Storefronts can no longer rely on good navigation alone. Search has become a primary purchasing path, with consumers that use it 200% more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t.
This article looks at the search options available to Magento merchants, and outlines four of the main tools available; including Elasticsearch, SOLR, Sphinx, and MySQL. It examines the pros and cons of each, and provides recommendations depending on merchant requirements.
Keep reading to see which Magento search option is right for your storefront.
Consumers who use search are 200% more likely to convert.
Note: this article will not be taking a detailed look at the multiple Magento search extensions available on the marketplace, but instead focuses on more powerful, external solutions.
How Magento Search Works
Once a search engine is installed, it immediately gets to work by indexing content on your site. For ecommerce sites, this means creating a “list” of products along with their attributes. This indexing process is continuous. Every time an update is made to your site (a new product added) the “list” needs to be refreshed.
For example, you may add a new set of headphones to your website. The search engine will then index things like its title, description, and price. It will also index attributes you have specified such as connection type, whether it’s noise cancelling, etc.
When a user inputs a search query, the search engine will sort through the list of products and their attributes, and then bring back the most relevant. Different search engines do this in different ways and have different features for interpreting and filtering more complex data.
Because of JSON being such a powerful and fast programming language, Elasticsearch means that merchants can provide search values outside of just text-based strings. In the case of some other search engines (MySQL), this functionality is very limited.
What to Look for with Magento Search
Regardless of which search engine you opt to use, there are six features that you need to focus on:
How long do the indexing and results compiling processes take? The longer these take, the slower your search is going to be.
What languages can the search engine handle? Decide what language is best for your store first and then make sure your search engine provides support for it.
What natural language processing features are there? This isn’t just important now, it will be important for voice search too.
How does faceted search work and how detailed can filters get?
How accurate is the search engine? It’s worth trying the search engine first to see if it really does provide accurate results.
Synonym management (especially important for niche stores)
With these six features in mind, we’ve taken a look at four of the most popular search options available to Magento merchants.
Each of the options below are acceptable for use on a modern store. However, there is one that can really unlock powerful search for merchant sites.
Elasticsearch (ES) is currently the most popular and the default option for Magento search.
As a java-based document store, Elasticsearch is engineered to store large numbers of JSON documents and speak to them natively. So in addition to being able to handle text-based queries, it can also understand advanced analytical queries too, including interpreting numeric and geo data.
Where Elasticsearch really shines is in its full support for Apache Lucene’s real-time search. From a customer’s perspective, this means ES is able to provide faster and more relevant search experiences. For store owners, this means faster conversions.
Currently, Elasticsearch is recommended by both us and Magento. Part of the reason for this is that it’s easy to set up. On Nexcess accounts, it can be turned on under the Environment tab in your Client Portal. The endpoint can then be transferred into Magento by following this guide.
At the moment, both Foursqaure and Github use Elasticsearch.
A Faster, More Accurate Search Option
For 74% of consumers, the quality and relevancy of search results on an ecommerce site is the difference between whether they do or don’t make a purchase. Elasticsearch helps to make searches relevant even when the searcher isn’t sure what they’re looking for with fuzzy searching.
Fuzzy searching allows for stores to interpret customer queries by taking textual queries and interpreting them based on more than just 1-to-1 word comparisons. Combined with synonym and stop word interpretation, this places ES as one of the more capable search engines available to merchants.
Elasticsearch is able to provide faster and more relevant search experiences leading to more conversions.
ES also allows for merchants to customize search results based on defined parameters. One of the technologies used to do this is finite state transducers. In English, this means that ES can handle search queries that consider both the input and output, and can then provide results based on the relationship between these two pieces of data.
Complex Search Query Support
While both Elasticsearch and SOLR (below) are based on Lucene query parsing, Elasticsearch provides support for structured query DSL. This allows for more complex search queries not supported by a just-Lucene search engine.
Official and Community Library Support
Has become the default replacement for the default Magento MySQL Search Engine
A little faster than SOLR
More aligned with modern web development practices (so likely easier to use)
Ready to go out of the box with the Nexcess Elasticsearch Container solution
Will take up space due to indexing
Can cost extra for hosting space
Requires lengthy indexing
Learn more about Elasticsearch and how it can elevate your ecommerce platform now.
Another standalone, scalable search option for Magento. For a long time, SOLR dominated the Magento search market for high-traffic sites. Not only does it offer a number of important features search admins are looking for, it’s also a scalable solution capable of handling heavy traffic loads.
Some of the features you’ll find with SOLR search include:
Search term suggestions based on misspelling
Weighted search results
Support for synonyms and stop words
At the moment, Cnet and Netflix use SOLR.
Near Real-Time Search Speeds
Where SOLR shines is when it comes to group searches. This is because SOLR supports distributed groups (including grouped sorting, filtering, and faceting). For ecommerce stores, this allows customers to customize their search experience to provide more relevant results. At this point in time, the main competitor, Elasticsearch, does not support this in the same way.
Powerful on-site search provides more than just a direct purchasing path. It also provides customers with an avenue for research.
