New Safari Browser with iOS 14 Introducing Biometric Authentication for Logins

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The expression ‘the future is now’ has been bandied around for decades now with regards to new innovations, and perhaps so much so that it really doesn’t have the same weight of meaning anymore. But every once in a while we do see genuine examples of futuristic technology being realized and becoming available to everyday people. Being able to gain access to resources online through you face or fingertips definitely meets the criteria for being one of them.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re just the same as any other reliable Canadian web hosting provider in that we fill only the basic of roles in the big picture of what the ever-expanding digital world is. But what it does provide for us is an even more engaging view of all of these advances and something of a platform to share the futuristic news with the likes of you all.

So here it is – with Safari on iOS 14, MacOS Big Sur and iPadOS 14, you’ll now have the abilit to login to websites using Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID biometric authentication. All of this is being made possible with a technology called FIDO (fast Identity online) that’s speeding our way to a future where typing in a password is by and large an obsolete approach.

The term that’s being used for this is ‘biometric authentication’, and Apple made the announcement of this on Wednesday of last week at an annual developers conference. While biometric scan access means aren’t entirely new, they are stating that the appeal of this new wrinkle is that it’s faster and offers more solid security.

Big Leap for Web Authentication

All of this is a major boost for Web Authentication browser technology (often shortened to be WebAuthn) as it’s been constructed by FIDO consortium allies. Apple joins Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge among other allies here, and this is the same engine that’s been behind Windows Hello facial recognition and Android fingerprint authentication.

Now of course Apple’s clout in the smartphone market makes it so that any such development on their side of the fence creates a much bigger splash in the pool.

And that splash just may be what’s needed to push the entire online security sphere onto its side, and that’s going to be a good thing if so. Passwords just don’t cut it anymore. Unfortunately nowadays hackers often can use one single password obtained through a data breach to also break into many other websites.

Plus there’s then the fact that good passwords are hard to make up, and often even harder to remember. For older people typing them into phone screens isn’t easy, and then there’s the way that password managers are complex and often have cross-device compatibility issues.

FIDO technology has the potential to be a far-reaching fix for all of this, and eliminate the need for punching in characters of passwords every time you want ‘in’. It looks like it will be able to standardize how apps and websites utilize hardware security keys and biometric authentication, and in that sense it may well be the last piece (or one of the last pieces) of the puzzle.

The key part of that will be in bolstering passwords with two-factor authentication systems that are more secure than SMS codes, which simply don’t have the solidity they need to. There’s quite a bit to that, but to boil it down what it’s likely to do is enable two-factor authentication with no need for passwords at all.

You start with a registered device with a phone or fixed / mobile internet access device or security key. Then the biometric check completes the 2nd factor by scanning your face or fingerprint.

Apple will let you log in to websites with Face ID or Touch ID, and that’s a big step towards being able to discard flawed password technology once and for all. To move to FIDO login, you’ll have to jump through a hoop once to register your device, like a Mac or iPhone.

No Good for Phishers

One big benefit sure to be readily embraced with FIDO is that it blocks phishing efforts pretty much entirely. Login credentials are locked to the real version of a website, and then of course hackers lose the primary means by which they gain access – by stealing passwords. There’s nothing there to steal anymore!

There is a general consensus that we shouldn’t be getting ready to dump all our passwords, at least not yet. Obviously, if you lose your iPhone or iPad all of this new technology is rendered immediately obsolete and you’ll need to have some other access means.

This is really where the developers need to look at next, but this is definitely a huge leap for people who are iPhone or iPad devotees.

Defending Your Site Against Spamdexing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last week we talked about ways you can make sure your website is optimally indexed, and in keeping with that theme will talk about another aspect of being proactive in ensuring your website is optimally ‘positioned’ as it were when it comes to be indexed by search engines.

Nearly all of you will know spam to be a reference to unsolicited, unwelcome communications through the Web rather than as jellied meat concoction that most of you most certainly don’t have in your kitchen cupboards. Truth is, however, it’s a lot easier to avoid that kind of spam than it is to avoid the email kind and the like.

