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SEO Tips for Bloggers

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

Matt Cutts gave a talk this spring at WordCamp San Francisco 2009 (which he just republished in his blog the other day), during which he gave some great insight into how to help your SEO for your blog--in particular, if you use WordPress (since he *was* at WordCamp) . Below is a quick summary of some easy tips to keep in mind when blogging that may help increase your PageRank:* Links to your site are key. The number of links in conjunction of the quality of links to your site are probably the most important determinants of your PageRank. If you have 10 links and your buddy has 20, but your links are from high-quality sites such as The New York Times online, then your links have more validity and weight--which means your site will likely be ranked higher than his. It's not always the number that matters; the quality of links is a big factor as well.* Write about something you care about. If you care about your topic and know a lot about it, chances are that your readers will find your content interesting and continue to link to your posts. They key is to start small and write about something nichey; as you gain a following, you can expand your horizons to other topics, but remember: it's important to retain your own voice, opinions and to be interesting--that's what keeps people coming back and linking to you.* Naturally incorporate keywords. When you write about a particular topic, make sure you incorporate relevant keywords and search terms within your post naturally. Think about it from the reader's perspective: it's no fun to read a "keyword-stuffed" article when every other word is the topic at hand. Instead, use similar terms that might be used interchangeably when people search; for instance, if you're talking about USB drives, maybe use "thumb drive" in one sentence and "flash drive" in the next--they're all synonyms for the same thing, but different people may search using different terms.* Optimize your URLs. Think about how your URLs are structured. Google can't tell where words start and end ifyouhavethemallmashedtogether. Dashes-between-words is therefore the way to go. Additionally, you may want to modify tenses of words in your URL to apply to a wider range of searches--so, using "change" vs. "changing," even if "changing" is in your post's title.* Write in plain terms. Ok, so we all know you're a super-expert in your field, but on your homepage it helps to meet the general populace halfway. It's okay to get all super-technical and obscure within a whitepaper or a research paper, but if you do it throughout your entire site, chances are that Google is going to have a tough time turning your content up in relevant searches (and the rest of us will be left wondering what your site is even about). It helps to mix in some common language (especially on your homepage) so you can attract a greater audience.* Post often. If you write interesting articles every day or every week, people will be visiting and linking to your site more often than if you post every, say, 6 months. It can be tough to make the time (trust us--we're guilty too), but it'll probably be worth it in the end if you're continually posting relevant, interesting content.To learn more SEO and WordPress tips, I recommend watching the entire video of Matt presenting, which he posted in his blog a few days ago.

IPOWER Has Joined the Twittersphere!

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

We're a little late in announcing this--mostly because we wanted to see if our customers felt our presence on Twitter was worthwhile--but here we are, tweeting away, with 454 followers strong! And you can follow us, too, at twitter.com/ipowerhosting.So What Is This Twitter Thing?Twitter is basically a free microblogging social media/marketing tool that lets you post "entries" of whatever you want to say--as long as it's 140 characters or less. Other Twitter users can subscribe to "follow" your posts to see what you're writing about, while you can follow other Twitter users to see what they're writing about. All the posts you follow are aggregated into your very own "Twitter Feed," which chronologically lists the posts in their 140 character snippets. Think it's nuts? Even the British Royal family is doing it!!Why Do I Care?That's a great question. The answer is, you don't have to! Twitter is basically whatever you make it--if you want to just follow your friends or kids and see what they're up to throughout the day ("eating a sandwich, yum!"), then it can be a fun way to stay connected to people who are important to you. If you'd like a way to learn and collaborate with other people who are interested in the same things you are, then it's a good way to make connections (just search for whatever keyword you want, and follow people who write interesting things about that topic). For us here at IPOWERWEB, it's a great way to stay connected to our customers and reach out to them on a regular basis.Our Twitter ApproachWe want to make sure our customers are happy. And we figure the best way to do that is by listening to them in their natural habitat: The Internet. We proactively search the Twittersphere to find happy or unhappy tweets about IPOWER, and reach out to those customers to let them know we're here to help. Occasionally we'll use our account to tweet news about what we're up to--improvements to the platform, new services, etc.--depending on who's manning the feed. We have members from all across our organization tweeting away, so you'll get the flavor of a few different personalities (we often sign our tweets with a carrot and our initials; for example: ^MMI).So come, follow us on Twitter, or sign up for an account. It's a pretty good time.Some people you might like to follow (popular twitterers):IPOWER, of course: ipowerhostingAshton Kutcher: aplusEllen DeGeneres: TheEllenShowBritney Spears: britneyspearsCNN Breaking News: cnnbrkOprah Winfrey: oprahTwitter: twitterBarack Obama: BarackObamaRyan Seacrest: RyanSeacrestJimmy Fallon: jimmyfallonLance Armstrong: lancearmstrongThe New York Times: nytimesColdplay: coldplayAl Gore: algoreThe Onion: TheOnionPerez Hilton: PerezHiltonGoogle: googleNPR Politics: nprpoliticsPete Cashmore: mashableRainnWilson: rainnwilsonMartha Stewart: MarthaStewartTIME.com: TIMEWhole Foods Market: WholeFoodsKevin Rose: kevinroseJohn McCain: SenJohnMcCainMichael Arrington: TechCrunchBiz Stone: bizJetBlue Airways: JetBlueHave some recommendations? Add 'em in the comments :)

