5 signs you’ve outgrown your web hosting

Web hosting is a modern commodity. You need to have the right abound of storage, bandwidth and speed to enable your customers to buy. Fall down at any of those hurdles and you’re leaving cash on the table. So, you probably know not to simply go with the lowest quote you can get. Chances are, when you make your hosting selection, you carefully compared the packages to make the right fit. But now you may be feeling something is off. The arrangement isn’t as comfortable as it was before. Here are 5 signs you’ve outgrown your web hosting:

  1. Hungry neighbours taking more than their fair share.
  2. Show load times are costing you money.
  3. Poor IP reputation is getting you flagged.
  4. Bad performance at peak times.
  5. Non-standard software is banned.

5 signs you’ve outgrown your web hosting

Hungry Neighbours

With any shared service agreement, resources are pooled and used across all subscribers. But not everyone has the same needs. You can bet that for every few low-bandwidth users, there’s a super consumer who is pushing that load to its limits. If your host doesn’t have limiters in place, you probably have noticed a drop in service levels as your host has gained popularity.

Slow Loading

If you notice that your site’s page loading time has taken a nosedive, it’s time to consider a switch. You can monitor that here. And don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by good desktop loading times. Mobile traffic is fast overtaking desktop browsing as the primary medium. If your mobile load times are slow, you’re missing out on custom.

Bad Reputation

You must monitor your IP too. If they’re getting flagged for spam and malware, that’s going to affect your business. There are several tools available to keep track of your host’s reputation. If there are any warnings, it’s possible another client of your web host has been exploited. This can happen if they’ve not kept their website up to date or failed to enact good security. But it will hurt you, so it’s best to look at making a change.

Peak Time Struggle

Shared server resources share demand too. So, during busy periods, the RAM and CPU may struggle to keep up. As a result, you’ll see a temporary reduction in loading speed and hang time on processing functions. The downside is that this may cost you consumer trust. If a payment screen hangs, a client is unlikely to attempt the purchase twice for fear of being double charged.

Standard Only

Out of the box tools will rarely suit a growing business. When you began, basic software like MySQL was just fine. But now you need better, non-standard software like Percona. If your web host won’t allow you to integrate the systems you need, it may be time to move on. You don’t need to settle for basic programs.

 

We’d love to help you evaluate your web host. Let’s talk about what our hosting packages can offer if you have noticed any of these five signs you’ve outgrown your web hosting.

Robin Hood, the ‘stonk’ market and terms of use

Last month, Reddit banned together to take the Stock Market (or stonk market, as they call it) for a ride. They identified gamer-centric stocks that were being shorted by big hedge funds and banded together to inflate the price. This effectively caused some hedge funds to lose billions when they had to buy back the shares at a higher price. As a result of this market volatility, Robin Hood and several other trading platforms used by private investors, restricted trades of these stocks. People got mad. And Robin Hood got sued.  Later, they revered their decisions and allowed limited trades to return. Why did people get so mad at Robin Hood in particular? Well, we think it comes down to branding. We’ll discuss this whole mess with Robin Hood, the ‘stonk, market and terms of use from an online branding perspective including:

  1. Defining your brand values
  2. Creating a tribe
  3. Aligning your processes, procedures and terms

Brand values

“At Robinhood, we believe the financial system should be built to work for everyone.” At least that’s what it says on their website. Maybe watch their advert to see them reinforce this idea. They’re building a brand proposition. You should believe they’re on the side of the little guy. They promise to be for everyone. However, the recent restrictions didn’t align with their brand values. And people got angry. That’s why it’s so important to create a brand that your organisation can live up to, even in the hard times. Think about who you are and what your goal is at your core. Then, determine if the market you operate in will allow you to remain consistent.

Creating a tribe

Because Robin Hood’s brand values were so attractive, they easily built a tribe. Fans of the platform (prior to the ‘stonk’ market debacle) were honest about its drawbacks but had warm feelings for the brand. They bought into their ‘rob from the rich and give to the poor’ narrative. Many were open advocates for their software. But when they restricted trades, the Robin Hood mob bit the hand that fed and 1-starred their reviews on Google. Building a tribe is great. It gives you powerful advocates for your brand and great word of mouth advertising. But beware, fail to live up to your tribe’s expectations and you could be in for a world of hurt.

