Industry Buzz

Accessibility + WordPress [Ebook]

WP Engine -

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), “The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability.” When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability. However, when websites, web… The post Accessibility + WordPress [Ebook] appeared first on WP Engine.

GutenTalks: PHP Developer and Freelancer David Bisset

Bluehost Blog -

As we continue the conversation surrounding Gutenberg, we are speaking with leaders to get their insight on how this is shaping the community who continues to express opinions and thoughts as the update develops. This week, Bluehost is chatting with David Bisset who is a Freelance WordPress and PHP Developer sharing his thoughts and experience with Gutenberg so far. Read more from his interview below. David, is there any sector of the community (web developers, bloggers, businesses) who you think will have to adapt to Gutenberg the most? “A good portion of regular users won’t see it coming because they haven’t had time to adapt to a new way of thinking about their content. I’ve witnessed in local meetups that developers either accept the new features quickly or take their time adjusting. Onboarding is a big issue for Gutenberg, and I think it’s going to be the most challenging because people don’t like change. With any new concept, it takes time to adjust and Gutenberg will need to develop a smoother transition for all of its users. Agencies, users, and educational centers with page builders will potentially experience hiccups depending on the plugins they are currently using on their websites.” As a community leader, how do you think we can better get behind the people who are building and fixing Gutenberg? “The first tip I would suggest to the community is to provide constructive feedback. It’s not common, but I have seen people just make blanket negative statements or worse…attack or belittle developers building Gutenberg. You can be critical of Gutenberg and provide helpful feedback at the same time. The best way for developers to implement adjustments to any bugs is from users that describe what they do and don’t like about its features.” We fully agree that positive communication and suggestions regarding Gutenberg’s launch is the best approach to improving its functionality for all WordPress users. Social media is a popular platform where people express their opinions, how has this impacted how Gutenberg is received by users? “I think some members of the community realize the “classic editor,” is outdated and not a good experience for new users. Sometimes people use social media to vent frustrations about their customers or clients not providing good feedback for projects but then tend to provide a similar level of feedback for Gutenberg. I think sometimes we can do better. Not everyone’s ideas can be integrated into the evolution of Gutenberg, but since WordPress 4.9.8 was made public, you can see that the WordPress team is listening to the community in general. At the end of the day, if people provide instructive and approachable feedback, that goes a long way for Gutenberg’s expansion in the future even if that feedback can’t be acted on in the short term. However, at the same time, there are some legitimate concerns regarding communication and integration plans— I think there’s some frustration there. In terms of tweaking, communication and deeper information going forward might be something to think about.” Building good avenues for communication is always important when developing an update of this magnitude. How does the ability to create custom blocks bring new opportunities to JavaScript and PHP developers? “JavaScript developers have the edge now, but there’s a number of projects that aim to extend Gutenberg and blocks for PHP developers. I think it’s great to give as many developers as possible, regardless of their current skill sets, chances to work with Gutenberg.” That’s completely understandable, the more interaction developers have with Gutenberg, the more comfortable they will become with the javascript format. Has the community involvement with Gutenberg affected other open source projects? “It certainly is the biggest community involved project that WordPress has attempted and is a great example of how open source allows for global collaboration. Drupal is one of the largest open source communities in the world and their consideration of Gutenberg shows the impact it’s having worldwide. Gutenberg Cloud looks to be an exciting project as well, and I would urge folks to check it out.” We love that other communities are getting excited about Gutenberg! There were several javascript UI options for Gutenberg to be built on, do you think React.js is a good fit? “I know many wanted it to be Vue or other choices, but while React isn’t perfect or as easy to use, I think it was a logical choice. It will be interesting if in five or eight years if it remains the preferred or popular choice among developers.” As Gutenberg evolves, what are you most excited to see developers create with this update? “I’m excited to see how developers will create new things for Gutenberg that we haven’t imagined yet and how it will impact users (both current and future WordPress users who might not have even know about the classic plugin). I think plenty will still use the classic plugin for quite some time – probably years – and since it will be supported, I think this path is just fine.” The sky is the limit for what all users will create when Gutenberg launches, what would you say to those who are concerned about the future of WordPress? As someone who has been working with WordPress for over a decade and a freelancer for nearly two decades, I believe it’s important to have a healthy view of emerging technologies. Try to look at big pictures but at the same time determine how you want to adapt, because at the end of the day how you react to change is how you determine how you survive.” Thank you for sitting down with us David, we are looking forward to seeing Gutenberg in CORE. Learn more about him below! David is a full-time freelancer developer living in South Florida (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area). He is a WordPress developer and also specializes in BuddyPress sites/applications. He is also a speaker, meetup organizer, conference organizer (over a decade with WordCamp Miami, one of the largest non-regional WordCamps), and father of three. The post GutenTalks: PHP Developer and Freelancer David Bisset appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