The fact that spam – of this sort at least – is so universally unwelcome is the reason that search engines make the effort they do to ensure those of us surfing the web for whatever reason are exposed to it as little as possible. To that end they’ve developed algorithms that evaluate a website about whether or not it’s oriented to serve ‘spamming’ purposes.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like any other SEO Service provider in that we know maximizing organic visibility is going to be a priority for anyone who’s having a website hosted for e-commerce purposes or any website in WordPress ,Magento ,PHP etc . There’s a lot that goes into that, but making sure your site is indexed as it should be and without anything that’s marginalizing it in that way is a big part of what’s important.

So today we’re going to talk about what you can do to see to it your site isn’t ‘spamdexed’ without you even being aware of it.

What’s Spamdexing?

Spamdexing is defined – and loosely considering it’s an industry-lingo slang term for the most part – as an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings and generate traffic which is used later to fuel a scam designed by people who have less-than-legit intentions.

How this is accomplished is these threat actors gain access to a normal, healthy website before injecting malicious keywords and links into it.

It’s defined a little differently when it’s in occurring in the sphere of digital marketing and online advertising. Spamdexing here is also called SEO spam, and it’s one of the most common hacks to increase search engine ranking. It’s estimated that nearly half of all sites that end up being hacked were broken into and ‘reformatted’ for SEO reorientation purposes.

These hacks typically take aim at web sites in order to manipulate the success of a site’s SEO campaign and boost its ranking in Google, Bing or other search engines.

SEO Spam

SEO spam is when an individual attempts to manipulate search engine rankings and generate traffic, but traffic for their own interests and safe to say not the same ones you’d have.

Then, as mentioned, what happens then is an otherwise normal website is injected with keywords and links intended to lure traffic to different scams. This practice tricks unsuspecting users who believe that they are visiting a real website to purchase orders but end up getting scammed.

Types of SEO Spam

Search engine spam can be executed through:

  • Spammy links
  • Spammy keywords
  • Spammy post & pages

Negative Impacts

So the long and short of all this is that by gaining access to a legit website and injecting links and keywords, the hackers create a working path to their scam-oriented websites. They’re piggybacking off that site’s credibility to get their own rankings with search engines.

So the question then becomes what can you do to stay safe from SEO spam? Spamdexing is going to be an ongoing threat, so it’s going to be helpful to know what you can do to counter it effectively. Here’s the list of best practices:

  1. Run updates – Be certain to keep plugins and other website applications updated with the latest security patches. Overlooking updates may make your entire site totally accessible for spamdexing or SEO spam
  2. Maintain strong passwords – Using strong and unpredictable passwords is important, especially for protecting access to sensitive areas of your site.
  3. Conduct regular scans – Scanning websites on a regular basis goes a long way to ensuring owners are identifying and understanding security issues with those sites. The problem is it’s fairly common for owners to not know they’ve been hacked until they’re being penalized for having been identified as an SEO spammer source. When that happens, the damage is done in as far as your credibility with search engines is concerned.
  4. Utilize a firewall – A web application firewall (WAF) is a proven-effective solution to prevent a search engine spam infection. It defends websites from unknown threats, plus speeds up the efficiency that the website’s operating with.

Ways to Ensure Your Website is Optimally Indexed

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When it comes to your online presence, you’ve got to be seen in order to be heard. Reliable web hosting in Canada like the type we’ve been providing for customers for years here at 4GoodHosting will have you set up and open for business along the Information Superhighway, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be especially visible to prospective visitors moving along it. A site that is properly indexed is going to be optimally situated alongside the highway, and that’s what you want for yours – especially if it’s the primary resource for e-commerce interests.

 

So what we’ll look at here today is 5 very doable tips that can improve the indexing of your website, and what you’ll likely find is that you don’t need to the most knowledgeable of webmasters to do them. Plus, the good thing is that you don’t need anything more than the same web browser you’ve always used to be able to test the effectiveness of what you’ve done.

 

Let’s get right to them, because it’s fairly important to ensure that Google can index and read your website easily.

 

Be Welcoming for Bots

 

When Google’s bots crawl over your website, they’re looking to access information about what your website covers, how fresh the information is, and how authoritative and trustworthy you are for whatever subject it is you’re presenting yourself. This is a big part of what goes into Google presenting your website as a relevant result when web searchers search for information.

 

Before we get to our tips for improving website indexing, we should maybe go over the ‘crawling’ part of all of this for anyone who might not be as tech savvy as others here.

 

What does ‘Site Crawling’ Entail?

