HostGator Blog

How to Find Your Side Hustle

The post How to Find Your Side Hustle appeared first on HostGator Blog. Did you know that over 44 million Americans already have a side hustle, according to CNN Money? Something that’s also worth mentioning? 36% of those side hustles are bringing in at least $500 extra dollars a month. Owning and operating your own independent business, apart from your full-time job, is a great way to hone your skills, make some extra cash, and build a business that could end up replacing your full-time income. 5 Steps to Finding Your Side Hustle With a multitude of side hustle opportunities out there, how do you decide which one is perfect for you? Here is a checklist to help you get started. 1. Find your why You’ve heard the idea of “finding your why” from thought leaders like Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek. If not, the basic idea is once you know why you are doing something, it’s possible to accomplish your goals. Here is a relatable example. It’s January 1st and you are going to get in shape this year. After all, that’s what people resolve to do, right? You go to the gym every day until January 12th. Then, your interest and motivation start to stagger, until you find you haven’t been to the gym in weeks, and finally, you don’t really care. If this is you, you’re not alone. Only 8% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s Resolutions, according to research by the University of Scranton. The reason? It’s safe to say it’s because these goal setters don’t have a defined why, or an underlying motivating reason to keep going when the going gets tough. Starting a side hustle may be one of your greatest desires, but to be successful, it’s important to determine your ultimate why. Is it because you want to pay off consumer debt that is eating at you every day? Do you want to transition from your full-time job to doing what you really love? Do you want extra cash for luxury vacations instead of staying in yucky hostels? Dig deep to determine whatever deeply motivates you, write it on a big poster board, and mount it on your wall. When things get hard, look at your poster and you will remember exactly why you made this goal of starting a side business in the first place. 2. Find your element Now that you know why you want to start a side hustle, it’s time to find some feasible options of what you might do. There are several options for a side business, but not all of them are for you. Some side hustles may bring in more money, but if you have zero interest, then it’s not a good fit. Similarly, you may be interested in a certain type of business, but if you lack talent, it also might not be a smart way to spend your extra time in a day. In the book Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life by Ken Robbins, he talks about the magic space that is your element. In short, your element is the place where your passions and your talents meet. To find the perfect side hustle, you need to find your element. Do this by brainstorming all of your talents and all of your passions. When you find a job that caters to both your talents and your passions, you’ve found your element. For example, you may love jewelry, but if you don’t have an artistic eye, an Etsy custom jewelry shop is not your element. However, let’s say you could spend all day writing, you know a ton about content marketing and everyone tells you how much they enjoy your articles. There you have it. Freelance writing or blogging might be your element, and a good starting point for finding your perfect side hustle. 3. Evaluate how much time you have Another factor in finding the right side hustle is to get a realistic hold on how much extra time you actually have. Everyone has 24 hours a day, but not everyone has the same responsibilities and priorities. How much time you have will provide valuable insight into what type of business you can start.  The best way to find out how much time you have is to spend a week or two tracking your schedule. Here are some questions to consider when tracking your schedule: When do you wake up?Could you wake up earlier?How much time in the morning do you need to dedicate to your physical health, mental health, and family? Do you have any down time during the day?How are you currently spending that time?What time do you get off work?How long does it take you to get home?When do you settle down for the evening and start engaging in “me time?”How do you spend your “me time?”Are you spending any time on activities that don’t bring you joy or invigorate you (hello…Netflix browsing)?What time do you go to bed?Could you push bed time one hour later? Once you know how much time you have, it will be easier to pick a side hustle that works within your schedule. 4. Do your research up front The last thing you want to do is pick a side hustle, register your business, get started and then find out months down the road there is a better option for you. Before getting started, take the time to learn about every side hustle option that is available. Start out by reading blogs about different types of side hustles and using Google for additional research. There are also several side hustle resources that will provide insight into what side hustles are out there. Here are 3 favorites to help you get started: Side Hustle School – Side Hustle School provides daily podcast, in-person workshops, and a book to help you develop a successful side hustle. Side Hustle Nation – Side Hustle Nation is a podcast and blog filled with advice on hustle business ideas, how to get started, and how to build your business.  Ryan Robinson – Ryan Robinson is the king of side hustle advice. He offers excellent guidance, resources, and tips.  Once you have a good idea of what side hustle businesses are out there, you’ll be able to make the right choice from the get-go. 5. Research income potential This step brings the process full circle. In other words, it brings you back to your why. If your ultimate why is to pay off $2000 of credit card debt, you can opt for a side hustle that is more enjoyable but pays less (e.g. dog walking, rideshare driving, etc.). If your ultimate why is to replace your full-time income, then you need a side hustle that brings in more money (e.g. affiliate marketing, freelance design, blogging, etc.) The resources listed above will not only help you understand what side hustle options are available, but also how much you can make with each side hustle, and how you can maximize your earning potential with strategy. Finding Your Side Hustle When starting a side hustle, remember the most important piece of advice: to get customers, you need to tap into the online search world by putting up a solid website.  Check out Gator Builder, our intuitive website builder, to get started. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

On-Site vs. Off-Site SEO: What’s the Difference?

The post On-Site vs. Off-Site SEO: What’s the Difference? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Search engine optimization (SEO) comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s not limited to one technique or a single tool. If you’re just getting started with SEO, you will want to know the difference between on-site and off-site SEO. Each type offers benefits to help your business acquire more website visitors. While some strategies take a few hours to execute, other tactics will involve extra time to plan. Take this opportunity to attract people to your site. Learn the difference below. On-Site SEO Strategies On-site SEO focuses on optimizing individual pages to earn organic search traffic. By implementing these techniques, it’s easier for search engines to categorize your content.   1. Keyword Research All businesses desire more website traffic. To gain those visitors, it starts with understanding keyword research. Consumers enter keywords in search engines to find specific information. They search for everything from holiday gift ideas to cute puppy videos. Knowing your potential customers’ search intent will help you craft content with targeted keywords. That way, you receive qualified visitors, not just every curious person online. Keyword Planner and Moz’s Keyword Explorer are effective platforms for conducting keyword research and keeping track of trends. Garnering this insight gives you an edge over your competition. Stay away from broad terms. For example, if you sell women’s clothing, stick to distinct, longer-tail keywords that describe your products. Aim for “high-end winter plaid skirts,” rather than “women’s skirts.”   2. Internal Linking When an individual lands on a web page, it’s quite likely that she will want to learn more about the specific information mentioned. Internal linking gives you the chance to act as a tour guide, sending the visitor to another appropriate page. Linking boosts your SEO performance. Serial entrepreneur Neil Patel outlines the advantages: “One of the corollary benefits of internal linking is that it improves user engagement on your site. When a user sees an informative link that truly matches the context of the content, they are likely to click on that link. It can be an external link, as long as it’s something that the reader will be interested in.” Internal linking helps search engines crawl your site. So, direct visitors to another relevant page on your site.    3. Page Speed A few years back, search engines announced that a site’s page speed would impact its ranking. This guideline still influences SEO today. As a result, you should monitor your pages’ load time. According to Google, it takes on average 22 seconds for a mobile landing page to load.  However, “53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.” Their free PageSpeed Insights tool analyzes the content of your web page and generates suggestions to make your page faster. It’s user-friendly and only takes a few seconds to receive your speed score. Large image files can negatively impact page speeds. You can solve this problem by using a tool like TinyPNG to reduce the file size and following image SEO best practices. Consider the number of widgets connected to your site, too. Excessive social buttons, comment areas, and pop-up ads can slow down page speed.   Off-Site SEO Strategies Off-site SEO is the process of improving your search rankings through referral traffic. These techniques include driving brand awareness and creating remarkable content.   1. Public Relations The perception of your business informs customers’ decisions. Public relations coupled with SEO serves the purpose of increasing your inbound links and brand recognition. Earning coverage in online publications and news outlets starts with developing an enticing story around your business. Jeremy Knauff, founder of Spartan Media, explains: “[Public relations] focuses on getting real humans who work at legitimate, authoritative publications genuinely interested in and talking about your story. It’s about truly adding value, which in turn tends to generate inbound links, as opposed to simply producing garbage links on websites that no one visits.” To catch an eye of a journalist, you’ll want to highlight a newsworthy activity. Maybe you’re partnering with a charity to donate funds, or you’re releasing groundbreaking research that supports your brand. You can generate buzz by writing a press release and initiating a social media campaign with a unique hashtag.   2. Guest Blogging Content writing is another way to obtain backlinks for your website. Through guest blogging, you can become a thought leader in your industry as well as maximize your SEO potential. Guest blogging involves crafting content for non-competitive sites with similar audiences. You’ll gain powerful relationships and site traffic. When guest blogging, it’s key for you to follow the rules described by the specific website. Below is an example from Mention, a social media monitoring tool. You’ll also want to choose a topic that will resonate with readers. If possible, tell a narrative about a recent experience, spotlight a customer story with humor, or even grab people’s attention with stunning statistics. Guest blogging is a perfect time to add your expertise to a larger conversation. You should aim to satisfy the publication and its readers.   3. Influencer Outreach You’re only as good as the community around you. To upgrade your circle and earn inbound links, influencer outreach offers a step in the right direction. Influencers are individuals who shape consumer buying habits. They can persuade people to visit websites, try products, and join social communities. For businesses, this engagement transforms into a huge benefit. Michael Quoc, founder and CEO of Dealspotr, gives his insight: “When your business engages with a new social audience, it unlocks the potential for more followers and engagement. This can lead to more site traffic, backlinks, and other factors that improve SEO.” Do your research when selecting influencers. It’s important that their values match your brand and their audience possess some interest in your products. Influencer partnerships will build your brand reputation faster. Plus, it gives bloggers another reason to link back to your website.   Focus on SEO Knowing when and how to apply on-site and off-site SEO strategies matters. Each type holds a different solution for your website to attract more visitors. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Do You Need Insurance for Your Side Hustle?

The post Do You Need Insurance for Your Side Hustle? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Congratulations! You finally decided to start your side hustle.  You’ve done your research to determine which side hustle is best for you. You’ve set your side hustle goals. You may have even already started building a website for your side hustle. This is fabulous news, and, hopefully, things have been smooth sailing so far.  Now it’s time to delve a little deeper and make sure your business has covered its backside.  In other words, it’s time to learn whether or not you need insurance for your side hustle. To help bring you up to speed, here are the side gig insurance essentials. Why Do You Need Insurance for Your Side Hustle? Owning your own business is beneficial for several reasons. You get to set your own schedule, work remotely, go on vacation when you want, be your own boss, and charge your customers what you want. But, there are some downfalls to owning your own business—namely, you don’t have a group insurance policy subsidized by your employer. Similarly, your personal home and auto insurance don’t cover work-related claims. This means if you run a business that is susceptible to a lawsuit, property loss, and/or business interruption, you need insurance. Seeking out insurance for your side gig will protect you from financial ruin in the event of an incident, accident, or lawsuit. How Do You Know If You Need Insurance for Your Side Hustle? Not every side business is the same, so not every business owner will need the same type of insurance. In fact, some business owners won’t need insurance at all. Whether or not you need insurance (and how much insurance you need) is based upon your risk factor. If your side hustle has a high risk factor, you need insurance. If your side gig has low or no risk involved, then you only need a small policy or may not even need insurance. Here are some things to consider to determine risk: Do you run a side gig where someone could get hurt (bitten by a dog, victim of a car accident, experience an allergic reaction to one of your products)?Do customers come to your place of business?Do you go to customers’ homes?Do you work with the elderly, children or animals?Do you handle any sensitive information or process credit cards?Do you use a car to travel to and from business engagements?Do you use valuable equipment that could get destroyed in an accident? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you have a higher risk profile. Take the time to consult with an independent insurance agent about insurance options.  If you answered no to all of these questions, then your risk profile is lower. This doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from insurance. It could mean you only need a small policy. What Kind of Side Gig Insurance Do I Need? Each side gig is different which means the types of policies different business owners need will vary greatly. Here is a quick review of the different types of policies you may need. After reviewing each policy, you’ll have a better understanding of whether or not your business needs the respective type of insurance. Business Owner’s Policy A business owner’s policy is a packaged policy that covers all of the basics. This includes things like vehicle, property, crime insurance, liability, and more. An insurance agent will help you create a policy that is specific to you and your business. This is the most common type of business policy and a good option for every business owner to research. If you are at higher risk for certain aspects of this bundled policy, you can get a separate and more comprehensive policy. These policies include: Professional Liability Insurance – This policy covers claims due to negligence or accidents such as bodily injury or property damage to a third-party. Crime Insurance – If you need property protection from fraud and theft, this is the insurance for you.Property Insurance – Property insurance protects your own business from natural disasters, fire, storms, theft, etc.Vehicle Insurance –  If you use a car strictly for business, you need a separate business policy. These types of policies will protect your business and your personal assets in the event of damage or a lawsuit. Personal and Advertising Injury No one likes to be accused of libel, privacy invasion, copyright infringement, slander, etc. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens. If you are sued for any of these offences, a personal and advertising injury policy will cover you. Product Liability Insurance Do you make or sell a product? If so, you should look into a product liability insurance policy. This protects you in the event of a lawsuit resulting from a customer getting injured by your product. Since every business is so different, you can work with your insurance agent to customize your policy to your business. Workers’ Compensation Do you employ at least one other individual? If so, you need a worker’s compensation policy. This type of insurance protects you from lawsuits that result from injuries on the job. Keep in mind most states require workers’ compensation for any W2 employees. Cyber Liability Insurance If you store any sensitive, personal or financial information on your computer, then you need a cyber liability insurance policy. This will help you cover the costs related to any potential breach in security. Accounts Receivable One of the biggest risks when starting a side gig is the risk of clients not paying you. If you send invoices to clients, look into an accounts receivable policy. This will cover you financially when clients don’t pay up. The policies mentioned above are among the most popular types of insurance side hustlers should research. Insuring Your Side Hustle for Success Starting a side hustle is the perfect way to make extra money. If you have already researched your side hustle and settled on your business idea, it’s time for the next two most important steps.  First, make sure to set up your website with our easy to use, drag-and-drop Gator website builder. Then, take the time to protect your business and personal assets by looking into insurance. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Tips for Launching Your First Email Marketing Campaign

