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Data Security: HIPAA vs PCI

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Struggling with understanding HIPAA vs PCI Compliance? Want to make sure that your business is compliant? When dealing with sensitive information security is paramount. That is why HIPAA and PCI regulations are required in hosting. The aim of this article is to provide insight into these topics, and hopefully, make it easier for you to do your part in protecting patient’s and/or customer’s data. Let’s start with an overview to see how the two connect. What HIPAA Compliant Hosting and Why is it Important? HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. Although the act also offers additional protections regarding insurance and other issues, the focus of this article is in relation to the privacy and security of data. HIPAA compliant hosting is, therefore, hosting that utilizes additional security measures for Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI). It’s important to protect patient’s medical data not only because most people don’t want their medical data publicly available, but also to avoid heavy fines. HIPAA violations cost your practice. Federal fines for noncompliance can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation (or per record) depending on the level of perceived negligence within your organization at the time of the HIPAA violation, with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year for each violation. So, if you can’t do it for the patients, do it for yourself.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to receive more tips straight to your inbox on hosting compliance for your business. What is PCI Compliant Hosting and Why is it Important? PCI compliant hosting refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and is often shortened to PCI Compliance. PCI compliance refers to a set of standards designed to keep credit card information that is accepted, processed, stored, or transmitted securely at all times. It started in 2006 with a Council founded by American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa Inc., who share equally in governance and execution of the work. Before this time, each credit card network had its own standard, making compliancy difficult for users. When the major Credit Card companies standardized rules to ensure data security, it greatly simplified securing Credit Card data, because it allowed businesses to track a single standard. PCI compliance is important not only for the ease of doing business, but it is also important to protect the customers’ data.  There is a high price to pay for noncompliance, with fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per month for the merchant and are at the discretion of the card brands and acquiring banks.  According to a Ponemon Institute study, the average total consolidated cost of a data breach is $3.8 million. Each lost or stolen record costing an average $174, so even having 500 compromised payment records can cost the merchant over $75,000 in liability.  So, if you can’t do it for your customers, do it for yourself. Now that we have a better understanding of what HIPAA compliance and PCI compliance are, let’s look into what is needed for each. What’s Required for HIPAA Compliance? HIPAA compliance is an ongoing process, so after you obtain HIPAA compliance you also need to maintain compliance. Liquid Web is responsible for hardware and network security, while the customer is responsible for making sure that their application is secure and maintained. Customers must hire a third-party HIPAA compliance auditor who will work closely with them since they are trying to become HIPAA compliant. Liquid Web can also sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) that outlines our responsibilities and ensures that your hosting environment is HIPAA compliant. For us to guarantee that your hosting environment is HIPAA compliant, we provide you with a traditional dedicated server, locked cabinets, a hardware firewall, and also offer encrypted offsite data backups. What is Required for PCI Compliant Hosting? PCI compliance is also an ongoing process that also requires maintenance. Below are 12 steps to PCI compliance: Objective: Build and Maintain a Secure Network 1. Configure, install, and maintain a firewall to protect cardholder data 2. Make sure to change system passwords and other security  Objective: Protect Cardholder Data 3. Safeguard cardholder data that is stored 4. Maintain encryption of cardholder data across open, public networks during transmission Objective: Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program 5. Regularly update and use anti-virus software on all systems commonly affected by malware 6. Maintain and develop systems and applications that are secure Objective: Implement Robust Access Control Measures 7. Classify respective business groups for access to cardholder data 8. For each person with computer access, assign a unique ID 9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data Objective: Regularly Monitor and Test Networks 10. Monitor and track all access to cardholder data and network resources 11. Test security systems and processes regularly Objective: Maintain an Information Security Policy 12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security While Liquid Web does not offer full PCI compliance certification, we do offer a separate service that scans your server to see that PCI-DSS requirements are met. This is a great tool during the compliance process. Our PCI scanning is updated with the latest threat intelligence and certified annually to meet all the PCI Security Standards Council requirements. If vulnerabilities are identified you are presented with details about the vulnerabilities and remediation steps that can be used to address them. We also check for false positives and rescan if needed. Comparing HIPAA vs PCI Compliance Both require additional security measures to be taken on the customer’s side as well as by Liquid Web. HIPAA compliance tends to be broader and requires physical barriers to be in place for security measures, such as attestation of physical, on-site security. PCI compliance is more technical and requires scanning on various public ports. How Can Liquid Web Help? Liquid Web can help your business achieve is HIPAA compliance by signing a BAA, and fully managing your HIPAA servers. We also maintain internal policy enforcement and documentation of our administration of your HIPAA servers. You can choose from pre-configured solutions, or we can custom build one to suit your needs. We also offer PCI compliance scanning, and everything is backed by Support from The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting. The post Data Security: HIPAA vs PCI appeared first on Liquid Web.

9 Blogs on Information Security to Keep You Safe from Cybercrime

Pickaweb Blog -

According to a report by RBS, it took only 12 security breaches to expose more than 100 million sensitive personal and corporate records. These breaches accounted for a third of all the security breaches that happened in 2018. What is interesting is that hackers are not the only ones responsible for this problem. Namely, human The post 9 Blogs on Information Security to Keep You Safe from Cybercrime appeared first on Pickaweb.

Rackspace Welcomes TaskUs, First Neighbors to “Castle” HQ

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

When Rackspace founder Graham Weston had the idea to redevelop the empty and decrepit Windsor Park Mall into a new corporate headquarters, most people “pretty much thought I was crazy,” he told the New York Times in 2012. By then, however, it was clear that his vision to turn the mall into unique and quirky […] The post Rackspace Welcomes TaskUs, First Neighbors to “Castle” HQ appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

The Month in WordPress: July 2019

WordPress.org News -

This month has been characterized by exciting plans and big announcements – read on to find out what they are and what it all means for the future of the WordPress project. WordCamp Asia Announced The inaugural WordCamp Asia will be in Bangkok, Thailand, on February 21-23, 2020. This will be the first regional WordCamp in Asia and it comes after many years of discussions and planning. You can find more information about the event on their website and subscribe to stay up to date with the latest information. This is the latest flagship event in the WordCamp program, following WordCamps Europe and US. Tickets are now on sale and the call for speakers is open. Want to get involved in WordCamp Asia? Keep an eye out for volunteer applications, or buy a micro sponsor ticket. You can also join the #wcasia channel in the Making WordPress Slack group for updates. WordCamp US Planning Continues The WordCamp US organizing team is excited to announce some new additions to this year’s WCUS in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 1-3, 2019. The first is that there will be an onsite KidsCamp: child-friendly lessons that introduce your young one(s) to the wonderful world of WordPress.  You can register your child for KidsCamp here. In addition, free, onsite childcare will be provided at this year’s event – you can sign up here. Looking for further ways to get involved? The call for volunteers is now open. For more information on WordCamp US, please visit the event website. Exploring Updates to the WordPress User & Developer Survey To improve the annual WordPress User & Developer Survey, a call has been made for updates and additional questions that can help us all better understand how people use WordPress. To improve the survey, contributor teams are suggesting topics and information that should be gathered to inform contributor work in 2020. Please add your feedback to the post. Gutenberg Usability Testing Continues Usability tests for Gutenberg continued through June 2019, and insights from three recent videos were published last month. This month’s test was similar to WordCamp Europe’s usability tests, and you can read more about those in the part one and part two posts. Please help by watching these videos and sharing your observations as comments on the relevant post. If you want to help with usability testing, you can also join the #research channel in the Making WordPress Slack group, or you can write a test script that can be usability tested for Gutenberg. Further Reading: The Design team reported on the work they did at the WordCamp Europe Contributor Day.The Theme Review Team has released updated versions of their ThemeSniffer tool and coding standards.The Security team is looking for feedback on whether security fixes should continue to be backported to very old versions of WordPress. The Design and Community teams have worked together to come up with official guidelines for how WordCamp logos should be designed.The Core team has implemented a few changes to the PHP coding standards within WordPress Core.The Community Team is looking for feedback on a tough decision that needs to be made regarding the implementation of the licence expectations within the meetup program.The Design team has presented some designs for a Block Directory within the WordPress dashboard.A recent release of WordPress saw an increase in the minimum required version of PHP – the Core team is now looking at increasing that minimum further.The Site Health feature was first introduced in the 5.1 release of WordPress, and at WordCamp Europe this year a new Core component for the feature was added to the project structure.The Community Team has posted some interesting data regarding WordCamps in the Netherlands over the last few years, as well as WordCamps in 2018.The WordCamp Europe team released the results of the attendee survey from this year’s event in Berlin. Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it here.