When compared to alternatives, SOLR is a more complicated search engine to implement. Not only does SOLR’s interface take longer to learn than Elasticsearch’s, its deployment also requires a little more knowledge.
If you’re looking for some added functionality that comes with additional work, then SOLR may be a good choice. However, in 99 cases out of 100, we would recommend Magento store owners opt for Elasticsearch.
Official and Community Library Support
A popular search option for Magento 1 stores
Does not require a massive indexing process
Truly open source
Harder to implement
No longer the latest and greatest in Magento Search
Sphinx is a powerful Magento search tool capable of indexing multiple content types and with support for multiple written languages. While not as powerful as the options above, it’s favored by a lot of Magento 1 stores due to the ease of integration.
Sphinx is currently used by Mozilla, Craiglist, and Dailymotion.
Fast Search From a Premium Module
By default, Sphinx doesn’t run through an external container but an extension that can be downloaded through the Magento Marketplace. Despite this, it’s still capable of holding its own when pitted against the other options on this list.
From their own documentation, Sphinx is able to deliver over 500 queries/second when a product catalog consists of over 1,000,000 skus.
In terms of its actual search capabilities, Sphinx includes a number of features you see with most of the other search engines listed here, including:
Synonym and plural form support
Long tail search
Stop word support
Sphinx also allows for multiple search types, including products, categories, attributes, and blog content. Its morphology preprocessors allow for different word forms to be replaced with their base form. In Sphinx’s example, this means translating Dogs into Dog. There are, of course, much more complicated use cases where this helps to provide unique and highly-relevant results for customers.
Sphinx is able to deliver over 500 queries/second when a product catalog consists of over 1,000,000 skus.
A Magento 1 Search Tool
While we always recommend using Elasticsearch, we’ve found that when Sphinx is used it tends to be with Magento 1 stores. If you’re running a Magento 2 store, Elasticsearch is a better option – especially if you’re just getting started or are in the process of replatforming from magento 1.
If you’re interested in how to configure search on Magento 1, then we recommend checking out this article from Shero.
A powerful search engine used by a lot of large, popular sites
Years of development have made it stable
Not as well supported as alternatives
Lacks the speed of Elasticsearch and SOLR
The original default search engine for Magento. While competent in its own right, it doesn’t compare to the enterprise options available. Moreover, the MySQL search option for Magento has now been deprecated. Instead, Magento 2 is now configured to use the Elasticsearch search option by default.
The default MySQL search is also missing some other features you’ll find with SOLR or Elasticsearch, including suggestions, clustering, attribute weights, and tips when zero results are returned.
For this reason, we recommend avoiding the default MySQL search option. With the current ease of integration afforded by Elasticsearch, why wouldn’t you want more powerful search powering your Magento store?
It’s not nearly as powerful as other options
It has been deprecated
Expanding Magento Search Functionality Through Extensions
If you own a smaller Magento store and don’t want to invest in a dedicated search engine, then it’s also possible to expand the search functionality of Magento through extensions. These can be found and downloaded from the Magento Marketplace.
The Best Magento Search Engine
We recommend that all merchants make the move to Elasticsearch. Not only because it’s easy to integrate with your Magento store, but also because it provides numerous improvements over the alternatives.
While speed and performance is comparable to SOLR, Elasticsearch does have a slight edge. It also allows for consumers to make more complex searches with more relevant results, thanks to a number of additional features such as fuzzy searching, full indexing, and DSL query support.
In terms of development, Elasticsearch also provides much more in terms of official and community client libraries. This means that your developer is more likely to be able to handle and scale it efficiently. Combine this with its out of the box readiness on the Nexcess container platform, and it becomes the clear search engine choice for most Magento stores.
The post Magento Search: Uncovering the Benefits of Elasticsearch, SOLR, Sphinx, and MySQL appeared first on blog.nexcess.net.
For 74% of consumers, the quality and relevancy of search results on an ecommerce site is the difference between whether they do or don’t make a purchase. Storefronts can no longer rely on good navigation alone. Search has become a primary purchasing path, with consumers that use search 200% more likely to make a purchase… Continue reading →
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:
The language(s) they speak
The type of work they do
Their financial status
Whether they have kids or not
Their political preferences
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:
Date of birth
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.
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Did you know there’s a tool that connects you with an endless stream of potential customers, free of charge? We’re talking about Twitter; one of the most effective marketing tools you can have in your arsenal.
You can use Twitter for:
Finding new leads
Engaging with new and prospective customers
As a bonus, you don’t have to invest time in taking stunning photos or writing lengthy content as you do for Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is designed for a short conversation, so establishing a presence is quick and easy.
In this article, we’ll look at some tips for using Twitter for Business to help you get started.
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Setting up Your Account Using Twitter for Business
First things first. You need a business account that’s consistent with the tone and image of your brand.
