Amnesty International Report on Instant Messaging Services and Privacy

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Skype & Snapchat, among other companies, have failed to adopt basic privacy protection as recent stated in Amnesty International’s special report “Message Privacy Ranking” report. The report compares 11 popular instant messaging services.

Companies were ranked based on their recognition of online threats to human rights, default deployment of end-to-end encryption, user disclosure, government disclosure, and publishing of the technical details of their encryption.

“If you think instant messaging services are private, you are in for a big surprise. The reality is that our communications are under constant threat from cybercriminals and spying by state authorities. Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk,” Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Amnesty International’s Technology and Human Rights Team said in a statement.

“Snapchat” only scored 26 points in the report (out of 100) and Blackberry was rated even worse at 20 points). Skype has weak encryption, scoring only 40.

The middle group in the rankings included Google, which scored a 53 for its Allo, Duo, & Hangouts apps, Line and Viber, with 47 each, and Kakao Talk, which scored a 40.

The report also stated “that due to the abysmal state of privacy protections there was no winner.”

On a side not protecting privacy rights is also part of the motivation behind the Let’s Encrypt Project, which to use to supply free SSL Certificates.

Amnesty International has petitioned messaging services to apply “end-to-end encryption” (as a default feature) to protect: activists, journalists, opposition politicians, and common law-abiding citizens world-wide. It also urges companies to openly publish and advertise the details about their privacy-related practices & policies.

About the most popular instant messaging app: “Whatsapp” – Facebook has thrown everybody a new surprise twist.

WhatsApp is updating its privacy policy. Facebook wants your data and end-to-end encryption is going to soon be shut off.
WhatsApp , now owned by Facebook, started some uproar this week after the announcement that it’s changing its terms (or privacy) to *allow* data to be shared with Facebook. It means that for the first time Whatsapp will give permission to connect accounts to Facebook. This is after pledging, in 2014, that it wouldn’t do so – and has now backtracked.

WhatsApp now says that it will give the social networking site more data about its users – allowing Facebook to suggest phone contacts as “friends”.

“By coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp,” Whatsapp has written.

“By connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. … For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of.”

Many aren’t pleased with the move, especially since WhatsApp previously promised not to change its privacy settings.
If you want to carry on using whatsapp, you can’t opt out of the Facebook connection feature, as the update of terms and privacy policy is compulsory. “This allows us to do things like improve our app’s performance and better coordinate,” says WhatsApp.

The app’s end-to-end encryption will also be stopped. However previously the company implemented it earlier this year and claimed it made conversations more secure.

The popular messaging service’s recent change in privacy policy to start sharing users’ phone numbers with Facebook—the first policy change since WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 – has attracted regulatory scrutiny in Europe.

The Italian antitrust watchdog on Friday also announced a separate probe into whether WhatsApp obliged users to agree to sharing personal data with Facebook.

The European Union’s 28 data protection authorities said in a statement they had requested WhatsApp stop sharing users’ data with Facebook until the “appropriate legal protections could be assured” to avoid falling foul of EU data protection law.

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy involves the sharing of information with Facebook for purposes that were not included in the terms of service when users signed up, raising questions about the validity of users’ consent, known as the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), as the European authorities have responded with.

The Wp29 group also urges WhatsApp to stop passing user data to Facebook while it investigates the legality of the arrangement.
Subsequently a spokeswoman for WhatsApp said the company was working with data protection authorities to address their questions.

Facebook has had run-ins with European privacy watchdogs in the past over its processing of users’ data. However, the fines that regulators can levy are paltry in comparison to the revenues of the big U.S. tech companies concerned.

The European regulators will discuss the Yahoo and WhatsApp cases in November.

“The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) has serious concerns regarding the manner in which the information relating to the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy was provided to users and consequently about the validity of the users’ consent,” it writes.

“WP29 also questions the effectiveness of control mechanisms offered to users to exercise their rights and the effects that the data sharing will have on people that are not a user of any other service within the Facebook family of companies.”

We haven’t heard of any discussion within Canada as of yet.

Thank you for reading the 4GoodHosting blog. We would love to hear from you.