The Placebo Effect ... on Pricing

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

OK, so here's an interesting dilemma for many businesses out there, including us here at IPOWER.I just read this fascinating article from The Washington Post on "The Price-Placebo Effect." Most people understand the Placebo Effect as it pertains to medication studies: "control" participants are blindly administered a sugar pill instead of actual medication, and yet still experience improved symptoms, probably as a result of their belief that they have received real medication.The Price-Placebo Effect takes the same tack, but instead of medication being the agent of change, price is strangely the culprit. The Price-Placebo Effect, according to the article, is basically the notion that people experience more pleasure (i.e. larger activation in their medial orbitofrontal cortex) when they consume a product that they pay a higher price for, compared to those who pay a less-expensive price.While the article leads off referencing the uncomfortable Eliot Spitzer scandal, the more relevant story revolves around a study in which two groups of participants were asked to drink some wine: one group from a bottle priced at $90, and the other group from a bottle priced at $10. The participants who drank the $90 bottle not only indicated an overall higher level of enjoyment (as to be expected), but they also had experienced more activity medial orbitofrontal cortex than those who drank the $10 bottle. The catch? They drank the exact same wine.So what does this tell us about pricing our products? Well, for one thing, Apple's got it right. The price of their notebooks is significantly higher than it needs to be, and yet they don't have much trouble (a) selling them like hotcakes or (b) cultivating a dedicated (some might say fanatic?) userbase. In fact, it wasn't until the end of last year that they even contemplated releasing a notebook under $1000. So what's the story here? Great products justifying expensive prices? People paying for the "brand"? Or is there something actually physiological going on?It's tough to say, but notions like these definitely make us think about our strategies. The webhosting industry is a complicated one--commodization is driving prices down and requiring hosts to underprice their services. Two years ago it was ludicrous to advertise a price under $6/month. Now that price is considered expensive. And yet does our catering to the competitive nature of the hosting market mean our product is any less valuable to consumers than it was two years ago? In fact, no--our product is constantly improving and evolving and a hosting plan now is "worth" more than ever. It would be great to price our plans to invoke the "Price-Placebo Effect," but unfortunately, the likely result would be potential customers hammering the "Back" button as soon as the images start to load on IPOWER.com.So how do we tap into this pricing enigma? Have you tapped into it?

