Industry Buzz

Content + Commerce: A Magento 1 End of Life Discussion

Nexcess Blog -

At the beginning of the year, the Nexcess research team put together a report on the State of Hosting at the start of 2019. In it, we predicted that Data Protection would only increase in importance, headless implementations would become more mainstream, and development would improve as hosting infrastructure continued to decrease in visibility.  It’s now approaching the end of 2019, and many of these predictions have come to fruition. Most vitally, for ecommerce stores, this has meant an increased lack of division between content and commerce. In 2018, 67 percent of Magento store owners stated that they plan to adopt PWA at some point in the future. Their reasons for doing as such were the improved development capabilities of headless implementations, and the ability to stay ahead of the curve. This wasn’t just because of infrastructure. It was also because of content.  The division between content and commerce isn’t what it once was. This means more opportunities in a wild west-esque content landscape. According to Technavio, a leading market research company, the content marketing industry is set to grow by 16 percent between 2017 and 2021. According to their lead researcher, the reason for this is that “The effectiveness of traditional marketing is decreasing by the day. Companies must adopt the latest marketing trends to enhance their business and increase their consumer base.“  The important takeaway here is that companies are trying to adopt the latest marketing trends to stay ahead. In 2019 and 2020, that means content.      Is Content Marketing New? Content Marketing is nothing new. According to the Content Marketing Institute, one of the first recognized examples of content marketing was from none other than Benjamin Franklin. In 1732, he published the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. The reason? To promote his publishing business.  Then, in 1801, the bookstore Librairie Galignani recruited a content strategist to help them grow their business. Most significantly, this meant creating a newspaper that featured excerpts from famous writers and books. And then there were many, many other content marketing efforts from companies around the world. Each more innovative and influential than the last.  Content Marketing has been around for a long time, but it’s only relatively recently that commerce businesses have started to ramp up its importance in the digital space.  Enter the digital age. Content marketing experts initially continued to invest heavily in traditional forms of content marketing. Then SEO started to make an appearance, and those strategies changed. Then Marketing automation and personalization appeared. Again, those strategies changed.  Today, content has become an important part of the buyer’s journey. It does more than just provide reading material. It helps to shape a brand, build advocates, and create a community that rallies around the same beliefs and ideas.    Enter Magento PWA and the Magento 1 End of Life With the Magento 1 End of Life fast approaching, merchants now have an opportunity. Moving to a progressive web application is a very real possibility, and comes with a lot of advantages over current, single application deployments. A few of those advantages include: More front-end control The ability to create improved user experiences Reduced cost of development Cross device communication and mobile-first design Continued engagement through automated push notifications Improved multi-team collaborative processes With these advantages, it almost seems as though PWA is the obvious choice for moving forward. Increasingly, hosting providers are also ramping up support for PWA application stacks. This means faster deployments, quicker page load times, and optimized development environments.      The Content + Commerce Mix: Magento Alternatives Magento isn’t the only player in PWA. Also known as headless and decoupled, Drupal and WordPress have both been making strides into the space. Commerce platforms have also made a play, providing headless architecture as a way to satisfy the growing content demands of merchants.  There are headless and decoupled alternatives for several content platforms – most notably WordPress and Drupal. One company doing this very well is BigCommerce. Their BigCommerce for WordPress (BC4WP) implementation has come a long way to offering merchants a reliable and scalable headless option. Moreover, with WordPress a well-known and well-used application, merchants are easily able to adapt their internal teams to the content management process.      The Possibilities of a Post-Magento 1 World Now is the time to get your store ready for the next stage of its lifecycle. Now is the time to explore the possibilities open to you as a merchant for both improving the buyer’s journey on your site, and managing the complex range of development and content curation processes that already exist within your organization.  Interested in learning more about your options after Magento 1? Learn everything you need to know about the Magento 1 End of Life. Thinking of just moving to Magento 2? See how the two platforms compare and judge whether replatforming is right for your business. Alternatively, download our guide to After M1, offering a list of viable alternatives and why you should choose them.  The post Content + Commerce: A Magento 1 End of Life Discussion appeared first on Nexcess Blog.

Now available in Amazon SageMaker: EC2 P3dn GPU Instances

Amazon Web Services Blog -

In recent years, the meteoric rise of deep learning has made incredible applications possible, such as detecting skin cancer (SkinVision) and building autonomous vehicles (TuSimple). Thanks to neural networks, deep learning indeed has the uncanny ability to extract and model intricate patterns from vast amounts of unstructured data (e.g. images, video, and free-form text). However, training these neural networks requires equally vasts amounts of computing power. Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) have long proven that they were up to that task, and AWS customers have quickly understood how they could use Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) P2 and P3 instances to train their models, in particular on Amazon SageMaker, our fully-managed, modular, machine learning service. Today, I’m very happy to announce that the largest P3 instance, named p3dn.24xlarge, is now available for model training on Amazon SageMaker. Launched last year, this instance is designed to accelerate large, complex, distributed training jobs: it has twice as much GPU memory as other P3 instances, 50% more vCPUs, blazing-fast local NVMe storage, and 100 Gbit networking. How about we give it a try on Amazon SageMaker? Introducing EC2 P3dn instances on Amazon SageMaker Let’s start from this notebook, which uses the built-in image classification algorithm to train a model on the Caltech-256 dataset. All I have to do to use a p3dn.24xlarge instance on Amazon SageMaker is to set train_instance_type to 'ml.p3dn.24xlarge', and train! ic = sagemaker.estimator.Estimator(training_image, role, train_instance_count=1, train_instance_type='ml.p3dn.24xlarge', input_mode='File', output_path=s3_output_location, sagemaker_session=sess) ... ic.fit(...) I ran some quick tests on this notebook, and I got a sweet 20% training speedup out of the box (your mileage may vary!). I’m using 'File' mode here, meaning that the full dataset is copied to the training instance: the faster network (100 Gbit, up from 25 Gbit) and storage (local NVMe instead of Amazon EBS) are certainly helping! When working with large data sets, you could put 100 Gbit networking to good use either by streaming data from Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) with Pipe Mode, or by storing it in Amazon Elastic File System or Amazon FSx for Lustre. It would also help with distributed training (using Horovod, maybe), as instances would be able to exchange parameter updates faster. In short, the Amazon SageMaker and P3dn tag team packs quite a punch, and it should deliver a significant performance improvement for large-scale deep learning workloads. Now available! P3dn instances are available on Amazon SageMaker in the US East (N. Virginia) and US West (Oregon) regions. If you are ready to get started, please contact your AWS account team or use the Contact Us page to make a request. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback, either on the AWS Forum for Amazon SageMaker, or through your usual AWS contacts.