Aligning your processes, procedures and terms

This is where Robin Hood really fell down. Based on the brand values and beliefs instilled in their tribe, it came as a big surprise when they evoked restrictive clauses in their terms of use. Most people never read terms and conditions. So, it’s no shock that users were aghast to find this: “You agree that, without notice, Robinhood may terminate these Terms and Conditions, or suspend your access to the Service or the Content, with or without cause at any time and effective immediately.” Stopping the little guy from investing seems quite at odds with their brand values, doesn’t it? And that’s where aligning your terms, processes and procedures come into play. It’s no use to have brand values and create a tribe that you can’t support in good times and bad. So, when creating the nuts and bolts of how your website/service will operate, make sure it marries with your stated goals.

 

If you want to learn more about online branding, check out this page or speak to our helpful team.

Why the Parler ban is a bad thing

This month, tech giants banned a fledgeling social media app called Parler. Amazon, Apple and Google all removed the app from their app stores and hosting services. According to Vox, “Amazon booted Parler from its Amazon Web Services, citing the risk to public safety. This followed Parler’s app being removed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Stores for its role in inciting violence.” The network has received criticism for its extreme free-speech position which led to extremist viewpoints gaining steam on the platform. But regardless of your personal political leanings, here’s why the Parler ban is a sign of things to come. And none of them are good. We’ll discuss concerns including:

  1. Tech giants have too much power
  2. Users may be signing away personal rights
  3. Platforms can promote and enforce political agendas
  4. Application of service terms can enable anti-capitalist market control

Centralised Power

When companies become too big, they throw the rulebooks out of the window. No longer does the concept of supply and demand apply to them. They are so essential, so entrenched, that they operate outside the normal market bounds. Don’t think that’s true? Chances are you use Amazon a lot (especially during this pandemic), now imagine if they raised the price of standard delivery and Prime by 30%. You’d probably still pay it. Why? Because they’re the biggest game in town and no one else even comes close to the convenience and selection they offer.

Loss of Rights

Before you join or use any online service, you agree to the terms of use they operate under. Most people never even read them. There are some scary things in Facebook’s terms of use, but most people on this planet have already agreed. These include selling your likeness, keeping a copy of pictures you delete and tracking your GPS movements. And yet we all use Facebook every day, never thinking about all the privacy rights we’ve signed away. And the only option to free yourself, stop using them. We’re not exaggerating.

Political Agendas

Who platforms allow to speak and who they don’t says a lot about their political agendas as an organisation. And before you think ‘platforms are neutral’, no they aren’t. People work at companies and people have biases (positive or negative). This applies to discrimination too. LCFI states, “consistently White portrayal of AI can amplify discrimination, including by: sustaining a racially homogenous workforce, perpetuating oppressive narratives of White superiority, misrepresenting the opportunities and risk of AI, and creating new power hierarchies that place ‘White’ machines in a position of power over non-White humans.”

Anti-capitalist

Platforms can put pretty much whatever they want into their terms of use. This includes restricting your other business activities or selling ads on your content. Some terms even grant ownership of your content to the platform. Once a service gets large enough, they can buy out competitors and shutter them to maintain dominance. These practices fly in the face of capitalist and free-market attitudes that are present in most western countries.

 

We believe in neutral hosting and user privacy. If you want to learn more about us and our services, check out this page or speak to our helpful team.

Why One.com’s acquisitions should worry you

One.com is a vast, sprawling WebHost. And they have been for a while. Now, with yet another acquisition of Zoner Oy, they’re one of the largest players in the market. According to TechRadar, “one.com’s latest acquisition should come as no surprise given that the firm has set about making strategic purchases for some time now. Since being acquired itself by private equity fund Cinven in early 2019, one.com has acquired six other organizations in the past year across Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark.” And One.com’s acquisitions should worry you.  Reasons for this include:

  1. Lack of competition in the market
  2. Server strain and potential increased downtimes
  3. Less personalised services due to volumes

Less Competition

If you’ve played the board game Monopoly, you’ll understand why the concept is a bad thing. According to HG, “As a company acquires a larger and larger market share, they are able to exert unnatural control over the market. No longer does the principle of supply and demand apply, because the monopoly controls all or most of the supply, so if someone wants the product or service they often end up having to pay an inflated price to have it.” Since web hosting is a significant and ongoing business expense, any price rises would have a detrimental effect to the corporate environment.

