Tag Archives: internet

Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered?

The post Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered? appeared first on HostGator Blog . Think your business is too small to be targeted by hackers? Think again. Last year, 43% of all reported data breaches affected small businesses —and the costs of recovering from a breach are high enough to force many small businesses to close. So, if you’ve recently launched your SMB website or are getting ready to launch, make sure you’ve got these 8 cybersecurity basics nailed down. 1. Domain Privacy There are so many things to love about the internet, but spammers, identity thieves, and stalkers are not among them. You can protect yourself with a domain privacy plan that shields your name, email, mailing address, and phone number from people who look up your site in the ICANN’s Whois database.  2. SSL Certificate An SSL certificate is a must-have if you run an eCommerce store or collect visitor information on your site. That’s because an SSL certificate proves that any data your visitors send to your site is encrypted, so hackers can’t see it while it’s in transit. (You can read a more detailed SSL explanation here.) SSL certificates also keep visitors from seeing a browser warning that your site may not be secure. Plus, they may also help your site rank better in search results. 3. Automatic Site Backups If your business website site is hacked, or if an update crashes it, you need a way to get up and running again fast so you don’t miss out on customers. Get an automatic site backup service like CodeGuard , and you can quickly restore the most recent uncorrupted version of your site if something goes wrong. Make sure that whichever service you choose runs daily backups, so you don’t have to go back to an out-of-date site version in case of a crash.  4. Automatic Malware Scans and Removals Thanks to cybercriminals armed with botnets and malicious code, all sites are continuously at risk for malware injections that can steal data and let criminals take over sites. This means site owners need to monitor their sites closely for attacks. And the only practical way to do this is with automatic scans. A site-scanning tool like SiteLock gives you daily protection from new malware and botnet attacks. SiteLock also seeks out vulnerabilities on your site, so you can fix them before hackers exploit them. 5. Automatic Domain Renewals Domain registrations don’t last forever. At some point—anywhere between one and 5 years from when you first sign up–you’ll need to renew. If you don’t, you can lose control of your business domain name, and anyone who comes along and buys up your expired domain may be able to access the email accounts on it. That could open you and your customers up to data theft and fraud. The best way to prevent this is to enable automatic renewals, either when you register your domains or during your next renewal. You may also be able to switch to automatic renewals now by logging into your domain registration account and adjusting your billing preferences. (HostGator customers, here’s how you can renew your domain registration.) 6. Automatic WordPress, Plugin and Theme Updates On the internet, you have to stay up to date. That includes WordPress software and the plugins, themes, and addons you choose for your SMB site. Why not stick with the old versions if they’re working for you? There are lots of reasons, but the main one is security.  Some updates are designed to patch flaws that hackers have shown they can exploit. So, when updates are announced, you need to install them right away. But updates don’t always come out on a schedule, and if you have a large site with lots of plugins, updating manually can be a hassle that’s too easy to postpone. The solution is to set WordPress and everything else on your site—themes, plugins, etc.—to update automatically. You can do this within most apps, or you can use a WordPress security plugin like Easy Updates Manager to handle it all for you. 7. Seriously Secure Passwords One of the simplest ways to protect your SMB website is to use a unique, secure WordPress password that would-be hackers are unlikely to guess. Make sure that any employees or contractors who have access to your site use secure, unique passwords, too.  You might think this goes without saying, but even in 2019, too many people are still using passwords like 123456 , monkey, and blink182. 8. Site Login Protection Login forms on your site make it easy for customers to sign into their accounts with your store or business. These forms also create potential weak spots where attackers can break in. In simple terms, a bot-powered brute force attack can try thousands of possible login credentials to try to get past a login form. If they find a way in, they can unleash malware, ransomware, or other mayhem to disrupt your business. To keep bad actors and botnet attacks from experimenting with logins until they find a way in, add some layers of protection to your sign-in forms.  One option is to limit the number of login attempts a user can make in one session. For example, after three failed attempts, the user is locked out of trying again until they contact your tech support team for more guidance. This lets legitimate customers get the help they need and prevents bot-powered brute force logins. Another option is one you probably see every day. Ask visitors to prove they’re not a robot when they sign in with a reCAPTCHA tool. The Contact Form 7 plugin lets you enable reCAPTCHA , or you can install a different reCAPTCHA plugin for the forms on your site. Yes, it’s an extra step for your site visitors, but one that can keep your visitors and your business safe from bot-powered data theft. Now that you know the cybersecurity basics, are you ready to set up your site?  HostGator’s Managed WordPress Hosting plans come with CodeGuard, SiteLock, and SSL certificates for free and make it easy to buy domain privacy services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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What Is PPC?

