7 Tips to Steer Your Marketing Emails Away From Spam Folders

It’s safe to go ahead and assume that nearly all of us have sent an email to a prospective client or colleague and – without our being aware of it – had it end up in a spam folder when we thought it was received in their inbox and thus ready for viewing. Add the fact that people typically don’t search through their spam folders for emails that might’ve been misdirected there and it becomes a serious issue for anyone who’s putting considerable efforts into their email marketing campaigns.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a top Canadian web hosting provider who can absolutely relate to this because we’ve no doubt had a few or more of our own ending up being auto-deleted over time from a spam folder. That’s an opportunity lost, and like you we also put a lot of effort into our email marketing efforts.

So what to do, what makes certain emails get caught in the spam folder when there’s nothing – at least to your understanding – ‘spammy’ about them at all? Of course, it’s because of spam filters. But how exactly do they work, and more specifically what are common triggers for them to take a legitimate email and label it as spam?

Let’s discuss this today, and start by having a look at how spam filters work.

Avoid Accumulating Points!

Spam filters are software programs that scan emails as they flow into device. It is programmed with a specific set of criteria about filtering these emails. When the filter finds an email that matches the criteria, it is summarily sent to the spam folder. All good internet mail servers are equipped with a spam filter, and they can also be installed on network servers and individual PCs.

The filters work with a point system, but of course you don’t want your email accumulating any of these points. When a certain limit or point value is reached during the email scan, the email is termed as spam and it is flagged or deleted depending on the user’s preference settings.

So it now begs the question – how are these points calculated? Every email spam filter will be looking at the following criteria closely:

  • Subject line of the email, looking for common words or phrases that suggest ‘spamming’
  • Content, looking for the presence of suspicious links, low text-to-image ratios and other hallmarks of a ‘spammy’ email
  • Metadata, scanning the To/From/CC fields of an email, scrutinizing the sender’s domain and embedded code
  • Verifying IP addresses, checking if the email is sent from any of the IPs that have already been flagged as spam or blacklisted

Right. So how does one avoid this when your intentions are entirely legit and you’re not looking to ‘spam’ anyone? Here are some tips that will help you avoid the spam folder:

Acquire a Professional Email ID

Having a professional email ID linked to your domain name will create a positive impression in the minds of your mail recipients. It lends credibility to the domain name and it is less likely to be marked as spam. Free email services are commonly the target of spammers and malware, and so emails sent from a free email ID are more likely to be marked as spam. Creating your own professional email ID with your domain name and through an established web host will effectively limit the number of important email communications that end up being bounced or getting sent to spam folders or directly to the trash. Those of you who communicate with your clients and colleagues through emails on a regular basis are advised to get a professional email ID without delay.

Control The Number Of Emails Sent

The majority of spam filters keep a count of the number of email you send at any one time. When sending regular email updates to a large contact list, it is important to use the drip email method even if you have a fast and efficient server delivering your emails. This method will make sure that the emails are sent out at specific and regimented time intervals, thus preventing your emails from getting marked as spam. This is a very easy tip to follow, and it is very effective in seeing to it more of your email end up being received and read.

Test Emails

Test the email once before you adding it to your mailing list is highly recommended. If you have a professional email ID, the general consensus is that you should send test messages to free email IDs on Gmail, Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo, AOL etc., as well as to one generic office email ID that uses the Outlook Client. Be sure to send the test email with the same server and information that you will use for sending emails to your mailing list. Should your test email lands in the junk folder, you obviously need to revisit it and work on the subject, title, content, links etc. of the email before testing it again. Once you are confident that your email is safe to be sent to your clients and isn’t bound for a spam folder, go ahead and send the emails to your mailing list.

Sound Like A Spammer, Be Seen as One

This is pretty straightforward in our opinion. You need to make sure that you are not using words or phrases that will give these filters the impression that you are a spammer. There is a free online software website where you can check the ‘spam score’ of your email content. Here are some basic tips to adhere to when creating the content for your emails:

  • Limit the number of times ‘free’ is incorporated into titles and copy
  • Avoid using ALL CAPS.
  • Avoid using coloured fonts extensively
  • Use only one exclamation point at a time at the end of a sentence
  • Avoid the use of words that tend to be marked as spam – examples; sex, drugs, guaranteed winner, earn money etc.
  • Ensure all your contacts are the ones who have ‘opted-in’ to receive emails from you

In addition, check your own email spam folder and determine what type of emails are getting marked as spam. Hopefully yours have no similarities, but if they do you must see to it that you are not using any of those words or phrases in the subject line or content of your own emails.

Do as Promised

For example, when subscribers have opted for monthly newsletters and you are sending them newsletters every week, they are likely to think that you only want to promote your products / services and are not acting as a legitimate professional. This goes a long way in emails being marked as spam and not being read. Instead, be very clear in letting your subscribers know what you are going to be sending them and how often you will be doing so. Other content like blog post updates, special offers and promotions etc. should be created and sent out as separate groups in your mailing list so that subscribers have a choice as to what type of content they want to receive from you.

Go Small with Attachments

Generally speaking, .jpeg, .gif, .png and .pdf can be considered as attachments that are safe to send. This is only true, however, if they are in context with the email content. Attachment types like .exe, .zip, .swf should be avoided entirely, all the time. Further, sending attachments to people in your mailing list who are not expecting them is inadvisable. If sending a large attachment with your email or an attachment type that might be flagged as spam is important, using a professional service like DropBox is highly recommended. In any instance where the attachment contains sensitive data, it is advisable to use your company’s secure FTP server to send out the email.

