Quick & Easy Simple Steps for Better SEO

Reading Time: 4 minutes

SEO has definitely become one of the most ubiquitously known acronyms in the world these days, and especially so if you’ve got a vested interest in the performance of your website as it relates to the success of your business. Some will be surprised to learn that SEO is largely about performing specific tasks repeatedly rather than doing something once and then expecting it to ‘work’ from there on out.

We know SEO explicitly well here at 4GoodHosting, and it’s part of the sphere of knowledge and expertise that makes us a top Canadian web hosting provider. Yes, a large part of that knowledge comes from a base of technical familiarity with how search engine algorithms work, but a significant part of what we – and many others like us – have learned has come from trial and error and more simply picking up what others have learned and shared.

So today we’re going to share a simple SEO ‘tune up’ routine that anyone can do, and pretty much anytime. Follow these seven small tasks on a regular basis and it can add up to major page rankings gains long term.

  1. Upgrade and Update Older Blog Content

No matter how old a blog post may be, you don’t have to be done with it forever. Make that piece of content more useful with anything – new information you’ve learned, successive developments in the industry, new and interesting statistics – whatever. This is especially advisable for content that isn’t ranking as high as you think it should. Spend some time going through your older content and see where it can be expanded to make it even more useful or valuable for readers.

For most people who enjoy blogging, this step is one they’ll like

  1. Pump Your Content On Social Media

Understand first that social media doesn’t have a large influence on your rankings, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore its significance. Social media does work to send traffic to your site, and having a high social share counter will afford your posts and site more authority. A post with hundreds of shares across social media is going to be seen more favourably and as trustworthy by visitors. They’ll then be more likely to organically share it on their own social media channels and with family and friends, amplifying your reach. Spending a little time each day sharing your content and engaging across social media can help with SEO.

  1. Upgrade Your URLs, Titles, and Metas

Confusing URL structures aren’t good for SEO. Simplifying your existing URLs so they’re cleaner, more relevant to your topic, and include keywords (without stuffing) is recommended. Also consider improving your titles and meta descriptions. Making titles more clickable and your meta descriptions more appealing will promote better click-through-rates from the search results, and having a higher organic CTR will additionally help to improve your search engine rankings too.

  1. Be on The Lookout For Broken Links

Simply put, broken links on your site will kill the user experience for visitors. Most websites that have been as they were for a long time will be linking out to resources that are no longer online, and then there’s situations where you’ve changed the URL structure of certain posts and pages on your own site.

Internal links on your site and external links redirecting to other information sources are important for SEO and the overall user experience. Many sites run on WordPress, and you can then install a plugin like Broken Link Checker that will look over your website and identify broken links. You can also install a Chrome extension with the same name – Broken Link Checker – which will scan the open page for broken links.

Keep in mind as well that it’s important to incorporate relevant internal links into the various blog entries posted on your site. Content pieces that have received a lot of links can and should be linked to other posts across your site, but make sure you do so naturally and not awkwardly within the writing.

  1. Perform Blog Email Outreach

Writing the content itself is only part of it. You need to spend time promoting that content for shares and backlinks as well. Send emails to other influencers in your space but make sure you don’t ask for a direct backlink. Your goal with blog outreach should instead be to make people aware of the quality of your content and inviting them to share and link to it if they’d like. Create good content and get it in front of the right people, and the links will follow.

  1. Analyze the Competition

While analyzing effectively is beyond the means of most people, there are tools like Buzzsumo and SEMRush where simply type in the URL of your competitors and then receive information on which content has been the most popular and the keywords used that are sending them the most traffic.

Buzzsumo also lets you see the people who shared a specific piece of content. This makes it easier for you to spend time promoting your content to the very same people who’ll more likely share it.

SEMRush will also give you backlink data on the competition’s posts, letting you reach out to those same people when aiming to promote a similar piece of content. All of this will give you endless content ideas while determining where new opportunities to promote your content exist.

