Industry Buzz

Protecting your WordPress Website

BigRock Blog -

  Website security has become so important these days that people plan on how to secure a website, even before starting to build one. Cyber attacks are common not only larger websites but even smaller websites and blogs. WordPress sites are no exception to this rule. Owing to its super popular status, wordpress sites have faced several attacks over the time. This makes it prudent include security, in the initial stages of building a WordPress website. In our previous article we talked about ways to safeguard your WordPress Blog from Hackers, but now we have some more steps to strengthen your website’s security. For you to implement these security measures you will need to first download and install a WordPress Plugin called Better WP Security. Below are the plugin options that we will need to work with. 1] Away mode: Many of us update our website only during a certain part of the day while the remaining time the website is basically unattended. We can now disable the access to the backend of the website for a time period using the options within the Away tab. You can choose to use this option daily or just one time. Simply add the time range and your website login page will be inaccessible during that period. Just remember to make all the important updates before stepping into this mode. 2] Change Database Prefix: Our content is stored in a database which generally begins with a prefix “wp_”. Hackers can write scripts to attack this database and bring the website down. By changing the prefix, it will be difficult for the database file to be found and this could avoid an attack on your website. Simply go to the prefix tab on security dashboard and click on Change Database Table Prefix. We strongly advise you to take a backup of your database before you make the changes. 3] Hide Login Gateway: The default login gateway page for any WordPress website would be the website url/wp-login.php [eg. www.example.com/wp-login.php]. This makes it easy for any hacker to run automated software and try multiple attempts to gain access to your WordPress dashboard. The options with the hide tab changes the wp-login.php to any other word that you want. This means that if hackers do not have access to your login gateway then chances of your account getting compromised, is minimal. 4] Limit Login Attempts: Incase if you do not enable the Hide Login Gateway option or the hackers find your modified login gateway url, then limit login attempts is something you should always enable. Under the Login tab, you can set thresholds for the maximum number of times a user can attempt to login to the WordPress dashboard. You can assign lockout time periods for the ones who have failed to login within the threshold. This will get the hacker frustrated and he would eventually move on to another website. 5] Change wp-content directory: All your files are by default saved in a directory called wp-content. This makes it easier for hackers to scan any vulnerable files because they know where to find it. You can change the directory name through the DIR tab so that it becomes difficult for any hacker to easily find entry points to your website. USE THIS OPTION ONLY FOR A NEW WORDPRESS INSTALLATION. If you already have existing content on your website then the use of this option will cause your website to break. So go on, try these out and let us know your feedback, we’ll keep finding newer and better ways to make your site better and more secure.  If you do have better options that you’ve tried feel free to post it in the comments below.

My SiteGround

SiteGround Blog -

SiteGround is turning 10 in March. That is why I will ask some of the people that have been working for most of these years at the company to share their personal top SiteGround achievements/ events/ experiences/ initiatives/ projects/ etc. They will be posted here in the blog in the following weeks. To pave the way I share below my own personal SiteGround top 7: The SiteGround name Choosing the name was great fun. We made an internal game. Each of us wrote down his/her suggestions and then each person voted for the one s/he liked best. SiteGround, which was one of my suggestions, won the vote over a fierce competition including suggestions like rambohosting.com and godzillahosting.com. The first team building This was the time, when the company was no longer just few close friends from college. We had grown, and it was great to see other people getting inspired by the same idea, sharing the same values and having great fun together. The learning Each day I learn something new from the people I work with. I also hope that each day another SiteGrounder learns something new from me. Coming back from the maternity leave How could you not love a company, that lets you dedicate fully a year and a half to your child and then come back as if you have left yesterday! The 1H project 1h.com was the big project I was involved with right after my maternity leave. It made me realize how much SiteGround’s approach to web hosting technology had evolved, and how much better it actually was than what other companies were doing at the time. JoomlaDays and WordCamps I guess this was one of the best things we have started in the last 3 years. Sponsoring and visiting JoomlaDays and WordCamps is inspiring, enriching, exciting, rewarding and the right thing to do from any perspective. The rebranding last year It was not about having a new site and logo. It was about telling the SiteGround story right. And I think we made a great job with that.

Infinite scroll search-friendly recommendations

Google Webmaster Central Blog -

Webmaster Level: Advanced Your site’s news feed or pinboard might use infinite scroll—much to your users’ delight! When it comes to delighting Googlebot, however, that can be another story. With infinite scroll, crawlers cannot always emulate manual user behavior--like scrolling or clicking a button to load more items--so they don't always access all individual items in the feed or gallery. If crawlers can’t access your content, it’s unlikely to surface in search results. To make sure that search engines can crawl individual items linked from an infinite scroll page, make sure that you or your content management system produces a paginated series (component pages) to go along with your infinite scroll. Infinite scroll page is made “search-friendly” when converted to a paginated series -- each component page has a similar <title> with rel=next/prev values declared in the <head>.You can see this type of behavior in action in the infinite scroll with pagination demo created by Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller. The demo illustrates some key search-engine friendly points:Coverage: All individual items are accessible. With traditional infinite scroll, individual items displayed after the initial page load aren’t discoverable to crawlers.No overlap: Each item is listed only once in the paginated series (i.e., no duplication of items). Search-friendly recommendations for infinite scrollBefore you start:Chunk your infinite-scroll page content into component pages that can be accessed when JavaScript is disabled.Determine how much content to include on each page.Be sure that if a searcher came directly to this page, they could easily find the exact item they wanted (e.g., without lots of scrolling before locating the desired content).Maintain reasonable page load time.Divide content so that there’s no overlap between component pages in the series (with the exception of buffering).The example on the left is search-friendly, the right example isn’t -- the right example would cause crawling and indexing of duplicative content.Structure URLs for infinite scroll search engine processing. Each component page contains a full URL. We recommend full URLs in this situation to minimize potential for configuration error.Good: example.com/category?name=fun-items&page=1Good: example.com/fun-items?lastid=567Less optimal: example.com/fun-items#1Test that each component page (the URL) works to take anyone directly to the content and is accessible/referenceable in a browser without the same cookie or user history.Any key/value URL parameters should follow these recommendations:Be sure the URL shows conceptually the same content two weeks from now.Avoid relative-time based URL parameters: example.com/category/page.php?name=fun-items&days-ago=3Create parameters that can surface valuable content to searchers.Avoid non-searcher valuable parameters as the primary method to access content: example.com/fun-places?radius=5&lat=40.71&long=-73.40Configure pagination with each component page containing rel=next and rel=prev values in the <head>. Pagination values in the <body> will be ignored for Google indexing purposes because they could be created with user-generated content (not intended by the webmaster).Implement replaceState/pushState on the infinite scroll page. (The decision to use one or both is up to you and your site’s user behavior). That said, we recommend including pushState (by itself, or in conjunction with replaceState) for the following:Any user action that resembles a click or actively turning a page.To provide users with the ability to serially backup through the most recently paginated content.Test!Check that page values adjust as the user scrolls up or down. John Mueller’s infinite-scroll-with-pagination site demonstrates the scrolling up/down behavior.Verify that pages that are out-of-bounds in the series return a 404 response (i.e., example.com/category?name=fun-items&page=999 should return a 404 response if there are only 998 pages of content).Investigate potential usability implications introduced by your infinite scroll implementation. Written, reviewed, or coded by John Mueller, Maile Ohye, and Joachim Kupke

