HostGator Blog

11 Last-Minute Website Changes You Can Make Now to Boost Holiday Sales

The post 11 Last-Minute Website Changes You Can Make Now to Boost Holiday Sales appeared first on HostGator Blog. Is there ever enough time to plan for the holidays? Not really, especially when you run an eCommerce store. If you feel like you’re falling behind before the season even begins, don’t stress. Here are eleven things you can do over the next few days to get your site up to speed for more holiday sales.  1. Upgrade your hosting plan. Start the season by heading off eCommerce disaster. Traffic spikes on peak sales days can crash your site, cost you sales and damage your brand. Case in point: J. Crew’s 2018 Black Friday site crash cost the clothing retailer an estimated $700,000 in lost sales. It also generated negative press and lots of customer complaints on social media.  An online retailer’s worst-case Black Friday scenario That’s no way to ring in the holidays. Check now to make sure your plan can accommodate your estimated peak traffic, and upgrade for more capacity if you need to. 2. Reuse what worked last holiday season. Look over your sales and site traffic data. What were your most popular products and promotions? Feature them again. Which days were your busiest? Tease your best deals for those days. What search keywords led to the most conversions? Make sure they’re part of your holiday section. 3. Set up your holiday section now. Build your Black Friday and Cyber Monday landing, category and product pages now. Test them for load time, display and function on desktop and mobile. Use the keywords that your holiday shoppers searched for most last year, plus any that are trending now. Make sure navigation between your store’s holiday section and the rest of your shop is seamless. Once you know it all works, put it up for your early bird shoppers. Game, a UK-based retailer, consistently gets kudos for its well-designed Black Friday landing pages. Here’s its Black Friday preview page from 2017: Deals sorted by console, a newsletter opt-in and holiday keywords (Christmas gift ideas, Xbox deals, PS4deals). Nice! Here’s what Game already has up for 2019, more than two months ahead of the big day: Game is serious about Black Friday 4. Put your holiday gift cards front and center. Gift cards were the most sought-after kind of present during the 2018 holiday season, and shoppers love them, too. Make sure visitors to your store can find them fast—especially once the shipping deadline passes for Dec. 25 delivery. National Retail Federation 2018 survey results 5. Don’t skimp on deals. “Getting a great deal” was the top priority for 74% of 2018 holiday shoppers surveyed by Deloitte. Discounts are by far the most popular deal, but free shipping, bonus gifts and rewards points are popular, too.  Deloitte 2018 Holiday Survey of Consumers Promote your upcoming deals early. Forty percent of shoppers have already started buying gifts by Nov. 1. 6. Show off your shipping options. Yes, you should offer free shipping deals, because online shoppers love them—see the chart above. Also, make sure customers know about your free shipping deals, plus your other shipping options and the deadlines to ship for holiday arrival. A crystal-clear holiday shipping deadline notice Don’t be subtle. Make a big, easy to see statement and include it on your homepage, product pages and checkout. Remember, shoppers are busy, most are on their phones, and they don’t want to dig through your site to find shipping deadlines. 7. Step up your customer service game. More than half of online holiday purchases in 2017 were made on smartphones, Google found, as busy shoppers worked through their lists whenever they had a few spare minutes. Be ready to quickly answer customer questions about products, deliver times and deals. You may need to scale up or outsource your human or chatbot customer service capacity during the holidays to meet demand. Facebook Messenger for Business is an easy and inexpensive always-on customer service option, too. 8. Check your social sharing capabilities. Make it easy for customers people to share your products, deals, holiday content and promo codes on social media this holiday season. If your social share plugin doesn’t integrate with Google Analytics, you’re losing data that could help you create more effective promos and posts. AddToAny includes lots of social platforms, lets you customize more and delivers the analytics you need. 9. Serve up fun holiday content. Now’s the time to update holiday content that did well for you last year or create something new. Stuck for ideas? Consider a gift guide that features your bestsellersa “customer picks” list that features the products with the best customer reviewsholiday recipesfavorite charities and nonprofits for holiday givingholiday tips—for travel, entertaining or decoratingtrend pieces that focus on what’s going to be hot in the year ahead Uncommon Goods has more than two dozen niche gift guides Include your social share buttons on this content and include links to your holiday products and landing pages. 10. Protect your holiday revenue from fraudsters. Read up on common holiday eCommerce scams that target stores’ shipping practices to steal merch for resale. If you typically have a huge surge in orders that slows down your approval process during the holidays, talk now to third-party fraud prevention services about outsourcing your overflow during the holidays. And consider upgrading your SSL certificate for stronger protection against man-in-the-middle attacks that can steal your customers’ payment data.  11. Buckle down on backups. Black Friday site traffic surges, hacker antics and unexpected problems can knock stores offline right when they should be doing peak sales. If that happens, having a recent uncorrupted version of your site backed up and ready to install can make the difference between a banner day and a big loss. Check now. Does your web hosting service offer automated daily backups, like HostGator’s Managed WordPress hosting plans do? If not, it’s time to add that capability through a service like CodeGuard. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 WordPress Appointment Booking Plugins

The post 7 WordPress Appointment Booking Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. Booking more customers is essential to growing your small business revenue. However, the process can be a hassle with the constant back and forth to schedule the perfect date and time with a customer. WordPress scheduling plugins offer a solution to manage all of your meetings, bookings, and reservations. WordPress plugins are especially helpful for the small business owner who can’t afford a full-time assistant. Find the right WordPress booking plugin to boost your business. Here are seven plugin solutions to help you maintain a competitive edge. 1. Appointment Booking Calendar A recent survey found that 42% of patients would rather book appointments online. This scheduling convenience holds true for customers booking appointments in other industries, too. Give your customers this added benefit with Appointment Booking Calendar. This plugin allows you to create a booking module on your website. It includes several built-in features, like booking time slots, PayPal payment processing, and confirmation emails to your customers. The sync feature lets you export appointments to iCal, Google Calendar, and Outlook. This plugin also protects you from unwanted spam. It includes captcha validation within the appointment calendar form. You also can print your entire list of bookings.  Appointment Booking Calendar is customizable to fit your needs, from changing the form interface to editing the notification emails.  2. Bookly Bookly is your choice for a responsive scheduling tool. You can use it for several types of businesses, including beauty salons, fitness centers, and professional services. The plugin allows customers to quickly schedule with your business. Your customers also receive email and SMS notifications to confirm their appointments. Miron Yumanau, a Bookly user, gave this plugin five stars for customer support and wrote the following review:  “Very good product. It has a lot of functions and possibilities. Great booking system for growing business. Sometimes I had some issues, but the support team always helped. Especially, thank you to Julia for the great support.” Bookly offers a premium version with more features, including a mobile-friendly booking form, an unlimited number of booking forms, and payment integrations. 3. Booking Calendar Your customers are online 24/7. Even after closing your small business for the day, you need a tool to help you book appointments in your absence. Booking Calendar is what your business needs. Do you manage an apartment complex? Your tenants can check the availability of a property. Do you provide a service? Your customers can book a time slot on your schedule. So, say goodbye to double bookings and gain confidence with an accurate calendar.  Booking Calendar offers an easy-to-use admin panel to handle booking management. You can search and sort your bookings with the filter feature, and you can approve or decline specific bookings. The plugin also sends email notifications to your customers for confirmation. More calendar control means more opportunities to create a better customer experience. 4. Amelia Lite Amelia Lite is an automated booking system on your WordPress website. Its single-page-app approach works efficiently without page reloading. Plus, it takes less than five minutes for you to set up. The premium version boasts a full feature list, from custom fields for booking forms to service photo galleries. You can even offer discount coupons for bookings. Give Amelia Lite a test run and experience its intuitive design. It’s a powerful automated booking specialist that fuses well with your current small business processes. 5. Booking Calendar Did you know that more than 40% of bookings are completed online? The days of calling your service provider by phone to book an appointment are steadily declining. Customers like the convenience of scheduling their appointments online. Let’s not frustrate your customers. Instead, install the Booking Calendar on your website. This appointment booking system makes it easy for you to create any type of scheduling calendar.  Customize it to your preferences with unlimited themes, unavailable weekday selections, and date format choices. The plugin is also configured to provide instant approval and send email alerts to customers about their appointment or booking status. If you upgrade to the Pro version, you gain additional features, like redirecting customers to a new page after a booking submission and upgrading your user permissions. These benefits give your customers a better brand experience. 6. Modern Events Calendar Lite Modern Events Calendar Lite is a practical tool to get more customers signed up for your events. This plugin offers a well-designed user experience with different views, including a carousel, countdown, and timetable. No more stressing over event management. Need help getting started? The plugin creators provide elite customer service to answer all your questions. You can scroll through their knowledge base articles or submit a ticket to get one-on-one assistance. 7. Ultimate Appointment Scheduling Last but not least, there’s the Ultimate Appointment Booking & Scheduling plugin. This tool gives you the flexibility to create appointment locations with different opening hours. You also can accept PayPal payments during the booking process. This plugin is a good match for businesses with one-on-one or one-to-many services, such as medical professionals, event venues, and corporate training sessions. You can set up an unlimited number of unique appointment services for your customers.  If you purchase the paid version, you can prevent spam by requiring customers to log in before creating an appointment. You’ll also get the ability to customize the look of your form to fit your brand’s colors and style. Book More Customers with WordPress Booking Plugins WordPress scheduling plugins add more functionality to your website. Try these booking tools to improve your productivity and streamline the way you do business. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

RDAP is Replacing WHOIS: What That Means For Your Website

The post RDAP is Replacing WHOIS: What That Means For Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog. Let’s say you finally landed on your dream domain name. You went to purchase the domain but found that someone else already owns the domain.  Instead of throwing up your hands and giving up in frustration, you could look up the domain registration information via WHOIS. This year, however, WHOIS was replaced by the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP). Don’t worry. This won’t change the way your website functions, just how to access information related to your domain.  Below we’ll dive into why this change happened, and give you insight into what it means for your website and domain name.  The End of the WHOIS Era WHOIS has been the primary way to lookup domain name registration information or IP address details for the past 35 years. It’s been pretty much the only game in town.  Whether you wanted to know who owned a specific domain, or what the associated IP address was you would do a WHOIS lookup. You could do this through a website, or even via the command line. It was a simple and straightforward process. The data wasn’t always perfect, but the process worked.  However, the internet, its purpose, and how it’s used is continually changing. What worked twenty, thirty, or even ten years ago, probably doesn’t function as well today. Just think of how different websites were just five years ago. Recent changes and awareness of data privacy, brought to light via the GDPR legislation, have helped to propel the development of RDAP.  Although WHOIS suited the needs of the internet population 35 years ago, it’s starting to show its age. Below we get into the limitations of WHOIS that RDAP seeks to address.  Limitations of WHOIS Like most technologies that were started decades ago, they’re going to be a little dated. This was especially true regarding the domain name system. Currently, there are over 350 million domain names that are registered. That’s a lot of domain name data that needs to be managed. The original WHOIS protocol definitely wasn’t engineered with this future in mind. Below we look at the biggest drawbacks of the existing WHOIS protocol that are fixed with the RDAP protocol.  No standardized format. The output data is text-based and will have a different result depending on each registry. This makes data parsing very difficult. Lack of data authentication. There is no authentication for who is accessing the data, so privacy issues might arise. RDAP seeks to address this.No international support. As it currently stands there’s no way to make sense of different country/language data. Lack of security protocols. Security standards across the web are rising. Data obtained from WHOIS isn’t very secure, as there were no verification, encryption, or authentication protocols in place.  What is RDAP? RDAP stands for Registration Data Access Protocol. It will eventually fully replace the existing WHOIS protocol. The change won’t happen instantly, but the rollout is taking place as we write this article. Over time, RDAP will be the only way to access domain registration and IP address information, and WHOIS will fully be a thing of the past. RDAP will deliver domain registration information just like WHOIS has done in the past, but it will do so in a different format (which we highlight below) that’s also more standardized across the board.  Right out of the gate RDAP has certain advantages over WHOIS, such as providing a secure way to access and request data, support for international data formats, and the ability to provide differentiated access to registration data. On the surface, not much changes with the implementation of RDAP. Since RDAP will just return data, and it’s up to the registrar how that information will be displayed, so it could look exactly the same as the WHOIS source you’re used to.   Core Features of RDAP RDAP was designed to help solve the existing problems of WHOIS. As it stands now here are some of the core features provided by RDAP: Built-in security. Connections will be forced over HTTPS, so it’s automatically more secure. Authentication is also built-in to the protocol.  Standardized query, response, and error messages. All data that’s delivered will be in a standard format, the display of the information will be done on the end of the registrar. Authoritative server access. The protocol will quickly find the correct and most authoritative server, so the resulting data should be higher quality.   Why is RDAP Being Implemented? The existing WHOIS system worked for a while, but due to the vast changes in how the internet functions, along with increased security and privacy being a must today, it no longer serves the purpose it once did. The issues with WHOIS have been known for over a decade, but replacing such a widespread system takes time. Deficiencies like no international support, lack of secure data access, lack of differentiated access, and no support for a standardized query, response, or error responses have been known for some time. In 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names (ICANN) was advised to evaluate and adopt a replacement protocol. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was the organization that began to create the replacement protocol.  Recently, ICANN has been working with registrars to implement RDAP. Since there are so many different registrars across the globe, adopting this new protocol will take a while, but it is currently underway. If all the above acronyms and organization names were confusing, here’s a quick rundown: WHOIS has been around for so long it’s not as effective, and there are glaring drawbacks.ICANN has known about these issues since 2011 and was working towards the alternative.The alternative RDAP is now being implemented with registrars across the globe. What This Change Means for Website Owners For most website owners, this change won’t mean a lot. Your website and domain name will function the exact same way as they used to. Think of this as a behind the scenes change that doesn’t directly affect your website in its present form. This is a much different situation than the recent GDPR rollout, which did impact websites and how they dealt with and stored data. The only thing the move to RDAP will change is the type of data that you’re able to access. In the past, you would use WHOIS to lookup registration data associated with a given domain. Now, the process is the same, but you’ll have access to higher quality data that’s more secure. You’ll still access domain registration and IP address information the same way. The only type of websites that this does affect are existing registrars. If you’re running a domain registrar, you would have known about this change a long, long time ago. But since it’s a protocol, it won’t change any data that’s currently being stored. It’s just a new way to access the data. The only thing that might change is how the resulting data might display, but this format will be more user-friendly anyways. As you can see, the changes that RDAP brings into effect don’t really change much on the surface. Think of it as an upgrade to how domain registration and user data is accessed, making it much more secure and standardized moving into the future.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Every Website Owner Needs to Know About ADA Compliance

