Corporate Blogs

Why Claims about ‘Best WordPress Hosting’ Aren’t Always Accurate

InMotion Hosting Blog -

If you’re running a website using WordPress, then chances are you’ve started doing research for the company that offers the best WordPress hosting. And in that research, chances are pretty good that you’ve come across some amazing claims and some downright lies in all of the marketing and ads. Finding the Best WordPress Hosting Can Be Tough Let’s look at the reality behind some of these remarkable claims so that you can choose the correct plan for your website. Continue reading Why Claims about ‘Best WordPress Hosting’ Aren’t Always Accurate at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

April 2019’s Best WordPress, Magento, and CMS Content

Nexcess Blog -

It’s time for our monthly roundup! If you’re looking for the same great articles the rest of the year, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Enjoy and let us know if we missed anything important in the comment section. WordPress and WooCommerce Increase Sales With These Market Expansion Strategies – There are five key… Continue reading →

How to Schedule Posts in WordPress (3 Easy Methods)

DreamHost Blog -

Publishing posts to your blog on a regular basis is essential. However, several issues might get in the way of consistent and optimized publishing, such as a full workload, trouble posting during high-traffic periods, or even the decision to take a vacation. Even expert bloggers need a little R ‘n R now and then. Fortunately, if you built your website with WordPress, there are a number of ways you can schedule your posts for publication ahead of time. Scheduling your posts enables you to put fresh content up on your site at regular intervals — without having to actually log in each time. In this article, we’ll explain the advantages of scheduling blog posts on your WordPress site. Then we’ll share a few methods for doing so, and go over some tips for troubleshooting issues that may arise during the process. Let’s dive in! Why It’s Smart to Schedule Your Blog Posts Creating a schedule for your blog posts is the best way to ensure that you always have fresh content. Plus, when you post regularly, readers will always know when to expect new articles. This can help keep them engaged and coming back regularly. On top of that, scheduling posts can help you manage your workload. When you have a busy week coming up, you can write your posts ahead of time and set a future publication date and specific time for each. Scheduled posts can also make it possible for you to take a vacation from your blog. In addition, assigning publication dates and times is useful for posting during peak traffic hours. Your readers may be most active on your site during a time of day you have to be away from your computer, for example. Automated publication lets you make new posts live at the ideal moment. How to Schedule Posts in WordPress (3 Methods) Fortunately, there are several ways to schedule posts on your WordPress website, so you can choose the method that works best for you. Let’s look at three of the most common options. 1. Schedule Posts in the Block Editor WordPress has innate post scheduling capabilities, which you can access right from the editor screen. Let’s look at how to set a post up for automatic publication in the Block Editor (which you have access to if your WordPress version is 5.0 or higher). Open up the post you want to schedule, and in the sidebar to the right, select the Document tab. Under Status & Visibility, you’ll see that your post is set to publish Immediately by default. If you click the link, it will open a calendar where you can select a future date and time. Once you’ve done so, Immediately will change to your specified publication time in the sidebar. Click anywhere outside the calendar to close it. When you’ve given your post one final read-through and are sure it’s ready to go, click on the blue Schedule button at the top of the editor. You’ll have the chance to review and edit your post’s publication date and time and set its visibility status to Private, Public, or Password-Protected. WordPress will also point out any last-minute items you may want to address. When you’re happy with your settings, select the blue Schedule button again. You should receive a final notification that your post has been set to publish at the date and time you chose. That’s all you have to do! 2. Set Up Scheduled Posts in the Classic Editor If you’re still using the Classic WordPress Editor, never fear. You can still easily set up scheduled posts. Simply head over to the post you want to schedule and check out the Publish widget. Just like in the Block Editor, your post will be set to publish immediately by default. Click on Edit next to Publish immediately, which lets you access the date and time settings. There’s no fancy calendar here, but it’s still easy enough to set your desired publication date and time. Just make sure to use the 24-hour clock. Then, click on OK when you’re done. After you’ve finalized your post’s details, select the blue Schedule button in the Publish widget. You should receive a notification that your post has been scheduled and see its changed status in the Publish widget. If you need to make any updates, you can do so by clicking on the blue Edit link next to any of the settings. Be sure to hit the Update button afterward. 3. Use a Plugin to Schedule Posts If you want to access more advanced automatic publishing features, you may want to consider WordPress plugins. Let’s look at two of the best options. WP Scheduled Posts WP Scheduled Posts adds an editorial calendar to your WordPress dashboard. You can drag and drop posts to schedule them so setting publication dates is fast and easy. This tool also helps you keep track of all your authors if you have multiple people creating content. You can even add new posts right in the calendar — save those great ideas you have for a future date. The plugin is free to download, but if you opt for a premium plan, you’ll gain access to additional features including the ‘Auto Scheduler’ and ‘Missed Post Handler.’ CoSchedule If you need a more complete content and marketing scheduling system, check out CoSchedule. While you’ll still have to follow the steps for scheduling posts in the WordPress editor as described above, with CoSchedule, you can manage your scheduled blog posts, social media content, and marketing campaigns from a single calendar right in your WordPress dashboard. You can download the CoSchedule WordPress plugin for free, but you won’t be able to do anything with it unless you also have a paid CoSchedule account. Plans for those accounts start at $80 per month. Troubleshooting Issues With WordPress Scheduled Posts Scheduling posts in WordPress is simple, but there are a few issues you may run into. Fortunately, the most common problems have easy solutions. Setting the Right Timezone First, it’s important to make sure that when you’ve chosen a publication date and time, they’re set to the right time zone. You can check your site’s time zone settings by going to Settings > General in your WordPress dashboard, and scrolling down to Timezone. There, you can see the time zone your site is currently set to, and change it if need be. Handling Missed Posts You’ll also want a failsafe in case something goes wrong, and a post you’ve slated for publication doesn’t go live as expected. For this, we suggest looking into a plugin such as Scheduled Post Trigger, which checks for and publishes missed scheduled posts. This way, if your post doesn’t publish automatically for whatever reason, the plugin can still get your content up on your site (even if it’s a little late). If you’re using the premium version of WP Scheduled Posts, its ‘Missed Posts Handler’ feature works in much the same way. Unscheduling Posts Finally, there may be times when you’ve set up a post for future publication, and then you decide you want to publish it right away instead. To do this in the Classic Editor, head over to the Publish widget and click on Edit next to the date by Scheduled for. Change the settings to the current date and time, and then select OK. Click on the blue button, which will say either Update or Publish. Once you do, you should receive a notification that your post has been published. In the Block Editor, this functionality works much the same. Change the scheduled date and time to the current moment, and click outside the calendar to exit the feature. The blue button at the top of the editor will now say Publish. Select it, and WordPress will put the post up on your site immediately. Keep Us Posted Posting consistently on your WordPress blog is key to your site’s success. Scheduling your blog posts in advance can help you gain more loyal followers, while also making it easier for you to manage your site over time. Do you have any questions about how to schedule posts in WordPress? Follow us on Twitter and let us know! The post How to Schedule Posts in WordPress (3 Easy Methods) appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Application Server vs Web Server

