Immersion Cooling: The Future for Data Centers

The continuing boom in digital technologies – and in particular for mobile video streaming and online gaming – now has mobile devices making up nearly 60 percent of the entirety of data traffic. Come 2020 that’s expected to rise to 80 percent and it’s an indication of how totally wired we’ll all look to be in the not so distant future.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re in a spot like any other Canadian web hosting provider where we see the incredible benefits this type of mobile connectivity is going to provide for us, but we’re also obviously aware of the operation challenges that these data demands are going to put on data centers across Canada.

Every online activity involves massive amounts of data that’s stored in different data centers, and while there’s many different sizes of them it is the large data centers that may overheat on account of the billions of gigabytes of data being created and used all around the world. Data centers and their IT equipment – servers, networking and storage equipment – consume mammoth amounts of energy to run AND work to cool the heat which emanates from the IT equipment going at or near capacity much of the time.

In fact, cooling is far and away the biggest consumer of electrical power in nearly all data center, and sometimes they may take up to 40 or 50 percent of all the power being used in certain ones.

Here’s something else to consider; this round-the-clock global data center energy consumption eats up roughly 3% of all globally generated power, and makes up 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. That puts the ICT industry at par with the airline industry in as far as those emissions, but it’s the data centers that are said to have the fastest growing carbon footprint among the entire ICT sector – to the tune of almost 1/4 of global carbon dioxide emissions from ICT.

There have been energy efficiency improvements, but it’s predicted that data center energy use will grow by 4% between 2014 and 2020.

Technological Advances in Cooling

The biggest change from recent years is that demand for data centers among cloud service providers, enterprises, government agencies, colocation providers and telecommunication organizations has increased in a big way along with the increased implementation of advanced technologies such as cloud-based services for their operational business needs.

Factor in as well the rapid growth of new technological trends like big data analytics, A.I. and machine learning, cryptocurrencies and the IoT. Bitcoin mining also burns huge amount of electricity.

All these new services and enhanced products is also pumping up demand for powerful computing hardware. This creates space needs and design implications for high-density racks that can be both powered and cooled.

P.U.E. stands for Power Usage Effectiveness, and all of these developments make it difficult to have reasonable PUE and be a ‘Green’ data center. The ideal PUE is 1.0, and that indicates maximum attainable efficiency along with no overhead energy.

Which leads us to cooling.

Air cooling struggles to effectively lower the operating temperatures of data center hardware these days, but liquid immersion cooling is much more effective. Liquid immersion cooled data centers are more compact, modular, green and highly efficient, saving up to 99% of electricity compared to traditional data center cooling themselves with chillers, heat pumps and HVAC.

Server immersion cooling makes it possible to significantly reduce their data center energy load, and that’s independent of how their PUE is doing. Hardware or servers are kept submerged in what is typically an oil-based liquid that is dielectric and thermally conductive.

This in turn allows data centers to employ evaporative or adiabatic cooling towers instead of chiller-based air cooling.

Submer Technologies is one new player on the scene that has a quality oil-based data center product, using a coolant fluid which is 100% biodegradable dielectric fluid and ensures an impressive 1.03 PUE plus a 45% savings on traditional electricity bill and hyper scaler efficiency. It’s great for web hosts, cloud providers, edge computing, cryptocurrency mining, blockchain and research data centers.

Big Data needs to stay cool too, and it would seem air is soon to be relieved of its duties there in most data centers around the world.

Can Your Web Hosting Provider Be Bringing Down Your SEO?

When you set out to build a website and – in the bigger picture of things – an online identity you are probably going to focus most on layout, graphics, content, SEO, marketing, and advertising. These are all vital components of a good website, but it turns out that where you choose to host your website also factors in as well.

Here at 4GoodHosting, so much has gone into making us a top Canadian web hosting provider, but without a doubt seeing to it that our clients and their websites are optimally located and enabled has always been a priority. We definitely understand that before you choose your website’s design or content, you need to choose a good web host who’s got the infrastructure in place to protect your rankings.