Nine Tips On The Best Placement For An Email Subscribe Form

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Discover the five best places on your website to put an email subscribe form plus get four more options to boost conversions. You need a list. Build your email list. The money is in the list. Get people to your email list. We get it. Business owners need to focus on establishing, nurturing, growing, and engaging their email list and if you’re reading this, you probably have the same goal. Now, you already know you need an email list and you probably already have an email provider selected. That’s the easy part. The hard part is figuring out where to put your email subscribe form on your website. In fact, one of the most common questions we hear is, “Where is the best place to put an email subscribe form?” While there is no one right answer or one single position on your website that is guaranteed to produce best results, there are nine common places that are considered the best spots on a website to put an opt-in form. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter for more great ideas on how to make your WordPress site profitable. The Five Best Spots For An Email Signup On Your Website 1. At The End OF A Blog Post One of the most popular places to display a call to action or email signup form is at the end of your blog posts. The premise with this approach is that if a visitor has made it to the end of your post, they liked your content and it simply makes sense to offer them an opportunity to engage further. 2. Within The Content Context plays a huge role in the success of an email signup offer. The more relevant the offer is to the content on the page, the better it will perform. A content upgrade is an opt-in offer that is placed within the actual post content that is relevant to the content the visitor is already engaged with. Content upgrades are most effective when they invite the reader to learn more about the same topic and take the next step. 3. At The Top Of The Sidebar If your WordPress site has a sidebar, consider placing an email signup form at the very top of the sidebar. This has been the go-to spot to put an opt-in form for years, so people already expect to find it there. 4. At The Bottom Of The Page While the bottom of the page is traditionally reserved for the footer, it is also a prime location for a call to action and/or an email subscribe form because those that make it to the bottom of the page are those who are most interested in what you do. 5. In The Header For years, marketers preached about placing critical calls to action “above the fold.” But the proliferation of smartphones and tablets made scrolling normal and expected, and eventually the fold became a thing of the past. While “the fold” may have died, the effectiveness of an email signup form in the website header area didn’t. When placed at the top of the page—such as in the hero area or in a floating bar—visitors see the signup form right away. Four More Options For Email Opt-Ins Here’s the thing that is critical to understand: While you can put an email subscribe form in your sidebar, in the footer of your site, in the header, at the end of a post, and in the body of the content, you don’t want to do all of them. That would create too many competing calls to action on a page and cause frustration for visitors. But what happens when you want to include multiple opt-in offers without overwhelming visitors? You don’t include them on the actual web page. Instead, you use technology like OptinMonster to create options like lightbox pop-ups, exit-intent popups, welcome gates, and scroll boxes. Lightbox Popups Lightbox popups are the most common style of popup. It pops-open an email subscribe form and visitors can either sign up or close it. They key to an effective lightbox popup is timing—setting it to display after a set amount of time, number of visits, or scroll position. Exit-Intent Popups Exit-intent popups are displayed when a visitor is about to leave your website. It’s a last-ditch effort to capture a visitor’s email address with one final special offer before they go. Welcome Gates Welcome gates take over the entire screen after a visitor reaches a web page. Visitors have a moment to see the content and then it is covered or pushed down by a full screen call to action. They can then choose to click yes or no, or scroll down to pass it by. Scroll Boxes Scroll boxes display email subscribe forms in a similar way popups do, but instead of taking over the screen, covering up the content, and interrupting the visitor, they simply appear in the bottom right-hand corner of the browser window as the visitor scrolls down the page. Learn 6 Ways to Improve Web Conversions Using Content The post Nine Tips On The Best Placement For An Email Subscribe Form appeared first on Liquid Web.

What Are the Different Types of Domains?

HostGator Blog -

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

How to Scale Facebook Ad Results With a Tiered Bid Cap and Lookalike Audiences

Social Media Examiner -

Want a better way to scale your Facebook ad campaigns? Wondering how best to allocate ad spend to your Facebook lookalike audiences? In this article, you’ll learn how to scale Facebook ads by combining strategic bid capping with Facebook lookalike audiences. Why Scale Facebook Lookalike Audiences With a Tiered Bid Cap? Imagine the following scenario. […] The post How to Scale Facebook Ad Results With a Tiered Bid Cap and Lookalike Audiences appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

LinkedIn Enhanced Ads Targeting Tools: What Marketers Need to Know

Social Media Examiner -

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore enhanced LinkedIn ads targeting tools, as well as Pinterest business profile and shopping updates with guests AJ […] The post LinkedIn Enhanced Ads Targeting Tools: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