HostGator Blog -

The post Application Server vs Web Server appeared first on HostGator Blog. Technical terms can get confusing, but understanding the definitions of different terms and how they relate to each other can be important to understanding how things work. Two terms you may come across in similar contexts are application server and web server. Based on how they’re used, you’re likely to wonder how they differ. Here’s the rundown on application servers vs. web servers, what you should know about the difference, and how they relate to application hosting. What is a Web Server? A web server is the technology that serves up a website to users when they visit a URL. On the technical side of things, what that means is that it handles the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). When a client (which is usually a browser or mobile app) queries the server (by visiting a URL or accessing the app), the web server does the work of processing that request and delivering up the web page—or at least the static parts of the web page. How Web Servers Are Used This is all what happens on the backend when you visit a website. People don’t usually have to think much about what web servers are or how they work in order to browse the web, or even to run a website. Unless working with web servers is your job, the only time you’re likely to have any reason to think about them is when you’re launching a website and you need to find website hosting. For most website owners, having your own web server is impractical. The power needed to store all the files that make up a website and deliver HTTP protocol to the hundreds or thousands of visitors that come to a site is beyond what most individuals can take care of with their own resources. The physical hardware that powers web servers is large and sensitive. It wouldn’t easily fit in your average three-bedroom home, and even most offices don’t have good facilities for managing a web server well. In addition to the space involved, web servers also need the right kind of care. They must be stored in climate-controlled environments to avoid overheating. They need regular maintenance from skilled professionals to stay in working order. And for the web hosting they provide to stay secure from hackers, they need to be equipped with the proper firewalls and other security measures that keep the websites they power safe. Web hosting companies take care of all that and rent out space on their servers for a monthly or annual fee. How web hosting works is that every website you visit online lives on a web server somewhere that does the work of delivering each web page you view on your browser. But for the most part, those web servers do their job in the background, far away from the people running the websites and the people viewing them alike. What is an Application Server? An application server is a little harder to describe in layman’s terms. It’s the software server that both web applications and desktop applications run on. Application servers host what you call business logic, which is the code that provides the functionality needed to build and run dynamic content. If that’s still a little too technical for you, an application server is essentially the software framework that allows programs and websites to create and serve up dynamic content. It’s used for websites that include dynamic features ( features that change based on specific parameters, such as where the visitor is geographically or whether an item is currently in stock). But it’s not exclusively used for websites. Application servers can be used for other types of platforms and applications as well, particularly at the enterprise level. Mobile Application Servers As mobile use soars, mobile application servers are now a growing subset of application servers. These work in a similar way to other servers, but for mobile apps. They essentially serve as the middle component between the backend system and mobile devices, making sure that the different components of an app or web page show up appropriately on a mobile device. Since mobile devices have certain features and limitations, mobile application servers often have to do the work of ensuring the mobile version of a program or website functions well in spite of the limited connectivity, power, and bandwidth that’s normal with mobile devices. For mobile technology used by businesses, mobile application servers contain the software that provides access across device types and process important elements of that access such as authentication, security features, and updates.    How Are Application Servers and Web Servers Different? Application servers and web servers provide similar functionality and have a lot in common in the role they play, but the differences are worth being aware of. Application servers work with more than just http protocol. Web servers basically have one primary job: they process HTTP requests in order to display websites. Application servers often have this ability as well, but they go further and provide additional functionality. They work both with websites and with other types of programs. And they can add a layer of adaptivity to the information they deliver. Web servers serve static content. Web servers on their own provide static web pages to browsers. While you can visit a website that includes adaptive components, those are powered by additional technology beyond the web server itself. The part the web server provides when you type a URL into a browser is the same regardless of the place a person is, the device they’re using, or any other factors that might otherwise influence what they see. Application servers can enable additional functionality. The websites and applications that use application servers often need to provide features that go beyond the static functionality web servers provide. Application servers can enable features like transactions, personalization, and messaging services. These enhanced features are increasingly used and expected for websites of all types.   It’s Not Either-Or The framing of “application servers vs web servers” isn’t really accurate. Generally speaking, it’s not a matter of choosing between the two or deciding which is better. Most of the time, they’re a package deal. Application servers can contain web servers. Web servers are usually one part of an application server. In addition to the other functionality they provide, they also tend to enable HTTP protocol. Sometimes the web server function is an important part of the other features an application server offers. Most often, when you hear someone talk about application servers, you can assume a web server is one part of what they’re describing. Web servers and application servers often work in tandem. Even though many application servers include a web server, application servers are most commonly  used alongside web servers. You can get speedier and better results by having a web server that takes care of the static portion of serving up a website, and an application server that handles any dynamic functions. Web servers can handle caching and simple requests that don’t require much bandwidth, leaving the application server to exert its power only on the more complex requests that require it. That way, simple web requests don’t overtax or slow down the application server and both pieces of the overall solution do their jobs better. Developers can ensure that a website knows how to recognize which requests only require the web server, and can incorporate a filtering technique to identify dynamic content requests and automatically forward them to the application server. By working together, the two types of technology provide better results all around. How Are Application Servers and Web Servers Alike? While the ways they differ matter, web servers and application servers are more alike than they are different at the end of the day. Both serve as the middleware or bridge between the back systems that keep a website running and what the user sees when they access it. They help translate the technical side of things into something web designers and everyday web users can interact with in a way that’s intuitive and helpful. And while they’re both invisible to the vast majority of users, they help power the web we all depend on every single day. Which Do I Need? For most web users, the distinction won’t really matter. And often the terms are used interchangeably, in part because the vast majority of us don’t need to worry about what the difference is. In practice, what you need is a reliable web hosting provider who takes care of the web servers for you and provides compatibility with any applications you use in order to bring all the functionality you need to your website. Don’t feel like you have to choose between one or the other. A good application web hosting plan can do both. How to Find the Right Web Hosting Plan A good web hosting provider will have the right bandwidth and features to enable all your static and dynamic website needs. You won’t have to worry about what’s happening on the backend, you can simply enjoy the results of it for your website and visitors. You don’t even have to think about it during the designing process, especially if you use a website builder that makes it extra easy. But the market for web hosting plans is large. To find a good web hosting provider that will take all the complicated aspects of worrying about web servers and applications out of your hands, here’s a short list of the main things to look for. 99% uptime Possibly the most important responsibility a web hosting company has is making sure your website is consistently up and available for your visitors. Web servers must occasionally go offline for maintenance. But the best web hosting companies make sure those times are so rare you barely notice it. With less reputable companies, your website can go offline for a variety of reasons: insufficient maintenance, repairs, hardware glitches, hacker attacks, or weather problems like the the server warehouse flooding. In the industry, the amount of time your website is available to visitors is called uptime. And uptime is one of the main differences you’ll find between different service providers. The reason you pay a web hosting company is to do the work of maintaining the web servers for you. For your money, find a company that does it well. The best web hosting companies promise at least 99% uptime. And some (like HostGator) actually go so far as to assure 99.9% uptime with a money-back guarantee. Ease of Use You don’t have to know the technical ins and outs of how your web hosting technology works. With an intuitive web hosting provider, you just need to know how to log into your account and cover the basics: managing domain names, setting up redirects, and keeping your billing up to date. If you’ll be using a popular content management system (CMS) or other application to build your website with, then you also want a web hosting plan that makes installation easy and provides compatibility, And a good web hosting plan will provide plenty of resources on how to use the account management and cPanel tools you’ll use to manage your website. 24/7 customer service If reading about the technical side of web and application servers leaves you feeling confused, have no fear. You don’t have to shoulder the responsibility of the technical side of running your website alone. Any good web hosting provider will offer customer support to help you figure out a range of issues related to building and running your website. And while having any access at all to customer support makes a difference, it’s that much more valuable to have consistent access at the moment you need it. Find a web hosting company that offers customer support 24/7 and has a good reputation for the level of support they provide. Security features Website hacks are all too common in the modern world. And if your website will collect personal information from visitors, the risk is that much more serious. Choosing the right web hosting provider is the first step in creating a secure website. Check that your web hosting company invests in infrastructure that keeps their web servers safe and sets up firewalls to keep hackers out. And look for additional features or add-ons such as an SSL certificate or security software. Some simple additions can make your website that much safer. Choose Application Web Hosting Solutions While it can be valuable to understand the distinction, you don’t have to choose between an application server and a web server. When you choose an application web hosting plan, you can be confident that your web hosting service provides all the functionality you need. They’ll take care of managing the web servers and application servers on their end and make sure everything works together as it should. You can focus on building an awesome website that delivers the experience you want your visitors to have.Regardless if you’re looking into shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, or any other hosting plan, HostGator can help. Contact our team of experts today for further assistance on our website hosting plans. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Free Bandwidth for Egress Traffic via Bandwidth Alliance