FindMyHost Releases August 2019 Editors’ Choice Awards

My Host News -

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Web Hosting Directory and Review site www.FindMyHost.com released the August Editor’s Choice Awards for 2019 today. Web Hosting companies strive to provide their customers with the very best service and support. We want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the hosts per category who have excelled in their field. The FindMyHost Editors’ Choice Awards are chosen based on Editor and Consumer Reviews. Customers who wish to submit positive reviews for the current or past Web Host are free to do so by visiting the customer review section of FindMyHost.com.  By doing so, you nominate your web host for next months Editor’s Choice awards. We would like to congratulate all the web hosts who participated and in particular the following who received top honors in their field: Dedicated Servers BudgetVM.com   Visit BudgetVM.com  View Report Card Business Hosting VPSFX.com   Visit VPSFX.com  View Report Card SSD Hosting ioZOOM.com   Visit ioZOOM.com  View Report Card VPS ServerWala   Visit ServerWala.org  View Report Card Secure Hosting KnownSRV.com   Visit KnownSRV.com  View Report Card Cloud Hosting XLHost.com   Visit XLHost.com  View Report Card Enterprise Hosting KVCHosting.net   Visit KVCHosting.net  View Report Card Shared Hosting QualityHostOnline   Visit QualityHostOnline  View Report Card Cloud Servers ProVistaTech.com   Visit ProVistaTech.com  View Report Card Managed Hosting GlowHost.com   Visit GlowHost.com  View Report Card Budget Hosting Innovative Hosting   Visit InnovativeHosting  View Report Card Website Monitoring UptimeSpy.com   Visit UptimeSpy.com  View Report Card Blog Hosting RivalHost   Visit RivalHost.com  View Report Card Reseller Hosting MightWeb.net   Visit MightWeb.net  View Report Card About FindMyHost FindMyHost, Inc. is an online magazine that provides editor reviews, consumer hosting news, interviews discussion forums and more. FindMyHost.com was established in January 2001 to protect web host consumers and web developers from making the wrong choice when choosing a web host. FindMyHost.com showcases a selection of web hosting companies who have undergone their approved host program testing and provides reviews from customers. FindMyHost’s extensive website can be found at www.FindMyHost.com.

Why I’m Helping Cloudflare Grow in Australia & New Zealand (A/NZ)

CloudFlare Blog -

I’ve recently joined Cloudflare as Head of Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ). This is an important time for the company as we continue to grow our presence locally to address the demand in A/NZ, recruit local talent, and build on the successes we’ve had in our other offices around the globe. In this new role, I’m eager to grow our brand recognition in A/NZ and optimise our reach to customers by building up my team and channel presence.A little about meI’m a Melburnian born and bred (most livable city in the world!) with more than 20 years of experience in our market. From guiding strategy and architecture of the region’s largest resources company, BHP, to building and running teams and channels, and helping customers solve the technical challenges of their time, I have been in, or led, businesses in the A/NZ Enterprise market, with a focus on network and security for the last six years.Why Cloudflare?I joined Cloudflare because I strongly believe in its mission to help build a better Internet, and believe this mission, paired with its massive global network, will enable the company to continue to deliver incredibly innovative solutions to customers of all segments. Four years ago, I was lucky to build and lead the VMware Network & Security business, working with some of Cloudflare’s biggest A/NZ customers. I was confronted with the full extent of the security challenges that A/NZ businesses face. I recognized that there must be a better way to help customers secure their local and multi-cloud environments. That's how I found Cloudflare. With Cloudflare's Global Cloud Platform, businesses have an integrated solution that offers the best in security, performance and reliability. Second, something that’s personally important for me as the son of Italian migrants, and now a dad of two gorgeous daughters, is that Cloudflare is serious about culture and diversity. When I was considering joining Cloudflare, I watched videos from the Internet Summit, an annual event that Cloudflare hosts in its San Francisco office. One thing that really stood out to me was that the speakers came from so many different backgrounds. I’m extremely passionate about encouraging those from all walks of life to pursue opportunities in business and tech, so seeing the diversity of people giving insightful talks made me realise that this was a company I wanted to work for, and hopefully perhaps my girls as well (no pressure).Cloudflare A/NZI strongly believe that Cloudflare’s mission, paired with its massive global network, will enable customers of all sizes in segments in Australia and New Zealand to leverage Cloudflare’s security, performance and reliability solutions. For example, VicRoads is 85 percent faster now that they are using Argo Smart Routing, Ansarada uses Cloudflare’s WAF to protect against malicious activity, and MyAffiliates harnesses Cloudflare’s global network, which spans more than 180 cities in 80 countries, to ensure an interruption-free service for its customers. Making security and speed, which are necessary for any strong business, available to anyone with an Internet property is truly a noble goal. That’s another one of the reasons I’m most excited to work at Cloudflare.Australians and Kiwis alike have always been great innovators and users of technology. However, being so physically isolated (Perth is the most isolated city in the world and A/NZ are far from pretty much everywhere else in the world) has limited our ability to have the diversity of choice and competition. Our isolation from said choice and competition fueled innovation, but at the price of complexity, cost, and ease. This makes having local servers absolutely vital for good performance. With Cloudflare’s expansive network, 98 percent of the Internet-connected developed world is located within 100 milliseconds of our network. In fact, Cloudflare already has data centers in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney, ensuring that customers in A/NZ have access to a secure, fast, and reliable Internet. Our opportunities in Australia, New Zealand and beyond...I’m truly looking forward to helping Cloudflare grow its reach over the next five years. If you are a business in Australia and New Zealand and have a cyber-security, performance or reliability need, get in touch with us (1300 748 959). We’d love to explore how we can help. If you’re interested in exploring careers at Cloudflare, we are hiring globally. Our team in Australia is small today, about a dozen, and we are growing quickly. We have open roles in Solutions Engineering and Business Development Representatives. Check out our careers page to learn more, or send me a note.