The post 5 Tips for Launching Your First Email Marketing Campaign appeared first on HostGator Blog. Email marketing is far from dead. In terms of return on investment, it still holds up as a viable campaign element. The trick is to know how to use this resource to its best advantage.  Even in a world with so many options for electronic communication, email remains an affordable and effective way to connect with consumers. But the most important bit is to make sure your emails go to the right people – qualified leads and prospects.  If this is your first campaign, don’t feel overwhelmed. With a little help, you can create a plan that’s effective and brings the positive attention that you want. Here are some tips to get started.  What’s a Qualified List Anyway? The last thing you want to do is buy a list, blast out emails, and hope for the best. If you want reasonable results, that list must be qualified. What does that mean? A ”qualified” email list has email addresses of those who have expressed interest in the types of goods or services that your company sells. Those addresses may be individual consumers, buyers for other companies, department heads, or anyone else with the authority to make purchases. The tie that binds them together is they have indicated the desire to receive emails related to products they want.  How do you come up with a qualified list? One approach is to have consumers opt in to receive your emails. That often provides a list’s foundation.  Don’t overlook generating qualified recipients by using your social media accounts. A simple post that includes a link back to the opt-in page on your website allows interested parties to sign up. Combined, the list will be composed of recipients who are more likely to open and read the email than hit the delete key.  Now that you know who you’re emailing, it’s time to launch your first email campaign.  Here are the 5 tips for launching your first email campaign… 1. Create emails with a specific purpose or offer. Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hub/53/file-23119214-png/blog/images/email_list_growth_tactics-resized-600.png If you’re serious about mounting an effective campaign, the email text must focus on engaging the recipients in a specific way. Offer them something in exchange for reading the email. Make a compelling case for accepting the offer.  Some of the offerings you could make include:  Notice and ability to register for an upcoming event Signing up for an email newsletter Discounts on specific goods and services Announcements of new products Can you include more than one offering? Yes, but it isn’t always the best move. One of the offers might be lost in the shuffle. You would do well to stick with one purpose for that email and follow up with a second one that contains a different offer a few days later.  Remember that your content must not contain any element that hints of a scam. Be up front and clear from start to finish. You’ll get more readers that way.  2. Write an eye-catching subject line. Remember the old axiom that was at the core of Toastmasters International training? It works with email campaigns too. The “Three S” approach – stand up, speak up, and shut up – translates well into this type of campaign.  Use the subject line to make a point or ask a question. Follow with information the recipient can use in the first paragraph. Follow with content that backs up that information. Close with a way to learn more by clicking over to your website.  That’s it. Forget about flowery phrases or trying to impress readers with a wall of text. Keep it simple and to the point. More people will read the whole thing and be inspired to ask for more.  3. Choose images and videos directly related to the email topic. It’s fine to include images or embed video in your marketing emails. Just make sure they accomplish more than taking up space.  The images must directly relate to the email topic. Unless you’re selling a new pet product, kittens are not good choices. Use an image that shows the product or at least someone using it. That creates context.  The same is true with video. Make it short, sweet, and relevant. No one has time to watch a video as long as a TV show. Use the video to make a quick point and direct the reader to the product. Do it in less than three minutes. 4. Don’t hit “send” 500 times. In the beginning, your email list may contain ten people. Maybe less. At that level, it’s no big deal to put them all on BCC using your regular email address and service and send it out. Once you have hundreds, or even thousands of names on the list, the technical aspect of simply emailing them all get complicated. Your standard Gmail account will likely be exhibiting symptoms of stress thanks to Google’s new AI spam filters. Most web hosts help newbie email marketers take the next step in technical sophistication by offering email services like autoresponders, multiple email boxes for your domain, web mail, and other handy features for a marketer. A reputable service should fully abide by GDPR data privacy requirements. Most hands-on HostGator reviews explain how to set up email in a GDPR-compliant manner, as does the HG knowledge base. As your list grows, it will eventually become too unwieldy to manage even with a web host’s resources. At that point, it’s time to look into a full-fledged email marketing service like Constant Contact.       5. Use the email format that works best for your audience. Source: https://ucarecdn.com/900cb335-6b86-4a87-a06e-54975362273f~7/nth/5/ HTML is pretty. It works a lot of the time. It may work for you. Then again, it may not.  Think about your target audience. Are they more likely to open the email on a phone or a laptop? Will the HTML slow down the load time and motivate the reader to close and delete the email? Will it add anything of value to the email itself?  Only you can answer those questions, and a lot depends on the quality of the underlying code. As you decide, be aware that poorly-executed HTML increases the odds that readers will delete the email before finishing it. That also means they won’t forward it to their associates.  The bottom line… Expect to be horrified by the perceived complexity when you first dig into the idea of email marketing. It can be overwhelming but only if you’re a rank newbie and try to implement every tool and strategy at once.  Start simple. Create a landing page, drive traffic to it, collect email addresses, and send the list emails periodically. Lots of online marketers have been very successful doing nothing more than this. Later you can figure out autoresponder sequences, list segmentation, and conversion techniques. For now, take the first step. Choose one of those email marketing services we mentioned up there and take action.  Many have a free level or trial period. Ultimately, the only thing standing between you and your first email marketing campaign is inaction. Change that by taking action now. Good luck!    Find the post on the HostGator Blog

The Right Way to Tag Your Blog Posts

The post The Right Way to Tag Your Blog Posts appeared first on HostGator Blog. It’s easy to overlook the humble post tag when you’re setting up your blog. But tags are worth a second look and then some. These little labels can deliver a lot of value when you know what they do and how to use them wisely. Tags on your blog posts can make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for. They can help search engine crawlers understand the content that’s on your site. And tags can help you organize, update, and repackage your archived posts. With the right tracking tools, your tags can even show you which direction your new content should take. What a Blog Post Tag Is—and Isn’t Tags are similar to a lot of other site elements, and it can get confusing. Let’s start by clearing up what a tag is and is not. First, blog post tags are not hashtags. They have similar functions, but hashtags work across an entire platform, which is why you get results from about a million different accounts when you search for #puppies on Instagram. Post tags work within your site, so clicking the puppies tag will return only your posts about wee puppers. Post tags also aren’t the code snippets used to track marketing campaigns with Google Tag Manager. Two totally different things. Post Tags Complement Categories Tags are optional, but WordPress automatically sorts blog posts into categories. If you don’t set up your own categories and use them, your content will be “uncategorized.” That’s not helpful for your readers, you, search crawlers, or people using search engines to find the topics you write about. So please, use your categories. Some bloggers don’t tag their posts because they feel like categories take care of all their sorting needs. That can work if you have a small blog that you don’t update that often, but the more content you have, and the more varied your topics are, the more useful tags will be. Here’s why: Categories sort your posts into a top-level groups that provide a general outline of your content. For example, baking blog categories might be cakes, pies, cookies, and brownies. But you can tag posts in any of those categories with specific labels like Christmas, gluten-free, and so on, so readers can find all your Christmas or gluten free recipes in one tag search. Category and tag management menus in WordPress Post Tags and Meta Descriptions Have Different Jobs Meta keywords show up in a search results snippet for your post, and they get scanned by search engine robots. They can share some of the same words you use in your post tags, but tagging your posts doesn’t automatically generate meta descriptions. You need to enter them in the meta description box for your post. 4 Ways Post Tags Make Your Blog Better 1. Tags can help your SEO. Before you start freestyling your tag names, check out your Google Search Console data to see what keywords people are using to find your blog. By tagging with keywords, you help search engine bots find and categorize your posts. That helps new readers find your blog more easily. 2. Tags make a big blog more manageable and appealing to readers. Consider the tags on a TechCrunch post about robot food delivery. TechCrunch has been around for more than a decade, so they’ve got a huge archive. But they limit the tags to a few relevant labels. Seven of these tags lead to lists of related content that readers can scroll through. The Berkeley SkyDeck tag only applies to the Kiwi story for now. But as the startup accelerator gets more coverage, that tag may appear on more posts. You’ll notice one tag that’s not on this post is food delivery. Even though it’s central to the story, most TechCrunch readers are not there for food delivery stories. Their focus is tech. So keep your tags tied to what your readers are looking for. Resist the urge to toss in oddball tags, because you’ll end up with a bunch of one-off tags that make your site navigation harder instead of easier and don’t help your SEO. 3. Tags relate your blog posts to one another. Once you have a few posts with the same tag, you’ve got a little niche within your content that readers can explore. Behind the scenes, you can also use your tags to find related blog posts you might want to link to in new posts. You can do this manually or you can use a WordPress blog plugin that will automatically surface related posts for you. Once you have a few posts with the same tag, you’ve got a little niche within your content that readers can explore. Behind the scenes, you can also use your tags to find related blog posts you might want to link to in new posts. You can do this manually or you can use a WordPress blog plugin that will automatically surface related posts for you. You can review your tags to see if it’s time to put together a mega-post that updates and combines related content from several different posts in your archive. Tags can also help you pull together material for an eBook quickly. 4. Tags can show you which blog topics your readers like most. You can track metrics for your tags, and even your categories, but you’ll have to do a couple of workarounds for Google analytics to make it happen. One option is to create custom dimensions for your tags and categories in your analytics dashboard. If you do this yourself, you’ll also have to modify your tracking code, too. If you’d rather not mess with your tracking codes, you can use a plugin to set up your custom dimensions. The MonsterInsights Pro plugin has an add-on for exactly this purpose. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics also lets you set up custom dimensions for tags and some other post elements. Ready to set up your blog and start tagging your posts? Get started with HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Boost SEO on Your WordPress Website [In 15 Steps]

The post How to Boost SEO on Your WordPress Website [In 15 Steps] appeared first on HostGator Blog. No matter how much work you put into making your WordPress website look good, it won’t pay off if you can’t get people to show up. The internet is packed full of websites vying for attention. For people to find yours, you have to put some effort into getting them there. A top tactic for doing that is search engine optimization (SEO).  SEO offers a number of important benefits: It improves your website’s visibility.It makes it easy for people already looking for what you do to find you. It increases traffic.It’s affordable.Once achieved, SEO results are long-lasting. SEO isn’t your only option for getting more eyes on your WordPress website, but it’s one of the best places to start.  15 Steps to Improving WordPress SEO SEO is competitive and can take a lot of time to do well. But many of the most important steps for WordPress SEO are actually fairly simple. Some of these you can even get done today, while for some others you’ll want to create an SEO plan to implement over the coming weeks and months.  1. Make sure you have the right hosting provider and plan. Search engine algorithms—the complex code that determines which order websites show up in when you do a search—aim to prioritize websites that provide the best experience to visitors. Now think about how you feel when you click on a website and it takes forever for the page to load.  In the fast-moving world of the high-speed internet, “forever” can actually just mean a few seconds, but that’s long enough for waiting to feel like a nuisance. Search engines are well aware of how people feel about slow loading times, so site speed is a ranking factor they’re upfront about. For your website to load quickly, choosing the right web hosting provider and plan is paramount. If your website isn’t delivering the level of speed you need, consider if it’s time for either an upgrade or a switch to an all new web hosting company. Look for one that offers managed WordPress hosting and can promise reliable service and site speed.  2. Install an SEO plugin. Choosing WordPress for your website means you don’t have to deal with HTML when making updates (thank goodness). In its place, you need to find the right plugins that provide the substitute functionality you need. Some SEO steps that you’d otherwise use HTML for can be completed via an intuitive interface with the right plugin. Some popular options include: YoastAll in One SEO PackSmartCrawl SEOThe SEO Framework Many of the next steps on our list are much easier to complete with a good WordPress SEO plugin.  3. Create a sitemap. For a page on your website to show up in a search, the search engine has to first know it’s there. The search engines have bots that continually crawl the web to find and index web pages.   You can speed up the process of getting all the pages on your website indexed by creating and submitting a sitemap. All of the plugins shared above have features to help with this step. Use the plugin of your choice to generate a sitemap for your WordPress site, then submit it to each of the main search engines.  4. Do keyword research. Keywords are the cornerstone of an SEO strategy. You don’t want to show up in the search engines for just any search, you want your website to show up when people are looking for what you do. When you optimize a web page for search, you’re optimizing it for a specific keyword. To determine which keywords to base your strategy on, use free keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Answer the Public, or paid tools like Moz and SEMRush to gain data on the terms your audience is using in search. You want to identify keywords that get a decent number of monthly searches, but aren’t too competitive to rank for. For new websites and small businesses long-tail keywords—terms that are specific and tend to be longer—are usually your best bet.  5. Choose a primary keyword for each page. When you have a strong list of keywords to target, figure out the best primary keyword for each page on your website, along with a secondary keyword or two. Every page should have a different primary keyword so you aren’t competing with yourself for search engine rankings. Selecting your keyword is necessary for the next several steps. 6. Customize all your URLs. When you create a new page in WordPress, it will automatically generate a URL for it—but one that provides no useful information. It will look something like this: The URL is part of the page search engines look at to learn what the page is about. Not only is a generic URL like that not useful to your visitors, who will never remember it, it also doesn’t communicate anything to Google about what’s on the page.  Your SEO plugin should provide a field for you to customize the URL of each page, or it may even automatically generate a URL based on the page title you enter. Make sure to fill in a URL that uses your primary keyword and relates to what’s on the page.  7. Write a relevant meta description for each page. Meta descriptions don’t have an effect on a web page’s rankings, but they’re still important because they often show up on the search engine results page when you rank for a term.  The meta description is your opportunity to get someone to choose your website out of all the options that appear. Use the brief space you have here (around 155 characters) to make a case for why someone should click. And be sure to include your primary keyword. If your page starts showing up in the results when someone searches for your keyword, it will be bolded in the meta description (as in the example above), drawing more attention.  8. Use headings strategically. Another part of the page the algorithms look at to understand what it’s about is the headings you use. With HTML, you would add headings to the page using the <h2>, <h3>, and <h4> tags.  Within WordPress though, you can select a heading each time you add a text block to the page.  Headings are useful for separating the page into different sections that make it easier for your readers to skim. In terms of SEO, they give you more options to include your keywords—but you should only do so if including your keyword in a heading also makes sense for your human readers.  9. Optimize your images for search. Search engine algorithms can’t see images, but there are a few parts of an image file that they can read. That includes: The image filenameThe alt tagThe captionThe description You can fill in these sections easily in WordPress each time you add a new image to your media library, allowing you to optimize your WordPress images for SEO. Look for the Attachment Details section on the right side of the screen.  Each of these fields is another opportunity to communicate something about your web page to the search engines. Fill in this information for every image you add to your website, including your keyword where relevant. Most of these sections won’t be visible to your average visitor, but the caption will, so make sure anything you add there is useful to your human visitors. 10.  Optimize your images for speed. We already established how important speed is for SEO. Even with the right web hosting plan, if you add a lot of large, high-resolution images to your website, they can slow your page loading time. But there are a number of tips to make your images load faster, while still looking good.  Here are a few suggestions for optimizing your images for speed: Save your images as .jpg rather than .png so they’re smallerCompress your images with a compression plugin. Set up lazy load. Another option a plugin can help with.   11.  Create a blogging strategy. Blogging is good for SEO because it keeps your website current and fresh, and gives you lots of opportunities to rank for different relevant keywords. And WordPress is well designed for hosting a blog on your website.  Use your keyword research as a starting point to create a blogging strategy that targets relevant terms your audience is searching for. Create an editorial calendar to keep you consistent in your blogging and strive to make sure each piece you publish: Is useful to the readers you most want to reachIs relevant in some way to the main thing your website offers, be it products, services, or a certain type of informationIs written in a web-friendly format. That means lots of white space, short paragraphs, sections separated by headings, and bullets or numbered lists where appropriate (kind of like this one)Is optimized for search (that just means following all the rules in this post) Blog posts are a good way to increase your website’s visibility and gain the attention and trust of the category of people you want to reach.  12.  Practice internal linking. An internal link is any link on a web page that points to another page on your own website. Internal links are useful for SEO because, by showing Google which pages are related to each other, it’s yet another signal about what your page is about. And with internal links, you have the power to choose the anchor text you use—e.g. the words that are hyperlinked (those that usually show up in blue and underlined). The more context clues you give the algorithms, the better a job they do of understanding what terms your page should link for. Internal links are also a way to spread link authority around your website. When you add an internal link to a popular page that ranks well now, it makes the linked page look a little more valuable in the eyes of Google.  13.  Build backlinks. Internal links are nice, but backlinks are where your web pages start to really gain points with the algorithms. A backlink is any link to a page on your website from another website. Every backlink from a well respected, relevant website works as an endorsement for your website. Google sees it as confirmation that what’s on the page is valuable. The more high-quality backlinks a website earns, the more SEO authority the website will have. More authority = higher search results.  Link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO, but once you have all the on-site optimization covered (which is the category everything else on this list falls under), it’s the most important step for boosting SEO on your WordPress website.   14.  Learn from your analytics. This list covers all the best practices for improving SEO for your WordPress website, but the details of what will work best will depend on your particular website and audience. You can use a plugin like the Google Analyticator to put some of your most important analytics front-and-center in your WordPress dashboard to easily track how much traffic you get, and which pages are the most popular.  Supplement that information by digging deeper in Google Analytics. And if it’s in your budget, you can gain even more in-depth information with SEO tools like Moz or Ahrefs that provide rankings data. Analyze that data as you go and learn what types of pages and content you create perform best in the search engines. Then apply what you learn to your strategy moving forward.  15.  Perform regular content audits. Creating new content for SEO takes a lot of time and energy. Make that work go further by performing a content audit at least once a year to find opportunities to make your old content stronger. High-performing pieces can be updated to make them more current and keep them strong. Low-performing pieces can either be scrapped or improved based on the insights you’ve learned from your analytics.  Don’t publish and forget. Treat the content you have as a living thing—it should evolve and grow over time to strengthen your business and become ever more useful to your audience.  Build Your WordPress SEO on a Strong Foundation  For everything on this list to pay off, your website has to work consistently and load fast. For that, you need a web hosting plan that provides nearly constant uptime and promises the highest level of performance. HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting plan delivers.  It’s compatible with all WordPress websites, delivers fast loading times, and has a 99.99% uptime guarantee or your money back. Start your WordPress website stronger with the right web hosting plan.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Ways to Improve Your Site Speed in WordPress

