Liquid Web Official Blog

How to Get Started With WordPress

WordPress is a free and open source content management system that’s come a long way from its blogging platform days. WordPress powers over 30% of the web, according to W3Techs. At Liquid Web we offer Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting plans with unmatched speed, reliability, and security. Our specialized highly trained technicians are experienced in WordPress and are always available to help you set up your account and optimize your site to fit your needs. One of the features we offer to make getting started easier is simply one-click install of WordPress for your site. If you’re having trouble with that, then you can feel confident in knowing that our amazing support team is around 24/7 to help you get started with WordPress. Let’s get started installing WordPress. Installing WordPress Step-by-Step Installing WordPress on our Managed WordPress platform starts by logging into your control panel. When you signed up you should have received the login location to your admin area. If you don’t have that handy, get in touch with our awesome support team. If this is your first time logging in to our Managed WordPress platform, you’ll be treated to a note from our Managed WordPress team. You can dismiss this notice by clicking the “x” in the top corner. From there it’s time to click the “Create New Site” button in the top right-hand corner of your admin panel. Next, you’ll need to name your site, and choose an email to use with the site so that you have an admin user. If you are installing WordPress sites (plural) then you can save yourself some work later on by using a stencil that you have previously created. A stencil will copy across any changes you’ve made to your base setup of WordPress so that you don’t have to install the plugins you regularly use or make any adjustments to in the WordPress settings if you always make the same ones. Once you copy the stencil, you will be taken back to the main Managed WordPress admin panel, but you’ll have your site showing up as one of the sites you can work with. You can see below that I created a site for family photos. You should also have an email with your new username and password that our system sent to you. You’ll need to use this information to access the WordPress admin area of your site. Now that installing WordPress is complete, it’s time to move on to finding a theme and finding plugins to extend the functionality of your WordPress site.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more inspiration for your WordPress projects sent to your inbox. Finding Themes While WordPress generally provides a decent starting theme for most sites, it’s not always perfect for each user. Luckily WordPress gives you the ability to find and test out themes directly from the Admin interface. Go to Appearance -> Themes and select Add New at the top of the page. From there you can take a look at the currently featured themes, or use the search box to take a look at the themes that may suit your needs better. Maybe you’re looking for a photography theme so you search photography, and the themes that have been tagged with those platforms will show up as options for you to choose from. When you see a theme thumbnail you like, click on it to get a larger preview of the theme. Once you’ve picked a theme that you think will fit your site, click “Install” in the top-left corner of the theme preview. Once you click “Install” for your theme it will take a few seconds and that same button will now say Activate. Click this button to turn the theme on for your site. Now that you’ve activated your theme you’ll be sent back to the Themes main menu area in your WordPress admin. From here you can dive into customizing your theme with any of the built-in options provided. Many themes will have customizations accessible through the WordPress Customizer and provide a button directly on the Themes main screen to take you directly to the available customizations. Finding Plugins While a theme takes care of the visual look of your site, it’s likely you’ll still want to add functionality to your site. Again, WordPress has you covered with its extensive plugin eco-system. To find free plugins for your site go to Plugins -> Add New. Much like the Themes menu, you’ll see a number of recommended plugins first. You can also search for plugins if you don’t see what you’re looking for right away. To do this use the search field in the upper right-hand corner of the Plugin admin area. When you see a plugin you want, click “Install Now.” A few seconds after you’ve clicked “Install Now” the button will change to “Activate.” To turn the plugin on, click “Activate.” After that most plugins will take you to the Plugins main area on your site. Some plugins, like WPForms used in our example, will take you to a configuration screen to help you get set up. In this case, WPForms is helping us set up our first form. At the end of the day, whatever CMS you choose, you just want it to work and to help your business gain traction in your industry. Here at Liquid Web, exceeding our customers’ expectations is the most important thing. Wendall Harness, CEO of Harness Media, moved to Managed WordPress Hosting with Liquid Web and here is what he had to say about the move: When I was hosting with WP Engine I was paying $200 more a month for slow performing websites, which forced me to pay even more money for caching plugins to fix the problem. Now that I’m at Liquid Web, my sites run much faster right out of the gate without really having to do anything. What’s even more amazing is that I’ve been able to remove my caching plugins, and not only did I save even more money, but my sites run faster now! The success of Wendall’s site is not only the result of a reliable web host but also a team of technicians on hand ready to provide support no matter the time of day. Our fully-managed 24/7/365 Support, 24×7 Proactive Monitoring, full hardware and software management, and access to a number of security advantages are what sets our WordPress Hosting Plans apart. No matter the question, we are here to help. Ready to get started with WordPress? Try Managed WordPress. Want WordPress without the hassle? Check out Managed WordPress, with one-click staging, one-click backup restoration, automatic updates, automatic backups, and free SSL included for all sites. The post How to Get Started With WordPress appeared first on Liquid Web.

Liquid Web Partners With WPMerge and AffiliateWP

Liquid Web Announces New Partnerships With WPMerge and AffiliateWP to Add Additional Functionality to their Managed Application Product Lines LANSING, Mich., June 18, 2019 – Liquid Web, LLC, (www.liquidweb.com), the market leader in managed hosting and managed application services to SMBs today announced partnerships with WPMerge and AffiliateWP to bring additional bundled features to their Managed Application product lines. Liquid Web continues to redefine Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce by including WPMerge into their Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce bundles and AffiliateWP into the Managed WooCommerce bundle at no charge. Freelancers, agencies, and store owners have long known the challenge of testing changes on staging sites before pushing updates to their production websites and stores. This can be especially difficult on WooCommerce because blog posts and orders use the same data structures for storage. WPMerge helps solve this problem. WPMerge is an intelligent, automated merging solution that moves changes from a staging site to a live site without overwriting any changes made to the live site – even if changes have occurred on the production site or store. AffiliateWP, now included in Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce offering, is an easy-to-use, all-in-one solution for building a fully-featured affiliate program for any WooCommerce store. It provides online sellers with all the tools needed to launch and grow an affiliate program that drives sales and grows revenue to their online businesses. “One of the most important dynamics in bringing traffic to your store is the ability to reward people for sharing the news,” said Chris Lema, VP of Products and Innovation. “As we continue to build the most complete open source eCommerce platform, it made sense to make sure every store owner and store builder could count on AffiliateWP being available for them to use,” said Lema. Liquid Web is dedicated to the success of SMBs and the designers, developers, and agencies who create for them. By bundling these two products with their Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting offerings, Liquid Web continues to create a platform that helps customers focus on what matters to them: growing their business. Visit Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting to learn more. About Liquid Web Marking its 21st anniversary, Liquid Web powers online content, commerce, and potential for SMB entrepreneurs and the designers, developers, and digital agencies who create for them. An industry leader in managed hosting and cloud services, Liquid Web is known for its high-performance services and exceptional customer support. Liquid Web offers a broad portfolio designed so customers can choose a hosting solution that is hands-on or hands-off or a hybrid of the two. The company owns and manages its own core data centers, providing a diverse range of offerings, including bare metal servers, fully managed hosting, Managed WordPress, and Managed WooCommerce Hosting, and continues to evolve its service offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of its web-reliant, professional customers. With over 32,000 customers spanning 150 countries, the company has assembled a world-class team, global data centers and an expert group of 24/7/365 solution engineers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies for eleven years. For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or read our blog posts at https://www.liquidweb.com/blog. Stay up to date with all Liquid Web events on Twitter and LinkedIn. *2018 Net Promoter Score of 65 Contact: Mayra Pena, mpena@liquidweb.com The post Liquid Web Partners With WPMerge and AffiliateWP appeared first on Liquid Web.

Why WordPress Remains The Best Choice For Your Next Website Project

While we’re 100% behind WordPress as the platform of choice for websites, blogs, membership sites, online courses, and eCommerce stores, we pay attention to what’s going on in the world of website platforms and content management systems. If you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, business owner, or agency selling WordPress services or products, or you’re a WordPress site owner, you may have noticed that other platforms are fighting for market share and visibility through online advertising, television ads, radio ads, print ads, and podcast ads — and you might be wondering, “Is WordPress the right choice for my next website project?” As a gold-level global sponsor of WordCamps across the Americas, Liquid Web is invested in the future of WordPress and committed to helping WordPress professionals and site owners create a better experience through our Managed WordPress Hosting and Managed WooCommerce Hosting packages — and we know that WordPress is the best choice for your next website project. Why WordPress Is The Best Choice WordPress Is Open Source Software WordPress is licensed under the General Public License (GPLv2 or later) which provides four core freedoms: To run the program for any purpose To study how the program works and change it to make it do what you wish To redistribute To distribute copies of your modified versions to others This means that with WordPress, you’re not locked into an inflexible, private platform or proprietary content management system with exorbitant fees. Instead, you’re leveraging software that you can manage and modify yourself.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more inspiration for your next WordPress project sent to your inbox. WordPress Is Free The WordPress software is free and there are free themes and free plugins available to extend the capabilities of the WordPress core software. While WordPress is free, you do need to purchase a domain name (your address on the Internet) and website hosting (your space on the Internet). WordPress Has A Global Community Moving It Forward WordPress contributors work around the globe and have dedicated countless hours to build a tool that democratizes publishing, making the free software priceless. A global community continues to work on the WordPress project and to serve WordPress users. In 2018 there were 145 WordCamps in 48 countries, with over 45,000 tickets sold. A total of 1,300 organizers, 2,651 speakers, and 1,175 sponsors made it happen. 2018 also saw a 50% member growth in WordPress meetup attendance, with over 687 meetup groups and 5,400 meetup events. This means that there are more professionals working with WordPress than any other website platform and that means it’s easier to find help when you need it. WordPress Is SEO Friendly WordPress is built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. The code is written in compliance with the highest web standards and produces semantic markup that makes it easy for search bots to crawl and index your website. There are also plugins available to enhance onsite search engine optimization efforts like Yoast SEO. WordPress Is Easy To Manage To prevent security vulnerabilities, some WordPress software updates are automatic. For the rest, WordPress has a system to manage software updates built-in that: Notifies you when there is a new version of WordPress available Notifies you when a plugin has an update available Allows you to update WordPress, your themes, and plugins right from your WordPress admin dashboard. WordPress Can Scale From a tiny hobby blog to a massive enterprise-level website, WordPress can scale to any size site with any amount of traffic. New York Observer, New York Post, Walt Disney, TED, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, People, National Post, Spotify, TechCrunch, CBS Local, NBC, AMC, BBC America, Mercedes-Benz, Wired, Vogue, The Rolling Stones, Beyonce, and the U.S. Department of Defense are a few of the large sites powered by WordPress. WordPress Can Handle A Variety Of Media Whether you plan to publish text articles, videos, infographics, audio recordings, photos, galleries, podcasts, PDFs, or other types of media, WordPress can handle it with ease. Also, WordPress supports oEmbed enabled websites, which means you can embed YouTube videos, Instagram photos, Tweets, Facebook posts, and even Soundcloud audio by simply pasting the URL into the WordPress content editor. WordPress Powers 32% Of All Websites During the State of the Word 2018, Matt Mullenweg shared that throughout the life of the WordPress 4.9 branch, there were over 173 million downloads with 68.4% of all known WordPress installs running 4.9. The software currently powers 32% of the entire internet and it owns a 50-60% share of the global CMS market, which makes it the most popular content management system for the 7th year in a row. Bottom line: WordPress isn’t going anywhere and it’s only getting better. Check Out Managed WordPress Hosting We’d also love for you to check out our Managed WordPress Hosting packages and our and Managed WooCommerce Hosting packages — the first ever hosting designed specifically for WooCommerce stores and their unique needs. The post Why WordPress Remains The Best Choice For Your Next Website Project appeared first on Liquid Web.

13 iPhone Photography Tips For Stunning Website Or Blog Images

Your Guide to Amazing iPhone Photography You’ve clicked all over the Internet, you’ve researched the legal ways to source stock photography for your website and where to find photos for your blog, and you’ve even figured out what gallery plugin you want to use on your WordPress site, but you still just can’t find that right image — the one that would be perfect for your latest blog post. You have an idea of what you want in your head but it doesn’t seem to exist and you don’t have time to search any more stock photo sites for free or cheap photos. Now, you’re considering taking your own iPhone photos for your blog and you’re not quite sure where to start. Don’t worry! If you’re wondering how to get started with iPhone photography for your website or blog that reflects your creative vision and brand, you’re in luck. Today I’m sharing 13 iPhone photography tips that will help you take better photographs and create better imagery for your website. Let’s get started. 1. Take More Photos Than You Need Ask any professional photographer and they’ll tell you to get that one perfect image, often they have to take a ton of photos. If you’ve ever taken a family vacation, you’ve experienced the same thing — if you take 100 photos, about 10 will be amazing. With this in mind, be sure to take far more images than you need so you have lots of choices. For example: Take photos at different angles and from different sides Take horizontal photos and vertical (portrait) photos — most websites use horizontal images for featured images, but you may also need vertical images for Pinterest Take photos close up showing detail Take photos farther way with lots of space around the subject Consider changing the background, adjusting the composition, and altering the lighting, taking more photos with each change  Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get inspiring blogger content sent directly to your inbox. 2. Zoom Out And Include Negative Space Do yourself a favor and back up, zoom out, and include negative space in your images. Negative space is the space around and between the subject of an image. Remember that you can always zoom in and/or crop the image later, but you won’t be able to zoom out. Negative space also works in your favor if your website automatically crops images or parts of images are cropped on mobile devices because it will help prevent important parts of your images from being cut off. 3. Use The Rule Of Thirds If you’re using an iPhone for photography, there is a grid option available in the camera settings that adds a 3×3 grid on the screen. The grid divides the image into three horizontal rows and three vertical columns and the grid lines help you compose better photos by using the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds states that a photo is compositionally more interesting if the important elements of the image lie on one of the grid lines or their intersections. 4. Get a Tripod Whether you’re shooting stills of products, putting together the perfect flat-lay, or snapping a photo of yourself, a tripod is going to be a necessity. Using a tripod will keep you hands-free to create the perfect image (or fix your hair) and ensure your images are crisp and clear. 5. Get The Right Light While you can invest in a professional lighting kit, a selfie light, or a white light box for product shots, you can also get stunning photos using an iPhone without spending any money by leveraging natural light. Take photos during the day and use sunlight to light your photos. If taking photos inside, place the subject of the photo near a window. If the window is in direct sunlight and you want a softer light, cover it with a sheer curtain or tape a big piece of white tissue paper to the window. If taking photos outside, try to do it in the morning or evening when the sun isn’t directly overhead and the light is softer, or if you only have mid-day to take your photos, look for full shade to avoid harsh shadows. Skip the flash. First, the flash on iPhones isn’t very strong, sometimes it causes weird color issues, and it isn’t very flattering. Second, the flash, in general, is too strong and can often wash out the subject or cause a weird reflection. 6. Use A Selfie Stick While you wouldn’t be caught dead using a self-stick in public, using one to compose the perfect photo of yourself and your surroundings can be a lot easier than using a tripod and a remote and getting up and down a million times to check the photo — and it’s definitely better than asking someone to take your photo only have it come out terribly. Also, if you’re one of those people who prefers your photos taken from a high angle because it’s more flattering, a selfie stick will be a better choice than a tripod. 7. Leverage Video Stills Having a hard time getting the image you want with the selfie stick? Out in public or a crowded area and don’t want to use a selfie stick? Don’t trust the person you’re with to take a great photo? Skip the pressure of getting just the right image and shoot a video instead. Use a tripod or ask a friend to take the video, then walk in front of the camera, hold a few different poses, moving slowly between them, and grab a screenshot of the perfect moment from the video. 8. Keep It Simple The internet is bursting with content, websites are cluttered with ads, promotions, images, and calls to action, and social media is one big pit of distraction. Stand out from the crowd and elevate the visuals for your website by keeping your images simple and clean. Look for simple backgrounds, keep the image focused on one thing, and remove any clutter you can. 9. Be Aware Of Contrast Contrast can be a powerful tool to create striking images, but if you plan on adding text to your images, be careful to avoid taking photos with too much contrast. If parts of the image are very dark and parts are very light, you’ll have a hard time ensuring that the text on top of the image is easy to read. 10. Use Your Hands Skip the posed, smiling face looking directly at the camera. In fact, consider skipping faces altogether in your photos and instead focus on your hands or the hands of a friend. Take photos of “hands in action” — this iPhone photography approach has a human element, show the person doing something in context, and keeps the focus on the action being taken and not the person. 11. Use Your Brand Colors When choosing what you’re going to take a photo of, what you’re going to wear in a photo, or what the composition of a photo should be, think about your brand colors. Work your brand colors into your photographs so they feel like a purposeful, natural part of your website and look like your brand. For example: If you’re taking a photo of someone writing in a journal you could: Have their nails painted your brand color Have them wear a bracelet in your brand color Buy a journal in your brand color Use a pen that is your brand color Place a coffee mug that’s your brand color in the photo 12. Don’t Be So Literal When brainstorming ideas for blog photos and website photos, avoid being too literal with your images. Don’t be the person who gets a Scrabble game, spells out the topic of their blog post, and takes a photo. That’s boring, obvious, and lazy, and it won’t capture much attention online. Instead, think about the concept you’re communicating and what else communicates the same concept. 13. Buy Some Foam Core Many lighting kits come with a white reflective board and there’s a reason. A simple piece of white foam core (or two) can make a big difference when shooting flay-lay images and product shots by creating a white surface and/or white background. White foam core can also be used to reflect light onto the subject of the photo. For example: If you place a light to the right of a product and a sheet of foam core to the left of the product, the light will bounce off the foam core onto the product. This creates more even lighting and avoids ending up with a photo where one side of the photo is light and one side is dark. Make Stunning Photos Load Quickly With Managed WordPress Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting provides you a reliable hosting platform that’s lightning fast and made for bloggers. It includes image compression (so your stunning iPhone photography you took looks great and loads fast), automatic updates for plugins and the platform, automatic daily backups, automatic SSL, and no pageview/traffic limits – exactly what your blog needs to grow. The post 13 iPhone Photography Tips For Stunning Website Or Blog Images appeared first on Liquid Web.