Include Text Versions Of Emails

Including a text version of your email is important when you are sending HTML emails. A lack of one is a common cause for the email to land in a spam folder. Text versions of emails are not difficult to generate, and incorporating one for an HTML based email will go a long way to keeping it out of the spam folder AND backing up your communication’s readability if your recipient is unable to view the email as HTML for whatever reason.

In conclusion, it is important to review all the small details related to your emails – even if it takes some of your valuable time to do so. Getting the right attention and response from your email recipients is important, but you won’t even have that chance if they don’t see it sitting there in their inbox. It’s really that simple. Again, we imagine you put great time and effort into crafting your email marketing and newsletter campaigns and you don’t want to see even a fraction of that energy go to waste.

Leave spam filters for REAL spam, agreed?

Update Sites in Advance of Google Chrome 62

Google is never one to stay the course for long, and this month they’re introducing a new security standard. Site owners and SEO experts that don’t make necessary changes may be seeing a significant drop in their search rankings and it’s certainly not something you want to be putting off for long.

4GoodHosting has established itself as one of the best Canadian web hosting providers, and along the way we’ve grown accustomed to have our thumbs on the pulse of trends in the online marketing world. We know how essential it is for business owners to be readily visible on the Web, especially given how web searches make up an ever-greater majority of how customers find retailers and providers.

With the new Google Chrome 62 update, the search engine will designate any HTTP page that contains a form requiring a customer to fill out anything as being insufficiently secure. The consensus is that this is going to have a massive effect on search rankings, primarily because nearly every site uses a variation of a form on at least one page of their site.

This is also going to extend to blogs that allow users to log in for posting comments and to make a long story short – basically every website online may be impeded by this update.

This needs to be on the radar for site owners, SEO experts, Pay Per Click specialists, and AdWords consultants, but when we got the why of it all we need to first explore a previous update from March of this year, Chrome 56.

Chrome 56 & New Security Protocol

Google rolled out the Chrome 56 update 7+ months ago, and with it changed security protocol for websites online. Websites that requested a password from a user that was not encrypted were labelled as ‘not secure’ in the address bar.

This meant that websites would now need an SSL certificate. With one, any connection or data shared between the site and the user is completely secure. The encrypted information is by and large entirely secure, and will foil even the best of hackers 9 times out of 10. An SSL certificate also reassures users that they are on an authentic site and that they’re avoiding scams.

It goes without saying that security is important for website owners online, and especially so when you’re selling products. It’s understood that somewhere in the vicinity of 84% of shoppers will abandon a website long before making a purchase if they discover that the site is not secure. Many of these users will of course make that decision shortly after seeing a site being designated as ‘not secure’ in the URL bar.

Chrome 62’s Potential Impact

Google’s official announcement for Chrome 62 didn’t provide much in the way of information on the new security protocol. Don’t see this at as a sign that you can sit tight, as it could end being detrimental to your site.

According to Google, the official line on the update is as follows:

“Chrome will show the ‘not secure’ warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.”

Right, not every user online uses Chrome. However, a report from earlier in 2017 revealed that Chrome leads the market quite handily as the preferred search engine, laying claim to 58.4% of the market share. With that understood it’s clear that any factor impacting a site’s ranking on Chrome could have huge implications for a business and how successful it is being in business online.

Websites with less than what’s seen to be full security could come to see lower conversion rates and fewer visitors spending more than a moment on the website. The question becomes what can we expect for the impact to search rankings, will it be direct or indirect?

Search Ranking Impacts

HTTPS And SSL both have weight for Google when it comes to a ranking signal, and can even be used as a tiebreaker when making the decision on which site claims top spot. By having a secure site as officially recognized by the new update, owners can ensure that their site is not hit and bumped below a similar competitor. In fact, ensuring full SSL certification will almost certainly boost search rankings if the process is completed thoroughly and accurately.

Look for the security of a site to now have a far greater impact on where a site ranks in the SERPs. Again, the consensus seems to be that any site without full security will never receive a place on page one of the SERPs, and likely not even in the top 5 or worse, particularly with competitive keyword incorporation and phrase results.

This is big, as research has indicated that websites on the first search engine results page commandeer 95% of web traffic. All that’s left for those relegated to the remaining pages is that five percent, and that’s not much at all. Keep in mind as well that many users never go beyond the first five results. Anything that gives you an advantage against a competitor is now more valuable than ever, and some of them will have sites that do not have the security to escape the damaging ‘not secure’ label.

There is also an indirect impact to consider here, though, and it’s bounce rate. If a user clicks on a site and it comes up as ‘not secure,’ they are quite likely going to to click off and leave the site entirely. The number of users per clicks that do this is called the bounce rate, and it’s not hard to see how bounce rates are set to explode for those who don’t update in advance of Chrome 62.

This is also just the beginning we imagine. It is speculated that eventually Google will highlight the ‘not secure label’ in red and add an exclamation point in an eye-grabbing bright red triangle. The aim is an honourable one, to ensure that customers and users know that any site with the label is unsafe and one you might want to avoid.

Potential Impact of Changing Security on Ranking

There’s a need to be aware of how changing security settings on your site to match the new requirements of the Chrome 62 update may also negatively impact your rankings.

Switching your site to HTTPS by adding an SSL may also promote a slight dip in your rankings.

No need for immediate concern – this is just a sign that the indexes are adjusting to your new site. It will eventually stabilize, but to avoid this, carrying your site over during a time when website traffic is low is highly advisable. To carry your site over, Google needs to crawl over it, and this will go much more quickly if the process occurs when fewer people are using your site.

The other issue can occur with 301 redirects. Users will discover those nasty ‘404’ errors that kill SEO if they try to access pages on your site without proper 301 redirects in place. Both your site ranking and your conversion rate will take a hit because once they click on the site, users will be denied entry to it and it’s very unlikely they’ll come back to try again.