New offline sales impact offering: measure vehicle sales from Promoted Tweets

The Twitter Advertising Blog -

In August 2013 we announced the ability to quantify the impact of Promoted and organic Tweets on offline sales for consumer packaged goods brands in the U.S. Today, through our continued partnership with Datalogix, we’re pleased to introduce offline sales impact for U.S. auto advertisers to measure actual vehicle purchases from their Twitter audience. New research: Households with Twitter users were 2x as likely to purchase a new car as the average U.S. household By matching unreadable, scrambled (hashed) email addresses from Datalogix, Twitter provides information about activity on our platform that Datalogix can then pair to vehicle purchases captured by Polk (which was recently acquired by IHS). Polk’s comprehensive automotive data captures new and used vehicle purchases by make and model through DMV reporting. Datalogix’s reporting helps auto advertisers identify the Twitter audience segments that demonstrate the highest conversion, providing insight into campaign effectiveness and helping future media optimization. Auto brands have previously been able to measure the engagement and brand lift achieved by Promoted Tweets, as well as how Twitter-specific engagements and impressions can lead to online conversions. Now they can measure actual vehicle purchases through offline sales impact. This helps Twitter campaign measurement from the top of the funnel to the very bottom. Initial results on vehicle purchases As part of the development of this new offering, we asked Datalogix to measure the car purchases of the total U.S. Twitter audience, those who follow auto accounts on Twitter, and those who were reached with Promoted Tweets from 10 different auto brands. The results were compelling: 1. Households with Twitter users were 2x as likely to purchase a new car as the average U.S. household We learned that U.S. households with Twitter users were twice as likely to purchase a new vehicle as the benchmark, which included a group of randomly selected U.S. households for the geographical location of the measured Twitter audience. Not only did they exhibit a higher propensity to purchase; households with Twitter users also demonstrated vast reach, accounting for more than half of all U.S. vehicle purchases during the six-month measurement period. 2. Households with Twitter users who engaged with Promoted Tweets from auto advertisers were 32% more likely to purchase a new vehicle than the average Twitter user We’ve already shown that Promoted Tweet engagement drives greater in-store sales for CPG brands. Now we’ve learned that Promoted Tweet engagement is also predictive of car purchases. Users exposed to an auto advertiser’s Promoted Tweets were more likely to buy a car than the average Twitter user, and users who engaged with those Tweets had an even higher buy-through rate: 32% more likely than the average Twitter user. 3. Auto brand Twitter followers were nearly 3x as likely to purchase a new car Not only are an auto brand’s Twitter followers more likely to currently own a vehicle of that brand; auto account followers also were more likely to purchase a new vehicle, especially those followers acquired during the measurement period. Many of these auto brands were running Promoted Accounts to grow followers among users in-market for a new vehicle as well as brand loyalists post-purchase. These results are just the beginning. This new product offering will help auto advertisers learn how to leverage the power of Twitter to enhance their media mix. If you are an auto advertiser in the U.S. and want to know more about qualifying for this measurement product, please reach out to your Twitter account representative. How we protect user privacy Consistent with our CPG offline sales impact capability, user privacy is our top priority with this new measurement product. The reports that Datalogix creates for U.S. auto advertisers include only aggregated anonymous information. Users can opt out of Datalogix measurement studies at any time. If a user opts out, Datalogix does not send the user’s hashed email address to Twitter. For more information on our process and user privacy, please visit this Help Center page.

Understanding new gTLDS

BigRock Blog -

The news around the launch of hundreds of domain extensions in the coming year can be overwhelming and confusing. While this is a great movement that could change the internet ecosystem, let’s take a step back and understand what new gTLDs are. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for the coordination of the global Internet system and to ensure a stable and secure environment along with introducing and promoting competition in the registration of domain names. Until 2011, the internet was restricted to 22 TLDs that included generic and country code TLDs. While ICANN had been considering the launch of new TLDs since 2005, it was in the year 2011 that it finally approved the program that allowed including new domain extensions. Basically stating that one can now have a website ending with .anything The application window opened on 12 January 2012, and ICANN received 1,930 applications for various types of extensions, ranging from the truly generic (.web, .website, .love, .shop, .app), to the brand-specific (.goog, .bmw, .aol) and the geo-specific (.nyc, .boston, .paris). Over 600 are stated to launch by the end of 2014. So how will these new domain extensions affect you and your business? Availability: A large percentage of domain search availability requests results in negative. With the availability of hundreds of domain extensions, not only will getting a desired domain name be easy, one can also get something really relevant to one’s business, profession, interest etc.. For e.g. instead of getting joeyspizza.com, you could get a joeys.pizza or joeys.menu Search: Whether it is the business’ main site or a targeted microsite, a good and descriptive domain name has the power to make a company stand out in searches, boost its position in organic search results, and establish a reputation as a reliable source of information and a leader in a certain category. Aside from the possible rise of the “search by extension” feature on search engines, as consumers begin to understand the new, highly targeted, quality strings offered by the new gTLDs, search could experience a very dramatic overhaul in the form of a rise in niche search engines. One place we’re already seeing previews of the potential change is with the.xxx registry, which launched “Search.xxx.” Just as Google or Bing search the Web at large, Search.xxx is a niche search engine that only queries .xxx domains. Search.xxx may not be for everyone, but what about Search.shoes? Search.cars?  Search.app? The new gTLDs have the potential to change search as we know it, and if done right, could make quality content and your business easier to find. The question now is when should your business invest in these new domain extensions? Well, the sooner the better. Here is a calendar of some of the upcoming strings launching in the next few months. To understand more about Sunrise and Landrush, one can visit http://www.bigrock.in/new-gtld/sunrise and refer to the FAQs section.   TLD Sunrise Starts EAP/Landrush General Availability .SHABAKA 31-Oct-13 2nd Jan 2014 .MENU 9-Dec-13 10th Feb 2014 .VENTURES 26-Nov-13 29-Jan-14 5-Feb-14 .SINGLES 26-Nov-13 29-Jan-14 5-Feb-14 .BIKE 26-Nov-13 29-Jan-14 5-Feb-14 .HOLDINGS 26-Nov-13 29-Jan-14 5-Feb-14 .PLUMBING 26-Nov-13 29-Jan-14 5-Feb-14 .GURU 26-Nov-13 29-Jan-14 5-Feb-14 .CLOTHING 26-Nov-13 29-Jan-14 5-Feb-14 .CAMERA 3-Dec-13 5-Feb-14 12-Feb-14 .EQUIPMENT 3-Dec-13 5-Feb-14 12-Feb-14 .ESTATE 3-Dec-13 5-Feb-14 12-Feb-14 .GALLERY 3-Dec-13 5-Feb-14 12-Feb-14 .GRAPHICS 3-Dec-13 5-Feb-14 12-Feb-14 .LIGHTING 3-Dec-13 5-Feb-14 12-Feb-14 .PHOTOGRAPHY 3-Dec-13 5-Feb-14 12-Feb-14 .CONTRACTORS 10-Dec-13 12-Feb-14 19-Feb-14 .LAND 10-Dec-13 12-Feb-14 19-Feb-14 .TECHNOLOGY 10-Dec-13 12-Feb-14 19-Feb-14 .CONSTRUCTION 10-Dec-13 12-Feb-14 19-Feb-14 .DIRECTORY 10-Dec-13 12-Feb-14 19-Feb-14 .KITCHEN 10-Dec-13 12-Feb-14 19-Feb-14 .TODAY 10-Dec-13 12-Feb-14 19-Feb-14 .DIAMONDS 17-Dec-13 19-Feb-14 26-Feb-14 .ENTERPRISES 17-Dec-13 19-Feb-14 26-Feb-14 .TIPS 17-Dec-13 19-Feb-14 26-Feb-14 .VOYAGE 17-Dec-13 19-Feb-14 26-Feb-14 .EVERYONE 9-Dec-13 .UNO 9-Dec-13 .SEXY 11-Dec-13 na 25-Feb-14 .TATTOO 11-Dec-13 na 25-Feb-14 .CAREERS 24-Dec-13 26-Feb-14 5-Mar-14 .PHOTOS 24-Dec-13 26-Feb-14 5-Mar-14 .RECIPES 24-Dec-13 26-Feb-14 5-Mar-14 .SHOES 24-Dec-13 26-Feb-14 5-Mar-14 .LIMO 31-Dec-13 5-Mar-14 12-Mar-14 .DOMAINS 31-Dec-13 5-Mar-14 12-Mar-14 .CAB 31-Dec-13 5-Mar-14 12-Mar-14 .COMPANY 31-Dec-13 8-Mar-14 12-Mar-14 .COMPUTER 7-Jan-14 12-Mar-14 19-Mar-14 .SYSTEMS 7-Jan-14 12-Mar-14 19-Mar-14 .ACADEMY 7-Jan-14 12-Mar-14 19-Mar-14 .MANAGEMENT 7-Jan-14 12-Mar-14 19-Mar-14 .CENTER 7-Jan-14 12-Mar-14 19-Mar-14 .BUILDERS 14-Jan-14 19-Mar-14 26-Mar-14 .EMAIL 14-Jan-14 19-Mar-14 26-Mar-14 .SOLUTIONS 14-Jan-14 19-Mar-14 26-Mar-14 .SUPPORT 14-Jan-14 19-Mar-14 26-Mar-14 .TRAINING 14-Jan-14 19-Mar-14 26-Mar-14 .BUZZ 15-Jan-14 20-Mar-14 15-Apr-14 .RUHR 21-Jan-14 .CAMP 21-Jan-14 26-Mar-14 2-Apr-14 .EDUCATION 21-Jan-14 26-Mar-14 2-Apr-14 .GLASS 21-Jan-14 26-Mar-14 2-Apr-14 .INSTITUTE 21-Jan-14 26-Mar-14 2-Apr-14 .REPAIR 21-Jan-14 26-Mar-14 2-Apr-14 .LINK 27-Jan-14 na 15-Apr-14 .GUITARS 27-Jan-14 na 15-Apr-14 .PICS 27-Jan-14 na 15-Apr-14 .GIFT 27-Jan-14 na 15-Apr-14 .PHOTO 28-Jan-14 na 15-Apr-14 .CLUB 28-Jan-14 1-Apr-14 7-May-14 .COFFEE 28-Jan-14 2-Apr-14 9-Apr-14 .FLORIST 28-Jan-14 2-Apr-14 9-Apr-14 .HOUSE 28-Jan-14 2-Apr-14 9-Apr-14 .INTERNATIONAL 28-Jan-14 2-Apr-14 9-Apr-14 .SOLAR 28-Jan-14 2-Apr-14 9-Apr-14 .HOLIDAY 4-Feb-14 9-Apr-14 16-Apr-14 .MARKETING 4-Feb-14 9-Apr-14 16-Apr-14 .DEMOCRAT 5-Feb-14 16-Apr-14 May 21,2014 .DANCE 5-Feb-14 16-Apr-14 May 21,2014 .IMMOBILIEN 19-Feb-14 30-Apr-14 28-May-14 .NINJA 19-Feb-14 30-Apr-14 28-May-14 .CODES 11-Feb-14 16-Apr-14 23-Apr-14 .FARM 11-Feb-14 16-Apr-14 23-Apr-14 .VIAJES 11-Feb-14 16-Apr-14 23-Apr-14  