The post What Is PPC? appeared first on HostGator Blog . Marketers throw around a lot of acronyms.  For someone new to online marketing, it can be a little overwhelming to parse what people mean when they say PPC, SEM, SEO , CTA or one of many other common marketing acronyms.  This post will provide a thorough explanation for one of the most common and important acronyms online businesses should know about: PPC .  What Is PPC in Marketing? PPC in marketing stands for pay per click, the term used to describe a popular online ad billing model where the advertiser only gets charged for the ad when someone clicks on it.  This billing model represents a shift in how companies pay for advertising on the web versus what has long been common in other advertising formats such as magazine and TV spots.  Instead of paying a lump sum to reach a large number of people and hope some of them take an interest in your message, PPC marketing allows brands to pay only when consumers take a direct action. You don’t pay for the million people to view your ad, you pay for the hundred interested enough in your ad to do something about it.  The Different Types of PPC There are two main types of PPC marketing advertisers can take advantage of. Paid Search Ads Most of the time when you hear someone talk about PPC ads, they’re talking about paid search ads that show up on the search engine results page (SERP) of Google and the other main search engines. Depending on the search term and how much the advertiser has bid for the spot, these can show up above the list of organic results, to the right of them, or below them.  When you advertise with Google, you also have the option of placing PPC ads across their vast display network, which includes additional Google properties like Gmail and YouTube, as well as over 2 million other websites across the web, including popular media properties like the New York Times and Buzzfeed .  In other words, Google’s network for PPC search ads covers a significant portion of the web.  Social Ads The other main option for PPC advertising is social media. Most of the main social media platforms provide ad options using a similar PPC model to that of search engines. PPC social advertising is possible on LinkedIn , Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram .  With each social platform hosting over a million users (more than a billion, in the case of Facebook), many of them visiting the site multiple times a day, social PPC advertising is a strong option for reaching more of your audience.  PPC Terms to Know Before we get into more details of what’s involved in PPC advertising in digital marketing, you need to understand the language commonly used in the PPC world. Here are some terms worth knowing: CPA – This stands for cost per action . It’s a billing model offered on some PPC platforms in which, instead of paying for each click, you pay for a specific desired action, such as an email list signup or a purchase. In some cases, the acronym could also apply to the similar term, cost per acquisition, meaning you pay for every time you gain a customer. CPC – This stands for cost per click . In the PPC bidding model, keywords are assigned a value based on how competitive they are. So if there are a lot of businesses vying for a certain keyword, you can expect to pay more for each click than with a keyword that isn’t as popular to advertisers. Understanding the average CPC for the keywords you target is an important part of keeping your PPC campaigns profitable.  CPM – This stands for cost per impression , or more accurately, cost per a thousand impressions. For ad campaigns where visibility is more important than inspiring direct action, most PPC platforms allow you the option of paying based on the number of times someone sees your ad, instead of paying for each click.  CTA – This stands for call to action . It’s a term commonly used in all types of marketing, and plays an important role in PPC as well. It’s widely considered a best practice to include a clear call to action in every text ad you write. Some examples of common CTAs include “Learn more” or “Click here.” CTR – This stands for click-through rate . It’s a metric calculated by dividing the number of impressions (or times people have seen your ads), by the number of clicks they receive. It’s an important metric for gauging the performance and quality of your ads and campaigns. Long-tail keywords – The cost and success of paid search campaigns is directly related to the keywords and keyword phrases you choose to target. The term long-tail keywords is used to describe search terms that are more specific and therefore less competitive than broad keywords. For example, “flower delivery” is a broad keyword, while “same day flower delivery austin tx” is an example of a long-tail keyword that would cost less to target, but still reach a relevant audience.  Quality score – The placement of PPC ads depends on two main factors: the amount a brand is willing to spend, and their ad quality score . The search engine ad platforms want to deliver ads that are relevant to what people are looking for—they value delivering a good experience, in addition to getting money from advertisers. They assign ads a quality score based on factors like CTR and the bounce rate for people that click. If your ads are high quality, you’ll end up paying less for each click.  Remarketing – Any time you’re browsing the web and see an ad for a product you viewed recently, you’re the target for remarketing , sometimes called retargeting . On Google’s display network, you can target past website visitors with ads based on the pages on your website they viewed. This helps you stay top of mind for past visitors and increase the chances of a conversion. ROI – This stands for return on investment , and is a common business term. You may also encounter the similar acronym ROAS, for return on ad spend. It refers to figuring out how what you’re spending relates to the amount of new revenue you’re bringing in from your ads, so you can determine if your PPC campaigns are paying off. SEM – This stands for search engine marketing , the catch-all term for all digital marketing and advertising efforts focused on getting noticed in the search engines. It includes PPC and SEO, the paid and organic versions of gaining spots in the search engine results. SEO – This stands for search engine optimization . Where PPC ads help you gain spots in the advertising sections of the SERP, SEO is how you gain spots in the organic results. SEO is distinct from PPC, but most companies that do one will benefit from having a strategy for the other as well.  