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Liquid Web is excited to announce our partnership with Cloudflare via the Bandwidth Alliance (BA). The BA is a group of forward-thinking cloud and networking companies that are committed to providing the best and most cost-efficient experience for our mutual customers. This partnership represents yet another step in Liquid Web’s commitment to empowering Web Professionals worldwide in one of the most effective and quantifiable means possible: the bottom line. With this partnership, Liquid Web has committed to providing free bandwidth for all egress traffic (traffic leaving Liquid Web’s network) destined for Cloudflare’s network. This means that, for most websites and applications which use Cloudflare, this bandwidth represents the bulk of the traffic for which users typically have to pay. This move constitutes an impressive saving for Liquid Web customers, bandwidth charges being one of the most widely varying monthly costs for consumers across the industry. Even so, it was a natural move for Liquid Web and a logical step in our commitment to powering the online potential of our customers. We’ve intentionally designed our broad product portfolio, customer experience and managed hosting services to power the potential of Entrepreneurial businesses and the designers, developers, and agencies who create for them. Adding this free egress bandwidth is another way we can deliver value to our SMB customers reinforcing our role as their hosting expert and business partner. Because we own our own data centers, changes were implemented with no impact and Liquid Web customers will begin seeing cost savings immediately. This move allies us with some of the biggest names in the industry and indeed shows our willingness to continue making the internet better. As issues such as security and privacy continue to ring to the top of the mindset of most internet citizens, cost becomes a weightier subject and often a hindrance to finding robust and dependable service providers. Working to alleviate that burden not only helps clients make well-informed decisions, but it also removes blocks and truly bolsters Liquid Web’s core commitment to empowering by broadening options and offering peace of mind. The post Free Bandwidth for Egress Traffic via Bandwidth Alliance appeared first on Liquid Web.

Aeroméxico Thrives with Rackspace and Red Hat

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Conferences are valuable because they offer face time with customers, partners and industry colleagues, allowing us to share and learn a great deal in a short amount of time. We’re looking forward to Red Hat Summit 2019 for that very reason. This year, we’re featuring the story of Aeroméxico, which in three short years has […] The post Aeroméxico Thrives with Rackspace and Red Hat appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

