eCommerce Being Transformed by Web Data

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Looking to analytics to determine what are the best courses of action is nothing new, and it’s been a part of making business decisions since long before the business world shifted to digital. I takes a trained and educated eye to make good sense of numbers and the like when doing that, but the parameters of everything were different when all of them were tracked manually and often jotted down on paper. As in nearly always the case with interests of any sort, computing technology has been very beneficial in making business analytics better.

It’s not something business managers will be fully intuitive with right off the hop, and given how increasingly competitive the space is becoming for nearly any industry or commercial venture online it is important to at least try to be ahead of curves. Other businesses will be leaning on web analytics too, and so it is important to do as well as possible with turning your data into decision making. This is why some businesses will hire a 3rd-party advisor in this regard, and many times it is a worthwhile investment.

Our business here at 4GoodHosting takes value from web data too of course, and that will be true for any good Canadian web hosting provider. The reason this topic becomes of even greater interest and worthy of an entry here is that many of our customers are also operating a website for commercial purposes, and when anything related to profitability is involved you’re going to want to get it right. So let’s look at how eCommerce is being transformed by web data.

Big for Pricing Strategies

Increasingly relying on insights drawn from web data to guide their pricing strategies is increasingly common for online businesses, plus for finding the best time for product and service launches. Estimates are that upwards of 80% of eCommerce businesses have bumped up their web data collection and management budgets over the past year, and that’s an immediate reflection of how this type of web data is really increasing in value.

What web date provides for eCommerce businesses is enhanced visibility over the competitive online market landscape. It creates an informational set for insight on anything from current sales offers to product pricing to positions to consumer reviews and more. There’s nearly no limit to the applications for this vital resource, and here’s a brief bit about each reason online retailers typically collect public web data:

Price comparison

Web data can let retailers create benchmarks against the competition by taking identical products / services and comparing and monitoring the prices for them directly competing with their own site. This provides good insight into how much competitors are charging, are there any sales or special offers coming up, are shipping costs a factor, and what patterns exist with how prices are raised or lowered.

Positioning and inventory

Web data also provides information on how online retailers may be able to best position their products for public consumption. Information can be utilized by online retailers to identify specific keywords or messaging that could promote their products being higher in SERPS, and of course that is absolutely huge in the greater success and viability of your business online. It can even be taken a step further by tracking competitors’ online stock and using web data to discover new merchandising and product opportunities. This can be very beneficial for multinational businesses looking to launch in a new market.

Search engine strategy

Most eCommerce businesses collect SERP web data on an ongoing basis, with a primary focus on both the paid and organic search results of different keywords and queries that are entered into those search engines. The data is then applied by digital marketers to strategize around brand sentiment, online reputation management as well as better keyword rankings so that visibility in search engines is improved.

SERP web data enables businesses to gain advantages over their competition on the search engine results page, although if there’s one point here you likely already knew this is probably it.

Social sentiment

Millions of consumer interactions take place on marketplaces, social media, and different forums each day. eCommerce businesses want to better tap into this information, and collecting public web data from social media is a big part of that. It helps social media marketing experts to spot changes in consumer behavior, as well as staying ahead of the popularity of products and campaigns.

Web Data Collection Strategies

The demands of data collection internally are too much for online retailers sometimes, and many are looking to make acquisitions or find external partners to enhance their web data collection efforts. There are two options here for most of them; they can collect data at scale themselves, or they can utilize web scraping applications or technologies to assist them. Either choice is usually better than relying on a manual approach.

Cleaning, structuring, and analyzing the data is essential in all of this, and it can time-consuming and eat up a lot of resources. But generating these up-to-the-minute insights is crucial in helping eCommerce businesses make the smart decisions they want to be making.

Pre-made data sets can be a good choice here, and these large sets of data focus on a single subject collected from either single or various sources. They are structured into readable tables or formats to provide valuable insights, although they may be more approximated than individually built ones. But it is a more affordable approach for businesses that are working with a budget when it comes to web analytics. The disadvantage is that these are only updated periodically, so they don’t offer the minute-by-minute accuracy of mass-scale web data collection.

