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Black Friday & Cyber Monday: These web hosting offers come only once a year

My Host News -

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019 is here with the best deals on web hosting you will find all year long. Take a minute to read the following offers for full details each Approved Host web host is offering.  I’m sure you will find something enticing that meets your needs. Black Friday & Cyber Monday Offers 60% OFF ALL GlowHost Hosting! [Coupon Code] BLACKFRIDAY or CYBERMONDAY  60% OFF First Invoice (All Plans) Shared Hosting Plans Reseller Hosting Plans Elastic Sites Plans Semi Dedicated Hosting Plans VDS Hosting Plans eVDS Hosting Plans SHOUTcast Hosting Plans Approved Host Review | Editor’s Choice Awards Valid from: 11/29/2019 with coupon BLACKFRIDAY or 12/2/2019 with coupon CYBERMONDAY Shared, VPS & Dedicated Hosting Specials! [VPS POWERHOUSE]  480GB pure SSD disk blowout! REAL E3-1270v6 CPU cores with ISOLATED resources at a FRACTION of the price 4x E3-1270v6 CPU @ 4.2GHz TURBO threads!! (MEGA Clockspeed) 16GB DDR4 RAM 480GB Pure SSD Disk 5TB @ 1Gbps Bandwidth SolusVM Control Panel Automated Image Backups Only $299 per year! –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER (No Coupon Necessary) [DEDICATED SERVERS]  Special pricing available on 9 fully customized dedicated servers  –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER [SHARED HOSTING] Coupon Code: BLACK2019 Choose from 3 hosting plans. ALL 3 receive 25% OFF –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER Approved Host Review | Editor’s Choice Awards Valid from: 11/29/2019 until 12/2/2019 at midnight. Black Friday Big Sale – 50% OFF! 50% OFF DEDICATED SERVER » Intel Xeon E3-1270 – 8 core cpu with HT » 32GB RAM » 500GB SSD » IPMI / DDOS Protection / 1Gbps Port Uplink / Managed –> ORDER NOW Unlimited SSD Hosting 6 Years for $125.65 ($1.75/M) –> ORDER NOW Enterprise Cloud SSD VPS – 50% OFF – COUPON “turkey19” P1 CLOUD VPS » 4 CPU / 120GB SSD / 10GB RAM »  8TB Bandwidth (Gig uplink) » 30 cPanel Acct / Managed VPS / FREE SSL / 4 IPV4 ** SIGNUP 6 Months get 50% OFF (coupon: “turkey19”) –>ORDER NOW P2 CLOUD VPS » 5 CPU / 150GB SSD / 12GB RAM » 10 TB Bandwidth (Gig uplink) » 50 cPanel Acct / Managed VPS / FREE SSL / 4 IPV4 ** SIGNUP 3 Months get 50% OFF (coupon: “turkey19”)  –> ORDER NOW Reseller Enterprise SSD – 50% OFF COUPON: “Turkey19” Reseller H Hosting » 100GB SSD »  Unlimited Bandwidth (Gig uplink) » 10 cPanel Acct / Managed » cPanel/WHM  / Private NS *** SIGNUP 1 Year get 50% OFF (coupon: “turkey19”) –>ORDER NOW Reseller K Hosting » Unlimited SSD Space »  Unlimited Bandwidth (Gig uplink) » 20 cPanel Acct / Managed » cPanel/WHM  / Private NS *** SIGNUP 6 Month get 50% OFF (coupon: “turkey19”) –> ORDER NOW   KVCHOSTING Established since 2009 and hosted over 500.000 Domains Worldwide and rated A+ by BBB. Approved Host Review | Editor’s Choice Awards Valid from: 11/29/2019 until 12/2/2019 at midnight. Shared, VPS & Reseller Hosting Blowout! SHARED HOSTING – 50% OFF [Coupon Code] BF2019Web 50% off on Web Hosting Plans –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER VPS HOSTING – 40% OFF [Coupon Code] BF2019VPS 40% off on VPS’s – Including Managed VPS –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER RESELLER HOSTING – 30% OFF [Coupon Code] BF2019Reseller 30% off on Reseller Plans –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER Approved Host Review | Editor’s Choice Awards Valid from: 11/29/2019 until 12/2/2019 at midnight.   VPS, Shared & Cloud Specials!  SHARED HOSTING – 20% OFF [Coupon Code] blackfriday19 20% off ALL Shared Hosting Plans –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER VPS HOSTING – 20% OFF [Coupon Code] blackfriday19 20% off all VPS Hosting Plans –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER CLOUD HOSTING – 20% OFF [Coupon Code] blackfriday19 20% off ALL Cloud Hosting Plans –> CLICK HERE TO ORDER Approved Host Review | Editor’s Choice Awards Valid from: 11/29/2019 until 12/2/2019 at midnight.

PHP 7.4 Just Came Out, and So Did Our PHP Version Switcher News -

PHP is still one of the most popular languages used to build the web. The newest version, PHP 7.4, was released today — and Business and eCommerce plan customers can opt to start using it immediately. sites run PHP 7.3 by default — it’s still our recommended version, since it’s been stress-tested across all of — but if you have a site on the Business or eCommerce plan and want to be on the leading technological edge, you can opt to switch to version 7.4 immediately. Head to My Site > Manage > Hosting Configuration to find the new PHP Version Switcher: Choose which version of PHP you want your site to run on, click the “Update PHP version” button, and voilà. (Note: All sites with eCommerce plans can make the switch right now. Sites on the Business plan need to have either an active plugin or a custom theme to use the PHP Version Switcher.) PHP’s evolved with each version 7 release, and PHP 7.4 promises to have the strongest performance yet. It will eventually power all sites, but Business and eCommerce customers can take advantage of the update today!

