Data’s Really Moving: Superior Fibre Optic Technology is Here

PrintIn all this talk about, servers, databases, cloud storage etc etc., fibre optics have been a bit of a lesser light despite being the unsung hero in the successes we’ve seen in the supercharging the digital world. Now some of you will know what a Terabyte is, and others won’t. Most of you will be familiar with a Gigabyte though, and a Terabyte is 1,024 gigabytes.

That’s a lot of capacity, and with that understood fibre optics cable these days can achieve transfer speeds up to 255Tbps. Simply put, that’s blazing fast and nearly every Canadian web hosting provider we don’t overlook the value those transfer rates have in letting us work with our clients in making their websites – and in the bigger picture their online marketing efforts – really pay off.

What’s different nowadays is that it’s not just one single-core fibre. Fibre optic cables now feature a multi-core glass stem that allows for an enormous load of data to flow through it. While this technology is still a long way off from being used extensively throughout cities, it’s setting the tone for the newer upgrades poised to hit the fibre optics market, and they’re not far off.

Information Super Expressway

Many cable providers plan to upgrade their lines, with some of the major cities in the world soon to see cables capable of handling 400Gbps. That’s a huge upgrade from the current standard of 10Gb/s that many companies use. The newer fibre optic cables also include a host of upgrades and capabilities that really outdistance them from their predecessors. Here’s a quick reference of the improvements:

Security – The integrity of an optic cable actually plays a role in how easily hackers can force their way into data stores. Now, fiber optic cables use light. That makes it tough to ‘grab interference’ as the term goes. About the only way to break into them is to physically break the cord. Since they use light to transmit data, all of the light escapes and makes it easy for network security to notice breaches in data.

Design and Speed – These newer materials are lighter and thinner too. They can be more easily wrapped in a protective coating and hung from poles. In North America the majority of wires are still suspended from poles and not buried in the ground, so weight is a major issue. The reduced weight also allows them to be thicker, which means more data transfer.

Reliability – Since all of the data is transferred through a core of glass, it’s by in large entirely insulated from any threat that might interrupt or shut down transfer. There’s no fear of electrometric interference or radio-frequency interference, otherwise known as EMI and RFI. There’s also very little risk of impedance or crosstalk. Although it’s still susceptible to temperature changes, it’s more reliable when running through water or industrial equipment.

New fibre optic technology continues to expand in leaps and bounds, and it’s not a moment too soon with the way demand for internet usage continues to skyrocket in North America. The aim course is to reach the point where the world is full of nearly instantaneous data transmission, and with us being as much as an eager beaver as can be when it comes to web hosting and online communications – that sounds pretty darn great!

Cloud Computing: Nearly 50 Years in the Making

Cloud computing concept. Photo collage.

Anyone familiar with the acronym ARPANET? Perfectly understandable if you aren’t, even many in the IT World likely wouldn’t have a clue.

So let’s introduce ARPANET and it’s significance to one of the more predominant technical developments in computing these days.

ARPANET is the network that became the basis for the Internet, and began with the interconnection of four university computers in the late 60s. ARPANET sent information in small units called packets that could be routed on different paths before being reconstructed at their destination. The development of the TCP/IP protocols in the 1970s made it possible to expand the size of the network in a much more orderly way.

The initial purpose was to communicate with and share computer resources among users at the 4 different connected institutions, and with that connection the application principle behind cloud computing was born.

Today, we often hear the term “It’s in the Cloud” or “that’s Cloud based”. But what does that mean exactly (and as some might ask, ‘why is Cloud capitalized?’)

To put it simply, data existing in a cloud simply means that it exists on multiple computers at once. Before understanding cloud technology you’ll need to have a basic grasp of server technology. Servers are powerful computers, similar to the technology in a desktop computer, just must more dynamic. When you take all the CPU power and memory of a server and make it a virtual server, the advantage becomes that it doesn’t physically exist anywhere, and can be moved from one host to another as needed and automatically.

This is the “Cloud”. The virtual server that is created can move from one host to another as needed and be given more resources or drive space by grabbing more from the storage servers, known as SANs (Storage Area Network).

Trends in Cloud Technology

So despite being 48 years in the making, it’s only in the last 15 years or so that Cloud computing has established itself. Even that number may surprise some who would think it’d be much less given the ‘newness’ of the technology to the public. In the early 2000s, Clouds were used, but they were more privatized. A single company might have a datacenter that contained clusters of physical and or virtual servers where they host websites, email, or in-house applications for clients.

It was 2007 when we began to see the advent of public cloud space services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Users were now able to house their personal files in a secure space. Basically, these spaces are folders that exist within a company’s data centres. This data is hosted in clustered environments so that their users can enjoy guaranteed uptime and recovery. Existing in these datacenter’s virtual spaces also allows the data centres to offer their services for very little cost, or free, if the space is small enough.

Further, we now have cloud-enabled services such as Google Apps Marketplace and SaaS (Software as a Service) products like Microsoft Office 365. These new technologies allow the cloud to be, not just a place that you can store data, but utilize entire applications and services such as word processing, spreadsheets, CRM programs, creative suites – you name it.

Cloud Computing’s Future

As this technological entity is still evolving, we continue to see new developments but none is as significant as the trend towards mobile device optimization. Clouds may merge more aggressively and we may also see the forced de-privatization of clouds as larger companies force small and medium-sized businesses to bring their data into these more expansive environments in an effort to reach prospective customers more effectively.

Choose 4goodhosting.com and have a web hosting provider that has their thumb on the pulse of digital marketing and web hosting trends.