The post 7 Ways to Improve Your Site Speed in WordPress appeared first on HostGator Blog. For the past several years, Google has been emphasizing site speed as a ranking factor in their algorithms. Given that, it’s amazing to see the number of under-optimized WordPress sites that exist. People spend so much time on “SEO” and content generation, and they forget to do the one thing that will increase the ranking of all their pages. Well, it’s never too late to get started. Here are seven ways to improve your site speed in WordPress. These will make Google sit up and take notice! These are listed in order of importance. Method 1: Use a Datacenter Closest to Your Clients The location of your server plays a big role in your site speed. For example, if your clients are based in the US, then HostGator is an ideal web host, since we have two data centers in the country – one in Texas, and one in Utah. You can view the speed with which your site is fetched by the Googlebot in your search console. Ideally, this should be just a few hundred milliseconds. When I switched my server to a local host, you can see how fast my site fetch speed went down: So don’t ignore this aspect of site speed. It’s crucial! Method 2: Implement Dynamic Caching WordPress generates its pages afresh each time a visitor comes to your site. This is quite a costly process and puts a strain on your database as well as your CPU. In addition, page generation takes time, so there’s a small delay for each visitor. The solution to this is dynamic caching. What is Dynamic Caching? The idea behind dynamic caching is to save a copy of the generated page and serve that copy to the next visitor. This way, each page is generated just once instead of over and over again. Not only is this faster, it reduces the resource load on your server, which means other parts of your site will work faster. It also means that your site can handle many, many more visitors! How to Implement Dynamic Caching on HostGator Dynamic caching can be implemented either with a 3rd party plugin or on the server. Having it enabled on the server is much faster. Not many web hosts allow this, but HostGator offers server caching on their WordPress plans as shown here on the product page: So if you use managed WordPress hosting with HostGator, just turn on the feature and you’re good to go! Here’s a complete review of HostGator WordPress, including all the special features! But even if you don’t have WordPress optimized hosting, you can implement dynamic caching with a plugin. I personally recommend WP Super Cache, which is an extremely popular WordPress plugin, is easy to use, and will get the job done without hassles. Method 3: Use a CDN A CDN is a “Content Distribution Network”. Apart from dynamic pages, there are lots of things on your site that never change. Images, Javascript, and CSS. Well…almost never change. Because of this, it’s best to deliver these resources from a server closest to your client. A CDN looks at the IP address of your visitor and chooses to send static content from a server closest to that location. Which means that people on opposite ends of the earth will receive the content equally fast. It’s really quite a magical technology. As before if you have WordPress hosting with HostGator, a CDN is available by default. But even without such a plan, you can use Cloudflare as your CDN. Despite it being free, I think Cloudflare is one of the best CDNs on the market. HostGator has a tie-up with Cloudflare, which allows for easy integration. You can even do cool stuff like changing your nameservers for faster access. But that’s beyond the scope of this tutorial. Method 4: Deferring or Asyncing JavaScript This one can be a bit tricky. Almost all websites use JavaScript. It’s an essential part of the web, but this adds to the page load time. The key is to wait until the page has fully loaded and is visible before loading JavaScript. It’s easier said than done, and each website works differently. Which is why we need a plugin. The one I recommend is Autoptimize. It’s open source and is almost universally recommended by WordPress gurus. After downloading and installing the plugin on WordPress, you can click the button to aggregate and asynchronously load JavaScript as shown here: The plugin has many options. Make sure to test them all so that your website’s features work properly. Stuff like resizing tables etc are all enabled by Javascript. Method 5: Inlining and Deferring CSS The CSS counterpart to method 4, this refers to delaying the loading of CSS files until the page has downloaded and displayed. However, there’s a catch. If we delay the loading of CSS, our page will look horrible and unstyled, since the CSS files are missing! The solution is called “Inlining” above-the-fold CSS. What this means is that you need to isolate the CSS rules that apply to all visible elements when your page first loads. And then paste those rules directly into every page so that they’re loaded instantly. Once your page has rendered, you can then load the CSS files at your leisure. So how do we do this? Get the Critical CSS This is pretty hard to do manually. So we’re lucky that automatic online tools exist to do it for us! For example, here’s an online tool from SiteLocity that’s quite popular. Simply type in your URL, and it’ll generate the critical above-the-fold CSS for you. Copy the rules that it gives you and use it in the next step. Insert the CSS Inline In method 4, we used the tool “Autoptimize”. Just like before, there is a section in the main settings area to enter your critical CSS as shown here: As shown above, paste the CSS into the box and save your changes. Now when you load your page, all the important CSS will be downloaded immediately, but the external files will be served later when the page has fully loaded. This makes your site blazing fast! Method 6: Lazy Load your Images Images constitute the bulk of a web page’s size. And not surprising, since a single image can be hundreds of MB. So it’s important to only load those images when necessary. “Lazy Loading” is the practice of downloading images only when the user has scrolled far enough to view them. Otherwise, if you have an image way down the article, and the user leaves the page before that, it’s wasted bandwidth both for you as well as the visitor. And it means your site slowed down unnecessarily. Lazy loading is yet another feature that’s difficult to implement manually. Luckily for us, WordPress themselves have released a plugin called Jetpack. I highly recommend using it, since it has a ton of useful features that you can play around with, and lazy loading of images is one of them as shown here: It’s just a single setting! Enable it and you’re done. Now when you visit your page, the images won’t be downloaded until you’re far enough down to see them. In which case, they’ll appear by magic as your user scrolls. Neat right? Method 7: Removing Unnecessary Emoji Code I didn’t notice this myself until I combed through my HTML code. WordPress adds a whole lot of junk useless emoji code to every page in order to render smiley faces and emojis. It’s a useful feature, but it’s a lot of wasted code, and it’s loaded every single time. Luckily, the Autoptimize plugin that we saw earlier has a way to remove them in the “Extra” tab as shown here: Click this option, save your changes, and you’re done! No more emoji code. The idea is to keep your WordPress installation neat and clean, without any unnecessary junk. These seven methods outlined here are a mix of server level and page level optimizations. Together, they should put your site on a fast track to higher rankings, and better experiences for your visitors. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Hackers Can Use Your Expired Domains to Steal Data

The post How Hackers Can Use Your Expired Domains to Steal Data appeared first on HostGator Blog. When businesses and blogs rename or merge, old domains sometimes get left behind. Security researchers say expired domains can put data at risk. Scammers may set up fake shops on expired domains and use them to steal credit card data from unwary bargain hunters. Or they may target email accounts linked to the domain to scam clients, steal company secrets and break into employees’ shopping and travel accounts. Prevention is as easy as renewing and protecting all your domains—but that’s not always simple, especially if you own a lot of domains. Here’s what you need to know about your risks when a domain expires and how to keep yours current. What Happens When Domains Expire? The first thing you need to know is that when domains expire, they’re available to anyone who wants to pay to register them. They’re also easy to find online, through sites that offer expired domain name searches and lists of recently expired domains to bid on. Some buyers buy expired domains for legitimate projects. Others are not so ethical. Your expired domain could end up as a fake online store Criminal gangs snap up expired domains to turn them into phishing sites. That damages the brands that lose their domains, the brands impersonated by the scammers, and shoppers who fall for the scam.  Security blogger Brian Krebs profiled a photographer whose old portfolio domain was turned into a fake athletic shoe store after her registration lapsed. Thieves used it to steal credit card data for resale on the dark web. For the photographer, the damage went beyond the loss of her website. She had no way to access social media accounts that were linked to her domain email address, because the scammers changed her passwords. Now the domain that used to host her portfolio redirects to the official adidas website, after adidas and Reebok sued the scammers who exploited her expired domain along with hundreds of others.  Your expired domain could let data thieves into your business Last year, security researchers with Australian cybersecurity firm Iron Bastion proved that registering abandoned business and law firm domains could give criminals access to insider data. By setting up a catch-all email forwarding service for domains they re-register, criminals can access confidential client data and emails. They can run scams using this information or sell it on the dark web. They can also take over former employees’ social media, banking, and professional accounts by changing the passwords linked to the old domain’s email addresses.  What should you do with domains you don’t use anymore? Security experts say the best way to safeguard your old domains is to keep renewing them, even if you’re not currently using them. Then you should close the email accounts associated with those domains and unlink those email accounts from alerts sent by banks, airlines, and other services that handle sensitive (and valuable) information. If you must let your old domains go, you’ll need to be thorough about updating any online accounts you and your employees set up using old domain email addresses. Then you’ll need to close those email accounts. In either case, it’s wise to let your customers and vendors know about your change of email address. Give them some advance notice, ask them to whitelist your new email address, and then ask them to delete the old address when you’ve closed that account.  For any email account on any domain, it’s always a good idea to set up two-factor authentication (2FA). By requiring a code from an SMS message or an authenticator app, you reduce the risk of someone maliciously changing your password on your email account and other accounts you set up with your email address.  And speaking of passwords, don’t make it easy for hackers to guess or brute-force yours. Every email address on your domains should have a strong password that’s not used for any other accounts.  How can you keep all your domains current and safe? Follow these recommendations from domain security experts to keep your domains in your possession. Give your domain registrations fewer chances to lapse. Start by registering or renewing for the longest amount of time you can, like three years instead of one. Then set your registrations to auto-renew.  Keep your registration information up to date. Update your domain registration accounts when your email address, phone number, or other contact information changes. Changed credit cards or online payment services? Make sure you change your domain payment information, or your auto-renewals will fail. Keep your registration information private. Domain privacy protection costs a few dollars a year, and it’s worth it. If you add domain privacy when you register your domain, your registrar’s contact information is listed in the WHOIS public database. Without domain privacy, your name, email address, and other personal data are on display. That can put you at risk for spam, scams, and harassment.  Lock your domains. Domains must be unlocked when you’re transferring them to a new host. Otherwise, lock them to keep scammers from transferring them to a different web host without your consent.  In HostGator’s Customer Portal, you can lock your domains for free. Navigate to Domains in the left sidebar. Under Manage Domains, you have the option to lock all your domains at once. You can also click the More button for any of your domains to lock one at a time. Under Domain Overview, click the Change link next to Locking. That takes you to Domain Locking. Then you just move the switch to Locking ON and click Save Domain Locking. Now your domain is protected against theft by unauthorized transfer. And with auto-renew in place and good cybersecurity practices, your domains are safe from expiration and exploitation. Ready for a new domain? HostGator now offers new customers a year of free domain registration with selected hosting packages and top-level domains. Sign up for 12 or more months of hosting, register a .com, .net, or .org top-level domain, and get the first year’s domain registration for free. See complete offer details here.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

10 Ways to Boost Online Store Sales with Wishlists

The post 10 Ways to Boost Online Store Sales with Wishlists appeared first on HostGator Blog. Adding wishlist functions to your online store can help turn more window-shoppers into paying customers, if you make your wishlist visible and easy to use—and maybe don’t call it a wishlist. Here’s how to choose your wishlist tools, put them in the right places on your site, and make the most of the marketing opportunities wishlists deliver. 10 Steps to Wishlists That Work Why do wishlists work for online stores? Saving items for later reduces cart abandonment, and it makes it easy for your shoppers to pick up where they left off later, even on another device. Shareable wishlists can also reach new customers who are shopping for gifts or want to copy a social media influencer’s style. Follow these steps to boost sales for your online store with wishlists. 1. Choose your wishlist plugin The best wishlist plugins make it easy for your customers to use them. Look for guest wishlist options, social shareability, privacy options for individual wishlists, and easy to use admin tools that show you which products are the most wished-for. Two of the best-rated options for stores that run on WordPress with WooCommerce are WooCommerce’s own Wishlists plugin and YITH WooCommerce Wishlist. Both cost $79 for a one-year, single-site subscription. YITH also offers a pared-down free version. 2. Decide what to call your wishlists Wishlist—as in, “add to wishlist” may seem like the obvious term to use in your store. But UX-research group Nielsen Norman Group has found that some shoppers feel “greedy” about adding things to a list to share with others. NNG recommends alternatives like Favorites or My List. 3. Choose where to put wishlist tools on your site There should be an add to wishlist (or favorites or my list) button on every product page. Google’s Retail UX Playbook lists wishlist-related calls to action on product pages to reduce friction for shoppers who are browsing or who want to complete their purchase later, on another device. You can also add a wishlist button—usually a heart—to product photos on your category pages. West Elm does this, and lets shoppers start marking favorites without signing in or creating an account first. Shoppers can review their My Favorites Gallery and sign in if they want to save those items for later. It’s also a good idea to make wishlists visible and easy to access from the shopping cart and during checkout, to encourage shoppers to add items from their lists. 4. Customize your store’s wishlist tools You should be able to customize your wishlist buttons, colors, messages, and more to blend in with your site design. You may also have the option to require that shoppers register in order to make a wishlist, although NNG recommends against that because it adds friction to the shopping experience. You may also be able to customize the sharing options you want your store’s wishlists to support. Make it as easy as possible for shoppers to share their lists, especially on social media. One study found that online stores without “clear social sharing options” consistently miss out on potential sales.   5. Preview and test your store’s wishlist features Navigate through your store the way shoppers do and add things to test wishlists to make sure that everything looks and works the way you want it to. Preview the new setup on different devices and pay special attention to how your customizations look on mobile phones. And follow our recommendations for other UX testing best practices. 6. Activate your new wishlist capabilities Make your wishlist functions live, let your shoppers know they can make wishlists, and then listen for their feedback. You may need to tweak things as customers start building and sharing their lists. Wishlist implementation done, right? You’re just getting started. You’ll get much more value from your store’s wishlists if you go beyond relying on customers to keep and share their lists. The next steps are all about making the most of the marketing opportunities wishlists give you. 7. Use wishlist data in your marketing campaigns Use your wishlist admin dashboard to make your marketing more effective. You’ll see how often list owners post. You can see which products are on the most wishlists and promote them. You can personalize email offers to customers based on specific items on their lists. And you can create holiday promotions that offer deals on users’ wishlist items and incentives for sharing lists. You can also send personalized offers of similar items at different price points, along with cross-sell offers. For example, if a customer has a pair of jeans on her list, you can offer cheaper and more expensive jeans from the same brand. You can also offer tops, belts, and shoes that would look good with her wishlist jeans. 8. Test your wishlist-based marketing efforts We’ve talked before on the blog about A/B testing for email marketing, and your wishlist marketing messages should get A/B tested, too. Sometimes the color or placement of a button or a small change to the wording of a subject line can make a significant difference in engagement and conversions. So, test early and often. 9. Monitor your wishlist metrics Over time, you’ll send trends emerge from you wishlist data. How many of your shoppers have wishlists? Is the number of lists rising or flat? Are your customers consistently sharing their lists, or do you need to promote sharing more heavily? Pay special attention to how users are sharing their lists. Is email or social their preferred channel? If it’s social, which platforms do they use the most, and which platforms generate the most traffic to your store from shared lists? This data will help you decide where to focus your marketing efforts. It can also flag areas where you may need to improve UX. For example, if you’re getting a lot of click-throughs from lists shared on Instagram but very few conversions, you need to examine that pathway to see if there are obstacles you can remove to increase sales. 10. Keep optimizing your wishlist program Consumer preferences, technology, and social network popularity are always evolving. That means you need to keep tabs on what’s trending in online retail, in addition to watching your marketing metrics and A/B test results. Keep listening to your customers, too. Any opinions or requests they share about your wishlists when they contact customer service or post on social media are data you can use to build a better wishlist program. Ready to start granting e-commerce wishes? Build your online store with HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Do I Need VPS Hosting?