How to Improve the Landing Page Experience of Your Ad

Grow Traffic Blog -

We marketers, when talking about ads, often have to reference something called the ad quality score. Google maintains a quality score, and Facebook has a relevance score, both of which are important for the successful function of your ads. The thing is, they aren’t the only metrics that matter. In this case, we’re talking about another metric that Google maintains, something called the Landing Page Experience. The LPE is a way Google uses to measure the landing pages you use for your ads. Your landing page is the page users land at after they click your ad. Your landing page experience is, in the words of Google, “Google’ Ads’ measure of how well your website gives people what they’re looking for when they click your ad.” Your landing page experience is a metric for each ad – since different ads can have different landing pages, and different ads to the same landing page can have a different level of congruence between ad and landing page – and it’s part of the ad rank that goes into calculating your CPC and ad auction position. In other words, a poor landing page experience means your users aren’t getting the messages they think they’ll be getting. It can be anything from an ad promising 15% off and the landing page only showing 10% off, to a landing page advertising shoes when the ad promoted shirts. A poor landing page experience means your ads are going to cost more and you’ll have a harder time getting premium positioning, as well, so it’s always in your best interests to improve your experience. Keep in mind that your landing page experience is a partially subjective ranking. There are algorithms and an automatic system that parses your ads and your landing pages, but Google also uses individual human raters to help rate and rank your landing page experience as well. This leads to a little bit of variability in landing page ratings, but it’ll average out in general so it’s not really a big deal. Checking Your Landing Page Experience Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to check your specific landing page experience. The best you can do is check your overall ad quality score, which includes landing page experience as part of the calculation. To do this, log into your Google Ads account and find the Keywords section on the page menu. One of the columns is Status. Look for individual keywords and either hover over them or click/tap them to see a rating. This rating will typically be generic, like “above average” or “average” as calculated based on the various quality score metrics. Here are my top tips for improving your landing page experience. Keep in mind when you’re checking that it can take a bit for your quality score to update once you’ve made some changes. For landing page experience specifically, Google says “You might not see an immediate impact, but you may see results within days or weeks.” Make Your Landing Page Content Original This is a generally good tip for landing pages across the board, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to every landing page. What do I mean? When you’re split-testing different landing page variations, you might end up with several iterations of a landing page that are virtually identical, except the positioning of an image or the color of a button. This is fine. Google understands that businesses run tests like this. You do run the slight risk of a duplicate content penalty if you do this too much, but you should be fine if you canonize your main landing page using the meta tags on all of the variations. Don’t worry too much about it though; Google is smart enough to overlook minor mistakes. You should also make sure your landing page isn’t broadly copied from other landing pages in your industry. This is a common issue with affiliate marketers who buy template-based sites with landing pages that all look basically the same. You might find 100 sites shilling the same affiliate product, all with the same landing page template and largely identical copy. All of these sites are going to perform worse than average because there’s nothing original about their landing pages. Make Your Landing Page Content Useful Remember that your landing page should be useful to the user as they arrive on the page. They are searching for something, and they typically have a purchase intent, or at least the intent to research a future purchase. They’re looking for something specific, whether it’s a specific product buy button or information about a product. Your landing page needs to provide that useful information to that user. A large part of this is about understanding user intent when they’re searching. If a user is searching for information about, say, home security cameras, your landing page is going to do best when you’re providing information about multiple camera systems you sell and the pros and cons between them. A comparison page does best in this sort of scenario. Conversely, if a user is searching for a specific model of a home security camera, landing them on a comparison page isn’t going to give them much value. If that specific model is one of several, it CAN be useful, but you’re generally going to get better results if the landing page is specifically focused on that one camera model. Make Your Landing Page Content Relevant to Your Ads Congruence is the most important word for this tip. Congruence means “agreement or harmony; compatibility.” In geometry, two shapes are congruent when they share the same shape and size, though their orientation may be different. In advertising, congruence is the flow of relevance from ad to landing page. This is a case when details matter, and it’s also relevant to user intent. Congruence and page utility are both important. For example, if you’re promoting a sale on your product and your ads say it’s 10% off, the landing page should also say that the price is 10% off. If you’re promoting a specific model of home security camera in your ads, your landing page should be 100% focused on that model. The point is to make sure that there’s as minimal disconnect between ad and landing page as possible. Keep in mind that you can use advanced ad targeting to enhance congruence. For example, if you run ads that bring users to your website for the first time, your landing page can be focused on basic explanations and first-time impressions and FAQs. If you then make a remarketing audience out of those visitors and run ads targeting those people, your landing page for that ad can answer more advanced questions and assume a basic level of familiarity with your offering. Make Your Website’s Contact Information Clearly Accessible One of the elements that goes into landing page experience as far as Google is concerned is the transparency and trustworthiness of your website in general and your landing pages specifically. One of the factors that goes into that is how accessible your business information is to users. I know that one of the typical pieces of advice for landing page optimization is to give users as few links as possible to send them places other than the purchase/conversion process, but these links are exceptions. You want to provide a way for users to read more about your business, and ways for them to reach out and contact you if they so desire. Typically, I find this boils down to two pages: an About Us page and a Contact Us page. The About Us page should tell details about your brand, your story, and your history. This helps users feel good about making their purchase when, for example, they know you aren’t some shell company running drop-shipping for a product they can buy cheaper elsewhere. Even if that’s what you’re actually doing, you can dress it up nicely in an About section. The Contact page makes your business seem more legitimate as well. By presenting various generally accepted means of communication – ranging from email to web chat to a phone number and even a physical address – you assure users that you’re a real business. It’s best if you have offices relatively local to the user – a USA headquarters for a business selling in the USA rather than an office in India, for example – but you shouldn’t lie about it either. A third page you can consider linking, either directly or from within one of those two pages, is a Privacy Policy page. This is especially important for landing pages focused on getting email opt-ins, and should speak in plain language about how you’re gathering emails for marketing only and you aren’t selling them to other businesses or anything like that. Make Your Business Trustworthy Many of the elements of trust in a website are the same as elements of transparency above, like having a privacy policy page and having an About Us that showcases how real and legitimate you are. However, your landing page can also include some elements of trust outside of just those factors. Use SSL on any page that has a form for users to fill out, or even site-wide SSL for maximum trustworthiness across the board. Use a trust seal users will recognize as something that lends legitimacy to your page. Clearly and obviously disclose any sponsored or affiliate links, as per FTC disclosure rules. Use elements of social proof, such as customer numbers or specific testimonials, to improve user trust. Making your business trustworthy is a huge part of gaining not just immediate sales, but long-term repeat customers and brand advocates. Make Your Landing Page Mobile Friendly It should come as no surprise that one of the elements of landing page experience as far as Google is concerned is the ability for mobile devices to navigate the page. This means a few things. First, it means setting a viewport that mobile devices can use to adequately view a page. A viewport can be dynamically adjusted, as per responsive design, and is a huge part of modern compatible websites. Next, it means making sure all of your text is large enough to read on a mobile device. Many of us are used to relatively small text on webpages – though that’s changing – but mobile devices often have lower resolutions and fuzzier screens making it difficult to read small text. Bump up that font size, friends! You also want to make sure your clickable elements are distinct and far enough apart from one another that there’s no way to “fat finger” tapping the wrong one on a mobile device. It’s pretty unlikely for a landing page, but for your website as a whole, you should make sure you aren’t layering it with scripts and ads such that it becomes difficult or impossible to view the actual content of the site. Personally, I dislike Mediawiki for this reason; it ends up so covered in ads that the user has to spend five minutes just digging to find the content they came there to see in the first place. Make Your Site Load Faster Site speed is another important aspect of site quality as far as Google is concerned, and that applies both to mobile and desktop versions of the page. It’s also a factor for more than just landing page experience; site speed is a known factor for Google search results ranking as well. There are a ton of different ways you can speed up a site – enough that it’s worth an entire article – so I highly recommend reading a detailed guide and putting as many of those tips into practice as you can. Site speed is very important today, and it can boost your landing page experience significantly. Once you’ve implemented as many of these tips – for both site speed and for general landing page experience – as possible, you should start to see improvements to your ads and quality score across the board. The post How to Improve the Landing Page Experience of Your Ad appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

People of WordPress: Alice Orru

WordPress.org News -

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open-source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories. Meet Alice Orru, from Sardinia, Italy. Alice Orru was born in Sardinia, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. As a child, she dreamt of becoming a flight attendant, traveling the world, and speaking many foreign languages. Unable to meet the height requirements of her chosen profession, Orru ended up choosing a different path in life, following the Italian mantra: “You have to study something that will guarantee a stable and secure job for life.” The unemployment rate in Sardinia is very high, a challenge shared throughout the surrounding islands. In addition to that, Alice wasn’t that keen on having the same job all her life, as her parents had. When Orru was 22 she moved to Siena, Tuscany, to finish her studies. That is when she created her first personal blog. The website was built on an Italian platform named Tiscali, which she later migrated to WordPress.com. After 2 years in Tuscany Orru moved to Strasbourg, France. She studied French and worked several jobs while living there. Her first serious job was in Milan – working 40 hours/week in the marketing department of a large, international company. She found herself surrounded by ambitious colleagues and a boss who constantly requested extra —unpaid— working hours per day. Alice Orru Choices, choices, choices… Alice gave up blogging because she wasn’t feeling inspired enough to write. She questioned whether she really wanted to do that job forever; working 10 hours per day under the neon lights of an office. It forced her to set aside her dreams for the time being, and for a while, she mainly lived for the weekends. Alice decided to leave the job and moved to Barcelona, Spain, all by herself, in 2012. After a few months of intense Spanish learning at the university, she found a job in an international clinic as a “Patient Coordinator.” Orru assisted international patients coming to Barcelona for their treatments. She acted as their translator, interpreter and administrative consultant.  Patients came from Italy, France, England, Morocco, Senegal, and several other countries. Alice was so inspired by some of their stories, that she started to write again: She dusted off her WordPress blog and filled it with stories about her new life in Barcelona and some of the women she met at the clinic. “I was feeling stronger and more independent than ever,” Orru expressed. Technical issues led to unexpected opportunities In the summer of 2015, Alice was writing on her blog and got stuck with a technical problem. While she was searching through the WordPress.com documentation, she saw a pop-up in the bottom right corner of her screen. It was a staff member of Automattic, checking if she needed help. They chatted for a few minutes and the problem was solved. Alice left the chat with one question, though: how did that person on chat find a support job with WordPress? Alice found the official WordPress job page: jobs.wordpress.net and noticed a job offer that caught her attention: WP Media, a French startup, was looking for a polyglot and remote customer service teammate for one of their plugins, WP Rocket. She read their requirements: fluency in English, French and possibly other languages, excellent experience with WordPress, and some coding skills. She knew she didn’t meet all the requirements, but could speak 4 languages, and she had a WordPress blog. She didn’t know anything about PHP, though. Orru had been a WordPress.com user for years and knew she was ready to learn more. Orru wrote a cover letter and sent her CV. A Skype interview was conducted and several days later she received the news that she had gotten the job!  A steep learning curve The early days in her new job were intense. Alice felt inexperienced but was supported by her teammates. She started studying and reading everything about WordPress for beginners. Initially, she answered easy tickets from customers. All the while her teammates were sending useful material to read, setting up video-calls for 1 to 1 training, and encouraging her the entire time. Soon, Orru was replying to customers whose first language was either Spanish or Italian in their native language. This was much appreciated and resulted in several happy comments. Until that moment the plugin’s support had been offered only in English and French. Finding her way in the WordPress community At WordCamp Paris 2016, one of Alice’s teammates introduced her to how the WordPress community collaborated and kept in contact through Slack. “You speak multiple languages, why don’t you try to contribute to the polyglots team?” he asked. Alice knew very little about contributing to WordPress. She had only been working for WP Media for 6 months and didn’t feel ready to dive into a new challenge and start also contributing to WordPress. Yet, curiosity led her to join both the local Italian and the global WordPress Community on Slack. For the first few months, she mainly observed what was happening the channels. Then, she attended WordCamp Milan and met some members of the Italian Polyglots team. It was love at first string! Laura, one of the General Translation Editors (GTE) for Italy, taught her how to start contributing and translating, following the polyglots guidelines. She also told her about the Italian community’s big efforts to work together, consistently, to boost and grow WordPress related events in Italy. With her teammates’ encouragement, Orru applied to WordCamps as a speaker and gave her first talk in December 2016 at WordCamp Barcelona. After that, she both spoke at WordCamp Torino on April 2017 and at WordCamp Europe in 2017. Alice Orru speaking at WordCamp Europe, in Paris, in 2017 Dreams evolve, all the time! Orru knows that her experiences are not just due to luck. She used her previous skills and passions and adapted them to a new career and life path. “We all have some skills; and if we don’t know which they are exactly, we should take some time to make a list of the things we’re really good at. With that in mind, just try. Apply. Get involved. Don’t get stuck in the feeling of ‘I can’t do it because I don’t know enough’. So that’s what I did. Without even realizing it, I started putting into reality the dream of the little girl who was born on an island and wanted to travel and speak different languages.WordPress made this possible. I’m now part of a big community, and I am proud of it.”Alice Orru This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. HeroPress highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard. Meet more WordPress community members over at HeroPress.com!