One of the factors Google and other search engines look for when indexing web pages is how fast they load. Now while it’s true that a good Canadian web host won’t necessarily get your website listed on Google’s first page, it is true that a lesser host will ruin your credit with Google and other search engines. Between a provider’s server type, location, speed, and uptime there can be an affect on your website’s relevance with search engines. It’s definitely something to consider.

Here are five web host traits that search engines that Google will see unfavourably for search engine rankings.

  1. Slow Speeds

This one’s probably fairly obvious. A website that is clocked to load slowly will be disadvantaged. Search engines aren’t going to rank your website high in the search results when it’s too slow, and that’s in the interest of keeping visitors on a page. Most site visitors will click off a website if the page is too slow to load. Between 7 and 10 milliseconds is considered to be the optimal speed, but anything over 100 milliseconds isn’t good. Your homepage should load in under 1 second, and there are many ways to test this. Google ‘free website speed checker’ and you should be able to find them easily.

  1. Excess Downtime

Even the fastest loading website is going to be disadvantageous if it’s down too often. When a user clicks on a link to your website, it should be readily available. Make sure you have uptime that is at 99.9% as a minimum. This is very much directly related to the quality of your web host’s servers and networks, and nearly all of them are able to guarantee 99.99% uptime. The closer to 100% the uptime is, the more time your website spends live.

  1. Server Locations

Occasionally the cause of a slow loading website is that the server is far away from you. If the website’s server is in Asia, and you’re in North America, there’s often delays and especially so at certain times of the day. It’s advisable to choose website hosting servers that are close to where your visitors are located, whether they’re your neighbours or far overseas. Doing this will inherently help your boost your search engine rankings and SEO.

  1. Shared Hostin

Shared hosting is an affordable way to get your website online fast, but it’s typically only suited for very small basic websites. Ones with added functionality and dynamic media are often starved for bandwidth on shared hosting. VPS web hosting is an affordable alternative to give your website all the breathing room it needs.

  1. Connection Errors

Now here’s the one that you just can’t tolerate. Most web hosting providers are air tight in this regard, but there’s a few who aren’t and it’s important that you do your homework. Read customer reviews and dig for reviews on the company as a whole.

Common messages are ‘internal server error’ and ‘database connection failure.’ If your website’s getting more traffic (which IS a good thing) and this is occurring, then like above it’s time to get a VPS hosting account OR move to a provider who has what you need with shared web hosting.

Now not to toot our horn a little too much, but we’ve had a AAA rating with Better Business Bureau all across Canada and we are one of the providers who CAN guarantee 99.9% uptime and we’ve got exceptional customer service and support to go along with it.

7 Key Factors Behind Data Centre Outsourcing

Data center outsourcing has really cemented itself all over the planet as a viable alternative to the demands of building and managing an in-house data center facility. Recent research results bear this out quite clearly. A study undertaken by a reputable firm last month predicts that the global market for colocation data center services should grow from $30.9 billion in 2016 to approximately $54.8 billion by 2020. Obviously there are factors driving organizations to outsource their data centers to professional colocation partners, but what are those factors exactly?

Here at 4GoodHosting, we understand that part of being a Canadian web hosting provider at the forefront of the industry means being receptive and adaptive to trends in web hosting. This is certainly one of them, and it thus hasn’t gone unnoticed here. We think it’s one that may be helpful for those with big data accommodation needs of their own and a need to understand where they’ll get the most bang for their buck.

Getting back to that study, the Americas as a segment is expected to grow from nearly $16.8 billion in 2016 to $26.4 billion by 2020, with the period of 2016 to 2020 seeing in the vicinity of a 12% cumulative annual growth rate. Asia-Pacific is expected to grow from $5.4 billion in 2016 to $13.2 billion by 2020, at a much higher CAGR of 25.0% for the same time period (2016-2020).