Now you can talk about PPC with your peers like an expert, and dig deeper into resources that explain how to do it well. 4 Reasons to Use PPC Marketing Businesses have a lot of different marketing tactics to choose from, and limited budget and resources to put toward them all. PPC is far from your only choice, but it’s one of the most popular online marketing tactics for good reason.  Here are four notable benefits of doing PPC advertising. 1. PPC advertising is targeted. PPC channels—both search and social—allow you to limit who will see your ads based on factors like demographic categories and online behavior. If your product’s target audience is middle-aged women who are really into sports, you can use your PPC platform’s targeting options to set up a relevant audience for your ads that’s more likely to respond to them.  2. You can reach a huge audience with PPC ads. A significant majority of people in the United States now use social media, and an even larger number of people use search engines. The main channels for PPC advertising allow you to reach a massive portion of the people online today—and that’s before you factor in the rest of the Google Display Network, which Google says reaches over 90% of all people on the internet.  PPC advertising allows you to get information about your brand, products, and content in front of just about anyone that uses the internet. 3. PPC produces detailed analytics. In addition to (hopefully) driving new visits and conversions, PPC campaigns produce another valuable result: rich analytics.  Every PPC campaign you launch will result in data that helps you better understand who your audience is, what language they’re using, and what kind of messaging they respond to. Those insights not only allow you to continually improve your PPC campaigns, they can also be applied to your other marketing efforts. You can strengthen your SEO strategy, your social media marketing, and content marketing plans based on what you learn from your PPC efforts.   4.  PPC gets results. Google estimates that businesses get a return on investment of $2 for every $1 they spend on the platform. Your success rates will depend on the quality of your campaigns, how good of a job you do targeting the right audience and keywords, and how well you monitor and adjust them over time. But if you do PPC well, you can count on gaining new leads and customers from it. How to Do Pay-Per-Click Marketing Well Anyone that decides to include PPC as part of a business marketing strategy needs to know a few main things in order to do it effectively. Here are eight PPC best practices to follow.  1. Perform keyword research. For paid search marketing, finding the right keywords is crucial for getting the results you want. Keyword research allows you to identify the terms and phrases your target audience is commonly using when they search for products like yours and answers to questions that you cover on your website.  When you enter a starter list of terms you’ve brainstormed into Google’s Keyword Planner , the tool uses historical data to provide: An estimate of how many times people will see ads that target that term (impressions) in a given period of time An estimate of how many times people will click on those ads The expected click-through rate The average cost per click, as well as the maximum cost per click The Google Keyword Planner will also help you build out a larger list of relevant keywords. You can plug in the list you have now, and the tool will both provide helpful data on your current keywords (average monthly searches, level of competition) and a list of related keywords with the same data provided.  There are also a number of other keyword research tools you can use to supplement the data and suggestions provided in Google’s Keyword Planner. Using what you learn, you can build out a campaign that targets the most relevant keywords your audience is using. 2. Set your budget. Once you set up your PPC account , the platform will let you set a specific budget for your ad campaigns and provide a daily maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Since PPC uses a bidding model, your ad placements will depend on the budget you set. If you’re hoping to show up for competitive keywords with a high CPC, you need a big enough budget to account for that.  Figure out what you can afford to commit to PPC advertising and consider how much the keywords you’re targeting cost in order to work out a budget that makes sense for your business. 3. Use negative keywords. With PPC for search, you have the option to include negative keywords that you explicitly don’t want to show up for. This can help you further refine who will see your ads based on relevance, so you don’t waste money on clicks from people looking for something different than what you offer.  For example, a florist that sells pre-made rose arrangements doesn’t need to show up for people looking for tips on how to grow their own roses. So they might add terms like “how to grow roses” or “rose pruning” to the negative keyword list.  4. Create relevant ad groups. PPC advertising platforms also let you set up specific ad groups so you can tailor your ads based on the specific keywords and audiences they’re most relevant for. That means a florist can use different messaging for a set of keywords related to Mother’s Day flowers than one related to bereavement, and can change the wording of ads targeting middle aged men looking to buy flowers for their wives than those for young couples selecting floral arrangements for an upcoming wedding. With ad groups, you can make your ads more relevant to the specific people who will see them, increasing the chances of success. 5. Choose your audiences. Very few businesses need to reach everybody. What you’re selling is most likely to appeal to a specific subset of the population. If you sell business software, then you need to reach professionals from certain types of businesses in specific roles. If you sell skateboards, you want to reach young people with an interest in skateboarding.  