 

Creating the website is only just the first part of the equation. You then need Google to index it to determine how and when it will be displayed to searchers. ‘Bots’ or ‘Crawlers’ are the automated programs that browse the web for content to index and these programs add information to Google’s index. There’s then an algorithm that determines which relevant information makes the cut to be served up in response to individuals Google searches.

 

Making sure that your website is appropriately structured is the best way to help Google index your information correctly. Basic approaches that everyone uses are to utilize tags and other search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to make clear the topic and focus of your site.

 

5 Tips for Better Site Indexing

 

  1. Use HTML to Maximize Crawling

 

Plain and simple, the best coding language for building websites is HTML and that doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. Google has made advances with crawling Flash, XML, and Javascript, but it still has a long way to go. Other search engines other than these ones aren’t even on the radar.

 

So it’s best for you to focus on having your site created in HTML. By doing so you’ll be sure to be indexed correctly no matter what search engine your prospects are using to find information.

 

  1. Repair Broken and Redirected Pages

 

Any page that generates a 400-based or 500-based error code (like 404 or 503, the most common ones) not only impedes the ability of search engines to understand your site, but they also don’t make a very favourable impression on prospective visitors to you site – also known as the people you’d like to keep around to turn them from prospective visitors in t prospective customers.

 

Using a website audit tool is highly recommended here. One that will help you identify these types of errors and point out broken links and other problems. Taking care of your sitemap is also a good idea, making sure it’s up-to-date with changes to make it so that those bots easily understand where your internal links direct to.

 

  1. Maximize SEO

 

Once you’ve done what’s needed in regards to the technical aspects of the website, you now need to focus on content. Learn SEO strategies that will help drive traffic and show search engines what keywords are most relevant to what it is you have to offer. This helps ensure your website shows up when prospects are looking for information, products, and services that you offer.

 

  1. Maximize Tags

 

Tags that provide summaries of your content are an integral part of effective SEO. For example, the Title Tag informs search engines as to the title of a blog post, and the Meta Description gives a short summary – including the primary keyword always – on what the post is about.

 

These are the best practices for tags:

 

  • Title Tag: Between 50-60 characters with keywords near the beginning

 

  • Meta Description: In the vicinity of 160 characters and with keywords that will promote click-throughs into your site proper

 

  • Image Tags: Name image with keywords and provide image height and width
  1. Use Right Keywords

 

Keywords are not to be located just anywhere in your site content. Instead, they should be placed strategically throughout your blog content and web pages. Doing research to determine what relevant terms receive the most search traffic is very basic and it’s well worth the subscription cost to use an online keyword research too.

 

You should also ensure that you choose keywords that aren’t too competitive. If you go with ones that are competitive (and the competitiveness of a keyword will be shown to you with a paid keyword research tool) then ranking on page one like you’d hoped is probably not going to happen.

 

5 Ways for Redirecting a Website URL

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s been a while since we chose to go web development with the theme of our blog, and so that’s what we’re going to do today. While these are not topics that are going to have a wide-reaching appeal in as far as what’s interesting to most readers, it’s always valuable stuff and of course like any other Canadian web hosting provider a good many of our customers here at 4GoodHosting are going to be ones who are the architects and overseers of their websites.

 

One aspect of retaining visitors and increasing the likelihood of their interacting and participating / purchasing within your web presence is to have effective redirects. This is especially true when your site grows more complex. In addition to considering upgrading and looking at different web hosting plans, you will also have more pages, posts, and URLs to deal with.

 

There’s more likelihood of pages and posts that no longer exist, or you may have decided to simplify the URL structure of your content. Then there’s the scenario where you’ve purchased a domain name you want to redirect to your site, or another one where you want to switch domains altogether.

 

All create the need to redirect from one website to another. However, before we get into best practices for setting up website redirects, perhaps we should define what exactly a website redirect is.

 

What’s a Website Redirect?

 

A website redirect is simply when one website URL (or ‘address’ as many people know it) proceeds to point to another. Type in or clicks on the original URL and you’re automatically taken to the new page or website. Provided the website redirect is functional.

 

Now for the most formative developer knowing how to implement a redirect may be something you haven’t come to yet, but it’s probably something you’ll need to do eventually. Knowing how to implement a redirect will a valuable skill moving forward.

 

Implementing redirects on a URL or page-by-page basis is the norm, and there are a few different types of URL redirects you’ll want to be aware of. Here they are:

 

  1. 301 Redirect

 

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect, and is the most commonly used and powerful redirect. That’s because it passes on nearly all of the link goodness that exists with the current domain. This type of redirect takes place on both a browser and server level. In time, the search engines will index this redirect.