Google & Facebook will be Building a Big Trans-Pacific Fiber-Optic Cable

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Map published by Facebook

Google and Facebook are engaging in a partnership to pay for the laying of what will be one of the highest-capacity undersea data cables – piping data in the form of light all the way across the Pacific; bridging Los Angeles & Hong Kong.

This project is the second partnership Facebook has joined in. It is yet another current example recent big business in the submarine-fiber optic cable industry. This internet-centric industry has traditionally been dominated by group of private, and government, carriers.

Companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon operate huge-scale data centers that deliver various internet services to people worldwide. These internet big boys have are quickly reaching a point where their global bandwidth needs are so high that it makes more sense for them to fund cable construction projects directly; rather than to purchase capacity from established carriers.

Previously this year, in May 2016, Facebook announced that teamed up with Microsoft on a high capacity cable across the Atlantic called “MAREA”. This cable will be linking internet backbone hubs in Virginia Beach, and Bilbao, in Spain. Telefonica will be administrating this future transatlantic data line.

Europe and the Asia Pacific region are important markets internet services giants. The MAREA cable will boost bandwidth levels between both companies’ data centers both in Asia and the US.

The submerged fibre line is named the “Pacific Light Cable Network”, named after Pacific Light Data Communications, Inc – the 3rd partner of the project.

Both the MAREA and Pacific Light cable will be built by “TE SubCom”; one of the biggest names in the submarine fibre optic cable industry.

The 120Tbps (Terabits per second) PLCN system will provide greater diversity in transpacific cable routes, as Facebook recently published. “Most Pacific subsea cables go from the United States to Japan, and this new direct route will give us more diversity and resiliency in the Pacific,” Facebook’s article states.

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One difference that PLCN and MAREA have from traditional transoceanic cable systems is they will be interoperable with different networking equipment; rather than being designed to function with specific or proprietary landing-station technologies. Companies will be able to choose what optical equipment best fits their needs best. When better technology become available, the companies involved will be able to change or upgrade that equipment – as better technologies becomes available. Equipment refreshes can occur as optical technology improves.

When equipment can be replaced by better technology at a quicker pace, costs should go down and bandwidth rates should increase more quickly.

Another cable, “FASTER”, is backed by Google and several Asian telecommunications and IT services companies, became operational in early 2016. Yet another big submarine cable project is the “New Cross Pacific Cable System”, which is backed by Microsoft and several Asian telecoms. NCP is expected to light up in 2017.

Also earlier this year; Amazon Web Services made its first direct investment on a submerged cable – helping make the planned “Hawaiki” Submarine Cable project between the US, Australia, and New Zealand possible. Both before-mentioned cables are to be surfacing in Oregon.

High speed optical cable is bringing the world together at the speed of light faster than ever before. At the speed of light, approximately 186,000 miles per second, data can circle the whole world more than 7 times a second.

Due to factors such as this, 4GoodHosting.com intends to continue serving websites all over the world, and reaching a larger, global market of new customers who wish to have their website hosted from Canada. (a most liberal, low-key & relaxed country)

Glorify Your Website (8 Easy Tips)

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Website security is an everlasting major concern, not just for your website host and you – but especially for your site visitors.

In 2016 malware infections are down about half as previous years. The major reason for this is because the average internet surfer is paying more attention to the sites they visit and what they download on their computers and phones.

A big part of competing in the internet marketplace is proving ‘trust” to visitors. A high-security reputation you’ll capture more customers, leads, and revenue.

Now how can you build confidence for your visitors?

Below are a few easy techniques on you can secure your website and give it the right kind of impression.

Design for a Professional Appearance

Above all, 1st impressions count tons. Use high-quality graphics/images. Make sure an appropriate layout of your webpages, and typography, for your site’s purpose. Don’t clutter your pages with too many sponsored ads and flashy elements. If your website resembles a kid’s art project – then you will most likely not be earning trust for those who open your website.

Also small errors, such as a misspelled word, or a missing or broken image will rapidly diminish your credibility – so be sure to triple-check all content and graphics on your website. Broken frustrate site visitors and make people wonder if you are sometimes maintaining your web pages. To check for broken links, just drop your domain into a online broken link checker.

It important to prove your website represent a real business

On your contact page, include your address & phone number on your contact page. Write short employee profiles on your about page, possible with photos – and display Better Business Bureau (BBB) and maybe also your local Chamber of Commerce insignia’s on your website.