Amplify Framework Update – Quickly Add Machine Learning Capabilities to Your Web and Mobile Apps

Amazon Web Services Blog -

At AWS, we want to put machine learning in the hands of every developer. For example, we have pre-trained AI services for areas such as computer vision and language that you can use without any expertise in machine learning. Today we are making another step in that direction with the addition of a new Predictions category to the Amplify Framework. In this way, you can add and configure AI/ML uses cases for your web or mobile application with few lines of code! AWS Amplify consists of a development framework and developer services that make super easy to build mobile and web applications on AWS. The open-source Amplify Framework provides an opinionated set of libraries, user interface (UI) components, and a command line interface (CLI) to build a cloud backend and integrate it with your web or mobile apps. Amplify leverages a core set of AWS services organized into categories, including storage, authentication & authorization, APIs (GraphQL and REST), analytics, push notifications, chat bots, and AR/VR. Using the Amplify Framework CLI, you can interactively initialize your project with amplify init. Then, you can go through your storage (amplify add storage) and user authentication & authorization (amplify add auth) options. Now, you can also use amplify add predictions to configure your app to: Identify text, entities, and labels in images using Amazon Rekognition, or identify text in scanned documents to get the contents of fields in forms and information stored in tables using Amazon Textract. Convert text into a different language using Amazon Translate, text to speech using Amazon Polly, and speech to text using Amazon Transcribe. Interpret text to find the dominant language, the entities, the key phrases, the sentiment, or the syntax of unstructured text using Amazon Comprehend. You can select to have each of the above actions available only to authenticated users of your app, or also for guest, unauthenticated users. Based on your inputs, Amplify configures the necessary permissions using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles and Amazon Cognito. Let’s see how Predictions works for a web application. For example, to identify text in an image using Amazon Rekognition directly from the browser, you can use the following JavaScript syntax and pass a file object: Predictions.identify({ text: { source: file format: "PLAIN" # "PLAIN" uses Amazon Rekognition } }).then((result) => {...}) If the image is stored on Amazon S3, you can change the source to link to the S3 bucket selected when adding storage to this project. You can also change the format to analyze a scanned document using Amazon Textract. Here’s how to extract text from a form in a document stored on S3: Predictions.identify({ text: { source: { key: "my/image" } format: "FORM" # "FORM" or "TABLE" use Amazon Textract } }).then((result) => {...}) Here’s an example of how to interpret text using all the pre-trained capabilities of Amazon Comprehend: Predictions.interpret({ text: { source: { text: "text to interpret", }, type: "ALL" } }).then((result) => {...}) To convert text to speech using Amazon Polly, using the language and the voice selected when adding the prediction, and play it back in the browser, you can use the following code: Predictions.convert({ textToSpeech: { source: { text: "text to generate speech" } } }).then(result => { var audio = new Audio(); audio.src = result.speech.url; audio.play(); }) Available Now You can start building you next web or mobile app using Amplify today by following the get-started tutorial here and give us your feedback in the Amplify Framework Github repository. There are lots of other options and features available in the Predictions category of the Amplify Framework. Please see this walkthrough on the AWS Mobile Blog for an in-depth example of building a machine-learning powered app. It has never been easier to add machine learning functionalities to a web or mobile app, please let me know what you’re going to build next. — Danilo

Life as an R&D Intern at WP Engine

WP Engine -

Here at WP Engine, we pride ourselves on our ability to innovate and engineer solutions that improve the experience of our customers. That’s why our Research and Development department is always looking for talented software engineers excited to learn and innovate forward, faster. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that since day one, WP… The post Life as an R&D Intern at WP Engine appeared first on WP Engine.

CentOS 6 EOL, CloudLinux 6 OS, and you!

cPanel Blog -

Today we announced a new partnership with our friends over at CloudLinux. Anyone who is gearing up to migrate from CentOS 6 to CentOS7 (and again from CentOS 7 to CentOS 8 in a few years) can now consider another option! cPanel & WHM Version 86: The last version to support CentOS 6 We are planning on carrying support for CentOS 6 until the next LTS version of cPanel & WHM, Version 86. Only one version ...

AWS CloudFormation Update – Public Coverage Roadmap & CDK Goodies

Amazon Web Services Blog -

I launched AWS CloudFormation in early 2011 with a pair of posts: AWS CloudFormation – Create Your AWS Stack From a Recipe and AWS CloudFormation in the AWS Management Console. Since that launch, we have added support for many AWS resource types, launched many new features, and worked behind the scenes to ensure that CloudFormation is efficient, scalable, and highly available. Public Coverage Roadmap CloudFormation use is growing even faster than AWS itself, and the team has prioritized scalability over complete resource coverage. While our goal of providing 100% coverage remains, the reality is that it will take us some time to get there. In order to be more transparent about our priorities and to give you an opportunity to manage them, I am pleased to announce the much-anticipated CloudFormation Coverage Roadmap: Styled after the popular AWS Containers Roadmap, the CloudFormation Coverage Roadmap contains four columns: Shipped – Available for use in production form in all public AWS regions. Coming Soon – Generally a few months out. We’re working on It – Work in progress, but further out. Researching – We’re thinking about the right way to implement the coverage. Please feel free to create your own issues, and to give a thumbs-up to those that you need to have in order to make better use of CloudFormation: Before I close out, I would like to address one common comment – that AWS is part of a big company, and that we should simply throw more resources at it. While the team is growing, implementing robust, secure coverage is still resource-intensive. Please consider the following quote, courtesy of the must-read Mythical Man-Month: Good cooking takes time. If you are made to wait, it is to serve you better, and to please you. Cloud Development Kit Goodies The Cloud Development Kit (CDK) lets you model and provision your AWS resources using a programming language that you are already familiar with. You use a set of CDK Constructs (VPCs, subnets, and so forth) to define your application, and then use the CDK CLI to synthesize a CloudFormation template, deploy it to AWS, and create a stack. Here are some resources to help you to get started with the CDK: CDK Home Page – Start here! AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK) – TypeScript and Python are Now Generally Available – Danilo’s recent blog post announcing general availability. CDK Developer Guide – Learn how to use the CDK. CDK Workshop – A detailed workshop with step-by-step directions, in both TypeScript and Python. CDK All The Things: A Whirlwind Tour – Cloud consultant Kevin Lin of Thence Consulting wrote this very detailed review of CDK. CDK Custom Resource Example – Learn how to add a custom resource to a CDK app. Stay Tuned The CloudFormation Coverage Roadmap is an important waypoint on a journey toward open source that started out with cfn-lint, with some more stops in the works. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you more just as soon as I can! — Jeff;

Google Ads Success: The Metrics You Need to Watch

HostGator Blog -

The post Google Ads Success: The Metrics You Need to Watch appeared first on HostGator Blog. How to Measure the Performance of Your Google Ads Your marketing budget is limited. When you decide to invest in paid marketing like Google Ads, you need a way to track how well it’s working. Luckily, Google does a pretty good job of providing helpful analytics that make it easy to figure out your ROI and look for ways to improve your campaigns for better results over time. What You Can Learn from Google Ads Analytics Google understands the importance of analytics, so they make sure businesses that advertise with them get the data they need to properly track the success of each ad and campaign. With Google Ads’ client reports, you’ll be able to see: Clicks – The number of times people clicked on each of your ads, and the number of total clicks for each campaign. This is the main metric that lets you know whether your ads are doing their main job: getting people to notice your link and convincing them to click through. Click-through rate (CTR) – How the number of clicks compares to the number of times your ad was shown. Impressions – How many times your ad was seen. Impression share – This is Google’s calculation of how your impressions compare with the number of times your ad could potentially have been seen based on how many searches met your criteria. It lets you know if spending a little more could make a big difference to how often your ads show up. Average position –  If your ad shows up alongside a few other PPC ads, gaining the top spot will be more valuable than being second or third. This tells you where in the listing your ad shows up on average. If you’d prefer to be higher, then it pays to spend more. Average cost-per-click –Because Google Ads uses a bidding pricing model, the amount you pay for each click will depend on how competitive your keywords and placements are at any given moment. This metric lets you know how much you’re generally paying for each click. Quality Score –Google wants to deliver good, relevant ads to its searchers. Therefore, in addition to budget, their program looks at how well your ads are performing and determines a quality score that influences how often they’ll show up and how much you pay. Converted clicks – Clicks are nice, but ultimately you want each person clicking to take an action such as signing up for your email list or making a purchase. Google Ads will help you track how many of the visitors who come to your website through an ad follow through with the actions you desire. Conversion rate – This shows the comparison between the number of clicks and the number of times they lead to your desired actions. Average cost per conversion – Google makes it easy for you to figure out how much each conversion is costing you by providing a comparison between the amount you’re spending on ads and the number of conversions they’re bringing you. These metrics will teach you how to recognize what works best in your ad campaigns and how your spending pays off in specific terms.     Get More By Linking Google Analytics to Google Ads Google Ads provides you with a lot of good data, but you can get even more valuable information about the success of your ads by connecting your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account. Where Google Ads tracks how people interact with your ads, Google Analytics provides a wealth of data on what people do once they’ve clicked through to your website.  When the two accounts are linked, you’ll start to see some of the data from Google Analytics in your Google Ads account and vice versa. (First, you’ll need to add Google Analytics to your WordPress site. Here’s how to do that.) For example, in Google Ads, you’ll start to be able to see: Bounce rate – How often visitors who click on your ad leave your website before moving to another page on the site. Pages per session – How many pages and which one visitors go to after landing on your website from an ad. Average session duration – How long your PPC visitors typically spend on the website before leaving. % New sessions – How many of your PPC visitors are coming to your website for the first time. In addition, you’ll be able to connect the data for conversion tracking you’ve set up in Google Analytics to the data you have in Google Ads, to better see the full journey your PPC visitors take from the time they click on an ad to when they take the actions you’ve determined are most valuable. And the data that Google Analytics tracks on demographics and user behavior from your site visitors can be used to further strengthen your remarketing efforts in Google Ads. Basically, the more information you have and the better you’re able to connect it, the more you’ll be able to refine your ad campaigns to get the results you want.   Track Your Results with Expert Google Ads Management Advertising with Google is often a great way to reach a new audience and get more visitors to your website. But you can get so much more out of your advertising when you make use of the data Google provides to learn as you go and make your campaigns continually better. Want to get more out of your Google Ads campaigns? Learn about HostGator’s Google Ads services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