10 Holiday SEO Quick Wins To Help Shoppers Find Your Business

HostGator Blog -

The post 10 Holiday SEO Quick Wins To Help Shoppers Find Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. The holiday season might not quite be upon us, but the holiday marketing season definitely is. Business owners have to start planning for holiday shoppers sooner rather than later. When your target audience goes looking for gifts for their loved ones over the next couple of months, you want them to find you. SEO is a long game, which means that it’s a tactic you want to approach with a long-term strategy in mind. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking for ways to improve your SEO for holiday shoppers. 10 Holiday SEO Quick Wins That Take 15 Minutes or Less In addition to the ongoing SEO strategy you employ throughout the year, here are a few tactics you can try  to boost your SEO during the most important season for small businesses. Good news: they all take 15 minutes or less!   1. Submit your sitemap. For pages on your website to show up in Google searches, the search engine’s crawlers have to find them first. You can speed up the process by submitting your sitemap through the Google Search Console. It’s a simple step that makes sure Google has all your webpages in its index, including any new ones you’ve added to the site for the holiday season. 2. Optimize your title tags for new holiday pages. If you already know your SEO basics, you’ve probably already done this for your existing pages (if not, our ebook on the subject will bring you up to speed). Now you want make sure you do it for any pages you create for holiday specific products and promotions. For every page or piece of content you add to your site for the holidays, do keyword research to find the best holiday-related keyword to optimize for and strategically add it to the title tag on the page. Also consider pages you can create specifically to make your website more findable for holiday shoppers. Pages that collect gift products under $10 or pages that highlight gift options for specific audiences give you the chance to optimize for various gift-related keywords your customers may be searching for.   3. Optimize all holiday images for SEO. Every image you add to your website is an SEO opportunity. And the holidays usually mean new images that add seasonal cheer to your site. Optimize every new image you add to your website for the holidays by:      Customizing the filename to include target holiday keywords      Filling in your image alt tags with your target keywords      Adding the images to the sitemap you submitted in step 1      Choosing the right quality-to-size ratio to make sure your image looks good, but doesn’t slow down the site’s loading time. All of these should just take a few minutes per image, but can make a difference in how your site shows up in search.   4. Sponsor local charity events. This is one of those tips that allows you to do something good during the holiday season, earns you goodwill with your customers, and helps with SEO all at the same time. Look into the local charity drives and events happening in your area or in your industry to identify at least one to put your company’s weight behind with a sponsorship. Many nonprofit sponsorship opportunities come with a link back to your website as a perk, so this is a good tactic to build some extra link love around the holidays. If possible, try to find a cause that’s in line with your brand and/or your audience’s values. If you sell pet products, then see what events nearby animal shelters or rescue groups are promoting for the holidays. If moms are in your target audience, then a cause that helps kids is likely a good fit.   5. Add some seasonal topics into your content strategy. Unfortunately, creating the content will take more than 15 minutes, but if you’re doing content marketing, then you’ll already be spending that time on content creation in the next couple of months. What you can probably accomplish in 15 minutes is coming up with a number of good holiday content ideas to add to your strategy. If you’re a local store, make some of your holiday content local. You can highlight holiday events in your area, great local nonprofits to support, or some of the best local businesses to consider for holiday shopping. That way you can optimize for local variations of your holiday keywords, which will be less competitive.   6. Create relevant holiday blog categories. If you’re creating enough holiday content, then you can make it go a little further in search by creating relevant categories or tags on your blog using your primary target keywords. This signals to Google that your blog includes a lot of content around the terms you’re trying to rank for, so a blog that has 10 blog posts and a devoted category for “Miami holiday gift ideas” is going to look more relevant for that search term than one that doesn’t. And creating a category means you have a whole other page on your website optimized for the term. 7. Re-promote last year’s holiday content. If this isn’t your first year doing content marketing, then you can make the content you created in past years for the holiday season keep working for you by promoting it anew this year. Share it on your social networks, send it to your email list, and if you’re really proud of it, consider promoting it with paid search or social ads. As long as your old content is still relevant this holiday season, there’s no reason not to drive more traffic to it this year and boost its ranking power in the process.   8. Add links to new holiday content to your most popular old holiday content. Your old holiday content will now have more authority than anything new you create. You’ll have built up links, traffic, and keyword rankings to it. Figure out which of your pieces from past years were the most popular and have the most backlinks from other websites. Then look for natural opportunities to add links to your new holiday content within the piece. This is a relatively quick and easy way to give your new pieces some immediate authority by building off of what your old pieces have already earned.   9. Upgrade your web hosting for holiday traffic. A slow website can be the death of holiday sales. If you’re expecting an uptick in traffic during the holiday season, then you need a strong enough web hosting plan to support holiday traffic surges. Check with your web hosting provider to see if they feel that your current plan will support an increase in visitors. If not, consider if it’s time to upgrade to a new plan or a different provider.   10. Find and fix broken links. Broken links make you look bad and increase bounce rates, which hurts your SEO. With a free broken link tool like Broken Link Check, you can identify all the broken links on your website within seconds. Go through and remove or replace them all to create a better experience for your visitors and improve your SEO authority.   Your Holiday SEO Checklist Good SEO takes time and none of these SEO quick wins should be seen as a replacement for a long-term SEO strategy. But if you want to find some quick and easy ways to give your larger SEO efforts a little boost for the holiday season, adding all of these steps to your holiday marketing list can help. For longer-term help with your SEO, contact HostGator’s SEO experts. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

DC CyberWeek Is Here!

