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7 Best WordPress Search Plugins

The post 7 Best WordPress Search Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. Website navigation is a critical part of your online presence. When visitors land on your site, they want to quickly locate specific information.  A custom search function is one of the best solutions to help your visitors. By simply typing in a few keywords, they can find relevant content on your site. Search logs also can offer your small business actionable data to produce similar content to boost your site traffic.  With the help of plugins, you can add a search function to your website. Experiment with the seven WordPress search plugins below.  1. Ajax Search Lite You can fine-tune your visitors’ experience with Ajax Search Lite. This live search plugin for WordPress websites offers a user-friendly Ajax powered search engine. Live search allows your visitors to search results without redirecting to a results page. David Karlins, a contributor at Dummies, explains the necessity of search functions: “The role of a navigation system is not simply to anticipate and respond to what a user might be looking for: It is to ‘lead’ visitors through your site. In that context, a search box provides an alternative way for people to find things on your site.” Ajax Search Lite filters results based on category and post types. There’s even a Google autocomplete feature to provide your visitors with keyword suggestions. After a simple installation, you can build a more efficient search engine for your website.  2. Swiftype Site Search Research shows that 38% of people will leave a website if it fails to produce attractive content or layout. Navigational design matters when it comes to maintaining visitors’ attention. So, you need a reliable, customizable search function to match the demands of your small business. Swiftype Site Search fits that criteria with its built-in advanced search algorithm for complicated queries. Enter your website’s address and the plugin will index your site and create your search engine in real-time. Plus, it doesn’t require any coding from your team, but developers can use the API for additional control. The best part is this tool can serve multiple purposes for your business. Swiftype Site Search can help your visitors find relevant site content, get the right answer in a knowledge base, and select specific products in an eCommerce store. 3. Relevanssi Let’s say you sell sports apparel on your website. Sports clothing can be divided into multiple categories, like basketball shoes or baseball gloves. So, thousands of purchasing options exist for potential buyers. It would take a long time for a visitor to manually find what they want. Website navigation is an essential element of a good website user experience. It can either help your visitors find what they’re looking for quickly, or make it harder for them. That’s why you need a search function like Relevanssi. This WordPress search plugin provides search results sorted in the order of relevance and helps your visitors find results matching either just one search term or a required set of words. It also highlights search terms in the documents when a visitor clicks through the search results. 4. SearchWP A study uncovered that 85% of issues related to UX can be detected by performing a usability test on a group of five users. Test your website’s search function to ensure it benefits your visitors. That’s easy if you use a plugin.  SearchWP is a turnkey solution for your small business’s website. You can configure individual search engines—each with their own specific settings. The tool can index any piece of content with a post ID, including everything in your media library. Are you curious about what visitors search for? SearchWP offers a dashboard with statistics and insights for all your search logs. The tool also integrates with major eCommerce product search plugins. 5. IvorySearch Next up is Ivory Search, a plugin to improve content visibility on your website. With this tool, your visitors can search for images, audio files, videos, and documents. These files can be searched based on their title, caption, and description.  When creating your search function, be mindful of how the experience will impact the visitor. Ivory Search displays search results in ascending or descending order. Also, you can move sticky posts to the start of the search results page to improve the visitor experience. 6. FacetWP Too few brands offer personalized recommendations on their websites. A search function gives your visitors a tailored experience to find pertinent content. You can then use that search data to help your visitors with personalized filters and product suggestions. FacetWP has a smart filtering feature for your visitors to find what they’re looking for faster. The plugin also seamlessly integrates with your design with UI elements, like checkboxes, maps, and sliders. The UI filtering controls adjust to visitor input and prevent “No results found” screens. Also, you can add the search function on any page using shortcodes. Other built-in features include pagination, sorting, and user selections. 7. Advanced Woo Search We’ll round out this list with Advanced Woo Search, a powerful live search plugin for WooCommerce. This tool makes it easier for visitors to search for your products on your site. That way, they can locate what they need to make a purchase. “Usability is a product of user-centered design. When the design process is centered on the needs and expectations of the user, you can address many of the user’s pain points,” writes Arne Hendricks, a developer and contributor at Userbrain. However, usability isn’t a one-time action; it’s a continuous process that you must improve after each cycle. Advanced Woo Search offers a user-friendly settings page and stop words support to exclude certain words from searches. Build Custom Search Navigation with WordPress Search Plugins Website visitors want to easily navigate through your site. With a custom search function, your visitors can find the exact content they need. So, install one of these search plugins today to enhance your visitor experience. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Email Marketing for eCommerce: Your Guide to Getting Started

The post Email Marketing for eCommerce: Your Guide to Getting Started appeared first on HostGator Blog. Did you know that email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI) out of any other digital marketing tactic? It’s true. The median ROI for email marketing is 122%. That’s four times higher than all other digital marketing channels. The high likelihood of capturing additional website traffic from your email marketing efforts is the reason you should start building your email list as soon as you launch your website. If you’re new to email marketing, and the process sounds daunting, don’t worry. This quick guide to getting started with email marketing will cover: How to find a reliable email service provider (ESP)How to capture subscribersThe best WordPress plugins for email marketingHow to set up your welcome campaign By the end of this post, you’ll have the knowledge you need to get started with email marketing and to attract your first batch of subscribers. How to find a reliable email service provider Long gone are the days of sending bulk email messages to a giant list of subscribers. Today’s email marketing technology makes it possible to create highly personalized and automated messages that convert. Here are just some things you can do with one of the best ESPs on the market: Automate the process of capturing subscribers. ESPs allow you to create unique forms that send subscribers right to your designated email list. You don’t have to do any manual work. Send emails to a large list. Did you know that free email services (e.g., Gmail, Outlook) have caps on how many recipients you can include in an email, and how often you send large emails? ESPs don’t. Track emails. Every good ESP comes with tracking, analytics, and reports. These tools will help you see things like what content is converting, what your open rates are, and what links are most popular. Automate campaigns. Why send one email when you can send a sequence of emails? ESPs allow you to set up a series of emails that are sent out automatically, based on things like subscriber behaviors, date, etc. Customize email templates. If you’re not a designer, you don’t have to worry. The top ESPs come with various proven and well-designed templates that you can customize. Using a template is a much better option than a plain text email. Segment your lists. With the help of an ESP, you can create various lists and only send relevant content to specific customer profiles. For example, let’s say you sell shoes. You could create two lists based on gender. Then, you can send your men’s shoe collection to your male subscribers, and your women’s shoe collection to your female subscribers.  Create emails with dynamic content. Dynamic content is another big advantage of an ESP. Instead of creating two emails, you also have the option to switch out content blocks based on subscriber data. Sticking with the shoe example, you could create a unique block of content with the new men’s collection that appears to your male subscribers and another unique block of content with the new women’s shoe collection that would appear in the same place for your female subscribers.  These are just some of the advantages of using an email service provider. Keep in mind, when choosing an ESP, you have several options, but not all options are created equal.  At HostGator, we recommend Constant Contact. Not only does Constant Contact integrate with HostGator, but it is also easy to navigate, has robust features, and the reporting is phenomenal.  How to capture email subscribers for your eCommerce site If you already have some email contacts, that’s great! If you are starting completely from scratch, don’t get discouraged.  Constant Contact, and other ESPs, make it easy for you to build your email list via your WordPress website. How? These services provide a unique email form code to paste into your website.  When you paste this code into your website and refresh your website, you’ll see a gorgeous email subscription box. Every time someone enters their email address, the new email address will be added to your designated list in your ESP. When you sign up for Constant Contact and have a WordPress site, the process is even easier. Here is how it’s done. How to create a Constant Contact subscriber form in WordPress Step 1: Install the Constant Contact Forms plugin for WordPress. If you don’t remember how to install a WordPress plugin, here is a quick tutorial. Step 2: Sync your contact list or create a new list. You can sync your contact list by clicking on the “Constant Contact” icon in the right dashboard, and selecting “Sync Lists with Constant Contact” button on the top. You can create a new list by selecting “Add New List” and naming your list. Image source: Constant Contact Step 3: From your WordPress dashboard, click “Contact Form” and then “Add New Form.” Image Source: Constant Contact Step 4: Name your form and include a description of why visitors should subscribe to your list. Step 5: Select the Constant Contact list you want to add new subscribers to.  Image Source: Constant Contact Step 6: Edit your button text, personalize any other text, additional fields as desired, and design your form. Step 7: Press publish. As soon as you publish your form, you can add it to a webpage or blog post on your eCommerce site. Let’s quickly cover how to add your new form to a webpage and to a blog post. How to add a subscriber form to your web page in WordPress Let’s say you want to add your subscriber form to a static page on your website (e.g., your contact page). Here’s how you do it. Step 1: Navigate to your WordPress dashboard and click the “Constant Contact Form Icon” and choose all “All Forms” from the menu. Step 2: Turn your attention to the form page and copy and paste the shortcode of the form you want to put on your static page. Image Source: Constant Contact Step 3: Navigate to the dashboard and click “Pages” and then “All Pages.” Step 4: Find the page where you want the form and click “Edit.” Step 5: Click on the plus sign in the content box and choose “shortcode” from the options. Step 6: Paste the shortcode you copied earlier. Once you paste the shortcode, you’ll see the subscriber box on your static page. How to add a subscriber form to a blog post in WordPress One of the highest converting places to put a subscriber form is directly in a blog post. If someone finds your blog post, likes what you wrote, and wants to keep hearing from you, they can subscribe to your email list right after they read your blog post.  Here’s how to add a subscriber to your blog posts with the Constant Contact plugin. Step 1: Navigate to the dashboard and click “Posts” and then “All Posts.” Step 2: Click “Edit” on the blog post where you want to place your subscriber form. Step 3: Click “Classic.” Step 4: Place your cursor where you want your form and click “Add Constant Contact Form.” Step 5: Select your form from the drop-down menu. Step 6: Click “Insert shortcode.” Once you are ready to publish or republish your post, click “Publish” or “Update,” and you will see the Constant Contact subscriber form in your blog post. The best WordPress plugins for email marketing While the Constant Contact plugin for WordPress is an awesome tool, it’s not your only email marketing plugin option.  Here are some additional email marketing WordPress plugins to consider when setting up an email marketing strategy for your eCommerce website. Sumo This email marketing plugin helps you set up subscriber forms on your website in the most strategic places.  Here are some of the top places where you can place a Sumo email list subscriber form: A smart bar that appears at the top or bottom of your website.A list builder popup that shows up one second after page load.A list builder popup that is embedded within an article.A list builder popup that shows up after the user hovers the mouse over the address bar.A list builder popup with a call to action button that appears one second after page load.A list builder popup that shows up after a user clicks the button below the first paragraph.A scroll box that will show after page loads and upon user scroll.A welcome mat that will show up after the page loads and appear above page, and many other welcome mat options.And more! It’s easy to install the Sumo WordPress plugin, connect it to your ESP, and include forms in various strategic places on your website. Sumo also offers share buttons to help you boost your social media presence. MailPoet MailPoet is another cool WordPress plugin that allows you to get subscribers, set up automated welcome messages, and build newsletters from excellent templates right within your WordPress dashboard.  Additionally, you can set MailPoet to automatically notify your lists whenever you publish new content. Some other notable MailPoet features include: Customizable sign-up formsRemoves inactive subscribersSegmentationWooCommerce customers email subscription at checkoutAbandon cart emailsSMTP for WordPressAnd more! One of the best things about MailPoet is you can handle your email marketing right within the WordPress platform.  It doesn’t matter whether you use the Constant Contact plugin, the Sumo plugin, or MailPoet. What matters is that you sign up for one of these services, create your first list and sign up form, and start your first eCommerce email campaign. How to set up a welcome email campaign for your eCommerce website There are many different email marketing campaigns you might create, including promotional campaigns, holiday campaigns, product launches, and more. But, one campaign every eCommerce website owner will use is a welcome campaign.  A welcome campaign is the first email your subscribers will see from you, so it’s critical to make a good impression. Here is what you want to address in your welcome email: Build a relationship. If someone signs up for your email list, the first thing you should do is focus on them. This can include a warm welcome, a quick congratulations, or a reaffirmation that they made the right decision. Focusing on the customer from the get-go is a great way to go. Set expectations. Someone just subscribed to your email list, but they aren’t quite sure what that entails. Don’t leave your subscribers hanging. Instead, outline what being part of the email newsletter means, including when to expect content and what type of campaigns to expect. Address spam filters. Spam filters are so good these days, they sometimes even mark safe content as spam. It’s smart to ask your users in your welcome email to add them to their list of trusted contacts.  Include an offer. What screams “welcome to our online store” better than an introductory offer? People love discounts and special discounts, so give them one as a reward for joining the list. Thank your new subscriber. Thank yous go a long way. Do as your mother taught you and thank your subscribers for joining your list. Here is a good example of a welcome email from Bombas. This Bombas email is well-designed, it welcomes the subscriber into the Bombas family, and it provides a discount code so subscribers can start shopping immediately. Good work, Bombas. The process of setting up a welcome email is different for every ESP or WordPress plugin, but should be fairly intuitive, regardless of what you’re using. Here is a quick-reference guide to how to set up your welcome email if you’re using Constant Contact. Getting started with email marketing for your eCommerce website Email marketing is a must if you’re looking to boost website traffic and increase conversions. Thankfully, it’s easy to get started with an email service provider and insert your subscriber forms into your eCommerce website and any relevant blog posts. At HostGator, we recommend making the process easy by using Constant Contact. We also offer a free 3-month trial of Constant Contact. Get started today! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Will COVID-19 Impact eCommerce This Holiday Season? (3 Predictions)