Both search and social PPC options let you choose who will see your ads based on some common categories such as demographics and interests. A click from someone in your target audience is worth much more to you than one from someone unlikely to buy your products. By setting up a specific audience for each of your campaigns, you ensure the clicks you pay for are more worth the cost.  6. Optimize your landing pages. Getting someone to see and click on your ad is a big goal, but that’s just the first step in what you ultimately want them to do. For your PPC spend to be worth it, you also need for them to take the next step you want them to, whether that’s clicking through to read more content, signing up for your email list, or making a purchase. Make sure that the web page those PPC clicks lead to is optimized to match the specific keyword and ad you use. The landing page should always be relevant and designed to achieve your specific campaign goal. Always design a landing page with a clear CTA, and try out different wording and designs to learn what works best.  7. Analyze your results. One of the big benefits of PPC is that you end up with a lot of valuable analytics you can learn from. Don’t set your PPC campaigns on auto pilot and hope for the best. Spend time analyzing the data so you can learn what your audience responds to and tweak your campaigns for better results over time.  In your analysis, make sure you factor in conversions, as well as clicks. In order to properly determine the ROI of specific keywords and campaigns, you need to know how often they drive people to take the specific actions you want them to, beyond earning that initial click. Analyzing your metrics can help you cut out costly keywords that aren’t producing the results you want, and help you put more of your budget toward ads that produce new sales and subscribers.  8. Use retargeting. How many times have you visited a website, checked out a product you liked the look of, but decided that you’d better not spend that money right away. It doesn’t mean you’re uninterested in the product, just that the timing wasn’t right.  Retargeting gives you a way to reach the people who like your products, but for whatever reason just weren’t ready to buy right away. You can re-capture the attention of someone who might otherwise forget about your brand. Get More Sales with PPC  A strong PPC strategy can help you gain more visibility with your target audience, and turn that attention into conversions. But it takes work to learn the ropes and do PPC effectively. If you want to give it a try, but aren’t sure how to get started, hiring a team of skilled PPC professionals can take most of the work off your plate, while increasing your chance of getting great results. Contact HostGator to learn more about our PPC services today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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4 Ways to Make Money With Your Small Business Website

The post 4 Ways to Make Money With Your Small Business Website appeared first on HostGator Blog . You’ve finally got a website for your business , because you know it’s the key to getting found by new customers who start most of their searches online. But your website can do more than raise your visibility in search results. It can also provide another revenue stream for your business. Whether you sell physical goods in a brick-and-mortar location, provide in-person services to a local market, run a restaurant, or offer your freelance expertise online, there are ways you can make your website work harder for you. One or more of these options may be just right for your small business site. 1. Build an Online Store If you have a brick-and-mortar retail shop, selling your products online is an obvious choice to expand your market, but other businesses can benefit from having an online store, too. Own a coffee shop or bakery? You can offer your branded merch (t-shirts, mugs) online along with special coffee blends or cakes and gift baskets. And any type of business can offer gift certificates online. No physical products? No problem. If what you sell is expertise, consider putting some of it into e-books on topics that matter to your clientele, and sell them in your online shop. (We’ll talk more about expertise in a moment.) Setting up an online store is easier than you may think. Gator Website Builder’s eCommerce plan gives you the templates and drag-and-drop tools you need to set up shop online fast. The eCommerce plan supports HD video and audio so you can create compelling product videos, and you get tools to manage your inventory, calculate shipping and sales tax, and offer coupons to your customers. 2. Let Customers Book Appointments Online Worldwide access to global knowledge is great, but I think the real benefit of the internet is being able to book appointments without a phone conversation between two harried people who toss out days and times until one works. Setting up appointments online is easier for everyone—your receptionist can focus on other tasks, and your customers don’t get stuck on hold. Online booking also lets customers reserve a spot whenever they’re ready, instead of having to wait for office hours to make a call. When you make people wait, they sometimes forget—or find a competitor who lets them book online, so you lose out. You can add booking capability to your WordPress website with a plugin. One of the most popular is Booking Calendar , which lets you customize the fields customers will fill in, notifies you of new booking requests, and stores all your booking information in a single database so you don’t have to toggle back and forth to manage your client list and appointments. 3. Share Your Knowledge Online Once you’ve been running your business successfully for a while, you’ll probably have insights other people will pay to learn. Writing, design, and coaching businesses are a natural fit for online one-on-one entrepreneur mentorship programs and group courses aimed people in the same field who want to learn more about some aspect of the business. Other businesses can use this approach, too. Maybe you grew your landscaping business from zero to six figures in under two years. Other new landscapers will want your advice on marketing and customer retention. Does your HVAC repair company have the lowest employee-turnover rate and the best customer reviews in town? Other contractors will want to know how you retain top talent. There’s one big difference between selling this type of expertise online and setting up an online store or booking tool: You’ll need to reach a different audience from your regular customer base. That requires some research to see if there’s a demand for your knowledge, and to find out where your potential customers hang out online so you can start connecting with them. You’ll also need to establish yourself as an expert, with a blog, podcast, or videos that gives away some of your knowledge for free. You can set up a blog fast with the Gator Website Builder and its blogging templates. You’ll want to make sure your business website’s hosting plan can handle more traffic and load audio and video content fast. It may be time to upgrade to cloud hosting if you expect spikes in traffic when you open new course registrations, or if you need faster load times for your instructional videos and podcasts. Building up this type of revenue stream takes some time, but it can be lucrative if there’s enough demand and you put in the marketing work. And if your main line of business is seasonal, like landscaping or air-conditioner repair, an online sideline can help smooth out income peaks and valleys. 