CloudFlare Blog -

Photo by Sarah Ferrante Goodrich / Unsplash This October is the 15th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in the United States, a collaboration between the US government and industry to raise awareness about the part we can all play in staying more secure online. Here at Cloudflare, where our mission is to help build a better internet, we look forward to this month all year.As part of this month-long education campaign, Cloudflare is participating in D.C CyberWeek this week, the largest cybersecurity festival in the U.S, taking place in Washington, DC. This year’s event is expected to have over 10,000 attendees, more than 100 events, and feature representatives from over 180 agencies, private companies, and service providers. We will join with other leaders in cybersecurity, to share best practices, find ways to collaborate, and work to achieve common goals.Along with the United States, the European Union also runs a month-long cyber awareness campaign in October, with the initiative having started back in 2012. The aim of this advocacy campaign is similar: promoting cybersecurity among citizens and organizations, and providing information on available tools and resources. Watch our CTO speak to some of the main considerations around good cyber hygiene, business practices and appropriate policy making in the field of cybersecurity as part of EU #CyberSecMonth. Cloudflare’s Cybersecurity CommitmentAs well as our own company efforts, we have joined with 60 other global companies to sign on to the Cybersecurity Tech Accord. The Tech Accord is a public commitment to protect and empower civilians to take action to secure the internet. The accord itself covers four simple commitments:That we will protect all of our users everywhereThat we will oppose cyberattacks on innocent citizens and enterprises from anywhereThat we will help empower users, customers, and developers to strengthen cybersecurity protectionThat we will partner with each other and with likeminded groups to enhance cybersecurityBut more than that, it is about creating a forum where companies large and small can come together to share best practices, debate threats, and hold each other accountable for our efforts in this arena. It is also a place where we can share ideas for ways in which the government can help shape good cybersecurity hygiene through appropriate laws and policies. Signing on was an easy decision for us; these are commitments we have long supported in practice.Cloudflare’s Cybersecurity ContributionBeyond our collaboration with the cybersecurity community, Cloudflare runs two other initiatives, designed to make the internet a more secure place for vulnerable groups who might lack financial or technical resources. Project GalileoAt Cloudflare, we believe that limited resources shouldn’t preclude vulnerable groups from receiving the support they need. As part of our commitment to the overall health of the internet, we started Project Galileo in 2014 to ensure that at-risk public interest groups are able to stay online securely. We started it in response to cyber attacks launched with the intent of silencing important and vulnerable groups, like humanitarian organizations, political dissidents, and artistic groups. We partner with well-respected free speech, public interest, and civil society organizations to help us identify at-risk websites in need of our pro bono efforts. Once our partners have identified these groups, we extend our DDoS and WAF protection to ensure these websites stay online. The hundreds of websites we protect through Project Galileo includes sites for a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people, an editorial cartoonist, to an organization designed to help veterans with PTSD. The Athenian ProjectThe Athenian Project was born out of a recognition that state and local governments had similar challenges as our Project Galileo participants. In an era of increasing distrust on the internet, it is essential that state and locally run election websites are safe, accurate, and online. So we extended our Enterprise-level services to those sites for free. We believe it’s imperative that voter data and election integrity is maintained, and that we can and should help prevent attackers from stealing sensitive voter information that may allow them to sway an election. Election sites should stay online during peak times, like voter registration deadlines, and election days. We have seen huge surges of traffic in those key days, and our AnyCast network has allowed these sites to stay up.Moving ForwardWe believe CyberWeek is an important time for private companies to spend some time thinking about the broader world. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as we continue to think about new and innovative ways we can be good members of this community. We hope that you will join us in our efforts to help make the internet more secure.

Happy Hour | Major discounts on these three domains

Name.com Blog -

If you’re a videographer or in the filmmaking business, you won’t want to miss out on major deals on these three relevant domain extensions. Join us this Thursday, Oct. 18 from 3 to 5 p.m. MDT (9 to 11 p.m. UTC) to register .VIDEO, .CAMERA, and .STUDIO domains for $7.99 each. This deal does not apply […] The post Happy Hour | Major discounts on these three domains appeared first on Name.com Blog.

How to Optimize Content for Voice Search

Pickaweb Blog -

Recently, Google came up with Google Assistant for cars and speakers which will help in displaying information on the screens. If you publish on a frequent basis, it is essential to understand the way you can optimize content for Voice Search by Google Assistant. Here, we bring you some tips that help you in optimizing The post How to Optimize Content for Voice Search appeared first on Pickaweb.

How (the Right Kind of) Professional Services Can Boost Your Business

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

The quickening adoption of cloud technologies was supposed to make IT nimbler, simpler and less expensive. Yet in my daily talks with prospective customers, many say they’re getting only the first of these promised benefits. While .333 is a great batting average in baseball, today’s business leaders need their IT to perform far better than […] The post How (the Right Kind of) Professional Services Can Boost Your Business appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

Can I Use a Free Server to Host My Website?

InMotion Hosting Blog -

If you’re just starting up your first website, you may be wondering: “Can I use a free server to host my website?” Today, we’ll discuss all the options you should consider. Limited Resources When using a free hosting service, all the server’s resources are split among dozens, or even hundreds of other websites. If another website experiences a spike in traffic, or has some other performance issue, it will affect your website as well. Continue reading Can I Use a Free Server to Host My Website? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

