What SEO Is Not

SEO is one of the biggest buzz words (actually, it’s an acronym) in marketing.

It is also one of the most ambiguous. With the complexity of the algorithms Google and other search engines use to determine search engine rankings, it is no wonder so many are at a loss for where to start. Sometimes, though, it’s not just about doing what’s right; it’s also about avoiding what’s wrong.

Let’s explore what tasks should be kept on the do not do list.

Do not pay $4.99 for 500 links.

Or $5.99 or even $6.99!

In other words, be leery of link sellers that promise you spectacular results for dirt cheap. Many of them implement the shadiest techniques and are more likely to get your site penalized than number one rankings.

If you want to rank well you will need to make an investment. Find a company that will be transparent about their process, analytical in reporting, and responsive in communications. Or, hone up on the best practices and perform the basics on your own.

Do not think Google is the only search engine.

While Google is the biggest and probably most well-known search engine in the U.S., it isn’t the only one. Both Yahoo and Bing are hovering around 15% of the online searches each (source). A lot of the techniques will be the same to rank well across search engine algorithms, but it is a good idea to take note of differences between the major three players (Google, Yahoo, & Bing).

Do not optimize for SEO. Optimize for users.

The ultimate point of your website is not for search engine spiders to deem your site worthy, it’s for consumers to find you, learn about you, and ultimately become an advocate (whether that is purchasing goods, services, or supporting your cause). If you rank #1 but your visitors aren’t enjoying or revisiting your site, would you really consider it a success? Probably not. You’ll need to find the sweet spot between providing information to your visitors and writing it in a way that search engines find it relevant.

Do not limit SEO to a one-time task.

Content is constantly being added to the Internet, new websites are being published, and search engines are tweaking their algorithms to provide better results to their visitors. In light of this, if you want to see steady results from your SEO efforts, it needs to an ongoing part of your strategy. Just like if you want to be a professional athlete; you don’t buy the sports gear, practice for a day and think you have what it takes to be on top. You invest time and money in to practicing and learning the techniques necessary to succeed. The same goes with SEO.

Do not use SEO as your sole online marketing technique.

SEO is not the end all be all of online marketing. While it is important, there are also several other online channels you can use to increase traffic to your site and convert visitors into customers (PPC, social media, banner ads, email marketing, etc.)

Do not think you will jump to #1 over night.

If it were possible to jump the ranks like that you would be just as likely to be jousted from your #1 position the next day. Like I stated in #4, positive and quality SEO results will take time. SEO efforts require a long term investment.

Do not steal your competitors’ info.

Also known as “scraping” a site, not only is it unethical, it is very likely Google will penalize you for this practice and mark your site as spam. Take pride in your understanding of your target audience and tailor your content to fit them to a T.

Do not add keywords just to have them.

It used to be a common strategy to write very keyword dense content, most of the time well past the point of comprehension. Not only is this a turn off for your visitors, search engine algorithms are onto this and will penalize you. Please refer back to #3 – don’t write for spiders, write for people!

Do not think all links are created equal.

“SEO Gurus” often strive to get as many links as possible without worry about the quality of the link.

A link is a link, right? Wrong.

The fact is that quality does matter in building links. Spend time retrieving quality links, not just volume.

Green Factor – A Must Have Condition for Hosting?

When people look for web hosting services, they consider several parameters like hardware specifications of the server – storage space, processor speed, memory capacity, bandwidth, and so on.

There is however another important factor that needs to be considered, but often gets omitted from the list of requirements – that is – how environmental friendly the hosting service is?

When people think of performance, they only think in terms of computational performance. The ecological effects or green performance is never really thought about.

Do you know web hosting industry is estimated to be as polluting as the airline industry in near future?

According to Amenworld’s recent study of over 3,500 web servers, a single web server needlessly consumes 1,000 kWh on average, producing more than 630kg of CO2 annually. The figures are certainly shocking – it’s hard to believe hosting websites on the Internet can cause such damage to our earth.

Fortunately we are seeing more hosting companies taking up their responsibility in reducing the level of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by moving towards green energies.

