuable marketing tactic for building up your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) authority, attracting more relevant traffic to your site, and building trust with your target audience. Content marketing requires a considerable investment in time and money, but it’s a good way to grow the online influence of your business. Content marketing can take a number of different forms: Blog posts – A blog is usually the go-to starting place for content marketing. Regularly publishing high-value blog posts about topics important to your audience is a great way to raise your profile and demonstrate your trustworthiness. Longform content – Longform content like in-depth guides or ebooks can be published to your website as a way to build up SEO, or placed behind a form as a lead generation tactic. If you create something valuable enough that your audience is willing to give you their address in return for it, that’s a good way to build up your email list and identify potential customers.   Videos – In the age of YouTube, video content is one of the main ways many consumers like to get their information. You can create video tutorials or educational videos on topics your audience cares about.  Audio content – In the past few years, podcasts have become a huge part of how people consume information. But they’re still largely underused by brands. Consider if your audience is the podcast-listening type, and whether you can provide value to them in an audio format.Visual content – Visual content formats like infographics and high-quality graphics can be a way to either supplement your written content, or provide value on their own.  Content marketing doesn’t deliver immediate results, but if you care about the long game, it’s a good way to build up an audience of followers who care about your brand. And over time, it will strengthen how visible you are in your field and in the search engines.  Here are a few great resources on building a content marketing strategy from scratch: How to Make eCommerce Content Marketing Work for YouTop 5 Tips for a Successful Blog Content Marketing Strategy 2. Social Media Marketing Social media can be a great way to increase brand awareness while driving traffic back to your eCommerce site. For eCommerce businesses, some of the best channels to grow your audience and promote your products are Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Instagram and Pinterest are image-driven platforms, so they align well with selling products. Instagram will give you a way to showcase your product and demonstrate how it’s commonly used. And Pinterest gives you the opportunity to create and share content that’s related to your niche and drive targeted traffic back to your site.   Twitter and Facebook are better for growing your community and promoting your content. You can use them to tap into the community that’s talking about your industry, connect with influencers in the space, and directly reach your audience. You can also get a lot out of community-building tools like Facebook groups and Twitter chats.  In addition, you can monitor social channels to stay on top of what people are saying about your products. Negative tweets are useful for learning how to improve your products. And positive ones are powerful social proof.  Get the guide: HostGator Web Pros break down everything you need to know about Facebook and Instagram Stories for your online business. Read now! 3. Influencer Marketing Influencer marketing has been used to build some wildly successful eCommerce stores. It’s the process of reaching out to influencers (most often on social media channels like Instagram) and having them promote your brand and products to their audience. You have the option of doing paid shoutouts, but you might also be able to find accounts who will mention you for free in exchange for your product. Influencer marketing plays on the idea that these people have already built a loyal following, so your product gains exposure and trustworthiness by association.  If you’re interested in exploring this further, then check out the resources below: 5 Excellent Influencer Marketing Ideas for Any eCommerce StoreThe Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Business with Influencer Marketing 4. SEO Search engine optimization is the collection of tactics that increase your website’s authority according to the factors valued by search engine algorithms. If that definition sounds a bit technical, it just means that SEO is how you increase your chances of showing up on the first page of Google (and Bing and Yahoo, but mostly Google). SEO consists of doing a few main things: Keyword research – All of SEO is based on targeting the specific keywords you want to rank for, so this is an important step to start with. Use SEO tools to learn what terms your audience is commonly searching for. On-site optimization – This step includes making sure your website works on all the important technical levels, like loading quickly. It also means ensuring that each page is optimized for your chosen keyword.  Content marketing – Content marketing involves creating a lot of great content that keeps your website fresh, useful, and gives you the chance to target more keywords. For all those reasons, it helps with SEO.Link building – The search engine algorithms see links as a measure of how valuable other people see your website. As such, they’re an important ranking factor. Link building involves encouraging other websites to link back to yours. For some good starting guides on SEO, read: The ABC’s of SEO: A Beginner’s Guide to SEOBeyond the Basics: Advanced SEO Tips for Businesses 5. Email marketing Email marketing is arguably the best way to turn website visits into relationships. Every consumer that opts into your email list is telling you they want to hear from you. It’s an invitation to keep the relationship going, which is a big deal! Email marketing gives you a good way to keep driving traffic back to your site by promoting new content and sharing company announcements. And it gives you a loyal audience to promote special deals to. For eCommerce stores, earning new customers is definitely important. But getting those customers to come back again and again is how you really build a sustainable business. For more information on how to use email marketing to grow your business, check out: 5 Tips for Launching Your First Email Marketing Campaign7 Powerful Strategies to Fine-Tune Your Email Marketing 6. PPC advertising All of the marketing tactics we’ve described so far are useful, but require a significant amount of time and work before you start seeing results. They’re all about playing the long game. If you want to start driving traffic to your website sooner rather than later, adding paid advertising methods to your list will help with that. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising describes any marketing you do on platforms that charge for ads based on how often people click on them, rather than how many times they’re shown. Most of the ads you see on Google employ this model, as do most social media platforms.  With PPC advertising you can set your budget, target the audiences and keywords most relevant to you, and design your ads with copy and images most likely to appeal to your ideal customer. And PPC campaigns produce a lot of data, which helps you learn what your customers respond to and improve your marketing efforts over time. To learn more about using PPC advertising in your marketing mix, read more here: What is PPC?How Does PPC Work? Building Your eCommerce Website Hopefully, by now, you have a better understanding of what it takes to build your own eCommerce store from the ground up. It’s a lot of work to make an online business, but with the eCommerce market continuing to grow you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the long-run. If you truly want to create your own eCommerce website, all it takes is ambition, time, work, and a little bit of startup capital. The most important step is deciding to get started. You’re not going to get everything right your first go around. Be willing to experiment, fail, and keep moving forward. That’s the path to successful entrepreneurship. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Best WordPress Quiz Plugins