How to Hire a Designer to Create a Custom Website

DreamHost Blog -

If you need a website, there are plenty of ways you can get one. You could create it yourself, although if you lack the time or skills required, that may not be a feasible option. Your best solution may be to hire a professional, but figuring out how to find the right one and get the process started can be daunting. To hire a web design professional, you’ll not just need to find one who can do the job, but you’ll also need to do some preparation work. This involves planning out your project, knowing what you’ll need, and determining what you can afford to pay. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of hiring a web designer to create a custom website. We’ll talk about what you should consider beforehand, how to create a plan for your site, and how to manage the project. Finally, we’ll show you how to find a designer that’s right for you. Let’s get to work! When You May Want to Hire a Designer to Create Your Website It’s true that it has never been easier for just about anybody to create a website. With little-to-no help, even inexperienced people who have never touched a single line of code or a design tool can create functional and attractive sites. This is mainly due to the many applications and platforms that take care of the technical aspects of site creation for you. For example, many website builders let you use templates combined with a drag-and-drop interface to build pages and create content. Even Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress are easier than ever to use, thanks to one-click installs, themes, and plugins. However, constructing a site by yourself is still not always feasible. Even with all those tools at your disposal, for example, you’ll still be required to learn the basics of site design and know how to use your chosen software correctly. Even if you know exactly what you’re doing, many websites take a considerable amount of effort and time to construct. The right tools can help you along the way, but if you don’t have the time to spare, that won’t matter much. It may also be that you need a site with scope and functionality that goes beyond what pre-existing assets, such as themes and plugins, can provide. For example, you might feel comfortable putting together a personal blog or portfolio. However, creating something more complex, like a membership system or e-commerce store, may not be within your comfort zone. In these cases, your best option is almost always simply to hire a professional for the job. There are plenty of designers available with the skills, talent, and experience to create precisely the site you need while letting you focus on other aspects of your venture. Hiring a designer also comes with several other potential benefits. For instance, they’ll often be able to not only design your site but also help you with creating additional design elements, such as logos and other visual assets. They may even be able to help construct your brand’s visual identity, which is a great way to gain traction quickly. How to Prepare Before Hiring a Designer Once you’ve decided to hire a professional to create your website, you’ll need to start planning it out. It’s extremely vital that you know precisely what you want out of the final result, so the designer can make it a reality. A clear plan will help you convey to them what your expectations are, how you want the final product to look, and what exactly you’re paying them to create. First and foremost, you’ll need to define your goals and the site’s purpose. For example, is your new site a commercial venture, such as an online store or a company site, or is it more of a personal project? From there, you can start deciding what you want from your site, how it should look, what type of content it will contain, and what functionality it will require. The size and level of your site’s intricacy are equally important to nail down at this early stage. For example, a basic but crucial question to consider is how many pages you want it to contain. The more pages you need, the larger the scale of the project will be. In turn, the answers to all of these questions will help you when it comes to what is arguably the most important point of all: budget. In short, how much can you afford to spend on your site? This will not only affect who you can afford to hire for the job, but if you should approach a single freelancer or reach out to an agency with multiple designers and developers. These are only a small handful of considerations, but they represent a solid start for planning out your project. We’ve previously discussed the ideal game plan for designing a site at length, so we recommend that you check out that advice as well. What You Need to Consider When Working With a Designer While it’s crucial to plan for your website, it’s equally critical that you know how to manage the project once your designer has started working on it. Not only will this ensure a smooth workflow for all involved parties, but it will also help to prevent miscommunications or any unwelcome surprises. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most important considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when hiring a designer. You’ll need to: Be clear about your goals. Once you’ve defined your goals, don’t be ambiguous about them. Clearly communicate what you want, including your overall vision for the site, and what specifically you’re asking the designer to produce. This will ensure that they know what’s required of them upfront, increasing the odds that you’ll be happy with the result. Provide them with all the required information and assets. It’s also vital that your designer has the right information and tools needed to complete the work. What this means will naturally depend on the specific project’s requirements, but could include elements like art assets, photos you want to use, content, product information, and so on. Understand what’s involved in the process. Even if you’re not directly involved with the site design process, it’s still helpful to have a general grasp of what it entails. If you understand the general steps involved, you’ll have a much clearer idea of your project’s timeline and a better understanding of the work your designers are doing. Create a clear roadmap for the project. Speaking of timelines, you should also aim to define a clear roadmap, including deadlines and milestones. Make sure you’re realistic about your expectations, both when it comes to workload and the final product. Communicate clearly throughout the project. We’ve discussed the importance of this already, and fortunately, it shouldn’t be difficult to do as long as you’re using a medium that works for everyone involved. It’s best to decide upfront what your primary channels of communication will be, whether that’s email, phone, or an application. Be clear about the project’s budget. In short, everyone should know exactly what they’re being paid to do and how much they’re getting. This will help avoid situations where you’re faced with unexpected extra charges down the line. At the end of the day, it’s essential that both you and the designer are in sync when it comes to expectations and goals. As long as you plan thoroughly and communicate well throughout the project, this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. How to Hire a Designer to Create a Custom Website (2 Options) By now, you should have a better understanding of when and why you should consider hiring a designer for your website. We’ve also discussed how to prepare for the project. All that’s left is to look at how actually to go about finding and recruiting one or more designers.  There are two primary avenues available to you, so we’re going to discuss each one in turn. 1. Hire One or More Freelancers When you have a plan in place and know what you want, it’s time to start finding the right person for the job. Many people decide to hire freelancers to build their websites, and it’s not hard to see why. There are a lot of them to choose from. In fact, over 53 million Americans work as freelancers. Going with the freelance option has a few benefits. For one, you can look for someone who specializes in exactly the type of project you require and get a feel for their stylistic sensibilities by looking at examples of their previous work. They also tend to offer plenty of flexibility when it comes to the scope of the project, working hours, deadlines, and budget. If your budget doesn’t stretch very far, you may also be able to find less experienced freelancers who will work for cheaper than an agency or more prominent competitors. That said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay them what they’re worth or suggest that they work “for exposure.” It just means you might be able to spend less, and they get a chance to earn money while gaining more experience in the field. However, using one or more freelancers can also have its downsides. For one, you may be limiting the potential scope of your site, especially if you can’t afford to hire multiple designers. If you do hire more than one person, on the other hand, this might make the process of managing the project more difficult, as communication can become fractured across multiple parties. You may also find that if the parameters of your project change, the designer may not have the necessary skills to handle any new requirements. If you decide you want to use a freelancer to design your site, there are plenty of ways to find the right one. There are many sites dedicated to connecting specialized freelancers with projects that match their skills, such as PeoplePerHour, Guru, and Upwork. The latter in particular is a terrific option. On Upwork, you can browse for suitable candidates and view their profiles to see more information. When trying to find the right candidate, it’s a good idea to study each prospect’s portfolio carefully. Are the sites they’ve created similar to what you have in mind? This also gives you a chance to see what their skills and weaknesses are, which will make it easier to understand if they’d be a good fit for the job. Similarly, you should also look for reviews and recommendations, including testimonials. In addition to giving you valuable information about their abilities, this will also provide you with an idea of what it’s like to work with that person. You’ll naturally want to look for skills like strong communication, flexibility, reliability, and so on. Once you’ve found a freelancer you’d like to approach, you can use the contact form to get in touch. However, you may not even need to do that, as Upwork will help you find suitable freelancers when you post a job. You can then use the same interface to communicate, transfer files, and even handle payments. 2. Hire a Web Design Firm If you find that a freelancer alone is not able to fulfill your requirements, or you simply want a more complete solution including additional work beyond website design, the best option is to hire an agency. Working directly with an agency has a number of advantages, including expanding the potential scope of your project. These types of firms will usually have teams of employees who can create much larger sites with advanced functionality. They also tend to offer additional services, such as helping you build visual branding for your website and business. A design firm also provides more reliability than freelancers do. For example, if you hire Freelancer X and they’re unexpectedly incapable of proceeding with the work due to illness or other external factors, you’re in trouble. However, with an agency, you can always rest assured that the job will get done. The major hurdle with using this option is naturally the price. However, even in this regard you have some freedom, as you can scale the final cost to match your budget. Professional Web Design Made Easy Let’s actually look at how this works with DreamHost’s own design services. We’ve partnered with RipeConcepts, one of the world’s leading web design firms, to provide several different design services to our customers. By choosing one of these packages, you can have professional designers create your site for you. You can opt for a simple microsite with basic features for as little as $299. Or you can create a fully-functional e-commerce solution, including a blog, image gallery, up to 20 custom pages, social media integration, and responsive design. DreamHost also offers branding services, where our designers create a logo, business cards, email signatures, and even a branded letterhead for you. Combined with our other design services, this lets you create an entire visual identity for your brand and website in one go. Finally, we also provide optional add-ons, which enable you to select additional features you want to include on your site. Considering the scope of what these packages offer, combined with the tiered options, this is an easy and price-effective way to get any type of website off the ground — especially if you’re already a DreamHost customer. Custom By Design Sometimes it’s best to rely on professionals to create your website. However, to make sure you get the results you need, you have to come prepared. You’ll also need to know where you can find the best designers, and how to spot which ones provide services that match your requirements. Do you have any questions about hiring a designer, or any of our web design packages? Let us know by starting the conversation in the DreamHost Community forum! The post How to Hire a Designer to Create a Custom Website appeared first on DreamHost.

