Friday, 14 August 2015

How do you choose between public vs. private cloud hosting? While a variety of factors will influence your answer, you need to ensure your chosen provider can meet your hosting needs and offer the level of service and security you require. Use the following information to decide whether you should use private cloud hosting or choose public hosting instead.


Your Handy Guide to Private vs. Public Cloud Hosting

The Difference Between Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud


In a public cloud, you’re effectively paying for rented access to a portion of a cloud server’s storage space and computing capacity. You share that hardware with other customers, but only have access to your own data and software.

In contrast, a private cloud uses server hardware dedicated to your account that won’t be shared with other customers.

Your Handy Guide to Private vs. Public Cloud Hosting


Choosing Between a Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud


In most cases, the following factors will guide your decision when you choose a cloud hosting provider.

Cost

A public cloud service can often be less expensive than a private cloud, but usually at the expense of guaranteed storage space and processing power. Many public cloud services allow you to rent access by the hour and don’t often require a contract commitment.

Since a private cloud service maintains hardware that’s only used by you, providers may require a contract commitment with a set package price.

Security

Because public cloud hosting shares hardware among multiple customers, it often can’t provide the most advanced or varied measures for data security. While that isn't a deal-breaking concern for most users, if your business is required to follow specific regulations for information security, you may not be able to find a public cloud solution that can guarantee the technical protocols and software systems you need to comply with those rules.

An exception can apply if you’re using the cloud service to host a third-party Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) program, since many SaaS providers include their own protocols for data security in the software itself to meet your regulatory requirements.

Performance

In general, public cloud hosting offers the most flexible options for processing performance and speed. Many public cloud providers offer some form of dynamic hosting, where the server hardware automatically gives you additional capacity when you’re doing more intense computing. In most cases, your hourly rate will rise accordingly.

Private cloud hosting can be a better fit if you require a certain performance level at all times, but that may mean you’re paying for processing power that isn’t being used.

Support

A large difference between private vs. public cloud hosting is found in the support offered by each. Most public cloud services operate on a “mass market” philosophy, where easy, flexible access to the cloud comes at the price of extended or dedicated customer support. In most public cloud environments, you’ll need to take care of installing the software you intend to use, or maintain your databases yourself. While public cloud hosting often provides tools for completing those tasks, you may not be able to contact a support representative or technician if difficulties arise.

In contrast, most private cloud providers offer some level of dedicated support with representatives and technicians who are directly responsible for managing your hardware and software, and they can be contacted directly when you have an issue.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Has your online project outgrown its shared hosting training wheels? If so, you very well might be looking at either VPS (Virtual Private Server) or cloud hosting as potential options. They both provide the added flexibility and control you were lacking with your shared host. While there are a number of similarities, there are some significant differences when comparing VPS vs. cloud hosting. In this article, we’ll pit VPS vs cloud to help you determine which one is the best host for your needs.

Cloud Overview


The cloud has become a very ambiguous term amongst the IT community as of late. As it relates to hosting, the cloud means that your website is stored on different servers in different locations. The result is bigger and more powerful packages for your site.

Matching Up VPS vs Cloud Hosting Solutions

The benefits of cloud hosting are easier to define. You can count on the Three R’s of Resources, Redundantly, and Reliability to support your online project. Having your site located on a cluster of servers, as opposed to just one, gives you extra resources that you can tap into for more storage, speed, and scalability. Your webpage is duplicated across multiple servers. This redundancy prides protection against outages of a single server as well as added oomph for traffic spokes. With so many point of access, the uptime guarantees are through the roof with cloud hosting, making it a highly reliable option.

VPS Overview


VPS is perhaps the most logical progression from shared hosting. You want to perform more advanced tasks on your website and you want more technological control. To do so, you need privacy and security. Instead of co-mingling with other tenants in a shared server, VPS hosting gives you an area of a physical server that is isolated from other Web publishers’ projects. It is designed to mimic the benefits of dedicated hosting at an affordable price. 

Matching Up VPS vs Cloud Hosting Solutions

Users enjoy a number of advantages with VPS hosting.  In addition to its affordability, VPS is more reliable (other tenants’ usage can’t affect your resources); can easily be set up in a short period of time; and provides control of server configuration, software installation, and site creation and removal. On the downside, all of that control means that you will need to have some server administration chops. 