The Next Evolution in AWS Single Sign-On

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Efficiently managing user identities at scale requires new solutions that connect the multiple identity sources that many organizations use today. Customers want to establish a single identity and access strategy across their own apps, 3rd party apps (SaaS), and AWS cloud environments. Today we announced the next evolution of AWS Single Sign-On, enabling enterprises that use Azure AD to leverage their existing identity store with AWS Single Sign-On. Additionally, automatic synchronization of user identities, and groups, from Azure AD is also supported. Users can now sign into the multiple accounts and applications that make up their AWS environments using their existing Azure AD identity – no need to remember additional usernames and passwords – and they will use the sign-in experience they are familiar with. Additionally, administrators can also focus on managing a single source of truth for user identities in Azure AD while having the convenience of configuring access to all AWS accounts and apps centrally. Let’s imagine that I am an administrator for an enterprise that already uses Azure AD for user identities and now wants to enable simple and easy use of our AWS environments for my users using their existing identities. I do not want to duplicate my Azure AD group and user membership setup by hand in AWS Single Sign-On, and maintain two identity systems, so I am also going to enable automatic synchronization. My users will sign in to the AWS environments using the experience they are already familiar with in Azure AD. You can read more about enabling single sign-on to applications in Azure AD here. To learn more about managing permissions to AWS accounts and applications, refer to the AWS Single Sign-On User Guide. Connecting Azure AD as an Identity Source for AWS Single Sign-On My first step is to connect Azure AD with AWS Single Sign-On. First, I sign into the Azure Portal for my account and navigate to the Azure Active Directory dashboard. From the left-hand navigation panel I then select Enterprise Applications. Next, I click + New application, and select Non-gallery application. In the Add your own application page that opens, I enter AWS SSO in the Name field – you can use whatever name you like – and click Add. After a few seconds my new application will be created and I am redirected to the settings overview for the application. This is where I will configure the settings to enable single sign-on and exchange federation metadata between Azure AD and AWS Single Sign-On. I select Single sign-on from the navigation panel and then click the SAML option. From the settings page that then opens, I need to download the Federation Metadata XML file, which is shown in the SAML Signing Certificate panel. This file, which will be named AWS SSO.xml by default, will be used to configure AWS Single Sign-On in the next steps. Having downloaded the file, I open another browser tab (I leave the Azure AD tab open, as I need to come back to it), and sign into the AWS Single Sign-On Console. From the dashboard home, I click the Enable AWS SSO button. After a few seconds, my account is enabled for single sign-on and I can proceed to configure the connection with Azure AD. Clicking Settings in the navigation panel, I first set the Identity source by clicking the Change link and selecting External identity provider from the list of options. I now have two things to do. First, I need to download the AWS SSO SAML metadata file using the link on the page – I will need this back in the Azure AD portal. Second, I browse to and select the XML file I downloaded from Azure AD in the Identity provider metadata section. I click Next: Review, enter CONFIRM in the provided field, and finally click Change identity source to complete the AWS Single Sign-On side of the process. Returning to the tab I left open to my Azure AD Set up Single Sign-On with SAML settings page, I click the Upload metadata file button at the top of the page, navigate to and select the file I downloaded from the AWS SSO SAML metadata link in the AWS Single Sign-On settings and then, in the Basic SAML Configuration fly-out that opens, click Save. At this point, if I already have a user account in AWS Single Sign-On with a username that matches to a user in Azure AD, I can click the Test button to verify my setup. Customers with a relatively small number of users may prefer to continue maintaining the user accounts in AWS Single Sign-On rather than rely on automatic provisioning and can stop here, as it is possible to use just the sign-in aspect. We do however recommend enabling automatic provisioning for convenience. New users you add to an Azure AD group automatically get access with no additional action needed, making it convenient for administration and productive for the end user. Users who get removed from a group in Azure AD will automatically lose access to associated permissions in AWS Single Sign-On, a security benefit. Enabling Automatic Provisioning Now that my Azure AD is configured for single sign-on for my users to connect using AWS Single Sign-On I’m going to enable automatic provisioning of user accounts. As new accounts are added to my Azure AD, and assigned