Not surprisingly, cost has always been a big factor behind data center outsourcing and it will remain a key element driving the outsourcing of data centers to colocation providers. We also have the fact that customers are concentrating more and more on the value of the colocation services being provided, as well as the appeal of being able to reduce certain risks.

Here are the five top reasons pushing ever greater numbers of customers to outsource their data center operations these days:

  1. Cost

CIOs for some time now have been under constant pressure to reduce all costs associated with IT operations, and – again not surprisingly – running an in-house data center is decidedly expensive. There’s not getting around it. The level of investment required to deploy and maintain modern, energy-efficient data center infrastructure is substantial, and therefore colocating IT infrastructure in a professionally managed data center facilities is an attractive cost-saving alternative.

  1. Cloud Connectivity

Cloud services have grown massively in popularity over recent years. Public cloud providers like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud and Alibaba Cloud continue to be very much in demand, and that’s in large part because the public cloud offers real flexibility and is a fantastic resource for enterprises and others with dynamic IT operations.

Tempering expectations somewhat, it’s quite clear that the majority of users will still need a combination of in-house IT and (public) cloud providers. Connectivity towards those cloud providers is going to be a primary priority for enterprise-grade business operations. Further, outsourcing in-house data center infrastructure to the right colocation data center also works out to mean better access to high speeds and reliable connectivity. The cloud-enabled connectivity providers located in colocation data centers tend to offer high levels of performance, reliability and scalability, all at a more attractive price point in comparison to in-house data center operations.

  1. Compliance

Those same CIOs also need to comply with a host of government and market regulations these days, including PCI-DSS, ISAE, and others. Having sufficiently knowledgeable staff with the needed skills and compliance expertise can be a real challenge, but a good number of the colocation data center providers operating on a worldwide level have been 3rd party audited and / or regulatory certified to confirm their ability to comply.

  1. Reducing Risks

Been told it is difficult to access your in-house data center? Not uncommon at all. Colocation data center providers are often able to offer advanced security layers that match the latest security and compliance requirements. Notable among these security measures are biometric scanning, video surveillance, alarm systems, mantraps, and personnel onsite 24/7. In short, organizations are more thoroughly equipped to secure their company data. Which, more often than not, is their most valuable asset.

  1. Capacity/Flexibility

With an in-house data center, companies may fail to be able to respond to changing capacity requirements, and this might restrict or even hamper organizational goals. Outsourcing data center operations to a colocation provider who has all the ample floor space to grow and be flexible in their contracts lets you manage your data center operations dynamically and the easily scale your operations up and down as dictated.

  1. Expertise Shortage

Running a modern, energy-efficient data center with low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) figures is more of a challenge all the time. A little more than a decade ago one could operate a data center without much in the way of to-do or must have. Get yourself a hall, some racks, and power and compressor cooling and you were pretty much good to go. Nowadays, data center operators are all pioneering to get the lowest and most energy-efficient PUE-levels, as the cost of current has become a forefront consideration for data center operations. Modular deployments to keep things flexible and cloud-enabled are more important now too.

Long story short – companies outsourcing their data center services may benefit from having access to more sophisticated data center infrastructure than their budgets would allow otherwise. Lastly, it’s natural that CIOs like to free up IT staff and lower their in-house data center costs by outsourcing core data center operations to external data centers as well as cloud providers.

  1. Uptime Guarantee

Data centre outages can be painfully costly. Professional data center providers are capable of operating state-of-the-art facilities that sport sophisticated backup systems to keep things running, even if an outage occurs. Most data center providers will also be able to extend Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that guarantee high levels of availability.

Not having to worry about the technical aspects of data center and IT infrastructure uptime, along with being able to reassured of the low risk of downtime promotes more focusing on accomplishing corporate goals, applications and supporting the business.

Cost reduction may be the big initiator, but there’s much more to this trend. Compliance, improved resilience/uptime, cloud connectivity, scalabilty and flexibility, expertise shortage, and reducing risks are promoting the growth of colocation data centres too. Keeping data center operations in-house may continue to work for some, but if you’re even just starting to see that your needs have changed then it makes sense to take the bull by the horns and get it done sooner rather than later.