Start by choosing a username for your business Twitter account. This needs to be as close as possible to your company’s name so people will recognize it. There’s always the chance that your username is already taken, so here are some workarounds that won’t affect your branding:
Add your location at the end of the username (ex: @AmazonUK)
Include your industry in the username (ex: @ALDO_Shoes)
Add prefixes or suffixes like “Get,” “Real,” or “HQ” to your username (ex: @GetCredo)
Don’t Forget the Aesthetics
Next is the visuals. We recommend using a company logo for your profile picture, but you can also upload your personal headshot for the photo if you’re the face of the brand.
Take a look at author and speaker Robert Kiyosaki’s profile for example. He’s the guy behind his personal brand, so it makes sense for him to use his picture in his Twitter profile.
Now compare that with this profile from WooCommerce.
The difference between this profile and @theRealKiyosaki is WooCommerce doesn’t have a name/face that people can connect to the brand. As such, it wouldn’t be effective to put a person’s face on the company profile — no matter how instrumental they are in expanding the platform.
An exception may be small but growing businesses – using a picture of your team, your co-founders, or your key support staff may be a great way to humanize your brand.
Regardless of which type of profile picture you choose, you need to create an account strictly for business. Don’t convert an existing personal account into a business profile. Start fresh so you can maintain a consistent tone from day one.
If you need help choosing an attention-grabbing banner, check out Canva.
They have over 50,000 templates that you can choose from, so designing the perfect banner for your brand has never been easier. If you haven’t created a logo yet, Canva can help you do that as well.
Finally, you need to complete your Twitter profile so that it’s optimized. Tell people a little about your brand in the bio, and be sure to include a link to your company’s site in the website field.
Better yet, create a landing page specifically for Twitter users if you really want to boost leads and drive conversions.
Using Twitter for Business as a Research Tool
Got your account set up? Great. Now, let’s look at how to use Twitter for business.
Believe it or not, Twitter is a great market research tool. In this recent report, we can see the following Twitter statistics:
326 million people use it every month
24% of users are adults in the United States
Affluent millennials make up 80% of users
Millions of tweets are sent every day — 500 million to be exact. That’s a lot of people sharing what’s on their mind … and much of what they share is valuable market data.
Conversations with brands about customer preferences, complaints, and suggestions all take place on Twitter, and most of it is available for you to access simply by using the search feature to look for keywords or trending hashtags.
There are also a number of competitor research tools out there to help you monitor the industry — and keep a watchful eye on your competition.
If you’re looking for a tool designed specifically for Twitter, check out Followerwonk.
Followerwonk gives you in-depth insights into you and your competitor’s activity on Twitter. You can use it to see what’s trending in your industry, what your rivals are talking about, and who’s interested in your goods and services.
But that’s not all. You can also use Followerwonk to tweak your Twitter marketing campaigns. Its dashboard lets you monitor key metrics like top keywords, follower demographics, and engagement ratings — all of which are useful when creating custom-tailored content on Twitter.
There’s also Twitter Analytics, a native tool which lets you access your brand’s performance and engagement on the platform free of charge. Twitter analytics provide a view of tweet performance and audience reach, as well as a broad look at your follower demographics and info about your organic audience. Twitter Analytics even allows you to compare your followers to Twitter as a whole, as well as compare your audience against different predetermined audiences, including different personas, demographic groups, interest groups, and more.
Integrating Twitter for Business Into Your Marketing Strategy
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at how to use Twitter for business marketing so you can boost sales and conversions.
Twitter is a great platform for making announcements. Got an upcoming sale? Tweet it. Launching a new product line? Announce it on Twitter.
You can even embed important tweets on your landing pages to increase awareness while gaining more followers. Or, when someone praises your brand, you can use their tweet as a form of social proof.
If you’re running your site on WooCommerce, embedding a live tweet is as simple as pasting its URL in the editor — the platform will take care of the rest.
WordPress (and by default, WooCommerce) users can add sharing buttons for Twitter and other social media platforms by simply activating or installing the Jetpack plugin, as seen in this visual demo from ThemeIsle.
You can also use Jetpack to automatically share a post on Twitter the moment it’s published. That way, followers can stay up to date with your content in real-time.
Building Your Brand With Twitter for Business
Did you know that Twitter ranks second in B2C marketing use, just under Facebook? It’s also the third most popular platform for B2B marketing according to Statista data.
One of the reasons for that is because Twitter is a great place to build relationships through engagement. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter makes it easy to connect with customers and prospective customers alike.
You can use it to:
Answer questions related to your product or industry
Offer customer service and support
Collect feedback from your supporters
When it comes to Twitter for business, engagement is the name of the game. By keeping an open channel of communication between you and your target market, you’re able to build brand loyalty while expanding your influence.
The post How to Get the Most out of Twitter for Business appeared first on Liquid Web.
Do you want to improve your organic Instagram content? Looking for an Instagram content marketing guide to follow? In this article, you’ll find out how to plan, create, and optimize Instagram content for your business. #1: How to Establish a Content Theme for Your Instagram Profile The first step to running a successful Instagram account […]
The post How to Create an Instagram Content Plan for Your Business appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
Instagram is fertile ground for eCommerce stores to promote their products directly to their target audiences.
