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Which is Better For My Business, Dedicated Server Hosting or Cloud Hosting?

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Choosing between a dedicated server or a cloud hosting solution is an important decision for your company. In the past, it was common for businesses to start off on a shared Linux server when first learning about web hosting and then upgrade to a dedicated server to support increased web traffic as the website scaled in growth. Today, the new paradigm of cloud hosting means that businesses don’t necessarily need to follow this traditional path and can start building a website on a managed cloud plan with pre-integrated platform support for Varnish Cache, Memcached, Nginx, CDNs, etc. that previously would have taken many hours in developer time to build on a custom dedicated server independently.   Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get insight into cloud technologies sent to your inbox. Cloud hosting plans offer scalable server resource allocation based on hardware virtualization, whereas dedicated server plans include a fixed allocation of isolated RAM, CPU, & SSD/HDD storage that can provide better performance and increased security for online business applications. Elastic cloud solutions can scale to provide higher levels of web traffic support than a single dedicated server can provide and are increasingly becoming an essential aspect of keeping the most popular websites & mobile apps hosted online. Private Cloud powered by VMware and NetApp delivers all the benefits of a traditional public cloud with the power, performance, and security of an isolated infrastructure on dedicated hardware. About Cloud Hosting  Many of the new retail cloud web hosting plans available for small business website publishing support are based in web server network management software improvements derived from “big data” in enterprise corporations where the scalability requirements of the largest websites in the world are the responsibility of DevOps teams in IT companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM as well as hosting companies like Liquid Web, Rackspace, and Amazon.  It is important to understand the difference between public, private, hybrid, and managed cloud hosting frameworks, as well as how these services relate to the specific web hosting needs of small businesses, SMEs, start-up software companies, & enterprise corporations (such as multi-nationals or Fortune 500 brands) uniquely, with particular cost-saving solutions targeted to each market sector. Business website owners also need to understand the differences between Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) plans. The main advantage of a cloud hosting product is for a small business to take advantage of an enterprise-grade SaaS/PaaS solution at a fraction of the cost of developing the software independently. Cloud hosting plans include managed platform security which, along with elastic scalability, mainly distinguishes them from dedicated server solutions with isolated hardware and customized web server software stack environments. Many cloud VPS plans use a “pay as you go” approach rather than fixed rates for billing which allows them to scale to provide more CPU cores, RAM, or I/O processes on demand for web traffic spikes that can overwhelm shared hosting plans. Elastic cloud platforms manage multiple virtual servers and databases simultaneously, synchronizing changes across versions and caching web pages for anonymous browsers. Whether you’re developing in PHP or .NET, Linux or Windows, or hosting WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, Cloud Sites lets you quickly launch and manage your sites effortlessly. Cloud or Dedicated – What Should I Choose? For most small business web hosting requirements, cloud hosting solutions offer web server resource scalability options that compete at the same price levels as dedicated server hardware for high traffic websites. Many cloud platforms use a single web server stack software that will not support the custom software requirements of legacy web applications or databases, making dedicated server plans a necessity. In most cases, cloud hosting plans offer a “plug & play” PaaS option that small business owners can transfer existing websites to for better web server performance at scale with integrated page caching. Dedicated servers provide base hardware resources that developers can custom install with the programming language extensions, tools, utilities, and third-party frameworks required to program complex, database-driven web and mobile applications. Over-provisioning dedicated server hardware for web and mobile applications can lead to better performance vs. shared hosting platforms based on virtualization with thousands of domain names active on a single server instance. Advantages of Cloud Hosting  Although there are a wide variety of cloud hosting plans, platforms, and services, each unique to the company and programming team developing them for market, the main advantages of these plans are that they provide pre-installed elastic web server support with custom stack software optimized for CMS websites running on LAMP. CMS site owners receive better overall performance on cloud hosting through a combination of premium hardware configurations, SSD storage options, load balancing on network traffic, and multi-layered database, PHP process, & web file caching services, including CDN integration. Cloud hosting allocates more RAM, CPU cores, & I/O processes to CMS websites than shared hosting plans while allowing each site to scale to consume more resources on-demand, according to the web traffic requirements in live production. This ensures that websites remain “always on” under any web traffic conditions and that web pages will load faster under normal conditions of community use. Disadvantages of Cloud Hosting The disadvantages of retail cloud hosting under the PaaS model compared to a dedicated server plan is that systems administrators or web developers may not have the full flexibility required to modify the webserver stack software installation in order to build custom solutions. For example, there is no ability to change the operating system or install alternative webserver platform software like Nginx, Tomcat, Hadoop, Lightspeed, or Lighttpd on retail PaaS cloud hosting plans. However, cloud hosting plans available under “pay as you go” approaches AWS, Google Cloud, & other companies do allow easy web server stack customization using snapshot services. Small business owners normally find managed WordPress hosting and retail cloud plans offered with LAMP PaaS options easier to use when transitioning from shared hosting for better performance, while the cloud computing plans offered with more stack flexibility require experience in systems administration and function similarly to VPS plans. Advantages of Dedicated Servers The traditional advantages of dedicated servers are that systems administrators can configure them for the exact level of web traffic that is required to support online operations. Where this is variable, website owners need to provision dedicated servers with over-capacity that will also provide better performance during periods of less than peak traffic activity. Web developers and programmers require dedicated server hardware to create custom web server environments for complex application support. This can include installing alternative operating systems for the webserver, custom developer extensions for programming languages, performance-enhancing utilities like advanced page caching systems, or alternative database frameworks to MySQL. Java, ASP.NET, Node.js, PHP, & Python developers all require dedicated server hardware that can be fully customized to build new applications or support legacy software online with specific runtime requirements. Dedicated servers can be optimized to support high levels of web traffic for eCommerce, media, publishing, promotions, etc. Disadvantages of Dedicated Servers The main disadvantage of dedicated servers is that, under an unmanaged approach, systems administrators must be responsible for all aspects of web security that includes the operating system and all installed extension frameworks. Dedicated servers with a managed stack software environment are continually updated by remote technicians in the data center with security patches, but this can create data access issues with unregistered employees that are unacceptable to some business operations. The cost of leasing remote dedicated servers can even be higher than buying and provisioning the hardware locally, although it is difficult to replicate the speed of fiber optic network resources in a world-class data center or international colocation facility. Trust in the web hosting company includes reliance on a third-party team for support, technical assistance, and debugging in operations that can be mission-critical for business website support, but not every hosting company is guaranteed to be consistent in this at a level to be reliable, leading to a potential loss of business or occasional web server downtime that cannot be predicted. Liquid Web Cloud Sites Service Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites service is an excellent example of how managed cloud hosting platforms with elastic scalability is providing enterprise-grade solutions for small business and SMEs that are both cheaper and more powerful than dedicated servers. Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites platform is designed to work to optimize the performance of websites built with WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, PHP, & .NET through pre-installation of optimized stack software on the webserver. Elastic scalability is automated with Cloud Sites so that new server instances launch on-demand or as scheduled to meet the user requirements of web traffic spikes. Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites plans are more cost-effective than many dedicated server plans and also scales to support more web traffic under peak activity than dedicated hardware or VPS plans can manage. This can be vitally important for eCommerce websites that can lose business during peak sales periods like holidays, weekends, and special promotions unless a scalable web server framework is deployed. Liquid Web’s Cloud Sites plans can scale to support over 500 billion page requests per year on a fixed price monthly framework to illustrate how managed cloud hosting platforms are replacing dedicated servers for preferred use in support of web publishing, eCommerce, social media, and mobile applications. Summary & Conclusion Instead of moving from a shared hosting account to a dedicated server with more hardware resource allocations, business owners can now choose cloud hosting plans which scale to provide more CPU cores, RAM, or database instances automatically as required by web traffic (“elastic scaling”). When combined with a “pay as you go” approach or cheap fixed-rate billing, this can be more efficient than estimating required server overcapacity manually to match peak hours with downtime levels of website traffic.  The most important aspect of web hosting for many business websites is the ability to install a custom web server software stack platform to support needed third-party programming language and database extensions for complex web and mobile applications with custom code. Dedicated servers were traditionally the way to go, but cloud computing options are becoming increasingly more competitive alternatives for building small business software solutions at an affordable price. It is now possible for small businesses and SMEs to host their websites with elastic server capabilities on retail PaaS cloud hosting plans at a fraction of the cost of comparable dedicated hardware and with the same enterprise quality services the largest companies in the world use to maintain their daily internet operations at scale. Find Out Your Cloud Hosting Options See how Liquid Web’s Cloud Hosting options can provide scalability and performance at an affordable cost. The post Which is Better For My Business, Dedicated Server Hosting or Cloud Hosting? appeared first on Liquid Web.