Blockers for New Installations of cPanel & WHM

cPanel Blog -

With the latest version of our installer, new installations of cPanel & WHM software will be subject to the following blockers: The target version must be cPanel & WHM version 11.40 or higher. For CentOS, CloudLinux, or RHEL operating systems, the installation must be version 6 or higher. If either of these statements are not true, the installation will fail. These blockers are meant to encourage system administrators to use the most up-to-date software, which will prevent future issues. To allow additional time for anyone whose servers do not yet meet these requirements, you can perform the following actions:* Install cPanel & WHM version 11.38 as the target version. For CentOS, CloudLinux, or RHEL operating systems, install on version 5. *When running the installer, you must use the --force command line option. For example, sh latest --force or sh latest-dnsonly --force. These blockers will not affect existing installations of cPanel & WHM. However, we strongly encourage system administrators to always upgrade their servers’ software to the newest version as soon as possible.

Faceted navigation best (and 5 of the worst) practices

Google Webmaster Central Blog -

Webmaster Level: AdvancedFaceted navigation, such as filtering by color or price range, can be helpful for your visitors, but it’s often not search-friendly since it creates many combinations of URLs with duplicative content. With duplicative URLs, search engines may not crawl new or updated unique content as quickly, and/or they may not index a page accurately because indexing signals are diluted between the duplicate versions. To reduce these issues and help faceted navigation sites become as search-friendly as possible, we’d like to: Provide background and potential issues with faceted navigationHighlight worst practicesShare best practicesNew faceted navigation implementations or redesignsExisting faceted navigation implementationsSelecting filters with faceted navigation can cause many URL combinations, such as http://www.example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&price=5-10&price=over-10 BackgroundIn an ideal state, unique content -- whether an individual product/article or a category of products/articles --  would have only one accessible URL. This URL would have a clear click path, or route to the content from within the site, accessible by clicking from the homepage or a category page. Ideal for searchers and Google SearchClear path that reaches all individual product/article pagesOn the left is potential user navigation on the site (i.e., the click path), on the right are the pages accessed.One representative URL for category page http://www.example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candiesCategory page for gummy candiesOne representative URL for individual product pagehttp://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fishProduct page for swedish fishUndesirable duplication caused with faceted navigationNumerous URLs for the same article/productCanonicalDuplicateexample.com/product.php? item=swedish-fishexample.com/product.php? item=swedish-fish&category=gummy-candies&price=5-10Same product page for swedish fish can be available on multiple URLs.Numerous category pages that provide little or no value to searchers and search engines) URLexample.com/category.php? category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&price=5-10example.com/category.php? category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&price=over-10IssuesNo added value to Google searchers given users rarely search for [sour gummy candy price five to ten dollars]. No added value for search engine crawlers that discover same item ("fruit salad") from parent category pages (either “gummy candies” or “sour gummy candies”).Negative value to site owner who may have indexing signals diluted between numerous versions of the same category.Negative value to site owner with respect to serving bandwidth and losing crawler capacity to duplicative content rather than new or updated pages.No value for search engines (should have 404 response code).Negative value to searchers.Worst (search un-friendly) practices for faceted navigationWorst practice #1: Non-standard URL encoding for parameters, like commas or brackets, instead of “key=value&” pairs. Worst practices:example.com/category?[category:gummy-candy][sort:price-low-to-high][sid:789]key=value pairs marked with : rather than = multiple parameters appended with [ ] rather than &example.com/category?category,gummy-candy,,sort,lowtohigh,,sid,789key=value pairs marked with a , rather than =multiple parameters appended with ,, rather than &Best practice:example.com/category?category=gummy-candy&sort=low-to-high&sid=789While humans may be able to decode odd URL parameters, such as “,,”, crawlers have difficulty interpreting URL parameters when they’re implemented in a non-standard fashion. Software engineer on Google’s Crawling Team, Mehmet Aktuna, says “Using non-standard encoding is just asking for trouble.” Instead, connect key=value pairs with an equal sign (=) and append multiple parameters with an ampersand (&).Worst practice #2: Using directories or file paths rather than parameters to list values that don’t change page content.Worst practice:example.com/c123/s789/product?swedish-fish (where /c123/ is a category, /s789/ is a sessionID that doesn’t change page content) Good practice:example.com/gummy-candy/product?item=swedish-fish&sid=789 (the directory, /gummy-candy/,changes the page content in a meaningful way) Best practice:example.com/product?item=swedish-fish&category=gummy-candy&sid=789 (URL parameters allow more flexibility for search engines to determine how to crawl efficiently)It’s difficult for automated programs, like search engine crawlers, to differentiate useful values (e.g., “gummy-candy”) from the useless ones (e.g., “sessionID”) when values are placed directly in the path. On the other hand, URL parameters provide flexibility for search engines to quickly test and determine when a given value doesn’t require the crawler access all variations. Common values that don’t change page content and should be listed as URL parameters include:Session IDsTracking IDsReferrer IDsTimestampWorst practice #3: Converting user-generated values into (possibly infinite) URL parameters that are crawlable and indexable, but not useful in search results.Worst practices (e.g., user-generated values like longitude/latitude or “days ago” as crawlable and indexable URLs): example.com/find-a-doctor?radius=15&latitude=40.7565068&longitude=-73.9668408example.com/article?category=health&days-ago=7 Best practices:example.com/find-a-doctor?city=san-francisco&neighborhood=somaexample.com/articles?category=health&date=january-10-2014Rather than allow user-generated values to create crawlable URLs  -- which leads to infinite possibilities with very little value to searchers -- perhaps publish category pages for the most popular values, then include additional information so the page provides more value than an ordinary search results page. Alternatively, consider placing user-generated values in a separate directory and then robots.txt disallow crawling of that directory.example.com/filtering/find-a-doctor?radius=15&latitude=40.7565068&longitude=-73.9668408example.com/filtering/articles?category=health&days-ago=7with robots.txt:User-agent: *Disallow: /filtering/Worst practice #4: Appending URL parameters without logic.Worst practices: example.com/gummy-candy/lollipops/gummy-candy/gummy-candy/product?swedish-fishexample.com/product?cat=gummy-candy&cat=lollipops&cat=gummy-candy&cat=gummy-candy&item=swedish-fish Better practice: example.com/gummy-candy/product?item=swedish-fish Best practice:example.com/product?item=swedish-fish&category=gummy-candyExtraneous URL parameters only increase duplication, causing less efficient crawling and indexing. Therefore, consider stripping unnecessary URL parameters and performing your site’s “internal housekeeping”  before generating the URL. If many parameters are required for the user session, perhaps hide the information in a cookie rather than continually append values like cat=gummy-candy&cat=lollipops&cat=gummy-candy& ...Worst practice #5: Offering further refinement (filtering) when there are zero results.Worst practice:Allowing users to select filters when zero items exist for the refinement. Refinement to a page with zero results (e.g., price=over-10) is allowed even though it frustrates users and causes unnecessary issues for search engines. Best practiceOnly create links/URLs when it’s a valid user-selection (items exist). With zero items, grey out filtering options. To further improve usability, consider adding item counts next to each filter.Refinement to a page with zero results (e.g., price=over-10) isn’t allowed, preventing users from making an unnecessary click and search engine crawlers from accessing a non-useful page.Prevent useless URLs and minimize the crawl space by only creating URLs when products exist. This helps users to stay engaged on your site (fewer clicks on the back button when no products exist), and helps minimize potential URLs known to crawlers. Furthermore, if a page isn’t just temporarily out-of-stock, but is unlikely to ever contain useful content, consider returning a 404 status code. With the 404 response, you can include a helpful message to users with more navigation options or a search box to find related products.Best practices for new faceted navigation implementations or redesignsNew sites that are considering implementing faceted navigation have several options to optimize the “crawl space” (the totality of URLs on your site known to Googlebot) for unique content pages, reduce crawling of duplicative pages, and consolidate indexing signals. Determine which URL parameters are required for search engines to crawl every individual content page (i.e., determine what parameters are required to create at least one click-path to each item). Required parameters may include item-id, category-id, page, etc.Determine which parameters would be valuable to searchers and their queries, and which would likely only cause duplication with unnecessary crawling or indexing. In the candy store