Multi Cloud Security Issues Problematic for Businesses

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Progress isn’t going to be stopped, and while the ubiquitous shift to cloud computing makes so much sense given the way it removes the need for physical storage of data it still comes with challenges. They need to be met, as we’re not going to go back to having so much data stored physically and all the resources and energy required for doing that on planet with 8 billion people. So it is what is with regard to the challenges of having Multi Cloud platforms as the norm, and all that is left is to find ways to make it work.

Security is at the forefront of all of that, and especially considering the ongoing rise in cyberattacks with both frequency and complexity. Business have the most to lose here of course, and the way it works that the larger the business the more sensitive data there is at risk if their cloud security isn’t what it needs to be. Providers aren’t resting on their laurels there, and there is ongoing progress with cloud security that fortunately is keeping pace with the threats these days for the most part.

This is a topic of continued interest for us here at 4GoodHosting in the same way it would be for any reliable Canadian web hosting provider, and naturally because many of the sites we host are for people who have commercial interests in them. The reality of the current situation with MultiCloud security issues is that many businesses feel they are ‘sitting ducks’ of sorts and that they are far too much at risk of suffering a crippling cyber attack at this time.

Increased Risk

Multi-cloud setups are increasingly integral organizations of all shapes and sizes, but more and more of them are becoming difficult to secure properly. This exposes them to breaches that leak large amounts of sensitive data to malicious third parties. There was a survey recently where near 300 senior executives DevOps leaders, and seniors in other security roles had 70% of them reporting not enough confidence in their ability to properly secure both on-prem and multi-cloud environments.

This comes at the same time that cyberattacks are on the rise, with more than 2/3rd of those respondents and their companies having either experience their own data breach or some type of similar data exposure. Ones occurring because of multi-cloud security configuration issues and apparently enterprise cyberattacks are occurring quite often to the same companies.

Around half of these same respondents stated the company had regularly experienced bot attacks. 20% of the were occurring on a weekly basis, and application attacks had 30% occurring the same way. The overall belief is that the tools they currently have to work with are inadequate when it comes to blocking, preventing, or mitigating cyberattacks in a multi-cloud environment.

Near Half

Along with this nearly half of businesses (45%) reported their experience of a cloud-based data breach or failed a security audit in the last year. Around a quarter of them experienced more malware attacks and ransomware attack, and slightly less that had some type of challenging experience with phishing and whaling attacks. The problem is even more compounded by the fact that businesses continue to rely on cloud infrastructure to facilitate the hybrid work environments that began with the Covid-19 pandemic. Better cybersecurity, encryption, and key management solutions are needed and it highlights how and why business tech stacks should survive cost cuts and no matter what the current economic outlook is at the time.

Boosting WordPress Speed and Performance

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That’s not something that is exclusive to these types of websites, but it can be a little more perplexing when the site is simple and doesn’t have a lot of dynamic elements that would be asking for a lot of bandwidth of any other sort of technical explanation for its being slow. We won’t get into the workings of that, but what we will do with this blog entry is share what you can do to boost WordPress speed and performance without having to exert yourself too much.

All these years later and WordPress continues to be easiest way for any not so web savvy individual to put together a basic website. For many of us it was the means for our introduction to web publishing of any sort, and the value that comes with the simplicity and practicality of it has never diminished. Next year will be WordPress’ 20th birthday, and way back in 2003 it was much more bareboned in the way it didn’t have all the many plugins that there are today. For a website that is more informational and content-based with text, WordPress continues to be the way to go.

Any type of expansion of functionality with software of this type tends to be organic given its age, but fortunately with WordPress there continues to a sufficient number of enthusiasts who don’t mind putting a little bit of effort into that. This is something that those of us at 4GoodHosting will take an interest in, and that’s because there’s still many of the websites that we host for customers that are WordPress-hosted sites. That’s an indication of how it continues to be a popular option, but one thing that uses may find is that the speed and performance of the site starts to lag over time.