The post How Will COVID-19 Impact eCommerce This Holiday Season? (3 Predictions) appeared first on HostGator Blog. Retailers know that winter holiday gift shopping is what keeps the industry going, and until this year, holiday sales figures were on a roll, steadily climbing year after year.  Now, though, many consumers say they’re not sure if they’ll spend as much in 2020 as in years past. Some are already committed to spending less. And many say they’ve made big changes in how they plan to shop for holiday gifts this year. Here’s what small online retailers need to know now about consumers’ holiday 2020 spending plans, popular gift categories and potential changes to major sales days. Use this info to plan your holiday season marketing, product selection, pricing, and promotions. eCommerce looks different this year. Ordinarily, the holiday season is the big event retailers spend all year preparing for. The sheer volume of site traffic, orders, and fulfillment requests pushes many sellers to their limit. Think of it as the big marathon you’ve been training for. But things are different now. What’s changing? With many stores closed and people sheltering at home, everyday eCommerce volume is way, way up over previous years. Every day in April, for example, eCommerce sites overall had more traffic than they did on Black Friday 2019, the most popular shopping day of the holiday season. That’s like running a marathon a day since shutdowns began. What do the changes mean? Does this mean your holiday season will be even bigger than in a regular year? Or will consumers tap out their budgets before the holidays? No one’s really sure yet, because factors like pent-up demand from consumers who’ve so far escaped financial damage may drive holiday sales.  However, it’s a safe bet that if your customers are already price-sensitive, they will be even more so this winter. In early 2020, 42% of consumers said they made their 2019 online purchases based on price, and 24% said they never paid full price online. That survey was taken when unemployment was at a 50-year low. Now, it’s close to 11%.  What you can do now Review your metrics to see if  Your bestsellers have changed from more to less expensive items.Your discount offers are getting more conversions than during the same time last year.The price points on your customers’ most recent wishlist items have dropped. This data can show you if your customers are scaling back their spending and searching for more deals. If so, they’ll probably expect great deals and the lowest possible prices during the holidays.  Focus on products that fit your customers’ price range and wishlist trends. And start planning your discount offers, free shipping, and other promotions to keep your holiday shoppers happy. The holiday sales calendar might get weird. In previous years, more than a third of consumers started their holiday gift-buying before November. But the long weekend that includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday accounted for a huge proportion of eCommerce and retail sales. This graph from the 2019 National Retail Federation holiday consumer survey shows how things usually go: What’s changing? In-store Black Friday sales almost certainly won’t be anything like the crowded events of yesteryear. Macy’s, and presumably other retailers, are looking at buy-online, pickup-curbside options to reduce in-store crowding, and more shoppers may stick to buying online instead of returning to physical stores. That could mean even more website traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The biggest unknown right now is when Amazon Prime Day will happen. From 2015 until last July, Prime Day was the biggest online shopping event of the summer, racking up more than $7 billion in sales in 2019. This year, the eCommerce giant has postponed Prime Day until the fall, possibly in early October.  What do the changes mean? What happens when you move a $7 billion, single-retailer sales event to the month before Black Friday? No one can say for sure, but if shoppers grab holiday gifts then, they may spend less on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What you can do now Watch for Amazon’s announcement of its 2020 Prime Day date. Start thinking about promotions you could run at the same time as Prime Day, to encourage your customers to stick with you.  If you’re not already offering your products on Amazon as well as your own website, consider getting started so you can get in on the Prime Day frenzy, whenever it happens. And now’s a good time to make sure your hosting plan can scale up to accommodate any surges in traffic this holiday season. Bestselling product categories may change this year. Some of the products that seem to always make the top 10 list for holiday gift-giving may not do as well this year. Consider this list from the NRF 2019 holiday consumer survey: Clothing may still do well because of seasonal shifts and holiday traditions. Now more than ever, we need matching flannel pajamas for lounging at home in style, for example. Books and media, toys and food all seem like safe, comforting bets for holiday gifting. What’s changing? Jewelry sales haven’t fared well since the start of the pandemic, with retailers ranging from Kay to Tiffany reporting big sales drops. It’s unclear whether shoppers will shift gears and treat their loved ones to jewelry during the holidays. Demand for cash has been dropping, too, since the CDC recommended that retail workers avoid handling it.  What do the changes mean? To avoid gifting cash, shoppers may buy more gift cards this holiday season. Gift cards are already gaining popularity with shoppers looking to support their favorite local businesses. Google has even added a way for shoppers to buy gift cards from retailers’ Google My Business profiles. As for jewelry, sales aren’t down in all markets. Chinese shoppers are the bright spot for jewelry and other luxury brands right now, according to CNN Business, as their economy starts to recover from the initial impact of the pandemic. What you can do now Keep tabs on sales trends for each of your product categories as the holidays approach. Think about discounts and promotions that could boost slower-selling items you have in-stock. Offer gift cards and plan gift card promotions for the holidays.  If your store offers products that are selling slowly at home but faster abroad, you may want to start selling across borders to boost your revenue. International marketplaces can be an easy tool for  building a customer base overseas. What else do consumers expect when they shop for the holidays? Online stores that load fast, don’t crash and protect their data. If you need to upgrade your hosting plan, now’s the time. Get started with HostGator today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create an eCommerce Subscription Business [4-Step Guide]

The post How to Create an eCommerce Subscription Business [4-Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Did you know the eCommerce market is growing by more than 100% a year, and that subscription-based services are increasing at unprecedented rates? Data shows that by 2023 as many as 75% of direct-to-consumer brands will offer subscriptions. The subscription-based business model is booming right now, and consumers are responding positively, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.  Research shows that approximately 20% of consumers purchased subscription services during the pandemic, so they wouldn’t risk running out of specific products. If you are a current store owner that wants to add subscription options for your products, or if you’re going to start a subscription business from scratch, now is the perfect time to get started. This post will cover everything you need to know to create an eCommerce subscription business. Step 1: Source and package products You know what you want to sell online, but how do you get started? The first step is finding out where you’ll source your products and how you will package them. Let’s cover how this works. Where can you source products? There are three main ways people source products to sell online, including: DIY creationWorking with a manufacturerDropshipping DIY product creation If you are creating your own products, bravo! It takes a lot of talent to make your own products, physical or digital, and bring them to the market.  While it may be a lot of initial work to get your handmade product off the ground, the benefits are robust. You will have full control over the quality of your products, your startup costs will be low, and you can scale your business at your own pace. Working with a manufacturer When you are ready to scale your business, or if you want to hire someone to create your products, you’ll need to get in contact with a manufacturer.  The best way to start is to research manufacturers online and see what options you have. You can also ask a trusted friend in the industry for recommendations. Once you have narrowed your list down to three or four contenders, start doing your research. Compare how much it will cost to use the different manufacturers, look at their previous work, ask them about successes and failures, and make sure they have legal and ethical business practices. Drop shipping If you build an impressive online following, you may not even need to create your own products. You may be able to make money by purchasing relevant products from another vendor and selling them in your online store. With drop shipping, you make the sale, and the other vendor takes care of inventory, packaging, and fulfillment. If you grow a successful blog or website and work to increase your traffic, drop shipping is a stellar option. How do you handle product packaging? Once you have product creation settled, it’s time to determine how you will package your products.  With the rise of the unboxing experience on social media, it’s critical to put thought and attention into your packaging. Here are some things to consider: Hire a product marketer to give you insights into how to best package your products.Your product packaging is the equivalent of a customer walking into your store for the first time, so invest in making a good first impression.Use your product packaging as another branding opportunity by placing your logo and website on the box.Take necessary precautions to protect your products, including using bubble wrap, looking into dry ice packs, shrink wrapping your products, or anything else that helps you protect your merchandise.Encourage additional purchases by including a coupon code in the box. For more information on product packaging, check out this guide.  Step 2: Build your online store Now that you have solidified your product sourcing and packaging, you’re officially ready to build your online store. Hopefully, you already have a website. If not, don’t worry. With HostGator’s WordPress hosting, it’s easy to get a WordPress website set up and running in less than a day.  All you have to do is choose a web hosting package, install WordPress, and choose a WordPress theme to customize. For more info, read our step-by-step guide to setting up your WordPress site. If you already have a WordPress website up and running, it’s easy to add an online store. Not to mention, you have several awesome options. Here are some of the best WordPress plugins for building an eCommerce store. WooCommerce – WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce platform built specifically for WordPress. With WooCommerce you can set up your online store without having to know one line of code. It also allows you to sell affiliate products, offer digital and physical products, and capture recurring payments with WooCommerce subscriptions. Subscriptio – Subscriptio is a stellar WooCommerce extension that helps you sell subscriptions on your website. This extension adds the capability to accept recurring payments on WooCommerce sites. If you’re looking to sell something like a magazine subscription, online subscription, or a subscription box, checkout Subscriptio.WebToffee – WebToffee is another great option for adding a subscription payment option to your WooCommerce site. With WebToffee, you can create simple and variable subscriptions, offer a free trial, and provide recurring discounts. WebToffee also supports synchronization. WebToffee is a paid plugin, but the extra functionality may be worth it if you’re serious about setting up and scaling your online subscription store. It’s worth it to look into each of these WordPress plugins to determine which one is right for you. They all are easy to use, have multiple features, and will help you set up your online store. What you end up choosing will largely depend on your preferences. How to install a WordPress plugin Now that you know about the top WordPress plugins, let’s quickly review how to install and activate a plugin in WordPress. Here are the steps you need to follow: Login to your WordPress site.Turn your attention to the navigation bar on the left side of the dashboard screen.Click on “Plugins.”Click on “Add new.”Search for the name of the plugin in the keyword box.Press “Install Now.”Click on “Activate,” which will send you back to the plugin page.Find the Shopify plugin and click on “Settings.”From here, Shopify will guide you through the steps of setting up your account. After installing your favorite respective eCommerce plugin, you can follow the steps and start adding your subscription products to your store.  Step 3: Set your prices Before you finalize your store, you’ll need to decide on a pricing model. With an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce, you can price your subscriptions in different ways. Here are some options. Sell individual products that you deliver regularly Selling single products as part of a subscription service is a solid way to ensure repeat business and customer happiness. You are offering an unlimited supply of products your subscribers love, and you can count on repeat revenue every month. Double win. If you sell a perishable product (e.g., dog food, make-up, toilet paper, cookies, etc.), this model is an excellent choice. Madison Reed is a great example of a company that uses this model. Madison Reed guides customers through a series of questions and comes up with the perfect hair color product, based on the answers. Of course, Madison Reed allows the customer to make desired changes, but the questions are a great way to provide guidance and lead customers down the sales funnel. Once a customer decides on a hair color kit, they can sign up for a subscription, so they never run out of hair color. What’s particularly cool about the Madison Reed subscription model is they allow customers to choose how often the recurring deliveries happen. Since hair grows at different rates, this is an excellent way to keep control in the hands of the consumer and avoid cancellations. Offer a subscription option Another option you have for your eCommerce store is to offer one-off products with a subscription option.  In other words, a customer might come to your website to buy one of your homemade cookies, but why not include a pricing option where they can opt to get cookies from you every week via a subscription. To incentivize customers to subscribe, you can offer a slight discount for subscribing. At first glance, it may seem that offering a discounted price for something customers intend to buy often would result in lower sales. However, research shows the opposite. Stats show that subscription businesses increased revenues nearly 5 times faster than S&P 500 company revenues and U.S. retail sales. Additionally, 61% of SMBs report more than half of their revenue comes from repeat business.  If you’re planning on offering one product, take the time to add a subscription option as well. It will pay off in the end. Sell a subscription box It seems like there is a subscription box for everything these days. Books. Dog food. Makeup. Even skulls — seriously, check it out: And, it’s with good reason. Not only are subscription boxes a surefire way to boost revenues and encourage repeat business, but they are also a killer social proof marketing tool. I mentioned the “unboxing phenomenon” earlier. As a quick overview, unboxing is when a social influencer gets a subscription box, and opens it in front of all their subscribers.  As of 2015, 35.3% of consumers had seen an unboxing video. In 2017, this number increased to 36.8%, according to Dotcom Distribution, and there are little signs of this trend slowing down. Providing awesome products in beautiful packages via a subscription model is a great way to capture sales and increase brand awareness. Bundle your subscriptions Let’s say you offer multiple individual subscriptions. Another fun pricing model is to offer a discount when someone bundles their subscription. This model encourages more purchases and boosts your sales. The best example I can think of for subscription bundles is streaming services. For example, you can subscribe individually to Disney+, and Hulu, and ESPN+, or you can pay $12.99 a month for all three of these services in a bundle. Step 4: Set up shipping The last step in the process is setting up shipping. If you offer digital products, then all you have to do is provide a download after customers pay. Every eCommerce platform makes the delivery of digital assets easy. For shipping physical products, you have more factors to consider. You’ll need to investigate the following: Whether or not you want to handle shippingWhat shipping carrier works best for youHow much you want to charge for shippingWhether or not you want your eCommerce platform to handle shipping for you If you have a small brand, you may be able to handle shipping yourself. But, it’s also critical to be wary of this option. If you start to get more sales or become an overnight success, running to the post office with orders will quickly get overwhelming. It makes sense to look into a shipping service connected to your eCommerce platform (e.g. WooCommerce Shipping). Using an eCommerce service is an easy way to create shipping labels right from the comfort of your own home. It’s Time to Start Your eCommerce Subscription Business Setting up an eCommerce subscription store is an awesome way to grow your business. The subscription model is exciting, customers love subscriptions, and it helps ensure steady revenue. With HostGator, it’s easy to set up a WordPress site, and quickly install an eCommerce subscription plugin.  To get your store up and running, you don’t have to know a single line of code. You can follow the intuitive instructions in WordPress and in your eCommerce plugin and have your website up in no time. Visit the HostGator website today to get started. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name For Your Business

The post How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name For Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. Choose A Domain Name for Your Business Choosing the right domain name for your business is a big decision. Your domain name is more than the words you type into the browser, it’s the foundation for your online identity. Choose the wrong domain name and you’ll end up doing your business a disservice. But, choose the right domain name and you’ll make your online success that much easier. But, how exactly do you choose a good domain name for your blog or business? We’ve got you covered. Below you’ll learn how to choose a domain name for your business, and the most important factors in getting your domain name right 1. Go with “.com” When it comes to choosing your domain extension you’re going to have a lot of different options available. It can be tempting to go with a TLD that’s innovative and creative. However, if you can it’s always a good idea to go with .com. The .com TLD is by far the most commonly used and recognized TLD. So, people already have a built-in association with .com being the primary TLD. You can use this to your advantage and build a higher-quality brand by choosing .com You can also think of it this way. If your website does become very successful and you decided to start with something like .co, then you’d probably need to eventually purchase the .com too 2. Scoop up other domain extensions, too When you register your .com domain name, pick up top-level domain variations like .biz and .net if you can. Redirect them to your .com site so visitors who type in the wrong domain will still find your site. For example, sephora.biz, sephora.net and sephora.info all take you straight to Sephora.com. As the number of domain registrations continues to increase, good names are becoming more and more competitive.  For this reason, it’s possible to have a competitor snatch up the “.net” or “.biz” version of your URL – even if you’ve secured the “.com” version. Because this can lead to lost traffic – especially if your competitors wind up outranking you in the search engine results pages – consider buying up popular TLDs (top-level domains) for your chosen domain, if they’re available. 3. Keep it short When in doubt, make your domain as short as possible. This will help with making your brand more memorable. The fewer characters your domain has the easier it’ll be to type, say, and share with friends. Now it might be hard to find a single word domain that’s related to your business, especially today. However, consider combining two or three shorter words together to make something memorable. Plus, since more internet users today use their smartphones to browse the web, you need to make it easy for them to type your domain into their browser 4. Avoid “cutesy” names and abbreviations Don’t use cute shorteners like 4U and 2U in your domain names because: They’re hard to remember. They look unprofessional.Only Prince could get away with that, and 4 real UR not Prince. If you think people might have trouble remembering long URLs, know that they’ll have a field day trying to remember your text-speak domain name!  Steer clear and look for alternative domain names that convey your company’s brand messaging without resorting to tricks like these. 5. Don’t make it awkward Domain names don’t include spaces, and using hyphens in domain names is a terrible idea, so whatever you choose shouldn’t look awkward written as one word.  To see what we mean, consider the real-life URLs for the following legitimate company names: Pen Island – “www.penisland.net”IT Scrap – “www.itscrap.com”Who Represents – “www.whorepresents.com”Experts Exchange – “www.expertsexchange.com”Speed of Art – “www.speedofart.com” Clearly, carefully reviewing your final selection before hitting the “Register” button is always a good idea! 6. Make it brandable Brandable means that when you see or hear your domain it sounds like a brand. By looking at your domain name your visitors should be able to intuit what your website is going to be about. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to spell out exactly what your business does with a list of keywords but instead try to capture the essence of what you do. When a customer sees a name like billreducer.com, they have one expectation in mind: this website is going to help me save money by reducing my bills in some way. Choose a name that is going to let customers know what they are in for from the moment they read it. Your site should deliver what it says on the label, and your domain name is the label. For example, if you sell pet supplies in Tulsa, www.tulsapetsupplies.com makes that clear to visitors in a way that, say, www.treatsandtoys.com does not. Don’t make it confusing for your visitors to figure out what your business does. Say it all with a great domain name. 7. Choose a domain that’s easy to remember Customers will find your website URL on flyers, newsletters, search queries, and other websites so making the address stick is key. Memorable domain names are often short, clever, and avoid trendy humor, hyphens or numbers. The longer or more complicated the domain name, the less likely it is to stick. A good rule of thumb is if you saw the domain name on a delivery-truck sign, could you remember it later? Think obvious, catchy, unique, and memorable. Do a quick analysis of your favorite domain names and see what makes them stand out, and incorporate those elements you like into your own business domain name. 8. Stay clear of copyright issues If you’re pretty much settled on a domain name, then you need to spend some time looking into the past of your domain. Ask yourself the following questions: Have there been any associated domain names that have a negative public opinion?Does your domain name contain any words that have a double meaning?Are there any existing trademark issues with the words used in your domain? The last thing you want is to find and register the perfect domain name, only to realize that your domain is creating brand confusion, or that you’re accidentally stepping on someone’s trademark. Double-check social media, too. You want to make sure any relevant social media handles are still available. This will help you build brand consistency and make it that much easier for your visitors to find your business on social media. 9. Unlock the power of keywords Internet search is based on a framework of keywords and phrases when indexing addresses and sites, so why not take advantage of this when choosing your domain name? Brainstorm keywords related to your organization and use these in shaping your chosen name. For example, your butcher’s shop might name meat, butcher, smoked, cured, savory, friendly, and service as descriptive keywords for your business. An appropriate name might then be SavoryService.com or TheSmilingButcher.com. Either domain respects the fact that search engines work off of such keywords when indexing and fetching information for users, while providing a description of what customers can expect in the process. What keywords do people use to search for businesses like yours? Use them in your domain name if you can. 10. Protect your privacy When you register your domain, the rules of the internet require that you give your real namehome or business addressemail address phone number Anyone online can find that information through the global WHOIS database. When you can register a domain, your information becomes public knowledge and anyone can do a domain lookup to see who owns the domain. Don’t want randos looking up your contact info? Sign up for HostGator’s WHOIS privacy service when you register. We’ll replace your private information with ours. Ready to register? It only takes one click to check if your dream domain name is available. Once you’ve found the right name and made sure it’s available, it takes just a few minutes to buy and register it.  Check now to see if your domain name is available today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Reasons Why You Should Choose WordPress For Your Website