  1. Big Blogs and Sites in Your Niche – Engage with Them

Let’s start by understanding that blog commenting is NOT an effective way to build backlinks to your site. It does serve a purpose, however. Commenting with your name and link to your website is effective for getting on the radar of top bloggers and website owners in your space. Comment with something thoughtful that also adds value, and adhere to best practices. Commenting intelligently may lead to a guest post opportunity down the road that comes with a legitimate and forefront linking opportunity. SEO is all about relationships and regular commenting can be more of an ‘investment’ than you might think.

The tips shared here will help you steadily improve your search engine rankings over the long-term, and the beauty of them is that they really don’t take much time or are overly intensive. Do them when you’ve got some time at your disposal and get better SEO.

International Optimization: Tailoring SEO to Global Aims

Reading Time: 6 minutes

These days it’s increasingly common for e-commerce retailers to be expanding their horizons and aiming to move beyond having only a domestic customer base. The Internet has been a boon in every sense of the word when it comes to making this very much possible, and manufacturers, retailers, and consumers all stand to benefit greatly from what is now a global marketplace.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re not unlike any top Canadian web hosting provider in the way that a great many of our customers are retailers who rely on their website – and their web hosting – as an integral part of their digital marketing resources. The need for quality and competitive pricing is a given, but in the information age it’s equally as important to have yourself standing out from the crowd online when most consumers rarely make it to a 2nd or 3rd page of search engine results.

If your business is one aiming to sell internationally, then your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts need to be tailored to that aim. International SEO can be complicated as there are multiple countries with multiple languages, and often multiple languages within a given country. It inherently becomes much more difficult than focusing on the domestic market, and it’s not something that you can turn to a translator to correct.

It is possible to gear your SEO to be ‘internationally effective’, with a little planning and the right approach for your unique situation.

Here are ways you can target international customers and make wise decisions when it comes to ranking in multiple countries.

What Makes Up international SEO?

International SEO involves organizing and optimizing your webpages to allow search engines to identify the countries you are targeting, incorporating specific content and language for each user in a given location. In many ways, it is similar to how we provide SEO for small businesses that target multiple locations, with the fact they are often organized by towns, cities, municipalities or entire provinces.

Domain names for international SEO

There are some primary considerations when choosing a domain name for your international SEO campaigns.

Certain domains, referred to as country code top-level domains (ccTLD), will default to a specific location. Other top-level domains (TLDs) give you the option on geotargeting them to point at specific countries. The sub-folders and subdomains on these TLD domains can also be geo-targeted to specific different countries.

You must ensure you have the correct domain for your international SEO requirements.

It’s not a simple matter to make these determinations though.These rules are often loosely in place, and one such example is when you are promoting content with SEO. Even ccTLD domains or geotargeted TLD domains can rank informational content internationally, but they won’t do so on their own unless they’re geared for it.

For example, let’s say your company operates out of the Toronto, but has customers all around the world. The majority of your customers are finding you through articles on our blog, which runs on a CAD (Canadian) ccTLD. Those numbers may be sufficient and consistent,, but this is not to say you should disregard geotargeting; for the majority of industries, it’s not the right approach. Ranking internationally is about providing the right content for the right audience, and audience predispositions for content will vary.

You want to be certain that Google does not become seriously confused with what-may-be several versions of your site and bury you in SERPs.

How to target a specific country

Here’s a basic checklist for targeting a specific country with international SEO:

  • Use a country-specific domain
  • Specify the location you are targeting in Google Search Console
  • Register your business address with Google My Business
  • Include the street address of the business on the website
  • Host the website locally (as much for usability as for SEO)
  • Get links from country-specific websites
  • Use local language(s)

The aim is to send a clear signal to Google about where you operate and who you’re hoping to have see and interact with your content. You want as many indicators and prompts as possible, so try to include all items on the checklist.

International SEO strategy

It’s common for most international SEO efforts to include targeting of multiple countries, which means you must scale your approach to address and cover all desired locations.

There are a number of ways to approach this, and some will be suitable for your situation while others will not. Here are two approaches that will almost certainly be effective for the majority of serious international SEO efforts.