Why Speed Matters

Apparently from 2000 to 2016 the average human attention span has gone down from 12 to 7 seconds. The relevance of this to anyone who’s behind a website is that you have very little time to show users your content and convince them to stay on your website. Nowadays so many of them will leave a website even before it loads if it is slow. A study not long ago showed a 1 second delay in page load time can lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decline in customer satisfaction.

Plus Google and other search engines have already begun penalizing slower websites by diminishing their relevance in search results, and means less traffic for slow websites and including WordPress-hosted websites.

So that leads to the question – how do you check WordPress website speed? Keep this in mind first when evaluating speed based on your own experience. You likely visit your own website often, and modern browsers like Chrome store your website in the cache and automatically retrieve it as soon as you start typing an address. This makes your website load almost instantly.

But for other users who are new to it or have only visited infrequently, it’s a different story. They don’t have the cached experience with it and it may well load much slower for them. Geographical location may be a factor in it too.

Aim for Under 2

A good page load time is under 2 seconds, but the faster you can make it, the better. This leads to needing to know what slows down a WordPress website. Here are the primary causes:

  • Web hosting – improper server configuration can hurt website speed
  • WordPress Configuration – a site that is not serving cached pages will overload the server
  • Page Size – images that aren’t optimized for web are detrimental
  • Bad Plugins – poorly coded plugins can slow down a website
  • External scripts – ads, font loaders, and others can negatively impact website performance

Speed It Up

The first thing we’ll say is that good WordPress hosting is key here, and that in some instances shared hosting doesn’t cut it for a WordPress site. A managed WordPress hosting service may be a much better choice as it gives you the most optimized server configurations to run WordPress. We have this for you here at 4GoodHosting, and if there’s anything more you’d like to know then we encourage you to contact us.

Let’s get right to what you can do to increase the speed and performance of your WordPress site:

  1. Install a WordPress Caching Plugin

Caching can make your WordPress site anywhere from 2 to 5 times more speedy for visitors

  • Optimize Images for Speed

There are studies that have shown that using colored visuals makes people 80% more likely to read your content. It’s a good idea to use photo editing software to optimize your images for the web before uploading them onto your website.

  • Keep Your WordPress Site Updated

WordPress is updated frequently because it’s a well-maintained open source project. Each update will not only offer new features but it will also fix security issues and bugs. Your WordPress theme and plugins may have regular updates, too.

  • Optimize Background Processes

Background processes in WordPress are scheduled tasks. They run in the background of your WordPress site. Examples of ones you can optimize are WordPress Backup plugin tasks, WordPress cron jobs to publish scheduled posts, WordPress cron jobs to check for updates, and Tasks like cron jobs for scheduled posts and updates have minimal impact on website performance.

Adjusting crawl rate is important too

  • Use Excerpts on Homepage and Archives

Your homepage, categories, tags, and other archive pages will all load slower because WordPress displays the full content of each article on your homepage and archives. Speed up your loading times for archive pages by setting your site to display excerpts instead of the full content.

  • Split Comments into Pages

Paginating comments is a good idea because loading a lot of comments can impact your site’s speed. You can fix that in your WordPress backend by simply going to Settings » Discussion and check the box next to the ‘Break comments into pages’ option.

  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Using a content delivery network can help to speed up loading times for all of your visitors, and that’s done by having static files converted to dynamic files that are presented to visitors when they enter the website.

A CND will also increase the speed capacity of the web hosting server will itself by doing a lot of the work. Pair this with WordPress themes optimized for speed and you’re likely to see immediate improvements.

Digital Hoarding? It’s a Thing Now

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Most of us are plenty agreeable with letting things go when it’s time to let them go, unless of course it has some sentimental value like something your grandfather gave you or the very first one you had of whatever it is. But usually when we talk about hoarding, we’re talking about tangible objects, meaning things that you can hold in your hands or at the very least physically touch. It’s not uncommon for the scope of things to expand, and in this case, technology has made it so that with hoarding it appears you can hoard inanimate objects too.