Which Hosting Should you Choose for your Online Business?

Reseller Club Blog -

Knowing your product and business niche is of utmost importance, as the success of your business depends on your product, your marketing abilities, and how well you know your customers. However, when it comes to online businesses there are two more critical things that you should take care of. First, the domain name of your business website and second, your hosting – viz. type and service provider.  Choosing the perfect domain name is comparatively easy but with the many hosting options available it can be slightly overwhelming and confusing which to choose. Worry not! The aim of this article is to help you understand which hosting you should choose for your online business. So without further ado, let us begin.  First things first, let us see the various types of hosting options available today: Shared Hosting VPS Hosting Dedicated Hosting Cloud Hosting Reseller Hosting CMS Hosting WordPress Hosting Magento Hosting Joomla Hosting Drupal Hosting Phew! Too many aren’t they? And confusing too, especially if you are a first time user. Before we delve deep into all these hosting options. Let us first figure out which hosting is the best for you, for this we will consider ‘website traffic’ as our metric. If your website traffic falls under the range of:  Traffic Range Type Go for this 5k – 10k visitors/day New SMB/blog Shared Hosting >10k and <30k visitors/day A high surge in traffic Cloud Hosting >10k and <30k visitors/day Steady traffic VPS Hosting >30k visitors/day Medium-large business Dedicated Hosting >10k and <30k visitors/day CMS based website eg: WordPress CMS Based Hosting No set range as this hosting is basically used to share part of your server. WebPro i.e web designer or developer Reseller Hosting Now, that you’ve figured the hosting you should choose for your website let us see in-depth about these hosting types: Shared Hosting Shared Hosting, is a traditional hosting type where a single physical server is shared amongst multiple websites. Apart from the server space, resources like bandwidth, storage, disk space etc. are also shared.   Features: Some of the prominent features of Shared Hosting are, it is easy to manage and offers high performance to websites that get low to moderate traffic. Cost: Shared Hosting is the cheapest hosting amongst all the hosting types. Ideal for: Shared Hosting is ideal for websites that receive low traffic be them e-commerce website or blogs.   The ResellerClub Advantage: Even though Shared Hosting divides its resources amongst multiple websites, it has a lot of advantages. To name a few: it comes with a free cPanel using which you can monitor your domain and its add-ons, it allows free website migration from one web host to another, it comes with varnish cache. Thus, even though the server is divided among several websites,  if you are a low-traffic website your website loading speed isn’t affected.  VPS Hosting VPS or Virtual Private Server Hosting is traditional hosting where a single physical server is partitioned into multiple smaller virtual servers. This partitioning is done with the help of a software called the hypervisor. Post the partition, the individual virtual servers or virtual machines (VMs) act as independent servers each with a dedicated set of resources without being dependent on the other servers or their resources. VPS can be said to be a bridge between Shared and Dedicated Hosting. Features: VPS Hosting offers greater flexibility and control of the server as you get full-root access of the server. Apart from this, it offers instant scalability of resources, power-packed performance and is reliable as all servers are isolated from one another. Cost: VPS Hosting is costlier than Shared Hosting, however, it is cheaper compared to Dedicated Hosting. Ideal for: Growing businesses and blogs with variable traffic ranging from moderate to high.  The ResellerClub Advantage:  If you are a Reseller then VPS Hosting is an ideal choice as you can sub-divide your server for multiple clients.  VPS Hosting by ResellerClub is setup instantly & powered by KVM, a powerful virtualization infrastructure Free SSD (Solid State Drives) for powerful read/write performance along with instant scalability.  Apart from this, our VPS Hosting is reliable and loads fast even if you are a high traffic website/blog.  Dedicated Server Hosting Dedicated Server Hosting helps you host and manage your website without sharing server space with any other website. In Dedicated Server Hosting, you get complete administrative control of your hosting server. Moreover, your website is secure and loads faster as no other website is sharing the server space.  Features: Dedicated Hosting offers complete control of your physical server with full root access including all the resources like CPU, RAM, OS, etc. thus you are free to customise your hosting environment. Cost: Dedicated Hosting is the costliest of all the hosting types available. Ideal for: Dedicated Hosting is ideal for large businesses who deal with huge data and receive a great amount of traffic on a daily basis.  ResellerClub Advantage: Dedicated Server Hosting by ResellerClub is built on state-of-the-art architecture and offers you the following advantages: Instant provisioning of the server using OpenStack, an IaaS platform Easy management of multiple clients using hosting management panels like WHM and cPanel Efficient server performance using Supermicro blade chassis   Full-root access and 99.9% uptime guarantee  Cloud Hosting Cloud Hosting is an interconnection of several servers across instances and/or devices. Virtualisation plays a key role in Cloud Hosting, especially in terms of the division of resources for each server. Here, the servers are isolated from each other and the resources easily scalable.  Features: Quick and easy scalability of resources, no single point of failure, high security, blazing fast website loading speed and 99.9% Uptime guarantee.  Cost: Even though Cloud Hosting falls under the expensive bracket when compared to Shared Hosting, given its innumerable features it is, in fact, cost-effective.  Ideal for: Cloud Hosting is ideal for growing online businesses, websites with dynamic content, and moderate to low traffic websites. The ResellerClub Advantage: Cloud Hosting with ResellerClub comes with  free Hosting Management cPanel to help you manage your website better data mirroring to keep your data safe in case of sudden server failure instant setup & installation, and much more. CMS Hosting CMS (Content Management System Hosting) is a generic way of representing a hosting type in accordance with the CMS you are using for your website. One of the most widely used CMS is, WordPress and hence WordPress Hosting is the ideal choice for it over other hosting types. At ResellerClub, we offer 4 different types of CMS Hosting services viz. WordPress Hosting, Magento Hosting, Drupal Hosting and Joomla Hosting. Features: Offers a stable hosting infrastructure, customised support and caters to the needs based on the CMS type chosen. Apart from this, it comes with a hosting management panel like cPanel, email hosting etc.  Ideal for: Any CMS based website for small-medium sized business.  The ResellerClub Advantage: Any CMS Hosting viz. WordPress Hosting, Joomla Hosting, Magento Hosting and Drupal Hosting with Resellerclub comes with  1-click software install lightning fast website loading speed  integrated caching and CDN intuitive dashboard, automatic updates, and much more. Reseller Hosting Reseller Hosting is the ideal type of hosting for WebPros who are in the reseller business or plan to start their own hosting business. It helps you cater and manage your clients easily viz. It allows you to create customised plans and packages which you can later sell to your customer keeping a margin with the aim of earning a profit.  Features: It offers high disk space and bandwidth along with Billing and Hosting management dashboard to seamlessly manage the multiple clients. Along with this, it even offers you WHMCS panel and over 800+ products that include domains, hosting, SSL, email, themes, etc. services to cater to your clients.  Ideal for: Reseller Hosting is ideal for WebPro who wish to start their own hosting business.  The ResellerClub Advantage: Reseller Hosting offers you white-labelled services i.e you can offer your services to your clients under your own brand name. This helps you further your business and establish your business in the market, making you a one-stop-shop for all things domains and hosting.  Final thoughts: The choice of your chosen hosting greatly determines how well your website caters to your customers. The right choice of hosting is sure to keep them happy and coming back to you, whereas the wrong choice could result in either them not being happy or you paying more than what you should be based on your traffic. So, analyse your traffic and business before making the final choice. All hosting types are good, it all depends on the size and type of your business to make it a profitable venture. Choose wisely! If you have any queries, you can drop us a comment below or get in touch with our support executives and we’ll be happy to help you! .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post Which Hosting Should you Choose for your Online Business? appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

How to Get More Social Media Engagement on Any Platform

Social Media Examiner -

Want to improve your engagement on social media? Wondering how to keep the conversation going with your followers? In this article, you’ll discover how to get your audience to engage with your social media posts, videos, and live videos. The 3 Rules of Social Media Engagement Before jumping into the tips, let’s make sure you’ve […] The post How to Get More Social Media Engagement on Any Platform appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Magento Search: Uncovering the Benefits of Elasticsearch, SOLR, Sphinx, and MySQL