Add security site protocols in the right manner, however, and you’ll be alright.

How to Adjust a Site for Google Chrome Update 62

There are a few specific steps required to adjust a site to the new Chrome Update 62, and they should be well within the means of even the most average webmaster.

Start by making sure that the site in question has an SSL certificate. Costs can vary, and you must make sure that the SSL certificate is properly installed. However, the costs are never what most would consider to be prohibitive. SSL certificates for Canada can purchased from 4GoodHosting.

The source of the site will determine what installing your SSL certificate is going to involve. For WordPress users, the process may be made simple by using a plugin like Really Simple SSL. You can install the SSL with the click of a button and make sure all URLs load with HTTPS.

Installing an SSL with other sites can be more of a lengthy process, but shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Most of you will be able to make these changes fairly quickly and ensure that any site you run is up to date.

Next, make sure that all internal links on your site pages are also switched from HTTP to HTTPS and that the server you are using for the site is suitably configured for the update.

As stated above, you need to be certain that 301 redirects from the old HTTP links now send to the new HTTPS links for your site.

Last, you need to see to it any area of a profile linking to the site online is also up to date with the change. Having users from social media and other areas online trying to access your site and finding that the old HTTP pages are dead or seeing that ‘not secure’ label is something you’re going to want to avoid.

This brief communication is designed to highlight the importance of the new Google Chrome 62 update for your site ranking and prompt you to make the appropriate changes to any site you manage to ensure your sites or those of your clients continue to rank the best they can.

 

Flexibility, Functionality: The Benefits of Responsive Website Design

Build it Better: Getting the Most Out of Your WebsitePart of being successful in today’s advanced digital technology world is being able to update your marketing strategy along with the advancement of new platforms. It was 8 years ago that Morgan Stanley, one of the most renowned Fortune 500 companies, predicted a rise in popularity of ‘Mobile Web’ compared to ‘Desktop PCs’ would be coming by 2014. That of course was spot on, and we all now know the broader and more overarching value in keeping a website responsive and mobile friendly.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’ve established ourselves as a top Canadian web hosting provide, and part of what’s given us that opportunity is the way we strive to be as informative as possible with anything from which our customers stand to benefit. We host a large number of e-commerce and business websites. While we haven’t had to convince these folks of the value of having ‘responsive’ websites, we have had to provide more clarification of just what that involves.

We’re happy to do so here as well, with hopes that it adds value to what is already very affordable Canadian web hosting!

Mobile’s Mega Relevancy

Anyone’s who’s not considering mobile web traffic in their analytic data is likely losing significant revenue. While mobile web technology hasn’t entirely overtaken desktop, it’s quickly on its way to doing so. Be explicitly aware via which devices these new customers are entering your website and embrace how responsive web design will benefit your online marketing strategy.

Defining Responsive Web Design

Here’s a straightforward and sufficiently non-technical explanation – Responsive web design is one where the page loads and then operates with full functionality, whether you access the website URL with a desktop browser or a mobile browser. Site fixtures will rescale, as the page size will be taken into account.

It’s important to understand that there are no separate version of mobile sites or tablet or desktop versions with responsive web design. The website is oriented for maximum flexibility, opening as it should with any respective device. The benefit of this in simple terms? Visitors enjoy optimal readability on all their favorite digital devices.

And when it comes to the construction of the site, responsive web design means that your whole website remains the same at the root, with the minor exception of CSS code changing in response to the specific type of browser.

User-friendly content management systems like WordPress are quite helpful for responsive web design. Many have already helped themselves to one of the many ready-to-go designed templates that are optimized for responsive website design, and that saves time and money. Content is still king and the discoverability of content is one of the foremost success metrics that these individual are pleased to see for themselves.

But responsive web designs biggest boost for Canadian web hosting clients? That’d be improved SEO, and in a big way

Found, Retained, Engaged

By our count, responsive website design has 9 specific appeal points for anyone who’d like better SEO (which, of course, is pretty much everyone set up along the information superhighway)

1) Google Recommendation

Google recommended responsive web design is already common with mobile / traffic / PC, focusing on web and mobile users equally. Google also favours mobile-friendly website for mobile search, and you’ll be better positioned for higher keyword rankings in mobile search.

2) Usability

Google’s aim is to deliver the best and most relevant results for their visitors for any specific search term. Google will make note of immediate return to their SERPs, considering no useful or relevant information on the website. In such instances ‘bounce rates’ (the number of visitors who leave a website immediately or prematurely) increase and your ranking will almost certainly drop.

Whereas with responsive design, visitors will be inclined and able to read and share all the content they want in whatever format they prefer.

3) Duplicate Content:

A website that is not responsive and has duplicate or similar URLs for the desktop, tablet, and mobile versions is more at risk of being latched onto by Google’s Panda algorithm because there is only one URL for the webpage for all digital devices.

4) URL Structure:

Responsive websites have common files/folder for all digital device options. This makes it easy for Google to index the webpages as there is uniformity between them in URL structure. As far as the user experience is concern, this design works best with all devices and your boost in SEO is a reflection of Google’s greater trust as a result.

5) Mobile Search Ranking:

As smartphone begin to race away as the preferred web browsing device these days, a responsive website that caters to their specifics very thoroughly gets big thumbs up from Google. Not to say desktop and tablet suitability isn’t important too, but it’s decidedly less. Good responsive website design will serve all 3 of them relatively equally though, so you shouldn’t need be concerned.

6) Link Earning:

Responsive web design sees back links being common between mobile and desktop versions, meaning the link building values do not diminish if crossing between a desktop URL and mobile URL because – quite plainly – that’s not happening.

7) Local Search Benefits:

Nearly everyone searches on mobile web browsers when out and about and looking to make a purchase or visit an establishment. When your responsive website is available for them you get better mobile traffic and the rankings that go along with it.