The post Do I Need VPS Hosting? appeared first on HostGator Blog. When it comes to choosing the right kind of hosting packages for your website, you’re going to have a lot of different options to choose from. Not only do you have to find a quality hosting provider, but you have to decide between a multitude of hosting types as well. You’ll have a lot of things to consider: The hosting features that your site requiresThe scalability of your web hosting environmentThe level of server resources you requireIf your traffic levels are rising quicklyIf you require any unique server softwareAnd a lot more One of the most common forms of hosting you’ve come across in your search is VPS hosting. Below we breakdown what VPS hosting is, how it works, and the pros and cons, so you can decide if this style of hosting is going to be the best fit for your needs. By the end of this post you’ll be able to answer the question, “Do I need VPS hosting?” with a resounding yes or no.  What Is VPS Hosting? VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. That might give you a couple of clues as to what this type of hosting is all about. First, we’ll start on the “server” portion. A server is essentially a big computer that’s used to store website files. When you purchase any kind of web hosting you’re renting server space from a hosting company who runs hundreds or thousands of servers, known as a datacenter. When someone types the URL of your website into their browser, the browser will communicate with the server and display your website’s files. All of this happens in a fraction of a second. To understand the virtualized aspect of a virtual private server, let’s compare it to a few other forms of hosting packages. With shared hosting, you’re renting a portion of a server, which you split with other users. With dedicated hosting, you’re renting an entire physical server that’s entirely dedicated to your site. VPS hosting acts as a combination between the two. Your virtual server will pull from multiple different shared server environments, but it’s entirely private, so it operates similar to a dedicated server. You’ll have access to a greater level of server resources, improve website performance, higher levels of security, and a lot more. You’ll learn more about the advantages of VPS hosting below.  How Does VPS Hosting Work? As you learned above, the virtualization aspect of VPS is one of the biggest differentiating factors between VPS and other types of hosting. Instead of a physical server being divided up into tons of shared server environments, it’s broken down into a handful of virtual servers. So, yes you’re still technically sharing a physical server environment. But, there are much higher privacy protocols in place, so any other VPS hosting users will never affect your ist in any way. The virtualization aspect works to create a virtual dedicated server.  This gives your site advantages like: Better site performance. With a VPS server, you’ll have access to a guaranteed level of server resources, so you can always expect the same level of high performance. Higher security standards. Your server will be completely isolated from other websites, and you can implement stricter security firewalls and the like. Greater server customization and access. With a VPS server, you have direct root server access, with greater control over server OS, scripts, and more. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of VPS hosting. Pros of VPS Hosting For some website owners, VPS hosting will be their dream hosting setup. It offers your website a great blend of server performance, security, and control, all in an affordable server package.  Here are some of the biggest advantages to VPS hosting:  1. High Level of Server Resource Access With a VPS server, you’re guaranteed greater access to server resources. This means higher levels of storage, bandwidth, CPU, RAM, and more. Plus, access to the resources spelled out in your hosting plan is guaranteed. Sometimes, if you’re on a shared hosting plan you might notice a drop in site performance due to other sites on the same server. With VPS hosting this will never be the case. So, not only are the plan limits much larger. But, you’ll always have these resources available and dedicated to your site alone.  2. Greater Flexibility and Control When you choose VPS hosting, you’re giving yourself greater server access and customization options. Essentially, you’re less limited with VPS vs. shared hosting when it comes to what you can do with your server.  Using a VPS gives you more server customization options right out of the gate, plus the ability to customize your server down the road. For example, with most VPS hosts you’ll have a choice of operating system, as well as the type of software you’d like to install on your server. Most VPS plans will also give you SSH access, which is secure direct server access. Some users might not require this, but for those that do, this will be invaluable.  3. More Affordable than Dedicated Hosting If you want some of the benefits offered by a dedicated server, but don’t quite have the budget for it, then VPS can be a great choice.  Sure, technically VPS isn’t the same as a dedicated server, but it operates in mostly the same way. Basically, with VPS hosting, you’re getting a lot of the performance and the features of a dedicated server, but without the high associated costs.  Plus, by configuring your site to run on a VPS server now, you’ll gain the understanding you need if you ever do decide to upgrade to a dedicated server. When that day comes, you’ll have a leg up in terms of the learning curve.   4. More Scalable by Nature If you ran into the limits of your shared hosting plan, then you’re probably looking for a form of hosting that will grow with you as your site grows. VPS hosting is pretty scalable, meaning you can add more server resources if your site requires it. Plus, VPS servers can be quite large, so they can support very large and fast growing websites.  Now, it isn’t as instantly scalable as cloud hosting. But, it’s still scalable, you’ll just need to notify your hosting company about the increase before you hit your plan limits.  Cons of VPS Hosting VPS hosting is a very popular form of hosting for those who want a hybrid blend between shared and dedicated hosting. But, it still won’t be the perfect form of hosting for everyone. Here are some of the biggest drawbacks to VPS hosting you’ll want to be aware of:  1. Requires More Technical Expertise VPS hosting isn’t technically advanced, but it does require more tech skills than a basic shared hosting plan. Shared hosting is built from the ground up for beginners and the intuitive nature of shared hosting reflects that. When you sign up for VPS hosting it’s generally assumed that you have more experience with your site. At the very least you should be comfortable with the backend of your server.  If you want to do more advanced things with your server, then you might have to hire out the necessary technical help.  2. More Expensive than Shared Hosting VPS hosting doesn’t usually fall into the “expensive” hosting category. But, if you’re upgrading to VPS from a shared hosting plan, then get ready for a price increase.  With the additional costs of VPS hosting, you will be getting access to a higher quality server, along with greater plan limits, great server performance, and improve security. But, it will come at a cost.  Be aware that if you require a higher performing style of hosting, then you’ll have to pay for it.  But, when looking at the feature set you have access to, compared to the overall price, it does end up being a pretty good deal.  Reasons to Upgrade to VPS Hosting If your site has been experiencing any of the issues below, then it might be time to consider VPS hosting.  Here are some of the most common reasons website owners decide to upgrade to VPS hosting: 1. Your Site is Loading Slowly There are a number of reasons for your site to be loading slowly. But, if you’ve taken the time to optimize your site performance and you’re still dealing with very slow loading times, then it might be time to upgrade your host. It could be an issue with your traffic levels (covered below), RAM consumption, server storage issues, or something else altogether.  By migrating to VPS, you’ll give your site support for higher traffic levels, along with more storage to effectively store your site’s files.  2. Your Traffic Levels are on the Rise Shared hosting is meant for websites that don’t get much traffic. But, as your traffic levels grow, then you’ll also start to demand more from your web host. If you notice an upward trend in your traffic levels, then it might be worth upgrading your hosting. Rising traffic levels mean greater server resources consumption, so to avoid slow loading times, and even server crashes, it’s smart to upgrade sooner rather than later.  3. You Want a More Secure Host Keeping your site secure is one of the most important things you can do. Right out of the box, VPS hosting plans offer you higher levels of security. A VPS website security checker will include improved firewalls, dedicated malware scans, monitoring, along with improved website backups (in case something goes wrong). Plus, your site will be operating in a completely isolated server environment, so you’ll never be impacted by other sites.  What to Look for in a VPS Host If you’re the type of site owner who could benefit from VPS hosting, then you’ll also need to ensure you choose a VPS web host that offers the features you require, and the quality you need.  Here are some of the key features to look for in a VPS hosting provider:  Sufficient Storage and Bandwidth When choosing a VPS plan make sure the plans you’re looking at have sufficient CPU, RAM, disk space, and bandwidth.  Server Security Features VPS hosting should have a very high level of security. Look for features like DDoS attack protection, multiple firewalls, along with regular offsite backups, in case a full website restore is needed.  Knowledgeable Support A quality support team is a must-have. Look for a VPS host that offers multiple support channels, speedy response times, and technical team members who can help you through tough website or server issues.  High Reliability Reliability is how often your site is online. The industry standard is above 99%, which seems high, but remember that any time your site is offline can be actually losing your site money. Ideally, a VPS host should offer you an uptime around 99.99%. Quality Server Hardware The quality of your VPS server depends on the physical server hardware along with the network. Keep an eye out for Intel processors, and RAID drives. On the network side, you’ll want a fully redundant network that’s built with no single point of failure. Of course, there are probably many more features that you’ll require. But, at the very least, keep an eye out on the hosting plan features highlighted above.  So, Do I Need VPS Hosting Services? Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how VPS hosting works, the types of sites VPS is used for, and the benefits it can bring your website. VPS hosting services  aren’t right for everyone. But website owners who have rising traffic levels, are currently experiencing slow loading speeds, or want a higher level of security, can all benefit from VPS hosting. Finally, you should consider if you have the technical means to manage your own VPS account. It will be more intensive than what it took to configure your shared server—especially if you’re running any custom server elements.  If you’re looking for very high levels of performance and demand the best for your site, VPS hosting delivers. Do you need VPS hosting services? Trust your site to a VPS hosting provider that checks all of the above boxes and more. Explore your VPS hosting options with HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Reseller vs. Affiliate Programs

The post Reseller vs. Affiliate Programs appeared first on HostGator Blog. If you’ve been looking for a way to make some additional cash by recommending products and services, then you’ve no doubt come across the term resellers and affiliates. At their core, these share many similarities, but the mechanics required for each are very different. If you’re a reseller, then you’re re-selling a service under your own brand name, but don’t have to worry about the fulfillment of that service. As an affiliate, you’re sending customers to businesses in exchange for a commission of the sale. If that’s a little confusing, don’t worry. Below we take an in-depth look at both reseller and affiliate programs, so you can decide which route you want to take in our reseller vs affiliate showdown.  What is a Reseller? As a reseller, you’re more or less operating a traditional business.  You purchase certain products or services and then sell them as if they were your own. Typically, you’re able to buy these at a discount and sell them at a higher price to make a profit. Let’s look at an example of how reseller hosting works: Say you want to start your own web hosting company. If you were to start completely from scratch you’d have to purchase physical servers, secure them in some form of datacenter, install server software, hire IT staff, build a website to sell hosting, hire customer support staff, and that’s just the beginning. Not only would your startup costs be extremely high, but there are so many moving pieces you have to get right, and that’s even before you get your first customer. But, if you sign up to be a hosting reseller, then you can greatly simplify the process.  When you sign up for a reseller hosting plan you can purchase hosting at bulk. Basically, it’s a lot of server space, which you can divide up however you wish. You’ll also get access to ancillary features like cPanel access, email management, dedicated support, and a lot more. Plus, all of this is white labeled, so you can brand it under your own company. There’s no way your customers would ever know that you weren’t running the servers yourself.  Common Reseller Program Use Cases There are reseller programs of all types, not just in the web hosting space. But, to continue our example, let’s look at a few different ways you can use reseller hosting: 1. Offer Additional Services If you’re a web developer, or currently run an agency, then you’re likely always on the lookout for additional professional services you can offer your clients and customers that will make their lives easier (and your business richer). For a lot of people, managing their own hosting can be a nightmare. It’s overly complex, confusing, and is a hassle.  As a developer or web agency, you can replace your customer’s current hosting company and take care of everything yourself. The hosting parent company will take care of the heavy lifting for you, handling things like: Server maintenanceUpdating server softwareEnsuring high uptimeHandling support requests This leaves you open to focus on your client and customer sites while earning a monthly recurring fee for hosting their sites.  This allows you to not only make more money per customer but also help to create recurring revenue for your business.  2. Start a New Company Another approach (which we mentioned above) is creating your own business.  You purchase reseller hosting, also known as white label hosting, and sell those services under your own brand. The parent web host will take care of all the technical tasks, leaving you open to focus on marketing and customer acquisition. If you’ve been wanting to get into the hosting game, then this is a great way to do so without having high startup costs.  If you do want to take this route, then make sure you read our guide to making money with reseller hosting, you’ll learn how to best increase your chances of success in the reseller hosting business.   3. Grow a Side Hustle Maybe you’re on the lookout for additional sources of income or want to monetize your blog? If you commonly answer tech questions from your friends or help them out with website issues, then reseller hosting might be a worthwhile investment. Instead of having to figure out multiple hosting companies, you can simply have them sign up for your hosting company and better manage their sites. Instead of paying a hosting company they’ll pay you for hosting instead. In some cases, you might even be able to offer them a better deal than what they’re getting through a hosting company.  Pros and Cons of Being a Reseller Joining a reseller program won’t be perfect for everyone. It can be a great opportunity, but not everyone will be ready for the work required to operate as a reseller successfully. Here are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages to a reseller program: Pros of Being a Reseller 1. Low Startup Costs When you start a reseller hosting business all you need to invest in is enough hosting space for your first customers and a website. There are no infrastructure costs, and you can keep your costs as low as possible until you break even.  2. Create a Scalable Business With a reseller business, you can expand your business near infinitely. In the hosting example, you can simply purchase more hosting as your needs grow. All you need to focus on is signing up more customers.  3. High-Quality Service with Less Work By partnering with a quality reseller business you’re selling their services under your name. If you partner with a company whose service you love, then you’ll be able to pass on this same quality of service.  Cons of Being a Reseller  1. You Don’t Have Complete Control As a reseller, you won’t have complete control over all aspects of your business. You can control most of the front end, but the back end service or product is all dependant on the company you align yourself with. If there are issues with the service, there won’t be much you can do about it.  2. Can’t Compete on Price Often, if you’re in the reseller business you’ll be forced to compete on something other than price. Most of the big players in the space will be able to offer cheaper prices, so you’ll have to find another way to differentiate yourself from the rest of your market.  What Is an Affiliate? If being a reseller sounds like a lot of work, then you’ll probably be better suited towards being an affiliate.  Being a reseller can be likened to being a CEO while being an affiliate is the equivalent of being in sales. In order to become an affiliate all you have to do is join an affiliate network for a product or service you love. Once you join you’ll be given a unique link with an embedded tracking code. Whenever you share this link and a person uses that link to buy a product or service, you’ll receive a commission. Affiliate marketing is a very common and effective way to earn money online. It’s relatively hands-off, all you have to do is share your link and drive new customers to the affiliate offer. Businesses create their own affiliate programs because it’s a great way to generate new qualified leads and customers. It’s a win-win for both the company and the affiliate. The company gets a new customer and the affiliate gets paid. Let’s look at a quick example: One of the most well-known and widely used affiliate programs is Amazon Associates. You join their affiliate program and you’ll have access to a unique tracking code. Then, let’s say you’re writing a blog post about the best power tools for new dads. Any time you mention a product they sell you link to that product on the Amazon store with your unique link. Whenever a customer clicks on that link, a tracking cookie will activate on their browser. For anything they purchase within that window, you’ll receive a commission of the total sale price.  The same goes for most other affiliate networks. The buyer window might differ, but the process remains the same.  If you’re interested in becoming a hosting affiliate, then there’s a great affiliate program right here at HostGator. Once you sign up as an affiliate you’ll be able to recommend high-quality hosting to your readers. Drive clicks, make sales, and receive a commission.  Finding Success as an Affiliate There are multiple paths to success as an affiliate. Whether you want to create an entire site dedicated to affiliate marketing, sell affiliate products through an email list, or simply insert affiliate links throughout your content.  Here are some of the most common paths to affiliate marketing success: 1. Creating an Affiliate Review Site Affiliate review sites are one of the most common pathways to success. This style of site is dedicated to reviewing different products or services in a certain niche. They’ll often also provide related content that answers different questions and better serves the niche as a whole. Take a look at sites like NerdWallet, Gear Patrol, and the very unique 50em (which only focuses on two products).  These sites make their income from reviewing and recommending products. When someone purchases a product or service through their affiliate link, they’ll receive a commission.  2. Selling Affiliate Products via Email Email marketing is a great way to drive traffic to an affiliate offer. By building an email list of people in a certain niche, you can recommend them products they might be interested. Email also gives you the opportunity to establish a relationship with your audience and even pre-sell certain products and services before you send them to the product or landing page.  3. Add Links to Your Content or Social If you’re not completely focused on affiliate marketing, but would like to add some additional income to your online efforts, then you can include affiliate links wherever they make sense. This could be through a link on your social media profiles or stories, on a separate resource page on your website, or even just sprinkled throughout your affiliate content whenever you mention a product or service.  Pros and Cons of Affiliate Programs Being an affiliate isn’t going to be right for everyone. It all depends on the goals of your website and what niche you’re in. Here are some of the most common advantages and disadvantages to joining an affiliate program. Pros of Being an Affiliate 1. Generate Passive Revenue When affiliate marketing is done the right way it can generate you consistent passive income. Of course, this depends on how your site is structured. But, if you have high ranking review-style content that gets consistent traffic, you can expect a certain percentage of this traffic to convert into income.  2. Easy to Get Started All you need to get started with affiliate marketing is a link. Once you have your unique tracking link you can promote this to your existing social media audience, or start to create content about the service you’re recommending on your own website.  3. Low Level of Responsibility Once you’ve referred a customer to a company, your work stops there. You don’t have to deliver on the product or service. All you have to do is sit back and wait for your commission to arrive.  Cons of Being an Affiliate Marketer: 1. Commission Only Sale Unlike running your own business, even if it’s reseller based, you don’t really have the opportunity to grow your income via upsells or other products with affiliate marketing.  Sure, you could recommend other products to your audience down the line, but right out of the gate your income might be a little limited. You’re also limited by the commision that the affiliate company is willing to pay out.  2. Sales Aren’t Guaranteed There are no guarantees in the world of affiliate marketing. Just because you sent a lead to a company doesn’t mean that person is going to follow through with the sale. While there are click-based programs that payout affiliates based on the traffic they drive, most pay out only upon confirmed sales. Reseller vs. Affiliate: Which is Right for Me? Whether you choose to become a reseller or an affiliate depends on your goals.  Do you want to create your own business offering reseller services? Or create an add-on service for your current business? Then, reseller hosting might be right for you. Do you just want to recommend products and services and receive a percentage of the sale? Then, becoming an affiliate marketer is probably the path for you. Hopefully, by now you’re leaning in one direction or the other. Whichever direction you’re leaning towards, you can make it happen with HostGator’s highly-reviewed reseller hosting services and affiliate programs. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