Nexcess Blog -

Storefronts can no longer rely on good navigation alone. Search has become a primary purchasing path, with consumers that use it 200% more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. This article looks at the search options available to Magento merchants, and outlines four of the main tools available; including Elasticsearch, SOLR, Sphinx, and MySQL. It examines the pros and cons of each, and provides recommendations depending on merchant requirements. Keep reading to see which Magento search option is right for your storefront. Consumers who use search are 200% more likely to convert. Note: this article will not be taking a detailed look at the multiple Magento search extensions available on the marketplace, but instead focuses on more powerful, external solutions. How Magento Search Works Once a search engine is installed, it immediately gets to work by indexing content on your site. For ecommerce sites, this means creating a “list” of products along with their attributes. This indexing process is continuous. Every time an update is made to your site (a new product added) the “list” needs to be refreshed.  For example, you may add a new set of headphones to your website. The search engine will then index things like its title, description, and price. It will also index attributes you have specified such as connection type, whether it’s noise cancelling, etc.  When a user inputs a search query, the search engine will sort through the list of products and their attributes, and then bring back the most relevant. Different search engines do this in different ways and have different features for interpreting and filtering more complex data. Elasticsearch, the most popular search tool available, does this primarily with JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). Here, different attributes are marked up during product creation and then used during the search process to compile relevant results. Because of JSON being such a powerful and fast programming language, Elasticsearch means that merchants can provide search values outside of just text-based strings. In the case of some other search engines (MySQL), this functionality is very limited. What to Look for with Magento Search Regardless of which search engine you opt to use, there are six features that you need to focus on: How long do the indexing and results compiling processes take? The longer these take, the slower your search is going to be. What languages can the search engine handle? Decide what language is best for your store first and then make sure your search engine provides support for it. What natural language processing features are there? This isn’t just important now, it will be important for voice search too. How does faceted search work and how detailed can filters get? How accurate is the search engine? It’s worth trying the search engine first to see if it really does provide accurate results.  Synonym management (especially important for niche stores) With these six features in mind, we’ve taken a look at four of the most popular search options available to Magento merchants. Each of the options below are acceptable for use on a modern store. However, there is one that can really unlock powerful search for merchant sites. Elasticsearch Elasticsearch (ES) is currently the most popular and the default option for Magento search.  As a java-based document store, Elasticsearch is engineered to store large numbers of JSON documents and speak to them natively. So in addition to being able to handle text-based queries, it can also understand advanced analytical queries too, including interpreting numeric and geo data.  Where Elasticsearch really shines is in its full support for Apache Lucene’s real-time search. From a customer’s perspective, this means ES is able to provide faster and more relevant search experiences. For store owners, this means faster conversions.  Currently, Elasticsearch is recommended by both us and Magento. Part of the reason for this is that it’s easy to set up. On Nexcess accounts, it can be turned on under the Environment tab in your Client Portal. The endpoint can then be transferred into Magento by following this guide.  At the moment, both Foursqaure and Github use Elasticsearch. A Faster, More Accurate Search Option For 74% of consumers, the quality and relevancy of search results on an ecommerce site is the difference between whether they do or don’t make a purchase. Elasticsearch helps to make searches relevant even when the searcher isn’t sure what they’re looking for with fuzzy searching. Fuzzy searching allows for stores to interpret customer queries by taking textual queries and interpreting them based on more than just 1-to-1 word comparisons. Combined with synonym and stop word interpretation, this places ES as one of the more capable search engines available to merchants.  Elasticsearch is able to provide faster and more relevant search experiences leading to more conversions.  ES also allows for merchants to customize search results based on defined parameters. One of the technologies used to do this is finite state transducers. In English, this means that ES can handle search queries that consider both the input and output, and can then provide results based on the relationship between these two pieces of data.  Complex Search Query Support While both Elasticsearch and SOLR (below) are based on Lucene query parsing, Elasticsearch provides support for structured query DSL. This allows for more complex search queries not supported by a just-Lucene search engine.  Elasticsearch also supports scoring scripts, which can be written and implemented through JavaScript. At this point in time, SOLR does not offer this functionality. Official and Community Library Support Official: Java, PHP, Javascript, Python, Groovy, Ruby, Perl, .NET,  Community:  Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, R, Ruby, Clojure, Cold Fusion, Erlang, Go, Groovy, Haskell,.NET, OCaml, Perl, Scala, Smalltalk, Vert.x  Elasticsearch Pros Has become the default replacement for the default Magento MySQL Search Engine  A little faster than SOLR More aligned with modern web development practices (so likely easier to use) Ready to go out of the box with the Nexcess Elasticsearch Container solution Elasticsearch Cons Will take up space due to indexing Can cost extra for hosting space Requires lengthy indexing     Learn more about Elasticsearch and how it can elevate your ecommerce platform now.    SOLR Another standalone, scalable search option for Magento. For a long time, SOLR dominated the Magento search market for high-traffic sites. Not only does it offer a number of important features search admins are looking for, it’s also a scalable solution capable of handling heavy traffic loads. Some of the features you’ll find with SOLR search include: Search term suggestions based on misspelling Weighted search results Layered navigation Powerful autocomplete Relevancy management Support for synonyms and stop words At the moment, Cnet and Netflix use SOLR.  Near Real-Time Search Speeds Where SOLR shines is when it comes to group searches. This is because SOLR supports distributed groups (including grouped sorting, filtering, and faceting). For ecommerce stores, this allows customers to customize their search experience to provide more relevant results. At this point in time, the main competitor, Elasticsearch, does not support this in the same way.  Powerful on-site search provides more than just a direct purchasing path. It also provides customers with an avenue for research. When compared to alternatives, SOLR is a more complicated search engine to implement. Not only does SOLR’s interface take longer to learn than Elasticsearch’s, its deployment also requires a little more knowledge. If you’re looking for some added functionality that comes with additional work, then SOLR may be a good choice. However, in 99 cases out of 100, we would recommend Magento store owners opt for Elasticsearch.  Official and Community Library Support Official: Java Community: PHP, Python, Javascript, Ruby, Erlang, Perl, Scala, Go, Clojure, .NET SOLR Pros A popular search option for Magento 1 stores Does not require a massive indexing process Truly open source SOLR Cons Harder to implement No longer the latest and greatest in Magento Search   Sphinx Sphinx is a powerful Magento search tool capable of indexing multiple content types and with support for multiple written languages. While not as powerful as the options above, it’s favored by a lot of Magento 1 stores due to the ease of integration. Sphinx is currently used by Mozilla, Craiglist, and Dailymotion. Fast Search From a Premium Module By default, Sphinx doesn’t run through an external container but an extension that can be downloaded through the Magento Marketplace. Despite this, it’s still capable of holding its own when pitted against the other options on this list.  From their own documentation, Sphinx is able to deliver over 500 queries/second when a product catalog consists of over 1,000,000 skus.  In terms of its actual search capabilities, Sphinx includes a number of features you see with most of the other search engines listed here, including: Synonym and plural form support Long tail search  Stop word support Sphinx also allows for multiple search types, including products, categories, attributes, and blog content. Its morphology preprocessors allow for different word forms to be replaced with their base form. In Sphinx’s example, this means translating Dogs into Dog. There are, of course, much more complicated use cases where this helps to provide unique and highly-relevant results for customers.  Sphinx is able to deliver over 500 queries/second when a product catalog consists of over 1,000,000 skus. A Magento 1 Search Tool While we always recommend using Elasticsearch, we’ve found that when Sphinx is used it tends to be with Magento 1 stores. If you’re running a Magento 2 store, Elasticsearch is a better option – especially if you’re just getting started or are in the process of replatforming from magento 1.  If you’re interested in how to configure search on Magento 1, then we recommend checking out this article from Shero. Sphinx Pros A powerful search engine used by a lot of large, popular sites Years of development have made it stable Sphinx Cons Not as well supported as alternatives Lacks the speed of Elasticsearch and SOLR   MySQL The original default search engine for Magento. While competent in its own right, it doesn’t compare to the enterprise options available. Moreover, the MySQL search option for Magento has now been deprecated. Instead, Magento 2 is now configured to use the Elasticsearch search option by default.  The default MySQL search is also missing some other features you’ll find with SOLR or Elasticsearch, including suggestions, clustering, attribute weights, and tips when zero results are returned. For this reason, we recommend avoiding the default MySQL search option. With the current ease of integration afforded by Elasticsearch, why wouldn’t you want more powerful search powering your Magento store? MySQL Pros It’s free MySQL Cons It’s not nearly as powerful as other options It has been deprecated  Expanding Magento Search Functionality Through Extensions If you own a smaller Magento store and don’t want to invest in a dedicated search engine, then it’s also possible to expand the search functionality of Magento through extensions. These can be found and downloaded from the Magento Marketplace.  The Best Magento Search Engine We recommend that all merchants make the move to Elasticsearch. Not only because it’s easy to integrate with your Magento store, but also because it provides numerous improvements over the alternatives.  While speed and performance is comparable to SOLR, Elasticsearch does have a slight edge. It also allows for consumers to make more complex searches with more relevant results, thanks to a number of additional features such as fuzzy searching, full indexing, and DSL query support. In terms of development, Elasticsearch also provides much more in terms of official and community client libraries. This means that your developer is more likely to be able to handle and scale it efficiently. Combine this with its out of the box readiness on the Nexcess container platform, and it becomes the clear search engine choice for most Magento stores.  The post Magento Search: Uncovering the Benefits of Elasticsearch, SOLR, Sphinx, and MySQL appeared first on blog.nexcess.net.