How to Optimize Your WordPress Robots.txt

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Optimize Your WordPress Robots.txt appeared first on HostGator Blog. What is a Robots.txt File? The robots.txt is a very small but important file located in the root directory of your website. It tells web crawlers (robots) which pages or directories can or cannot be crawled. The robots.txt file can be used to block search engine crawlers entirely or just restrict their access to certain areas of your website. Below, is an example of a very basic WordPress robots.txt file: This can look a little confusing at first so I will go over what some of this stuff means. User-agent: is there to specify directions to a specific robot. In this case we used “*” which applies to all robots.Disallow: is there to tell the robots what files and folders they should not crawl.Allow: tells a robot that it is okay to crawl a file in a folder that has been disallowed.Sitemap: is used to specify the location of your sitemap. There are other rules that can be used in the robots.txt file such as Host: and Crawl-delay: but these are uncommon and only used in specific situations. What is the Robots.txt File Used For? Every website that is crawled by Google has a crawl budget. Crawl budget is basically a limited number of pages that Google can crawl at any given time. You don’t want to waste your crawl budget on pages that are low quality, spammy or not important. This is where the robots.txt file comes in. You can use your robots.txt file to specify which pages, files and directories Google (and other search engines) should ignore. This will allow search engine bots to keep the priority on your important high-quality content. Below are some important things you might want to consider blocking on your WordPress website: Faceted navigation and session identifiersOn-site duplicate contentSoft error pagesHacked pagesInfinite spaces and proxiesLow quality and spam content This list comes straight from the Google Webmaster Central Blog. Wasting your crawl budget on pages like the ones listed above will reduce crawl activity on the pages that do actually have value. This can cause a significant delay in indexing the important content on your website. What You Should Not Use the Robots.txt For The robots.txt should not be used as a way to control what pages search engines index. If you’re trying to stop certain pages from being included in search engine results, you should use noindex tags or directives, or password-protect your page. The reason for this is because the robots.txt file does not actually tell search engines to not index content. It just tells them not to crawl it. While Google will not crawl disallowed areas from within your own website, they do state that if an external link points to a page that you have excluded, it may still get crawled and indexed. Is a Robots.txt File Required in WordPress? Having a robots.txt file for your WordPress website is certainly not required. Search engines will still crawl and index your website as they normally would. However, you will not be able to exclude any pages, files or folders that are unnecessarily draining your crawl budget. As I explained above this can greatly increase the amount of time it takes Google (and other search engines) to discover new and updated content on your website. So, all in all, I would say no a robots.txt file is not required for WordPress, but it’s definitely recommended. The real question here should be, “Why would you not want one?” How to Create a WordPress Robots.txt File Now that you know what a robots.txt is and what it is used for, we will take a look at how you can create one. There are three different methods and below I will go over each one. 1. Use a Plugin to Create the Robots.txt SEO plugins like Yoast have an option to create and edit your robots.txt file from within your WordPress dashboard. This is probably the easiest option. 2. Upload the Robots.txt Using FTP Another option is to just create the .txt file on your computer using notepad (or something similar) and name it robots.txt. You can then upload the file to the root directory of your website using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) such as FileZilla. 3. Create the Robots.txt in cPanel If neither of the above options works for you, you can always log into your cPanel and create the file manually. Make sure you create the file inside your root directory. How to Optimize Your Robots.txt For WordPress So, what should be in your WordPress robots.txt? You might find this surprising, but not a whole lot. Below, I will explain why. Google (and other search engines) are constantly evolving and improving, so what used to be the best practice doesn’t necessarily work anymore. Nowadays Google not only fetches your websites HTML but it also fetches your CSS and JS files. For this reason, they do not like it when you block any files or folders needed to render a page. In the past it was ok to block things like the /wp-includes/ and /wp-content/ folders. This is no longer the case. An easy way to test this is by logging into your Google Webmaster Account and testing the live URL. If any resources are being blocked from Google Bot they will complain about it in the Page Resources tab. Below, I have put together an example robots.txt file that I think would be a great starting point for anyone using WordPress. User-agent: * # Block the entire wp-admin folder. Disallow: /wp-admin/ # Blocks referral links for affiliate programs. Disallow: /refer/ # Block any pages you think might be spammy. Disallow: /spammy-page/ # Block any pages that are duplicate content. Disallow: /duplicate-content-page/ # Block any low quality or unimportant pages. Disallow: /low-quality-page/ # Prevent soft 404 errors by blocking search pages. Disallow: /?s= # Allow the admin-ajax.php inside wp-admin. Allow: /wp-admin/admin-ajax.php # A link to your WordPress sitemap. Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap_index.xml Some of the things I included in this file are just examples. If you don’t feel like any of your pages are duplicate, spammy or low quality you don’t have to add this part. This is just a guideline, everyone’s situation will be different. Remember to be careful when making changes to your website robots.txt. While these changes can improve your search traffic, they can also do more harm than good if you make a mistake. Test Your WordPress robots.txt File After you have created and customized your robots.txt it’s always a good idea to test it. Sign in to your Google Webmaster account and use this Robots Testing Tool. This tool operates as Googlebot would to check your robots.txt file and verifies that your URL’s have been blocked properly. Similar to the picture above you will see a preview of your robots.txt file as Google would see it. Verify that everything looks correct and that there are no warnings or errors listed. That’s it! you should be set up and ready to go now. My Final Thoughts As you can see, the robots.txt is an important part of your website’s search engine optimization. If used properly, it can speed up your crawl rate and get your new and updated content indexed much faster. Nevertheless, the misuse of this file can do a lot of damage to your search engine rankings so be careful when making any changes. Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of your robots.txt file and how to optimize it for your specific WordPress needs. Be sure to leave a comment if you have any further questions. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

The AWS DeepRacer League Virtual Circuit is Now Open – Train Your Model Today!

Amazon Web Services Blog -

AWS DeepRacer is a 1/18th scale four-wheel drive car with a considerable amount of onboard hardware and software. Starting at re:Invent 2018 and continuing with the AWS Global Summits, you have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with a DeepRacer. At these events, you can train a model using reinforcement learning, and then race it around a track. The fastest racers and their laptimes for each summit are shown on our leaderboards. New DeepRacer League Virtual Circuit Today we are launching the AWS DeepRacer League Virtual Circuit. You can build, train, and evaluate your reinforcement learning models online and compete online for some amazing prizes, all from the comfort of the DeepRacer Console! We’ll add a new track each month, taking inspiration from famous race tracks around the globe, so that you can refine your models and broaden your skill set. The top entrant in the leaderboard each month will win an expenses-paid package to AWS re:Invent 2019, where they will take part in the League Knockout Rounds, with a chance to win the Championship Cup! New DeepRacer Console We are making the DeepRacer Console available today in the US East (N. Virginia) Region. You can use it to build and train your DeepRacer models and to compete in the Virtual Circuit, while gaining practical, hands-on experience with Reinforcement Learning. Following the steps in the DeepRacer Lab that is used at the hands-on DeepRacer workshops, I open the console and click Get started: The console provides me with an overview of the model training process, and then asks to create the AWS resources needed to train and evaluate my models. I review the info and click Create resources to proceed: The resources are created in minutes (I can click Learn RL to learn more about reinforcement learning while this is happening). I click Create model to move ahead: I enter a name and a description for for my model: Then I pick a track (more tracks will appear throughout the duration of the Virtual League): Now I define the Action space for my model. This is a set of discrete actions that my model can perform. Choosing values that increase the number of options will generally enhance the quality of my model, at the cost of additional training time: Next, I define the reward function for my model. This function evaluates the current state of the vehicle throughout the training process and returns a reward value to indicate how well the model is performing (higher rewards signify better performance). I can use one of three predefined models (available by clicking Reward function examples) as-is, customize them, or build one from scratch. I’ll use Prevent zig-zag, a sample reward function that penalizes zig-zap behavior, to get started: The reward function is written in Python 3, and has access to parameters (track_width, distance_from_center, all_wheels_on_track, and many more) that describe the position and state of the car, and also provide information about the track. I also control a set of hyperparameters that affect the overall training performance. Since I don’t understand any of these (just being honest here), I will accept all of the defaults: To learn more about hyperparameters, read Systematically Tune Hyperparameters. Finally, I specify a time limit for my training job, and click Start training. In general, simple models will converge in 90 to 120 minutes, but this is highly dependent on the maximum speed and the reward function. The training job is initialized (this takes about 6 minutes), and I can track progress in the console: The training job makes use of AWS RoboMaker so I can also monitor it from the RoboMaker Console. For example, I can open the Gazebo window, see my car, and watch the training process in real time: One note of caution: changing the training environment (by directly manipulating Gazebo) will adversely affect the training run, most likely rendering it useless. As the training progresses, the Reward graph will go up and to the right (as we often say at Amazon) if the car is learning how to stay on the track: If the graph flattens out or declines precipitously and stays there, your reward function is not rewarding the desired behavior or some other setting is getting in the way. However, patience is a virtue, and there will be the occasional regression on the way to the top. After the training is complete, there’s a short pause while the new model is finalized and stored, and then it is time for me to evaluate my model by running it in a simulation. I click Start evaluation to do this: I can evaluate the model on any of the available tracks. Using one track for training and a different one for evaluation is a good way to make sure that the model is general, and has not been overfit so that it works on just one track. However, using the same track for training and testing is a good way to get started, and that’s what I will do. I select the Oval Track and 3 trials, and click Start evaluation: The RoboMaker simulator launches, with an hourly cost for the evaluation, as noted above. The results (lap times) are displayed when the simulation is complete: At this point I can evaluate my model on another track, step back and refine my model and evaluate it again, or submit my model to the current month’s Virtual Circuit track to take part in the DeepRacer League. To do that, I click Submit to virtual race, enter my racer name, choose a model, agree to the Ts and C’s, and click Submit model: After I submit, my model will be evaluated on the pre-season track and my lap time will be used to place me in the Virtual Circuit Leaderboard. Things to Know Here are a couple of things to know about the AWS DeepRacer and the AWS DeepRacer League: AWS Resources – Amazon SageMaker is used to train models, which are then stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). AWS RoboMaker provides the virtual track environment, which is used for training and evaluation. An AWS CloudFormation stack is used to create a Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, complete with subnets, routing tables, an Elastic IP Address, and a NAT Gateway. Costs – You can use the DeepRacer console at no charge. As soon as you start training your first model, you will get service credits for SageMaker and RoboMaker to give you 10 hours of free training on these services. The credits are applied at the end of the month and are available for 30 days, as part of the AWS Free Tier. The DeepRacer architecture uses a NAT Gateway that carries an availability charge. Your account will automatically receive service credits to offset this charge, showing net zero on your account. DeepRacer Cars – You can preorder your DeepRacer car now! Deliveries to addresses in the United States will begin in July 2019. — Jeff;