4 Best Free WordPress Themes for Food Bloggers

The post 4 Best Free WordPress Themes for Food Bloggers appeared first on HostGator Blog. Got a taste for food blogging? A good blog theme is a key ingredient in your food blog’s success. The right theme showcases your food posts, recipes, and photos beautifully, and it can also do more. A theme that supports WooCommerce or another e-commerce plugin for WordPress makes it easier for you to earn money from your blog. An SEO-friendly theme makes it easier for new readers to find your blog. And a theme that’s designed to be lightweight and responsive will load fast, even on mobile phones, to ensure that the people who find your blog will stick around and enjoy your content. If your current food blog theme isn’t doing all those things, it may be time to replace it with something fresher. Here are four WordPress themes we like for foodies because they serve up great features for free. Best WordPress Themes for Food Blogs Is your food blog’s theme past its expiration date? Here are four fresh, free options.   1. MH Food Magazine This food-focused child theme of MH Magazine gives you the visual equivalent of a beautifully laid out buffet, with a three-column home page that features an array of five featured post images above the fold, topped by a 4-column header with thumbnail images and post headlines. The mobile display is a single column that alternates between full-width featured images with post excerpts and smaller thumbnail images in columns or arrays. MH Food Magazine is a visually busy theme, but if you have a lot of content already in your blog archives or if you’re generating new posts at a rapid pace, this theme will let you show off a lot of it to your readers at a glance. Add the Contact Form 7 plugin, customize your widgets, or display ads with the tools in the free version. The premium version is the parent theme, MH Magazine ($49). It offers fully customizable design elements, 26 widget locations, a news ticker, and extensive support.   2. Recipe Lite Recipe Lite from SKT Themes is a Gutenberg-compatible theme that serves up a professional look with modular editing capabilities so you don’t need to code to get the look you want. Recipe Lite’s desktop display features a three-image slider banner over a row of three featured images for your posts. Category sections follow, along with a newsletter sign-up form, a recent posts image grid, and a sidebar with a bio section and social media links. The display switches to a single column for smartphones. The free version of Recipe Lite is a good-looking theme that’s well suited for bloggers who have a lot of recipes or posts to archive. The pro version ($39) adds hundreds of Google font options, color and layout options, email and Skype support, and shortcodes you can use to add photo galleries, testimonials, flipboxes, and other elements.   3. Food Recipes This image-heavy theme from Faster Themes skips the trendy slider banner in favor of a two-column desktop layout that features four images above the fold next to the sidebar. The background is customizable, so you can use an image or keep things plain to make your featured post images stand out more. Food Recipes really shines on smartphones, where its single-column, uncluttered display makes it a good choice for bloggers whose readers use their phones to display recipes while they cook. The pro version of Food Recipes ($39) adds 1-click updates, six color scheme options, super-fast page loads, WooCommerce compatibility, and Google Fonts.   4. Foodies Foodies from Indigo Themes keeps the focus on the food. The homepage displays an array of 3 or 4 columns (single column on smartphones) of featured photos that invite readers to explore your recipes and posts. The recipe image grid calls to mind the vintage photo recipe cards of the 1970s, although the theme’s tone is fresh and modern. The free version of Foodies is SEO-friendly and designed with affiliate marketing in mind. It gives you full control of theme colors, supports left-to-right language translation, and is responsive and fast-loading. Foodies Pro ($49) adds an SEO-friendly recipe post template for easy formatting, filters for sorting posts and recipes, and AJAX-powered posts that display individual recipes over the homepage or category page quickly, without taking time to refresh the whole page.     Choosing a Food Blog Theme that Suits Your Taste Most theme publishers offer a live demo view of their themes, although you may have to view them on both a computer and a smartphone to see how they’ll look on each type of device. (Some, but not all, live previews will let you choose different device display options on your computer.) If you like the way a theme looks in live previews, the next step is to download it and try it out with your own blog content on as many devices as you can access. It’s a wise move to do this with a few themes you like before you make a decision. That’s because you can’t get a true sense of how the theme will work for your food blog until you try it with your posts and photos. While you’re trying out your shortlisted themes, ask yourself how well they support your goals for your blog, how well they support the way your readers use your content, and how fast they load your content. If most of your readers follow your recipes at home on their phones, a theme that displays recipe posts clearly, without requiring multiple taps or slides, is a must. If you plan to sell subscriptions or products on your blog, your theme needs to be compatible with WooCommerce or other plugins. And every blog needs to load fast for SEO and readership. Once you pick a theme, ask your readers what they think of it and listen to their feedback. Like a recipe that needs adjusting to taste just right, your new theme may need some tweaks to keep your readers happy. Keep listening and adjusting as needed and your fans will keep coming back to see what you serve up next. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to A/B Test Your Website [Step-by-Step Guide]

The post How to A/B Test Your Website [Step-by-Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. With over 181 million active websites on the internet, it may seem impossible to build a website that stands out in the crowd. But don’t let that big, generic number scare you off from taking your website seriously and giving it your all. Not only is it possible to run a successful website in a sea of other websites, but it’s possible to design your website in a way that pleases your target audience, increases conversions, and edges out your competitors. Does this like a secret you want in on? The big secret is simply A/B testing your website instead of making decisions based on a “feeling” or your own preferences. A/B testing is a powerful way to learn exactly what appeals to your customers and what small decisions boost conversions. Don’t believe it? Studies show that simple decisions (e.g. where to place your CTA button, what colors to use, what copy to include, etc.) can increase conversions significantly. For example, remember when a red CTA button beat a green one with a 21% increase in conversions? A/B testing is the perfect way to build a high-performing website, and this guide will give you all the ins and outs of how to get started. What Is A/B Testing And How Does It Work? A/B testing is a randomized experiment that tests two variables, A and B. In plain English, and as it relates to websites, A/B testing is when you test two versions of your website to determine which one performs better.  This testing process takes the guesswork out of website creation and optimization. Rather than relying on your own preferences or your gut feeling, you can make data-based website decisions that generate winning results. So, how does A/B testing work? With A/B testing, you modify one element on your website and create a second version. Then, you randomly show the original version to 50 percent of your audience, and the modified version to the other 50 percent of your website visitors.  Once you’ve run your test long enough to determine statistical significance, you measure engagement results. Whichever version performs better provides you with your data-informed answer. Keep in mind, you should only change one element of your website at a time during an A/B test. For example, you may be interested in learning which call-to-action (CTA) button drives more conversions. Variations could include color, copy, and size.  If you tested color, copy, and button size all at the same time, you would have no clue as to which change is influencing engagement. When you test only one element at a time, you know exactly what had an effect on visitors’ engagement.  Why A/B Test Your Website? It’s kind of like this. Your dad is 100 percent sure it’s a good idea to go out wearing crew socks and open-toed sandals. When he walks out of his closet and asks the rest of the family if he looks okay, you do something he thinks is unfathomable. You tell him to march right around and put on some close-toed shoes, so he’s not the next subject of ridicule on the nearest teen’s SnapChat account. It’s similar with A/B testing a website. You may be absolutely sure you know what works best on your website, but chances are, you’re wrong. Similarly, what works well for you might not resonate well with your target audience, especially if there is a demographic difference between you and your website visitors. When you A/B test, you get the inside scoop from your audience to find out if your website is wearing metaphorical mom jeans and needs some adjustments. In short, A/B testing is a data-driven way to collect insightful feedback on your website. With this information, you can implement careful changes to your website all while collecting data on the results. And, here’s the best part. Not only does A/B testing help you make better design and messaging decisions, but it ensures you’re making business decisions that align properly with customer preferences from the get-go.  This is solid for business since 79% of US consumers say they only consider brands that show they understand and care about “me.” Not to mention, 56% of US consumers say they feel more loyal to brands that show a deep understanding of their priorities and preferences.  A/B testing your website is a surefire way to lean into audience preferences and show your visitors that you “get” them. What Should a Novice A/B Test? While it’s true that nearly everything on a website can be A/B tested, it doesn’t mean you have to, or even should, A/B test everything. After all, you want to get your website up and running sooner rather than later. A good rule of thumb is to test anything that can influence visitor behavior or directly affect conversion. For example, you could A/B test whether the “About” section should come before or after your “Services” section on the navigation menu. Since this element of your website doesn’t carry much weight over how your visitors interact with your site, it probably doesn’t matter too much, and you can stick with the standard. Here’s what to test instead. 1. Copy Did you know that compelling copy draws 7.8 times more site traffic and produces brand recall, which leads to higher engagement rates? Top-notch copy is key to the success of your website, so it’s smart to find out what copy your target audience likes most. Here are some copy elements you should be A/B testing: Headlines and Subheadlines. Your headlines and subheadlines are what your visitors will see first. Test to find out which headlines are leading your visitors down the conversion funnel. Copy Length. Do your website visitors prefer short and snappy quips or do they need more information to help them engage? There is only one way to find out. You guessed it: A/B testing. Tone. Your copywriter can take several approaches when it comes to tone, but only your audience can tell you what tone works best. A/B testing will give you insight into what tonal direction your website needs. 2. Images & Videos If pictures are worth a thousand words, then you need to choose the right images and videos for your website. With the perfect imagery on your website, your visitors will only need a quick glance to understand what you’re trying to convey. And, A/B testing will tell you which images get the job done best. To give you a better idea of how image and video A/B testing works, let’s look at a recent split test from Zagg. Zagg wanted to know what type of images led to higher conversion rates, so they conducted A/B testing for a static image, a 360º product image, and a video on their product page, and the results were astounding. Zagg first tested the static image against the video. They found that the video yielded a 27% increase in revenue per visitor. This told the team that video yielded better results than a static default image. But, remember how they also wanted to test 360º product images? In a second A/B test, the team tested the video against the 360º image on their product pages. The results were interesting. They found the 360º image produced an additional 12% increase in revenue per visitor. Video Version of Zagg’s Image A/B Test 360º Variation of Zagg’s A/B Image Test Simple A/B testing of a static image, a 360º image, and a video provided Zagg with valuable insight into how to boost revenue based on customer preferences.  You can do the same. 3. Call To Action (CTA) The call to action button is arguably the most important thing to A/B test on your website. Your call to action button can make the difference between a conversion and a user clicking out of your site. When it comes to A/B testing your CTA, here are some things you can test: Copy lengthCopy phrasingCopy lengthSize of buttonColor of buttonPlacement of button To give you an idea of how testing a CTA can work wonders, here are some interesting results from experts: Helzberg Diamonds saw a 26% increase in clicks by adding an arrow icon to their CTA buttons, according to Marketing Tech Blog.ContentVerve saw a 90% increase in click-through rate by using first-person phrasing: “Start my free 30 day trial” as opposed to “Start your free 30 day trial.”SAP found that orange CTAs boosted their conversion rate over 32.5%, according to QuickSprout. As you can see, A/B testing your CTA button makes a difference, and it’s a great place for beginners to start. What Is the A/B Testing Process? Now that you know what to test, let’s talk about the process of setting up your first A/B test. The first thing to remember is you don’t have to go it alone. There are several tools on the market that will guide you through the A/B testing process. Tools like Optimizely, VWO, and Omniconvert provide intuitive tools that help you create variations of your pages. The best part? You don’t need to know how to code. You just point-and-click. Once you have settled on an A/B testing tool, here is a basic framework that will guide you through the process. 1. Identify Conversion Goals.  Before you start testing, it’s imperative that you know what you want your website users to do. Subscribe to an email list? Sign up for a seminar? Buy a product? Your conversion goals will help you determine what you need to test. 2. Write Down Your Hypothesis. Congratulations! You officially have conversion goals. Now it’s time to generate A/B testing hypotheses for why you think specific changes will be better than what you already have on your website. Again, these ideas will help you know what modifications to make before you start your testing. 3. Create Your Variations. Now it’s time to make the desired changes to your website and get ready for testing. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone or strain yourself too hard to create your variations. There are several A/B testing software tools on the market with visual editors that will help you create changes and run your test. You can even use the drag and drop features in your website builder to help you easily modify your site. 4. Run Your Test. This is the exciting part. Once you initiate your test, website visitors will start to participate. A/B testing works at random, so you won’t know which website visitors will see which variation. All you need to know is 50 percent of your visitors will see one variation and 50 percent will see the other.  5. Keep Your Test Running Long Enough. There is no magic set number for how long you should run your A/B test. The general rule of thumb is to run your test long enough to determine statistical significance. This will vary from website to website depending on how much traffic you get. Thankfully, most A/B testing software has a built-in calculator that will determine this time frame for you. 6. Analyze Your Results. Once the time frame is up, take a look at your results and see where there is statistical significance. Again, this process is automated with the help of an A/B testing software tool. All you’ll have to do is login to your dashboard and look at the results. Your dashboard will show you whether your control (option A) or your variant (option B) has greater statistical significance. And, that’s it. Rinse and repeat until you have a solid idea of what website design, copy, and engagement elements to implement. Make A/B Testing Work For You It’s true that A/B testing requires hard work and patience. However, when done correctly, it always pays off in the end. When you have a strong understanding of what your website visitors like, you’re one step closer to accomplishing your goals. For more information about starting your website, check the Gator Website Builder. The website builder makes it easy to drag and drop elements, so A/B testing is a cinch. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered?