Magento Search: Uncovering the Benefits of Elasticsearch, SOLR, Sphinx, and MySQL

Nexcess Blog -

For 74% of consumers, the quality and relevancy of search results on an ecommerce site is the difference between whether they do or don’t make a purchase. Storefronts can no longer rely on good navigation alone. Search has become a primary purchasing path, with consumers that use search 200% more likely to make a purchase… Continue reading →

How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Simple Steps

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Simple Steps appeared first on HostGator Blog. Email marketing is one of the most effective types of digital marketing. Two-thirds of consumers say they’ve made a purchase because of an email they received, and the average ROI of email marketing is $38 for every $1 spent. But for your business to see results like that, you need an email list. And not one you bought. Paying for an email list isn’t a good way to reach people who will actually care about what you have to say. And according to spam laws, it’s also illegal. What you need is an email list you built — one that’s made up of people who chose to opt in because they care about what you have to say. Email subscribers that chose you are extremely valuable, but hard to find. To build and grow a strong email list, you need a strategy for promoting it. There are a lot of smart techniques you can use to get more email subscribers. A good option that many overlook is using Facebook ads. 5 Benefits of Using Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List Obviously Facebook ads have a cost in both time and money, so you want to be confident this is a tactic that makes sense for you. Facebook advertising has some strong benefits to offer. 1. It’s where your audience is. “Go where your audience is” is marketing 101. Today, that means Facebook. Even with recent scandals that put the social media network in the headlines, tons of people use Facebook.  The platform has over 2 billion monthly active users and many of those users are on there every day.  In the U.S., the average person spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook. Facebook is such a ubiquitous part of our lives at this point that no matter who your target audience is, you can trust that they’re hanging out on Facebook. 2. Facebook doesn’t offer much organic reach. Anyone can create a Facebook page for their business for free, so you may figure you should just work on reaching your audience on the platform that way.  But over the last couple of years, Facebook has made changes that make it increasingly difficult for business pages to gain followers and for the followers they have to see those updates. That doesn’t mean it’s a waste to create a Facebook page and work on building followers to it, but on its own, that won’t get you very far. To really gain traction on Facebook now, you have to pay for ads. 3. You can reach people in your target audience. If that’s the bad news, this is the good news. By paying for Facebook exposure, you tap into the company’s powerful targeting options. Your ad won’t show up indiscriminately for all of Facebook’s billions of users, you can specify who you want to see it based on factors like demographic categories, interests, and behaviors. 4. You can reach them at the right moment. The marketing ideal is reaching the right person with the right message at the right moment. Facebook’s targeting options include controlling the timing of when you reach people. If the items you sell would make great gifts, you can target your ads to people with an anniversary coming up. If your business blog provides travel tips, you can target people currently planning a vacation. While the goal of an email list is to build an ongoing relationship with potential customers, you can still increase sign ups by ensuring your promotion shows up right when people will most value what you offer. 5. Remarketing converts people who already showed an interest in your brand. A lot of people will interact with your brand multiple times before they make the decision to sign up for your email list. If someone visits your website and never sees mention of you again, they’re likely to forget you completely. But with remarketing, you can serve ads to the people that have already interacted with your brand in some capacity, increasing the chance that they’ll take the step of signing up for your email list before you slip from their memory. How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Steps Now that you know the why, here are a few tips to help with the how. 1. Develop an email marketing plan. Before you get to the point of using Facebook advertising to grow your list, you need to figure out what you’re going to do with your email list. There’s no point in working to gain subscribers if you’re not ready to follow that up with work to keep them. Create a plan for the types of emails you’ll send out and the schedule you’ll send them out on. You may want to create an email newsletter that goes out every month, or plan on sending a weekly update that includes links to the new content on your site. You can send out more directly promotional emails as well, but don’t make that all you ever do.  Promotional emails work best if the recipient is already familiar with your brand and has a reason to trust you. Your other emails will help build that trust. 2. Select “Lead Generation” as your campaign objective. One of the first steps to creating an ad in Facebook is choosing your campaign objective. After you click the Create button, you’ll see a few options you can choose from in a dropdown menu. Since your primary goal is building an email list, select “Lead Generation.” This ensures that the options Facebook provides as you go through the steps of creating your ads will match up with your goal of collecting email addresses from people in your target audience. 3. Clarify your target audience. One of the next steps is to set up your audience targeting. Facebook allows advertisers to narrow down who will see your ads based on wide variety of factors, including:      Geographic location      Age range      Gender      The language(s) they speak      Education level      Relationship status      The type of work they do      Their financial status      Whether they have kids or not      Their political preferences      Their interests      Their online behaviors      Whether they’ve interacted with you before Think about what your ideal customer looks like. Use this step to clarify who you want to reach with your ads so you get the most bang for your buck. 4. Choose what information to collect. You definitely want to collect email addresses — that’s the main goal here, after all. But Facebook will let you choose additional information to ask for in your ads, such as:   First name   Last name   City   Phone number   Date of birth   Job title   Company name On the one hand, the more information you ask for, the better you’ll be able to provide relevant emails to your new subscribers. On the other hand, adding more required fields for people to fill in before signing up may lose you some leads who decide it’s too much work. Most businesses should be fine sticking with name and email address, only add the others if they’ll help you create more useful, segmented lists. 5. Set your budget. Figure out what you can afford. You can set a maximum daily budget, and select whether to bid manually on your ads or let Facebook do automatic bidding for you. Automatic bidding is generally the best choice for anyone that’s not already an expert in PPC advertising. Keep in mind that the more you’re able to spend, the more people will see and interact with your ads. Try not to be too stingy here, while staying within a budget you can handle. 6. Create eye-catching images for your ads. Now it’s time to create the ads themselves. Social media is a visual medium, so make sure you include an image (or several) in your ad that will attract your audience’s attention, while still being relevant to what you’re offering. 7. Write copy that emphasizes the benefits of subscribing. An image can’t tell the whole story, so couple it with words that tell your audience what they’ll get out of subscribing to your email list. Make sure you focus on the benefits to them. It may be accurate that signing up means learning more about your brand and products, but that won’t convince most people. What problems will your emails help them solve? How will you make their lives easier or better? 8. Include a clear call to action (CTA). You want them to take an action, so tell them what to do. You can test out different language to use here, but be sure you explicitly ask people to “Sign up today” or “Subscribe now.” Facebook will provide some options for you to choose from here. 9. Set up a relevant email drip campaign for new subscribers. Every time someone subscribes, it’s a win! But it could quickly turn into a loss if you don’t manage to keep them. One of the best ways to convince new subscribers that you’re worth sticking with is to set up a series of welcome emails that automatically go out to new subscribers. Use these initial emails to explain to your subscribers what they can expect from your email list, make the case for why it’s worth sticking around, and provide them a reward of some sort for joining (such as a discount offer or exclusive content). Providing value right away while the decision to sign up is still fresh in their memory will give you the chance to establish the relationship and show them you’re worth their time. 10. Test and tweak. You won’t know what will get results until you get started. Pay attention to your analytics — both for Facebook and your emails — to learn what’s working. Test out different images, copy, and CTAs to see what your audience responds to best. Over time, you’ll learn more about your target audience — what they respond to and what they care about. That knowledge will enable you to run better ads, strengthen your email marketing campaigns, and provide better service to your customers. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Get the Most out of Twitter for Business