The post 7 Reasons Why You Should Choose WordPress For Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog. Why Choose WordPress for Your Website? Have you ever wanted to start a side business but hesitated because you knew you’d need a website? Or missed out on customers because your small business doesn’t have a site yet? If you’re not a tech-minded person, setting up a site can seen confusing and time-consuming if you do it yourself–or expensive if you hire someone else to do it. Those worries are understandable. However, it’s 2018. A website is a must if you want to reach your target market, and setting up a website is a lot easier than you may realize, especially if you use WordPress to set it up.  What Exactly Is WordPress? WordPress is a content management system (CMS), which means it’s designed to help you organize and display the content on your site. What counts as content? Everything that appears on your site, from the header with your business name to your contact information to your blog posts and tutorial videos. If it’s on your site, it’s content. (A note about WordPress.com versus WordPress.org, because you’ll see both online: WordPress.org offers the free CMS we’re talking about. WordPress.com offers a free, WordPress-CMS-powered platform for non-commercial blogs which can’t be customized with plugins or custom themes. If you’re running a business, WordPress.com is not a workable option.) 7 Reasons to Choose WordPress for Your Business Website It may help to think of your website as an empty retail space. Your CMS is the shelving and racks you set up to make sure the contents of your store are organized logically, easy to reach, and displayed attractively. When you’re choosing a CMS, just as when you pick out store fixtures, you have lots of options—and they’re not all equal in terms of cost, function, and aesthetics. Here’s why WordPress is the busy, non-techie, small-business owner’s friend. 1. WordPress is free. Free is good when you’re operating on a small-business budget. You’ll still have to pay for web hosting, and you may want to buy a theme instead of using a free one to change the way your site looks (more about that in a moment), but the WordPress CMS costs nothing to download. 2. WordPress is easy to use. WordPress prides itself on its five-minute installation and support guides to walk you through the process. I’m not a technical savant but I’ve set up several WordPress sites, and it really is that easy to get a basic site running and looking respectable. Doing something complex may require some reading and conversations in the support forums, but for most new site owners, going from zero to website in a few minutes is more than enough. The topic of support forums brings us to the next thing WordPress has going for it. 3. WordPress has a vast support community. Thirty percent of all websites run on WordPress, and it has a 60% share of the CMS market. The number of people using WordPress means that if you have a problem or a question, odds are there’s an answer waiting for you in one of the WordPress support or developer forums. It also means that if you ever want to outsource your site maintenance, content, or design, there are plenty of developers, writers, editors, and designers who know how your site’s CMS works. 4. It’s easy to make your WordPress site look unique. Because WordPress’s code is open source, hobby and professional developers are always finding ways to improve it. There are thousands of free and paid themes you can choose from to make your site look the way you want it to. Think of your theme as similar to the interior decor of a brick-and-mortar store. Your theme will take care of your virtual color scheme, signage, and the details of your site layout. You can search by keyword to find themes that fit your business best, and if you ever get tired of your theme, it’s usually pretty easy to switch to a new theme, although there are some steps you’ll want to take first to keep your site working the way you want after the switch. 5. Create your dream functionality with WordPress plugins. Once you’ve chosen a web host and a theme and set up your basic site, there are thousands of plugins you can use to make the site work exactly the way you want it to. Whether you want it to load faster, backup automatically, or optimize your blog posts for search results, there’s a plugin (or five) for that. And because WordPress supports multimedia content, you’re not limited to blog posts and photos. You can embed videos, podcasts, and slideshows on your site with the right plugins. 6. WordPress takes security seriously. WordPress also makes it easy to keep your site’s software up to date, which is critical to keeping hackers and data thieves out of your site. Some WordPress software updates are automatic, to prevent security vulnerabilities, and you can choose whether you want your plugins to update automatically or whether you’ll handle those updates yourself. To update plugins and themes, all you have to do is click the checkboxes next to the items you want to update and then hit the update button. The trick is remembering to check for updates, which is why the auto-update option is so useful. 7. WordPress plays well with others. Even the coolest looking website needs to interact seamlessly with other platforms and with people, so you can get found and make sales. First, getting found: WordPress is structured to be easy for search engine crawlers to navigate, which means your site will perform better in search results, especially if you add an SEO plugin like Yoast. WordPress also plays well with Google’s new criteria for mobile-friendly websites. You can make your site easier for mobile users to navigate by choosing a mobile-optimized or responsive theme from the start, or by installing a plugin to make your site work better on mobile devices. As for making sales, if you intend to sell directly from your site, WordPress plugin Woo Commerce makes it easy to sell products, digital downloads, subscriptions, and membership access to your site. And if you ever want to change web hosting services, you can migrate your entire WordPress site to a new host easily, with fewer steps and in less time than it would take you to migrate a free site builder-hosted site. WordPress: The Right Choice for Your Website The bottom line is that if you want a site that looks professional, gets results, and is easy to set up and maintain, WordPress is almost always going to be your best bet, especially if you’re not code-savvy and want to get on with running your business. Have more questions about how to install and use WordPress? We’ve got answers. Ready to get started with WordPress? See why customers trust HostGator’s WordPress hosting. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Web Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting

The post Web Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting appeared first on HostGator Blog. Web hosting is an absolutely critical aspect of any online business. Without the proper hosting plan, you won’t have a website, it’s as simple as that. However, choosing the right kind of web hosting package for your needs is another thing entirely. There are a variety of hosting options you’ll come across. The most common being basic shared hosting, VPS, WordPress hosting, and dedicated servers. To keep things simple we’re going to look at two of the most commonly used hosting providers and options for websites that utilize the WordPress CMS. Below we dive deeper into the world of web hosting as we compare WordPress hosting vs. web hosting with shared hosting services. What is WordPress Hosting? WordPress hosting is a hosting environment that’s specifically designed to cater to WordPress websites. Think of this web host as wearing a well-tailored suit, custom fitted to your body. WordPress hosting is tailor-made to work with WordPress sites. Here are some of the WordPress hosting advantages: • It’s incredibly fast. Every aspect of the server has been tweaked to cater to WordPress’s setup and enable quick loading times. This level of hosting can often drop page loading speed and response time by a second or more. • It’s much more secure. This kind of web hosting service offers increased security protocols and more individualized attention. Plus, if you do get hacked you’ll have a support team who has experience with WordPress-specific attacks. • Your server is always up to date. The team who manages your hosting will always ensure the server is running the latest software, so your site will perform as efficiently as possible. Their goal is to keep you, and your website, happy. • Dedicated customer support. The support teams who run managed WordPress hosting accounts are generally WordPress experts. They offer support, troubleshooting and hosting problem solutions whenever needed.  • Increased uptime. Since your site will be sharing resources with less websites, and in some cases, none, your site is able to use a greater portion of the server resources. Are There Any Drawbacks? Since WordPress hosting is a more customized hosting solution, there are a few drawbacks that come with the upgraded service. For instance, the costs for this kind of web hosting are generally higher because of how customized it is.  In addition, there are also limitations on the amount of customization you can do across your site. Some WordPress hosts won’t allow your site to use certain plugins. So, if your site requires certain plugins to function, and those plugins are on the host’s restricted list, you may need to find another hosting option. (HostGator customers on our managed WordPress plan can find the full list of disallowed plugins here.) Lastly, you can only run a WordPress blog on WordPress hosting. Any other kinds of CMSs aren’t allowed. Why Would I Use Shared Web Hosting? The advantages of shared hosting can be great if you’re just getting started with building a website and are unsure if you want to commit all the way or not. However, if you’re looking to grow your website and are expecting to receive a very large amount of traffic, then you may want to consider upgrading to something more reliable than shared hosting.  For context, when you use a shared hosting option your website is put on a server with hundreds, and sometimes thousands of others. You have no idea who these other websites are, and whether or not they have proper security measures in place, or if they are using a properly coded theme. The resources on the shared server will get divided between every website using the server. This means that if a different website on the server experiences a large surge in traffic from a post going viral, then your site may load slowly as a result. You can definitely use WordPress on our shared hosting plan, but you will be responsible for a little more management of the environment than you would if you choose our optimized WordPress hosting package. There’s no “right” hosting choice for every kind of business out there. But, if you can afford the additional costs of WordPress managed hosting, and have plans to grow your website in the future, then utilizing the hosting services of managed WordPress hosting is generally the way to go. If you’re unsure about the higher price point, then stick with the basic shared web hosting, you can always upgrade in time, as your site grows! What kind of hosting do you prefer for your website? Please share in the comments below. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Smart WordPress Tools for Modern Bloggers on the Go