Not only does Instagram have over 500 million daily users, but the platform has also been steadily adding business-friendly features to make advertising and selling easier than ever before.
This post explains how to get started using Instagram for your eCommerce store.
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Create a Top-Notch Instagram Business Account
To effectively use Instagram for business, you first need to have an Instagram business account. And to have an Instagram business account, you must have a Facebook page for your business (Facebook owns Instagram).
If you don’t have a Facebook page yet, you can create one in minutes.
Ready? Let’s walk through how to create an Instagram business account.
Download Instagram and Sign Up for a New Account
By default, your new account will be a personal account. To make it a business account, go to Settings > Switch to a Business Profile, and then choose to connect through Facebook. The app will ask you to connect to a business Facebook page. That’s it! Your Instagram business account is ready to go.
Write Your Bio Carefully
Your Instagram profile is where many potential customers will first learn about your eCommerce store, so fill it out wisely.
For your bio, be sure to talk about what products you sell and where people can buy them. Great bios also include some personality, a link to the online store, and a powerful call-to-action. Remember that you only have 150 characters, so be as precise as possible.
Make Your Instagram Shoppable with the Facebook for WooCommerce Plugin
Thankfully, you no longer have to hope that your followers will go from an Instagram post to your profile to the link in your bio to (finally) shopping your store. Instagram now allows users to click on your product within the post itself.
Here’s how you can integrate your WooCommerce store with your Instagram to make shopping easy.
Download Facebook for WooCommerce Instagram Plugin
The Facebook for WooCommerce plugin allows you to merge products from your existing eCommerce store into Facebook (and later into Instagram).
Without this plugin, you would have to upload every product manually to Facebook, including uploading an image, writing a description, and selecting the price. If you have dozens of products in your eCommerce store, that could take a while.
Simply download the Facebook for WooCommerce plugin, and then click “Import Products to Facebook.” All your products will be uploaded in minutes.
The Facebook for WooCommerce plugin is included with all plans of Managed WooCommerce at Liquid Web.
Connect Your Facebook Shop to Instagram
To connect your Facebook Shop to your Instagram business account, just click the “Instagram” tab on the left-side menu on your Facebook Shop and log into your Instagram. You may have to wait a few days for Instagram to approve your shoppable account.
Start Tagging Products on Instagram
Tagging a product in an Instagram post is what turns your account into an Instagram shop.
Followers can tap your image in their feeds, and the product name and current price will appear. They can click the tag again and be taken to that product on your website to purchase.
Here’s how tagging products on Instagram works.
Just like you would an ordinary post, click the “+” button to upload a new image (ideally one that features your product). Before clicking “Share,” click your product in the image to tag it with your product name. A catalog of the products from your WooCommerce site will pull up, and you can select the correct product. You can tag up to five products for every image.
Strategize Your Content on Instagram
You should have a strategy when it comes to posting and engaging on Instagram. To start, consider the following questions to guide you.
What Kind of Content Will I Share?
From the format of content — videos, images, graphics, Instagram Stories — to the content itself, you have a lot of decisions to make.
A good way to get a feel for what might be best for you is to look through the feeds of your direct (successful) competitors. Think about what they’re doing that is working for them and could work for you.
How Often Will I Post?
Above all, post as frequently as you can commit to doing consistently. In other words, figure out the max number of posts per day or week that you are certain you can maintain, and then stick to that schedule. Most research says that top brands post between one and three times a day.
Who Can I Engage With?
To maximize your Instagram marketing efforts, you have to do more than just post your own content. You have to also engage with the content from other users.
Instagram’s algorithm will prioritize your content to your followers if you’ve frequently commented on their posts.
Even if someone is not following you, a comment (that doesn’t push your products in a sales-y way) can put you on their radar. Make a list of influencers or micro-influencers in your industry you’d like to connect with, and then commit to commenting regularly on their relevant posts.
Advertise on Instagram to Extend Your Reach
Just like on Facebook, you don’t have to wait for customers to find you. You can target ads to specific demographics, getting your products in front of the right people.
Choose Your Target Audience Through Your Facebook Ads Manager
To get started with advertising on Instagram, head to Facebook Ads Manager and click the “Audiences” tab. There, you can create a new “Saved Audience,” and select for attributes like location, age, gender, interests, income, and more.
Once you’ve targeted your audience, you can create a new ad in the ad manager. To publish it to Instagram, you click “Edit Placements” and choose Instagram.
Decide the Right Ad Format for Your Goals
You’ll see a place in the ads manager to select the format of your ad. Here are the ad format options for Instagram and what they mean:
Photo or video ad – Appears in viewer’s feeds and look like a regular post, including captions.Stories ad – Appears between other user’s stories and lasts for 24 hours (ideal for short promotions).Carousel ad – Appears in viewer’s feeds and has slides of different content, either video or images.Collection ad – Like a photo or video ad but with an option to purchase the product directly from the ad
No matter what type of ad format you decide, you can expect to pay between 70 cents and 80 cents per click on average. That means that if 500 people click your ad, you’d pay about $375.