Your Feedback, Hard at Work

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

We've been soliciting feedback from customers, and we've been listening to your responses. Over the past couple of weeks, we've launched a couple key changes to our offerings, which we hope will improve your overall experience.1) The Activation Center: Activate Your Plan's Freebies in One Fell Swoop!We recently launched The Activation Center to help customers find and activate the free tools that come in their hosting plans. Located in the top stripe of your control panel (between the "Tutorials" and "Help" icons), The Activation Center opens up a list of products that you can add to your control panel just by selecting the items of interest to you and clicking the "Activate" button. Free tools include SubmitNet, Google AdWords $50 credit, Google Custom Search box, as well as a free 60-day trial with RatePoint, and a free 60-day trial with Constant Contact, which provides email marketing tools.Keep an eye out for more free tools in the Activation Center--we'll be adding new ones all the time!2) ServiceCentral: New Portal for Managing Your ProjectsWhen you purchase an SEO package (soon to be extended to a Design package or Professional Services), you'll get an icon called "ServiceCentral" in the "Marketing Services" section of your control panel. When you click on this icon, you'll be brought to a portal page, which, on the "My Projects" tab, keeps a list of your active and past projects and their statuses. From here, you can also add comments to your project and check out the latest status via comments left by your project team.The "My Team" tab keeps track of your team members, with access to their schedules and contact information. At the moment, customers can email and call most of their team members, but shortly we'll add the ability for customers to chat with team members and schedule appointments! Plus, uploading files you'd like your team to use in the project is a cinch--just click on the "My Resources" tab, and select the directory where you'd like to upload to.3) Akamai Quick Connect: Increase Your Site's Load Time for Visitors Everywhere IPOWER is one of the first hosts to offer this incredibly cool service, which allows visitors from across the globe to access your site nearly as quickly as someone sitting next to our servers. Akamai Quick Connect will be available to some customers starting next week through a special promotion we're running, and we'll likely roll it out to all customers by the end of March or early April.In case you're wondering how Akamai works their magic, here's a quick snapshot: Normal requests to see your website have to travel all the way from a visitor's computer to our servers and back. Akamai speeds up this process by caching your site's content (images, CSS, javascript) on its edge servers, which are located all around the world--so when someone in China, for instance, wants to see your site, the content will be retrieved from the closest Akamai server in China, rather than traveling all the way to our servers and back. HTML requests will still travel to our servers, but through Akamai's optimized network, which can easily locate and circumvent trouble spots in the network.4) WebSite Creator by CM4all: Two Small Changes Based Upon Survey FeedbackWe have plans to revamp the CM4all tool page in general, but in the meantime, we fulfilled two small customer requests which seem to make a big difference in the usability of the tool.Numero Uno: We made the "edit" link into a button so you can see it! Derrr ... not quite sure why it was a teensy tiny link to begin with, but at least you can see it now and know where to click to edit your site.Numero Dos: We made this new and improved "edit" button open a new window. Finally. Now you won't lose access to your IPOWER control panel when you want to edit you CM4all site.We hope these small changes across the board make a difference in how you use your IPOWER hosting account. If you have additional suggestions on functionality, definitely let us know through comments on the blog, in surveys, and as always, through tickets in your Support Console.

Servers - VPS Hosting now available!

WhopHost News -

Virtual Private Servers also called VPS Hosting is now available on our hosting. VPS is partitioning a physical server into multiple Virtual Servers having the appearance and capacity of a dedicated server. Each Virtual Server runs independent from the others on the physical machine. Also VPS has its own OS, and each server can be independently rebooted.

New InstallCentral Interface (More Apps, Plus It's Now Free!)