4. Add Ads and Affiliate Links to Your Small Business Website With a decent amount of traffic, your site can also generate revenue through affiliate links and ads. Affiliate marketing is big business, and just about anyone with a website can take part. Simply defined, affiliate marketing lets you earn commissions on sales of other people’s products that you promote on your site. Let’s say you own a cupcake shop, and your shop’s website has a popular blog that features tips on decorating cupcakes. You might sign up for the affiliate program offered by your favorite decorating tools company, include links to their products in your posts (along with an FTC-required disclosure that they’re affiliate links), and earn a commission on each sale that comes from your links. You can also run ads on your website. Google AdSense is the most popular option, because it’s easy to integrate with your site, it gives you control over which ads appear, and it tailors ads to your content and audience. It can take a while for your AdSense ads to bear fruit—you need to reach a $100 threshold before you receive your first payment. But as far as revenue streams go, it’s a low-effort, low-maintenance way to start monetizing your site. Want more ideas for making the most of your small business website? There’s always something new and useful on the HostGator blog . Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Build Your WordPress Website [Step by Step Guide]

The post How to Build Your WordPress Website [Step by Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog . You’ve decided to build a website. Whether you’re building a site for your physical business, a personal project or you’re gearing up to launch your own online business, then this post is for you. Luckily, you’re reading this today and not ten years ago. Technology and the internet move so fast, that once impossible or laborious tasks can be done in a single afternoon. The same can be said for building your website. Back in the old days of the web, before content management systems, and beginner-friendly website builders existed you’d have to code every aspect of your website yourself. If you didn’t possess the ability to code or didn’t want to learn, then you’d be out of luck. Unless you had the budget to pay a professional of course. But, today’s web is much different. Anyone with the desire to build a website can go from no website to a published website in a single day. Below you’ll learn everything that you’ll need in order to build your first website, including a variety of website building tools you can consider using. The most difficult thing you’ll face isn’t actually building your site but choosing which approach to take. 1. Choose the Right Platform Like we just mentioned you have a ton of different options for actually building your website. Choosing the right approach is important and might be one of the most time-intensive parts of the process. For example, you can build your site entirely from scratch, using languages like HTML, CSS, and more. You can use a website builder to drag and drop your way towards creating a basic website. Or, you can rely upon a CMS to provide you with a customizable framework to build your site from. The best options for beginners are using a website builder or an intuitive CMS like WordPress. If your plan is to build out a fairly basic website, then using a website builder will be the easiest course of action. Website builders are designed with complete beginners in mind. With these the process is simple: You pick a website builder Choose a payment plan for your site and traffic needs Add your domain Select a theme or template Customize your site Publish it live on the internet! If you’re going to take this approach, then consider using the HostGator website builder. If you’re already a HostGator customer and want to create a simple site, then this is a no-brainer. For those with more complex site requirements, then WordPress is the way to go. With WordPress, your customization options are nearly unlimited. Plus, it’s built to help you create content and get the most out of your site. Nearly every single host will let you quickly install WordPress in a couple of clicks. And even though it’s a more complex platform the learning curve is very small, making WordPress an ideal choice for beginners. For the sake of this walkthrough, we’re going to assume you went with WordPress as the CMS you’re going to use to build your site.   2. Secure Your Domain Name and Host In order to have any site live on the Internet, you’re going to need a domain name and host. Without a domain name there’s no way for people to access your site, and without a host, there’s no place to store the files that make up your website. There are ways to get a free domain name and hosting, like using a subdomain of a larger site, like “yoursite.wordpress.com”. However, this doesn’t look very professional, and you’ll have a hard time building a following without a professional domain name. Same goes for purchasing your own hosting. There are a ton of different options to choose from, but for those building their first sites, a basic shared hosting plan will suit you just fine. In time you may want to upgrade your package, but there’s no need to complicate things from the start. With shared hosting, you’re sharing server resources with other sites using the same server. This effectively spits costs between a ton of different users, so your monthly bill will be very low. Like anything online, there are multiple ways you can secure your domain name and hosting. You can spend time researching all your available options, or to keep things simple, just follow the process below. Here’s how you can purchase a shared hosting plan from HostGator. First, head over to this page and select your plan. On the next screen you’ll be asked to enter more information, and even have the option to add a domain name . Complete the steps, enter your payment information, and you’re all set. If you have an existing domain name, then you’ll have to point it towards your new host. You also have the option to purchase your domain name from another provider entirely. However, if you’re already purchasing hosting from HostGator it’s much easier to add a domain to your order.   