The post 7 Best WordPress Quiz Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. The purpose of your website is to engage visitors. With interactive content like quizzes, you can connect with your visitors and add them to your lead funnel.  A quiz is a powerful tool for getting to know your audience without being intrusive. Asking simple (and funny) questions can build a brand relationship. It also removes the monotony of having your visitor read another blog post. WordPress plugins make it possible to add quizzes to your website. Check out these seven plugins below to enhance the visitor experience. 1. WP Quiz Interactive content generates more than twice the conversions for your sales pipeline than passive content. The WP Quiz plugin helps you usher in new leads with professional and engaging quizzes, polls, and surveys. This plugin offers multiple options to create unique quizzes. You can add video, text, images, or a combination of all three to any poll. You can place your quiz on a single page or extend it across several pages. The image credit option also lets you acknowledge the content creator.  WP Quiz comes with a restart feature for quiz takers to clear their results and start over. When done, they can use the social media buttons to share their quiz results with family and friends. 2. Quiz and Survey Master  Quiz and Survey Master is the ultimate choice for seamlessly integrating quizzes, surveys, and polls into your website. From customer satisfaction surveys to employee polls, you can customize the experience for your quiz takers. Jodi Harris, the director of editorial content and curation at the Content Marketing Institute, expresses why this matters: “Interactive content enables users to personalize and participate in the content presented to them. By helping consumers see themselves in the brand experience, the technique offers the potential to deepen engagement and drive greater satisfaction.”  This WordPress quiz plugin lets you select a number of question formats, including multiple-choice, drop-down menus, checkboxes, and fill-in-the-blank. To make it easier for the quiz taker, you can even enable hints for each question. There’s also the option to set up time limits on each quiz. 3. Quiz Cat SnapApp reports that 53% of content marketers use interactive content to influence the buyer’s journey. Quizzes can engage your website visitors and move them into the sales funnel. With the Quiz Cat plugin, you can create remarkable content to capture qualified leads.  This WordPress plugin offers a built-in landing page for each quiz with a headline, subheadline, image, and “Start Quiz” button. You can set up as many quizzes as you desire, and your quizzes can include multiple-choice questions with two to four possible answers. Quiz Cat lets you create a custom message to display when your visitors complete the quiz, helping you build a more personalized experience. Plus, you can use WordPress shortcodes to embed the quiz into any post or page. 4. HD Quiz  HD Quiz gives you the power to create unlimited unique quizzes for your website. You can add featured images and tooltips to every question. Also, quiz takers can share their quiz results on Facebook and Twitter. “Interactive content increases your chances of going viral—or at least getting more exposure. And if you deliver a satisfying, enjoyable, entertaining, or educational experience, you’ll win viewers’ loyalty,” states Mike Kamo, CEO and co-founder of Hello Bar and Neil Patel Digital.  You can configure the plugin to randomize both the order of the questions and the answers. To make the quiz extra challenging, you can set a time limit on the quiz. Lastly, get creative by adding animated GIFs, images, and links to your quiz.  5. Riddle Quiz Maker Riddle Quiz Maker is a WordPress plugin for building quizzes, personality tests, and surveys. Users rave about the tool’s easy-to-use interface and customizability.  The plugin offers 14 different types of surveys, quizzes, and polls. With more than 75 customization options, you can personalize your quiz to match your website’s colors and fonts. It also includes built-in image editing to crop or add a filter to a picture. Go viral by adding social sharing buttons to your quizzes.  Riddle Quiz Maker comes with branching logic to show different questions to each quiz taker. You can collect visitors’ email addresses and add them to your lead pipeline. Then, you can automatically export those leads into your CRM software.  6. Watu Quiz  Watu Quiz is a feature-rich WordPress plugin offering several ways to create quizzes and exams. You can set up a quiz with required questions or have them pulled from a pool of questions. A basic bar chart is available to show quiz takers their points vs. the average points from others. “These quizzes not only boost engagement—they also help you get to know your audience. So the next time you construct a quiz, ask yourself what you’d like to know about them. You may gain some essential insights,” says Amy Balliett, co-founder and CEO of Killer Visual Strategies. The plugin also notifies you when someone takes a quiz. You get a list of who took the exam along with their answers. Then, you can export the results to a CSV file to add to your CRM. 7. Chained Quiz Quizzes serve as a pathway to connect website visitors with your content. Adding quizzes to your WordPress website is easy with Chained Quiz. Chained Quiz is a conditional logic quiz plugin designed to determine the next question based on the previous answer. You get an unlimited number of quizzes, questions, and results. Each question can be answered with radio buttons, checkboxes, or a text box. This WordPress quiz plugin also lets you assign points to each answer. Depending on the number of points accumulated, the quiz can direct the person to a specific results page. It’s a unique way to guide potential customers into a particular buyer’s journey. Build Your Sales Funnel with WordPress Quiz Plugins Quizzes are an effective way to engage your website visitors and capture new leads. Get creative by asking relevant questions and adding high-quality images to your quizzes. It’s simple to do with these WordPress quiz plugins. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Set Up a Content Calendar to Grow Your Business

The post How to Set Up a Content Calendar to Grow Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. Small business marketing requires a lot of content—for your blog, your email campaigns and your social media accounts. How can you stay on top of all of it, avoid repeating yourself and stick to a schedule—without hiring an assistant or devoting hours every week to content management?  Build and use a content calendar for your business. Content calendars—also called editorial calendars–aren’t just for full-time bloggers and online magazines. An organized schedule for content marketing helps all kinds of businesses, from mom-and-pop local service providers to multinational conglomerates—and it can help you, too. Best of all, you can find templates or build your own content calendar for next to nothing or actual nothing. Here’s what a content calendar can do for your business marketing, how to set one up, what to include in your content calendar and where to find free content calendar templates.  