example, I may find the URL parameter “taste” to be valuable to searchers for queries like [sour gummy candies] which could show the result example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour. However, I may consider the parameter “price” to only cause duplication, such as category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&price=over-10. Other common examples:Valuable parameters to searchers: item-id, category-id, name, brand...Unnecessary parameters: session-id, price-range...Consider implementing one of several configuration options for URLs that contain unnecessary parameters. Just make sure that the unnecessary URL parameters are never required in a crawler or user’s click path to reach each individual product! Option 1: rel="nofollow" internal linksMake all unnecessary URLs links rel=“nofollow.” This option minimizes the crawler’s discovery of unnecessary URLs and therefore reduces the potentially explosive crawl space (URLs known to the crawler) that can occur with faceted navigation. rel=”nofollow” doesn’t prevent the unnecessary URLs from being crawled (only a robots.txt disallow prevents crawling). By allowing them to be crawled, however, you can consolidate indexing signals from the unnecessary URLs with a searcher-valuable URL by adding rel=”canonical” from the unnecessary URL to a superset URL (e.g. example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&price=5-10 can specify a rel=”canonical” to the superset sour gummy candies view-all page at example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&page=all).Option 2: Robots.txt disallowFor URLs with unnecessary parameters, include a /filtering/directory that will be robots.txt disallow’d. This lets all search engines freely crawl good content, but will prevent crawling of the unwanted URLs. For instance, if my valuable parameters were item, category, and taste, and my unnecessary parameters were session-id and price. I may have the URL:example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candieswhich could link to another URL valuable parameter such as taste:example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour. but for the unnecessary parameters, such as price, the URL includes a predefined directory, /filtering/:example.com/filtering/category.php?category=gummy-candies&price=5-10which is then robots.txt disallowedUser-agent: *Disallow: /filtering/Option 3: Separate hostsIf you’re not using a CDN (sites using CDNs don’t have this flexibility easily available in Webmaster Tools), consider placing any URLs with unnecessary parameters on a separate host -- for example, creating main host www.example.com and secondary host, www2.example.com. On the secondary host (www2), set the Crawl rate in Webmaster Tools to “low” while keeping the main host’s crawl rate as high as possible. This would allow for more full crawling of the main host URLs and reduces Googlebot’s focus on your unnecessary URLs. Be sure there remains at least one click path to all items on the main host.If you’d like to consolidate indexing signals, consider adding rel=”canonical” from the secondary host to a superset URL on the main host (e.g. www2.example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&price=5-10 may specify a rel=”canonical” to the superset “sour gummy candies” view-all page, www.example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&page=all).Prevent clickable links when no products exist for the category/filter.Add logic to the display of URL parameters.Remove unnecessary parameters rather than continuously append values.Avoid example.com/product?cat=gummy-candy&cat=lollipops&cat=gummy-candy&item=swedish-fish)Help the searcher experience by keeping a consistent parameter order based on searcher-valuable parameters listed first (as the URL may be visible in search results) and searcher-irrelevant parameters last (e.g., session ID).Avoid example.com/category.php?session-id=123&tracking-id=456&category=gummy-candies&taste=sourImprove indexing of individual content pages with rel=”canonical” to the preferred version of a page. rel=”canonical” can be used across hostnames or domains.Improve indexing of paginated content (such as page=1 and page=2 of the category “gummy candies”) by either:Adding rel=”canonical” from individual component pages in the series to the category’s “view-all” page (e.g. page=1, page=2, and page=3 of “gummy candies” with rel=”canonical” to category=gummy-candies&page=all) while making sure that it’s still a good searcher experience (e.g., the page loads quickly).Using pagination markup with rel=”next” and rel=”prev” to consolidate indexing properties, such as links, from the component pages/URLs to the series as a whole.Be sure that if using JavaScript to dynamically sort/filter/hide content without updating the URL, there still exists URLs on your site that searchers would find valuable, such as main category and product pages that can be crawled and indexed. For instance, avoid using only the homepage (i.e., one URL) for your entire site with JavaScript to dynamically change content with user navigation --  this would unfortunately provide searchers with only one URL to reach all of your content. Also, check that performance isn’t negatively affected with dynamic filtering, as this could undermine the user experience.Include only canonical URLs in Sitemaps.Best practices for existing sites with faceted navigationFirst, know that the best practices listed above (e.g., rel=”nofollow” for unnecessary URLs) still apply if/when you’re able to implement a larger redesign. Otherwise, with existing faceted navigation, it’s likely that a large crawl space was already discovered by search engines. Therefore, focus on reducing further growth of unnecessary pages crawled by Googlebot and consolidating indexing signals.Use parameters (when possible) with standard encoding and key=value pairs.Verify that values that don’t change page content, such as session IDs, are implemented as standard key=value pairs, not directoriesPrevent clickable anchors when products exist for the category/filter (i.e., don’t allow clicks or URLs to be created when no items exist for the filter) Add logic to the display of URL parametersRemove unnecessary parameters rather than continuously append values (e.g., avoid example.com/product?cat=gummy-candy&cat=lollipops&cat=gummy-candy&item=swedish-fish)Help the searcher experience by keeping a consistent parameter order based on searcher-valuable parameters listed first (as the URL may be visible in search results) and searcher-irrelevant parameters last (e.g., avoid example.com/category?session-id=123&tracking-id=456&category=gummy-candies&taste=sour& in favor of example.com/category.php?category=gummy-candies&taste=sour&session-id=123&tracking-id=456)Configure Webmaster Tools URL Parameters if you have strong understanding of the URL parameter behavior on your site (make sure that there is still a clear click path to each individual item/article). For instance, with URL Parameters in Webmaster Tools, you can list the parameter name, the parameters effect on the page content, and how you’d like Googlebot to crawl URLs containing the parameter.URL Parameters in Webmaster Tools allows the site owner to provide information about the site’s parameters and recommendations for Googlebot’s behavior.Be sure that if using JavaScript to dynamically sort/filter/hide content without updating the URL, there still exists URLs on your site that searchers would find valuable, such as main category and product pages that can be crawled and indexed. For instance, avoid using only the homepage (i.e., one URL) for your entire site with JavaScript to dynamically change content with user navigation --  this would unfortunately provide searchers with only one URL to reach all of your content. Also, check that performance isn’t negatively affected with dynamic filtering, as this could undermine the user experience.Improve indexing of individual content pages with rel=”canonical” to the preferred version of a page. rel=”canonical” can be used across hostnames or domains.Improve indexing of paginated content (such as page=1 and page=2 of the category “gummy candies”) by either:Adding rel=”canonical” from individual component pages in the series to the category’s “view-all” page (e.g. page=1, page=2, and page=3 of “gummy candies” with rel=”canonical” to category=gummy-candies&page=all) while making sure that it’s still a good searcher experience (e.g., the page loads quickly).Using pagination markup with rel=”next” and rel=”prev” to consolidate indexing properties, such as links, from the component pages/URLs to the series as a whole.Include only canonical URLs in Sitemaps.Remember that commonly, the simpler you can keep it, the better. Questions? Please ask in our Webmaster discussion forum.Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead, and Mehmet Aktuna, Crawl Team

Help Build a New Weebly Feature

The Weebly Blog -

Membership login areas and individual password-protected pages are two of the most requested features for Weebly sites, stores, and blogs. We’re ready to starting building these features but we need some more feedback. If you could take a moment to answer this quick three-question survey it would help us maximize the value and impact of the new feature and build an awesome first version. **This survey is closed. Stay tuned for more updates as we work to build out the new feature** As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated by everyone on the Weebly team. Without your input Weebly wouldn’t be where it is today!

Help Build a New Weebly Feature

The Weebly Blog -

Membership login areas and individual password-protected pages are two of the most requested features for Weebly sites, stores, and blogs. We’re ready to starting building these features but we need some more feedback. If you could take a moment to answer this quick three-question survey it would help us maximize the value and impact of the new feature and build an awesome first version. **This survey is closed. Stay tuned for more updates as we work to build out the new feature** As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated by everyone on the Weebly team. Without your input Weebly wouldn’t be where it is today!