Tip: Add an Instagram Shop Now Button to Ads
Calls-to-action are important, and sometimes viewers may have to be prompted to shop. Instagram allows you to add a button to your ads to make it clear that the post is shoppable.
Understand Instagram Analytics to Get Better Results
After you’ve been posting, tagging products in your images, or advertising on Instagram for at least a month, you should check out your Instagram analytics to see how you’re doing. Plus, you can use what you learn to guide your strategy for the upcoming months.
Instagram’s built-in Insights section provides you with all the analytics you’ll need to figure out how to get better results. It has three areas of insights: Activity, Content, and Audience.
The Activity tab in Instagram Insights shows how many people visited your profile, when they visited it, and what they clicked in your bio (like the link to your website). It also shows you how many overall impressions your posts had over the past week and which day of the week saw the highest number of impressions.
The Content tab is separated into “Feed posts” and “Stories.” For each, it displays the most popular posts over a certain time period.
You can filter the results by content type (such as carousels or videos), type of interaction (such as highest likes or most website clicks), or by time period. You can also layer these filters together. For example, you could choose filters that reveal the video posts that drove the most traffic to your website during the last 30 days.
This tab displays insights related to your follower demographics including their gender, age, location, and when they are most often online.
Keep Track of Your Engagement Rate
You’ve probably heard the ‘engagement’ term thrown around a lot, and you may already be tracking your engagement rates for other platforms like Facebook. Your engagement rate is the percentage of your followers who are actively interacting with your posts or stories. Keep track of this number to study your brand’s performance.
You can determine your engagement rate by adding the number of likes plus the number of comments you’ve received and dividing the sum by the total number of followers you have. The more followers you have, the lower your engagement rate is likely to be.
Start Using Instagram for Business Today
The best thing about social media marketing is its accessibility. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, or even advertising with Google, costs are low and setup is simple and intuitive.
The low stakes make using social media platforms like Instagram something you can start using for your business today.
The post How to Use Instagram for Business appeared first on Liquid Web.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore Twitter’s newly enhanced and improved conversation features with special guest, Dan Knowlton. Tune In to the Social […]
The post Twitter Rolls Out Improved Conversation Features appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
I love services like Amazon Transcribe. They are the kind of just-futuristic-enough technology that excites my imagination the same way that magic does. It’s incredible that we have accurate, automatic speech recognition for a variety of languages and accents, in real-time. There are so many use-cases, and nearly all of them are intriguing. Until now, the Amazon Transcribe Streaming API available has been available using HTTP/2 streaming. Today, we’re adding WebSockets as another integration option for bringing real-time voice capabilities to the things you build.
If you are itching to see things in action, you can head directly to the demo, but I recommend taking a quick read through this post first.
What is Amazon Transcribe?
Amazon Transcribe applies machine learning models to convert speech in audio to text transcriptions. One of the most powerful features of Amazon Transcribe is the ability to perform real-time transcription of audio. Until now, this functionality has been available via HTTP/2 streams. Today, we’re announcing the ability to connect to Amazon Transcribe using WebSockets as well.
For real-time transcription, Amazon Transcribe currently supports British English (en-GB), US English (en-US), French (fr-FR), Canadian French (fr-CA), and US Spanish (es-US).
What are WebSockets?
WebSockets are a protocol built on top of TCP, like HTTP. While HTTP is great for short-lived requests, it hasn’t historically been good at handling situations that require persistent real-time communications. While an HTTP connection is normally closed at the end of the message, a WebSocket connection remains open. This means that messages can be sent bi-directionally with no bandwidth or latency added by handshaking and negotiating a connection. WebSocket connections are full-duplex, meaning that the server can client can both transmit data at the same time. They were also designed for cross-domain usage, so there’s no messing around with cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) as there is with HTTP.
HTTP/2 streams solve a lot of the issues that HTTP had with real-time communications, and the first Amazon Transcribe Streaming API available uses HTTP/2. WebSocket support opens Amazon Transcribe Streaming up to a wider audience, and makes integrations easier for customers that might have existing WebSocket-based integrations or knowledge.
How the Amazon Transcribe Streaming API Works
The first thing we need to do is authorize an IAM user to use Amazon Transcribe Streaming WebSockets. In the AWS Management Console, attach the following policy to your user:
Transcribe uses AWS Signature Version 4 to authenticate requests. For WebSocket connections, use a pre-signed URL, that contains all of the necessary information is passed as query parameters in the URL. This gives us an authenticated endpoint that we can use to establish our WebSocket.
All of the required parameters are included in our pre-signed URL as part of the query string. These are:
language-code: The language code. One of en-US, en-GB, fr-FR, fr-CA, es-US.
sample-rate: The sample rate of the audio, in Hz. Max of 16000 for en-US and es-US, and 8000 for the other languages.
media-encoding: Currently only pcm is valid.
vocabulary-name: Amazon Transcribe allows you to define custom vocabularies for uncommon or unique words that you expect to see in your data. To use a custom vocabulary, reference it here.