Google vs Bing

googlesuxThere’s no debating that Google is the world’s #1 search engine, and any website that exists for e-commerce should be tailored to match (at least reasonably) Google’s ever-changing search algorithms. Reliable web hosting is one thing and gets you solidly set up on the information superhighway, but you need to compete.

But what about Bing? Some people are quite surprised to learn that Microsoft’s search engine is still a legitimate competitor for Google when it comes to being someone’s go-to searcher. Bing is also holding its own when it comes to being a destination for Search Ads, and it seems there’s a good number of reasons why some businesses are still considering Bing for at least part of their ad placements.

Currently, Google owns 65% of market share for US searches, but that’s down from 72% since 2010. Where’s that 7 percent gone? You guessed it – Bing’s had the most growth over the last year, moving up to 19.7% (in part continuing to be powered by Microsoft’s acquisition of Yahoo years ago).

So when it comes to cost-effective search ads – what’s the better choice – Google or Bing?

Bing

Keep in mind that Internet Explorer is still the default web browser for a Windows device, and Bing comes as the default search engine.

This is a clear reflection that most Bing users are:

  • Less computer savvy, given the fact that they’re not able to or not interested in upgrading to a more modern and functional web browser
  • Generally over 35 years of age
  • More of the blue-collar employment type as compared to white-collar

It’s not difficult to identify how these findings validate Bing as a still-popular search engine. The blue-collar, over-35 working middle class crowd makes up a HUGE part of the purchasing public in both Canada and America and – you guessed it – because their PC came with Bing as the default search engine, more often than not Bing is their search engine.

Google

Google has hundreds of thousands more total searches and holds more of the market share in all countries except Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan. Research suggests that Google users are:

  • Generally younger
  • College / University educated
  • More white-collar than blue-collar
  • Much more tech savvy
  • Facebook users
  • Less likely to have children

So if your products and/or services mean that you create a large scale or worldwide campaign, Google’s your place. But if you have ones that are likely to be best targeted to domestic customers, you should still at least consider Bing. This will be particularly true if you are marketing a product or service that – for example – is geared to older, male buyers predominantly. You know the ones who very likely wouldn’t even consider installing a different web browser.

Google is much more expensive for CPC (cost per click) rates, rising 26% since 2012 and expected to continue to rise. Conversely, Bing’s current CPC rate is nearly 0.75$ less, 33.5% less expensive overall and clearly offering a much more appealing cost-per-lead rate. That’s really something to take into consideration, especially if you meet the aforementioned criteria for a certain product or service that goes with an older demographic.

Google is still the undisputed king of search engines, but don’t count Bing out entirely. And as always, content is king. Learn how to create smart ads that bring prospective customers to your website.

Here at 4goodhosting.ca we are always keen to share digital marketing insights with our web hosting clientele. Get out there and get click-throughs!

For SEO Services please visit 4goodhosting.com

Google News with Schema & More Strategic Descriptiveness with ETA Search Ads

Businessman suggested effective 'SEO' optimisation approach. Hands presenting a 'SEO' flowchart.

One thing we can count on for this New Year of 2017 is that the world of SEO continues to change at lightning speed. It’s a day in and out reality for us digital marketers to be keeping up with customer usage and expectations, Google’s never ending algorithm updates, and any other of the daily seismic shifts in the world of digital marketing. Complacency will easily destroy your rankings, and rankings are oh so important when it comes to thriving or surviving in modern marketing.

Considering that 93% of online experiences begin with search, prioritizing the latest best practices in digital marketing and optimization will be critical to the success of any website.So this new year is as good as any to take a fresh look at the trends and developments that we have seen throughout the past year and see how they’ll play a part in dictating where we are heading next. Let’s get to them shall we?

Schema

Using a schema markup is increasingly advisable for advertisers with changes to Google and user trends.Schema lays out your site more clearly for search engines to understand its nature, and of course this helps to ensure that it is displayed correctly. Schema can also be particularly helpful when Google decides to display rich answers, as is the case with quick answers or a rich card.

Google has made known its preference to display answers that make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. Rich snippets are displayed for recipe and videos, AMP articles, local businesses, music, reviews, and TV & movies. Although this may change in the future, using the schema helps to ensure that your site is more likely to be identified and served up accordingly.

Then there’s Google directing more towards Quick Answers, jumping up from just over 22% in December 2014 to over 40% by the beginning of 2016 and having continued to increase incrementally over this past year. Schema improves the effectiveness of your snippet boxes.

Schema is these days tied very closely to RankBrain and artificial intelligence.This is to be expected, with this machine learning now standing as Google’s third most important ranking factor and pushing brands to make sure their sites are easy for the machine to interpret. Schema can help make this a reality. As artificial intelligence is likely to grow in the future, using schema now can keep your site prepared for whatever we’ll see in the way of advanced AI in the future. Which will almost certainly be considerable!

Hybridization and Getting to Know Google ETAs

As users become increasingly sophisticated online and the demands of digital marketing has professionals working in digital proximity like never before, it is the brands that mature with the flow of modern marketing and smartly separate their digital marketing departments that gain the early benefits.

Mobile users clicking on your PPC ads expect a user experience that’s consistent and continuing with what they had when they landed on your site organically. The answer becomes running hybrid campaigns, and professionals need to be know what they entail, how to run them, and where to best invest resources.