My writer, Timothy Shim, has found a few web hosts that offer green hosting services at reasonable prices. His list of trustworthy green hosting services is published here.

How do hosting companies turn green?

No, not this green.

When we talk about “turning green” – we think “employing natural and renewable energy sources”.

So when we say “green hosting”, the logical conclusion is that the web hosting companies are using electricity that is generated from natural resources.

But that is NOT the case for 99% green hosting companies out there.

What green web hosting companies actually do is buying Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) or Carbon Offset Certificates (VER) to offset their power consumption to reach zero carbon footprint.

Green tag = Marketing Gimmick?

The idea of green web hosting is (largely) aimed

at convincing internet users that there are no negative effects on their natural environment.

Yes, theoretically, it does reduce your carbon footprint and perhaps make you feel better, that you have done some good for the earth.

My personal opinions, with no solid fact support, the environment impact of switching to a green hosting is relative small. There are other much better ways to make our earth a better place. Small acts, such as stop using straws (yes!) and carrying a tote to grocery shopping, are more effective.


Hence – I do not take in the ‘green factor’ when I am searching for a web host. If hosting companies I picked are buying green energy credits to offset your “dirty” power consumption – GREAT. But that’s not mandatory.

Instead I emphasize on server performance, features, price, and after sales support.

Then again, that’s me.

Should you factor ‘Green’ in the checklist when shopping for a web host? That’s 100%  to you! 😉

 

Why VPS Hosting?

 

  1. Separated hosting environment with its own operating system and predefined resources. Hence, unlike shared hosting, any activities conducted by your neighbor on will not affect your site performance.
  2. Host more domains at the same time.
  3. One step below dedicated hosting. Cheaper and less tech skills required.
  4. Software flexibility – install and use custom software.

More On Web Hosting

Web hosting = Domain name?

Web hosting shouldn’t be confused with domain name.

They are two different entities.

In layman’s term, a web host is like a house where the house owner can stores furniture (web contents) in it; whereas, a domain name is like the address of the house. Web hosting is the “storage space”; while a website domain name refers to the “location” of your website.

See this.

Subdomains, top level domains, and addon domains

Google.com is a domain name.

The extension ‘.com’ is known as Top Level Domain (TLD).

Some TLDs are opened and free to be registered by the publics. For instances: .com, .net, and .info. Some TLDs, on the other hand, are governed strictly by government or cyber regulations. For example .gov can be only used by government organization. Some country code TLDs, like .co.jp and .co.uk, can be only used by websites located in that particular country. But that’s not always the case. For instance, you can get a British Indian Ocean Territory domain (.io) easily with most registrars. Personally I live in Malaysia and own a number of .io domains.

Some TLDs are intended for certain special purpose, for example .org is intended for organizations’ website. Though it’s widely misused by personal websites.

Subdomain is the name in front of a domain name.

For example ‘mail.google.com’, the word ‘mail’ is a subdomain. Subdomain is often confused with an addon domain. An addon domain is the second, third, fourth… independent domain name added in a single hosting account; a subdomain, on the other hand, is a secondary domain appears in front of a domain name.

Addon domain requires the owner to renew its registration; while creating subdomains require no cost at all.

Types of web hosting

Web hosting comes in different forms and shapes that can be categorized into five major groups, namely: shared hosting, virtual private server hosting, dedicated hosting, reseller hosting, and the cluster hosting.

Shared Web Hosting

As the name refers, a shared hosting server is shared by multiple websites. Typically, websites on a shared hosting share the same server resources (such as CPU and RAM) and IP address.

Virtual Dedicated Hosting

A virtual dedicated hosting is also known as Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. Virtual dedicated hosting separates the server into several smaller independent servers. Each website hosted on VPS hosting will have its own isolated hosting environment (hence own root folder) and unique hosting features (such as firewalls and SSH access).

Dedicated Hosting

The entire server is used by only single website (or customer) in a dedicated hosting. A dedicated hosted website enjoys better flexibility and web security. Users get full control over the server including bandwidth allocation, server operating system, and other custom web server features.