Liquid Web Official Blog -

 Did you know there’s a tool that connects you with an endless stream of potential customers, free of charge? We’re talking about Twitter; one of the most effective marketing tools you can have in your arsenal. You can use Twitter for: Market research Finding new leads Engaging with new and prospective customers As a bonus, you don’t have to invest time in taking stunning photos or writing lengthy content as you do for Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is designed for a short conversation, so establishing a presence is quick and easy. In this article, we’ll look at some tips for using Twitter for Business to help you get started. Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter to receive news, tips, strategies, and inspiration you need to market your online store. Setting up Your Account Using Twitter for Business First things first. You need a business account that’s consistent with the tone and image of your brand. Start by choosing a username for your business Twitter account. This needs to be as close as possible to your company’s name so people will recognize it. There’s always the chance that your username is already taken, so here are some workarounds that won’t affect your branding: Add your location at the end of the username (ex: @AmazonUK) Include your industry in the username (ex: @ALDO_Shoes) Add prefixes or suffixes like “Get,” “Real,” or “HQ” to your username (ex: @GetCredo) Don’t Forget the Aesthetics Next is the visuals. We recommend using a company logo for your profile picture, but you can also upload your personal headshot for the photo if you’re the face of the brand. Take a look at author and speaker Robert Kiyosaki’s profile for example. He’s the guy behind his personal brand, so it makes sense for him to use his picture in his Twitter profile. Now compare that with this profile from WooCommerce. The difference between this profile and @theRealKiyosaki is WooCommerce doesn’t have a name/face that people can connect to the brand. As such, it wouldn’t be effective to put a person’s face on the company profile — no matter how instrumental they are in expanding the platform. An exception may be small but growing businesses – using a picture of your team, your co-founders, or your key support staff may be a great way to humanize your brand. Regardless of which type of profile picture you choose, you need to create an account strictly for business. Don’t convert an existing personal account into a business profile. Start fresh so you can maintain a consistent tone from day one. If you need help choosing an attention-grabbing banner, check out Canva. They have over 50,000 templates that you can choose from, so designing the perfect banner for your brand has never been easier. If you haven’t created a logo yet, Canva can help you do that as well. Finally, you need to complete your Twitter profile so that it’s optimized. Tell people a little about your brand in the bio, and be sure to include a link to your company’s site in the website field. Better yet, create a landing page specifically for Twitter users if you really want to boost leads and drive conversions. Using Twitter for Business as a Research Tool Got your account set up? Great. Now, let’s look at how to use Twitter for business. Believe it or not, Twitter is a great market research tool. In this recent report, we can see the following Twitter statistics: 326 million people use it every month 24% of users are adults in the United States Affluent millennials make up 80% of users Millions of tweets are sent every day — 500 million to be exact. That’s a lot of people sharing what’s on their mind … and much of what they share is valuable market data. Conversations with brands about customer preferences, complaints, and suggestions all take place on Twitter, and most of it is available for you to access simply by using the search feature to look for keywords or trending hashtags. There are also a number of competitor research tools out there to help you monitor the industry — and keep a watchful eye on your competition. If you’re looking for a tool designed specifically for Twitter, check out Followerwonk. Followerwonk gives you in-depth insights into you and your competitor’s activity on Twitter. You can use it to see what’s trending in your industry, what your rivals are talking about, and who’s interested in your goods and services. But that’s not all. You can also use Followerwonk to tweak your Twitter marketing campaigns. Its dashboard lets you monitor key metrics like top keywords, follower demographics, and engagement ratings — all of which are useful when creating custom-tailored content on Twitter. There’s also Twitter Analytics, a native tool which lets you access your brand’s performance and engagement on the platform free of charge. Twitter analytics provide a view of tweet performance and audience reach, as well as a broad look at your follower demographics and info about your organic audience. Twitter Analytics even allows you to compare your followers to Twitter as a whole, as well as compare your audience against different predetermined audiences, including different personas, demographic groups, interest groups, and more. Integrating Twitter for Business Into Your Marketing Strategy Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at how to use Twitter for business marketing so you can boost sales and conversions. Twitter is a great platform for making announcements. Got an upcoming sale? Tweet it. Launching a new product line? Announce it on Twitter. You can even embed important tweets on your landing pages to increase awareness while gaining more followers. Or, when someone praises your brand, you can use their tweet as a form of social proof. If you’re running your site on WooCommerce, embedding a live tweet is as simple as pasting its URL in the editor — the platform will take care of the rest. WordPress (and by default, WooCommerce) users can add sharing buttons for Twitter and other social media platforms by simply activating or installing the Jetpack plugin, as seen in this visual demo from ThemeIsle. You can also use Jetpack to automatically share a post on Twitter the moment it’s published. That way, followers can stay up to date with your content in real-time. Building Your Brand With Twitter for Business Did you know that Twitter ranks second in B2C marketing use, just under Facebook? It’s also the third most popular platform for B2B marketing according to Statista data. One of the reasons for that is because Twitter is a great place to build relationships through engagement. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter makes it easy to connect with customers and prospective customers alike. You can use it to: Answer questions related to your product or industry Offer customer service and support Collect feedback from your supporters When it comes to Twitter for business, engagement is the name of the game. By keeping an open channel of communication between you and your target market, you’re able to build brand loyalty while expanding your influence. The post How to Get the Most out of Twitter for Business appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Create an Instagram Content Plan for Your Business

Social Media Examiner -

Do you want to improve your organic Instagram content? Looking for an Instagram content marketing guide to follow? In this article, you’ll find out how to plan, create, and optimize Instagram content for your business. #1: How to Establish a Content Theme for Your Instagram Profile The first step to running a successful Instagram account […] The post How to Create an Instagram Content Plan for Your Business appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