Meet Paper Lantern

cPanel Blog -

With heavy development and the incorporation of ongoing, open discussion, Paper Lantern is the next look and feel for cPanel. What this means for you Initially, our emphasis has been on immediate changes that provide a large amount of benefit. For a product with an incredible amount of depth and complexity, one of the first things we decided to do was adopt Twitter Bootstrap 3 as our standard UI kit and solid base for future work. With Twitter Bootstrap, one of the most common UI kits utilized by web professionals today, we hope that web developers and designers will be able to crack open the code and easily create beautiful, new themes. Next, we began identifying and reusing elements across more of the user interface to increase consistency throughout the project. Consistency helps users to quickly become familiar with using their cPanel account. Once a user learns one feature with a consistent layout, the next feature becomes that much simpler to navigate. After we establish a sound foundation to build on, even more dramatic changes will take place that will separate Paper Lantern from it’s X3 roots. We have many, many more ideas in mind for Paper Lantern—11.42 is only the beginning. How you can help Paper Lantern not only introduces a dramatic change in appearance, it also requires lots of heavy lifting, even for modifications not visible to users. We are developing Paper Lantern openly, which means that you can see changes as they happen. Going forward, each cPanel release will include the latest iteration of Paper Lantern and preview builds will be released regularly to users who want to play with them. In addition, we will continue to update our demo server frequently with the most recent changes to Paper Lantern. Check it out and let us know what you think. How you can try Paper Lantern for yourself If you are currently running a build of cPanel & WHM software version 11.42 and you do not have a reseller account, then contact your reseller and request that your account be set to the Paper Lantern theme. If you are currently running a build of 11.42 and you do have a reseller account (or reseller privileges), then: Log into WHM Click Modify an Account in the sidebar. Select an account and click Modify. Select Paper Lantern from the cPanel Theme menu and click Save. Log out and then log back into WHM to see your new theme! Please remember that Paper Lantern is very alpha in 11.42 and will be going through quite a few big changes over the new few releases. Nothing, including the visual presentation of Paper Lantern, is set in stone at this point and we need your feedback more than ever. Email us or post in our User Experience forum and we’ll see it. Let us know what we’re getting right, what needs improvement, and if you have ideas about how we can make Paper Lantern even better.

A Small Orange Now Supports Forward Secrecy

The Homegrown Hosting Blog (A Small Orange) -

A Small Orange is committed to keeping our customers’ information safe and secure, so we’re quite pleased to share that we now support Forward Secrecy across our Secure Socket Layer (SSL) offerings for shared and business shared products. We have also updated our provisioning templates to ensure our Cloud and Dedicated server customers receive Forward Secrecy support. If you signed up for a Cloud or Dedicated server in the last 3 months, chances are you have forward secrecy support and can begin to utilize it simply by installing an SSL certificate. For customers on all other product lines, we have you covered and Forward Secrecy support is something we manage for you. Why is Forward Secrecy Important? To understand why Forward Secrecy is important, we first need to understand how the current HTTPS (SSL/TLS) implementation puts you at risk. Bear with us for a moment for a quick primer on secure web communication. When you initiate a connection to a secure HTTPS (SSL/TLS) web site, your web browser is conducting a complex set of exchanges with the web site to establish the secure connection. This exchange happens transparently and very fast, in hundredths of a second, but is very important in determining the degree to which your privacy is protected. All web sites that are powered by HTTPS (SSL/TLS) utilize a secret key that only the web server knows and uses to encrypt all subsequent communication. From this “secret key” is generated a “session key” that is communicated between the web site and your web browser to allow your browser to understand the otherwise encrypted and indecipherable communication from the web sites secure HTTPS address. In a perfect world, this post would end around here, you’ve established a secure connection to a web site (such as https://blog.asmallorange.com) and your privacy is protected. However, rarely are things that simple. There exists a long known flaw to the current implementation of HTTPS (SSL/TLS) communications on the Internet today. If the web site you are communicating with ever has their “secret key” disclosed, compromised or otherwise becomes available to attackers or organizations conducting Internet surveillance (insert 3 letter acronyms here), all the recorded communications you have ever conducted with said web sites can be decrypted and read in plain human readable text. This scenario is not hypothetical and exists in the real world today. There are more than just a handful of instances of web site secret key disclosures (both compromised and legally compelled disclosures) along with cryptographic flaws which put our privacy at risk online. How does Forward Secrecy protects me? The use of forward secrecy, is a protocol feature within modern HTTPS (SSL/TLS) implementations that exist today. It is not new and has been around for a little while, however it gained significant prominence recently due to 2013′s Global Surveillance disclosures. When you communicate with HTTPS (SSL/TLS) web sites that support Forward Secrecy, they protect your communication by constantly changing the secret keys used to encrypt data between the web site and your web browser. This constant ratcheting of the keys with Forward Secrecy web sites ensures that if the secret key on the web site you are communicating with is ever compromised or disclosed, that it can not be used to decipher previously recorded information you may have had with the web site, ensuring your privacy is maintained. How can I verify my website or web host supports Forward Secrecy? There is currently an excellent service offered by Qualys that provides an SSL grading system and scanning tool for websites available at SSL Labs.com. This scanning service requires no signup, costs nothing and takes only a minute to run on any HTTPS (SSL/TLS) enabled web site. The straight forward grading system makes it clear to separate secure from insecure web sites. With anything graded an A rating (A-, A, A+) generally being considered secure, sites with a B rating considered secure but not optimally configured and sites rated C, D, E or F falling into the insecure category or those with glaring configuration issues. A recent change by Qualys to the SSL grading system now preferences sites with Forward Secrecy support as a pre-requisite for an A or A+ rating, any site that does not support Forward Secrecy is automatically capped at an A- rating. As such, if your web host or sites you communicate with regularly do not rate an A or A+ grade, then they are not using Forward Secrecy. You can further verify that Forward Secrecy is provided by scrolling to the bottom of SSLLabs server test reports and checking to ensure “Robust” Forward Secrecy support is provided by the web server. We challenge you to test your web host, if they are putting your privacy first by supporting Forward Secrecy and if they are making the grade. You should accept nothing less than an A in our opinion. Find out more about Forward Secrecy and Internet Surveillance We take pride at A Small Orange in being one of the, if not, the first web host to offer robust Forward Secrecy support to our customers and also take part in grass roots initiatives such as “The Day We Fight Back” campaign to end mass surveillance along with our past position on SOPA/PIPA. There have been a number of high profile web sites that have recently implemented Forward Secrecy support, such as Twitter and Github along with the planned implementation by Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Live/Outlook.com. This is in addition to an array of web sites, such as Google services (e.g: gmail, docs etc..)  and many others that offer “some” support for Forward Secrecy. The “some” part is relative to if you are using a modern web browser (read: up to date) then you can leverage Forward Secrecy with their services. You can find some additional reading on Forward Secrecy at the following web sites: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/08/pushing-perfect-forward-secrecy-important-web-privacy-protection http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_secrecy http://www.forwardsecrecy.com http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/22/twitter-enables-perfect-forward-secrecy-across-sites-to-protect-user-data-against-future-decryption Along with these web sites that are committed to Internet privacy and stopping Internet surveillance: https://www.eff.org https://thedaywefightback.org https://optin.stopwatching.us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGmiw_rrNxk

How to Target Your Audience through Web Design

The Moo's News (FatCow Blog) -

Your website is often the first way people recognize you or your brand. When it’s prototyped in the right way, you can actually save time with the right web design. Visitors should be able to instantly identify that it’s you or your company. Your logo should appear on every page, and be prominent without being distracting (not always an easy feat). The key is to design something that’s recognizable yet unobtrusive. This often means more than just plastering your logo everywhere, or forcing every visitor to watch an elaborate introductory video. It means targeting your audience through your web design in a simple, elegant way. Here are a few ideas: Color Color will set the tone for all aspects of your website, from the font to the background to the images. In other words, your brand colors are for more than just your logo. Your site should incorporate your company colors in graphics as well as in CSS elements like links, borders and secondary backgrounds. This is one of the many reasons why simplicity is important for web design. It requires consistency and subtlety. Light touches integrated into all of your site’s pages and sections will result in a cohesive style people will always recognize as yours – and yours alone. The overall “feel” of your site should also correspond to your audience and what you are providing for them. A retail site with a corporate feel won’t be very inviting to would-be customers. And a bright, bubbly feel won’t be right for a corporate home page. In other words, if you’re selling flowers, your site should use bright and festive colors. But if you’re marketing consulting services, a more streamlined and muted look may be more appropriate. Don’t be afraid to find inspiration for your web design in unlikely places. Typography and Fonts Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of any site is the typography. Most sites use the same default fonts that came with their original template. They’re usually bland and cookie-cutter. While the font you choose can make or break your site’s readability, it also adds or subtracts a great deal from the character of your site. For example, a website designed to provide recipes may want to use a light, casual font that doesn’t make the text look like it’s from a corporate brochure. And just because you’re running a corporate home page doesn’t mean you should use something like Times New Roman or Arial. Slab serif fonts, which typically use horizontal lines at the end points, can lend a professional look to text as well as add a bit of unique style lacking on many web pages. Spend serious time selecting the fonts you use on your site, and use them to differentiate between main content, sidebars, menus and other elements. But it’s also important to keep it simple, usually with no more than two or three fonts on any given site. Any more and you risk upsetting the cohesive look you’re trying to create. Design a website that focuses on your audience and keeps your ultimate goal in mind. Don’t hesitate to talk to members of your audience as you reach milestones in your design process, especially if your goal is to create a community from your website. If you’ve selected colors and fonts, run them by some of your customers to see what they think. Ask your designer to make a mock-up or a demo site so that you can share and get feedback. Targeting your audience through web design is a combination of being consistent in how you present yourself and placing yourself in the shoes of your audience. If you do this, you’ll be on your way to an effective and engaging website.