4 Ways To Close The Sale With A Hesitant Client Who Has Been Burned Before

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Client horror stories. If you’ve been freelancing or part of an agency for any length of time, there’s a high probability that you’ve spoken with a prospective client who regaled you with a horror story about their past web designer or web developer. Sometimes, it even seems like every new potential client you speak with has been burned in some way or has had a less than stellar experience with a previous service provider that has left them jaded, nervous, and hesitant. While it’s true that their previous experiences have nothing to do with you and that you should never discount your fees just because someone else failed to deliver, it’s also true that having empathy for the prospective client and working with them to alleviate their fears can help you close the sale. Once a client has been burned and lost money or felt like they were mistreated by a designer or developer, they often become skeptical about every other designer or developer they speak with—even if they came with a glowing referral from someone they trust. This skepticism creates a whole new dynamic in the sales process because what normally works to close a new client isn’t going to work in this situation. There are four simple things you can do to move a client from unsure and hesitant to confident and excited to get started—and they all revolve around lowering the commitment level and making it easier to say yes. Subscribe to the Liquid Web newsletter to get more insight into how to increase your client base. Here are the four ways to close a hesitant client: 1. A Single Block Of Hours Instead of going for a retainer agreement at a high price point or a high number of hours right away, consider pitching a single block of hours. When I notice that a client is unsure about a big commitment, offering them the chance to invest in a single block of hours to test the waters eliminates risk.  Identify something important to the prospective client that needs to be done and the number of hours it will take (ideally in the 10-30 hour range).Pitch a block of hours at a set fee and what you can get done for them in those hours.When the hours are used up and the project is complete, the client can choose to continue or move on. With this approach, the client has very little risk, the commitment is low, and they don’t have to spend a lot of money, and they get to sample the partnership and see what it’s like working with you or your team. 2. A Month to Month Retainer If a client is coming to you after investing tens of thousands of dollars on a website that’s basically a mess, they may not be ready to jump into a long-term contract. Instead, consider pitching a month to month retainer package. With this approach, you’re not asking the client for a huge commitment at a high price point and you’re not locking them into a relationship with someone they don’t know very well yet.  By inviting nervous prospective clients to get started with a month to month retainer that can be canceled at any time with 30 days notice, you’re putting the client in control and you’re giving them an easy out if they need it. This greatly reduces objections and risk and sets the clients mind at ease. 3. A Trial Period If you can tell that a prospective client wants to say yes and work with you, but they’re holding back out of fear or uncertainty, consider offering them a trial period. While a trial period is similar to an introductory block of hours, it typically lasts longer and is used to mitigate a different type of risk. When a client isn’t sure about the number of hours they need and they’re worried about overspending, a trial period is the perfect answer.  During a 90 day trial period, each project or task the client needs to be completed is estimated upfront and approved before the work is done and all work, communication, and project management are meticulously tracked.At the end of the trial period, data like the amount of work completed, amount of money spent, and the number of hours spent on project management, actual work, and admin tasks is reviewed, along with what tasks didn’t get done.Then a report is provided to the client of how many hours they used each month, how much they spent, and what got done. This report can then be used as a guide to creating a longer-term retainer agreement. 4. A Technical Assessment If a client is reaching out to you after having a major negative event with their website—a crash, a hack, a loss of sales or money, or another problem—it’s highly likely that they need some immediate help and need to focus on the problems at hand before thinking about any kind of commitment. Instead of turning them away because you require a retainer agreement or ongoing support agreement, consider pitching them a technical assessment. With this approach, you get paid for your time to address the immediate website problems, the client gets their website fixed, and you both get to see what it is like working with each other. A technical assessment is similar to a single block of hours or an introductory project, but it focused on solving a specific problem. It begins with a comprehensive review of the website’s backend and technical foundation to identify where the problems are and what is causing the problems.A report is then provided to the client that outlines and prioritizes the work that needs to be done to bring the website back to good working order. At this point, the client can then choose to hire you to complete the work outlined in your report or they can take the report you created for them and do it themselves or hire someone else. Empathy Creates More Opportunity What you need to remember is that your clients don’t build websites for a living. They don’t work on websites every day. They don’t live, eat, sleep, and breathe the internet as you might. And, they certainly don’t have your expertise.  Clients have to rely on professionals like you to build, manage, and expand their websites. Often it feels like they’re throwing their money into a black hole they don’t understand, and when they have a bad experience, it just makes things worse—and they become skeptical, nervous, hesitant, and even fearful. When they finally reach out to you, you have a chance to step in, step up, and bring them back to a place of positivity. You have the opportunity to provide peace of mind and reassurance, show empathy for their situation, guide them with care, and demonstrate what partnering with a great service provider is like. If you can do that, you will have not only earned a client for life, but they will become a valuable brand ambassador and evangelist who will refer you to everyone they know. The post 4 Ways To Close The Sale With A Hesitant Client Who Has Been Burned Before appeared first on Liquid Web.