Women in Technology: Nicky Bulmer-Jones

Liquid Web’s Technical Hiring Coordinator on tenacity, technology, and being unafraid to be yourself. “Never be embarrassed to like the things you like and never apologize for who you are.” Nicky Bulmer-Jones is unapologetically herself. A self-proclaimed nerd and avid lover of video games, she is on a mission to show young women and men that the tech field isn’t just a boys’ club. Though she has lived all over the country (in Hawaii, Nebraska, and Georgia) she always finds herself returning to the place she was born and raised— Lansing, Michigan— where she joined the Liquid Web team with just one month of self-taught server administration. That was 10 years ago. Since then, her accomplishments speak for themselves. During her decade at Liquid Web, she has become a Red Hat Certified System Administrator, earned her cPanel admin certification, become a supervisor, and helps others learn Linux. Though she has held several positions during her decade with the company, she currently serves as Technical Hiring Coordinator, interviewing candidates for employment, assessing their fit with the company and their technical abilities. Liquid Web was Bulmer-Jones’ first venture into the world of tech. Before joining Liquid Web, she worked in television, first as a Production Assistant. She ran camera, floor directed, rolled teleprompter, and did audio for newscasts. Eventually, she moved into Master Control, ensuring commercials ran at the correct times and that things were properly recorded. She attributes her success to tenacity, determination, her eagerness to try new things as well as, she says, stubbornness. As a child, she loved science and mathematics and looked up to her aunt, a successful electrical engineer. She also had a deep love for video games— a love which continues— that sparked her interested in technology. Without many role models, she is proud of all that she has accomplished. “I set goals for myself. I accomplish them. I set the next one,” she says. “There have been people that have influenced me on the way, for better or for worse, but at the end of the day I set my own path and forge it.” She takes pride in her work ethic and expects a lot from the people who work with her. “As a supervisor, I have learned that people will give you exactly what you expect of them. If you set the bar too low, you will forever handicap their potential.” One of her favorite aspects of her current role at Liquid Web is that she is able to work within the community, meeting high school students and sharing her love of technology with them, showing young women especially that they can go into STEM fields and find success. “There are women in STEM— we just aren’t as visible,” says Bulmer-Jones. “Which is sad considering that women were well represented in the field at its inception. Ada Lovelace was the first person to publish an algorithm for a modern computer to execute. The creation of COBOL, a language still used pretty heavily in the insurance and finance industries, was led to by the efforts of a woman— Grace Hopper.” Bulmer-Jones cites media stereotypes as part of the reason so many women found themselves pushed out of the tech field. “When video games came into play and were aggressively marketed to the male audience, it sort of sealed the deal,” she says. “As visibility improves, it is my hope that so will acceptance and things will balance out more.” There are women working in technology and they are successful. Nicky Bulmer-Jones wants young people to know this. “I love getting out to schools and talking to young people,” she said. “I think it is just as important for men to see women succeeding in the field because it normalizes it for them before they can get set into a bias.” She encourages young people interested in STEM to be themselves and to do their job well. “Never be embarrassed to like the things you like and never apologize for who you are,” she says. Her biggest advice to women interested in tech? “Try everything. You never know unless you give it a shot.” The post Women in Technology: Nicky Bulmer-Jones appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Intelligently Invest in High Availability

What is High Availability (HA)? In the simplest of terms, high availability is the reduction of downtime in favor of overall uptime. You want your infrastructure—whether that’s web apps, an eCommerce store, end-user systems, inter-company communications, or archiving, among a lot of other things—to be up and running (without interruption) as much as possible. A more complex definition of high availability involves various systems that comprise an IT infrastructure (hardware, software, and personnel) that are put in place to maximize uptime by minimizing, mitigating, and recovering from failures. This includes physical redundancies, virtual redundancies, data replication, automatic failovers, load balancing, disaster prevention, disaster recovery, data security, and an IT department (or a third-party host) with the expertise to implement and run it all. Why Is It Important? Any time you have downtime, it’s going to be a bad time. Whether it’s an interruption in the workflow, an impediment to your data, a degradation of the end-user experience, or a total stoppage of productivity, downtime is going to eat into your enterprise’s mission. Seriously. How Do You Measure It? Have you heard of the 9s? It’s a relatively common way of measuring availability. Simply put, the more 9s you have—from 90% uptime (one 9) to 99.9999999% (nine 9s)—the less downtime you’re experiencing. Obviously. “The gold standard is five 9s, or 99.999% uptime, which adds up to 5.26 minutes of downtime a year, 25.9 seconds of downtime per month, and 6.05 seconds of downtime a week.” While five 9s are incredibly efficient, a more reasonable goal is three 9s, or 99.9% uptime, which adds up to 8.76 hours of downtime per year, 43.8 minutes of downtime per month or 10.1 minutes of downtime per week—this falls right in line with the amount of downtime 81% of business said they could tolerate, according to Information Technology and Intelligence Corp. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get the latest on high availability technology sent straight to your inbox. How High Availability Will Save You Time and Money Ok, so, you’re on board for high availability (HA). It’s a no-brainer, right? I mean, we’ve covered the topic more than once—here, here, and here. So, you know that less downtime equals more money. It sounds great in theory, but there’s more to it. You have to ultimately consider the price of high availability against the revenue safeguarded from its implementation. The good news is component parts in a high availability system are steadily declining, making the investment in high availability increasingly worth it. But, if you are hosting your website or database on your own servers and they are your only point of contact with your clients, downtime will be disastrous. In this case, you absolutely need to invest in HA. It’s imperative that you understand your needs, your tolerances, your pain points, and your IT infrastructure. Once you do, you’ll be able to make smarter (more economical) decisions about the implementation of HA. What High Availability Options are Available Even the simplest of infrastructures have a lot of working parts and points of failure. The goal of an HA infrastructure is to eliminate single points of failure and create subsystems, routines, and procedures that reduce downtime in the inevitable (no system is ever 100% available) event of a failure. To that end, there are a vast array of components (hardware, software, and human) that make up a high availability system. “These include physical redundancies, virtual redundancies, automatic data replication, automatic failover systems, load balancing, disaster prevention, disaster recovery, data security, and personnel.” Physical & Virtual Redundancies Sure, everyone knows you need redundant hardware, software, and storage (servers, firewalls, switches, routers, etc.), but what about redundant power? Without the proper power backups—including separate paths for separate feeds; battery backups; uninterruptible power supplies (UPS); and in some cases, generators—you’re creating a single point of failure. You may even consider creating redundant systems in separate geographical locations in the event of a disaster of some kind. This is especially true for natural disaster-prone regions such as the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and Hawaii (hurricanes); the Great Plains and the Midwest (tornados); and the Pacific Coast (earthquakes, mudslides, and fires). Having redundant physical locations hosting your redundant systems might just keep your enterprise from experiencing significant downtime when mother nature knocks down your door. Automatic Data Replication At the very heart of high availability is data replication—the same data stored on multiple devices. An HA structure with data replication will write to multiple instances in real time and will protect databases, websites, cPanel configurations, etc., ensuring consistency between each device in the infrastructure. A typical configuration will have two, identical primary volumes that are backed up by two more physical volumes, which will be backed up by two more virtual volumes. Each volume will (again, typically) be Distributed Replicated Block Device (DR:BD) volumes that will perform selective, synchronous data replication. DR:BD volumes rewrite and backup blocks of changed data, as opposed to rewriting and backing up entire volumes. This saves a tremendous amount of time and money. Automatic Failover An automatic failover is a system procedure that monitors the health of your infrastructure and will, in the event of a system failure (network, hardware, software, power, etc.), perform an automated role reversal of the primary and secondary node. Any time a piece of equipment stops operating—or even begins to perform below its expected values—a failover will be triggered. An automatic failover system is ultimately where the rubber meets the road. Once you’ve set up your redundancies, crossed your T’s, dotted your I’s, and prepared for the worst, the only thing left to do is wait. If you’ve done everything right and failure does occur, your automatic failover procedure will kick in, and there will be a seamless, no-downtime transition to a redundant system. Load Balancing A load balancer is a device (hardware, software, or a combination of the two) that evenly distributes website traffic, stabilizing performance and preventing crashes. A load balancer can also act as an automatic failover device, making it an essential component in a high availability system. Typically, load balancing works by way of an algorithm that distributes users between servers. “There are 9 common algorithms/methods—the round robin method; the least connections method; weighted least connections; source IP hash; URL hash; the least response time method; the bandwidth and packets method; custom load; and least pending requests (LPR).” This is not a complete list. It’s possible that you could work with your IT or hosting service to come up with another method that best suits your enterprise. Disaster Prevention Way back in 2003, IT Pro Today (specifically Kalen Delaney) took an interesting—and somewhat unique—approach to considering disaster prevention: Delaney wrote, “…while I was planning for this article and trying to determine which activities constitute disaster prevention and which constitute disaster recovery, I found that the line between the two isn’t a neat one. I also realized that to distinguish between disaster prevention and disaster recovery, you need a clear definition of “disaster” for your organization.” Despite the fact that Y2K was nipping at the heels of this article, the reasoning is still sound today. As such, this blog (since it’s all about HA) is considering a disaster anything that creates downtime. “Downtime, after all, is to high availability as Thanos is to the Avengers.” This means anything that helps facilitate uptime is a key component to disaster recovery in an HA infrastructure. This includes everything covered up to this point—redundancies, data replication, failover systems, and load balancing. Disaster Recovery Disaster Recovery is not just about technology and data, but people too. A very real, very human plan needs to be put in place in the event of a catastrophic failure. So, what’s your plan? While it has its own set of problems, the very biggest companies run redundant, parallel, geographically separate data centers so that if one goes down the other can come up with little to no interruption in service. However, that’s an ideal situation and hardly a sound strategy for the majority of businesses. What’s reasonable is having a conception of what your business can shoulder in terms of downtime amongst your various IT systems, understanding the various scenarios that could compromise those systems, and having a plan in place to reinitialize those systems in a reasonable time frame. “Your IT infrastructure is comprised of 5 points of vulnerability—housing (server/computer room, climate control, and electrical supply), hardware (networks, servers, computers, and peripherals), ISP (fiber, cable, wireless), software (productivity, communication, website, etc.), and data. You, as a company, have to decide what you are going to do in case one of these five pain points goes down. Do you have another space for your equipment if the first space is compromised? What about your servers? Do you have unused backups or have a plan in place to order emergency equipment? Who is your ISP? Do they have a plan in place in case your service goes out? Disaster recovery is about working with everyone (personnel, vendors, technicians, etc.) to formulate a plan of action, one that makes priorities crystal clear—if your website is down, you want to prioritize getting it back up, not restoring your tertiary power supply. That can wait. Oh, and you want to make sure this disaster plan is organized, disseminated, and stored in multiple locations; some of which should be offsite. Data Security HA can be completely compromised by external (sometimes internal) attacks on your infrastructure—malware, viruses, DDoS attacks, etc. The best, and maybe most obvious, safeguard against these kinds of breaches is a well designed, well managed, redundant high availability system that can be switched over quickly. However, there are preventive security measures that can be put in place to defend against attack; anti-DDoS routers, for example. Working with your vendors, personnel, ISP, and engineers to make sure your data is adequately encrypted and your systems are protected can go a long way toward maintaining HA. What’s High Availability Options are Right for Your Enterprise What’s right for your company ultimately comes down to the cost of more 9s versus the losses taken as a result of downtime. If getting another 9 is going to cost you $90,000 annually, but will only prevent $30,000 is losses annually, the cost is probably not worth the savings—it’s better to simply write off the loss. You also have to consider whether or not your workflow actually has any systems that truly impact your productivity. For example, if your workflow is entirely third-party (Facebook, G Suite, Slack, etc.) you have no need for high availability implementation because it’s their responsibility. Or, maybe you use your own email server for inter-office communication, but everyone is also on Slack. If the email server goes down it will be inconvenient, but not crippling—everyone in the office will just have to talk to each other on Slack until the email server is fixed. All of this gets particularly complicated if you’re designing, buying, and implementing your own infrastructure. With complex tax codes, unanticipated hardware and systems failures, and your changing needs, pinning down high availability expense versus high availability revenue benefits becomes a moving target. What’s right for you is a company question, one that is going to require staff-wide input and consideration—technicians, engineers, management, accounting, and other personnel are all going to have to weigh in if you want a complete picture of your operation’s needs and tolerances. However, using a vendor to manage your infrastructure—a vendor that specializes in high availability systems—takes a lot of the guesswork out of deciding whether or not HA systems implementations are worth the investment. While your operating costs may increase, a managed hosting provider that has its eye toward high availability will ultimately lower your capital expenses while offloading much of the legwork it takes to keep an HA infrastructure at peak performance. A quality managed host will have a number of options that will weigh your company’s unique needs against cost, will perform consistent maintenance and upgrades on all hardware and software, and will ensure your company against revenue losses as a result of downtime. “For small to midsize companies that need to make high availability a priority, a managed host is an excellent option.” Take Action, Win the Day In today’s always-on, 24/7/365 economy you can’t afford downtime. Your company can’t afford it. You need those 9s. So, while high availability infrastructure may sound complex—with all that talk about pain points, tolerances, 9s, algorithms, 5515-X firewalls, and Y2K, it’s bound to drive one simple ethos: create a system that stays on, and if it can’t, make sure there’s a backup to take over. The best way to make sure you’ve got an almost-always-on system and an infrastructure with plenty of redundancies is to know your configuration. Know where your power, connectivity, and data is coming from and know where it’s going. The better picture you have of your infrastructure, the better equipped you are to make sure it’s operating optimally, to make sure it’s HA. The post How to Intelligently Invest in High Availability appeared first on Liquid Web.