Connect, Follow or Message: How to Build the Best Professional Relationships on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Official Blog -

Building a thoughtful LinkedIn network is a great way to open doors for getting and giving career advice. But, growing your network isn’t just about the quantity of connections you have. In fact, we recommend multiple ways to have enriching conversations and meaningful interactions with people on LinkedIn.  Know when to connect Everyone talks about LinkedIn connections and the benefits they provide as you grow your professional career. And that is the truth! But, who exactly should you connect... .

How to Create A Website

The Domain.com Blog -

Have you made the decision to take your business or passion project online? Congratulations! It’s a big step, and we’re excited for you. Create a website: From planning to execution Is this the first website you’ve created? Or has it been a while since you’ve made one? Either way, we’ll help you understand exactly what to do. Follow along as we discuss how to plan and build your website. Planning Your Site Not all websites are created equal. Depending on your needs and goals your website may consist of only a few pages, or it could be a large e-commerce website. Before investing too much time in your design, or jumping straight into website creation, ask yourself the following questions to help plan your site. What is my business all about?This is question #1 for good reason. Your website exists to support your business needs. Your website will be a means to an end, it will be a means to support and further your business goals. If your site will be a blog, or to support a passion project, you should still clearly define what your goals and needs are to support your vision. Then consider how your site will support those. What will success look like?For bloggers looking to monetize their site, they might consider site visitors a key performance indicator, or KPI, of their site. The more visitors they receive, the greater the likelihood of getting better partners and adverts on your site. For e-commerce sites, you’ll want to think more along the lines of conversions (when a site visitor becomes a customer, or takes the action you want them to take on your site.)You need to have a clear idea of what success will look like for you and the KPIs you’ll use to measure it so that you can design your website properly. If you’re trying to drive on-site purchases, but have no call-to-action buttons on site for people to “Buy Now” or “Checkout Here” then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Identifying what your success will look like helps you build the website to get there. Who’s my target audience?Websites need visitors to thrive. But if you attract all the wrong people to your site, and they don’t end up interacting with your site or purchasing anything, then what does it matter?Your target audience consists of the people in your ideal market. They’re the ones who your service or goods are designed to help and benefit. Cater your website to these folks, and you’ll reap the rewards. Do I have the right domain name?Your domain name is the address that leads people to your website. It should be easy to understand, easy to spell, and hopefully, memorable. Think of it this way: If someone were to hear your domain name without ever seeing it, could they spell it and get to your site?If you don’t have the perfect domain name yet, you can find one here. Now that you’ve asked yourself these questions, you should have a better idea of what type of site you’ll need to create. Creating a quick, beautiful website Ready to design and create your site? You can quickly and easily create a website to suit your needs using something called a Website Builder. What is a website builder? A website builder is a lot like it sounds — it’s a tool to help you create a website easily. Website builders usually come with drag-and-drop functionality, offer pre-made templates, and leave less room for error when creating a site. You don’t need to have a 4-year degree or advanced understanding of code to use a website builder, but that doesn’t mean they’re strictly the purview of website novices. Many advanced web designers use website builders, too. Domain.com’s Website Builder and Full Service Design We offer a website builder to help you get up and running in no time at all. You can put together a quick, simple site in under an hour, or create a larger e-commerce site to sell your goods. No time to create a site? That’s no problem. If you would rather have some one-on-one dedicated assistance in creating a site we have options for you, too. We offer a full service design and marketing plan to help you get up and running, and you’ll receive a dedicated account manager who’ll reach out every month to make sure all is well and review your marketing campaigns. What are you waiting for – create your site today! Creating a website has never been easier or simpler. Take some time to plan your site — identify your target audience and set your goals. Once you know what purpose your site will serve it’s easier to design it. Need a hand or have any questions? Let us know! The post How to Create A Website appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

How Much Does Web Hosting Cost?