Further explain why you should be trusted

It’s really not enough to simply display “trust seals”. Don’t be shy about letting your site visitors realize that that you have taken much effort in the past to earn their trust. If you have earned it before than plug your special industry awards or positive articles others have written. Display your credentials prominently. Recognize employees on social media for their community service. Are you a member of a respected organization in your field? Bring it up…

Trust Badges

Trust badges doesn’t take much effort; like PayPal’s “verified” (which shows that show that your website is secure). If your website is missing a trust seal, you might be losing about half your prospects. ” When it comes to web hosting and additional security decisions trust badges show that your company partners only with credible industry experts.

Testimonials

A lot of people trust testimonials or social proof, and some brands are missing opportunities to capitalize on their good reputation by not displaying them prominently. When WikiJobs moved its testimonials from the bottom of the page to the top, it saw a dramatic 34 percent increase in conversion rates, based on A/B testing results.

Update Content Regularly


Whether you post new articles every day, twice a week, or bimonthly, stick to a predictable schedule. That way site visitors will see evidence that you are an active business and that others are reading your content (based on your social likes, shares, and comments).

Leverage Relationships

If you have trouble finding time to create newsworthy content, consider inviting guest bloggers — ones who are well-respected by your followers, of course — to pen posts for your blog.
To out-perform your competition, it is critically important to legitimize your website. These tips will help strengthen your reputation as a trustworthy business from the moment a potential customer lands on your site.

Make It Easy to Navigate Your Site

Part of legitimizing your website is making it user friendly. Business to Community (B2C) recommends that you only include the “most important” (or the most heavily trafficked) pages in your permanent navigation bar. Move the less visited links to dropdown menus.

Do you need a SSL for increased website security and customer confidence?

The Art of Emailing Customers

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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On the internet, email is the standard communication medium. It’s the go-to communication for brands. Email is the most direct channel, it boasts a higher ROI than any other channel and it helps build loyalty and relationships on a much deeper level than any other channel.

Right now, more than half the world is connected to an email account. By the end of 2017, email addresses are expected to increase, to about 5 billion accounts worldwide.

When sending emails to your small business customers, you need an effective strategy.

1. Welcome Email

First impressions are everything. And a welcome email sets the tone for the relationship. So, roll out the red carpet for your customer.

According to Experian, welcome emails generate 4x the open rates and 5x the click rates compared to other bulk promotions.

Moreover, studies found that subscribers who receive a welcome email increase their long-term engagement with a brand by 33%.

Therefore, greet your new customers. Let readers know more about your small business. And tell them what type of emails they will receive in the future.

Write in a conversational tone. A welcome email is like a virtual handshake that accepts a new member to your group. It should be inviting and warm.

Also, consider the timing of your welcome email. It shouldn’t be two weeks after the customer bought your product or signed up for your newsletter.

2. Adoption Email

An adoption email is designed to keep your customers engaged with your products. Once they make a purchase, you want them to actually use it.

Adoption emails can be distributed in a timed sequence or to correspond with specific behaviors or actions taken. Like a good concierge, adoption emails acknowledge where recipients are in a progression, offer suggested solutions, and reaffirm motivations for the original purchase decision.

These type of email campaigns lead to faster adoption of the products or services being offered, greater incremental revenue, and increased customer loyalty.

So, start sending emails with links to video tutorials and how-to guides. And urge customers to contact you if they have any questions or concerns.

3. Thank You Email

Build rapport with your customers. Your team’s ability to make customers feel valued is the difference between a good business and a great one.

68% of clients leave because they perceive the business does not care for them. So, start treating customers more like friends and less like sources of revenue.

Sending a thank you email shows customers you appreciate them. It’s a simple gesture to build a meaningful connection.

Write simple and straightforward. Writing an amazing thank you note doesn’t take long at all, but the impact that it has is huge in today’s digital world.

Don’t assume customers know that you appreciate their business. A thank you email is a reminder that you do. And showing signs of appreciation can certainly drive growth.

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4. Customer Feedback Email

Customer satisfaction is a key factor in maintaining your business. You want buyers happy with your products.
Research shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost a company’s profitability by 25%. To maintain more customers, make the shopping experience better.