17 Types of Linkbait Content to Improve Your Site

Homestead Small Business Blog -

Attracting attention online is important, whether you run a blog, an ecommerce site or an offline business website. With all of the other sites out there screaming for visitors, being heard above the din can be difficult.  Deploying linkbait content is a great strategy that will not only bring these visitors to your website, but will have others doing most of the work for you – for free!Word of Mouth (with a Megaphone)Word of mouth advertising has always been a great way for companies to attract new customers without spending tons of money on traditional advertisements.  And essentially social media sites are like word of mouth advertising, but with a megaphone.  The ability of good or interesting content to go viral is more likely on the internet, and the interconnected nature of the web means that it can spread farther and faster than it ever could offline.One of the greatest difficulties with offline word of mouth advertising is that a business needs to find market leaders to spread the word about the business, those who aren’t well connected aren’t able to share the company’s message as widely.  Unfortunately, authorities in a field, well-connected people in a community and celebrities aren’t always easy to approach or convince.Linkbait content addresses this challenge.  While contacting bloggers or those with large social media followings in a specific market can help spread the word about a business, linkbait attracts people on its own and encourages them to pass it on to others, leading to a phenomenon known as “viral marketing.”The Good VirusViral marketing uses different forms of linkbait to start the spread of a message to an exponential number of contacts.  Offline, a person is limited to the people he or she knows.  Online, these same people can tell those they know, who then go on to tell others they know – and the list goes on.  This is why cute kitten videos get a million hits apiece.The trick with linkbait and viral marketing is to avoid making it look like linkbait.  Most people can see through impure marketing motives, and web surfers may reject the content that a company wants to spread.  When creating linkbait, the intention needs to be focused on creating valuable, marketable content – the rest will take care of itself.For this reason, a solid linkbait campaign should result in a large number of links back to a website.  This improves search engine rankings, as Google rewards sites with plenty of organic links.  It should also increase the number of targeted visitors to a site – which can, in turn, increase sales and revenue.Various Forms of LinkbaitIf you want to harness the power of linkbait content for your website, know that there are several different types of linkbait that can be used to encourage links and attract visitors.  Some are positive, and are used with the intent of informing, entertaining or flattering web surfers.  Others take the “bait” part of linkbait literally and tend to use controversy, opposition or even insults to drive traffic.  While both forms have their uses, you’ll need to determine what type of results and visitor experience you want to create when using linkbait techniques.In general, the six most common types of linkbait are:Attack – “Attack” linkbait pieces can be aimed at a specific target or large group, and are used to incite readers into clicking on the link. As you might expect, if not used carefully, this form of linkbait can backfire on the user.Humor – Making people laugh is often a positive strategy when it comes to spreading links, which is why joke emails are usually passed along more frequently than political or religious messages. When used properly, this type of hook may reel in the largest catch of visitors online.Contrary – “Contrary” linkbait is a milder form of the “incite readers” hook.  It uses controversy to drive traffic, but it does it by revealing the other side of a popular opinion or theory.  If backed with information and respect, playing devil’s advocate can also show the business as an industry leader in its field.Incentive – Baiting a hook with offers such as free items, awards or software is a great way to bring in new visitors.  Few people can pass up on something that’s free – just make sure that the terms of your offer are clear and that there’s no catch to the giveaway.News – Offering RSS news feeds or the latest information on a specific topic is a fantastic way to drive traffic.  There’s so much information available on the web that it isn’t easy for people to find it all.  For this reason, being a “go to” source for current events should increase your initial traffic and repeat visitors.Resource – One way to increase the number of new customers visiting your website is to demonstrate your authority as a “thought leader” in your industry.  Creating informative content that resolves important problems for your target market is a great way to create viral links and drive search engine rankings.17 Types of LinkbaitNow that we’ve established how valuable linkbait content can be and the different types of linkbait you can use to drive visitors to your website, here’s a list of a few specific linkbait styles you can use to improve your site’s online presence:Video – 90% of web surfers will stop on a website that has a video.  Video links also account for a majority of social media traffic, which is why creating videos is a one of the most common linkbait methods.Infographics – Like videos, infographcis are informative and visually appealing.  And, with the growing popularity of Pinterest, infographics are rising as one of the most popular forms of linkbait.Lists – If it works for David Letterman, it can work for your business. “Top 10” style lists have always ranked well on the Internet, as they allow people to absorb a large amount of information in a short period.Curative Posts – This type of content recaps the important news in a specific industry.  Most people don’t have the time to do this on their own, so they appreciate sites that recount the important information for them either once a week or once a month.Guides – Both free and paid guides are a great way to attract traffic and links. If the content is written well, it can be included in posts, articles and resource sites for a long time.Surveys – Whether it’s business-related, political or personal, people love to take surveys.  Use surveys to find out what a target market is interested in and increase traffic to your site.Interviews – If you’re able to conduct interviews with authorities within your industry, these files can be used as viral-worthy content that’s sure to drive traffic.Free Software – Shareware represents one of the most downloaded types of content on the web.  Free tools and software that helps solve major problems or make life easier will often spread virally with little effort on your part.Giveaways – Any form of freebie – whether an e-book, report, shareware or guide – that’s made available on your website is sure to attract attention from interested visitors.Awards – If you offer awards on your site, contestants and winners will often visit your other pages as well. They’ll also share the links with their friends, family and social media contacts, leading to more traffic and more links for your site.Contests – Offering contents is another surefire way to create natural links.  As an example, asking people to choose a name for a new product or a new flavor for an existing product line are two popular forms of contest linkbait.Widgets – As with shareware, helpful widgets tend to spread quickly throughout the web.News – Keep people informed and prove yourself as an industry leader by posting breaking news in a specific field.  If you’re the first to report on a major subject in your industry, you can expect to receive a major influx of backlinks and traffic!Industry Discussions – Similar to reporting on breaking news, being the first site to explain new breakthroughs and market news on a consistent basis is a great way to build quality linkbait.Previews – People generally want to know as much as they can about new products, services, books, movies and more before they buy.  Writing informative previews about hot items in your industry can be a great way to promote your viral marketing campaigns with little effortYear in Review – “Year in Review” style articles are always a great way to drive traffic.  Recapping the major events that occurred in the past year, as well as how they affected your specific industry, is a great way to create viral-worthy content.Incite a Response – This type of linkbait creates controversy by attacking a person or company, or playing devil’s advocate on a popular topic.  This can backfire, though, so use this type of linkbait carefully.Have you had good results with launching linkbait campaigns in the past?  If so, share your tips and tricks in the comments section below!