How to Use Instagram for Business

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Instagram is fertile ground for eCommerce stores to promote their products directly to their target audiences.  Not only does Instagram have over 500 million daily users, but the platform has also been steadily adding business-friendly features to make advertising and selling easier than ever before.  This post explains how to get started using Instagram for your eCommerce store.  Subscribe to the Liquid Web eCommerce newsletter to receive news, tips, strategies, and inspiration you need to market your eCommerce site. Create a Top-Notch Instagram Business Account  To effectively use Instagram for business, you first need to have an Instagram business account. And to have an Instagram business account, you must have a Facebook page for your business (Facebook owns Instagram). If you don’t have a Facebook page yet, you can create one in minutes. Ready? Let’s walk through how to create an Instagram business account. Download Instagram and Sign Up for a New Account By default, your new account will be a personal account. To make it a business account, go to Settings > Switch to a Business Profile, and then choose to connect through Facebook. The app will ask you to connect to a business Facebook page. That’s it! Your Instagram business account is ready to go. Write Your Bio Carefully Your Instagram profile is where many potential customers will first learn about your eCommerce store, so fill it out wisely.  For your bio, be sure to talk about what products you sell and where people can buy them. Great bios also include some personality, a link to the online store, and a powerful call-to-action. Remember that you only have 150 characters, so be as precise as possible. Make Your Instagram Shoppable with the Facebook for WooCommerce Plugin Thankfully, you no longer have to hope that your followers will go from an Instagram post to your profile to the link in your bio to (finally) shopping your store. Instagram now allows users to click on your product within the post itself. Here’s how you can integrate your WooCommerce store with your Instagram to make shopping easy. Download Facebook for WooCommerce Instagram Plugin  The Facebook for WooCommerce plugin allows you to merge products from your existing eCommerce store into Facebook (and later into Instagram).  Without this plugin, you would have to upload every product manually to Facebook, including uploading an image, writing a description, and selecting the price. If you have dozens of products in your eCommerce store, that could take a while.  Simply download the Facebook for WooCommerce plugin, and then click “Import Products to Facebook.” All your products will be uploaded in minutes. The Facebook for WooCommerce plugin is included with all plans of Managed WooCommerce at Liquid Web. Connect Your Facebook Shop to Instagram To connect your Facebook Shop to your Instagram business account, just click the “Instagram” tab on the left-side menu on your Facebook Shop and log into your Instagram. You may have to wait a few days for Instagram to approve your shoppable account.  Start Tagging Products on Instagram  Tagging a product in an Instagram post is what turns your account into an Instagram shop.  Followers can tap your image in their feeds, and the product name and current price will appear. They can click the tag again and be taken to that product on your website to purchase.  Here’s how tagging products on Instagram works.  Just like you would an ordinary post, click the “+” button to upload a new image (ideally one that features your product). Before clicking “Share,” click your product in the image to tag it with your product name. A catalog of the products from your WooCommerce site will pull up, and you can select the correct product. You can tag up to five products for every image. Strategize Your Content on Instagram You should have a strategy when it comes to posting and engaging on Instagram. To start, consider the following questions to guide you. What Kind of Content Will I Share? From the format of content — videos, images, graphics, Instagram Stories — to the content itself, you have a lot of decisions to make.  A good way to get a feel for what might be best for you is to look through the feeds of your direct (successful) competitors. Think about what they’re doing that is working for them and could work for you. How Often Will I Post? Above all, post as frequently as you can commit to doing consistently. In other words, figure out the max number of posts per day or week that you are certain you can maintain, and then stick to that schedule. Most research says that top brands post between one and three times a day.  Who Can I Engage With? To maximize your Instagram marketing efforts, you have to do more than just post your own content. You have to also engage with the content from other users.  Instagram’s algorithm will prioritize your content to your followers if you’ve frequently commented on their posts.  Even if someone is not following you, a comment (that doesn’t push your products in a sales-y way) can put you on their radar. Make a list of influencers or micro-influencers in your industry you’d like to connect with, and then commit to commenting regularly on their relevant posts. Advertise on Instagram to Extend Your Reach Just like on Facebook, you don’t have to wait for customers to find you. You can target ads to specific demographics, getting your products in front of the right people. Choose Your Target Audience Through Your Facebook Ads Manager To get started with advertising on Instagram, head to Facebook Ads Manager and click the “Audiences” tab. There, you can create a new “Saved Audience,” and select for attributes like location, age, gender, interests, income, and more.  Once you’ve targeted your audience, you can create a new ad in the ad manager. To publish it to Instagram, you click “Edit Placements” and choose Instagram. Decide the Right Ad Format for Your Goals You’ll see a place in the ads manager to select the format of your ad. Here are the ad format options for Instagram and what they mean: Photo or video ad – Appears in viewer’s feeds and look like a regular post, including captions.Stories ad – Appears between other user’s stories and lasts for 24 hours (ideal for short promotions).Carousel ad – Appears in viewer’s feeds and has slides of different content, either video or images.Collection ad – Like a photo or video ad but with an option to purchase the product directly from the ad No matter what type of ad format you decide, you can expect to pay between 70 cents and 80 cents per click on average. That means that if 500 people click your ad, you’d pay about $375.  Tip: Add an Instagram Shop Now Button to Ads Calls-to-action are important, and sometimes viewers may have to be prompted to shop. Instagram allows you to add a button to your ads to make it clear that the post is shoppable. Understand Instagram Analytics to Get Better Results After you’ve been posting, tagging products in your images, or advertising on Instagram for at least a month, you should check out your Instagram analytics to see how you’re doing. Plus, you can use what you learn to guide your strategy for the upcoming months. Instagram’s built-in Insights section provides you with all the analytics you’ll need to figure out how to get better results. It has three areas of insights: Activity, Content, and Audience. The Activity tab in Instagram Insights shows how many people visited your profile, when they visited it, and what they clicked in your bio (like the link to your website). It also shows you how many overall impressions your posts had over the past week and which day of the week saw the highest number of impressions. Content The Content tab is separated into “Feed posts” and “Stories.” For each, it displays the most popular posts over a certain time period.  You can filter the results by content type (such as carousels or videos), type of interaction (such as highest likes or most website clicks), or by time period. You can also layer these filters together. For example, you could choose filters that reveal the video posts that drove the most traffic to your website during the last 30 days. This tab displays insights related to your follower demographics including their gender, age, location, and when they are most often online.  Keep Track of Your Engagement Rate You’ve probably heard the ‘engagement’ term thrown around a lot, and you may already be tracking your engagement rates for other platforms like Facebook. Your engagement rate is the percentage of your followers who are actively interacting with your posts or stories. Keep track of this number to study your brand’s performance. You can determine your engagement rate by adding the number of likes plus the number of comments you’ve received and dividing the sum by the total number of followers you have. The more followers you have, the lower your engagement rate is likely to be. Start Using Instagram for Business Today The best thing about social media marketing is its accessibility. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, or even advertising with Google, costs are low and setup is simple and intuitive.  The low stakes make using social media platforms like Instagram something you can start using for your business today. The post How to Use Instagram for Business appeared first on Liquid Web.

Twitter Rolls Out Improved Conversation Features

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 Twitter’s newly enhanced and improved conversation features with special guest, Dan Knowlton. Tune In to the Social […] The post Twitter Rolls Out Improved Conversation Features appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Amazon Transcribe Streaming Now Supports WebSockets

Amazon Web Services Blog -

I love services like Amazon Transcribe. They are the kind of just-futuristic-enough technology that excites my imagination the same way that magic does. It’s incredible that we have accurate, automatic speech recognition for a variety of languages and accents, in real-time. There are so many use-cases, and nearly all of them are intriguing. Until now, the Amazon Transcribe Streaming API available has been available using HTTP/2 streaming. Today, we’re adding WebSockets as another integration option for bringing real-time voice capabilities to the things you build. In this post, we are going to transcribe speech in real-time using only client-side JavaScript in a browser. But before we can build, we need a foundation. We’ll review just enough information about Amazon Transcribe, WebSockets, and the Amazon Transcribe Streaming API to broadly explain the demo. For more detailed information, check out the Amazon Transcribe docs. If you are itching to see things in action, you can head directly to the demo, but I recommend taking a quick read through this post first. What is Amazon Transcribe? Amazon Transcribe applies machine learning models to convert speech in audio to text transcriptions. One of the most powerful features of Amazon Transcribe is the ability to perform real-time transcription of audio. Until now, this functionality has been available via HTTP/2 streams. Today, we’re announcing the ability to connect to Amazon Transcribe using WebSockets as well. For real-time transcription, Amazon Transcribe currently supports British English (en-GB), US English (en-US), French (fr-FR), Canadian French (fr-CA), and US Spanish (es-US). What are WebSockets? WebSockets are a protocol built on top of TCP, like HTTP. While HTTP is great for short-lived requests, it hasn’t historically been good at handling situations that require persistent real-time communications. While an HTTP connection is normally closed at the end of the message, a WebSocket connection remains open. This means that messages can be sent bi-directionally with no bandwidth or latency added by handshaking and negotiating a connection. WebSocket connections are full-duplex, meaning that the server can client can both transmit data at the same time. They were also designed for cross-domain usage, so there’s no messing around with cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) as there is with HTTP. HTTP/2 streams solve a lot of the issues that HTTP had with real-time communications, and the first Amazon Transcribe Streaming API available uses HTTP/2. WebSocket support opens Amazon Transcribe Streaming up to a wider audience, and makes integrations easier for customers that might have existing WebSocket-based integrations or knowledge. How the Amazon Transcribe Streaming API Works Authorization The first thing we need to do is authorize an IAM user to use Amazon Transcribe Streaming WebSockets. In the AWS Management Console, attach the following policy to your user: { "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": [ { "Sid": "transcribestreaming", "Effect": "Allow", "Action": "transcribe:StartStreamTranscriptionWebSocket", "Resource": "*" } ] } Authentication Transcribe uses AWS Signature Version 4 to authenticate requests. For WebSocket connections, use a pre-signed URL, that contains all of the necessary information is passed as query parameters in the URL. This gives us an authenticated endpoint that we can use to establish our WebSocket. Required Parameters All of the required parameters are included in our pre-signed URL as part of the query string. These are: language-code: The language code. One of en-US, en-GB, fr-FR, fr-CA, es-US. sample-rate: The sample rate of the audio, in Hz. Max of 16000 for en-US and es-US, and 8000 for the other languages. media-encoding: Currently only pcm is valid. vocabulary-name: Amazon Transcribe allows you to define custom vocabularies for uncommon or unique words that you expect to see in your data. To use a custom vocabulary, reference it here. Audio Data Requirements There are a few things that we need to know before we start sending data. First, Transcribe expects audio to be encoded as PCM data. The sample rate of a digital audio file relates to the quality of the captured audio. It is the number of times per second (Hz) that the analog signal is checked in order to generate the digital signal. For high-quality data, a sample rate of 16,000 Hz or higher is recommended. For lower-quality audio, such as a phone conversation, use a sample rate of 8,000 Hz. Currently, US English (en-US) and US Spanish (es-US) support sample rates up to 48,000 Hz. Other languages support rates up to 16,000 Hz. In our demo, the file lib/audioUtils.js contains a downsampleBuffer() function for reducing the sample rate of the incoming audio bytes from the browser, and a pcmEncode() function that takes the raw audio bytes and converts them to PCM. Request Format Once we’ve got our audio encoding as PCM data with the right sample rate, we need to wrap it in an envelope before we send it across the WebSocket connection. Each messages consists of three headers, followed by the PCM-encoded audio bytes in the message body. The entire message is then encoded as a binary event stream message and sent. If you’ve used the HTTP/2 API before, there’s one difference that I think makes using WebSockets a bit more straightforward, which is that you don’t need to cryptographically sign each chunk of audio data you send. Response Format The messages we receive follow the same general format: they are binary-encoded event stream messages, with three headers and a body. But instead of audio bytes, the message body contains a Transcript object. Partial responses are returned until a natural stopping point in the audio is determined. For more details on how this response is formatted, check out the docs and have a look at the handleEventStreamMessage() function in main.js. Let’s See the Demo! Now that we’ve got some context, let’s try out a demo. I’ve deployed it using AWS Amplify Console – take a look, or push the button to deploy your own copy. Enter the Access ID and Secret Key for the IAM User you authorized earlier, hit the Start Transcription button, and start speaking into your microphone. The complete project is available on GitHub. The most important file is lib/main.js. This file defines all our required dependencies, wires up the buttons and form fields in index.html, accesses the microphone stream, and pushes the data to Transcribe over the WebSocket. The code has been thoroughly commented and will hopefully be easy to understand, but if you have questions, feel free to open issues on the GitHub repo and I’ll be happy to help. I’d like to extend a special thanks to Karan Grover, Software Development Engineer on the Transcribe team, for providing the code that formed that basis of this demo.