eCommerce Automation: How to Make Bots Work Your Online Store

Liquid Web Official Blog -

You can automate your eCommerce or WooCommerce store and save a lot of time and sanity. Let the bots do it. Rather than being impersonal or expensive, simple automations can be personalized and easy. It’s well within reach of the average eCommerce shop. In the recent How to Use eCommerce Automations for Your Store webinar Beka Rice, Head of Product for Jilt, and Chris Lema, Vice President of Products and Innovation for Liquid Web, explored automation. What Is Automation? Let’s be clear what we mean when we talk about “automation” for eCommerce. Too often people have an adverse reaction to automation. Beyond the fictional fears of robot apocalypse or the genuine issue of automation replacing manufacturing jobs, when it comes to eCommerce automation, people still think negative with impersonal call centers or expensive factory undertakings.  Like this content? Subscribe now and have more just like it sent straight to your inbox. But eCommerce automation is none of those things. Context and data can make automation very personal and customized to each shopper. Far from being expensive, some automations can happen with pre-built plugins that cost less than $100. Automation may sound like something for factories, but most online stores are operations with one to five people, and that’s an ideal scale for automation. The reality is people often think of larger and grander automations, and overlook the simple ways we already use automation every day: Calendar alerts: Automatic reminders for events or meetings. Email list opt-in: Automated subscriptions based on form entries. Transactional emails: Emails triggered automatically by order activity. No one would think of these automations as too expensive or impersonal. They’re perfectly normal. Most online stores are already using automation without even realizing it. Adding more automation will only help. Why Use Automation? Automation is suitable for both customers and merchants. For merchants, automation frees them up to focus on other things. Most merchants are overwhelmed. They’re responsible for a lot, and any time you can take something off their plate or make a task faster, it’s a big win. A lot of store owners spend their time updating their store when they could be focused on marketing tasks that would bring in more income. Automation allows merchants to: Purchase focus for their entire team: Automation frees up mental energy enabling merchants to focus on more important things. It’s a way to buy focus. Reduce or remove low-impact tasks: Sometimes we don’t even realize how much time teammates are spending on repetitive tasks. Focus on high-impact actions: What’s going to have the most significant impact on the bottom line? It would be ridiculous to send out every receipt manually. That’s what automation is for. Likewise, other tasks don’t need to be done by hand. So how is automation good for customers? Automations can streamline and speed up processes, which means customers get better and faster service. Also, when merchants are freed up to focus on other things, that means store improvements that will ultimately benefit customers. Everybody wins with automation. What Can be Automated? These are some areas where you can focus your eCommerce automation efforts: Product setup & management Customer browsing & shopping Purchasing & fulfillment Post-purchase communication Marketing & other customer messaging We’ll explore each of these areas in more detail: 1. Product Setup & Management This is the best place to start for automations. Once you have a workflow, you can automate it. Adding inventory: WP All Import can automate product updates. Stock notifications: WooCommerce has notifications for low and out-of-stock items. Sales: WooCommerce can schedule the start and end of sales. Google Ads: Google Product Feed syncs product data for Ad Words campaigns. Inventory management: Can be outsourced to a partner such as ShipStation, Veeqo, or TradeGecko. 2. Customer Browsing & Shopping Brick and mortar stores have the option of welcoming customers as they enter a store. You can’t do that online, but there are ways you can analyze what shoppers are doing and give them contextually helpful messages. Welcome emails: Jilt or Mailchimp can be used to send welcome emails to new customers. See what people are doing: You can use behavioral analytics with Google Analytics or Mixpanel to help gain insight into customer behavior. Start work on messaging: HelloBar or Cart Notices can inform customers of sales or fees. Abandonment recovery: Jilt also sends emails to recover abandoned carts.  Jilt is included in all Managed WooCommerce Hosting plans at Liquid Web. 3. Product Fulfillment You can streamline the order management and package fulfillment process. After products, this is the second-best place to start automating your online store. Shipping rates: Get live shipping rates via Shipwire or WooCommerce Services. Data export: Automatically export orders with Customer / Order CSV Export. Label printing: WooCommerce Services includes label printing at discounted rates. Order fulfillment: Fulfillment by Amazon or Shipwire will handle packaging and sending items. Bookkeeping: Sync order data to other services via Zapier. 4. Post-Purchase Communication It’s important to follow up with customers promptly after they’ve made a purchase. This is an excellent way to build loyalty. Get customer feedback: Ask for feedback and product reviews using Follow-Ups or Jilt. Build social proof: Use Review for Discount to build testimonials and reviews. Thank new and repeat customers: Jilt, and MailChimp can send thank you emails based on order count. Win back inactive customers: Use Jilt to email customers who haven’t purchased in a while. (Check out some good strategies for a win-back campaign.) 5. Marketing & Other Customer Messaging You can also automate customer service messages, advertisements, and more. Behavioral emails: Follow-Ups can email customers based on review, booking, or points activity. Paid advertising: AdRoll can create and manage retargeting ads. Customer service: Help Scout has helpful workflows to automate processes and answers to email. Segment customers: You can add customers to a Facebook audience with Zapier. How to Find Things to Automate The best way to figure out what to automate is to look at what you’re already doing and see how it can be done more efficiently. If someone is doing the same thing over and over again, that can probably be automated. If you’ve already made the decision, then the hard part is done, and the work of implementing that decision can be done automatically. Here’s where to look: Work log: What are the top five management tasks you spend your time each week? Workflow: What steps are taken for every order or new product? Follow the lifecycle. Optimize impact: What are the three most and least impactful things you spend time on? What do you love or hate to do? Just watch: For developers working with merchants, ask your clients if you can watch them manage their store. Have them share their screen and see what they do. You’ll likely see things they do every day that can be automated. Is It Worth It? It’s important to consider the cost of implementing automation. More often than not it’s going to be worth it. So just do it. There’s a danger that you can spend more time evaluating whether or not it’s worth doing than it would take to implement. But if you’re unsure about automation, calculating the value can help you see the benefits. Too often merchants think some repetitive task isn’t taking up too much time, but the reality of a daily task adds up over time. Add up that cost and compare it to what automation would cost. If automation will save frustration or mental energy, work that into the equation as well. There’s also an opportunity cost where you’re missing out on doing something else because you’re spending time on these repetitive tasks. eCommerce Automation Automation can take care of menial tasks that would sap your energy and focus. Rather than replacing people, automation frees you up to do something else. That means your eCommerce store can get better and better, thanks to automation. Watch the webinar with Beka Rice and Chris Lema for more insights. Let Us Take Care of Making Your Store Fast With our Managed WooCommerce Hosting solution, your store will be lightning fast, leading to more conversions and revenue while we take care of the heavy lifting with hosting. That way, you can focus on creating automations. The post eCommerce Automation: How to Make Bots Work Your Online Store appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Improve Your Facebook Ads Relevance Score: 7 Methods That Work