Content marketing – We now know that targeted content marketing can help pages rank internationally, even from a ccTLD site. If you are able to generate leads through content, then promoting your content with SEO can be the simplest option. This isn’t difficult if you have a defined audience and some measure of professional authority with your content, but you must also make sure this is a viable business model for your company. It’s typically a good fit for companies that are well established online, but for more traditional businesses that are not as solidly set in the digital realm this is often not the best choice.

Single TLD site – Some industries will present automatic international search results. This is often true of niche businesses that rank fairly well across English-speaking countries but even without International SEO optimization. Should they want to focus on international SEO, it’d be quite easy to do that with a more traditional SEO process.

Of course, do your research before you wade into a complex international setup.

Subfolders and Geo Targeting – For those requiring country-specific content, one of the easiest options is to create localized sub-directories on your own site. These sub-directories can be geotargeted in Google Search Console and may include country-specific content and language. Here are examples:

  • example.com — root site targeting the USA.
  • example.com/uk/ — UK.
  • example.com/de/ — Germany.

There are three key benefits to taking this approach. First off, you are only expanding your existing site and that will likely mean less technical management and overhead, e.g., hosting.

Secondly, your sub-directories will inherit authority from the parent domain.

Third, you only have one site to promote, and so while you will want country- and language-specific links, going this way is still simpler and more cost-effective than promoting multiple sites.

Keep in mind though that users may not recognize geotargeting from the universal resource locator (URL), and you’ll have a single server location. So yes, it’s a relatively easy way to get started with true international SEO, but be aware of the limitations of this approach.

Country-specific domains– Here you can use country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) or subdomains on a TLD. Both will take you to the same objective with your International SEO.

  • Geo-targeted subdomains. These TLD subdomains must be geotargeted in Google Search Console:
  • example.com — US
  • example.com — UK
  • example.com — Germany
  • Country-specific ccTLD domains. The country associated with the ccTLD is automatically targeted:
  • com — US
  • co.uk — UK
  • de — Germany

Businesses with a physical presence, operation or local offline marketing in the target country will usually find this to be the best approach. But it may not be the most cost-effective one, as each site must be configured and marketed independently. This is typically done by the local marketing team.

Both approaches allow the business to use local web hosting and build clear location signals with country-specific links to the URL. This is ideally what you should want and should be considered when making a decision to enter a competitive international market, especially one where you are competing with companies that are resident in that country.

Using ccTLDs here is preferable to subdomains if that’s something you can do. However, it requires you to own all the international ccTLD versions of your domain. If you can make that happen, it will provide big branding benefits where users prefer to click on their own ccTLD.

Folks in specific countries will of course prefer domains that indicate their home country, as well as be more trusting of them. SEO is just part of a larger conversation, making it that the right approach should be determined by the wants and needs of the target customer.

Subdomains are thus not as popular because users may not recognize or understand the domain and that could impact trust and click-through rates.

If money is no object and you are taking a long-term committed approach to the International visibility of your business online, we definitely recommend going the ccTLD route.

One last important consideration here is to remember that any problems can be multiplied across your entire portfolio of sites. Make sure your initial site is technically perfect in advance of you creating international sites.

URL variables

There’s also another option worth mentioning here, which is using URL variables like country=ca. While it’s doable, Google’s own page on multi-regional and multilingual sites states it’s not a recommended course of action.That’s primarily because this option cannot be geotargeted, and it’s easy to see how that would take away a lot of the potential exposure power you’re after.

This has been an overview of the options for international SEO. Your objectives, budgets and you marketplace will define what’s right for you, but be sure to work with these guidelines if you’re going to go it alone and work with your existing knowledge of SEO.

Of course, if we can be of assistance in any way – please don’t hesitate to ask!

Ways to Solid Cloud Security

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cloud computing and all the many varied advantages it offers for a business’ digital realms is definitely here to stay, and access and storage convenience, consolidation, and capacity are front and centre as to why that’s the way it is. Most of us have benefited greatly from the advent of the cloud, and we wouldn’t want to go back to the way it was.