5 Facebook Tools to Optimize Your Facebook Ad Campaigns

Social Media Examiner -

Want better results from your Facebook ads? Looking for ways to optimize your ads? In this article, you’ll explore five free Facebook tools to help you improve your Facebook ads’ performance. #1: Facebook Creative Hub Tool The creative you use in your Facebook ads has a huge impact on ad performance. No matter how good […] The post 5 Facebook Tools to Optimize Your Facebook Ad Campaigns appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Amazon Polly Introduces Neural Text-To-Speech and Newscaster Style

Amazon Web Services Blog -

From Robbie the Robot to Jarvis, science fiction writers have long understood how important it was for an artificial being to sound as lifelike as possible. Speech is central to human interaction, and beyond words, it helps us express feelings and emotions: who can forget HAL 9000’s haunting final scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey? In the real world, things are more complicated of course. Decades before the term ‘artificial intelligence’ had even been coined, scientists were designing systems that tried to mimic the human voice. In 1937, almost 20 years before the seminal Dartmouth workshop, Homer Dudley invented the Voder, the first attempt to synthesize human speech with electronic components: this video has sound samples and extra information on this incredible device. We’ve come a long way since then! At AWS re:Invent 2016, we announced Polly, a managed service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing customers to create applications that talk, and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products. Zero machine learning expertise required: just call an API and get the job done! Since then, the team has regularly added new voices, for a current total of 29 languages and 59 voices. Today, we’re happy to announce two major new features for Polly: Neural Text-To-Speech, and a groundbreaking newscaster style. Introducing Neural Text-To-Speech (NTTS) Through a new machine learning approach, NTTS delivers significant improvements in speech quality. It increases naturalness and expressiveness, two key factors in synthesizing lifelike speech that is getting closer than ever from human voices. Here’s an example of the quality you can expect. As of today, NTTS is available for 11 voices, both in real-time and in batch mode: All 3 UK English voices: Amy, Emma and Brian. All 8 US English voices: Ivy, Joanna, Kendra, Kimberly, Salli, Joey, Justin and Matthew. Why not head out to the AWS console for a quick test? Introducing the newscaster style Speech quality is certainly important, but more can be done to make a synthetic voice sound even more realistic and engaging. What about style? For sure, human ears can tell the difference between a newscast, a sportscast, a university class and so on; indeed, most humans adopt the right style of speech for the right context, and this certainly helps in getting their message across. Thanks to NTTS, it’s possible to apply styles to synthesized speech, and you can now use a newscaster style with Polly. Here’s an example. From news to blog posts, this makes narration sound even more realistic, and customers like The Globe and Mail already use it today. Thanks to Polly and the newscaster style, their readers (or should we say listeners now?) can enjoy articles read in a high-quality voice that sounds like what they might expect to hear on the TV or radio. Adding Amazon Translate, they can also listen to articles that are automatically translated to a language they understand. As of today, the newscaster style is available for two US English voices (Joanna and Matthew), both in real-time and in batch mode. Again, you can head out to the AWS console for a quick test, and here’s the same clip as above with the newscaster style. Using Polly APIs with the NTTS voices and the newscaster style is extremely easy. Please let me show you how to get started with both. Using NTTS Voices and the Newscaster Style Let’s grab a bit of text for Polly to read: how about this paragraph from Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)‘s announcement in 2006? “Earlier today we rolled out Amazon S3, our reliable, highly scalable, and low-latency data storage service. Using SOAP and REST interfaces, developers can easily store any number of blocks of data in S3. Each block can be up to 5 GB in length, and is associated with a user-defined key and additional key-value metadata pairs. Further, each block is protected by an ACL (Access Control List) allowing the developer to keep the data private, share it for reading, or share it for reading and writing, as desired. The system was designed to provide a data availability factor of 99.99%; all data is transparently stored in multiple locations”. I will use batch mode in order to save sound files in S3 and let you grab them: I explicitly changed permissions to make them public, but don’t worry, your own files are completely private by default. Let’s first try the standard Matthew voice. $ aws polly start-speech-synthesis-task --voice-id Matthew --text file://s3.txt --output-s3-bucket-name "jsimon-polly" --output-format mp3 --query "SynthesisTask.TaskId" "e3db409c-419d-4a31-a3a7-72c1e712fe23" $ wget https://jsimon-polly.s3.amazonaws.com/e3db409c-419d-4a31-a3a7-72c1e712fe23.mp3 -O matthew-standard.mp3 Tell us a bit about S3, Matthew. Now, let’s use the NTTS version of the same voice: all we have to do is set the ‘engine‘ parameter to ‘neural‘. $ aws polly start-speech-synthesis-task --voice-id Matthew --engine neural --text file://s3.txt --output-s3-bucket-name "jsimon-polly" --output-format mp3 --query "SynthesisTask.TaskId" "e3902335-c1e6-450b-b6e9-f913d6d52055" $ wget https://jsimon-polly.s3.amazonaws.com/e3902335-c1e6-450b-b6e9-f913d6d52055.mp3 -O matthew-neural.mp3 You should immediately notice the quality improvement that NTTS brings. Of course, Polly has correctly picked up technical abbreviations, numbers, etc. Now let’s spice things up and apply the newscaster style. This requires that we use the SSML markup language. All we need to do is to enclose the text like so: <speak> <amazon:domain name="news"> Earlier today we rolled out Amazon S3, our reliable, highly scalable, and low-latency data storage service. Using SOAP and REST interfaces, developers can easily store any number of blocks of data in S3. Each block can be up to 5 GB in length, and is associated with a user-defined key and additional key-value metadata pairs. Further, each block is protected by an ACL (Access Control List) allowing the developer to keep the data private, share it for reading, or share it for reading and writing, as desired. The system was designed to provide a data availability factor of 99.99%; all data is transparently stored in multiple locations. </amazon:domain> </speak> Let’s synthesize this text again, making sure to set text type to SSML. $ aws polly start-speech-synthesis-task --voice-id Matthew --engine neural --text file://s3.ssml --text-type ssml --output-s3-bucket-name "jsimon-polly" --output-format mp3 --query "SynthesisTask.TaskId" "25c18bda-b32b-4485-a45f-eb9b757a513b" $ wget https://jsimon-polly.s3.amazonaws.com/25c18bda-b32b-4485-a45f-eb9b757a513b.mp3 -O matthew-neural-newscaster.mp3 I’m sure you can immediately tell the difference! Doesn’t this sound like a news reporter reading our text? If you’re curious about the Joanna voice, here are the equivalent clips: standard, neural, and neural with newscaster style. Available Now! As you can see, it’s extremely easy to use these new features, and they are available today in US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon) and Europe (Ireland). The free tier offers 1 million characters for NTTS voices per month for the first 12 months, starting from your first request for speech (standard or NTTS). We’re looking forward to your feedback! Please post it to the AWS Forum for Polly, or send it to your usual AWS support contacts. — Julien;