Ideas to consider as you begin strategizing:

  • Host training sessions where you help members of different teams familiarize themselves with each other’s goals and strategies
  • Create collaborative projects where members of different teams come together for common objectives
  • Develop common documents between the different teams that define roles, expectations and shared understandings on brand tone and voice
  • Changes to the layouts of your Google PPC ads

Google has been experimenting this past year with their standard text ads. Specifically, they have been increasing the number of characters allowed in some of the meta descriptions and titles. This is a big plus for those of you who now how to use that added space to share text that’s optimized for identifying your business and its nature.

More About Google ETAs

Some marketers continue to be challenged when it comes to taking advantage of this trend because they have not been rolled out to all websites, nor has Google announced that they are permanent. For the sites that do receive the extra space, however, there are great opportunities for including more keywords and more compelling descriptions to help attract people to the website.

To take advantage of the increased counts for Google ETA ads, you should consider:

  • Continuing to use your main keyword at the beginning of your title and meta description in case you are restricted to the original character limits
  • Using the extra space to expand your description, using keywords very selectively
  • Meta descriptions that are less than 100 characters should be increased to avoid having your description being buried with the new longer limits

If there’s one umbrella this can all be tucked under, it’s the overseeing reality that you must always be reevaluating your digital marketing strategy and tactics. 4GoodHosting has digital marketing advice for all its web hosting clients, and has a wide network of digital marketing industry consulting professionals. All you need to do is ask.

For SEO Services please visit 4goodhosting.com

Put Wind in Your Small Business’ Sails with These 8 Useful Online Tools

Put Wind in Your Small Business’ Sails with These 8 Useful Online ToolsThe fact that small business owners are going to face challenges in growing their business and making it successful here in the digital age isn’t likely to change. It’s all too common to be up against box stores and large nationwide chains that boast marketing budgets, development teams, programmers, and pricing freedoms that simply aren’t an option for the smaller guy. But there are ways to give your business a boost with regards to your digital marketing efforts.

We encourage you to become familiar with these various online tools that are proven-effective for giving big boosts for small businesses, and then begin utilizing any number of them for yourself. From heat mapping to email marketing, they can help you generate more customers AND allocate your digital marketing budget more wisely and whether you’re an online store or a physical retail shop is of no matter here. These tools are easily accessible, surprisingly simple to implement, and again – proven effective for people just like you.

  1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts gets thumbs up right across the board from small business owners. All you need to do – after registering for the service of course – is select keywords that are related to the nature of your business and then request to be notified by Google Alerts when an article is published with one of those keywords.

This is particularly helpful for quickly and easily finding content for you to link to from your company blog, keeping in mind that doing so is an important part of maintaining your SEO.

For example, if you’d like to find content for your outdoor sporting goods store’s blog that’s seasonally relevant for this time of the year, you might have an alert with all articles with “ice fishing tips.”

You can also receive alerts for when your company name is mentioned on the web, allowing you to share good news, commendations, or more simply when you’re being talked about. You can also set up alerts for your competitors as well, and be informed similarly when people are talking about them.

Check out Google Alerts here

  1. SumoMe

For us, SumoMe is pretty much a must-have for small businesses. It provides a suite filled with free lead-generation and analytical tools, the first of which provides a website welcome mat that introduces your business and collects email addresses (with permission of course). Another is a heat map that is able to identify where and how visitors are clicking on your website. Along with dozens of other free tools like these, we’re almost certain you’ll want to incorporate it.

Check out SumoMe here

  1. Canva

Quality graphic design is often beyond the means of most small business owners, and most of us in general really. Canva is great – it lets anyone assemble beautiful designs for their digital marketing collaterals. Choose from a large collection of templates, and design items like social media cover pages, blog post featured images and presentations. We like to think of it as Photoshop for the non-computer savvy types.

Check out Canva here

  1. MailChimp

MailChimp is the go-to-guy for email marketing campaigns. It’s an excellent resource for business owners! It not only helps you collect email addresses, but it has a great selection of templates for email newsletters and easy-to-understand analytics for understanding how your customers are interacting with your emails and newsletters and how you can see better results from them

Email marketing is so important these days for increasing your exposure to prospective customers and establishing your visibility, and with MailChimp the first 2,000 email subscribers are completely free. As your business grows, your MailChimp package can grow with it. Sign up today and start building mailing lists and reaching out to people the smart and effective way.

Check out MailChimp here

  1. Buffer

Social media marketing is absolutely huge these days, and you can’t afford not to be promoting yourself on at least a few (if not all) of the major platforms. A small business without a social media marketing strategy may well miss out on huge segments of the market that their competitors are all over and reaping the rewards.

We’ll go ahead and assume you don’t need to be further convinced of this, so on to Buffer. With Buffer, you can manage all of your accounts from one dashboard and schedule your social media posts well into the future so that you remain consistently visible with fresh content – a definite must-do. Buffer shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day so that your followers and fans see your updates more often. And you can even create images with the perfect size and format for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest.

Check out Buffer here

  1. Zopim

Great customer service goes a LONG way in building repeat customers, and that’s also extremely important and something any business owner should be striving for. Zopim is great for improving the customer service experience. It offers a free and paid plans for live chatting with your customers while they are online, enabling you to reach out and speak to the visitors who are currently at your website, and by giving them this level of first-person interaction they are bound to feel more ‘catered to’ in regards to their consumer experience. You have the ability to set triggers for when the chat box pops up, and Zopim provides a chat history to go back and see what you have talked about in the past with customers.

Zopim also gives you real-time analytics to evaluate what users are doing on your site, which you can then use to tailor your responses AND create a more streamlined and helpful FAQ page if you have one. In addition, Zopim gives you the option to break your team up into departments so that customers’ inquiries are directed properly and to the right individuals.