 

  1. 302 Redirect

 

A 302 redirect is applied when you want to temporarily redirect a URL, but you still intend to move back to the old URL. A common example is when a site is being redesigned, but you wish to direct users to a different domain while that redesign is still underway.

 

302 redirects aren’t used very often, and much of the time as 301 redirect is a better and more practical choice.

 

  1. Meta Refresh

 

Meta refreshes aren’t used very often, but they’ve been in use so long that nearly everyone will remember having seen one before. Most of us have landed on a page and been greeted with a message reading ‘The original URL has moved, you’re now being redirected. Click here if you’re not redirected in 5 seconds’. That’s a meta refresh.

 

Reasons You’d Put a Website Redirect in Place

 

Right then, after your familiarization with the types of redirects we now move to the reasons you’ll want to redirect a URL in the first place. Standard scenarios include:

 

  1. Redirect a Subdirectory to a Page on Your Site

 

It’s fairly common when creating a site to decide to create your blog page on a subdomain of it. What will happen then is instead of your blog URL being ‘mysite.com/blog’, it will be ‘blog.mysite.com’ instead. If that doesn’t work for you, you’ll then want to put a redirect in place.

 

The same goes for any other reason you’ve created a site or section of your site on the subdomain, and now you want to switch up the URL structure.

 

  1. Redirect Duplicate Content to the Original Page

 

It’s well understood that duplicate content across your site really messes up your rankings. Larger sites have higher chances of some pages having duplicate content. Having more than one version of the same page makes it so that Google has difficulty figuring out which page should rank.

 

Duplicate content issues can be avoided by redirecting the duplicate piece of content to the original. In addition to making visitors less confused, this will also improve your search engine rankings as well.

 

  1. Redirect Multiple Domains to a Single Domain

 

The last 10 plus years or so has seen a growing trend where people will buy up multiple domain names related to their main URL in order to protect the brand, or however else you want to define the interest.

 

A different suggestion with all of that is rather than just buying these domains and letting them sit have them as redirects to your main website. This works well for any of the many types of URLs purchased for this purpose; common misspellings of your existing domain name, other top level domain name extensions, etc. More often than not there’s enough benefit in redirecting them back to your main site to make it worth they effort.

 

  1. Redirect Your Old Domain to Your New One

 

Sometimes individuals build out a site on a domain that wasn’t their first choice, and then end up buying a much more desirable domain later on. Whatever the reason that happens, you’ll commonly need to put a redirect of your old domain in place, and having it redirecting to your new domain. Sure, that may mean an eventual migration of then entire site, but for the initial stage it’s not too much work to set up a redirect.

 

  1. Redirect an Old URL to a New URL

 

Other instances will have you needing to change the URL of existing pages and posts. That may be because you’re cleaning up your existing URL structure, or you moved some pages around and the old URL no longer makes sense.

 

In these scenarios you’ll want to implement a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. This is especially true if your older posts are already indexed in the search engines, or you have links out anywhere online.

 

The For-All Benefits of Google PageSpeed Insights

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We’ve talked about ‘bounce’ rates before here on more than a few different occasions, and for those of you who have any type of vested interest in the appeal of you website you won’t need to be convinced how too much ‘bouncing’ is hugely problematic. But for those who may not be familiar with the term, let’s share the definition exactly as it’s provided by Wikipedia.

 

Bounce rate is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site. Bounce rate is calculated by counting the number of single page visits and dividing that by the total visits. – source; Wikipedia

 

It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that an advanced bounce rate is more of a problem for sites that exist for e-commerce purposes, but it’s fair to say they’re going to have more to lose. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like any good Canadian web hosting provider in that we know explicitly well how much of a concern this will be for customers who have a good portion of the profitability of their business – whether entirely online, or only partially – relying on a website that retains customers fairly reliably.

 

There’s any number of reasons why a visitor may bounce, but obviously one of the primary ones is going to be choosing to move on when a page loads too slowly. Patience is in short supply all across the board these days, and it’s especially true for those utilizing the web to find what they want or need.