Social Media Examiner -

Want to raise your Facebook ads relevance score? Wondering how to create Facebook ads that drive positive engagement and social proof? In this article, you’ll discover seven ways to quickly and significantly lift your Facebook ads relevance score. What Is the Facebook Ads Relevance Score? Facebook’s relevance score is a rating on a scale of [...] The post How to Improve Your Facebook Ads Relevance Score: 7 Methods That Work appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

Why These Six Factors Determine Your Online Reputation – Here’s Why #186

Stone Temple Consulting Blog -

HAL 9000 won’t let Dave back in the spacecraft. What’s gone wrong? Was it something Dave said? Your brand’s online reputation can also determine whether customers will let you into their wallets or not. In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark Traphagen reveals the six factors that work together to determine the online reputation of a brand, and gives tips on how marketers can make use of them.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why with Mark & Eric. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources 6 Dimensions of Online Reputation that Should Guide Your Social Media Marketing See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Eric: Mark, do people really take note of a brand and its reputation online when they’re browsing or using social media? Mark: Eric, they sure do. Think of the last time that you were on Facebook and a post came up from a business. We know at that point a real battle begins as people have developed a resistance to brand content, but an interesting visual, video, or post title will get your attention. Now, where do you look next to decide if reading or watching this is worth your time? Eric: I get it. I look at the brand and what business it’s from. Mark: Yes. And what information is that giving you? Eric: I’m probably asking myself if I trust the brand name, whether I think it’s likely that what they’re going to share is going to be helpful to me some way. Mark: Right. So understanding what influences your online reputation is critical for your digital marketing success. Eric: Sure. But can you share the details of that with us? Mark: Sure. The people who developed the Harris Poll created what they call the Reputation Quotient, or RQ. Their RQ project conducts regular surveys to determine the brands that most stick in the minds of consumers. They then evaluate each of those brands according to six dimensions of reputation: Eric: I know in your Marketing Land column you’ve written about each of those in detail, but since this is a brief video, why don’t you pick the three you think are the most important for social media marketers and SEOs? Mark: Sounds good. I’d put products and services at the top of the list. Which is kind of funny since it’s one of the factors marketers have little control over. But it’s undeniably true that if your company has a reputation for crappy products or bad service, all the marketing in the world isn’t going to overcome that. Now, where marketers can be an influence on that process is providing timely feedback from customers, especially from social media. That can help improve products or services more quickly.  Second, I think marketers need to think about emotional appeal. Study after study shows that emotions play a bigger role than rational thought in human choices including purchasing decisions.  A great example of that was REI’s Mirnavator video. It’s an inspiring and heartwarming story of a woman overcoming multiple challenges, including online bullying, to pursue her passion for running. Mirna’s story made a strong emotional connection with REI’s customers, fitness enthusiasts who also tend to be socially conscious. REI’s strong connection with the values of environmental conservation along with the strength of the human spirit, have made loyal customers out of me and millions like me. Eric: What’s the third dimension then of online reputation that marketers should pay attention to? Mark: That would be, I think, vision and leadership. Now, as with products and services, vision and leadership at first glance would seem like an area marketing has little control over. However, marketing can do a lot to amplify the vision and leadership of a company, provided that company clearly has both of those.  If the company has a visionary, charismatic CEO, or industry respected thought leaders, marketing should be creating opportunities for them to be seen and heard. I only have to mention names like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs to evoke the powerful effect such leaders can have on a brand when they’re made public. Eric: Thanks, Mark. Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why with Mark & Eric. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Finding Dependable Web Hosting for Your WordPress Website

InMotion Hosting Blog -

If you want to find dependable web hosting for WordPress sites, then you are going to need something that is reliable and secure. Figuring out what is best for your needs isn’t always easy.  There are quite a few things to consider when deciding what hosting service is right for you. Let’s look at some specifics that you need to look for in a WordPress host and details that you need to avoid when picking a host. Continue reading Finding Dependable Web Hosting for Your WordPress Website at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

Portal From Facebook: Marketing Experts Weigh In on Facebook Smart Speakers

Social Media Examiner -

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 discuss how to implement Instagram’s new two-factor authentication update and weigh the pros and cons of Facebook’s new [...] The post Portal From Facebook: Marketing Experts Weigh In on Facebook Smart Speakers appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy? How to Mitigate Multi-Cloud Security Risks?