to the AWS SSO application I created, when those users sign into AWS, a corresponding AWS Single Sign-On user will be created automatically. As an administrator, I do not need to do any work to configure a corresponding account in AWS to map to the Azure AD user. From the AWS Single Sign-On Console I navigate to Settings and then click the Enable identity synchronization link. This opens a dialog containing the values for the SCIM endpoint and an OAuth bearer Access token (hidden by default). I need both of these values to use in the Azure AD application settings so either make note of both values, or use multiple browser tabs and copy/paste as you go. Switching back to my Azure AD browser tab and the AWS SSO application, I click Provisioning in the navigation panel and set Provisioning Mode to Automatic. This triggers display of the fields I need to complete with values from the dialog in the AWS Single Sign-On Console. First, I paste the SCIM endpoint value into the Tenant URL field. Then I paste the Access token into the Secret Token field. I complete the settings by entering a value for Notification Email, and opt in to receive an email when provisioning failures occur, then click the Test Connection button to verify everything is working as expected. Assuming everything is good, I click Save in the page toolbar and then just a couple of small steps remain to configure mapping of attributes and I am done! Expanding Mappings, I click the Synchronize Azure Active Directory Users to customappsso link (your link may read ‘…to AWS SSO‘). That takes me to a page where I control attribute mappings. In that section I deleted the facsimileTelephoneNumber and mobile attributes as I won’t be using them, and I click on and edit the mailNickname attribute, changing the Source attribute to be objectId. I click Save to return to the Settings screen and I have one more step remaining, to turn on synchronization, which I do by clicking On in Provisioning Status and clicking Save one more time. Note that the first sync will take longer than subsequent ones, which happen around every 40 minutes. To check progress I can either view the Synchronization Details or the Audit Logs in Azure AD, or in the AWS Single Sign-On Console I can select Users from the navigation panel. I Configured Single Sign-On, Now What? Azure AD will now be my single source of truth for my user identities and their assignment into groups, and periodic synchronization will automatically create corresponding user identities in AWS Single Sign-On, enabling my users to sign into their AWS accounts and applications with their Azure AD credentials and experience, and not have to remember an additional username and password. However, as things stand my users will only have access to sign in. To manage permissions in terms of what they can access once signed into AWS, I need to set up permissions in AWS Single Sign-On which I do using the AWS Single Sign-On Console. AWS Single Sign-On uses a concept of permission sets for assignments. A permission set is essentially a standard role definition to which I attach AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies. Once I define a permission set, I then assign a group, or user, to the permission set in a specified account. AWS Single Sign-On then creates the underlying AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) role in the designated account, including all the right information that grants access to that group or user. You can read more about permissions sets in the AWS Single Sign-On User Guide. In the screenshots below, you can see the effect of automatic synchronization. In Azure AD I have created three groups, and assigned my user account into two of them (for the sake of this blog post). Switching to the AWS Single Sign-On Console once synchronization completes, I see the three groups have been automatically created, with my user account assigned into the ones I chose. Using Permission Sets, available from the AWS Accounts and Applications links in the navigation panel, I can associate one or more access control policies (custom policies I have created, or AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) managed policies), to both groups and users, thus controlling permissions once users sign in. Sign in is accomplished using the familiar Azure AD experience, and users will be able to choose the account(s) and role(s) to assume. Sign in can also be done using the AWS console and CLI. Details on using single sign-on with the version 2 of the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) is detailed in this blog post. In this post I showed how you can take advantage of the new AWS Single Sign-On capabilities to to link Azure AD user identity into AWS accounts and applications centrally for single sign-on, and make use of the new automatic provisioning support to reduce complexity when managing and using identities. Administrators can now use a single source of truth for managing their users, and users no longer need to manage an additional identity and password to sign into their AWS accounts and applications. This next evolution is now available to all users in all AWS Single Sign-On supported regions. You can check the regional availability of AWS Single Sign-On here. — Steve