The post What Every Website Owner Needs to Know About ADA Compliance appeared first on HostGator Blog. No matter your industry vertical or the type of online business that you run, it is a universal truth that you want to provide the best user experience possible. Websites with loud music that plays automatically upon loading will anger many site visitors. Sites that load too slowly will frustrate many more, just as websites that render horribly on mobile devices will simply lead to a bad first impression. This all goes without saying, regardless of the type of website that you have. In the past, web accessibility was often overlooked. However, web accessibility has quickly risen to become one of the top priorities for online business owners, site builders, service providers and agencies alike. More specifically, web accessibility standards have not only become increasingly codified, but they have also served as the basis for significant legislation and legal action. Indeed, many companies have faced costly ADA lawsuits as a result of not offering adequately accessible websites. Website Building Is Easy. Website Accessibility Isn’t. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that it’s changing all the time. Often for the better, but sometimes with complications as well. One simple and easy benefit that we can point out, is how easy it is to now create a website or blog in a matter of minutes. This is especially true with advancements in web hosting solutions, such as the WordPress platform. Not only does WordPress make the site and content creation process extremely fast and easy, it also allows for a much faster site, improved security, and complete customization based on the needs of your site, brand, or business. WordPress has completely changed the way websites, blogs, and content creation takes place on the internet today. In short, it’s also eliminated the need to learn how to program, design graphics, and code websites. For example, HostGator offers easy one-click solutions for adding WordPress to your hosting plan, which makes it easy for anyone to get started in a matter of seconds—versus spending hours trying to figure everything out. However, one of the finer points of the changing and progressing internet is the continuing regulations and standards that site owners and online businesses must comply with. Whether it be privacy settings, mobile optimization, or making sure your site is accessible to all audiences, website owners must stay current and comply with recent legislations and compliance regulations. It’s not only important for making a great first impression — sometimes there are legal issues and consequences associated with them as well. The Importance of Web Accessibility One such example of an audience engagement and legal issue that comes to mind is ADA website compliance. In short, ADA compliance requires site owners and businesses to have the necessary standards in place to make sure their website content is accessible by everyone. For a single online company running just a single website, this can be problematic enough. If the text on your website doesn’t offer a suitable level of contrast against the background, for instance, the text can be very difficult to read for individuals with impaired vision. If the website serves as your primary point of contact with customers, as is the case with many eCommerce businesses, this can lead to devastating lawsuits. For business owners, the problem is compounded exponentially, as every potential client is becoming increasingly concerned about offering a fully accessible website that complies completely with prevailing standards and legislation. If an agency cannot guarantee to its clients that it’s able to build fully accessible and ADA compliant websites, those clients are very apt to take their business elsewhere. Put simply, every website owner must catch up on web accessibility practices immediately, or risk losing clients. Even above and beyond potential legal action, there is an even bigger reason why you need to make your website accessible to people with possible disabilities: to provide the best possible user experience to the broadest range of potential users. The good news is that there are solutions out there that can make the process of ADA website compliance and user engagement implementation into your site a whole lot easier. Below you can see an example from accessiBe. This tool shows your website in normal form, with the option for adjusting your website to meet the needs of any users who might have visual, hearing, or any other limitations when trying to access your content online. A potential customer who cannot adequately navigate your website using keyboard commands alone, for instance, will just as quickly leave your online store for a competitor who more adequately addresses his or her needs. In turn, agencies who do not make accessibility a priority miss out on clients who do value accessibility for their websites. What Does Web Accessibility Even Look Like? To better understand the modern climate of web accessibility, we must first take a step back to look at accessibility a little more broadly. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA for short, became law in 1990. This civil rights law dictates that public and private spaces open to the public cannot discriminate against individuals with disabilities. To most people, this law is perceived in a physical sense, such as Braille on elevator buttons. ADA has since been extended to the digital realm of the Internet. Individuals with disabilities must have equal opportunity to access, engage with, and use online resources, just as much as individuals without disabilities. The understanding of how companies and businesses should approach web accessibility has been standardized in the form of the WCAG 2.1. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 outline how a website should be designed such that it is reasonably accessible to all users. These standards outline such considerations as offering media alternatives, providing minimum contrast for navigational elements, giving enough time to interact with site elements, ensuring that the site experience is predictable, and so on. Related to the ADA and WCAG 2.1 are other legislation and documents, like Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the US and EN 301 549 in the EU. In the case of the latter, the standards outline “accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe.” Accessibility is an international concern. The Easiest Approach Is Hands-Off Needless to say, wrapping your head around all of these official laws, rules and guidelines can be incredibly overwhelming, even for the most experienced of web developers and designers. By trying to force their designs into fitting with these standards, you might feel like your site design choices are being limited. However, that doesn’t need to be the case at all. It can actually be much easier than that — as previously highlighted in the example above with accessiBe. Maintaining ADA and WCAG compliance can seem very daunting, especially in the case of websites with frequently updated content or dynamic interaction on the part of the user. That’s why it makes much more sense to leverage a technology solution that not only can be implemented right into your existing site, but also adapt to any new changes or content that is added along the way. Through the use of artificial intelligence, platforms can automatically scan and analyze websites to make sure they are fully compliant with ADA, WCAG 2.1, Section 508, and EN 301 549 standards. Trying to accomplish such a feat in a manual process would not only be timely and tedious, it would likely also lead to more mistakes and human error. In fact, while the average person might not be aware of the ADA compliance and limitations associated with the internet, it’s definitely something that is growing in size, reach, and funding all the time. Microsoft for example, even has their own project for AI for accessibility — which is focused on sharing information and technology to support independence and productivity. As always, the internet is changing all the time — and for website owners and businesses, these changes will often fluctuate between good and bad. The most important thing to stay aware of, are the ongoing changes in compliance and how they might be affecting your own sites or those in which you are designing for clients. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Set Up a Menu in WordPress

The post How to Set Up a Menu in WordPress appeared first on HostGator Blog. Navigation menus are a super important part of every website. Imagine trying to navigate to different pages on a website, without the help of a menu guiding you where to go. It’d be incredibly frustrating, right? Navigation menus help your visitors navigate your site while displaying the structure of your website. Your navigation menu should be intuitive and easy to use while helping your visitor’s find the exact pages they want to visit. Luckily, WordPress makes creating and adding a navigation menu to your site incredibly simple. There are a few different drag and drop tools you can use to set up a menu in WordPress quickly. Below we dive into why WordPress menus are incredibly important and walk you through (in two different methods) how you can add a menu to your site.  Why WordPress Menus are Important Let’s say a visitor lands on your site after clicking through from the search engines. They read your post and want to learn more about your website. So, they head up to the top of your site, or the top of your page (if you have a sticky navigation menu) and click on your ‘About’ page. Without a navigation menu, this would be near impossible to find. Unless they went up to the URL and typed in “yoursite.com/about.” Let’s face it, no one would take the time to do that.  A well-crafted navigation menu lets you highlight your most important pages, and make it easy for people to navigate through your site.  By structuring your menu the right way you not only improve your user experience but you also improve your chances of ranking in the search engines. The two ways your menu can improve your rankings are as follows: Make your site easier to crawl. To determine what your website should rank for, the search engines use bots to crawl through your website. With a well-organized menu, you make it easier for the bots to crawl your site and index your content. Improved search engine display. The search engines are continuously innovating how the search results are displayed. One recent change is that your navigation menu can show up the search results, leading to a higher click-through. For an example of this, check out what displays when you search for HostGator in Google: When organized the right way, your navigation menu can show up as hyperlinks in the search results. That can do great things for your SEO!  5 Common WordPress Navigation Menu Mistakes to Avoid A navigation menu might seem simple, but there’s a lot that goes into it. Below you’ll find five different navigation menu mistakes that you’ll want to avoid if you want your menu to improve your user experience and SEO.  1. Using a Strange Navigation Style Your WordPress theme might give you a few different options for where you can place your navigation menu. It can be tempting to do something fresh and creative. But, using a strange navigation menu placement can lead to poor user experience. Most users expect your navigation menu to be at the top of the page, either to the right of the logo or just underneath your header. Users will intuitively go to this spot on your page to click on the navigation menu.  It is essential to be creative and different with your website to stand out, but your navigation menu isn’t the place to do it.   2. Creating Complex Drop-Down Menus Drop-down menus are a usability nightmare. Most websites can get away with not using a drop-down navigation menu. This type of menu can be bad for search engines and lead to poor user experience. Usually, there are better ways to organize your site and content than rely upon a drop-down menu. However, there is a caveat. Drop-down mega menus can be great for user experience. But, these types of menus are only useful for huge websites. Let’s look at a few examples below: The eCommerce store The Clymb has a massive drop-down menu to separate out all their product categories. This navigation menu works because visitors typically know the exact category they’re looking for when browsing the store.  Financial expert, Dave Ramsey, also has a substantial drop-down menu for his website. Once again, his site has a ton of content and different sections that speak to diverse markets. This navigation menu helps visitors find the exact content or page they’re looking for.  3. Having Too Many Navigation Options Listing too many menu items will only overwhelm your visitors. No doubt you’ve come across a navigation menu that has dozens of menu items. No one is going to sit there and try to find the exact page they’re looking for; they’ll just hit the back button and find another website. When you list too many menu items, you run the risk of drowning out your most important pages. Instead, make a list of the five pages that are the most important and highlight these. Most often, these will be pages like About, Contact, Blog, and Store.   4. Using the Wrong Menu Sequence Your visitor’s attention will focus on the first and last items that are listed in your navigation menu. Decide which pages are your most important and place these in one of these positions. With a disorganized menu sequence, it’ll take that much longer for your visitors to find the page they’re looking for. Down the line, as you’re getting more traffic, you can even test the sequence of your menu items to see how it influences click-through rates.   5. Using Generic Menu Items Your menu items should align with the topic of your website. You can use generic menu items, but sometimes it can be more effective to be a bit more creative. The core idea is to make your menu items descriptive and in alignment with your website. You shouldn’t have the same menu items as every other website out there, but ones that are unique to you. For example, if you run a mom and pop coffee roaster, you could have menu items like Our Story, How We Roast, Store, Come Visit, and Blog. Whereas, if you run an online marketing blog, you’d have more traditional menu items that are still niche relevant, like Blog, Resources, Tools, Services, and Start Here.  Now that you’re well versed on the reasons you need to create a navigation menu, and how to create one that enhances the user experience, let’s show you how to create a menu in WordPress.  How to Add a Menu in WordPress Via Menu Tab The first approach to creating a navigation menu in WordPress is using the Menu section within your WordPress dashboard. To access this, you’ll need to first be logged into your WordPress dashboard. So, login, and then follow the steps below: 1. Create a New WordPress Menu Before you create your first menu, you’ll want to be sure about what pages you’re going to include, so if you haven’t done that yet, read the previous section of this post.  If you already have a plan for the pages, you’re going to add, then full speed ahead. Navigate to Appearance>Menus. On the next screen, click the blue link that says ‘Create new menu.’ Then, name your menu and select ‘Create Menu’. Note that you can create as many menus as you’d like.  2. Add Your Menu Items On the left-hand side there’s a section titled ‘Add menu items’ here you’ll see a list of all the pages you currently created, which you can link to from your menu. Click the check-box for any pages you want to add to your menu: You can also link to blog posts, categories and even create custom links. You’ll find these options directly underneath the ‘Pages’ section highlighted above. To keep things simple for this tutorial we’re only going to add pages. So, select the pages you want to add, then click ‘Add to Menu.’  The pages you added will now show up underneath the ‘Menu structure’ section: 3. Organize Your Menu With our menu items selected, it’s time to rearrange our menu into a logical order. Luckily, this is very easy to do. All you have to do is drag and drop the various menu items to rearrange them.  4. Creating Sub-Menus and Drop-Down Menus in WordPress If you are going to create a drop-down menu, then this is going to be the section where you do it. To create a drop-down menu item, just drag the menu item underneath the parent item. Here’s how it would look: In this example, the ‘Blog’ and ‘Samples’ section will be underneath the ‘Welcome’ menu item. 5. Choose Your Menu Location Depending on your WordPress theme you’ll have a few different options for where you can place your menu. Usually you’ll have one or two different options to choose from, but for themes built to handle content-heavy websites you might have even more.  Underneath the menu you just created you can select whether to add this menu to the right or left hand side of your logo. Just check the box where you want your menu to appear.  You also have the option to add multiple menus to your site. After saving your menu navigate back to the menu page by clicking on Menus. Then select the ‘Manage Locations’  tab: Here you’ll be able to select your menu of choice and choose where you want it to display. On this page, you’ll be able to see how many menus your theme has support for right out of the box.  How to Add a Menu in WordPress Via a Widget If you want to add a navigation menu to another portion of your site, then you can add a menu via the widgets section of WordPress. Once again, the widgetized areas you’ll have access to will depend on your WordPress theme.  Regardless, here’s how you add a menu via the widgets section of WordPress.  1. Navigate to Your Widget Area The first things you’ll need to do is navigate to your widget area. The section will let you manage all of the widgetized sections across our site, but for the sake of this tutorial, we’re just going to be using this area to add another menu to our site.  To access your widget area, you’ll need to be logged into the backend of your site, then navigate to Appearance>Widgets and you’ll see a screen like the one below.  2. Find the WordPress Menu Widget To add a menu to your site you’ll need to locate your menu widget. This might look a little different, depending on the theme you’re using. But, it should be named ‘Navigation Menu’ or something similar. Once you’ve located the widget you can either drag and drop the widget into the desired section, or click the arrow button and select where you want the menu to appear, as shown below: 3. Choose Your Navigation Menu Now the navigation menu widget will be in a separate section of your site.  Here you can choose which menu you want to display, and even name your menu: Once you’re satisfied just click ‘Save’ and your menu will automatically display on your site. You can add as many menus as you’d like via the widget section. But, you probably don’t want to have more than a single menu on your site.  The more menus you have the longer it’ll take your visitors to find the pages they’re looking for. When in doubt the simpler the menu the better. Getting Started with WordPress Menus Hopefully you have a better understanding of how WordPress lets you add menus to your site, and some guidance on how you can create the most intuitive menu possible. A lot of website owners tend to overlook the importance of creating a quality menu. But, your menu is one of the first things your visitors will turn to after reading an article, or landing on your site. The overarching goal of your menu should be to help your visitors quickly access the most important pages of your site, while encouraging them to visit the pages that’ll deepen your relationship, buy products, or join your email list. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Your Guide to Gutenberg: The New WordPress Block Editor