The post 5 Smart WordPress Tools for Modern Bloggers on the Go appeared first on HostGator Blog. Blogging is the worst, right? You have to sit down at your computer for hours, figure out how WordPress works, and clack away at the keyboard until your wrists hurt. Whoa! Wait a minute. If this is your experience with blogging in the year 2020, then you’re doing it wrong. WordPress has come a long way over the years in terms of updates. Today, creating a blog post is as easy as talking. And, talk-to-text via the WordPress mobile app is not the only smart WordPress tool. With the help of the sophisticated, yet uncomplicated, WordPress interface and other neat WordPress plugins, you can add rich media to your blog posts with the click of a button, or two. Let’s talk about how this all works. This post will cover: How to use talk-to-text in the WordPress mobile appHow to use the native functionality in WordPress to upload videosThe most common WordPress plugins for bloggers Let’s get this party started! How to use talk-to-text in the WordPress app One of the best things about WordPress is the ability to compose blog posts on the go using your phone. And, you don’t even have to type one word. You can use the talk-to-text mobile app feature to capture everything you want to say without writing one word. Here’s how to use the talk-to-text feature in the WordPress app. 1. Download the WordPress app. If you don’t already have the WordPress app on your phone, you’ll need to download it to your iOS or Android device. 2. Login to your account. Once you’ve downloaded the app, use the same login credentials to access your account as you would use on your computer. 3. Click the pink icon. Navigate to the home page and click on the pink “create a post or page” icon at the bottom right of the screen. 4. Select blog post. The WordPress app will give you the option to create a blog post or create a page. Choose blog post. 5. Press the microphone. At the bottom right of the screen, you will notice a little microphone. Click this microphone and start talking. Remember to dictate punctuation in your blog posts. 6. Talk. As soon as you press the button, WordPress will start recording your voice and translating what you say into text. If at any time you want to stop and type, you can press the keyboard button. And, that’s it. That’s how you can create a blog post on the go by speaking instead of typing. Keep in mind you can also add images and videos in the mobile app. Just remember to save your images and videos to your device for easy selection. How to add videos to WordPress without a plugin Bloggers are using audio and video content in their posts more than ever. Considering recent stats, it makes sense why video is so popular: 85% of all internet users in the United States watched online video content monthly on any of their devices.54% of consumers want more video content from a brand or business they support.Videos are consumers’ favorite kind of content from a brand on social media. Internet users love blog content, and they want more of it. Thankfully, WordPress has made it easy for bloggers to add videos to blog posts without even needing to download a plugin. Here are the steps you need to take to upload a video right within WordPress. 1. Create a new blog post. Once you are in your WordPress account, direct your attention to the top navigation bar, click on the plus sign, and select “post” from the drop-down menu. 2. Start writing. Once you are on the blog post page, you can start writing your content. 3. Create a video content blog. Once you are ready to insert your video, click on the little plus sign. It will appear to the right or the bottom of your text.  4. Search for video. As soon as you click the plus sign, a box will appear with various content options. Video doesn’t appear first, so to find it faster, I always quickly search “video” in the top bar. 5. Select your file type. Once you select “video,” WordPress will offer three different upload options, including upload, media library, and insert from URL. If your video is on your desktop, choose “upload.” If you have already uploaded your video to your WordPress media library, press “media library.” If your video exists on the web (e.g., YouTube), then click on “insert from URL.” Once you follow the appropriate directions, WordPress will insert your video into the content, and give you the option to write a caption. You can repeat this process anytime you need to insert a video into your content. You don’t need any fancy video plugins to add videos to WordPress. If you want to add audio content to your blog (you do), then you can follow the exact same process, except you select “audio” as your content block, instead of video. Top WordPress plugins for bloggers on the go Now that you know how to dictate your blog posts on the go and how to add video and audio content to your WordPress blog posts, let’s talk about other WordPress blog plugins that will make your blogging life easier. Here is a rundown of the WordPress plugins every blogger should add to their site. 1. Akismet Let’s start this section out with a quick round of Jeopardy.  I’ll take “Bloggers for $500, Alec.”  “The least favorite thing bloggers come in contact with on their sites, and also a slice of questionable canned meat.” “What is spam?” Exactly! Cleaning spam out of your comments section is not only time-consuming, but it’s also annoying.  Akismet is a WordPress plugin that scrolls through all of your comments and checks them for spam. Akismet uses a consistently growing database that removes any malicious, irrelevant, or inappropriate sales comments. And, Akismet does it BEFORE the comments get published on your site. This plugin is essential for helping you save time and keeping your blog credible. 2. Jetpack Jetpack is my personal second favorite WordPress plugin. It has robust functionality and keeps an eye on your account.  Here are the benefits of Jetpack: Site analytics. While it’s true you can (and should) add Google Analytics to your website, Jetpack also does the hard tracking work. Jetpack will tell you how many site visitors you have, and this great analytics information shows up right in your WordPress dashboard. Downtime monitor. Jetpack will send you an email notification every time your site goes down. I cannot tell you how many times this feature has saved my blogging bacon. It will also tell you when your site goes back up. Site speed. Another Jetpack benefit is enhanced site speed. With Jetpack, you can upload high-resolution photos and can count on Jetpack to deliver them to your website visitors at high resolutions with super-fast speeds. Content back up. Jetpack also provides an automatic daily content backup and 30-day archive. This feature puts your mind at ease when it comes to making large website changes. Spam filter and login protection. Akismet is not the only plugin that filters out spam. Jetpack also provides spam filtering as well as login protection. Jetpack offers a free plan that is great for beginners and three other paid plans for bloggers that are interested in more features. 3. Yoast If Jetpack is my second favorite WordPress plugin, guess what my first favorite is? That’s right! Yoast. As you know, growing a successful blog takes more than just excellent writing skills. It also involves learning how to structure and optimize your content in a way that helps search engines read and rank your content. Yoast is a WordPress SEO plugin that walks you through most of the steps you need to take to properly optimize your content for Google. Once you download the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll notice some additional information on the bottom of your new blog posts with the heading “Yoast SEO.” You’ll also see three tabs at the top, including SEO, readability, and social. Let’s talk about how each of these works. SEO The SEO tab prompts you to enter a keyword and write a snippet (meta description) where you include your target keyword. Yoast will also provide you with a quick SEO analysis to see what changes you need to make in your content to make your blog post more search engine friendly.  Some SEO suggestions will include: Inserting outbound links (links to credible websites that aren’t your own)Adding internal links (adding links to other pages on your website)Placing your keyword in your introductionKeeping your meta description within a certain word lengthAdding more text if your post is too shortAnd more! You’ll also notice some premium Yoast features like adding related keyword phrases. Readability The next tab is the readability tab. This tab provides a quick analysis of your text and offers suggestions on what you can do to make your post easier to read.  Here are some things you can expect in the readability analysis: Use of transition wordsFlesch Reading Ease scorePassive voiceVariety in sentencesSubheading distributionParagraph lengthAnd more! Google is more likely to rank your content in the search results if it’s easy to read. If you don’t have Yoast, you can use the Hemingway App to check your readability. Social The last heading in Yoast is the social heading. This section helps you optimize your blog post for social shares.  You can include a title, a description, and an image that will appear on Facebook and Twitter when people share your post. When your social share information matches the platform in question, your content is more likely to get shared. 4. Sumo Sumo for WordPress is another Simply Can’t Live Without It WordPress Tool if you are looking to build an email list. Sumo’s free tool is fairly comprehensive and provides the following lead capture tools: Email opt-in formsFully customizable designSocial media sharingVisitor targetingUnlimited subscribers10,000 emails per monthEmail integrationsAnalytics1-on-1 onboardingAnd several eCommerce tools If email marketing is your main jam, you can opt for the paid pro plan. This plan includes everything in the free plan plus advanced visitor targeting, A/B testing, ability to remove Sumo branding, 50,000 emails per month, eCommerce design templates, and unlimited stats. Remember, email marketing has the highest ROI out of any other digital marketing strategy. Some studies show an email marketing ROI of 4400% or $44 for every $1 spent. The more email subscribers you capture, the higher your chances of a stunning ROI will be. Not only is Sumo a great lead capture tool, but it also helps with social shares. In your Sumo account, you can add a social share bar to your website for free.  Here’s how: Login to your Sumo account and click on “extras” on the top navigation bar.Select “share” from the drop-down menu.You’ll see a navigation bar including clicks, settings, layout, and more.Start by clicking on “settings.”From here, you can choose which social platforms you want to include in your share bar.Continue through the navigational bar menu until you have fully customized your share bar.When you are done with each section, remember to press “save.” Once you are done telling Sumo what you want it to do, go to your WordPress website and refresh the page. You will see a share bar in the place where you indicated you wanted Sumo to add social share buttons. Blogging Can Be Easier on WordPress Blogging is constantly evolving. Every day, there are better platforms, tools, and plugins that make blogging easier.  With all of the current tools on the market, there is no reason to remain loyal to a web hosting platform that is stuck in the dark ages.  Check out WordPress hosting from HostGator where you get free migrations, advanced security, 2.5x the speed, and more. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

6 Reasons Why Video and Audio Content Are Trending Among the Blogging Community

The post 6 Reasons Why Video and Audio Content Are Trending Among the Blogging Community appeared first on HostGator Blog. It’s hard to argue the value of high-quality, written blog content. Text blog content engages readers, helps establish you as an industry leader, and boosts your website in the search results. However, the written word is not an island in the blogging world. Recent trends show that more and more bloggers are taking advantage of other dominant content types, namely, video and audio content. Here are some of the reasons why video and audio content are trending in the blogging community, and why it’s time to look into expanding your content strategy. 1. Video and audio content is easier to create Writing a 1000+ word blog post can feel like pulling teeth, especially if writing isn’t your passion. Creating a video or audio track, on the other hand, is as easy as pulling out your smartphone and pressing “record.”   Not to mention, with several smart WordPress blogging plugins, it’s easier now more than ever to post your video or audio content on your blog without any hassle. Here are some stellar video embed WordPress plugins you can check out: YouTube EmbedVideo Gallery WordPress PluginVideo ThumbnailsResponsive Video Embeds And, here are the top WordPress audio players and podcasting plugins: Compact WP Audio PlayerBlubrry PowerPressSeriously Simple PodcastingAudio Igniter 2. Video and audio content engage your audience for longer Guess what the average time a visitor spends reading a blog post? Thirty-seven seconds, according to NewsCred. While 77% of internet users regularly read blog posts, readers consume text as quickly as possible. Stats show the opposite for video content. Users spend 88% more time on a site that contains videos, and videos that are up to 2 minutes get the most significant engagement. But, time spent watching videos on blog posts and websites is not the only metric for engagement success.  Research also shows that sites with videos receive more social shares than sites with only text and video. In fact, video content generates 1200% more shares than images and text combined. The more people share your content, the higher your chances of bringing in new readers and blog subscribers — and even more people to share your content! What about audio content?  Can audio content boost time on site? According to Edison Research, most podcast listeners listen to content via a mobile device, but not all. As of 2018, 29% of podcast listeners still consumed audio content via their computers. Even if your audience is listening via Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, there is still a case for including audio content directly in your blog posts. According to Optinmonster, audio content in blog posts also helped 45% of bloggers achieve better results. 3. Video and audio content increase inbound linking opportunities Stats show that blog posts that incorporate video attract 3x as many inbound links as posts without video. Backlinks are very important for SEO. Additionally, Search Engine Land touts creating audio content as a “brilliant way to build backlinks” and referral traffic to your website. Why should bloggers even care about inbound links? Inbound links show search engines that your blog content is relevant, trustworthy, and credible enough that other authoritative blogs want to link to your content. That’s one of the most powerful Google ranking factors. While we are talking about inbound linking opportunities for your blog, it’s worth mentioning that posts with videos, images, and lists will attract nearly six times more inbound links than a blog post with only plain text. And, it can’t hurt to add the audio version of your content into the mix. Ready to boost your blog video views? Read this to learn how to optimize your videos for SEO 4. Video content increases sales opportunities Here’s the deal. Every time my children watch Kid’s YouTube, they start asking me to keep certain toys in mind for their birthday. Every time.  Before watching YouTuber videos, my kids had no idea they absolutely had to have the latest and greatest from Ryan’s Toy Review. As much as the frugal part of myself would like to deny it, I’m guilty of this too. I can’t tell you how many products I’ve purchased after watching a video. Unintentional mobile shopping after watching a video is not a trend in my family alone. Stats show that consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video about it.  Additionally, video content boosts buyer’s confidence. Fifty-seven percent of consumers say watching a product video makes them more confident in buying it online. 5. Video content is preferred and more memorable Audience preference is another one of the reasons there has been a shift from text to video and recently. Seventy-two percent of readers on the internet would rather watch videos than read text if given both options. This goes for product videos as well, considering four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than to read about it, according to Animoto. And, it makes sense why. Video content is more vibrant and memorable than text. Stats show that people that watch videos retain 95% of the message as compared to 10% of people reading a text.  6. Video and audio content is accessible  As audiences become more accommodating to people of all abilities, accessibility of content remains at the top of the mind.  Plugins like WP Accessibility, WP Accessibility Helper, and EsAudioPlayer are being utilized more, making it possible for a broader audience to consume your valuable blog content, whether it’s text, video, or audio. These plugins make it possible to easily add closed captions to your videos. Wrap Up Text blog posts will always remain a valuable part of your blogging strategy, but there is a reason why bloggers are incorporating more video and audio. It’s easier to create video and audio content, and these types of content will enhance your blog posts. You also have more opportunities to connect with your audience in various and meaningful ways when you offer more ways to digest content. If you’re looking to start or revamp your blog, check out HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Blogging Best Practices to Follow

The post 7 Blogging Best Practices to Follow appeared first on HostGator Blog. Blogging is more than just writing a few words and posting them to your website.  In practice, blogging centers around capturing the attention of your visitors through storytelling. Your stories may highlight the latest industry trends or your upcoming product launch.  Bloggers also must consider the content layout and image selection along with search engine optimization techniques. That way, you can engage visitors and continue to boost traffic. Here are seven blogging best practices to keep in mind when starting your blog. 1. Craft concise paragraphs Most visitors don’t read web pages like they read a novel or magazine. Instead, when visitors land on your site, they probably scan through it—looking for answers to their specific questions. Plus, they simply don’t have the time to read every single word. When creating your blog posts, you’ll want to use concise paragraphs and avoid big blocks of texts. Copywriter Henneke Duistermaat offers more advice:  “You [can] eliminate excess words to create an enjoyable rhythm and a pleasurable reader experience. You allow your readers to dance through your content, feeling light and airy. You communicate your message with more clarity and strength.” Another good tip is to use bullet points to emphasize your key points. You also can try limiting your sentences to 20-25 words for quick scanning.  2. Use relevant keywords Keyword research is most effective when you understand your target audience and know how they are searching for your content. For instance, long-tail keyword searches have a click-through rate of 3% to 5% higher than generic searches. Relevant keywords may include industry topics, customer questions, or even a unique aspect of your products. When uncovering new keywords, you will notice that search volume varies greatly. In some cases, you’ll want to focus on target keywords with a low search volume because they are less competitive. A wide variety of tools exist to help you with keyword research. Check out this list to strengthen your SEO strategy.  3. Reduce the size of your images Images act as a support aid to give context to your words. Infographics can explain complex concepts, and photos can humanize your content beyond the random stock images.  However, more images can cause your website to load slower. Somesh Khatkar, the co-founder of Imagekit, writes: “If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, users are more likely to abandon it, which will drastically increase your bounce rate, and eventually affect your conversions.” Image optimization is the process of decreasing the image file size without losing its quality.  When you reduce the size, your visitors get the content they want faster. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to compress your images and maintain the same level of quality. Try TinyPNG to compress PNG and JPEG images or the open-source app ImageOptim. 4. Add meta descriptions for each blog post A meta description is an HTML element that summarizes the content of a specific webpage. It appears in the search engine results along with the title of the page. Visitors use these summaries to help them find relevant information. So much so that 43% of people click on a given result, solely based on the meta description. That’s why it’s important to create a meta description that piques the interest of potential visitors.  Your meta description should include relevant keywords while communicating the benefits of visiting the page. Give visitors a brief insight into what they will learn. In the example below, the meta description highlights why blue flowers are fantastic and the best conditions for planting them.  Pro Tip: eep your meta descriptions concise. Experts recommend a length between 50-160 characters.   5. Add internal and external hyperlinks throughout your blog Internal and external links play an integral role in your blog’s SEO strategy. When they’re relevant to your content, these links can improve your website’s visibility and rankings on search engines.  Internal links direct your visitors to targeted pages on your site; on the other hand, external links lead visitors to other websites. For your external links, choose authoritative sites with trustworthy material. Kali Bizzul, a senior marketing manager at Verblio, says: “Your willingness to include valuable external links demonstrates that you care about your readers. Instead of wanting to greedily hold onto every second of their attention, you provide them with the resources they really want and need to fully explore the topic.” You’ll also want to include clear and specific anchor text to the linking page to ensure visitors don’t get confused when they land on the next page. 6. Publish new blog posts consistently Blogging is often referred to as a marathon because it takes consistent publishing to earn more traffic. Companies that publish more than 16 blog posts per month get nearly 3.5 times more organic traffic than those that publish 0-4 monthly. To make blogging a habit, you’ll want to map out how long it takes you to create a blog post. For example, if it takes you 15 days, you can designate specific days to do keyword research, write the post, and source images. This strategy helps you avoid the rush to develop a quality post in a few days.  If possible, you also may want to hire a freelancer to help you with the blogging process. Maybe the freelancer can focus on the SEO part, while you concentrate on the writing. 7. Promote your blog content Oftentimes, bloggers publish amazing content and forget the importance of promoting it. Without an effective content distribution strategy, you’ll lose the opportunity to attract interested visitors to your website.  Spread the word by sharing new posts with subscribers on your email list. Or you can use social media to promote your content. Will Blunt, the founder of Blogger Sidekick, provides a few tips: “Social platforms are crowded, so there’s no guarantee interested people will see and share your content. To improve your content’s visibility, target interested people directly. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find social media users who share content like yours.” There’s also the option to share blog post links to members of a Slack or Facebook group. Just make sure content promotion is part of the group’s guidelines. Cultivate Your Blogging Best Practices Blogging is an ongoing adventure to grab your audience’s attention. From using relevant keywords to publishing on a consistent basis, you can earn more organic traffic for your website.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What to Know Before You Upgrade PHP on Your Website