Strained Services

Web hosts never have unlimited bandwidth. It’s a restricted resource. So with an unrestrained growth, it’s more likely that each individual will get less of the pie. In order to prevent this, more and more businesses will need to choose dedicated services. And this is no small additional price to pay. According to Startups, “The cost of website hosting for small businesses in the UK ranges from as cheap as £2/month, all the way up to more than £400/month. Shared hosting is the cheapest form of website hosting (£2 – £12/month), while dedicated hosting is the most expensive (£60 – £400/month. However, there are additional and optional costs – such as privacy + protection, and sitelock – which you might have to factor into your hosting budget.”

Less Service

There are some benefits to working with smaller web hosts. One key difference is the personalised service. When you’re more than just a number in a sea of accounts, your business can receive personal attention. That’s not possible with a huge conglomerate. They must triage their limited staff resources by account value. So, if you’re not a big spender, you’re likely to get little to no attention. This can cost you a competitive advantage if an upgrade or configuration change could see your web presence improved. To keep ahead of the competition, try not to let yourself become a number.

 

We’ve said numerous times, how important it is to invest in good web hosting. It can seem easy to just go with the market leader, but that might be to your detriment. If you want a niche team of experts to look after your best interests, have a browse of our packages.

How to Choose Good Images for Website Sales Conversions

The type of images you choose could be reducing your sales figures. Yes, that’s right! People respond to images in different ways and picking the wrong ones could put customers off your product. And it’s not just that. You could be reducing your overall web traffic if you don’t have any images. According to Jeff Bullas, “Articles with images get 94% more total views.” That’s a huge difference in traffic. But having good quality images will make a huge positive impact. So, if you’re wondering how to choose good images for website sales conversions, consider the following:

 

  1. Skip the cheezy, staged stock photos.
  2. Show real people having an emotion.
  3. Don’t just go with what you like, test it!
  4. Use the best quality and clarity image you can.
  5. Make it relevant to the content and true to the brand.

 

Ban cheesy stock

You know the ones. A comedically overstressed worker pulling at his hair, a frazzled housewife surrounded by messy toys or a smiling ethnically ambiguous woman clutching a shopping bag; these don’t really say anything new. Think about communicating a unique message. Look for photos that jump off the page at you. Scroll past any you feel you’ve seen before. There are loads of options for great free stock photos like Unsplash and Pixabay.

Show real emotion

People buy from people. Try to use human faces or human body parts wherever you can. This will help your visitor imagine themselves using your product or service. Try to show them what they’ll feel when you solve their problem. Oh and it never hurts if the people in your images resemble your target audience too.

Test, test, test

Often, people just pick an image they like and go with it. They never actually stop to think if this image will resonate with the customer. One way to test this is to have multiple versions of the same landing page with different images. Keep the one that performs the best. Do this with every page on your site for the best results.

Clear, high quality

Even if you find the ‘perfect’ image, don’t bother with it if the resolution and quality are low. Today’s modern consumers are used to crisp, crystal imagery. Think of all the perfectly filtered Instagram images they scroll past each day. A poor quality image will do more harm than good. Just don’t chance it. Source another image.

Totally relevant

Not only should the image be relevant to the topic discussed within that element or article, but the brand should factor too. Think about your brand colours and values. If you’re a bright and fun brand you shouldn’t select dark-background imagery for example. There’s a visual disconnect there between the image and the overall page. They need to marry up.

 

Images are very important to design and sales performance. But if you want more tips on how to improve your website SEO overall, check out our previous article.

Ways to Speed Up Website Loading Times

Website loading times have a huge impact on your ranking in search. So, it’s one of the most important issues to address for SEO. There are quite a few quick wins that will make your website faster. And a lot of them are free or incredibly cheap to implement. We’ll discuss ways to speed up website loading times including:

  1. Using image compression to reduce file sizes.
  2. Employing lazy loading to reduce the bandwidth burden.
  3. Applying minify to streamline code on your website.
  4. Using browser caching to make repeat visits faster.

Image Compression

Images are some of the most bandwidth-heavy elements on any website. So, you’ll gain a lot of benefit from making these files as small as you can without losing detail. WordPress has a host of free or cheap image compression options available. You simply install and activate the plugin, then chose the level of compression and let it run. Remember that the number of pictures you have makes a difference too, so try to group images together if you can for fewer requests. That way, it is trying to load only one large image instead of 6 small images.

Lazy Loading

Lazy loading does what it says on the tin. When you install a lazy loader, your images and text will only appear for the viewable screen. That means, if someone hasn’t started scrolling down the page, the content isn’t being retrieved. Because nothing is loading unless it’s needed, site speed goes way up. Enabling lazy load is easy for WordPress and most other platforms since it’s core to modern design. If you have an older website, it’s a great idea to check that it’s activated for better load times. Your website administrator can help you with this.