Donuts, Anyone?

Most of us that long understood that while donuts are decidedly tasty, they’re equally as surely detrimental to anyone who could stand to lose a little around the middle. But it would seem that our understanding of donuts now needs the be extended beyond baked goods. donut domains are actually one of the hottest new developments in the domain name industry, and they don’t fall into any sort of a ‘moment on your lips, lifetime on your hips’ category for tasty but terrible sweets.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re not unlike any other leading Canadian web hosting provider in that we’re very much aware of donut domains. The average person, however, probably isn’t aware of them even though they’ve likely seen them often before as they’ve explored the web. We’re a long way from the days when .com was the only domain extension to be had, and it seems there’s another addition to the selection.

Today we’ll look at premium Donuts domains. What are they, Why are they used, and how do you get one – without even the slightest reference to dietary concerns.

Let’s get at it.

Donuts Domains Defined

Go back to the beginning of the internet and websites have since either been part of a top-level domain or TLD. The TLD is the last part of the website’s address, and of course the most well known and popular TLD has been .com. The majority of the biggest websites on the planet use this TLD, and our home site here is no exception. Specific country codes are the other popular TLDs, like .co.uk, .co.za in South Africa and .ng in Nigeria. WE also have other popular and frequently seen TLDs like .org, .net, and .edu.

Donuts domains have arrived on the scene and being ‘suitably disruptive’ to the status quo. Donuts domains have brought new TLDs to market, and they’re extremely distinctive. Below are some examples of TLDs you can use through a Donuts domain:

  • .today
  • .agency
  • .life
  • .games
  • .solutions

Going Bigger: Premium Donuts Domains

Not surprisingly, all domain names are NOT created equally. Domain names that fit together especially well with their TLD are Premium Donut Domains, and they are very much in demand. Because they’re so sought after, they also have more value. They’re more expensive, and less frequently available.

The company behind Donuts domains – Donuts of Belleville, WA – turned to industry veterans to decide what domain names would have more value, and therefore be designated as premium ones. Some were memorable words, others were more simply 1, 2, or 3 character domains, others still were designated as such for really no obvious reason.

Here are some examples of premium Donuts domains:

  • solutions
  • services
  • agency

Why go with a Premium Donuts Domains?

The primary advantage of premium Donuts domains as compared to standard web addresses is distinctiveness. Choose the right premium Donuts domain and your web presence will be much more memorable, shareable and noticeable.

Business owners that can identify a Donuts domain TLD that’s relevant to their industry should consider matching the prefix and the TLD to make one that’s truly relevant and powerful in its scope. For example, running an animation studio with the web address animation.games? It’s easy to see the value that would have.

However, change is always slow to become thorough. The domain industry still places inordinate value on the .com TLD, but with new domains being released all the time by Donuts it’s likely that wholesale change is inevitable and likely soon on its way. As of now premium Donuts domains are relatively easy to obtain and may well be underpriced compared to their future value. There are going to be individuals who will make a profit selling them later on.

It certainly won’t hurt to give some thought to investing in premium Donuts domains while other people are thinking about .coms.

Getting Yourself a Premium Donuts Domain

Is possible in one of 3 ways. The right one for you will be determined by a) how badly you want one, b) your budget and c), its availability.

The most effective way to claim them is when they’re first rolled out, although this is typically the priciest way to acquire one. There is the option of registering with Donuts to be notified about new releases, and get yourself in the priority queue for their release.

The name for this first phase of release is Sunrise, and it’s when trademark holders can register their domain names before they’re made available to the public. This aim here is to prevent cybersquatting, and that’s definitely commendable.

Donuts sets the price relatively high at this stage, but for many it’s worth it to secure a trademarked domain name.