Audio Data Requirements
There are a few things that we need to know before we start sending data. First, Transcribe expects audio to be encoded as PCM data. The sample rate of a digital audio file relates to the quality of the captured audio. It is the number of times per second (Hz) that the analog signal is checked in order to generate the digital signal. For high-quality data, a sample rate of 16,000 Hz or higher is recommended. For lower-quality audio, such as a phone conversation, use a sample rate of 8,000 Hz. Currently, US English (en-US) and US Spanish (es-US) support sample rates up to 48,000 Hz. Other languages support rates up to 16,000 Hz.
In our demo, the file lib/audioUtils.js contains a downsampleBuffer() function for reducing the sample rate of the incoming audio bytes from the browser, and a pcmEncode() function that takes the raw audio bytes and converts them to PCM.
Once we’ve got our audio encoding as PCM data with the right sample rate, we need to wrap it in an envelope before we send it across the WebSocket connection. Each messages consists of three headers, followed by the PCM-encoded audio bytes in the message body. The entire message is then encoded as a binary event stream message and sent. If you’ve used the HTTP/2 API before, there’s one difference that I think makes using WebSockets a bit more straightforward, which is that you don’t need to cryptographically sign each chunk of audio data you send.
The messages we receive follow the same general format: they are binary-encoded event stream messages, with three headers and a body. But instead of audio bytes, the message body contains a Transcript object. Partial responses are returned until a natural stopping point in the audio is determined. For more details on how this response is formatted, check out the docs and have a look at the handleEventStreamMessage() function in main.js.
Let’s See the Demo!
Now that we’ve got some context, let’s try out a demo. I’ve deployed it using AWS Amplify Console – take a look, or push the button to deploy your own copy. Enter the Access ID and Secret Key for the IAM User you authorized earlier, hit the Start Transcription button, and start speaking into your microphone.
The complete project is available on GitHub. The most important file is lib/main.js. This file defines all our required dependencies, wires up the buttons and form fields in index.html, accesses the microphone stream, and pushes the data to Transcribe over the WebSocket. The code has been thoroughly commented and will hopefully be easy to understand, but if you have questions, feel free to open issues on the GitHub repo and I’ll be happy to help. I’d like to extend a special thanks to Karan Grover, Software Development Engineer on the Transcribe team, for providing the code that formed that basis of this demo.
PHP, or Hypertext Preprocessor, is the scripting language widely used to develop WordPress themes and plugins. Using the most recent version of PHP is the quickest way to improve the performance of your site. PHP 7.3, which was released in April, introduced improvements in security and performance. WP Engine customers who moved from PHP 7.2…
The post A First Look at PHP 7.4 appeared first on WP Engine.
Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that connects veterans, service members and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities, announced Friday that it is expanding its popular fellowship program to military spouses. The news came from Mark Rydell, a general manager with Booz Allen Hamilton who is based in San […]
The post Hiring Our Heroes Boosts Focus on Military Spouse Employment appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.
We had another great turnout during our “A New User’s Guide to WooCommerce Webinar,” where we covered all the functions...
The post A New User’s Guide to WooCommerce Webinar FAQs appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.
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.
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We’re the employees you would hire if you could. Responsive, helpful, and dedicated in ways automation simply can’t be. We’re your team.
Each month we recognize one of our Most Helpful Humans in Hosting.
Meet David Singer
Why did you join Liquid Web?
The wife and I were working at a foster care facility in Ocala, Florida when we found out my mom was in the late stages of cancer. We brought it to the attention of the administrators at the foster care facility and all agreed this family issue was a priority. They helped us pack up all of our belongings over the next week and we said our final farewells. It was truly difficult leaving them as they were a part of our lives for more than five years. When we arrived back in Michigan, we unpacked, set up with living arrangements, and made sure my mom was getting the care she needed.
To make ends meet, I started looking for a new career. While browsing online, I saw an opening for a Linux Administrator in Lansing. I applied to Liquid Web on a whim and never expected to hear back. The next thing I knew, I was hired!
Is there something specific at Liquid Web that you just love?
Actually, there are a couple of things. I truly love all of the people I work with. They are intelligent, funny, and very motivated to provide the best possible care for our clients and each other. Also, I love learning and the training here is fabulous!
To quote Rockhound from the movie Armageddon:
‘Why do I do this? Because the money’s good, the scenery changes and they let me use explosives, okay?’ Well, I don’t really get to use explosives but I have accidentally blown up a server or two back in the day…”
What draws you to the hosting industry as a career?
I wasn’t drawn to hosting specifically, but to join a company in which I could increase my technical knowledge and experience. After interviewing with Liquid Web, I saw the level of knowledge and experience these people had and knew I wanted more. After I was hired, I started training. They patiently answered question after question and provided an encouraging and supportive environment which allowed me to develop my skills. I was able to shadow two of their most knowledgeable admins which shaped and honed my troubleshooting skills! I caught on quickly and began using the same methodologies they used which allowed me to progress quickly and earn my spot within the Linux ranks. You don’t receive that kind of personalized training anywhere.
