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Efficiently hosting a WordPress site

Hosting a WordPress site is easy, but efficiently hosting a WordPress site is the hard part. Sure, you could easily just install WordPress, install a theme that looks good, maybe install a few plugins, and leave it there, but efficiently hosting and maintaining a WordPress site can be more difficult.

If you want to get the most of of WordPress, and keep system resources, costs, and your visitors’ page load times low, you will need to build and maintain that site as efficiently as possible. In this post, we will show you some ways to ensure that your WordPress site is running in top shape at all times. Keep your WordPress installation updated at all times

WordPress, just like any other widely used and open source content management system is subject to bugs and security flaws. The majority of issues that I see on a daily basis are simply due to out of date WordPress installations.

WordPress now includes the ability to automatically update itself for any maintenance releases. While this does not apply to major releases such as 3.9 to 4.0, it will update your site automatically for minor and maintenance releases such as security issues. Clean out those themes and plugins

Often, users will simply deactivate plugins and themes instead of fully removing them. Although deactivated, the files are still there and can lead to various bugs and security issues.

When not using a plugin or theme, be sure to fully remove it. You can always reinstall it if you find a need for it in the future. Avoid bloated themes and plugins

Many users will go for a single plugin that does everything but the problem with that is that there are a lot of other options within the plugin or theme that they will never use. Avoid plugins or themes that are an “all in one” solution and instead of going for something that does everything. For example, if you just need to display a small Twitter widget, go for a widget that does just that, not something that includes various other things such as extra share buttons in your post or an entire page of Twitter posts. While those elements are not being shown, the code itself will usually use more system resources.

Some themes and plugins may also be poorly coded in which they will use up more resources than necessary. Although they may be attractive, there is most likely a theme or plugin that will look just as good, but use half the resources of a poorly coded theme. A good starting point in this would be to only purchase themes from reputable sources. More and more caching

Caching can be critical in improving the performance of your site. Caching simply allows dynamic elements to be run a single time and then serve static elements to all of the users allowing for less system resources, and a quicker page load time for all visitors.

Plugins such as W3 Total Cache can easily configure caching for you with just a few simple clicks. Use a CDN for all static content

A CDN will allow you to serve your static files from various locations depending on your visitor which will allow much quicker page load times. Aside from the user’s perspective, your server will also be able to offload those resources to another service that is specifically tuned to do exactly that, allowing a lower effect on server resources.

Services such as MaxCDN are able to cheaply boost the performance of your site, and are very easy to set up within plugins such as W3 Total Cache. Make regular backups

Ensure that you always have backups ready to go if anything were to happen to your site. If something happened to cause you to lose all of your data, or you made a change that completely breaks your site, you will have a backup ready to go.

Most users don’t understand the need for backups until they need them, so proactively make backups when changes are made, as well as incremental backups every week, month, year, etc. Several plugins such as BackUpWordPress will be able to easily back up your WordPress site with just a couple clicks.

In addition to making regular backups, be sure that you are also storing them off of the server. Many times when a user is compromised, it will also affect the backups as well. Storing the backups in a location such as Google Drive or Dropbox will ensure that your backups are always readily available. Maintain like a madman

Of course, once you have everything set up, be sure to continuously maintain your site at all times. Even if the site is a purely informational site that isn’t updated much, keep checking up on it to ensure that everything is running smoothly often. Sometimes you may notice a small issue that if discovered early, can drastically affect whether that small issue turns into a big one later down the road.

Running a website is much more than simply tossing it up and leaving it there. Treat it like a pet that continuously needs love and care

Friday, 25 July 2014

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Top Open Source Applications

PrestaShop

PrestaShop is one of the fastest growing e-commerce solutions in the market. Prestashop is incredibly user friendly and has a great interface that makes it much easier to setup and manage than some of the traditional platforms like Opencart. With support and technical help available from all regions of the world, PrestaShop has quickly gained a reputation as an all in one e-commerce provider.