Reseller Hosting

Reseller hosting services allow users to become a web host themselves. The server in reseller hosting is parted into smaller pieces (shared hosting) and can be sold to others.

Cluster Hosting

Cluster hosting is also known as cloud hosting. A cluster hosting is the perfect solution for websites that require massive amount of processing power (such as complex web applications or huge web traffics) as a cluster-hosted website has access to a number of connected servers’ resources.

Unix Hosting vs Windows Hosting

Unix hosting normally refers to web host running on Linux or FreeBSD operating system.

Windows hosting, on the other hand, runs on Windows OS like Windows Server 2003 or 2008.

There are both pros and cons running a website on Unix or Windows hosting – Unix OS is open-source software, thus it’s free and tested widely; Windows OS on the other hand is critical if you need to run Microsoft web applications (such as asp.net).

 

 

 

The Rationale Behind Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates

Trust is a perennial issue on the Internet – it has always been and (probably) will always be. But the reality is that today’s technology has made online business transactions more the norm rather than the exception.

From the end-user’s point of view, convenience against security presents a dilemma.

  • How do I know I’m looking at a legitimate website?
  • Is that really my bank’s website I’m looking at on my browser?
  • Is there real business behind the site that offers such insanely cheap price?
  • Those questions and other similar ones are common enough – and certainly valid.

From the perspective of the business owners on the other hand, such mistrust and ambivalence is bad for business. Understandably, everyone seeks guarantee and assurance when they do business online.

The Basics of SSL Certificate

Secure Sockets Layer or SSL was developed by Netscape in 1994. It’s a worldwide standard security technology which creates encrypted link to ensure all data that passes between the web server and the web browser remains confidential and secure. Millions of consumers recognize and associate the “padlock” displayed on the browser as the icon of trust on the website.

E-business providers protect their customers and guarantee that online transactions are kept safe and private through SSL protocol, which they can only use upon issuance of the required SSL certificate. This certificate, which is issued by the Certification Authorities or CA, provides the opportunity for e-Business website owners to demonstrate their trustworthiness; thus, leverage an increased level of trust among visitors and turn them into paying customers.

What the Customers See

URLs with an SSL connection use https instead of just http. The “s” at the end obviously stands for “secure”. When the customer clicks on the Padlock your SSL Certificate and company details are displayed.

Company details

SSL Certificates typically contain your domain name and company name; your address, inclusive of city, state and country; details of the Certification Authority responsible for the issuance of the Certificate; and the expiry date of the Certificate. Take note that only certificates issued by High Assurance Certification Authorities actually display company details; which is another assurance that customers may be looking for when making an online purchase.

Expiry date

When a browser connects to a secure site, it does three things: It retrieves the SSL Certificate and check that it has been issued by a Certification Authority that the browser trusts, that it is being used by the website for which it has been issued, and that it has not expired. Failing on any one of these checks causes a warning to be displayed to the end user. Some customers also get concerned when they see that the certificate is soon to expire. It is important therefore, to renew your certificate with ample time to spare before the actual expiration date. A smart alternative is to purchase a multi-year certificate to minimize set up costs; plus, your customer will find it reassuring that you will still be around in the years to come.

Why You Need SSL Certificates?

Face it; people never buy from salesmen they don’t trust.

Majority of consumers these days expect security to be an integral part of any online service they use; they require that details they provide on the Internet are kept private and confidential.

And, beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

For most customers, the only time they will ever consider purchasing products or services online is when they are assured to full satisfaction that their detailed information is safe and secure. Thus, you need to allay consumer apprehensions by providing trust indicators. Just like the real world, it is natural need for people to feel confident before going down an unknown path. The SSL Certificate guarantees your customers that you take their security seriously and this gives them the confidence that you have eliminated the risk usually associated with online transactions.

The EV Certificate – Do you really need one?

Extended Validation or EV Certificate, which was introduced in 2007, is a significant update of the SSL Certificate validation process that introduced substantial changes to verification methods used in authenticating the identity of online businesses. It provides consumers with a higher trust level while online by identifying which websites are legitimate businesses with verifiable credentials. These new certificates are indicated when the address bar on a visitor’s browser turn green.