Now Available – Elastic Fabric Adapter (EFA) for Tightly-Coupled HPC Workloads

Amazon Web Services Blog -

We announced Elastic Fabric Adapter (EFA) at re:Invent 2018 and made it available in preview form at the time. During the preview, AWS customers put EFA through its paces on a variety of tightly-coupled HPC workloads, providing us with valuable feedback and helping us to fine-tune the final product. Now Available Today I am happy to announce that EFA is now ready for production use in multiple AWS regions. It is ready to support demanding HPC workloads that need lower and more consistent network latency, along with higher throughput, than is possible with traditional TCP communication. This launch lets you apply the scale, flexibility, and elasticity of the AWS Cloud to tightly-coupled HPC apps and I can’t wait to hear what you do with it. You can, for example, scale up to thousands of compute nodes without having to reserve the hardware or the network ahead of time. All About EFA An Elastic Fabric Adapter is an AWS Elastic Network Adapter (ENA) with added capabilities (read my post, Elastic Network Adapter – High Performance Network Interface for Amazon EC2, to learn more about ENA). An EFA can still handle IP traffic, but also supports an important access model commonly called OS bypass. This model allows the application (most commonly through some user-space middleware) access the network interface without having to get the operating system involved with each message. Doing so reduces overhead and allows the application to run more efficiently. Here’s what this looks like (source): The MPI Implementation and libfabric layers of this cake play crucial roles: MPI – Short for Message Passing Interface, MPI is a long-established communication protocol that is designed to support parallel programming. It provides functions that allow processes running on a tightly-coupled set of computers to communicate in a language-independent way. libfabric – This library fits in between several different types of network fabric providers (including EFA) and higher-level libraries such as MPI. EFA supports the standard RDM (reliable datagram) and DGRM (unreliable datagram) endpoint types; to learn more, check out the libfabric Programmer’s Manual. EFA also supports a new protocol that we call Scalable Reliable Datagram; this protocol was designed to work within the AWS network and is implemented as part of our Nitro chip. Working together, these two layers (and others that can be slotted in instead of MPI), allow you to bring your existing HPC code to AWS and run it with little or no change. You can use EFA today on c5n.18xlarge and p3dn.24xlarge instances in all AWS regions where those instances are available. The instances can use EFA to communicate within a VPC subnet, and the security group must have ingress and egress rules that allow all traffic within the security group to flow. Each instance can have a single EFA, which can be attached when an instance is started or while it is stopped. You will also need the following software components: EFA Kernel Module – The EFA Driver is in the Amazon GitHub repo; read Getting Started with EFA to learn how to create an EFA-enabled AMI for Amazon Linux, Amazon Linux 2, and other popular Linux distributions. Libfabric Network Stack – You will need to use an AWS-custom version for now; again, the Getting Started document contains installation information. We are working to get our changes into the next release (1.8) of libfabric. MPI or NCCL Implementation – You can use Open MPI 3.1.3 (or later) or NCCL (2.3.8 or later) plus the OFI driver for NCCL. We also also working on support for the Intel MPI library. You can launch an instance and attach an EFA using the CLI, API, or the EC2 Console, with CloudFormation support coming in a couple of weeks. If you are using the CLI, you need to include the subnet ID and ask for an EFA, like this (be sure to include the appropriate security group): $ aws ec2 run-instances ... \ --network-interfaces DeleteOnTermination=true,DeviceIndex=0,SubnetId=SUBNET,InterfaceType=efa After your instance has launched, run lspci | grep efa0 to verify that the EFA device is attached. You can (but don’t have to) launch your instances in a Cluster Placement Group in order to benefit from physical adjacency when every light-foot counts. When used in this way, EFA can provide one-way MPI latency of 15.5 microseconds. You can also create a Launch Template and use it to launch EC2 instances (either directly or as part of an EC2 Auto Scaling Group) in On-Demand or Spot Form, launch Spot Fleets, and to run compute jobs on AWS Batch. Learn More To learn more about EFA, and to see some additional benchmarks, be sure to watch this re:Invent video (Scaling HPC Applications on EC2 w/ Elastic Fabric Adapter):     AWS Customer CFD Direct maintains the popular OpenFOAM platform for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and also produces CFD Direct From the Cloud (CFDDC), an AWS Marketplace offering that makes it easy for you to run OpenFOAM on AWS. They have been testing and benchmarking EFA and recently shared their measurements in a blog post titled OpenFOAM HPC with AWS EFA. In the post, they report on a pair of simulations: External Aerodynamics Around a Car – This simulation scales extra-linearly to over 200 cores, gradually declining to linear scaling at 1000 cores (about 100K simulation cells per core). Flow Over a Weir with Hydraulic Jump – This simulation (1000 cores and 100M cells) scales at between 67% and 72.6%, depending on a “data write” setting. Read the full post to learn more and to see some graphs and visualizations. In the Works We plan to add EFA support to additional EC2 instance types over time. In general, we plan to provide EFA support for the two largest sizes of “n” instances of any given type, and also for bare metal instances. — Jeff;  

Ready to Speed Up? PHP 7.3 is Here

WP Engine -

There are a number of factors that can affect the speed of your website, but the version of PHP you’re currently running may be one you’ve overlooked. PHP, or Hypertext Preprocessor, is the scripting language widely used to develop WordPress themes and plugins. PHP 7.2, which was first released in 2017, did a good job… The post Ready to Speed Up? PHP 7.3 is Here appeared first on WP Engine.