HostGator Blog -

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

The What, Why and How of NoSQL Databases

Reseller Club Blog -

In today’s social media savvy world, we are all familiar with various social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. or e-commerce giants like Amazon & Flipkart or for that matter any website that stores user data. This data can be anything right from the customer name, age, address, card details, photographs, comments, reviews etc. So, simply put data is information that is stored on a computer system which can then be used by the application whenever needed. When it comes to data being transferred over the internet, it is stored on the website’s web server. From the server, it then is stored in a database. A database is an organised collection of data that can be accessed, managed and updated easily.  One of the most crucial decisions when developing an application is the choice of the database you would use to store data. And irrespective of whether you have sufficient technical knowledge or not, this decision can seem to be difficult. After all, this is a matter of not just storing data but also retrieving it and all in a short span of time! Especially given the fact that the consumer market is growing at a rapid pace with heaps of data – courtesy, Internet of Things, and all things social and connected. If you’re building a business app then you should anticipate such high-volumes of data and to cope with it, the choice of database is extremely important.  Take, for instance, Amazon, a popular e-commerce giant. As a customer, if you have shopped from Amazon you would have noticed two things. One, whatever or however long your query is in the search box, it takes a matter of few seconds for the results to be displayed (keep in mind, your internet connection is good and not poor. Secondly, if you’ve added certain items to your cart or are browsing them, you would notice the ‘Frequently bought together’ option. Now, imagine the customers Amazon has and the amount of data as well, to sort this in a matter of seconds is quite a task. But you’ve not experienced this have you? Well, the reason is, Amazon uses its own NoSQL database, DynamoDB that doesn’t store data in tables and hence, it is easier to locate it. That being said, we will cover how it does this in the latter part of the article.  Moving on, in this article, we aim to help you understand why choosing a NoSQL database would be beneficial to you in the longer run. However, before we move on to that, let us first understand the concept of a database, popular database models available today and the reason you should switch to a NoSQL model. Types of Databases:  A database is a collection of data that can be easily accessed, managed, updated and deleted. There are several database types, however, databases can be broadly classified into the following four types:  OODB or Object-Oriented Database  RDB or Relational Database  NoSQL (Not only SQL) and,  NewSQL (a class of RDBMS) For the sake of simplicity out of these 4, we will choose the two popular database models viz. Relational Database and NoSQL.  In a relational database, the data is stored in ‘Tables’ in the form of rows and columns. It uses the SQL (Structured Query Language) pronounced as ‘Sequel’ to perform data-related operations like creating a table, inserting & reading data to/from it, modifying & updating data, and deleting the data or the table. These operations are most commonly known as CRUD operations. The data is connected to each other in a fixed schema. Informally, relational databases are also known as SQL databases.  Overall, a database is like a central repository or container with all the data and logs. Whereas, the schema is a folder in the database which groups together all connected objects logically. In simple terms, your bedroom is a table, your entire home is the database and your entire floor plan is the schema.  Some of the commonly used relational databases are, MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, SQLite, etc.  Moving on to NoSQL databases. NoSQL is a non-relational database model that doesn’t store data in the form of a strict schema or table as opposed to relational databases (we’ll cover how it stores data in the latter part of the article). Thus, your data can be of any type and still it could be stored or retrieved easily.    Why should you switch to NoSQL  Although relational databases are being used for good plenty of years and have fulfilled the demands of business in the past, things are now changing. With the increasing presence of the internet and usage of social media, the amount of data being generated is quite high in volume than it was maybe even a few years ago.   According to Domo, a platform that has been highlighting data in terms of its volume, velocity and variety since 2013, has seen a steep rise in the percentage of internet population and the data being generated every single minute! In its 7th consecutive report, the internet has reached 56.1% of the total world’s population and now represents 4.3 billion people, this is a 9% increase from January 2018. And as far as the trend goes, there won’t be a negative curve in the graph for a long time. This increase can be attributed to increased access to social media, popular internet services like YouTube, Netflix, etc. and interconnected sensors – the building blocks of the Internet of Things.  Given this staggering increase of data, managing it can be quite a task and relational databases are not quite adept at processing this rapidly. This is due to the fact that the new data coming in does not always fit into the tight schema followed by a relational database. NoSQL database, on the other hand, can easily manage huge volumes of data and the operations performed over it.  For instance, if you have a website that is popular and say has at least 10,000 registered customers, and growing daily, each of these customers will follow their own life-cycle and processes. On the front end, they would be loading pages, similar items, adding products to cart etc. but on the backend, whenever an operation is performed, the data is retrieved from the database, the similar items are suggested taking into account the number of times a particular type of query was run, and so on and so forth.  Your search Suggestions based on your search If all these operations take time to run say maybe more than a few seconds or a minute (i.e retrieving/reading from the database, searching, finding and displaying) the user might abandon the cart and go somewhere else.  The reason for slow operations could either be slow website loading speed or a slow backend that processes your data. If you have a relational database, chances are there would be innumerable rows and columns, and finding the right match would take a long time. On the other hand, if you use a NoSQL database, this problem would be significantly less.  So is this a real-time example? It is, Amazon uses DynamoDB as mentioned initially, and Google uses  BigTable, both an example of a NoSQL database.  To put it simply, here are the 4 reasons to switch to a NoSQL database: Highly scalable Able to handle large volumes of data – structures,   and semi-structured Schema-less Quick iterations Types of NoSQL Databases  Having seen the key advantages to switch to NoSQL databases, let us now move on to understanding the types of NoSQL database. Simply put, which type of database should you go for depending on the type of your business.  There are four types of NoSQL Databases viz. Key-value, Document, Column and Graph.  Key-Value In the Key-value type of database, the data is stored in the form of key/value pairs in a hash table where the key is auto-generated & unique whereas, the value can be anything, for instance, a string, JSON, BLOB etc. This type of database is usually used as dictionaries or collections.  Where can you use it? This type of database is best for e-commerce or shopping cart based websites. Example: Riak and Amazon’s DynamoDB are popular key-value NoSQL databases. Document In Document-based NoSQL databases, the data is stored and retrieved as a key-value pair, however, here the value is stored in the form of JSON. BSON or XML type document. One of the key differences between a key-value database & document is that the latter embeds the attribute metadata that’s associated with the stored content, which then helps to query the data easily based on the content. Where can you use it? This type of database is mostly used for Blogging or CMS platforms, e-commerce apps or real-time analytics, etc. Examples: MongoDB and CouchBase are popular document-based NoSQL databases. Column In Column-based databases, the data is written in the form of columns as opposed to the traditional row structure. Column-based databases use column orientation where each column is associated with a column key. Where can you use it? Column-based databases are usually used to manage data warehouses, CRM, business intelligence, etc.  Examples: Google’s BigTable and HBase & Cassandra that were inspired by BigTable are some of the widely known Column databases. Cassandra was originally developed to solve the needs of Facebook’s Inbox search problem. Graph In a Graph-based database, the data is usually arranged in a flexible graphical representation as opposed to the strictures of tables or columns. Here, the database stores not only the object but also the relations amongst those objects.  For example, with reference to this diagram, the object/data is stored as a ‘node’ with the ‘relationship’ as edges. An edge establishes a relationship between nodes, and every node and edge has a unique identifier.  Where can you use it? Graph-based NoSQL databases are widely used for social networks, spatial data, logistics, etc.  Examples: Neo4J, Infinite Graph, OrientDB are some of the popular Graph-based databases. How does it help your business: We’ve seen the different types of NoSQL databases and various applications where to use them. If your business model falls into one of these and at the same time you deal with lots of real-time data, it would be a good decision to switch to a NoSQL database. At the same time, it is not necessary to have just one database in place, depending on the operations and the queries, you can have multiple databases.  For example, it can even be a combination of using MySQL (an RDBMS) for one particular operation because it is the best for that and use MongoDB for another.  In the end, what really matters is how much is your data and the best way you think is to handle it!  .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post The What, Why and How of NoSQL Databases appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