The post Your Guide to Gutenberg: The New WordPress Block Editor appeared first on HostGator Blog. You thought you knew the WordPress editor inside and out, but recently you logged in and were faced with an entirely new version of it. WordPress 5.0 brought with it the biggest change to the WordPress editor we’ve seen yet. The name of this change: Gutenberg. What is Gutenberg? The simple answer is that Gutenberg is WordPress’s new version of an editor. But more than that, it’s the organization’s way to change how people build websites. While WordPress was already popular because of its reputation for being easy to use—someone could build or maintain a website with it without learning code—there was still a lot for your average beginner to learn in order to use it. How Gutenberg Differs from the Old WordPress With the release of Gutenberg, WordPress hopes to cut down on the amount of time and work required to learn the platform, and to make many functions within it easier to use. While Gutenberg brings many changes to WordPress, two of the main ones that will influence how you use it are: An emphasis on media – WordPress is a content management system (CMS) primarily focused on powering blogs, and blogs have traditionally been seen as a mainly textual medium. Yet WordPress realizes that the future is in more pages and posts that combine multimedia elements. Gutenberg’s design puts more emphasis on adding media to your pages, and simplifies the process of doing so.  The introduction of blocks – Learning to use Gutenberg is largely about getting used to blocks, which Gutenberg treats as the building blocks of every page and post you create.   What Are Blocks in Gutenberg? Blocks are drag-and-drop units that you can easily create and move around as needed. They’re the smallest, most basic unit you’ll use in the editor and can contain anything you’d want to include a page—text, images, videos, audio, buttons, and custom code, to name a few examples.  With blocks, WordPress hopes to accomplish a few things: Make Gutenberg easier to learn than the traditional version of WordPress. The idea is that you only need to learn about blocks once, and then you’ll have using Gutenberg down. Make content creation in Gutenberg more efficient. Blocks are reusable, which can potentially save you time versus copying and pasting or reloading the same content across different pages.Bring more flexibility to each page. The drag-and-drop nature of blocks makes moving things around on the page simpler. Cut down on the need to use extra plugins and coding. Some blocks provide functionality that previously required either external plugins or short codes. With Gutenberg the need for both is reduced.  Blocks are the center of the new editing experience in Gutenberg, so it will pay to get familiar with them and comfortable using them. Why Did WordPress Release Gutenberg? WordPress was already the most popular CMS in the world, so why do an overhaul of the way it works? The editor’s namesake, Johann Gutenberg, revolutionized how people create and disseminate information with his 15th-century printing-press technology. Naming their new editor after him says something about the influence WordPress expects it to have on how people create and share content online. In fact, WordPress describes Gutenberg as “more than an editor. It’s also the foundation that’ll revolutionize customization and site building in WordPress.” Their goal is to change how people think about building websites and sharing content online.  How to Add a New Post in Gutenberg You may be thinking “that’s great and all, revolutionize the web all you want, I just need to know how to load my new post.” Have no fear, here are the step-by-step instructions you need to add a new post to your website in Gutenberg.  The first step is the same, find Posts in the menu on the right and choose Add New.  Depending on when you’re reading this, you may see a message at the top of the new editor welcoming you to Gutenberg and promising tips for how to use the editor. If you click “See Next Tip,” it will take you through a few of the basics about using Gutenberg. If you’d rather learn it for yourself (or with the help of this post), you can click on the X in the top right corner to get straight into the editing process.  How to Add or Edit Your Post Title in WordPress Gutenberg Each post will have a Title Block automatically included at the top of the page and clearly labeled, so go ahead and fill in your post’s title there. If the next thing you want to add to your post is regular text, you can start typing right below the Title block. If you’d rather add an image, media, heading, or list, then it’s time to get started with blocks.  How to Add New Blocks in WordPress Gutenberg Click on either the plus icon you see on the left side of the screen, or the one in the menu at the top of the page, and you’ll see a visual menu of the most common block options.  How to Add and Edit Images in WordPress Gutenberg Let’s say you’re adding an image to the top of your post, click on Image here. You’ll then have the option to either drag and drop your image file into the block, upload it, choose one that’s already in your image library, or add it with a URL. Once your image is loaded, you can make it bigger or smaller by moving your mouse to the edge of the photo until you see a cross icon, clicking, and dragging it until you’ve reached you preferred size. You can choose your alignment with one of the icons in the menu at the top of the block, and add your caption by typing it at the bottom. To add in image metadata like the Alt Text, click on the pencil icon in the menu to open up your media library. A field with editing options will appear to the right of it The process of adding other media is similar, just start by picking the appropriate box for the type of media you’re adding.   Now, onto the text.  How to Edit Text in WordPress Gutenberg If you have a blog post already written and copy and paste it into Gutenberg, it will automatically be divided into blocks for you based on your spacing.  If you’re composing your post within WordPress, you can create new blocks as you go by clicking on that plus icon and choosing Paragraph for regular text, or Heading for each time you want to add a heading or subheading to your post.  If you aligned your image to one side, you’ll have to option to add text blocks both above, to the side, and below it.  How to Change Block Type in WordPress Gutenberg If at any point you want to change what type of block you’re working in, you can click on the icon in the top right and select a new option. How to Rearrange Blocks in WordPress Gutenberg If you decide you want to rearrange where your different blocks are on the page, click on the block you want to move, move your mouse to the edge of it until you see a hand icon, then click and drag it to where you want it.  How to Add a Bulleted or Numbered List in WordPress Gutenberg Adding lists works similarly. When adding a new block, choose Lists from the menu of options. The menu at the top of the block will provide your options for different types of lists, font formatting, and indentation. That should cover the main things you need to know when composing blog posts. But if you need to add something a little more unconventional to your blog post, such as a table or a calendar, you’ll find these by scrolling down further when adding a new block. WordPress provides a few different block menus such as Formatting and Widgets. How to Find Block Types in WordPress Gutenberg To speed up the process of finding a specific type of block, you can use the search function at the top, rather than going through menu by menu.  How to Change Post Category, Tags, and URL in WordPress Gutenberg If you’re already familiar with WordPress, then you know that getting your post composed and/or loaded isn’t the end of your job here. You also want to perform steps like adding categories, tags, and SEO metadata.  Much of this is now located in the menu on the right side of the screen. Click on each menu item to expand it, and add or select the appropriate information.  If you have plugins you use for tasks like adding SEO metadata, you’ll see those below the post and can click to expand there as well.  How to Publish Posts in WordPress Gutenberg At the top right of your screen, you’ll see the Preview and Publish buttons. As with traditional WordPress, you can see what your post looks like before you publicly release it to the web by clicking Preview.  And once you’re confident everything looks good, click that Publish button. There you have it, everything you need to know to create a blog post in Gutenberg! The Pros and Cons of WordPress Gutenberg Obviously WordPress’s intention in launching Gutenberg was to provide an improved experience for users. But upgrades are never that simple, and there are always some downsides that come with a big change like this.  The Pros of Gutenberg  Let’s start with the good. There’s a pretty sizeable list of pros to Gutenberg.  It’s easier to learn and use. While it may not seem so at first, since you’re not used to it, Gutenberg is designed to be intuitive. With just a little bit of instruction or playing around within it, you should be able to get the hang of it. And because it’s similar to other tools many are already familiar with, like Medium, getting started with it will feel natural for many users.  Each block type has a relevant toolbar. In the traditional WordPress view, finding the right functionality based on what you were working on at the moment could be challenging, precisely because there was so much you could do. In Gutenberg, there’s still a lot of functionality to tap into, but finding the right options at the moment you need them is easier since each block has its own toolbar that matches the most common functionality you’ll need for it.  You don’t need font size options when you’re adding a new image or list type options when you’re adding a heading, by removing the irrelevant menu options from your block view, you find the relevant ones faster. You have more control within the WordPress editor. While people with coding skills always had a lot of control in getting a page to look just the way they wanted it to in WordPress, the rest of us would sometimes struggle with how to control seemingly basic elements. Gutenberg gives you more options for things like how much you want a list to be indented, whether you want to add columns of text to a page, or if you want to add quotes that are visually set-apart from the rest of the text.  You can save time with reusable blocks.  If you regularly add the same information to different pages, you can make pulling it in each time you need it simpler with reusable blocks. Say you add the same call to action (CTA) to all your blog posts on a particular topic, or you like to make sure your email sign up box shows up on every page of your website. Create a block once and you can add it to every page moving forward. It’s faster than using copy-and-paste or creating it anew from scratch each time.  You can still use the traditional WordPress interface. If none of this is selling you on Gutenberg and you like doing things the way you’ve always done them, no one’s forcing you to use the new editor. You have options to get WordPress looking and working the way it used to. We’ll provide more detail on that below.  The Cons of Gutenberg Nothing’s perfect, and people have their complaints about the Gutenberg editor. Most unhappy users have two main charges against the new editor.  You have to learn it anew. While WordPress gave ample warning that a change was coming, many everyday WordPress users that don’t follow tech news were surprised to open up WordPress one day and realize they have to learn it all over again. Having to switch from something familiar to something different requires a new mindset and a learning curve, even if the new version is supposedly easier to use.  Many WordPress users quite simply prefer to stick with what they already know.   Backwards compatibility issues cause problems. The majority of WordPress users depend on an array of different WordPress plugins and themes to make their website look and work the way they want. Whenever a change as big as Gutenberg happens, some plugins and themes will inevitably be left behind, at least temporarily. In the time it takes their developers to scramble to catch up and make their services work with the new WordPress version, users could face compatibility issues that cause big problems for their websites.  6 Tips and Tricks for Using Gutenberg Using Gutenberg will be easier if you learn some of the tricks for editing within it. Here are some of the less obvious options for making changes to a post within Gutenberg.  1. Learn the shortcuts. Some people will find it much easier to take actions in Gutenberg exclusively using the keyboard, rather than having to switch between keyboard and mouse a bunch. WordPress is happy to make that easy for you with a long list of keyboard shortcuts.  You can learn what all of them are by clicking on the three dots in the top right corner of the screen, then choosing Keyboard Shortcuts from the dropdown menu. Scan the list to see which ones you’re likely to use the most and memorize them for future reference.  2. Use the slash (/) key to add a new block. One of the shortcuts most likely to come in handy frequently is the ability to add a new block by entering / followed by the name of the type of block you want.  If you don’t want to browse the menu of block types each time you need to add one, a slash will produce a dropdown menu of the most common block types. If your preferred block type isn’t there, start typing the name of the block you want and WordPress will autosuggest the most relevant options based on your typing.  3. Use the outline for easier navigation.  You can easily jump to different parts of the page you’re working on by clicking on the i icon in the top menu. In addition to getting a snapshot of the number of words and blocks on the page, you’ll see an outline that lists all the headings on the page. Click on the section you want to go to, and Gutenberg will take you there.  4. Create reusable blocks.  We’ve already mentioned reusable blocks, but they’re worth including in this section as well. For any content you’re likely to use more than once on your website, creating a reusable block can save you time.  Click on the block you want to save, click on the three dots in the top right of the block menu, and select Add to Reusable Blocks, then give your block a name.  The next time you want to drop that same block onto a new page, or a new section of the page, scroll down to the bottom of the blocks menu to the Reusable Blocks section, and select your custom block. Or use a slash and start typing in the name of your block. 5. Drop images directly into the editor.  In classic WordPress, you always had to add an image to your Media Library before you could add it to a post. You can now add an image or other piece of media to Gutenberg directly by dragging it from your desktop into the Gutenberg screen. The editor will automatically create a new block for it, then you can resize it, move it around, and make any edits you want once the block is created.  6. Copy and paste links in directly.  When you paste a URL into Gutenberg, it will now automatically pull in the link’s name and image for you. You can still hyperlink text yourself any time you want, but to simplify the process of sharing information about a URL, Gutenberg will automatically do it for you any time you paste a URL into the editor.   What if I Want to Go Back to the Old WordPress? Regardless of the new features available in Gutenberg, some people will inevitably prefer the way things worked before. That’s okay. You have two options for continuing to use WordPress the old way. 1. Choose the Classic block. True to their goal of letting you do pretty much anything you can imagine with blocks in Gutenberg, WordPress has included a Classic block that switches your post back to Classic view. When just starting to edit a new page, make the first block that you add the Classic block, which you’ll find in the formatting section. You’ll see an Editor that looks just like the old version of WordPress you know so well.  2. Install the Classic Editor plugin. The downside of using the Classic block option is that you’ll have to do it over and over again each time you start working on a new page. If you’d rather WordPress look the way it used to every time you open it, there’s a plugin for that.  Simply search for “Classic Editor” in the WordPress plugin library, and click on the button to install it. You can go back to using the traditional version of WordPress and skip having to learn all this other stuff.  Gutenberg is the Future of WordPress You don’t have to use Gutenberg right now if you don’t want to, but the way WordPress rolled out this update makes it clear that they see it as the future of the platform. Future updates, features, and plugins are likely to work better on Gutenberg than with the classic editor. Whether now or later, at some point, you’ll probably want to learn and get used to Gutenberg.  Once you take some time to get to know it, you may find it’s easier to use and more efficient than sticking with the version you’re used to. A few minutes of learning it today could save you the hassle of feeling left behind down the line. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Best Side Hustle Blogs

The post 5 Best Side Hustle Blogs appeared first on HostGator Blog. Did you know that when Blogger was launched in 1999, there were only 23 blogs on the internet? It’s no secret that blogging as grown significantly in the last 20 years. In fact, today there are over 505 million blogs on the internet. But, what does this have to do with starting your side hustle? I’m glad you asked.  One of the biggest advantages of living in the rapidly growing world of tech is instant, hands-on access to invaluable education. With a click of a button, you can learn literally everything you need to know about launching and growing a successful gig. Out of the 505+ million blogs on the internet, here are the 5 best blogs that will help you learn everything you need to learn about building a side hustle and reaching financial freedom. 1. Side Hustle Nation Anyone interested in learning how to grow a side hustle into a profitable business needs to check out Side Hustle Nation. Side Hustle Nation offers a robust resource library to help entrepreneurs of all types get started, fine-tune strategy, and scale their side hustles into larger businesses. As you browse the blog, you’ll notice several categories to help you find what you’re looking for more easily. The first section includes “ideas” to help newbies explore every option available for earning a bit more each month. Other sections include online business ideas like blogging and self-publishing, freelancing, eCommerce, and investing. No matter what type of business floats your boat, you’ll find invaluable blog posts on Side Hustle Nation to help you progress rapidly. 2. Ryan Robinson at RyRob.com Ryan Robinson is one of the most brilliant side hustle coaches of our day. When you first land on his website, you’ll notice a big subscription box where you can enter your email address. Once you sign up, you’ll start receiving tips and tricks directly to your inbox for daily inspiration. If you are looking for specific information, head over to his blog. He covers everything from the best side business ideas to how to build a website for your side business and everything in between. This blog is particularly valuable when it comes to high-quality freebies. Need to know how to write a cold pitch and want free templates? Ryan’s got you. Do you need a step-by-step guide on how to start your own blog? This blog is on top of it. No matter what type of side hustle you have in the works, you’ll find excellent resources on how to build your business and grow your website. 3. The Penny Hoarder The Penny Hoarder is a must-visit blog if you’re just starting out and looking for ideas to make a little extra cash.  The blog offers ideas for side hustles that you may not have ever considered. You’ll also find different ideas on how to make money based on your current phase of life. For example, there are blog posts about how college students can make extra money without dropping classes. Not only is this blog chock full of ideas for making extra money, but it points you to other resources you can tap into for extra education. For example, the blog covers what Subreddits you should read, money-making opportunities in specific locations, free community spaces to launch your side gig, and more. As an added bonus, The Penny Hoarder also offers advice on saving money, budgeting, conquering debt, planning for taxes, etc. If you’re looking for a comprehensive place to start learning about how to make money through a side gig, The Penny Hoarder is for you. 4. Chris Guillebeau You may know Chris Guillebeau from his book “100 Side Hustles.” While his book is a solid resource, his blog is even more helpful when it comes to learning how to make extra money with a side gig. This blog also taps into the “why” behind many side hustles. In other words, he writes a lot about how you can achieve a lifestyle that includes things like visiting Bora Bora on a budget, quit your day job to travel around the world, and make other desirable lifestyle changes. And, who doesn’t want that? Another resource on the blog that you’ll find helpful is a list of several guides that take you from step one to running a successful business. Guides include: Build a Business In One Year By Doing One Thing Every DayA Roadmap to Creative Freedom. Includes a One-Year, $5000 Income Guarantee.Turn Your Creativity Into Your Career. You’ll love this blog for its resources and inspiration. 5. Millennial Money Let’s face it. The Millennial and Gen Z generations are living in a very different type of economy. While working at a 9-to-5 is still a common practice, more and more people are moving to the gig economy, branching out on their own, and starting a side hustle. If you are among the many people that are interested in a side gig, you will love the Millennial Money blog. This blog covers topics like how to achieve financial freedom, how to make more money so you have more free time, million-dollar side hustle ideas, how to retire early so you can travel more, and more. This blog will not only teach you how to start a side hustle, but it will help you realize it’s possible to achieve other life goals and dreams. Reading Your Way to Side Hustle Success There are several useful blogs at your disposal when it comes to learning how to build a side hustle. Once you have scoured through all the different types of side hustles and decided on a niche, there are even more focused blogs to help you grow your business. Regardless of what you end up selecting as your side hustle, remember the best way to advertise your services is by building a website for your side hustle. Not only will a website boost your professionalism, but it will also help clients that are looking for you find you.  Building a website doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with Gator Builder from HostGator. This drag and drop builder will help you get your site up and running in no time. Check it out today! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Why Good Web Design Is Important (And How To Achieve It)

