5 Little-Known WordPress Features

WordPress has gone a long way from a simple blogging system. Today, it’s evolved to the most popular, powerful, and flexible content management system (CMS) in the world. Its official repository offers thousands of themes and plugins – enabling virtually limitless combinations for your own website.

To maintain its dominance in the CMS world, WordPress never really stops growing and changing for the better. More and more features were added and sadly, many of them remained little-known to bloggers.

Here are 5 of them that you might overlooked in the past:

1. Sticky Post

In most WordPress themes, the recent posts section displays articles chronologically. But what if you want to somehow pin a specific post at the top of your website – be it a very important announcement or bit of information you’d like all your readers to know about?

Sure, you can create a custom-built homepage that pulls in a particular post for your homepage. But an easier solution would be to use the built-in sticky post feature.

To use this feature: Simply open the post editor then select Visibility > Stick this post to the front page.

2. Additional Keyboard Shortcuts

Everyone knows that the WordPress post editor supports universal shortcuts such as Ctrl + C for copy and Ctrl + V for paste.

What you probably didn’t know is that there is a number of additional shortcuts that make content development a lot easier.

For example, typing in “>” to start a paragraph enables the blockquote feature.

Shift + Alt + C is the shortcut for the align center formatting option.

To see the full list of keyboard shortcuts, click the question mark button from the main editor.

3. Distraction-Free Writing Mode

One of best things about WordPress is also one of its downsides. Since it utilizes a unified and somewhat cluttered interface, writing or editing content right on WordPress is not ideal – unless your browser isn’t maximized or you’re using a mobile device.

Thankfully, you can activate the distraction-free writing mode to hide the dashboard along with the Publish, Categories, Tags, and other sections in the editor as you type.

It’s not a significant change, but the distraction-free writing mode works in promoting better focus and productivity. To temporarily disable this mode, simply hover your mouse outside the editing area.

4. Custom Permalink Structures

Let’s get some things straight – the default permalink structure in WordPress isn’t good for SEO. It’s also not very readable or optimized for users who’d rather type in a specific page’s URL in the browser. To fix this, you can pick a different format in Settings > Permalinks.

You can also create a custom permalink structure by picking Custom Structure. Below is a list of the tags you can use:

  • %year%
  • %monthnum%
  • %day%
  • %hour%
  • %minute%
  • %second%
  • %postname%
  • %post_Id%
  • %category
  • %author%

Take note that each tag can be separated using the “/” symbol.

For example, if you want to use a permalink structure that displays the author and the post’s title, you can use:

http://yourwebsite.com/%author%/%postname%/

5. Post Scheduling

When blogging, it’s crucial to publish your posts when your target audience is most active. That’s why WordPress includes a feature that allows you to schedule a post to be published at a later time. All you need to do is look at the Publish section and click Edit next to Publish immediately.

After specifying a target date and time, click OK to save your specifications. Notice that the Publish button now changed to Schedule.

Things to Know Before Buying A Web Host

Shopping for web hosting? Here’re the main 5 consideration points when you’re looking for the right web hosting: Hosting uptime, server load time, hosting features, pricing, and free domain offers.

Be sure to read on in case you’re about to start your website online, as I’ll be revealing each consideration points in detail.

1- Hosting Uptime

When choosing a host for your new (or old) website there are many things to consider. Your host is the one who is responsible for your website being online and being able to be accessed by users, and potential customers.

Seeing such, you will want to look at the uptime that the hosting company guarantees first. You really can’t take their word for it, however, but anything under 99% should be a red flag to you. In order to better check out the hosting company’s “real” uptime, try to visit a few of the sites that you know they host. They normally have links to them somewhere on their site.

Also, if the hosting company’s site is ever down for an extended period, say an hour or so, this should also be a red flag. Basically, you’ll want your site up and online as much as possible, so in order to make sure this happens, you’ll want to make sure that other websites that a hosting company is hosting are up. Try checking at different times during the day, too. If there is a routine time that sites are down, this will not be good for you, and it should be a sure sign that you shouldn’t be using that hosting company.

2- Server Load Time

Another thing you’ll want to check is load time.