8) Reduced Page Load Speed:

Page load speed is a big deal for Google when it weighs how highly you should be ranked. That people tend to be impatient needs no explanation, and with a responsive website design you are MUCH less likely to have would-be visitors / customers refusing to put up with slow load times. Responsive web design will have CSS media queries that work equally well on the different devices, helping to reduce load times.

9) Awesome User Experience / Social Boost:

Responsive web design allows visitors to read and share website content with any digital device. Anyone can see the same shared content on social media via their chosen digital device with almost same loading speed. This in turn increases the likelihood of you being ‘liked’, ‘shared, etc. etc. on social media. And that, of course, is a HUGE boost to your online marketing efforts.

Want to learn more, or ready to have a professional get your website up to speed with being ‘responsive’? Get in touch with us and we’ll point you in the right direction. Wishing you all well as you aim ever higher with your business and its online component!

Digital Uncertainty: Is There a ‘Beyond’ to the Cloud?

Upon being first introduced into public servers – and not that long ago, really – cloud storage and cloud computing was a mysterious entity entirely foreign to the general public, but oh boy did its advantages ever become readily apparent. Cloud storage and computing quickly made significant changes to the way people put their computing devices to work in every way possible, as well as redefining the way companies do business.

However, as is always the way in the digital world, the same question is always ready to go. “What is next in the evolution of personal and business computing?”

Here at 4GoodHosting, we have cemented ourselves as a leading Canadian web hosting provider with affordable rates. Behind all of us here is a genuine interest in developments in the E-world and all that goes along with it. Anyone who’s been as curious as we’ve been over the past decade plus will now that nothing stays ‘new’ for long, and that the engines driving technological advances in computing aren’t one to rest on their laurels.

Let’s have a look at what’s the general consensus on what’s next – if anything – after the Cloud.

Wholesale Changes Aplenty

The cloud has been much more than just a place to store and access data, it has indisputably been an opportunity for growth in the IT world. This has been especially true for people beginning to understand the benefits of mobile business. If we were to list them all we’d fill your screen 20 times over, so let’s look only at the main developments:

  1. Company Data Instantly Accessible From Anywhere

Companies have been trying to figure out more cost effective ways to do their work since the beginning of commerce itself hundreds of years ago. The Cloud has made it feasible to work from almost anywhere, provided there’s an Internet connection. Having an employee or contractor working remotely saves any company quite a bit in overhead costs. It also allows employees to set their own pace and often motivates people to increase their own leisure time by performing their work more efficiently. Without the cloud, only companies that that could afford multi-million dollar servers and IT departments would have been capable of offering that working arrangement for people.

  1. Greater Numbers of the World’s Devices Connected to Each Other

Estimates from 17 years ago had 200 million individual devices connected to the internet. While at first glance that may seem like a large number, it’s not when you weigh the number of people in the world. Now there are an estimated 10 billion devices connected to the internet at some point of every day, and being able to do so with a data storage and sharing system, like the cloud, makes for much more opportunity for world-wide growth and potential innovation.

  1. The Changing Landscape of Business

One thing the Cloud can indisputably boast is having superior data uploading and downloading capabilities. It has made it possible to purchase files on-the-go, and from a sales perspective the ability to tap into the impulses of the market has been wholly revolutionary. It is more important than ever to now connect with the mobile generation and make downloading content quick and easy. The cloud has been what’s allowed that to happen.

The Reach of Web Technology Capable

1899 – well over 100 years ago – saw a patent official state that ‘everything that can be invented, has been invented.’ Asides from being entirely wrong, it’s an amusing anecdote, especially for young people who’ve been right on the front line for the digital technology explosion of the early 21st century. We’ve of course seen gigantic leaps in technology around the planet since. And believe it, we’re not even near done with these advancements.

Future Cloud Computing Models?

No doubt the cloud has been massively successful and continues to be integrated into numerous business models and services, with IT engineers and designers trying to figure out ways to improve its systems. Some improvements have been necessitated by modern usage trends, while others hope to cross into new realms. Some of these aims are as follows:

Increasing Security – The security of the public cloud is one of the biggest concerns associated with it. As more people begin sharing information, what measures are in place to prevent other people from accessing private information? It’s a question that the majority of businesses and individuals take seriously, and cloud designers strive to improve current security options for the growth of future cloud use and expansion. Hybrid cloud configurations are one of the most interesting ways to make security a non-issue, combining a physical server with a private cloud model and restricting them to specific use only.

Expanding Applications – Further, cloud compatible CAD programs are essential to countless industries and companies that produce designs or products. The issue, however, is that many CAD files are too large to be compatible with most mobile devices. However, changes to the way CAD interacts with the cloud is hoping to put an end to this incompatibility, making it possible to work on-site or at the client’s location.

With smart phones and tablets, applications are everything and quite literally drive the manufacturing and marketing industries around them. Changing the way apps interact with the cloud is something that many vendors have been looking long and hard at, and the next generation of cloud-based apps is likely to arrive soon.

Cloud-based businesses – First and foremost here is something known as outservicing. Many of you have heard of outsourcing, but the cloud is in the process of making outservicing a household name too. There are a few aspects of company work that are not unique to individual businesses, and the best example of this is Human Resources. By outservicing HR data to cloud-based companies, small companies are much more likely to receive first-rate HR services for more affordable prices.

Cloud sensor spots – We live in an ever-more digital and impersonal world, but some companies are trying to bring back personal communication. As much as that’s possible. A cloud sensor spot is a field where the cloud interacts with a mobile device in cool and exciting ways. For example, it could give people passing by a certain city spot an opportunity to take advantage of a special deal, or to learn more about a product or service. They’d function in a similar way to Wi-Fi, but with custom content that’s been chosen and uploaded by the owner of the cloud-spot.