 

You’ve Got 2 Seconds – Or So

 

Here’s the issue; most website visitors expect a website to take no more than two seconds to load. Your site may offer the freshest content, the most creative design, and top-notch service, but if pages load like pouring molasses you are going to struggle to increase your monthly visitors. In the bigger picture, faster page load times equal a better user experience (UX) and with that comes much lower bounce rates.

 

Good Stuff; Google PageSpeed Insights

 

Google PageSpeed Insights is a service offered by the Internet Services Giant that will both help you identify what is slowing you down plus give you the keys to online success and the ability to have greater control of your website.

 

So what is it exactly?

 

Google PageSpeed Insights was designed to be a free web performance tool that can help you make your website faster and more mobile-friendly. It analyzes how your web pages run and can show you the necessary steps required to improve the page load time by following recommendations on best web practices.

 

PageSpeed Insights measures the performance for desktop and mobile devices and provides reports on the performance of your pages, along with an overall score. With that also comes their suggestions on what you can do to improve page loading speeds for your site. The PageSpeed Insights Score ranges from 0 to 100 points, where a higher score stands for better performance.

Why You Need It

 

We’ve already established that many would-be visitors will bail on a page if it takes too long to load. And yes, if you’re in e-commerce than some of them may well end up at your competitors’ websites. Headlines, the design of your website, or the right placement of a Call-To-Action (CTA) button are all important, but page load time is as critical as anything else for your conversion rate.

 

Using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is recommended, and after you perform the tests on your site you can then make any necessary corrections needed to increase your score. The goal is to keep your web page size down and optimize everything you — or the tool — can possibly think of.

 

Ways to Improve your Score

 

We’ll preface here by saying the following is not meant to substitute for actual using of PageSpeed Insights. You should make use of it, and considering it’s free why wouldn’t you?

 

However, here are known ways to increase the time a user stays on your page, and ones that will likely be confirmed when you get your results from PageSpeed insights. The score report will present the areas where it detects loading issues in yellow and red (depending on how bad you are scoring), which shows you where you should focus your efforts.

 

  1. Prioritize Visible, Above-the-Fold Content

 

Page load time isn’t determined only by how quickly your page loads, as perceived performance is also part of the equation. Perceived performance is the feeling a user has while it loads. If the code is structured incorrectly, it can create a lag for content on top of the page. This makes the page load time seem slower. Improving it by prioritizing the loading time of the areas that are likely most important to the user is the best approach. Concentrate on the content above-the-fold, and see to it that it loads first and relatively speedily.

 

  1. Avoid Landing Page Redirects

 

Websites not created for responsive use – meaning the page adjusts itself to the specific type of device – could result in a redirect. Having a user redirected to an optimized page means additional seconds for page load time, and that’s not a good thing. The best way to prevent this problem is by opting for responsive web design.

 

  1. Enable Compression

 

If you serve the full content of your page with uncompressed files, your page load time can go up by a lot. By enabling gzip, a file format used for file compression and decompression, the page can shrink in size and deliver much faster load times. Compressed files allow a web server to provide faster requests to your users.

 

  1. Improve Server Response Time

 

When a user opens a website, the web browser used presents a request to your server to view the available content. Server response time refers to the time your server needs to begin loading the page content, and that time can be extended too far by a number of factors like slow routing or database queries. The biggest factor is usually the hosting platform you have chosen. There are some options out there, like the Secure Web Accelerator with DDoS protection from 101domain, that offers you excellent server response time with increased uptime, and protection from malicious cyberattacks.

 

  1. Optimize Images

 

Graphic elements are great and add to the visual appeal of a site in a big way. No one’s going to suggest you shouldn’t make good use of them, but pictures, logos, or icons can negatively affect page speeds. So much so in fact that they can be responsible for up to 2/3 of your page’s total weight.

 

There are many free tools that you can use to resize images and optimize them so that they’re easier and quicker to load.

 

  1. Leverage Browser Caching

 

There’s going to be time required for a web browser to display various items to load the page completely, but what you need to do is make it so that the amount of time required is as little as possible. Caching allows a browser to remember what loaded previously, which will mean faster page load times. The more elements your browser can cache, the fewer it has to load when a user makes a request. It’s well known that Google recommends a minimum of one week of caching.

 

These are just a few of the basic guidelines for increasing page load speeds as based on what most people will see as recommendations following using Google PageSpeed Insights. Using this tool is a can-do way to improve your page speed and both attract and retain potential customers at your website. Check it out and see for yourself, and again – it’s free to use.