Here at 4GoodHosting, as a quality Canadian web hosting provider we’re just as enthused as most of the rest of you about what the future holds in as far as cloud computing is concerned. So while it’s perfectly natural to be keen on getting more out of the cloud, we need to ensure that our sensitive data is key entirely safe while it’s perfectly suspended ‘up there.’

So today we’ll discuss some considerations for setting yourself up so that there’s no unexpected disappointments as you enjoy this wonderful 21st century advance in computing technology.

Priority 1 is Secure Code

While we’ll get to code in a moment, it is important that you trust in the security model of your cloud service provider. Understand what information the service provider will deliver to the customer (vulnerabilities/exploits discovered, patched, requirements from customers, security bulletins etc.) and what is your (the customer’s) responsibility. There are many cases where the provider takes the appropriate measures but the customer is neglecting to take care of their end. It is important to know all these beforehand.

Alright – code. If you’re developing code, making sure it’s 100% secure is your responsibility. Code that has not been thoroughly tested – inside and out – can be a big time risk. It’s something that if you don’t have a capable tester on staff then it’s something you should outsource to someone who IS proven capable.

One that you can check out is uTest. They employ testers worldwide and provide impressively detailed reports. Your code can be tested by teams of people on very different platforms and they’re more likely to dig up bugs and vulnerabilities as compared to the average in-house testing team.

Identity and Access Management

Next up is the important of identity and access management. Your cloud login information is essentially the key to your front door, and the nature of the arrangement is your door -locked or not – is immediately visible to many more potential enterers. You need to have a policy for access management. Start with consideration of obvious security risks:

  • ex-employees
  • outside parties (vendors, consultants etc. who have outside access)
  • employees (weak passwords) – a more legitimate issue than you might think

Address first two there with a policy that insists on a temporary check of people and / or organizations who have been granted temporary access. Accounts that have expired should be removed from the central directory – Active Directory, LDAP etc. Many people would be shocked with the the extent of the problem wit rogue logins with “password never expires” option set in companies directories.

Next, we can understand the importance of updating systems. First and foremost, keep your systems at the latest patch levels as much as possible. You’ll be able to patch security holes as well as enable your applications to use the secured APIs/DLLs to make them MUCH more secure. And don’t concern yourself overly with ‘breaking’ things. If your application / system is being broken just because a security patch, it’s an inferior product and should be replace anyways!

Log Management

In today’s workloads, logs primarily serve two purposes. That’s troubleshooting and security (access logs). But they become even more important if they are aggregated. Aggregating logs with an IT analytics tool is highly recommended, as it will enable you to monitor for malicious activities and undertake detailed analyses to dig up the root cause of any such vulnerabilities. You’ll have a big-picture view of your infrastructure as a whole, from patch levels all the way to application behaviours.

A quality IT analytics tool serves functionally as a tool kit to aggregate logs and further to be extended with additional tools. A holistic view of your IT architecture is a must, and it’s smart to have the relevant tools in place to cover all the bases; firewalls, anti malware applications (end point security), intrusion detection, valid certificates and so on.

As one last tip, keep up on the latest security information. There’s plenty of available detailed information on the vulnerabilities, zero-day attacks, proposed temporary solutions etc to be found on the Internet. Cloud-security conscious webmasters learn about what type of breaches, exploits are happening in their specific industry, and learning about ways to secure their infrastructure and keeping one step ahead when it comes to security matters / concerns.

There is no such thing as 100% security when it comes to the Cloud – the nature of what makes it so great and versatile is exactly what makes it perennially insecure as well. But there’s plenty you can do to stay as secure as possible while enjoy all the benefits of Cloud storage and access. Not like we’re going to be regressing anytime soon, so just be smart about it.