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

So the blog has been dormant for a little while, due to a myriad of reasons. First, we've been busy developing. Secondly, it's been the holidays (Happy New Year!). Third, we've been busy doing more development and fixing the mail issue, which for the majority of customers has fortunately been fully restored. (We're still working diligently to recover a few customers' email -- eternal thanks for being patient!)In any event, we've been hard at work here. And with that hard work comes some positive changes from time to time. Most recently, we've been busting our butts for a much-needed and overdue InstallCentral revamp/upgrade. InstallCentral, for customers who aren't familiar with the term, is our application installation center -- or, more plainly, the place where you can add cool thingys to your site like blogs, galleries, forums, etc. Best of all for you guys? It's now freeeeeee.OK, as a product manager, the free stuff is great, but the best part for me is that we have a new interface that makes browsing the applications a breeze. Instead of listing every application on a single page, forcing you to scroll to find what you're looking for, our new design uses a tabbed interface that presents applications by category, i.e., blogs, content management systems, forums, photo galleries, etc. And not only that, our new interface now employs a "My Apps" tab that lists all of your installed applications, version and upgrade information, plus quick access to log into the admin page for your application.Also, you may have noticed we removed the individual icons for each application you've installed from the "Scripting & Add-ons" section of your control panel. The goal was to unclutter that section of your control panel, and provide you one location from which to manage each of your applications. To access your apps, just click on the "InstallCentral" icon, and you'll be taken to your personal "My Apps" page.Oh, and did we mention that we've added 13 new applications to our installation center? Check 'em out:* b2evolution* PixelPost* Drupal* e107* Mambo* ZenCart* Simple Machines Forum (SMF)* ZenPhoto* MediaWiki* Moodle* OpenRealty* phpFormGenerator* SugarCRM

Online Sales Down So Far this Year? Don't Fret

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

comScore released a report today indicating that up until Cyber Monday (which was this past Monday, Dec. 1st), e-commerce sales had been down by about 2% compared to November last year. However, probably due to holiday sale prices many online retailers tout during the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, Monday yielded a 15% jump over last year's Cyber Monday sales.Additional key findings from the report include:* Overall, retailers appear to be giving more aggressive discounts this year in an effort to encourage consumer spending; 51% of consumers surveyed indicated that the number of discounts and promotions seem higher this year than last year (compared to 12% who thought discounts were fewer).* 39% of those surveyed indicated they felt the crowds at retail stores were fewer this year than last year, whereas 7% felt the number had increased.Of course this is great news for our e-commerce customers here at IPOWERWEB. We truly hope your online sales end up following the post-Thanksgiving trend reported by comScore! Check out today's press release for more details on the report.And at the risk of irritating some of our readers with an upsell, if you haven't already, it might be a good time to take advantage of a couple of the discounts *we're* offering for e-commerce-izing your site .... If this annoys you, feel free to skip the following bullets ;)* CM4all E-commerce is available for 1/2 price off your first term (month, quarter, year) through Dec. 18.* Existing ShopSite customers can take advantage of 1/2 price off their first quarter or year for ShopSite Manager or Pro (call us for details: 888-511-4678).* PowerPay (our preferred credit card processing partner) is now offering the Authorize.Net Fraud Detection Suite--included with your payment gateway solution.Okay--you can open your eyes again.

Find Wikipedia (MediaWiki) a Pain to Edit?

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

If so, then good news for you! Looks like in the near future, MediaWiki, the free open source software used to create Wikipedia, will be bringing in some new software developers to determine some of the barriers to entry for first-time editors. The Wikimedia Foundation was been awarded a $890,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation to make collaboration easier for those of us who have some great knowledge to share, but may not quite understand how to use the funky MediaWiki editor. Check out the full article on CNET >>As you may or may not know, IPOWERWEB offers a bunch of open source applications through InstallCentral, our open source application installer. We don't have MediaWiki yet, but we're planning to add it (and a number of other applications) to our suite in the coming months. Keep an eye out--and hopefully by the time we add it, MediaWiki will have come out with a newer version of the software to make editing easier for everyone.

Want to Improve Search Engine Visibility? 15 Tips

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

If you use your website to get noticed--whether on a business-related or personal level--then chances are you're looking to increase your search engine visibility. I came across an article today in my Google Reader that outlines 15 solid tips for doing just that.Written by social media marketer Mike Fruchter, this article is immensely helpful in outlining some key methods to getting search engines to "like" your site. And if you like what you read, I highly recommend following Mike's blog (or perhaps Louis Gray's, where the article was written) for more tips on social media marketing, or tech stuff in general.So, without further ado:http://www.louisgray.com/live/2008/11/15-tips-on-improving-search-engine.html

Who are you, Customers?? We want to know!

