HostGator Blog

7 Best WordPress Caching Plugins

The post 7 Best WordPress Caching Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. No one enjoys waiting for websites to load. And the longer your visitors wait, it’s more likely they will leave and go to your competitor’s website.  Caching helps alleviate excessive page load times. It’s the process of temporarily storing your website’s data, so it can load faster for your visitors. Rather than taking several steps to load your website, it speeds up the process.  Clearly, it’s important to clear the cache on your WordPress website. Fortunately, WordPress caching plugins make the entire operation easier. Take a look at the seven tools below. 1. WP Fastest Cache Sites that load in five seconds (compared to those that load in 19) see 70% longer average sessions. Your visitors want to engage with your content as soon as possible. However, each time a visitor lands on your webpage, the server creates a new page with PHP and MySQL. This process takes up critical space and memory. With several visitors coming to your website at one time, it can seriously slow down the rendering process. With WP Fastest Cache, it’s no longer a problem. This plugin renders the page one time and stores it in cache.  When someone wants to view the page, it serves the cached version. And because Google uses website speed in its algorithm, it can help improve your search engine rankings, too. 2. W3 Total Cache Caching is a critical part of optimizing your website speed. It significantly speeds up your page load times, while also decreasing the load on your server. W3 Total Cache keeps your visitors satisfied by reducing page load times. When fully configured, it can improve overall website performance by 10x.  The plugin compresses the size of your HTML files in cache. It also caches other page components, like Javascript files and database objects. It’s compatible with shared hosting, virtual private servers, and dedicated servers. With W3 Total Cache, the rendering and compression enhances the visitor experience, resulting in more conversions. Customer support is also available to answer your configuration questions or software issues. 3. Comet Cache Without caching, your small business gets deemed the “great brand, with the slow website.” It reflects poorly on your brand, and you miss the chance to delight customers and increase sales. So, don’t drive visitors away when a plugin can easily assist you. Comet Cache helps unburden servers. This WordPress caching plugin takes a real-time snapshot of your website, including pages and posts. You also can set an automatic expiration time for cache files. The pro version of the caching plugin includes additional features to improve your website performance.  You can clear your cache with a single click, auto-clear a list of custom URLs, and leverage domain sharing and multiple CDN hosts to allow browsers to download information simultaneously. Plus, you can preview these pro features in the free version. 4. Hummingbird As a small business owner, you have multiple responsibilities, ranging from marketing to accounting. So, it’s easy to overlook the importance of website optimization. Alex Landau, an engineer, on why you should make it a priority: “Caching makes things faster. When you want to grab some data that is expensive to look up (in terms of time or other resources), you cache it so that next time you want to look up that same data, it’s much less expensive.” Explore Hummingbird, a multi-purpose caching plugin that scans your WordPress website to find exactly what’s slowing it down. You don’t have to do any heavy lifting because the plugin is equipped with one-click fixes. Hummingbird also offers a caching suite to provide your visitors with a faster browsing experience.  5. Cache Enabler Research shows the vast majority of online shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. So, speeding up your page speed just a few seconds can help your small business or eCommerce store retain visitors.  Cache Enabler helps improve your WordPress site’s performance. It creates static HTML files and stores them for you. Therefore, when a visitor views your page, the plugin sends the static HTML. This process avoids the slow load time to generate the page. It minimizes the use of HTML and inline JavaScript to speed up web page delivery.  You also can view the cache size on your WordPress dashboard. It’s advised that you don’t use this plugin if your website uses a mobile theme or plugin that shows different layouts for desktop and mobile users.  Overall, Cache Enabler involves minimal setup for non-technical users. You can install and configure it quickly. 6. Breeze Fashion retailer Nordstrom lost 11% of their online sales after its website response time slowed by half a second. In a competitive market, website performance becomes increasingly important. Breeze is a powerful caching plugin designed for non-technical users. Once installed, small business owners can see results with the recommended default settings. The plugin also provides file level caching, database cleanup, CDN integration, and minification. 7. WP Super Cache A Google study found that 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. With WP Super Cache, you can have more control over the caching of your website.  This WordPress caching plugin serves the majority of your visitors, including those who aren’t logged in, haven’t left a blog comment, and haven’t viewed a password-protected post. Your known visitors will be served a custom cached files tailored to their visit. Moreover, if you’re not comfortable with editing PHP files, you can use the plugin’s simple mode to setup your caching. If you have additional questions, you can contact the friendly support team. Improve Site Peformance with WordPress Caching Plugins Take advantage of caching plugins to speed up your WordPress website. By doing so, you’ll enhance the visitor experience and maintain people’s attention longer.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

SEO for Real Estate Websites [12 Pro Tips]

The post SEO for Real Estate Websites [12 Pro Tips] appeared first on HostGator Blog. The real estate industry is competitive. To have any chance of being chosen by the people looking to buy or sell a home in your town, you have to find a way to stand out and get noticed. The most successful real estate agents aren’t constantly on the prowl trying to find new clients—they’re the ones who make it exceedingly easy for those clients to find them. In the age of the internet, the best method for doing that is search engine optimization (SEO). Research from the National Association of Realtors found that 57% of people turned to the internet as a first step in the home-buying process, either to start looking at listings or to research information on how to buy a home. The real estate websites that snag the top rankings in those searches have a good chance of winning that business. SEO requires a lot of work, but the good news for real estate agents is that you don’t have to compete with all the other agents out there. You only need to attract local business, so your SEO competition is restricted to the other agents working in your immediate area.  If you’re in a high-competition city like San Francisco or New York City, that may be cold comfort. But in smaller cities and towns across the country, getting a page one spot in the search engines is an attainable goal. You just need the right SEO strategy for your real estate website. Your 12-Step Real Estate SEO Strategy To make your real estate website more competitive on the search engine results page (SERP), these are the most important steps to take.  1. Make sure your website is mobile friendly. If you built your website a few years ago, mobile may not have been top of mind for you yet. But with every year, mobile use claims a greater share of all internet use (even surpassing desktop usage). And Google has been very clear about considering how well websites work on mobile when calculating rankings.  When was the last time you pulled up your website on a smartphone to see what the experience of using it on a small screen is like? Do it now. Does it load fast? Is it easy to use? If not, it’s past time for an update.  This doesn’t have to be a huge overwhelming project. Now that mobile use is ubiquitous, there are lots of easy options for building a responsive website that works as well on mobile as on desktop. With a website builder, you can get a mobile-friendly website up quickly and affordably.  2. Make sure your website loads fast. This is another key ranking factor Google’s been upfront about. People like websites that load fast, and Google likes to deliver results that people like. If your website takes more than a split second to load, you risk visitors clicking away and Google’s algorithm docking you for it.  A big part of having a fast website is choosing a web hosting provider that delivers reliable service. Beyond that, tips like using image compression, reducing the number of plugins you use, and enabling browser caching can help as well.  3. Do keyword research. A lot of your real estate SEO strategy will hinge on keywords. Keyword research is how you learn what the home buyers in your city are thinking about and searching for, so you know what search terms you want your website to show up for.  Make sure your keyword research prioritizes local terms. And not just obvious ones like “cincinnati real estate agent.” Get even more specific with neighborhood names and local landmarks. A good keyword strategy includes two types of keywords: Broad keywords – these will be the ones you optimize the main pages of your website for (your homepage and About page, for example). They’ll be straight to the point of what people are looking for, e.g. santa fe home selling, tampa home search, atlanta real estate agentLong-tail keywords – these are what you build a content strategy around. They usually include more words and answer questions related to buying and selling a home, e.g. best neighborhoods in charlotte, common home improvements san jose 4. Perform on-site optimization on your real estate website. For each page on your real estate website, choose a relevant primary keyword to optimize it for, and a couple of related secondary keywords. You want a unique primary keyword for every page, so you’re not competing with yourself.  Look for opportunities to naturally incorporate your keywords into, such as: The page’s title tagThe page’s headings and subheadings (h1, h2, h3, etc.)The copy on the webpageImage names and alt tagsThe meta description Also consider other pages on the site where it makes natural sense to link back to the page using your primary keyword as the anchor text.  Be careful in this step not to overdo it. Keyword stuffing—overusing a particular keyword to the point where your page doesn’t make sense for humans anymore—is actually bad for SEO. The algorithm penalizes websites that it registers keyword stuffing on. Don’t force it. But as long as you’ve chosen a keyword that’s actually relevant to the page, weaving it in naturally shouldn’t be too difficult.  5. Create and optimize a Google My Business listing. Google recognizes when a search has local intent. When location matters, it usually puts map results at the very top of the search engine results page (SERP). And a search term like “real estate” is definitely one where location matters. The results that show up under the map are all Google My Business listings. If you want a chance at winning one of those spots, you need to make sure you both have a Google My Business listing, and that you’ve optimized it.  Setting up your listing is pretty straightforward. Go here, and follow the steps the website walks you through. Fill out your profile as completely as possible, with contact information, hours, and an accurate category. Add any high-quality photographs you have to help your listing stand out for people who click through to learn more.  6. Add your real estate company to relevant directories and review sites. Make sure you have a profile on popular review sites like Yelp, Trust Pilot, and Angie’s List. Create profiles on the main real estate websites including Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin as well, and check and see if your city has any local sites with listings for real estate agents.  Research additional local organizations that have directories you can add your information to. That may include real estate professional organizations, local chambers of commerce, or other professional groups in your city.  These sites are both an opportunity to gain a link back to your website, and a way to make yourself easy for clients to find by showing up in one more place. Make sure you provide your information with the same spelling and formatting in each place you add a listing, so the algorithms can easily recognize them as representing the same business. For instance, if your office is located on Pretty Bird Lane, make sure you’re consistent in how you spell out Lane—don’t use Lane in some places and Ln in others.  7. Encourage reviews. Reviews are widely regarded by SEO professionals as an important ranking factor in local search. Obviously reviews on your Google My Business listing are important in this regard, but so are reviews on other sites across the web as well. If Google can see that you have a lot of 5-star ratings from clients around the web, you’re that much more likely to claim a top spot on the SERP. So don’t be afraid to ask your clients to leave you a review if they’re happy with their experience. You can include a link to your main review profiles in your email signature, add them to your website, and send a followup email to clients after each house sale asking them to take a few minutes to leave a review.  8. Create local content relevant to real estate. Any good SEO strategy will involve creating relevant content that provides value to your target audience. For real estate agents, that can include any topic that relates to living in your city, which should give you plenty to work with. Think about everything someone moving to your town would want to know, and create a list of ideas for content pieces to create that answer all their questions. As a starter list, this could include: Information about the local schoolsThe differences between local neighborhoodsThe best restaurants in townUpdates on big construction projects in townDetails about local electionsBest events and conferences in the cityCommon types of repairs or issues homeowners in the area deal withTrends in local real estate prices As a local, you know what people in your city care about. Package that knowledge into helpful blog posts, videos, or podcast episodes to help boost your SEO. 9. Use rich photos and videos. Buying a home is a visual experience. Sure, seeing written details like the number of rooms and square footage included in a home is an important part of it. But people will make more of their decisions based on an emotional response to the images they see.  Your real estate website will gain more traction if you include high-quality photos of the homes you represent. Even better if you also add video tours of them. To make sure these visual elements play an SEO role as well, optimize them by including the proper alt tags and adding detailed descriptions and/or transcripts of the video.   10. Promote your content. In a lot of cities, creating great content and making sure it’s optimized for search will already put you ahead of a lot of your competition. But if your city is more competitive, or if you want to go the extra mile to stake out a top spot on the SERPs, put some extra effort into getting your content in front of people. That could include sharing it on social media and sending it to your email list. It may even be worth promoting it with paid advertising on Google and the main social media platforms to give it an extra boost.  11. Partner with other local businesses and bloggers. All the steps you take on your real estate website are an important part of SEO, but they’re usually not enough on their own. You also have to work on the harder part of it: getting other websites to link back to yours. A good local link building strategy is to identify local businesses, bloggers, and publications that you can partner with in some way.  Can you guest post on a local website providing expertise on the current local market trends? Maybe you can join with a couple of other local businesses to sponsor a charity drive or put on an event together. Partnerships like this show you’re active in the community, raise your local profile, and therefore usually also lead to more links back to your website.  12. Sponsor local events. Event organizers are always looking for sponsors to help cover the costs of putting their events on. Start paying attention to the events that happen in your city: conferences, networking meetups, awards ceremonies, film festivals, music festivals, theater and dance performances, marathons. All of them likely need sponsors. Sponsoring an event often comes with a link to your site on the organizer’s website, along with other forms of promotion such as your name in the program. Sponsorship can be a good way to raise the profile of your real estate business, while building goodwill in the community at the same time.  Get Your Real Estate SEO Right Your life as a real estate agent will be much easier if you can count on people to find you, rather than having to go out of your way to find them. By building a strong website and making sure it’s optimized for the search engines, you’ll build a more successful real estate business that makes more with less work.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Is My Domain Worth?

The post What Is My Domain Worth? appeared first on HostGator Blog. A lot of us wish we could travel back in time and buy up domain names like apple.com, hotels.com, google.com, bank.com, and more.  But, even without access to a time machine, there are still ways to make money by selling domain names. Even though 99% of short and valuable domains are already taken, there are still a ton of valuable domain names out there.  Maybe years ago you decided to purchase a random domain name on a whim, only to find out years later that your domain, was worth thousands of dollars. This scenario is more common than you might think.  It’s easy to purchase all kinds of domain names, hoping that one day, a brand new startup wants to buy your domain. But, spending hundreds of dollars on random domains and sitting with your fingers crossed isn’t the best or most lucrative approach, but rather find out what goes into a domain appraisal and how to actually make domain flipping profitable.  A better approach is to learn about the factors that make a domain valuable and purchase domain names that have a decent chance of turning a profit down the line. In this post, you’ll learn the ins and outs of what makes a domain valuable and how to properly appraise a domain so you can answer the question, “What is my domain worth?” with a high level of confidence. Understanding Domain Name Valuation Domain valuation is the process of determining the value of a given domain. It’s a similar process to when companies are valued, but much less intensive.  Before we jump into how to do a domain appraisal, let’s have a quick overview of how domain names work. If you already have the basics down, such as how to register a domain, feel free to skip to the next section. If you’re just getting started building websites online, this section is for you. Domain names are synonymous with URLs (although they aren’t exactly the same thing), but essentially it’s what a user types into their browser address bar on their search engine to access your site — things like HostGator.com, Facebook.com, Google.com, etc. There are two primary parts that make up a domain, the second level domain and the top level domain. These two factors will also contribute to a domain valuation,, but more on this below. Here’s how top-level and second-level domains work together: Top-level domain. Even though it’s called top-level, this portion of the domain name is what comes at the end. It can also be referred to as a domain name extension. This is the .com, .org, .net portion of a domain name. Second-level domain. This portion of the domain name is the central portion of a domain and often refers to the name of the website, in “hostgator.com,” “hostgator” is the second-level domain and also the name of the company.  If you want to actually sell a domain you’ll need to own one first. To do this you’ll need to head over to a domain name registrar and buy a domain. Usually, you’ll have to renew your ownership of a domain on a yearly basis, but you can also buy a domain for multiple years as well. Whether you’re purchasing a domain name for a new project, or simply to hold onto and sell one day, the process remains the same.  Here’s how you do it: 1. Go to a Domain Name Registrar There are dozens of different domain name registrars out there, including one right here at HostGator, which we will be using for our example. First, head over to HostGator.com, and input the domain name you’d like to register.  2. Search for Your Domain Name The domain registration tool will then search through every single registered domain name to see if it’s available. Unless you spent some serious time researching your domain name, there’s a good chance it’ll already be taken. However, you can input different combinations of words and try different top-level domains until you find an available domain.  3. Choose Your Terms and Register Once you’ve found a domain name that you like and that’s available, all you have to do is choose your purchase terms and register the domain. If you’re planning on holding onto the domain for a while it can be helpful to register the domain for multiple years at once, so you don’t accidentally let the domain lapse.  Once you’ve registered a domain, you can either: Leave it alone, if you’re planning on selling it one day, or reserving it for a future website project of your ownForward it to your host by changing the nameservers. (If you registered your domain name at the same time you purchased your hosting, you won’t need to take any additional steps here.) What Factors Make a Domain Name Valuable? Knowing whether you have a valuable domain on your hands doesn’t require a ton of work, but it does require that you understand the factors that lead to a domain being valuable.  Often, the value that a domain holds will be determined by how desirable the domain name is. The list of factors below can help to illuminate whether or not your domain is valuable, but it’s not a science or always right. There’s always the chance that your strange and unique domain could align with a phrase from another country, or be the ideal name for a new startup.  Overall, the conditions below will be a good indicator of how valuable a domain actually is.  1. The Associated Top-Level Domain Having a domain name with a trustworthy top-level domain (TLD) will go a long way towards making a domain name desirable. For example, the domain “getmail.com” will have much more value than the domain “getmail.xyz.” Typically, more standard and popular TLDs will always be a better bet. Some of the most popular TLDs include .com, .org, .net, and .co. However, other combinations could hold value, providing they make sense. For instance, the domain “get.mail” could be valuable to some businesses. 2. Any Keywords Present If your domain name has a popular keyword in it, this could also help to improve its value. For example, “bookflights.com” would be a valuable domain for the travel industry. Exact match domain names don’t hold as much value as they used to, but having the right keywords in a domain can increase how desirable your domain name is.   3. The Length of the Domain Generally, the shorter a domain name, the more valuable it will be. Now, this won’t always be true. For example, the domain “r4dxf3.com” won’t be very valuable. But, taken as a whole, domains with few words or short phrases will hold more value. Shorter domains are much easier to remember and more straightforward to market overall. You can easily build a business around a shorter domain, while it may be more difficult with a longer domain.  4. The Overall Brandability of the Domain The brandability of a domain can be hard to define. But, it’s still a significant factor when people are choosing a domain name. Essentially, good brand names are memorable, unique, and catchy. Think of brands and domains like instagram.com, twitter.com, grammarly.com. 5. Existing Site and Traffic If you’re selling a domain name and the site is already getting traffic, or has an existing backlink profile, then you can typically get much more for the domain. An interested buyer could be purchasing the domain for the name and the SEO power alone. They could be interested in taking over your website. Or, they could be using it for the sheer SEO power alone and forwarding your domain to their existing site.  Older domains also tend to be more valuable than a brand new domain. So, if you have an old domain, even if you haven’t done anything with the domain, it can still be more valuable than a domain you registered a few months ago.  How to Determine What Your Domain is Worth If your domain currently satisfies a bunch of the requirements in the above section, then you might have a valuable domain on your hands.  Below we’ll walk you through some practical steps on how you can determine the value of your domain name. 1. Get a Valuation of Similar Domains A good place to start with domain name valuation is getting an idea of the current landscape of domain name sales.  There are a few different sites you can look through which will give you a general idea of what kind of domains have currently sold, and for how much. Some popular sites include ShortNames, Domain Name Wire, and Sedo. Here’s a quick look at some of the recent domains that have sold from the Domain Name Wire archives: This will give you a general understanding of the types of domains that are sold, the domains that bring in the most money, and more valuable information that you can compare to your current domain to see how you stack up.  2. Use a Domain Estimation Tool  There are a variety of estimation tools out there that’ll give you an accurate idea of what your domain is worth. These tools do a lot of the difficult estimation work for you. In general, what they do is compare your domain to similar domains and estimate the value based upon what other domains have sold for.  The most widely used domain name estimator is EstiBot. Just enter your domain name into the tool and you’ll get an accurate report of how much your domain name is worth.  Beyond the general valuation, these reports will give you all kinds of valuable data like the value of other related domains that just sold, along with search volume, keywords, and more.  3. Consider Selling Your Domain You can get a lot of useful information from the tools above. But, if you want some practical information on how much your domain is worth, then consider listing your domain for sale. Even if you aren’t ready to sell your domain, you can create a high enough reserve price, where if someone does buy it you’ll be happy.  For example, you can create a domain listing on Flippa. Enter all the relevant details about your domain, and set a high reserve price. The higher the reserve price, the less likely people will buy your domain.  Your goal here is to get actual bids from real people to see what they’ll pay for it. Who knows, someone might even purchase your domain for the super high reserve price! How Much Is Your Domain Worth? Hopefully, you have a better idea of the different factors that make a domain name valuable, along with how you can determine the value of your own domain. By using the tips and tools highlighted in this post, you should be able to pretty accurately determine how much you can sell your domain for.  You can also use the guidelines above to help you when you’re considering purchasing new domains. As a business buying and selling domains can be tough, but buying domains for your personal projects that check the boxes above can help to improve the sale price down the road. Here’s a quick recap of the biggest factors that influence domain name price: The popularity of the top-level domain you useThe keywords present in the domain nameThe brandability of the domain name (i.e. does it make sense as a company name?)The length of the domain name (shorter is better, commonly-used phrases or words are even better)If there’s any existing traffic or backlinks to the domain name Knowing what your domain name is worth can help you decide whether it’s time to sell your domain for a quick influx of cash, or purchase a brand new domain you just came across. Remember, if you want to quickly and easily register a new domain name, you can do so right here at HostGator.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Launch a Website for Your Etsy Shop