Managed WordPress Hosting vs Shared Hosting: Which is the Best Fit For Your Hosting Needs?

WordPress is officially the most popular way to build a website. According to data from W3Techs, over 30% of all websites on the Internet are powered by WordPress. That’s a lot of businesses choosing WordPress to build their sites, but the choice of hosting for those sites may not be as simple. If you’ve chosen to utilize WordPress for your website, and you’ve begun your search for the right type of hosting plan, you may be encountering the choice between a managed WordPress hosting vs shared hosting plan. Let’s look at the differences between the two in terms of: Performance Security Support Cost But first, we need some working definitions of exactly what managed WordPress hosting vs shared hosting are. What is Shared Hosting? A shared hosting plan places your websites on a server with a large number of other websites sharing the same resources and bandwidth. These plans are usually the most inexpensive choice you’ll find for hosting a website, but at the cost of limited performance, less security, and fewer features. These plans are best suited for sites with minimal traffic and static content, sites you would consider as the equivalent as an online business card or flyer.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get the latest on managed hosting sent directly to your inbox. What is Managed WordPress Hosting? A managed WordPress hosting plan places your websites on a server with dedicated resources, built and configured specifically to host WordPress sites. These plans will include many features that assist with site management and development, automating backups, and on-demand technical support with WordPress expertise. Let’s explore the key differences between WordPress hosting vs shared hosting, specifically in reference to the features provided by Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting platform. Performance Speed is critical for websites. In today’s landscape, users expect a site to load quickly, or they’ll just move onto the next one. The main objective of a shared hosting provider is to make their plans as inexpensive as possible. This is achieved by fitting as many websites onto a server as they can. While this approach does pass immediate monetary savings onto its clients, the performance will be severely degraded due to the high number of sites competing for the server’s resources and bandwidth. In other words, your site could run very slowly simply due to someone else’s site on the same server being busy. Or, your own site could get an influx of traffic the shared hosting plan cannot handle due to you only being given a sliver of the server’s processing power for your account. Shared hosting servers will also need to accommodate a wide range of site software, not just WordPress. The servers will not be built or configured with WordPress sites in mind, since they will need to be configured to be compatible with any site type in general. These generic configurations may not be optimal for WordPress sites. The main objective of a managed WordPress hosting provider is to provide a platform specifically optimized for loading WordPress sites quickly and reliably. Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting platform was built by our server experts to utilize Nginx and PHP 7+, features like image compression, and specialized configurations to provide your sites with incredible speed. With the main priority to be the best hosting for WordPress sites to run on, you can expect a managed WordPress hosting platform to continually innovate as WordPress itself evolves. Additionally, with Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting plans, you are given server resources dedicated to your sites so you will not be impacted by the usage of any sites that are not your own. Security Due to the popularity of WordPress, hackers are constantly attempting to exploit it. The developers of WordPress and its plugins are continuously releasing security updates to stay ahead of these attempts. The best way to secure a WordPress site is to keep its installation, plugins, and underlying server applications up-to-date. With our Managed WordPress Hosting platform, all of these are kept up-to-date by our system automatically, with care to push out these releases only once they are thoroughly tested. Keeping plugins up-to-date in particular is crucial, but can be very difficult. Updating one plugin can potentially break compatibility with many others, possibly rendering your site non-functional. Our Managed WordPress Hosting platform makes a copy of your site and tests plugin updates for you every night automatically, so you don’t have to worry about manually doing so. Shared hosting providers are unlikely to include automatic update features for WordPress or its plugins, but if they do it’s even more unlikely that they would include testing beforehand. The sites hosted on their servers would be built using various software systems, not just WordPress, so the handling of WordPress updates specifically would be beyond the scope of their assistance. Support Shared hosting providers may have technical support you can reach out to if their services have gone down, but typically these providers offer no guarantees regarding response time, around the clock hours of availability, or their staff’s knowledge regarding WordPress. For all managed plans offered by Liquid Web, you are supported by The Most Helpful Humans In Hosting. And with our Managed WordPress Hosting plans, that is no different. You can reach out to one of the experts from our Managed WordPress Support team, dedicated to providing support via phone, email, and chat 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week, 365 days of the year. Our Managed WordPress Support team can assist with configuring our premium plugins, providing guidance on performance optimization and securing your individual sites, and can help solve issues that arise such as errors and blank pages. You can read this article for full information on our Scope of Support for our Managed WordPress Hosting platform. Cost It can be tempting to consider shared hosting the more cost-effective solution, as it’s typically the cheapest option you will find for hosting your website. However when factoring in the time you’ll spend manually managing all of the aspects of your sites that a managed WordPress hosting plan would handle for you, shared hosting could turn out to be much more costly in the long run. Opting for a shared hosting plan could require you to create backups and perform backup restorations, keep each site and its plugins up-to-date, create staging sites to test major changes without affecting your live site while visitors are actively using it, and a list of other tedious and complex procedures that would require a lot of time and effort to work through manually. Backup creation and staging tests are all handled automatically by our Managed WordPress Hosting platform. Time is a finite resource, and just like money, we have to carefully choose where to allocate it. If your time is better spent on another aspect of managing your website or business, then letting our Managed WordPress Hosting platform handle the back-end technical aspects for you is a great option. Which Should You Choose? If your business relies on WordPress for its websites, you will find Managed WordPress Hosting far superior to shared hosting. Not only is all the behind-the-scenes performance and security configuration handled by experts, but you are also given access to advanced features for WordPress that shared hosting does not provide. All of our Managed WordPress Hosting plans include premium plugins, full off-site backups created daily, automatic plugin updates, one-click staging sites, 24-hour technical support, automatic free SSL certificates for every site, and no overage fees or traffic limits. Ready to Learn More? Download our Managed WordPress Buyer’s Guide to decide if our Managed WordPress Hosting is the best option for your WordPress hosting needs. The post Managed WordPress Hosting vs Shared Hosting: Which is the Best Fit For Your Hosting Needs? appeared first on Liquid Web.

What are the Top Challenges to HIPAA Compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) affects thousands of companies around the U.S., including many that support health care providers instead of delivering care directly themselves. Many organizations find HIPAA compliance challenging. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found organizations non-compliant with HIPAA in 70 percent of its investigations, and large-scale breaches, such as at Anthem and Premera Blue Cross, have made headlines and clearly demonstrated the severity of the threat posed by hackers. The difference between the data handling practices of the compliant 30 percent and the non-compliant 70 percent frequently comes down to a single change or set of changes. In data collection, storage, and transmission, the details are important, and a small adjustment can be the difference between a hefty fine and a sterling reputation. HealthITSecurity.com polled its readers about HIPAA compliance and audit challenges in 2016 and found that external data security threats are the top concern for 32 percent of healthcare IT professionals, slightly ahead of both employee training and evolving technology, each the top concern for 28 percent of respondents. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces HIPAA compliance for the Department of Health and Human Services, reviewed over 100 healthcare institutions in 2017 and found the vast majority struggling with information security risk planning, performing security risks analysis, providing patient’s access to their personal health information (PHI), as well as providing notifications of privacy practices and breach notifications. For small and medium-sized businesses, there are many potentially challenging requirements of HIPAA. Start with some of the most common issues, like those below, because one or more of them seem to apply to most HIPAA covered entities or business associates. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more content on HIPAA compliance sent to your inbox. HIPAA Compliance and Cybersecurity While hackers are behind some of the most damaging data breaches, internal actors are actually a greater threat to organizational cybersecurity, according to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report, so a holistic view of data security is important. There are a few key areas of HIPAA compliance relating to cybersecurity. The “minimum necessary requirement” of the Privacy Rule mandates both covered entities and their business associates to prevent access to and exposure of PHI to only those who need it as part of their jobs. HIPAA requires that data be stored and remain available while it is needed, and many states have rules about how long this is, but also that it be permanently destroyed or deleted when its storage is no longer necessary. In this case, “permanently” is the important word – moving sensitive records to a computer’s trash or recycle bin does not meet this requirement, and is, therefore, a HIPAA violation. You have set and enforce the right policies, but a quality managed service provider has and can set up all of the cybersecurity tools you need. More Breaches Through Email Even a quick glance at the OCR’s “wall of shame” reveals a striking trend: there are more breaches through email than through network servers, electronic medical records, desktop and laptop computers, paper and film, or portable electronic devices. Out of 163 incidents between January 1, 2019, and late May, 67 involved email (41 percent). Some of these incidents are surely related directly to hacks that can be prevented with adequate cybersecurity systems, but others are likely caused by carelessness or poor email policies. HIPAA compliant email means that any email account used to communicate PHI has access controls and ID authentication implemented, audit and integrity controls in place, and data is encrypted both in transit and at rest. Email is not technically required by HIPAA to be encrypted, but the transmission security required by the Security Rule makes it a de facto necessity. NIST recommends advanced encryption standard (AES) 128, 192, or 256-bit encryption. Information Security Risk Management Plan A staggering 94 percent of businesses reviewed by the OCR were found to have “inadequate or worse” information security risk management plans. The Security Rule defines risk analysis and risk management separately, with the latter referring to “the actual implementation of security to sufficiently reduce an organization’s risk of losing or compromising its e-PHI and to meet the general security standards,” as HHS says. The OCR and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) even offer a downloadable Security Risk Assessment (SRA) tool specifically for HIPAA. Risk analysis is used as a basis for the risk management plan which addresses each point with a policy or technology. The risk management plan is the formalization of your security strategy, and as such demonstrates to HHS that the covered entity or business associate has actually addressed potential vulnerabilities. Maintaining BAAs for HIPAA Compliance Organizations handling health data are required to have business associate agreements (BAA) with any partner that stores or transmits data. That means if you provide hosting, messaging, or any other healthcare IT service, you need to have a BAA with each of your healthcare clients, and also with your own IT service partners. Part of the challenge may be that the HIPAA Omnibus Rule changed the requirements for business associates when it was introduced in 2013. BAAs must define all uses of PHI by the business associate that are permitted or required and puts strict limits on data sharing. The Department of Health & Human Services does provide a sample BAA, so while it may need to be adapted, putting BAAs in place is generally not too difficult. What is more challenging is remembering to do so for each new business partner, or whenever you switch to a new service provider. Mobile Devices and BYOD The first fine ever levied by the OCR against a BA was a $650,000 fine brought against a company in 2016 which was providing management and IT services for six Philadelphia-area nursing homes. The violation was the use of an unencrypted smartphone with no password protection that had access to PHI of 412 patients and was discovered after the smartphone was stolen. While there are no reports of the potential data exposure resulting in theft or fraud, the BA was found to not have the required policies in place for protecting mobile devices or responding as required to a security incident. It was further found to have no risk analysis or risk management plan; hence the hefty fine. According to the HIPAA Security Rule’s technical safeguard standards, a mobile device with adequate encryption does not constitute a breach, even if it is lost or stolen, so if you provide mobile devices or allow employees to use their devices to access PHI, simply implement strong encryption on them. Download our HIPAA Guide to learn more about the basics of how to keep your organization compliant. The post What are the Top Challenges to HIPAA Compliance? appeared first on Liquid Web.

Improve Your Sales And Marketing With Powerful Benefit Statements

Benefit statements are clear and concise statements that communicate the benefit of a product, program, or service to the reader. I’m sure you have heard experts preach the successes that come from marketing with benefits and not features. The problem is, when you’re creating content, often the features feel like benefits because you believe wholeheartedly in what you’re selling and you believe every part of the project is important. For prospective clients, however, they don’t care about the features until they understand the benefits. Think about it this way: Do you get excited to read the owners manual for anything you buy? Doubt it. Do you always read the instructions for assemble-it-yourself toys or furniture before getting started with assembly? Rarely. Bottom line: In the features vs. benefits marketing debate, benefits will always win because marketing with features is boring. Prospective clients instead want to know how your services will help them or how it will make their life easier. They want to know: “What’s in it for me?” Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to get more WordPress content like this sent straight to your inbox. How to Market With Benefits For example, when marketing with benefits, ask yourself if it will: Save them money? Make them more money? Save them time? Reduce effort? Make things faster? Create more opportunities? Make them feel smarter? Eliminate fear? Position them as an expert? Grow their business? Be more convenient? Reduce stress? Increase confidence? Provide more freedom? Eliminate frustration or struggle? When you market with features, you make prospects do all the work to figure out how your product or service will benefit them, and when they have to work at making a buying decision, your conversions will suffer. Give your customers, clients, and prospects an easy, no-brainer buying process. Do all the work for them so they are completely clear about the value that you are providing to them. How To Sell Benefits Ultimately, you are selling the final destination the benefits allow them to reach. You can do this in three simple steps: Know what action you want them to take. Will they experience, discover, develop, transform, overcome, achieve, create, build, or capture? Know your ideal clients’ main problems. Think like your prospects. Put yourself in their shoes, get in their minds, and get to know their problems, struggles, frustrations, and needs as if they were your own. Know what result is going to occur. Communicate exactly what results they can expect if they say yes and take action. Whenever possible, quantify the results with numbers. So the formula to strong and powerful benefit statements is: Action + Problem/Need + Result = Benefit Statement Using Benefit Statements In Client Communication When creating benefit statements, start with listing the feature, the benefit of the feature, and the end result. Then, turn the result into the problem and decide what the logical next step is. Finally, write your powerful benefit statement. Here’s an example of how it works with a made-up business owner: Problem: I am on information overload. I am not sure what I should be doing to market my business, if I am doing the right things, or if I could be doing it better. I feel scattered and unsure of myself, which makes it hard for me to market my business. Feature: A crystal clear plan outlining what to do to market your business. Benefit: You know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Result: No more frustration and struggling to figure out what you should be doing to market your business effectively. Then, apply the benefit statement formula: Action + Problem/Need + Results = Benefit Statement: Sample Benefit Statement Action Create a Simple Strategic Marketing Plan. Problem/Need The exact information you need to take purposeful and confident action. Results Market your business and attract at least three new clients in the next 60 days. Benefit Statement Create a simple Strategic Marketing Plan with the exact information you need to take purposeful and confident action to market your business and attract at least three new clients in the next 60 days. Make Managed WordPress Hosting A Benefit For WordPress agencies, Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress Hosting provides you a reliable hosting platform that’s lightning fast. For your clients, the benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting include image compression, automatic updates for plugins and the platform, automatic daily backups, automatic SSL, and staging environments, as well as access to developer tools and no pageview/traffic limits. The post Improve Your Sales And Marketing With Powerful Benefit Statements appeared first on Liquid Web.