Cyber Week Is Here With Fresh Deals on Hosting

InMotion Hosting Blog -

It’s almost Thanksgiving, the one day of the year when everyone shares their gratitude with people they care about. Here’s something you may already know: InMotion Hosting cares about you. Yes, you. To show their gratitude, InMotion has been offering delicious deals on select hosting products to celebrate this special time of year. Take advantage of cyber week deals while you can. Offers end December 2. Save on WordPress Hosting This week only take an additional $1, $2, or $3 off the introductory price for the entire WordPress Hosting line. Continue reading Cyber Week Is Here With Fresh Deals on Hosting at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

How to Launch Your Photography Side Hustle

HostGator Blog -

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

How to Improve Your YouTube Video Views

Social Media Examiner -

Do you want more views on your YouTube videos? Wondering how to get more people to click on your YouTube suggested videos? In this article, you’ll discover how your YouTube click-through rate (CTR) impacts video views and find six steps to improve your YouTube click-through rate. Why YouTube Click-Through Rate Is Important Five hundred hours […] The post How to Improve Your YouTube Video Views appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

AWS DeepRacer Update – New Features & New Racing Opportunities

Amazon Web Services Blog -

I first wrote about AWS DeepRacer at this time last year, and described it as an opportunity for you to get some hands-on experience with Reinforcement Learning (RL). Along with the rest of the AWS team, I believe that you should always be improving your existing skills and building new ones. We launched the AWS DeepRacer car and the AWS DeepRacer League so that you could have the opportunity to get experience and new skills in a fun, competitive environment. In less than a year, tens of thousands of developers have participated in hands-on and virtual races located all over the world. Their enthusiasm and energy have been inspiring, as has been the creativity. Earlier this month, Jungyoul Ku wrote about his DeepRacer Lap Timer (be sure to check out all of his videos and his code). The DeepRacer Slack Community has over 1000 racers, thanks to the efforts of AWS ML Hero Lyndon Leggate. Another AWS Community Hero, Cyrus Wong, runs the AWS DeepRacer Community Blog. All of this enthusiasm and energy has spread to our partners and enterprise customers as well. APN Premier Partner Accenture has created one of the World’s Largest Private DeepRacer Leagues, spanning 30 global locations and 17 countries. We have seen that DeepRacer has sparked interest in machine learning from our enterprise customers, and has inspired them to start multiple production-grade ML projects. Today I would like to tell you about the three ways that we are growing the DeepRacer program. We are adding more chances to compete at AWS events & at your own events, more chances to win, with new races including head-to-head multi-car competitions, and an upgraded DeepRacer car with new sensing capabilities. Announcing AWS DeepRacer Evo We are working to make the AWS DeepRacer car even more perceptive and powerful. The upcoming AWS DeepRacer Evo car will include a stereo camera and a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor. The added sensors will enable DeepRacer Evo to skillfully detect and respond to obstacles, including other DeepRacers. This will help you to learn even more about the exciting field of reinforcement learning, which is ideal for use in autonomous driving. The new sensors will be available soon in virtual form for use in the new My Garage section of the DeepRacer Console. I’ll have more info about our production plans for AWS DeepRacer Evo, including a sensor upgrade kit for your existing DeepRacer car, in early 2020. If you would like to be notified when the DeepRacer Evo car is available for purchase, sign up here. New Racing Challenges & Opportunities We are expanding the DeepRacer League in 2020. We’re adding 8 additional races in 5 countries as part of an expanded AWS Summit presence, and 18 additional virtual races. There will also be a track (and a race) at re:MARS 2020. As a result, you now have 30 opportunities to join us for an in-person AWS DeepRacer League Summit race, along with 24 Virtual Circuit races that you can join from anywhere in the world. In addition to the existing time trial race, we are adding two new race types to give you some new RL challenges, and to give you the opportunity to experiment with different sensors: Object Detection & Avoidance – Use the sensors to detect and (hopefully) avoid obstacles. Head-to-Head Racing – Race against another DeepRacer that is on the same track. Do your best to avoid it while still turning in the best lap time. Both of these new challenges will require you to construct really good reward functions and to carefully tune your hyperparameters! You will be able to create a customized sensor configuration in the new online Garage: You will also have the ability to choose your own neural network topology: Create Your Own Races We are going to give you the ability to create your own virtual Community Races in the console. You will be able to organize competitions (and track progress) within your company, tech community, neighborhood, or friend list: AWS DeepRacer at re:Invent As I write this, the top 64 racers are preparing for the 2019 Championship Cup Knockouts that will take place at re:Invent 2019. Over 650 racers prepared for this race by building & training their models on the Championship Cup Warm-Up, with lap times as low as 5.35 seconds. If you are planning to attend re:Invent, there’s a lot of DeepRacer action in the works. Here’s an overview: DeepRacer League – The 22nd and final qualifying race will take place on December 2nd at the Quad in Aria. DeepRacer Championship Cup at the MGM Grand Garden Arena – Six tracks will be open from Tuesday through Thursday, with time for open-play racing and opportunities for you to get hands-on time with an AWS DeepRacer Evo. The 64 fastest racers from around the world will compete and the fastest 3 will proceed to the on-stage finals at 8 AM on December 5th, before Werner’s keynote. The winner will get to lift the Championship Cup. DeepRacer Expert Bootcamp – A joint effort by the AWS DeepRacer Community and AWS, this event is for developers who are serious about competing in the upcoming 2020 league. DeepRacer Workshops – We will be hosting ten introductory workshops and one Under the Hood deep dive. For more information on all of these events, take a look at the DeepRacer Events at re:Invent page! AWS DeepRacer in 2020 We have a lot of exciting events planned for 2020, and I’ll share more information as soon as it becomes available. The AWS DeepRacer League will start in March 2020, and will include new tracks and other challenges designed to test your skills. — Jeff;