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

So I'm hoping that a few of you have had an opportunity to try out our QuickStart Wizard, which we launched a couple weeks ago. If not, I encourage you to log into your control panel and try it out. We want all the feedback we can get because it's important to us that we construct tools in a way that enables you to get your account set up easily.As a starting point, last week we actually brought a few customers into our offices to record and test the usability of both the QuickStart Wizard and our registration process. We used Webex to record their entire experience--yes, we analyzed every mouse click--and stumbled upon some interesting findings. I won't get into specifics for these tools at this point, since it's too early to definitively say what's working and what's not, but I think it's fair to say that we can't always predict what our customers will do and think ...Because we're not mind-readers, but we want to know what you're thinking, I'm happy to announce that, at the directive of our new Director of Customer Experience (yay!), we've started a few rounds of customer focus groups, aimed to help us dissect the diverse brains of our subjects--ahem--customers. The goal of these sessions is to figure out a few different things:who our customers arewhy our customers choose uswhat our customers wantwhat our customers aren't getting from us that we can improve/provide to themSo far, I think we've validated our suspicion that the type of customer we attract runs the gamut--anywhere from those who are completely new to web hosting and are trying to get their business online for the first time, to people who have been doing this since 1998 and have about 15 accounts with us. In addition, we learned that many of our customers choose us based upon the price/quality balance, which we see as a pretty nice compliment. When it comes to what customers want, as you might have guessed, these answers vary based upon experience level. As many of our preliminary findings have shown, we need to dig into these responses a bit more to determine who, exactly, our different user personas are, and what we can do to help satisfy each type of need.One overarching theme we've found so far is that we provide a lot of services our customers don't know about. For instance, if you're worried about knowing when your site and/or email might be experiencing a service interruption (yes, I am admitting that they *do* happen from time to time ...), did you know that you can get updates sent to your email account on file via our CAML? (Pronounced "Camel," CAML is our "Customer Alert Mailing List.") This email notification basically lets you know that we've posted an Important System Alert in our Support Center, and that your site and/or email may be affected. We update these alerts as changes occur to keep you informed about the state of your account. To sign up to receive CAMLs, visit our Support Center and click the link below our Important System Notices that says, "Receive System Alerts via e-mail."Another request we got was for more simplicity in our control panel. (Of course, that was said on the heels of one customer, who was more familiar with our services, indicating that he found our control panel to be very easy to navigate.) I'm not advocating that our control panel is the simplest tool to use (in fact, we're currently devising a strategy to improve the functionality/simplicity of the layout--so stay tuned), but did you know that we offer different control panel interfaces? We have four different control panel "skins," which you can customize to a certain degree. Just click on the "Preferences" link at the top of the control panel, and you'll see that you have four different layout options from which to choose: icon, icon plus, text, and text plus. We've even created an animated tutorial to guide you through your options for layout and customization.Which brings me to my final point for the evening. We have lots of tutorials. And lots of help information in our Knowledgebase. I'm not saying we'll have everything you need in there to assist you with your account, but I just wanted to call out the fact that we do have online resources to help, and they're probably worth at least a look-see.The bottom line here is that we want you to "help us help you." We realize we need to do a better job communicating some of the resources we have to offer, but it's also important that customers fill out our surveys to let us know what is, and what isn't, working. We cherish your feedback--both the good and the bad. So please keep it coming.

Improving "Early Life" -- What's Your Take?