3. Install Your CMS on Your Host With your hosting and domain name taken care of, it’s time to install WordPress. Most beginner hosts make this easy by including software that lets you install your CMS of choice with a few clicks. Instead of having to download your CMS yourself and upload it to yourself, this software will automate all of those technical tasks. To do this we’re going to need to access your server. If you went with a host like HostGator, then we’ll be doing this with a tool called cPanel. This software is installed on your server and makes it incredibly easy to manage your server environment. Here’s how to do it: First, log in to your server via your control panel. You should have been provided your login link, along with your username and password when you signed up. Next, locate a tool called ‘QuickInstall’. You’ll see that there are numerous other content management systems you can install, but for this tutorial, we’re going to be using WordPress. So, select ‘WordPress’, enter your relevant site details and click ‘Install’. Once the installer is finished WordPress will be installed on your site. Just a few more steps and your site will be ready for the world.   4. Choose Your Theme WordPress will form the foundation of your site. But, in order to make any customizations to how your site looks you’re going to need to install a WordPress theme. Essentially, a theme is a collection of files that determine how your site looks and functions. You can think of WordPress as the foundation and scaffolding for your house—it’s basic structure. While your theme is the color your home, your wood floors—what it looks like. Since the WordPress ecosystem is so large you’ll have thousands of different themes to choose from (and that’s just including the free themes). There are also premium themes that provide you with even greater functionality, features, support, and a lot more. Premium themes generally look and function better than paid themes, have higher-quality code, and have dedicated support teams behind them. The cool thing about WordPress is that you can switch up themes at any time. It won’t have any effect on your existing blog posts, pages, and other media. If you’ve done a lot of customizing it might not display properly, but your content isn’t going anywhere. Here’s how you can select and install a theme on your site: From the backend of your WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance> Themes . Then click the button that says ‘Add New’. Here you’ll be able to browse the massive selection of free WordPress themes or even search for a theme. Once you’ve found a theme that you like hover over it and click ‘Install’, then ‘Activate’. Now you’ll be able to customize your theme to your liking. If you want to use a Premium theme, then the installation process will be a little different. First, you’ll need to purchase and download a theme. There are dozens of places you can purchase high-quality themes online, including: Elegant Themes StudioPress ThemeForest Once you purchase and download your theme you’ll have a .zip file that contains all of the theme’s files. Now, you’re going to upload this file to WordPress. Navigate to Appearance> Themes , then select ‘Add New’. On the next screen select ‘Upload Theme’, then either drag and drop or locate the .zip file on your computer. WordPress will then upload and install your theme, just click ‘Activate’ and you’re all set.   If you want to more features to your site, then you’ll be relying on the nearly endless library of WordPress plugins . There’s a wide variety of both free and premium plugins that can help you add whatever features you desire to your site. To install any plugins navigate to Plugins> Add New . Here you can browse by popular plugins, recommended plugins, or search for a plugin you’ve found online.   5. Customize Your Site By now you’ve gotten your domain name and hosting, installed WordPress, selected your theme, and maybe even installed a few plugins. Now is where the fun really begins—it’s time to customize your site. The first thing you’ll want to do is create a few necessary pages. Home page Contact page About page Blog page Depending on your site there are probably additional pages you’ll want to create as well, like a services page, resource page, or anything else really. Adding pages to your WordPress site is very easy. Once you’re in the backend of your site navigate to Pages> Add New . This will open up a screen where you can add a page to your site. Just add your title, text, any images, or media, then click ‘Publish’. If you want to add any blogs to your site, then you’ll be following a similar process. Click on Posts> Add New , and you’ll be taken to a screen that looks nearly identical to the page editor. Write your blog post and click ‘Publish’. The approach you take to customize your theme depends upon what theme you’re using. For example, your theme might have its own customization options which you’ll control from a different tab. If you’ve purchased a premium theme, then check the documentation that came with your theme to see how to make customizations. However, you’ll also be able to make general customizations by navigating to Appearance> Customize . On this screen, you’ll be able to do things like change your site’s color scheme, header elements, menus, general theme settings and a lot more.   6. Launch! Once you’re satisfied with how your site looks and functions it’s time to launch your site. If you’ve done everything above then your site should already be online! Just type in your URL to the browser and you should see your site live. If you want to build out your site without people being able to see it in an unfinished state, then you might want to use a coming soon, or maintenance mode plugin. To do this you can install a plugin like ‘Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd’. Head over to Plugins> Add New , then search for ‘coming soon seedpod’. Then, install a plugin that looks like the one below: Once you’ve activated the plugin head over to Settings> Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode , here you’ll be able to customize the appearance of your coming soon page. Then, when you’re ready to launch just make sure to disable the plugin.   Closing Thoughts Building your website isn’t as difficult as it once was. If you followed the steps above you’ll be on your way towards having a fully functional website live on the web. Note that there are multiple approaches you can take, some are easier than others. For example, if you’re already using HostGator hosting, then one of the simplest options will be using the bundled website builder. This tool is very straightforward and intuitive to use and is equipped with a variety of templates to suit your needs. For those looking to create a more robust website, then consider using WordPress. This widely used CMS is the foundation for a lot of the largest and highly-trafficked sites on the entire Internet. With its flexibility and ease of use, you can create whatever style of site you desire. The route you choose is up to you. Just make sure you take stock of your needs, current skills, and overall goals of your site before you choose the best approach for building out your site. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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What to Look for in a Web Host