What kinds of content can go on your content calendar? You can create a separate calendar for content in each marketing channel, but your content calendar will be most helpful if you include all the content channels you use, such as  Blog postsSocial media postsEmail marketing campaigns Within those channels, variety can keep your audience engaged—as long as you’re offering content that’s useful or entertaining (ideally, both). Here are a few ideas to kick-start your creativity: Blog posts on evergreen topics (core issues that your audience will probably always face)Blog posts on timely topics Case studies featuring your customersContests and giveawaysEmail series that go in-depth on topics your audience cares aboutFAQsInfographics, which are easier to make than you might expectInterviews with experts New product writeups, photos and videosPodcastsPolls of your blog readers or social media followersPromotions for upcoming launches and releasesQuizzesTutorialsUser-generated content, like customer unboxing videosWebinar videos This isn’t a complete list of all possible content types. And not every kind of content will appeal to your audience. Start by picking a few types of content that you think your audience will like and then branch out as you get a sense of what they prefer. The benefits of using a content calendar for your business Content calendars take time to set up, but they can save you more time by helping you keep track of what you’re planning to share with your followers and email to your list. With a calendar, you know what you’re posting and when. No more scrolling back through your blog or your feed to see what you’ve already done. Calendars also help your marketing stay on track. When you’re a solopreneur it can be easy to fall behind on content marketing when you’re busy or when your idea well runs dry. A calendar can help you focus—and it can help you avoid last-minute scrambles to write posts. A calendar can show you where there are gaps in your marketing that you can fill in. For example, if your November calendar doesn’t have any holiday shopping content, or if your August calendar lacks back-to-school content, you can fix that. How to set up your small business content calendar  The most common content calendar formats are an actual calendar layout and a spreadsheet. Some project planning programs, like Trello and Evernote, have their own content calendar templates.  You can also create content calendars yourself using tools like Google Sheets and Word templates. The format you choose will depend on which layout you prefer, the tools you already have access to and your budget.  Whatever format you choose, your calendar should include some basic information for each piece of content you plan to share: Content title or topic: You may blog often on the same topic so be specific. For example, instead of “Flowers for Mom,” a florist might title a post “2020 Mother’s Day Flowers Gift Guide.”Content channel: Is this a blog post, social media post, email or something else?Content type: Is this a quiz? A video? A newsletter? Describe the kind of content here.Publish date: When do you plan to share this content?Author: Who’s writing it?Audience/customer persona: Who are you creating this content for? For example, first-time buyers? Repeat customers? Keywords: How would a prospective customer search for this topic?Content purpose: Is this designed to introduce people to a new service, get people to call your office, or encourage people to “buy now”? Every piece of content you create should have a goal. Resources for free content calendar templates and tools The best content calendar is one you customize to meet the specific needs of your business. However, you probably won’t know the details of what you need in a content calendar until you’ve been working with one for a while.  Free content calendar templates and tools can help you get started, save you time and improve your marketing now, while you get a better idea of how your ideal content calendar should be structured later on. Here are a few options to consider. Calendars for WordPress Users If your small business blogs on WordPress, you can install the free Editorial Calendar plugin to plan, manage and schedule your blog posts and drafts.  You can adjust the plugin settings to display up to eight weeks at a time. Moving a post to a different day is a simple drag-and-drop. Editorial Calendar is a great solution for WordPress-powered business blogging, but it doesn’t include email and social media marketing.  Content Calendars for Google Users If you’re already a Google Calendar user, you can create a content calendar, configure it to be private and share access with employees or contractors who will help you with content.  If you go this route, make sure you include all the relevant information in each content “event” you create.  And remember that content doesn’t usually happen in a day. You can plan ahead by creating events for your outlines, drafts and final versions. Content Calendars for Spreadsheet Users Are you a spreadsheet person? (We know you’re out there!) You can build your own calendar or use a template. Smartsheet has a great free content calendar template you can download in their format, as an Excel file or for Google Sheets.  Save your own copy and you’ve got a file with a tab for each month and columns for content type, author, category, target audience buying stage, goal and publish date. (And because you can edit your file, you can add other columns, like keywords and images you want to include with each piece of content.) One other item for your content calendar… At least once a month, review your site traffic, conversions, shares and other analytics to see which pieces of content are performing well, which had a spike and then dropped off and which didn’t get the traction you’d hoped for. Regular reviews can help you grow your content marketing program and your business by helping you focus on the content that works best with your customers. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Host of The Jordan Harbinger Show Shares His Advice for New Podcasters

The post Host of The Jordan Harbinger Show Shares His Advice for New Podcasters appeared first on HostGator Blog. Jordan Harbinger was podcasting before podcasting with a thing. He and his friend AJ (who also uses the last name Harbinger) debuted The Jordan Harbinger Show podcast in 2006 to talk about social skills, meeting people, and building relationships. The Jordan Harbinger Show now has more than 530 episodes and gets two million downloads per month by listeners eager to hear “the Charlie Rose of podcasting” talk with high-profile leaders in fields ranging from law and business to medicine and journalism about the social skills and mindset they use to succeed in their relationships at work and off the clock. HostGator is a proud sponsor of The Jordan Harbinger Show, and Jordan recently took the time to answer questions from our team about starting the podcast, why podcast producers must have a good website, and the steps new podcasters and site owners must take to succeed. The discussion has been edited and condensed. HostGator: Did The Jordan Harbinger Show start as a podcast, a website, or something else? Jordan: It did start as a podcast. We started this as a hobby because AJ and I were having conversations about eye contact, vocal tonality, body language, persuasion, influence, and non-verbal communication. People were saying, ‘You should write a book.’ I was studying for the bar exam, and AJ was a cancer biologist. We weren’t about to write anything because we didn’t have time, but we thought we could record our conversations and let those fly somewhere on the Internet. There wasn’t such a thing as podcasting when we initially envisioned this, or at least we didn’t know about it yet. AJ figured out that we could record things and put them in iTunes. HostGator: What made you decide to get a website? Jordan: Originally, you had to have a website for your podcast. You had to host it on a web server, because iTunes doesn’t host. We also needed a website so we could point people to it, especially since most people didn’t know how to use iTunes back then, and most people probably still don’t now. HostGator: What happened once you got the website? Did it help you expand your business? Jordan: Once we got the website, we found that a lot of people were emailing us. It was easier to contact us. People started to hire us for coaching services. People started finding our show because they were Googling the things we were talking about. It was really interesting to see how things kind of exploded once we got that online presence. HostGator: How do you encourage people to visit The Jordan Harbinger Show website and build your site traffic? Jordan: We encourage people to visit the website through word of mouth. We also talk about the website on the show so that people will go back to the web site and use that to email us or to find other episodes of the show. You can’t tell people, ‘First, go download iTunes, then do this, then do this, then do this.’ You just tell people about websites because everybody knows how to use them. HostGator: Which of your website features has had the most impact on your business? Jordan: In the beginning, it was the ability to host files. We had a blog where we were able to discuss what we were talking about briefly, and then we’d create the MP3 and host it there. People could click and download it or click and play it on our site if they weren’t playing the show through iTunes. That was huge. The website wasn’t just a web presence, it gave us the ability to host files for download and the ability to point people to those files directly. HostGator: What advice do you have for future podcasters and new website owners? Jordan: Make sure your files are not only playable but also downloadable so listeners can export them onto their smartphone or other device. Also, there should be an easy way to contact you. Visitors shouldn’t have to dig for it. Your number should be on the front page, or your contact form or email. Make sure your contact forms are working. Your email should be there for people who don’t want to use the form. I think that’s obvious, but I see most sites still don’t have that. A lot of times, companies make it tough to contact them because they don’t want to deal with that, but if I’m trying to hire you, if I have to figure out how to contact you, I don’t want to do that. It means you’re purposely difficult to reach or you’re ignorant of how people should be reaching you. That’s not somebody I want to give money to. I want to be able to reach them quickly and easily. For podcasters, you need to make sure you’ve got a description of your content as well as a way to download that content. Stream it online, too, so if people want to listen at their computer or on their smartphone they can make it work. Last but not least, it has to work on mobile. Most visitors come from mobile, especially if they’re listening to podcasts, so you can’t have a janky website that doesn’t work well on mobile or it’s just a huge fail. You’re going to lose more than half your business.  You can subscribe to The Jordan Harbinger Show here.  Learn more about HostGator’s easy to use web hosting services and plans here. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

6 Best Tools for Creating Social Media Graphics

The post 6 Best Tools for Creating Social Media Graphics appeared first on HostGator Blog. Social media plays an important role in how small businesses market their products and services online. Beyond superb copywriting, your social media content must include creative graphics. You only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention before they scroll to the next post. That’s why your graphics should include vibrant colors and that latest designs. We’ve compiled a list of six tools to help you create social media graphics. Learn how you can quickly wow your followers with these top social media graphic creation tools.  1. Canva Consumers are spending up to 3 hours on social media platforms per day, and even longer looking at their mobile screens. This trend is an opportunity for your small business to get in front of a larger audience.  The key is to stand out from the crowd with appealing social media graphics. You want followers to instantly relate to your content without any hesitation.  Canva can help you create visual content to establish your online presence. You get access to a premium library of more than one million stock images, graphics, and illustrations to produce high-quality designs. Keep your Facebook page looking fresh with over 100 popular layouts and 130 unique fonts. With this graphic design tool, you also can edit and save your social media design as often as necessary. There’s even a collaboration feature to invite team members to edit and comment on your current designs. When you’re ready to post on social media, just export your design as a JPG or PNG. 2. Piktochart The best social media graphics will persuade your followers to pay attention to your message. Your images should convey a story, so fans are encouraged to click the link in your post. Amy Copperman, head of editorial content and social media for Adobe Spark, offers her perspective:  “The fundamental building block of a brand is consistency. It takes five to seven impressions for people to begin to recognize your brand. This means that the repetition of key brand ingredients—logo, colors, and typeface—is essential.” Combine your site branding with graphics using Piktochart. With this tool, you can sift through thousands of royalty-free images and add nifty visual effects. You also can customize ready-made templates with just one click. It’s an easy way to try different styles to match your brand’s unique personality and style guide. 3. Prezi Video Apart from graphics, video is also essential to your social media content. Bite-sized clips can entertain and inform your audience in a matter of seconds. And that’s what your brand needs to outshine your competitors.  Before you press record, you’ll want to think about the type of videos you want to post online. Some brands enjoy making behind-the-scenes footage of their business, while others like producing short, product-related videos. No matter what video type you choose, Prezi Video is an effective tool for making engaging videos. You have the option of repurposing an existing PowerPoint presentation, choosing from a library of templates, or starting completely from scratch. Prezi offers a collection of how-to videos to help with the video-making process. You’ll learn how to animate content, convert slides to video, and use advanced features like a pro. If you’re too busy, you also can hire a certified Prezi expert. 4. Social Image Resizer Tool In social media, one size doesn’t fit all. Every channel requires specific graphic dimensions. What works on Twitter won’t work on Facebook. So, it’s recommended not to reuse the same graphic size across all your social accounts. Manvi Agarwal, a marketing and communication strategist at SocialPilot, states the significance of your social media graphics:  “Be it Facebook profile pictures, LinkedIn banners or any social media image for that matter, images are now undoubtedly the backbone of all social media platforms. Images have hugely garnered the marketing reigns in its control and if your images are compelling, you are sure to win the engagement battle.” Thanks to Social Image Resizer Tool you don’t need to remember the image dimensions for every social media channel. Instead, just upload your desired image and select a predefined option, like LinkedIn Profile Photo. Then, the tool will automatically adjust the graphic size for you. 5. Animoto Research shows that 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family. So, your brand must strive to find new and interesting ways to create memorable moments for your fans.  Professional videos can help you reach this goal. Animoto is another video maker for improving your social media marketing. This drag-and-drop tool makes it easy for novices to develop video content.  Animoto includes a library of stock photos from Getty Images, a music catalog featuring thousands of licensed tracks, eye-catching animated text effects, and logo watermark branding to promote your small business. Plus, you can join an exclusive Facebook community to get tips, inspiration, and feedback on your videos. 6. GIPHY Your social media fans want to be engaged as they scroll down your timeline. Sometimes, followers need a good laugh or something to put a smile on their faces. GIFs are one of the best-kept secrets to boost social media engagement.  Use GIFs as an opportunity to get people excited and to help them remember your brand. Lisa Hassell, director of creative agency Inkygoodness, offers some advice: “A good GIF can be playful and full of dynamism, or it can be slow and smooth; whatever describes the feeling behind the moving images. The key is to understand what makes an eye-catching GIF and create a language that fits the mood of the message.” With GIPHY, you can create fun GIFs using multiple images or trimming a video. Think outside the box to design GIFs to thank your customers, explain a process, or even tell a short story. Design Engaging Social Media Graphics with These Tools Social media is vital for your online marketing efforts. You can spruce up your campaigns by creating engaging social media graphics. Using the above-mentioned tools will make the creative process easier for your small business. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

YouTube Analytics [Your Ultimate Guide]