Use email to gather feedback from your small business consumers. Learn what they liked and disliked about your services.

Collecting customer feedback has to be an integral part of your business process. Getting negative and positive feedbacks are equally important.

Don’t be afraid to receive negative reviews. It will only help your team improve your business operations. So, encourage customers to provide honest feedback.

Depending on your industry, you may want to attach an incentive to your customer feedback email. Offer the customer a small discount for their feedback. Or promise to give them a shout-out on social media.

Improve the customer experience. Ask for feedback.

5. Promotional Email

Persuade customers to spend more. People love hearing about discounts and specials offers from their favorite brands.

For every $1.00 spent on email marketing, the average return is about $40. And customers are far more likely to use that purchasing power if emails contain compelling discounts.

Leverage exclusivity by framing the promotion as a ‘private’ sale. Often times, this type of positioning makes the recipient feel like they’ve specially chosen, which encourages them to take advantage of the special opportunity they’ve been presented with.

The example below stresses the exclusivity of the promotion. Plus, the buyer has only two days to shop.

Don’t water down the effect by sending promotional emails every single day. They should feel special. Also, create clear calls to action, so customers know it’s a promotion.

Highlight the product benefits. Entice customers to buy from your company.

6. Reminder Email

Roughly 65% of online shopping carts are abandoned; that’s a lot of missed sales.

Use email to lure customers back to your site. A gentle nudge may spark a desire to buy a forgotten product or service.

An abandoned shopping cart does not automatically translate to a ‘lost sale,’ because three-fourths of shoppers who have abandoned shopping carts say they plan to return to the retailer’s website or store to make a purchase.
And don’t just email customers about their shopping carts. Remind them of the value. Tell your customers why it’s important that they purchase the product.

For example, your buyer purchases a monthly supply of vitamins. Encourage them to reorder so they don’t miss a dosage.

Email reminders can increase revenue with little investment. Prompt your audience to take action today.

7. Educational Email

Always make an effort to educate your customers. It’s an effective tool to ensure your customers remain engaged.
Relevant content informs the customer about topics important to them.

Efforts to enhance customers’ knowledge and provide them with the skills and abilities to use critical information can help companies differentiate their service offerings and provide a strong foundation on which to build trusting relationships with customers.

But don’t disguise marketing materials as educational. Marketing ploys can quickly turn your customers away.
Instead, teach consumers something about the industry. Or even show them new ways to use your product.

Moreover, educated customers make the best brand ambassadors. With their newfound information, they will be more willing to share your brand with others. Ignorance doesn’t result in confident customers. So, strive to keep your customers informed.

Summary:

Email helps facilitate the customer relationships. Your team has the opportunity to talk directly with the buyer. Therefore, it’s vital to make every email account.

Send a welcome message to introduce your brand. Thank customers for their purchases. Send promotional discounts. And educate the buyer about your product.

Initiate communication. Build relationships with email.

All our Canadian web hosting plans come with fell email capability.

United States/Canada to cede internet oversight to emerging UN global cabal

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The name of the organization with seen to remain the same, “ICANN”, but the people is power over the organization is about to shift, without your vote, Oct 1st to an assemblage of the world body politic, mostly compose of despots and dictators. The effect of this is still yet to be seen, but one key person involved in today’s political fray, presidential candidate Donald Trump, opposed the lackluster plan.

Basically, the current domain name system as you have grown to know, and trust, is about to go under changes that could easily lead to intimidation and censorship against free speech. Protection of grassroots political speech is also at risk. The world can go on with less adult websites, but the world simply won’t be as good or nice of a place without freedom of speech in other regards. The founders of America frequently stated that the citizenry must always be vigilant and jealously guard their rights and freedoms. This is the attitude now on the podium of Donald Trump; the only candidate opposed to the plan to hand over control of the internet to a conflicted party of those seeking ever more power in the world.

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is currently conducting verbal opposition to the semi-secretively planned transition of oversight of the internet’s domain name system (DNS) management from the US-based governance to the UN, a global organization of political stakeholders from around the world; which could abrogate and hand-over control of the internet itself to authoritarian regimes such as China and Saudi Arabia and others; foreseeably threatening online freedom. Internet DNS is basically a directory for internet-connected devices that helps translate domain names to numerical IP addresses.