The post What to Look for in a Web Host appeared first on HostGator Blog . In those exciting early stages of launching a new website, you have a lot of decisions you need to make. You need to clarify your brand, choose your domain, and plan out your website’s design. On the long to-do list of getting a new website up and running on the web, one of the most important choices you need to make is what plan and provider to choose for web hosting . Luckily, this step is easier than a lot of the other items on your list. Designing your website and promoting it once it’s live are much harder and more time consuming tasks than selecting a good web hosting service provider. But nonetheless, you do want to take a little time to consider your options and make sure you choose the best web hosting plan for your needs. If you choose the right web hosting service provider from day one, you’ll save yourself the headache of having to migrate your site to a different company later. But if this is your first website, then how are you supposed to know what to look for? Especially if you don’t entirely understand what website hosting really is. We explain. What Is a Web Host? Before we can choose a web host, it’s important you first understand the web hosting basics . Web hosting is essentially the physical side of the web. Every website you see online is made up of various images, media, apps, and other files that take up storage space. While we tend to think of the internet as something that exists outside of physical space, all those files have to be stored in a physical server somewhere. In order to contain all the files that make up your website and serve them up to every person that visits it, a physical server must have a lot of power. For most website owners, owning and maintaining a server that powerful isn’t practical. That’s where website hosting companies come in. Web hosts own a large number of servers that have the power required to provide consistent, reliable service for thousands of websites. When you sign up for a hosting plan, you rent some of the space on their servers. A good web host isn’t just selling that space, they’re also selling their expertise in keeping their technology running smoothly, efficiently, and securely—so that your website runs consistently without problems. Do I Really Need a Web Host? If you want your website published online where anyone can find it, the short answer is yes. Every website needs web hosting because it’s the mechanism that takes the pages you’ve designed on your personal device and makes them accessible to people on other devices across the world. But in addition to making it possible for people to access your site, web hosting companies also offer some important additional value. They invest in the proper firewalls and other security precautions that make your website less likely to get hacked. And they keep experts on staff to provide any maintenance needed to ensure your website stays up consistently. By investing in the right tools and talent to keep web hosting servers functional all day every day, they make sure that your website is available and loads quickly and without problem whenever your visitors want it.   10 Things to Look for in a Web Host To get all the best benefits of web hosting , you need to find the right web host. With so many options out there, a newbie will understandably struggle to figure out how the different providers compare and which criteria are really the most valuable to judge each option by. No matter what type of website you’re launching, these are ten of the most important features to look for in a web host. 1. They have a strong reputation in the industry. One of the best measures of a business in any industry is their overall reputation. When a business consistently serves customers well for years, word gets around. But how do you find out what a company’s reputation is? Look for evidence from third-party sources. Have they earned any web hosting awards from reputable organizations or websites? Can you find reviews of them from tech publications? If so, what do they say? Just as importantly, what do reviews from their actual customers say? A little bit of sleuthing on Google will uncover a lot of information about what people have to say about the web hosting company you’re considering. If it’s generally positive, then you can trust you’ll be in good hands. 2. They promise at least 99% uptime. If your website is for a business, any time it’s not available loses you money. Even if this is a website you’re starting for fun, you risk providing a disappointing experience to visitors and losing followers if they can’t access your website each time they try to visit. The main job a web hosting company has is to keep your website up and accessible online. Every web hosting company will have to do occasional maintenance that will temporarily take your website offline. And if servers aren’t properly maintained, they could overheat or break down, which means more time your website is inaccessible. One of the big differentiating factors in the quality of web hosting providers is how well they manage the types of issues that can take your website offline. In industry parlance, the amount of time a web hosting company guarantees that your website will be available is called uptime, and reputable web hosting companies routinely promise at least 99% uptime. The best web hosting companies go even further, offering 99.9% uptime with a money-back guarantee. 3.  