The post Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Think your business is too small to be targeted by hackers? Think again. Last year, 43% of all reported data breaches affected small businesses—and the costs of recovering from a breach are high enough to force many small businesses to close. So, if you’ve recently launched your SMB website or are getting ready to launch, make sure you’ve got these 8 cybersecurity basics nailed down. 1. Domain Privacy There are so many things to love about the internet, but spammers, identity thieves, and stalkers are not among them. You can protect yourself with a domain privacy plan that shields your name, email, mailing address, and phone number from people who look up your site in the ICANN’s Whois database.  2. SSL Certificate An SSL certificate is a must-have if you run an eCommerce store or collect visitor information on your site. That’s because an SSL certificate proves that any data your visitors send to your site is encrypted, so hackers can’t see it while it’s in transit. (You can read a more detailed SSL explanation here.) SSL certificates also keep visitors from seeing a browser warning that your site may not be secure. Plus, they may also help your site rank better in search results. 3. Automatic Site Backups If your business website site is hacked, or if an update crashes it, you need a way to get up and running again fast so you don’t miss out on customers. Get an automatic site backup service like CodeGuard, and you can quickly restore the most recent uncorrupted version of your site if something goes wrong. Make sure that whichever service you choose runs daily backups, so you don’t have to go back to an out-of-date site version in case of a crash.  4. Automatic Malware Scans and Removals Thanks to cybercriminals armed with botnets and malicious code, all sites are continuously at risk for malware injections that can steal data and let criminals take over sites. This means site owners need to monitor their sites closely for attacks. And the only practical way to do this is with automatic scans. A site-scanning tool like SiteLock gives you daily protection from new malware and botnet attacks. SiteLock also seeks out vulnerabilities on your site, so you can fix them before hackers exploit them. 5. Automatic Domain Renewals Domain registrations don’t last forever. At some point—anywhere between one and 5 years from when you first sign up–you’ll need to renew. If you don’t, you can lose control of your business domain name, and anyone who comes along and buys up your expired domain may be able to access the email accounts on it. That could open you and your customers up to data theft and fraud. The best way to prevent this is to enable automatic renewals, either when you register your domains or during your next renewal. You may also be able to switch to automatic renewals now by logging into your domain registration account and adjusting your billing preferences. (HostGator customers, here’s how you can renew your domain registration.) 6. Automatic WordPress, Plugin and Theme Updates On the internet, you have to stay up to date. That includes WordPress software and the plugins, themes, and addons you choose for your SMB site. Why not stick with the old versions if they’re working for you? There are lots of reasons, but the main one is security.  Some updates are designed to patch flaws that hackers have shown they can exploit. So, when updates are announced, you need to install them right away. But updates don’t always come out on a schedule, and if you have a large site with lots of plugins, updating manually can be a hassle that’s too easy to postpone. The solution is to set WordPress and everything else on your site—themes, plugins, etc.—to update automatically. You can do this within most apps, or you can use a WordPress security plugin like Easy Updates Manager to handle it all for you. 7. Seriously Secure Passwords One of the simplest ways to protect your SMB website is to use a unique, secure WordPress password that would-be hackers are unlikely to guess. Make sure that any employees or contractors who have access to your site use secure, unique passwords, too.  You might think this goes without saying, but even in 2019, too many people are still using passwords like 123456, monkey, and blink182. 8. Site Login Protection Login forms on your site make it easy for customers to sign into their accounts with your store or business. These forms also create potential weak spots where attackers can break in. In simple terms, a bot-powered brute force attack can try thousands of possible login credentials to try to get past a login form. If they find a way in, they can unleash malware, ransomware, or other mayhem to disrupt your business. To keep bad actors and botnet attacks from experimenting with logins until they find a way in, add some layers of protection to your sign-in forms.  One option is to limit the number of login attempts a user can make in one session. For example, after three failed attempts, the user is locked out of trying again until they contact your tech support team for more guidance. This lets legitimate customers get the help they need and prevents bot-powered brute force logins. Another option is one you probably see every day. Ask visitors to prove they’re not a robot when they sign in with a reCAPTCHA tool. The Contact Form 7 plugin lets you enable reCAPTCHA, or you can install a different reCAPTCHA plugin for the forms on your site. Yes, it’s an extra step for your site visitors, but one that can keep your visitors and your business safe from bot-powered data theft. Now that you know the cybersecurity basics, are you ready to set up your site?  HostGator’s Managed WordPress Hosting plans come with CodeGuard, SiteLock, and SSL certificates for free and make it easy to buy domain privacy services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

10+ Best Free Gutenberg Ready WordPress Themes

The post 10+ Best Free Gutenberg Ready WordPress Themes appeared first on HostGator Blog. There are hundreds of thousands of WordPress themes on the market. A lot of them are free while some cost more than a few hundred bucks. Finding a theme that suits your WordPress site’s style and is compatible with all the plugins you use is very difficult. If you want to use WordPress’ new Gutenberg editor, then you need a theme that is compatible with it. With thousands of themes to choose from, most of which aren’t compatible with Gutenberg, I wanted to make it easier for you to find the perfect theme. So, here’s my collection of the best free Gutenberg-ready WordPress themes right now. What is Gutenberg? Gutenberg is the latest page/post editor that comes with WordPress. If you are a fan of the original, the classic WordPress editor, then it might take you a few minutes to get comfortable with the new editor. Gutenberg is WordPress’ attempt at creating a drag and drop page builder that can make it easier for beginners and novices to create beautiful looking pages. If you want your website to stand out, you need your content to stand out in your niche. The easiest way to do this is by improving the design of your blog’s content. Now, if you hire a programmer to do it, it will cost you well over $500. But with a tool like Gutenberg, you can do it all by yourself within minutes… for free. Why you need a Gutenberg compatible theme? If you want to use the new Gutenberg editor and take advantage of all the wonderful tools and widgets it has to offer, then you need a WordPress theme that is compatible with Gutenberg. Most themes on the market, even the premium ones, aren’t compatible with Gutenberg. If you use a theme that isn’t compatible, most of your pages will break in unexpected places. If you don’t want your blog to break right when you catch your big break, then you should only use a theme that is compatible with Gutenberg. To make it easier for you to find the perfect theme, we have made the following list of the best free WordPress themes that are Gutenberg-ready. Best Free Gutenberg Themes 1. GeneratePress Best suited for: All types of websites, is a Multipurpose theme.Sites having this theme activated: 200,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/generatepress/ GeneratePress is one of the most popular WordPress themes out there. Unlike some other themes on this list, this is a multipurpose theme. That means, you can use it to build almost any type of website you want. Whether you want to use it on a travel site or cooking blog, you can easily customize this theme to suit your niche. You can customize almost all elements of this theme without writing a single line of code. This theme is made to be a lightweight kickstarter for any kind of a project based on WordPress.  They offer a big library of importable templates for all types of websites including travel, cooking, and personal blogs. You can also use this theme to build an eCommerce site and sell your products online. Features: Clean minimal design that is suitable for all types of websites.A huge library of hundreds of design templates available to choose from.Easily customize almost all aspects of the theme’s design.Compatible with all page builder plugins on the market including Gutenberg and Beaver Builder.Translation ready and supports over 20 languages.A lightweight theme that won’t slow down your website. 2. Gucherry Blog Best suited for: Personal Blogs, Travel Blogs, and blogs that display large images.Sites having this theme activated: 700+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/gucherry-blog/ GuCherry Blog is a beautiful free WordPress template designed for blogs. It offers a very clean, minimal design that focuses the user’s attention on the content. If you are looking for a theme for your personal blog, then this is one of the best options. You can easily customize this theme to suit your personal style by changing the colors and typography of the design. It comes with full support for page builders like Gutenberg. It is optimized for speed and is translation-ready. This theme is perfect for bloggers who want to start a blog, build an audience online and stand out in their niche. It offers a simple design and comes with everything you will need including social media share buttons and a lot of built-in widgets to choose from. It is also SEO optimized so that you can focus on creating content without worrying too much about the search engine bots. GuCherry blog is designed to be fast and offers lots of space placing advertisements on your blog. You place ads on your blog with just a few clicks in many different places without editing any code. Features: A minimal design that will help you stand out in your blogging niche.Lots of places to place ads on your blog to earn a side income.Optimized for SEO and fast load times.Easily customize everything from the colors to typography.Built-in support for page builders like Gutenberg.Translation-ready and supports RTL languages.A theme best suited for bloggers. 3. Getwid Base Best suited for: Startups, Digital Agencies, and Portfolio websites.Sites having this theme activated: 700+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/getwid-base/ Getwid Base is a free WordPress theme that is designed specifically to work with Gutenberg. Getwid Base theme is a part of Getwid, a bundle of multipurpose blocks designed for Gutenberg. To get the most out of this theme, we recommend that you install the Getwid plugin but even without the bundle, this theme has all the features you will need. It offers a beautiful, minimal design that is compatible with Gutenberg. It is best suited for digital agencies, startups, and portfolios. Although it is designed for digital agencies and startups, you can customize it to suit whatever niche you are in and change the design to suit your brand style. Features: A theme that is built specifically for Gutenberg page builder.Customize the theme easily with just a few clicks without touching code.You can add more blocks and widgets compatible with this theme by installing the free Getwid Gutenberg bundle.It comes with a simple design that looks great on all devices. 4. Page Builder Framework Best suited for: Agency Sites, Portfolios, and Service Businesses.Sites having this theme activated: 10,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/page-builder-framework/ Page Builder Framework is a free WordPress theme that is designed to be super fast. It is a lightweight theme that weighs less than 50 kb and doesn’t slow down your website. If you need a clutter-free, minimal design that you can customize yourself without editing code, this theme is a great option. This theme is designed for page builders like Gutenberg and Beaver Builder. You can easily customize all aspects of this theme’s design to suit your personal style. This theme scores 99% on all speed test tools like YSlow, Pingdom, and GTmetrix. It loads in less than 100ms. Features: This theme is built for speed and will never slow down your website.Customize all aspects of this theme’s design with just a few clicks.Designed to be compatible with all page builders including Elementor and Gutenberg.Responsive design that works on all screen sizes.WooCommerce support, if you want to build an eCommerce store. 5. Mission News Best suited for: News and Magazine sites, and sites with lots of content.Sites having this theme activated: 3,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/mission-news/ Mission News is a free WordPress theme designed for news and magazine websites. The design is clean and makes your website look like a classic news site. It’s fully responsive and looks great on all devices no matter the screen size. The layout of this theme is minimal, clean and focuses attention to the content. It is fully compatible with Gutenberg, Elementor, and some other page builder plugins. It also offers WooCommerce compatibility so that you can build an online store within a few minutes. This theme is optimized for speed and loads really fast. Features: WooCommerce support allows you to build an eCommerce site without writing any codeEasily customize all aspects of your website’s design using the customization options.100% responsive and looks great on all devices.Compatible with Gutenberg and Elementor. 6. Storytime Best suited for: Personal Blogs, Story Blogs, and Author Blogs.Sites having this theme activated: 1,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/storytime/ Storytime is a theme designed for authors and creatives. If you are a writer or really want to showcase your work, this is the theme for you. This theme comes with hundreds of customization options. You can choose from 2 blog layout options and 10 sidebar options. It is fully compatible with Gutenberg and is designed with the tool in mind. It also comes with its own built-in Gutenberg blocks you can use to improve your content. The theme offers a fully responsive minimal design. It offers a beautiful layout design that focuses attention on the content of your blog. If you are starting a personal blog and want to stand out in your niche, this theme is one of the best options. Features: Fully compatible with page builders like Gutenberg.Comes with additional built-in Gutenberg.Easily customize the theme using WordPress Theme Customizer interface.Hundreds of customization options so you can customize the design to suit your brand.2 Blog layouts and 10 sidebar positions to choose from. 7. Music Lite Best suited for: Music artists, Bands and Musicians.Sites having this theme activated: 2,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/music-lite/ Music Lite is the free version of Music Pro. The free version of the theme comes with dozens and dozens of customization options. If you want more customization, then you can always upgrade to the pro version. It is built on a responsive framework to make sure it always looks good across different devices. It is also retina-optimized to look good on a large screen and high resolution displays like Apple’s products It comes with a tour dates page that you can easily customize and change dates on for your fans and followers. The theme comes with custom page templates that you can use to build your whole website in only a few minutes. It also comes with multiple column layouts. This theme allows you to easily customize the logo, the header, and even the background without writing any code. Features: The design is built on a mobile responsive framework and works on all screen sizes.Tour dates pages where you can list your tour dates with just a few clicks.Easily customize the theme using WordPress’ Theme Customizer tool.Custom page templates.The theme comes with multiple column layouts to choose from. 8. Portfolio Lite Best suited for: Photography Portfolio, Creative Portfolios, Freelancer Portfolios.Sites having this theme activated: 2,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/portfolio-lite/ Portfolio Lite is a portfolio theme for creatives. It offers a very unique design to help you stand out of the crowd. The design is very minimal to focus the attention on the portfolio items. If you are a freelancer and need a site to show off your work, this is the best theme for you. It comes with a sidebar menu on the left to allow for easy and minimal navigation. This theme will allow you to build your portfolio online in only a few minutes. This theme is best for portfolios with lots of images. It is best suited for people who wish to show off their designs or photography. It comes with a few different page templates to choose from for your portfolio items. You can easily create a slideshow for your portfolio within seconds. Features: A clean minimal layout to show off your creative portfolio.Showcase large images in a beautiful layout.Different page templates for portfolio items to choose from.Get more features by purchasing the premium version of this theme.Dozens of customization options and support for WordPress Theme Customizer.Support for Gutenberg and other Page Builders. 9. Davis Best suited for: Personal Blogs and sites that are more focused on the content.Sites having this theme activated: 3,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/davis/ Davis is a minimalistic WordPress theme that you can either use as a framework to build your own theme or you can use to build a superfast website that scores high on all page speed test tools like Google PageSpeed. It is super lightweight and weighs only 61 kb. This theme offers a super minimal design that focuses the attention on the content. It is fully responsive, looks great on devices, and comes with a dark mode option. It also supports featured images, and aside post format. This theme is built to be fast and minimal and to be used as a framework to build upon and as such doesn’t offer many options or customization features. It is pretty minimal. Features: Fully responsive design.Super minimal, clean design.Super lightweight theme that weighs only 61kb and loads really fast.Comes with full support for Gutenberg and other page builders. 10. Block Lite Best suited for: Creative portfolio sites and photography portfolios.Sites having this theme activated: 1,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/block-lite/ Block Lite is a theme that is built for the Gutenberg editor. It comes with dozens of customization options that you can use to customize all aspects of the theme. It offers a responsive design that is minimal and looks great across all screen sizes. This theme is best for showcasing your creative portfolio. If you are a designer or a photographer, this theme will allow you to focus the visitor’s attention on your portfolio items. It is retina optimized to make sure the design looks great on even large-resolution displays. Block Lite’s premium version offers dozens of more customization options and features. Features: Easily customize the design of this theme using WordPress Theme Customizer.Customize the Typography and use any of the free Google Fonts you like on your website.A clean, minimal design best suited for showcasing creative portfolio items like pictures and designs. 11. Atomic Blocks Best suited for: Blogs and websites that need a minimal design.Sites having this theme activated: 2,000+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/atomic-blocks/ Atomic Blocks is a free WordPress theme that offers a simple design. It is fully compatible for Gutenberg page builder. This theme is a part of the Atomic Blocks plugin. The plugin adds more blocks to the Gutenberg builder. With this theme, you don’t need to download a hundred different plugins. It comes with blocks for everything including pricing table, newsletter sign up forms, post grid blocks, call to action blocks, testimonial block, sharing block and much more. Although this theme offers a minimal design and is best suited for blogs, it can be easily customized and used to build any type of a website. Features: Add dozens of new blocks to Gutenberg page builder by installing the accompanying Atomic Blocks plugin for free.Simple, responsive design.Dozens of theme options to help you customize the design without touching a single line of code.Fully compatible with Gutenberg and other page builder plugins. 12. Richone Best Suited For Minimal, basic portfolio sites.Sites having this theme activated: 600+Download/preview link: https://wordpress.org/themes/richone/ Richone is a clean, beautiful portfolio theme that is compatible with Gutenberg editor. It offers a super minimal design that looks clean and focuses attention on the portfolio items. This theme offers full support WooCommerce so you can create an online store on our own. This theme comes with dozens of customization options so you can customize everything from the typography to the color scheme of the design. It offers a widget sidebar at the bottom. Features: WooCommerce ready so you can build an online store in minutes.Fully compatible with Gutenberg.Comes with custom page templates so you can build your website in minutes without any code.This theme is optimized for SEO, so you can focus on creating content.Fully responsive minimal design that focuses attention on the content Wrap Up All of the themes in this list support Gutenberg and will help you create content that stands out of the crowd. Most of these themes not only support Gutenberg, they also support other page builder plugins like Divi and Elementor, and others. If you are still having trouble deciding which theme to go with, let me make it super easy for you: If you need a theme that loads up really fast, then go with GeneratePress. It’s mostly a theme framework to help you build super fast websites. It comes with dozens of customization options and is really lightweight. If you produce a lot of content on your website, then go with Mission News. Although it’s a theme built for news sites, it is fully customizable, so you can easily customize it to suit your needs. If you want more Gutenberg blocks than the defaults, then go with the Getwid theme and download the accompanying Getwid plugin to add more blocks to the Gutenberg editor for free. Are you using a free Gutenberg compatible theme that has been left off this list, and you think is worth mentioning? If so, we would love to hear all about it in the comments! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Is Your eCommerce Website Ready for Back to School?