Reseller Club Blog -

69% of enterprises are going to use a multi-cloud strategy by the year 2019, according to 451 Research. Still, few of them are aware of multi-cloud potential risks and ways to prevent them. In this article, you will learn what is multi-cloud and how to secure your business when working with multiple cloud providers. What is Multi-Cloud? Multi-cloud is the usage of many cloud computing services at the same time, often from various providers. While multi-cloud and hybrid cloud seem alike, there is a huge difference between them. Unlike in a hybrid cloud model, where public and private cloud environments are mixed and work together, in multi-cloud each cloud has its own task. Thus, all processes happen inside the environments. Companies choose a multi-cloud strategy for various reasons – to minimize potential risks, achieve higher performance or lower costs, and some of them want to benefit from the unique features of different clouds. Either way, the fact that cloud computing changes business can’t be denied. It is a flexible, cost-effective and convenient tool. According to an Oracle study, companies of all major industries will migrate to the cloud environment massively by 2020. As the multi-cloud strategy becomes widely used, it brings significant security risks to companies. So, anyone who decides to opt for cloud development should implement a security & risk-preventive strategy. By doing so, companies can avoid losing precious revenue & data. While traditional strategies don’t work here, business owners should apply a multi-layered approach to solving this issue. Down below are presented the key measures companies could take: Ensure complete visibility into the network & endpoints when adopting a multi-cloud strategy: A large amount of distributed endpoint devices make visibility a real challenge. It is nearly impossible to monitor the whole multi-cloud at the same time. Meanwhile, cyber threats evolve constantly, and they can happen to several clouds at the same moment. Thus, you should be able to detect these issues and resolve them as fast as possible. Choosing SIEM solutions are a great starting point for your risk mitigation strategy. SIEM is a Security Information and Event Management software, which monitors, collects and reports on log & event data in real time. These effective tools include firewalls, tools for preventing intrusion & threats, allowing you to manage it all in one place. Moreover, employees often use different devices to access business data remotely, which increases their vulnerability level significantly. To avoid “blind spots”, companies might use Endpoint Detection and Response tools (EDR). Using these solutions, you can constantly monitor everything happening on the endpoint devices. This, in turn, helps to resolve the emerging issues in real time. Make sure that these tools support all types of platforms your end users prefer to use. Secure your apps/data hosted in the multi-cloud: Cloud-hosted apps often become the number one target for cybercriminals. That’s why these applications should have a strong control & threat protection system to find all the weak points before hackers use them. To do this, consider using one SSO (single sign-on) in your agency. When each cloud service has its own user account, there are many sets of credentials. All of them can be easily exposed. By adopting the SSO strategy, you reduce the total number of credentials which reduces greatly the risk of exploited data. Another useful type of software is the backup solutions such as CodeGuard, BackupBuddy and VaultPress. These systems offer regular backups and restorations of your website to avoid possible downtimes. To ensure all the valuable info is safe, you can choose a reliable Cloud Hosting platform as a working basis. Apply automation to secure your multi-cloud strategy: To take advantage of the flexibility that multi-cloud computing offers, agencies should set the right automation strategy. In particular, they could automate repetitive security actions and develop a system responding to possible attacks. The newly-emerging automation tools allow admins to move workloads between the clouds while managing the environment more effectively. A great range of processing actions provides for the in-depth analytics at each risk level. Consider automating threat event processing to minimize the risk of human error. Ensure proper management of your multi-cloud: As the multi-cloud network grows, the risk of poor management also increases. Thus, managers should create a centralized control system to ensure data security across various cloud environments. Consider using specific software to create a centralized management system with an option to monitor all subsystems in one place. Workloads should move effectively across the whole cloud infrastructure. Moreover, you should limit the network access, by allowing only authorized users to approach your applications or data. Each user should be able to access the amount of data necessary to accomplish his/her tasks, through a multi-factor authentication system. Avoid opening access to your valuable/sensitive data for all users. Choose cloud vendors carefully and respect the shared responsibility model: Last but not least, you should understand that providers are responsible only for the cloud security itself. Thus, only you can protect the data & apps placed IN the cloud. The way how you use a multi-cloud network and how you secure it depends on you. Furthermore, not all cloud types are alike. For example, public clouds are more subjective to potential threats than the private ones. So, choose the type which fits your workload & needs. Now, here’s how to choose a good cloud service provider. Check their data security policies, as they should be aimed at solving risks and similar to your own safety policies. Make sure your data will be encrypted before even uploading it. Ask him security questions about your specific industry & case. The main goal is to get a clear understanding of security measures & mechanisms that each provider offers to protect your data. In addition, make sure to provide a high level of security on a regular basis. Since your network structure will know various transformations during the work, you should regularly update your security techniques. For this purpose, get tech experts to help you by making the in-depth audit of your current multi-cloud strategy & network. The key to a zero-risk multi-cloud strategy: To make your multi-cloud strategy a completely risk-free process, follow three simple steps: plan, prepare, adopt. By adopting a multi-layered approach to security on each of these stages, you can protect even the most complex software solutions. With the help of several techniques listed above, business owners can use multi-cloud strategy to their benefit only. With its help, they can achieve better customer service, business efficiency and, most importantly, higher profits.

Creating a Beautiful Intranet Solution

WP Engine -

Instrumental to small businesses worldwide, Xero’s beautiful cloud-based accounting software connects people with the right numbers anytime, anywhere, on any device. Used by more than 1.4 million subscribers, Xero helps small businesses by providing real-time account information and access to essential accounting tools. After becoming the choice cloud-based accounting software and experiencing hyper-growth as a result of… The post Creating a Beautiful Intranet Solution appeared first on WP Engine.