The post How to Launch a Website for Your Etsy Shop appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’ve heard of Etsy. You know, it’s the place you go to when you need an adorable print of your favorite quote. It’s the hub for gorgeous, unique, hand-made jewelry of all sorts. It’s the perfect eCommerce website to find organic products, vintage items, and craft supplies. You may even already have an Etsy side hustle of your own, and know everything that is involved with selling your own hand-crafted items online. What you may not know about Etsy, however, are the exact numbers that prove just how successful Etsy is.  To fill you in, reports show that Etsy generated revenues worth 603.7 million U.S. dollars last year alone, according to Statista. Not to mention, in July 2019, the company had a market capitalization of 7.46 billion U.S. dollars, and Etsy is projected to grow its revenue at a 22 percent CAGR between 2019 and 2021. What this means in regular people speak is this: Etsy is the perfect place for crafty individuals to start a successful side hustle.  While using Etsy is an awesome way to list and sell your products online, it’s only half the battle of growing a successful online store side hustle. The other half lies in running, operating, and integrating your Etsy products into your own website. This article will cover why you need your own website along with your Etsy store, how to build your website, and how to integrate your Etsy store into your website. Why Every Etsy Shop Needs Its Own Website Etsy is an excellent eCommerce platform for listing and selling your products. However, that’s where Etsy starts and stops. If you are looking to grow your side hustle into a revenue making machine, then it’s necessary to have a website. Let’s look into some of the reasons how a website helps you grow your side hustle. 1. You can increase the sales of your products The first reason to start your own website is so you can take complete control of the sales of your products. To illustrate this point, let’s meet a successful side hustler, Rebekah Welch. Rebekah Welch is the owner and operator of Cherish Bath + Body. Welch describes what she does in her own words. She says, “I make bath products and skin care from scratch using natural, organic, plant based ingredients.”  While Welch started out selling products with only an Etsy store, she soon recognized that she lacked complete control of her sales. As a result, she used HostGator to build her own website, and boost her revenues. Welch says, “I just recently finished building my own website. Previously, I relied on Etsy for sales. Now, having my own site, I can sell my products on my own terms.” Now that Welch has complete control of her online sales, she has plans for future growth. About her future plans, she says, “I am going to grow my business into a full time income. I would like to set up a few wholesale accounts and see my products in boutiques as well as building a brick and mortar store.”  Key Takeaway: Building your own website will allow you to sell your products on your own terms. 2. You can gain complete control of your business Since Etsy is its own company with investors, pressures from stakeholders to grow rapidly, and a list of terms and conditions you agree to, Etsy often works on a different agenda as its sellers. For example, at any time Etsy can raise their transaction fees to boost profits, make design changes as desired, and change its search algorithm, which may result in dips in your Etsy store traffic. These potential changes can negatively impact the sales and overall success of your Etsy store, and there is nothing you can do about it. The best way to ensure your business isn’t subject to the “Big Wig Decision Makers” at Etsy is to create a website—a website you control fully. Key Takeaway: When your store only exists on Etsy, Etsy is the boss. When you build your own website and sell your products in your own online store, you’re the boss. 3. You can invest in robust online marketing Another benefit of having your own website is the ability to invest in online marketing, content marketing through your blog, and to grow at your own pace. When you have your own website, you have full control to optimize it for search, invest in paid advertising, and build a content marketing plan.  All of these endeavors will help you grow your fan base, boost your clientele, and make more sales. Key Takeaway: Operating your own website allows you to participate in online marketing to grow your traffic and boost sales. Grow Your Etsy Business by Building Your Own Website with HostGator One of the benefits of Etsy is how easy it is to get your store up and running. The good news is setting up your website with HostGator is also an intuitive process, especially if you’ve already set up an Etsy store. To set up your own website, you don’t need to know how to code, or be an expert on web design. You also don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to hire a professional to help you. All you need to do is follow six easy steps, and you can get your website up in less than a day. Here is a quick overview of each of the six steps. Step 1: Pick a hosting plan for your website. Every website needs hosting. Buying a hosting package essentially means you are renting space on a third-party company server to store your web files. HostGator is a web hosting company that offers three website builder plans you can choose from for your online store. You can pick your plan depending on your needs and how much functionality you need for your site. The Starter plan includes a free domain, 200+ templates that will work well for someone looking to promote a book, cloud hosting, a drag-and-drop editor, and website analytics.  The Premium plan includes everything the Start plan includes plus access to priority support when you need it. Since you are running an online store and will be selling products, the best package for you is the eCommerce plan. This package includes everything the Premium plan provides plus full eCommerce functionality. In other words, you can sell your products online with this plan. Once you’ve picked the eCommerce plan for your online store, click “buy now” and you can set up your account. Step 2: Pick a domain name for your website. Every Gator Website Builder package includes a free domain. This means you don’t have to purchase a domain from a separate domain hosting company. To pick your domain, simply type something in the “get domain” box.  Since you already have an Etsy shop, the best thing to do would be to choose the name of your Etsy store as your domain. For example, Rebekah Welch picked cherishbathandbody.com, the same name of her Etsy shop. If you are just getting started and don’t have an Etsy store yet or a domain name, here is a helpful article on how to choose the perfect domain name. If you already have a domain name you’ve been saving for when you launch your own website, then you can connect it to your HostGator account by clicking “connect it here.”  Step 3: Create your account. Once you have a domain name, it’s easy to connect your HostGator account. All you need is a Facebook account or an email address to connect. Then, enter your payment information for the package you selected, and you’ll be ready to pick a template for your website. Step 4: Pick a template for your eCommerce website. As mentioned above, you don’t have to build your website on your own. The Gator Website Builder comes with templates, and all you have to do is pick the one that matches the style of your Etsy store. Once you create your account, HostGator will direct you to the “choose a template” page.  You can scroll through more than 200 professionally-designed templates, and select the template that you love. The next step is to customize it as you please with the drag and drop builder. Step 5: Add content to your online store. After you have selected a template, it’s time to start customizing your website with content. Click “start editing.” This step will send you to your dashboard where you can add, edit, and delete pages like your homepage, about page, online store, product pages, blog, and any other page you want to include. With the drag and drop builder, you can make your website look how you want it to look by pointing, clicking, dragging, and dropping the elements you want to include. It’s an intuitive process, but if you have any questions, HostGator provides a free and easy step-by-step guide for reference that you can access at any time.  To access this helpful guide, click the “menu” icon next to the Gator by HostGator logo and select the “getting started tour.”   Additionally, since you signed up for the eCommerce plan, you have access to priority support whenever you have questions. Step 6: Review your content and launch your website. The last step is to review your website, make any desired changes, and publish your website. By clicking “preview,” you can see your website in full. If everything looks perfect, then click the “finish preview” button at the top and then “publish website” at the top of the dashboard. Gator Website Builder will present a series of quick steps to help you go live. How to Integrate Your Etsy Shop into Your Website Do you already have your own website? Then, you’ve already done the hard part! All that’s left is for you to integrate your Etsy shop into your website.  Etsy used to offer a service called Etsy Mini where you could copy and paste a unique code into your website, and the code would pull your products into your website. Unfortunately, Etsy no longer offers this service, and without some deep digging and intense work arounds, it’s difficult to integrate products with an Etsy code. However, even if Etsy Mini is no longer an option, you’re not out of luck. You can still add your Etsy store into your WordPress account. Here’s how. 1. Add the Etsy plugin The first step to getting integrating your Etsy store into WordPress is to install and activate the Etsy plugin Upon activation, remember to go to Settings and then the Etsy Shop page and enter your Etsy API key to connect your shop. 2. Copy your API key Once you have connected your shop, you will see your Etsy API key. Copy this key for the next step. 3. Paste your API key Next, return to your WordPress admin area and paste the Etsy API key, and save changes.  4. Create a page or edit an existing page Once you have saved your changes, you’re ready to sell products from your Etsy shop on your WordPress site. You’ll just need to create a new page in WordPress or edit an existing page, and add your shortcode.  And, that’s it! It’s worth mentioning that since Etsy is its own eCommerce platform, and won’t have the same functionality as WooCommerce. As your side hustle begins getting traction, and when you are ready to grow your side hustle into a full-fledged business, you may want to consider ditching your Etsy shop entirely and building out your own eCommerce platform on your website. Grow Your Etsy Shop with Your Own Website If you have an Etsy side hustle and are looking to gain more control, make more sales, and market your products online with more freedom, now is the time to set up your own website. For more information on how to get started with building your own website, visit HostGator and check out the Gator Website Builder. With the help of the Gator Website Builder, you can get your own website up and running in less than a day. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Best WordPress Plugins for Amazon Affiliates

The post Best WordPress Plugins for Amazon Affiliates appeared first on HostGator Blog. If you’re looking to monetize your WordPress site there are a lot of approaches you can take. However, one of the most effective routes, especially for beginners, is affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing you recommend products to your readers, and if they purchase a product through your link, then you’ll receive a commission. Succeeding with affiliate marketing is a lot more complex than that, but the basic idea remains the same.  One of the most popular ways to earn money as an affiliate is via the Amazon affiliate program. Luckily WordPress and the Amazon affiliate program work really well together. There’s tons of plugins that’ll help you maximize your earnings and optimize your affiliate pages. Below we dive into how the Amazon affiliate program works, and highlight the best WordPress affiliate marketing plugins that’ll help you generate more revenue and making your life as an affiliate much easier.  The Amazon Affiliate Marketing Program If you’re running a WordPress site that’s getting decent traffic, then you’ll have a multitude of ways to start generating an income. You could start selling your own products via an eCommerce store, sell your services as a freelancer, utilize display ads via a network like AdSense, or add affiliate links to your site and start making income via affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is one of the easier ways to start generating revenue from your website. Essentially, you sign up for an affiliate program. In this case, you’d be signing up for the Amazon Affiliate program called Amazon Associates.  Once you’re approved, you’ll be able to start promoting products via Amazon and generating what is known as affiliate sales. Whenever you mention a product on your site, you’ll include a link to Amazon of the product you’re highlighting or reviewing. These links will contain your unique tracking code, so whenever someone clicks the link from your site and purchases a product from Amazon you’ll get a percentage of the sale. Entire websites are built around reviewing Amazon products, or you can add a link whenever it makes sense within your content. The links that you’ll generate will be completely unique to you, so Amazon will be able to determine that it was you that sent that visitor to their site.  Benefits of Adding Affiliate Links to Your WordPress Site There are tons of different affiliate programs you can sign up for. For example, if you want to become a hosting affiliate, you can sign up for the affiliate program right here at HostGator. No matter what niche your website is in, you can find an affiliate program that matches up. However, Amazon is one of the most widely used affiliate programs in the world for a good reason. Here are the most significant benefits you’ll receive when you start adding Amazon affiliate links to your WordPress site:  1. They’re a Trusted Marketplace Amazon is one of the most trusted retailers on the planet. Making good money as an affiliate is all about trust, and Amazon already has that.  To make money as an affiliate people are going to need to buy the products you’re recommending. Just clicking the link and browsing through the site isn’t enough. They need to either buy the product you’re suggesting, or in the case of Amazon, but something from the store while the cookie window is still active. One of the biggest reasons people don’t follow through with their purchases is because they don’t trust the site. The typical scenario goes like this: A visitor comes to your website and likes the product you’re recommending, so they click your link and head over to the site. However, when they get there, they don’t fully trust the site with their valuable credit card information, so they end up not buying.  But, when you’re recommending Amazon products, you never have to worry about this. Most people already have their credit card information on file and have bought things from Amazon in the past. All they have to do is click a button.  2. The Amazon Marketplace is Massive Amazon sells products in virtually every niche in the world. So, no matter the topic of your site, you can probably find a handful of products on Amazon that are worth promoting. Whether you’re running a site about dog training, aerial drones, stress relief, meditation, kayaking, or any other topic you’ll be able to find a few highly rated products your readers are likely to buy. This makes it easy to make money as an affiliate, no matter your niche.  3. Revenue From Total Sales Unlike a lot of other affiliate programs, when someone heads over to Amazon via your affiliate link, you’ll receive a commission for any products they order for a 24 hour period.  So, if someone heads over to Amazon to check out a new blender from your affiliate link, but they also end up buying a new dishwasher, diapers, and some supplements, then you’ll receive a commission for that too. This window also lasts for 24 hours, even if the person ends up leaving the site and coming back later that day to make a purchase.  There’s also an extended 90-day window for any products added to the cart, but aren’t immediately purchased. So, if someone visits Amazon via your link and adds a product to their cart, then they still have 90 days to buy that product–and you’ll still receive a commission.  Why You’ll Want to Use an Amazon Affiliate Plugin If you have a WordPress site, you can get away without using an Amazon affiliate WordPress plugin. But using one will make your life a lot easier. When you’re just starting, and you only include a single affiliate link here and there in your blog posts, you might not see the value in using a WordPress plugin. It’s easy enough to find the product on Amazon and copy and paste your link from your affiliate dashboard. But, as you begin recommending more and more products, it can be difficult to decipher which links are making you money and which links are a total waste of time. By using some of the WordPress plugins,we’re going to highlight in the list below, you can better manage your Amazon affiliate links and even generate more revenue. When you first start adding Amazon affiliate links to your WordPress site, it can be thrilling to get that first sale. But as your affiliate income grows, you’ll want measurable data that you can work from. This will help you better optimize your site and your content so that you can increase your affiliate income even further.  Using an Amazon affiliate plugin offers you all kinds of benefits like: Saving time by searching for products within your WordPress editorCreate product comparison tables, so visitors can quickly see how products stack upTrack your links and see what products are generating you the most revenueAutomatically direct links to the correct Amazon storefrontKeep your product listings up to date with automated updates 5 Best WordPress Plugins for Amazon Affiliates As you start to search for Amazon affiliate plugins you’ll notice that there are a ton of different plugins available.  Below we highlight five of the best Amazon affiliate plugins for WordPress:  1. EasyAzon EasyAzon helps you quickly create Amazon affiliate links from within your WordPress dashboard. This will save you a ton of time, since you don’t have to login to your Amazon Associates account and manually create an affiliate link. You also have the ability to create image affiliate links, product blocks which showcase the features of your products, and call to action buttons. If you want even more features, then you can upgrade to the premium version of the plugin, which gives you access to features like: Link cloaking, so your affiliate links don’t look like affiliate linksLink localization, so your affiliate links will automatically send to the correct store, i.e., amazon.co.uk, instead of amazon.com.The ability to create and track multiple affiliate IDs, so you can see which links convert the best 2. AAWP (Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin) AAWP is one of the most popular Amazon affiliate WordPress plugins. The goal of this plugin is to help you increase the total value of your Amazon affiliate pages. This plugin achieves its goal by offering you different options to display your products, so they’re more enticing to your readers. For example, you’ll be able to display your recommended products in the following ways: Comparison tables that show how different products stack upProduct boxes that highlight product features and benefitsBestseller lists to showcase popular productsWidgetized sections to add products throughout your site Plus, all of the product information will be updated automatically to reflect the latest pricing and product information, because it pulls directly from Amazon. 3. Amazon Link Engine Amazon Link Engine was created by the team behind the popular service, GeniusLink, the same link tracking and management service that’s used by writers like Ryan Holiday and companies like BMW and NBC.  The goal of this plugin is to help boost your sales and commissions by localizing all of your links. So, whenever someone clicks a link on your site they’ll be brought to the proper Amazon storefront.  This plugin takes care of the heavy lifting for you and all of your links are localized automatically. All you have to do is install and activate the plugin, then sync your Amazon Associates IDs. This plugin functions differently than other link localization plugins, because it looks at more than just the product ID. This ensures that the traffic gets sent to the product they’re most likely to buy.  Here’s a quick run down of its feature set: Automatic link localization for all of your Amazon affiliate linksRevenue maximization, since visitors won’t be sent to blank product pagesFast setup and configuration, just a couple of clicks 4. AmaLinks Pro AmaLinks Pro is a relatively new WordPress plugin. It was built because the creators felt that the existing plugins weren’t delivering what they needed in a plugin. So, they built their own plugin that meets all their needs. It’s since been endorsed by sites like Niche Pursuits and Human Proof Designs. The goal of this plugin is to make integrating your WordPress site with Amazon as simple as possible. It’s equipped with features that allow you to: Search for products within your WordPress editor, so there’s no need to move back and forth between Amazon and your site.Quickly insert links into your content with a few clicks.Insert image links, so that your product pictures link out to Amazon too.Create a showcase box to highlight all the unique features of the product you’re promoting.Build comparison tables to help readers compare the differences between products.  5. AzonPress AzonPress is an intuitive all-in-one plugin to integrate WordPress with Amazon. A lot of plugins equipped with a ton of different features can get overwhelming to use, but not this plugin. Think of it like a combination of all the above plugins highlighted on this list. With this WordPress plugin you can do a lot of things. For example, you can create Amazon affiliate stores that function as if they were an eCommerce store. Let users browse through different products you’re highlighting and send them over to Amazon via an attractive “buy button”. There are a variety of other different ways you can showcase your affiliate products as well, like: Product comparison tables, so your visitors can compare products quicklyResponsive product tables that look good on every screen sizeAutomated product updates, so you always have the latest product info It’s also equipped with a built-in affiliate management dashboard, so you can easily see your earnings, view historical affiliate data, track which links are bringing you the most revenue, and a lot more.  By now you should have a better understanding of how the Amazon affiliate program works, and how you can best integrate it into your WordPress site. You don’t have to install every plugin from the list above, but instead choose one or two that’ll help you achieve your goals. Ready to optimize your WordPress site for affiliate earnings? Check out these top WordPress themes for affiliate websites. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Use a Business Loan to Finance Your Side Hustle