Keep an eye out for this one!

The Big & Small

We’ll all surely agree that the Cloud has been well received, and for good reason. But it is likely not the be all-end-all of web connectively solutions, either now and definitely not in the future. However, until whatever’s next materializes itself and is then embraced on a global scale the way Cloud Computing has been, here we are.

Look for the cloud to continue to be a major focus for vendors, large and small businesses, and the general public. As greater numbers of people on the web for specific purposes (and not just web browsing for entertainment or personal research) experiment and share their ideas through data storage systems like the cloud, the faster technology will be pushed to progress.

Waiting for these new developments to come will be a challenge, and again particularly for those like us who love a new digital wrinkle much more than most. It’s all too easy for us to be looking to the horizon, but when you really weigh the value of what we currently have with the cloud it’s really quite easy to be super appreciative.

 

What’s in a ‘Tweet’: Understanding the Engagement-Focused Nature of Twitter’s Algorithm

It would seem that of all the social media platforms, Twitter is the one that businesses struggle with most in understanding just how to harness it for effective promotional means. The common assumption is any shortcomings are related to your use of the ever-ubiquitous #hashtag, but in fact they’re not nearly as pivotal as you might think.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’ve done well in establishing ourselves as a premier Canadian web hosting provider and a part of that is sharing insights on how to get more out of your online marketing efforts. Social media is of course a big part of that, and as such we think more than a few of you will welcome tips on how to ‘up’ your Twitter game.

It’s easy to forget that these social media platforms have algorithms working behind them, and working quite extensively. What’s going on behind the screen controls and narrows down what you actually see on your timeline.

For example, let’s say you have specific political affiliations. The algorithms ensure that the majority of the tweets you’ll see will be linked to that party’s views. Or perhaps you’re especially into sports. If so, plenty of sports news sources will be all over your timeline. Oppositely, if you dislike something then that theme will slowly end up disappearing over the course of the week or beyond.

All of this is a reflection of ALL social media platforms, Twitter included, are using more and more complex algorithms to satisfy their user base and deliver content they are likely to find favourable.

So this is what do you’ll need to know about Twitter’s algorithms, and the best ways to use them to your advantage.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For These

There’s no disputing the fact that Twitter has faded quite considerably in popularity and the strength of its reach. Despite this, Twitter is really narrowing its scope of engagement and a key way to increase engagement is through increasing relevance of the posts seen.

Directly from Twitter’s engineering blog, here are a few of the factors that decide whether a Tweet is sufficiently engaging and thus worthy of ‘appearances’

  • The level of recency to your posts, the likes, retweets, and other things such as attached media
  • Whether you have previously liked, or retweeted the author of the tweet
  • Your previous positive interaction with certain types of tweets

Twitter will then recommend people to like over the next couple of days. Depending on your responses to those recommendations, it will then adjust the content that’s seen by you to better reflect how it is gauging your preferences.

What’s easy to conclude is that users themselves play a predominant factor in what’s going to be seen on their timelines. Liking or using the “I don’t like this” button once or twice goes a long way in this regard.

By this point it begs asking the question; is Twitter’s algorithm perhaps a little too simple? It is definitely not as complex as other media platforms such as Facebook, but the benefit in that is that it is easier to manipulate. Among the many benefits of this is the way that smaller companies may tag a random brand or company in a tweet that is completely non-associable with their tags. Twitter’s algorithms allow this to be a very effective means of getting increased exposure.

Gain Your Advantage

Generating engagement with your tweets is a reliable way to boost exposure and put yourself on top of the algorithm game. Engaging your audience and boosting exposure keeps you ‘in’ the talk and seeing to it you’re using the correct hashtags will ensure you’re being talked about.

Smaller companies can benefit from tagging large companies in their tweets to gain exposure, and that’s especially advisable if the company relates to what you’re talking about. Sure, it only works to a certain degree, but gaining followers by any means possible is always a plus.

Putting all this talk about engagement into perspective, it’s important to understand how to spark the right sorts of conversation. Asking random questions will make it look forced, while if you don’t interact at all you may see a dip in exposure. Find a way to be genuine in your responses, and adhere faithfully to what you’ve defined as your brand’s voice.

New WPA2 Wi-Fi Protocol Security Flaw Warning

This past week has seen an explosion of cautions extended to people using home Wi-Fi networks (which of course is pretty much ALL of us) regarding a security risk that makes private information and personal content increasingly vulnerable to theft or misuse. It’s certainly not the first time such an issue has come to the attention of the digital world, and it won’t be the last. This one, however, is particularly noteworthy given the fact that it has such far-reaching and widespread potentially negative implications for anyone who’s on the web via a Wi-Fi connection – at home or elsewhere.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we strive to be on top of trends and developments in the industry to go along with being a premier Canadian web hosting provider. This ‘heads up’ should be especially welcome for business owners operating an e-commerce website, but we imagine it’s going to also be well received by your average web browsing guy or gal as well.

Malevolence from your Modem?

Credit for catching this new flaw goes to a team of Belgian researchers. They’re the ones who recently discovered a security vulnerability in the WPA2 protocol. The WPA2 protocol is a system of rules that dictate how your Wi-Fi networks function and behave. As mentioned, it’s a near ubiquitous and wide-reaching ‘standard’ – it’s installed and in use with almost every single modern Wi-Fi modem or router. We’re going to go ahead and assume that includes you, and as such this warning is one you’ll want to take note of and follow the precautionary measures we’ll lay out here.