9 Marketing Tactics to Employ For Your Business

Bing's Webmaster Blog -

There is always a lot of focus on specific topics. Search engine optimization and social media management spring to mind. And for good reason. Both can deliver more returns than the cost to activate. But are you looking across a broad spectrum of tactics? Do you have a plan for multiple areas that can be activated to help propel your business higher? Let’s take a look at the most common areas businesses should be thinking of. These are in no particular order, as what matters most will vary between businesses. Paid Search Long the darling of ecommerce, any site that has a conversion can use paid search (PPC) to its advantage. Understanding how to write good, compelling ad copy is important, and managing each ecosystem to affect click and conversion rates takes time and dedication, but is often worth it. Display Advertising Banner ads! People love to hate them, but if you’re after brand awareness, it’s tough to beat a display ad takeover on a popular website to plant your message and brand in front of the masses. Typically seen as a low performer in terms of click through rates (CTRs), this is highly dependent on things like your imagery, call to action and placements, not to mention sizing. Like a holiday dinner or pickup trucks, bigger is better. Paid Social Social is not really where you go to “sell” per se, and paying for social exposure doesn’t change that. Still great for getting your message to the top of the heap and making it stick around for a while; paid social is gaining its fair share of proponents. Rates are often low, CTRs can be solid – what’s not to like? Email Marketing You’ve all heard the proclamations: “Email is dead; Long live email!”. Truth is, email is still one of the highest performing conversion mediums on the go today. You have a loyal customer, who already trusts you and includes you in their life. Maybe rewarding them for that inclusion and offering a small discount to email subscribers is just the ticket to snag some additional sales this weekend? Public Relations Repeat after me: “I will not put out a press release unless I have something newsworthy to say.” And just because you WANT to say it, that doesn’t mean it’s worth saying in a press release. Abused so much as a way to gain links and overused as an optimization tool, the press release still has a job to do: alert press to something newsworthy. Press today are so flooded by useless press releases, they usually ignore most of them anyway. Not saying it has to be Earth shattering news (though if you are about to shatter our planet, a little notice would be nice). But telling the world’s press you’re now open an extra hour on Saturdays is hardly going to light the sky ablaze. Conversion Optimization Still under-utilized. This process examines your sales funnel and refines it to gain more revenue by introducing conversion producing actions and eliminating conversion robbing ones. Definitely worth sourcing an expert for this stuff. CO has been a boon of many a business, turning average conversion performance on its head with explosive growth. For my money, this topic and the one that follows, are a cinch for budget if I’m spending money to market a site. Usability An old standby that so many skip in favor of putting budget into the new and flashy. Why anyone would skip getting direct feedback form their customers on ways to improve things is still baffling. This should be a natural first stop in any search optimization plan. Organic Social Good ol’ fashioned social media. Still a fave for creating dialogue, engaging with customers and calling out people and businesses when they do wrong. Whether you’re here or not, there’s a conversation happening about you at some point. Far better to be engaged and seen to care, than to miss the conversation and seem aloof. Some of the greatest customers start as social antagonists, but once engaged, they change their minds and become a fan. And who doesn’t want more people cheering for their business? Search Engine Optimization One of the grand daddy’s of online marketing tactics, this one still has a lot of value. Today’s optimization should center around covering the known best practices, building a better user experience and developing standout content that impresses visitors. Many of yesterday’s shortcuts are spam signals today, so make sure, as you learn, that your sources are current. That’s free ebook on eBay, probably not the most reliable source of up-to-date SEO information. Long standing consultants, trusted news sites and blogs that have been sharing info for years, a much safer bet. SEO is still a fundamental; a baseline marketing tactic every website should engage in. Just don’t get too mired down in the details. You might not be able to execute on all of these, but at least you have a list of tactics you can turn to when the budget tree drops some green your way. And in many cases, while your usual tactics may perform well, introducing a new tactic, or refocusing on one that’s just humming along, can see nice increases in responses, clicks, traffic and conversions. What would you add to this list? What other online marketing tactics do you think perform well and people should remember to employ? Duane ForresterSr. Product ManagerBing

Welcome to Yahoo Small Business

Yahoo! Small Business Blog -

Welcome to the new Yahoo Small Business blog – now on Tumblr.  This blog follows in the footsteps of a WordPress blog that we’ve hosted since 2006 as a way to share tips and tricks for using Yahoo Small Business tools and services. While the format has changed, our mission is still the same — to help people start, build, and grow their own businesses. This blog will continue to focus on helping you find the tools, information, and products needed to attract new customers, increase sales, improve efficiency, and ultimately succeed. But this isn’t meant to be a monologue, so please drop us a note if you have feedback or suggestions. Remember to follow us for all future updates from the Yahoo Small Business team. And be sure to reblog posts that you find informative or useful.

Behind the Website: Tweetspeak Poetry

Bluehost Blog -

You never know where your next big idea will come from! Who knows? Your new website may start from a  joke between friends. Great ideas can come from anywhere and our job at Bluehost is to give you the tools to make those ideas reality. For our latest “Behind the Website” installment, we’re interviewing customer Laura and her website Tweetspeakpoetry.com – a website that started with a Twitter joke and grew into the full-blown poetry and creative writing website it is today. Check out our interview with her to learn how they got started, what they’ve learned, where they’re going, and more. When did you launch your website? Tricky question. In 2009, as the result of a Twitter joke, we hosted what might have been the first ever Twitter poetry party (we’d never seen anyone do that, though now it’s common to write poetry on Twitter). The party had a simple premise: write poems together for one hour straight on Twitter. Have so much fun that you do it again. And again. And then… realize it’s all getting lost in the Twitter stream, so maybe a site should be launched. Just as a holding place for the poems. No more. The site we launched was piecemeal. Sketchy in design. Not terrifically functional. It served its archival purpose. Three years later, the joke turned serious and we officially started to produce content on a weekly basis. We mark that as our real beginning. What’s your site about? What does it do? We feature the best in poetry and poetic things. And we publish poetry, nonfiction, and fiction books. One of them got picked by Oprah. What platform is your website built on?  WordPress What type of server do you use? Why? We started out with a standard shared server, but were compelled to upgrade to shared PRO about a year ago, which increased our ability to really grow our traffic. What was your biggest challenge in building your website?  The fact that it started as a joke meant we (unwisely) didn’t take it seriously from the start. It was built poorly, with architecture that we’re still struggling to clean up. Live and learn. The next site I build (and there is one coming) will be far, far cleaner from day one. What’s your favorite part of your website?  Probably the Quote Widget that one of our teenaged contingents built for us. Other people seem to have a good deal of fun with it too. What do you wish you did better?  Sell Where do you prefer to work on your site?  You mean like…in the Bahamas? What new web trends are you excited about? Flipboard. Supported content, such as through Tugboat yards. Do you use social media? Why? Well, that’s how Bluehost met Tweetspeak Poetry, isn’t it? I mean, really met. And then we wrote you a blue mitten poem, which you sorely needed during the Polar Vortex. Next thing, you were interviewing us here. Social media is where we learn a great deal about what our audience finds interesting, and it’s how we build relationships through “small touches and passes.” What’s next for your site? Well, the current joke is that we’re going to send poetry to the moon. Does Bluehost have servers there? Honestly, this year is about solidifying relationships and working to increase traffic. Mobile would be next. We know that. We’re just not quite ready to tackle it. What advice do you have for someone getting started?  Take yourself seriously from the start. Even if it feels like a joke. Be flexible, of course. But start out as if you expect to succeed. That way, you’ll build it better from day one. Thanks to Laura for letting us get behind her website! Don’t forget to check it out at tweetspeakpoetry.com. The Behind the Website series lets us learn how real-life Bluehost customers run their websites. From how they got started to their favorite web tools, we ask some of our best customers to share the story behind their websites. Have someone you want to see featured? Send us an email. While Bluehost does provide hosting service to tweetspeakpoetry.com it does not review, authorize, or approve its content. The information and opinions on the site, as well as the responses provided in this blog post, do not necessarily reflect the views of Bluehost, its parent company, or any subsidiaries or affiliates. The post Behind the Website: Tweetspeak Poetry appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