The post YouTube Analytics [Your Ultimate Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Marketers and content creators put a lot of emphasis on social media. It’s widely regarded as one of the best channels for promoting your content and growing your following. But while many people think first of Facebook or Twitter when you say social media, Pew Research found that YouTube is the most popular of all social media channels in the United States, with 73% of all adults using it. If you want to reach a large audience, YouTube is one of the most lucrative places to do so. And since it’s owned by Google, the same company that brought us arguably the best analytics platform in the digital world, YouTube offers useful and intuitive analytics to users.  Video can be a powerful way to reach your audience, but it does take resources to create. If you’re going to invest in it, take time to check your YouTube analytics to understand what’s working. Here’s how to do it.  How to Access YouTube Analytics Log into the YouTube account you want to see results for. Once you’re in, click on the Profile icon in the top right corner of the screen. In the dropdown menu, select YouTube Studio.  Once you’re within the YouTube Studio view, you’ll see a menu along the left side of the screen that includes Analytics, click there.  Now you can access all the data you need on how your videos are performing with your audience.  10 YouTube Analytics to Pay Attention To Every brand or creative using YouTube will have their own goals and priorities for the platform. So to know for sure which analytics should get more of your focus, you want to start by clarifying what you want to achieve with YouTube.  For most YouTubers, these ten main analytics will provide most of the information you need. 1. Views YouTube views are one of the basic metrics to follow, akin to tracking the number of visits on a website. The number of views tells you how many people are watching your video overall in a set period of time. This isn’t a count of everyone who has clicked play, it’s specifically people who watch at least 30 seconds. Someone who clicks but immediately changes their mind or loses interest won’t get counted. Nor will someone who had your video autoplay after another, unless they like it enough to keep watching. Views is mostly an important metric for making sure your videos are reaching anyone to begin with. It tells you something about how easy your videos are to find. If your views are low, then you either need to put more effort into promotion and YouTube SEO, or consider if YouTube may not be the right fit for your target audience.  2. Watch Time YouTube watch time is pretty straightforward: it’s the total amount of time people spend watching your videos. If you’re posting videos that are a few minutes long and someone watches 30 seconds—they get counted in your view numbers. But you probably wouldn’t consider that a success. To better understand whether people are finding value in your videos and liking any of what they see, watch time is a more valuable metric.  Watch time is an important factor in YouTube’s algorithm. The site isn’t interested in promoting clickbait to viewers that they don’t actually enjoy. They want to keep people on the site longer, so they’ll keep serving up suggestions for the videos they see people are watching all the way through. To increase your likelihood of showing up for new viewers, your watch time needs to be impressive.  3. Retention YouTube’s audience retention data allows you to dig into the details behind the watch time metrics. Looking at one video at a time, you can see where in the video viewers drop off. You can analyze if viewers find certain parts of your videos more interesting than others, which will help you make sure your new videos focus more on the type of content they like.  Your YouTube retention metrics can also provide insights into whether your videos are the right length. If you’re regularly loading 10-minute videos, but always lose people at the 3-minute mark, maybe it’s time to consider sticking with 3-minute videos.  YouTube Analytics puts your audience retention metrics alongside those of videos of a similar length, so you can see how your data compares to the norm. If you’re losing people a lot sooner than the average, then consider strategies you can try to change that.  4. Playback Locations YouTube analytics don’t just tell you about what people are doing on the YouTube site. Because YouTube videos can be shared and embedded across the web, the platform tracks data for any views or interactions people have with your videos anywhere they show up online, like a video you’ve embedded on your WordPress site. The Playback Locations section of YouTube’s analytics helps you understand where people are finding you. If a lot of your views are coming from outside sources, knowing it can help you better focus your promotion efforts where they’ll be the most successful. 5. Demographics For any type of content to be successful, it’s important to know who you’re making it for. When you have a target audience in mind, you can more successfully speak to what they care about. YouTube provides graphs that show you who’s watching your videos broken down by demographic factors like gender, age, geography, and device type. Use this information to see if you’re reaching the people you intend to, or to learn if you’ve found unexpected audiences for your content.  6. Traffic Sources Everyone who watches your videos has to learn about them somewhere. The Traffic Sources section of YouTube’s analytics tells you how people are finding you. This is where you can gauge how well your promotion efforts are working out. If you’re doing paid advertising, you’ll see if it’s netting you the intended results. If people are finding you by using YouTube’s search feature, then you’ll know your YouTube SEO efforts are working. And if a lot of people are finding your videos through external sites, then you’ll know offsite promotion is worth continuing to invest in.  7. Subscribers Getting a new viewer is hard work. But if you win them over and they subscribe, your new YouTube videos will automatically show up in their feed. At that point, gaining repeated views is much easier. Subscribers aren’t easy to get on YouTube—there are tons of channels out there for them to follow— they have to really see yours as worth it.  That makes your number of YouTube subscribers an especially valuable metric. If your subscriber numbers tick up, you know you’re doing something right. If they start to drop, you want to figure out why. YouTube Analytics both helps you track the numbers, and makes it easy to see correlations between new and lost subscribers and specific videos, so you can better analyze why people subscribe and unsubscribe.  8. Likes and Dislikes Getting people to watch your videos is nice, but viewing something is passive. When they take action in response, that’s a whole other level of engagement. YouTube likes and dislikes are a direct way viewers can communicate their feelings about the video they just saw.  They’re a pretty common way for viewers to give feedback, since it’s easy—simply a matter of clicking a button. Likes tell you you’re doing something right. If you’re getting a lot of dislikes, especially in comparison to your likes, it could point to a need to update your strategy.  9. Comments YouTube comments are the other direct way for viewers to provide you with feedback. But in comparison to likes and dislikes, comments give them the chance to provide more information about what they think. Comments can be a valuable way to better understand who your audience is and what they care about. And they give you an opportunity to respond back. You could even get a conversation going. Because comments do require a bit of effort on the viewer’s part, tracking the number of comments you get is a valuable metric for showing how interested people are in your videos. Inspiring an active response like a comment is usually a good sign (although the content of the comment matters as well).  10. Shares Getting your YouTube videos in front of a new audience is hard. When your audience steps in to do some of the work for you, it’s a pretty big deal! YouTube analytics tracks shares that people make directly within the YouTube screen, using the social media button they provide. This gives you a partial look into the total shares. This particular type of share plays a big role in how YouTube’s algorithm determines the worth of your video, so it’s an important metric on multiple levels.  YouTube Analytics Provide Important Insights for Growth If you want to find an audience on YouTube and provide real value to them, then you need to pay attention to how they interact with your videos. YouTube’s analytics provide useful information about how many people are finding your videos, how they’re interacting with them, and how they feel about them. Use that information to understand what your audience likes, so you can tailor your video strategy to better meet their needs. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Using Elementor in WordPress [Beginner Guide]