I recently moved to the Marketing department as a technical writer which I am ecstatic about, as it gives me the opportunity to communicate my knowledge I have gained with others in a more proactive way. I have occupied multiple roles over the last 11+ years and I feel like we as a company have so much to share. In this role, I will ensure that we are passing our knowledge along to our clients. After all, the best clients are the most knowledgable ones!
What is the biggest milestone you’ve accomplished?
I’ve helped establish multiple teams, including our Live Chats and Enterprise teams, as well as other initiatives during my 11+ years at Liquid Web, all in an effort to improve the way we provide the services to our clients. This has allowed me to be a better advocate for my clients, my team, my department, and my company.
Also, I have had the pleasure of working alongside my sons at Liquid Web! As they grew, I provided technical training to them and had them apply for support positions. I set up a training wiki and went through it with them daily. I told them that no special quarter would be given; they needed to be doing it better, cleaner, and faster than every other admin in the room because they were my sons. All three of them studied hard and were hired over time, which was very rewarding for all.
What’s your favorite part about the company culture at Liquid Web?
Memes… definitely the memes. My favorite meme at the moment?
Tell us about a truly rewarding experience you’ve had with a customer.
I have interacted with thousands of clients here at Liquid Web. I have helped them save money, helped them put food on the table to feed their families, and helped to literally save their businesses. Many clients know me by my first name and I know them and their needs in return. Having this level of intimate knowledge and involvement with them allows me to speak the truth to them, and many have come to know me and rely on that honesty, not only in regards to technical issues but also with life issues.
What is one thing you wish our customers knew about their hosting?
I am a huge fan of multiple backups! I have seen so many instances where the simple act of having a disaster recovery plan in place could have literally saved a client’s business. I have listened as clients have cried for hours with me on the phone, begging me to try and find a way to retrieve their data to prevent them from losing their business. Unfortunately, all I could do was empathize with them and try to create a better plan for moving forward.
If you are reading this, check your backups now! Test out your disaster recovery plan before it’s needed, and have a set of offsite backups. This will give you increased peace of mind and add a layer of security to protect your business.
Work aside, what are some of your hobbies?
I am an avid outdoorsman. I love being outside and feeling the sun and rain on my face while hunting, fishing, swimming, or camping. My dad always said that “nature was the Lord’s first sanctuary.”
What is your nickname at Liquid Web and why?
They call me… ShiftDaddy! I think it’s because I am older than most people on the shift. My favorite saying: “You may wear the watch, but I know the time…”
If you could have dinner with one famous person [dead or alive] who would it be?
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni… He was truly a renaissance man in every sense of the word. I would love to have talked with him for hours, exploring his thoughts and ideas.
You can follow David on Twitter or LinkedIn.
We hope you enjoyed our series, and stay tuned for the next Most Helpful Human in Hosting profile.
The post Meet a Helpful Human – David Singer appeared first on Liquid Web.
Is YouTube video part of your marketing plan? Want more people to find and watch your videos on YouTube? To explore how to get your videos discovered on YouTube, I interview Tim Schmoyer. Tim is a YouTube expert whose channel has 500,000 subscribers. He hosts the Video Creators podcast and his course is called Video […]
The post How to Get Your Videos Discovered on YouTube appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
A well-designed website with easily accessible information can help visitors immediately understand what products or services you have to offer. They won’t have any problem navigating between your pages, and in all probability they will stay for a while. For this reason, you should consider designing a website that is: Functional Exceptional in terms of
The post 8 Ways to Make Your Site Is User-Friendly appeared first on Pickaweb.
If you’ve conducted a successful social media campaign in one country, it should be easy to replicate that success in another country, right? Not necessarily! Marketing approaches differ widely from one country to the next, as different audiences respond in various ways to particular styles of marketing. A campaign that works brilliantly in one location
The post 3 Reasons Why Your Multilingual Social Media Campaign Is Failing appeared first on Pickaweb.
Guest post by AWS Community Hero Shimon Tolts, CTO and co-founder at Datree.io. He specializes in developer tools and infrastructure, running a company that is 100% serverless.
In recent years, there was a major transition in the way you build and ship software. This was mainly around microservices, splitting code into small components, using infrastructure as code, and using Git as the single source of truth that glues it all together.
In this post, I discuss the transition and the different steps of modern software development to showcase the possible solutions for the serverless world. In addition, I list useful tools that were designed for this era.
What is serverless?
Before I dive into the wonderful world of serverless development and tooling, here’s what I mean by serverless. The AWS website talks about four main benefits:
No server management.
Pay for value.
Automated high availability.
To me, serverless is any infrastructure that you don’t have to manage and scale yourself. At my company Datree.io, we run 95% of our workload on AWS Fargate and 5% on AWS Lambda. We are a serverless company; we have zero Amazon EC2 instances in our AWS account. For more information, see the following:
io case study
Migrating to AWS ECS Fargate in production
CON320: Operational Excellence w/ Containerized Workloads Using AWS Fargate (re:Invent 2018)
What is GitOps?
Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency. According to Luis Faceira, a CI/CD consultant, GitOps is a way of working. You might look at it as an approach in which everything starts and ends with Git. Here are some key concepts:
Git as the SINGLE source of truth of a system
Git as the SINGLE place where we operate (create, change and destroy) ALL environments
ALL changes are observable/verifiable.
How you built software before the cloud
Back in the waterfall pre-cloud era, you used to have separate teams for development, testing, security, operations, monitoring, and so on.
Nowadays, in most organizations, there is a transition to full developer autonomy and developers owning the entire production path. The developer is the King – or Queen :)
Those teams (Ops/Security/IT/etc) used to be gatekeepers to validate and control every developer change. Now they have become more of a satellite unit that drives policy and sets best practices and standards. They are no longer the production bottleneck, so they provide organization-wide platforms and enablement solutions.
Everything is codified
With the transition into full developer ownership of the entire pipeline, developers automated everything. We have more code than ever, and processes that used to be manual are now described in code.
This is a good transition, in my opinion. Here are some of the benefits:
Automation: By storing all things as code, everything can be automated, reused, and re-created in moments.
Immutable: If anything goes wrong, create it again from the stored configuration.
Versioning: Changes can be applied and reverted, and are tracked to a single user who made the change.
GitOps: Git has become the single source of truth
The second major transition is that now everything is in one place! Git is the place where all of the code is stored and where all operations are initiated. Whether it’s testing, building, packaging, or releasing, nowadays everything is triggered through pull requests.
This is amplified by the codification of everything.
Useful tools in the serverless era
There are many useful tools in the market, here is a list of ones that were designed for serverless.
Always store your code in a source control system. In recent years, more and more functions are codified, such as, BI, ops, security, and AI. For new developers, it is not always obvious that they should use source control for some functionality.
Build and test
The most common mistake I see is manually configuring build jobs in the GUI. This might be good for a small POC but it is not scalable. You should have your job codified and inside your Git repository. Here are some tools to help with building and testing:
Security and governance
When working in a serverless way, you end up having many Git repos. The number of code packages can be overwhelming. The demand for unified code standards remains as it was but now it is much harder to enforce it on top of your R&D org. Here are some tools that might help you with the challenge:
Bundle and release
Building a serverless application is connecting microservices into one unit. For example, you might be using Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and Amazon DynamoDB. Instead of configuring each one separately, you should use a bundler to hold the configuration in one place. That allows for easy versioning and replication of the app for several environments. Here are a couple of bundlers:
AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM)
When working with many different serverless components, you should create small packages of tools to be able to import across different Lambda functions. You can use a language-specific store like npm or RubyGems, or use a more holistic solution. Here are several package artifact stores that allow hosting for multiple programming languages:
GitHub Package Registry
This part is especially tricky when working with serverless applications, as everything is split into small pieces. It’s important to use monitoring tools that support this mode of work. Here are some tools that can handle serverless:
The serverless era brings many transitions along with it like a codification of the entire pipeline and Git being the single source of truth. This doesn’t mean that the same problems that we use to have like security, logging and more disappeared, you should continue addressing them and leveraging tools that enable you to focus on your business.
Google Images has made a series of changes to help people explore, learn and do more through visual search. An important element of visual search is the ability for users to scan many ideas before coming to a decision, whether it’s purchasing a product, learning more about a stylish room, or finding instructions for a DIY project. Often this involves loading many web pages, which can slow down a search considerably and prevent users from completing a task. As previewed at Google I/O, we’re launching a new AMP-powered feature in Google Images on the mobile web, Swipe to Visit, which makes it faster and easier for users to browse and visit web pages. After a Google Images user selects an image to view on a mobile device, they will get a preview of the website header, which can be easily swiped up to load the web page instantly. Swipe to Visit uses AMP's prerender capability to show a preview of the page displayed at the bottom of the screen. When a user swipes up on the preview, the web page is displayed instantly and the publisher receives a pageview. The speed and ease of this experience makes it more likely for users to visit a publisher's site, while still allowing users to continue their browsing session. Publishers who support AMP don’t need to take any additional action for their sites to appear in Swipe to Visit on Google Images. Publishers who don’t support AMP can learn more about getting started with AMP here. In the coming weeks, publishers can also view their traffic data from AMP in Google Images in a Search Console’s performance report for Google Images in a new search area named “AMP on Image result”. We look forward to continuing to support the Google Images ecosystem with features that help users and publishers alike. Posted by Assaf Broitman, Google Images PM
WooCommerce doesn’t require a lot of day-to-day maintenance to keep it in peak condition. But, as winter comes to a close and the dust of the busy holiday season settles, spring is the ideal moment to take stock and make sure everything is working as it should be. A little spring maintenance will help your… Continue reading →
The graphic user interface (GUI) makes computer tasks easier for those uncomfortable with the text-only terminal, or command line interface (CLI). It’s quicker and less prone to issues caused by typing mistakes. However, the CLI is more powerful (for those who can take full advantage of it) than the GUI which is a middle-man limited by buttons and specific character requirements.
You can complete many important tasks using cPanel and Webhost Manager (WHM).
Continue reading 5 Free Ways to Learn Linux at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.