‘Landrush’ is the next phase, also known as Early Access. That’s where people who have registered with Donuts can then attempt to the buy the domains they are after. The prices are at their highest on day 1 of the release, and then they drop every day that the domain isn’t sold. Yep, it’s pretty much a reverse auction pricing strategy.

This is the best chance for anyone to get the domain they want. The price will be higher at the start, but how badly do you want it and how important is it to you that it becomes yours?

Eventually each Donuts domains will be made available for purchase to everybody, and the prices are lower. If you’re interested, search the Donuts.domains site to peruse what is available and what is either not in existence (yet) or already owned. Then as a final step you can choose a domain purchase from which you’d like to buy them.

You’ll never see donuts the same way again, and that’s perfectly alright.

Largest Ever DDoS Attack Highlights Cybersecurity Needs for 2018

2018 isn’t even at the quarter pole and the predicted trend of increase cyber attacks for they year is coming to actualization early on. The week past GitHub was the victim of the largest ever DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack ever recorded, which topped out at 1.3 terabits – or 126.9 million packets per second. It preceded the pervious record break which came just a week before when customers of a US-based service provider received a 1.7 Tbps attack. This is the new reality of the cyber world, unfortunately.

Us here at 4GoodHosting are as keenly aware of what this may forecast for the future as any Canadian web hosting provider would be, and – to put it plainly and right to the point for those of you not familiar with how the Web works – a DDoS attack makes it so that hosted websites are rendered inaccessible for would-be visitors.

These recent DDoS attacks were based on UDP (User Datagram Protocol) Memcachedd traffic, Memcached being a protocol used to cache data and reduce strain on heavy data stores like a disk or databases. It lets the server inquire about key value stores that are intended to be used on systems which will not be exposed on public internet.

What attackers do is spoof the IP addresses of UDP traffic, and then directing the request to a vulnerable UDP server. The server prepares the responses as it does not know the request isn’t legit. The information is then delivered to an unsuspecting host, and you have a DDoS attack.

What happened at GitHub last week was its servers ceased to respond for a few hours, until Akamai was able to filter out the malicious traffic from UDP port 11211 – the default port for memcached). The conclusions was that because of memcached’s reflection capabilities, similar attacks were likely to follow with the high data rate.

Further, it is believed that many other and smaller organizations experienced similar reflection attacks over this same time period, and again it seems there could be many more, potentially larger attacks in the near future. A marked increase in scanning for open memcachedd servers since the initial disclosure was noted as well. It is likely that attackers will adopt memcached reflection as their favoyrite sabotage tool because of its ability to generate such large and sweeping attacks.

We can understand that despite the fact that the internet community is making concerted efforts to shut down access to the numerous memcachedd servers out there, the sheer number of these servers that run memcached openly is very likely going to be an ongoing vulnerability that attackers will choose to exploit.

To be proactive, you can mitigate these attacks by blocking off UDP traffic from Port 11211, and the proceed to lock down the system to insulate yourself against being a victim of such attacks.

Prior to March of 2018, the biggest DDoS attack ever detected occurred in September 2016 in Brazil, and peaking at 650 gigabits per second. These new memcachedd DDoS attacks are the first ones to exceed the terabit limit, suggesting that the extent of these new DDoS attacks have much greater reach and potential than previously was the case.

Public Cloud & Big Data: The Best Match

With ever greater numbers of companies using big data, we’re definitely starting to see the benefits of their migrating to the public cloud. There are some challenges with it as well, but overall it would seem the good outweighs the not-so-good quite handily though, and the consensus seems to be that it is often a much more ideal environment for large-scale storage, remote access and all without the need for extensive physical infrastructure.

Here at 4GoodHosting, in addition to being a leading Canadian web hosting provider we’re also equally as much of a cloud computing enthusiast as the rest of you. It’s hard not to be a fan of such a positive, game changing development in personal and business computing, and it seems that the shift to the public cloud is more sweeping every day.