Smart List Building for Email Marketing

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Take a look at the inside workings of a business that’s successful in the modern information age and you’ll almost certainly find evidence of well-constructed email marketing campaigns. Reaching out to prospective customers isn’t difficult, but reaching out them effectively certainly is. The vast majority of those prospective customers are quick to trash an email that’s coming across as overly salesy or downright spammy, and when that happens all the effort you’ve put into getting it in front of them is for not.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we take an interest in the wellbeing of our customers who are in business and that’s likely a significant part of what’s made us one of the best web hosting providers in Canada. We’re not email marketing experts, but we’ve been fortunate to be able to pick up on some of the best approaches to the subject over the years.

Let’s discuss some of them today, and hopefully there’ll be some beneficial wisdom in this for those of you that want to supercharge your email marketing efforts. Email marketing, despite all the options available in an evolving digital world, is still the most personal and effective way to market services… if it’s done right.

Before we begin, one inflexible rule. DON’T buy lists – ever – and if you need further convincing why then you can dig on your own, but you’ll find the same advice everywhere.

Start With The Right ‘Hook

‘The Hook’ – as it’s known in sales – is what grabs the attention of a target customer and is a specific call-to-action that gets them to willingly offer you their contact information. Examples of good ’hooks’ are discount coupons, tips or information not readily available to others customers. They can go a long way to getting your emails opened, and not trashed right off the hop.

Utilize Existing Customers

Existing customers are the biggest base for your email list, but they also have the potential to be sharing your emails with their friends and will often happily do so if what you offer clearly relates the potential of value to them. Start determining which of those email addresses are receiving your communications more enthusiastically and begin focusing on them and working with them.

Don’t email existing customers. Instead, get back to some good old communication means and give them a phone call. This is also a good way to remind customers/clients about your company if you have not seen them in a while.

Promote Your Biz with Ads on Your Site

Some people might think this to be a rather odd suggestion, considering it’s your website and you’ve already ‘drawn them in’, so to speak. There’s really something to this, however, and an eye-catching ad on your site’s sidebar or integrated into your content can prompt people to opt-in, and much more often than you’d think. While you’re collecting opt-ins for emails, you should also collect Twitter names as well as encouraging people to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any other social media channels you’re utilizing at this time.

Pair that advertising, content, and the hook together to sell, as well as gather information on the most suitable recipient demographics for responsiveness. OptimizePress is a great tool for converting click-throughs to customers. Google it and check it out.

Promote People Sending Your Content to Others

Another tip is using share buttons to get site visitors or blog readers to share content on their own social media channels and then provide a means for others to opt-in to your emails. One example might be a site that has a blurb about a sale or new product that’s then made sharable with an eye to making it go viral.

Use LinkedIn Contacts

More and more people spend a good amount of time expanding their LinkedIn network, and so downloading their cards and add them to your email list is a good idea – as long as you use sound judgement in doing so. As long as you give them an opt-out option, you won’t be a a spammer by default. Make sure you do.

Another approach is to participate in appropriate LinkedIn groups and using your status update function to drive like-minded prospects to your email opt-in sign up page.

Guest Blogging

The types of blogs for every type of business are so numerous, so get writing (or enlist a ghost writer) to post interesting content on assorted blogs to garner the interest of prospective clients and drive them to your opt-in page. A quality blog can be absolutely massive in this regard.

Be Certain not to Spam

By opting in, individuals are giving you permission to send them your emails. As mentioned, you must have an ‘opt out’ option clearly and visibly displayed in the email. Deal with opt-out request QUICKLY! With an email marketing service, opt-outs are automatically deleted. If you are doing it yourself and recipients continue to receive emails after opting-out, you’ll be a spammer – simple as that. Running afoul of spam laws is something you want NO part of.

Consider Email Services

Email services can definitely be money well spent. Be careful about Googling ’email marketing services’ as some sites have their own ‘top ten reviews’ with their company situated right up top. You want to find a service that will allow you to upload v-cards that make it easy to set up your list. From there you should be able to upload that file effectively and correctly.

There’s a direct line between email marketing done right and company growth and profit, so it makes a lot of sense to revisit your campaigns and revamp them if they’re not bringing the returns they could.