Joomla!

The most unique aspect of the Joomla CMS is the way in which the organization is structured. The Joomla! Project takes into account everyone’s feedback and tries to develop Joomla with all the users/developers in mind. Therefore, virtually anyone can become an integral part of the project by just contributing. Whether it’s code, sponsorships, or helping out in forums, you become a true community member from the first day you join. With most of the other CMS platforms, there is usually a straight hierarchy or a chain of command where decisions are made on what features/components/versions to develop next. With Joomla!, that is decided upon by all the users and developers involved. This can make processes a bit longer to complete, but it ensures that everyone’s feedback is taken into account. From an end user perspective, there is definitely a higher learning curve with Joomla! than say WordPress, but the people who are devoted fans say it is the best out there.

WordPress

You may be surprised that the many of the websites that you see on the internet actually use WordPress. Originally intended as a blogging platform, WordPress has extended its functional reach through continual development and thousands of plugins – many of which are free. These plugins allow the application to handle website needs such as image galleries, ecommerce shops, and forms – to list a few. It is often classified as a CMS (Content Management System) because of its flexible nature. Add to this the many thousands of themes that allow you to quickly change its appearance and it’s easy to understand why WordPress is the most used open source application on the internet. WordPress is easy to use and there are many avenues of support including many tutorials in the InMotion Hosting Support Center. Check out WordPress and you’ll find out why it is the top solution for your website building needs.

Drupal

Drupal is one of the most popular content management systems online. Drupal is the oldest of the Big 3 (WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal), being established in 2001. It is an open source application that is built upon PHP and MySQL. Drupal was conceived as an enterprise system and powers websites like Whitehouse.gov. Drupal has several advantages that make it a power player in the CMS community. It is extremely flexible and can build anything from a small blog to an enterprise level site supporting millions of users. It was built to be search engine friendly from the very start. The Drupal software is very stable and can serve thousands of users at the same time. It is also very developer-friendly, and developers can easily create their own modules and custom solutions

Friday, 20 June 2014

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Myths of SEO

Search engine optimization. We talk about it a lot here, as most hosting companies do, because it is daunting and shrouded in mystery. Literally, that’s not one of my usual exaggerations for comedic effect. Google, as an example due to its popularity and nearness to taking over the world, keeps its algorithm a secret. Like government agency secret; probably not “If I tell you, I’d have to kill you” secret, but pretty close.

Why all the secrecy? Well, several reasons. It is difficult to have valid results for the searcher if websites know exactly what to do to get their website at the top of whatever list they want. Further, you as a website or small business owner understand the importance of having a good ranking in relative terms, so if Google were to release their secrets to the masses, it would be even more difficult for small businesses to compete with larger companies.

This mystery adds a lot to the importance of your website’s content. One thing has always remained true throughout the course of website searches – content is king. If your content is specific and relative to your business, you will find that your ranking will naturally be high in the keywords most relative to your search. The mystery also creates bad practices due to rumors, or outdated and incorrect information. Or, even worse, someone finds a way to cheat the system, and that method spreads across the internet. Suddenly, rankings go haywire, and when Google updates its ranking methods again (usually once or twice a year) all those websites tank in rankings. Search engines keep track of those instances and it becomes very difficult for those sites to recover in ranking.

So, how do you know what’s a valid tip and what isn’t? That’s what I’m here for. I’m going to help ease some of the rumors or old information that is still floating around and tell you what’s true and what isn’t. It’s my own little digital myth busting, but with less explosions, and no moustaches.

Adding a location to your website increases your presence in local searches.

A lot of people don’t want to put their location anywhere on their website, especially if they don’t own a storefront. But, don’t do that. I’m not suggesting you put your address, phone number, birth date, and social security number on your site, just your city and state. After all, if you didn’t pay for domain privacy, your information is publicly available on the internet anyhow.