Develop Your Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy

The Domain.com Blog -

When I was a kid my father would tell me, “Never brag about yourself. If you excel at what you do, others will brag for you.” If you think about advertising, it’s a lot like bragging, isn’t it? Except, in this case, you’re paying to talk about yourself and get your differentiator in your audience’s face. Sometimes, prospective customers get tired of hearing us talk about ourselves and if that’s the case, what alternatives do we have?  Enter word of mouth marketing. If you don’t have a word of mouth strategy already defined, you’ll want to do that after reading this article.  Get a memorable domain name so others can easily remember it and share it with their friends. What is word of mouth marketing and why should I invest in it? You’re probably wondering, “What is word of mouth marketing and how can it help me brag less about myself while inspiring others to talk about my business?” Dear internet reader, we’re glad you asked.  Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia defines word of mouth as: Jay Baer, of Convince & Convert, takes it further and breaks word of mouth down into two buckets: proactive and reactive. How does he define the two?  Reactive word of mouth: You can think of reactive word of mouth as similar to referrals. When someone is looking for a solution to their needs, they may ask their friends and family for a recommendation. Their family and friends react to their question by recommending a solution or business that they’ve used before and enjoyed.  Proactive word of mouth: Proactive word of mouth is generally unasked for. An example of proactive word of mouth is when someone is so happy with an experience or service they tell all their friends about it — even if their friends aren’t asking for those details and recommendations — they’re proactively sharing that experience or recommendation. Is one form of word of mouth, either proactive or reactive, better than the other? Both are great! Both will do wonders for your business. But if we had to rank them, we’d give the edge to proactive word of mouth. That’s because proactive word of mouth isn’t asked for — those people are willingly taking time out of their day to shout your praises and share your product just because they like you. When someone is that happy with your service, you know you’re doing something right.  Does word of mouth marketing make a difference to my bottom line? Developing a word of mouth strategy for your business can affect your bottom line in two ways. Saves you money on paid advertisingRemember, if you make your customers’ experiences great, they will brag for you and about you. (Subpar and good experiences won’t cut it. Work to impress.) This could lead to a reduction in how much you spend on traditional advertising. Brings in new business.In his study, Chatter Matters, Jay Baer discovered that “83% of Americans are more interested in purchasing a product or service when they’ve received a verbal recommendation from a friend or family member.” You need to kindle those conversations and make your business worth talking about! How do I increase word of mouth about my business? That’s a really good question, and we don’t blame you if you’re stumped. You can smile and thank every customer that walks in your door or visits your site, but that’s not enough. You can give them a good shopping experience, or a good website experience, yet that’s not enough either.  In order for people to talk about your business, they need a good reason. Better yet, they need a great reason. Pleasantries and run-of-the-mill good experiences aren’t noteworthy — they’re expected. Ready for some good news? You don’t need to deck your store or site out in wall-to-wall neon colors and pull outrageous stunts to get attention. All you need to do is create a “talk trigger.”  What’s a talk trigger?  Jay defines a talk trigger as “a strategic, operational differentiator that compels word of mouth, reliably creating customer chatter on an ongoing basis.” Your talk trigger should be something you do, not something you say, to set yourself apart and make yourself, specifically your business, a worthwhile topic of conversation.  In his book, Jay uses DoubleTree hotels by Hilton as an example of a business with a great talk trigger. Whenever someone checks into those hotels, they’re given a fresh chocolate chip cookie. What does this one action do for them in return? It gets about 25 thousand customers talking about their hotel on social media, in a positive light, per day. If you’ve ever found yourself talking about DoubleTree’s cookies, we hate to break it to you, but you were the walking talking advertisement for the hotel. And we bet you were happy to do it! What makes for a good talk trigger? To explain, Jay lays out the four Rs: Remarkable – Give them something worth talking about, and remarkable doesn’t necessarily mean BIG.Relevant – If it’s not relevant, it’s not memorable.Reasonable – You get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car! Doesn’t sound so reasonable now does it?Repeatable – Talk triggers don’t work if only one or two people talk about them. They must be repeatable.  Get a memorable domain name so others can easily remember it and share it with their friends. Can I create a word of mouth worthy experience on my website? We believe that you can, yes. However, in order to create a word of mouth worthy experience on your website, you’re going to have to cover your bases. Here are our some of our top recommendations to make your website worth talking about.  Design your site with your user’s experience in mind. How will they navigate your site? Are all the buttons visible and working on both desktop and mobile? Taking the time to work through these little kinks improves the end user experience, and will make them think more kindly of your site.Provide good content.Good content is what keeps people on your site. A lack of it won’t inspire conversation. Make sure you have the right hosting package.If you expect a lot of website traffic, don’t choose the skimpiest hosting package. The more traffic your website receives the more bandwidth you need to provide a seamless, glitch-free experience to your visitors.Know your audience. You can’t provide a relevant talk trigger (remember the 4 Rs?) if you don’t know your audience. Get to know what motivates them and what they enjoy, and you’ll find it easier to speak their language and market to them effectively.  What defines your word of mouth marketing strategy? Your word of mouth strategy will probably look a little different from your neighbors’ and your competitors’ strategies — and that’s ok! People don’t talk about things that are commonplace and mundane. So let your differences shine. Have you implemented any talk triggers or word of mouth strategies? We’d love to hear about what’s worked for you and what hasn’t. Let us know in the comments! The post Develop Your Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.

Is Drupal More Secure Than WordPress?

Nexcess Blog -

Drupal is widely regarded as a secure content management system, so much so that it is often chosen for sensitive sites, including the sites of many government agencies. WordPress’s reputation for security is not quite as impressive, and we’re all familiar with stories of hacked WordPress sites. Does that mean it’s fair to say that… Continue reading →

How Much Does Web Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans)