5 Reasons Why Google Ads Is Good for Small Business Websites

HostGator Blog -

The post 5 Reasons Why Google Ads Is Good for Small Business Websites appeared first on HostGator Blog. Advertising is an effective way to inform your target audience about your small business. With Google Ads, you can capture the attention of consumers. You get to meet shoppers where they live online, rather than advertising everywhere. Vanessa Pintea, a digital marketing consultant based in Vancouver, explains: “Google AdWords has become the largest online advertising network in the world. It offers an incredibly powerful tool for small businesses to get noticed online, with a friendly learning curve and palatable initial investment.” Open your virtual doors to new marketing possibilities. Below are five ways Google Ads can help you on this journey. 1. Choose Different Ways to Advertise Marketing is a fickle process for small business owners. There’s no silver bullet or a magical stone to rub. You learn quickly that there isn’t any one-size-fits-all solution for anything. This principle holds true in advertising as well. Because you cater to distinct audiences, you can’t advertise in one manner. You have to diversify how you bridge the gap between brand and customer. Sticking to only a single medium means you serve just a portion of your audience, translating into less sales. Therefore, you must use various ways to reach and swoon your buyers. You’re compelled to advertise where customers reside online. Google Ads is one solution to this marketing issue. The platform offers multiple ways to connect your brand to consumers. From search ads to app ads, you get to decide how to manage your online presence and dominate the competition. With different ways to advertise, you can build a sound strategy to achieve your goals. You might focus on increasing website traffic with display ads. Or you may want to boost brand awareness with your app ads. Google Ads gives you several advertising options.   2. Pinpoint a Specific Location With the introduction of the Internet, companies possess the power to bring the world to their business’s online doorstep. It’s an exciting (and sometimes overwhelming) experience to introduce products to a new consumer base. Even though the world may be at your fingertips, it doesn’t mean everyone fits into your target audience. You may find it difficult to sell wool sweaters to people living in humid, hot areas in South America. Google Ads makes your campaigns run better with location targeting. Rather than advertising to anyone, you can narrow your reach by geographic location. You can choose specific countries, areas within a country, or a radius around a designated location. “Use the geographic targeting options to your advantage. If you own a business with a storefront in a certain city or state, it makes sense to make sure that your ads are only showing to people within your relevant location,” writes Brian Lee, a growth hacker and demand generation wizard at Fivestars. By selecting a location, you then can create ads that fit the local area. You can reference an upcoming festival or mention a well-known landmark. This personalization speaks to the customer and makes your business seem right around the corner, even if it’s not.   3. Reach Your Target Audience Every person that lands on your site will not be your ideal customer. Maybe they don’t need your product. Or maybe your service doesn’t fit their budget. In marketing, your goal is to bring the right visitors to your site at the right time. If not, you’ll struggle to turn visitors into customers. Understanding your target audience matters to the success of your advertising. You’ll want to know their interests and behaviors to get a holistic view of your customers. Capturing this insight into a buyer persona will help you navigate the advertising process. Google Ads lets you target audiences based on a wide range of categories. You can market to fans who like soccer and basketball, people shopping for recreational boats, or remarket to visitors who’ve already come to your site. By targeting to a particular audience, you save time delivering the right message to the right individuals. If someone expresses interest in handmade potteries, you’re more likely to pique their curiosity with your ad about an upcoming sale for customized ceramics. You also save money for your small business. Gearing your resources toward ideal customers means you’re driving qualified traffic to your site, in return for more leads and eventually more sales.   4. Work Within Your Budget Most small businesses operate on a limited budget. As a result, your marketing decisions may boil down to whether it fits into your budget or not. When it comes to advertising, it’s easy to think you can’t afford it. In some cases, you’re totally right. Advertising can range anywhere from $100 to $1 million. And it’s not like every small business has a few million dollars to spend on ad campaigns. Google Ads gives you the flexibility to advertise within your budget. So, if you only have a few hundred dollars to spare this month, you can modify your campaign to fit that limitation. No matter your budget, you’ll want to approach each campaign with a plan. Maggie Aland, a staff writer for Fit Small Business, explains: “A good starting point is $10 per day, but you can increase or decrease this amount once you have a better idea of what you will have to bid per keyword. It’s not guaranteed that you will pay this amount every day (especially if no one is clicking your ad), but Google will make sure you won’t exceed your budget.” Give your small business the room to grow with Google Ads. You can start with a small budget and then expand as you earn more revenue.   5. Measure Your Performance Analytics is growing in the marketing space. Small business owners understand that if you can’t measure your efforts you’re probably wasting your marketing budget. With this new perspective, advertising strategies must stress the importance of measuring performance. That way, you can adjust your campaigns midway without squandering your ad spend. Tracking performance also gives you insight on your audience’s behaviors. You may learn that a specific type of copy may resonate, like causal words versus industry jargon. Then, you can use this knowledge to inform other business decisions. When optimizing your ad campaigns, you’ll want to experiment with different headlines and calls to action. For example, you may prompt consumers to click your ad with “Learn More” or “Get More Details Here.” Different versions of your ads help you identify your best-performing campaigns. It’s also a good practice to optimize your landing pages. When consumers finally click on your ad, you want the page to resemble the copy in your ad. If you advertised a 25% discount on all clothing, the landing page should reflect that deal. Google Ads gives you the control to monitor your progress throughout every campaign. You can gauge how to bring in the most conversions for your business. This freedom helps you improve your return on investment.   Improve Your Advertising Right Now Google Ads connects your small business to interested buyers. You can go from no online visitors to thousands of potential shoppers. The platform offers you different ways to reach your target audience. Your business can pinpoint consumers based on specific locations and buyer interests. Also, you can decide how to advertise within your budget. Get noticed today. Start with Google Ads. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What to Do If Your Ideal .COM Domain Name Is Taken

InMotion Hosting Blog -

When you find out the .com version of your domain is not available, it’s very common for the domain registrar to recommend that you get the .net or .org domain. Our friends at WPBeginner recommend “If you want to make any kind of business website, then you should always use a .com domain name extension. It gives your website a familiar address and makes your business look more professional and established.” If the .com extension isn’t available, we have included some creative tips to still get a .com domain for your business. Continue reading What to Do If Your Ideal .COM Domain Name Is Taken at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

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