He strongly contends that the US Congress should act swiftly block the handover, scheduled to occur next week on Oct. 1 2016, or as his campaign policy director Stephen Miller stated “internet freedom will be lost for good, since there will be no way to make it great again once it is lost.”

The ‘handover’ of the internet DNS was proposed in March 2014, implying the transfer of oversight from the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and is soon expected to fully occur; unless Congress now acts quick and votes to block the move. Recently the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) finally signed off on the agreement.

Some congressional negotiators are currently working to finalize an agreement on a new spending package, due September 30th , allegedly containing a provision to delay the transition.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports the Obama administration’s planned transition to give the UN control over everyone’s domain names. If that happens, a highly entrenched foreign political power would have control if anyone’s domain expires earlier than expected, without option to renew – and perhaps even with more authoritarian controls.

This is the workings of the current government and system that everyone worldwide is paying taxes in support of. Please share this article and/or speak your mind directly with others who should be concerned as well.

This page explains domain purchasing today.

BREAKING NEWS: The Link Tax is Officially on its Way

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Currently, the European Union has some of the worst copyright laws in the world. If left unopposed, this could quickly leak over into Canada too.

The new proposals include the unprecedented new “Link Tax” for publishing giants, allowing them to charge fees for reposting links that contain 100 character snippets of “copyrighted” text.

On September 14th, 2016 the EU Commission presented these new rule proposals to the European Parliament. Earlier leaks hinted the rules were worse than originally feared, and the recent announcement proved it. Not only Europeans, but everyone simply has to help stop this now.

Despite online opposition leading up to this point from over 100,000 Internet users, and many dozens of civil society groups, the EU Commission has charged full force ahead with its’ abusive anti-free-speech and anti-free-association plan.

We must demand that our so called “decision-makers” and the entirety of the government absolutely reject such crazy Link Tax proposals, along with any other forthcoming disastrous copyright measures. We must all speak out now or the internet as we know it will be much more corporate and state, rather than grassroots controlled.

In addition, the EU Commission’s new rule proposals include invasive and expensive methods for 1) monitoring and 2) “filtering” user content. In other words, the censoring of content and creativity online.

In more detail:

The “Court of [In]Justice” of the European Union has ruled that it can now be illegal for websites merely to *link* to copyrighted content – such as news articles. Again, we are talking about the “mere act of linking” (or perhaps even just printing a link) to copyrighted content can in and of itself be a breach of copyright.

Today’s decision went against the previously published advice of the CJEU’s own Advocate General, who stated earlier this year that the simple act of linking should never be made illegal.

Although the CJEU created a narrow exception where links are not posted for profit, the sweeping ruling will affect any commercial enterprise, even news startups and small-audience hobby bloggers, that share links with their readers, especially those who monetize their websites by selling advertisements.

The ruling will be directly binding on the 28 EU member nations, but experts have warned it will also have a worrying global impact, given that it affects any link that is accessible within the European Union.

The CJEU proclamation states that: “when hyperlinks are posted for profit, it may be expected that the person who posted such a link should carry out the checks necessary to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published.”

This certainly places an unduly heavy burden on small businesses and bloggers who may not have the resources or the expertise to check the legality of every link they share.

Hobby bloggers who earn even a modest income from their work, such as by having ads on their blog, will now be legally responsible for ascertaining the copyright status of every item of external content they link to (music on Vimeo, photos on Flickr, etc.).

Small businesses which use Facebook for promotion will now need to check the copyright status of everything they share.

Twitter Direct Messages; now similar to chatting

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Twitter is now adding ‘read receipts’, typing indicators, and automatic web-link previews to its “direct messages” giving it chat-like functionality. These new dynamic Twitter Direct Messages allow you to see who is reading and responding to your messages.

 

Below is a recent tweet from Twitter itself:

 
New! Direct Messages are more dynamic than ever with read receipts, typing indicators, and web link previews. pic.twitter.com/VEU92V5Gqj
— Twitter (@twitter) September 8, 2016

Over the years that Twitter has been mainstream, the “tweet” has morphed from a simple 140-character text message now beholden to more creative expression featuring: hashtags, images/photos, videos, vines, and now more. Twitter has added the ability to poll your community, react quickly and cleverly with GIFs, and share and enjoy Periscope broadcasts in Tweets.