@JaguarUSA wins #AdScrimmage 2014; more top Super Bowl hashtags

The Twitter Advertising Blog -

Luxury auto brand Jaguar USA is the winner of the third annual Twitter #AdScrimmage, scoring the most votes for its #GoodToBeBad ad, edging out 34 other competing brands. In its Super Bowl debut, the British carmaker launched its F-TYPE Coupe with cinematic flair. Filmed by Oscar-winning UK director Tom Hooper, the 60-second commercial roars through the shadowy streets of London and stars a trio of actors: Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong. British Villains are always one step ahead, keep it that way and vote for Rendezvous: https://t.co/DzBbKWH0F6 #GoodToBeBad — Jaguar USA (@JaguarUSA) February 3, 2014   The spot poses the question, have you ever noticed how in Hollywood, all the best villains are played by Brits? Some of the reasons given: those accents, just-so sense of style and, inevitably, having a Jaguar as their getaway car. Throughout the Super Bowl, Jaguar USA engaged fans from its social media lair, even creating a cheeky Vine video response to Tide, one of the night’s tweeting commercial commentators. .@tide A proper British Villain is always prepared for any situation. No matter how messy it gets. #GoodToB… https://t.co/iphRPZn6fK — Jaguar USA (@JaguarUSA) February 3, 2014   In the days after the game, Jaguar USA kept conversations building as #AdScrimmage votes poured in with Promoted Tweets that featured a villanous tone and tongue-in-cheek hashtag. British Villains are always one step ahead, keep it that way and vote for Rendezvous: https://t.co/DzBbKWH0F6 #GoodToBeBad — Jaguar USA (@JaguarUSA) February 3, 2014   #AdScrimmage 2014 honorable mentions go out to four more big game ads that garnered the most votes: Microsoft’s #Empowering spot traced all the evocative ways technology is reshaping the human experience. Our Super Bowl ad: #Empowering http://t.co/ZUfA9545NX — Microsoft (@Microsoft) February 2, 2014   Budweiser also tugged at the heart strings of puppy lovers with its #BestBuds ad. We know, we know. Awwwwwwwwww. #BestBuds http://t.co/w3ITG8WBjm pic.twitter.com/3fEEv0M6hj — Budweiser (@Budweiser) February 3, 2014   Butterfinger tickled our funny bone, highlighting the tasty threesome in its #ButterfingerCups. We’re ready for our crunchy moment during the 4th quarter! #SB48 #ButterfingerCups Watch here:http://t.co/OKfU03DvhC pic.twitter.com/U9wLfAg1MF — Nestle Butterfinger (@Butterfinger) February 2, 2014   And Radio Shack went back to the future with a nostalgic ode to the 1980s and its #InWithTheNew look. Did you like our spot? Watch the full version here: http://t.co/1z6ixovLc3 #InWithTheNew — RadioShack (@RadioShack) February 3, 2014   More top Super Bowl trends and hashtags During this year’s Super Bowl, we saw a record number of Tweets, and the number of ads with hashtags jumped from 50% in 2013 to 57%. Fourteen brands even invited Twitter team members into their game day command centers, demonstrating a greater focus on live marketing and being prepared for unplanned moments. Retailer JCPenney snagged early buzz on Twitter, consistently and conspicuously misspelling Tweets early on in the game, only to ultimately reveal the reason with a hashtag: #TweetingWithMittens. Oops…Sorry for the typos. We were #TweetingWithMittens. Wasn’t it supposed to be colder? Enjoy the game! #GoTeamUSA pic.twitter.com/e8GvnTiEGl — JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014   That was not before several brands responded to its attention-grabbing Tweets, highlighting this Super Bowl’s top real-time trend: brand-to-brand banter. Slow down, @jcpenney. Have some #Doritos. — Doritos (@Doritos) February 3, 2014 By engaging other big game advertisers, many brands boosted reach and earned media, while tapping into the live conversation happening around commercials. And Vine (which wasn’t around for last year’s big game) was central to many of the most shared and creative brand tête-à-têtes. Hey @Chobani, that bear commercial was HUGE. Check out how we would’ve made it MEGA HUGE: http://t.co/c761OVXHik #IfWeMadeIt #HowMatters — Newcastle Brown Ale (@Newcastle) February 3, 2014 A TD means his team gives him @Skittles! I enjoy any #SB48 TD celebration that’s this colorful! https://t.co/3CVfEq1xON #mmscolorcommentary — Yellow M&M’S® (@mmsyellow) February 3, 2014 Whoa, that’s a lot of self-tanner @GoDaddy Gonna need a lot of @Tide #GetsItOut #SB48 https://t.co/J0IdvPCTfg — Tide (@tide) February 3, 2014 How ‘bout these #wings @VW? ;-) pic.twitter.com/pTEEZ35Wrr — Chrysler Autos (@ChryslerAutos) February 3, 2014   The bragging rights for most-tweeted brand of the night goes to Esurance, according to Nielsen. Its post-game ad invited TV viewers to tweet the hashtag #EsuranceSave30 for a chance to win $1.5 million (the 30% discount the company saved by running the ad after the game). The hashtag was the top trend on Twitter for most of Sunday evening and was still in the top trending topics on Monday morning. Twitterverse! You still have a chance to win this $1.5M stack o’ cash. To enter tweet #EsuranceSave30 Subj to rules pic.twitter.com/6o5pdkq1gZ — Esurance (@esurance) February 4, 2014   For more insights, check out the full Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings report. Our congrats to all the hashtagging winners!

How Social Media Optimization Differs from SEO

The Moo's News (FatCow Blog) -

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is only one letter different from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but it’s changing the way we think about SEO. Let’s start with understanding SEO first. Search engine optimization is making websites as search-engine friendly as possible, both in terms of content and design. The goal of good SEO is to make your website appear higher in the search results for queries relevant to your industry. When it’s done right, it’s the difference between appearing on the first page and the second page of search results, and that can sometimes make the difference between a website that builds trust and a digital ghost town. But what is social media optimization, and how is it different from SEO? While SEO focuses on relevance (which is still incredibly important), social media optimization focuses on the ease of sharing your content across a variety of social networking platforms, and its accessibility. Shareability Tools Strong websites and blogs usually include sharing widgets where their visitors can share content to their social media networks. AddThis is one tool (among many) that allows users to engage with your content more easily. You’ll also want to make sure that your links are shareable. Use services like bitly or buffer which shortens links so that they’re more presentable. Another more expensive (yet worthy) link shortener service is Sprout Social. When used right you can actually use it to do less work. The other bonus to using link shortener services is that they have detailed analytics, so you can get data on how many people actually click your links. This helps to assess and evolve your social media strategy. Whichever widget or link shortener service you choose, you’ll want to make it easy for your customers to share your articles. Craft solid, share-worthy headlines, and even give your readers the exact words that you’d like them to tweet. Services like click to tweet allow you to work “tweetables” directly into your articles. Tweet this: Breaking down your content into micro-content builds traction for your articles. Social. Media. Make sure you’re not only sharing your own content. Focus on the “social” part of social media. Social media should not be viewed as another media channel that advertises your business. Share other relevant content that’s related to your industry to be more social, less “media.” Simplicity on Social Networks Facebook and Twitter are the standard networks to include in your sharing platforms. And depending on your social media strategy (and where your customers are hanging out), you may also want to consider LinkedIn, Pinterest, and you don’t want to forget about Google+ (especially because of the importance of Google Authorship for SMO). If you’re technically inclined or you have code-savvy colleagues or friends, markup tools such as Open Graph, Twitter Card tags and rich snippets are ways to make your content more robust. These tools control what headlines, descriptions, images and other components of your website look like when someone shares them on social networks. Incorporating these systems (while it can be complex and confusing to implement) creates simplicity within your web design, and facilitates the sharing of your content. SMO-friendly markup is a great way to ensure the clarity and appeal of your content. This sort of control, and simplicity ensures your content is as presentable as possible when it gets shared. While SEO focuses on getting your website seen in search, SMO integrates the various social media networks and sharing tools. Take it one step at a time, and go where your customers are hanging out. Everything is integrating at a rapid rate. But when you incorporate both SEO and SMO, you can evolve into a truly social business and reap the rewards.

Your Drupal website cannot survive without these 8 Modules

BigRock Blog -

Drupal is a content management system just like WordPress and Joomla, powering nearly 2% of the total websites on the internet. 2% may sound small but 2% of 1.7 billion total websites in the world is still a huge number. Drupal can get a little complicated to use since prior knowledge of PHP is essential. Fortunately there are a few Modules that can help the brave who actually take up Drupal as the core of their website. Here is the list: Drupal Seo Tools: This is an all in one Seo Module that you will need for your Drupal website. It includes link management, Metatags, Global redirect, XML sitemap, Pathauto (permalinks) and many more which eliminates the need to include their standalone modules that complete the same task. WYSIWYG: This is a great module to have especially if you are running a blog. You can integrate any client-side editors of your choice thanks to WYSIWYG. In fact you don’t need any other modules to support it. A must have module if you are not a big fan of plain text editor. CKEditor: Say goodbye to a plain text editor because this module will give you a Microsoft Word like text editor to work with. You can insert hyperlinks, images and it also has a spell check which will help you to track the little language errors. There is a premium version too which you can sign up for if you need professional support and close source code while using this module. ShareThis: Social integration is a must for every website and this module is all that you need to get there. You can add social sharing buttons at different points on the website helping you boost your website’s social quotient. Disqus: This module is already famous in the form of plugins in other Content Management Systems. It enables a commenting system for your users to interact with you. You would need to sign into the Disqus comment system using your social media sign ins like Twitter, Facebook, etc. or by using the Disqus ID, thus keeping comment spam away. A must have module if you’re planning to interact with your audience. Media: The one major improvement that Drupal needs is the ability to easily manage files built within the core. Thankfully the Media plugin saves the day with its ability to easily integrate with the core Drupal system and offer an easier media management system. Backup and Migrate: Like every CMS, Drupal also needs a system to backup the website just in case something goes wrong. This module can be used to backup and restore your files including your database. If you want to run scheduled backups and also get the ability to backup your files to DropBox then you can simply add additional modules like Backup and Migrate Prune and Backup and Migrate Dropbox to your website. Video Filter: If you are looking to embed videos into your website then this module is built for you. It also works well with the WYSIWYG module to give you the ability to add videos in a rich text editor. Well we find these modules very important to help you start your own Drupal Website but you can find even more hidden gems among the thousands of modules by clicking here . Do share with us if you do find any module which brings great functionality to your Drupal website.

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