New for Amazon Aurora – Use Machine Learning Directly From Your Databases

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Machine Learning allows you to get better insights from your data. But where is most of the structured data stored? In databases! Today, in order to use machine learning with data in a relational database, you need to develop a custom application to read the data from the database and then apply the machine learning model. Developing this application requires a mix of skills to be able to interact with the database and use machine learning. This is a new application, and now you have to manage its performance, availability, and security. Can we make it easier to apply machine learning to data in a relational database? Even for existing applications? Starting today, Amazon Aurora is natively integrated with two AWS machine learning services: Amazon SageMaker, a service providing you with the ability to build, train, and deploy custom machine learning models quickly. Amazon Comprehend, a natural language processing (NLP) service that uses machine learning to find insights in text. Using this new functionality, you can use a SQL function in your queries to apply a machine learning model to the data in your relational database. For example, you can detect the sentiment of a user comment using Comprehend, or apply a custom machine learning model built with SageMaker to estimate the risk of “churn” for your customers. Churn is a word mixing “change” and “turn” and is used to describe customers that stop using your services. You can store the output of a large query including the additional information from machine learning services in a new table, or use this feature interactively in your application by just changing the SQL code run by the clients, with no machine learning experience required. Let’s see a couple of examples of what you can do from an Aurora database, first by using Comprehend, then SageMaker. Configuring Database Permissions The first step is to give the database permissions to access the services you want to use: Comprehend, SageMaker, or both. In the RDS console, I create a new Aurora MySQL 5.7 database. When it is available, in the Connectivity & security tab of the regional endpoint, I look for the Manage IAM roles section. There I connect Comprehend and SageMaker to this database cluster. For SageMaker, I need to provide the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the endpoint of a deployed machine learning model. If you want to use multiple endpoints, you need to repeat this step. The console takes care of creating the service roles for the Aurora database to access those services in order for the new machine learning integration to work. Using Comprehend from Amazon Aurora I connect to the database using a MySQL client. To run my tests, I create a table storing comments for a blogging platform and insert a few sample records: CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS comments ( comment_id INT AUTO_INCREMENT PRIMARY KEY, comment_text VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL ); INSERT INTO comments (comment_text) VALUES ("This is very useful, thank you for writing it!"); INSERT INTO comments (comment_text) VALUES ("Awesome, I was waiting for this feature."); INSERT INTO comments (comment_text) VALUES ("An interesting write up, please add more details."); INSERT INTO comments (comment_text) VALUES ("I don’t like how this was implemented."); To detect the sentiment of the comments in my table, I can use the aws_comprehend_detect_sentiment and aws_comprehend_detect_sentiment_confidence SQL functions: SELECT comment_text, aws_comprehend_detect_sentiment(comment_text, 'en') AS sentiment, aws_comprehend_detect_sentiment_confidence(comment_text, 'en') AS confidence FROM comments; The aws_comprehend_detect_sentiment function returns the most probable sentiment for the input text: POSITIVE, NEGATIVE, or NEUTRAL. The aws_comprehend_detect_sentiment_confidence function returns the confidence of the sentiment detection, between 0 (not confident at all) and 1 (fully confident). Using SageMaker Endpoints from Amazon Aurora Similarly to what I did with Comprehend, I can access a SageMaker endpoint to enrich the information stored in my database. To see a practical use case, let’s implement the customer churn example mentioned at the beginning of this post. Mobile phone operators have historical records on which customers ultimately ended up churning and which continued using the service. We can use this historical information to construct a machine learning model. As input for the model, we’re looking at the current subscription plan, how much the customer is speaking on the phone at different times of day, and how often has called customer service. Here’s the structure of my customer table: SHOW COLUMNS FROM customers; To be able to identify customers at risk of churn, I train a model following this sample SageMaker notebook using the XGBoost algorithm. When the model has been created, it’s deployed to a hosted endpoint. When the SageMaker endpoint is in service, I go back to the Manage IAM roles section of the console to give the Aurora database permissions to access the endpoint ARN. Now, I create a new will_churn SQL function giving input to the endpoint the parameters required by the model: CREATE FUNCTION will_churn ( state varchar(2048), acc_length bigint(20), area_code bigint(20), int_plan varchar(2048), vmail_plan varchar(2048), vmail_msg bigint(20), day_mins double, day_calls bigint(20), eve_mins double, eve_calls bigint(20), night_mins double, night_calls bigint(20), int_mins double, int_calls bigint(20), cust_service_calls bigint(20)) RETURNS varchar(2048) CHARSET latin1 alias aws_sagemaker_invoke_endpoint endpoint name 'estimate_customer_churn_endpoint_version_123'; As you can see, the model looks at the customer’s phone subscription details and service usage patterns to identify the risk of churn. Using the will_churn SQL function, I run a query over my customers table to flag customers based on my machine learning model. To store the result of the query, I create a new customers_churn table: CREATE TABLE customers_churn AS SELECT *, will_churn(state, acc_length, area_code, int_plan, vmail_plan, vmail_msg, day_mins, day_calls, eve_mins, eve_calls, night_mins, night_calls, int_mins, int_calls, cust_service_calls) will_churn FROM customers; Let’s see a few records from the customers_churn table: SELECT * FROM customers_churn LIMIT 7; I am lucky the first 7 customers are apparently not going to churn. But what happens overall? Since I stored the results of the will_churn function, I can run a SELECT GROUP BY statement on the customers_churn table. SELECT will_churn, COUNT(*) FROM customers_churn GROUP BY will_churn; Starting from there, I can dive deep to understand what brings my customers to churn. If I create a new version of my machine learning model, with a new endpoint ARN, I can recreate the will_churn function without changing my SQL statements. Available Now The new machine learning integration is available today for Aurora MySQL 5.7, with the SageMaker integration generally available and the Comprehend integration in preview. You can learn more in the documentation. We are working on other engines and versions: Aurora MySQL 5.6 and Aurora PostgreSQL 10 and 11 are coming soon. The Aurora machine learning integration is available in all regions in which the underlying services are available. For example, if both Aurora MySQL 5.7 and SageMaker are available in a region, then you can use the integration for SageMaker. For a complete list of services availability, please see the AWS Regional Table. There’s no additional cost for using the integration, you just pay for the underlying services at your normal rates. Pay attention to the size of your queries when using Comprehend. For example, if you do sentiment analysis on user feedback in your customer service web page, to contact those who made particularly positive or negative comments, and people are making 10,000 comments a day, you’d pay $3/day. To optimize your costs, remember to store results. It’s never been easier to apply machine learning models to data stored in your relational databases. Let me know what you are going to build with this! — Danilo

AWS Load Balancer Update – Lots of New Features for You!