You can now do a lot in a Tweet. In the coming months Twitter will be making changes to simplify tweets including what counts towards the 140 character limit. For example, @names in replies and media attachments (like photos, videos, & polls) will no longer use up valuable characters.

Here’s a summary of planned changes:

· Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group.

· Media attachments: When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet. More room for words!

· Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.

· Goodbye”.@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Re-tweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.

Twitter will be making these and possibly more changes over the coming months. The twitter updates now in progress will have a significant impact on the art of tweeting. Twitter will be endlessly exploring ways to make tweeting easier and more content rich, somehow without excessively compromising the unique brevity that makes Twitter perhaps the very best place for live commentary, connections, and now even conversations.

Thank you for reading over the 4GoodHosting.com blog.

On Intel’s new 7th-generation core processors

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Intel has recently unveiled its ”7th-generation” core processors, with the promise of improved performance.

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(Credit: Intel Corporation)

A new 7th generation processor die is pictured to the left.

The new processors have new numbered codes to identify them as 7th generation, but, these codes also mix the “Core m” name in the with the “Core i” branding. “Core i” processors have always been powerful processors for high-end laptops and “Core m” processor are typically used in in smaller and less-powerful devices. However, processors which were formally called the m5 and m7 and now listed under the i5 and i7 lines.

Intel stated on their website that the renaming decision is intended to make it simpler for consumers to select a processor – but we think the naming convention will just befuddle our customers. Consumers can still identify the ‘Core m’ chips in the ‘Core i” range by looking out for a ‘Y’ in the number.

Here is an example for the uninitiated: “Core i5-7Y54” is a former “m” chip, but the original “Core i” line will continue with model codes such as “i5-7200U”.

New product class now known as“Kaby Lake“:

“Kaby Lake” is the code name for Intel’s 7th generation Core processors. It is a relatively a minor upgrade over 6th-gen “Skylake” release, yet it is still an significant improvement which makes 2017’s pc and laptop market ever more interesting.

Kaby Lake is a minor upgrade which means there are really no major structural changes to overall design and what the processor capable of. Previously, each generation saw a reduction in process size, smaller and lower power consumption and a more powerful architecture.

Tweaks to Speed up Your Website – Part II

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As a website owner, the impact of your website speed on traffic, conversions and revenue should not be underestimated. A report by Akaimi found that 46% of people on the internet expect a wesbite’s pages to load in less than 2 seconds and 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Many other studies have been published on the impact of website speed, another study found that a 1 second delay in site loading time resulted in a 6% conversion decrease, and 12% decrease in page views and a 15% decrease in customer satisfaction. As you might already know Google uses website speed as a ranking factor.

So, having a slow loading website will negatively impact the following:

  • Brand image and perception in the mind of your visitors
  • Traffic & page views
  • Conversions
  • Sales

Before you start optimizing your website to load faster, there are two things you should consider:

First, go and check your current website load-time via Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. This helps you to compare the speed increases once you have tweaked your site.

Secondly, make sure to back-up your site as some of the methods require tweaking/editing files that can mess up your site. Here’s how to back up WordPress website and here’s how to backup any other…

Here are the tweaks, in no particular order. Just pick ones that you think can be easily performed first.

1) Remove Unnecessary Plugins & Add-ons

Unnecessary plugins and add-ons can reduce your website speed by A LOT, and it’s especially important to pay attention to them if you use blogging CMSs like WordPress or Drupal.

For reference, you might be able to increase your page load times for 4 second to 1.5 seconds.

It’s very important to note that it’s not just about the number of plugins you have installed on your website but about the quality as well. A website with 50 plugins can load much faster than a website with 10 plugins if the website with fewer plugins have crappy plugins. Generally, you want to avoid plugins that load a lot of scripts and styles, plugins that perform lots of remote requests and plugins that add extra database queries to every page on your website.

Indeed, plugins help enhance your website’s functionality but it is also important to only use a plugin if you’re convinced that it is absolutely necessary.

If you’re a WordPress user, you might want to install the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler);

This plugin will scan all of your WordPress plugins to find the bottlenecks, and give you a report so that you can see how each plugin affects your website performance.