The research has indicated that there’s a loophole in the WPA2 rules that’s creating the possibility for hackers to tap into a Wi-Fi network and grab sensitive information that’s being relayed back and forth over it, with one example (and likely the most disconcerting of all the possibilities) being stealing your credit card details when enter them in the process of buying something online. Another possibility could be snagging your password when you enter it into the login for a particular website.

Here is a good read on the issue in detail, via the official website.

Who’s Most at Risk?

Plain and simple, the answer here is as suggested above. Meaning pretty much everyone is at risk. That’s because WPA2 is the most common protocol utilized with Wi-Fi modems and routers these days, and has been for quite a while.

We’ll also go ahead and assume the majority of you are relatively computer savvy, but for those of you who aren’t you can easily determine if that’s the case by looking under computer>system preferences>network connections and then have a look at your Wi-Fi network settings. It’s nearly certain you’re on a WPA2 network, so read on.

Your Best Course of Action

Modem and router manufacturers are very much aware of this issue, and are working hard to make patches for their products available to their customers.

We recommend a visit to the website of the manufacturer of your Wi-Fi modem or router. Determine if they have released a recent update for your model (look for a date within the last month or two). Check out this list of popular modem & router manufacturers to determine whether or not a suitable patch is already offered to protect your make and model against this vulnerability.

Some of you may not be able to install an update for your modem or router on your own. If so, not to worry – most manufacturer’s websites offer support guides, or the option to call them for technical support.

Should I Change My Wi-Fi Network’s Password

It shouldn’t be necessary. Your Wi-Fi network isn’t a factor with this particular security flaw. You’re fine to leave it as it is, and that’ sure to be welcome news for most of you who’d rather not have to create a new one.

This threat gains access to networks via non-primary means, and to use an analogy it’s like a burglar who comes in through a window or down a chimney rather than front door of your house. Your password is guarding your front door, but that’s not where you need to be concerned.

We’ll continue to monitor developments with this new WPA2 security threat and keep you informed as necessary. Be a little proactive on your own part with the recommendations above and you should be good to continue enjoying wireless Internet.

The Rise of ‘Cryptominers’ and Why You Need to Be Wary of Them

Over the past few months we’ve devoted a post or two to rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and how they’re still worth taking note of despite the fact they haven’t ‘taken off’ quite like people expected them to. Different people have different takes on whether they will ever become a legitimate player on the global currency scene, but we believe that there is in fact going to be a demand for currencies that are not internationally regulated by any specific bodies and can be uniform from one country / currency to the next.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a leading Canadian web hosting provider who also takes a keen interest in developments in the digital world. That’s likely a hallmark of any good provider –staying on top of trends and the like and choosing the most relevant ones to share with their customers.

Right then, let’s continue.

Not-So-Harmless Browsing

It would seem that Internet ads are now the least of your concerns when it comes to annoyances. Recent news indicates that the websites you visit could now be prompting your computer to do what’s called ‘cryptocurrency mining.’ So with an existing understanding of what a cryptocurrency is, we now need to ask what exactly cryptocurrency mining is.

The entirety of the creation, management, conversion, and transaction of digital currencies demands a lot of computing power. Each block of transactions involves computer owners around the globe racing to solve a very challenging cryptographic puzzle, and winning means you get paid in the relevant cryptocurrency. Contestants, known as “miners”, up their chances by building up their processing capacity. Most commonly this is done by building server farms in remote locations where electricity is cheap, but they are always searching for inexpensive ways to mine for cryptocurrencies more effectively.

Conversely, website publishers are always on the hunt for new ways to generate revenue. The standard means – subscriptions, ads, etc. are often insufficient. They don’t have much appeal for most users, can be hijacked, and the big search engines like Google typically take their cut of revenues.

So increasingly these days they are resorting to an unscrupulous approach. They’re offering miners access to the computing power of the people who visit their sites, and then selling it to them.

Browsers Gone Bad

Here’s how this whole seedy transaction works. Say, for example, you go to a site to download some free stock images. As your web browser loads the first page, it also initiates a script that prompts your computer’s processor to undertake calculations for a cryptocurrency miner. That miner could be located anywhere. The only thing that might make you aware of it is a slightly slower computer, and a slightly higher power bill. The miner pays the website publisher for the use of your resources, and you’re kept in the dark about it.

Now we have to say that reputable web publishers will not hijack your computer for profit. It’s sites that haven’t been successful with traditional ad networking (many are in China) who have embraced browser-based mining as a popular revenue stream. Regrettably, at this time there’s little to stop them from doing it, and little in the way of means of blocking them from doing so.

The concept of capturing value from underutilized computer resources isn’t a new one. It actually goes back to the early days of the web. In the late ‘90s a team at the University of California, Berkeley, built the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. It was a software system that took the spare capacity on personal computers and re-dedicated it to scientific purposes. Some of you may remember SETI@home, its most famous application – a screensaver that contributed to the hunt for signs of alien life in radio signals. SETI@home has since aided with climate prediction, drug discovery, protein folding, and many other applications. More than 300,000 users actively participate with it today, and not surprisingly that makes it the largest computing grid in the world.

Doing What They Will

You might think it is, but this type of distributed computing isn’t always cost-effective. Cloud computing would be a much better choice for the type of application suggested above and many others. With browser-based mining, however, visitors are compensating publishers with their computer resources and energy consumption. With the latter part of that comes an involvement with local utility providers in each transaction. Yes, they’d get a better deal by just paying a few cents per page view, but that’s something else altogether.

The Internet has made it quite clear that micropayments don’t work very well, in large part because the decision-making costs associated with each transaction outweigh the actual value transfer. As a result, the most viable kind of internet payment is one that doesn’t look like a payment at all. Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of volunteers happily donated their computing power to SETI@home because it felt costless, even though it consumed $8 of energy each month. Ad-based models have become the default method because users don’t consciously attach a dollar value to their attention and data.