9 Ways to Increase Conversions

There are a ton of articles that offer technical tips for conversion rate optimization. This is not one of them. This is how eCommerce store owners can increase conversions by simply caring about people. The reality is you’ll improve conversions when you care more, and in better ways, for people. It’s about being human. When you care more about your customers, they’ll buy more. Remember the People Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the fact that people have problems they need to solve. It’s easy to be so focused on selling our expertise that we don’t focus on solving the problem. If someone is hungry, they don’t want a course on how to fish. They just want some food. Recognizing the real problem and helping people solve it isn’t about technical solutions or other optimizations. It’s simply being aware that we’re selling to humans. Conversion is about caring for people that are on the other end of the screen. What People Want So it’s important to know what people want. But here’s the challenge: People will tell you what they want, but what they want isn’t always what they are truly looking for. If people visit a travel site and shop for plane tickets, you might think they want plane tickets. But that’s not exactly what they want. Maybe they want to visit family or are looking for a weekend getaway, or perhaps they have a business trip or need to attend a funeral. They may require plane tickets to do each of those things, but the plane tickets are not what they really want. Understanding this subtle difference in motivation is key to caring more deeply about people. And it can be pretty hard to do. An online checkout interface doesn’t understand that kind of nuance. So it’s up to you to show care for your customers through your marketing and process. That’s why we came up with 9 great ways to care about people, and as a result of those actions, your store will increase conversions. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to receive news, tips, strategies, and inspiration you need to grow your business straight to your inbox. Nine Ways to Increase Conversions Here are nine ways to care more deeply about people and increase conversions as a result. 1. Sell the Destination You should always sell the final destination and not the work that goes into it. For travel: Sell the destination, not the seat on the plane. For books: Sell the insight the book offers, don’t describe the book. For mattresses: Sell a good night’s sleep, not how the mattress is made. People don’t want to focus on the work. Care for them by helping them skip to the final destination. This is part of understanding what people are really asking for. Yes, they need a seat on the plane and that’s what they’re asking for. But what they’re really asking for is a few days away from work on a sandy beach. See the difference? 2. Eliminate Pain & Satisfy Deep Desires More often than not, we try to go with the upside. But most of us are motivated by the downside. People have an aversion to loss. Any time you can remove pain or difficulty, it’s a win. There are a lot of online mattress companies that sell foam models they can ship to your house. It makes for fun unboxing videos of the expanding foam mattress, but there’s still the pain of disposing of your old mattress. Smart companies offer a solution to that problem with a service that delivers and sets up the new mattress and carts off the old mattress. They make the entire experience seamless, eliminating the pain and hassle of finding, hiring, and coordinating a separate company to remove the old mattress. This is a powerful way to care for people because it’s so tangible. You can also appeal to people’s deepest desires. MasterClass offers educational videos taught by famous people. But in addition to buying access to a single course, they offer an all-access option. They’re tapping into the aspirational ambition to learn new things. What better way to care for people than to help them improve? 3. Give Clarity on Value You need to clearly define the value that’s being delivered. Too often we focus narrowly on the value of the product. But the broader value is often what’s more important. For luxury goods: People pay for the status symbol. That’s what has real value. For online courses: The value is often in collecting and curating the information. The knowledge itself is freely available online, but the real value is delivering a focused process. For T-shirts: The value of a nerdy T-shirt isn’t the quality or comfort of the shirt, it’s associating with a tribe. For a high-end shirt: A $100 shirt from Mizzen and Main isn’t worth the money because of the superior quality, materials, or fit, but because it never needs ironing and saves you time when you travel. You’re not paying $100 for a shirt—you’re paying $100 for the freedom to travel and not worry about a wrinkled shirt. It’s important to communicate the real value up front. Make the first impression about that real value. 4. Sell Time Savings If you sell savings, sell saving time over saving money. People will pay to accelerate things, whether it’s Amazon’s shipping, skipping lines at Disney World, or MasterClass accelerating the learning process. For software: Tracking mileage for tax purposes may save somebody a specific amount of money, but the time savings of doing it automatically is way more important. For birthday parties: Parents don’t enjoy the loud noise or the subpar pizza at Chuck E. Cheese, but they’re easily sold on the time savings of an all-inclusive birthday party. For hosting: The best hosts pitch getting your site up quickly—not necessarily a cheaper price. Care about people by valuing their time. 5. Sell Your Community If you can, sell more than your product. Sell your community. Sometimes the community surrounding a product can be a powerful selling point. Knowing you’re not alone, that other folks have made the decision, that there are people who can answer questions, and that there are related products—these are all benefits of the community. The WordPress community works that way. Often the strength of the community is more important than any specific feature. Sometimes caring about people means it’s not all about you. Instead of endlessly touting your own features, talk up what the community is doing. It’s a win-win. 6. Don’t Try to Sell Everything at Once Selling people everything at once is overwhelming. Too many options can create analysis paralysis. People walk away because it’s too much work to make a decision. Don’t try to sell everything you offer all at once. Just sell the first thing. It’s about building trust. If people trust you with one purchase, they’re more likely to trust you with a second, third, etc. Make sure you have an introductory product and then scaffold your offerings. Once they buy that first thing, have something else they can buy. Continue to offer more things for people who keep coming back. Leverage the trust you build over time. MasterClass does this with gift cards. They don’t offer it up front but make it available to members down the road. It’s an ideal way for them to tap into happy customers who want to share what they’ve learned. 7. Be Ridiculous With Your Guarantee A guarantee is a good opportunity to show customers that you care. But for it to really work, it needs to be over-the-top impressive. Make it something so unbelievable that people have to pay attention and they’ll talk about it. JanSport offers a lifetime guarantee on backpacks. You can return a backpack 20 years later and they’ll send you a new one. One store offered a 120% money-back guarantee. Not only would you get your money back, but they’d give you more money. These kind of guarantees take away the anxiety people have over their choice. If they know they can return it with no strings or questions asked, it’s much easier to say yes. You’ve just made their decision easier. 8. Share Stories About Your Customers Remember that we’re selling to humans. Humans like stories. We like to hear stories, we like to see ourselves in stories, we like to tell stories. So your sales process should include stories about people using your product. Make sure you’re collecting those stories and then using them. JanSport should have some amazing stories with that backpack guarantee. They should be capturing and featuring those stories. The Ritz Carlton hotel chain has a program where managers collect stories and send them to the main office. Every day the headquarters picks the best five stories and sends them out to managers, who share them with their team each day. They’re simply telling stories internally, but it still has a powerful impact. It inspires, equips, and empowers their employees to offer incredible service. You can care about people by telling their stories. 9. Always Sell Multiple Options When you give people options, you can shift the decision dynamics. Being able to compare options can help people make a better choice. When you offer A, B, and C side by side, customers can see the differences and it informs their decision. A classic example of a newspaper subscription model offered three choices: Digital subscription for $59 Print subscription for $125 Print & digital subscription for $125 Most people bought the combo of print and digital. Very few people bought the print-only option. So why not remove it? They tried that, offering only two options—digital only and the print and digital together. The result? Most people bought the digital only. The print-only option—which didn’t sell well by itself—made the print and digital option seem like an incredible value and more people bought it. When you give people options, it’s a lot easier to say yes to something. Help people make better decisions by giving them options that point to the best choice. Increase Conversions by Understanding People All of this comes down to understanding the psychology of purchasing decisions. If you address the worries, concerns, and frustrations people have, you can remove roadblocks and close more sales. That’s good for the bottom line, but it’s also a good way to care for people.   Liquid Web’s VP of Products and Innovation, Chris Lema, shares these insights about how to increase conversions in our “The Goal Is Conversion” webinar view the full webinar. The post 9 Ways to Increase Conversions appeared first on Liquid Web.

Recovering Your Website From a Catastrophic Failure

Why Thinking ‘Post-Failure’ Is Important In the event of a catastrophic failure, one that brings your infrastructure down and your operations to a standstill, you need a sensible, priority-emphasized, easy-to-follow plan of action. As company operations increasingly rely on network services, digital databases, electronic communications, and web traffic, IT infrastructures (and their ability to be highly available) become increasingly important. However, failures happen. Whether it’s an act of God, a squirrel taking out an entire power grid (it really happened), or just good old fashioned human error—the Ponemon Institute reported that 22% of all data center outages in 2016 were due to human error—your workflow, your revenue stream, and your infrastructure are susceptible to stoppages. If, and when, disaster strikes your enterprise you need a clear idea of how (and maybe more importantly, when) you’re going to get back up and running so that you can get back to business. The Potential Consequences of a Catastrophic Failure are Horrendous According to a survey conducted by the Uptime Institute, in 2018 nearly a third of all data centers experienced an outage—a 25% increase from the year before. The top three causes? That would be power outages (33%), network failures (30%), and software errors (28%). So, as you can see, it happens. Maybe more often than you’d thought. But, what does this mean for you and your company? Well, uptime is absolutely integral to safeguarding your workflow and revenue. In fact, per a report by Gartillioner, Inc., for every minute of IT downtime—website, servers, database, and the like—companies are losing an average of $5,600 a minute. That’s $336,000 an hour. Now consider that the average business experiences 14.1 hours of IT downtime, annually (according to the Aberdeen group). That’s as much as 4.7 million. Annually. Obviously, this all depends on the size of your company, your business model, and your reliance on IT, but the idea remains the same—every minute your infrastructure is down, you’re losing a lot of money. If every minute counts during an IT stoppage, you’re going to want to get back up and running as quickly as possible. So, why not take the time now (while all systems are go) to come up with a plan to mitigate downtime in the event of a massive failure—it could quite literally be the one thing that saves your company. Is this hyperbole? Nope. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 80% of companies that experience an IT-related catastrophic failure (and don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place) will fail in just over a year, while 43% won’t even re-open. These numbers are worse when the catastrophe is data related. Again, according to the U.S. Bureau of labor, a staggering 93% of companies that experience a significant data loss are out of business within 5 years. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get the latest on high availability technology sent straight to your inbox. function getUrlParameter(e){e=e.replace(/[\[]/,"\\[").replace(/[\]]/,"\\]");var r=new RegExp("[\\?&]"+e+"=([^&#]*)").exec(location.search);return null===r?"":decodeURIComponent(r[1].replace(/\+/g," "))}if (getUrlParameter('utm_content') == "b3txt") {document.write(""+"");}else{ document.write("");} Here Is Your Post-Failure Plan and Checklist A disaster recovery plan is going to save you time, which is going to save you money, maybe even your company. It’s as simple as that. Yes, there are some scary statistics out there (and there’s more to come), but there are some hopeful ones too. For example, according to Datto, “With a reliable backup and disaster recovery solution in place, the majority of SMBs will fully recover from a ransomware infection. With a reliable backup and recovery solution (BDR) in place, 96% of MSPs report clients fully recover from ransomware attacks.” A reliable disaster recovery plan isn’t something you can draw up in a day and put on the shelf somewhere, though. A reliable disaster recovery plan takes coordination, forethought, testing, and consistent retooling. Below, you’ll find a checklist for creating and maintaining your own disaster recovery plan. Your 17-Step Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist Commit to implementing a disaster recovery plan. Make it a policy. You need to make disaster recovery a priority, not just give it lip service. It’s human nature to eschew actions that don’t result in an immediate benefit, so the first item on this checklist can be quite a doozy. But, it’s important. If you and your company don’t seriously commit to a disaster recovery plan, whatever you do to create one will be half-baked and pretty ineffective. One way to make disaster recovery a priority (and stick to the commitment) is to make it company policy and a part of company culture. The very top levels of your organization can—in writing—establish a policy statement that includes items from this checklist (all of them, some of them, or a version of these that speak to your enterprise uniquely). At the very least, the statement should contain a written intention to create a disaster recovery plan; a commitment to a risk and impact assessment; a commitment to testing the plan; a written intention to updating the disaster recovery plan on a regular basis (usually annually), and a clear method of making employees aware of the disaster recovery plan. Do an Impact Assessment. It’s important to examine, investigate, and establish the real-world consequences of a catastrophic failure (typically revenue lost) on your business. How much money will you lose for every hour your infrastructure is down? Do not rely on industry estimates as each company is unique and you don’t want to underestimate your potential losses. It’s also a good idea to determine the cost of infrastructure maintenance, renewals, upgrades, and operation. Once you have these two numbers you can maintain a cost to impact ratio—how much you’re spending versus how much you could potentially lose—that will help guide your decisions when it comes to upgrading your infrastructure. You certainly don’t want to invest in protections that won’t protect more than they’re worth. These assessments should be done regularly (at least annually) as priorities, workflow, costs, and risks are always changing. Create (and consistently update) a weighted list of priorities. As a company, you need to inventory your equipment and systems and list them in order of how critical they are to your operations. If your phone system goes down—and they are only used for inter-office communication—it probably isn’t mission-critical. Put it at the bottom of the list. However, if your website is a majority of your business, you better move power supply, network services, and hosting clusters to the very top. It’s a good idea to draw a line between the absolute essentials (what do you absolutely need to operate) and everything else. This way, you’ll know exactly what to prioritize in your disaster recovery plan—the goal is to keep your downtime as short as possible. Establish a recovery team (with backups) and clearly communicate your employees’ responsibilities. It should go without saying, your employees’ safety should be the top priority. However, beyond that, they are going to be the ones that get you back up and running. Establish a team of employees to spearhead the recovery process—each with their own clearly defined role and set of responsibilities. Then, establish a second team of employees that can take on the same roles and perform the same functions of those on the first team. This is especially important in areas prone to natural disasters; roads could become impassable, homes could be damaged, etc. With two disaster recovery teams, it becomes increasingly probable that you’ll be able to assemble an entire recovery crew when the worst happens. Make documentation clarity, security, and dissemination a top priority. A tedious task that is more than likely going to require more than engineers, making a master document, securing that master document (ideally in multiple places, including an offsite location), and getting that master document into the hands of all company employees, is integral. This document should include contact information for key employees (especially the recovery teams) and should be plainly, clearly written. It cannot be stressed enough that you should take great pains to make a document that is intuitive, written in plain language, well-organized, and absolutely clear on what steps need to be taken, when, and by whom. This could save your business. The more people capable of performing a task in the event that a predetermined employee(s) cannot—thanks to your incredibly clear documentation—the better. It’s high-quality redundancy, except for people. Make sure your infrastructure is as secure as it can be (regularly) before a disaster strikes. What’s the best way to handle a catastrophic failure? Avert it. Yep, the best case scenario when disaster strikes is that all of your automated defenses (redundant nodes, automatic failovers, load balancers, cluster monitors, backup power supplies, network redundancies, etc.) do exactly what they are supposed to do and the failure is nothing more than a few lines of text on a log. However, that means being vigilant about testing your infrastructure, maintaining and upgrading your equipment, and being on the lookout for gaps in your protection. Test your backups. Perform restore testing. It’s quick, it’s easy. It’s a no-brainer. You want to know if your backups can actually do what they are supposed to do: restore data. Maintain (and replace) your backups. Even the most well-engineered backup media will degrade, break, or otherwise fail. That means you should be rotating and replacing your backups. Make a schedule and stick to it. Again, at least annually. Make sure your backups are redundant and secure. Your backups should have backups and the security for those backups should be redundant. Are you storing physical backups onsite, in a fireproof container? Good, now make a backup of that backup and store it offsite in a fireproof environment. Perform an inventory of your safeguards. Do you know what kind of protections you actually have in place? Have you mapped your infrastructure? Knowing what’s in place and where it actually is will help you to more quickly diagnose, isolate, and remedy any problems. Shore up your safeguards. Performing an inventory of your protections will make it easier to identify and shore up any weakness or single points of failure in your infrastructure. Make employee training a (regular) priority. Remember that Ponemon Institute report about data center outages in 2016? No? Okay, let me remind you. The Ponemon Institute reported that 22% of all data center outages came down to human error. A well-trained (and oft-trained) workforce can be one of your best defenses against disaster. There’s nothing to recover from if that guy in HR never presses the wrong switch. Select an alternate location for operations in the event that yours becomes unusable. Have another location (even if it’s sub-optimal) to run operations during recovery. Create a step-by-step (maybe even minute-by-minute) schedule of tasks that must be completed in the wake of a catastrophic failure. You’ve prioritized your systems, you’ve created a recovery team—yes, close reader, two recovery teams—and you’ve got a temporary base of operations all lined up, now it’s time to create your plan of action. Don’t skimp on the details. Create a thorough (to the point of tedium) step-by-step disaster recovery plan. Assign individual team members and employees to individual tasks, create time-to-completion estimations/expectations down to the minute, and develop a clear order of operations. Step 1. Do this. Step 2. Do this. You get the idea. Practice your disaster recovery plan, regularly. Run through your plan. Practice it. Observer the results. Time them. Tweak your plan if you have to. It might seem a bit strange to do this—like some sort of IT war game—but it could save you thousands if not hundreds of thousands in revenue. The quicker you recover the less damage (workflow, revenue, etc.) you’ll take. Seek an expert opinion. Bring in a consultant to take a look at your disaster recovery plan. They might pick up on something you overlooked or might have ideas on how to cut down on costs. Make sure you revisit, reprioritize, renew, and reinvest. A disaster recovery plan is not static. A disaster recovery plan is a living document that has to be changed in response to real-world variables. The only way that you can change it is by revisiting it, so make sure you’re doing that regularly and consistently (again, at least annually). When you revisit your disaster recovery plan it will give you the opportunity to adjust your priorities and make changes that could shore up your plan, save you money or both. It’s also important to keep reinvesting in not only your plan (extra training and resources are an investment) but also your safeguards. What you don’t spend now you could be spending, and then some, in the event that a catastrophic failure occurs. The post Recovering Your Website From a Catastrophic Failure appeared first on Liquid Web.