The Complete Guide to Google Analytics eCommerce Reporting

Liquid Web Official Blog -

This guide covers Google Analytics eCommerce reporting in-depth. See how to set up eCommerce tracking, and learn key terminology to understand the data. Being able to observe and interact with customers as they shop was always an advantage that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers had over online retail. Until now. With eCommerce analytics and reporting, online retailers can learn just as much from every customer interaction as physical retailers — maybe more. An eCommerce analytics tool can do even more than just show data. These services are essential for tracking the performance of your online store over time. So we’re going to tell you how (and why) to use Google Analytics eCommerce reporting. Introduction to Google Analytics for eCommerce An eCommerce analytics tool can help compensate for one of the biggest shortcomings of digital retail. Since you can’t be an active participant in a customer’s buying experience, an eCommerce analytics tool gives you a way to learn about customer behavior so you can further optimize customer experience. Terms You Should Know Before setting up eCommerce reporting in Google Analytics, let’s go over some of the terms you should know. Average Order Value (AOV) Your average order value is the average amount of a transaction. If you divide your total revenue by the total number of orders, you’ll get your average order value. Typically, your average order value is also the value of a conversion. Average Quantity Similar to average order value, average quantity is the average number of product units sold per transaction. To calculate, you take the number of product units sold and divide by the number of transactions that included one or more units of that product. eCommerce Conversion Rate The eCommerce conversion rate is the number of web sessions that resulted in a purchase. To calculate, divide the number of transactions by the total number of web sessions, then multiply that figure by 100 to convert the value to a percentage. eCommerce Transaction In short, an eCommerce transaction is a purchase that has been completed by a customer. Per-Session Value (PSV) Your per-session value is the average value of a web session on your online store. This figure is calculated by dividing your total revenue by your total number of web sessions. Quantity As it pertains to eCommerce, quantity refers to the total number of product units sold. Revenue Your revenue is the total value earned through sales. It’s an unadjusted value which means tax, shipping, and other financial variables are reflected in the total. Revenue is not the same as profit which subtracts taxes, fees, and expenses. Transaction ID A transaction ID is a number — usually alphanumeric — that is assigned to a transaction. These numbers should be unique and non-repeated. Transaction IDs are beneficial to both retailers and customers. Unique Purchases Unique purchases refers to the number of times a product was part of a transaction. When multiple units are sold at once, the transaction still only counts as a single unique purchase for that particular product. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter for more ways to increase profitability for your store. How to Set up Google Analytics eCommerce Tracking Google Analytics tracks many metrics automatically, but some additional steps are necessary for eCommerce tracking. Step 1: Install Google Analytics Before you can track your WooCommerce site with Google Analytics, WordPress must be integrated with Analytics. This step requires you to access the Google Analytics tracking code (or “tag”) and install it on your WordPress site. You can do it a couple different ways. First, you could use Google Tag Manager to publish and manage the Analytics tag for your site. See our guide to Google Tag Manager for more info on this process. If you already have an existing Analytics account but need to install the tracking code on your WooCommerce site, you need to set up a property for your eCommerce set. Then navigate to Admin > Tracking Info > Tracking Code to access the actual code you’ll need to install. If you don’t yet have a Google Analytics account, Analytics walks you through the install steps as part of the account setup process. Once you have found your tracking code, copy and paste it into the header of your WordPress theme file. Alternatively, a plugin like Yoast can do this for you (many shopping cart plugins for WordPress can as well). After completing these steps, Google Analytics will be installed on your WordPress site. Step 2: Enable eCommerce Tracking To activate eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics, navigate to Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings. Locate the Enable Ecommerce toggle and move it to the On position. This will allow Google Analytics to begin receiving your shopping cart data. Step 3: Add eCommerce Tag to Tracking Code After eCommerce tracking is enabled, you need to make a slight modification to the Google Analytics tracking code. Navigate to where you added the tracking code to your WordPress site — whether it’s a plugin or in the header file for your theme — and locate the first section of the code. It should look like this: ga(‘create’ , ‘UA-000000000’ , ‘auto’) On the line below it, copy and paste the following snippet of code: ga(‘require’ , ‘ecommerce’ , ‘ecommerce.js’); The addition of this code snippet will initiate tracking of eCommerce events on your site. For instance, the code will track clicks on products, adds to the shopping cart, shopping cart removals, order checkouts, and so on. Step 4: Test the eCommerce Tracking Finally, test to make sure your eCommerce tracking is working. The best way to test it is to complete a test transaction through your own WooCommerce store. After completing the test order, check Google Analytics to see if that transaction shows in the eCommerce reporting. On a side note, make sure to account for your test transactions in your eCommerce reporting. Otherwise, your reports will be skewed. 5 of the Most Important Google Analytics eCommerce Reporting Options When you’re running your store with WooCommerce, Google Analytics receives lots of data about your customer interactions. The reporting menus in Google Analytics offer a visual representation of the data trends for your store from your customers’ checkout behaviors to how they interact with products. So let’s go over the most important eCommerce reporting options in Google Analytics and the value they have for your eCommerce tracking. eCommerce Overview As the most basic, macro-level reporting option, the eCommerce Overview in Google Analytics is a summary of your site-wide revenue and transaction statistics. In particular, eCommerce Overview focuses on things like your conversion rate, the number of transactions over a specific period, revenue, and unique purchases for any given product (or group of products). When you access the eCommerce Overview, the default view is a comparison of your revenue to your conversion rate as shown in the screenshot above. However, you can change the metrics you want to compare. You can also change the amount of time for which to map them: days to hours, weeks, or months. By selecting the different eCommerce metrics that are available, you can get a high-level view of your marketing efforts over time. Below the graph, you can see other relevant values for the period, including the number of transactions generated by your marketing campaigns and the number of sales earned by your affiliate partners. You also have access to a list of your top products sorted by the revenue generated by the sales of every product. If you click on any product in the list, you can access a graph for that particular product, showing the number of units sold and the amount of revenue those sales generated. There are other useful data points here, too: the average selling price, the number of cart removals for that product, and the total amount of refunds issued for order returns. Generally, eCommerce Overview is what you’ll use when you need core data points mapped over a period of time. There’s a lot of high-level information available here that can be quite useful in many situations. Shopping Behavior Analysis In Google Analytics, the Shopping Behavior Analysis report offers a breakdown of your purchase funnel. More specifically, this report shows you how many customers reached each point of your funnel, how many times your customers proceed from one point in the funnel to the next, and the number of times the funnel was abandoned at each stage. With this information, you can see the journey your customers are taking as they make purchases, and perhaps most importantly, identify potential bottlenecks in your purchase funnel. The screenshot above shows the Shopping Behavior Analysis report. There are a number of useful metrics to take note of here. For this example, this report shows that 2.87% of website sessions involved a product view and of those, over 19% actually added a product to the shopping cart. From there, almost 54% of customers who add a product to the shopping cart begin the checkout process — of which nearly 53% actually conclude with a transaction. Shopping Behavior Analysis is very useful for increasing your conversion rate. For instance, the cost of shipping is frequently the reason for checkout abandonment. So you might try offering free shipping, and then check the Shopping Behavior Analysis report to see if checkout abandonment has gone down. Below the main reporting area, you have access to a couple different data view options. By default, user type is selected, but you can choose a number of other parameters. In the screenshot above, you can see that Source is selected as the primary parameter, so it’s showing session and funnel data by referral source. You can easily create an eCommerce segment by clicking on any of the header cells (e.g. Sessions with Product Views, Sessions with Add to Cart, Sessions with Check-Out). You can even create an abandonment segment by clicking on any of the red arrows in the main reporting graph at the top of the menu. In the screenshot above, Sessions with Transactions was selected. After creating a segment, you’ll see a report similar to what’s shown in the screenshot above. Since Sessions with Transactions was selected, there was zero percent abandonment at each level in the funnel because all sessions resulted in a transaction. Shopping Behavior Analysis offers lots of insight into your customer behavior and is an ideal complement to a customer analytics tool like Glew.io. As part of its comprehensive eCommerce dashboard, Glew.io collects tons of actionable data that is compiled into customer profiles. With just a glance, you can quickly see a customer’s purchasing timeline, lifetime value, average order values, and numerous other metrics. Checkout Behavior Analysis The Checkout Behavior Analysis report is very similar to the Shopping Behavior Analytics tool with one key difference. While Shopping Behavior looks at the entire session, Checkout Behavior looks solely at the checkout process. With Checkout Behavior Analysis, you can get a clearer picture of how your customers move through your checkout funnel and when the checkout process is most frequently abandoned. This is particularly useful when you have a multi-step checkout process with tags installed on each funnel step. When you access Checkout Behavior Analysis in Google Analytics, you should see something similar to what’s shown in the screenshot above. In this example, we’re looking at a single-step checkout process which means the checkout abandonment rate is the difference between all the checkout sessions (100%) and the percentage of checkouts that resulted in transactions (52.85%). Product Performance With the Product Performance report in Google Analytics, you get a closer look at how your products are performing on your eCommerce store. There are two different views in Product Performance: a top-level “Summary” and the more granular “Shopping Behavior” view. The Summary gives you more generalized information including revenue generated by sales of a product as well as the unique sales and quantity sold of a product. Then there’s Shopping Behavior which will indicate product list and product detail views, the number of times a product was added to the shopping cart, and the number of checkout sessions for a product. Generally, you could consider Product Performance to be a more in-depth version of the eCommerce Overview. The Product Performance chart lets you compare a number of different dimensions and shopping behaviors. In the example above, you can see a graph of the revenue generated by a product compared to the number of times the product’s details were viewed by customers. Alternatively, you can choose other dimensions like product SKU, product category (if you have Enhanced Ecommerce enabled), or the brand of the product. Moreover, you can apply a secondary dimension to the report. In the screenshot above, Medium was chosen as the secondary dimension to indicate the origin of the customer who interacted with the product. Sales Performance As arguably the most straightforward of the Google Analytics eCommerce reporting options, Sales Performance reporting gives an overview of your revenue through one of two dimensions: transaction or date. If you choose transaction, data for your transactions is shown, including the data, time, and transaction ID. With date, you won’t see details for transactions and instead, will see the total amount of revenue earned per day. In the screenshot above, you can see a Sales Performance report for which transaction was the primary dimension. For this report, Traffic Type is the secondary dimension to show the origin of every customer who placed an order. Additionally, you’ll see a number of primary metrics and eCommerce KPIs. If you click on an order number, you can see all products purchased by that same person or on that same day, depending on whether transaction or date is your primary dimension. Why Use Google Analytics for eCommerce Reporting? Historically, eCommerce has left retailers with very little knowledge when it comes to customer behaviors, but eCommerce analytics tools have changed that. When combined with WooCommerce and WordPress, Google Analytics can offer a lot of insight into how your customers are interacting with your online store. Liquid Web Is Your Premiere WooCommerce Hosting Provider Before you can start to learn about customer behavior, you need a fast, reliable store. Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting is built with speed and performance in mind. Packed with tons of cutting-edge technologies — from Jilt for cart abandonment to Glew.io for powerful and comprehensive eCommerce analytics — Liquid Web gives you everything that you could need to start, run, and grow a thriving eCommerce store. To learn more about how you can benefit from Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting, visit our product page today. The post The Complete Guide to Google Analytics eCommerce Reporting appeared first on Liquid Web.