The post What to Know Before You Upgrade PHP on Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog. This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website. PHP released a new version recently, and you may be wondering if you should upgrade your website now. In fact, you may have questions about how to upgrade and even why it matters.  Before you make any changes to your site, check out our answers to the most common questions we get about PHP upgrades. You’ll find the info you need to help you decide whether you should upgrade, how to upgrade safely and why it’s important. What exactly is PHP? PHP is a hypertext processor that’s used with HTML to create scripts for websites. When you visit a website, your browser sends the site a request, and PHP scripts compile the HTML packets to send them back to the browser.  PHP is used by 79% of websites whose server-side language is identified. It’s also one of the best maintained languages, because new updates and new features are constantly being pushed out. Version changes happen about once every year. That brings up the question, what do you need to do to ensure that the new updates are right for your website? How do I know which version of PHP my site is or should be running? If you’re a HostGator customer, you’ll find a MultiPHP Manager tool in your cPanel. This allows you to see what versions of PHP you can use.  You can also create a phpinfo file in your site’s file manager and use that to display your version of PHP. For example, let’s say you name your file phpinfo.php. Then you can go to your website and enter /phpinfo.php at the end of your site’s URL, and it will show you what version of PHP you have.  Do I really need to keep my site’s PHP upgraded? Upgrading and maintaining a current version of PHP is important for the security of your website. With each new PHP version, there are new security features that get implemented. At the same time, older PHP versions that have reached their “end of life” get no updates for security or any other features.  So, if a new vulnerability pops up that affects any of those old versions of PHP that aren’t supported anymore, that vulnerability won’t get patched. That leaves your website open to potential attacks. Will upgrading PHP cause something to break on my website? It might, unless you do your research and planning before you upgrade. Here’s why.  Whenever there’s a new version of PHP, old features get what we call deprecated. That means those old features are no longer supported and they’re getting phased out of future versions entirely. So, it seems like upgrading whenever a new version comes out would be the logical thing to do. However, if your site runs on WordPress, your version of WordPress has its own requirements for the version of PHP it can work with. And every WordPress plugin you have installed on your site has its own PHP requirements, as well. WordPress and its plugins are typically coded to work with specific versions of PHP, so you need to make sure that your plugins and WordPress are developed for the same versions.  You might update WordPress and your plugins but not PHP, and then discover that you need a newer version of PHP. Or you might upgrade to a new version of PHP and discover that it’s too new if you haven’t upgraded your version of WordPress and your plugins in a while.  If there’s a mismatch between the version of PHP you’re running and the version your WordPress and plugins are written to work with, you’ll get deprecation errors saying that piece of code is no longer supported or has been removed in the version of PHP you’re using. What’s the best way to upgrade PHP? First, before you make any software changes on your website, it’s wise to make a backup of the current version. That’s the most important thing you can do to ensure you have something to fall back on in case your updates break something on your site.  Keep in mind that it’s easy to roll back to an earlier version of PHP, but it’s not always easy to roll back software updates. It’s important to do your research beforehand and make sure you have your site backup before you begin. Before you upgrade PHP, always start by reviewing your version of WordPress and your plugins. That’s a best practice mostly because software developers tend to code for longevity, and they want to make sure that their code is compatible with multiple versions of PHP. You need to know which versions those are. It’s also a good practice to check the documentation for WordPress and the plugins you’re using to ensure that your system meets the requirements of the PHP version that you want to install. After you’ve checked to make sure the upgrades you’re planning are compatible, upgrade the WordPress and plugin software first and then check for problems. If everything works, then you can upgrade PHP and check your site again. If that upgrade breaks something on your site, you can roll back to your previous version of PHP. What version of PHP does HostGator support?  HostGator offers PHP 5.4 through PHP 7.4 on its shared hosting platforms. Why doesn’t HostGator offer the most current version of PHP that’s compatible with WordPress? Currently, HostGator does offer the latest version of PHP, however, when new versions of PHP are released there are several reasons why the newest version wouldn’t be immediately available. HostGator’s shared platform is a highly customized environment. At the time of writing, PHP 7.4 is the newest version of PHP that WordPress supports (see current requirements here). And while that version is technically compatible through cPanel on WHM, it requires a newer version of cPanel that could potentially interfere with some of the customized tools that we have on the shared platform.  We want to make sure that all the changes in newer versions of cPanel get tested before we roll them out, to ensure that there are no major issues for our customers’ sites when we make those cPanel updates.  Where can I get help with my PHP upgrade? If you’re having trouble figuring out which version of PHP will work with your version of WordPress, or if you upgraded and then found a problem with your site, there are ways you can get help.  Because WordPress has built-in error logging, you have access to a record of problems that might come up as you work on your site. The error_log file in your WordPress installation directory will typically show you any PHP errors that are being generated. You may be able to use that information to solve the problem yourself, or you can share it with HostGator’s support team for guidance. Usually the most common errors that result from upgrading PHP are caused by jumping too far forward. So, if you upgrade to one of the newer versions and start seeing that some of your site features are deprecated, the first step is to roll back to an older version of PHP.  You can also get in touch with our support team via live chat or phone at 866-96-GATOR to help get your site working the way it should be. With compatible versions of PHP, WordPress and plugins for your site, you’ll get optimal functionality and security. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Divi vs. Elementor: Which WordPress Page Builder Is Right for Your Site?

The post Divi vs. Elementor: Which WordPress Page Builder Is Right for Your Site? appeared first on HostGator Blog. If you’re interested in getting a website up and running and want to do it yourself, then WordPress is an excellent bet. WordPress is the most popular content management system and powers 35.2% of all websites. WordPress also gets increasingly easier to self-navigate as the days and years progress, and there are several excellent WordPress page builder software programs that will help you through the process of building your website. With all of the different website builders on the market, though, how is a novice to know which one is the best? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for, how much you already know about website building and your budget. To help you make an informed decision, here is an in-depth review of two of the most popular WordPress page builders on the market, Divi vs. Elementor. What is Divi? You may already know Divi as one of the most popular WordPress themes, but it’s more than that. Divi is also a website building platform that makes building a WordPress website significantly easier. Divi also includes several visual features that help you make your website more visually appealing. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most impressive features of the Divi WordPress builder.  Features of DIVI Here is what you can expect feature-wise when you select Divi as your WordPress page builder. Drag & drop building. Divi makes it easy to add, delete, and move elements around as you’re building your website. The best part is you don’t have to know how to code. All of the design is done on the front end of your site, not the back-end. Real-time visual editing. You can design your page and see how it looks as you go. Divi provides many intuitive visual features that help you make your page look how you want it to without having to know anything technical about web design. Custom CSS controls. If you do have custom CSS, you can combine it with Divi’s visual editing controls. If you don’t know what this means, no worries. You can stick to a theme or the drag and drop builder. Responsive editing. You don’t have to worry about whether or not your website will be mobile responsive. It will be. Plus, you can edit how your website will look on a mobile device with Divi’s various responsive editing tools. Robust design options. Many WordPress builders have only a few design options. Divi allows you full design control over your website. Inline text editing. All you have to do to edit your copy is click on the place where you want your text to appear and start typing. Save multiple designs. If you’re not sure exactly how you want your website to look before you publish it, you can create multiple custom designs, save them, and decide later. You can also save your designs to use as templates for future pages. This helps your website stay consistent and speed up the website creation process. Global elements and styles. Divi allows you to manage your design with website-wide design settings, allowing you to build a whole website, not just a page. Easy revisions. You can quickly undo, redo, and make revisions as you design. Pros of Divi Why would you want to choose Divi vs. Elementor? Here are the top advantages of Divi to consider as you make your decision. More templates. Divi has over 800 predesigned templates and they are free to use. If you don’t want to design your own website, simply pick one of the templates that best matches your style. Full website packs. Not only does Divi have a wide range of pre-designed templates, but they also offer entire website packs, based on various industries and types of websites (e.g., business, e-commerce, health, beauty, services, etc.).  This makes it easy to quickly design a website that matches your needs. In-line text editing. The in-line text editing feature is an excellent feature. All you have to do is point and click and you can edit any block of text. Lots of content modules. Divi has over 30 customizable content modules. You can insert these modules (e.g., CTA buttons, email opt-in forms, maps, testimonials, video sliders, countdown timers, etc.) in your row and column layouts. Creative freedom. You really have a lot of different options when it comes to designing your website. If you can learn how to use all of the various features, you’ll be able to build a nice website without having to know anything about coding. Cons of Divi Before you decide to hop on the Divi bandwagon, it’s essential to consider potential drawbacks. Here are the cons of the Divi WordPress website builder to help you make a more informed decision. No pop-up builder. Unfortunately, Divi doesn’t include a pop-up builder. Pop-ups are a great way to draw attention to announcements, promotions, and a solid way to capture email subscribers.  Too many options. While Divi has so many builder options that you can do nearly anything, some reviewers believe that all of the options are too many options. This can distract from the simplicity of use. Learning curve. Since there are so many features with Divi, it can take some extra time to learn how to effectively use them all. The Divi theme is basic. It’s critical to remember that the Divi theme and the Divi WordPress builder are two different things. You can use the Divi WordPress builder with any WordPress theme, including the Divi theme. However, if you opt for the Divi theme, it’s nice to know that some reviewers think the Divi theme is a bit basic. You may want to branch out and find a more suitable theme. Glitchy with longer pages. Some reviewers also say that Divi can get glitchy when trying to build longer pages. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you’re only looking for a basic website. What is Elementor? Elementor is an all-in-one WordPress website builder solution where you can control every piece of your website design from one platform. Like Divi, Elementor also provides a flexible and simple visual editor that makes it easy to create a gorgeous website, even if you have no design experience. Elementor also touts their ability to help you build a website that loads faster and that you can build quickly. Features of Elementor You already know what Divi can do. Here is what you can expect feature-wise when you sign up with Elementor vs. Divi. Drag and drop builder. Elementor also includes a drag and drop website builder, so you can create your website without knowing how to code. It also provides live editing so you can see how your site looks as you go.  All design elements together. With Elementor, you don’t have to switch between various screens to design and to make changes and updates. All your content, including your header, footer, and website content, are editable from the same page. Save and reuse elements and widgets. You can save design elements and widgets in your account and reuse them on other pages. This helps you save time and keep your pages consistent across your website. 300+ templates. Elementor has a pre-designed template for every possible website need and industry. If you don’t trust your drag and drop design skills, then simply pick one of the pre-designed templates. Of course, you can customize the theme with the drag and drop feature, but there is no need to start from scratch. Responsive mobile editor. It’s no longer an option to have a website that isn’t mobile responsive. Elementor makes it a point to help you customize the way your website looks on a desktop and a mobile device, so you are catering to all your website visitors, not just those visiting from a desktop computer. Pop-up builder. The use of pop-ups is a strategic way to draw attention to a promotion, an announcement, or your email list. Elementor’s pro plan helps you make pixel-perfect popups, including advanced targeting options. Over 90 widgets. You can choose from over 90 widgets that will help you quickly create the design elements you need to incorporate into your website. These widgets help you add things like buttons, forms, headlines, and more to your web pages. Pros of Elementor Here is a quick overview of the pros of the Elementor. If these advantages are important to you, Elementor may be the perfect fit for you. Rich in features. Elementor is one of the best WordPress builders on the market and has tons of different features to help you create a quality website. Maximum layout control. Elementor’s interface is extremely intuitive, and the design features are easy to use. You don’t have to train yourself on how to use Elementor. You just login, and start working. Easy to use. For the most part, Elementor’s drag and drop interface is easy to use. You can choose from different premade blocks, templates, and widgets. Finder search tool. In the event you can’t find something easily with Elementor, you can turn your attention to the search window, type in the feature or page you’re looking for, and Elementor will direct you to it. Always growing. Elementor’s team is always working to stay ahead of the curve by pushing out new features often. WooCommerce builder. Elementor has a nice WooCommerce Builder in their pro package. It’s easy to design your eCommerce website without having to know how to code. Widgets you can use on your product page include an add to cart button, product price, product title, product description, product image, upsells, product rating, related products, product stock, and more. Integrations. Elementor provides various marketing integrations that most website owners use on their sites. Integrations include AWeber, Mailchimp, Drip, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, HubSpot, Zapier, GetResponse, MailerLite, and MailPoet. WordPress plugins include WooCommerce, Yoast, ACF, Toolset, and PODS. Social integrations include Slack, Discord, Facebook SDK, YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, SoundCloud, and Google Maps. Other integrations include Adobe Fonts, Google Fonts, Font Awesome 5, Font Awesome Pro, Custom Icon Libraries, and reCAPTCHA. There are also many 3rd party add-ons and you can build your own integrations. Cons of Elementor As with any website builder, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here are the cons of Elementor to consider when making your choice between Divi vs. Elementor. Less templates than Divi. Elementor only has 300+ templates as opposed to Divi’s 800+. While there are fewer templates, however, they are still well-designed and will help you build a beautiful website. Some people may actually consider this an advantage, because there are fewer templates to sort through, and it doesn’t take up as much of your time to choose a template. Outdated UI. Some reviewers say the Elementor user interface is outdated, making some features more difficult to find and use. It will be interesting to see if and how Elementor innovates its user interface in the future. Issues with editing mode. Sometimes the website will look different when in editing mode. This can be frustrating for some users. Margin and padding adjustability issue. When using the drag and drop builder, you can’t adjust the margin and padding, according to some reviewers. Customer support. It can be difficult to quickly get in touch with a customer support team member and to quickly get custom solutions to your issues. No white label. Elementor doesn’t come with a white label option. Problems with third-party add-ons. While Elementor allows for a lot of third-party add-ons, these add-ons often cause issues. Divi vs. Elementor: Which Will You Choose? Regardless of which website builder you select, Divi or Elementor, you’ll need a web hosting company to park your WordPress website.  HostGator provides a secure and affordable managed WordPress hosting plans that start at only $5.95 a month. Advantages include 2.5x the speed, advanced security, free migrations, a free domain, a free SSL certificate, and more. Check out HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting now, and start building your WordPress website. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Why Every Small Business Needs SEO (Yes, Even Yours)