2) Significantly Limit (or Remove) Social Sharing Buttons on Your Website

If you believe that you need to have 100 social sharing buttons on your website, think again. It’s hard to pinpoint research that establishes a massive boost in website traffic due to having social sharing buttons (if anything, too many social sharing buttons will confuse your readers), but research shows that a slow website does reduce traffic.

Most social sharing buttons use JavaScript, and this can be very troublesome when it comes to performance; social media site, outages significantly impacts the website speed of people who have installed their share buttons.

The solution is to either limit/remove social sharing buttons, or to configure them to load asynchronously so that an outage of a particular social media site won’t slow down your website.

3) Enable Expires Headers

There are several factors that influence how fast a website is, but the server response time contributes a great deal to site speed; the more requests are being made to your server, the slower it’ll take your website to load.

Expires Headers tell your visitor’s browser when to request certain files from your server vs. from their browser cache; if an Expires Headers is configured so that your visitor’s browser only request a file once in a month, and that file has been stored in their cache from a recent visit, then their browser won’t request that file again until a month is over. This is like a double-edged sword for boosting site speed because it limits the number of HTTP requests on your server and at the same time reduces load on your server since the same file won’t be requested repeatedly.

If you want to implement Expires Headers on your website, this GTmetrix tutorial shows you how.

4) Enable HTTP Keep-Alive

Usually, when a visitor’s web browser tries to request a file from your web server, it will grab each file individually; in other words, a connection closes when a file has been grabbed, and then reopens to request a new file. This uses more processor, network and memory and eventually leads to a slower website if there’s a lot of load on your server. Enabling HTTP keep-alive ensures that all file requests to your server will be made via a single open connection, leading to a much faster website for your users by limiting the number of connections to your server.

You can enable keep-alive by copying and pasting the code below into your .htaccess file:

Header set Connection keep-alive.

5) Enable Caching

Caching ensures a much faster experience for your website users by storing a version of your website on their browser and serving them that version until your website is updated or until you instruct it to refresh the version of your website they are served.

Enabling caching for your website can boost its speed significantly, and research shows that enabling a full cache for a website can reduce the website loading time from 2.4 seconds to 0.9 seconds; now, that’s massive!

There are different ways to enable website caching depending on what platform you are using; for WordPress, you can install the following plugins:

If you want something more advanced, go ahead and buy WP Rocket (it’s probably the best!). For Drupal, you can follow this resource.

Here are more tutorials on how to enable caching for your website:

6) Optimize and Reduce Image Size

Un-optimized images can be very heavy, and as a result use a lot of server resources and take longer to load; if the average image size on your website is 1mb or 2mb+, you’ve got serious work to do.

7) Regularly Optimize Your Database

This is an often ignored but very powerful way to boost your website speed; it is especially effective if you use WordPress or any CMS that rely heavily on database usage.

Some CMSs, and the plugins you install, rely a lot on your database to save data; this increases data stored in your database as you use the CMS/plugin, making your website gradually slower. This especially applies to plugins that save logs, statistics and user data. It also applies if you use WordPress and enable post revisions, pingbacks and trackbacks.

You can make your website much faster by regularly cleaning up your database, a process that can be automated with the WP-Optimize plugin if you use WordPress, or manually (for other platforms)

8) Minify Javascript and CSS Files

If your website uses a lot of JavaScript and CSS files, there’s a high likelihood that your site is telling your visitor’s browser to treat these files individually; this leads to a lot of requests that eventually impacts your site speed negatively. Minifying JavaScript and CSS files reduces the number of individual JavaScript and CSS files, by having them in one place, thus significantly improving your website speed.

9) Combine Your Background Images into Image Sprites

The more requests a user’s browser has to make to your server, the slower your website will be for that user; most website templates are made up of multiple background images, and this ends up creating several different requests whenever visitor’s try to load the website. The solution to this is to combine those images into one, so that a visitor’s browser only has to request one image when trying to load your website; this can be achieved with image Sprites.

By combining background images into image sprites, you’ll be able to reduce request overhead, the number of bytes your visitor’s browser downloads and delay caused by roundtrips made when your server is downloading other resources. This will lead to a much faster website.