Video Marketing Strategy: The Power of Video During the Customer Journey

Social Media Examiner -

Want to use video marketing more effectively? Looking for a proven video strategy? To explore how to develop an effective video marketing strategy, I interview Ben Amos on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Ben is a video marketing expert and host of the Engage Video Marketing Podcast. He coaches video marketers and video producers and […] The post Video Marketing Strategy: The Power of Video During the Customer Journey appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Interesting Ways Enterprise are Using WordPress

WP Engine -

WordPress has become the Content Management System (CMS) of choice for a growing number of enterprise organizations today. While digital, brand, and marketing teams used to operate independently, the sweeping effect of digital has created an increasing need for those teams to collaborate more closely.  Because digital experiences are now integral to every aspect of… The post Interesting Ways Enterprise are Using WordPress appeared first on WP Engine.

New languages for Amazon Translate: Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, Thai, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese

Amazon Web Services Blog -

Technical Evangelists travel quite a lot, and the number one question that we get from customers when presenting Amazon Translate is: “Is my native language supported?“. Well, I’m happy to announce that starting today, we’ll be able to answer “yes” if your language is Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, Thai, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese. In fact, using Amazon Translate, we could even say “ναί”, “igen”, “da”, “ใช่”, “так”, “جی ہاں” and “có”… hopefully with a decent accent! With these additions, Amazon Translate now supports 32 languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese. Between these languages, the service supports 987 translation combinations: you can see the full list of supported language pairs on this documentation page. Using Amazon Translate Amazon Translate is extremely simple to use. Let’s quickly test it in the AWS console on one of my favourite poems: Developers will certainly prefer to invoke the TranslateText API. Here’s an example with the AWS CLI. $ aws translate translate-text --source-language-code auto --target-language-code hu --text "Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne blessent mon coeur d’une langueur monotone" { "TranslatedText": "Az őszi hegedű hosszú zokogása monoton bágyadtsággal fáj a szívem", "SourceLanguageCode": "fr", "TargetLanguageCode": "hu" } Of course, this API is also available in any of the AWS SDKs. In the continued spirit of language diversity, how about an example in C++? Here’s a short program translating a text file stored on disk. #include <aws/core/Aws.h> #include <aws/core/utils/Outcome.h> #include <aws/translate/TranslateClient.h> #include <aws/translate/model/TranslateTextRequest.h> #include <aws/translate/model/TranslateTextResult.h> #include <fstream> #include <iostream> #include <string> # define MAX_LINE_LENGTH 5000 int main(int argc, char **argv) { if (argc != 4) { std::cout << "Usage: translate_text_file 'target language code' 'input file' 'output file'" << std::endl; return -1; } const Aws::String target_language = argv[1]; const std::string input_file = argv[2]; const std::string output_file = argv[3]; std::ifstream fin(input_file.c_str(), std::ios::in); if (!fin.good()) { std::cerr << "Input file is invalid." << std::endl; return -1; } std::ofstream fout(output_file.c_str(), std::ios::out); if (!fout.good()) { std::cerr << "Output file is invalid." << std::endl; return -1; } Aws::SDKOptions options; Aws::InitAPI(options); { Aws::Translate::TranslateClient translate_client; Aws::Translate::Model::TranslateTextRequest request; request = request.WithSourceLanguageCode("auto").WithTargetLanguageCode(target_language); Aws::String line; while (getline(fin, line)) { if (line.empty()) { continue; } if (line.length() > MAX_LINE_LENGTH) { std::cerr << "Line is too long." << std::endl; break; } request.SetText(line); auto outcome = translate_client.TranslateText(request); if (outcome.IsSuccess()) { auto translation = outcome.GetResult().GetTranslatedText(); fout << translation << std::endl; } else { std::cout << "TranslateText error: " << outcome.GetError().GetExceptionName() << " - " << outcome.GetError().GetMessage() << std::endl; break; } } } Aws::ShutdownAPI(options); } Once the code has been built, let’s translate the full poem to Thai: $ translate_text_file th verlaine.txt verlaine-th.txt $ cat verlaine-th.txt “เสียงสะอื้นยาวของไวโอลินฤดูใบไม้ร่วงทำร้ายหัวใจของฉันด้วยความอ่อนเพลียที่น่าเบื่อ ทั้งหมดหายใจไม่ออกและซีดเมื่อชั่วโมงดังผมจำได้ว่าวันเก่าและร้องไห้ และฉันไปที่ลมเลวร้ายที่พาฉันออกไปจากที่นี่ไกลกว่าเช่นใบไม้ที่ตายแล้ว” - Paul Verlaine บทกวีของดาวเสาร์ As you can see, it’s extremely simple to integrate Amazon Translate in your own applications. An single API call is really all that it takes! Available Now! These new languages are available today in all regions where Amazon Translate is available. The free tier offers 2 million characters per month for the first 12 months, starting from your first translation request. We’re looking forward to your feedback! Please post it to the AWS Forum for Amazon Translate, or send it to your usual AWS support contacts. — Julien;