Elementor Wins Torque’s 2019 Plugin Madness

WP Engine -

Nominations were submitted, brackets were created, and votes were cast. Torque Magazine has wrapped up its fourth-annual Plugin Madness competition. Plugin Madness is a bracket-style competition that starts off with 64 plugins split into 4 groups: eCommerce, Maintenance, Optimization, and Marketing. For the past two years, WPMU Dev’s Smush Image Compression has beat out competitors… The post Elementor Wins Torque’s 2019 Plugin Madness appeared first on WP Engine.

How To Create a Website With No Experience

InMotion Hosting Blog -

There’s no need to get discouraged with the task of building a website. It’s true, there’s a lot to know if you want to build a site from scratch. But these days you don’t need to start from scratch. You can actually build a beautiful site quickly and easily with no coding experience. How to Create a Website in 2019 When creating a website, there are many different pathways you can go down. Continue reading How To Create a Website With No Experience at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

The Best WordPress WooCommerce Themes for eCommerce Sites

HostGator Blog -

The post The Best WordPress WooCommerce Themes for eCommerce Sites appeared first on HostGator Blog. Selling products online has never been easier, even for the smallest of businesses, thanks to WordPress-compatible eCommerce tools like WooCommerce and free themes to customize your store’s appearance. Whether you’re still in the planning stages or want to update your online store, it can be a challenge to pick the right theme from so many options. Here’s a look at some popular eCommerce themes for WordPress, along with a quick overview of WooCommerce for WordPress, to help you find what you need. Setting Up an Online Store on Your WordPress Site A lot goes into building an online store: product categories, search tools, inventory tracking, color and size options, a way for customers to pay, and shipping options. And those are just the basics. WordPress doesn’t provide these functions automatically, so you’ll need to install an eCommerce plugin to get started. One of the most popular eCommerce plugins for WordPress is a free, open-source program called WooCommerce. It’s used by small store owners and major brands around the world because it integrates so well with WordPress and because there are so many ways to customize it. For example, you can add support for different payment methods, email list management, and merchandising with extensions from the WooCommerce library. Want to sell memberships or subscriptions? There are WooCommerce extensions for that, too. (Many but not all WooCommerce extensions are free.)   Best WordPress WooCommerce Themes for eCommerce Themes give you another way to customize your WooCommerce store by changing its appearance and creating the user experience you want your customers to have. These are our picks for the best WordPress themes for eCommerce, and they’re all compatible with WooCommerce.   1. WooCommerce Storefront Storefront is a free theme built by and for WooCommerce. It includes schema markup for SEO, and it has a responsive design to so it looks good and works well on all kinds of devices. Storefront’s developers built it for fast loading and easy use. You don’t have to use WordPress shortcodes to customize Storefront, and it’s compatible with lots of payment, shipping, and SEO plugins. When you want to update your store’s look, you can use the WordPress customizer with Storefront. You can also switch to one of Storefront’s child themes. Each of the 14 child themes (free to $39 each) is tailored to a different type of business, like food, fashion, books, toys, and vacation lodgings. Storefront is a good choice for both: Non-tech people. Because it’s tightly integrated with WooCommerce, you’re unlikely to run into compatibility issues that would require coding skills to fix. And Storefront is compatible with the new block-based Gutenberg editor in WordPress. Tech people. If you’re happy to write your own code, Storefront and WooCommerce’s open-source foundation make it easy to build your own extensions to customize your store. Storefront’s not the only free WooCommerce theme out there. Let’s look at a few top choices from other publishers.   2. Astra Like Storefront, Astra is WooCommerce compatible and uses schema markup to help your store’s SEO. Astra’s developers recently released a free library of blocks you can use with WordPress’ new Gutenberg editor to customize your site without coding. Astra is very fast—it takes less than 0.5 seconds to load, using standard WordPress data—and it only uses about 50 KB of resources. That means your store pages will load fast and keep your shoppers from bouncing before they see your awesome merchandise. Astra also has a library of pre-made starter sites. You can use the Astra Starter Sites plugin to install one and save yourself a lot of time on store design. Upgrading to Astra’s pro or agency packages ($59 to $249) gives you access to more starter sites. Astra is a good choice for: Shop owners with lots of mobile customers. The store’s light weight and fast load times make it a good fit for m-commerce. People who want to a pre-designed site. Astra’s starter site library gives you instant site options.   3. eStore Another popular theme for WooCommerce, eStore is responsive, SEO-friendly, and designed to help your pages load quickly. If you’d like your customers to be able to make and share wishlists from your store—a feature that can earn you more conversions—eStore is compatible with the YITH WooCommerce Wishlist plugin. This theme has a couple of cool design features in its free version: the ability to color-code your product categories, and a template that lets you feature all products in a collection on a single page, as well as in their categories. The pro version ($69) gives you more options for customizing eStore’s appearance, with the addition of Google Fonts, more header and color choices, and testimonial and product tab widgets. eStore is a good choice for: Store owners who want wishlists. YITH Wishlist and eStore work well together. Sellers who regularly feature new collections. The eStore product collection template makes those displays easy to update.   4. MetroStore Like eStore, MetroStore supports YITH Wishlist and provides product-collection page templates. It’s also compatible with YITH WooCommerce Compare, a plugin that lets customers select and compare different items in your store. Comparison charts can help increase your store’s conversion rate, especially if you sell appliances, tech products, or other items whose specifications and features are big factors in your customers’ purchasing decisions. MetroStore’s free version also lets you add video backgrounds to your full-width banners—a pretty cool feature if you have a brick-and-mortar store, fashion shows, or product demos to showcase. The pro version ($55) lets you import demo pages to your store in a single click so you can set up your shop faster. Upgrading also gives you offers and team members sections for your store. MetroStore is a good choice for: Stores that sell tech, appliances, or tools. Support for the YITH WC Compare plugin lets your customers create comparison charts. Store owners who want to use video in their store design. The video-background banner makes that possible.   Choosing a WordPress Theme for Your eCommerce Site Before you choose a theme, it’s a good idea to explore their online demos on your laptop, tablet and phone to see if they’ll give customers the experience you want them to have. Then you can download the free versions of the themes you like best to try them out with your own content before you go live. After you debut your new theme, track metrics like bounce rate and conversions to see if your new theme is helping customers find what they want or whether you need to make adjustments. Ready to get started? Start building your eCommerce store today with HostGator WordPress hosting. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Product Photography Lighting: Should You Choose Studio Lighting or Natural Light?