A First Look at PHP 7.4

WP Engine -

PHP, or Hypertext Preprocessor, is the scripting language widely used to develop WordPress themes and plugins. Using the most recent version of PHP is the quickest way to improve the performance of your site. PHP 7.3, which was released in April, introduced improvements in security and performance. WP Engine customers who moved from PHP 7.2… The post A First Look at PHP 7.4 appeared first on WP Engine.

Hiring Our Heroes Boosts Focus on Military Spouse Employment

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that connects veterans, service members and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities, announced Friday that it is expanding its popular fellowship program to military spouses. The news came from Mark Rydell, a general manager with Booz Allen Hamilton who is based in San […] The post Hiring Our Heroes Boosts Focus on Military Spouse Employment appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

How to Improve SEO

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Improve SEO appeared first on HostGator Blog. Your website can only do its job if people can find it.  SEO (search engine optimization)—a collection of tactics website owners can use to increase your ranking in the search engine results—is one of the best ways to make sure your audience can find you.  But on-page SEO is challenging. And many website owners struggle with the question of how to improve SEO for their websites.  The search engines are fairly tight-lipped about how the algorithms that determine how search engine rankings work. But between the information they have shared and an analysis by SEO experts of what the ranking web pages have in common, we have a pretty good understanding of how to improve Google search results. Improving SEO involves a mix of things you can do on your own website and offsite strategies.  How to Improve SEO on Your Website On-site SEO is mostly about two main things: making sure Google can tell what your website is about, and ensuring the site has a good user experience for users. To do that, there are eight main steps you should take.   1. Review your website analytics. If you already have a website, then your first step is to review your website analytics to better understand how people find and interact with your website now. If you haven’t set up Google Analytics for your website, do that now! You won’t have any data to review to start, but you can come back to this step once you do.  In Google Analytics, you’ll learn how much traffic you’re getting now, and what share of it is coming from Google (labeled “Organic Search”). The Acquisition section gives you an easy snapshot of how often people are finding you through Google now. In addition, you can find a list of any keywords you rank for now and what your average ranking is. Click on Acquisition, Search Console, and then Queries.  This gives you a good understanding of where you are now in terms of your SEO strategy. That’s helpful in setting goals for where you want to be, and working out a plan to get there. And any relevant keywords you rank for now (even if you’re not on page one) are a good place to start your optimization efforts, since you already have a headstart.  2. Identify your keywords. Keyword research is the cornerstone of SEO. Before you can do any of the other steps involved in SEO, you need to know what keywords to target. Sit down and write every word or phrase you can think of that’s relevant to your business and products. Once that’s done, use keyword tools to figure out how valuable the terms on your list are, and build out your list further.  Google’s free Keyword Planner provides data on the average number of searches a keyword has, and how competitive it is. It also provides suggestions for long-tail keywords relevant to your website that you can use to build out your list. To get new ideas, start by plugging either your URL or a starter list of your main keywords into the tool. You can export the list of long-tail keywords they suggest to better organize it based on relevance, popularity, and competitiveness. Using these keywords throughout your website or a blog post will help tremendously when trying to drive organic traffic.  Google’s tool may give you enough information, but many businesses that have an SEO strategy go further and use paid SEO tools that provide more detailed keyword information. With these, you can learn what keywords your competitors rank for, and get more analysis on the value of a keyword based on factors like the search engine results page (SERP) features, level of competitiveness, and the number of clicks the top results are likely to get. 3. Optimize every page on your site for SEO. Once you know what keywords to target, it’s time to get to work on your website. For each page and blog post of your website, determine the most relevant keyword from your list you want to rank for. To optimize the page for the selected keyword, look for natural ways to include it in these parts of the page: The URL – Always edit your URL so it’s relevant to the content of the page and uses your primary keyword. The heading tags – Using headings and subheadings (in the HTML, these look like <h1>, <h2>, etc.) break up your page copy for readability and provide more opportunities to naturally get your keywords onto the page.The image names and alt tags – Before you load an image to a page, give it a name that includes your keyword. Then add an alt tag that includes it as well. The title tag – Write a short title for each page (50-60 characters) that uses your primary keyword. The meta description – The meta description is what shows up underneath your link on the SERP. Like your title tag, they don’t directly affect rankings, but they can increase your click-through rate (CTR). Write a meta description for each page that describes what’s on the page in under 160 characters, includes your keyword, and has a call to action that encourages people to click. The page copy – Look for opportunities to use your keyword in the words on the page where it makes sense naturally. Google wants to deliver relevant results for every search. All of this helps signal to Google what the page is about so they know what keywords it makes sense for it to show up for.  4. Create relevant content. Creating and publishing content on your website accomplishes a few important things for SEO: Fresh website content signals to Google that your website is current and active—they don’t want to show outdated results.It gives you a chance to create more pages optimized for more of the keywords on your list.It gives your visitors a reason to stick around, and time on site is a metric that signals to Google that people like what they see when they visit your site.When you publish valuable content on your site, it gives other websites more of a reason to link back to you. Creating high-quality content that’s relevant to your audience is therefore an important part of good SEO. Use your keyword research to help guide your content strategy. Knowing what topics people are searching for tells you what your audience is interested in.  Before you write a piece of content, do some research to learn what’s on the SERP for it. Seeing what’s ranking there now shows you what Google likes for that keyword and what you need to beat. In addition, if there are rich results on the SERP for a term, you want to know so you can optimize your content to claim them.  5. Update your old content. This is a step many people skip, but a regular content audit can be really valuable for improving your SEO. Make a point of returning to your old content to update it periodically. Google likes content that’s fresh and up to date, so changing outdated information can go a long way to making sure the search engine (and your visitors) still see an old piece of content as valuable.  6. Use internal linking. An internal link is any link on a page that goes to another page on the same website. Google’s algorithm factors a link’s anchor text into its analysis of what a page is about. The anchor text is the words that are hyperlinked, the part that usually shows up in blue with an underline.  For internal links, you get to choose the anchor text. That gives you another opportunity to use your primary keyword and signal to Google what keywords to associate with your page. 7. Make your website mobile friendly. While Google keeps a lot of the details about its algorithm under wraps, one of the things they’ve been upfront in telling people is that mobile matters. For the sake of both SEO and your visitors—many of whom will be visiting your website on a mobile device—make your website mobile friendly.  8. Improve your site speed. Speed is another ranking factor Google has told people about outright. They know people care about how fast a website loads, so Google does, too. Taking steps to improve your site speed will both improve the user experience of your website, and improve Google search results for your site.  How to Improve Google Search Results Using Off-page SEO Many of the steps involved in on-site optimization require a lot of work, but the harder part of SEO happens offsite. In order to determine a web page’s value, Google pays attention to how often other websites link to it, called backlinks. A link is seen as an endorsement of what’s on the page. When a lot of websites with authority link to a particular page, it suggests that whatever’s on it is useful.  Building backlinks is challenging because you can’t control the decisions other people make about what they put on their websites. But there are a few strategies you can use to encourage other websites to link to yours.  1. Promote your content. Publishing great content is only worth the work if you get people to read it. Make promotion part of your content strategy. Share your pieces on social media. Send them to your email list. Highlight industry influencers in your content and let them know when it’s up. Consider paid promotion like pay-per-click (PPC) or social ads if you need that extra boost.  2. Sign up for relevant directories. This is one of the easiest ways to build links, but it’s important not to abuse. Add your business information to sites like Yelp and Google’s My Business. Research industry organizations that have member directories, and consider joining local organizations like your Chamber of Commerce that have one.  Only sign up for directories that are legitimate and relevant to your business. A lot of links from low-quality directories will look spammy and could hurt rather than help you.  3. Guest post. A guest post on a blog in your industry is a good way to bring awareness of your brand to a new audience and gain a backlink to your site at the same time. Identify blogs that cover topics relevant to your business that accept guest posts, and start pitching. It takes time, but it can pay off in both links and new traffic.  4. Become an expert source. Whatever your business does, you’re an expert on it. When a blogger or journalist is writing a topic that relates to your expertise, providing a quote or interview will often result in a link back to your site. You can hire a PR consultant to help you find these kinds of opportunities, or sign up for email alerts from Help a Reporter Out to find opportunities yourself.  5. Develop industry awards. People (and businesses) love getting awards. The recognition feels good and is something they’re likely to talk about on their own website. Handing out awards for your industry is therefore a good strategy for earning more links. It’s one employed by successful internet businesses like TripAdvisor: Figure out what categories to include in your awards. Research businesses doing good work in each of them, or open them up to nominations. When you’ve decided on nominees and winners, alert them to the award. Create a badge they can share on their website to encourage them to post about it with a link back to the awards page on the website.  6. Create a relevant certification program. This requires a lot of work, but is a good way to position your business as an ultimate expert on what you do as well as a strong link building strategy. Anyone who completes your certification program will want to let others know they’ve done so. As with awards, create a badge people can add to their websites to show they’re certified.  7. Do broken link building. Some SEO tools will help you find links around the web with your target keywords in the anchor text that no longer work. These are a link-building opportunity. If you track down the website owner, you can alert them that there’s a broken link on their website that needs fixing, and propose the content you have on the topic as a replacement. Because you’re helping them fix a problem they have at the same time that you’re asking something of them, it increases your chances of getting your desired response.  Improve SEO with Less Work SEO is difficult and time consuming. You know you want better SEO results, but reading over a list like this may have you feeling hopeless. How will you find the time for all this? While there’s no good shortcut to getting better Google search results—someone has to do the work—that someone doesn’t have to be you.  You can hire the skilled SEO professionals at HostGator. We know how to implement all these SEO strategies and more to get your website to start showing up for your target keywords. It saves you time and work, and will also net better results since they come to the job with more knowledge and experience.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Meet a Helpful Human – David Singer