If you’re in e-commerce and sell any type of product online, Zopim comes highly recommended.

Check out Zopim here

  1. Zendesk

Businesses without relationships tend to become out of business before long. Fostering and managing relationships is of key importance, and Zendesk helps make them easier by delivering an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) module for managing your contacts and providing the best customer support you can.

This smartly designed help desk software has options for knowledge bases and reporting, and you can setup multiple agents so that you’re never limited to having just one team individual interacting with inbound customers. Community forums, widgets and business rules add to the appeal of this great piece of software. Over 75,000 companies trust Zendesk with their customers, and you may want to as well.

Check out Zendesk here

  1. CrazyEgg

‘Bounce Rate’ is a term used to describe the number of visitors who leave your website prematurely. Needless to say, that’s a negative and you want to know what’s prompting them to leave. CrazyEgg is one means of giving you that insight, using advanced heat mapping to highlight the buttons and areas people are clicking on your site. It also details how far users scroll down your page and when they stop. We also recommend this very valuable tool for understanding the behavior of all your potential customers, and preventing the ‘why’ and ‘where’ of their ‘bouncing.’

Try it out for yourself, and see how you can retain site visitors!

Check out CrazyEgg here

We’d love to hear from you about your successes with any of these tools, so please do be in touch with us if you’d like to share your stories. Wishing you all a Happy Holidays and continued growth and success with your business for all of us at 4GoodHosting.com

Improved Cloud Security a Welcome Reassurance for Cloud-Hosted Websites

Improved Cloud Security a Welcome Reassurance for Cloud-Hosted WebsitesIt wasn’t that long ago that cloud storage was making quite the splash on the IT scene, and the fact that retaining files and data didn’t have to exclusively occur within hard drives was quite a revolutionary development. Right from day one, however, some people had concerns about the security of their information and other concerns related to a form of storage that wasn’t exclusively theirs.

If it’s not my storage, they asked – then what’s to stop someone from reaching into that ‘cloud’ and helping themselves?

The question’s fair enough, and in truth there’s been increasing concerns over pretty much every aspect of exchanging data over the Internet. A public survey down south in the States earlier this year revealed that 47% of people have cloud security concerns, and 80% of respondents support federal certification of cloud services.

We can’t be certain if those same percentages would be reflected up here, but they likely would be. The next question, though, would quite naturally be – what would a web hosting or other related-service provider have to do, show, or prove to be federally (or nationally in our case) certified?

Products and Services Fueling the Cloud Phenomenon

There are all sorts of examples. Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s integrated cloud are two good ones of where extremely in-demand products are establishing the cloud as the norm for accessible data and services. Small and medium sized businesses are also coming around en masse to cloud hosting, and e-commerce is especially familiar with the cloud now too.

So for as uniformly well-received as its been, the overall security of cloud computing is still a work in progress. But the key word there is progress. Progress is being made, and recently very much so.

It’s a common belief that – because the cloud is so increasingly popular and yet still a remote ‘location’ for external storage – hackers will be particularly enthusiastic about seeing if they can get their way in and pillage the village. The extent to which that’s true is highly debatable, but fact is it’s increasingly important for web hosting companies offering cloud products to anticipate weaknesses in cloud security and address them aggressively.

It’s the everyday guys and gals who are becoming more savvy with potential security issues connected to cloud computing, and as such web hosts are often being presented with very direct questions about what they do to counter very specific risks. We’ve seen a trend where people see ‘malware’ as more than just a strange word, and are now actually quite familiar with it and the threat it poses.

We think that’s great, an informed consumer is good for everyone in the big picture and the more of them that push us to be at our best makes for better service and more satisfied customers along the way to being a more successful business.

More and More – And More – Differentiation Among Cloud Providers

The third more there was definitely intentionally added for effect, but it’s not entirely out of place as there has been extensive differentiation among cloud providers in the last few years.

The aforementioned trend of catering to security concerns had contributed to it, but equally front and center behind the trend is a focus on creating infrastructure that works more effectively for specific user groups.

This inevitably leads to increases in service rates, but solid infrastructure is definitely worth the money for most of us so that’s unlikely to see much opposition. One very noteworthy trend here is automation with the way individuals receive these different ‘wrinkles’ to their cloud hosting and services. For you as a consumer, it’s going to be helpful to understand how your host’s processes are going to go with all of this, so feel free to ask if there’s anything you want / need clarification on.

Then there’s the issue of communicating advantages to customers. Quality customer service is important, but it’s only part of the equation. Cloud web hosting providers need to also find proven-advantageous points of differentiation and market them to customers effectively.

One such example is Cloud VPS hosting, with all the ‘elbow room’ of a virtual private server paired with the super functionality of the cloud.

There’s sure to be more developments regarding Cloud hosting in the near future, and as always we’ll be as on top of it here at 4GoodHosting.

Build it Better: Getting the Most Out of Your Website

Build it Better: Getting the Most Out of Your WebsiteIt’s increasingly rare these days to find a business that doesn’t have their own website. As is the case with every one of them, there’s a whole lot of work that goes into a website – planning, designing, and the actual construction of the different HTML elements that together make up those web pages we’re happy to just visit and browse through as we like.

Be aware that there are choices you can make when putting your website together, however, that can have negative repercussions down the line and quite possibly sabotage the successes you envisioned for yourself when you decided to take your business onto the World Wide Web.