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Here’s a fun fact for you: customers trust images even more than product reviews when it comes to buying online. That means that for an eCommerce company, great product photography is an excellent opportunity to increase customer confidence and drive sales. However, truly effective product photography is more than just pointing and clicking a camera. The best images help you maintain a professional, seamless appearance across all pages of your website. So how do you accomplish that? One way to is to create a consistent look through your lighting choice. There are two main types of product photography lighting you can choose from: traditional studio lighting and natural light. Some products are better suited to the bold or creative effects achieved through studio lighting while others may benefit from a more natural “lifestyle” aesthetic. In this post, we’ll cover both types of lighting and the pros and cons of each. Get industry-leading tips on photography for your store. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter and get content like this sent straight to your inbox. The Pros of Studio Lighting for Product Photography Let’s kick off by looking at the pros of studio lighting for product photography. You Don’t Have to Work Around the Weather Studio lighting is fixed and reliable. Indoor studios eliminate the requirement of good weather which is critical if you live in an area where there’s frequent rain or snow. When you’re working with a professional lighting setup, you never have to worry about a passing cloud ruining a set of images. You Can Photograph Any Time of Day With studio lighting, you can do product photography at the time of day that works for your schedule — even if it’s late at night. If you’re busy running your eCommerce business during the day, studio lighting will likely provide the greatest flexibility for photoshoots. You Add Credibility and Make Your Photos Look More High-end Professional-looking photos shot in studio lighting help build ethos for your brand by making you appear more professional and polished. This also makes your products look more high-end, and helps you justify a higher price point. You Can Control Exactly How Your Photos Look Studio lighting offers total creative control. You get to decide how intense the light is, the direction it’s coming from, and the shape of the light. In addition, you can use light diffusers to alter the harshness or color of the light. For example, you could use umbrella diffusers to soften the light (creating a warm or romantic aesthetic), or you could use colored diffusers for a more dramatic look. This creative flexibility can make it easier to get images that reflect your brand. The Cons of Studio Lighting for Product Photography Now let’s look at some of the cons that come with studio lighting. Studio Lights Can Be Expensive You’ll likely need to purchase more than one studio light, and you may need to invest in an entire studio lighting kit. While the investment pays off in the long run, the upfront cost can be hard to swallow if you’re cash-strapped. Studio lighting kits for beginners can cost up to $350, while more professional studio lighting kits can cost thousands. You Need a Physical Studio Space Whether it’s permanent or temporary, you’ll need a studio space in which to shoot your product photos with a studio lighting setup (which is another expense you’ll need to consider.) Even a short-term space rental could add up quickly, so unless you have a spot you can use for free (or close to it), you may need to consider another option. You Need a Reliable Power Source Studio lights require a power source. This may not be a problem if you plan to shoot all your images in a studio, but it does mean that you will be limited to spaces with plenty of outlets. If you want to shoot outdoors or on location, you may have to buy a battery pack or a generator. Not only is this an additional cost, but it also adds more equipment to haul back and forth to the shoot location. There’s a Learning Curve You probably weren’t born with an innate sense of how to set up studio lights, so you’ll need to spend some time learning the basics of soft versus hard light, color saturation, and the positioning of your lights around your products. This may take even longer to learn if you want to become enough of an expert in lighting to develop a unique look for your brand. The Pros of Natural Light for Product Photography So, what about natural light photography? Let’s dive into the pros of this approach next. It’s Cheaper All you need to take photos of your products in natural light is your camera. Though you may have to invest in a quality camera if you don’t already own one, you won’t have to purchase additional equipment. That makes natural light the more cost-effective choice. Your Photos Will Have a Bright and Airy Aesthetic This sought-after look is difficult to achieve with studio lighting. Customers are most likely to purchase something when they can easily imagine using or wearing it. Laid-back, lifestyle type images taken in natural light can be an easy way to help customers envision your product in their lives, thus potentially boosting sales. There’s No Learning Required Even if you’re not trained as a photographer, you’re likely able to capture decent photos of your products in natural light. For the time-crunched eCommerce company, being able to immediately step into the role of the photographer is important. You won’t have to spend hours researching how to use studio lighting effectively, and you don’t have anything to set up. Just grab your camera and your product and head outside. The Cons of Natural Light for Product Photography As with anything, there are cons for natural light photography as well. You’re at the Mercy of the Weather Rain and snow make photographing outdoors challenging. You’ll have to plan shoots with the weather in mind, which makes natural light the less flexible option. Additionally, you have to pay close attention to the sun’s position when you want to photograph your products. The light will look much different depending on the time of day. For example, during the middle of the day, the sun is directly overhead which means the light will be very bright and possibly too harsh. During mornings and evenings, the light is softer and more flattering but because the sun is at an angle, you’ll have to carefully position products to avoid unpleasant shadows. More Expensive Lenses May Be Required The variability of natural light and outdoor environments means that a standard lens on your camera may not be good enough for quality photos. Ultimately, you may need to purchase a faster lens to avoid blurry photos when the natural light is too low. A faster lens also ensures that any objects moving in the background, like birds or falling leaves, don’t blur. You Don’t Have As Much Creative Control While the natural light aesthetic can be beautiful, it’s not exactly unique. You can photograph from different angles or even incorporate some creative staging, but you’ll never be able to produce the truly dramatic or imaginative looks possible with studio lighting. Choosing the Right Lighting for Product Photography: Your Call The best lighting for product photography depends on your brand, your budget, and your time constraints. Before you decide whether to use traditional studio lighting or natural light, it’s helpful to consider what’s most important for your eCommerce company. Remember that your choice of lighting will impact how your products are perceived by your customers. Online stores don’t have the option for customers to touch, try on, or test out your products before they buy, so your product photography needs to showcase your products in their best light. Need an eCommerce Hosting Solution? Managed WooCommerce Hosting from Liquid Web comes standard with image compression which will keep your images looking excellent while retaining site speed, along with premium plugins from IconicWP which will enable more functionality for your product pages to shine. The post Product Photography Lighting: Should You Choose Studio Lighting or Natural Light? appeared first on Liquid Web.