This is just what it says, how fast your site will load. You can time how fast the hosting company’s site loads and how fast other sites it hosts load, and compare them with other hosting companies.

If you want a pretty accurate reading, you can try using the Fasterfox extension for Firefox . It gives you a time that the page took to load up to the thousandths place in seconds. This should be sufficient enough of a timer for your purposes.

TTFB = Good measurement of server response speed? Source: WHSR Kinsta Review.

3- Hosting Features

Features are always important as well. Some hosting companies offer loads and loads of features; more features than you’ll ever even think of using. Do you really need those FrontPage extensions? How about unlimited databases? No, all you’ll probably ever need is the latest PHP, and about 2-3 Email accounts, FTP accounts, and 2-3 databases.

Keep in mind that this is based on one website, so if you are looking to host, say ten, on one account, then obviously, you’ll want to multiply those numbers by 10. Another important feature to look for is regular backups.

This will save your site if something goes extremely wrong, which is rare, but it does happen, so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.

4- Pricing

After you’ve examined everything you need, it’s time to look around for the best deal.

If you’re reviewing web hosting according to this article, you should have established a minimum amount for each of the features you want, including by now.

What’s next is to weed out the best deal. While the cheapest deal always is the most appealing, be very sure that you look beyond the first year of pricing, because some hosts like to trick you with cheap hosting for the first year, and then change the fee to the most expensive ever without you even noticing.

Sometimes (but not a must) the hosting companies with fees right in the middle work out for the best.

5- Free Domain?

Lastly but not least, if you’re hosting your website for the first time (meaning you do not own an existing domain), you should look for web hosting that offer free domain registration. Take BlueHost for example, they are offering lifetime free domain for customers.

What’s Your Horrible Story in Hosting?

Honestly, I think there’re way too many lousy web hosting around the market – most are overselling their bandwidth, over promised and underdelivered in hosting uptime, over-priced hosting plans, and dishonest merchants who disallow cancellation.

Almost everyone has their own version of horrible hosting story.

So remember – next time, before you click buy, ask your web host the questions stated above.

A2 Hosting Review

A2 is yet another website hosting company that offers unlimited everything for a fairly inexpensive price. But is there anything that sets A2 apart from the competition? Yes! And I’ve got the information you need to decide if this company is the best choice for hosting your website (if you are a developer, you will definitely want to check this out).

Read on…

Is A2 an “A1 Company”?

According to the Better Business Bureau, they are, indeed! The BBB gives A2 Hosting Inc. an A rating. One of the reasons for this excellent rating is a total of four customer complaints in the past three years. That’s right: four complaints. From what I’ve seen, many other hosting companies receive that many complaints from customers in a single month – or even week!

So…A2 must be doing something right. Although they haven’t been in business all that long, being founded in 2001 as Iniquinet before switching to A2 in 2003, this Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company has built their good reputation on superior speed, uptime and customer service.

Owned by a group of developers, A2 is eager to incorporate new technologies as soon as they are available. Along with providing a lot of developer tools to their customers, their adoption of cutting-edge technology makes A2 an excellent choice for someone who wants full control over their website functionality and design using the latest tools.

What’s Different About A2?

There are a couple things about web hosting service from A2 that really stand out: their SwiftServer platform and SSD hosting.

One thing A2 is known for is its fast speeds. One of the reasons they can claim your website will load faster on their servers is due to the SwiftServer platform, which includes high performance servers designed by the company’s developers.

SSD stands for Solid State Drive. That’s an option you can add to your account if you want your website’s pages to load up to 300 percent faster than files on a standard server hard drive.

Between SwiftServer and SSD, A2 provides some of the fastest speeds available in a shared hosting plan – or from a dedicated server.

All-Inclusive Shared Hosting Accounts

A2 provides just three shared hosting plans: Lite, Swift, and Turbo.

Swift and Turbo come with unlimited everything: storage, transfer, emails, domains, subdomains, parked domains and databases. They also include free backups and a anytime money back guarantee.

All accounts have access to all the popular applications, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, along with a shopping cart for basic e-commerce (additional software and applications, such as a private SSL certificate and merchant account, available at an extra charge).

Also – their shared hosting accounts are easily managed via the popular cPanel control panel.