The post Why Good Web Design Is Important (And How To Achieve It) appeared first on HostGator Blog. When the time comes to design and build your website, you’re going to have a lot of different options at your disposal. For example, you can utilize website builders and content management systems. Or, you can teach yourself to code and build it from the ground up. Many companies choose to hire web design services to ease the process and ensure a professional result. The approach you take will depend upon your existing skills, the goals for your site, and how involved you want to be throughout the site creation process. If you’re still unsure, that’s fine, by the end of this post you should have a clear idea of which approach is best for you. Below you’ll learn why you must have a professional website if you want your site to succeed, along with the various approaches you can take to build your site or have one built for you. Why Web Design Is Important Your website is your virtual home. If you already have a physical storefront, then your website will be the virtual extension of that store. On the other hand, if you’re starting an exclusively online business, then your website can completely make or break your success. When a visitor lands on your site, they will immediately begin forming opinions about whether or not your site is trustworthy. If your website is relevant and professional, then your visitors are not only going to stay on your site for much longer and dig through your site’s content, but they are much more likely to buy from you as well. We can look at it from the perspective of your visitor. If your site takes forever to load, or has spelling errors, outdated images, and links that don’t work, with an overall design that doesn’t inspire confidence, do you think your visitors will stick around to buy from you? Probably not. But if your site’s design is clean and intuitive, and packed with quality and useful content that helps your readers, then you can bet they’ll stick around and digest your content. They might even sign up for your email list and eventually buy your products or services. You only have one chance to make a first impression; don’t waste it with a low-quality website. Elements of a Well-Designed Website Luckily, having a professional website isn’t that difficult. But, you need to have certain elements in place. With your website, your goal is to build credibility and trust, while avoiding any red flags that will have your visitors running for the back button. Here are the most critical factors that go into a quality and professional site: 1. Clear and Cohesive Branding Your brand will encompass a lot. It’s everything from your logo, to your font and color choice, to the language you use. You have a lot of micro decisions that’ll add up to a brand that either feels right or ends up being disjointed and confusing. The best way to a cohesive brand is to keep things simple. By being overly complicated, you run the risk of overwhelming your visitors. For the sake of clarity keep the elements below in mind: Go for a minimalist design with plenty of whitespaceChoose fonts that pair well together and load fastClearly define what makes you unique from your competitionAlways focus on your visitors and their problems By always focusing on delivering value and solving your visitor’s problems—on a site that’s easy to use and navigate—they’ll tend to stick by you. 2. High-Quality Content There’s a lot that goes into quality content. First, your content needs to be relevant to your visitors. It needs to be useful, in-depth, informative, and solve your visitor’s problems. And that’s just talking about your blog posts and content strategy. Beyond your company and website blog, you need to think about your website’s copy. Chances are, you’ll have a lot more written content beyond your blog. You’ll need to think about the rest of the copy across your website. Your home page, about page, contact page, and more. Your website’s copy needs to speak to your visitors. Your goal is to illuminate their problems and showcase your expertise. 3. Intuitive Navigation When building out a website a lot of users tend to pack too much into their navigation bars. Your navigation bar only needs to link out to a few important pages. With too many navigation options you’re making it incredibly difficult for your visitors to find what they’re looking for. Here are some navigation menu best practices you’ll want to abide by: Place your navigation menu in the expected location–either the upper right-hand corner or underneath your logo at the top of the page. Include essential items at the beginning or end of your menu, as these places are where your visitors will pay the most attention.Make your navigation menu options descriptive, think things like ‘who we are’ and ‘start here.’If possible, avoid using drop-down menus. These menus are annoying and don’t usually function properly across mobile devices. Our short term memory can only hold around seven things at once, so make sure your menu doesn’t include more than seven items. 4. About and Contact Info Once your visitors land on your website and decide to stick around, they’re going to want to learn more about you. If you have a physical storefront that you’re trying to drive traffic to, then make sure you prominently display your phone number and physical location. If you don’t have an offline business, then you’ll need to make your email address and other contact information easy to find. Finally, your About Us page needs to do a lot more than list your accomplishments. You need to build an emotional bond with your readers and show them that you’re the best person to solve their problems. When writing your about page, view it through the lens of speaking to your visitors. Do what you can to demonstrate you understand them at a deep level. 5. Social Proof and Trust Factors There are a lot of ways to build up your likeability and social proof. First, by having a high-quality design, you’ll show your visitors that you can be trusted. But, you can also build up trust in other ways too. For example, if you have sizable social media followings, you can add these into your site’s design. Another common way to build up social proof is by showcasing testimonials from past clients, customers, subscribers, or even known figures within your niche. A solid testimonial can go a long way towards convincing new visitors that you know what you’re talking about. Here are a few examples from our own testimonials page at HostGator: Of course, there’s a lot more that contributes to a quality site, but when you’re just starting out the above factors will go a long way. 6. Intentional Page Creation Any page that you create should have a specific purpose. When your visitor lands on a page you should be directing them towards a goal. Trying to do too much with any given page will only lead to confusion and overwhelm. Your goal should be to reduce this feeling in your visitors whenever possible. If you’re creating a page and you realize there’s too much going on, don’t be afraid to split this up into multiple. The same goes for focusing on a single action you want your visitors to take. For example, do you want your visitors to sign up for your email list, share your post, or just explore more content on your site? When it comes to creating pages, less will always be more. Website Building Approaches to Take When Designing a High-Quality Website Now that you know what site elements you’ll need to have in place, it’s time to explore the different routes you can take to build your website. As you’ll learn below, there are multiple ways to build the perfect site for your business or new project. Your biggest constraints will be your budget and the amount of time you want to devote. Here are the most common ways you’ll build out your new website: 1. Use a Website Builder If your goal is to get your website online in the shortest amount of time possible, then you can use a website builder to create a simple website. Website builders give you the advantage of speed and simplicity. With the Gator website builder, you can quickly build out a site in your niche of choice. All you have to do is select your theme, make customizations with the drag and drop tool, and upload your content. Plus, all of the themes are professionally designed so you can ensure that your site will be high-quality. 2. Use a Content Management System (CMS) Content Management Systems (CMS) allow you to build out content-heavy websites with ease. All you have to do is install the CMS on your site (HostGator makes this easy), choose your theme, and start customizing your website. The most popular CMS is WordPress and will probably be the best option if you decide to take this approach. WordPress will give you a ton of control over the design of your site, while still remaining fairly beginner friendly. As long as you choose a high-quality WordPress theme, you’ll be giving yourself a head start in the design of your site. Building out your site with a CMS will be much more time intensive, and there is a steeper learning curve when compared to using a website builder. 3. Build Your Site From Scratch The most time intensive and challenging way to build your site is teaching yourself how to program and building out your website yourself. This can be a rewarding path, but it’s not for the faint of heart. As a general overview you’ll have to learn basic programming languages that’ll support you in building a website. Then, you have to use this newfound knowledge to create your site and upload it to your server. If you’re starting out, then you probably won’t be creating a complex any time soon. But, it’s entirely possible to build a simple website with a couple of pages. Just don’t expect a masterpiece right out of the gate. 4. Hire a Professional The final option you have is to hire a professional to build out your site for you. By working with an expert, you can guarantee that your website meets all of the requirements above and more. This approach allows you to focus on your business, or spend time creating excellent content, while a professional design team builds you the site of your dreams. Here at HostGator, you can take advantage of our professional web design services to create a custom site based upon the WordPress CMS. This allows you to tap into a team of experts to craft you a website that’s professional and will delight your visitors. Plus, since your custom site is crafted using WordPress, it’ll be easy for you to manage your own site into the future. You’ll save time in getting your website launched, and you’ll enjoy a professional result that will serve your business for many years to come. Which Route Is Best For You? By now you should be a little bit more certain about the approach you’re going to take to build your website. Overall, the route you choose depends on how much time you want to devote to building your website and the type of site you’re building. Generally, the most common approaches are going to be using a website builder, using a CMS like WordPress, or hiring out a team of experts for their web design services. If you have a small budget, then using a free website builder, or building out a budget site using WordPress are going to be great approaches to take. But, if you have more to spend on creating your site, then it’s a great idea to hire a team of web design professionals. This will ensure you end up with a high-quality and professional site that turns your visitors into fans, subscribers, and customers.   Hopefully you’re now equipped to either build your site yourself or hire out the creation of your website. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Are the Different Types of Domains?

The post What Are the Different Types of Domains? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Choosing a domain name is vital for anyone who’s building a new website.  Your domain name will be the face of your brand, and if you want to increase the chances of your website succeeding, then you’ll take the time to find a brandable and memorable domain name. But, there’s a lot more that goes into a domain name than you might think. In fact, there are five different types of domain names you’ll have to choose between. Now, not every style of domain name will be right for your website, which actually makes things easier. Before you can register a domain, you have to have a strong knowledge base on domains as a whole. Below we take a deep dive into what a domain name is, how they work, and highlight the five different types of domains so that you can choose the right domain for your next business or online project. What Is a Domain? Every home has an address. Your domain name is the equivalent of this physical address, but for the web. Your home’s address allows people, or your GPS, to find and navigate to your home, while your domain tells web browsers where to go to display your website. Domain names are often synonymous with the name of your website and will be the face of your website. Think of domains like Amazon.com, Google.com, Facebook.com, even HostGator.com. As you’ll soon learn, there are many different types of domains available that you’ll find when you go to register a domain, beyond the standard ‘.com.’ How Domain Names Work Essentially, domain names are a shortcut to remembering complicated IP addresses. Without a domain name, you’d have to enter a full IP address into the browser address bar. So, instead of being able to type in ‘hostgator.com’ you’d have to use a string of numbers like 45.67.89.23. Talk about confusing. Having names that are easy to remember will help potential visitors find your website faster through a search engine.  But, you can’t just type that string of numbers into your browser and expect that to send you to a website either, because it only points to the server where the site is stored. There need to be specific server settings in place as well. For the majority of people using the internet, this is too complex and time-consuming.  Luckily, domain names act as the middleman and make this process incredibly simple.  ICANN Oversees the Domain Name System Domain names are managed by an organization known as ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). This organization will specify what domain names and domain name extensions are available. They also maintain a massive database of every location that domain names point to.  The domain name system (DNS) essentially maps your domain name to a specific server where your website is located. If you’ve ever migrated hosts, then you’ve probably had to play around with your domain DNS records before.  Overall, the DNS system makes for a more usable and user-friendly web.  How Domains and Web Hosts Work Together To visit a website, two things need to be in place: a domain name, and a web server.  The web server is where you’ll store all of your website’s files, databases, media elements, and more. This space is what you’re renting from a hosting company when you purchase web hosting.  By choosing a high-quality web host, you’ll improve your website’s performance, search engine rankings, and a lot more. Your choice of web host will either enhance your chances of success, or be nothing more than a detriment.  Your domain name is what people will type into a web browser to access your site. The moment someone types your domain name into their web browser, the web browser communicates with the server used to store your website’s files and displays them.  5 Different Types of Domains Available Now that you have a better understanding of what domain names are and how they work, let’s dive into the types of domain names that are available for you to register.  When most people think of a website, they usually think of the standard ‘.com.’ Even though this is the most common extension, there are multiple different types of extensions available.  In fact, there are five different types of domains available to you. Some won’t be available to you unless you’re running a particular kind of website, but we cover this in detail below. 1. Top-Level Domains Top-level domains are at the top of the internet hierarchy of domain names. You’ll see these commonly referred to as TLDs. There are over thousands of different TLDs available. In recent years ICANN opened up new TLD registration and approval, so companies and individuals could pitch and register unique TLDs. This sent the number of TLDs available soaring. Here’s a full list of the top-level TLDs currently available to register, and here’s just a few of the ones we offer for registration here at HostGator: Keep in mind that when you’re choosing a top-level domain for your domain, you’ll want to choose one that’s in alignment with, or enhances, your brand and overall domain. Just because a particular TLD is available, it doesn’t mean you should register it. A lot of TLDs are more like vanity extensions vs. something you should use for the foundation of your site.  2. Country Code Top Level Domains Next, on the list, we have country code top-level domains (ccTLD). As the name suggests, these are technically tied to different countries. Each country has its own ccTLD, but you don’t have to use one, just because you live in a specific country.  For example, the ccTLD .co is technically for websites based out of Colombia, but it’s commonly used by internet startups, like AND.CO. These domain extensions can be useful if you’re building a website in a specific country and want to signal to your visitors that they’ve come to the right place. For example, websites based out of the US can use the ‘.us’ extension, while companies from Japan can use the ‘.jp’ extension.  3. Generic Top-Level Domains Next, we’ve got generic top-level domains (gTLDs). This is more of a definition than an actual type of domain. As the description suggests, it’s just a different variation of a TLD. So, you could technically classify this type of domain as a TLD as well. The generic aspect of this domain extension refers to the types of use-cases that these domains are intended for.  Let’s look at an example. Military organizations can use the ‘.mil’ extension, while educational institutions can use the ‘.edu,’ and ‘.org’ is intended for use by non-profit organizations. A lot of gTLDs can be registered even if you don’t satisfy the requirements, but for some like ‘.mil’ and ‘.edu’ you must fit the requirements. Here’s a full list of the current gTLDs that are available to register.  4. Second-Level Domains Second-level domains are below the TLDs highlighted above in terms of hierarchy. This doesn’t mean they’re any less authoritative, or valuable. Rather, this describes the second piece of the domain name, such as the ‘hostgator’ in ‘www.hostgator.com.’ There are also country code second-level domains, which might look like the following: .co.uk – Companies in the United Kingdom commonly use this..gov.uk – This is used by government agencies throughout the United Kingdom..gov.au – Government agencies across Australia use this.  5. Third Level Domains Third level domains are below second-level domains in the domain name hierarchy. They aren’t a full domain name in and of themselves, but merely a portion of a domain name. For example, in the domain name “www.hostgator.com,” ‘www’ would be the third level domain. Or, if you’re using a subdomain to build an additional section of your site, this would be a third-level domain as well. To have a fully functional domain name you don’t need to have a third-level domain name. For example, ‘hostgator.com’ would function just perfectly. Even the ‘www’ that used to be a requirement of domain names is no longer necessary. The only real reason you’ll be using a third-level domain is when you’re adding a subdomain to your existing domain. Subdomains can be used for a variety of purposes, but here are some of the most common: Adding a blog. You can host your blog on a subdomain like ‘blog.mysite.com,’ to create a separate content hub.Creating a resource section. If you have a resource, tutorial, or support section, you can host this on a subdomain like ‘support.mysite.com.’Hosting an app. If you have a web-based app, you can use a subdomain like ‘app.mysite.com.’Creating an online store. Online stores require different software, programs, and security protocols. Instead of applying this to your entire site, you can use a subdomain like ‘store.mysite.com’ to run your storefront.  How to Choose the Right Type of Domain Name Now that you’re well versed in the different types of domain names available, we’re going to dive into how you can choose the best domain name for your needs. This section isn’t about choosing the name part of your domain name, but instead the right type of extension for your site. If you’re still stuck on choosing the perfect name, then check out our resources for finding the best domain name for your website or blog.  Now, here’s how you can choose the right domain name extension: 1. It Should Align With Website Goals Different domain name extensions cater to different types of websites. For example, you wouldn’t try to choose the ‘.mil’ extension if you’re creating a blog about cats. Or, if you have a website based in the US, you wouldn’t want to go with the ‘.co.uk’ extension either. Think about what kind of website you’re building and choose an extension that aligns with your topic and overall goals. See what other sites that are in your niche are using for their domain name extensions.  2. Go for Something Common First, Fun Second If you’re busy exploring the entire list of TLDs available, you’re probably overwhelmed with options. Even though some might be a perfect fit for your site, it’s not always the best option to go with a unique extension. If this is your first site, it’s usually better to go with a common domain name extension, rather than one that’s more niche. Think about it this way, if someone can remember your domain, but not your extension, they’ll probably try common ones like, ‘.com,’ ‘.net’, ‘.org’, or even’ .co. If you have a crazy extension, they might not ever make it to your site. You can always pick up different extensions later, or even migrate your site to a new extension once you’re established and have an existing audience.  3. Pick Up Related Extensions Let’s say you found the perfect domain name with the ‘.com’ extension. You can register this domain and also pick up all of the related extensions. Then, forward all of the different extensions to your primary domain.  That way if someone guesses the wrong extension they’ll still be taken to your website. Plus, you make it impossible for any competitors to swoop in and pick up your domain under a different extension.  The best way to find the perfect domain name is to come up with a list of potential options, and run them through a domain name checker to see if any are available. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about your dream domain, only to find out later that it’s not available.  Types of Domains: More Than Meets the Eye As you can see, there are a variety of different types of domains available to you, and there’s a lot more that goes into a domain name than what meets the eye. Choosing the right kind of domain for your new website is incredibly important. Your domain is the face of your website and what you’re going to build your brand around. Choose the wrong domain, and you’ll either have to switch later or scrap your project altogether. Ready to choose a domain? Hopefully, the data above has given you the knowledge base that will help you choose the right type of domain for your site and improve your chances of success. Register your domain with HostGator today! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?

The post How Much Does Web Hosting Cost? appeared first on HostGator Blog. When you decided to start a new website, you may not have realized all the little expenses and services involved in getting it set up. Along with registering a domain name, you also need to invest in a web hosting service.  Web hosting providers own and maintain the servers where all the components that make up a website are stored, and which deliver them up across the web to each visitor that pulls up a webpage. For your website to be accessible to visitors, web hosting is a necessary expense. Below, you’ll find a web hosting cost comparison guide on all the most popular web hosting services. How Much Does Web Hosting Cost? (TL;DR Answer) If you have asked, “How much does a website cost per month?” you are not alone. To answer your question, we always say it depends, but the cheapest plans available start at around $2 a month. At the other end of the spectrum, dedicated hosting can cost over $1,000. For the vast majority of people reading this, you don’t have to worry too much about the high end of that range. Websites for individuals and small to medium-sized businesses can generally get everything they need from web hosting plans somewhere in the $2 to $20 a month range, with $50 being the upper limit you’re likely to face.  That’s still a notable range though. You’re probably hoping for something more specific to help you plan out your budget.  What Website Hosting Costs: The Detailed Answer The main thing that influences the cost of a web hosting plan is what type of hosting you go with. There are five main levels of web hosting, and which one you need depends on how large your website will be, how much traffic you expect to have, and the type of website it will be. How Much Does a Shared Hosting Plan Cost? Shared hosting plans cost in the range of $2-$10 a month. Most commonly, you can expect to spend around $5 a month.  Shared website hosting is the most affordable hosting option. It’s generally the best choice for new websites, particularly any that are fairly simple. If your website won’t be too large (for example, if you just need a few main pages and a blog), a shared hosting plan makes sense.  The main difference between the plans on the lower and higher end of the shared hosting range is additional features that come included in the plans. The cheapest shared hosting will generally be extremely basic, with more expensive plans offering add-ons like hosting for more domains or unlimited email accounts.  Pro tip: With many providers, you can save money on shared hosting by paying for a longer subscription upfront. A three-year commitment will come out to less per month than a one-year one, for instance.   How Much Does Cloud Web Hosting Cost? Cloud web hosting plans cost in the range of $5-80 a month in most cases, although for enterprise businesses some plans can get up to $300 a month or more.  Most websites that go with cloud hosting can expect to pay around $10 a month. But it’s worth noting that the way cloud hosting pricing works means that you’re less likely to pay the same amount each month. With cloud hosting, you pay for what you use, which can potentially save you money some months in comparison to others.  Cloud hosting is therefore a smart choice for any website that needs flexibility. If you anticipate fast growth, it’s easier to scale up the amount of traffic, power, and storage space you use with a cloud hosting plan. Or, if you’re starting an ecommerce business and know you’ll have much higher amounts of traffic certain times of the year than others (hello, holiday traffic surges), cloud hosting can help you scale up during the times you need it, then save money the rest of the year.  Pro tip: To get the benefits of cloud hosting’s flexibility, you’ll want to monitor your CPU usage as you go in order to scale up and back as needed. A good cloud hosting provider will include an intuitive dashboard for its cloud plans, so you can monitor and allocate your resources as needed month to month.  How Much Does WordPress Hosting Cost? WordPress hosting costs in the range of $3-$25 a month. Most websites that opt for WordPress hosting can expect to spend around $8 a month.  WordPress is compatible with many web hosting plans that aren’t specifically marketed as WordPress hosting, so you may be able to get by with a simple shared web hosting plan. But a web hosting plan that’s specifically configured for a WordPress website can potentially deliver better compatibility and faster site times.  How Much Does VPS Hosting Cost? Virtual private server (VPS) web hosting costs in the range of $20-$100 a month. Most websites that go with a VPS web hosting plan can expect to spend around $40 a month.   A virtual private server is often the next step for websites that have outgrown shared hosting. With a shared plan, your website is hosted on the same server as dozens, or even hundreds, of other websites. With VPS web hosting, you still share a server with a few other websites, but you have your piece of it partitioned off. Meaning that your website performance won’t be affected by the amount of space or traffic those other websites use.  For websites that get a lot of visitors or have a greater need for storage space, investing in a VPS will ensure your website continues to load quickly and work consistently for your visitors.   How Much Does a Dedicated Hosting Service Cost? A managed dedicated server costs in the range of $80 a month to over $1,000. In most cases, a company that chooses dedicated hosting can expect to spend around $140 a month.  For large businesses or popular media sites that get a lot of traffic, a dedicated hosting plan means you get a server all to yourself. That ensures you get as much space and power as you need, even as your website and traffic grows.  Since it costs more, a dedicated server clearly isn’t for everyone. But once a business grows to the point where it’s needed, it’s worth the extra cost.    Other Factors that Influence Web Hosting Costs While the type of hosting plan you choose is one of the most important factors in determining cost, there are a few other factors that play a role in what you’ll spend each month on web hosting. The main ones are: Number of domains – If you want to manage multiple domains in one web hosting account, that may increase your subscription cost a bit.  Dedicated IP – A dedicated IP keeps your website from being affected by other websites that share your IP address. It can be valuable to help you stay off spam lists and avoid IP blacklisting due to the actions of another company, and lets you run your own FTP server.   eCommerce features – Any website that will be selling products through the site itself will need a unique set of features, including a shopping cart, check-out functionality, and secure payment processing. When choosing a web hosting plan, you need to find one that’s compatible with the ecommerce software you choose, and that will offer the security features required for ecommerce. That will cost you a little extra.   Website builders – Building a website no longer requires learning HTML. If you want to build a website yourself without learning how to code, consider web hosting plans that come with an intuitive website builder. In some cases, a website builder will be an add-on that costs extra. Other times, it comes as part of your subscription. Email – A branded email at your domain name shows professionalism. Many web hosting plans come with the ability to create domain email addresses included, others charge more for it. Application compatibility – If you build your website on an application such as a CMS (content management system), choosing hosting that provides the necessary compatibility is important. This won’t always cost more, but in some cases it may.  cPanel access – The cPanel is an intuitive interface for managing your web hosting. It often comes included in web hosting plans, but in some cases can cost extra. Security options – Security options such as an SSL certificate, automated backups, and security software are sometimes included in web hosting packages, but often come as add-ons for an additional fee.  Storage space – The amount of storage space available in a web hosting plan is a key feature tied to price. As your website grows, an upgrade is often required. While many of these factors will influence the cost of your hosting solution, often the value they provide makes the cost worth it. If spending a little more means gaining the functionality you need, or makes building and maintaining your website more intuitive, the cost difference will pay off.  Ready to Buy Web Hosting? The final factor that affects your web hosting package and cost is which web hosting provider you choose. Luckily, this is an industry where you can get a great cost, while also selecting for quality in your service. HostGator is widely regarded as one of the most reliable web hosting providers around—and we have the awards and third-party reviews to prove it. As a leading web host, we offer 24/7 customer support, and a 99.99% uptime money-back guarantee. Even with all that, our shared hosting plans start at $2.75 a month, one of the best prices available. To find the best hosting solution for your website or business, visit our site or call one of our helpful representatives today.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