Start with the Right Conceptual Thinking

First off, all of the following are FALSE:

  1. I need a flashy website that looks ‘cool’

Believe us when we tell you that substance trumps flush in a big way when it comes to the entirety of your online presence. Stressing to your web designer that it’s all-important to have a ‘cutting edge’ site is creating the wrong perspective for what you want to be accomplishing here.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a competition about ‘looks’, it’s about effectively conveying to your customers THAT WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO THEM – which, in nearly every instance, is a quality product or service that’s priced reasonably and comes with positive reviews from buyers just like them. What your website looks like will pretty much be the last of their considerations.

  1. It’s always good to save few bucks by having my friend / relative / other design my website for a discount

For sure, hiring designers or developers with many years of experience and a proven portfolio of work can be expensive. The best professionals can and do charge what they do because – in addition to designing the website – they also often research, plan, and strategize the entire conversion process and site flow as well.

Needless to say, you stand to benefit IMMENSELY from this value-added part of their service, and these types of analytical approaches are very likely going to be beyond the ability of the guy or gal you know.

Hiring a qualified design pro can also mean that your project isn’t completed as quickly as you’d like. Without going on at length, we’ll just suffice to say that – again – any delay that’s related to making your website a more soundly constructed portal THAT WORKS TO SERVE YOUR MARKETING INTERESTS effectively is very much worth it in the long run.

Conversions, sales, followers, in-store visits (if you’ve got a brick n mortar) etc etc. – you want them, and working with a reputable and experienced web designer / developer is the straightest path to getting there.

  1. A simple ‘electronic brochure’ is really all I need from my website

Maybe so if you’re fine with just staying where you are in as far as the size and scope of your business (and its success). In all likelihood though, you’d like to see more out of your business and in this day and age the BEST way to build your business is to promote it effectively online. And if we were to tell you that there’s not too much involved in going from an electronic brochure to a fully-vamped website, why wouldn’t you choose the one that’s going to give your more sales / service opportunities and make your brand all the more visible?

Right then.

Taking the Right Approach

This starts with answering one direct question – what is it that you need your website to do? The answer can vary, but it’s safe enough to assume that anyone who’s in business will have ‘helping us sell more of our product(s)’ at or near the top of their list.

So, with that understood, your website MUST:

  • Attract the right customers

Determine what your customer demographic has for a ‘buyer profile’ – how do they buy, when do they buy, what types of advertising / marketing collaterals are they attracted to? If you can’t answer these questions yourself, it’s very wise to hire someone who can analyze these correctly for you

Once these questions are answered, your designer should be able to start making design choices that are in line with the findings. Your website’s primary focus must be on attracting the right prospective customers to your site, keeping them there, and converting many of those visits into conversions etc.

  • Be optimized for people and their searches through Google, Bing etc.

Are you familiar with the acronym SEO? You should be, and if not then – again – you REALLY need to hire a web copywriter to put together your site content. SEO is search engine optimization, and having quality SEO for your content means your site will be presented higher up in search results conducted by potential visitors / customers

  • Be sufficiently easy to use

A frustrated or flustered visitor is never a good thing, and 9 times out of 10 they become a contributor to your site’s bounce rate (also a big negative). Your website must be explicitly user friendly, where content is supported, messages are clearly communicated, calls-to-action are firmly identified, and visitors are guided – subtly – toward a conversion.

  • Help you stand out in the crowd

This one tends to be overlooked sometime, but it’s important to remember that there are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of websites out there that are similar to yours. You need to distinguish your site from them as best you can, ensuring that your visitors are likely to remember you, respect you, and – down the line – even refer you!

Some of this stuff can be very overly-conceptual for many folks, so if it’s above and beyond your comprehension then do trust your website to a digital marketing professional. You’ll be glad you did.

Determining the Best Website Strategy

Every page of every business website has some type of conversion objective, even if that objective is simply to redirect them to the page where you’re making your primary conversion objective accessible.

This last part if important to keep in mind, because it’s a fact that not every visitor to your website will enter it via the landing page. A clear, comprehensive website strategy outlines the paths to conversion from multiple entry points on the website. How they move from their entry points, and what type of information they request on their way to a) buying or b) bouncing is very relevant to take into consideration.

So, we’ll now introduce the 4 types of content found on effective websites;

‘Know’ content – lets them learn about you, your brand, and the products and services that you believe will be of value to them. Always be sure to show yourself to be an authority with your subject matter.

‘Like’ content – helps visitors see who you are, where you stand on certain issues related to your products / services, and what you have to say. It can offer quick looks into your personal life, your personality, and your opinions

‘Trust’ content – to attach credibility, reliability, and trust to you in the eyes of your visitors. Shows you to be an expert with a history of proven results, and conveys an understanding that there’s no risk to choosing you as a retailer or provider.

‘Conversion’ content – utilized to persuade visitors to take specific actions and convert new visitors into clients, customers, subscribers, or any other role in the promotion of your business online

Let’s Get Going

Now you’ll have a more broad-reaching conceptual approach. Remember – don’t rush headlong into anything, think things through and get second opinions along with revisiting your own.

When you understand your website’s function, eliminate distractions, establish multiple different paths to conversion, and apply the 4-type content process highlighted above, you’ll be on the right path for sure. Last but not least, keep in mind that all websites need web hosting, and quite often a web hosting service provider in Canada will offer Internet Marketing services that include optimizing your website. 4GoodHosting certainly does, and you’re encouraged to learn more at www.4goodhosting.com

Web Hosting – Definitely Not “One Size Fits All”

"Canadian Web Hosting Provider"Putting together a website involves making a whole lot of decisions. There’s design, functionality, content and more that needs to be chosen, and oftentimes making the best decisions there involves consulting with someone who’s more knowledgeable than you are with Internet marketing.