The post How to Use a Business Loan to Finance Your Side Hustle appeared first on HostGator Blog. The nice thing about a side hustle is that you can put as much or as little effort into it as you’d like. It can be a robust source of extra income for you, or a fun hobby that generates a little spending money. Let’s say that your side hustle starts to pick up steam, and you’re starting to see it as a legitimate small business play. Maybe it’s time to put more money behind your side hustle operations—to pay for more marketing, improved material quality, or whatever else you need to bring your side hustle to the next level. Where can you get the funding? It’s tempting to use your personal savings—few options are more convenient than going to the ATM—but if you’re not prepared to make that kind of investment in a side hustle, what are your alternatives? If donations or loans from your personal network aren’t an option, it’s time to explore how you can use business loan products to finance your side hustle. How to lay the groundwork for a side hustle loan Getting a loan for your side hustle is going to be difficult if you don’t prepare first. You’ll need to treat your side hustle as a legitimate business first—otherwise, why would a business loan lender treat it any differently? Here’s a quick business loan requirements checklist: Write up a business plan: For some lenders, this is a requirement. Regardless, it’s still good to have a written document outlining where your business stands and where you want it to go—especially with an influx of new funding.  Separate your business and personal finances: If you’re using your personal credit card and/or bank accounts to run your side hustle, you’re asking for a paperwork headache. You’ll also fail to build crucial business credit. Prepare financial documents: Get ready to bring any documents that show how you and your business are doing—bank statements, balance sheets, tax returns, A/R and A/P aging—to the table.Provide collateral: There are few unsecured business loans out there. Be prepared to offer personal collateral to secure the loan. Improve your credit scores: Lenders often look at both your business and personal credit scores, so clean up your credit (or learn about what goes into building it) before you apply. Different lenders, whether they’re traditional banks or online lenders, will have different loan requirements and expectations. Getting the above things in order, however, is a good place to start for any loan. Your side hustle loan options The longer you’ve been “in business” with your side hustle and the better you’ve done, the better your loan options will be. For example, most traditional bank loans won’t be available to any small business unless that business has been in operation for at least a few years. Online lenders more readily deal with newer businesses, but charge higher interest rates over shorter repayment periods as a result. You’ll have to crunch the numbers to see which kind of business loan makes sense for you. That said, here’s a general roundup of the best side hustle loan options that you might qualify for: SBA Microloans The Small Business Administration’s loan program is the crown jewel of the small business financing world. While most SBA loans are for well-established businesses, the Microloan program (which delivers loans ranging from $500-$50,000 for new businesses) is a great first step for turning a side hustle into a bigger business. Online short-term loans or lines of credit A variety of online lenders have entered the lending space, and are willing to grant short-term loans or revolving lines of credit to eligible businesses. For a major investment, a short-term loan could work well for a side hustle; a line of credit is best if you see yourself with ongoing costs you’ll need to cover, such as taking advantage of seasonal discounts to boost your inventory. Many lenders have time-in-business requirements: for some, it’s as little as three months, but more often it’s at least 12 months. Equipment financing If your side hustle needs help purchasing a new piece of major equipment, such as a vehicle or piece of kitchen equipment, equipment financiers can extend the exact amount you’ll need to cover the expense, which you’ll repay plus interest. Inventory financing Similar to equipment financing, inventory financing is when you use a loan to cover the exact amount you’ll need for a big inventory purchase. If you need the money to get a great deal now on inventory, this options works well. You won’t need additional collateral for inventory or equipment financing, as the inventory or equipment itself secures the loan. Personal loans It’s worth mentioning that you can absolutely use a personal loan to finance a side hustle. Personal loans may be easier to qualify for than business loans (especially if you are just getting your side hustle off the ground), and often come with lower interest rates and no collateral requirements. The total amount you can borrow with a personal loan is lower than with a business loan (many personal loans max out at around $30,000), and you won’t build business credit. But for your purposes, for now, that might work fine. Business credit cards Business credit cards are also an excellent financing tool for side hustlers. Some elite cards come with a 0% introductory APR, or other benefits that you can use to reinvest in your business. When financing larger purchases that you might not have the cash on hand for right away, a credit card is a good choice that helps you build business credit as well. How you can use your loan Every business loan and every lender can have different restrictions or requirements around loans. For example, you can’t use SBA loans to pay off existing debt or to purchase real estate. You are allowed to use them for working capital needs or the purchase of inventory, equipment, and other assets. Some forms of financing will be for specific use cases, such as the equipment or inventory financing. Some credit cards, on the other hand, allow you to perform balance transfers—which is helpful if your new card has a low or 0% interest rate for a certain amount of time, helping you manage what would otherwise be ballooning business debt. If you’re looking for a loan that can help you build out your side hustle in every way possible—perhaps you have an eye on investing in software to improve operations, in marketing to gain more leads, or even hiring an employee or two—then consider a personal loan, a microloan, or even crowdfunding via a platform like Kickstarter. You’ll have more latitude. Just remember, you need to make a business case for your loan—a real reason for taking out the loan, with an expected return on investment—or you’ll struggle to repay it. The bottom line on side hustle loans Financing a side hustle isn’t unlike financing any other small business endeavor. Maybe your ambitions for a side hustle are a little less grand; but if you’re taking out money to finance its growth, that’s still a serious investment. Take this process seriously, and you’re much more likely to see success—and to set yourself up to make this a full-time gig, if that’s what you’re building towards.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Much Does Domain Registration Cost?

The post How Much Does Domain Registration Cost? appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’re trying to figure out how to budget for your new website and need an answer to the question of how much a website costs per month. Along with factors like web design and web hosting costs, an important consideration is how much you need to spend on domain registration. How Much Does Domain Registration Cost? For most website owners, domain registration will cost in the range of $10-$20 a year.  That’s what most of the people reading this right now can expect, but it’s not the whole answer to what domain registration costs. On the low end, you may be able to register a domain for free (generally as an add-on to another service like web hosting). On the high end, popular domain names have sold for as high as tens of millions of dollars.  That’s a pretty huge range in cost. To figure out what accounts for the difference between the extremes and what you can expect, this post will share the most important information you need to know about what domain registration costs.   What is a Domain Name?  Before you spend money on something, you need to understand what you’re actually paying for. A domain name is the address you type into a web browser to bring up a specific web page. It’s the thing that starts with https or www and ends with something like .com or .org. Some high-profile examples of domain names include www.google.com and www.nytimes.com. While every website technically has another address—the IP address that machines use to recognize it—as far as humans are concerned, the domain name is a website’s address on the web.  Why Do I Need a Domain Name? Nobody wants to spend money on something if they don’t have to. But for many people, registering a domain name is downright necessary. For others, it can be a smart decision. There are three main instances where someone would want to buy a domain name: 1. You’re starting a website. A domain name is one of the expenses required in starting and running a website. It’s non-negotiable. If you want people to be able to see your website, you need a domain name.  2. You’re considering a business or website idea. If you’ve got a great idea for a business or website you want to start and a name you like in mind, nabbing the domain name sooner rather than later is a smart idea. If you register a domain name before someone else thinks of it, you’ll stake your claim on it in advance while it’s still available.  3. You want to use it as an investment. Buying domain names for investment purposes was more common in the early days of the internet, when there were more .coms with popular keywords still available to claim. Now that most are taken, it’s hard to find domains at a good price that make a solid investment. Nonetheless, if you think you have the skill spot a domain name likely to go up in value, you can buy it now in the hopes of selling it later.  6 Factors That Influence the Cost of a Domain Name How much you spend on domain registration depends on a few main choices you make.  1. The domain registrar you choose A domain registrar is a business that sells domain names and handles the business of registering them. There are hundreds of domain registrars, and each can set their own pricing for the domain names they sell. If any registrar you consider seems overly expensive or untrustworthy, don’t worry, you have other choices.  The best domain registrar to go with is one that’s registered with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has a strong reputation within the industry, and sells domains at reasonable prices based on industry standards. Even better if your registrar packages the domain name with other services you need, like a website builder. Then you can save on additional costs of WordPress hosting and other services.  2. Your top-level domain A top-level domain (TLD) is the extension you see at the end of a domain name. The most popular option is .com, but you’ve probably also seen websites that use .net, .org, .gov or .co, just to name a few of the most popular.  Top-level domains often communicate something about a website. In particular: Country top-level domains tell you where a website is basedWebsites with .org are non-profitsWebsites with .gov are governmental organizations or departmentsWebsites with .edu are associated with educational institutions  In addition, many of the newer TLDs like .biz or .co signal that a website is for a business. And some like .io or .tv say something about the specific industry a business is in.   TLDs are one of the main factors in what registering your domain will cost. Those that aren’t as well-known or popular, like .xyz or .site will tend to be cheaper than the common options that are more in demand.  3. Length of contract Many domain registrars will offer different annual rates based on how long you register a domain for. You may be able to save money by committing to a few years upfront, versus paying annually.  For any website owner certain they intend to keep the website running for the long term, this is a good deal. If you’re registering a domain because you have an idea for a possible future business that may or may not get off the ground, it might make sense to stick with a shorter contract to start.  4. Domain name privacy Everyone who registers a domain is required to provide personal information, including their name, email, and physical address. That information goes into the ICANN WHOIS database to ensure that if a website owner breaks any laws, authorities have a way to find and hold them accountable.  While there’s a practical reason for the database, having your personal data listed means giving up more privacy than many website owners are comfortable with. For that reason, many domain registrars offer domain name privacy as an add-on for an additional cost. You provide your information to the registrar, and they pass theirs along to the directory to publish instead. You keep your privacy, but still manage to stay within all the rules. Domain name privacy will typically add $10-40 a year or so to the cost of your domain registration.  5. Domain name availability Most of the factors we’ve discussed so far can cause a difference of a few bucks here and there to your domain registration. This one is where the differences can get big. If you register a domain name that’s already available, your costs will be relatively low. If you decide you really want one that someone already owns, you’ll probably be paying much higher prices. That’s where the multi-million dollar domain name sales we mentioned earlier start to come into play.  Most of the domain names that someone already owns won’t cost in the millions. Although you should know, many of them won’t even be for sale. If you set your sights on a domain name someone’s actively using, don’t get your hopes up. They’ll probably want to keep it.  But a portion of the domain names already owned were bought by investors with the specific intention of selling them. If the domain you want belongs to an investor, they’ll be interested in selling, as long as you can agree on a price.   6. Keyword popularity If you’re buying a domain off an investor, a big factor in how they set their price will be keyword popularity. URLs are one factor in search engine optimization (SEO). Having a domain name that incorporates valuable keywords can therefore make your website easier for people to find in the search engines. If the domain you want consists of a keyword phrase that gets a lot of searches on Google, be prepared to spend more because of it. How Much Should I Pay for a Domain Name? All of that information may be good to know, but what you really care about is how it applies to you and the domain name you want. If you can come up with a good domain name for your business that someone hasn’t already bought the .com for, then you can register your preferred option for less than $15 a year. If you’re okay with considering a less common TLD, you can potentially get your domain for less than $10 or, in some cases, less than $2 a year (at least to start). If you’ll be buying your domain name from an investor though, it will all depend on who owns it now and how valuable they believe it is. As the owner, they get the set the price and you’ll have to decide what it’s worth to you.   How to Buy a Domain from an Investor Registering a domain name that’s available is easy enough, you just search for it at HostGator and check out. But buying a domain name from an investor is more complicated.  If you’re lucky and the domain owner is actively trying to sell it, you can easily find out how to buy by simply visiting the URL. If that doesn’t work, then you need to figure out who owns the domain. You can try the WHOIS directory for this. If they’ve opted for domain name privacy, the information listed should still go to the domain registrar who can pass it along.  Once you’ve found contact information for the owner, reach out with an offer. You can do this directly, or consider going through a domain name broker. A broker can help manage the negotiations and provide you some protections when it comes time to pay for your domain name. Once you and the owner come to an agreement, pay for your domain name through a secure site (ideally a third-party site that provides you both some level of protection), and get your domain name.  How to Find an Available Domain Buying a domain name from an investor is both more complicated and inevitably more expensive than finding one that’s already available. If your heart is set on a specific name, the owner has all the power to set the price and you have to accept it or be willing to move on. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you’re willing to come up with a new domain idea that no one’s bought yet. And by getting a little creative, you can probably figure something out you like nearly as much as your original idea.  Do some brainstorming. Think about keywords, synonyms, and words in other languages that mean something similar to what you have in mind. Consider animals or characters you can add to your domain name to give it some more personality (hey, it worked for this gator-loving website).  Plug lots of ideas into our domain search tool, and then look at the available suggestions the tool generates.  By opening your mind to new ideas, you may come up with a domain name that’s not only available (and thus affordable), but also more unique and memorable than the one you thought you wanted.  How to Find the Best Domain Registrar for Your Money Domain registrars are not all created equal. To make sure you choose the best domain registrar for your needs, consider the following: Do they have the proper accreditation? All legitimate domain registrars will be accredited by the ICANN. You can double-check a company’s accreditation by seeing if they’re listed here.  In some cases though, the name listed may be different than the name of the company you register your domain with. For example, HostGator’s domain registrations go through the registrars LaunchPad and eNom. Are their prices fair? Check and see if what a registrar is charging is in line with what’s typical from other companies. You don’t want to end up paying considerably more because you didn’t compare your options.Do they offer other services you need? This isn’t required for a registrar to be worth considering, but it can make your life easier. If you can manage your domain name in the same place that you manage your web hosting, website builder, or other website services, it’s one less account you have to deal with. HostGator’s domain registration is easy, the prices are fair, and you can take care of your domain management and renewals in the same place you manage your web hosting services and website updates.  Domain registration doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Simply use our domain search tool to find the domain you want, and it can be yours within minutes. Still looking for a hosting provider to help you build your online presence? HostGator is a leading hosting provider that offers a number of different hosting packages so you can build your perfect website.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Launch Your Photography Side Hustle

The post How to Launch Your Photography Side Hustle appeared first on HostGator Blog. Do you have an eye for aesthetics? Have you invested in a fancy camera beyond the typical smartphone camera? Do you have photography chops that make you the go-to photographer during group travel, family functions, and events with friends? If you have a passion for photography and a desire to make extra money on the side with a photography business, the time is now to get your photography business up and running. While it’s true that photography is a popular type of side hustle, it doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the fun, start your own business, and set yourself apart from the crowd. You’ll just need to work extra hard, take advice from successful photography side hustlers, and invest in the tools that will help you set out on the right foot. Let’s take a closer look at what this means. How Do You Know if Photography is a Good Fit? If you’re interested in starting a side business, it’s true you have several options. How do you know if turning your passion for photography into a full-fledged business is the right move? Follow your passion Jill Ransom, a professional photographer, offers some excellent insight into how she knew photography was a good fit for her. She says: I love to take photographs. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. Anything I could point a camera at was fair game. While I was in college working on a nursing degree I took a few classes in the photography department and learned how to develop my own film. That was a lot of fun. As a result of those classes and the critiques we shared as students, I became a better photographer. I started taking pictures of my friends and their newborns and kids, and their dogs, and really enjoyed doing that. People liked my work. I started watching YouTube to learn how to polish my skills in photoshop—-another of my newfound passions. I decided that I’d give becoming a professional photographer a shot and maybe make a little money doing something that was so much fun.” Does this sound like you? If you’ve always had a knack and passion for photography like Jill Ransom, you can rest assured that investing in a photography business is a great idea. Get better at niche photography  Another tell-tale sign that a photography business might be a good idea for you is if you are already focused on getting better at a certain type of photography. As you know, it takes a certain expertise to shoot headshots and another exercise to take action shots.  Trevor Yannayon started his photography side hustle as a result of wanting to get better at action shots. He says, “My side hustle grew out of my desire to get better photos of my kids playing sports. The more photos I took the more my passion grew and while it was not my intent it has grown into a nice side hustle for me.”  During the process of learning how to take better action shots, he was able to hone his skills and become an outstanding photographer. It’s true photographers are a dime a dozen, but being a good photographer that has taken the time to specialize in a certain type of photography might just be the key to help you land jobs. Don’t be afraid to go where life takes you Sometimes a side hustle can come as a result of your life taking an unexpected direction. In other words, sometimes you can find what you’re truly passionate about when your plans change. This is how Erin Parker got into wedding photography. She says, “I started my wedding photography business after a series of unfortunate events clouded my future. My boyfriend left me, I was let go from my desk job, and my apartment lease ended. In one month, I was back at my parents house working at a non profit to make ends meet wondering if life was worth building back up again.” Not to spoil the ending, but Erin Parker turned lemons into lemonade, now has a thriving photography business, and takes some of the most gorgeous wedding shots you’ve ever seen.  Parker has also been able to quantify her success. She reports, “After just one year, my profits have increased by 183%. With that, I was able to afford a second camera. With the help of an automated CRM system embedded in my website, my lead conversion rate is at 79%. I also have tens of 5 star reviews from happy customers!” If your life is leading you down the path of starting a side hustle photography business, consider writing a business plan, purchasing the right equipment, and most importantly, getting your website up and running. Why Do Photographers Need a Website? It’s true there are several other photographers out there doing exactly what you want to do. However, don’t let that stop you. Erin Parker even says the amount of wedding niche photographers in her area is overwhelming, but she doesn’t worry about it. She says, “There are literally thousands of wedding photographers in Orange County. I used to see it as an impossible barrier, but now I realize there is enough to go around.” So, how do you penetrate a saturated market and show off your photography skills? The answer is simple: get a website up and running. Here are some top ways a website will help you promote your side business and get found. 1. Get found by local consumers When you want to find a specific service in your local area, what do you do? You head over to Google and type in a keyword. Google then returns a list of websites for you to browse. Don’t believe it? According to recent reports, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Without a website, it’s impossible for your side hustle to show up in the search results as one of the local photography options.  To ensure you attract customers in your area, it’s imperative you get a website up and running, and optimize it for local search. 2. Show off your photography work While several people will search for a photographer online, you’ll probably get most of your work through word-of-mouth referrals. Trevor Yannayon says, “My side hustle began and had continued to be successful through word-of-mouth which is where 95% of my clients come from. I also have many return clients.”  Erin Parker tells a similar story. She says, “Word of mouth in the form of referrals has been my greatest lead source. People trust their friends. Tell everyone you meet what you do. Offer a referral program. I give $100 to anyone who refers me a client that books a wedding package.” If most of your business comes from referrals, why do you need a website? A website is the perfect place to put up your portfolio, show off your style, and let your work do the selling for you. Even if you have a referral, it will be difficult to land clients if people can’t see your work. A website will tell potential clients who you are, what kind of photography you do, and what your photographs actually look like.  3. Build credibility Even if you are one of the best photographers in the world, you need a website to be considered a professional. A website helps you provide information about your experience, showcase your portfolio, build your email list (if applicable), and list your contact information for future communication. All of these elements of a website help you build trust with your future clients, which establishes credibility. If you don’t have a website, you may come off as an amateur who lacks the business savvy to run a side hustle effectively.  With this in mind, it’s interesting to note that 50% of small businesses don’t have a website. Having a website will give you a leg up over 50% of other small business owners. How to Create Your Photography Website Now that you understand how important it is to have a website for your photography business, the second step is to build your website. You may be worried that it’s too difficult or expensive, but with the help of HostGator’s Website Builder, you can get a gorgeous website up in no time.  Not to mention, if you do run into any problems, HostGator has a team ready to help you. Erin Parker talks about how helpful the HostGator team was: At one point I tried to change my website domain by myself and in one second it was gone! That was honestly the most frustrating obstacle. As a business owner, I am the photographer, the marketing team, the accountant, IT, and everything else you need to run a successful business. Thankfully, HostGator was able to help me after a phone call with some tears. If you follow the process outlined below, hopefully you can avoid the tears and easily build your photography website. Step 1: Pick a hosting plan for your photography website. The Gator Website Builder has three hosting plans. You can pick your plan depending on your needs. The starter plan includes a free domain, 200+ templates, a drag-and-drop editor, cloud hosting, and website analytics, and is the perfect pick for someone looking to start a photography website. If you are nervous about building your own photography website and want priority support, you’ll want to select the premium plan. This plan provides everything in the Starter plan plus priority support.  If you are planning on selling anything on your website like stock photos or merchandise, you’ll need the eCommerce plan. Once you’ve picked a plan, click “buy now” and you can set up your account. Step 2: Pick a domain name for your photography website. Every Gator Builder package includes a free domain. To pick your domain, all you have to do is type something in the “get domain” box. If your top choice isn’t available, select another. You’ll notice that many photographers use their own name as their domain name, but this isn’t a must. Here is an article on how to choose the perfect domain name for your business if you need help picking out the perfect name for your photography website. If you already have a domain name, that’s great! You can connect it to your HostGator account by clicking “connect it here.”  Step 3: Create your account. Once you have a domain name, you can connect your HostGator account. All you need is an email address or Facebook account to connect. Then, enter your payment information, and you’re all set. Step 4: Pick a template for your photography website. The best news about creating your website is you don’t have to do any coding. The Gator Website Builder comes with templates, and all you have to do is pick one. Once you create your account, you’ll be directed to the “choose a template” page. You can scroll through over 200 professionally-designed templates, and select the template that best fits the goals for your photography website. You can also customize any of the templates to your liking. Step 5: Add content to your photography website. Once you have selected the perfect template, click “start editing.” This will send you to your dashboard where you can add, edit, and delete pages. Gator Website Builder includes a drag and drop builder to make it easy to design your website. However, if you have any questions, Gator Website Builder also includes a free and easy step-by-step guide for reference that you can access at any time. To access this guide, Click the “menu” icon next to the Gator by HostGator logo and select the “getting started tour.”   Step 6: Review your content and launch your photography website. The last step is to review your website and go live. By clicking “preview,” you can see your photography website in full. This is when you can look at your website and make sure everything looks perfect. If everything looks right, then click the “finish preview” button at the top and then “publish website” at the top of the dashboard. Gator Website Builder will present a series of quick steps to help you go live, and you’ll be officially ready to land your first client. Get Started Now A photography side hustle is a fulfilling and lucrative business, but it’s difficult to be successful if you don’t have a website.  Remember that starting a website is easy. Check out Gator Website Builder today to get your photography business started. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Google My Business Tips for Online-Only Businesses