Cloud-based Big Data Rising Big Time

A recent survey from Oracle found that 80% of companies intend to migrate their Big Data and analytics operations to the cloud. Powering this decision was the success that these companies have had when experimenting with Big Data analytics. Consider as well that over 90% of enterprises had carried out a big data initiative last year and in 80% of those instances the projects were seen to be very successful.

Further driving the public cloud are the many IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions that are now offered by cloud vendors, and the way they are so much more cost effective in their setup and delivery.

One of the main challenges with having data in-house is that it frequently involves the use of Hadoop. Apache’s open source software framework has revolutionized storage and Big Data processing, but in-house teams have challenges using it. Many businesses are therefore turning to cloud vendors able to provide Hadoop expertise along with other data processing options.

The Benefits of Moving to the Public Cloud

Tangible, immediate benefits are the number one reason for migrating. These include on-demand pricing, access to data stored anywhere, increased flexibility and agility, rapid provisioning and better overall management.

Add the unparalleled scalability of the public cloud and it quickly becomes ideal for handling Big Data workloads. Businesses now instantly have the entirety of the storage and computing resources they need, and – equally as importantly – only pay for what they use. Public cloud can also provide increased security that creates a better environment for compliance.

Software as a service (SaaS) applications have also made public cloud Big Data migration a more appealing choice for certain businesses. Almost 80% of enterprises had adopted SaaS by the end of last years, a 17% rise from the end of 2016, and over half of these use multiple data sources. The fact that the bulk of their data is stored in the cloud makes it so that it’s good business sense to analyze it there as opposed to going through the process of reverting to in-house data centre operations.

Next up is the similarly obvious benefit of decreasing the cost of data storage. While many companies might evaluate the cost of storing Big Data over a long period to be decidedly expensive compared to in-house storage, technology developments are already reducing these costs significantly and that can be expected to continue. Expect to see vast improvements in the public cloud’s ability to process that data with much larger volumes and at faster speeds too.

The cloud also enables companies to benefit even further by leveraging other innovative technologies – machine learning, artificial intelligence and serverless analytics – to name just a few. And there is some urgency to get onboard with this, as companies who are slow to migrate to Big Data in the public cloud will likely be quickly at a competitive disadvantage.

The Challenge of Moving Big Data to Public Cloud

Migrating huge quantities of data to the public cloud isn’t a breeze, however. Integration is one of the biggest challenges. It can be difficult to integrate data when it is spread across a range of different sources and many find it challenging to integrate cloud data with data that is stored in-house.

Workplace attitudes can factor in as well, and that can be anything from internal reluctance, or incoherent IT strategies to other organizational problems related to moving big data initiatives to the public cloud. Technical issues are less common, but they can exist as well. The most common of these are data management, security and integration.

Planning your Migration

It is important to plan ahead before starting your migration. Before moving big data analyses to the public cloud, it is advisable to cease your investment in in-house capabilities and instead focus on developing a strategic plan for your migration. This plan should begin with the projects that are most critical to your business development.

Moving to the cloud also presents the opportunity for you to move forward and make improvements to what you already have in place. Don’t plan to keep your cloud infrastructure as it currently is. You now have the ideal opportunity to create for the future and build something superior to your current setup. Take this chance to redesign your solutions taking all that you can from the cloud; automation, AI, machine learning, etc.

You’ll also need to decide on the type of public cloud service that is the best fit for your current and future needs. Businesses have plenty to choose from when it comes to cloud-based big data services, and these include software as a service (SaaS) infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS. There’s the option as well to get machine learning as a service (MLaaS). The level of service you decide on will be dictated by a range of factors, like your existing infrastructure, compliance requirements, and big data software, as well as the level of expertise you have in house.

Clearly there’s much pushing the migration of Big Data analytics to the public cloud, and it does offer businesses a whole host of benefits – cost savings, scalability, agility, increased processing capabilities, better data access, improved security and expanded access to technologies. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are at the forefront of those technologies, and the premise of their incorporation is decidedly exciting for most of us.

Quick & Easy Simple Steps for Better SEO

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

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

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

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.