One of the later decisions you’ll need to make – but one that is no less important – is what type of web hosting service will you need. That web hosting is a necessity for your website goes without saying (your site requires it to be accessible on the Web), but understand that most Canadian web hosting service providers will offer a number of different web hosting packages at different price points.

When choosing which one will be best for you, your 3 primary considerations will be:

  • Optimum performance
  • Security
  • Configuration options

All of them coming, however, after you answer some very basic questions – what type of website do you have, what type of purpose(s) will it be serving (and how), and what type of incoming visitor volume do you expect to see for it?

3 To Start With

Generally, web-hosting packages will include one of 3 different types of web hosting. These are:

  • Shared hosting
  • Platform / CMS (content management system) specific hosting
  • VPS (virtual private server) hosting

So what are they, and how do they differ?

Shared Hosting

Shared website hosting in Canada is ideal for small businesses, individual sites, sites that have low traffic volume, and sites that need to be launched as soon as possible. And a big part of why it’s ideal for many people is – quite simply – it’s the most affordable option and you can often secure shared Canadian web hosting for less than $25 a month.

Shared hosting works by the service provider having any number of large, expansive servers where data is stored. With a shared hosting package, you – and many others like you – get a portion of this expansive space. It’s not unlike renting a room in a hotel, you’ve got your own little spot – and so does the fellow next to you.

This option also has a genuine user-friendly appeal, as shared hosting users will typically have their own control panel dashboard where they themselves can make changes to their site and / or its functionality. You can set up email addresses, add users, view site statistics, install software like WordPress or Drupal, and more.

As far as drawbacks, the 2 primary ones would be loading delays for users if the website begins to experience spikes in visitors, and also limited control in regards to supported languages and restricted changes to server configurations. The second part of that can be problematic for custom-coded sites.

CMS-Specific Managed Hosting

CMS-specific web hosting in Canada is best suited for small business sites built with a supported CMS, the most common of these definitely being WordPress. If your site relies heavily on content – and regularly updated content – having a WordPress-based website is preferable, and you’ll get better performance for it by choosing web hosting that’s designed for it.

Your site will load more quickly, images and other media that is incorporated into your text will load and show more quickly for visitors, and overall they’ll have a better and more visually-engaging and / or user friendly experience while visiting your website.

In addition, this type of hosting makes your website easily scalable. This refers to being able to control how much you pay for your hosting service – you only pay for what you need and the service handles any spike in website traffic. Lastly, CMS web hosting is definitely the first choice for developer. This is because it usually features tools for moving their sites between different stages of release – from development, to staging, to production, and so on. The entire process is simplified

The primary downside of CMS-specific managed hosting is – as with shared hosting – you have limited control and may very well struggle to find or be able to use any tools that are not provided via your web host.

VPS Hosting

Private is the key word in Virtual Private Server, as in it’s yours and yours alone! Naturally this makes VPS hosting in Canada the most expensive option of the three here, but if you have a large website or one that offers a SAAS (software-as-a-service), downloadable applications, or is simply a high-volume site, then VPS hosting is very likely the way you’ll want to go.

Think of it as giving your website as much ‘breathing room’ as it needs to run at peak performance no matter what types of strenuous demands are being put on it. You can rest much easier knowing your website will be functioning just as intended, even when large numbers of visitors are on the site!

In addition, you’ve also got the highest level of control and access with VPS hosting, and that’s a real plus for complex websites that are always being re-evaluated for performance and other considerations. You will typically have command-line access to the server, which allows you to install any processes you may need, and this type of hosting also offers extensive scalability. The servers can usually be spun up and down as needed.

Keep in mind though that VPS hosting puts real demands on the Webmaster. Configuring and optimizing your servers – and being aware of when and how often that needs to be done – can be a very time-consuming and intimidating task for those who are not familiar with the ins and outs of website analytics. To put it generally, VPS web hosting packages are often very high-maintenance and as such they’re best value when in the hands of an experienced and technologically savvy Webmaster.

The Right Web Hosting Service, from the Right Web Hosting Provider

Be very inquiring when working with clients in determining their web hosting needs and referring them to a service provider. Start with their objectives, site design, and where they see themselves AND their online identity being in a few years time. After that, the questions will typically be very specific given the type of client and the nature of their business or venture.

There will always be a number of service providers who’ll meet their needs and offer competitive pricing on their web hosting packages, but – again – you want to look for one that has a track record for reliable web hosting to go along with those fair prices. 4goodhosting.com is one such Canadian web hosting provider who can offer right-fit hosting packages for nearly any business or individual and back them with some of the most failsafe web hosting to be found anywhere, from Victoria all the way to Halifax.

Get Social to Build Your Company’s Brand Online

Brand awareness through social media networking connectionsBeing a big part of our daily lives, social media networks can provide a great way to influence your own life and those of others. Did you know that more than 30 percent of world’s population are using sites like Facebook and Twitter all the time?

First of all, there are 2.3 billion active social media accounts in the world. This means that almost one in every three people you see walking down the street has a social media account. With so many people using these types of media, it’s natural that businesses viewing them as a marketing channel.

It’s not as easy as just getting people to ‘follow’ you, and it’s important to understand how to run it properly and “dig deeper”. Here are 21 tips on how to boost your social media engagement to firmly establish your brand’s identity online via social media.

  1. Build your own “Noah’s Ark”

In an ever-crowded sea of users and posted content, you should learn to analyze and observe the activity of your defined audience. You want to post daily, but posting incessantly is definitely something you DON’T want to do. It is important to find the right way to influence your target audience at a right time with the right “dosage.” Don’t flood your social profile with innumerable – rather just keep them updated with good judgement with when and how often you contact them. It’s true that more people trust a brand that is active on social media, but it’s possible to overdo it and that’s a no-no for any business – or individual for that matter.