DreamHost Blog -

Whether you’re setting out to build your own website or plan on hiring a developer, you might be overwhelmed by the pricing options available for website hosting. In order to create a reasonable budget for your website and still maximize performance, you’ll need to conduct some research first. Arming yourself with a broad selection of hosting information and pricing levels will help you confidently pick a web host that suits your needs. Additionally, knowing the basic benefits that come with managed versus unmanaged hosting and the different options available is an important step towards building a great website. In this article, we’ll take a look at three different kinds of web hosting services and discuss how much you should expect to pay for them. Let’s get started! The Costs Involved in Starting a New Website When it comes to getting a new website off the ground, you can do so for next to nothing. However, there will likely be some costs to keep in mind as you plan to launch your site. Let’s look at WordPress, for example. The software itself is open-source and won’t cost a cent. Still, you’ll need to consider the following costs: Domain name. Depending on what name you’re hoping to score, domain pricing can have a wide range. For a standard .com name, however, you’ll need to plan for anywhere between $10 to $50 per year. Premium themes or plugins. If you want full control over all aspects of your site, you may need to consider a budget for premium plugins and themes. The extra cost is often worth it if you’re looking to set yourself apart from competitors. Web hosting. Hosting is required to get your site online and, in most cases, will involve a monthly fee that can vary significantly. Your hosting service is the highest non-optional cost you’ll need to worry about. That’s why we’ll spend the rest of this article providing the information you need to make an informed hosting decision. Related: How to Start a WordPress Site in 5 Minutes How Much Does Website Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans) There are several types of web hosting, and costs can range from less than $5 per month to hundreds of dollars per month. To help you cut through the clutter, we’re going to look at the three major categories of web hosting services you’ll want to consider in your search. 1. Shared Hosting The first and most popular kind of hosting is shared hosting. This variety is so common among web hosting companies because it’s cost-effective. Shared hosting distributes the resources of one physical server among multiple websites. Performance and Security Let’s get the biggest downside of shared hosting out of the way first. It’s more difficult to maintain high speeds and overall performance on this type of hosting. You can think of it like having a timeshare on an exotic island. You get the benefit of a beautiful place to relax and some very general upkeep, but it might not be available whenever you want or need it. Since loading times can make a big difference in how people interact with your site, performance is a critical consideration. Shared hosting also requires that you stay on top of updates. If one person forgets to lock the door to your timeshare, it could ruin the experience for everyone. That also means it’s possible for security issues on other sites to affect yours. Service Levels Shared hosting generally offers very basic service levels. You can think of it as a ‘DIY’ option, where you’ll need to be ready to handle most issues on your own. This could mean you’ll not only have to install WordPress yourself, but also worry about performance and security optimization. Not all shared hosting options are created equal, however. Your shared hosting plan may include extras like one-click installations for WordPress, guaranteed bandwidth, free domain names, and more. You’ll simply want to assess what level of support you need for your website and make sure the host you choose provides it. Renewal Pricing Hosting prices are typically listed as a ‘per month’ rate. However, it’s also essential that you pay attention to the fine print. Generally, to get the lowest possible price, you’ll need to sign up for a longer contract length. Therefore, paying per month is likely to cost you more in the long run than paying for one or more years upfront. Still, shared hosting at any contract length is by far the most economical and budget-friendly hosting service you can find. Despite its drawbacks, this makes it an excellent choice for small sites and blogs. Industry Standards The industry standard for shared hosting comes in at an average of $5 per month. You can find plans for cheaper than that, however, yet still come with plenty of features. Here at DreamHost, for example, we offer high-value shared hosting plans starting at just $2.95 per month. DreamHost shared hosting includes a domain name, comes with one-click installations of WordPress, and features 24/7 support when you commit to at least one year. There are also starter and unlimited package options for paying month-to-month, as well as for the one- and three-year contracts. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you.Choose Your Plan 2. Virtual Private Server Hosting The next hosting option, which has also become incredibly popular, is Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. This still hosts multiple websites on the same physical server, but each site gets its own virtually-partitioned space. This enables your website to run more optimally and enhances security, but it’s still a very cost-effective method. VPS represents a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated servers (which we’ll look at next). There’s one other major factor to consider when you’re looking at VPS hosting. With this type of plan, you can opt for either a managed or unmanaged service. Managed VPS hosting will provide you with a support team that will tend to your site’s security and performance, while unmanaged VPS hosting requires more hands-on attention. Performance and Security Let’s revisit our timeshare. When you go with a VPS plan, you are ensuring that you can reserve whatever dates you want in your exotic beach house. Plus, it will be clean and ready to go when you get there. VPS hosting can guarantee better page loading speeds and less downtime, as every website gets its own dedicated set of resources. Also, since each site is kept separate, it’s unlikely that security threats to other sites will affect yours. If you opt for a managed VPS plan in particular, you’ll know that your server is being maintained and secured for you. Your site uptime should be guaranteed, and you’ll know exactly what kind of resources you have available (and get the opportunity to scale them up when needed). Service Levels Unmanaged VPS hosting is a lot like shared hosting. You may get a few extra perks, but you won’t have a lot of help managing your website or server. On the other hand, a managed hosting plan provides you with a safety net. You’ll have a team of technicians and support staff who will be looking out for the security and functionality of your site and server. The exact services you get can vary, but often, your web hosting provider will work hard to make sure your website is optimized and up-to-date at all times. Managed hosting is an excellent option if you have a growing website, but are not ready to invest in your own hardware or an IT team to manage everything. You can get excellent results with little to no technical know-how. Renewal Pricing Once you decide whether you want to go with a managed or unmanaged VPS plan, you’ll want to start assessing the pricing options. As with shared hosting, VPS plans will need to be renewed either in monthly or yearly increments. For the best deal, you’ll want to opt for the longest contract (if your budget allows and you’re happy to commit for the long term). Industry Standards VPS hosting will cost you a bit more than a shared plan, but it’s still an affordable option. Prices vary a good deal, but the monthly industry standard is right around $30 per month. Managed plans will cost a bit more than unmanaged plans, although they make up for it in additional features and services. At DreamHost, we offer four tiers of VPS hosting, each with a monthly, one-year, and three-year option. You can start with a basic VPS plan for just $10 per month or go all-in with an enterprise plan for $80 per month. Regardless of your choice, all of our VPS plans all come with free SSL certificates and unlimited websites and traffic. What’s more, these options are all managed, which means you’ll save a lot of time on upkeep. We Know You've Got Lots of VPS OptionsHere’s how DreamHost’s VPS offering stands apart: 24/7 customer support, an intuitive panel, scalable RAM, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited hosting domains, and SSD storage.Go Virtual 3. Dedicated Hosting The third hosting service you’re likely to encounter is dedicated hosting. This is the ‘all-in’ option. Dedicated hosting, or a ‘dedicated server’ as it is sometimes referred to, provides you with an entire physical server that’s reserved solely for your website. While your hosting provider still owns the hardware, this option gives you near-complete control over what is installed on that server and how it’s configured. There are a few more things to consider when it comes to dedicated hosting, including the more substantial up-front investment, but it’s a sound option if your site is well-established. Performance and Security Dedicated hosting offers a lot of benefits for certain kinds of sites. If your website receives a ton of traffic or you handle a lot of transactions on your site (such as with a small business or e-commerce website), a dedicated host might be a smart investment. With this option, you finally have that house on the beach all to yourself. Dedicated hosting offers you speed, stability, flexibility, increased security, and lots more storage. Plus, you won’t have to worry about other websites affecting your site’s performance or putting its users at risk. When shopping for dedicated hosting, you’ll want to know whether you are buying a solid-state or a traditional drive. Along with that, you’ll also need to decide if you want metered or unmetered bandwidth. All of these elements will impact the price of your dedicated plan. Service Levels Now that you’re investing in a physical piece of hardware, there’s more to consider when it comes to service. While you can rent a server and manage it yourself, you’ll need a lot of knowledge about server technology and programming to make that work. Even if you do have the necessary know-how, optimizing and managing a dedicated server can take up a lot of time. Managed dedicated hosting provides the same kind of service we talked about when discussing VPS hosting plans. Plus, it adds on everything you’ll need for handling a larger and more robust website (or multiple sites). This can include a unique IP address, dedicated server backups, and plenty of support. Renewal Costs Just like with other hosting options, you’ll have to decide if you want to pay for your hosting month-to-month or benefit from the savings you can get with a year-to-year plan. Most dedicated hosting providers offer both. Just be sure to read the fine print to determine whether your yearly renewal includes a standard increase. Industry Standards Now that you’re investing in a piece of equipment and the skills necessary to take care of it, you’ll be looking at a significantly higher price tag. Dedicated hosting prices cover a wide range, depending on how much speed, memory, security, and service you need. The average dedicated server starts at around $100 per month, although plans at that price aren’t likely to include a fully-managed hosting package. Our own dedicated hosting is managed and still comes in at a competitive price. If you’re not afraid of commitment, you can bag a standard plan starting at $149 per month, or pay $279 per month for enhanced features such as additional memory and faster processing. The month-to-month price range for DreamHost’s dedicated hosting starts at $169. Get DreamHost’s Most Powerful HostingOur dedicated hosting plans are the ideal solution for high-traffic sites that require fast speeds and consistent uptime.Power Your Site Breaking Down Website Hosting Costs Before you break out the checkbook, it’s crucial to understand all of your website hosting options. With many different kinds of plans out there, and what seems like an infinite combination of services and performance levels, knowledge is power for you as a consumer. When making your choice, you’ll want to understand the basics of the three most common types of hosting: Shared hosting. This is the least expensive entry-point into web hosting, although the services will be basic. You can expect to pay $5 per month or less. VPS hosting. This can be the best value-for-dollar option. You’ll likely pay an average of $30 per month, and you can opt for the benefits of managed hosting for an even greater value. Dedicated hosting. For top-of-the-line dedicated hosting, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per month. You’ll get what you pay for here, so read the fine print and assess your site’s needs carefully. Have you decided what kind of web hosting plan might be right for your website? At DreamHost, we have something for everyone. That includes superb managed WordPress hosting plans, in addition to our other shared, VPS, and dedicated options! The post How Much Does Web Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business