So while it does occur and is problematic, there’s no debating that in-browser cryptocurrency mining is an inefficient way of paying for content. It’s not clear that users will be accepting of the appropriation of resources, but if you like at it from the other perspective it’s potentially less invasive than targeted advertising. Which is creepy for many people and takes advantage of underutilized processor resources.

Make Smart Browser / Interactivity Choices

No one’s sounding the alarm regarding cryptocurrency mining, but it’s still a growing trend and you certainly don’t want to have yourself as a prime candidate for these leeches. Be smart about the sites you visit, but more importantly be selective about the way you interact them. We won’t go as far as to say to be wary of the site’s seeming source of origin, but if you’re particularly concerned you may want to take this into account too.

Federal Government Taking Canada.ca Out of Country for Web Hosting

The top dogs in the world of web hosting all reside south of the 49th parallel, and their sway of influence over consumers and the way they command the lion’s share of web hosting business is well established down in America. Recent news from the Canadian government, however, suggests that their influence may be making perhaps the biggest of inroads up here in Canada too.

Here at 4GoodHosting, in addition to being a quality Canadian web hosting provider we’re also keenly interested in developments that are both related to web hosting AND are tied directly to any of the different offshoots of the business as it pertains to Canada as a whole. As such, the Canadian Government’s announcement last month that it was moving web hosting for its departmental and agency website related to the Canada.ca domain to Amazon Web Services in the U.S.

March of 2015 saw the government grant a contract to Adobe Corp. for a fully hosted service with a content delivery network, analytics, and hosting environments. Adobe then contracted Amazon Web Services in the U.S. to handle all of the government’s website data.

That contract has been extended by one year, and the value of it has grown exponentially – to $9.2 million.

It would seem that Canada.ca is now no longer as Canadian as it sounds. With all the reputable and reliable web hosting providers in Canada that would have no problem accommodating such a busy client, it’s worth taking a look at why the Federal Government would make this move.

Related to the Cloud & ‘Unclassified’

The Government recently produced a draft plan for cloud computing that recommended that data deemed to be “unclassified” by the government — meaning it’s seen as being of no potential harm on a national or personal level — can be stored on servers outside of Canada.

There is however some debate as to whose responsibility it is to determine what information should be considered sensitive. Further, when information is deemed sensitive, it remains unclear how that data will be stored, and where it will be stored. Of course, this raises some obvious questions on the part of registered Canadians who want to know that personal data is always entirely secure.

Spokespersons have reported that no sensitive information is being stored on the American servers, adding further that as more departments join the Canada.ca website – Canada Revenue Agency being the most notable – there will need to be workarounds implemented to ensure that sensitive data is not relayed on to the American servers.

Cloud Makes $ and Sense for Canada

The appeal of cloud computing for the Canadian government is that it will help them get better value for taxpayers’ dollars, become more streamlined in its operations, as well as better meet the evolving needs of Canadians.

Managed Web Services will be used solely to deliver non-sensitive information and services to visitors. Similarly, secure systems such as a person’s ‘My CRA’ Account will continue to be hosted on separate platforms and servers within the current GC network.

The previous Conservative government spearheaded the move to Canada.ca in 2013, and it was regarded as being a key part of the federal government’s technological transformation. The idea was to help the government save money and become more efficient by creating better efficiencies between the technological needs of the 90 departments and agencies that will be a part of Canada.ca very soon. Prior to all of this, each of the entities had their own website that came with a URL that the majority of people found very hard to remember.

All departments have until December 2017 to take themselves over to the new Canada.ca website.

Marea Reaches Shore: High-Capacity Telecom Cable Now Stretches Across Atlantic

The world of digital and fibre-optic technologies continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and this week we saw one of the most profound examples of just how much of a priority the business world is placing on web-based technologies. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a leading Canadian web hosting provider who always has a little more wind in our sails due to the fact that we’re so passionate about anything and everything that pertains to our industry.

As such, the news that a high-capacity fibre optic cable that left Virginia Beach, USA much earlier in the year has now emerged on the coast of Spain is a profound development that definitely excites us and is very much worth sharing with our customers.

‘Marea’ (Spanish for ‘tide’), as the cable has been named, has been funded by Facebook, Microsoft, and Telxius – a subsidiary of the Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica – and is the highest-capacity cable to have ever crossed the Atlantic. In terms of significance, it represents a weighty shift in the balance of power in the submarine-cable industry. Up until now, transcontinental cables have been funded by telco consortia, and the arrangement tended to be that they would offer capacity on those systems to customers like Facebook and Microsoft for a price.

Recent years have seen skyrocketing demand for global bandwidth, and that trend has made it so that the largest of these customers have had no choice but to join in the funding of construction projects which always cost hundreds of millions of dollars at a minimum.

This one is worth that level of investment and then some. Marea is more than 4,000 miles long and boasts transmission speeds of up to 160 terabits per second. To put that in perspective, it’s roughly 16 million times faster than the average home internet connection and equipped to stream 71 million high-definition videos simultaneously.

It’s well understood that international network bandwidth and traffic have been growing in leaps and bounds, although the growth rate has been slowed notably in recent years.

The fact, however, that this bandwidth and traffic grew at an annual rate well in excess of 30% between 2013 and 2017 does show the need for these types of advances and cross-continental information-exchange infrastructure. Approximately 196 Tbps of new international internet capacity was added over those 4 years, upping global capacity to 295 Tbps, but that figure doesn’t include domestic network routes.

Marea’s capacity is downright impressive, coming in at about 1/15th of that global total. As mentioned, the cable sets out from Virginia Beach, Virginia, on the US side, and lands in Bilbao, Spain. Virginia Beach is 230 miles to the south of Ashburn, Virginia, and that’s very much by design as Ashburn is the largest data center market in North America, and one that’s well on its way to becoming the largest in the world.