The post Why Every Small Business Needs SEO (Yes, Even Yours) appeared first on HostGator Blog. Small businesses are spending a lot more of their marketing resources on social media than on SEO, according to a recent survey of 500 U.S. small-business owners. Thirty-seven percent say social media is their most successful way to reach customers, while only 5% say that about SEO. That’s understandable. Posting on social media is fun, easy, delivers near-instant feedback and can drive short-term results. SEO, on the other hand, isn’t flashy and can take a while to deliver results. However, a good SEO program can grow your business in ways that social media can’t, so you need both to have a truly effective marketing program. Basic SEO isn’t especially complicated or hard to learn. And with the big shift to online shopping, SEO can make the difference between being found by new customers or losing out to more SEO-savvy competitors. So, how do you build an SEO program for your business? Start with something you already know—your customers.  Look at how your customers shop To understand how and when SEO and social media help you connect with customers, it’s important to understand how your customers decide to buy the kinds of things you offer. Typically, customers move through three very general stages when they’re shopping.  Awareness: Awareness can happen in a couple of ways. One is becoming aware of an existing problem. For example, your customer’s coffee maker breaks, and they know they need another one right away. Another type of awareness is learning about an appealing product. For example, your customer sees a handbag with a picture of a vampire pug on it and they want it.Research: Even for impulse purchases, you can assume your customers are doing their homework. Way back in 2018, even before we were all spending so much time online, 88% of consumers researched purchases before buying. Research can mean seeking out the best coffeemakers with timers, or it can mean checking the reviews of an online store before buying a vampire pug handbag from them. Purchase: Once your customer feels satisfied that they’ve got the best product, price and merchant, they’ll buy.  Moving through these stages can happen slowly. For example, if you’re planning to buy a top-of-the-line refrigerator for your new home, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time researching different models, manufacturers and retailers.  Or customers can move through all three stages quickly. Maybe they see a T-shirt they know their dad would love, so they do a quick check to make sure the merchant is legit and then they snap it up. Or maybe they realize they’re out of coffee beans, so they open their browser and order more before they finish breakfast. How do your customers move through this process? If you’ve already created personas for your ideal customers, you may know already. If not, you’ll need to look at data like  Where customers come from to get to your site. The keyword searches that lead to productive visits to your site. How visitors move around your site (are they reading your informative content, like buying guides?) You can also survey your customers to find out how they prefer to shop. And once you have a clear idea, you can see where social and SEO can connect with them. Social media for building brand awareness and driving impulse traffic Social media is great for letting people know about your business, which means it’s important for the awareness stage of the buying process. It’s also important for building relationships that can feed into the research and purchase stages of shopping.  When customers know about your brand and like it, they’re more likely to consider it when they’re researching a purchase. And, of course, they’re more likely to make an impulse purchase when you post flash sale info or a special offer.  This is all good. But if you’re relying solely on social, you’re probably missing a big chunk of your potential audience—just when they’re ready to spend money. SEO for reaching customers when they’re ready to spend  The reason SEO reaches customers just before they open their wallets is because most people use search engines to figure out where to spend their money. Consider these figures from Google: Worldwide, 74% of shoppers who buy from nearby stores said they search for in-stock products, locations and hours before they leave the house.60% of smartphone users have reached out to a business from a search results page.Nearly half (49%) say they use Google to get suggestions on which products to buy.  Clearly, a lot of shoppers are moving directly, or nearly directly, from searching to buying. If your business isn’t showing up in their search results, you’re missing out on sales.  The key to appearing in the searches all these customers are doing? SEO.  Get to know the basics of SEO SEO (search engine optimization) is a fancy way of saying you’re making it easy for people to find your business online by appearing as high as possible in search results. The basics of SEO include: Keywords: things like “best dog groomer near me” and “local wineries” are examples. Check your Google Analytics dashboard to see which keywords your customers use to find you.Content: All the words and media on your site. All of it should center on keywords your customers use and have relevant tags and headings.Headings: parts of your webpages and blog posts that search engines scan for information. For example, “Get to know the basics of SEO” is a level 2 header that explains to a search bot what this section is about. Use keywords to make your headings relevant.URLs: At a minimum, your URLs should indicate what each page on your site is about, like “https://www.hostgator.com/cloud-hosting.”Metadata and tags: behind-the-scenes keyword labels on your content that tell search bots what’s on your site. The best way to learn how to use these basic SEO elements is to watch our 5 Steps to SEO Success webinar. With our Web Pros’ guidance and some free tech tools they’ll show you, you can set up or improve your Google My Business profile and boost your website’s SEO. Then you can reach more customers at more points along their shopping journey – awareness, research and purchase. Want to start building your SEO program now? Connect with HostGator’s professional SEO services.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Smart Ways Bloggers Can Use Audio and Video Content

The post 7 Smart Ways Bloggers Can Use Audio and Video Content appeared first on HostGator Blog. The purpose of your blog is to capture more relevant traffic from your target audience. While writing high-quality content is a surefire way to engage your audience, video and audio blogging are also trending upwards. Video marketing is yielding such favorable results that 95% of video marketers plan to increase or maintain video spend in 2020. And, audio content is not far behind. Forty-five percent of bloggers report that audio content helps them achieve better results. If you’re looking to hop on the video and audio content bandwagon, this post is for you. What bloggers need to create audio and video content Before we delve too deep into creative ways to incorporate audio and video content into your blog, let’s talk about the materials you need to create outstanding content. If you’re going to create audio content, it’s critical that your audio works properly and sounds good. Here is a quick checklist of what you need: A blogging platform that is suited for audio content distribution (e.g., WordPress)A reliable web hosting service (ahem…HostGator)A good microphoneAudio recording softwareWordPress audio plugins The same rules that apply to audio content apply to video content. Before you record your first video, make sure you have the following tools: A video camera or a smartphoneVideo editing softwareA reliable web hosting serviceA good microphoneA YouTube account You don’t have to spend a million dollars on audio and video tools, but you do need to have some tools that will help you create excellent DIY audio recordings and videos. Now that we’ve covered what you need let’s look into the top 7 ways you can use audio and video content in your blog posts. 1. Include an audio version of your blog post If you’ve already gone to the trouble of writing a blog post, why not go the extra mile and include a recorded version of your text? Adding an audio version of your blog posts has two main advantages. First, it makes your website accessible to people of all abilities. Second, audio recordings humanize you. With the help of an audio recording, you become a friendly voice that people look forward to hearing. Just think how much the podcast-listening world connects to celebrity journalist voices (e.g., Ira Glass, Sarah Koenig, Ronan Farrow, etc.). The most reliable way to add an audio file to your blog post is with an audio file WordPress plugin.  2. Conduct an audio or video interview Reaching out to industry leaders to get quotes is a smart blogging strategy. Here’s why: It helps you quickly establish a relationship with influencers in your industry.Leaders offer invaluable insight to your followers that they’ve learned from years of experience.If you include a quote from an industry leader in your post, they are likely to share your content with their broad audience. You can add high domain authority links from these leaders’ websites to your blog. Quotes from industry leaders help you create valuable content. But, consider this. Video content is 50% more likely to drive organic traffic than plain text. Instead of just asking for a quote, find influencers and ask if you can interview them. If you can capture them on video, that’s awesome! If not, an audio interview is just as valuable.  It might be difficult to get an industry leader to agree to an interview at first, but don’t give up. Once you get one person to say yes, others will follow. 3. Create a slideshow video Another way to include video in blog posts is to turn your text content into a short slideshow. Blog content typically follows a basic structure, including an intro, headings of your main points, subheadings that support your heading, and a conclusion.  If you’ve outlined your blog post with a solid structure, you can quickly turn it into a slideshow. Create one slide for your intro, a slide for each heading, and a slide for your conclusion. Then, narrate your slides with the content you’ve already written. You can create your slideshow directly in WordPress or pick one of the top WordPress slideshow plugins to help you make a slideshow. 4. Highlight a product or service with a video Blogging is about providing value to your readers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feature your products and services through an explainer video. In a short explainer video, you succinctly sum up your products and services and show your target audience how your product solves pain points. Explainer videos also have incredibly favorable results. In fact, 97% of marketers say video has helped users understand their products and services better. It’s worthy to note that a video coupled with professional copy can boost your results up to 28%, according to Omnicore. 5. Incorporate video tutorials or a screencast in your blog Estimates report that 50-80% of all internet searches are informational by nature. When people want to know how to do something, they Google it.  If you are sharing “how-to” content, consider creating a YouTube video for your blog. Why? Because 65% of the population are visual learners.  When you upload a YouTube video, your audience can watch you complete a task and mimic your actions. They also have the added benefit of being able to pause and restart the video as needed. How much more effective is watching video instruction than reading through a hefty “how-to” article? Similarly, if you offer training on how to do something on the computer, you can record, narrate, and share a screencast. Showing your audience how to complete a function on a computer is a lot more useful than telling them how to do it. 6. Add a video summary of your blog If it’s worth writing about something, it’s worth creating a video about it. Seriously. Ask J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise.  After you write your blog post, create a video that quickly summarizes your main points. Remember that short videos get the most engagement because they are easy to consume. So, keep your video snappy. 7. Introduce yourself in a video Your about page is a staple of your website. In fact, about pages are often the most visited page on any website.   It makes sense why. About pages helps you connect with your readers. It gives your audience a chance to get to know you, learn what makes you tick and why you do what you do, and understand your background. Your about page humanizes you. If it’s fun for your audience to read about you, think how much they will enjoy watching a short video about you.  Here’s a challenge. Spice up your blog’s about page with a video and see what results you get. Wrap Up If you’re ready to venture into the world of video and audio content creation, who you choose as your website hosting company matters. You need a website hosting company with 100% uptime and complete reliability. You need web hosting from HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Best WordPress Review Plugins

The post 7 Best WordPress Review Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. If your website is selling a product or service, then you need to have customer reviews integrated into your site.  Customer reviews can help to push your visitors closer to that buy button. By adding customer reviews to your site the right way, you can add social proof and make it more likely your customers will buy. Luckily, WordPress makes it easy to add reviews to your website via a WordPress review plugin. No matter your niche, or the type of review you want to add to your site, you’ll be able to find a plugin that’ll help you reach your goals.  Below we dive deep into WordPress review plugins. You’ll learn what they are, why they’re valuable, and we’ll showcase the the top WordPress review plugins on the market today.  What is a WordPress Review Plugin? To make things simple, a WordPress review plugin is a plugin that lets you add and set up reviews on your WordPress website.  The type of review plugin you’re looking for will be determined by the kind of site you’re running.  For example, a small business website might want to integrate Yelp and Google Business reviews into their sites. On other hand, an eCommerce store owner would want a plugin that lets users submit their own product reviews.  Still, no matter the type of WordPress review plugin you’re looking for, some of the foundational features will be the same. Here are some of the core features you’ll want to look for in a WordPress review plugin: A star rating system for each reviewThe ability for visitors to write their own reviews on your websiteA user dashboard that allows you to manage and publish certain reviewsThe ability to aggregate reviews from other sources like Yelp, Google, and moreBuilt-in options for displaying your reviews on different locations across your siteDesign features to ensure the layout and color schemes of the reviews integrate with your existing designLets your users upload other forms of media like photos, videos, and more.  Best WordPress Review Plugins There are a ton of different WordPress review plugins out there for you to sort through. Instead of having to spend hours browsing through the plugin repository, just spend a few minutes looking over the list below. Here are seven of the best WordPress review plugins on the market today:  1. Site Reviews Site Reviews is a very simple and easy to use review plugin. This plugin offers you an easy and straightforward way to let users add reviews to your site.  You can create a simple review form on your site and then choose where you’d like your reviews to display across your site. You can display reviews via widgets, shortcodes, and blocks. You also have complete control over how you want your reviews to look and can choose which reviews to showcase at the top of the list.  This plugin also integrates with Akismet for spam protection, and your reviews will show up as rich snippets in the search engines.  2. Google Reviews Widget If you have a ton of Google reviews that you want to integrate into your website, then the Google Reviews Widget plugin is for you. Instead of allowing users to submit reviews on the site, the plugin will aggregate any existing Google reviews and display them across your site. This plugin uses a widget to display all of your reviews, so you can showcase your reviews across any widgetized section of your site. The free version of the plugin is limited to five Google reviews and three Yelp reviews, so if you want to display more reviews you’ll want to upgrade to the premium version of the plugin. The plugin also comes with a few different themes you can choose from, so you choose the theme that best matches the design of your site.   3. WP Product Review WP Product Review is a plugin that lets you add user reviews to your website. It’s a very versatile plugin and supports many different types of reviews. For example, you can add pros and cons lists, user reviews, rich snippets (for search engine rankings), starred reviews, and more. You can customize how you want your reviews to display, and can create stunning review tables with a lot of customizable options.  This plugin is best suited for review-style websites that require detailed product breakdowns and comparison options. However, it can also be used to display customer testimonials with photos, quotes, and more.  4. WP Review Pro WP Review Pro is a feature-packed review plugin. It can support nearly every type of review out there.  It’s equipped with 16 different pre-made review templates. So, if you’re posting review-style content on your own website, all you have to do is choose a template and customize it to your liking.  There are also a ton of different integrations, like Yelp, Facebook, and Google Reviews. You can even integrate with WooCommerce, if you’re running an eCommerce store on WordPress. If you need a very versatile review plugin and you don’t feel like installing more than one plugin, then let this plugin take care of nearly all your review needs. 5. Taqyeem Taqyeem is a WordPress review plugin that offers you near unlimited customization options when it comes to displaying your reviews on your website.  For example, you can add a bar rating system, a star rating system, a percentage rating system, add unlimited colors, fonts, and more.  This is a great plugin for website owners who want to integrate reviews into their site, while also ensuring the branding of the reviews 100% matches the site’s design and style guide.  This plugin currently has over 150 reviews on CodeCanyon, with an almost-perfect five-star rating.  6. Customer Reviews for WooCommerce Online reviews are a very common part of the online shopping experience for eCommerce stores. So, if you’re a WooCommerce store owner and you want to add user generated product reviews to your website, then you’ll want to check out the Customer Reviews for WooCommerce plugin. The free version of this plugin has everything you need to gather and display reviews on your product pages. For example, you can setup automatic customer notifications for customers who recently bought something, but haven’t left a review yet.  Plus, all of the reviews are authenticated, so your visitors know that the review was left by a real person. Finally, all of the reviews can include rich snippets, so your ratings will be shown on Google.  The premium version of the plugin gives you access to premium support and even more features.  7. Photo Reviews for WooCommerce You might have come across a unique feature on Amazon where reviewers can upload images of themselves using the product. If you run a WooCommerce store and you want to make this same feature available to your users, then check out the Photo Reviews for WooCommerce plugin. This plugin can help to improve social proof even further and even encourage more of your users to actually leave product reviews.  There’s both a free and premium version of this plugin available. The free version is equipped with all kinds of advanced features like the ability to generate coupons for users who choose to leave photo reviews.  You can also include a sorting option, so your visitors can sort product reviews via star ratings, verified purchases, and more.  Why Use a WordPress Review Plugin? Adding reviews to your website can be incredibly advantageous. No matter what kind of website you’re running, or what you’re selling, you can benefit from using a review plugin. It’s very difficult to add reviews to your site without the help of a plugin. All you’ll really have access to is the WordPress post editor. This could work for things like testimonials that you’ve sourced. But, anything else and you’ll run into the limits of WordPress pretty quickly. Luckily, WordPress has all kinds of review plugins you can use to add a variety of different review formats to your site. Whether you want to add product reviews, Yelp reviews, Google reviews, or something else entirely, the WordPress plugin ecosystem has you covered.  Some review plugins even allow you to add user generated reviews to your site, so you can let the reviews stack up while you sleep.  By using a WordPress review plugin you can experience all the benefits that come with adding reviews to your website.  Benefits to Using a WordPress Review Plugin Some users will want to add Amazon-like reviews to their product pages, while other people might want to embed their existing Facebook and Google reviews into their sites.  Regardless of the type of website you’re running, or the products or services you sell, you can benefit from adding reviews to your site.  Here are some of the biggest benefits to adding reviews to your WordPress site: 1. Reviews Add Credibility and Social Proof Even if you have the best sales page in the world, your customers will be a little skeptical if you don’t have any testimonials. Customer reviews can help to reinforce what you say and make it more likely your customers will buy from you.  Spend some time exploring the product pages on Amazon and you’ll find that the products that sell the best also tend to have the highest number of positive reviews.  Having a high volume of positive reviews shows new buyers that you can be trusted and your product or service is high quality.  2. Reviews Can Act as Free Advertising Reviews are one of the biggest buying factors for online consumers. Think of it as a form of free advertising.  Even reviews that aren’t on your website will influence a buyer’s decision making process. For example, if they’re searching for a local business, they’ll probably end up going with the company that has the highest number of positive reviews.  By incorporating existing reviews into your site and giving visitors an easy way to leave new reviews on your website, you can expect your reviews to start to stack up and work for you.  3. Reviews Can Provide Valuable Product Feedback Reviews can be a great source of feedback for your products and services. Maybe there’s a weak feature of your product, or the review points out a hidden benefit you never thought of? Reviews can be a valuable way to hear what your customers think, both good and bad. Plus, by mining customer reviews you can find new phrases, pain points, and benefits to add to your product and service sales pages.  If you do get a negative review, responding and engaging in a dialogue can often bring that customer over to your side.  4. Reviews Can Round Out Your Product/Sales Pages No product or sales page is perfect on its own. A lot of online shoppers will value reviews more than the copy you write yourself.  How do they know you’re actually telling the truth about the products and services you sell? By reading honest and real customer reviews.  So, by having a variety of reviews integrated into your website you strengthen your product pages, and make them more likely to convert your visitors into actual buyers.  Put simply, no business website is complete without a handful of user reviews on your site. Choosing the Best WordPress Review Plugin for Your Needs By now you should have a better grasp on how valuable a WordPress review plugin can be. As you can see, WordPress review plugins are equipped with all kinds of features.  You probably won’t need to install every plugin mentioned in the list above. Website owners who aren’t running an eCommerce store won’t have a need for product photo reviews, for example. Instead, choose the best WordPress review plugin for your respective niche. We tried to cover nearly every type of site that could benefit from a review plugin above.  Remember, when choosing a review plugin for your site you’ll want to ensure that it has all the features you require, integrates with your existing design, and is easy enough to use.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Legal Requirements Apply to Your Small Business Website and Online Store?