Amazon Web Services Blog -

The AWS Application Load Balancer (ALB) and Network Load Balancer (NLB) are important parts of any highly available and scalable system. Today I am happy to share a healthy list of new features for ALB and NLB, all driven by customer requests. Here’s what I have: Weighted Target Groups for ALB Least Outstanding Requests for ALB Subnet Expansion for NLB Private IP Address Selection for Internal NLB Shared VPC Support for NLB All of these features are available now and you can starting using them today! It’s time for a closer look… Weighted Target Groups for ALB You can now use traffic weights for your ALB target groups; this will be very helpful for blue/green deployments, canary deployments, and hybrid migration/burst scenarios. You can register multiple target groups with any of the forward actions in your ALB routing rules, and associate a weight (0-999) with each one. Here’s a simple last-chance rule that sends 99% of my traffic to tg1 and the remaining 1% to tg2: You can use this feature in conjunction with group-level target stickiness in order to maintain a consistent customer experience for a specified duration: To learn more, read about Listeners for Your Load Balancers. Least Outstanding Requests for ALB You can now balance requests across targets based on the target with the lowest number of outstanding requests. This is especially useful for workloads with varied request sizes, target groups with containers & other targets that change frequently, and targets with varied levels of processing power, including those with a mix of instance types in a single auto scaling group. You can enable this new load balancing option by editing the attributes of an existing target group: Enabling this option will disable any slow start; to learn more, read about ALB Routing Algorithms. Subnet Expansion Support for NLB You now have the flexibility to add additional subnets to an existing Network Load Balancer. This gives you more scaling options, and allows you to expand into newly opened Availability Zones while maintaining high availability. Select the NLB, and click Edit subnets in the Actions menu: Then choose one or more subnets to add: This is a good time to talk about multiple availability zones and redundancy. Since you are adding a new subnet, you want to make sure that you either have targets in it, or have cross-zone load balancing enabled. Private IP Address Selection for Internal NLB You can now select the private IPv4 address that is used for your internal-facing Network Load Balancer, on a per-subnet basis. This gives you additional control over network addressing, and removes the need to manually ascertain addresses and configure them into clients that do not support DNS-based routing: You can also choose your own private IP addresses when you add additional subnets to an existing NLB. Shared VPC Support for NLB You can now create NLBs in shared VPCs. Using NLBs with VPC sharing, you can route traffic across subnets in VPCs owned by a centrally managed account in the same AWS Organization. You can also use NLBs to create an AWS PrivateLink service, which will enable users to privately access your services in the shared subnets from other VPCs or on-premises networks, without using public IPs or requiring the traffic to traverse the internet. — Jeff;  

New – Use Tag Policies to Manage Tags Across Multiple AWS Accounts

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Shortly after we launched EC2, customers started asking for ways to identify, classify, or categorize their instances. We launched tagging for EC2 instances and other EC2 resources way back in 2010, and have added support for many other resource types over the years. We added the ability to tag instances and EBS volumes at creation time a few years ago, and also launched tagging APIs and a Tag Editor. Today, tags serve many important purposes. They can be used to identify resources for cost allocation, and to control access to AWS resources (either directly or via tags on IAM users & roles). In addition to these tools, we have also provided you with comprehensive recommendations on Tag Strategies, which can be used as the basis for the tagging standards that you set up for your own organization. Beyond Good Intentions All of these tools and recommendations create a strong foundation, and you might start to use tags with only the very best of intentions. However, as Jeff Bezos, often reminds us, “Good intentions don’t work, but mechanisms do.” Standardizing on names, values, capitalization, and punctuation is a great idea, but challenging to put in to practice. When tags are used to control access to resources or to divvy up bills, small errors can create big problems! Today we are giving you a mechanism that will help you to implement a consistent, high-quality tagging discipline that spans multiple AWS accounts and Organizational Units (OUs) within an AWS Organization. You can now create and apply Tag Policies and apply them to any desired AWS accounts or OUs within your Organization, or to the the entire Organization. The policies at each level are aggregated into an effective policy for an account. Each tag policy contains a set of tag rules. Each rule maps a tag key to the allowable values for the key. The tag policies are checked when you perform operations that affect the tags on an existing resource. After you set up your tag policies, you can easily discover tagged resources that do not conform. Creating Tag Policies Tag Policies are easy to use. I start by logging in to the AWS account that represents my Organization, and ensure that it has Tag policies enabled in the Settings: Then I click Policies and Tag policies to create a tag policy for my Organization: I can see my existing policies, and I click Create policy to make another one: I enter a name and a description for my policy: Then I specify the tag key, indicate if capitalization must match, and optionally enter a set of allowable values: I have three options at this point: Create Policy – Create a policy that advises me (via a report) of any noncompliant resources in the Root, OUs, and accounts that I designate. Add Tag Key – Add another tag key to the policy. Prevent Noncompliant Operations – Strengthen the policy so that it enforces the proper use of the tag by blocking noncompliant operations. To do this, I must also choose the desired resource types: Then I click Create policy, and I am ready to move ahead. I select my policy, and can then attach it to the Root, or to any desired OUs or Accounts: Checking Policy Compliance Once I have created and attached a policy, I can visit the Tag policies page in the Resource Groups console to check on compliance: I can also download a compliance report (CSV format), or request that a fresh one be generated: Things to Know Here are a couple of things to keep in mind: Policy Inheritance – The examples above used the built-in inheritance system: Organization to OUs to accounts. I can also fine-tune the inheritance model in order to add or remove acceptable tag values, or to limit the changes that child policies are allowed to make. To learn more, read How Policy Inheritance Works. Tag Remediation – As an account administrator, I can use the Resource Groups console to view the effective tag policy (after inheritance) so that I can take action to fix any non-compliant tags. Tags for New Resources – I can use Org-level Service Control Policies or IAM policies to prevent the creation of new resources that are not tagged in accord with my organization’s internal standards (see Require a Tag Upon Resource Creation for an example policy). Access – This new feature is available from the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), and through the AWS SDKs. Available Now You can use Tag Policies today in all commercial AWS Regions, at no extra charge. — Jeff;