We wouldn’t be talking about this here if it didn’t have some connection to the digital world and data storage, and but it seems that digital hoarding is now a thing. The old stereotype of a hoarder also having far too many cats in a house with little if any space to move around has to go now, as these new types of hoarders are likely going to be living lives just as normal as the rest of us. This does have everything to do with how the demand for data storage has been met with more it, but there are some that want to be retaining more than they’d need.

This is a topic that we can relate to here at 4GoodHosting, and in much the same way that any good Canadian web hosting provider would give the fact that data storage is front and center for all of us. It certainly should be something to be used judiciously, but that’s just not the case as it with so many things in life where one is able to have a ‘possession’ – animate or inanimate in this case.

What’s to be done? That’s what we’ll look at with our blog entry here this week as we go over what is likely an entirely new term for all of you – digital hoarding.

As data storage has become more accessible than ever, the amount of digital “stuff” we all have stashed away is on the rise, too—for many of us, it’s becoming more unwieldy by the day.

More Bytes

This is definitely a new phenomenon that reflects the times we’re living in, and digital hoarding is defined as the need to acquire and hold onto digital content while having no intended purpose for it. It is then related to the way we interact with digital content through our smartphones, social media and messaging apps and the behavior is exacerbated by it.

Like so many other aspects of our lives these days, social media platforms are a very negative influence in this area too. They are at the forefront of what encourages hoarders to behave this way, as some people become overly attached to the digital content being shared with others, and look no further than photos with lots of shares or likes. The sheer volume of content creation is immense, and is there any way that it can be managed responsibly?

It’s creating a brand-new type of clutter that’s not as easily cleaned or tidied up, and for obvious reasons. Traditional hoarding is said to be a persistent difficulty in discarding one’s possessions, and it’s a legit mental health disorder. The thought of getting rid of the ‘stuff’ causes them mental distress, and as such they strongly resist doing it.

Making It Digital

Digital hoarding happens when the person constantly acquires digital content, isn’t inclined at all to discard it, and accumulates digital content for the primary reason of similarly acquiring it. Newfound experts on this claim that this tendency can spiral out of control in the same way it can be for physical-item hoarders and they say there are a number of foremost reasons for this.

It seems individuals are less likely to notice space limitations in the digital world. The boundaries of a physical space may be clear, but they’re much less clearly defined in the digital space. Plus, hoarding of physical objects happens in fixed boundaries, but digital spaces can expand quite easily and without much resistance if any. Additional digital storage can be obtained with minimum effort at very little or zero cost.

The final factor is how hoarding physical items requires a person to put literal effort into it, and starting with purchasing them or acquiring them by other means. Digital content is different because it is usually either self-created, free, or made available through a subscription. Another important consideration is that digital content can be multiplied very easily, and how that works will need no explanation for most of you.

Inadvertent Hoarder

The combination of being in various formats of digital content plus having an endless capacity to expand storage pairs with people having an increasing emotional attachment to the content. If there is also a lack of a sophisticated retrieval system it may make them apprehensive about deleting this digital content, and then what tends to happen is the person inadvertently starts to become a hoarder.

From there they may be meeting 3 criteria: constant acquiring of digital contents, difficulty discarding it, and having a propensity for digital content clutter.

Constant acquisition – the ongoing gathering of digital content, while paying no attention to its value, purpose, or utility. The electronic medium of it means that people don’t pay much attention to the ramifications of behaving this way. This can include emails, images, videos, and more. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for people to build up more than 40 terabytes (TB) of digital content over time. Content uploaded to social media counts too and is a major factor

Difficulty discarding – most people are very lax about deleting emails and similar moves. Some compulsive digital hoarders will feel there is more value to the contents they have, and they really struggle to discard them.