SSL Certificate Authorities are already performing thorough and meticulous checks to validate the legitimacy of businesses. However, various CAs currently using non EV certificates employ varied types and levels of authentication; sometimes creating online security vulnerabilities that are frequently exploited for fraud, identity theft and other Internet crimes.

In contrast, the validation process for EV Certificates requires all CAs to rigorously scrutinise each business, using a prescribed set of sources and methods, before certificates are issued. The new certificates oblige businesses to complete a comprehensive and methodical documentation and verification process of current business licenses and incorporation paperwork. The CAs has to verify the accuracy of the data through additional sources; which may include on-site visits to the business, in some cases. This is aimed at resolving the variations in validation process; thus enhance Internet security features.

To the end users, this means that e-Businesses that have EV SSL certificates are much more likely to be legitimate entities, compared to those that only have the standard SSL certificates, which can be obtained by anyone even without verification.

The bottom line

Extended Validation SSL certificates are the latest secure certificates that offer the highest level of outward security to end users on the market today. So if you ask if it is worth it to have an EV SSL Certificate, the answer is: Absolutely, YES!

Free Hosting: Myths vs Facts

Myth #1: Very limited data transfer and disk space with free web hosts

Fact: Free web hosts provide sufficient disk space and bandwidth in general. You’ll get 500 MB – 5 GB storage and 5 – 50 GB bandwidth with most free hosting providers.

The capacity is good enough for most individual blogs and small business websites for start. You can start free and look for a host in later stage.

Myth #2: Free web hosts don’t support anything besides HTML

Fact: Free web host nowadays do not limit their service for static HTML websites. In fact most free hosting providers support PHP, MySQL, CGI-BIN, SSI, ASP, and even email hosting features.

Myth #3: All free host comes with awful advertisements

Fact: Yes – back in early 2000 this is what many companies usually do – clutter clients’ websites with unwanted ads to justify the ‘free’ cost.

Not in 2018 anymore. Many free hosting providers are now offering free website hosting services without the banner ads.

In case you were looking – here are 15 free web hosts tested and reviewed by my friend Timothy. Have fun!

Pssst. Are you a student? Some companies offer free domains and hosting for students. Examplest here, here, and here.

What’s managed in managed dedicated hosting service?

There’s no clear guidelines nor industry standards set to define the management role of dedicated server providers.

However, in most cases the server hardware is owned by the dedicated hosting providers where in some cases, they will provide support for your operating system or applications. Thus for such kind of managed dedicated hosting, users get full control on the server via web based control panel on top of a team of technical personnel readily available to handle all server and network related functions and problems. These dedicated hosting is sometimes known as the ‘managed dedicated server’.

As per listed in Wikipedia, server management can include some or all of the following:

  • Operating system updates
  • Application updates
  • Server monitoring
  • Simple Network Management Protocol hardware monitoring
  • Application monitoring
  • Technical support
  • Firewall services
  • Antivirus updates
  • Security audits
  • DDoS protection and mitigation
  • Intrusion detection
  • Backups and restoration
  • Disaster recovery
  • DNS hosting service
  • Load balancing
  • Database administration
  • Performance tuning
  • Software installation and configuration
  • User management
  • Programming consultation

Dedicated hosting providers define their level of management based on the services they provide.

In comparison, fully managed could equal self managed from provider to provider.

InMotion Hosting: What you need to know as a customer

What types of service do InMotion Hosting offer?

InMotion offer Unix hosting in shared, semi-dedicated (VPS), and dedicated servers.

How can I pay InMotion Hosting as a customer?  

InMotion accept all sort of credit card payment (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), check, money order, but not PayPal and cash.

Do I get a free trial with InMotion Hosting?

Yes. InMotion offer a long 90-day money back guarantee on all shared hosting services; and 30-day money back trial period for VPS and Reseller hosting.

However, you’ll have to provide your credit card information and pay up front when you signup. If you are unhappy with their service and decide to cancel your account within the trial period, you can then ask for a refund.