10 Best Free SEO Tools to Strengthen Your Strategy

The post 10 Best Free SEO Tools to Strengthen Your Strategy appeared first on HostGator Blog. For newbies (and many experts as well) search engine optimization (SEO) is overwhelming. But as with many things, having the right tools can make a difficult task more manageable. For anyone working to improve their rankings in the search engines, there are a wealth of SEO tools available to help you with the process. For those with small budgets, you’ll be pleased to learn that many of the most useful SEO tools available are entirely free.  10 Free SEO Tools Worth Checking Out Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can accomplish a lot with the free SEO tools on the market. 1. Google Analytics Everyone with a website should be using Google Analytics. It’s an extremely useful free tool that allows you to track how many people visit your website, and how they found it. That latter part is important for SEO. You can see how well your SEO efforts are paying off based on how many visitors find you in organic search, and which pages they land on.  You can also use Google Analytics to see which keywords you’re currently ranking for (in Acquisitions>Search Console>Queries). And you can set up tracking for your desired conversions, such as email signups or purchases, in order to track how well SEO is helping you achieve your main business goals. 2.  SEO Web Page Analyzer Plug a URL into the SEO Web Page Analyzer and it will provide a score for how well optimized it is, along with details for what you’re doing well now and things you could be doing better. The tool looks at your meta title and description, your heading structure, your internal links, and the keywords used on the page.  It’s a quick and easy way to spot opportunities to improve your on-site optimization.   3.  Yoast For WordPress users, Yoast is a free plugin that makes filling in the SEO metadata for each page on your website more intuitive. You don’t have to mess with the HTML, you simply fill in the form Yoast provides for each page within WordPress.  It will also analyze the page for you and provide a score on how well optimized it is, along with recommendations for things you can do to make it stronger.  4. PageSpeed Insights Site speed is a key ranking signal for SEO. PageSpeed Insights, Google’s speed-testing tool measures how fast your site loads and provides a score from 0 to 100. If the score is lower than you’d like, it also offers details on what’s slowing it down and recommendations for how to speed it up.  It’s worth noting that the PageSpeed Insights rating can be pretty harsh, so don’t worry too much if you’re not at that 90-100 range. 5. Google’s Keyword Planner Keyword research is the cornerstone of any good SEO strategy. Many of the tools on this list are therefore focused on helping you identify the best keywords to target in your efforts. Google’s Keyword Planner is a good one to start with. It will both provide average monthly search estimates for the keywords you enter, and recommendations for additional related keywords to consider. While the tool is technically designed for people using Google Ads and some of the information relates more to Google’s pay-per-click service than search, the details are still useful for identifying SEO keywords. 6.  Keywords Everywhere Keywords Everywhere is a free browser plugin that adds keyword data and suggestions right onto the search engine results page (SERP) for every Google search you do. The data includes average search volume, cost-per-click, and level of competition for a list of related keywords, along with the keywords that show up in the “People Also Search For” section at the bottom of the SERP.  It makes doing keyword research a convenient part of your research process for every piece of content you work on.  7.  Answer the Public Answer the Public is another keyword research tool that will help you generate content topic ideas to target in your strategy. You enter a keyword relevant to your brand and it provides a list of related questions and comments divided into categories based on the type of question it is, prepositions, and comparisons.  8. Moz Link Explorer While many of Moz’s tools require a subscription, Moz Link Explorer is free for up to ten link queries a month. The tool will provide you the link profile of any URL you enter. Since backlinks are one of the most important (and hardest) parts of SEO, it’s valuable to identify both the links your website has already, and those your competitors have as well. Seeing what links websites similar to yours have can reveal opportunities to target in your link-building efforts. 9. Ahrefs Backlink Checker Like Moz, Ahrefs is a company with a suite of paid SEO tools that also provides a free backlink tool you can use. The Ahrefs Backlink Checker provides similar functionality—you can plug in any URL and get a score for the website’s domain authority, the number of backlinks it has now, the anchor text most commonly used, and a list of the top backlinks.  Unlike the Moz tool, you can use Ahrefs’ backlink checker without setting up an account, and there’s no limit on the number of searches you can do (but you do get access to more information if you upgrade).  10. Schema Markup Generator Schema markup gives Google information about your web pages that increases your chances of showing up with rich results in the rankings. For example, if you use schema markup to tell Google a page has a recipe on it and fill in the appropriate fields with details about calories, the time it takes to make the recipe, and a photo of what it looks like when complete, you can get a result that looks something like this: Adding schema markup to your web pages can seem complicated at first, but Google’s Schema Markup Generator makes it easy. When you click on a section of your page in the tool, it gives you the chance to identify what that part of the page is, and enter any information required for markup. Then it automatically generates the HTML you need to add schema markup to your site. Build a Better SEO Strategy with Free SEO Tools SEO tools will help you match your efforts to the work that’s most likely to get you the results you want. But even though they’re free, these tools still require a resource small business owners have in limited supply: time. Any approach to SEO, no matter what tools you use, is time consuming and difficult to get right.  If you want better rankings for your website, but you don’t know how to fit the work into your already overwhelming schedule, hire skilled SEO experts to do it for you. HostGator’s SEO consultants have extensive experience in helping businesses gain rankings for relevant keywords. Set up a free consultation to learn how we can help your business. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Best WordPress Form Plugins

The post 7 Best WordPress Form Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. Visitor engagement plays a critical role in your small business. It’s not enough for potential consumers to visit your website. You want to transform visitors into leads to nurture them through the customer journey.  Forms help you facilitate this engagement. Whether it’s a contact form or a lead generation form, both offer your visitors an opportunity to exchange their information with your brand.  Don’t hesitate to add forms to your WordPress website. Below are seven form plugins for you to install today.  1. Everest Forms Research found that 74% of companies use web forms for lead generation, with 49.7% stating their online forms are their highest converting lead generation tool. This insight is a chance for your small business to capture more leads.  Everest Forms is a drag-and-drop form builder to help you achieve your lead generation goals. No design experience is necessary. This plugin comes with pre-built templates and layouts. Top features for this tool include shortcode to add forms to posts and pages, reCaptcha to block spammers, and translation in all languages. It’s also 100% mobile responsive. For more advanced features, you can upgrade to download form details into a PDF, collect geolocation data from visitors, and accept payments via PayPal. 2. Ninja Forms How do you want your visitors to contact you? Simplify your engagement with potential customers with a contact form. Ninja Forms is a WordPress form plugin with a user-friendly interface.  This tool offers no limitations on the number of forms and fields. You’ll get an email with form data for every submission. You also can validate required fields and define specific entry formats. Syed Balkhi, CEO of WPForms, offers advice for form creation:  “People don’t want to be left in the dark. They want to know exactly what will happen after they click the submit button. By improving the copy of your CTA or adding another field that tells them what to expect, you can greatly enhance your conversion rates.” With a personal membership, you get access to add-ons, like conditional logic, file uploads, and multi-part forms. You get priority customer support, too.  3. weForms QuickSprout reports that eliminating one form field can increase conversions by 50%. This strategy will help you build better forms in weForms, an easy-to-use form plugin for WordPress.  With its drag-and-drop builder, you can create a form without wasting time. The pre-defined templates allow you to customize and design any type of form, including event registration forms and report a bug forms. Trusted by more than 10,000 teams, weForms can be implemented anywhere on your WordPress website. You also can preview the form before you publish it. That way, you can make changes quickly.  The plugin offers additional upgrades, ranging from payment integrations to conditional logic. You can even restrict visitors on certain conditions. 4. HappyForms Just placing a form on your website isn’t enough. You must offer some type of value to your visitors to entice them to fill it out. Nitin Deshdeep, a former marketer at VWO, agrees: “Visitors fill and submit forms when they think they’ll get significant value in return. The value can be in the form of anything: a helpful content feed, access to a useful tool, or a product purchase. If your web forms aren’t getting many conversions, chances are that you aren’t offering sufficient value.” HappyForms is a mobile-responsive WordPress form plugin that takes less than five minutes to set up. With its drag-and-drop builder, you can create lead generation forms, sales forms, and quote forms.  The upgraded version also lets you manage unlimited forms in a single dashboard. You can create multi-page forms with a progress bar and change the form parts and values to avoid biases. 5. Contact Form 7 Your visitors want to connect with your small business. They’re interested in learning more about your products, prices, and team. Give them an easy way to set up appointments or meetings with your brand with Contact Form 7. This WordPress form plugin makes it convenient to manage multiple contact forms. You can build unique forms with custom layouts and edits in the CSS style sheet.  Contact Form 7 uses its CAPTCHA feature to filter out spam. No more getting unwanted messages from robots in your inbox. Plus, you can control the privacy settings when gathering visitors’ data. Do you need to translate your forms? No problem. This plugin is available in more than 60 different languages. If you ever need assistance, post a comment in the plugin’s support forum. 6. Formidable Forms As your small business grows, you can stick to simple contact forms or create complex multi-page forms. Formidable Forms is a powerful, data-driven form plugin for WordPress that can serve all your needs. Its visual styler makes it easy to change form colors, borders, and padding without any code.  The WordPress plugin offers advanced reporting to display your form submissions, too. Get your data in different graph and chart types, like pie charts, line graphs, and geo heatmaps. For the premium version, you get a 100% no-risk, money-back guarantee. So, try the plugin for a few days and decide if it’s a good fit. 7. Flo Forms You can save time converting leads with Flo Forms. In a matter of minutes (and with no coding skills), this plugin helps you create a form for your website. Its conditional logic feature enables you dynamically collect information based on user inputs. As a result, you can capture the most important details from your customers. It also gives you space to experiment with different fields.  “There’s no guarantee that what works for one company will work for you. The only sure-fire route to improved lead generation is to experiment, analyse your results, and experiment again,” states Ryan Law, CMO & Co-founder of Cobloom. The plugin can set up reminders, send confirmation emails, and direct leads to your desired business page. If you use Tave or ShootQ as your CRM, connect Flo Forms to easily move your leads through the sales funnel. Connect With Your WordPress Visitors with Form Plugins These WordPress form plugins help your small business effectively engage with visitors. So, collect the necessary information and start nurturing your customers. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Must-Listen Podcasts for Side Hustle Hopefuls

The post 7 Must-Listen Podcasts for Side Hustle Hopefuls appeared first on HostGator Blog. The average side-hustler spends 11 hours per week on their secondary work, according to The Hustle. With little extra spare time after work and with all your social responsibilities, it can seem impossible to find an additional 11 hours a week to dedicate to building your side hustle.The good news, however, is brilliant side hustlers have provided excellent resources to help you learn how to side hustle—and you can do it all on your way to and from your 9-5. All you have to do is turn up your speakers and tune into a podcast. Not only will these seven podcasts help you learn-on-the go, but they will also provide the extra inspiration you may need to get your feet off the ground. Let’s take a closer look. 1. Side Hustle School Side Hustle School offers a slew of resources for side hustlers. You can enjoy one of their daily episodes, read their new book and even join their online community to connect with like-minded individuals. With over 134 weeks of podcast material, you can start from the beginning and work your way through or you can pick the episodes most relevant to you. Here are some of the most recent episodes to give you a better idea of their content: Tech Broker Moonlights as Luxury Lifestyle ArtistTexas Couple Turns Test Scores Into TreasureWeekly Recap: Finding Purpose Through Alternative Work 2. Side Hustle Nation Are you looking for a podcast that will teach you how to create new income streams, ditch the 9-5, and build a business you love? Then, look no further than Side Hustle Nation.  The Side Hustle Nation podcast offers ideas and insight into how you can start and grow a successful business.  Here are some of the most recent episodes: A Millionaire Business Coach Takes a Look Inside My Day-to-DayVirtual Consulting: How to set up your location-independent Consulting BusinessHiring Your First Virtual Assistant: When, Where, and How to Do it Right 3. Side Hustle Pro Side Hustle Pro is an awesome podcast that spotlights bold, Black female entrepreneurs that have scaled their side hustle into profitable businesses. Host, Nicaila Matthews Okome, will guide you through inspiring interviews that will help you make a name for yourself. Take a look at some of the most recent episodes: 156: Side Hustle Spotlight: How this Nurse Started Her Natural Skincare Business on The Side (Aliyah Jenkins of Body Treats)155: Entrepreneur-In-Residence: This Data Scientist Just Launched A Cutting-Edge Home Laser for Black and Brown Skin (w/Lisa Pegram of Belle51)154: Meet the Black Bridal Designer at the Forefront of the WEdding Industry (w/Andrea Pitter Campbell of Pantora Bridal) 4. The Side Hustle Project Not only is The Side Hustle Project a great podcast for learning what it takes to start and grow a profitable side hustle, but Ryan Robinson also offers free resources to help you grow.  Ryan Robinson will guide you through interviews, business challenges, proven strategies, and hands-on tactics all in the name of helping you build your dream business. Recent episodes include: Kaleigh Moore on How to Go From Freelancing on the Side to a Profitable Freelance Writing BusinessThe Psychology and Strategy Behind $148,823.65 in Online Course Sales with Spencer Lum of Extra BoldHow Kat Cole Hustled from Hooters Waitress to President of a Multi-Billion Dollar Food Empire 5. Two Inboxes Two Inboxes is the perfect name for a podcast about learning how to tackle life with more than one job, multiple projects, and at least two inboxes.  If you have a side hustle, you’ll love hearing Molly Ford Beck, the host, and a side hustler herself, interview guests that are experiencing success in their day jobs as well as their entrepreneurial venture. Top episodes include: Greg Dybec, Elite Daily and AuthorBrisa Trinchero, ShooWin and Broadway InvestorBhargavi Arrunategui, LexisNexis, Cinderella Bridez, and Amway 6. Entrepreneurs On Fire John Lee Dumas is the host of this award-winning podcast, Entrepreneurs On Fire. When you tune in to this podcast, you’ll hear inspiring stories of entrepreneurs that will help you on your journey of growing your side business.  This podcast already has over 2,000 interviews and includes advice from popular businesspeople including Barbara Corcoran, Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, and more. Here is a list of the most recent episodes: How to Lead Millennials With Chris TuffArno Rafael Minkkinen’s Commencement Address: Finding Your Own VisionHow to Make This Moment the Perfect Starting Point for Your Business With Stephen Lovegrove 7. Smart Passive Income Smart Passive Income is a podcast that focuses on helping you earn money without a lot of continued effort. And, who doesn’t want that? Of course, building a side hustle isn’t effortless, but there are some businesses and strategies that will help you set up a more residual income base. Pat Flynn, the host, interviews founders of online businesses that have successfully set up smart passive income streams. You’ll enjoy hearing practical advice about how to grow your digital business—a digital business that generates passive income. Some recent episodes you won’t want to miss include: SPI 381: Self-Publishing versus Traditional PublishingSPI 380: 5 Hard Truths About Writing and Publishing BooksSPI 379: How Books Increase Our Authority and Leadership with Azul Terronez Listening Your Way to Side Hustle Success Starting a side hustle is no small feat. It requires dedication, heavy research, and access to the right resources to help you hit the ground running. Thankfully, all the podcasts listed above will provide inspiration to help you get inspired, stay motivated, and learn the tips and tricks you need to learn to launch your business and propel it forward. The best part? You can learn everything you need to learn about starting your side hustle while you’re on the go. While podcasts are a top resource to help you grow your business, podcasts only offer education. For a tangible resource to help you take the first steps—building your side hustle website—you need the help of a top website builder. Check out Gator Builder today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Your Domain Affects Your SEO [8 SEO Best Practices for Domains]