Liquid Web Official Blog -

We’re the employees you would hire if you could. Responsive, helpful, and dedicated in ways automation simply can’t be. We’re your team. Each month we recognize one of our Most Helpful Humans in Hosting.  Meet David Singer Why did you join Liquid Web? The wife and I were working at a foster care facility in Ocala, Florida when we found out my mom was in the late stages of cancer. We brought it to the attention of the administrators at the foster care facility and all agreed this family issue was a priority. They helped us pack up all of our belongings over the next week and we said our final farewells. It was truly difficult leaving them as they were a part of our lives for more than five years. When we arrived back in Michigan, we unpacked, set up with living arrangements, and made sure my mom was getting the care she needed.  To make ends meet, I started looking for a new career. While browsing online, I saw an opening for a Linux Administrator in Lansing. I applied to Liquid Web on a whim and never expected to hear back. The next thing I knew, I was hired! Is there something specific at Liquid Web that you just love? Actually, there are a couple of things. I truly love all of the people I work with. They are intelligent, funny, and very motivated to provide the best possible care for our clients and each other. Also, I love learning and the training here is fabulous!  To quote Rockhound from the movie Armageddon: ‘Why do I do this? Because the money’s good, the scenery changes and they let me use explosives, okay?’ Well, I don’t really get to use explosives but I have accidentally blown up a server or two back in the day…” What draws you to the hosting industry as a career? I wasn’t drawn to hosting specifically, but to join a company in which I could increase my technical knowledge and experience. After interviewing with Liquid Web, I saw the level of knowledge and experience these people had and knew I wanted more. After I was hired, I started training. They patiently answered question after question and provided an encouraging and supportive environment which allowed me to develop my skills. I was able to shadow two of their most knowledgeable admins which shaped and honed my troubleshooting skills! I caught on quickly and began using the same methodologies they used which allowed me to progress quickly and earn my spot within the Linux ranks. You don’t receive that kind of personalized training anywhere. I recently moved to the Marketing department as a technical writer which I am ecstatic about, as it gives me the opportunity to communicate my knowledge I have gained with others in a more proactive way. I have occupied multiple roles over the last 11+ years and I feel like we as a company have so much to share. In this role, I will ensure that we are passing our knowledge along to our clients. After all, the best clients are the most knowledgable ones! What is the biggest milestone you’ve accomplished? I’ve helped establish multiple teams, including our Live Chats and Enterprise teams, as well as other initiatives during my 11+ years at Liquid Web, all in an effort to improve the way we provide the services to our clients. This has allowed me to be a better advocate for my clients, my team, my department, and my company.  Also, I have had the pleasure of working alongside my sons at Liquid Web! As they grew, I provided technical training to them and had them apply for support positions. I set up a training wiki and went through it with them daily. I told them that no special quarter would be given; they needed to be doing it better, cleaner, and faster than every other admin in the room because they were my sons. All three of them studied hard and were hired over time, which was very rewarding for all. What’s your favorite part about the company culture at Liquid Web? Memes… definitely the memes. My favorite meme at the moment?  Tell us about a truly rewarding experience you’ve had with a customer. I have interacted with thousands of clients here at Liquid Web. I have helped them save money, helped them put food on the table to feed their families, and helped to literally save their businesses. Many clients know me by my first name and I know them and their needs in return. Having this level of intimate knowledge and involvement with them allows me to speak the truth to them, and many have come to know me and rely on that honesty, not only in regards to technical issues but also with life issues. What is one thing you wish our customers knew about their hosting? I am a huge fan of multiple backups! I have seen so many instances where the simple act of having a disaster recovery plan in place could have literally saved a client’s business. I have listened as clients have cried for hours with me on the phone, begging me to try and find a way to retrieve their data to prevent them from losing their business. Unfortunately, all I could do was empathize with them and try to create a better plan for moving forward.  If you are reading this, check your backups now! Test out your disaster recovery plan before it’s needed, and have a set of offsite backups. This will give you increased peace of mind and add a layer of security to protect your business. Work aside, what are some of your hobbies? I am an avid outdoorsman. I love being outside and feeling the sun and rain on my face while hunting, fishing, swimming, or camping. My dad always said that “nature was the Lord’s first sanctuary.” What is your nickname at Liquid Web and why? They call me… ShiftDaddy! I think it’s because I am older than most people on the shift. My favorite saying: “You may wear the watch, but I know the time…” If you could have dinner with one famous person [dead or alive] who would it be? Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni… He was truly a renaissance man in every sense of the word. I would love to have talked with him for hours, exploring his thoughts and ideas. You can follow David on Twitter or LinkedIn. We hope you enjoyed our series, and stay tuned for the next Most Helpful Human in Hosting profile. The post Meet a Helpful Human – David Singer appeared first on Liquid Web.

How to Get Your Videos Discovered on YouTube

Social Media Examiner -

Is YouTube video part of your marketing plan? Want more people to find and watch your videos on YouTube? To explore how to get your videos discovered on YouTube, I interview Tim Schmoyer. Tim is a YouTube expert whose channel has 500,000 subscribers. He hosts the Video Creators podcast and his course is called Video […] The post How to Get Your Videos Discovered on YouTube appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

8 Ways to Make Your Site Is User-Friendly

Pickaweb Blog -

A well-designed website with easily accessible information can help visitors immediately understand what products or services you have to offer. They won’t have any problem navigating between your pages, and in all probability they will stay for a while. For this reason, you should consider designing a website that is: Functional Exceptional in terms of The post 8 Ways to Make Your Site Is User-Friendly appeared first on Pickaweb.

3 Reasons Why Your Multilingual Social Media Campaign Is Failing

Pickaweb Blog -

If you’ve conducted a successful social media campaign in one country, it should be easy to replicate that success in another country, right? Not necessarily! Marketing approaches differ widely from one country to the next, as different audiences respond in various ways to particular styles of marketing. A campaign that works brilliantly in one location The post 3 Reasons Why Your Multilingual Social Media Campaign Is Failing appeared first on Pickaweb.

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