Giving Back- Volunteering at the Houston Food Bank

cPanel Blog -

On Wednesday, November 13th, a contingent of the cPanel team volunteered at the Houston Food Bank. Over the course of three hours, we managed to assemble 4800 boxes of food and prepare 60 pallets for delivery to families in need. These boxes of food will serve families throughout 18 different counties across the greater Houston area.  Founded in 1982, the Houston Food Bank is a 308,000 square-foot warehouse and is the largest Feeding America food bank in the …

Building a Responsive, Multilingual WordPress Site

WP Engine -

WordPress has become the web’s most popular Content Management System (CMS)—it now powers more than 35% of the Internet and more CMS users choose WordPress than any other platform.   One of the reasons for this surge in popularity is the vast ecosystem of themes and plugins WordPress users can choose from to add functionality to… The post Building a Responsive, Multilingual WordPress Site appeared first on WP Engine.

Want to Play Minecraft With Friends Across Devices? Set Up a Bedrock Edition Server With DreamHost

DreamHost Blog -

One of the best things about Minecraft is the ability to collaborate with other gamers. If your Minecraft friends all use different devices and platforms, however, collaborating can be problematic. Consequently, you might be wondering how you can set up your own server and permit players on multiple devices to join in.  Fortunately, Mojang has created a solution. The Bedrock Edition of its popular game enables gamers on a wide variety of devices to play on the same server. Additionally, here at DreamHost, we have several hosting solutions to suit your Minecraft gaming needs.  In this article, we’ll go over what you need to know about the Bedrock Edition. We’ll also discuss the benefits of managing your own game server. Then we’ll walk you through the six steps you’ll need to set up Minecraft on your own server. Let’s get started! Get DreamHost’s Most Powerful HostingOur dedicated hosting plans are the ideal solution for Minecraft servers that require fast speeds and consistent uptime.See Plans What You Need to Know About the Minecraft Bedrock Edition Minecraft’s popularity has remained high over the years. New developments that bring the game to more and more devices have helped it gain broad appeal. In fact, 91 million people were actively playing the game each month in 2018.   When it comes to understanding the different Minecraft editions, the most important thing to keep in mind is who you can connect and play with when using each version. When you’re playing the game in the original Java version, you’ll only be able to communicate and play with other Java users. This means there may be some players you can’t connect with if they are using other versions or devices. The Bedrock Edition, on the other hand, enables players to unite in the game world, regardless of the devices they’re using. This means an Xbox gamer can join a PC gamer and a Nintendo Switch player in the same Minecraft game world.  One important caveat: at this time, there’s no Bedrock release for Mac, meaning the Java client for Mac won’t be able to connect to a Bedrock server. The Benefits of Hosting Your Own Bedrock Edition Server If you’re an avid Minecraft gamer, and you want more flexibility and control over your game world, the Bedrock Edition should be right up your alley. There are several benefits to setting up your own server, including:  Cross-platform play. When you host the Bedrock Edition on a dedicated server, you’ll be able to play with friends across all platforms and multiple devices.  User control. With a dedicated server, you’ll also have full control over who joins the game, which can be a valuable safety mechanism with multi-generational players.  Customized settings. The Bedrock Edition gives you a lot more customization options than the Java edition, including a new character creation option.  We’ll cover controls and customizations in more detail later on. It’s also worth noting that another one of the benefits of Minecraft is the vast user community and wealth of online knowledge bases you can access about the game. Why You Should Consider a Dedicated Server for Your Minecraft Setup  If you’re familiar with WordPress, you know there are two options for creating a website with the platform. You can use the servers, or you can purchase server space and host your own copy of the open-source software. Minecraft is similar, in that you can use its Realms option and pay to host a private server at an extra monthly fee. Just as with WordPress, there are limitations to this option, which you can avoid if you use your own dedicated server. Here at DreamHost, we offer an excellent solution if you’re looking for more control. Our dedicated server plans are fully-managed and have the speed, security, and memory you need to host Minecraft Bedrock.   Of course, we’re all about giving you options. If a dedicated plan is not what you need right now, you can also explore setting up a Minecraft server with our DreamCompute cloud hosting instead. How to Set Up a Minecraft Bedrock Edition Server With DreamHost (In 6 Steps) Setting up a dedicated server for Minecraft requires some knowledge of server programming. You’ll need to use Terminal to execute commands and create a few files in a plain-text editor. Let’s walk through how this process works in six steps. Step 1: Create an Admin User on Your Server The first thing you’ll need to do is create a user with administrator rights on your dedicated DreamHost server. To do that, you’ll access your DreamHost Panel. Once logged in, you can navigate to Dedicated Servers > Admin Users. There, you can see any existing users and create new ones. Next, click on Add a New Admin User. This will take you to a form where you’ll need to designate a username and password. Once you complete the necessary information, select Add Admin User. It may take a few minutes for this information to appear on the User Admins page. To fully access your server and complete the steps necessary to install the Minecraft Bedrock Edition, you’ll also need to set up your user admin as a Secure Socket Shell (SSH) user in your DreamHost user panel. You’ll then access your server using a terminal client so you can run command lines, rather than merely transferring files as you would with a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) application. This process can work differently on a Mac than it does on a Windows machine.  