10 Best Free SEO Tools to Strengthen Your Strategy

HostGator Blog -

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

Why You Should Perform An Infrastructure Assessment

Liquid Web Official Blog -

The infrastructure your business runs on is one of the main factors in the speed, security, and reliability of your IT system’s performance. The performance of infrastructure, particularly legacy, on-premise infrastructure, tends to degrade over time. As your business grows and its workloads change, your infrastructure may become less suitable than it originally was. But how do you know what the benefits of new infrastructure will be? Armed with a complete understanding of how your infrastructure is serving your business needs, you can make informed decisions about how and when to cost-effectively upgrade your infrastructure to meet the needs of your business. A detailed assessment by experienced infrastructure professionals provides businesses with a clear picture of how all of the pieces of their environment fit together, how their existing network infrastructure is satisfying their business requirements, and how it is failing to do so. Infrastructure experts can also bring their experience to bear for customers by identifying the simplest and most cost-effective steps to take. Liquid Web performs a 7-point infrastructure assessment for all new VMware clients, which gives customers a clear path to receiving better value for their IT investments. So what does an infrastructure assessment include?  Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter for tips on infrastructure optimization. 1. Comprehensive Infrastructure Review The first step in a comprehensive infrastructure review is to map out the architecture currently in use. Hardware technology cycles have accelerated to the point where they are very difficult for most organizations to keep up with, but a subscription model enables businesses to take advantage of newer hardware flexibly, without overprovisioning at the beginning or being locked into legacy technology at the end. Capacity utilization is the key to cost efficiency, so what you have and how much you need are the first things you need to know. 2. Check Topology for Single Points of Failure A full review also includes checking the topology for single points of failure. This process requires in-depth knowledge of how systems interact, as for example VMware does not provide application-level redundancy, meaning that without additional services, an Apache failure on a single virtual machine will not automatically be resolved. Building fault tolerance into an environment can be easy and highly cost-effective in a virtualized environment, if managed professionally. 3. Check Licensing to Confirm Correct Licenses and Appropriate Quantities Licenses for OSs, control panel, and other software should also be checked to determine if the license type and quantity in use is the most cost-effective option available. A professional review ensuring your various licensing is most efficient could potentially find significant monthly savings. 4. Security Review of Current Infrastructure Components The security of each infrastructure component in use should be reviewed. Security assessments often focus on vulnerability scanning, which must be comprehensive because the weakest link is the one which will be exploited, and the effectiveness of network security controls must be considered. A full infrastructure security review also allows any unmet compliance requirements to be addressed, by deploying new security tools if necessary. 5. Optimize and Upgrade Capacity, fault tolerance, license and security reviews often reveal ways for businesses to optimize their infrastructure, but for businesses that have outgrown their IT infrastructure or need to invest in an update to newer technology, changing or adding new services may also be necessary. Once deployed and utilized capacity are known, they can be compared for ways to optimize for efficiency with new hardware or services. The balance between availability, performance, and cost determines the most appropriate combination of CPU and RAM, and VM size and oversubscription methodology are reviewed to find the most efficient utilization. The flexibility provided by subscription services usually enables a significant efficiency advantage. 6. Review Backup and Data Protection Strategy This process also takes in your organization’s backup and data protection strategy. Cloud storage has become so inexpensive that for most organizations leveraging a cloud backup service is the most cost-effective way to ensure business requirements are met. 7. Advise on Efficiencies Provided by a Managed Environment Lastly, a full infrastructure assessment also provides a cost analysis of the different models for infrastructure management, whether in-house or through a managed hosting provider. This allows you to identify any efficiencies from a managed environment. Businesses are often uncertain about how much employee or IT consultant time is being spent on system management, and surprised to find out how much they are already paying for it. Making Major Changes Considering major adjustments or upgrades to the kind of infrastructure or architecture your environment runs on can be very intimidating. Indeed, small and medium-sized businesses usually do not have the in-house capacity to take time away from normal business development and operations to decide on and plan the changes that would most benefit them, which is why they end up needing to perform an assessment in the first place. Upgrade decisions are made based on the assessment and the unique requirements of your business. Flexible options are available from your service provider to connect VMware with other dedicated and cloud resources, and could include fully or unmanaged guest virtual machine options. Clusters built with dedicated compute resources ensure the best possible performance, as well as workload isolation. Hosted infrastructure enables organizations to keep up with hardware and software innovations with a dynamic, flexible approach. Expertise is required to manage this flexible hosted infrastructure, but high-quality hosting providers serving small and medium-sized businesses like Liquid Web offer managed services to enable their customers to improve their IT efficiency and leverage the latest innovations like enterprises with large in-house IT departments. In particular, a VMware hosting solution that includes a dedicated vCenter in a fully managed deployment can improve security and performance for most organizations, while also providing their IT staff with visibility and access. Managed VMware as part of a high-quality hosting service also provides the assistance of a solution architect early in the process to determine which among proven templates should be selected for customization. An implementation manager manages VMware deployments and a customer success manager ties together full lifecycle support and acts as an advocate for the customer’s best overall service experience. A service provider that offers this level of assistance, along with on-staff resources and ongoing VMWare monitoring to anticipate changing needs, enables businesses to combine leading technology with flexibility in a way that is not otherwise available to most. Once all upgrade decisions are made, coordinate your migration plan with your hosting provider, who should have a variety of options available. Navigating the Complexities of Modern IT Companies usually know that some kind of improvement is necessary by the time they look for a way to assess their infrastructure. The specific upgrades, optimizations, new products and services that will meet business objectives and deliver the best ROI, however, can get complicated. Innovations in hardware, virtualization, system architecture and software are well worth the investment, provided they are matched to the business needs discovered during an effective assessment. The uniqueness of each situation, taking a holistic view of infrastructure and business requirements, is why a self-assessment based on a checklist will never capture the intricacies necessary to actually maximize your assets. A professional engineer working one-on-one with your team can go beyond fitting your business to a template. Customization of proven templates based on deep understanding, along with comprehensive, professional support is the way to navigate the complexities of modern IT infrastructure for business benefits and cost efficiency. The post Why You Should Perform An Infrastructure Assessment appeared first on Liquid Web.

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