How To Find New Clients For Your WordPress Agency

There is one thing every digital agency, WordPress agency, and services company needs: clients. In the services world, clients make the world go ‘round because, without clients, you wouldn’t have a business. Every business strategy, marketing tactic, and sales call is designed to do one of three things: Find new clients Close the sale to secure new clients Keep clients For most agencies, the second two tasks, closing the sale and keeping your existing clients, are relatively easy when compared to the first task. Finding new clients is one of the most difficult tasks a services agency has because while there is more than enough business to go around, no one can hire you if they don’t know that you exist or they forget that you could be a viable choice. With that in mind, here are nine ways you can increase the visibility of your WordPress agency, expand your brand reach, and get in front of new potential new clients. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to get more WordPress content like this sent straight to your inbox. 1. Join Local Business Networking Groups I know you like WordPress meetups and WordCamps, but if you want to find new clients and become completely booked, you need to branch out. Research all of the local business and networking groups in your area Identify the groups your ideal clients belong to and attend Go to a couple of events for each group to try them out Pick the top two groups you can commit to attending regularly and go The idea here is to maximize your return on investment by not only ensuring the room you’re networking in has at least a handful of potential clients in it but is also expanding your network at the same time. You never know who else the people you meet know and can refer to you. 2. Join Complimentary Business Associations The best strategic partners and referral partners are complementary businesses that serve the same target market. If you’re a WordPress agency, potential complementary services companies would be: Public relations agencies Marketing agencies Advertising agencies Social media marketing firms Copywriting agencies Search Marketing Firms Photography studios SEO agencies While the WordPress industry has WordPress meetups and WordCamps, complementary industries have their own trade organizations with directories, local networking groups, and large conferences. Consider joining complementary industry organizations where you can be the only WordPress agency in a room full of potential partners. 3. Attend Business Conferences If you’re going to attend one conference next year, make it a business conference. Choose to invest in learning how to do business better while surrounding yourself with hundreds of potential clients instead of the three to five you may get at a local event if you’re lucky. Even better, consider attending an entrepreneurship conference or a conference for online business owners where speaker after speaker is telling attendees they need a WordPress site. Then when you introduce yourself to someone new, they ask what you do, and you say my company builds WordPress websites, they’ll immediately want to know more and the chances of landing a sales call skyrockets. 4. Attend Niche Conferences If you serve a specific niche, find out what events, workshops, virtual summits, and conferences exist specifically for that niche and get involved. Find out how to speak at the event, attend the event and participate in everything available to you, post to social media and use the event hashtag for greater visibility, or even consider hosting a breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktail hour, or a party at the event. Remember, the greater the focus is on the niche, the bigger the chance is that you’re the only WordPress agency in the room. 5. Publish Case Studies And Share On Social Media One of the best lead generation tactics you can invest time in is creating case studies for your successful projects. Case studies tell the story of a project and allow prospective clients to step into the story, experience it for themselves, and get a taste of what it could be like if they also chose to hire you. In your case studies, be sure to include: The initial challenge or problem and concerns the client had What made them choose your agency What the scope of work was and how you approached the project What stood out for your client along the way in terms of their experience working with you Any hurdles the project encountered and how you moved past them The results of your work together and the project’s impact on their client’s business A testimonial from the client, including what they would say to a prospective client who is on the fence about hiring your agency The key to a great case study is participation from the client. Host an interview with the client to get their side of the story and a testimonial. Just don’t forget to ask what hesitations they may have had. By including what your client was hesitant about or unsure of when deciding whether or not to hire you along with why they were happy to have selected your agency, you’re helping future prospective clients move past their objections before they even speak with you. Finally, share it across your social media channels. 6. Speak At Events Targeting Your Ideal Client Once you have identified events and conferences that your ideal clients attend, and you have attended several to get a feel for the attendees, the event vibe, and the inside perspective, find out how you can speak at the events. Is there an application process? A call for papers? Do you have to know someone? If so, who? Who are the main organizers? Who is responsible for selecting speakers? Is there a deadline to apply? Are there specific requirements you must meet? The key is first attending the events to get to know the crowd first-hand. This way you can craft your talk to perfectly fit the needs of the audience and deliver maximum value. 7. Sponsor An Event If you’re going to invest in attending an event anyway, why not choose to sponsor the event? From a table or a booth and/or special swag to hosting a meal or cocktail hour, requesting a room drop, getting your branding on the event materials, or speaking, there are often many sponsorship opportunities available to put your brand center stage. Just make sure that if you invest in event sponsorship, you also invest time, effort, and resources into your event conversion strategy so you leave the event with as many warm leads as possible. 8. Join Online Business Programs One of the best things I ever did when my agency was young was joining online business programs. These programs that taught online marketing and business strategies had anywhere from 50 to several hundred people in the program, and even more in their Facebook groups. While I didn’t necessarily need the training the program was offering, I did need exposure for my brand and these programs provided a captive audience of business owners who needed WordPress websites. The trick to making this strategy pay off big time is that you can’t sell yourself or pitch your business or services. Instead, you show up every day and answer questions from other program members and students in the forums and Facebook groups. That’s it. Show up, be helpful, provide answers, tools, recommendations, and resources, and be visible—all without mentioning your business or your services. With this approach, you’re positioning yourself as “one of them,” you’re helping others get to know you, you’re establishing trust, and you’re building relationships. That way, when someone in the program needs a WordPress website, you’re the first person that they think of. Or, when they post in the forums or groups that they need a referral to a great WordPress agency, everyone else jumps in to recommend you—and that is 100x more powerful than you recommending yourself. 9. Create Strategic Partnerships Find complementary business owners and agency owners who offer a different suite of services but serve the same target market and reach out to them about a potential strategic partnership or referral partnership where you each agree to refer business to each other. Strategic partnerships also work great when you can partner on a single client project, with each agency or firm providing their services and contributing to a larger scope of work. This type of service partnership, where both companies can expand their overall service offerings through the strategic partnership will help you land bigger clients and larger projects that also have larger budgets and often an ongoing recurring revenue component. The Secret To Finding New Clients Did you happen to notice a common thread connecting all nine client attraction tactics listed above? A similarity between the options? No? Let me make it easy for you… To easily find new clients, you need to go where your prospective clients are. I know it’s easy and comfortable to go to your local WordPress meetup and attend WordCamps. The events are fun, you know lots of people, and it makes you feel professional — almost like you’re taking action to move your business forward. But did you catch that almost? For most WordPress agencies, WordPress meetups and WordCamps are great places to scout subcontractors and potential hires or partners and not-so-great places to actually find paying clients. That’s why it is imperative that you and your employees make an effort to go where your ideal clients are. Find opportunities to be the only agency in the room, to be surrounded with a hundred potential ideal clients instead of three, to be featured for added visibility, or to gain access to decision-makers you wouldn’t normally have access to. Trust me, if you go where the clients are, you’ll already be so far ahead of your competition that closing the sale and keeping the client will be a piece of cake. Try Managed WordPress Hosting For those that need more time for scouting new clients, try Managed WordPress with Liquid Web. They handle the core WordPress and plugin updates, image compression and more. The post How To Find New Clients For Your WordPress Agency appeared first on Liquid Web.

Liquid Web Partners with Cloudflare to Provide Free Egress Traffic to All Liquid Web Customers

LANSING, Mich., June 4th, 2019 — Liquid Web, LLC, (www.liquidweb.com), the market leader in managed hosting and managed application services to businesses and web professionals, is pleased to announce their partnership with the Cloudflare Bandwidth Alliance. By joining this alliance, Liquid Web customers will benefit from reduced bandwidth charges automatically. “We join in committing that we will deliver, free of charge, all egress traffic from our network to any of our Cloudflare customers. Eliminating bandwidth rates provides cost savings for Liquid Web and Cloudflare customers which solidifies our commitment to powering the online potential of our customers while being The Most Helpful Humans In Hosting,” said Carrie Wheeler, Chief Operating Officer. The Bandwidth Alliance is a group of cloud and networking companies committed to providing the most cost-efficient experience for mutual customers. It was created to help customers save money on bandwidth by waiving or reducing data transfer charges. Its promise is to send all traffic from their network to their partners, free of bandwidth charges. In return, the members promise to send traffic from their networks to CloudFlare with no bandwidth charges. All with the aim of making internet security more attainable for internet citizens. The partnership between Liquid Web and Cloudflare offers 3 key benefits: Free egress traffic for all Liquid Web customers (traffic leaving Liquid Web, aimed at Cloudflare.) Automatic enrollment and savings for all Liquid Web customers. Alignment with industry leaders such as IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure. To learn more about Cloudflare with Liquid Web visit: https://www.liquidweb.com/products/add-ons/performance/ To learn more about CDN visit: https://www.liquidweb.com/blog/what-is-a-content-delivery-network/ About Liquid Web Liquid Web powers online content, commerce, and potential to 30,000 businesses and entrepreneurs spanning 150 countries. An industry leader in managed hosting and cloud services, Liquid Web is known for its high-performance services and exceptional customer support. The company owns and manages its own core data centers, providing a diverse range of offerings, including bare metal servers, fully managed hosting, Managed WordPress, and Managed WooCommerce Hosting, and continues to evolve its service offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of its web-reliant, professional customers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies for eleven years. Liquid Web is part of the Madison Dearborn Partners family of companies, Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC (“MDP”). For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or subscribe to our Blog at www.liquidweb.com/blog. *2018 Net Promoter Score of 65 Contact: Mayra Pena, mpena@liquidweb.com The post Liquid Web Partners with Cloudflare to Provide Free Egress Traffic to All Liquid Web Customers appeared first on Liquid Web.

Where is the Best Place to Put Your WordPress Website Contact Form?

Every website needs a contact page. When designing a new website—whether it’s for a WordPress agency, your freelance WordPress business, or a client—at some point you’re going to need to have a conversation about how prospective clients and customers are going to take the next step and contact you. In this conversation, you’re going to need to address things like: Should I include a contact form on the contact page? Should I add the form to other parts of my website as well? Where is the best place to put the form so I get the best results? Why Do I Need a Contact Page? Now first things first. Every website needs a contact page because, over the years, the contact page has become one of the most expected and most visited pages on a website. The contact page is usually used to share contact information, location information, and social media information. It is where visitors know to go if they want to speak with someone or they have a question. Build better WordPress sites. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get content like this sent straight to your inbox.   What are the Benefits of Using a Contact Form? On the contact page, there needs to be a contact form—a way visitors can connect and communicate with you or your staff. The benefits of using a contact form on your website’s contact page is that: A contact form streamlines how information is provided to you You can require specific information you know you need up front You can pre-qualify, segment, and filter form submissions You can send them to a customized thank you page You can provide customized follow up based on conditional logic While the best place to put a contact form on your WordPress website is on the contact page, that doesn’t mean it’s the only place a contact form could/should go. 6 Places to Consider Placing a Contact Form Here are six other places on your website to consider putting a contact form: 1. The Website Footer Most websites include important secondary information in the website footer because the footer shows up on every page of the website, but it’s at the bottom and usually understated so it doesn’t get in the way of the content consumption or conversions. This means people are already used to scrolling to the bottom of the page to find contact information, so why not place a simple contact form there as well? This way the contact form is also on every page on your website, making it easy for visitors to contact you when they’re ready to do so. 2. The About Page If a visitor has clicked over to your about page, chances are they’re already intrigued by your products, services, course, or program and they just want to learn more about the person/people behind it. The about page is a perfect candidate for a contact form because they’re getting to know you better and the next step is reaching out to contact you. 3. Near A Call To Action Only including a contact form on your contact page requires visitors to leave the page they are on and go to the contact page to fill out your form. Instead, leverage a popup or lightbox to show your contact form when someone clicks a link to contact you. This keeps them on the page, meets them exactly where they are, and doesn’t get in the way of the content or design. 4. At The Bottom Of A Page Depending on the type of website you’re building, there may be natural opportunities to include a contact form at the bottom of a website at the end of the content. For example, if you’re a freelancer or agency selling WordPress websites, you most likely have a portfolio and case studies on your website. Consider adding a short inquiry form or contact form at the end of each case study or portfolio entry so your ideal clients who love your work can contact you right away. 5. In The Sidebar A contact form in the sidebar of your website makes your contact form highly visible and more easily accessible across your entire website. Sidebar contact forms are also usually very minimal, which means visitors will see it as easy and quick to fill out. 6. After Blog Posts When someone reaches the end of your blog post, it’s usually for one of three reasons: they weren’t engaged with your content and don’t really care, they read every word and love what you have to say, or they scanned the post for the highlights because they’re interested but busy. By adding a contact form at the end of blog posts, you’re making it easy for those who want to reach out and contact you. Phew! That’s six other places on your WordPress website that you could add a contact form and potentially increase your inquiries. Check Out Managed WordPress If you’re a WordPress freelancer, check out our Managed WordPress Hosting package. With pre-installed plugins—including WPForms and streamlined plugin updates, you can focus on creating an amazing Contact Us page while we handle the hosting. The post Where is the Best Place to Put Your WordPress Website Contact Form? appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Make More Money With 5 WooCommerce SEO Tactics