So you’re left asking – That’s great, but when is the best time to post?

This depends on two major factors; first, your industry and the social media channel(s) you’ve chosen to be in touch with your customers and/or interest groups. Research has indicated that Facebook posts in general do better on Thursdays and Fridays, while Wednesdays at around 3pm are times for Twitter, depending on the time zone of your audience of course. These are based on averages across multiple industries. Tools like Fanpage Karma can be very helpful for determining the best time to post your own content. It may also help to take a look at analytical tools inside each social channel. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all offer page analytics for users.

  1. Keep it short – Always

Some studies have shown that content presented in certain lengths in specific social channels perform better. According to one of the widely popular social marketing platforms Buffer, keying your posts to specifics can be very beneficial.

For instance, Tweets between 71 and 100 characters have a 17% higher engagement rate. Facebook posts with approximately 40 characters are 86% more likely to engage fans as opposed to longer pieces. The most popular YouTube videos are less than three minutes long.

Always be ready to improvise and test certain patterns, you can always discover a new way and it might just be that one thing that boosts your content’s appearance rates where you want it to be seen. Keep an eye on number of characters and description that you use in your post.

  1. Add Images

As kids, most of us look at the images before even laying an eye on a single character of any book. Image is important to us because there is an immediate visual stimulus from the eye to the brain. According to WebDAM, social posts that include imagery have a higher engagement rate by 650 % as compared to plain text. In fact, more than 90% of what we learn is through visualization. Adding a photo with a link could easily enhance your interaction with those who follow you on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and adding images is surprisingly easy.

  1. Emoticons Rock

Emojis are simple but powerful, and they’re a magical tool that can increase comments on a post by 33%! That may in part have to do with the visual aspect mentioned above, but they also add the human element to it – showing feelings and ‘emotions’ as their name suggest. They’re highly recommended for Facebook, Twitter and even SMS text marketing, and for ads they can and should even be included in the subject lines. All it takes is an extra set of characters when creating your post to increase interaction by up to a third and make your post much more interactive.

  1. Join Groups and Forums – and Participate

This is another simple yet powerful tool for most social media networks – be engaged yourself and you’ll promote further engagement and garner followers. It is a widespread method of sharing your info and thoughts on the Internet. Facebook experienced more than 25 billion “likes” within posts on the group platform in 2015, so don’t be afraid to spread the ‘likes’ around and comment on content that you find interesting, appealing, or both.

Virtually anyone can start a group. Maintaining it and keeping it “clean” with regular feedback, it takes a bit more effort. Keeping your organization active on the group page will boost your connection with others, it always does

  1. Get your #hashtags out

Most of us want to have an impact across the world. We want everyone to hear our message. By using a hashtag with any primary term for your product or content, you can include comments within virtually any conversation. With Twitter being so powerful (more than 313 million active users each month), there’s a lot to gain from putting your hashtags out there. For example, using “#Love” puts your message in front of everyone currently reading about “love.” The right comment – either positive or negative – has the potential to engage thousands of readers almost immediately.

  1. Call to Action

Never underestimate the true power of a good call to action. According to Adroll.com, these simple but yet powerful snippets can make people up to 3x more likely to click ‘through’ your content if you, quite simply, ‘tell’ them to do it.

A call to action is when you suggest to your readers to click to a link, make a phone call or interact with the company in some way using certain phrases like “Click to get 10% discount”, “Call us and get a free 10-day trial” etc. If there’s perceived value there, and they’re part of your audience, they’ll be enticed.

As you may know, most YouTube stars always suggest that their viewers “click the subscribe button” after the video. Another common practice for many businesses is to include the phrase, “Follow us on Facebook”. These and other phrases encourage people to interact, and it puts them in your sphere of influence for further communications and marketing efforts

  1. Awesome Blog Content

No one wakes up in the morning thinking today’s going to be the day for a bad piece of content. However, not everyone takes the time to make it picturesque either. Use content marketing tools and analytics to create something “worth waiting for”.

The more value someone finds within your content, the more likely he or she will be to share it. Try writing something unique and special. Keep in mind that if you write on something that you are interested in, the more likely others of the same interest will read it and share it.

Another good tip is to use sharing tools such as SproutSocial or Buffer. Tools such as these can help you share content across a wide scope of social media while saving you a lot of time.

  1. Share Your Videos

Now that you know how powerful images and Emoji’s are, imagine tons of images presented in a matter of second. That’s what Video can do for you!

Video content generates approximately 1200% more shares than using text and images combined. This includes everything from in-depth video programming video tutorials to a six-second Vine clip.

If you can make someone laugh, all the better. People want to be entertained as well as be educated. Making a comical “How Not To” video maybe your way of going viral.

  1. Get Some Surveys Running

Creating a Survey for your guests to use can help engage your audience while helping you learn more about their behaviors and preferences. You’d be amazed by how much data you could gather from those who follow your brand online.

A survey can also please your page visitors. It makes them feel like their opinion is important to your business. Put some effort into creating a series of meaningful inquiries that you can use to understand your audience better.

  1. Make some Winners!

It is always nice to get that surprise package from a unexpected friend. Being friendly and open with your customers is one of the key parts of social media marketing. Creating a contest is a nice way of letting your customers and audience know they’re important and that checking you out regularly has its benefits!