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

So we've got some shocking news here at IPOWERWEB.We've been informed that some of our customers get confused when landing in the control panel for the first time. Yeah, apparently it's not intuitive that when you click on "POP Mail," it's the same as clicking on "MailCentral." And who knew that it wasn't obvious that the "Set Site Editor" page doesn't actually let you start creating your website.These nuances, which we tech geeks at IPOWERWEB have come to know and love (okay, not really), present a bit of a problem for new customers coming on board. Our site essentially says, "Our hosting plans include great website building tools, unlimited email boxes and a free domain name! Go after it!" And I guess the process of signing up and logging into the control panel for the first time doesn't mean customers instantly know that clicking on the "WebSiteCreator by CM4all" icon is probably their best bet for starting a new site if they don't know any HTML.So where does that leave us? With a bunch of somewhat confused customers calling our support team within their first 48 hours on IPOWERWEB. Our bad.But, before you throw in the towel, let me say this: we are looking to make a change. We get it now. We realize it's not fun for you to employ the "hunt and peck" method to figure out just which of those little icons will actually be the key to creating your first mailbox. We want you to be happy with your IPOWERWEB account, not feel like you've just stepped into a 2 sq. mile corn maze with no iPhone serving Google Satellite View.And without further ado, let me present the first step to our solution. Our support, product management and development teams have designed and developed a QuickStart Wizard to walk customers through the first three steps to setting up a hosting account (which, coincidentally, are the top three reasons customers call us): adding a domain to your account; setting up mailboxes; and getting a site started and learning what the heck your FTP settings are.But the greatness doesn't stop there. After you've run through the QuickStart Wizard for the first time (and completed all the tasks), it turns into a QuickStart Manager, which will always be accessible from the top of the control panel (next to the "Preferences" icon), should you want to go back and manage your domains, email and website from the wizard. Same goes for existing customers: even if you've already set up your account, just click the icon and try the wizard on for size the next time you want to create another email box, etc.Okay, so bottom line? We want your feedback. When this product launches next week (fingers crossed), we want to know -- is it intuitive? Does it make setting up a domain, email address and website easier? What do you like? What don't you like? Tell us by leaving a comment! With your input, we'll be able to improve the next release, and ultimately use this tool as a model off which to base revamps of other tools in our control panel.

Set Up a Holiday Store

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

It's not to early to begin thinking about the upcoming holidays. November and December are the busiest shopping months of the year online! Why not take advantage of this and get a holiday store set up on your site? Don't have time to do it yourself? IPOWERWEB can help!A typical online store can take several weeks at best to develop, even months under the most ideal conditions. That kind of time isn’t available in the middle of October to be ready for the holiday season, and we’d like to offer our customers who don’t already have an online store, the opportunity to establish a presence for their products, begin selling, accepting credit cards, etc. · This promotion will run from October 15th, and orders will be accepted until November 7th.Here's what you'll get: A complete online store solution and installation Fully-integrated online payment gateway using PowerPayFREE osCommerce ApplicationAbility to add up to 20 products to the storeStore administration trainingFor orders received and customer requirements satisfied by November 7th, we will GUARANTEE completion of the website on or before November 22nd. If you have completed all of your ‘to-do’ list activities and we’re still unable to complete the website by November 22nd, we’ll give you a 100% refund.Price: Only $499.00Get started now!

SubmitNet Partnership

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

Are you looking for a way to attract more visitors to your site? SubmitNet can increase your site's visibility, as it optimizes your site and submits it to all of the major search engines, month after month.And, with no downloads or installation, SubmitNet makes search engine optimization simple, allowing you to access your SubmitNet control panel from any computer!Increase your search ranking today with SubmitNet's Basic Plan, which provides you with automatic monthly submissions and reports, and is FREE with any hosting package. If you are looking for more, such as keyword and MetaTag analysis and creation, sign up for a Gold or Platinum Plan at a special IPOWERWEB discounted price. The sooner you submit your site, the sooner search engines will recognize it! So, optimize your site now!

E-mail through Exchange Hosting

iPower Web Hosting Blog -

Use Microsoft Exchange so that you can use Outlook to Access, Sync and Share E-mail, Schedules, Contacts and Tasks with everyone in your business. Right now, IPOWERWEB is offering a FREE 2 month trial of Exchange hosting!Exchange Hosting, the latest in e-mail management and collaboration from Microsoft, allows you to take your communications to the next level--and on the road!With Exchange Hosting you can ... Access your e-mail, contacts and schedule from any location via OutlookUse your PDA to sync your e-mail, contacts and scheduleShare e-mails, contact info and schedules with clients, employees--even family membersUtilize Microsoft Outlook for your computer and Outlook Web Access for online access And, it includes free Microsoft Outlook desktop licenses (load it on all the machines you use!) Learn more about Exchange HostingThe 2 month trial won't last long, so try it out now!

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