Minify

When you minify code, what you’re actually doing is getting rid of any unnecessary comments, punctuation or pointless characters within the script. Similar to lazy load and image compression, some WordPress plugins offer this with an all-in-one tool. You’ll need to minify all the code on your site including Java, CSS and HTML to see the most benefit. Once the erroneous characters are removed, your site will perform better and load faster. That’s because it’s not having to read as much data to deliver the page. In this case, less is more.

Caching

Caching is like memory. Your visitor’s browser can store all the info it needs about your website and save it for later. That way, on repeat visits, they don’t need to load everything from scratch. You can set the limits on how long you want the data stored. And best practice suggests a year is a great refresh period. If you need more info about how to implement caching, check out Google’s advice.

 

As we said before, page loading times are extremely important to your search engine ranking, so improving it is critical. We hope these tips helped and if you need more, check out our previous article on SEO.

Yes! Keywords Matter for SEO

Why Keywords Matter for SEO

Search engines don’t actually speak human language. That’s probably something you already knew. But even knowing that, I doubt you’ve put much thought into your page keywords and metadata. The sad thing is, that’s what the search engine’s robots use to ‘read’ your website. It’s those words that determine your rank on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

That doesn’t mean you should pick one keyword and run with it. First off, your website plugins like Yoast SEO will flag you for days if you do that. Secondly, the crawlers will destroy your score for keyword stuffing or overuse. What you need to do is identify the keyword groups that are relevant to your page. Start with your main keyword and then use Google Keyword Planner to identify tangential keywords.

types of keywords

Different Types of Keywords

Short Tail – Less than three words, very basic and high traffic

Long Tail – More than three words, very specific and low traffic.

Why would you ever want low traffic keywords? Well, if you choose them right, they are high conversion words. If your site specialises in kids toys for toddlers, you don’t want to rank for all kids toys. You just want traffic for people interested in toddler toys. Longtail keywords can help you get the specific traffic you need. A keyword grouping of longtail keywords for this fake brand might be something like, “colourful toys for toddler boys” “girls playset toys for toddlers” “maths learning toys for toddlers” “cheap toy gifts for toddlers” and so on. Once again, using the keyword planner will help you, but you need to think about your customer. Think about what they are likely to buy from you.

keyword tools

Tools to Help You Improve Your Keyword Usage

First, it’s a great idea to scan your website and the websites of your competitors. You can use Ubersuggest to do this. This will tell you what they are ranking for versus what you are. If your website seems way off the mark, consider changing your keyword strategy. The tool will also tell you if any of your pages are broken and how fast it’s loading. It’s a pretty useful bookmark to have.

Next, if you’re going to run ads, check out WordStream. They show you the volumes and CPC for keywords related to your site or a competitors site. And they’re pretty localised. This is pretty useful if you serve a regional area. Another great tool for locally operating companies is this one. The bulk keyword generator is also excellent at local keywords if that’s your niche.

Lastly, check out Google Trends. We ran a search for kids toys to see what related topics and search terms are associated. And you get this info:

Related Searches: top kids toys for christmas 2019, top toys for kids this christmas, kindi kids toys, best kids toys christmas 2019, top kids toys 2019

Related Topics: Irrigation sprinkler, Backyard, Climbing – Sport, Trampoline – Topic, Playground slide – Topic

You can download these results to build into a workable list. Think about writing blogs on related topics and searches to encourage people to visit your page. Maybe they’ll shop around!

Need help with any of this? Talk to our amazing team today.

Choosing Web Hosting for Remote Working Operations

Find the right type of web hosting for remote working teams

With the new normal taking shape each day, remote working looks like it is here to stay. Remote teams still need to adhere to the same rigours and legal requirements while away from the office when it comes to data security, cybersecurity and access controls. Web hosting for remote working is often not considered until it’s too late and you’re facing a crisis.

Why should your web hosting service matter, exactly? Well, it all comes down to security and traffic levels. We’ll break down the common types of web hosting and remote working implications of each to make the choice a simpler one.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared Web Hosting

Shared hosting does what it says on the tin. Several domains are hosted in the same servers and they all share RAM (Random Access Memory) and CPU (Central Processing Unit) resources. Because it’s shared, it’s cheaper. Often making websites an affordable option for sole-traders or small businesses. However, that affordability does mean that resources can become strained if your ‘server neighbours’ experience high traffic volumes.