The post 5 Google My Business Tips for Online-Only Businesses appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’ve worked hard to build your online business. In researching all the best ways to promote your business website, you’ve seen the recommendation to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. But there’s a hitch. Your business is online only, and Google My Business requires adding an address. What should you do? Can My Online Business Create a Google My Business Listing? Google’s guidelines state: ”Listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are.” That means if you run an eCommerce business that doesn’t have a storefront or if you provide services to clients exclusively online, you aren’t eligible to create a Google My Business listing.  Starting in January 2019, Google did begin to allow businesses that have a specific service area to create Google My Business listings without having to publish a public address. For example, a contractor that doesn’t have an office because they travel to meet clients at their homes could still set up a listing and clarify what areas they work in. And if you run an eCommerce business that also has a physical storefront, you’re eligible to create a listing for the location you have.  For businesses that are truly online only though, Google My Business isn’t an option.  But that’s OK! Google My Business has a specific purpose. GMB listings only show up for searches that Google perceives to have local intent.  In other words, when I search for “dog training,” Google can recognize that I need a service provider that is local to me and puts the Google My Business listings right up at the top of the organic results. But when I search for “dog toys,” it knows that I can just as easily order those from an eCommerce store as buy them from a pet store in my city, so the top results are for eCommerce websites, with the GMB listings further down on the search engine results page (SERP). If your business is online only, the main keyword terms you target in your SEO efforts probably won’t be the ones dominated by GMB listings anyways. And if you want to shore up the local SEO authority for your website, there are better techniques to try.   How Can I Improve my Local SEO Without Google My Business? Even if your online business doesn’t only serve one area, it can still be valuable to improve your local SEO. Competing for local results is much less competitive than trying to compete for national ones.  For example, an online marketing consultant who can work with anyone across the country will have a harder time snagging the top spot for a keyword like “online marketing consultant” since they have to compete against the thousands of other consultants doing similar work across the country. But if they get more specific and aim for “philadelphia online marketing consultant” the pool of people they’re competing against gets much smaller. While it’s true that fewer people search for local terms, if you can get onto page one for a relevant local keyword, more people will see it than if you’re on page 10 for a broader keyword. To increase your chances of winning some local keyword for your online business, there are a few good local SEO strategies that don’t require GMB at all.  1.  Highlight your city on your website. Even without including the specific address of a physical location, you can tell people what city you’re in on your website. Consider including location-specific keywords in the SEO metadata of your page, such as in your title tag and headings.  A freelance writer in Chicago named John Doe could make their home page’s title tag “Chicago Freelance Writer | John Doe” and include mentions of being based in Chicago on the website’s Home and About pages. That won’t drive potential clients from other cities away, but it will make it easier for Chicago businesses looking for a writer to find him.  Google often prioritizes local websites in the results it provides, even for terms that aren’t explicitly local. Meaning that, if it’s clear from your website you’re in Chicago, you’re more likely to show up for the term “freelance writer” whenever someone in Chicago is doing the searching—not just when they search explicitly for “Chicago freelance writer.” 2.  Create local content. If you’re doing content marketing (and if you care about SEO, you should be), brainstorm topics you can add to your content strategy that relate to local issues. A clothing eCommerce store could create a Guide to the Best Sweaters to Get You Through the San Francisco Winter. A career consultant could write a blog post on the Top Professional Events For Seattle Job Seekers to Attend.    Figure out how to combine your professional expertise with your local expertise in a way that provides value to the members of your target audience that live in your city. And work those insights into your local content strategy. 3.  Encourage reviews and testimonials. Reviews are widely believed to be a key ranking factor for local results.  According to a 2018 survey of SEO experts, industry professionals believe reviews account for about 6.5% of how Google determines local rankings. And that’s not just reviews on Google itself, but also includes other popular sites for reviews like Yelp and Facebook.  If you don’t already have a presence on any review sites for your brand, create profiles now, and start encouraging customers to provide reviews. Do be careful to make sure you understand the terms of all the review sites you’re on. If you try to get more reviews by offering a discount or free products, you may run afoul of their guidelines. But a simple email saying you’d appreciate a review, or adding links to your website that make it easy for customers to find your review site profiles are OK.  4.  Join local professional organizations. Research the professional organizations in your city. You’ll likely find at least one Chamber of Commerce, along with organizations that are specific to certain industries or marginalized groups, Many of these organizations offer directories you can add your information to (including a link), which strengthens your local SEO and provides one more way for potential clients to find you. And by participating in the local professional community, you’ll gain the kind of relationships that help you raise your business profile and indirectly increase traffic to your website.  5.  Sponsor local events. Are there conferences or other relevant professional events in your city? Events are always looking for sponsors to help cover the cost and provide attendees with a better experience. In exchange for those sponsorships, they’ll typically include a link back to your website on their site, and promote you in the program and other event materials.  Sponsoring local events can both be a strategic way to build links to your site, and a good opportunity to further strengthen your ties to the community. As you build more relationships with individuals and businesses in your town, the increased awareness of your brand will lead to more traffic to your website and links pointing back to it.  GMB Isn’t the Only Way to Achieve Local SEO for Online Businesses Just because your online-only business can’t create a Google My Business account, it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from local SEO. Create a strategy that helps you build up your reputation in the local community, optimize your website to highlight your location, and start creating content that provides useful information to people in your community. By increasing your local visibility and authority, you’ll give your overall website authority a boost.  Get more online marketing strategies for your business with HostGator’s expert SEO services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Best Discount Wheel Popup Plugins for WordPress

The post 5 Best Discount Wheel Popup Plugins for WordPress appeared first on HostGator Blog. Looking for ways to convert more visitors into buyers and subscribers? You’ve done everything right. You have a well-designed website and you have an awesome popup form on your site. But you’re still not getting the conversions you wanted. Where do you go from here?  Try gamifying your popups to get your visitors’ attention.  How do you do that exactly? Add a little ‘spin’ to your usual popups by using a discount wheel popup on your WordPress website.  What are Discount Wheel Popup Plugins for WordPress? Discount wheel popups are fun opt-in forms that make users feel like they are playing a game where they can win something. All they have to do is submit their email and click a button. The wheel spins to land on a prize, or not, depending on whether you want every wedge to offer a reward.  This sounds pretty neat, right?  So, let’s take a look at six of the best discount wheel popup tools available for WordPress. 1. OptinMonster OptinMonster is a complete opt-in forms tool that helps you get more email subscribers.  It has a drag and drop interface to build discount wheel popups without any coding. You can control all aspects of the popup wheel campaign with its intuitive features. OptinMonster’s discount wheel popup has three templates. You can choose any template and customize it to match your brand. You get complete design control. You can change the fonts, colors, layouts, and edit the prize details. It also gives you the option to add your logo to the centre of the wheel. For added information, you can insert icons and videos to the discount wheel popup.  Once you’ve created your popup wheel, you can automate when and how the discount wheel popup appears on your WordPress website. You can choose the exact moment users get the discount wheel popup by setting display rules. Use Geo-Location Targeting to control which locations see the discount wheel popup. You can also set the popup wheel to appear only on certain pages.  OptinMonster makes creating a discount wheel popup easy. It’s a leading solution if you’re  looking for a discount wheel popup plugin that works on all major platforms and that you can scale. 2. WP Optin Wheel WP Optin Wheel is a plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce. Using it is intuitive and you can create your discount wheel in minutes  For your email marketing needs WP Optin Wheel integrates with several email marketing providers and lead capturing software. With WP Optin Wheel you can choose to display your discount wheel as a popup or inline in a post or page. You can customize a number of elements or use its predefined templates.  Here’s what you need to know about pricing. WP Optin Wheel currently supports A single site for $39/yearThree sites for $99/yearUnlimited sites for $199/year WP Optin Wheel is a great choice for anyone who wants to create a discount wheel popup on their WordPress website. 3. OptinSpin OptinSpin is a plugin for coupon code wheels that works on WordPress and WooCommerce sites. It has a great feature where users get their coupon code delivered to their email. This works well because it serves as a reminder in a user’s email box. They can think about using the code or can come back later when they are ready to buy. It has great features like: Full customization and branding optionsEmail marketing integrationRetargeting customers through Facebook MessengerDrip CRM integrationTriggers like time delay, clickable tab, desktop, and mobile exit intent OptinSpin is affordable, too. It costs $29 for six months and $38 for a whole year. 4. Popup Maker Popup Maker is another full-featured tool for creating popups. It works on several website platforms, including WordPress!  Popup Maker has a Spin-to-Win popup option. It has five templates for its coupon wheel popup. It offers several useful features under each pricing plan: Silver Plan – $14.95/month 100,000 pageviewsPopup effectsPopups based on several triggers like page load, click, hover, and Gold Plan – $6.95/month 500,000 pageviewsSocial Media popupAge restriction popupPopup schedule by week Platinum Plan – $21.95/month 1 million pageviewsCountry-based popupsGoogle Map popupPush notificationsCustom branding Popup is an all-round popup tool that works on several platforms. It’s ideal for anyone who wants versatility and multiple features as they build discount wheel popups on their WordPress website. 5. Wheel of Popups Wheel of Popups is your opt-in tool that works for all platforms. You can use it on WooCommerce and WordPress. All you need to do is add one line of code on your website to launch your popups. It is great for lead generation and for increasing conversions.  Its exit-intent technology triggers the coupon wheel popup before a visitor leaves and allows them to win a code, have fun and perhaps buy a product. It also captures the visitor’s email so you can build your email list. Wheel of Popups also integrates with several email marketing providers. What is its pricing plan? You can sign up on Wheel of Popups for free with a 10-day trial of its services. It has 4 different packages:  Personal for $19 a month for 1 website.Developer for $49 a month for 5 websites.Agency for $149 a month for 20 websites.Reseller for $249 a month for 50 websites. What’s the Best Discount Wheel Popup Plugin for Your WordPress Site? You’ve just had a look at some of the best discount wheel popup tools available for WordPress. All of them have attractive features and different pricing plans. There isn’t one right option for everyone. There are as many ‘correct’ options as there are businesses.  Here are a couple of things for you to consider before you choose any of these tools: What are your business goals? What do you want to achieve? Will you need a whole host of features in the future? Or will a single gamification popup do? How many pageviews do you expect to get per month?Will you work on just one WordPress site or multiple?Are advanced tools like geo-targeting and age restriction popups even relevant to you? When you have a clear idea of what your goals are, you will be able to select the best tool for your business.  If you’re carrying out extensive marketing activities then OptinMonster is right for you. It is comprehensive and scalable for your future business needs. Its lead generation tools and analytics give you complete control over your marketing campaigns. You can read more about OptinMonster on SeedPress.  Try using more than one strategy to boost traffic and conversions. You can also create an online contest to make your website go viral.  Work with the best tools to make your eCommerce business successful! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create a Professional Website

The post How to Create a Professional Website appeared first on HostGator Blog. Every business needs a website, there’s no way around that.  And you don’t just need any website, you need a professional website that looks good and is effective at persuading your visitors to want to work with you or shop from your online store.  Your website is the main face your business will have online, and the web is one of the first places people will turn when they’re looking for the kind of products and services you sell. It’s also the main place a prospect will look to confirm that your business is legitimate and trustworthy, when deciding whether or not to work with you.  In short, creating a professional website is important to the success of your business.  But if you’re a business owner unfamiliar with coding and web design, you may not know where to start. Here are the main things you need to know about how to create a professional website. Two Ways to Create a Professional Website Small business owners have two main paths you can take to create a professional website for your business: using a website builder, or hiring a professional designer.  Option 1: Use a Website Builder The first and easiest option is to use a website builder like Gator Website Builder. This is an option that’s become available in the last few years and puts the ability to create a professional website in the hands of anyone—no matter your skill level.  Using a website builder to create the site for your online store has some specific benefits, as well as a few downsides. Let’s review them. Pros of Using a Website Builder For many small businesses, a website builder will be the best option for a few simple reasons: It’s cheap  – While the cost of different website builders varies, generally speaking, you’ll spend a lot less upfront on a website builder than you would hiring a professional to design your website.  If you have a limited budget for building a new professional website—and keep in mind, some of that budget will need to go to web hosting and registering your domain name—a website builder is an affordable option. It’s easy – A good website builder is designed to be easy for anyone to use, no matter how skilled they are in website design. Features like pre-designed templates and drag and drop functionality ensure that you can start working on your website right away, without having to spend time training in how to use the tool. Website builders allow you to create a business website or eCommerce store literally within minutes. Once you have the foundation of your site, you can then begin to customize it with website templates, plugins, different layout designs, and other helpful tools. It’s fast – Using an intuitive website builder, you can get a simple—but professional— website up fast, even within hours. If you’ve been dragging your feet on creating a website for your business because it seemed like a big and time-consuming project, banish that excuse from your mind.  A good website builder can create a professional-looking site – You may worry that a site made with a website builder will look cheap, but most good website builders hire professional designers to create the templates they offer. That means you can create a website that looks professional, without having to spend a significant amount of money on it.  Modern website builders will make your website mobile friendly – A majority of web users now do their browsing on mobile devices. That means building a professional website that’s mobile friendly isn’t optional. But that shouldn’t be a problem as long as you choose a website builder equipped with responsive templates.  Cons of Using a Website Builder While many businesses will benefit from going with a website builder, there are some cases where it’s not the best choice. The main cons of using a website builder are: There are some limits on what you can do – If you have a specific vision in mind for your website, a website builder may not be the right choice for you. Because you’ll be working from a template and within a structure provided by the website builder, there are some limits on what you can do visually and the features you can include on your site. Your website may resemble other sites made with that same website builder. Templates make the website design process much easier, but they also mean you’re starting from the same basic design other customers of that web builder are using. While you can make changes to the template to make it your own, you may still end up with a website that looks similar to others out there.  5 Tips for Using a Website Builder for a Professional Site If you choose to use a website builder for your website, there are a few important tips for finding the right one.  Make sure it offers responsive options. As mentioned, your professional website must be mobile friendly. Creating a responsive website is the best way to make sure it works well on both mobile and desktop. A website builder with responsive templates is therefore your best option. Look for a website builder that has SEO features. Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you increase your chances of showing up in the search engine rankings, which makes your website easier for potential customers to find. Consider if a website builder has features that make it easier for you to optimize your website for search, such as an easy way to customize page URLs and fill in meta descriptions. Consider the number of available website templates. If you can find a website template that comes close to what you want, creating your website will be faster and easier. The more template options you have, the more likely you are to find one you really like. (Gator has over 100 mobile-friendly templates for you to choose from!)Check the number of pages it allows. Some website builders place a limit on the number of pages you can add to your website. For some small businesses, a simple website with a few pages will be plenty. But if you’ll need more, make sure you choose a website builder that can accommodate your needs. If you need them, make sure it offers eCommerce features and an image library.  If you’ll be selling products through your website, your website builder needs to offer eCommerce features or be compatible with software that does. And if you don’t already have original images, access to an image library will make creating your site much easier.  Option 2: Hire a Professional Web Designer Your second option for creating a professional website is to hire someone with the skills to build a website for you from scratch. This can either be a freelance graphic designer or a design agency that specializes in building professional websites. Either way, you can expect certain pros and cons from this option.  Pros of Hiring a Web Designer As long as you pick a good designer for your needs, there are some unique benefits to going this route.  You’ll benefit from their experience – This is their job, which means they should have a solid understanding of web design best practices and what works best for a professional website. If they have years of experience seeing what works, they bring that to the table when creating your website. You can pick a designer whose style you like – You can spend time browsing samples and make sure you hire someone whose designs are in line with the kind of aesthetic you prefer. You can have your website built to your specifications – You won’t have any of the limitations of a website builder. If there’s something specific you want your website to be or do, a skilled web designer should be able to make it happen. Good designers will know how to make your website responsive – Any professional web designer worth their salt knows the importance of mobile. They should have the skill to create a responsive website for you without problem.You save time not doing it yourself – A website builder may be fast, but if you’re creating a website with one yourself, you still have to spend time building it. When you hire someone else to do the work, you’re outsourcing the job and don’t have to make time for it yourself. They can help you with basic on-site SEO – Most web designers have an understanding of SEO. If you hire the right person, they can make sure that your website checks all the boxes for SEO-friendly web design.  Cons of Hiring a Web Designer For anyone particular in what they want, the benefits of hiring a web designer are clear. But there are a few downsides to be aware of as well.  It takes time to find a good graphic designer – You’ll have to spend time doing research to find the best designers in your area to work with, and more time reaching out and interviewing them. If you try to cut corners at this stage, you could end up hiring someone that doesn’t do good work, so it’s best to get it right. It takes longer to design a website from scratch – While you can get a website up within hours with a website builder, building a website from scratch inevitably takes more time. While you won’t be spending that time on it yourself, you’ll likely need to wait longer before your website is ready to launch. It’s more expensive than using a website builder – Professional web designers have a unique skill set. Those that do good work charge professional rates. In order to hire a talented designer, you need to have a budget for it. It is worth noting that hiring a designer to build a website is a one-time cost, while a website builder usually involves an ongoing subscription. You may have issues with reliability – If you find the right person, this won’t be an issue. But when hiring a professional designer, there’s a risk of ending up with someone who struggles to meet deadlines or doesn’t do a good job of working to your specifications. With this option, there’s a real possibility you’ll end up spending more money and still being unhappy with the results.  4 Tips for Hiring a Web Designer How well hiring a professional to create your website works out depends entirely on who you hire. Here are four things you can do to increase your chances of getting that part right: Ask for recommendations. The best way to find a professional with a proven reputation is to ask around amongst people you know. If a friend or colleague had a good experience with a designer, there’s a good chance you will too. Start your search by talking to other people to identify a few options to consider. Pay attention to testimonials. A recommendation from someone you know and trust is best, but if you don’t have that, you can still learn a lot from what past clients of a designer have to say. Look at the testimonials and case studies on their website, and see if they have recommendations or reviews on sites like LinkedIn.Look at their samples. A designer can be talented, but still not be the right fit for what you want. That’s why it’s crucial that you take time to look at their samples to get a feel for their particular style and skill set. If you like what you see and they have a strong reputation, there’s a much better chance that you’ll be happy with the website they design.Communicate clearly. The best designer in the world won’t be able to deliver what you want if you don’t do a good job of telling them what that is. Before you interview a designer, take time to think through what your priorities for the website are. What pages are you hoping to have? Do you have a color scheme in mind? What specific features do you want to include? The more information you’re able to provide them, the better a job they’ll do of delivering a website that matches your vision.  Get Your Professional Website Up Creating a professional website can seem intimidating if you don’t know where to start. But as this post makes clear, the hardest part is making the decision to get started. Whether you decide to go with a website builder or a professional designer, you can make the first move toward creating your website today.  If speed and affordability are your priorities, you can sign up for Gator for less than $4 a month, and have a website up within hours. And that includes a hosting plan from one of the most respected web hosting providers entirely for free.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Much Does WordPress Hosting Cost?