Step 2: Download the Server Software To get the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft working on your server, you’ll need to install Java Runtime Environment (JRE) — you can use our command line instructions below. This is what enables Minecraft to run on your server since the game is essentially a Java application. Java is also the programming language that allows the game to be played on multiple platforms. Of course, you’ll also need the Minecraft Bedrock Edition server software itself. Once you download the appropriate server software for your system, you’ll be able to access detailed user guides to use as you configure your server. It’s important to note that the server software is free to download, but you will need to have an active Minecraft account and a copy of the game in order to run it from your server. You can run the following command to install JRE  server software:  apt-get update && apt-get -y install  wget screen openjdk-8-jdk-headless  Extract (unzip) the downloaded Bedrock  .zip file. Upload (via SFTP) the extracted folder to the admin user’s home directory. You might find similar command lines in other tutorials online, but these snippets have been adjusted explicitly for your DreamHost server. You’ll just need to replace “your-admin-user” with the username you set up in the previous step. You should refer to your software documentation for further instructions if needed. Additionally, there are specific instructions for Linux users that may require slightly different commands. It’s also important to note that while Bedrock enables multi-platform gameplay, all users will need to make sure they are running the same version of the game as the version installed on the server.  Step 3: Configure Your Server Properties Now that you have the right software installed and can launch your server, you’ll need to begin configuring the properties of the game server. You can do this by opening the file in a plain text editor or code editor. This file should have come packaged with your server software.   Your server documentation will contain a list of allowable syntax options. This is where you’ll customize your game on the server. There is an extensive list of options specific to the Bedrock Edition. For example, you can configure properties for:  gamemode: By default, this is always set to “survival” mode, but you can configure it to survival (0), creative (1), or adventure (2).   difficulty: Your options for setting the difficulty level are peaceful (0), easy (1), normal (2), and hard (3), and it will be set to “easy” by default. max-players: You can set any number you want for this, although higher numbers may have an impact on the server’s performance. allow-cheats: This can be set to “true” or “false”, and is used to control the ability of all players on the server to use cheat commands.  You’ll need to restart your server once you’ve made changes to the properties file, in order for them to take effect.  Step 4: Develop and Save Your Player Whitelist If players are having trouble accessing and playing the game on your server, you may need to create a whitelist file. This will add specific gamer information for your server to recognize. The file can contain the following command line: [    {        "ignoresPlayerLimit": false,        "name": "YOURGAMERTAGHERE"    } ] This snippet is specifically designed for Xbox Live Gamertags. You’ll also need to enable the whitelist option in your file. Once you’re done adding information to the file, you’ll want to save it to the same directory as your server software’s executable files.  Step 5: Create a Player Permissions File Next, it’s a good idea to create a file that controls all of your player permissions. This will keep your game world safe and secure. You’ll first want to create a new file in a code or plain-text editor and call it permissions.json. Then, save this to the same location as your server software’s executable files. Just make sure you don’t save the file with a .txt extension, but use .json instead. To complete this file, you’ll need to review the server software documentation for all allowable syntax. This is where you’ll list the Xbox User Identification (XUID) for each player, and define their permissions. Each player is assigned a XUID when they join the server, which will be listed in the whitelist.json file and displayed in the server console when a player joins the game.  Step 6: Start Your Server Once you’ve configured your Minecraft settings, you can start your server and begin building! To do that, you’ll need to use Terminal again, along with the following command:  LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./bedrock_server Or, using screen to prevent server halting when disconnecting from the shell: LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. screen -S minecraft ./bedrock_server Then hit Enter, and you should be good to go. If you encounter any issues when starting the server, however, you can contact DreamHost support for help. Conclusion Setting up the Bedrock Edition on one of our dedicated servers gives you the flexibility to invite gamers on a wide variety of platforms to your Minecraft worlds. This gives you more options than the original Java edition of the game permits.   Here at DreamHost, we have dedicated server options to suit all your gaming needs. Check out our pricing options and server features and start building new worlds with Minecraft!    The post Want to Play Minecraft With Friends Across Devices? Set Up a Bedrock Edition Server With DreamHost appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Cyber Weekend Holiday Savings for WordPress

WP Engine -

It’s astounding how fast the year has gone by! As we wind down 2019, what better way to ring in the holiday season than by enjoying the awesome deals and promotions that have been made available to members of the WordPress community?  We’ve put together some of the best offers out there for various WordPress… The post Cyber Weekend Holiday Savings for WordPress appeared first on WP Engine.

5 Google My Business Tips for Online-Only Businesses

HostGator Blog -

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

4 Creative Ways to Generate Organic Instagram Engagement

Social Media Examiner -

Want more engagement on your Instagram posts? Wondering how to entice people to engage with you on Instagram? In this article, you’ll discover four out-of-the-ordinary ways to create Instagram posts that prompt people to engage with and click on your content. #1: Encourage Instagram Engagement With Brand-Relevant Puzzles The typical image or video post on […] The post 4 Creative Ways to Generate Organic Instagram Engagement appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.


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