Clutter propensity – abundant digital contents, often unrelated, are stored in a disordered fashion. Feelings of being disorganized and cluttered in digital spaces don’t have much attention paid to them.

What Can Be Done?

Researchers are finding that digital hoarding can lead to higher levels of anxiety. There has been other research that shows that females are more prone to this than males, and that likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise either. The next consideration is that the number of data storage devices someone owns makes the impact of digital hoarding worse.

Here are tips if you feel you’re becoming a digital hoarder:

  • Try a ‘spring cleaning’ every year, and put some real effort into cleaning up your digital footprint
  • Limit unnecessary digital content
  • Arrange simple mechanisms to organize your files, emails, pictures, and videos
  • Determine how important your many social networks are to you, and try to be particularly objective about it

Google Paying Big Bucks to Retain Search Engine Dominance

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You might think that it’s a simple matter of popularity with how Google and its web browser are usually the ones of choice for most people. That’s true, but it turns out the popularity and predominance of Chrome and the like isn’t entirely organic. There’s money influencing how most people regard Google as their de facto choice for a web browser, and it’s interesting to learn that these web technology giants are buying their way to the level of renown that they have. For anyone that’s not familiar, it was earlier this year that there started to be some talk about Google losing some of its popularity with people.

New web browsers will continue to arrive, and that will always eat into the popularity of existing ones, even if only for a short period of time. But people do stick with Chrome by and large, and having a look over at least some of what’s contributing to this is what we’ll discuss with our entry here this week. It’s all about the number one spot for search engine use in the USA, and the numbers that Google and others will pay to have a sway of influence over technology developers. They’re not small values, and you’ll soon see what we mean about that.

This is a topic that is going to be of interest to any Canadian web hosting provider like us here at 4GoodHosting, or any other. That’s because it’s web browsers and search engines that allow people to visit the websites we host for customers, and of course much of the time there are business interests in those sites and the means by which people visit can be a valuable metric.

Buying the Spot?

All of Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics and other telecom giants receive billions of dollars from Alphabet Inc. (Google) to allow it to maintain its spot as the world’s No. 1 search engine, and while they didn’t specify exactly how much it is costing them to stay as the default search engine on most browsers and all US mobile phones, but apparently it is an enormous number. The belief is that Google is buying default exclusivity because there is extreme value in having that for them.

Google’s contracts are also forming the basis of a US Department of Justice’s landmark antitrust lawsuit, and the allegation being that Alphabet Inc. has attempted to maintain its online search monopoly but in violation of antitrust laws while doing so. This Google antitrust suit has been slow to get going with the fact it got its start during the Trump administration, but it does signify the first major effort to control the power of tech giants, and this is occurring at the same time as the world becomes increasingly aware of how major tech platforms can wreak on the economy and children’s health.

The countering belief is that the DOJ misunderstand the market and focus too much on smaller search engine rivals like Bing, Firefox, and others. Keep in mind as well that Google faces competition from dozens of other companies, and there is no shortage of additional sites where consumers are able to search for information. Google does face competition that is outside of the realm of search engines / web browsers themselves.

Fresh Data Needed

Obtaining fresh data on user search queries is integral to any search engine’s success, and as we know Google has Chrome – the most popular browser – and Android – the second most popular operating system. Google’s search engine and its popularity have much to do with contracts that Alphabet Inc. have with Apple, smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Motorola as well as 3 major US telecom carriers in AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Between all of this the result is that Google’s search engine is the default install on nearly all new phones and these contracts make Google the gateway with which most people find websites on the internet. This is what allows Google to prevent rivals from gaining anything of a similar foothold with regards to market control. It results in Google’s dominance being difficult to challenge.

The company has had working contracts with Apple and browsers like Mozilla for nearly 20 years now, with the revenue-sharing deals that Google offers to browsers being essential to companies like Mozilla Corp as they offer their products to users for free. Partnering with Google has a lot of inherent value for them, even as they likely have some level of resentment towards the near monopoly the tech Giant is buying for themselves.