If you surprise them, there is a high chance they will stay tuned into your social media channel to see what’s coming next. Sometimes a freebie is can be worth its weight in digital gold when it comes to marketing.

  1. Making it Interactive

How many times have you taken a quiz to, for example, “find out who you were in your previous life”? Although this may sound funny, this is just an example of interactive content. This puts the user right in the center of attention and allows him or her to take over control.

This adds a great line between you and your audience. It offers them something else to do while keeping them interested.

By the way, I was a Bruce Lee in a previous life!

  1. Making Evergreen Content

Making, writing or creating takes inspiration, imagination and discipline. Making something that will stay true, interesting and unique doesn’t necessarily mean it will, but the key is in the writers hands, giving him or her a chance to open the doors of “time” without ever locking them. One of the reasons why Evergreen blogs are so important is because they can continue to generate visitors for an extremely long period of time.

It’s not unusual for a company to share an evergreen post on Twitter or Facebook from several years ago. It gives you a power to generate new users by re-introducing your previous valuable posts at certain times when you know they’ll be well received

  1. Integrate Your Social Media

One of the most important parts of social media is how well is it all integrated with each other. For example, you can create a YouTube video and share it on Facebook with a click of the mouse.

By the end of 2015, as many as 65% of adults in US were using some kind of social networking site. This even includes those who don’t have Internet in their homes in some cases.

By connecting your social media accounts, you have the potential to broaden your reach while engaging a portion of those individuals.

  1. Sharing Quotes

Quotes present a century old voice for our species and it’s easily accessible and broadly used on the Internet. Quotes play an important role since many people see visuals with inspirational messages that causes them to act, share, like or comment.

Sometimes quotes can be more effective than anything else you had in mind. If everything fails to surprise, quotes may well do!

  1. Host an Online Event

Events are great way to attract a group of people of same interests to interact with your brand. Webinars, Facebook Live’s and even Google Hangouts can all be used for your company’s purposes. Make experience for your users fun and educational. Most of us live for these types of experiences!

Once the event is over, don’t forget to share it on social media.

Blogging For Beginners Made Easy: How to Get your Blog Up and Running Fast with Unique, Quality Content

Businessman hand press web blog button icon
The word ‘blog’ is a term that’s a condensed version of ‘web log’, and these days they’re incredibly popular as a means for people to express themselves and share their interests, expertise, or perspective on what’s new in life or what’s happening in the world. You can start by understanding this – setting up a blog isn’t difficult at all, and if you’ve got quality content (writing) and some snappy images to go along with them then it’s equally easy to have people visit your blog regularly. Here’s a few tips and guidelines so that you can get off on the right foot and avoid making the kinds of mistakes that are common for newbie bloggers.

Construction Underway

Any spot that’s located on the World Wide Web will need its own domain and web hosting, so the first thing you’ll need to do for a blog is to register your domain and get yourself an affordable web hosting package. Once you’ve done that, you need to familiarize yourself with a piece of content management software. WordPress is one of the most popular for the fact that it’s really simple to use and most folks can get the hang of it in a day or two. Download it and start installing the plugins and themes you’ll be using.

Now to your content – What do you have to say, and why is it worthwhile sharing it with readers on the web? Maybe you’d like to promote a hobby of yours that you think would be super enjoyable for others to get into to. Maybe you’re a huge sports fan and you want to share your perspective on the big league and its players. Maybe you’ve got an idea that you think can become profitable if you build up the right readership and then attract advertisers.

The possibilities are endless.

Find a Niche

It’s highly unlikely you’re the first one that’s thought of publishing what it is you’ve got in mind. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful with it. Find your niche within that subject matter and you’ll be able to distinguish yourself, and doing so is definitely important.

So, some tips in this regard:

1. Establish your ‘voice’, and make your content stand out

Find a few blogs that are on the same subject, and have a look at the way the blogger writes and organizes the information and layout. Do you like it? Good, take notes of their approach and then think of ways you can incorporate that style into your blog. But once you start writing, try to bend it here and there and add different touches. And you’ll need to write often if you want to have a quality blog that keeps readers coming back, so you’ll have plenty of practice at this.

2. Take a different approach

This is simple enough to understand, so let’s use and example. Let’s say you want to blog on standup paddle boarding. They’ll likely be more than a few blogs on SUP out there that talk about techniques, gear etc etc. You should talk about those aspects too, but how about attaching a GoPro to the front of your paddle board and add a new segment each week about what it’s like to paddle board at “Echo Lake”, for example. It’ll engage readers more, and it’ll give you a reason to go paddle boarding somewhere new each week.

This is just an example, but surely you get the idea.

Back to the Infrastructure

Now that we’ve got you on the right path for writing your blog, we need to get back to the set-up of it. As mentioned, you’ll need a domain and web hosting. Think web hosting is expensive? Think again, it’s absolutely NOT expensive at all and you should be able to find personal web hosting in Canada for less than $30 for a whole year, and many providers offer free blog website domain registration as part of their package. Make sure you go with one that’s very reliable, has a guarantee on uptime at least 99+% of the time and – as mentioned – has fair prices. 4GoodHosting is one of Canada’s best web hosting providers, and you’ll be able to check off all these boxes with them.

Choose a domain that’s easy to remember, not too long, and is a good indicator of what your blog is all about. You can then register it for free with 4GoodHosting and enjoy the affordability and convenience of their personal Canadian web hosting service that’s currently just $2.95 a month! Talk about affordable, and from there you can focus on the enjoyable part of it all – writing your blog and publishing new content regularly!

Have fun with it, and we look forward to seeing what you’ve got to share with the world