The post Using Elementor in WordPress [Beginner Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. When you want to create a new website you’re going to have a lot of different options. You have your choice of different content management systems (CMS), website builders, and more. One of the more unique and powerful combinations is using the WordPress CMS, plus a website builder like Elementor. This gives you the best of both worlds where you have the content management power of WordPress, with the customization ability of a drag and drop website builder. If you’re not sure if Elementor is the right drag and drop page builder for your needs, then this post is for you.  Below you’ll learn the ins and outs of the Elementor plugin, the additional features it adds to WordPress, the pros and cons of using the plugin, and finally, you’ll learn how to use the plugin on your WordPress site.  What is Elementor? Put simply, Elementor is a WordPress page builder plugin. Page builder functionality allows you to control nearly every visual aspect of your website, along with creating custom layouts, designs, and pages. Elementor isn’t itself an actual theme, but instead pairs with virtually any existing WordPress theme. Then you’ll use the plugin to customize your existing pages, add new widgets and design options to your site, and more.  It’s equipped with a variety of different widgets and pre-built content layouts. So, you don’t have to build your site from scratch. Instead, you’re utilizing pre-crafted site elements that have been built by professionals. Plus, the plugin uses drag and drop functionality when you’re building out your site. This makes it very easy and intuitive to accomplish design tasks. Just select, drag, and drop, until you finish building your entire site.  Free vs. Pro: What’s the Difference? Like most WordPress plugins, you’ll find a free and premium version. This allows you to start small and upgrade for a fee if you demand a larger feature set. The free version of the Elementor plugin has a lot more features than most premium plugins. Still, there are some good reasons you might want to upgrade to Elementor Pro. First, the premium version has additional features that make it much easier to create your workflow. This is useful for developers and designers who are building client websites, as you can build entire themes.  You also get access to a larger widget library, 24/7 support, dynamic content blocks, integrations, and more. The free version is probably more than enough for those building their first sites. But, if you require more advanced features and site functionality, you might want to consider upgrading down the road.  Elementor vs. Gutenberg Editor: Which is Better? The newly released Gutenberg block editor is native to all sites running the latest version of WordPress. This updated visual editor uses a block system to help you visually build out pages and create unique content.  So yes, the addition of the WordPress Gutenberg editor does provide features that used to only be available by installing a plugin like Elementor. But, it’s still not as robust as other WordPress page builder plugins are today. Here’s a quick breakdown of the feature sets each provides: Gutenberg block editor: Use the drag and drop editor to create custom pages and postsChoose from the 25+ different content blocks, things like images, video, text, buttons, tables, and moreEasily rearrange and insert new blocks with the drag and drop editorChoose from a list of customization options for each content block Elementor plugin: Over 30 different content widgets to choose fromA massive library of customization options for each elementThe ability to create complex layouts with multiple forms of contentAdvanced content features like, image carousels, maps, and moreControl over site elements like spacing, padding, and marginsDesign control over things beyond content, like header and footer sections So, which editor should you use to build your WordPress site? There is no cut and dry answer. It’s ultimately based on your preferences and what you want to accomplish with your site.  If you’re already using Elementor to build out your site, then you’ll probably want to keep using it. Deciding to switch editing tools can mess up any layouts and functionality you’ve already created.  However, if you’re trying to choose between the two, the native WordPress editor is a great place to start since it’s very simple and easy to use and is already built-in. If you enjoy using Gutenberg to build out your site, you can always upgrade to using Elementor for more flexibility and features. It all depends how much customization you require to your existing site.  Do You Need to Use Elementor to Build a WordPress Site? You don’t have to use Elementor to build out your site. A lot of WordPress users prefer to use the customization options that come native with most themes. Most standard WordPress themes will have a set of design and customization tweaks. This includes things like uploading your logo, changing fonts, and colors, and more. You’ll also be able to customize the appearance by widgetized sections that your theme is equipped with. You’ll be able to change the appearance of your site but only to a certain point. This is why you typically want to choose a WordPress theme that has a demo version you want your site to look like.  Elementor is best for people who want complete control over the appearance of their sites. Or, once you’ve reached the customization limits of your existing WordPress theme and you want to take things even further.  Pros and Cons of Using a Page Builder Plugin Like Elementor There are a handful of different WordPress page builders you can use to build out your site. They’re not perfect for every user, but there are some specific advantages, as well as a few drawbacks.  Here are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages that Elementor has. Pros of Elementor It’s a free plugin! Most users can fully build out their sites without having to upgrade to the pro version.For a free plugin, it has a very wide range of features. The feature set on the free version rivals a lot of paid plugins.The real-time editor allows you to make changes to your site and see what’s happening in real-time, so you don’t have to keep going back and forth between multiple screens. You can edit and view multiple versions of your site, desktop, mobile, and tablet, and make unique changes to each of these versions. The level of control you get over your site is incredibly detailed and gives you the ability to adjust things like spacing and padding.  Cons of Elementor: Elementor is a powerful editor, but with all the flexibility and customization options, it can be hard to get everything right.Sometimes your pages might have layers of different content overlays and it can be difficult and time-consuming to find the area you want to edit.  Since you have complete creative control, you might spend too much time obsessing over the small details, instead of moving on to more important things.Although it’s intuitive to use, the sheer volume of features and customization options available with Elementor make it so you’ll need to invest time into learning how the plugin works.If you build your site using Elementor, you’ll need to keep the plugin installed, otherwise you’ll lose all your designs and customizations you’ve made.  How to Use Elementor With a WordPress Theme If you want to use Elementor on your site, then this section is for you. Below we’ll walk you through installing and setting up the plugin, and help you grasp some of the basics.  