The post Is Your eCommerce Website Ready for Back to School? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Winter holidays may be peak money-making time for online stores, but don’t overlook the back to school season. Parents and students spent more than $82 billion on back to school purchases in 2018. That’s more than shoppers spent on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day combined. Today’s back-to-school must-haves include much more than jeans and school supplies, which means your eCommerce site may have a bigger audience than you think for back-to-school offers. And just about any business can offer a back-to-school themed deal. The National Retail Federation says that back to school (defined as shopping for K-12 students) and back to college spending will hit record highs this year. The average household with K-12 kids will spend $696 on back to school. The average household with kids in college will spend $976.  Want your online store to capture some of that spending? Here’s how you can get your eCommerce site ready and for back to school and back to college shoppers. Do You Have What Back-to-School Shoppers Need? If your store sells kids’ clothes, shoes, backpacks, or school supplies, you’re probably already on top of your back to school marketing game. However, electronics are also hot sellers for back to school. More than half of shoppers for K-12 kids said they’ll buy at least one new electronic device for back to school this year. The top electronics items for K-12 kids are computers, cellphones, and calculators.  The back to college market includes even more categories. School supplies, clothes, and shoes are all big categories for these young adults. So are personal care products and food—more than 70% of students surveyed said they’ll be stocking up on these items when they do their back to school shopping.  More than half of back to college shoppers also plan to pick up some college-branded gear (which can be anything from shirts and hats to décor and gifts), electronics, and furnishings. More than a third of back to college shoppers—presumably parents—plan to stock up on gift cards, too. Can You Offer What Back-to-School Shoppers Want? Let’s say your store doesn’t sell any of the items mentioned above. You can still ace back to school season. Here are a few ideas to help you brainstorm your own offers: Gardening supply stores can offer deals on seeds and tools for teachers who want to plant school gardens.Online travel agencies can offer weekend packages for parents who need a little kid-free time after summer full of family togetherness.Pet supply shops can run deals on treats and toys for companion animals whose pals are at school all day.Board game, sporting goods, and toy sellers can promote deals on items that families can enjoy together on the weekends.Stores that sell any sort of cleaning products have a perfect tie-in. Back to school is the perfect time for a deep cleaning of the house and car. Understand the Back to School Shopping Timeline School shopping season starts sooner than you think and lasts longer than you may realize. About half the households surveyed in early July by the NRF said they’d already started shopping. And the big sale event that budget-conscious back to school shoppers wait for has already passed this year. Amazon Prime Day and its competitors’ sales draw a lot of attention from parents, teens, and college students.  However, the other half of households surveyed at the beginning of July hadn’t started shopping yet, because they’re waiting for the best sales. If you want their back-to-school business, you’ll need to serve up a great sale. What Makes a Great Back to School Sale for eCommerce Sites? Price. Now’s the time to offer coupon codes and flash sales on your site to appeal to parents and teens—and to stay competitive with your competitors’ deals. Most back to school shoppers are price sensitive, a trend that’s persisted for years. However, tweens and teens are spending more of their own money on back to school purchases. That may translate into a few more splurge items (the average teen is kicking in about $36).  Show some deal love to the teachers who shop with you, too. Teachers often spend out of their own pockets for classroom supplies—a big expense on a typical educator’s salary. Most major retailers offer special back to school deals like coupons, freebies, and extra rewards program points for educators. Your store will be more competitive if it does the same. And you don’t have to sell school supplies to make a teacher deal work. You can give them a deal on whatever you sell. Free shipping. There’s no way around this one. The NRF survey found that “90 percent of K-12 and 85 percent of college shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping.” Already offer free shipping? You’re good to go.  If you don’t, now might be a good time to start. One popular approach is to offer paid shipping for your fastest delivery option and free shipping for slower delivery. These budget-conscious shoppers generally won’t mind waiting a couple of extra days in exchange for free shipping.  Before you add free shipping to your store, you may need to adjust your product prices. Factor in your expected shipping expenses, so you don’t lose money on those orders. Now is also a good time to review your online store’s shipping guidelines to see if they need updating before the holiday rush. Promotion. Create a campaign for the parent and young adult segments of your store’s email list that shows off your best back to school offers. Update your store’s blog with news about new back to school items or upcoming flash sales, and then share those posts on social media. You can create coupon codes for your email list and social media followers, too. Nearly 20% of internet users say they always use coupons when they shop, and another 26% use them “very often.” Give them what they’re looking for. Post Back-to-School Steps Review your site traffic and sales numbers to fill out your back to school season report card. Make notes and put back to school prep on next year’s marketing calendar. Then take a breath and start getting your online store ready for the holidays. Good luck! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Google Ads Success: The Metrics You Need to Watch

The post Google Ads Success: The Metrics You Need to Watch appeared first on HostGator Blog. How to Measure the Performance of Your Google Ads Your marketing budget is limited. When you decide to invest in paid marketing like Google Ads, you need a way to track how well it’s working. Luckily, Google does a pretty good job of providing helpful analytics that make it easy to figure out your ROI and look for ways to improve your campaigns for better results over time. What You Can Learn from Google Ads Analytics Google understands the importance of analytics, so they make sure businesses that advertise with them get the data they need to properly track the success of each ad and campaign. With Google Ads’ client reports, you’ll be able to see: Clicks – The number of times people clicked on each of your ads, and the number of total clicks for each campaign. This is the main metric that lets you know whether your ads are doing their main job: getting people to notice your link and convincing them to click through. Click-through rate (CTR) – How the number of clicks compares to the number of times your ad was shown. Impressions – How many times your ad was seen. Impression share – This is Google’s calculation of how your impressions compare with the number of times your ad could potentially have been seen based on how many searches met your criteria. It lets you know if spending a little more could make a big difference to how often your ads show up. Average position –  If your ad shows up alongside a few other PPC ads, gaining the top spot will be more valuable than being second or third. This tells you where in the listing your ad shows up on average. If you’d prefer to be higher, then it pays to spend more. Average cost-per-click –Because Google Ads uses a bidding pricing model, the amount you pay for each click will depend on how competitive your keywords and placements are at any given moment. This metric lets you know how much you’re generally paying for each click. Quality Score –Google wants to deliver good, relevant ads to its searchers. Therefore, in addition to budget, their program looks at how well your ads are performing and determines a quality score that influences how often they’ll show up and how much you pay. Converted clicks – Clicks are nice, but ultimately you want each person clicking to take an action such as signing up for your email list or making a purchase. Google Ads will help you track how many of the visitors who come to your website through an ad follow through with the actions you desire. Conversion rate – This shows the comparison between the number of clicks and the number of times they lead to your desired actions. Average cost per conversion – Google makes it easy for you to figure out how much each conversion is costing you by providing a comparison between the amount you’re spending on ads and the number of conversions they’re bringing you. These metrics will teach you how to recognize what works best in your ad campaigns and how your spending pays off in specific terms.     Get More By Linking Google Analytics to Google Ads Google Ads provides you with a lot of good data, but you can get even more valuable information about the success of your ads by connecting your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account. Where Google Ads tracks how people interact with your ads, Google Analytics provides a wealth of data on what people do once they’ve clicked through to your website.  When the two accounts are linked, you’ll start to see some of the data from Google Analytics in your Google Ads account and vice versa. (First, you’ll need to add Google Analytics to your WordPress site. Here’s how to do that.) For example, in Google Ads, you’ll start to be able to see: Bounce rate – How often visitors who click on your ad leave your website before moving to another page on the site. Pages per session – How many pages and which one visitors go to after landing on your website from an ad. Average session duration – How long your PPC visitors typically spend on the website before leaving. % New sessions – How many of your PPC visitors are coming to your website for the first time. In addition, you’ll be able to connect the data for conversion tracking you’ve set up in Google Analytics to the data you have in Google Ads, to better see the full journey your PPC visitors take from the time they click on an ad to when they take the actions you’ve determined are most valuable. And the data that Google Analytics tracks on demographics and user behavior from your site visitors can be used to further strengthen your remarketing efforts in Google Ads. Basically, the more information you have and the better you’re able to connect it, the more you’ll be able to refine your ad campaigns to get the results you want.   Track Your Results with Expert Google Ads Management Advertising with Google is often a great way to reach a new audience and get more visitors to your website. But you can get so much more out of your advertising when you make use of the data Google provides to learn as you go and make your campaigns continually better. Want to get more out of your Google Ads campaigns? Learn about HostGator’s Google Ads services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business

The post Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. It’s tempting to focus on social media instead of email for marketing when you’re starting a business. Social media is cool and fun, and email seems kind of stale by comparison. It’s also a lot easier to set up social media accounts than it is to build and manage an email list. But email still rules in terms of return on marketing investment, so if you want to grow your business, email needs to be part of your marketing mix. Why Does Email Marketing Still Work? One reason email rules is because it reaches virtually everyone. Sure, there are plenty of people on social media, but not everyone uses the same platforms, and some folks don’t use social media at all. But do you know anyone who doesn’t use email? Do you ever go more than 24 hours without checking your email? Probably not—and email is email, no matter which operating system or email service provider you use. What about Gen Z? Do teenagers even use email anymore? According to a study by OptinMonster, 75% of teenagers consider email part of their daily lives. The study also found that overall, 99% of people check their email every day. Fifty-eight percent check it first thing in the morning, a much higher number than the 14% who check social media first. And it’s not just that people check their email. People engage with marketing emails at a much higher rate than they do social media posts, according to the study. The average open rate for marketing emails is more than 22% and the click-through rate is 3.7%. The average engagement rate for posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is less than 0.6%. Why does email get so much more engagement? In part, recipients are more likely to see email than social posts. An email sits in the inbox until it’s opened or dismissed. But a post may not even show up in someone’s feed, and if it does, it competes with a steady stream of other posts, comments, and links to other media. Broad reach and high engagement contribute to email’s high ROI — $38 for each dollar spent on email marketing, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Over the past ten years, email has outperformed every other marketing channel, from search and social to affiliate programs and display ads. 7 Steps to Making Email Work for Your Business Okay, so you’re convinced that email is a worthwhile part of your small business marketing program. How do you begin? Here are the basic steps. 1. Choose your email marketing software Building and growing a list is not a DIY affair. You’ll want to choose a service like Constant Contact to manage list opt-ins, segment your list, create campaigns, and measure their effectiveness. You can sign up for a free trial to test the features before you choose a subscription plan. 2. Get people to join your list Make your list worth joining. Your opt-in forms should offer something your target audience wants, whether that’s a coupon code, a free gift, a free report to help them solve a problem, or something else appealing. It’s also a good idea to let people know how often you email. People sometimes avoid joining lists because they’re worried about getting emails every day. Your offer can overcome that objection. For example, “Get 10% off your first purchase. Sign up for our weekly email list.” 3. Take care of your list Not every customer who joins your list will be interested in the same offers, products, or services. That’s why it’s important to segment your list. Rather than send one-size-fits-all messages to every list member, you can create separate messages for each segment, to deliver what they’re looking for. Segmentation is important for personalizing offers, which we’ll get to in a bit. Constant Contact lets you refine your list segments by automatically grouping your list based on the links they click in your emails, so your information is always evolving and up to date. Make opting out easy. One-click opt out is the gold standard. It keeps your list members from getting frustrated and reporting your messages as spam, which can reduce your delivery rates. 4. Connect with customers in their inbox Your messages will get more opens, click-throughs, and conversions if they deliver what your list members want. You can personalize offers to segments and even individual customers based on their past purchases, seasonal needs, and the links they’ve clicked on in your previous emails. For example, send preview-sale emails in March to your customers who buy new swimsuits every spring. Or send your premium dog food customers monthly offers for the newest treats and toys. Customers who clicked on your bespoke bags in your last campaign can get a follow up offer on those items later in the week. You can add graphics and videos to your emails to keep readers’ eyes on the page and to showcase your products. Be sure to test your multimedia messages before you send them to make sure they’ll look good in your customers’ inboxes. 5. Test your campaigns Use your email marketing service’s A/B testing tools to see which subject lines, content, and offers get the best responses from your list members. Use that information to make your next campaigns more effective. 6. Monitor your metrics Watch your email service dashboard for each campaign to see how many opens, clicks, and unsubscribes it gets. You’ll also see the peak days and times for email opens so you can time your future campaigns more precisely. Link your email service to your Google Analytics dashboard so you can track visitors who arrive from your email links, what types of devices they use to visit, and where they go on your site, and whether they convert. 7. Refine and repeat Email marketing is a process that should get easier and more effective over time. Use your data from past campaigns, your dashboards, and feedback from your customers to continuously improve your messaging—and your ROI. Ready to grow your business? Get started with Constant Contact today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Simple Steps