HostGator Blog -

The post Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. It’s tempting to focus on social media instead of email for marketing when you’re starting a business. Social media is cool and fun, and email seems kind of stale by comparison. It’s also a lot easier to set up social media accounts than it is to build and manage an email list. But email still rules in terms of return on marketing investment, so if you want to grow your business, email needs to be part of your marketing mix. Why Does Email Marketing Still Work? One reason email rules is because it reaches virtually everyone. Sure, there are plenty of people on social media, but not everyone uses the same platforms, and some folks don’t use social media at all. But do you know anyone who doesn’t use email? Do you ever go more than 24 hours without checking your email? Probably not—and email is email, no matter which operating system or email service provider you use. What about Gen Z? Do teenagers even use email anymore? According to a study by OptinMonster, 75% of teenagers consider email part of their daily lives. The study also found that overall, 99% of people check their email every day. Fifty-eight percent check it first thing in the morning, a much higher number than the 14% who check social media first. And it’s not just that people check their email. People engage with marketing emails at a much higher rate than they do social media posts, according to the study. The average open rate for marketing emails is more than 22% and the click-through rate is 3.7%. The average engagement rate for posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is less than 0.6%. Why does email get so much more engagement? In part, recipients are more likely to see email than social posts. An email sits in the inbox until it’s opened or dismissed. But a post may not even show up in someone’s feed, and if it does, it competes with a steady stream of other posts, comments, and links to other media. Broad reach and high engagement contribute to email’s high ROI — $38 for each dollar spent on email marketing, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Over the past ten years, email has outperformed every other marketing channel, from search and social to affiliate programs and display ads. 7 Steps to Making Email Work for Your Business Okay, so you’re convinced that email is a worthwhile part of your small business marketing program. How do you begin? Here are the basic steps. 1. Choose your email marketing software Building and growing a list is not a DIY affair. You’ll want to choose a service like Constant Contact to manage list opt-ins, segment your list, create campaigns, and measure their effectiveness. You can sign up for a free trial to test the features before you choose a subscription plan. 2. Get people to join your list Make your list worth joining. Your opt-in forms should offer something your target audience wants, whether that’s a coupon code, a free gift, a free report to help them solve a problem, or something else appealing. It’s also a good idea to let people know how often you email. People sometimes avoid joining lists because they’re worried about getting emails every day. Your offer can overcome that objection. For example, “Get 10% off your first purchase. Sign up for our weekly email list.” 3. Take care of your list Not every customer who joins your list will be interested in the same offers, products, or services. That’s why it’s important to segment your list. Rather than send one-size-fits-all messages to every list member, you can create separate messages for each segment, to deliver what they’re looking for. Segmentation is important for personalizing offers, which we’ll get to in a bit. Constant Contact lets you refine your list segments by automatically grouping your list based on the links they click in your emails, so your information is always evolving and up to date. Make opting out easy. One-click opt out is the gold standard. It keeps your list members from getting frustrated and reporting your messages as spam, which can reduce your delivery rates. 4. Connect with customers in their inbox Your messages will get more opens, click-throughs, and conversions if they deliver what your list members want. You can personalize offers to segments and even individual customers based on their past purchases, seasonal needs, and the links they’ve clicked on in your previous emails. For example, send preview-sale emails in March to your customers who buy new swimsuits every spring. Or send your premium dog food customers monthly offers for the newest treats and toys. Customers who clicked on your bespoke bags in your last campaign can get a follow up offer on those items later in the week. You can add graphics and videos to your emails to keep readers’ eyes on the page and to showcase your products. Be sure to test your multimedia messages before you send them to make sure they’ll look good in your customers’ inboxes. 5. Test your campaigns Use your email marketing service’s A/B testing tools to see which subject lines, content, and offers get the best responses from your list members. Use that information to make your next campaigns more effective. 6. Monitor your metrics Watch your email service dashboard for each campaign to see how many opens, clicks, and unsubscribes it gets. You’ll also see the peak days and times for email opens so you can time your future campaigns more precisely. Link your email service to your Google Analytics dashboard so you can track visitors who arrive from your email links, what types of devices they use to visit, and where they go on your site, and whether they convert. 7. Refine and repeat Email marketing is a process that should get easier and more effective over time. Use your data from past campaigns, your dashboards, and feedback from your customers to continuously improve your messaging—and your ROI. Ready to grow your business? Get started with Constant Contact today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Now Open – AWS Middle East (Bahrain) 

Amazon Web Services Blog -

The first AWS Region in the Middle East is now open and it is available for you to use today. The official name is Middle East (Bahrain) and the API name is me-south-1. With today’s launch, the AWS Cloud now spans 69 Availability Zones within 22 geographic regions around the world. The Middle East (Bahrain) Region consists of three Availability Zones (AZ’s). Having three Availability Zones enables Middle East organizations to meet business continuity and disaster recovery requirements and also build highly available, fault-tolerant, and scalable applications. Instances and Services Applications running in this 3-AZ region can use C5, C5d, D2, I3, M5, M5d, R5, R5d, and T3 instances, and can make use of a long list of AWS services including Amazon API Gateway, Application Auto Scaling, AWS Certificate Manager (ACM), AWS Artifact, AWS CloudFormation, Amazon CloudFront, AWS CloudTrail, Amazon CloudWatch,CloudWatch Events, Amazon CloudWatch Logs, AWS CodeDeploy, AWS Config, AWS Config Rules, AWS Database Migration Service, AWS Direct Connect, Amazon DynamoDB, EC2 Auto Scaling, EC2 Dedicated Hosts, Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Elastic Container Registry, Amazon ECS, Application Load Balancers (Classic, Network, and Application), Amazon EMR, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Amazon Glacier, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, AWS Key Management Service (KMS), AWS Lambda, AWS License Manager, AWS Marketplace, Amazon Neptune, AWS Organizations, AWS Personal Health Dashboard, AWS Resource Groups, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Aurora, Amazon Route 53 (including Private DNS for VPCs), AWS Shield, AWS Server Migration Service, Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Simple Workflow Service (SWF), AWS Step Functions, AWS Support API, AWS Systems Manager, AWS Transit Gateway, AWS Trusted Advisor, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, and VM Import/Export. Edge Locations and Direct Connect Amazon CloudFront edge locations are already operational in two cities in the Middle East (Dubai, and Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates). These cities also host existing AWS Direct Connect locations (Equinix DX1 in Dubai, and Etisalat Smart Hub datacenter in Fujairah). In addition we are now opening a new AWS Direct Connect location, AWS Bahrain DC53, in Manama, Bahrain. This new location is the first to be operated by AWS and features 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps connections. See the AWS Direct Connect website for details on our locations, associated home regions, logical redundancy, and pricing. AWS Customers in the Middle East Our customers in the Middle East are already using AWS to do incredible things, for example: Emirates NBD is a leading banking Group in the Middle East that is utilizing AWS’s artificial intelligence and machine learning services, data analytics, and natural language processing technologies to better engage with customers and simplify banking. Al Tayer Group, one of the largest privately held family-run conglomerates in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with interests in automobile sales and services, luxury and lifestyle retail, and hospitality, relies on several AWS managed database services such as Amazon Aurora, and was able to cut costs by 40%, while increasing performance by four times, compared with proprietary database technologies. Bahrain’s National Bureau of Revenue (NBR), needed a solution that would enable a seamless VAT rollout, without delays and with the highest levels of security. By launching SAP S/4 Hana on AWS, the NBR was able to go to market in just under two months while lowering costs by 40%. The most well-known and fastest growing businesses in the Middle East are also choosing AWS to launch and grow their businesses. Careem, the leading technology platform for the region, started working with AWS in 2012 to help it scale fast and wide across 14 countries in under seven years. Today, Careem hosts some 33 million customers and one million drivers on its platform, and has expanded its services to offer on demand deliveries as well its original core business, ride hailing. And that Makes 22 AWS Cloud now has 22 regions with 69 Availability Zones, and we’re not close to being done. We are currently working on nine more Availability Zones and three more AWS Regions in Cape Town, Jakarta, and Milan. Investing in the Future To support the growth in cloud adoption across the region, AWS has made significant investments in education, training, and certification programs to help those interested in the latest cloud computing technologies, best practices, and architectures, to advance their technical skills and further support Middle East organizations in their digital transformation. AWS Activate – This global program provides startups with credits, training, and support so that they can build their businesses on AWS. AWS Educate – This global program teaches students about cloud computing. It provides AWS credits to educators and students, along with discounts on training, access to curated content, personalized learning pathways, and collaboration tools. AWS Academy – This global program is designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry by giving students the knowledge that they need to have in order to qualify for jobs that require cloud skills. The program is built around hands-on experience, and includes an AWS-authored curriculum, access to AWS certification, accreditation for educators. Training and Certification – This global program helps developers to build cloud skills using digital or classroom training and to validate those skills by earning an industry-recognized credential. It includes learning paths for Cloud Practitioners, Architects, Developers, and Operations. The Middle East (Bahrain) Region is now open and you can start creating your AWS resources in it today! — Martin

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