The post How Your Domain Affects Your SEO [8 SEO Best Practices for Domains] appeared first on HostGator Blog. The first decision you have to make when starting a new website is what domain name to register. And finding the right one matters, since it’s the real estate you’ll be building the rest of your website on. In addition to being the main address visitors will know and find your site by, choosing the right domain name plays a role in your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) authority. If you want people to be able to find your website, SEO matters. To establish a strong SEO basis for your website, the domain name you choose also matters.   What Is a Domain Name? A domain name is the address people use to navigate to a website when using a web browser. Every time you type a name into Firefox or Chrome that starts with www or http, that’s the website’s domain name.  That may seem simple enough, but you should also understand a few main parts and subsets of domain names: Top-level domains (TLD)  – A top-level domain is the part of the domain you see at the end of the domain name. The most common one is .com, but you’re probably also familiar with TLDs like .net, .org., and .gov. Many top-level domains communicate something about the website, such as what country it’s based in, if it’s a business website (.biz, .co), a nonprofit (.org), or an educational institution (.edu). Root domains – All the pages of your website will have unique URLs building off your domain. The part of the website that stays the same for all of them is your root domain. It’s your unique domain name combined with your TLD. So for HostGator, the root domain is hostgator.com. Subdomains – If your website includes several distinct parts, you can create subdomains. These will share the same root domain, but you can make it clear they belong to a specific subset of the website by putting the subdomain name before the root domain. For example, blog.yourdomain.com, or shop.yourdomain.com. Knowing the main lingo for all this stuff is useful in navigating how to choose the right domain name and organize your website well for SEO.  How Your Domain Affects SEO To decide where websites should rank for different keywords, search engine algorithms look at a variety of factors to try to understand: What a website’s aboutHow authoritative it is The domain name you choose is an opportunity to help with that first part. If your domain name says something about what your website is, it gives you a leg up in convincing Google that the site is a relevant resource on that topic.  Over time, as you work to improve your website’s SEO, all the authority you build will be tied to the domain name. While it’s possible to change your domain name later and use techniques to maintain some of that authority, it’s hard. Choosing the right domain name from day one is preferable.  8 SEO Best Practices for Domains Choosing a good domain name for SEO starts on the day you register your domain, but it goes beyond that. Here are eight useful SEO domain name tips. 1. If possible, choose a domain that includes an industry keyword. Search engine algorithms have a complicated process for figuring out what a particular page is about. While no one understands all the details of how it works, we do know that the algorithms pay attention to what words are used on a few main parts of a webpage, and give weight to some parts more than others. The page URL is widely regarded as part of the page that’s given a lot of weight in algorithm calculations.  A website that has its primary keyword right in the domain name can get an SEO boost because of it. But for that reason, a lot of the most obvious keywords to target in your industry will likely be taken—either by your competitors or by domain investors that charge a high price for them. Also, going this route has some risks. You don’t want the domain name you choose to seem spammy or be confusing to your visitors.  A few notes to consider here: If you already have an established brand, prioritizing your brand name when choosing a domain is usually smarter than going for a keyword. If you haven’t chosen your brand name yet, consider a brand name that includes a relevant keyword. To find a brand and domain name that is still available, add something unique about your brand to the name, like putting your name in front of the keyword, e.g. katesflowerdelivery.com. Or if your brand is local, adding your geographic location, e.g. charlotteflowerdelivery.com.   2.  But don’t keyword stuff your domain name. SEO shortcuts don’t really exist, because every time people start abusing a technique that seems to yield easy results, Google changes the algorithm. In the past, buying a domain with a keyword in it like cheap-flower-delivery.com could work as a shortcut to buying a ranking for that term. But Google doesn’t want brands to buy rankings; their results are more useful to people when the websites at the top actually earn those spots. That means while choosing a domain with a keyword in it still has some SEO value, overdoing it can hurt your rankings. Choosing a domain name that makes sense for your brand is more important than registering one that includes a keyword.  Consider if the domain name you’re considering looks legitimate to you. As a consumer, would you assume this was a respectable brand? If it feels at all spammy, move on and figure out an alternative.  3. Choose a strong TLD. If you can find a good domain name option that’s available as a .com, that’s your best bet. It’s the easiest TLD for consumers to remember and carries a bit more respect than most of the others.  That said, your TLD doesn’t have a direct effect on SEO. If you find an available domain name with another TLD that works better for your brand than choosing a less relevant .com option, don’t discount it. Consider if the TLD is related to what you offer. For example, a tech company could go with .tech or .io, both TLDs that provide information on what the company does.  The one exception for when TLDs do influence rankings is geographic ones. If your company primarily does business in a specific country, choosing the TLD for that country signals to Google where you are, so you’re more likely to show up in the results for people searching in that location. 4. Choose a domain that’s easy to remember. The golden rule of SEO is that while search engines matter, people matter more. The best domain name for SEO is one that visitors will be able to easily connect to your business and remember when they want to come back. If your business is named Joe’s Burger Shack and you go for the domain affordable-burgers-chicago.com, your biggest fans will be confused when they go looking for you at joesburgershack.com.   Before you choose a domain name, think about your customers. Will the domain name be intuitive to them? Will they be able to remember it the next time they want to find you online? 5. Keep it short and straightforward. While long-tail keywords can be useful in some aspects of an SEO strategy, they’re bad news for domain names. The best domain names are short, simple, and straightforward. Sticking with those 3 S’s helps you choose a domain name that’s easy to remember and doesn’t require too much typing. Customers have a lot going on, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find you and keep coming back for more. A long, complicated domain name like glassrepairprofessionalsnewyorkcity.com might communicate what you do and get some keywords in there, but it’s unwieldy and tedious.  6. Keep your website at one domain. All the SEO work you do builds authority for your domain name, which means that if you split your website between multiple domains, you have to work that much harder to earn authority for each of them. To get the best SEO results for the time you put in, focusing them all on one domain name is best.  That includes picking one version of your domain name to stick with between: www.yourdomain.com, http://yourdomain.com, and https://yourdomain.com. Choose one, then set canonical tags on the others, and be consistent with which you use when building links to your website.  Occasionally, there’s a good business reason to create a new domain for your business. For example, if you spin off a new brand that has a different focus and new target audience. But in most cases, your SEO efforts will go further if you stick with one domain.   7. Know when to use subfolders versus subdomains.  A subdomain, as previously described, is when you create a subcategory under your root domain for a distinct part of your website, such as shop.yourdomain.com. Search engines treat subdomains as a separate website for SEO purposes. As you work to build authority for your website, that can be a problem. If your blog is set up as a subdomain, any backlinks your blog posts earn will strengthen the authority of your blog, but not the rest of your website. Subfolders are an alternative way to organize your website into parts and one that’s useful for SEO. You can create a subfolder for each of the main categories on your website, and the subfolder becomes a part of the URL for every page included within it. For example, your blog becomes a subfolder at yourdomain.com/blog. Every new post will become a part of the subfolder, i.e. yourdomain.com/blog/postname, and will still be treated as part of the domain name for SEO purposes. Subfolders are an important part of building an intuitive website architecture that’s good for SEO as well as visitors.  Subdomains can still be valuable in certain use cases. If a section of your website will target a distinct audience, different keywords, or a different geographic area than other parts, a subdomain may be useful from an SEO perspective. And in some cases, a subdomain makes sense for a part of your site that isn’t focused on SEO and/or that requires a different platform to run, like a support forum. That’s the case for HostGator’s support forum (located at https://support.hostgator.com), as one example.  8. Customize all website URLs. Many of these tips come into play on day one when you’re choosing the domain name for your website. This one is important to apply for every new web page you create moving forward. When you create a new web page, don’t stick with the automatically generated HTML. Take time to create a unique URL that’s relevant to the page. In each case: Use the primary keyword you want the page to rank for.Choose a URL that describes what’s on the page.Keep it short. The URL isn’t the place to go into detail describing what’s on the page. Stick to a few words that describe the main idea and don’t bother with full sentences. Avoid stop words like and, but, and the. They don’t add anything to the meaning, but do increase the length.  Creating a relevant URL for each web page is one of the fastest, easiest steps you can take to improve SEO for the page. If you have a CMS like WordPress, an SEO plugin or extension will make this step easy.  SEO Starts with Your Domain Name Choosing the right domain name gives you a strong SEO foundation to build your website on. If you haven’t registered a domain name for your website yet, use HostGator’s domain registration tool to find out what’s available and snag the best domain name for your website. While your domain name is important, it’s just step one to achieving rankings for relevant keywords for your website. Once you’ve landed the domain name of your choice, you’ll want to work on a full SEO strategy to build authority for your website. Every SEO win you have will make the domain you chose stronger in your eyes of the search engines.   Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Is a Subdomain?

The post What Is a Subdomain? appeared first on HostGator Blog. When you’re searching for a new domain name or your very first one, you’ve probably come across the term subdomain. To those just getting started, this can be a little confusing. But, chances are, you’ve already come across a subdomain or two during your time online, especially if you’ve ever used a site like Craigslist. So, they’re more common than you might think. By the time you finish reading this post, you’ll have a thorough understanding of what a subdomain is, how they work, and why they’re used for. Then, you’ll be able to decide if using a subdomain is right for your website. What Is a Subdomain? A subdomain is an entirely separate part of our website that still operates under the same main domain. For example, your primary domain could be “catlover.com,” while your blog could be on a subdomain at “blog.catlover.com.” You can think of your subdomain as an additional aspect to your primary domain name.  By using a subdomain vs. a domain name, you give yourself the ability to create an entirely separate portion of your website without the hassle of having to set up a brand new site or deal with confusing domain redirections. For example, let’s say you’re building a massive resource directory that’s going to be filled with helpful tutorials, user guides, and all kinds of other goodies. Chances are the structure of this, and the overall layout, will be different than the core of your website.  So, instead of trying to make it work within the existing scope of your website you’ll rely on a subdomain to give you the freedom of a new website, while still retaining the original main domain name. Typically, subdomains are used for a specific purpose that allows you to address the needs of your visitors.  Some of the most common uses for a website subdomain are for creating support and knowledge portals, like the one we have here at HostGator, or even Google’s Support.  Subdomains can also be used for creating a separate company blog page. You’ll see this a lot with online startups and eCommerce shops.  Still, there are a lot more uses for subdomains, which we’ll cover in greater detail below.  When Should I Use a Website Subdomain? Whenever you’re thinking of using a subdomain, you should do so with serious thought.  Although it’s pretty easy to create a subdomain, they don’t offer the best user experience for your visitors without the proper planning. Here are the most common reasons for deciding to use a subdomain under your root domain. 1. Cater to Different Product Lines or Markets Subdomains can be very helpful when you have a large and expansive business that caters to multiple markets.  For example, maybe you have a main site that caters to different markets and languages across the globe. Or, you target different niches that are entirely unrelated to one another. If so, then using a subdomain will help to differentiate each group of users you’re targeting, so there’s no cross-pollination. For example, we can look at Disney. They have a multitude of different subdomains that all cater to an entirely different aspect of their business. Just take a look at “cars.disney.com” and “princess.disney.com”. Both sites look and operate very differently and they cater to different types of people as well.  If your business is large enough, each subdomain will effectively act as its own unique entity, operating under the umbrella of your primary domain name.  Essentially, a subdomain gives you the ability to speak to the unique needs of different markets while not having to create an entirely new website every time you want to do so. 2. Separate Dedicated Site Resource Sections Like we mentioned above, you might be running a website that requires an extensive resource or tutorial section. Usually, these are content heavy, so you’ll need a way to present this content in a way that’s organized and intuitive to navigate.  So, here you’ll be using a subdomain to create a separate part of your website that looks and functions differently. The overarching goal isn’t to generate traffic but instead, to help and support your visitors.   People who will be using this resource section will already be familiar with you and your main site, so the subtle domain change will seem natural and won’t have a negative impact on your overall user experience.  3. Host Your Company Blog Some website owners might even want to isolate their company blog, so it’s separate from the rest of the site. This isn’t the most common approach, but it can have certain advantages depending on the type of site you’re running.  This is a common approach that’s taken in the eCommerce niche. When you’re running an eCommerce store, you’ll need a high level of security and specific software in place to safely and effectively process transactions. Since this might require a different software setup, it doesn’t make sense to run this configuration on your blog as well. So, you create your company blog on your subdomain. You can even install a CMS like WordPress to help you more easily manage your blog. Or, the opposite can be true as well, where you host your eCommerce shop on a “shop.mydomain.com” subdomain, and run the rest of your site on your primary domain.  You also see this approach across the startup space as well. Companies may place a higher value on their web app, or SaaS tool, so they host their blogs on the “blog.startupname.com” subdomain and market their service on the main “www.startupname.com” site. Generally, if you are going to be hosting your blog on a subdomain you’ll want to do so because it makes organizational sense when you’re building out your site.  Advantages to Using a Subdomain As you’ve learned by now subdomains are a very common way to organize your website. They aren’t as common as sites that only use a primary domain name, but they still have applicable use cases. Here are the most common advantages to using a subdomain. 1. Create Test Campaigns/Content Let’s say you’re thinking about adding new sections to your site, but you’re not sure if your audience will be receptive. All you have to do is create a subdomain, and then create your new landing page, opt-in page, or whatever else your campaign requires. Then, you can send traffic to this page to see how it performs. If it does well, then you can add it to a page on your primary campaign. Or, you can simply delete the subdomain without any changes to your primary domain.   This allows you to quickly test and create experiments without having to change the design or interfere with the rest of your existing website.  2. Assist With Brand Growth Subdomains can be a useful way to grow your brand without having to create an entirely new website. For instance, let’s say you have a generic sports website and you want to expand your reach to every sport under the sun.  Instead of overcomplicating your existing URL structure, you can simply create different subdomains for each sport, so you’ll have URLs like “golf.mysportsite.com”, or “football.mysportsite.com”. This will take more work, but it allows you to create a large online brand without having any crossover between the different sub-sites. For example, visitors looking for the latest football scores might not be interested in who’s leading at the Masters.  This can be an effective way to spread your brand around the web, while organizing your growing database of content at the same time. This is a similar approach to how sites like Disney and Craigslist organize their websites.  3. Build Separate Sites Under a Single Domain Usually, when you build out your site you’re basically stuck with your existing design. Sure, there are tools like page builders, and you can always custom code certain site elements, but the overall structure will remain the same. If you want more flexibility, then you can rely upon subdomains to help you create a section of your site that uses a different design from the ground up.  Maybe you want to create a separate web app, or a web-based tool that will enhance your site? Using a subdomain will give you this unique advantage.  Disadvantages to Using a Subdomain Although subdomains can serve a variety of purposes, they won’t be perfect for every situation. In fact, they do come with some distinct disadvantages. Here are the biggest drawbacks you’ll experience when using a subdomain. 1. Requires More Work With Long-Term Assets When you’re utilizing a subdomain you’re essentially building another asset that you need to maintain. If you’re using a subdomain to build out a support site, then this will be easier. But, if you’re creating an entirely separate site, then this will be effectively doubling your workload. You’ll need to maintain your subdomain site, create content, build backlinks, and everything else required to help make it a success. For large teams, this won’t be an issue, but solopreneurs running their own sites might find this additional workload impossible to manage. Instead, you may want to opt for a single domain and use a subfolder like “mysite.com/blog” instead.  2. Can Create an Inconsistent Brand Experience If you’re planning on hosting your company blog on a subdomain, then you’ll need to think about maintaining a consistent brand experience. Even if you’re using a CMS or platform that’s different from your main website you’ll still need to think about creating a brand experience that remains the same no matter where your users happen to be across your site. If you’re using a separate CMS, then it might be difficult to match your existing design. Or, you might have to hire a professional designer to design a theme that matches that of your existing site.  3. Potential SEO Downsides We’ll dive into this point in greater depth below, but there can be potential SEO issues when using a subdomain.  Generally, Google will view your subdomain and standard domain as a single site. But, this isn’t always the case. As you browse through the search results for any given keyword you’ll probably find that primary domains show up much more frequently than subdomains.  Keep reading to learn more about the SEO implications of using a subdomain.  Subdomains and SEO The debate surrounding SEO and subdomains still rages on. However, in general, using a subdomain won’t hurt your search results.  In the past, a subdomain was treated entirely separately from the root domain. So, naturally, people would take advantage of this and rank their subdomains and root domains for a given keyword. Google fixed this by treating subdomains and domains roughly the same way. However, some SEO pros will disagree with this sentiment. Usually, it’s because it takes much more effort to rank a subdomain for a given keyword, than the standard top-level domain. Moz actually recommends not using a subdomain for your company blog. Although there shouldn’t be any negative implications from using a subdomain, they found that in a handful of cases it did actually impact rankings.  Generally, building links to a subdomain will require more work, especially if you’re using multiple subdomains that are all directed towards different markets and verticals. Google won’t devalue your site or your rankings for creating subdomains (according to their guidelines), but it won’t give you a boost either. Is a Subdomain Right for Your Site? Hopefully, by now you can answer a lot more than the simple question, “What is a subdomain?” Now that you understand what a subdomain is and why they’re used, it’s time to ask yourself if it’s actually beneficial to your website to use a subdomain. In some scenarios they might actually make sense, but for most website owners sticking with a single primary domain name will probably make more sense—at least in the beginning stages of your site.  As you decide whether or not to add a subdomain to your site make sure you keep the above points in mind. Luckily, most hosts (including HostGator) allow you to add multiple subdomains for free. This gives you the freedom to experiment, before deciding what’s right for your current website.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