Remote Working Verdict: Best for small operations with low traffic, high risk of vulnerability.

Virtual Private Server VPS

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A step up from shared hosting, a VPS gives you some dedicated space on a shared server. It’s a great option for SMEs who don’t have a lot of technical expertise. It offers more storage and more security than standard shared hosting. However, it doesn’t fix the problem of traffic impacts on server stability. We only recommend them for low to medium traffic websites like a B2B service provider.

Remote Working Verdict: Good for SMEs with low to medium web traffic levels, medium risk of vulnerability.

Dedicated Server

Dedicated Server Hosting

A dedicated server is very secure and can host high levels of traffic due to a lack of shared resources. The downside is that these require a fair bit of technical know-how to maintain and operate. If you need total control and space to scale, dedicated servers make sense for the cost. They aren’t cheap though. You’ll want to look into managed hosting if you don’t have an internal IT team.

Remote Working Verdict: Good for large businesses with high traffic needs, low risk of vulnerability.

Colocation

Colocation

If you have your own servers, you don’t need to maintain a physical presence to store them. By simply renting racks and cabinets, you can run your own end to end infrastructure for a fully-remote operation and have complete control over your servers at all times. You’ll need technical expertise in the team or managed hosting services to manage and run a co-located service, however.

Remote Working Verdict: Good for medium to large businesses with no physical offices, low risk of vulnerability.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud Hosting

A cloud hosting service uses many computers working together to run programs across multiple servers without much real risk of downtime due to the scalable nature of the platform. It has increased in popularity in recent years for businesses of all sizes. The web host can activate additional resources to account for traffic spikes and prevent downtime which offers better stability.

Remote Working Verdict: Good for businesses of any size, low risk of vulnerability.

Hopefully, we’ve helped answer some of your questions about web hosting, but if you want to know more, just reach out to one of our knowledgeable team members here.

How Hosting Impacts on SEO

Bad hosting is killing your organic

Most people overlook search engine optimization (SEO) when thinking about web hosting providers. That’s because the metrics web hosts are responsible for often fly under the radar. But hosting impacts on SEO in ways you might not realise. Ever done an SEO scrape of your website? 

Well, run one now! It only takes a few minutes and you’ll see one of the first stats that matter.

page loading time matters

Load Speed

Now, website design has a huge impact on page load times, so you’ll want to make sure there are no rogue plug-ins or oversized images causing havoc. However, if you’ve done that and you’re still seeing poor load times across mobile and desktop, it’s time to talk to your host. Ask about their server load and cache system to see if performance can be improved. Not getting the response you want? Time to shop around!

Already on the market? Well, make sure you know where their servers are located.

server location impacts seo

Server Location

Where the host servers are located really impacts your data transfer speed and – just as importantly – suggested results from search engines. When you type something into Google, ever noticed that your device location is tracked? Don’t believe us? Scroll to the very bottom of the page of results and you’ll see where you’re located. Even if it’s general, it still impacts what page results you see and in what order. Search engines use many factors to determine what to display and one of those is a location match between you and the website that’s suggested.

And it goes without saying that the website has to be online more than it’s not.

uptime versus downtime

Uptime vs Downtime

You want to ensure as close to 100% uptime as possible. That’s because there are more than just visitors trying to reach your website. Search engines are too. They’re crawling your website daily, looking for updates, and checking it’s working. This is another way hosting impacts on SEO, if your web host is down due to technical issues, that’s a black mark against you. And it doesn’t take much for search engines to start de-ranking your page if it starts to look unstable to the web crawlers.

But it can be as stable as ever and still rank poorly if it’s unsecured.

ssl is standard

SSL

Rankings have been impacted by their HTTPS status for years already, so put quite simply… don’t go with a web hosting service that offers anything less. SSL is required by a lot of data protection standards as well, so you’re doing yourself a favour on multiple fronts by starting off with a secure site. We offer free 256-bit SSL certificates as standard, so it’s not an ask for your web host to do the same. Many firewalls will prevent access to unsecured sites automatically, so this is a really critical element of web hosting that we can’t emphasise enough!

As with any list, these factors aren’t exhaustive so it’s best to do your own research before committing to any long-term contracts. If you want to know what our packages include or have a question about one of these metrics, just reach out to one of our knowledgeable team members here.