The appeal for Facebook and Microsoft is clear too; 4 Microsoft Azure cloud data centers are located in Virginia, and Facebook leases data center space in Virginia too. The Facebook-owned data center that’s nearest to Virginia Beach is about 400 miles to the northwest in Forest City, North Carolina.

Lastly, it’s interesting to note that another submarine cable, this one belonging to Tata Communications, connects the same Spanish town, Bilbao, to England and the UK and then to Portugal. Cables linking Europe to Africa and the Middle East are then accessible from Portugal.

Exciting times for those of us who are beyond keen to have the fastest and most thorough data and network connections for both business and personal pursuits. What’s nearly certain though is that – as hard as it may be to believe – it’s quite conceivable that these new submarine cables may one day become insufficient themselves. Such is the nature and projection of the digital world!

 

 

7 WordPress Plug-Ins Guaranteed to Boost SEO Big Time

WordPress continues to be the most predominant web publishing platform around, and the many years it’s had that title is a testament to just how intuitive, versatile, and capable it is for taking your content and making it presentable on the web. The old adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ certainly applies, and while WordPress is elementally the same as it was when first rolled out in 2003.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’ve always had a front row view of just how well embraced WordPress is in the digital world, and in addition to be a quality Canadian web hosting provider we also try to have our thumb on the pulse of as many aspects of the industry as we can. Page rankings are going to be important for anyone who’s on the web for commercial or promotional purposes. In fact, 61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their number one priority.

So this week we’re going to share a handful of WordPress plug-ins that are a breeze to install and will serve to improve your site SEO.

  1. Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress

Feel free to regard Yoast as the Maserati of SEO plugins. It’s usually the first one that will be recommended by an experienced marketer. It is incredibly easy to use and can help you optimize multiple aspects of your WordPress site, addressing and optimizing your URL, meta description, chosen tags, keyword density, internal and external links, and content readability.

It works by first selecting a focus keyword. Next, it will analyze your SEO and provide recommendations on where improvements could be made. Green indicates you’re good as is, orange means your page needs some work, and red means you need to start from scratch as there’s multiple deficiencies. Yoast will then serve up specific actions you can choose to move ‘up’ in the colour spectrum.

Even if you’re decidedly technically inept, you’ll likely have your SEO amped right up with this plugin.

  1. All in One SEO Pack

Yoast definitely takes top spot, but this is quite likely the second best overall SEO plugin (plus the 3+ million installs to date suggest it’s effective). All in One SEO pack was first developed in 2007 and has evolved over the past 10 years to meet the majority of demands today’s SEO marketers tend to have.

All in One SEO Pack includes robust features such as:

  • Automatic meta tag generation
  • Title optimization
  • XML sitemap support for a site that’s more readable to search engines
  • Prevention of duplicate content being created

Essentially, it addresses all of the major elements of effective SEO and – like Yoast – it works with WordPress like a charm.

  1. SEOPressor

SEOPressor also gets high marks from us. This plugin works under the same premise as Yoast and the All in One SEO Pack, delivering comprehensive on-page SEO analysis, as well as providing tips for improvements.

SEOPressor is great as an ‘insta-advisor’, helping you make ideal small tweaks and adjustments that will boost your overall SEO quality. Also, like the preceding two, you don’t need to be anything of a ‘computer whiz’ to get installed and going to work for you.

  1. SEO SQUIRRLY

When top SEO experts like Neil Patel of Kissmetrics and Brian Dean of Backlinko endorse a plug-in, you can A) know it’s good stuff, and B) trust it’s been designed for non-SEO experts.

How SEO SQUIRRLY differs from other plug-ins is that it puts an emphasis on helping you create content that’s designed equally for both search engines and human readers. The importance of this is in the fact that Google places a strong emphasis on positive user experience when orienting their ever-changing algorithms.

SEO SQUIRRL helps you find great keywords, analyzes your articles, offers advice on how to resolve issues, and helps you optimize your content for human consumption, plus it generates an XML sitemap for Google and Bing

  1. SEO Optimized Images

Image optimization is typically a lesser consideration for your WordPress-based site, yet it’s a critical aspect of SEO, and that’s often overlooked. It’s important to ensure that search engines are able to understand the content within your images.

SEO Optimized Images is a WordPress plug-in that makes it easy for inserting SEO-friendly alt attributes dynamically, along with adding valuable title attributes to your images. Long story short, it streamlines the often-laborious process of optimizing the website’s content.

  1. SEO Post Content Links

Any reputable and experienced SEO marketer will tell you that internal linking is of paramount importance for creating a strong link profile. This serves to create better indexing in search engines, it points visitors to other helpful content they may be interested in, which can increase the average amount of time spent on your site.

This is a plugin that takes the guesswork out of internal link building and streamlines the process very impressively. Further, SEO Post Content Links also helps you create proper anchor text that matches current best practices.

  1. SEO Internal Links

Here’s another plugin that’s proven effective for optimizing your site’s internal link structure. Directly from its WordPress description, SEO Internal Links ‘can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories, and tags on your blog.’ Enough said? Very likely. SEO internal links is ideal for anyone who’s not so savvy with linking or having a sound understanding of the value of linking and indexing for the website.

In a nutshell, SEO internal links is a convenient way to create internal links, while at the same time avoiding black hat SEO practices that could backfire on you big time should you choose to employ them. Quite plainly, don’t. The damage you can to your site’s credibility in the eyes of the search engine bots isn’t worth the benefits you may get, not at all.

Here’s to you trying one or more and seeing your SEO get a much-needed push up the hill!