The post What Legal Requirements Apply to Your Small Business Website and Online Store? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Are you ready to set up your online store or small business website? Make sure you’re clear on the laws you’ll need to follow. We’ve written before about the permits or licenses your business may need to operate online. In this post, we focus on website-specific legal issues. First, our disclaimer: I’m not an attorney, and you should check in with a business lawyer if you have questions. The Fine Print: Terms of Services Make sure your site complies with your web host’s terms of service (TOS) and acceptable use policy. For example, HostGator’s TOS requires—among other things–that site owners be at least 18 years old and not be in a country under sanction by the US government. The acceptable use policy, meanwhile, prohibits using the service for gambling, bitcoin mining, live sporting event broadcasts, and other  heavily regulated or resource-intensive businesses. Next, it’s time to create some fine print of your own. Display your business terms and conditions about pricing, returns, shipping, and billing so customers know what to expect. This is especially important if you’re selling products or digital goods directly from your site. Security and Data Privacy Your customers want to know they can trust you with their information. Data breaches can wreck your business with financial losses, lost trust, and legal penalties. And with the EU’s far-reaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now in effect, even the smallest businesses need to step up their security compliance. GDPR applies to all businesses that offer goods and services to people in the EU, no matter where those businesses are located or how many people they employ. GDPR is a huge law, but the basics for small business owners are: You must have clear consent to collect consumer data. For example, you can add a GDPR-compliant cookie consent banner to your site. You must delete customer data on request. You need to keep customer data safe or face fines. HostGator’s SSL certificates encrypt data to and from your site, making it compliant with privacy laws and PCI-DSS security standards. HostGator’s Security and Privacy Bundle protects your website from viruses, malware, hackers, and spam by automatically scanning your website to detect and remove threats. You must report serious data breaches to law enforcement within 72 hours of discovery. Anti-Spam Laws No one likes spam emails, and lawmakers around the world are serious about stopping it. How serious depends on the region—US anti-spam laws have looser restrictions and lower penalties than those in Canada and the EU. If your new company will do cross-border business with Canadian and European customers, or if there’s a chance you will do so in the future, your best move is to follow the strictest anti-spam protocols. In the US The CAN-SPAM law, which stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing, only deals with business-to-consumer marketing emails. CAN-SPAM requires recipients to opt out of messages they don’t want to get, and the unsubscribe process can be a multi-step hassle. CAN-SPAM violations can result in fines of as much as $40,000 per incident. This law doesn’t clearly address marketing emails sent to US residents from outside the country. In Canada Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) created an opt-in system, which means people must sign up to get your marketing emails (or texts, voicemails, and other direct marketing digital communications) unless they already have a recent business relationship with you. CASL applies to emails sent to Canadians from outside Canada. Unsubscribing must be easy and fast. CASL violations can result in fines up to $10 million. One more potential penalty for CASL violations hasn’t taken effect yet: the right of individuals to sue companies that spam them for as much as $1 million per day. That part of the law is under review. In the EU GDPR covers spam, and its provisions are stricter than the US and Canadian laws. Not only does GDPR require recipients to opt in to marketing messages, there’s no implied consent by people who are already your customers. To add people, you need to make a separate, specific request, with no pre-checked boxes, and parental consent for anyone under the age of 16. GPDR fines are roughly $11 million per incident. In Brazil Brazil passed its own privacy law in August 2020. The law, which is called Lei Geral de Protecao de Dados (or the LGPD), is similar in scope and effect to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Like the GDPR, the LGPD requires businesses handling personal data to be accountable for collecting, using and managing that information appropriately. It also provides individuals with new rights. You can learn more about the basics of the LGPD here. Anti-Spam Best Practices to Follow For your existing list, only send marketing messages to people you’ve done business with within the past two years.  For all new sign-ups, create a separate opt-in form that includes a tick box for recipients to indicate whether they’re age 16 or older. Identify your business clearly in all your marketing messages. Include an easy-to-use opt-out tool with every message you send. Comply with opt-out requests quickly. Your Intellectual Property Technically speaking, you hold the copyright to the stuff you create as soon as you create it, but a copyright notice on your site is always a good idea. It accomplishes the obvious goal of letting visitors know that the content on your site belongs to you. If you have registered trademarks for your business name, products, or services, include a trademark notice on your site. We talk about trademarks in our article on small business permits and licenses. Your Website’s Accessibility The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that most businesses make their websites accessible for people with vision, hearing, and other impairments. The ADA requirement may not apply to your business if you’re very small or just getting started. Businesses that operate at least 20 weeks each year *and* have 15 or more full-time employees must maintain accessible web sites. “Public accommodation” businesses like transportation and hotels must also comply. Even if you’re not required to make your website accessible, it’s a good idea, because more than 12% of Americans have some form of disability. Not only that, accessible features like larger fonts, clear contrast between fonts and backgrounds, transcripts of videos, and written descriptions of images can be useful to everyone—think about how many people watch videos with the sound off and you’ll see why captions or transcripts are a smart move. UC Berkeley has a great guide to making your site accessible. Make Your Small Business Website Legally Compliant Creating a compliant site takes some work, but the payoff is a safer business web site, stronger customer trust, and a lower risk of privacy and security related fines and losses later on. If you’re a HostGator customer, contact us to add the Privacy and Security Bundle to your website now. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Easy Ways Small Local Businesses Can Drive More Website Traffic

The post 5 Easy Ways Small Local Businesses Can Drive More Website Traffic appeared first on HostGator Blog. Managing a website for your small or local business is one of the best things you can do for your business. Not only is it affordable and easy to build a website, but it’s also one of the best ways to acquire customers. Stats show that most Americans prefer to shop online, but websites aren’t just beneficial for eCommerce stores. Websites are also integral when it comes to driving local businesses to your brick-and-mortar location.  In fact, there has been a 900% growth in “near me tonight/today” searches recently. Also, 72% of people who conduct a local search will visit a store within 5 miles. Not to mention, 78% of local mobile searches result in purchases. A website will boost your business, but to get the most out of your website, it’s critical that you do everything you can to increase your online visibility. Here are five surefire ways you can drive more website traffic. 1. Optimize your website for local search Did you know that nearly half of all searches on Google are local? This means people using Google are trying to find a product or service in their local area. Additionally, 88% of local business searches via a mobile device will call or visit the business within 24 hours. However, if you haven’t optimized your website for local search and claimed your Google Business listing, it will be difficult for those active customers to find you.  To claim your Google business, start by going to google.com/business and follow the steps to make a Google account for your business. Once you have a Google business listing, local searchers will be able to quickly find your business information. 2. Invest in paid advertising on Google One in ten SMBs doesn’t invest in any type of digital marketing. This means if you do invest in digital marketing—like paid search—you’re one step ahead of your competitors when it comes to driving traffic to your website. As a quick review, paid ads take the top slots on the Google search engine results page (SERPs), and searchers know it’s an advertisement because Google places a small text reading “ad” before the search headline.  Instead of relying on search engine optimization (SEO), SMBs can pay for a Google Ads advertisement, and the top bidder is rewarded with the highest paid listing slot.  For example, let’s say you sell dog food. You can create an ad on Google Ads and bid on relevant keywords (e.g., “dog food). Google will rank your ads based on how much you pay in relation to other advertisers. Paid search is an excellent way to boost traffic to your small business website. This is especially true if your website is relatively new since it often takes a few months for new websites to rank in organic listings (SEO).  Paid search works, too. Seventy-five percent of internet users click on ads, and 49% of people are most likely to click on a text ad. Stats also show that paid search often results in higher conversions, as PPC (pay-per-click or paid search) visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something than organic visitors. 3. Drive traffic to your small business website through email marketing Email marketing is one of the top marketing tools small businesses use to capture business. It makes sense that email marketing would be such a popular pick, considering email subscribers are among the most loyal followers, and a majority of consumers say permission-based email is the preferred way for you to communicate with them. Email marketing also has the highest ROI out of any other digital marketing strategy. However, email marketing is most effective when used to drive traffic to your website. Some popular ways you can use email to drive people to your website include: Linking a special promotion or discount that redirects visitors to your websiteProviding an email link to free content (e.g., eBook, guide, etc.) on your websiteSending a loyalty discount code Providing a freebie consumers can add to their purchaseOffering a chance to win a contestAnd more! Remember, a top email service provider, like Constant Contact, allows you to capture email subscribers with a form you can put on your website, organize your lists, segment your subscribers, and even send triggered email promotions based on user activity. 4. Find an influencer that loves your small business When is the last time you purchased a product, visited a website, or participated in a charity because your favorite Instagram influencer or YouTube personality recommended it to you? Chances are, it wasn’t long ago considering 70% of teens trust influencers more than celebrities, 86% of women use social media for purchasing advice, and 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations. If there is an influencer that you know loves your small business, try asking them or even paying them to create an ad for your website.  Influencer marketing is becoming one of the fastest-growing marketing strategies and it produces desirable results. Influencer marketing campaigns earn $6.50 for every dollar spent, according to some studies. Influencer marketing is also the most cost-effective marketing strategy according to 22% of marketers, making it a great option for SMBs with smaller budgets. 5. Optimize your website for SEO While it’s true that paid search will help you see an immediate boost in traffic to your website, search engine optimization (SEO) efforts will provide long-term and ongoing traffic opportunities. The first step in creating a website that Google will love is to make sure your website ticks all the SEO checkmarks from the get-go. You can either pay a programmer hundreds, or thousands, of dollars to do this or you can use a proven template from HostGator’s Gator Website Builder to build your website.  All HostGator templates are mobile-responsive and designed with SEO goals in mind. The best part of using a HostGator template is you don’t have to do anything except pick the one you like best. The next step is to engage in all SEO basics before you even pick your domain name. This is a slightly involved process and requires a small learning curve. However, taking the time to make sure your website is fully optimized for search will pay off in the long run. There are 15 main steps, and all of them are covered well in this article on SEO for new websites. The best news is you don’t have to know anything about SEO to make sure you’re following all the website and blog post optimization rules. There are several resources (like the guide listed above) as well as plugins (Yoast SEO, for example) that will guide you through the SEO process every time you create a post.  Additionally, HostGator has an added SEO service you can purchase if you don’t want to think about SEO at all. This is a good idea if don’t have the bandwidth to monitor your SEO, and would rather have a HostGator expert do it for you Get your small business website up and running with HostGator today! If you own a business and haven’t yet built a website for your small business, what are you waiting for? The time is now. HostGator hosting is affordable, convenient, and every time you purchase a hosting package, you get a free domain name as well as access to hundreds of customizable, SEO-friendly, gorgeous website templates. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

6 Best WordPress Plugins for Freelance Consultants

The post 6 Best WordPress Plugins for Freelance Consultants appeared first on HostGator Blog. Freelancing is more than just independently doing client work on a sunny beach as you listen to the waves crash. Freelance consultants actually own and operate small businesses that require project management skills, financial acumen, and marketing knowledge. However, it’s impossible (and unreasonable) for freelancers to have expertise in every aspect of their business. That’s where WordPress plugins can step in to help freelancers with their invoicing, social media, and websites. Ready to improve your business? Check out these six WordPress plugins for freelance consultants.  1. WP Project Manager Research shows that the majority of freelancers work on multiple projects at a time. As a freelance consultant, you’re juggling multiple tasks at once. You’re helping various clients design logos, write articles, and solve complex issues. So, it makes sense to organize your responsibilities with a project management tool.  WP Project Manager helps you self-manage your clients and tasks without the hassle. It comes with a built-in time tracker for you to keep a log of when you start and stop projects. You can even calculate the hourly fee to invoice your clients. The interactive task calendar provides daily, weekly, and monthly views of your task timelines with a drag-and-drop feature. With this plugin, you’ll work and deliver projects in a timely manner. No more missing deadlines because you forgot to add it to your to-do list. Instead, you can use WP Project Manager to create and assign tasks faster. 2. Yoast SEO An online presence is essential for freelancers to attract new clients. So, you’ll want to build a website to educate potential clients about your small business. However, for your site to appear in Google or Bing results, you need to implement search engine optimization best practices. Yoast SEO helps freelancers rank on the top pages of search engines. This plugin offers title tag and meta description templating, a content readability analysis, and complete control of your website’s breadcrumbs. You’ll know how to improve your site before you hit publish.  3. Constant Contact Forms A study found that over one-third of freelancers use an online portfolio to market themselves. Online portfolios are an effective tool for helping freelancers showcase their work. You can maximize your marketing efforts by adding a signup form to your site.   Constant Contact Forms makes it simple to capture your potential clients’ contact information. You can customize the forms to collect details relevant to your industry. For instance, if you’re a freelance graphic designer, you may include form fields for the type of color, size, or design of an image. This plugin optimizes forms to fit the mobile screens of your visitors. Plus, you can add all the new email addresses to your Constant Contact lists. 4. WordPress to Buffer Social media still reigns as a powerful channel to market products and services. Major well-known brands like Wendy’s and Nike use their social media accounts to spread product messages and listen to customers. In a similar way, freelancers can get on Facebook to discuss their new services and learn from potential clients.  “Having an authentic voice on social media is important, but not as easy as it sounds. It’s important because it humanizes your brand – whether that’s a company big or small, or a personal brand – and encourages people to respond and talk about you positively,” writes Mike Eckstein, a product marketer at Buffer. With the WordPress to Buffer plugin, you can save a few hours in your work schedule. This tool automatically posts your social media content to your Buffer account for scheduled publishing to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you upgrade, you also get full image control and bulk publishing of old posts.  5. Testimonials Slider Word-of-mouth marketing is a key part of bringing new clients to your business. Nearly a third of freelancers find work through referrals. Once a referral lands on your site, the next step is to showcase your satisfied previous clients.  Testimonials offer an honest perspective of how your work has made an impact on your clients. Your testimonials should provide a quote from the client and the person’s name and title. A pro tip is to use quotes that explicitly state how your product or service improved your client’s business or life.  You can display your testimonials on your site using the Testimonials Slider plugin. Choose from multiple layouts, like columns, sliders, and grids, to arrange your testimonials. You also can select one of the six ready-to-use templates if you’re short on time.  6. Sprout Invoices Freelancers don’t have a regular payday, like salaried employees. They must invoice their clients for work to get paid.  Sprout Invoices allows you to create invoices for your clients in minutes, rather than hours. In the plugin’s dashboard, you can customize the invoice template to match your brand by changing the logo and header background. You also can set pre-defined line items for each client.  “There is no exact format that you should use for your invoice, but certain items are expected. By law, you must include your name, address and VAT number (if registered) plus the name and postal address of the client in question. It’s also helpful to add other items, such as your bank details and terms of payment,” states Katy Cowan, the editor of Creative Boom. For some freelance consultants, it’s a frustrating process that takes up a lot of time in their day. This WordPress plugin is available to streamline your accounting approach.  Essential WordPress Plugins for Freelancers Not only do freelance consultants manage their client work, but they also must run every part of their small business. WordPress plugins make the process easier for freelancers by keeping track of their projects, adding testimonials to their websites, and posting social media content. For more help building out your freelance website on WordPress, check out our review of the Best WordPress Themes for Freelancers. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Best Practices for Conversion Rate Optimization