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be a powerful way to grow your WooCommerce site. But it can also feel overwhelming. We’ll cover five WooCommerce SEO tactics that can make it a little easier. SEO Basics SEO is the art and science of getting your website found in the free or organic search space of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Why does that matter? Because that’s how people find stuff to buy: 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. 43% of all eCommerce traffic comes from organic Google searches. You should care about SEO because it’s a simple way to increase sales. Rank higher in the search engines, more people will find your site, more people will buy your stuff. Watch the Webinar This valuable SEO knowledge comes from a webinar presentation about managing SEO for WooCommerce stores with Lindsay Halsey from Pathfinder SEO and Chris Lema, Liquid Web’s VP of Products and Innovation. You can watch the full webinar or read our summary below. How to Approach SEO Just because SEO sounds pretty simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. A lot of people quickly feel overwhelmed by the amount of work and the changing technical landscape. You need to approach WooCommerce SEO like climbing a mountain. It can be an overwhelming goal, but you need to break it down into incremental steps. Ask yourself what you can accomplish in the next hour to get closer to effective SEO. Improving SEO will take some work, but you can get there if you: Plan and process: You’ve got to have a plan and process to be effective. You can’t take a random or scattershot approach. Learn from others: You’re not in this alone. See what others are doing and make adjustments. Pick reasonable but lofty goals: Aim high. Not so high that you’ll never get there, but make some serious goals. Put one foot in front of the other: You have to put in the work, but take it one step at a time. 5 WooCommerce SEO Tactics We’ve got five tactics to help improve any store’s search engine rank: 1. Start With Qualitative Keyword Research Keywords are the words and phrases people enter into search engines. They’re also known as search queries. Keyword research is the process you’ll use to identify the phrases your customers actually use. This is important because it’s foundational to everything you do with SEO. Too often store owners dive into SEO without doing any qualitative keyword research. Too often we think we know our audience, so we plow forward without doing the research. But it’s important to stay in touch with your audience and know the exact language they’re using. It may surprise you. There is a six-step process that can help with keyword research: Understand your audience: Start by asking questions and listening. Brainstorm: Do some research to see what terms your audience is using. Quantify: How many people are actually searching for a given keyword? Organize & evaluate: Organize search terms into groups and clusters. Which ones are worth pursuing? Map: Align keywords to pages on your site. Repeat: Do it again and again, because the SEO space evolves, the tools get better, and your business changes. Again, store owners are often quick to skip the first two steps. It’s tempting to get right into the data and see what keywords are popular. But before you get there, you need to do that research and make sure you’re not missing some important search terms because you didn’t realize what terms people were searching. 2. Share Your Expertise Via Content Marketing Stores don’t create enough content. That’s a problem because search engines love content. Google cares about expertise, authority, and trust (EAT). Content builds expertise. So stores need to be sharing with the world why they’re an expert in their particular area. Give search engines a reason to link to your store. The average first-page result on Google is 1,890 words. So long form content wins. You need to write a lot of content to be able to share expertise and give search engines something to point to. Offer detailed, in-depth information and create ultimate guides. Helpful tip: Many store owners balk at writing, so make it easy. Use an audio recording app to get them talking. Ask a bunch of questions and they’ll have no problem sharing helpful insights. Simply transcribe those answers, and you’ve got a good start on quality content. Rev.com is one service that offers transcription for $1 per minute. Another good content approach is to aim for the position zero result. This is a newer feature where Google directly highlights a result to answer a specific question. You can take your keywords and apply them to a grid framework to generate a number of questions and then answer them. When it seems hard to flesh out expertise, this can be a good way to showcase the breadth of knowledge. Use this grid framework to quickly flesh out your expertise. 3. Automate Your On-Site Optimization Store owners can often be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of their sites. Trying to improve the SEO on such a massive scale can be a daunting task. Instead of being overwhelmed, create a strategy that balances automation with customization. There are a number of elements on a web page that matter to search engines, including page titles, meta descriptions, H1-H6 tags, alt text, internal links, and more. There are also rich snippets, enhanced features such as reviews, star ratings, best use cases, and more that will deliver higher rankings and better click-through rates. Some of these elements can easily be automated. Store owners can also look at their sites and decide to customize top-level pages like the home page, category pages, top products, blog landing page, etc., while automating lesser pages like blog posts or product pages. The Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin can be especially helpful for automating WooCommerce SEO. You can create standard page titles and meta descriptions using variables, so they’re still useful and SEO-friendly, but you don’t have to rewrite every single one. Invest an hour into automation and see how much you can improve your on-site SEO. 4. Leverage Relationships to Build Backlinks Good backlinks build authority. When different sites link to the same page, that page probably has some helpful info. So search engines pay attention to backlinks. But when we talk about link building, too often we think of spam, black hat SEO, and lame email requests. While stores do need to build links, they should never resort to these tactics. Think of link building like being a good neighbor. You want to be proud of your neighborhood and you want to build good relationships. So focus on those professional relationships. Think about all the different types of business relationships you have: Partners Certifications Directories Customers Sponsorship Media Often it would be entirely appropriate for some of those sources to link to your site. All you have to do is ask. When you’re building on a pre-existing relationship, it’s not weird or awkward or spam. It can be mutually beneficial. But don’t outsource link building. Do it yourself. 5. Give the Search Engines Structure Search engines pay attention to the structure of sites. Too often stores either over-complicate or under-do site structure. It’s especially important for WooCommerce SEO because eCommerce sites can be massive. Search engines need help understanding a site that large. Here are three quick structure best practices: Keep it simple: Don’t get overly complicated. Keep it scalable: Make sure you come up with a structure that can grow as the store grows. Keep it limited: Every page should be no more than three clicks from the homepage. It can often be helpful to map out what a site structure looks like: 5 WooCommerce SEO Tactics So, remember these simple SEO tactics to help improve any WooCommerce store: Start with qualitative keyword research: Remember not to skip the important steps of audience research and brainstorming. Share expertise via content marketing: This one can be overwhelming for store owners, so make it easy for them. Automate your on-site optimization: Try investing an hour and see how much can be automated. Leverage relationships to build backlinks: So many stores are skipping this step, but it can be a powerful way to climb the search engine ranks. Give the search engines structure: This not only helps search engines, but it makes a store easier to navigate for customers. The post How to Make More Money With 5 WooCommerce SEO Tactics appeared first on Liquid Web.

Women in Technology: Lindsey Miller

Liquid Web’s Partner Marketing Manager on building community, nurturing relationships, and putting her time to good use. “I know that I make a difference in people’s businesses,” says Miller, “and that motivates me to come to work every day and do a great job.” Lindsey Miller is no stranger to enterprise. “I started my first business in kindergarten!” Miller made seasonal crafts— turkeys drawn from the outline of her hand, Christmas trees— and sold them to family members over holiday meals. “Yes,” she says, “I sold my grandparents my drawings instead of giving them away!” That Miller was so resourceful at such a young age is unsurprising, having grown up on 200 acres in Oologah, Oklahoma, the birthplace of Oklahoma’s Favorite Son, Will Rogers. “My conversations around cattle can surprise a lot of people,” she says. Her tech journey began almost ten years ago when she was working as a political fundraiser and met her now-husband, Cory. “He had a WordPress plugin company and he got me started by blogging about politics.” Then, in 2011, Miller started a non-profit called The Div, teaching kids to code. Her path in tech was solidified after that, working with WordPress and empowering businesses around the use of the platform. Though she now lives a few hours away from Oologah in Oklahoma City, Lindsey Miller puts her ingenuity to use as Liquid Web’s Partner Marketing Manager, investing in community and relationships. “I have been involved in the WordPress community for a long time,” says Miller. “I truly care about WordPress and those who build their businesses around it.” She takes pride that now, in her role at Liquid Web, she gets to help those who rely on WordPress to grow. Miller loves working in tech for the innovation that it entails. “I was a part of the team that brought the very first WooCommerce Hosting product to market. There was so much creativity! At Liquid Web, we’re encouraged to think outside of the box. That’s very exciting to me,” she says. But for Miller, success is about more than inventiveness. It’s about people. She loves exploring ways she can help those who turn to Liquid Web as they build their business. Miller is currently creating education opportunities like webinars, documents, and blueprints which businesses can use to reach their goals and increase revenue. Miller wants to build a community around people who create on the web and take Liquid Web beyond just being a hosting company. “If I can help our partners and their businesses,” she says, “then I feel that I will have accomplished something great. I have a strong perspective on how to build a relationship and create a community. It starts with caring about people over profit.” She recognizes the power of community and strong relationships in her own life, as well. “Much of my success, I attribute to people who believed in me.” She credits the many mentors, leaders, and colleagues who inspired and taught her along the way. “I am lucky to have had many wonderful advisors put me under their wings over the years and help me continue to grow and learn,” she says. Among those who have impacted her profoundly in both her personal and professional life are her husband, Cory— “He is the reason I learned as much as I have to get where I am in my career.” — and the leadership team at Liquid Web. “As my first real corporate job, I did not expect to get much attention from anyone other than my team and supervisors,” says Miller, “but I regularly connect with our leadership team including tremendous women like Terry Trout and Carrie Wheeler, among all of the talented colleagues that I learn from every day. I have grown tenfold since starting at Liquid Web two-and-a-half years ago.” Chris Lema, Liquid Web’s VP of Products and Innovation, has also been instrumental in Miller’s growth, challenging her to continue expanding her skill set. “If it wasn’t for Chris recognizing the skills learned in politics and developed during my time with Cory, I wouldn’t be here.” It’s been an important two-and-a-half years for Miller who takes great care about how she spends her time and who she spends it with. “Time is so precious,” she says. “I don’t want to waste it.” This outlook will come as no surprise to her colleagues. Spending her formative work years in politics, Miller learned to work quickly and diligently, always under a deadline. She jokes about the impact those experiences have had on her work style. “When asked when I need something, I tease my co-workers that my answer is always ‘as soon as possible’. Maybe my next career lesson will be learning how to wait.” Miller encourages young women considering a career in tech to focus on building relationships. “You will get further in life and work by growing with others instead of in spite of others or on the backs of others. Create relationships. Champion other people, as well as yourself. Working together makes everything better, personally and professionally.” A career in tech, she says, is also an exciting way to see the palpable outcome of hard work. “A great thing about working in tech is that there are not arbitrary results. What you do and your work product is there for everyone to see. For young women, it is a very tangible way to work towards something that takes intelligence and creativity.” And, Miller says, tech offers incredible space for growth. “It is a vast industry. The opportunities are endless.” The post Women in Technology: Lindsey Miller appeared first on Liquid Web.

What Happens When There’s a Catastrophic Failure in Your Infrastructure

The Horrific Reality of Catastrophic Failure The Exorcist doesn’t hold a candle to the idea of a catastrophic failure wiping out your data, your web presence… your entire operation (cue the vomit). It should scare you. Our livelihoods—our lives—are increasingly digital. Your IT infrastructure is integral to your operations. Whether it’s your website, your database, or your inter-office communications and operations, downtime is intolerable. A catastrophe-level shutdown is unfathomable. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to safeguard your business from the worst. You can read about how to prevent a disaster with redundancies, a high availability (HA) infrastructure, and other solutions, here, here, and here. However, things happen and even the best-laid plans are well intended, but sometimes a tornado comes through a takes out your data center. In the event that something catastrophic does occur, you need to be ready and the best way to be ready is to understand exactly what happens if (and with the right protection that’s a pretty big if) the walls you’ve built around your business come tumbling down. You need to expect the unexpected, so you’re prepared for anything that comes your way.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get the latest on high availability technology sent straight to your inbox. Failures Occur. When? There isn’t an infrastructure out there (no matter how well designed, implemented, or maintained) that is impervious to failure. They happen. That’s why HA systems are a thing; it’s why you have redundancies, backups, and other preventative measures. But, where do they occur? When do they occur? Well, there are 5 particularly vulnerable points in your infrastructure—housing, hardware, ISP, software, and data. Your first vulnerable point, housing, is your physical accommodations and include the building that houses your servers/computers, your climate controls, and your electrical supply. Your housing is only vulnerable in highly specific instances (natural disasters, brownouts, blackouts, etc.) and is pretty easily mitigated. For example, two separate sources of power, uninterruptible power supplies, battery backups, restricted access to server rooms, routine building maintenance, etc. can reliably safeguard this vulnerability in your infrastructure. This goes for your ISP (fiber, cable, wireless) and other vendors, as well. Thoroughly vetted, high-quality vendors will have their own HA systems in place, making this vulnerability in your infrastructure a low probability for catastrophic failure. However, your hardware, software, and data are significantly more vulnerable even though there are steps your company can take to prevent failures. Servers, computers, peripherals, and network equipment age, break down, and fail; it’s just the reality of physical systems. But, non-physical systems (productivity and communication software, websites, applications, etc.) are also open to certain failures, including external attacks—DDoS, hacking, bugs, viruses, and human error. Finally, your data can get corrupted by itself or can fail as a result of another failure in the chain; a hardware failure, for example, could wipe out your data. While some failures can be predicted and prevented—regular maintenance and replacement of equipment to prevent breakdowns, for example—others simply can’t be anticipated. A sudden equipment failure, power outages, natural disasters, a DDoS attack; these can all occur seemingly out of nowhere. You simply have to have a plan in place to react to these events in case they do (almost inevitably) happen. A good rule of thumb is to create an infrastructure that doesn’t have (or at least attempts to eliminate) a single point of failure. All of these vulnerability points—housing, hardware, ISP, software, and data—are susceptible to single points of failure. Housing? Make sure you have a physical space you can use in case the first space become unviable. Hardware? Make sure you have redundant equipment you can swap in, in case of a failure. ISP, software, data? Redundancies, backups, and backups of backups. Be prepared. What is the Worst Case Scenario? In 2007, according to the Los Angeles Times, “a malfunctioning network interface card on a single desktop computer in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX” brought international air travel to an absolute standstill; for nine hours. For nine hours, 17,000 passengers were stranded on board—because this was software used by U.S. Customs, software used to authorize entry and exit, no one was allowed to disembark. This not only stopped international travel in its tracks, U.S. Customs and the airlines themselves had to supply food, water, and diapers to passengers, and had to keep refueling to keep the environmental controls on the aircraft operating. Oh, and shortly after the system was restored, again according to the Los Angeles Times, it gave out again: “The second outage was caused by a power supply failure.” Now that’s a worst case scenario. You’re not U.S. Customs or LAX, but you can relate. Almost nine hours of downtime in a single day exceeds what 81% of businesses said they could tolerate in a single year (thanks Information Technology and Intelligence Corp). Everyone’s worst case scenario is different, but a massive failure that cripples your infrastructure for even a few hours in a single day can have irrevocably adverse effects on your revenue, your workflow, and your relationship with your clients/customers. Any significant downtime should be a cause for concern. Is it a worst case scenario? Maybe not, but a few days in a row—or even over the course of a year—could be. Automatic Failover vs. No Automatic Failover While a systems failure is a spectrum of what can go wrong, there are two scenarios on either end—an automatic failover and a catastrophic failure in which a failover doesn’t take place either manually or automatically. Failover systems themselves can fail, but it’s more likely that there isn’t a system in place to automate a switch to a redundant system. What follows is a look into what actually happens during an automatic failover and what would happen if such a system wasn’t in place. What Happens During an Automatic Failover Several scenarios can trigger a failover—your secondary node(s) does/do not receive a heartbeat signal; a primary node experiences a hardware failure; a network interface fails; your HA monitor detects a significant dip in performance, or a failover command is manually sent. In the event that a secondary node does not receive a heartbeat signal (synchronous, two-way monitor of server operation and performance), there are several causes including network failure, a hardware failure, or a software crash/reboot. As you can see, an automatic failover is triggered (predominantly) by an equipment failure. Any time a piece of equip stops operating—or even begins to perform below its expected values—a failover will be triggered. It should be noted that there is a difference between a switchover and failover. A switchover is simply a role reversal of the primary and a secondary node; a secondary node is chosen to become the primary node and the primary node becomes a secondary node. This is almost always anticipated and done intentionally. A common switchover scenario is maintenance and upgrading. In a switchover, there is no data loss. A failover, on the other hand, is a role reversal of the primary node and a secondary node in the event of a systems failure (network, hardware, software, power, etc.). A failover may result in data loss depending on the safeguards in place. So, what does happen in an automatic failover? Let’s break it down: An event occurs that initiates failover. This could be a network failure, a power outage, a software failure, or a hardware failure. In all cases, the heartbeat link between the primary node and the elected secondary mode is severed and failover is initiated. An error log (why was a failover initiated?) is created. The elected secondary node takes on the role of the primary node. The primary node is removed from the cluster. What Happens With No Automatic Failover Ok, so you don’t have an automatic failover safeguard in place and something breaks—or, even worse, a lot of things break. What happens? Well, that’s going to depend on what systems you have in place. If you have working backups, but no automatic failover systems in place, you’ll retain your data. However, depending on your infrastructure, the amount of time it will take to recognize a failure and the amount of time it takes to manually switch over will be much longer than an automatic solution. However, if your system is sketchy and there are vulnerabilities throughout, things get significantly more complicated and need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. We can, though, examine what happens in systems with one or more single points of failure at critical junctures. You’re sure to remember housing, hardware, ISP, software, and data. Housing. In May of 2011, a major tornado ripped through Joplin, MO. In the tornado’s path were a hospital and the hospital’s adjoining data center. The data center held both electronic and physical records. Serendipitously, the hospital IT staff was in the middle of mass digitization and data migration to an off-site central center with redundant satellites. Which meant that most of the data was saved (although some records were irrevocably destroyed) and the hospital was able to mobilize services quickly. However, if the tornado had come any earlier, the data loss would have been extreme. While this scenario (indeed, any IT housing disaster) is rare, it does happen and there are ways to safeguard your equipment and your data. According to Pergravis, (offsite backups notwithstanding) the best data center is constructed from reinforced concrete and is designed as a box—the data center—within a shell—the structure surrounding the data center—which creates a secondary barrier. This is, obviously, a pie-in-the-sky scenario, but Pegravis does offer simpler solutions for shoring up an existing data center. For example, they suggest locating your data center in the middle of your facility away from exterior walls. If that’s not an option, however, removing and sealing exterior windows will help safeguard your equipment from weather damage. Hardware. The key to any secure system (the key to HA, as we’ve discussed here and here) is redundancy. That includes redundant hardware that you might not immediately think of. A few years ago, Microsoft Azure Cloud services in Japan went down for an extended period of time because of a bad rotary uninterruptible power supply (RUPS). As the temperatures in the data center rose, equipment began shutting itself off in order to preserve data, disrupting cloud service in the Japan East region. It’s not always going to be a storage device that fails or even a network appliance. Besides, most systems are over-engineered in terms of server component, data backup, and network equipment redundancies. It’s up to you to work with your company to conceive of, prepare for, and shore up any weaknesses in your IT infrastructure—if you prepare for the worst, it will never come. ISP. According to the Uptime Institute, between 2016 and 2018, 27% of all data center outages were network-related. As more and more systems migrate to the cloud and more and more services are network-dependent, redundant network solutions are becoming increasingly important. In some cases, that could mean two or more providers or two or more kinds of services—fiber, cable, and wireless, as an example. Software. Whether it’s unintended consequences (Y2K) or a straight-up engineering faceplant—in 1998, NASA lost the Mars Polar Lander because a subcontractor used imperial units instead of metric like they were supposed to—software is vulnerable. When software goes bad, there’s usually a human to blame, and that’s true for cyber attacks, too; DDoS attacks other cyber intrusions are on the rise. According to IndustryWeek, in 2018 there was, “…a 350% increase in ransomware attacks, a 250% increase in spoofing or business email compromise (BEC) attacks and a 70% increase in spear-phishing attacks in companies overall.” What does this mean for you? It means defensive redundancies—threat detection, firewalls, encryptions, etc. It also means having a robust HA infrastructure in case you do come under attack. With an HA system with automatic failover, you can quickly take down the affected systems and bring up clean ones. Data. In 2015, a Google data center in Belgium was struck—multiple times in quick succession—by lightning. While most of the servers were unaffected, some users lost data. Data redundancy is the cornerstone of any HA infrastructure and new and improved options for data retention are constantly emerging. With the increase in virtual networks, virtual machines, and cloud computing, your company needs to consider both physical and virtual solutions—redundant physical servers, redundant virtual servers—in addition to multiple geographical locations. How the Right Protection Saves You As has been mentioned, it’s up to you and your company to examine and identify single points of failure—and other weak spots—in your infrastructure. A firm grasp of where vulnerabilities most often occur (housing, hardware, ISP, software, and data) will give you a better understanding of you own system’s limitations, flaws, and gaps. While you can’t prepare for (or predict) everything, you can eliminate single points of failure and shore up your IT environment. An HA system with plenty of redundancies, no single points of failure, and automatic failover, you’ll not only safeguard your revenue stream, you’ll maintain productivity, inter-office operations, keep staff on other tasks, and get better sleep at night (you know, from less anxiety about everything coming to a grinding halt). What We Offer at Liquid Web At Liquid Web, we worry about catastrophic failures (preventing them, primarily, but recovering from them too) so you don’t have to. To this end, we make automatic failovers—and cluster monitoring for the shortest and most seamless transitions—a top priority. Heartbeat, our multi-node monitor, and the industry standard, keeps a close eye on the health of your systems, automatically performing failovers when needed. Heartbeat can quickly and accurately identify critical failures and seamlessly transition to an elected secondary node. The automatic failover system in place at Liquid Web is one of many components that comprise our HA infrastructure and uptime guarantee. We offer 1000% compensation as outlined in our SLA’s 100% uptime guarantee. What does this mean? This means that if you experience downtime we will credit you at 10x the amount of time you were down. At Liquid Web, we also continue to operate at 99.999% (or five 9s), a gold standard for the industry—this equates to only 5.26 minutes of downtime a year, 25.9 seconds of downtime per month, and 6.05 seconds of downtime a week. Five 9s is incredibly efficient and we are proud to operate in that range. However, we are constantly striving for more efficiency, more uptime, and optimization. A Final Reminder: Failures Do Happen Failures do happen. If Google is susceptible to a catastrophic failure, everyone is susceptible to a catastrophic failure. You can, however, mitigate the frequency and severity of catastrophic failures with a thorough accounting of your infrastructure, a shoring up of your systems, a solid and sensible recovery plan, and plenty of redundancies. Oh, and don’t forget an automatic failover system; it will save you time (and data) when you have to transition from a failing primary node to a healthy secondary node. The post What Happens When There’s a Catastrophic Failure in Your Infrastructure appeared first on Liquid Web.