Domain name registration fee is non-refundable. This means if you obtain a free domain from InMotion during signup; that registration fee will be deducted from your refund.

There will be no refunds upon completion of the 90th/30th day of subscription.

They good?

Excellent. Server stays online all the time and network speed is above average.

I ran three rounds of tests at WebPageTest and the average Time-to-First-Byte (TTFB) is below 500ms and rated A by the system. Details are published here in my InMotion Hosting review.

Can I upgrade my hosting plan with InMotion half way through my subscription?

Yes. You can always start small and upgrade your web host in later stage (when it’s necessary).

Bold Grid? InMotion Hosting?

BoldGrid is a WordPress-based site builder tool developed by InMotion Hosting. The tool comes free when you order InMotion Hosting.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to get started with InMotion’s BoldGrid.

After sales technical support?

Phone, email, and live chat support is available 24/7/365 at InMotion.

cPanel/Plesk?

cPanel.

Can I host adult websites at InMotion Hosting?

Nope, InMotion do not allow adult content (pornographic material), they do however, allow certain types of artistic material.

PHP 7? 

Yes. But it is not by default at this time of writing. Last time I check (~18 months ago), you need to contact support to initiate the update.

Special discount?

Students with a .edu email get 50% discount with InMotion Hosting.

Read more

Here – InMotion’s official FAQ section.

Three Essential Elements in a Successful Blog

Good writing is at the core of any good blog, so is timely and accurate information, and good presentation. Anyone who’s ever started a successful blog did so with these three basic principles intact.

However, a lot of unsuccessful blogs also started under the same conditions, but either ultimately failed or never even got out of the starting gate.

Sadly, good writers have not always embraced modern technology in ways that make complete sense for their particular skill, and that explains the difference, in many instances, between successful and failed blogs. By themselves, good writing skills are almost never enough to carry the day when it comes to creating a flourishing blog.

Below are the must-have elements for any realistic hope at creating a successful blog.

1. Is Your Blog Search Engine Friendly?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

You can have the most useful blog in the world, but if no one knows it exists, it’s of little use to anyone and you’ll quickly tire of the endeavour. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a natural process used to create high visibility for your blog in search engines through the proper use of keywords.

The term “natural” is used to describe the method because there’s no paid advertising component attached to SEO.

High placement of your blog in any search result can be achieved through the specific use of keywords in the HTML code used to create your blog, the headlines of each of your entries, and the content under each headline.

When considering the keywords you will use, it’s important to think about the words or phrases someone is likely to use when they begin their search. It’s okay if your list of potential keywords is extensive. However, short and concise phrases are your best bet. Your chances of a searcher using an exact two- or three-word phrase are much higher than with an eight-or ten-word phrase.

Page Title

Beginning with the HTML code that will describe your page, identified within the “<title> and </title>” tags, describe your blog as accurately as possible. If your expertise is documenting bicycle adventures through the United States, your description should be right to the point:

  • US Bicycle Adventures | Bike Tours Throughout The United States

This information lets users and search engines know the exact topic of your blog. Your title also includes likely keywords and phrases someone interested in bike tours will enter as a search string:

  • Bicycle
  • Bicycle Adventures
  • Bike Tours
  • Bike Tours US
  • Bike Tours United States

Headline

Similarly, when considering keywords in the headlines of your blog entries, you’ll want to stay with these types of keywords. If you’ve ridden extensively throughout Georgia, include the word Georgia and any relevant city or trail name in the headline for any blog entry dealing with bike tours in Georgia.

Use this approach to identify any key information about your post if it’s information likely to be searched, such as:

  • Road Tour
  • Family Tours
  • Family Casual
  • Off-road Trails
  • Scenic Bike Tours
  • Aggressive
  • Casual

Terms like these are not only relevant to your headline as they’re quite descriptive, they’re also the exact sorts of things potential blog followers will search for related to their interest.