The Best 6 Online Tools for Side Hustlers

The post The Best 6 Online Tools for Side Hustlers appeared first on HostGator Blog. The nature of a side hustle is that you build your business in your free time. What’s the main problem with building a business during free time? Most people have a demanding 9-5, families, a rigorous exercise schedule, Netflix shows to catch up on, and other pressing goals. Everyone only has 24 hours in a day, so how do people successfully balance their lives all while growing a new business? The secret lies in time management.  By time management, I don’t just mean sticking to a rigorous schedule. I mean finding literal Hermione Granger Time-Turners to help free up more of your time (aka online tools that help you manage tasks and time efficiently).  Here is a list of essential online tools for side hustlers that will help you multitask, automate the mundane, and keep you organized. Project Management Tools for Side Hustlers Side hustlers need a way to organize tasks, keep track of clients, organize workflows, and keep any members of their team on the same page. Thankfully, there are several online project management tools that will help you stay organized and productive, no matter what your side hustle is. Here are two crowd pleasers. Asana Asana is one of the most popular project management tools for a good reason. It’s an online cloud software that helps you schedule tasks, visualize your workflow, plan how your project pieces fit together, and quickly identify any overlaps in your schedule. Asana also integrates with other top productivity tools to make it even easier to use. Trello If you’re a more visual person, then Trello might be a better fit than Asana. Trello helps you organize your tasks into boards, lists, and cards. You can move task cards from board to board as you complete tasks. Everyone on your team has the same access to cards, making it easy to see where a project stands and what needs to happen to move a project from inception to completion. Both of these tools will help you stay organized and boost productivity rates, especially if you have a team of individuals working with you.  It’s worth mentioning that if you own a smaller side hustle and are just starting out, a Google calendar on your iPhone may be sufficient to help keep you organized. Invoice Tracking Software for Side Hustlers It’s true you can create invoices using Word or Google Docs, but with highly sophisticated (and free!) software available, why would you opt for the more time-consuming route?  There are several free invoicing tools on the market that will help you keep your finances organized, store client information in one convenient location, and provide a comprehensive view into which invoices have been paid, how many invoices are pending, and how much money you’ve made. Here is my favorite free invoicing tool. invoicely invoicely is a free tool that makes invoicing effortless. With this tool, you can quickly enter and store client information, add your logo and personal information to invoices, and then create invoices with the click of a button. Invoicely also has a powerful dashboard that shows you pending and paid invoices. Clients can even pay invoices via Mollie, Stripe, PayPal, and more. If you’re looking for an excellent resource to track finances in one place, invoicely is an excellent resource. Did I mention invoicely provides a free plan? Of course, you can always upgrade to a paid plan for more features, but the free plan is comprehensive. Payment Processors for Side Hustlers There are so many options for collecting payment as a side hustler. You can collect cold, hard cash, ask clients to write checks, or use one of the many mobile payment options like Venmo, PayPal or Cash. If you’re looking for a payment processor that you can use via mobile device that also integrates with your side hustle website, your options are limitless. You can’t go wrong with Stripe. Stripe Stripe is an awesome payment processor for side hustlers with an online business. Its integrations are broad and its features are robust. Things you can do with Stripe include the ability to accept payments via mobile device, secure payment information, manage business operations through an intuitive dashboard, and much more. Pricing starts at a 2.9% + .30 cents for each successful transaction, but there are no hidden fees, set up fees, or monthly fees. Payment processing is a must for any side hustler. What you end up using will depend on your needs as a business owner. If your business is smaller, Venmo or PayPal should be sufficient. If you need a payment processor that integrates with your website, look into Stripe. Time Management Apps for Side Hustlers Are you a side hustler that works hourly? Awesome! There are so many time tracking tools available to you, and most of them are free or at least have a free, yet limited, version of the software. If you need a time tracking software, it’s time to check out Hubstaff and Toggl. Hubstaff Hubstaff has both free and paid versions of their product. The free version allows one user to track their time, track limited activity rates, provides random screen captures, and send limited payments. If you manage a team as part of your side hustle, it’s worth it to look into the paid versions because the Hubstaff features are helpful for any business owner. Features include: Time trackingOnline timesheetsProductivity monitoringPayroll softwareGeofencingTeam schedulingAnd more! Toggl Toggl is another popular time tracking app to consider. With Toggl, you have access to one-click timers, tracking reminders, and over 100+ app integrations. If you don’t want to track your hours in real-time, Toggl also allows you to manually enter time after-the-fact. Another cool feature of Toggl is the ability to view your project dashboard and get reports. This helps you see where you can save time and work more efficiently. Toggl recently conducted a study and found that not only was Toggl a huge time-saver, but a money-saver as well. Toggl found that the average estimate of money saved using Toggl was $12,441 per team/year with consultancies reporting up to $16,203 saved. Creating Your Side Hustle Toolkit There are several resources to help you grow your side hustle including online tools that will help you make the best use out of the short 24 hour day you have. There are no shortage of tools to help you create a successful side business, and tools from HostGator are no exception. If you’re ready to get started, check out Gator Builder—our drag-and-drop website builder will help you get your feet off the ground. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Best WordPress Social Media Plugins

The post 7 Best WordPress Social Media Plugins appeared first on HostGator Blog. For small businesses, content distribution is critical in spreading the word about your products and services. WordPress plugins serve as a tool to grow brand awareness and increase your site traffic. Every WordPress plugin isn’t the same. They offer different types of value and can engage your audience in various ways. So, you want to select the right plugin for your business’s goals. Start optimizing your social distribution channel. Check out these 7 WordPress social media plugins below. 1. Social Login Customers’ schedules are jam-packed with a laundry list of activities. From kids’ soccer practices to major work projects, their time is limited.  Your business can streamline customer interaction with the Social Login plugin. This WordPress tool allows your visitors to login, register, and comment on your website through social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That way, your loyal fans don’t have to start from scratch or deal with a clunky registration system.  Without the complex forms, your business can improve your visitor data quality and eliminate spam registrations from bots. It’s also likely to increase your registration rates because visitors aren’t wasting time with multiple form fields. Plus, this social media integration is maintenance fee. Social Login monitors the APIs of the social networks and updates its services accordingly. 2. Mashshare Small businesses must take steps to inform customers about their products. Social media is an effective channel to attract new people to your site.  “When we use social media to gain reach, tie into influencer audiences, and find ways to amplify the content, then we allow our audiences to determine the quality of the content and authority status we deserve in the industry,” writes Corey Morris, vice president of marketing for Voltage.  And with Mashshare, you can encourage visitors to share your content with their family and friends on social media networks. This free plugin centers around social sharing optimization, including a total share counter beside prominent share buttons. MashShare doesn’t depend on external script. So, your WordPress website’s load speed won’t slow down and your visitor’s privacy will be safe. 3. Social Locker Engagement keeps your business moving forward. Rather than giving away all your content for free, consider locking highly valuable content in exchange for a desired action. Social Locker makes this strategy possible. This premium WordPress plugin requires your visitors to share your page on social media to unlock specific content. So, until the reader likes, shares, or tweets your page, the content stays hidden.  This technique helps improve social performance of your website—building quality followers and attracting more social traffic. You’ll want to gate content that matters to your visitors, such as a video, checklist, or cheat sheet. It’s super easy to do, too. Select the content you want to lock, and just click the Social Locker button on your toolbar. The plugin also includes built-in advanced analytics. You can identify which lockers perform the best and optimize them future marketing campaigns. 4. TweetDis Most marketers underestimate the value of spending time on strategy development. Sharron Nelson, a digital marketing specialist, explains: “By applying a social media strategy, it will help you significantly increase your brand recognition. By spending only a few hours per week, over 91% marketers claimed that their social marketing efforts greatly increased their brand visibility and heightened user experience.” Plan your next steps by making it easy for visitors to share your content. TweetDis is a WordPress plugin that helps increase the number of website visitors who tweet your content to their followers. All you need is a quotable tweet, like a catchy phrase, statistic, or key takeaway.  It’s also simple for you to use. Just highlight the content and click on TweetDis button. No coding involved. You’ll get this remarkable tweetable below: 5. Floating Social Media Icon Brandwatch reports that “only 20 Fortune 500 companies actually engage with their customers on Facebook.” This gap in the social market is an opportunity for your small business.  As your customers’ interactions with your site change, it’s your responsibility to adapt to their behaviors. For example, static social media buttons can get overlooked. It’s hard to grab your visitor’s attention in a few seconds.  Floating Social Media Icon offers a solution. This plugin sets up social media icons to float on your pages. The icons will move from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the screen.  You can configure the plugin to show specific social channels and decide the display order. It’s a small reminder to the reader to share your site with their network.  6. Flow Flow Good content without distribution (and vice versa) isn’t helpful to your small business. You want your content noticed and read by your audience. Branimir Hrženjak, content writer at Paldesk, offers his perspective: “That’s why the backbone of any good social media plan are relevant articles. Therefore, your content should be aligned with your other resources, such as a blog or a similar product. Evaluate what your users want, and provide them with context and valuable insights.” Flow Flow provides a stream of your different social feeds. The plugin displays visually appealing galleries of your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts. Simply select your layout and build your gallery with the drag-and-drop tool. It also lets you exclude specific posts by URL, by username, or by words. 7. Social Fans Social proof plays a key factor in why customers follow and purchase businesses. Customers feel comfortable if they know other people, especially their peers, are engaging with a brand.  Social Fans gives your small business credibility. This premium social counter adds social links to your WordPress site and displays the number of your fans and followers on popular social media channels.  Choose from different display views, colored skins, and column options. The plugin aggregates the total of your social audience and instantly shows off your value. Expand Your Social Media Efforts with WordPress Plugins Social media is a medium to introduce your content to new audiences. Experiment with plugins to accelerate your social strategy. Take your WordPress site to the next level with our managed WordPress hosting. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

SEO Tool Roundup: 10 Subscription Tools Worth the Cost

The post SEO Tool Roundup: 10 Subscription Tools Worth the Cost appeared first on HostGator Blog. Developing a strong SEO (search engine optimization) strategy that helps you meet your website goals requires doing the right research first. While there are a number of useful free SEO tools that you can use for that, there’s also a whole marketplace of SEO products that provide greater depth, and make it easier to learn what you need more quickly and efficiently.   For small businesses on a budget, any product you consider has to provide tangible value. It better either make you money, save you money or, even better, do both.  10 Top SEO Subscription Tools To help you decide if an SEO tool is really worth the investment, here’s a roundup of the best paid SEO tools to consider.  1. Moz Moz is one of the most familiar names in the SEO world. In addition to their free Link Explorer tool, they offer a suite of SEO products as part of their Moz Pro plan that helps customers: Perform richer keyword research and organize your results based on factors like search volume, difficulty level, and an analysis of the keyword’s SERP.More efficiently track your website’s rankings for different keywords and stay on top of who your main competitors are for each.Perform an ongoing analysis of your website to catch issues like broken links and missing title tags that can hurt you in the rankings.Audit your content to find opportunities to improve your on-site optimization across the site.Find new link opportunities and determine which to prioritize based on a website’s SEO authority.  For SEO professionals, Moz Pro is one of the main go-to tools for building a stronger SEO strategy. 2. Ahrefs Ahrefs is another popular option with a suite of tools that provide some similar functionalities. These include: Keywords Explorer – a keyword research tool that provides difficulty scores, search volume, and predicted clicks metrics.Content Explorer – a tool that reveals the most popular content on your topic to help provide inspiration and show you what pages you need to beat.Rank Tracker – just what it sounds like, this provides an easy way to track your rankings for your target keywords.Site Audit – an auditing tool that identifies issues like slow pages, missing meta tags, and low-quality content.Site Explorer – a competitor research tool that helps you analyze organic traffic and backlinks for other websites. Their tools provide the option to set up alerts so you learn quickly about web mentions, changes in your rankings, and new backlinks.    3. SEMRush SEMRush is an SEO platform with a number of useful features for building an SEO strategy. They provide similar functionality to Moz and Ahrefs when it comes to keyword research, rank tracking, backlink tracking, and site audits. For companies that do online advertising, they also provide features to help you compare your PPC advertising efforts to those of your competitors.  They have a feature that makes it easy to see how your website stacks up against those of top competitors in the keywords you’re targeting and ranking for. They also help you identify your top competition in different geographic areas based on how search results vary. And they provide a traffic analysis tool that estimates how much traffic competitors are getting and where it comes from.  4. Majestic SEO Majestic SEO’s suite of tools has many of the core features you need for SEO. That includes: A site explorer that provides a quick visual summary of a website’s top pages, the main anchor text it uses, and its link breakdown.Link tracking which quickly alerts you to new links you’ve gained and old ones you’ve lost. A backlink checker and comparison tool to see how your website’s link profile compares to other websites in your industry.A Clique Hunter tool that helps you easily spot any website linking to multiple competitors, suggesting they’re a valuable link building opportunity.A keyword checker that compares terms based on how competitive and popular they are.  Their tools can help you perform a thorough site audit, identify target keywords, and conduct a link-building campaign.  5. Raven Tools Raven Tools packs a number of useful SEO features into an intuitive interface. They offer a Website Auditor tool to quickly identify errors on your pages. Their tool taps into the data collected by Moz, Majestic, Report Garden, and Tapclicks to deliver comprehensive rank tracking, keyword research, and site performance data.  They make it easy to put metrics for your site and competitor sites side-by-side to better understand where you stand, and what steps you can take to improve. And they provide a Backlink Checker and Link Spy features to help you identify opportunities for link building.  6. WooRank WooRank provides features to help you do three main things: Perform a website audit – with the help of website review reports, competitive analysis reports, and a site crawl analysis.Track keyword performance – the tool tracks your own ranking positions, and those of your top competitors. Take next steps – based on the audit and keyword data, WooRank produces a prioritized marketing checklist of actions you can take to improve your rankings.  While a simpler tool than some of the others on the list, it provides straightforward insights and suggestions that many website owners will value.  7. Advanced Web Ranking One of the tricky aspects of rank tracking is that the search engine results page (SERP) isn’t consistent. A user’s location and browser history influences what they’ll see, meaning that one of your prospects will get a different result than another, and they could both be seeing something different than you do. Advanced Web Ranking (AWR) lets you track rankings across all the different possible results pages.  You can see what a keyword’s rankings are for different search engines, locations, and device types. You also get data on what other features show up on the SERP, such as videos and ads. And you can see how current rankings in all those categories compare to historical ones.    8. BuzzSumo Creating great content and promoting it are huge parts of SEO. BuzzSumo is a tool for analyzing what content is resonating with your audience and why. You can track which articles in your target topic areas are getting the most shares around the web so you can better understand what works. And you can see who’s sharing them, which will help you identify influencers who can be valuable in helping amplify the content you create.  9. BuzzStream Similar to BuzzSumo, BuzzStream is a tool for identifying and connecting with influencers—a key part of link building and content promotion. It makes finding relevant bloggers, websites, and popular social media profiles easier using keyword searches and engagement data. You can use the tool to create a list of people you’d like to reach out to, find contact information, and keep track of your contact efforts. For anyone doing influencer outreach as part of your SEO efforts, it can make the process more efficient and effective.  10. Remove’em Link building has always been a big part of SEO, but in recent years link removal has become important as well. Recent Google updates have increasingly penalized the kind of spammy, low-quality links that black-hat SEO companies use to try and inflate their clients’ rankings.  Remove’em is a tool for identifying and removing bad links. It taps into several sources for link data in order to help you spot all the low-quality links in your profile. It provides templates for contacting webmasters of the sites you want your link removed from, and helps you check for the right contact information before you send. And it has features for keeping track of who you’ve contacted and which links have been successfully removed.  SEO Is Worth the Cost For any website that helps you make money—whether a personal site that serves ads, a business website, or an eCommerce store—investing in SEO will help you increase your profits. This is one area where the old adage about having to spend money to make money is accurate. But you don’t necessarily need to invest in a lot of tools and learn how to use them all to get your SEO efforts to pay off. As an alternative, you can hire SEO experts to do all the research and work for you.  Good SEO consultants will already have access to the tools needed to do the job. And on top of that, they’ll have the knowledge to use them effectively to get the best results. Set up a free consultation with HostGator’s SEO specialists, so you can hand off the work to someone with experience.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create a Business Email