The post Best Practices for Conversion Rate Optimization appeared first on HostGator Blog. How much have you spent on getting people to your website? Not just money on digital marketing—also think about how much work and time you’ve invested in earning website traffic. It’s a lot, right?  All those dollars, all those hours—what are they worth to you if your visitors click away soon after their first visit and never come back? The answer’s simple: nothing. For your traffic to have any value, your website visitors have to do something beyond landing on your website. In marketing terms, they have to convert.  Conversion rate optimization is how you make website traffic valuable.  To turn website visitors into followers and, even better, customers, you need to make sure your website is designed to optimize conversions. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the practice of doing so.  Developing a CRO strategy isn’t as straightforward as you might think. . Predicting how people will behave and what they’ll respond to is difficult. But by employing the right digital marketing tactics to get a higher conversion rate  on your website, you can ensure that the money you spend on marketing actually pays off not only in sales, but also in building long-term relationships with each and every website visitor. .  13 Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices The CRO process is made up of a number of different tactics and strategies you can use to gain an understanding of what your audience responds to and improve your website based on data. Here are a few of the top tips to try for your website optimization.  1. Focus on calls to action (CTAs). CTAs are one of the basic building blocks of conversion optimization. . The concept behind them is simple: when someone lands on a page on your website, what do you want them to do next? Instead of hoping they’ll do it on their own, encourage them to take that desired action.  Including a CTA on every page of your website is a good practice, but you’ll want to use different ones based on the specific goal you have for that page. For example, the CTAs on a product page will be focused on urging people to buy now or add the item to their cart. A blog post will be more likely to have CTAs pushing visitors to sign up for the email list or download an ebook. Figuring out the right CTA for each page is important. But a big part of the CRO process is also figuring out how to word and present the CTA in the most effective way possible. A slight tweak in wording, or changing out the color of a CTA button can produce surprising results.  One of the best ways to have a higher conversion rate  is to make sure you know the next step you want your visitors to take, and work on paying careful attention to how you ask each site visitor to do so.  2. Simplify UX  UX stands for user experience and it’s another big part of CRO. It’s also important on its own—it’s the practice of making sure your website visitors find your website intuitive and can easily do what they need to on it. When it comes to CRO, a big part of improving UX is considering how to reduce barriers. People are impatient online. That’s not a criticism, just a natural part of how browsing the web works. Think about it, have you ever considered consuming a piece of content, downloading something, or making a purchase and then stopped when you realized it required a slightly higher time commitment than you expected? Or just a little bit more effort? This is how online user behavior works. In practice, that may mean reducing the number of fields you require someone to fill in on a form. More people will complete a field asking for a name and email address, than one asking for those things plus age, gender, business title, and company size.  It also extends to the checkout process. It may be surprising, but someone who wants an item enough to pay for it, may not want it enough to spend time filling in more information to complete the process. Making it as easy as possible for people to provide their shipping and payment information by, say, letting them create an account that auto-fills it in next time, or accepting a payment method their browser remembers, is a simple way to increase conversions.  3. Use heatmaps and session recordings. You can imagine how you think visitors will interact with your website as you’re building it. But at that stage it’s simple guesswork based more on your own behavior than that of your audience. Heatmaps and session recordings are CRO tools you can use to better understand how visitors to your website actually interact with it. Heatmaps highlight where a visitor’s attention is drawn when on the page, how far they scroll, and where they click based on aggregate visitor data. They can help you understand whether an important CTA is getting overlooked, or if a less important part of the page is serving as a distraction.  Session recordings allow website owners to view what specific user interactions on the website looked like—what actions they took, in what order, and after how long. They can supplement the data you get from heatmaps. Both tools can be powerful for understanding how well your website is doing its job in general, and which specific parts of it are working or not.  4. Consider and use micro conversions. The word conversion can describe a wide range of actions. The most obvious and important for businesses are those that directly relate to profits—making a sale, choosing an upgrade, becoming a repeat customer. But few consumers make a purchase the first time they visit a website. More often, that first visit is a chance to win them over and give them a reason to stick around for a while and come back again later. Micro conversions are all the smaller wins that help you achieve those goals in advance of a purchase. These include things like clicking on an internal link, following your brand on social media,signing up for your email list, and downloading an ebook. While these actions aren’t as important to your bottom line as a purchase, they matter. And a good CRO strategy will include them as well.  5. Understand the conversion funnel. Effective CRO is more complicated than just tracking and testing as many different conversions as you can. You also want to understand how they all connect.  If a certain blog post regularly drives conversions to your email list, but most of those later unsubscribe without ever taking another action, that blog post isn’t as valuable as the conversion numbers make it look. If another post drives fewer email sign ups, but more of them take further actions with your brand, that one’s more valuable.  Understanding your conversion funnel both enables you to assign more accurate value to different conversions, and allows you to see larger trends in what’s working. Knowing the relationship between different actions helps you learn what series of choices is most likely to lead to a purchase. That helps you structure your marketing strategy more effectively. 6. Use color to your advantage. Stop signs and stoplights are red for a reason. Many humans respond strongly to visual triggers. Using bright, attention-grabbing colors for your most important CTAs can make them more noticeable to visitors. Or, choosing colors that contrast and stand out from the rest of your site (without clashing) can do the trick.  Try out different ways to use color to draw attention to the right places on a page to see what works best.  7. Perform A/B testing. A/B testing is publishing two different versions of something, to see which one performs better. You can use it to test out a variety of hypotheses.  For example, which of two headlines will get the most clicks? Which color of CTA button leads to the most conversions? And how do conversion rates change if you add more required fields to a form? A/B testing is a key CRO best practice for turning conjecture into data. Experts recommend only changing one part of a page at a time, so you get clear data about which element influences behavior. As you run an array of A/B tests over time, you’ll gain a number of takeaways about what your audience responds to that you can put into practice on your website.  8. Try (ethical) price testing. People make purchasing decisions for a lot of different reasons, but we all know a big one is price. Pricing is complicated. Too low and you’ll miss out on money you could be making, too high and you’ll get fewer sales. Finding the sweet spot where people are willing to pay in large numbers and you get as big a slice of profits as possible is key to running a successful business. eCommerce price testing is trying out different tactics to see how they influence sales conversions. Does switching to a price that ends in 99 (e.g. $5.99 versus $6) make a difference in conversions? Does providing a discount for spending more lead to higher per order amounts? Sometimes small pricing changes lead to big results. But you have to be careful with price testing. If you offer different prices for the same items to different audiences, or to the same audience at different times (without framing it as a discount or special offer), it can look dishonest or unethical. Make sure you keep your price testing above the board, so you don’t alienate customers.  9. Promote coupons.  Coupons are a tried-and-true tactic for increasing conversions. If someone’s on the fence about whether to make a purchase, a few dollars off can tip them over the edge.  Pay close attention to the results each time you promote a coupon. How many new sales does it lead to? Do some channels lead to more coupon conversions than others (e.g. email versus social media)? Do some audiences take advantage of coupon offers more than others, such as those in your loyalty program versus those who have only made one purchase before? These types of questions lead to a better understanding of who your customers are. 10. Set up a sitewide sale. If you want to bring in a lot of new sales at once, a sitewide sale is a good way to drive new purchases. Many eCommerce businesses use this tactic a few times a year to get all the discount hunters in their audience to cross the finish line.  While this tactic comes with the tradeoff of lower profits per sale for a set period, the influx in new purchases can make it worthwhile. And if you promote it to new audiences, it can potentially bring in new customers that turn into long-term ones, making their purchases worth far more than the initial dollar amount. 11. Do user testing. While you can gain a lot of information about what your visitors respond to with tools like heatmaps and A/B tests, nothing replaces talking to them directly. User testing involves recruiting a few people who fall into your target audience, and having them go through the process of taking different steps on your website.  By monitoring what they do—what steps they take and any difficulties they have—and then asking them for feedback on their experience, you gain insights about the reasons behind the CRO data you’ve collected.  12. Send user surveys.  User testing will provide valuable information, but the scale of it is usually relatively small. The people you’ll hear from will make up a tiny portion of your overall audience. To fill in more of the gaps in your knowledge, send out user surveys. Any questions you have based on the data you’ve collected, send them to your customers and people on your email list. Surveys that employ multiple choice answers can be turned into data points that help in your analysis. And by including spaces where people can provide comments, you also gain more detailed feedback on why your visitors behave the way they do.  13. Analyze the data you have.  So much of CRO is about collecting data. In order to turn that data into increased conversions, you need to devote time to analyzing it. Look for trends within the data. What can it tell you about the topics and products your audience cares about? Does it reveal insights into what drives their decisions?  Learning which CTA color or headline works best on one page can help you improve conversion rates on that one page. But analyzing why is how you extrapolate that knowledge to how you design the rest of your website and run your marketing campaigns. CRO Best Practices Drive Business Success Having the best product and providing great customer service are crucial to running a successful business. And maybe that used to be enough.  But in the competitive online space, applying savvy practices to encourage visitors to take specific actions when they visit your website can be the difference between a first-time website visitor never returning, or becoming a long-term customer of your brand. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Tools That Make Mobile-Friendly Web Design Easy 

The post 7 Tools That Make Mobile-Friendly Web Design Easy  appeared first on HostGator Blog. As of 2019, mobile website traffic (not including tablet traffic) generated over 52% of all global internet traffic. To capture and keep the attention of the growing number of mobile searchers, you need to invest in mobile-friendly site design. While it’s true that mobile-friendly website design helps you provide excellent user experience, it also presents a slew of other benefits. A mobile-friendly website also translates to: Better Google search rankingsBoosted mobile conversion ratesFaster load speedsCohesive user experience across devicesIncreased average visitor time on siteCompetitive edge over non-mobile sites in your nicheMore social media sharesAnd more! Now that you’re convinced of the power of a mobile-friendly website, let’s talk about seven of the top tools that will make your website more mobile-friendly. 1. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test If you don’t know whether or not your website is mobile-friendly, don’t despair. A lot of people are in the same boat. That’s why Google offers a free mobile-friendliness testing tool. To check your site, click on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test URL, input your website info, and click “test URL.” Once you’ve submitted your website URL, Google will analyze it for mobile-friendliness. Google will quickly return a report to you. The report is easy to read and provides additional resources to help you learn more about mobile-friendly websites. In the event your test indicates that your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you know it’s time for a website overhaul. 2. Gator Website Builder If you’re not interested in building your own website, consider Gator Website Builder. HostGator has over 200 templates that are already mobile-responsive, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your website will pass Google’s mobile-friendliness test. It will. With the Gator Website Builder, you can pick a template with the perfect design for your website. Then, all you have to do is customize the design with the drag and drop builder to create a gorgeous and fully responsive site. 3. WordPress Themes WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering over one-third of all websites on the internet. When you set up a WordPress website, you don’t have to do any website coding yourself (although, you can). WordPress offers a wide range of free and paid themes.  WordPress themes are getting more beautiful and easier to customize every day. Additionally, like HostGator’s templates, nearly all WordPress website templates are mobile-friendly. When browsing through the templates, WordPress will allow you to install various free templates and conduct a live preview.  When you press “live preview,” WordPress will show you exactly what your website would look like dressed up in that particular theme. To double-check for mobile responsiveness, read the theme description. The description will usually tell you the WordPress team designed it using a “mobile-first approach.” This means it’s mobile-friendly. 3. FitVids Video content goes a long way when it comes to increasing time spent on your site, boosting conversion rates, and increasing customer engagement levels. But, this only applies if your video actually fits on your visitors’ mobile screens.  FitVids is an easy-to-use JQuery plugin that makes all your video embeds mobile-responsive. In other words, this tool ensures that when a mobile viewer visits your website, the video’s aspect ratio will automatically adapt to the screen size of the viewer, no matter what mobile device someone is using.  4. Adaptive Images Images are another powerful mobile-design tool you can use to capture the eye of your visitors. If you’re a novice website builder with no previous design experience, it can be difficult to size your images correctly.  Enter Adaptive Images. Adaptive Images is a tool that detects your visitor’s screen size and does the hard resizing work for you. The tool will automatically create, cache, and deliver the re-scaled versions of your HTML images to match the viewer’s device size. Additionally, Adaptive Images speeds up the load time of images, decreasing UI lag. The tool will work on your existing site, and all you have to do to set the tool up is add .htaccess and adaptive-images.php to your document-root folder. Then, add one line of JavaScript into the <head> of your site. Finally, add your CSS Media Query values into $resolutions in the PHP file. 5. FitText When it comes to website copywriting and design trends, there are a few widely-accepted and standard rules. These rules include: Headlines and company names will appear first and be the largest.Subheadlines and slogans will appear second and be slightly smaller.Paragraph text will appear under the subheadlines and will be standard paragraph size. FitText is a tool that makes large text font-sizes flexible. In other words, you can design your headlines and subheadlines to appear larger than paragraph text but still count on a fluid and responsive layout. Here is an example of how your headlines would scale appropriately across different devices when using FitText. 6. Resizer Once you’ve used tools like FitVids, Adaptive Images, and FitText, how do you test whether or not everything is working correctly and looks good? It’s true you could pull out a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, and your mobile phone, and test on each device, but that’s not exactly practical or efficient. Instead, check out Resizer by Material Design. Resizer is a free mobile-friendly design tool that will show you how your website looks across various devices. The tool fleshes out the screens quickly and displays your website on the main screen sizes next to each other. Here’s what it looks like. If you want to take a deeper look into how your website will look on devices of different sizes, you can click on either the desktop or the mobile icon on the top right side of the screen. Then, look at the bar on the top of the screen. You’ll see an adjustable slide that allows you to view how your website looks on different sized tablet, mobile, and desktop screens in horizontal and landscape views. This functionality is a quick way to ensure all your design elements look good across all devices, be they mobile or desktop. 7. Bootstrap Do you have experience designing websites and want to put your own creativity into the process? If so, you can look into a tool like Bootstrap. Bootstrap is one of the most popular front-end open toolkits for designing mobile-first websites. Bootstrap features SaaS variables and mixins, includes a responsive grid system, and provides extensive prebuilt components to help you create your website quickly. Quickly Build a Mobile-Responsive Website with HostGator There are several responsive design tools on the market that will help you with DIY mobile-friendly website building. However, if you’re new to building websites, you’ll want to do everything to ensure your website’s design is outstanding and mobile-responsive. For novices, it makes sense to purchase an affordable hosting package from HostGator, and then select a free, customizable Gator Website Builder theme or a WordPress theme. Both HostGator and WordPress themes are easy to customize, mobile-responsive, and robust in their functionality. To get started with HostGator, check out Gator Website Builder now. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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