Since Elementor is a WordPress plugin it’s very easy to get up and running. All you need to get started is WordPress installed on your site and a basic theme up and running. Elementor is compatible with a ton of different themes. But, some themes work better than others.  Once you’ve found a suitable theme, then let’s get busy building your site! 1. Install the Elementor Plugin To install the plugin you’ll need to be logged into your WordPress dashboard.  Then navigate to Plugins>Add New, and search for the Elementor plugin.  Next, click ‘Install Now’ and ‘Activate’ on the plugin called Elementor Page Builder. You’ll now have a tab on the left-hand side of your WordPress dashboard called ‘Elementor’. 2. Elementor Settings Menu The power of Elementor is unlocked on your posts and pages. But, you also still might want to explore the settings menu.  To open up the general settings menu click on Elementor>Settings. Here you’ll be able to select which posts type you want to be able to edit with the plugin, set the font spacing, set color defaults, and adjust responsiveness settings too.  Another tab you might want to check out (directly below Settings) is the role Manager. This section will allow you to specify which users you want to be able to use Elementor to edit your site.  3. Build a Page in Elementor Now it’s time to build your first page in Elementor. Navigate to Pages>Add New, then click on ‘Edit with Elementor’ to enable the page builder. Once this opens you’ll see a page that’s similar to the one below.  There are three main building blocks on Elementor: sections, columns, and widgets: Sections are the highest level and are containers for columns and widgets. Columns are individual sections that contain widgets. Widgets are individual elements.  To get started click one of the elements on the left and drag it onto your page. This will open up another grouping of options, depending on what element you added. In the image below we added an Inner Section, then within each of those inner sections, added an Image and a Button. Each of these can be modified depending on the equipped customization options.  If you don’t want to build a page from scratch, then you can choose from content blocks and entire pages that have already been created. To access these, click on any of the white folder icons. Then select ‘Blocks’ to insert a content block that’s already been created: Or, select ‘Pages’ to insert a pre-built page into your site. Most users will probably prefer to use pre-built content blocks and pages, as it can speed up the site-building process, but you can also use Elementor to create pages completely from scratch.  Once you’re done editing your page, just click the green ‘Publish’ button at the bottom of the screen. 4. Elementor Customization Options Whenever you’re editing a page in Elementor there are three different content categories you’ll get access to. With the free version, you get access to the Basic content sections. Here’s a list of some of the most widely used basic widgets: HeadingTextVideoButtonMapsIconStar ratingTestimonialSocial iconsSidebar Altogether there are 30 different elements you’ll get access to with the free version of the plugin. If you want even more widgets, then you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version. However, you can accomplish a lot with a free plugin. You can even mimic some of the Elementor Pro elements, it’ll just take you longer to create.  It’s also important to note that other third-party WordPress plugins still work and integrate with a site built using Elementor. So, you don’t have to rely on Elementor for 100% of your site’s visual customizations.  In Closing: Moving Forward with Elementor Hopefully, you’re starting to see the power of what Elementor can do for your and your WordPress website. If you want complete control over the design of your website, then Elementor can give that to you, even while using the free version of the plugin. This guide is meant to just get you started using Elementor. There’s a lot more you can accomplish as well, like creating reusable page templates, and even customizing WooCommerce product pages (if you’re starting your eCommerce store). Overall, Elementor is one of the best WordPress page builders that make it easy to build your website in the drag and drop fashion. It offers a great balance between being easy to use and still providing a deep level of features.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create a Nonprofit Website with WordPress [Step-By-Step Guide]

The post How to Create a Nonprofit Website with WordPress [Step-By-Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Building a website is one of the best things you can do for your nonprofit organization. With the help of a website, you can capture the attention of a broader range of people that are interested in your charitable cause.More importantly, your website can act as your primary source of collecting donations. Research shows that website visitors translate into cash for your cause. According to stats by Nonprofit Source, nonprofits raised $1.13 per website visitor in 2017. Also, 1.1% of overall website visitors made a donation, which represents an increase of 18% from the previous year. Recent stats also show that online giving grows increasingly popular year-over-year. In fact, online giving grew by 12.1% in 2019, and 51% of high-wealth donors ($200k+) prefer to give online. Even 30% of older donors (aged 75+) say they have given online within the last 12 months. These older donors, on average, give 25% more often than members of younger generations. With these stats in mind, it’s clear that a website is integral to the success of your fundraising efforts. Whether you are a large nonprofit organization, or a small firm just getting your feet off the ground, you may be wondering what you need to do to create a stellar nonprofit website. This post will cover: How to create a nonprofit website with WordPressBest practices for nonprofit websites By the end of the article, you’ll have the knowledge needed to get your website up and running in no time. Steps for creating a nonprofit website with WordPress When it comes to creating a nonprofit website, there are several options on the market. Even with HostGator, you have a couple of different options for creating a website, including HostGator’s Website Builder and WordPress. WordPress is a safe and smart choice for a few different reasons. First, WordPress has the majority of the CMS market share and is the most popular content management system on the market. WordPress is also easy enough to download, set-up, and navigate without the help of a professional. Finally, WordPress has a robust list of compatible plugins that make collecting donations easy.  Now let’s talk about the steps involved in creating your nonprofit WordPress site through HostGator. 1. Pick a hosting package and domain name The first step is to pick a hosting package that suits your needs. All websites must have hosting or a secure place on the internet to store and organize all your files. HostGator’s basic WordPress hosting options offer support for up to 500K visits a month, backups, an SSL certificate, and a free domain name. Once you select the best plan for your nonprofit website, click on “buy now.” From here, HostGator will direct you to the next page where you can select your free domain name.  Your domain name should be the name of your nonprofit organization. Next, enter in your payment details, select your desired services, and you’re ready to install WordPress. 2. Install WordPress Installing WordPress used to be kind of an ordeal. Not anymore! With HostGator, all you have to do is follow a few quick steps, and WordPress will be live in no time.  Once you finish creating your HostGator account, you’ll receive an email with all of your cPanel (control panel) login details. Click on the link to your cPanel, and HostGator will redirect you to the login page. Enter your username and password, and press “login.” Once you login to your cPanel, you will see a series of options, scroll down until you see the “software” section. Then, click on “QuickInstall.” Once you select “QuickInstall,” HostGator will direct you to a page with a few options.  