They offer a variety of plans. Today, you’re looking for a hosting package that delivers what you need right now. But you have big dreams for your new website. You hope that in the coming years, the number of people that find your website and become regular visitors will grow. Maybe you hope to continually create new content to add to your site as well. In either case, you need room to grow. Most new websites get everything they need with an affordable shared web hosting plan, but as a website grows in size and popularity, at some point you’ll want to upgrade to a cloud hosting , VPS hosting , or possibly even a dedicated hosting plan . When that time comes, you’ll have a much easier time making the transition if you can stick with the company you choose from day one. An upgrade is simpler than a full migration to a new company. So before you choose the right hosting package for today, take some time to think about what you’ll need tomorrow and beyond and see if your provider has plans to match your future needs as well. 4. They provide 24/7 customer service. When you’re up late at night working on those website fixes you’ve finally gotten around to, the last thing you want is to hit an issue you need customer support to resolve and realize you have to wait until the morning to get an answer. Any time your website has a problem, you want it fixed fast. And you should be able to work on your website on your own schedule, without having to wait on the business hours of your web hosting company’s support reps. So make sure your web host offers top-notch customer support at all hours of the day. Bonus points if they offer a number of ways you can get in touch, so you can choose between phone, email, or live chat based on what works best for you.   5. The price is right. Web hosting is a necessary cost if you want to have a website, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Simple shared web hosting plans start at less than $3 a month. When deciding on the right hosting plan for your site, keep in mind that web hosting isn’t a one-time cost. Web hosts use a subscription model for billing. Make sure that the cost is something you’re comfortable with moving forward, and that it seems in line with what the plan is worth. While many new websites will manage just fine with the cheapest type of hosting plan, some will find it well worth spending more for additional features and higher bandwidth. Sometimes spending more is worth it, just make sure the value matches the price. 6. Their account interface is intuitive. While the main service web hosts provide is keeping your website published and accessible, they also provide an interface that allows you to do a number of important web management tasks, such as: Domain name management Setting up redirects Managing your SSL Managing your domain email addresses Adding new applications or databases to your website Managing your backups Upgrading or renewing your hosting solutions You don’t want to spend a lot of time learning how to do some of the basic, but important work involved in running your website. Look for a web hosting provider that makes it all intuitive with a good interface and simple processes. 7. They provide ample resources for getting started. Even if the overall design is intuitive, you’re still likely to have questions about how to do certain things with your website. Before choosing your web hosting provider, look into the type of resources they provide to help you learn how to use their products. They should have comprehensive support materials such as tutorials and how-to articles. What’s even better is also having an active support community where you can turn to other people who use the web hosting provider for help with your questions. See if the company has an active forum, in addition to their other support resources and customer service team. 8. If you have a site already, migration is supported. The idea is to find the right web hosting platform from day one, but not everyone meets that ideal. If you’re on the search for web hosting solutions because you’re not happy with your current web hosting company, then you want to find a provider that will help you with the process of transferring your website over. Look into what the migration process is like. Consider talking to a support person there for details, so you know what you’re getting into. If they can make the process relatively simple and painless, then you’ll be able to switch over quickly and get back to focusing on the work of running your website. 9. They support domain name management as well. Web hosting is one of the necessary elements all websites need, a domain name is another. One of the most important steps in starting a new website is finding and registering your domain. And it’s just as important to keep your domain name registration current for as long as you keep your website. While it’s entirely possible to register your domain with a different service than the web hosting provider you choose, you’ll have a much easier time staying on top of domain name management if you keep it all in one place. Make sure your web hosting provider allows you to manage your domain registration and renewals in the same interface you use for managing your web hosting. 10.  They offer satisfactory security options. Hackers and data breaches are an unfortunate part of the online world today.  Every website owner ought to prioritize security. While there are a number of steps you can take to make your websites more secure , one of the best things you can do for website security is choosing a web host that treats it as a priority. A good web hosting company invests in powerful firewalls, includes SSL certificates as part of their plans, and offers affordable security software or other add-ons to enhance your website security. Research the company’s reputation for security to make sure you’ll be in good hands. Bonus Feature to Consider: A Website Builder If you already have a great professional web designer in mind for your website, or have the skills to do it all yourself, then this feature won’t be necessary. But for anyone wanting a quick and affordable way to build a website, in spite of lacking programming skills, an intuitive website builder will make your life much easier. And opting for a website builder from a web hosting provider means you keep all your website management tasks in one place. It’s one less log in to remember and account to keep up with. Choose Your Web Host Today If you’re ready to make your decision and get started with a web host now, consider one of HostGator’s plans. We offer a range of options, so there’s plenty of room to grow. We have a money-back guarantee of 99.9% uptime. We also provide 24/7 customer support and lots of helpful resources to help you get started. And we’re one of the most respected web hosts in the industry, as evidenced by third-party reviews and awards . Ready to learn how to build a website ? Give our experts at HostGator a call today and we’ll help you find the best hosting plan for you and your needs. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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