The post How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Simple Steps appeared first on HostGator Blog. Email marketing is one of the most effective types of digital marketing. Two-thirds of consumers say they’ve made a purchase because of an email they received, and the average ROI of email marketing is $38 for every $1 spent. But for your business to see results like that, you need an email list. And not one you bought. Paying for an email list isn’t a good way to reach people who will actually care about what you have to say. And according to spam laws, it’s also illegal. What you need is an email list you built — one that’s made up of people who chose to opt in because they care about what you have to say. Email subscribers that chose you are extremely valuable, but hard to find. To build and grow a strong email list, you need a strategy for promoting it. There are a lot of smart techniques you can use to get more email subscribers. A good option that many overlook is using Facebook ads. 5 Benefits of Using Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List Obviously Facebook ads have a cost in both time and money, so you want to be confident this is a tactic that makes sense for you. Facebook advertising has some strong benefits to offer. 1. It’s where your audience is. “Go where your audience is” is marketing 101. Today, that means Facebook. Even with recent scandals that put the social media network in the headlines, tons of people use Facebook.  The platform has over 2 billion monthly active users and many of those users are on there every day.  In the U.S., the average person spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook. Facebook is such a ubiquitous part of our lives at this point that no matter who your target audience is, you can trust that they’re hanging out on Facebook. 2. Facebook doesn’t offer much organic reach. Anyone can create a Facebook page for their business for free, so you may figure you should just work on reaching your audience on the platform that way.  But over the last couple of years, Facebook has made changes that make it increasingly difficult for business pages to gain followers and for the followers they have to see those updates. That doesn’t mean it’s a waste to create a Facebook page and work on building followers to it, but on its own, that won’t get you very far. To really gain traction on Facebook now, you have to pay for ads. 3. You can reach people in your target audience. If that’s the bad news, this is the good news. By paying for Facebook exposure, you tap into the company’s powerful targeting options. Your ad won’t show up indiscriminately for all of Facebook’s billions of users, you can specify who you want to see it based on factors like demographic categories, interests, and behaviors. 4. You can reach them at the right moment. The marketing ideal is reaching the right person with the right message at the right moment. Facebook’s targeting options include controlling the timing of when you reach people. If the items you sell would make great gifts, you can target your ads to people with an anniversary coming up. If your business blog provides travel tips, you can target people currently planning a vacation. While the goal of an email list is to build an ongoing relationship with potential customers, you can still increase sign ups by ensuring your promotion shows up right when people will most value what you offer. 5. Remarketing converts people who already showed an interest in your brand. A lot of people will interact with your brand multiple times before they make the decision to sign up for your email list. If someone visits your website and never sees mention of you again, they’re likely to forget you completely. But with remarketing, you can serve ads to the people that have already interacted with your brand in some capacity, increasing the chance that they’ll take the step of signing up for your email list before you slip from their memory. How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Steps Now that you know the why, here are a few tips to help with the how. 1. Develop an email marketing plan. Before you get to the point of using Facebook advertising to grow your list, you need to figure out what you’re going to do with your email list. There’s no point in working to gain subscribers if you’re not ready to follow that up with work to keep them. Create a plan for the types of emails you’ll send out and the schedule you’ll send them out on. You may want to create an email newsletter that goes out every month, or plan on sending a weekly update that includes links to the new content on your site. You can send out more directly promotional emails as well, but don’t make that all you ever do.  Promotional emails work best if the recipient is already familiar with your brand and has a reason to trust you. Your other emails will help build that trust. 2. Select “Lead Generation” as your campaign objective. One of the first steps to creating an ad in Facebook is choosing your campaign objective. After you click the Create button, you’ll see a few options you can choose from in a dropdown menu. Since your primary goal is building an email list, select “Lead Generation.” This ensures that the options Facebook provides as you go through the steps of creating your ads will match up with your goal of collecting email addresses from people in your target audience. 3. Clarify your target audience. One of the next steps is to set up your audience targeting. Facebook allows advertisers to narrow down who will see your ads based on wide variety of factors, including:      Geographic location      Age range      Gender      The language(s) they speak      Education level      Relationship status      The type of work they do      Their financial status      Whether they have kids or not      Their political preferences      Their interests      Their online behaviors      Whether they’ve interacted with you before Think about what your ideal customer looks like. Use this step to clarify who you want to reach with your ads so you get the most bang for your buck. 4. Choose what information to collect. You definitely want to collect email addresses — that’s the main goal here, after all. But Facebook will let you choose additional information to ask for in your ads, such as:   First name   Last name   City   Phone number   Date of birth   Job title   Company name On the one hand, the more information you ask for, the better you’ll be able to provide relevant emails to your new subscribers. On the other hand, adding more required fields for people to fill in before signing up may lose you some leads who decide it’s too much work. Most businesses should be fine sticking with name and email address, only add the others if they’ll help you create more useful, segmented lists. 5. Set your budget. Figure out what you can afford. You can set a maximum daily budget, and select whether to bid manually on your ads or let Facebook do automatic bidding for you. Automatic bidding is generally the best choice for anyone that’s not already an expert in PPC advertising. Keep in mind that the more you’re able to spend, the more people will see and interact with your ads. Try not to be too stingy here, while staying within a budget you can handle. 6. Create eye-catching images for your ads. Now it’s time to create the ads themselves. Social media is a visual medium, so make sure you include an image (or several) in your ad that will attract your audience’s attention, while still being relevant to what you’re offering. 7. Write copy that emphasizes the benefits of subscribing. An image can’t tell the whole story, so couple it with words that tell your audience what they’ll get out of subscribing to your email list. Make sure you focus on the benefits to them. It may be accurate that signing up means learning more about your brand and products, but that won’t convince most people. What problems will your emails help them solve? How will you make their lives easier or better? 8. Include a clear call to action (CTA). You want them to take an action, so tell them what to do. You can test out different language to use here, but be sure you explicitly ask people to “Sign up today” or “Subscribe now.” Facebook will provide some options for you to choose from here. 9. Set up a relevant email drip campaign for new subscribers. Every time someone subscribes, it’s a win! But it could quickly turn into a loss if you don’t manage to keep them. One of the best ways to convince new subscribers that you’re worth sticking with is to set up a series of welcome emails that automatically go out to new subscribers. Use these initial emails to explain to your subscribers what they can expect from your email list, make the case for why it’s worth sticking around, and provide them a reward of some sort for joining (such as a discount offer or exclusive content). Providing value right away while the decision to sign up is still fresh in their memory will give you the chance to establish the relationship and show them you’re worth their time. 10. Test and tweak. You won’t know what will get results until you get started. Pay attention to your analytics — both for Facebook and your emails — to learn what’s working. Test out different images, copy, and CTAs to see what your audience responds to best. Over time, you’ll learn more about your target audience — what they respond to and what they care about. That knowledge will enable you to run better ads, strengthen your email marketing campaigns, and provide better service to your customers. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Improve SEO

The post How to Improve SEO appeared first on HostGator Blog. Your website can only do its job if people can find it.  SEO (search engine optimization)—a collection of tactics website owners can use to increase your ranking in the search engine results—is one of the best ways to make sure your audience can find you.  But on-page SEO is challenging. And many website owners struggle with the question of how to improve SEO for their websites.  The search engines are fairly tight-lipped about how the algorithms that determine how search engine rankings work. But between the information they have shared and an analysis by SEO experts of what the ranking web pages have in common, we have a pretty good understanding of how to improve Google search results. Improving SEO involves a mix of things you can do on your own website and offsite strategies.  How to Improve SEO on Your Website On-site SEO is mostly about two main things: making sure Google can tell what your website is about, and ensuring the site has a good user experience for users. To do that, there are eight main steps you should take.   1. Review your website analytics. If you already have a website, then your first step is to review your website analytics to better understand how people find and interact with your website now. If you haven’t set up Google Analytics for your website, do that now! You won’t have any data to review to start, but you can come back to this step once you do.  In Google Analytics, you’ll learn how much traffic you’re getting now, and what share of it is coming from Google (labeled “Organic Search”). The Acquisition section gives you an easy snapshot of how often people are finding you through Google now. In addition, you can find a list of any keywords you rank for now and what your average ranking is. Click on Acquisition, Search Console, and then Queries.  This gives you a good understanding of where you are now in terms of your SEO strategy. That’s helpful in setting goals for where you want to be, and working out a plan to get there. And any relevant keywords you rank for now (even if you’re not on page one) are a good place to start your optimization efforts, since you already have a headstart.  2. Identify your keywords. Keyword research is the cornerstone of SEO. Before you can do any of the other steps involved in SEO, you need to know what keywords to target. Sit down and write every word or phrase you can think of that’s relevant to your business and products. Once that’s done, use keyword tools to figure out how valuable the terms on your list are, and build out your list further.  Google’s free Keyword Planner provides data on the average number of searches a keyword has, and how competitive it is. It also provides suggestions for long-tail keywords relevant to your website that you can use to build out your list. To get new ideas, start by plugging either your URL or a starter list of your main keywords into the tool. You can export the list of long-tail keywords they suggest to better organize it based on relevance, popularity, and competitiveness. Using these keywords throughout your website or a blog post will help tremendously when trying to drive organic traffic.  Google’s tool may give you enough information, but many businesses that have an SEO strategy go further and use paid SEO tools that provide more detailed keyword information. With these, you can learn what keywords your competitors rank for, and get more analysis on the value of a keyword based on factors like the search engine results page (SERP) features, level of competitiveness, and the number of clicks the top results are likely to get. 3. Optimize every page on your site for SEO. Once you know what keywords to target, it’s time to get to work on your website. For each page and blog post of your website, determine the most relevant keyword from your list you want to rank for. To optimize the page for the selected keyword, look for natural ways to include it in these parts of the page: The URL – Always edit your URL so it’s relevant to the content of the page and uses your primary keyword. The heading tags – Using headings and subheadings (in the HTML, these look like <h1>, <h2>, etc.) break up your page copy for readability and provide more opportunities to naturally get your keywords onto the page.The image names and alt tags – Before you load an image to a page, give it a name that includes your keyword. Then add an alt tag that includes it as well. The title tag – Write a short title for each page (50-60 characters) that uses your primary keyword. The meta description – The meta description is what shows up underneath your link on the SERP. Like your title tag, they don’t directly affect rankings, but they can increase your click-through rate (CTR). Write a meta description for each page that describes what’s on the page in under 160 characters, includes your keyword, and has a call to action that encourages people to click. The page copy – Look for opportunities to use your keyword in the words on the page where it makes sense naturally. Google wants to deliver relevant results for every search. All of this helps signal to Google what the page is about so they know what keywords it makes sense for it to show up for.  4. Create relevant content. Creating and publishing content on your website accomplishes a few important things for SEO: Fresh website content signals to Google that your website is current and active—they don’t want to show outdated results.It gives you a chance to create more pages optimized for more of the keywords on your list.It gives your visitors a reason to stick around, and time on site is a metric that signals to Google that people like what they see when they visit your site.When you publish valuable content on your site, it gives other websites more of a reason to link back to you. Creating high-quality content that’s relevant to your audience is therefore an important part of good SEO. Use your keyword research to help guide your content strategy. Knowing what topics people are searching for tells you what your audience is interested in.  Before you write a piece of content, do some research to learn what’s on the SERP for it. Seeing what’s ranking there now shows you what Google likes for that keyword and what you need to beat. In addition, if there are rich results on the SERP for a term, you want to know so you can optimize your content to claim them.  5. Update your old content. This is a step many people skip, but a regular content audit can be really valuable for improving your SEO. Make a point of returning to your old content to update it periodically. Google likes content that’s fresh and up to date, so changing outdated information can go a long way to making sure the search engine (and your visitors) still see an old piece of content as valuable.  6. Use internal linking. An internal link is any link on a page that goes to another page on the same website. Google’s algorithm factors a link’s anchor text into its analysis of what a page is about. The anchor text is the words that are hyperlinked, the part that usually shows up in blue with an underline.  For internal links, you get to choose the anchor text. That gives you another opportunity to use your primary keyword and signal to Google what keywords to associate with your page. 7. Make your website mobile friendly. While Google keeps a lot of the details about its algorithm under wraps, one of the things they’ve been upfront in telling people is that mobile matters. For the sake of both SEO and your visitors—many of whom will be visiting your website on a mobile device—make your website mobile friendly.  8. Improve your site speed. Speed is another ranking factor Google has told people about outright. They know people care about how fast a website loads, so Google does, too. Taking steps to improve your site speed will both improve the user experience of your website, and improve Google search results for your site.  How to Improve Google Search Results Using Off-page SEO Many of the steps involved in on-site optimization require a lot of work, but the harder part of SEO happens offsite. In order to determine a web page’s value, Google pays attention to how often other websites link to it, called backlinks. A link is seen as an endorsement of what’s on the page. When a lot of websites with authority link to a particular page, it suggests that whatever’s on it is useful.  Building backlinks is challenging because you can’t control the decisions other people make about what they put on their websites. But there are a few strategies you can use to encourage other websites to link to yours.  1. Promote your content. Publishing great content is only worth the work if you get people to read it. Make promotion part of your content strategy. Share your pieces on social media. Send them to your email list. Highlight industry influencers in your content and let them know when it’s up. Consider paid promotion like pay-per-click (PPC) or social ads if you need that extra boost.  2. Sign up for relevant directories. This is one of the easiest ways to build links, but it’s important not to abuse. Add your business information to sites like Yelp and Google’s My Business. Research industry organizations that have member directories, and consider joining local organizations like your Chamber of Commerce that have one.  Only sign up for directories that are legitimate and relevant to your business. A lot of links from low-quality directories will look spammy and could hurt rather than help you.  3. Guest post. A guest post on a blog in your industry is a good way to bring awareness of your brand to a new audience and gain a backlink to your site at the same time. Identify blogs that cover topics relevant to your business that accept guest posts, and start pitching. It takes time, but it can pay off in both links and new traffic.  4. Become an expert source. Whatever your business does, you’re an expert on it. When a blogger or journalist is writing a topic that relates to your expertise, providing a quote or interview will often result in a link back to your site. You can hire a PR consultant to help you find these kinds of opportunities, or sign up for email alerts from Help a Reporter Out to find opportunities yourself.  5. Develop industry awards. People (and businesses) love getting awards. The recognition feels good and is something they’re likely to talk about on their own website. Handing out awards for your industry is therefore a good strategy for earning more links. It’s one employed by successful internet businesses like TripAdvisor: Figure out what categories to include in your awards. Research businesses doing good work in each of them, or open them up to nominations. When you’ve decided on nominees and winners, alert them to the award. Create a badge they can share on their website to encourage them to post about it with a link back to the awards page on the website.  6. Create a relevant certification program. This requires a lot of work, but is a good way to position your business as an ultimate expert on what you do as well as a strong link building strategy. Anyone who completes your certification program will want to let others know they’ve done so. As with awards, create a badge people can add to their websites to show they’re certified.  7. Do broken link building. Some SEO tools will help you find links around the web with your target keywords in the anchor text that no longer work. These are a link-building opportunity. If you track down the website owner, you can alert them that there’s a broken link on their website that needs fixing, and propose the content you have on the topic as a replacement. Because you’re helping them fix a problem they have at the same time that you’re asking something of them, it increases your chances of getting your desired response.  Improve SEO with Less Work SEO is difficult and time consuming. You know you want better SEO results, but reading over a list like this may have you feeling hopeless. How will you find the time for all this? While there’s no good shortcut to getting better Google search results—someone has to do the work—that someone doesn’t have to be you.  You can hire the skilled SEO professionals at HostGator. We know how to implement all these SEO strategies and more to get your website to start showing up for your target keywords. It saves you time and work, and will also net better results since they come to the job with more knowledge and experience.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Pages

Recommended Content