You can use SpriteMe to combine your images into sprites, or you can follow the suggestions in this Smashing Magazine article.

10) Avoid Image Hotlinking and External Requests

Image hotlinking, also known as “inline linking” is the act of linking to an image on another person’s website, instead of loading the image on your own server. On the surface, this seems like an act that will save you a lot of bandwidth, especially if you have a high-traffic site, but it can actually make your website really slow if the website that hosts the image you hotlinked is experiencing a downtime or is slow.

Whether it is images inside your content, or banner images for your ads, be sure to first host your images on your website before linking to them.

To ensure a fully functional website, you have to rely on files and resources from other websites; as a result, you have to embed videos, presentations and other multimedia files. While this isn’t necessarily bad, if it’s too much or if you’re requesting external files from slow websites, it can have an impact on your site load time.

Try to limit the number of external requests your website will make; if possible, host as many files as you can on your server. For other files, only let your website request them from very reliable websites.

11) Prevent Others from Hotlinking Your Images

Just as it is important to avoid hotlinking other people’s images, you should also prevent others from hotlinking your own images.

When people hotlink your images, they are basically stealing your bandwidth since a request will be made to your server every time their readers tries to view the images on their website. You can prevent this by disabling hotlinking of images hosted on your server.

This article on Hongkiat will teach you how to prevent hotlinking of your images, and this tool will help you automatically generate an .htaccess file that prevents your images from being hotlinked.

Your Turn To Test Your Website Speed

After implementing the above suggestions, you should go ahead and test your website speed to see if there’s a difference (leave a comment below if you see difference :). Here are my top recommendations for testing your website speed:

Pingdom Website Speed Test: With this tool, you should aim to get a reduced site load time as well as a reduced number server requests. This tool also compares your website speed to other websites online.

GTMetrix: This tool analyzes your website speed using Google Page speed Insights and and gives you a rating from A to F. It also offers suggestions for improvement.

Webpage Analyzer: This tool gives you information on your page size and website download time, and it offers suggestions on how to improve your site load time.

Google Pagespeed Insights: You should aim towards a score closer to 100. It also has a mobile speed test tool that you can use.

Yslow: This tool analyzes your website speed based on Yahoo!’s rules for website performance.

WebPage Test: The closer your score is to 100, the faster your website is.

You need professional web developers who specialize in technical SEO services, understanding how to diagnose and fix the problems that might be hindering your website from operating at top speed and efficiency – 4GH can help.

With years of experience in the industry, we’ve assisted numerous clients in achieving faster and more efficient websites through our affordable seo services. Contact us to learn more about our offerings and how we can help enhance your website’s performance.

 

The Biggest Common Mistakes Made with purchasing Facebook (mobile) ads

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Mobile advertisements are the new big market arena and will likely stay that way for a long time. That is, perhaps until we become telepathic? Mobile ad spending will account for more than 60% percent of the industry by 2017.

Smartphones, tablets,even watches are already what today’s shopper uses to discover products and services across the internet. Perpetually siphoning in endless content and digital social venues. Shopkeepers and service providers have already smelled the blood.

Nowhere is this shift to mobile more noticeable than with Facebook. Facebook interaction is also mostly happening over mobile devices; more than a billion daily active users/losers. Over 80% percent of ad revenue on Facebook revenue is mobile.

If you are hoping to rope in conversions/customers from FB advertising, the double your mobile.

First, beware of the common FB advertising money-pit-falls.

Don’t Ignore call conversions

As people are naturally staring at their phone in hand whenever noticing an interesting digital advertisement, they usually prefer to call rather than type.

The number of mobile advertisement call conversion to businesses is expected again to triple over 35 billion inquiries by 2019.

Call conversions are not something most digital marketers have given much attention to – yet click-to-call and ‘whatsapp’-type free-voip functionality is heavily re-landscaping the marketplace.

Today’s supercomputer phones are still phones. Even better, click-to-call is therefore the easiest conversion path for consumers considering a purchase. Motto of this paragraph is to make sure to optimize your FB ad campaigns for call conversions.

· Include an easily-readable phone number or call button on every ad or banner on your website.
· Test your ad’s “call now” button; your ad’s main call to action.
· Do your best to accurately measure “cost per lead” to prove and/or improve ROI, return on your “advertisement”