The post How to Create a Business Email appeared first on HostGator Blog. Most of the emails you get from professionals—no matter the type of business they’re in, from doctors, to dog trainers, to CEOs—are business email addresses.  Whether you’ve thought about it consciously or not, you know how to recognize a business email. It’s usually a person’s name at their company’s domain name, for example: name@businessname.com. Anyone that has a business should set up a business email.  Email is a small but important part of getting a new business off the ground. For anyone that doesn’t know where to start, we’ve created this helpful guide on how to create a business email. Why to Create a Business Email Chances are, you already have an email address. So you may wonder why you can’t just keep using your old address for all your business correspondence as well. Is it really so important that you create a professional email?  It really is, and for a few key reasons: A business email shows professionalism. If you’re sending emails about the business you run from frodofan1990@aol.com, frankly, your recipients aren’t going to take you seriously (even if they also love Lord of the Rings).  By having a professional email that comes from your business domain, you immediately communicate to the people you interact with that your emails are legitimate and should be taken seriously. Once you finish creating a professional email, you can use it to setup your social media, hosting plan, and any other accounts you need to operate your business. It becomes an extension of your marketing and branding. When you have an official business email, every email you send is a reminder of your business branding and website. And that doesn’t just go for you.  Every person you hire and provide with a business email will also be spreading the word of your business and website with every email they send. It’s a good way to keep your business top of mind and make your website that much easier for people to find.  People are more likely to open emails from sources they recognize. 64% of people say who an email comes from is a big part of whether or not they decide to open it.  When you use a business email address, even if a customer doesn’t know you personally, they’ll still be able to recognize that your email is coming from a brand they know. Any trust or awareness they have for your business will extend to you. It will be easier for potential customers to find you. Most people expect to be able to reach someone from a company using an email address like name@companyname.com or get to the right department by contacting customerservice@companyname.com.  When your business email is intuitive to figure out, you make it easier for people to get in touch when they have a question or concern.  It makes it easier for people you contact to find your website. When your email address uses the same domain as your website, every recipient of an email from your company has a quick and easy resource for figuring out what your website is. Anyone that wants to learn more will know where to go.  It makes your relationship to others in your company clear. If everyone that works for the company sends emails from the same domain name, it’s obvious that you’re all associated with the same brand. Customers and leads will know that anyone with an email address ending in @yourcompany.com is a legitimate representative of your brand and worth trusting.  Customers will know when emails are coming from you vs spammers. Email spam is an unfortunate part of life. Having a business email from your own domain is one important way to differentiate your emails from those of spammers.  Often, spammers will send phishing emails designed to look like they’re coming from a legitimate company. As long as your recipients know what your actual business domain is, they can easily see imposter emails for what they are, and recognize your real emails when they come through. How to Create a Business Email Luckily, creating a business email is an easy part of helping your new business website be successful. Follow these seven steps to get it done.  Step 1:  Register your domain. Your domain name is the URL people will type into a browser to reach your website. A business called The Puppy Obedience School could register the domain name puppyobedienceschool.com, for instance. Registering your domain name will both ensure you own the domain you want your website to be at, and provide you with the domain that will become the last part of your business email address.  Finding the right domain can be a challenge, since so many of the options for .com are already taken. Brainstorm the best words and phrases that represent your business and use a domain search tool to figure out what’s available. Once you find one you like, you can register it there in the same place as you performed your search.  If you can’t get your business name as a .com, consider if a .net or .biz domain extension will work just as well for you.  Step 2: Sign up for web hosting. In order to access the tools you need to create an email address for the domain you registered, you need to sign up for web hosting. In addition to enabling you to set up a business email, web hosting is a necessary element for getting your website online. When considering your options for a hosting plan, pay attention to the number of email addresses included. Some web hosting plans, like those provided by HostGator, will let you create an unlimited number of free email addresses.  Others charge more for creating any email addresses, or only include a small number in the hosting plan and charge for extra. You can save yourself money by selecting a plan that provides as many email addresses as you need upfront.   Step 3: Set up naming conventions for your business. If you’re running a one-person business, this step is pretty simple: you just need to figure out what your own business email will be. If you have employees, or expect to hire people as your business grows, then take a few minutes now to figure out what you want business emails for your company to look like. Some common naming conventions to consider are: firstname@yourbusiness.comfirstinitial.lastname@yourbusiness.comfirstname.lastname@yourbusiness.com Picking one now will help you stay consistent as your company grows. Step 4: Follow the instructions from your hosting provider to create your business email. The details of this next step will look a little different depending on who you choose for hosting, although the follow the same general process. Here’s a walk-through of setting up your business email with HostGator: Log into cPanel.Find the Email section, and click Email Accounts. In the form that appears, type the name you’d like for your business email in the Email field.Select the domain you want for the last part of the email address from the dropdown menu in the Domain field. Choose a secure password for your email account. HostGator’s Password Generator can help you if you have a hard time coming up with one that’s secure enough, and you can gauge how secure each password you try is in the Strength Bar that shows up below the form.Click Create Account. It’s simple as that!  HostGator Product Manager Sean Dundon walks you through the process in this video: Step 5:  Choose your mail client. Now that your business email is created, it’s time to decide where and how you’ll access it.  Your web hosting account will likely come with a basic webmail option you can use to check your inbox and send email directly through cPanel. This usually comes free with a web hosting plan. But most people will prefer to have emails forwarded to a third-party email client.  A few popular options for email clients include G Suite, Office 365, and others. Gmail/G Suite While using Gmail for your business email does require a small monthly fee, a G Suite subscription comes with much more than Gmail access. Your organization will also gain the use of collaborative Google Apps including Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, and Google Hangouts. All of these can be useful for organizing your business and controlling who in your organization has access to what information.  For HostGator clients, once you’ve set up an account in Gmail, you can find the details on how to forward your emails to your Gmail account here.  Office 365 Like G Suite, Office 365 combines an intuitive email interface (Outlook) with a number of other useful business features, like cloud-based access to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. HostGator customers can now upgrade their plan to include access to Office 365 features. Find details on each available plan and how to get it set up here. Mac Mail For Apple users, Mac Mail is the built-in mail client on your computer. HostGator customers can set up forwarding to your Mac Mail account following these instructions. And anyone wanting to access email from an iPhone can follow these.  Step 6:  Set up your name and image. You can personalize how you show up in people’s inboxes further by adding your name and photo to your business email account. The details for doing this will depend on the email client you chose.  In Gmail, you can update your photo by clicking on the G Suite icon in the top right of your inbox, then clicking Change at the bottom of the circle that appears. Or you can change both your image and name by clicking on the Google Account button right next to the circle, selecting Personal Info, and filling in the information under Info.  In Outlook/Office 365, you can change your name and profile picture by clicking on the image at the top right of the screen, selecting Edit Profile, then choosing Change Picture and Edit Name to provide the new information.  Step 7:  Add an email signature. The last step to creating a professional business email is setting up your email signature. A good email signature will include a polite signoff (e.g. Regards, Thank you, Sincerely), your name, a link to your website, and the best contact information for reaching you. Setting up an email signature ensures this information will all show up at the bottom of every email you send, making it easy for customers and business contacts to find it when they need it. Again, the specific details of this depend on the email client you’re using, but the process is similar. In Mac Mail, there’s a Signatures item on the main menu under Preferences. In Gmail, there’s a Signatures section under Settings. And in Outlook/Office 365, you can choose Signature under the Message menu.  Business Email FAQs Those steps are the main things you need to know when learning how to create a business email, but you may still have a few additional questions.  1. Can I create a free business email without a domain? If you want to skimp on buying a domain name and web hosting (which are both necessary for setting up a business website), you can’t create a business email that has your branding in the second part of it (e.g. name@yourbrand.com).  You can create an email address that includes your business name in the first part, e.g. businessname@gmail.com. Some businesses do choose this option, but it won’t look as professional as having a business email address with your unique domain name included.  And if you do start a website down the line, you’ll likely end up starting over with a new branded email address at that time, which can be confusing for customers.   2. What business email addresses should I create? If you run a one-person business, you can probably manage with one email address that includes your name at your domain.  If you have multiple employees and departments, consider creating a unique email address for each employee that works for you, as well as department-level email addresses, such as sales@yourbrand.com and customerservice@yourbrand.com that go to all the relevant contacts in those departments.  3.  How do I set up email forwarding? Email forwarding is useful in a few different scenarios: When you want to forward your emails to a third-party email client, as described in the section above (Step 5).When you set up a new email address and want to forward all emails that go to your old address to your new inbox.When you want all the emails from a certain web form or departmental-level email addresses to go to the inboxes of all relevant contacts. When someone in your company leaves and you want all their emails to go to someone else in the company.  Setting up email forwarding is generally pretty simple. You can either do it in your cPanel, or in your email client (here are directions for Outlook and Gmail).  Creating Your Business Email Now that you know all the basics, you’re ready to create a business email  for your company. You can get a domain and web hosting plan set up with HostGator within minutes, then follow the rest of the steps listed to have your business email ready to go by the end of today.  Whether you send emails through a mobile device or desktop, setting up a business mail account will ensure that you maintain your professionalism no matter where you go. Creating a business email is easy, and it makes a big difference in how customers and colleagues will perceive your business.  Start showing others the professionalism and legitimacy you know your business is capable of. Add G Suite by Google Cloud to your hosting plan today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

10 Last-Minute Social Campaigns You Can Push Now to Drive Holiday Sales

The post 10 Last-Minute Social Campaigns You Can Push Now to Drive Holiday Sales appeared first on HostGator Blog. For online business owners, it’s never too soon to work on your winter holiday social media campaigns. After all, 40% of shoppers start their seasonal sprees before November each year. But what if you’ve cut things a little too close and now you’re scrambling to create a holiday social marketing plan for your business? Don’t panic. We’ve pulled together a few ideas you can put into play fast, to help you drive traffic from social channels to your website and earn as many holiday sales as possible. Ready? Let’s get to work.  Try These Holiday Social Media Campaigns to Drive Sales Everyone loves a bargain. In 2018, Deloitte found that 67% of holiday shoppers who made $50,000/year or less were more likely to buy gifts from whichever retailer offered the best price. But 60% of holiday shoppers with incomes of $100K and more said they also shop for the best price. Whoever your target customers are, show up in their social feeds with some price breaks this holiday season. Check out the most popular categories in the NRF survey from the 2018 holiday season below. You can use them to prioritize your social media promos if you’re trying to beat the calendar.  For example, based on popularity, gift cards should be your top priority. To make gift cards a deal and not simply a convenience, you might offer a bundle deal that gives shoppers one free gift card for buying five (or whatever quantity makes sense for your business) at the regular price.  1. The gift card campaign If there’s anything most people love more than getting a gift, it’s getting a gift that lets us treat ourselves. Gift cards are the most sought-after gift option during the holidays, with 60% of consumers saying that’s what they want. Make sure your followers know you offer them. Dress up your gift card or gift certificate images with some holiday flair so they’ll catch shoppers’ attention on social media. Talk about how convenient to buy and easy to give your gift cards are, whether shoppers are buying ahead of time or slamming through their gift list at the last minute.  Hashtag ideas: #holidaygiftcards #lastminutegifts #giftcards 2. Deals on your most popular gift categories Does your online shop sell fashion accessories and jewelry? Maybe roll out holiday deals for your accessories first and then for jewelry if you have time. Do you sell electronics and tools? Focus on electronics promos first, then tools.  Hashtag ideas: Base them on the products you’re offering, like #giftcarddeals plus some seasonal tags like #christmasdeals 3. Special offers on your bestsellers Even if your business doesn’t sell anything in the top retail gift categories, the holidays are a good time to offer deals on your bestselling items. And if you do sell products in the popular gift categories, it’s a great time to offer deals on your top-selling items. Just make sure you have enough inventory available to meet the demand your promo may generate. Or, like specialty food retailer Harry & David, you can simply remind customers that the holidays are a good time to order their favorite items. Hashtag ideas: #bestsellers #[yourbrand]favorites  4. Exclusive offers for holiday shoppers Do you have products no one else has? Deals that no one else can beat? Promote them as exclusives to appeal to shoppers who are on the lookout for one-of-a-kind gifts and the best prices.  Hashtag ideas: #exclusiveoffer #exclusivedeal 5. Sweet deals on seasonal items A lot of Christmas shoppers are looking for Christmas-themed gear, in addition to everything else on their lists. If you have holiday-themed sweaters, socks, jewelry or tableware, start promoting it on social now so your customers can get what they need for their holiday parties.  Hashtag ideas: #[holiday][yourproduct] like #diwalidecorations #chanukahcookies #christmassocks 6. Treat-yourself deals Remember that most people want to treat themselves, too. Fifty-one percent of last year’s holiday shoppers told Deloitte they were picking up a few things for themselves. Food and liquor was the most popular treat-yourself category.  Pick a few products that you know customers like to buy for themselves and share them as self-gifting options for the holidays. Hashtag ideas: #treatyourself #selfgifting 7. Holiday flash sales Want to boost sales on a typically slow day during the holiday season? Run a flash sale, like this cycle shop did on Dec. 25. Just make sure you’ve got someone available to monitor orders and customer service during your flash sale, even if it’s on a holiday.  Hashtag ideas: #christmasoffers #flashsale 8. The holiday-themed content campaign Like deals campaigns, a holiday-themed content campaign can take several forms. All you need is a holiday blog post and some time to promote the things you talk about in that post. Here are a few examples of ways you can turn a holiday post into a social campaign. Gift guides. Make a post about each of the products in your latest holiday gift guide. Hashtag ideas: #giftguide2019 #giftguideforkids #christmasgiftguideHoliday style trends. Break down your holiday fashion, beauty, food and décor tips into posts. Hashtag ideas: #holidayfashions #holidaydecor #holidayfoodHoliday recipes. This is a great fit for shops that sell food, tableware, kitchen items and other housewares. Hashtag ideas: #holidaytreats #holidayrecipes   9. The best-of campaign Like holiday-themed blog post social campaigns, you can create best-of campaigns that draw on your top-selling or top-reviewed products. For example: This year’s top-selling tech. Pick your top 5 or 10 bestselling tech items and feature each one in a social post explaining why they’re so popular. Hashtag ideas: #besttech #bestsellers #techgiftsBest tools of 2019. If you sell tools, craft supplies, kitchen items or hobby gear, check your customers reviews to see which products got the most love. Then feature each item in a social post. Hashtag idea: #besttools  Best Practices for Last-Minute Holiday Social Campaigns Whichever campaigns you run with, remember to research your hashtags and make your offer terms (like purchase limits and expiration dates) clear. Include Shop Now buttons or product page links where you can so that busy shoppers can move from social browsing to buying in the moment. Finally, make sure your checkout, fraud screening, fulfillment and hosting service are all ready to handle your holiday shopping traffic. Need to upgrade your hosting plan for the holidays? Talk to the experts at HostGator today! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

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