Comparing Shared Hosting vs VPS: Which Is Right For Me?

There are an almost limitless number of options available for website hosting, especially if you have a number of websites. You can pack all of your sites into a single Shared hosting plan, utilize a reseller-style hosting which allows you multiple Shared hosting accounts, or get full assisted control of your hosting with a Virtual Private Server (VPS). But when is it better to stay on a Shared Hosting plan compared to upgrading to a small VPS Hosting plan? Here are some key questions to consider: How much disk space does your site need, and how quickly do you expect that to grow? Does your site need a higher memory limit than average, or does it require more processing power? Are there additional server-side applications that you need for back-end processing, like LaTeX, FFMPEG, ImageMagick, or Java? Do you have an application that runs exclusively on Windows, or would a less expensive Linux package work just as well? How much bandwidth do you currently use or expect to use for all of your websites? What kind of content do you have on your sites (online shopping, static content, private information, blog, etc)? Get industry-leading tips on getting the right hosting infrastructure for your business. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter and get content like this sent straight to your inbox. Shared Hosting Vs VPS Hosting: Six Areas To Consider Let’s dive into six core areas to consider as you make your decision: Traffic volume Management level Controllability Resource availability Scalability Price Traffic Volume The amount of bandwidth in and out of your server is one consideration. Inbound bandwidth is usually less important than outbound bandwidth because unless your visitors will be uploading a lot of data, inbound HTTP requests will be small in size compared to the documents and images that your site will return for each page request. Shared hosting platforms are usually not set up for high volumes of traffic and processing since the power of the server must be distributed between dozens, or sometimes hundreds or thousands of other users and websites. But, for average sized and trafficked sites, such as hobby sites or “pamphlet” information-only domains, or even small blogs, shared hosting is perfectly acceptable. Sites that require more intense server-side functions, like online stores or sites which generate documents such as invoices or quotes, or sites which convert audio or video on the fly, may need more resources allocated than would come with your average Shared hosting account. Additionally, sites which have higher outbound bandwidth, like those that serve up audio or documents to users, will need additional bandwidth (and disk space) that Shared hosting may not provide, and a VPS would be better in those cases. The plain number of visitors or page loads on your site may not completely describe the processing and bandwidth needs of your site. If the site is not properly optimized for processing, the server will have to work harder for each page load. And, if you utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN), then your outbound bandwidth usage will be considerably lower since images and other static files will be served from other locations. Comfort Level Once you have your list of requirements, think about your comfort level with controlling your hosting. In the realm of both VPS and Shared hosting, there is a breadth of support types available. If you prefer a hands-off approach, you might want someone else to monitor the services on your server, help you install programs, troubleshoot server issues, and make adjustments to configurations. So, a fully-managed hosting package with a server control panel might be better, though it comes at a slightly higher cost. If you are comfortable working on your own server and have some command line knowledge, an unmanaged VPS without a control panel could save some support and licensing costs. Most Shared hosting will be fully managed since you will not have the access levels necessary to manage the machine yourself. Advantageously, some hosting providers may specialize in one type of website hosting, such as supporting Joomla sites or assisting with commerce site integrations. If you know you will need assistance in the future with your specific hosting type, it may be worthwhile to seek out providers that could assist you with your particular needs. Controllability This leads us to a major difference between VPS and Shared hosting. If you need to have specific software installed, or need special configurations on your server, it could be uncommon to find a Shared hosting package that includes exactly that feature set. (though it is common to find hosting providers that will already have installed popular software, like FFMPEG or ImageMagick) And, it would also be unlikely that your host would install a special package for you on a shared machine, which could pose a security risk to other tenants. Therefore, a Shared hosting package would have low controllability. A VPS, on the other hand, gives you complete access into your system, so that you can enable, disable, install, or remove any software you wish, and adjust configurations exactly to your specifications. So, you aren’t restricted to the software that your hosting provider gives to your environment. Resource Availability A shared hosting package is, of course, shared amongst multiple occupants. Therefore, if you have a “noisy neighbor” who is overusing CPU time or eating up memory, then there will be less available for the remaining websites, including yours, causing them to suffer in performance. Modern Shared hosting providers will combat this by introducing resource limitations, such as maximum RAM usage, maximum number of processes, and maximum CPU percentage. These work to combat the “noisy neighbor” problem, but could limit you from temporarily overusing resources to run, say, statistics, or compile your nightly order list. Being able to temporarily break these shared resource limits is called “bursting”, which is an option for some hosts. To a much lesser extent, the noisy neighbor issue is also present on Virtual Private Servers that have multiple tenants per server node. Multiple virtual servers can be run on one physical server, but modern hypervisors (the software that runs the parent machine) are intelligent enough to silo VPSs very well, and even if one VPS is going hard and running out of memory, even to the point of having a kernel panic or halt state, the other VPSs on the parent machine will generally take no notice at all. But, several hosts also offer bursting of CPU and RAM for VPSs, which can still affect your own private server. There are “Virtual Dedicated” packages available at some hosts which provide all of the resources on one parent (dedicating it to your VPS) to avoid noisy neighbors but retaining the hypervisor’s scalability and management. Scalability Shared server packages are generally not very elastic. Options for changing the resources on your package generally include increasing your disk quota, and in some cases, removing limits on your CPU access. However, more meaningful adjustments to your resources would necessitate migration of your account to a more powerful server, or if one is not available, upgrading to a VPS or Dedicated hosting package, a task which takes considerable time. VPSs will have more functionality available for adding or removing resources, including CPU cores, system memory, and additional disks or disk space through your hosting provider. If you are, for instance, running a promotion in which you expect to receive considerable extra traffic, then a VPS will afford you the ability to scale up your server size, adjust your server-side settings to utilize the new resources, and once traffic has tapered, resize back down to your original values. Price One of the major differences between VPS hosting and Shared hosting is the average price of each platform. Shared hosting could be had for anywhere between $2 and $30 a month from various vendors, while VPSs start somewhere around $30, with nearly no upper price boundary. With these various price points come varying amounts of resources, including support, Memory/CPU resources, disk space, and bandwidth. Different hosting providers may provide different price points for seemingly identical resource availability, but make sure you discern these differences carefully. Find out what kind of scalability is available, if there are any baked-in backup solutions for the platform, support response times, and what portions of the hosting platform are managed. You should also ask to see what self-service documentation is present and whether you can preview the control panel and management interface for your hosting. Finally, see if there are extra costs necessary for any of these add-ons that could affect your final monthly or yearly hosting costs. Which One Is Right For You? There are strong advantages to both Shared and VPS hosting, and there is no perfect catch-all answer for which you should pick; your hosting needs to be tailored to the current and future needs of your websites. But, resources and costs are always driving factors. If you already have multiple Shared hosting accounts for multiple domains, you could save a good deal of money by combining them into a single VPS. And, if you feel your Shared hosting service is limiting your site’s performance, upgrading to a VPS can unleash its full potential by allowing you to tune settings specific to your needs. If you are hosting just one or two domains that don’t have outrageous requirements, a Shared hosting package could suit you perfectly. Cloud VPS At Liquid Web Cloud VPS at Liquid Web is built for reliability and performance. It’s faster than AWS or Rackspace and comes standard with backups, security, and our fully managed guarantees. The post Comparing Shared Hosting vs VPS: Which Is Right For Me? appeared first on Liquid Web.

What Is a Business Incubator (And Should You Consider One)?