You can either select “WordPress” or “One-Click Installs.” You can get to the one-click installs by looking at the navigation bar on the left and clicking “one-click installs.” This “one-click” installs link will direct you to a page with all your options.  Click on “WordPress.” Next, select the domain name of your nonprofit organization. Leave the “directory” box blank, and click “next.”  On the next page, fill out your basic WordPress site details and click “install.” Wait for a couple of minutes and you’ll see a box that says “Installation Complete.” You will also see your installation details and a box to login. That’s it.  2. Choose a WordPress theme Now that you’ve installed WordPress, you’re ready for the fun part—choosing a theme, or design, for your WordPress site. One of the best things about WordPress being the most widely used blogging platform is there are a plethora of awesome themes with killer designs. Most of them are free. To select a theme, click on “themes” on your WordPress navigation bar (on the left side of the screen), and scroll through your options. If you hover over the theme with your mouse, you can see the theme details, get a live preview of the theme (see what your website would look like in this theme), or “activate” the theme.  Once you press “activate,” WordPress will assign that theme to your domain name. You can switch your theme at any time. There are also some “premium themes.” These themes have more functionality, but you do have to pay for them.  Another important thing to note is there are several places on the web where you can buy a custom theme. If you buy one of these, WordPress makes it super easy for you to upload the theme.  All you have to do is download the .zip file from the place where you purchased the theme. Then, navigate to the theme page within WordPress. You’ll notice a button at the top of the page that says “Add themes” and then “upload themes.”  Click on “upload themes,” and WordPress will redirect you to this page. Drag and drop your .zip file (or choose the file from your computer), and then press “install now.” Once you’ve done this, your theme will be active. 3. Customize your WordPress theme Once you’ve selected your theme, you’re ready to customize it. This part of the process is fun and allows you to unleash your creativity. WordPress has also made it highly organized and intuitive. To start customizing your theme, click “customize” on the left navigation bar. You can also click “customize” on the top navigation bar as shown here. When you click “customize,” WordPress will direct you to the menu pictured below. Click through each menu item, and customize your site according to your desires. 5. Select WordPress plugins The final step in getting your nonprofit WordPress website up and running is to select plugins. Plugins are a pre-configured software component that adds extra functionality to your website without you having to do any work.  Plugins are also what makes WordPress flexible and easy to customize. If there is a specific functionality you desire on your WordPress site, there is probably a plugin for it.  For example, let’s say you want to display your Instagram feed on your website. You don’t have to do a bunch of coding; you just need the right plugin. You can search through the list of plugins, find one that meets your needs, enter the information in the prompts, and the plugin will do all the hard programming work for you.  Some good plugins for nonprofit websites include the following: Donations: PayPal Donations, GiveSocial Sharing: Jetpack, Easy Social ShareEvents: Event CalendarNewsletter: Constant ContactSEO: Yoast SEO, All-in-One-SEO packBackups: VaultPressCaching: W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache There are thousands of WordPress plugins. What you end up choosing will depend on what you want your nonprofit website to do. Do you want to raise awareness? Will you be hosting online events, or managing event registrations? Do you plan on taking donations through your website? To add a plugin, click on “plugin,” and press “add new.” You can also search for plugins right within WordPress.  There you have it! If you follow those 5 steps, your website will be up and running in no time.  Remember, it’s 100% possible to set up your WordPress site on your own. There is a small learning curve, but you can do it all yourself. If you don’t have the time, however, there are plenty of professionals you can hire to do it for you. 5 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites Now that you have your website up and running, how do you get people visiting your website? Here is a list of best practices for nonprofit websites that will help you get the attention your nonprofit deserves. 1. Make your website mobile-friendly The good news is 92% of nonprofits across the world have a website. The bad news is only 78% of those websites are mobile-friendly. The reason it’s so critical to have a mobile-friendly website is that nearly 60% of all online donations occur via a mobile device. Also, more people search online from a mobile device than they do from a desktop.  Thankfully, most themes from WordPress include a mobile-friendly version. 2. Include a blog  Did you know that 87% of nonprofit content marketers post articles on their website? Additionally, 45% of the most effective nonprofit content marketers offer blog subscriptions. Posting regular articles on your website is a surefire way to keep your audience educated, informed, and interested in your cause. 3. Include a stand-alone and branded donation page The easier you can make it on your website followers to find your donation page, the higher your chances are of receiving donations. Consider including a branded “donations” page as part of your primary navigation bar. You can also include donation buttons throughout your website that direct website visitors to your donations page. It’s also critical to make sure your donations page falls in line with your brand guidelines. This means creating a separate page on your website that looks like the rest of your website. You may not think it will make a difference, but Network for Good has found that branded giving pages earn 7 times more money than their generic-looking counterparts. 4. Turn the heat up with a campaign thermometer  The best thing about a nonprofit organization is it’s a community of people working together to reach a common goal. Your donors love to see your fundraising progress and may be more motivated to donate more if they can see your progress.  Some stats show that adding a campaign thermometer to your campaign can increase donations by 35%. 5. Engage in search engine optimization (SEO) best practices Owning and operating a website is the first step in fundraising success. The next step is making sure that people who are interested in your cause can easily find you. Since the majority of people go to the internet to find the information they are seeking, it’s critical that you make it easy for website users to find you. One way to do this is to follow SEO best practices. Here is a comprehensive guide to SEO for nonprofit websites, but some things to get you started include: Conduct keyword research. Basic keyword research will tell you what donors are searching for and what type of content should drive your blog posts.Add an SEO plugin. An SEO plugin like Yoast will help ensure you take all the appropriate steps for on-page optimization.Create high-quality content. Google algorithms work by serving up high-quality and relevant content. If you’re putting effort into your content, Google will reward you. Start your WordPress website with HostGator today You now know that it’s essential to have a website for your nonprofit organization. However, it’s also possible that you may be worried about going through the process of getting a website up and running. The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune and you don’t have to have any expertise to get a WordPress website off the ground. All you need is a quick tutorial (above) and a hosting company that makes it easy (that’s us!). Don’t delay any longer. Sign up with HostGator, install WordPress, pick a theme, and start eliciting donations from people that are passionate about your cause. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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