7 Mistakes Internet Entrepreneurs Make with Business Credit Cards

HostGator Blog -

The post 7 Mistakes Internet Entrepreneurs Make with Business Credit Cards appeared first on HostGator Blog. A business credit card is a powerful financial tool that all good entrepreneurs should have at their disposal. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. When you’re running an eCommerce business, a business credit card helps you build business credit, allows you to finance a variety of important business-related purchases, and provides lucrative rewards, perks, and protections. It truly does it all. That being said, it’s easy to lean too heavily on your business credit card, or otherwise misuse it in an attempt to wring all possible value out of it. Not understanding the relationship your business credit plays to the rest of your business also leads to errors that have a ripple effect on your bottom line. Whether you’re exploring options for your first business credit card, looking for another card as your eCommerce venture scales, or a long-time business owner who hasn’t given your business credit much thought in awhile, here are seven mistakes entrepreneurs make with business credit cards. 1. Using their credit card to finance overly large purchases It can be tempting, once you get a hold of your new business credit card, to finance everything with it. Cloud-based software subscriptions, shipping costs, inventory—you name it. If you get points back on every purchase, why not get a discount on every purchase you make? This works, but only to a point. But financing hugely expensive purchases that will take a long time to pay down with your credit card doesn’t make sense—your credit card interest rate will likely be too high. Unless you have a 0% APR during your introductory period, or a plan to pay down your charges quickly, the extra costs will rack up. If you want to purchase something on credit that you expect will take months, or even years, to pay off, consider finding an alternate source of small business financing, such as a line of credit, loan, or inventory or equipment financing. 2. Maxing out their credit cards Whether it’s personal credit cards or business credit cards, using as much of your credit available to you as possible is never a good idea. One of the main perks of having a business credit card is its flexibility. Hit with an unexpected charge, or want to surprise your team with a party for meeting an end-of-the-month goal? If you’ve already maxed out your cards, you lose out on your ability to spring for sudden purchases. Additionally, maxing out your cards throws your credit utilization ratio out of whack. This ratio is simple: How much credit is available to you, and how much of it are you using? Lenders look at this ratio when you apply for a loan to get an idea of how much outstanding debt you have. If you already appear overextended, creditors are less likely to offer you additional funding. Keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% and you’ll appear much more responsible to future lenders—as well as have plenty of wiggle room to take on unexpected expenses.  3. Carrying a balance from month-to-month Carrying your balance over from month-to-month is another mistake business owners make when they put too much stock in rewards points over their ability to repay their debt. The bottom line is that reward points and perks will never be worth having to make interest payments on your purchases. Your exact APR will vary depending on your credit history and situation, but even the best cards have APRs north of 13%, and it will likely be higher. When possible, only put on your card what you can afford to pay back at the end of the month. This habit will help build your business credit score and keep your money where it belongs—in your business bank account.  4. Mixing business and personal expenses If you use a business credit card for only one reason, it’s this: To separate your business and personal expenses. Everything else is window-dressing—albeit quite attractive window-dressing.  So if you’re ever in a situation where you want to cover a personal expense with your business card, or vice versa, due to convenience or forgetfulness or wanting to take advantage of reward points—don’t.  Mixing your expenses is also called “piercing the corporate veil,” and doing so may expose your personal assets in the event that your business goes bankrupt or you’re the subject of a lawsuit. Even a seemingly harmless one-off purchase can have repercussions. Plus, come tax season, you’ll be so much happier that you don’t have to parse through all of your personal credit statements for the odd business expense to write off. 5. Offering corporate credit cards to employees without setting boundaries You may get to a point in your small business where it’s easier to extend individual corporate credit cards—physical or virtual—to your team members, rather than forcing them to contact you for the approval of every purchase. This is a good thing: It means your business is growing and you have faith in your team. That being said, your employees may not be privy to all of your cash flow needs, and may not understand how easy it is to hamstring a small business with uncapped spending. Worse, their unchecked spending may affect your business credit, hampering your borrowing capabilities for years to come. Before issuing credit cards, discuss with employees exactly what qualifies as a business expense, and let them know that you’ll have clear oversight into their spending.    6. Overlooking credit cards with annual fees There’s a tendency for small business owners to want to cut costs any way they can. Often, this frugal mindset serves the well, and innovative techniques are borne out of the necessity to stay under budget. Sometimes, however, small businesses need to invest. And while there are plenty of excellent no-fee credit cards out there, some business credit cards have an annual fee that are worth it—depending on how you plan to use it. Research annual fee business credit cards and see what you get for your money. If you spending habits align with the perks offered on the card—point multipliers on travel, for example—you may actually come out ahead each year quite easily. Bottom line: Don’t instantly write off a credit card just because it’s not free.    7. Closing rarely used accounts As you continue to open up lines of credit and credit cards throughout the life of your business, you might think it’s time to close up your old accounts so you have an easier time reviewing your finances. But closing your accounts affects your credit utilization ratio. If there are no clear benefits to closing those accounts other than streamlining things, it’s better to just leave them open and give your business even more credit overhead. If your accounts are charging you money—e.g., with an annual fee—and you need to close them, time your decision strategically. About to apply for a loan from a bank or online lender? Hold off until after the deal is done.   *** Many of the best practices for personal and business credit cards are typically the same: Don’t be late with your payments, don’t spend more than you can afford. The difference with some of the above mistakes that they can truly prevent your business from taking important steps in its growth process. Don’t limit your business to unaffordable lending options, or waste your time parsing through mountains of expenses. Make your life simple by avoiding these mistakes, and everyone involved in making your eCommerce business a success will be happier for it.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How To Attract High-Quality Links To Your eCommerce Website Using Ego Bait Content

Pickaweb Blog -

Last week, I was having a conversation with my friend when I got to know about this amazing way of attracting high-quality links to your eCommerce website. It’s called Ego Bait Content. How many of you are aware of this method? Honestly, this is the first time I ever heard of it. I had absolutely The post How To Attract High-Quality Links To Your eCommerce Website Using Ego Bait Content appeared first on Pickaweb.

6 Smart Ways to Build Quality Backlinks and Outrank Your Competitors

Pickaweb Blog -

In this day and era, you cannot underestimate the importance of backlinks. Backlinks improve the reputation of a website as well as its ranking on Google and other search engines. And especially in a competitive niche, you can’t rank without backlinks. So, how do you get quality backlinks that will help you beat your competitors? The post 6 Smart Ways to Build Quality Backlinks and Outrank Your Competitors appeared first on Pickaweb.

4 Essential Differences Between Social Media Monitoring and Social Listening

Pickaweb Blog -

Social media is a big part of our lives nowadays. Almost everyone has an account and uses it to connect with family, friends, celebrities as well as brands. Apart from sharing media and discussing on various topics, social media presence can also be used as a tool by businesses to promote their products. For this, The post 4 Essential Differences Between Social Media Monitoring and Social Listening appeared first on Pickaweb.

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