Google now customizes searches to such a high degree, that a search for the exact same keyword with the exact same search history will result in different results if the searches are performed in different locations. If I am looking for a plumber, I don’t care who the best plumber in New York is. I want someone in Virginia Beach, Virginia because that’s where I’m located.

CONFIRMED.

You can use this to your advantage by putting an area map on your site. Also, if you are a business and list your service areas, you will have a broader search radius. If you are not a business, try to focus some of your content on local items. If you have a food blog (like me) post some recipes using local foods, or talk about some local events you attended.

Higher rankings locally will drive traffic to your site. And traffic increases your overall ranking, so getting local traffic will help your site grow in popularity worldwide.

Lists show importance, so I should list a bunch of keywords on my home page.

Yes and no, but mostly no.

Yes, lists show the scanning bots that the information included in those lists is important. So, if you have a set of skills, certifications, or services to offer, put them in a list on your home page. But, don’t flood every page with lists of random keywords.

Relevance and readability are still factors, even to search engine bots. So, make sure your lists make sense or use complete sentences if possible. Also, as with everything, make sure your keywords are relevant to your website. Search engine bots are so advanced now, they can determine if something will make sense to someone reading it. If too many flags come up (like say, a smattering of random words) it will hurt your rankings more than help them.

BUSTED. MOSTLY.

Don’t ignore this just because it’s not your chosen keyword that needs to be on the list on your page. Drawing attention to important words on your website is always a good thing. Plus, you never know what someone is searching for, so you don’t want to give up on something just because you don’t think it’s important.

Take advantage of this when developing your content. Don’t stop at lists, and use italics, bold, and underline. Anything designed to draw attention to certain aspects of your site will be a way of adding a private note to the bots that this information is most relevant to your website.

Keywords are the most important factor in SEO, so it is best to flood your website, HTML tags, and code with hundreds of keywords.

Please don’t do this. It’s not helpful, and even if it were, your ranking would be all wonky and your site would show up places it doesn’t belong and that wouldn’t help you or your customers at all. And, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times when discussing SEO, relevant keywords are what really matter.

Also, like I mentioned before, bots can tell when a keyword is just inserted on a page. So, make sure that what you use matters, makes sense, and is relevant to the other information around it.

BUSTED

So, how do you get more keywords into your site? Well, first do your research and select the most relevant keywords to the information you are providing. Then, only use 3-5 for each page of your website. This will give your pages focus and will reduce the stress of fitting 30 keywords onto one page.

When you are writing for your HTML tags, remember that they don’t matter as much as they used to. Title tags are the most important, and after that, photo descriptions, everything else is just a possible bonus. Bots don’t crawl tags as much as they used to because the information on your site and the information others say about your site is much more important.

Bots don’t read punctuation.

This is actually true. Bots don’t care about punctuation as much as the words on the screen, so you can increase the number of relevant keywords in an HTML tag or page by creatively using punctuation to your advantage.

For example, if your key word phrases are:

Hosting

Baitona

Baitona Hosting is awesome

You can put all of these together in one short sentence.

“Dedicated to the customer is what Baitona Hosting is. Awesome hosting is hard to come by.”

Notice that we have hosting in there twice, Baitona Hosting is in there, and paired with awesome hosting, and it all combines to make the phrase Baitona Hosting is awesome. That is also the perfect length for a HTML Tag, full of keywords and not too long.

Did you catch the bonus keyword? “Dedicated” is the start of the sentence. Paired with the repetition of the word hosting, we are in a good place to be found when someone searches “Dedicated hosting” or dare I say, “Awesome dedicated hosting”.

Long story short, if you have questions about improving your search engine rankings, you should remember what I said at the start of this post: “Content is King”. When in doubt, ensure that your content is well written, informative, and full of diverse media.

There are so many myths about SEO, and the internet is flooded with bad information, and this short post only scratched the surface.

So, stay tuned to this bat channel for more helpful tips and busting of SEO myths

Sunday, 01 January 2011

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