The post How Much Does WordPress Hosting Cost? appeared first on HostGator Blog. So you’ve decided to build your website on WordPress. You’re in good company. Because of how robust and easy to use it is, it powers over 34% of all the websites on the web. And as an added bonus, WordPress itself is entirely free.  But that doesn’t mean you can create a WordPress website without spending anything. You will still need to budget for some main expenses. Chief amongst them: WordPress hosting. How Much Does WordPress Hosting Cost? Most WordPress website owners can expect to spend in the range of $6 to $35 a month for WordPress hosting.  But the spectrum of WordPress hosting prices is much broader than that. On the low end, hosting for a WordPress website starts at around $3 a month for a basic shared hosting plan, and can go up to over $1,000 for dedicated WordPress hosting for enterprise businesses.  What is WordPress Hosting? If you’re new to running a website, you may not understand why web hosting is important to invest in at all. But anyone figuring out their WordPress website pricing must treat the cost of web hosting as a non-negotiable expense. If you want your site to be published to the world-wide web and accessible to other people, it has to be hosted somewhere. While any web hosting plan you consider should work for a site built on WordPress, WordPress hosting refers to a subset of web hosting plans specifically designed for WordPress sites. Typically that means they offer WordPress-friendly features such as: One-click WordPress installationFaster loading times because they’re configured for WordPress specificallyAutomatic WordPress updatesWordPress-specific security featuresCustomer support staff well versed in WordPress If you’re building a basic hobbyist website on WordPress and just need the most affordable web hosting option you can find, a basic shared web hosting plan should work. But if you want a higher level of performance for your WordPress site, seeking out WordPress hosting specifically is typically worth it.  5 Factors That Influence the Cost of WordPress Hosting With such a wide range in the pricing of WordPress hosting, you may wonder what accounts for so much variety—and what it means for what you can expect to pay. There are five main factors that affect what a website owner will spend on WordPress hosting. 1. The web hosting provider you choose One of the first things you’ll notice when you start looking into WordPress hosting options is that you have a lot of choices. With how ubiquitous WordPress is, it’s not too surprising that a lot of different companies offer web hosting plans that are specifically optimized for WordPress. Every web hosting provider sets their own prices, and most offer a number of different plans at different pricing levels. While the plans and features you see offered across web hosting companies may look similar, the company you choose will influence the experience you have with WordPress hosting.  In particular, your choice of web hosting provider matters when it comes to: UptimeSpeedEase of useCustomer support We review each of these below. Uptime  Uptime is the term used to describe the percentage of time your website is up and accessible to other people. All web hosting servers occasionally have to undergo maintenance, which will cause downtime that takes your website offline. And any servers that aren’t well maintained or taken care of may experience additional periods of downtime when things break or don’t work at full capacity. A reputable web hosting company should promise at least 99% uptime, but most go further with 99.99% uptime or more. Before committing to a web hosting provider, research both what they promise and what their reputation for uptime are. This matters for all websites, but is especially important if your WordPress website is for a business where website downtime costs you money and hurts your professional reputation.   Speed  Website speed plays a key role in how people experience your website. Think about it: when was the last time you patiently waited several seconds for a website to load? If you can remember a time, it must have been a web page you were really interested in. Otherwise, in the fast-moving world of the web, we’re all prone to click away if something doesn’t load fast.  Your website speed is directly related to your web hosting provider and plan. The provider you choose isn’t the only factor, but it’s a big one. If their servers are overloaded or not optimally functioning, it could slow your website down. And that will cost you visitors who don’t care enough to stick around if it means waiting.   Ease of use Web hosting providers typically provide an interface you can use to manage important aspects of your web account. Most call this the cPanel (short for control panel). It’s where you’ll take care of your billing, domain name management, backups, and website files—just to name some of the main things. A well designed cPanel will make taking care of your website much easier. Before choosing a web hosting platform, you can generally find support materials from the company with information about what the cPanel looks like and how to use it. Make sure it looks intuitive, so you won’t have to waste time learning how to complete basic tasks.  Customer support Even if the cPanel is easy to figure out and the company is great when it comes to uptime, you may hit up against issues managing your website. When that happens, you want to know there’s someone trustworthy and knowledgeable you can turn to.  A good web hosting provider will offer 24/7 customer support with live chat included for emergency situations. Make sure they provide support in the channels of your choice (e.g. phone or  live chat), and that their representatives have a reputation for knowing their stuff. A good customer support team can make the difference between loving your web host and hating them.   The best WordPress web hosting providers aren’t necessarily the most expensive. This is one area of life where you can get quality without having to shell out an exorbitant amount. Don’t choose on price though, pay more attention to what you can learn about a hosting provider on their own website and via third-party sources like reviews and awards from fellow customers.  2. The level of storage and bandwidth you need WordPress hosting companies typically offer a few different plans. While sometimes plans include different features, the main difference between the different payment levels is how much storage and bandwidth they provide.  A website that’s just a few pages that only gets a couple hundred visitors a month will take up much less space on a web hosting server than one that with thousands of pages, lots of rich multimedia, and thousands of regular visitors. Web hosting plans that work great for that first website will therefore be much cheaper than a web hosting plan good enough for the second. Some of the common types of plans you’ll see are: WordPress cloud hosting – Cloud hosting is a good option for WordPress because it’s more flexible than the other plans. WordPress sites hosted on the cloud tend to load fast, and it’s possible to scale how much you use (and pay) as your needs change. WordPress shared hosting – Shared hosting is the best choice for smaller websites that don’t get a lot of visitors yet. You pay less in exchange for sharing a server with other websites as well. You don’t get as much bandwidth because of it, but many websites don’t need all that much bandwidth, particularly newer websites or those for small businesses.WordPress VPS hosting – For WordPress sites a bit too big and popular for shared hosting, WordPress VPS hosting is a step up. It costs more, but you share the server with fewer other websites and each one has a space that’s partitioned off, so there’s no chance of your website being affected by someone else’s traffic. WordPress dedicated hosting – Big businesses or popular media sites will require their own server to handle the amount of bandwidth large sites with a lot of traffic needs. Many web hosting companies offer plans where you get a dedicated server that’s still managed and maintained for you by the company. The costs of dedicated hosting go up as your needs increase, but to make sure your website performs at the level your visitors expect, higher costs can be worth it.  3. The level of security We live in an era of rampant data breaches and identity theft.  eCommerce website owners have to treat security as a top priority. Even if you don’t sell products or collect any personal information through your site, you still need to be thinking about it. All websites run the risk of getting hacked.  Who you choose for WordPress hosting is only one factor in website security, but it matters. A legitimate web hosting provider will offer firewall protection for their servers, and include security features like the ability to control file permissions. In addition, you can usually get an SSL certificate either included in your web hosting plan or as an add-on, which adds an extra level of protection to your website.  4. Number of sites Many basic WordPress hosting plans only allow hosting for one website on your account. But if you’re planning to build multiple, you can invest in a plan that allows for two, three, or more.  Plans that include more sites will also generally include more space and bandwidth to go with them, but be sure to confirm yours does. Running three sites on one web hosting account will require roughly three times as much space (depending on how big and popular each of the three are, of course). Having the ability to host more sites is only worth it if all of them still perform at the level you need.  5. The features and extras included in your plan The other big factor in how much a web hosting plan costs is the specific set of features it includes. All WordPress hosting plans will come with some features included, and often you’ll have the option to add extra ones for an additional fee as needed.  Some of the common features you’ll see in WordPress hosting packages are: eCommerce features – Anyone building an eCommerce website with WordPress will want to make sure they have all the ecommerce features required. A lot of those can be obtained with WordPress plugins. But your hosting plan needs to include at least an SSL certificate to assure proper security and will need to be compatible with whatever ecommerce software you go with. Webmail options – Having email addresses from your domain name makes you look more professional and provides an additional branding option. Some web hosting plans put a limit on the email addresses you can create and manage with your account. Make sure the plan you choose lets you create as many branded email addresses as you need.  Automated backups – Building and maintaining a website takes a lot of work. You could lose it all within a moment if you don’t keep your website backed up. Web hosting plans that offer automated website backups reduce your risk of losing everything, without the work of having to remember to perform manual backups.  Security features – As already mentioned, web hosting plans will either come with an SSL certificate included or as an add-on for an extra fee. Some will also include additional security features such as security software, automatic WordPress updates, and automatic malware removal. Scalability – Some websites will see fairly consistent traffic. Others will see the number of visitors jump at certain times of year. A web hosting plan that offers scalability will make it easy to increase the amount of bandwidth you need in real time, so your website performance can match your needs even as they change.  There isn’t always a direct correlation between these features and higher prices. In some cases, an affordable web hosting plan will include features like an SSL certificate or unlimited email addresses for free. Just make sure you’re clear on what’s included in any WordPress hosting plan you consider before you sign up, so you know if you’ll have to pay extra for something you need.   WordPress Website Pricing: Other Costs to Consider WordPress hosting isn’t the only cost you’ll have to consider when you choose WordPress. While the CMS offers a lot for free, you should anticipate a few other expenses when working on your website budget: Domain name Your domain name—the main address you use on the web (the thing that usually starts with www and ends with something like .com)—is another required expense. Every website needs one if you want people to be able to find you. If you go with a domain name that’s available (in other words, if someone hasn’t already bought it), then you can expect the cost to register your domain to be somewhere in the range of $10-$20.  If you decide on a domain name that someone else already owns though, expect to pay a much higher price to buy it from them, if it’s even for sale. The amount will depend on how willing they are to part with it, and how valuable they consider the keywords included. Domain privacy Domain privacy isn’t a required expense, but it’s one many website owners will prefer to invest in. When you register a domain, you’re expected to hand over personal details including your name, email address, and physical address. These get published to the ICANN WHOIS database where anyone can see them. If you care about keeping those details private, either for security reasons or simply to protect yourself from spammers and scammers, you’ll need to pay for it. Many domain registrars offer domain privacy for a few bucks a year as an add-on when you register your domain name. Plugins The main way to add functionality to your WordPress website is with plugins. Developers have created a lot of plugins that cover all sorts of features. Many of them are even free. But there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself needing to invest in one or more premium plugins in order to gain the full functionality you need for your WordPress site.  Themes WordPress websites are most often built using a theme. You can find a number of free WordPress themes available. But a lot of website owners—especially those building professional or eCommerce websites—will benefit from investing in a premium theme that provides more extensive features.  Web design One of the benefits of using a CMS like WordPress is that it’s much easier to design a website with it than working from scratch with a coding language like HTML. But that doesn’t mean that building a website with WordPress is something just anyone can do.  If you’re not particularly adept at web design, or if you have a specific vision in mind, you’ll probably need to hire someone to help you with the web design process. Or at the very least, you’ll want to invest in a website builder or a good theme that takes care of some of the design for you. Sign Up for a WordPress Hosting Solution Even with these various expenses, building a website with WordPress is a good deal. And by choosing the right WordPress hosting plan, all the benefits you get with WordPress—that it’s affordable, easy, and flexible—will extend to your web hosting as well.  HostGator offers WordPress hosting plans that promise easy installation, scalability, unlimited emails, and fast webpage loading speed. And all of it comes at affordable prices from one of the most respected names in web hosting.   Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Optimize Your Videos for SEO [11 Tips]

The post How to Optimize Your Videos for SEO [11 Tips] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Video is a big part of how people consume information online. On average, people send 6.8 hours every day watching online video, and that number’s on an upward trajectory year to year.  For businesses, video is essential. 54% of consumers said it’s their preferred format for brand content, making it the top choice—beating out email, social, and blogs.  That means if you want to reach people online, video is a good way to do it. But as with any type of content you publish on the web, you should anticipate having a lot of competition. Over 400 hours of video are added to YouTube every minute.  Anyone hoping to get their message out using video has to figure out how to rise above the rest of the noise to reach the right people.  How to Optimize Your Videos for SEO Video SEO isn’t about doing one or two things. It involves a whole strategy. While taking steps to optimize each individual video you create is part of it, making sure you’re making the right videos and building out a channel that earns authority is just as important.  1.  Perform keyword research for your videos. You’re probably already doing keyword research for your overall SEO strategy, and may figure you can just apply that research to your video strategy as well. Sorry, it’s not that easy. The keywords that get a lot of traction on Google are different than the ones that are most popular on YouTube. And most searches on Google don’t produce results with video, unless the searcher makes a special point of clicking on the video option in the menu. Google’s algorithm tracks data on the type of results people click on when doing different types of searches. If they’re not showing video on page one of the search engine results page (SERP) for a keyword, that means people searching that term aren’t usually interested in watching a video for their answers.  Video keyword research is focused on learning what people are searching for on YouTube, and what keywords produce video results in Google. Within YouTube, you can gain a lot of helpful keyword suggestions by paying attention to their autofill feature. You start to type a phrase relevant to your business, and see what YouTube suggests. To find out what keywords produce video results, do SERP research. Simply type your top keywords into the search bar, and see what shows up on the SERP. If videos show up on page one, that’s a strong keyword for video SEO. Both of these tactics for video keyword research can take a lot of time, so you can speed the process up a bit with SEO tools. Some general SEO tools will provide an analysis of what the SERPs look like for different keywords, so you can more easily learn when a keyword produces things like video results or an answer box. And there are keyword research tools that focus specifically on YouTube keywords, such as VidIQ and YTCockpit.   2. Research the competition. Once you’ve identified a list of keywords worth focusing on, start doing competitor research. Identify who’s ranking in both YouTube and Google for those keywords now. Watch their videos. Pay attention to the titles, descriptions, and tags they use. And visit their channels. Take notes on what you learn, so you can better spot trends in what the winning videos and channels have in common. Those insights will help you figure out how to compete effectively in your space.  3. Create a video SEO marketing strategy. Use what you learned in the first two steps to make a plan that covers: What your YouTube channel’s branding will beWhat topics to cover in your videosHow long each one should be How often you’ll release a new oneHow you’ll promote your videos Your plan will change and evolve as you collect more data on what works for your audience. But having a clear roadmap will help you get the early traction you need to collect that data to begin with.  4. Optimize your YouTube channel for SEO. Ideally, you don’t just want people to watch one of your videos and move on. You want them to click to see more after that first one. Or even better, click that Subscribe button so your new videos start showing up in their main feed. So before you worry about optimizing each of your videos, make sure you’ve built a strong channel page. Add an original header image that’s visually arresting and says something about your channel’s value. Write a killer channel description that tells people why they should subscribe. Consider making a trailer for your channel that tells people what it’s all about, and why they should follow it.  Having a strong channel will add some extra legitimacy to each video you put out there and help you use your video content to build a more ongoing connection with your audience.  5.  Include your target keyword in the video title. Take care in crafting the best possible video title. Your title needs to accomplish multiple things at once: Clearly communicate to potential viewers what the video is aboutConvince them that your video is worth clicking onInclude your target keyword If you’ve chosen good keywords, those three goals won’t be in opposition.  6. Include your target keyword in your video script. When writing the script for your video, include your target keyword somewhere in it. Don’t overload it with keywords, of course. And don’t try to shoehorn it in where it doesn’t fit. But if your video’s genuinely about the topic the keyword represents, including it in there shouldn’t be hard to do naturally.  This is important because YouTube can parse a lot of what’s said in a video, which will influence which videos they decide to include in the results for a search. It also matters because of the next tip.  7.  Include a transcription for your YouTube video. Including a transcription of your video does a couple of important things at once: It ensures there’s text that Google can understand. That makes the page your video is on stronger in terms of Google SEO, since their algorithms have more information to learn what the page is about.It gives your audience more than one way to consume the content. Obviously a lot of people like watching video, but some people prefer reading to watching. With a transcription, you give people a choice. You make your video more accessible to people with disabilities. You can load a transcript file to YouTube that is used to provide closed captioning on the video itself.  And one experiment found that videos with closed captioning get over 7% more views on average. And because you included your target keyword in your video script, your transcript gets it onto the page another time or two. Learn more about the benefits of adding closed captions to your videos. 8. Write a strong video description and include your video keywords. Always fill in the description section for your videos. It gives you an additional opportunity to convince visitors that your video is worth watching, and provides another space for you to encourage people to subscribe to your channel.  Your video description is one of the best places you have to give YouTube information on what your video is about. Use at least 200 words to describe your video. And of course, use this as another opportunity to get your keyword in there (naturally).  8. Add tags to your YouTube videos. YouTube also lets you add tags to your video. These probably aren’t as strong of a ranking signal for them as the other parts of the page we’ve covered already, but it never hurts to make good use of this section. Use your main keyword as a tag, along with any secondary keywords on your list that are relevant.  If you’re not sure what to put here, go back to the notes you took when analyzing your competitors’ videos to get some ideas.  9. Select the best thumbnail option. While all this text is helpful for SEO, one of the main ways YouTube and Google will decide if your video is a helpful resource for the topics it covers is whether people actually watch it. Picking a good thumbnail for your video won’t directly impact your SEO, but it’s important for getting people to click on your video.  Video’s a visual medium, so you want the first image people see to be compelling enough to make them want to click to see more. Don’t just settle for the default image YouTube grabs, take a minute to figure out the best screen to capture for your thumbnail and customize it.  10. Promote your YouTube videos and channel. As with website SEO, some of the ranking signals that determine whether your videos show up have to do with communicating to YouTube and Google what your video is about. But others have more to do with trying to gauge the quality of the video—the two search engines care whether or not people see something they like when they click. That means metrics like how many people subscribe to your channel, view your video, and how long they view the video for all have a role to play in whether or not your videos show up in search. To start getting the kind of impressive metrics that prove to YouTube and Google that your videos are awesome, people have to watch your videos to begin with. So once you’ve created your channel and started releasing your first videos, actively promote them. Send them to your email list and share them on social media. Embed them on your WordPress website and in related blog posts. Consider if it’s worth promoting your channel via a paid advertising campaign to give it an initial boost. Your first viewers will help you both get the metrics that signal quality to the search engines. And if they like the videos, they’re likely to share and help promote them as well.  11. Analyze your YouTube metrics. With every new marketing tactic you try, you’ll probably get something wrong. Even the best content creators and marketers can’t fully predict what people will like and not like. But luckily, digital channels come with analytics that tell you what’s working and what’s not. Pay attention to your metrics on YouTube to learn what your audience likes. Which topics get the most views? Which videos do viewers tend to drop off from early, and at what point do they stop? Which ones do people give the thumb’s up and thumb’s down for?  Every video you launch will help you gain some new data on what your audience is interested in. Put that to work by revising your video strategy over time to better create a channel that’s truly useful to your audience, and that performs better in the search engines. Why SEO for Videos is Important Creating great videos requires a significant investment in time and money. If no one ever finds the videos you create, nothing you spend making them will pay off. If you’re going to put work into making videos, it’s just as important to also put work into making sure people will be able to find them.  Search engine optimization (SEO) is mostly associated with text, since so much of it is about using the right terminology to match the language your audience uses when they’re searching for information. But video SEO is one of the best tactics you have to make your video content more discoverable.  What is Video SEO? Video SEO is the collection of steps and best practices you can use to increase the odds that your video will show up in the search engines. But where SEO is typically focused on one main search engine—Google—in video SEO, we have another that’s at least as important: YouTube.  YouTube is the most visited website in the world. So while you also want to get your videos to show up in Google as often as possible, YouTube should have a special place in how you approach your video SEO strategy. The good news is that what’s good for YouTube SEO and what’s good for Google SEO are essentially the same. Google owns YouTube, and 88% of videos in the top 10 results on Google are pulled from YouTube. Video SEO: One More Channel to Reach Your Audience Optimizing your videos for SEO is important for getting them in front of more people. But it’s always important to remember that showing up in the search engines is never the whole point. It’s about connecting with your audience.  Using video and promoting what you create via SEO are just another way to establish that initial connection required to provide something of value to your audience. What’s even more important is what happens after they click. Strive to create videos that earn the attention and time people give to them, and that will both improve your SEO and help you gain a more loyal audience that cares about your content.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How To Build Your Music Side Hustle Website Quickly