For developers, A2 Hosting includes the following:

  • PHP (5 & 7 versions)
  • Unlimited MySQL 5.5 databases
  • PostgreSQL 9.1
  • phpMyAdmin & phhpPgAdmin
  • SSH access
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • PERL
  • Git, CVS, Subversion & Mercurial

A few things of note with A2’s shared hosting plans:

  1. Railgun Optimizer, which loads your site’s pages up to 143 times faster, is available as an add-on for the Prime account and included free with a Prime+SSD account
  2. Prime account customers get a choice of hosting their files on a U.S. or European server.
  3. A dedicated IP address costs an additional $3 per month.

Other Types of Accounts

Although shared hosting always seems to be the website hosting company’s bread and butter, A2 also offers reseller accounts, VPS and dedicated hosting. They will manage hosting for VPS and dedicated packages, too, if you don’t want the hassle of doing so.

All reseller accounts can host as many client sites as they wish. The difference between the three tiers of service, ranging from $9.89 to $26.39 per month, is in the storage space and data transfer limits. You have the option to add SSD to any reseller account for $5 per month extra.

Now – VPS accounts. A2 is really unique in that they allow a custom-designed server configuration. You get to choose how much disk space, CPU, bandwidth and memory you want and then select an operating system from 13 options. The nice thing is that you only pay for what you need – it’s not necessary to purchase a package with a huge amount of disk space, for instance, if that doesn’t suit your needs.

All VPS plans allow a single IP address and come with perpetual security, choice of server location (Iceland is a 100 percent “green” choice), root and SSH access, full network control and a SolusVM control panel (cPanel is not an option here).

If you want A2 to manage your VPS hosting account, you can choose from three different preconfigured packages with limited RAM, storage, data transfer, virtual CPUs and two dedicated IP addresses. Prices for managed VPS accounts range from $32.99 to $65.99 per month.

How about dedicated hosting? While you have to contact the company for pricing, there are two options: Flex Dedicated Server and Managed Flex Dedicated Server. Of course, the former option is great if you are comfortable with administering and developing your server from the command line using root access and a Linux OS. You also get to configure your server’s hardware the way you want it. Managed dedicated hosting uses a preconfigured server with cPanel.

Does A2 Uphold Their Promise of Excellent Customer Service?

Customer service is at the backbone of A2’s mission statement so I wondered if they really live up to expectations in regard to their 24/7/365 customer support promise. As far as I can tell, they do!

Service is provided via phone, fax, email, live chat or online ticket system. They also provide a Knowledgebase resource online.

That’s all pretty standard stuff – but when you start researching customer ratings and reviews on external sites, you will find one of the highest levels of satisfaction ever encountered! Technical support is provided within 24 hours and the ‘Guru Crew’ (as A2 refers to them) is knowledgeable, honest and helpful.

Is A2 Hosting Reliable?

A2 offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee.

In WHSR’s A2 Hosting review – test site is constantly scoring above 99.9 percent uptime.

I could find no complaints about website downtime. Sure, they have issues every now and then just like any other company, but their customers seem happy with the resolutions provided by A2 support.

Who Should Use A2 Hosting Services?

A2 web hosting – whether it’s shared, VPS, reseller or dedicated – is perfect for developers who want the ultimate level of control over their sites. I particularly like the fact that they allow you to configure your own servers (for VPS and dedicated hosting) and allow ample control.

But it’s also a good value for those who aren’t quite as comfortable with development and design of a website. Because their technical support and customer service departments are so highly rated, it’s easy to get the help you need.

A2 offers a “hassle-free money back guarantee” which you can request at any time. With a promise of getting all your money back (for monthly hosting fees less any add-ons, anyway), that should make anyone switching A2 confident they won’t be locked into a long-term contract if they become dissatisfied.

A2 Hosting Pros & Cons

As a recap, here is what I think are the best and worst features of A2:

Pros

  • Greater control over website design and configuration
  • Excellent BBB rating
  • Fast speed
  • Your choice of servers
  • Great customer service/support
  • Excellent reliability

Cons

  • Few affordable account options
  • Dedicated IP addresses cost extra

A2 offers mid-range priced hosting plans, excellent speed, great customer service and a good variety of customizable features, making them a great pick for any website owner, but especially developers and businesses.