Body

When writing content, it’s important to not overuse your keywords. Search engine algorithms sniff out gratuitous keyword usage, and as a result your work will be “penalized” as it will have the feel of “spam.” If your particular article is about casual, family-oriented scenic bike tours in Savannah, Georgia, then those are pretty much your keywords. Use such keywords two or three times throughout your article:

  • Family Oriented
  • Family Bike Tours
  • Casual Bike Tour
  • Scenic Georgia
  • Savannah
  • Georgia
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Georgia Bike Tours

These are very likely keywords and keyword combinations someone will use when searching for a casual, family-oriented bike tour in Georgia. You are giving your blog a high probability of being found through a search engine because you’ve used keywords relevant to both your blog and potential readers, and you’ve used them on your title page, in your headline, and in your article.

There are different approaches to creating SEO content. Becoming familiar with various key concepts will serve only to improve the visibility of your blog through search engines. Do your homework. There are plenty of online and offline resources available.

2. Let Your Readers Respond

Don’t bore your audience

Lecturing is a form of communication best left to law professors and upset parents. For successful blogging, however, it’s a quick path to finding a new hobby.

Successful blogging is as much about creating a dialogue with your faithful readers as anything else you’ll read on this page. Providing a way, or ways, for your blog readers to communicate with you will not only give you the feedback you need to fine-tune your content, it’s also the best way to ensure you’re not boring them to the point of leaving your blog.

Readers want to respond with relevant information, or legitimate critique, or just to say hello, or to add anecdotes of similar experiences. Creating a true dialogue with your subscribers involves them in ways they deem important, which is part of the reason they’ll have any interest at all in your blog.

Getting reader feedback is also a way for you to keep your content fresh, to get new ideas, and to network with others who share your expertise or interests. Most pre-configured blog hosts offer the ability to add comments to your blog in a variety of different ways, including:

  • A general comment section for your overall blog
  • Comments attached to each separate post

Additionally, comments can be sent to your email or your smart-phone as a text message. You can also respond directly from these sources, giving you the ability to respond as quickly as possible to any comments on your blog. This is a standard feature of any successful blog.

3. New Content to Your Readers

Once you’ve created a good blog using good SEO methods, you’ll want your readers and potential new readers to know about each new bit of content as you post it. There are a few tools readily available designed to push your content.

One of the most tried and true methods of getting your newly published content in front of your regular readers is to deploy a technology known as RSS, sometimes referred to as Really Simple Syndication. In a nutshell, RSS provides blog owners a simple and automated way to deliver ever-changing content to regular blog subscribers.

If you write a daily sports blog and use RSS, your regular subscribers will automatically receive an update in their RSS Reader each time you update your blog. This is a convenient way for your regular readers to stay up-to-date on information of interest to them, and an equally convenient way for you to self-promote your blog.

Most preconfigured blogs, like Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Xanga, and Weebly include RSS widgits and capabilities as part of their service offering. Just a few minutes reading through their documentation will help you get familiar with how to use RSS, and how to ensure each new entry is being automatically delivered to interest followers of your blog.

RSS Readers come in many different formats, and are frequently included as a part of a larger communication package.

  • Google Reader is a built-in part of their popular Gmail electronic mail program.
  • Outlook, an email program included with Microsoft Office, includes a built-in RSS reader
  • Mozilla, the makers of the popular Firefox web browser, offers a built-in reader with email client called Thunderbird

Regardless of the specific RSS Reader used by the regular followers of your blog, the content on your blog will be sent to readers every time you publish something new. In an era where everyone has a lot of choices and outlets for getting their various news and information, RSS is an excellent and simple way to keep your blog in front of your followers. Consider it a key element to any successful blog.

 

[Infographic] Data Centers Are Big

Data centers are something we are constantly reliant upon for everyday functionality, whether we’re online shopping, booking flights, and performing a cheeky Google search.

Computing demand at data center recorded more than 50% growth in the last 5 years.

And when data centers go down, the losses are crazy.

  • $69 trillion would be lost per hour if all data centers in the world go down at the same time.
  • 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours downtime per week, which could potentially lead to $46 million annual losses in labor cost.
  • Google’s 5 minute outage in 2012 has led to 40% drop in worldwide Internet traffic.
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