The post How To Build Your Music Side Hustle Website Quickly appeared first on HostGator Blog. Have you been thinking about taking your talent for music and building it into a successful side hustle? If you’re passionate about the music industry and are looking to start making extra money with music, the time is now to get started. According to the latest IFPI Global Music Report in 2019, the global recorded music market grew by 9.7% in 2018, which represents the fourth consecutive year of growth. Not to mention, total revenues for 2018 were $19.1 billion. The music industry is growing, leaving room for creatives like yourself to get in on a piece of the $19.1 billion dollar music industry pie. There are diverse ways to grow a music side hustle—ways you may not have even considered making money. This article will present an overview of ways to make money with music and how a website can help you grow your music business. 3 Paths to Music Side Hustle Success The music industry is more than just getting paid to play music. Here are some top ways to grow a music side hustle that will help you earn extra cash each month. 1. Record and produce your own music A popular and fun way to make extra money with music is to write and produce music and work as your own music label owner. Calixto Gabriel Bravo, also known as Xcelencia, is one musician that has built his business by working as a recording artist and producer. Bravo explains his business: “I am an independent recording artist, a music producer, and music label owner. Coming from a family of four, I always had a rebellious and fiercely independent energy that translated into my passion for music. I understood that I wanted to make an impact in the music industry from an early age, and now I am accomplishing my dreams.” When you visit Xcelencia’s website, you quickly get an idea of who he is as a musician. His website acts as a way to showcase his own music, presents a gallery of his work, and provides a way for followers to get into contact with him. Additionally, his website acts as a method for him to receive constructive criticism from others. He says, “My side hustle is successful not just using metrics such as revenue or data/analytics, also based on but the amount of positive feedback and constructive criticism I receive on a weekly basis from listeners, colleagues, and more.” 2. Work as an independent singer-songwriter Your interest for music may start and stop with writing and singing your own music, and that’s great. Working as a singer-songwriter is an awesome side hustle as it helps you bring in a little extra cash each month with your primary passion. Grover Anderson is one musician who explains how he started and grew this type of music side hustle. He says, “For the last twelve years I’ve been an independent singer-songwriter. I started writing songs in my college dorm room, then eventually started taking them into bars and coffee shops, and finally onto large stages in Northern California.” Anderson continues, “I feel compelled to write, and love playing those songs for people, so I decided to try and make a go of it. Handling everything from booking to PR to finances on my own, I have released 4 albums and toured the country multiple times. I do most of my touring in the summertime, because during the school year I’m a high school English and Drama teacher.” You may be worried about whether or not there is money in this type of business. Anderson explains how he measures success: “I measure success by growth over time. For the first 5-10 years I played small gigs, sold a few albums, and was lucky to have a few website visitors a week. I never broke even on my expenses, but I loved making music so much that I pressed on. In the last two years I’ve had visitors in the thousands, made a modest profit, and played bigger and bigger stages, even opening for America and Creedence Clearwater Revisited last summer.” The best thing about a singer-songwriter music side hustle is you can grow at your own pace. Regardless of how quickly your business grows, you’ll enjoy the process. 3. Sell your music online Playing music at live events is only one way to participate in the music industry. There is also a huge market for selling your music online. Companies are always looking for jingles, podcasts are often in need of theme music, and YouTubers don’t want to run the risk of not earning money on videos by using a song they don’t own the license to.  If you’re looking to make money from music, consider selling your music online. There are several other ways to make money from music including rating music, teaching online music lessons, starting a YouTube channel, and more. Regardless of what you choose to do for your side hustle, one thing is for certain—you need a website to be successful. Why Does Every Musician Need a Website? While it’s vital that you keep up your music chops, music isn’t the only skill you need to have a successful side hustle. In order to grow your music business, you also need a website. Here are some of the top ways a website will help you with your music side hustle. 1. Showcase your music It’s difficult to get hired to come play if potential clients don’t know what your music sounds like. A website will act as an online portfolio of all of your work. With a website, you can include demo music, published music, videos, and any other information that is relevant to your music business. 2. Get found Sometimes the best way to catch a break or get hired is through Google search. For example, people are always looking for local musicians to play at cafes, corporate parties and events, city celebrations, weddings, and more. While it’s true many of your gigs will come via word of mouth, you’ll also find some of your gigs coming from being one of the first musicians to show up in a local search. 3. Display your schedule Do you already have a small following? Great! The next step is to let your fans know when and where they can come see you play. The best way to do this is to include a touring schedule on your website.  With a click of a button, fans will be able to learn about your upcoming shows, RSVP, and even buy tickets online, depending on your website capabilities. 4. Manage bookings Another reason to have a website is to have a place where people looking for a musician can book your services. What better place to manage this than right on your website? You can include a booking schedule, or a simple contact page on your website that shows when you are available and allows people to book your services with ease. 5. Sell merchandise Anyone in the music industry knows that the money you can earn from playing is just part of your income. If you have a small following, you can also make money on merchandise. Of course you’ll want to set up a merch table when you go play your gigs, but you can also sell your music, t-shirts, hats, etc. right on your website. When setting up your music side hustle, don’t forget the most important step—making sure your fans and clients can learn everything about you via your website. How to Build a Music Website It’s important to have a website for your music business if you’re going to promote your music or land any gigs. That means, the first step to success is getting your website up and running. The good news is to get a website up, you don’t have to know how to code or design or have a huge budget. With the help of HostGator’s Website Builder, you can get a nice website up in no time.  Additionally, HostGator has a team ready to help you navigate the process in the event you have any questions. If you follow the process outlined below, you can get your website published in less than a day. Step 1: Pick a hosting plan for your music website. The Gator Website Builder offers plans. You can pick your plan depending on your needs. The starter plan includes a free domain, 200+ templates, a drag-and-drop editor, cloud hosting, and website analytics. It’s the perfect pick for someone looking to start a music website. If you are nervous about building your own music website and want priority support, you’ll want to select the premium plan. This plan provides everything in the Starter plan plus priority support.  If you are planning on selling merchandise on your website, then select the eCommerce plan. This plan will help you set up an eCommerce store where you can collect payments online. Once you’ve picked a plan, click “buy now” and you can set up your account. Step 2: Pick a domain name for your music website. Every Gator Website Builder package includes a free domain. To pick your domain, all you have to do is type something in the “get domain” box. If your top choice isn’t available, select another. You’ll notice that many musicians use their own name, music production company, or band name as their domain name, but this isn’t a must. If you need help, here is an article on picking out the perfect domain name for your music website. If you already have a domain name, then you can connect it to your HostGator account by clicking “connect it here.”  Step 3: Create your account. Once you have a domain name, you can connect your HostGator account. All you need is an email address or Facebook account to connect. Then, enter your payment information, and you’re ready to go. Step 4: Pick a template for your music website. The best news about creating your website is you don’t have to do any coding. Gator Website Builder comes with hundreds of templates. All you have to do is pick the one that matches the vibe of your music side hustle best. Once you create your account, you’ll be directed to the “choose a template” page. You can scroll through over 200 professionally-designed templates, and select the template that best fits the goals for your music website. You can also customize any of the templates to match the colors and theme of your music. There’s even a template made for musicians! Step 5: Add content to your music website. Once you have selected the perfect template, click “start editing.” This will send you to your dashboard where you can add, edit, and delete pages. Pages you might want to include are an about page, contact page, music portfolio, schedule of your shows, merchandise page, and more. The drag and drop builder to make it easy to design your website. However, if you have any questions, GatorBuilder also includes a free and easy step-by-step guide for reference that you can access at any time. To access this guide, Click the “menu” icon next to the Gator by HostGator logo and select the “getting started tour.”   Step 6: Review your content and launch your music website. The last step is to review your website and go live. By clicking “preview,” you can see your music website in full. This is when you can look at your website and make sure everything looks perfect. If everything is on target, then click the “finish preview” button at the top and then “publish website” at the top of the dashboard. Gator Website Builder will present a series of quick steps to help you go live, and you’ll be officially ready to land your first gig. Get Started on Your Music Website Don’t let your passion for music die out. The music industry is innovating, and with the help of the internet and an awesome website, it’s easier than ever to promote your music.  For more information on starting a music side hustle and website, check out Gator Website Builder today. The process of building a website is intuitive, easy, and you’ll be pleased with the results. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Set Up Sales Funnels in Google Analytics (Step-by-Step)

The post How to Set Up Sales Funnels in Google Analytics (Step-by-Step) 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 of your website.  Let’s say you’ve got a great promo video on the homepage of your B2B website, which does an excellent job advertising your services and encouraging leads to call you. Only problem is, no one’s watching it. Or maybe you run an eCommerce store. You have no problem getting people to visit from social media. Many of them even add items to their carts, but they’re still dropping off mid-checkout. Sound familiar? While frustrating, these are common experiences for any website owner. Fortunately, there’s a way to discover what’s keeping people from converting on your website.  All you’ll need to figure it out is a free Google Analytics account and a solid internet connection. (If you haven’t set up Google Analytics for your website yet, you can do that here.)  Then, it’s time to set up sales funnels in Google Analytics. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to track visitor behavior on your website, identify problem areas, and optimize the user experience to get more visitors to do more of the things you want—like make a purchase, fill out a lead form, or subscribe to your newsletter.  If any of that sounds confusing, don’t worry. Below, I walk you through what sales funnels are, why they’re important, and how to track them in Google Analytics. We’ll end by discussing how you can take action based on the insights they provide. What Is a Sales Funnel? A sales funnel is a sequence of steps that a user takes for completing a conversion. A sales funnel on an eCommerce website might look something like this: The customer arrives at the website.Once there, the customer browses a few different product pages.Next, the customer adds an item or two to their cart.Finally, the customer purchases said item(s). The sales funnel looks different for different types of websites and different types of customers. That’s why it’s important to know who your customers are and outline the series of actions they might take on your website. All sales funnels end in a conversion. A conversion can have different definitions depending on what business you’re in and the type of website you’re operating. Traditionally, when people think of a conversion, they think of completing an order on a website. But a conversion can be broader than that, like signing up for your email newsletter or downloading a whitepaper.  Ultimately, a conversion is any behavior you want your customer to take that results in some value for your business.  Why Every Site Owner Should Care About Sales Funnels Sales funnels are essential for understanding the steps your customers take before reaching their final conversion, and any obstacles that prevent them from getting there. You can think of each step in your sales funnel as a pivotal touchpoint you want people to reach on their way to converting. Once you’ve defined each of those steps, you can identify the areas of friction: the places where people get stuck, leave, or otherwise don’t continue with the conversion process. When you have that information, you’re able to optimize the design and flow of your site, adjusting things to capture more conversions. Suddenly, you know what’s working on your website, and what’s not—so you can get started fixing it. Case in Point: Business Coach Example  Here’s an example to illustrate the value of sales funnels. Let’s say you’re a business coach. As part of your lead gen process, you offer a free 30-minute consultation, so clients can get a feel for what it’s like to work with you. You advertise this consultation throughout your website with a prominent CTA button. To sign up, people have to click to a separate registration page and complete a form.  By analyzing your sales funnel in Google Analytics, you find that these CTA buttons have a high click-through rate. Regardless of which page they clicked from, the number of people who see the CTA button, compared with those who click on it to reach the registration page, hovers around 50%. That indicates that you’re doing a great job creating interest in your free consultation.  However, once people reach the page with the registration form, fewer than 1% actually fill it out. Given that interest was so high, what explains this sudden loss of interest? Your consultation is free. What do people have to lose? Well, your registration form might have too many fields, exhausting people from filling it out in the first place. Or, the actual signup form is buried way down on the page where people can’t find it. Maybe the page loads slowly and people give up and leave. Each of these could be opportunities to improve your sales funnel. Currently, one or more of these things is turning people off and making them leave. Once they’re gone, they might as well be gone forever. It’s up to you to test different changes to see what boosts that 1%. Thanks to Google Analytics, you know exactly where the problem lies: the page with the form. People are clicking through to the page with the form, but they’re stopping there. The sales funnel helps you pinpoint the issue, so you can stay focused and make the changes that drive improvements—instead of wasting your time working on things that aren’t part of the problem, like changing up your advertising copy, or bumping up the consultation time from 30 minutes to 60.  What Is Funnel Analysis? Funnel analysis is turning your sales funnel into something you can monitor and analyze. Let’s use an eCommerce site as a hypothetical.  Below would be potential steps in your funnel:  People arrive on your website.People navigate to a product page.People add a product to their cart.People make it to the checkout page. People actually complete their purchase. Funnel analysis involves quantifying each of those steps and seeing how many people made it to each. Essentially, you want to know two things: the percentage drop off from step to step, and the cumulative percentage of the total. This gives you really good visibility of where your friction points are. Plug those steps into Google Analytics, and you can literally see the friction points. For our hypothetical eCommerce site, here’s what the data might look like in Google Analytics: The blue blocks represent the total number of people who reach each step, while the red arrows point to the number of people who drop off at each step. This data tells us a few things: Of all the people who reach the website, 80% leave without browsing any product pages. That represents a big opportunity for us. We might look into whether the homepage does a good job directing people towards product pages? Are product categories listed in the main menu? Are featured items highlighted on the front page? These are all the things we could test to drive more people to visit the product pages. Of the people who visit a product page, 75% of them end up progressing to the next step, and adding the item to their cart. Nice! This is a good sign that among the people who are interested enough to visit the product page, we do a great job convincing them they should buy it.Unfortunately, only about 6% of those people end up completing their checkout. So, something is off. Maybe there’s a technical issue with the checkout page, and people don’t feel like they can trust the site with their credit card information. Maybe there are too many fields for them to fill out, or it asks for information unrelated to their purchase. Whatever the reason, this is an issue worth looking into. The fact that people added the item to their cart indicates a strong intent to buy, so if none of them actually convert, there must be something blocking them from making a successful purchase. Just by looking at the raw data, we suddenly have a ton of information we can work from to optimize our website. This is what makes funnel analysis so relatable. Once you start to think of your website as a journey for your customers to take, you can get in their mindset and consider the incremental steps that keep them moving forward.  Next, let’s talk about how to apply this strategy to your site. How to Visualize the Sales Funnels for Your Website Before you even open Google Analytics, step one is to get a good understanding of your site and what you want people to do. I recommend a brainstorming session where you map out your funnels. If you have an eCommerce site, your funnels likely look similar to the ones we outlined above. If you have a blog, the funnel concept still applies. There may be no product pages or “add to cart” button, but you still have a homepage, category pages, and blog articles. These blog articles are essentially the “products” of your site. You want to sit down and really think about your site, the journey you want people to take, and their ultimate destination or goal. Is that goal having them read the blog? Figuring out how to direct them toward your blog articles would be the top priority.  Remember, you could have multiple funnels within one site. You may be a blogger who sells products on the side, so you’d have different sales funnels for your blog content vs. your online store.  By the end of this brainstorming session, you should know what you want people to do, and have that broken out into steps (e.g. entering the site, visiting a blog page, downloading a whitepaper). How to Set Up Sales Funnels in Google Analytics Once you have your sales funnels mapped out, it’s time to collect the data. There are a lot of ways to skin the cat but segments and goals are easiest, so that’s what I’m going to show you today.  We’ll start with the easiest option: creating a segment.  Note: For the sake of expediency, we’re going to use product pages as an example in the following steps. If you’re setting up funnels for your blog, adjust accordingly. Option #1: Create a Segment You’re going to create four segments: one each for your home, product, cart, and thank your page. In Google Analytics, navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. This screen shows you all your website traffic, broken down by channel (social, organic, direct, etc.).  Step 1: Create your homepage segment. Click the Add Segment button at the top left. This will take you to a new screen. Here you’ll see that Google Analytics already offers a lot of options relevant to sales funnels. If you wanted to, you could click “Made a Purchase” and call it a day.  But your site isn’t one-size-fits-all. You’ve already outlined the specific pages on our site that you want users to progress through. The easiest way to create a segment for that specific sales funnel, and avoid Google muddying up the data, is to create a custom segment. Click the red New Segment button in the upper left. Next, click Conditions under the Advanced menu on the left.  In this screen, you’ll define each step of our sales funnel. Using the drop down menu, search for and select “Page.” Then, select “exactly matches” from the second drop-down menu. This prevents Google from including other pages with similar URLs.  Finally, either enter the URL of your homepage in the text field, or use the / suggested by Google. (In Google Analytics, / is shorthand for your homepage.) Name your segment in the “Segment Name” field at the top left, and click the blue Save button. Step 2: Create your product page segment. To see how many people go from your homepage to the product page, you’ll need to create another segment. To do that, you’ll repeat the same steps above. Here they are for easy reference: Click on Add Segment.Click the red New Segment button.Click Conditions under the advanced menu on the left.Search for Page from the drop-down menu. Next, if you have a single product, or you want to create a funnel for just one product, you can continue the same process you used for your homepage. Select “exactly matches” from the drop-down menu and enter the exact URL of the product page in the text field.  Alternately, if you sell multiple products, you might want to see how many people visit any product page on your site. In that case, you select “contains” instead of “exactly matches” from the drop-down menu, and use a common denominator in the text field (for example, if all your product pages include /shop/ in the URL, you would enter /shop/ in the text field.) Give your segment a name you can identify, like the product name, or simply “Product Page,” and click Save. Step 3: Create your cart page segment. Follow the same steps again: Click on Add Segment.Click the red New Segment button.Click Conditions under the advanced menu on the left.Search for Page from the drop-down menu. For your cart segment, you’ll likely need to use the “contains” option, since the URL may change for each individual cart. Find a common denominator like /checkout/ or /cart/ and enter that into the text field. Name your segment “Cart” or something easily identifiable, and click Save. You can probably guess what’s coming next. Step 4: Finally, create your purchase confirmation, or thank you, page segment. Follow the same steps again: Click on Add Segment.Click the red New Segment button.Click Conditions under the advanced menu on the left.Search for Page from the drop-down menu. Again, since the specific URL may vary by user, you’ll want to use the “contains” option and find a common denominator in the URL, like /thank-you/. Name this your “Thank You” segment and click Save.  Now, your Google Analytics should look something like this: Each segment is represented by a different-colored line, and you can visually see the drop-off from step to step. There’s also a wealth of numerical data for each segment outlined below. In this sample, it looks like there’s a significant drop-off from the product page to the cart, and again a number of people who don’t complete checkout. Either of these would be good places to start optimizing. Option #2: Get Up Goals in Google Analytics Now, for the slightly more advanced option: setting up Goals.  Once you do this, you’ll unlock additional Google Analytics capability, like the Funnel Visualization report (available under Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization). To set up goals, you’ll need to go to your Google Analytics Admin settings. Click on the gear icon in the bottom left corner of your screen, then click Goals. Next, click the red New Goal button. We’re going to use a Template goal here to track completed orders. Check the circle by Template, then click the blue Continue button. As with segments, you’ll find there are a bunch of template goals you can choose from, based on common conversion goals people have for their websites. For example, if we hosted product videos on our site, we might want to track how many people actually watch themt. The Event goal would be useful for that. Since we want to track how many people ultimately place an order, we’ll stick with Destination. Enter a name for your goal, like “Placed an Order, “ and check the circle by Destination. Then click Continue. In the final screen, we’ll use our thank you page as the URL and selects “Equals to” from the drop-down menu: Now, you have the option of setting a Value for each conversion. If you primarily use your website for lead generation, your revenue likely isn’t captured through Google Analytics. You can still estimate it by turning the Value field to ON, and then specifying a dollar amount. For example, if you’re using this goal to track whitepaper downloads, you might guess that on average each download is worth $100 to your business, so you would enter that. Again, this field is optional. Next, turn Funnel to ON. Here, you’ll outline the different URLs for each step of your funnel, like we did when we created custom segments. Click Save when you’re done. Finally, click “Verify this goal” to check your work. Then, navigate back to Conversions > Goals and you’ll see you can now view the Funnel Visualization report where it shows you a visual representation of your funnel: This report tells us a few things at a high level: At the top, it tells you how many people completed the goal (120 sessions) and the all-up conversion rate for this funnel (14.69%).On the left, it tells us the prior page that brought visitors to funnel in the first place. Often, this tends to be the homepage. That’s the most popular page for most websites, so it makes sense that it shows up here (indicated by “(entrance)”). On the right, it tells us how many people abandoned the funnel at each step, and what page they visited next, if they didn’t leave your site completely (indicated by “(exit)”). Google Analytics will show you this same information for every step. Where did your visitors come from before entering your funnel, did they leave at any step, and if so, where did they go? How to Use Google Analytics Funnel Data to Optimize Your Site Funnel analysis helps you quantify how many users make it to each step, and determine the abandonment vs. retention rate for each step. Funnel analysis gives you the what. The why is a bit harder to decipher. Again, let’s use our eCommerce funnel as an example. Our funnel analysis reveals we have a high percentage of people going from our homepage to our product page. That’s great. If people didn’t make it there, that’d be roadblock #1.  But of those people that reach the product page, a large number drop out before adding anything to their cart. We’d want to focus here first. What can we do to improve our product pages? Is it a design issue? Are users confused by how to add a product to the cart? We might need to tweak the placement, color, or size of the Add to Cart button.Is it a marketing issue? Maybe our positioning needs work and we need to do a better job emphasizing the benefits of this particular product. Is it a pricing issue? Perhaps the pricing is really high compared to our competitors. When people see it, they gawk at it and leave. There are all sorts of reasons you might see friction at the funnel steps. That’s when this quantitative data works really well with the qualitative side, like adjusting the user experience, surveying your customers, and A/B testing your changes.  Customer surveys are my favorite place to start. There are lots of great (and free) survey tools you can use for this. Run a survey on the problem page with one simple question: “Were you able to accomplish what you were looking for on the site? If not, why not?”  From my experience with usability testing, you’ll find lots of people say they can’t find something or don’t know where to go in the survey. This is a big opportunity to work on first. If you have a small budget, start with your friends and family. Ask them to walk through the process of buying them on your website, but don’t give them any hints. Do they run into any roadblocks?  Turning Insights Into Action with Sales Funnels in Google Analytics Conceptually, sales funnels are not a very challenging thing to grasp. We’re all consumers and we’re familiar with conducting business online. We’ve all been in that position before where we find ourselves so confused by a website, that we get frustrated and leave for a competitor site.  That confusion represents a choking point in your sales funnel, and it can make or break your site. Funnel analysis helps you find those choke points. Then, it’s up to you to experiment with how to fix them. Fortunately, setting up sales funnels in Google Analytics is not difficult. Follow the steps above, and you might be surprised by what you find!Ready to do more with Google Analytics? Check out our guide to filtering out bot traffic. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Holiday Gift Ideas for Side Hustlers [2019 Gift Guide]