Alternatives: SiteGround, InterServer, Altus Host, Name Cheap.

Facebook = Most Powerful Advertising Tool

Traditional marketers and sellers often see themselves going to a place where most people hang out, and that is a shopping mall.

They would set up attractive display booths and will try every strategy in the book to lure prospective buyers to listen to their demonstrations, try their products and eventually buy their products.

But with the popularity of  Facebook, I am not surprised that marketers and sellers will also exert their efforts in Facebook advertising. If the shopping mall is a place where people go, Facebook on the other hand is where close to 500 million people meet, socialize, buy and sell.

You read it right.

This popular social network site is not only the ‘in’ online place where you can update your social calendar, tag friends, post comments and click the Like or Unlike icon. But it is also a place where buyers and sellers congregate online simply because of the reason that it is where roughly 500 million people are registered. So, just like other online marketers and sellers, you also want to try your hand in Facebook advertising and attract even just a fraction of the staggering millions of Facebook users.

Also, with the continuous increasing popularity of Facebook, I am pretty sure that the number of registered users will further escalate in the coming years. So, if you will go for Facebook advertising, an increase in the number of Facebook users is a great reason for you to celebrate—it is an opportunity for you to enjoy higher sales and increased profit. But before you can reap Facebook advertising success, first you need to learn the ways on how to convert Facebook into your most powerful advertising tool like:

Facebook Advertising Increases Your Business Exposure

One way to attain satisfying marketing and advertising exposure to your targeted market is by utilizing Facebook’s advertising tool. Facebook advertising is a recent development in this popular social media site wherein you and other Facebook users will still enjoy the same real-time social updates but you are also presented with different advertisements that cater to your likes or interests.

So, if you will use Facebook to advertise your products or services, your ads will also find its place among other ads placed vertically in the right hand corner of your Facebook account. If you’ll notice in your account, you will see on the right side area a pixel box approximately 110 x 80 in size. It is in the small box where basic information like title of your ads, URL link, image and a brief description for about 135 characters of your advertisement will be located.

Another great thing about it is that the ads you see are not just placed there randomly. Just like I mentioned before, the ads cater to your likes or interests since Facebook take into consideration the pages you visited, the pages you ‘Like’, the groups you belong to, and your interests. So, the ads that you see might be different from the ads that other Facebook users see. Let’s say most of your likes are about pets or travel, then it is most likely that the ads you will see in your account are also connected to pets or travel.

So, as an online marketer, you will want to take advantage of this great advertising tool especially that Facebook advertising is an opportunity for you to advertise your products to your targeted market.

However, to effectively create compelling Facebook ads, it is crucial that you spend time to craft a unique and eye catching ad content and design.

Furthermore, the mobile features of Facebook enable your advertisement to be seen by Facebook mobile phone users. This is a powerful feature wherein your targeted market can be reminded about your ads wherever they are. Also, aside from being an efficient and powerful advertising tool, Facebook Advertising is more affordable to use than the usual pay per click advertisements. It is also way affordable that other traditional online marketing schemes.

Increase Advertising and Marketing Exposure through Fan Page

Aside from Facebook Advertising, there is also another way on how you can convert Facebook into your most powerful advertising tool. You can increase your exposure to your targeted market by creating a Fan Page in Facebook. The number of Facebook users who clicked the Like or Unlike icon will help you gauge the level of exposure of your products or services.

But as a rule of thumb, regardless of how many advertisements or fan pages you intend to create, catching the attention of your targeted market should be your first priority. To do this, write compelling and exciting information about your company. Aside from the basic information like business name or contact details, the brief description about what your company offers should be interesting enough to entice Facebook users to visit your site.

In short, don’t write boring ads.

While interesting images also attracts attention but lastly, once you started your advertising efforts, don’t juts be contented with it. Follow it through and look for other advertising opportunities and possibilities you can explore in Facebook.

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  Timothy. Have fun!

Pssst. Are you a student? Do you know some private companies offer free domains and hosting for students? I curated a list of free hosting for students – check them out here.