Business incubators give brand-new businesses access to the resources and mentoring they need to thrive. Around the world, business incubators are nurturing new companies in every industry and showing them how to grow beyond their in-house assistance. Does your business need one? Not necessarily. But the experience and assistance may be invaluable. A business incubator may be just the thing to keep your new store from becoming a statistic. How do you know if an incubator is right for you? This guide can help. Business Incubators Make It Easier to Start Your Business Starting a new business is hard work, particularly without the right tools and opportunities. Incubators strive to provide everything a new business needs which typically includes: Advice from Experienced Mentors Physical Space for Offices Business Courses Networking Financial assistance Technical support Services Access to investor funding is a really huge potential benefit, too. At some incubators, potential investors are around to provide businesses with their first funding in exchange for equity stakes. You can also learn valuable information about loan opportunities from banks and alternative lenders if giving away equity isn’t part of your business plan. To be successful in starting your eCommerce business, you’ll need to put in a lot of effort. Incubators help you channel these efforts in the right direction. Get industry-leading tips on scaling your business. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter and get content like this sent straight to your inbox. How Do Business Incubators Work? With the right resources, entrepreneurs can set up their businesses for a successful start and paced growth. New business owners often don’t know what they’re missing and aren’t sure where to start with their early research. An incubator may provide you with a basic office lease, consulting, networking, and mentoring — usually for a fee. As you grow, you can scale up or down quickly in the services you use without penalty. These organizations may be for-profit or nonprofit and are frequently associated with a specific industry, city, or academic institution. Their mission is generally to boost the economy by enabling new businesses to grow sustainably and successfully. Of course, how they achieve their mission and what they do to support businesses may vary tremendously. When you’re ready to move your business out on its own, you’ll have an established network you can refer to later if you need support. Benefits of a Business Incubator New eCommerce businesses can potentially improve their survival rate and entrepreneurs can learn about their companies with support and guidance. It’s a place that naturally leads to business relationships and opportunities as startups learn and grow together. Beyond networking, there are other potential benefits such as: Expertise: Lawyers, CPAs, marketing consultants, business analysts, and other experts may be in-house or on a list available to all businesses. Better mentoring: A-list entrepreneurs who’ve been where you are now are typical on-hand mentors. Community: If life gets lonely as a new business, having others around who can empathize can be helpful when the going gets tough. Reduced overhead: Basics like a receptionist, meeting spaces, and assistance from a business research assistant can be expensive, but an incubator can make these benefits much more affordable. Discounts: Special group discounts are often included in your membership. There may be a variety of additional benefits depending on the nature of the program, and the partnerships they’ve cultivated for their members. Startup Office Lease Through an Incubator Program For many businesses, incubators provide their first office space. This is usually at a below-market rate so your company can focus on business operations and not have to worry so much about covering rent. Also, your lease will probably have a great deal of flexibility so you can adjust the space you’re using and accommodate the change in your company. Since you’re in the same building as other new companies and among others from your industry, you have the opportunity to network closely with people who face many of the same concerns and challenges. Even if your program doesn’t include a lease, the list of other participants gives you opportunities to connect with businesses you may never have met otherwise. Networking with Other Incubator Participants Your fellow startups can actually teach you a lot. Even if you’re technically competitors, it’s still worthwhile to meet other business owners and talk about issues facing your industry. Within an incubator, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find others who have insightful contributions to share. Meetups, discussion nights, and social activities give you a sense of camaraderie and motivation. Connecting with others gives you a chance to ask questions and learn who the other participants are outside of work. It’s also a way to get business advice. Those who are further along in their entrepreneurial journey may share tips and ideas with you. Don’t be afraid to ask — as long as you’re also open to sharing information that’s helped you. Remember, what goes around comes around. Build goodwill and be a positive influence. That good karma you’re building will come in handy when you start promoting your business. Aside from customers, some of the most important people you’ll promote your business to will be within your business world. Find Investors for Your eCommerce Business If you’ve ever wondered where you’ll find your first investors, an incubator may be right for you. That’s because incubators often host invitation-only investment nights and pitch events where you can interact directly with potential investors and learn how to explain your company’s value proposition. Those first investments can make reaching your business dreams a lot more realistic and accessible. Who Shouldn’t Use a Business Incubator Business incubators may not be very helpful for some businesses. For instance, if you’re an experienced business owner with adequate resources, incubators may not be as valuable. If it’s not specific to your industry and doesn’t include mentors and resources that are relevant to you, that could also pose significant issues. To find out if an incubator would actually help, be sure to start with research. Talk to the coordinator or liaison and prepare a list of questions. Here’s a list to start your research: What does the typical process look like for participants? How do I know I’ll be successful in your business incubator program? What is your track record with businesses in my industry? Who are the mentors? What resources are available? Can I talk to some graduates of the program? As you think of other questions, be sure to jot them down. If a particular program is not the right fit, it’s easier when you can find that out before investing your time and energy into it. If you can, consider participating in an eCommerce business incubator. Business Incubator for eCommerce Business incubators provide opportunities to find tailored advice and resources that fit your eCommerce industry. It’s an industry-specific resource so you won’t have to waste time learning about issues that don’t apply to you, and everything is purpose-built for your success. That said, there are fewer eCommerce programs because most incubators are generalists. Why eCommerce-Specific Business Incubators Have Added Value No two businesses are the same, and eCommerce as an industry works differently than other areas of business operations. Here are a few issues an eCommerce incubator may help you resolve: Niche research Product sourcing Patent and trademark law Licensing Import and export information eCommerce technology Design and photography Forecasting Accounting and legal issues Marketing and advertising These areas are somewhat different from other industries. Find an eCommerce Business Incubator Business incubator programs exist all over the country, but relocation may be necessary for the perfect opportunity. Online programs are also available. Search The National Business Incubator Association’s business incubator database or check this list from The MBA is Dead. Keep in mind that most are generalist business incubators. You may also want to check with your local chamber of commerce and find out if the business community where you live has any additional resources. Examples of eCommerce Business Incubators These business incubators specifically serve the eCommerce industry: Rocket Internet: Working with online companies globally, Rocket focuses largely on eCommerce. Graduates include Zalora, Westwing, Hello Fresh, and Lamoda. Nordic Etail: Specific to Sweden, Nordic Etail grows eCommerce companies and is a newer incubator focused on online retailing. A Better Lemonade Stand: An online incubator for eCommerce businesses offering growth resources, manufacturer listings, help with branding and business plans, and more. Some incubators are more competitive than others. Many have formal arrangements and contracts, while some have very basic requirements or allow informal buy-in to access specific resources. For some incubators, getting in is a competitive process. These are usually the organizations that invest the most in their members. Applying for a Business Incubator Each business incubator program has its own requirements and expectations, so it’s important to do your research. Programs that provide investment to all participants and offer the best mentoring are usually highly competitive. During the process you may: File an online application at the start and wait to be called for the next steps. Interview with one or more of the founders — it may be required to interview in person. Provide financials or share financial information about your business. Present your business plan or pitch a panel of program advisors. Review a contract outlining expectations and responsibilities. Once you’re in, incubators generally don’t provide as much pressure to succeed as accelerators do, but this is no time to kick back. You need to work hard and get moving. Getting the Most From Your New Business Incubator When you start the program, take every opportunity you can to work hard and learn from the mentors around you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take some time getting to know the program. Learning about business incubator success stories can also help you find out how to get more out of your new business incubation program. Many of today’s biggest companies are incubator graduates. Y Combinator, a business accelerator, is very similar to the incubators supporting small businesses, but it offers a more competitive environment and a shorter incubation time frame of just three months. These companies are now just a few of the famous Y Combinator grads: Airbnb Dropbox Reddit Stripe Feel free to use them as inspiration as you grow your business. The right support and mentoring may take your company further than you’d ever expect. Managed WooCommerce Hosting Can Help Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting makes it easy to start growing your business immediately. Packed with state-of-the-art technologies, Liquid Web ensures low cart abandonment while helping you maintain a high-performance WooCommerce storefront. The post What Is a Business Incubator (And Should You Consider One)? appeared first on Liquid Web.

An Introduction to Load Balancing

Traffic Means Business You want your company to be popular. You want to be #trending. Today, it’s a part of doing business. However, trending means traffic and traffic means a heavy load on your servers. Can your servers—your site—handle viral marketing campaigns and social media campaigns where incoming end users can spike dramatically? Can you host a live stream or media event without having to worry about slowdowns or (we shudder even thinking about it) a total systems failure? One way you can make sure that you’re ready for whatever comes your way (well, your site’s way, anyway) is to have a load balancer in place. A load balancer uses a series of algorithms to evenly distribute your end users across multiple instances—across multiple servers—of your website, ensuring consistent performance and preventing crashes. Also acting as an automatic failover device, the load balancer is an essential component when it comes to your infrastructure. Why is Load Balancing Important to You As of Friday, April 12, 2019, at 12:09 p.m. (thanks internetlivestats.com) there are 4.2 billion internet users, worldwide. Since January first of this year, they’ve sent 74 trillion tweets, 25.5 quadrillion emails, and have made 646.8 trillion Google searches. Oh, and there are 2.5 billion active Facebook users as of 12:18 p.m. Is your website ready for the potentiality that these numbers represent? With so many internet users and the ever-rising popularity (and ubiquity) of social media, a small nudge in the right direction could have a significant impact on your site traffic—and with an increase in traffic comes an increase in risk to your ecosystem. You need a way to make sure everyone that visits your site does so in an orderly way; a way that doesn’t risk the performance or integrity of your servers. That’s what a load balancer does: it acts like an attended parking lot.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get the latest on high availability technology sent straight to your inbox. Remember the last time you went to an event where you had to pay for parking? There was, most likely, a single entrance, a person taking money, and a person directing people into parking spots one by one, row by row. A load balancer does much the same thing—your website iterations (across multiple servers) is the parking lot, your end users are the cars, and your load balancer is the attendant. Take a minute and imagine what it would look like if the parking lot at the event had several entrances and no attendants. It would be complete chaos. (I can see it now; fist fights, fender benders, and an eventual, full-scale riot. The police would come, the event would get shut down, and no one gets to see whatever it is they were there to see in the first place.) Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but without a load balancer, a spike in traffic can bring your website to a screeching halt. A screeching halt is bad for business. For every minute of IT downtime—website, servers, database, and the like—companies lose an average of $5,600 (thanks Gartrillioner, Inc.). That’s somewhere between $140,000 and $300,000 an hour depending on the size and model of your company. The modest investment it takes to put a load balancing solution in place pales in comparison to the losses your enterprise could take if your server(s) crash. Your Company Will Benefit According to the Aberdeen Group, the average business will experience 14.1 hours of IT downtime, annually—that 14.1 hours translates into 1.55 million in revenue. Revenue loss only increases as your company’s reliance on IT increases. For example, Dunn & Bradstreet estimate 6.4 million in losses per hour for the average online brokerage company. Finally, if you consider that 81% of companies report that they can only shoulder 8.76 hours of downtime annually (this one’s from Information Technology and Intelligence Corp), it becomes abundantly clear how important uptime is to the overall health of your business and the businesses around you. Regardless of the size of your enterprise, a load balancing solution will pay for itself. Even a single, averted hour of downtime can be the difference between a good year and a bad year considering the fact that small businesses average only $390,000 in revenue a year (according to the U.S. Census 2014 Survey of Entrepreneurs). In 2016, Medium put together a comprehensive report on eCommerce. This report made plain the impact a website outage—or even a slowdown—has on revenue. They even put the top 50 eCommerce websites (Ikea, Macy’s, Nike, etc.) through their paces, measuring connectivity around the clock, for a week straight. Given that eCommerce company websites, as Medium puts it, “…are not only an important source of information but the source of income for the companies themselves…” these numbers are pretty drastic. However, as connectivity and website speed and performance are increasingly integral to all enterprises, crashing under a heavy load is simply not good for business. Here’s the skinny, according to Medium. A whopping 73% of mobile internet users report coming across websites that were simply too slow to load, while 38% reported a 404. Is your page not loading? If so, 90% of users will (if it’s an option) go to a competitor. On average (over the 7 days Medium measured), uptime amongst the top 50 was only 99.03% (two 9s), somewhat below the industry’s recognized standard of 99.9% (three 9s) and well below the industry’s gold standard of 99.999% (five 9s). Short, but frequent, outages—not prolonged downtime—were most common amongst the top 50 sites. Obviously these numbers—both revenue earned and revenue lost as a result of downtime—are going to change depending on the size, shape, and model of your company. However, one thing is for sure: Your business is probably online which means you have a server, and any time those things go down you’re losing money. You don’t want to lose money. How a Load Balancer Works Ok, so, you definitely want a load balancer. But, even if you’re not designing, buying, and maintaining your own hardware and software it’s a good idea to know how your hosting service is implementing the technology. Why? So you can stay agile. In most cases, you can work with your host to make changes (sometimes big, sometimes small) to your IT infrastructure to better suit your unique needs. Typically, hosts that provide load balancing will have options that you can choose from. These options are primarily relegated to two categories: Algorithms and methods Hosting dedication Algorithms & Methods Load balancing works by employing an algorithm that determines the method by which site traffic is distributed between servers. The 9 algorithms and methods, below, represent the most common ways load balancing is done. 1. The Round Robin Method The round robin method is perhaps the least complex of the balancing methods. Traffic is evenly distributed by simply forwarding requests to each server in the infrastructure in turn, one by one. When the algorithm has made it through the list of instances/servers in its entirety it goes back to the top of the list and begins again. For example, in a 3-server system, a request is made, the load balancer directs the request to server A, then B, then C, and then A again, so on and so forth. The round robin method is best applied in scenarios in which all the server hardware in the infrastructure is similarly capable (computing power and capacity). 2. The Least Connections Method A default load balancing algorithm, the least connections method will assign incoming requests to the server with the least active connections. This is the default load balancing method as it will offer the best performance in most cases. The least connections method is best suited for situations in which server engagement time (the amount of time a connection stays active) is varied. In a round robin method, it is conceivable that one server could get overloaded—for example, if more connections are staying active for longer on server A than B, server A could come under strain. In the least connections method, this can’t happen. 3. Weighted Least Connections Also available with the round robin method (it’s called the weighted round robin method, go figure), the weighted least connections algorithm allows for each server to be assigned a priority status. For example, if you have one server that has more capacity than another server you might more heavily weight the higher capacity server. This means that the algorithm would assign an incoming request to the more heavily weighted server in the case of a tie (or some other active connection metric), ensuring a reduced load on the server with less capacity. 4. Source IP Hash When a load balancer uses a source IP hash, each request coming in from a unique IP is assigned a key and that key is assigned a server. This not only evenly distributes traffic across the infrastructure, but it also allows for server consistency in the case of a disconnection/reconnection. A unique IP, once assigned, will always connect to the same server. According to Citrix, “Caching requests reduces request and response latency, and ensures better resource (CPU) utilization, making caching popular on heavily used Web sites and application servers.” 5. URL Hash Almost identical to the source IP hash method, the URL hash method assigns keys based on the requested IP, not the incoming IP. 6. The Least Response Time Method Similar to the least connections method, the least response time method assigns requests based on both the number of connections on the server and the shortest average response time, thus reducing load by incorporating two layers of balancing. 7. The Bandwidth and Packets Method A method of virtual server balancing, in the bandwidth and packets method the load balancer assigns request based on which server is dealing with the least amount of traffic (bandwidth). 8. Custom Load A complex algorithm that requires a load monitor, the custom load method uses an array of server metrics (CPU usage, memory, and response time, among other things) to determine request assignments. 9. Least Pending Requests (LPR) With the least pending requests method, HTTP/S requests are monitored and distributed to the most available server. The LPR method can simultaneously handle a surge of requests while monitoring the availability of each server making for even distribution across the infrastructure. As you can see, there are a lot of solutions to the same issue. One of them is bound to be the solution for you and your company’s unique needs. If you aren’t sure what the best algorithm/solution for you is, you can always work with your hosting provider to help you make the call. What We Offer at Liquid Web At Liquid Web, we offer shared or dedicated load balancers. Both options are fully managed. From design to implementation, administration, and monitoring, our network engineers will help make sure you are operating optimally. Shared Load Balancers Our managed shared load balancers—think many clients across a hardware/software/network infrastructure—are cost-effective, high performing, and easily scalable (additional web servers can be added to the existing pool of load balanced servers). You’ll have full redundancy with automatic failover built right in. A shared solution is perfect for sites that have gone beyond a single web server. Managed Shared Load Balancers are economical plans that include a 1Gbps throughput, 100,000 concurrent sessions, 2-10 servers, and 1-10 virtual IPs Managed Dedicated Load Balancers At Liquid Web, our dedicated load balancers are exactly that, completely dedicated to your enterprise. A dedicated solution comes with all of the benefits of shared load balancing but also features advanced traffic scripting options, a complete API, high-performance SSL, and a full set of resources committed to your infrastructure 24/7/365. With dedicated hardware, you’re guaranteed high performance, low latency, and no bottlenecking. Managed Dedicated Load Balancers are robust solutions that include up to 10Gbps, 100,000 (starting at) concurrent sessions, and unlimited servers and IPs Cloud Load Balancers As more and more companies operate within (at least in part) a cloud environment, a balancing solution within the same environment—as best practice dictates—becomes necessary. Say hello to cloud load balancers. Just like their physical counterparts cloud load balancers distribute site traffic across redundant virtual nodes, ensuring uptime and mitigating performance issues as a result of high traffic. A distinct advantage of the cloud load balancer over physical appliances is the ease and cost-effectiveness of scaling up to meet demand. Simply put, it’s quicker and cheaper to scale up in a cloud environment. At Liquid Web, we’ve got you covered regardless of the environment. Algorithms We offer a variety of algorithms, including the round robin method, the least connect method, and the least response time method. A Final Word About Load Balancing So, no matter what your goal, if you’ve moved beyond a single web server (or are about to), you would benefit from a load balancer—it will keep your website and your data up, running, highly available, and performing at peak levels. Whether you’re going to implement it yourself or are looking for a managed system, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions that benefit your company if you have an understanding of your needs, your current systems, and where you want to ultimately get to. An HA system (of which load balancing is a part) has to be thought of as not simply improving uptime, but mitigating downtime, the death knell of a company in today’s always-on, 24/7/365 digital economy. With a load balancer solution in place (physical, virtual, or both), you’ll be on your way toward a lean, mean, HA machine. However, are your other systems HA? Do they have the proper redundancies? We can help with that, too. Read The Ultimate High Availability Checklist for Any Website, it will help you take stock of your infrastructure, help you identify vulnerabilities in your systems, and help you work towards a truly HA environment so that you can avoid downtime. The post An Introduction to Load Balancing appeared first on Liquid Web.

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