The post 5 Holiday Gift Ideas for Side Hustlers [2019 Gift Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. How many people on your gift list this holiday season have a side hustle? Don’t be surprised if it’s close to half. Forty-five percent of American workers have another gig on the side. Whether they do the extra work for personal fulfillment, extra income or both, they’d probably appreciate gifts that help them get it all done. Gift Idea #1: Gift Cards for Business Card Design and Printing Ideal for: Side hustlers who network and want to win new customers Price range: $10 and up One of the biggest challenges for side gig owners is visibility. When you don’t have a full workday or big budget to promote your side business, every contact counts. That means side hustlers always need business cards on hand to share with people at business mixers and social events. Make sure they’re prepared with a gift card for a design and print source like Staples or Moo. Staples lets business owners choose their business card design from more than 4,100 templates or upload their own. Moo is a popular choice for businesses that want cards that stand out from the stack, with options like square and mini rectangle shapes and special finishes like metallic foil. Side Gift for the Side Hustler Those new business cards need to stay clean and crisp.  Herschel’s Oscar mini wallet will keep your side hustler ready to give out and keep credit cards and ID handy, too. It’s available in lots of colors and patterns.  Gift Idea #2: Journals for Jotting Notes and Sketching Designs Ideal for: creative side hustlers, serious note-takers Price range: $13—$90 Yes, the digital age is awesome, but sometimes you need to write your ideas down by hand or sketch something on paper. Journals can also serve as side-hustle diaries for the budding entrepreneur to look back on after they’ve built a thriving business. And journals can be as practical or luxurious as you like. On the budget side, Eccolo’s Dayna Lee collection offers five different inspirational covers for its 256-page journals. Want something more luxe? Iona Handcrafted Books produces journals that are works of art.  Each is constructed with hand-bound, handmade archival quality paper, covered in leather and tied with an old-school Monk’s lace knot.  Side Gift for the Side Hustler With a journal, the right pen is a must. A little motivational boost is good, too. Gift Idea #3: Books for Side Hustle Game Plans and Inspiration Ideal for: Side hustlers who are just getting started or want to raise their game Price range: $10-$16 Giving advice to side hustlers has become a side hustle of its own. There’s lots of information out there for people who want to start their own side business or keep it going by managing their time wisely. Here are three books for side hustlers, written by some of the best-known time-management and entrepreneurial gurus.  Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days is by the same author who broke out with The $100 Startup, which profiled real-life entrepreneurs who started on a shoestring. In Side Hustle, Chris Guillebeau focuses on action steps readers can take right away to build a workable plan without getting bogged down by overthinking.  The Side Hustle: How to Turn Your Spare Time into $1000 a Month or More is by Nick Loper, founder of the Side Hustle Nation site. His book digs into different business models for side gigs that provide services, produce products or cater to an audience, and then tells readers how to begin. Time management expert Laura Vanderkam studied high earning working moms to learn how they get it all done, enjoy their lives and even get enough rest. Her book earned raves for presenting a positive approach to successfully managing busy work and home lives.  Side Gift for the Side Hustler All that reading material calls out for a way to stay organized.  These magnetic bookmarks will help busy hustlers save their place securely, without damaging their books.  Gift Idea #4: Side Hustling in the Bag Ideal for: Side hustlers who travel a lot, work in coffee shops and coworking spaces, or meet clients on-site Price range: $60–$135 Securely carrying a laptop is a must for most of us, side hustle or not. Looking good while toting tech gear is a bonus, one that can make your favorite side-gig owner look more professional and organized when they’re meeting clients.  The SmartPack from MobileEdge is a CNET favorite, with room for a 16” laptop in its fleece-padded sleeve, plus space for water bottles and small items. It’s available in 8 colors.  For women who want a stylish laptop tote with a crossbody strap, Dagne Dover’s Ryan bag is rated tops by Business Insider and Good Housekeeping. Neoprene material resists water, interior pockets keep everything secure. It’s also available in 8 colors. Side Gift for the Side Hustler Side hustlers don’t just hustle at work – they’re problem solvers on the go.  With Gerber’s keychain multitool in their bag, they can be resourceful anywhere, with screwdriver, bottle opener, wire stripper, scraper and other functions in hand.  Gift Idea #5: Side Hustle Fuel Ideal for: Side hustlers who run on caffeine and thrive on variety Price range: $60 and up Side hustlers need energy. Most of them are working full time jobs on top of their side gigs, plus family responsibilities and social lives. The gift of sustainable, delicious caffeine might be the best gift of all.  A subscription to a coffee club like Atlas, which sources beans from around the world, will have your favorite side hustlers powering through each day and thinking fondly of you with every cup.  Side Gift for the Side Hustler A sturdy mug for hot drinks at home is always a thoughtful gift.  Le Creuset’s mugs earned rave reviews from The Spruce for style and durability, and they’re available in lots of colors.  Bonus Gift Idea: Support the Launch of their New Side Hustle Website Has your side hustling friend created a website to promote their side hustle, market themselves, and attract more clients and sales? If not, give them the gift of a new website! Launching a side hustle website is easy with the Gator Website Builder from HostGator. Side hustlers have three flexible plans to choose from, which include hosting, a drag-and-drop builder, dozens of free templates, and more. Are you ready for the holidays? Want more gift ideas? Check out our other HostGator Gift Guides! Holiday Gift Ideas for EntrepreneursHoliday Gift Ideas for FreelancersHoliday Gift Ideas for Your Local Business ClientsHoliday Gift Ideas for Your Freelance Clients Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Holiday Gift Ideas for Entrepreneurs [2019 Gift Guide]

The post Holiday Gift Ideas for Entrepreneurs [2019 Gift Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog. What does your favorite entrepreneur really want for the holidays this year? Probably a clone, so they can get everything done. You may not be able to give the gift of being in two places at once, but you can help any of the entrepreneurs in your life get more done, get more inspired—even get more rest.  Gifts for Hard-Charging Business Owners Ideal for: frequent travelers, people who make sales calls and on-site client visits, that one friend who always forgets to charge their phone  Price range:  $16—$50 Most business owners work on the go, so their gear always needs to be charged. There’s nothing more frustrating when you’re on a deadline than losing battery power in a place where you can’t find an outlet.  Spare your beloved business pal this fate with a portable charger or two. My favorite choice for phones is the Jackery Mini. It’s good for one full phone charge at a time. And it’s not much bigger than a lipstick case, so it’s easy to carry. For more charging power, the larger Anker PowerCore Essential 2000 can charge two mobile devices at the same time or recharge a phone several times on one charge. Jackery Mini Anker PowerCore Essential 2000 Where to recharge all that gear without creating cord chaos in the office? Business Insider and Amazon both give top marks to the Satechi 7-Port USB Charging Station Dock, with surge protection on each port and the ability to automatically detect the right charge for each device. Perfect for the busy entrepreneur’s desk. Satechi 7-Port USB Charging Station Dock Illuminating Gifts for Entrepreneurs Ideal for: artisans, artists and craftspeople; people who work in spaces with poor lighting; businesspeople who do a lot of video work; anyone who’s ever had trouble finding something in the depths of their bag during a meeting Price range: $20—$43 A good desk lamp can make the difference between a productive work session and a stress headache. Architects, designers and other professionals often recommend the TaoTronics line of LED desk lamps. This model offers seven brightness levels, five color modes and a wireless charging station for selected phones. TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp Fast Wireless Charger You know what’s super awkward when you’re networking or meeting with clients? Rummaging through your bag like a raccoon raiding a trash bin because you can’t find what you need. SOI’s motion-activated handbag lights come in two sizes to make it easy to find your stuff, even when your bag is the functional equivalent of a black hole. SOI Original Handbag Light One more way to light up the holidays for your business-owner friends: a ring light they can use with their webcam and phone. A small ring light with a decent menu of brightness and color settings can make video conferences look much more professional. It’s also handy for creating livestreams, videos and headshots that look polished.  Gifts for All Entrepreneurs  Ideal for: the business friend who has everything Price range: $20—$150 for a 1-year Audible subscription You really can’t have too many business card cases, especially if you have multiple bags—just load up a bunch of cases and keep one in each bag. One of the most appealing styles on Etsy is Minter Goods’ eco-friendly, water-resistant cork business card case. The design has two pockets and comes in a dozen color choices.  Minter Goods cork business card cases Successful businesspeople and plucky entrepreneurs share an important trait: they’re always learning. Consider a gift that feeds their need for new ideas and inspiration. For entrepreneurs who like to learn while they’re on the move, an Audible gift subscription lets them listen to the books on their to-read list. Know someone who eats, sleeps and dreams business? A gift subscription to the Harvard Business Review is like a library pass for lifelong business students. It includes online access to HBR’s archives, which go back 25 years, plus subscriber-only resources that they can customize and use for their business. Gifts for the Entrepreneur who Needs to Rest and Unwind Ideal for: business owners who need a break, business owners seeking work-life balance, anyone who’s flirting with burnout Price range: $11 and up Everyone, even the busiest entrepreneur, needs time to recharge and rest. Without that downtime, it’s hard to stay focused, motivated and creative. So, treat your favorite business owner to some R&R.  For entrepreneurs who are interested in how meditation and relaxation can help them succeed at work, Search Inside Yourself is a great read. Written by Google engineer Chade-Meng Tan, it’s a clever introduction to traditional meditation practices with a focus on building the resilience, emotional intelligence and happiness people need to thrive at work and outside of it. When to meditate and relax? Just about anywhere, with the right tools. For frequent travelers, consider TechRadar’s favorite noise-canceling headphones for two years running: Sony’s wireless Bluetooth WH1000XM3 model. At $350 they’re a bit of a splurge, but they deliver 30 hours of battery life, perfect for creating a sonic cocoon in flight and in the airport lounge. Sony WH1000XM3 Another, less expensive tool for relaxing on a plane: a sleep mask that blocks out light but doesn’t touch your eyelids, like the MZOO Sleep Eye Mask. It’s available in 4 colors and costs just $16.  For business owners who are already into wellness and fitness, a gift pass to enjoy more of those things is a gift that really does keep giving. Spafinder passes are great for finding spa and beauty treatments plus fitness classes like Pilates and dance. Classpass focuses more on gyms and fitness centers. In a city like Austin, Classpass gives the holder options ranging from yoga to boxing, indoor cycling and CrossFit. That’s perfect for entrepreneurs who want to stay in shape and maybe network a bit at the same time. Need more gift-giving ideas? Check out our other HostGator holiday gift guides! Holiday Gift Ideas for Side HustlersHoliday Gift Ideas for FreelancersHoliday Gift Ideas for Your Local Business ClientsHoliday Gift Ideas for Your Freelance Clients Find the post on the HostGator Blog

A Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research appeared first on HostGator Blog. After all that work you put into creating your website, now that it’s live you’re worried it’s not getting enough traction. The web is full of sites competing for traffic. To get people to visit yours, you need to do online marketing. One of the first concepts you’ll encounter as you get started with online marketing tactics is keyword research.  What is Keyword Research? Keyword research is the process of learning which terms people use when searching for topics in your industry. It’s a way to understand what your audience is looking for when online, as well as the specific language they use to search for it.  Performing keyword research will help you learn a few main things: How popular your keywords are – Keyword research tools provide estimates for the number of searches people perform for keywords, as well as the number of clicks the results get. How competitive they are – Equally important is understanding how hard a keyword is to rank for. SEO tools also provide data on how competitive keywords are. For PPC, that includes estimates for how much the keyword costs per click (CPC).Other, similar keywords people are searching for – Part of keyword research is building out a list of all the relevant keywords you want to target in your campaigns. Keyword research helps you find more terms related to the list you start out with. What sort of search engine results show up for that keyword now – Not all search engine results pages (SERP) are created equal. It’s important to understand when the results for a page are dominated by ads vs organic results, and when rich results like featured snippets and map clusters show up.  Why Keyword Research is Important Keyword research is the cornerstone of two of the most important types of online marketing: pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimization (SEO).  In SEO, the goal is to get your website to rank for keywords your audience is actually searching for. Most SEO tasks revolve around using keywords to help Google and the other search engines understand what each page on your website is about, so they know which searches to include your website in the results for. Similarly, in search PPC marketing, all the campaigns you set up will target specific keywords. How much you pay is based on the popularity of the keywords you target and the quality of the traffic will depend on how relevant the keywords you choose are to your campaign goals.  In addition to its necessity for both these tactics, keyword research is also a valuable tool for understanding your target audience better. Knowing what they’re searching for tells you something about what they care about, what questions they have, and what they’re thinking. That’s important information for shaping a successful marketing strategy. You can use it when creating customer personas, planning out topics to cover in your content marketing, and even when figuring out which products to sell.   Types of Keywords Keyword research tools provide information about how popular and competitive keywords are, but beyond that information you also want to think about the different types of keywords. Understanding the differences between them and when best to use each type in campaigns is important for marketing success.  Keyword Relevance Types There are two categories of types of keywords. The first is related to relevance. It includes: 1. Head terms  These are the keywords that will look the most valuable to you at first glance, because they have a high popularity and describe what your brand does at a general level. Some examples of head terms are “pizza delivery” (550,000 searches a month), or “accounting software” (60,500 searches a month). For those respective types of businesses, these are obvious keywords to want to rank for.   Here’s an example of head terms related to “floral delivery”: Head terms are often worth including in your strategy, but they’re generally so competitive that they will take a long time and a lot of work to rank for, if you ever do. For that reason, they shouldn’t be the only keywords you include. 2. Long-tail keywords Long-tail keywords are more specific and often include several words. For that reason, they’re less popular, but also far less competitive. These are easier to rank for and are therefore an important part of an SEO strategy. As you start to gain rankings for long-tail keywords, it helps boost your SEO authority, which will help you gain the head terms as well.  Long-tail keywords sometimes only get 10 or 20 average monthly searches, or even less. But even so, they can help you gain valuable, relevant traffic as you’re working to build your website’s authority. Examples of long-tail keywords include “24 hour pizza delivery austin” (30 searches a month) and “best accounting software small business” (76 searches a month). Here are some more specific long-tail keywords a doorbell company might target: Keyword Intent Types The second category of keyword types has to do with intent. This includes: Informational keywords  These are keywords people use when searching for the answer to a question. You won’t necessarily get visitors to your website that are ready to buy from these, but they’re still an important part of an SEO strategy as they give you a way to reach more people in your target audience.  These keywords are most useful for crafting a content marketing strategy where you focus on helping your audience as a way to build trust in your brand. Visitors who like your content are more likely to remember your brand fondly next time they see you or, even better, sign up for your email list to hear more from you. This includes keywords like “how to make pizza crust” or “small business accounting 101.”  Navigational keywords These are the keywords people use when they already have a specific destination in mind. You could also think of them as branded keywords. You definitely want to rank for your brand name when people search it, since at that point they’re specifically looking for you. Examples of navigational keywords are “pizza hut” or “freshbooks.”  Anyone searching for those terms already knows what website they want to find and have simply decided Google is the easiest way to get there. The good news is that it’s usually easy to start ranking for relevant navigational keywords, unless you have a really common brand name.  You can also use navigational keywords in PPC campaigns to try to capture traffic that would otherwise go to your competitor. For example, if Domino’s wanted to try and lure business away from Pizza Hut, they could bid on the keyword “pizza hut” so their website shows up above Pizza Hut’s in the search engine results for the term. If you notice competitors bidding on your navigational keywords, it may be worth investing in a PPC campaign targeting your own brand name in order to beat them.  Transactional keywords These are the most valuable keywords to target, since they’re the terms people use when they already know they want to buy something. This includes terms like “pizza delivery near me.” By the time someone is searching that term, it usually means they’re already hungry and trying to figure out which option will get a pizza to them soon.     These are some of the best terms to target in PPC campaigns, since they’re more likely to result in sales and provide you an ROI. But they also tend to be the most expensive ones to bid on, since your competitors will recognize them as transactional as well.  Commercial investigation This category is related to transactional, but usually just one step removed from when a person is ready to purchase, when they’re still trying to decide between a few different options. This comes into play for any type of product that requires advance research. Examples include “pizza place reviews” or “accounting software comparison.” These are valuable keywords because you know the person doing the search is thinking about buying. Often they’re hard for brands to rank for in organic search, because they’re more likely to go to third-party websites that provide a more neutral view, such as Yelp or industry publications. But they can still be worth targeting in your SEO strategy, and are definitely useful for PPC campaigns.   Local keywords For local businesses, SEO and PPC are a whole other game than for businesses with a broader geographic audience. Google recognizes when searchers are most likely to be looking for location-specific results, and the SERP looks entirely different as a result. In particular, Google’s map results usually take over the top of the page. Local keywords include terms like “salt lake city accounting firm” or “italian food near me.” The good news for local businesses is that local keywords are less competitive for both SEO and PPC. That means targeting them will save you money on your PPC campaigns, and you can potentially make it to page one with SEO faster. That doesn’t mean local keywords are never competitive. A term like “manhattan real estate” may be local, but you can bet a lot of  businesses are vying for it. Even so, for any business that targets local customers, they’re definitely important to include in your strategy.  How to Do Keyword Research Now you know the basics of what keyword research is. Here’s how you actually do it.  1. Brainstorm a list of terms relevant to your business. Start by sitting down and writing out a list of all the terms you can think of related to your business, industry, products, and the problems they solve. Think of both the terms you usually use as an industry insider, as well as those you think people less familiar with the business would use. This is your starter list. 2. Select your keyword research tools. To figure out the value of the keywords on your list and identify others to consider in your strategy, you need keyword research tools. And you have a lot to choose from.  Some of the top tools to consider are: Google’s Keyword Planner – This is the most powerful free tool available for keyword research. Google provides data on average monthly searches for keywords, competition levels, estimated CPC for PPC ads, and related keyword suggestions.Keywords Everywhere – A free browser plug-in available in both Chrome and Firefox, this puts relevant keyword data right on the SERP every time you do a search. You’ll see average searches and competition levels for your search term, as well as for a list of related keywords.Answer the Public – With this free tool, you can plug in any relevant keyword and the tool will produce a list of related keywords based on categories like questions, prepositions, and comparisons. Moz – This is a paid SEO tool that provides a range of features, including a sophisticated keyword research tool. You can get 10 keyword searches a month with a free account, or upgrade to the paid version for more. Ahrefs – This is another popular paid tool that provides rich data on different keywords and suggestions for related terms. SEMrush – This tool provides limited keyword data when you do a free search, and you can unlock more by upgrading to the paid version. (pictured below) You can get a lot of good information from the free keyword research tools on this list, but for businesses really serious about SEO and PPC, investing in one of the paid products is usually worth it for the additional information you gain and the time you save.  3. Build out your list with tools and research. Once you’ve selected your tools, go back to your keyword list. Plug the terms from your starter list into the keyword research tools to gain data on each of them. You’ll find that a lot of the keywords on your initial list aren’t necessarily worth keeping, and your tools will provide additional keywords you hadn’t thought of to add in their place. Keep in mind here that keyword research tools don’t have our human skill at recognizing relevance, so don’t assume every suggestion they deliver is worth adding to your list. Think about if makes sense for your brand and audience.  In addition to keyword research tools, spend some time at this stage supplementing the data with additional research from three sources: Google SERPs – Google will deliver more keyword suggestions to you in a few places: the autofill dropdown list that appears when you start typing, the People Also Ask section that shows up for some searches, and the Searches Related To section at the bottom of the page. In addition, pay attention to what shows up on the SERP in terms of ads and rich features like featured snippets. Some terms that seem valuable for SEO based on search volume could be less so if the SERP is dominated by rich features and ads that push the organic results further down the page.Competitor websites – Your competitors have already done keyword research, You can benefit from their experience by analyzing the keywords they target on their main pages and in their content. Customer research – Keyword research tools may provide you some information on what your customers are thinking, but you can learn even more by going straight to the source. Send out customer surveys, and analyze user reviews to see how your audience talks about your products and those sold by your competitors. You’ll gain knowledge of the kind of questions they’re asking, how they use your products, and the features or benefits they value most—all of which will result in more relevant keyword ideas.  4. Organize your keywords. At this stage, you’ll have a solid list of keywords along with data on each of them. Now you’ll want to work out a system for organizing the information you have so you can use it in building out your marketing strategy.  You can do this with a simple spreadsheet, or with the help of one of the keyword tools you selected. Categorize your keywords based on factors like popularity, competitiveness, SERP details, topic categories, and intent. When you can sort your keywords based on each of these categories, you’ll be better able to analyze which ones to focus on in different campaigns and tactics.  5. Incorporate keywords into your marketing strategies. Here’s where all your work pays off.  For SEO, use your keyword research to select a primary keyword for each page of your website. Perform on-site optimization by looking for natural opportunities to add the keyword to all relevant parts of the page, such as the URL, meta tags, headings, and page copy. Be careful not to overdo it here—only use your keyword where it makes sense naturally.  Once you’ve done that for all the existing pages on your website, use the keywords left on your list to build out a strategy for creating new pages with quality content optimized for each of them. And get to work on a link-building strategy that targets high-authority websites that publish content related to your keywords.  For PPC, build out ad campaigns based on your chosen keywords. Prioritize keywords here that have transactional or commercial investigation intent, and carefully consider the value of each keyword as compared to it’s estimated CPC. Since you pay for every click with PPC, your ROI is closely tied to the cost of the keywords you choose here.  6. Analyze your results. With both PPC and SEO, you’ll gain data as you go based on the results you get. Pay attention to the analytics provided by Google Ads, Google Analytics, and any SEO tool you invest in. Pay attention not only to clicks, but also to which of those visitors turn into customers. You may find that some keywords you thought were valuable don’t drive the right traffic, and aren’t worth your time and money. And you may be surprised that some long-tail keywords that seemed low priority produce more customers than the head terms you thought were worth more. Use that data to continually refine your PPC and SEO strategies so you get better results over time. Keyword Research is Powerful Keyword research is a powerful tool to understand your customers better and craft online marketing strategies that get results. You can save time and money by identifying the best keywords for your brand early on in your efforts, and building your strategy around what you learn.   Ready to put together a solid keyword research strategy for your business? Let the SEO experts at HostGator help! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Get Un-stuck with HostGator

The post Get Un-stuck with HostGator appeared first on HostGator Blog. With HostGator you can get the website you need for where you’re at or where you’re going. We’ve got a range of hosting plans to fit your needs. No matter if you need an informational site for your business, a blog, or an online store, we’ve got it. Plus the tools you need to protect and market your website. From goal-digger to money-maker, we’ve got your back. And you’ll never outgrow this friendship. Don’t be stuck with some square. Get a HostGator website that scales as your business grows. Unstuckable [uhn-stuhk-uh-buhl]: verb, adjective, awesome. Flexibility. Scalability. Everything you need, even if you don’t know you need it. The power to grow forever. The ability to go live without limits. The absence of blockers. Start with HostGator. Stay with HostGator. Andrew WrightGeneral Manager, HostGatorBuilder of Websites Since Age 12 “At HostGator, we are really pumped about helping our customers succeed so their businesses and dreams can grow. We like to say HostGator is “unstuckable” because, with us, your website can grow and scale with your business. Plus, our support staff works around the clock and is down to chat whenever you need help.” – Andrew Wright, General Manager of HostGator, Builder of Websites since age 12 What is unstuckable? At HostGator, it means… Grow Beyond Your First Website. When you’ve outgrown the limits of your first website, we’ve got web hosting packages that scale with your business. No commitment-phobia here. E-Commerce? WordPress? Yeah, we do that too. Built by Web Pros. For, Well, Everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much experience you (don’t) have. We’ve been around forever and we’ve got the skills to help anyone get online. We love this stuff and want you to dig it too! Unlimited Sites & One Login. Need more than one site? There’s a flat rate plan for that. Manage all your sites from one cPanel login. Easy peasy. We Work When You Work. 24/7/365. 366 days on leap years. Whether you’re staying late at the office, or chugging down coffee while you work your side hustle, we’ll take your call. Or chat. Or email. Our customers say… “I tried to change my domain by myself and in 1 second, it was gone! Thankfully, HostGator was able to help me. After a few tears and one phone call, they fixed it.” – Erin Parker, Erin Kaiulani Photo“It blows me away how friendly & non-condescending folks are when I call with (sometimes silly) questions. And I’ve never once hung up from a call without a solution.” – Michelle Visser, Souly Rested“Moving my blog to HostGator has been the best decision I made this year. I no longer have to worry about my site going offline due to constant technical issues from my previous host.” – Emeh Achanga, Miss Petite Nigeria Blog Get Started Now Find the post on the HostGator Blog

14 Best Web Management Tools for Small Business

The post 14 Best Web Management Tools for Small Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. Running a small business is a ton of work. As important as your website is to the success of your business, you don’t have a lot of time to spend on maintaining it. You have a seemingly endless list of other responsibilities to tend to as well. And if you’re like most small businesses, you don’t have a huge budget to hire someone else to maintain the website for you either.  But that’s okay, because what you do have is a wealth of available tools that make managing a website easier. For small business owners, selecting the right web management tools will make maintaining your website (and the rest of your online presence) much faster and easier.  Here are 14 useful web management tools that are either free, or affordable enough for small businesses to reasonably invest in.  Website Management Tools Creating and maintaining a website used to require learning coding languages like HTML or C++. Who’s got time for that? Definitely not your average small business owner.  Website owners today can skip the programming lessons and use intuitive website management tools that make it easy for even the most inexperienced beginners to build a website, make updates to it, and maintain it over time. These are some of the most popular and easiest-to-use website management tools to consider.   1. WordPress WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. Around a quarter of all websites are built on WordPress. Its popularity is well earned. It combines ease of use with enough flexibility and functionality that organizations of all sizes can bend it to their needs. For small businesses, the main appeal of WordPress is that it’s entirely free, and using it to build and maintain a simple website is easy.  Because of how ubiquitous the CMS is, you can tap into a wealth of resources devoted to learning WordPress from blogs to video tutorials to online courses—many of them free. And while the CMS packs a lot of the most important functionality a small business needs, you can add to it with WordPress plugins. With over 45,000 plugins available that offer features spanning security, SEO, spam blocking, social sharing and more, you can find just about any additional functionality you need for your website.  2. Gator Website Builder When starting a new website, the fastest, easiest, and cheapest option to get a professional-looking site off the ground is using a website builder. With Gator, HostGator’s website builder, you can have a new website up within hours of when you first sign up for the tool. And each time you need to make an update to the website over time, minor tweaks can be completed within seconds.  What makes creating a small business website with a website builder so easy is that you start with a template that gets the basic structure into place. Then you use an intuitive drag-and-drop menu to make changes to it that make the design uniquely yours. You can change out the colors for your main brand colors, upload your own images, and fill in the text on the page with a few simple clicks.  All of the templates Gator provides are responsive, meaning you can be sure your small business website will look as good on mobile as it does on desktop. And the service comes with access to free stock photography, which makes adding images to your website an easier process as well. The website builder also offers compatibility with many of the main programs small businesses use, such as all the main social media channels and G Suite.  3. cPanel Most web hosting plans will come with access to the provider’s control panel, commonly shortened to cPanel. The cPanel is an intuitive website management tool that provides important functionality, such as: Managing your website filesManaging your domain namesCreating and managing email addresses at your domain nameSetting up redirectsManaging website backupsCreating website databasesInstalling basic security features What your cPanel looks like and how it works will vary based on the web hosting provider you choose, but it’s an important tool across the board for managing your website.  4. Google Analytics Google Analytics is a massively useful, entirely free tool for understanding your website’s performance. It’s rare that a recommendation applies to every small business website, no matter the type. But every small business with a website should use Google Analytics. The information provided within the tool is surprisingly comprehensive considering what you’re (not) paying. As a sample of the insights you can find, it includes: Details on how people find your website Which pages of your website get the most trafficWhat devices and browsers your visitors useWho your visitors are based on demographics and online behaviorHow long visitors spend on your websiteWhat their journey on your website looks like when they visit multiple pagesWhat pages they exit onHow many of your visitors convert, based on desired conversions you define  And that’s not even a full list. The information within Google Analytics is invaluable for understanding how your visitors interact with your website, which is how you learn to make it more effective. 5. Joomla While many small business owners that opt for a CMS will be best served with WordPress, another popular option is Joomla. Joomla’s harder to use and requires more of a learning curve, but in some cases it’s the better choice. In particular, Joomla is considered a bit more secure, since it isn’t targeted by hackers as often as its more popular counterpart. And it’s the better choice for websites that will have more social components, where visitors create accounts to interact with each other on the site. Joomla is free to use and open source, which means it’s regularly updated and there’s a library of modules you can use to extend your website’s functionality within it. As with WordPress, you can find a lot of different resources to help you learn how to use Joomla. It does take more technical skill than WordPress does though, so small business owners with limited time and patience for working on their website may want to hire someone to help if they choose to use Joomla.  eCommerce Tools An eCommerce website requires distinct features and tools that other business websites can make do without. For that reason, any online business will need to consider additional web management tools that provide eCommerce functionality. These are some of the top eCommerce tools to consider.  6. WooCommerce WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress, making it one of the most widely used eCommerce software options, with over 74 million downloads. It’s owned by the same company as WordPress, so you can count on consistent compatibility. And it makes setting up an eCommerce store intuitive via a set-up wizard that walks you through each of the steps. Like WordPress, WooCommerce is free and open source. And there are a wide variety of modules that extend the tool’s functionality, some of them free and some of them for a fee. Some highlights of what you can do in WooCommerce are: Creating product pagesSetting up your preferred payment methodAutomatically calculating tax based on your visitor’s locationSelecting your shipping options and ratesOrganizing your products for discoverability with categories and tagsLetting customers set up accountsOffering and redeeming coupons The interface for WooCommerce looks a lot like WordPress, so using it doesn’t require learning anything new. It’s a free, easy option for managing your web store.   7. Magento Magento is another popular open-source eCommerce software. It provides the most important functionality you need for an eCommerce website, including: A shopping cartCheck-out functionalityThe option to let customers create accountsGuest check-out optionsAbility to create product pages and automate inventory tracking for eachIntegration with the most popular payment-processing options  In addition to the core functionality Magento provides, you can take advantage of a large extension marketplace that includes an array of options for adding to your ecommerce website’s functionality.  The open-source version of Magento is technically free, but many users invest in the paid version of the software for additional functionality. And for many small business owners, building an eCommerce website with Magento involves a level of skill that will require hiring help. That can make the price tag of using Magento higher. But for businesses that want the level of functionality that Magento provides, the cost of using it can be worthwhile.  Online Marketing Management Tools Creating and maintaining your website is important, but none of that work will amount to much if people can’t find it. To drive traffic to your small business website, you have to do online marketing. To keep your online marketing organized and efficient, having the right online marketing management tools is important.  8.  HubSpot HubSpot’s marketing software helps you connect all your marketing efforts to each other and better track your success as a result. The company offers a free version of the software that provides lead capture forms, email marketing, and analytics that provide insights into the customer’s journey.  They also offer a more comprehensive paid version of the product that provides advanced features like marketing automation and more personalization options. For small businesses, their paid versions can be costly. But as your business grows, the added functionality may be worth the upgrade.  9. Buffer Social media is a great opportunity to connect directly with your customers and grow awareness of your brand. At the same time, it’s an overwhelming medium with an array of different channels that are each difficult to navigate on their own, much less figuring out how to use them all together.  Social media management tools like Buffer can help. You can manage all your profiles in one place, schedule updates in advance, and gain better data on how your social media posts are performing. Buffer offers a basic free plan that allows you to connect up to three social accounts and schedule a maximum of 10 posts in advance. For the ability to manage more accounts and plan your social scheduling further out, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans. 10. Hootsuite HootSuite is a similar tool that allows you to control all your social media management in one dashboard.  HootSuite’s free plan allows management of three accounts and scheduling of up to thirty posts. Paid plans allow you to add more social profiles, schedule more updates at a time, and also let you manage some of your paid social advertising within the product.  11. Yoast Yoast offers WordPress SEO plugins to help with managing the parts of your website that contribute to on-site optimization. That includes making it easier to fill in all the meta fields of a page that influence SEO, such as the title tag and meta description. It also automatically reviews each page and provides insights for how well optimized it is based on factors like the frequency of your target keyword and the page’s readability level.  You can use the Yoast free version to get basic SEO functionality, or upgrade to the premium for some added features like internal linking suggestions. Online File Management Our last category of web management tools that can make your life easier as a small business owner is online file management programs. The ability to seamlessly share files between different devices and people, while still controlling permissions of who has access, can vastly simplify the process of collaborating on content, planning, and organization within your business. These tools all offer useful features for doing that.  12. Google Drive Google Drive is a free set of tools provided by Google, and also comes included as a part of the G Suite product. Within Google Drive you can create and share a number of types of files, including documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can define who’s allowed access to each file you create, and whether they can simply view or also edit them.  Google Drive’s collaborative features make it easy for different people to see each other’s edits and comments, making it a powerful tool for your team to work together on your website, business plans, and any content you create for marketing purposes. And because it’s accessible on any device type, it also makes it possible for you and your team to access important documents from your phone or home computer, as well as your main work device. 13. Dropbox Dropbox is a cloud storage solution that allows you to keep all your files in a central location that’s accessible from any device. As with Google Drive, you can share those files with others and enable comments to allow for collaboration. There’s a free version of Dropbox for individuals that allows up to a set amount of storage space, and a paid version for businesses that offers more storage and more features for collaborating.  14. Box Box is another product for content storage and collaboration. It boasts strong security features, so you can share content amongst the people who need access without worrying about competitors getting ahold of it. Like the other products, it allows you to control who has permissions for each file and enable content and edits from those directly involved in each piece you share.  Better Tools Lead to More Efficient Web Management Enough aspects of running a small business are hard, there’s no reason to skip the web management tools that make running your website and online marketing easier. With the right apps and products, you can simplify the work involved in maintaining a great website, making sure your customers can find it, and tracking your progress over time.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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