Cloud Versus VPS


The reality is, cloud and VPS hosting are very similar to each other. With security such a primary concern on the Web, both VPS and the cloud keep your site isolated from other users. You are not impacted by any of your neighbor’s errors, nor can they tap into your services. 

Matching Up VPS vs Cloud Hosting Solutions

The cloud, versus VPS hosting, gives you access to a larger network of resources instead of one physical machine. The scalability that cloud hosting provides is through the roof! You can immediately scale up or down to meet the needs of the project. Even though cloud costs can be higher, you only pay for the resources you use. Finally, with uptime guarantees closing in on 100 percent, cloud hosting is simply more reliable.

VPS hosting is typically going to be more affordable than cloud options. While the cloud may be more elastic, VPS offers more control over the entire environment from control panel to software installations. Surprisingly, what may be considered VPS hosting’s major drawback is also at the core if its greatest benefit. The fact that all of your data is stored on one server makes it more secure than having it being duplicated multiple times in the cloud. 

Which Is Best For You? 


Normally, further homework may need to be done before you can determine which one is the best hosting option for your site. That still may be true; however, with both options being legitimate next steps from shared serving, these small differences we’ve discussed may be all of the information that you need to make your decision.

If you are looking for more control and security, look no further than VPS hosting. That said; your online project may demand flexibility and resources. In that case, the cloud is probably the way to go. 

Then, again, you might be lucky enough to find a combination VPS cloud hosting provider. In this scenario, you get the redundancy of multiple copies; however, they are all networked back to one individual physical server. You get the best of both worlds; but, you pay for it, too. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Those of you who are using our caching system, the SuperCacher, to boost the speed of their WordPress sites have probably already noticed that we've released an update for the plugin. Although we regularly maintain the extension and keep it up-to-date, this update adds some features with new and useful functionality. They can help you manage better your site.

The SuperCacher Plugin for WordPress (SG CachePress) Just Got an Update

Notification for New Users


The SuperCacher Plugin for WordPress (SG CachePress) Just Got an Update

Since the SiteGround CachePress plugin acts as a connector for our SuperCacher service, we decided to alert our customers in case the Dynamic Cache is not working for their site. Since the caching is activated by default in the plugin settings page, usually all you have to do is enable it from the other end as well, the SuperCacher page in your cPanel.  We've added a check that tests your index page upon plugin activation and notifies you if your index is not cached. Hopefully, this friendly reminder will help our users to get used to the system faster when they start new projects.

The Ability to Test Your URLs


The SuperCacher Plugin for WordPress (SG CachePress) Just Got an Update

In addition to the check upon activation, we've added another option to the settings page of the plugin in the "Dynamic Cache Status" section. There you can check whether a page from your site is being correctly cached or not. In some cases, you want to be really sure that certain URLs are left out of the cache - profile pages, checkout pages, etc. We already have available the "Exclude URLs From Dynamic Caching" functionality allowing you to do this in a quick and easy manner. But now you can actually do a test in one click and make sure that a checkout page is really 100% dynamic.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Is your old hosting platform just not doing it for you anymore? Are you paying too much to host your site? If it’s time to switch your website to a new platform, there are a few things you should learn about how to change hosting providers. Don’t worry, a domain transfer isn’t anything like brain surgery – but it does take some research and thought to get it right.

Free Domain Transfer Services – Do It Right!
If you’ve found a cheaper (or free) hosting platform for your website, or your current provider lacks the services your online business needs to flourish…it’s time for a change. Here are a few guidelines to make certain your domain transition is simple, straightforward, and free of unnecessary costs:


Set Up Your New Account First


You should always research how to change hosts and get the process started before you shut down your old hosting service. You don’t want to have your website down for long, if at all. Ensure your new hosting account is set up before you transfer your domain over and get it done for free. That way, all the potential complications have been foreseen and dealt with before you take your current hosting platform offline.

Don’t forget that occasionally a new hosting platform might take a few days to set up - particularly for free servers - and if you transfer your domain too early, you might hit a roadblock.

Find Out All DNS and Nameserver Settings


Your name-server and DNS settings will change along with your host. If you don’t update them accordingly, your prize domain is dead in the water. Make sure you do your research ahead of time and work out exactly which settings need to be tweaked to transfer your domain smoothly. Be warned: Sometimes you might have to wait three or four hours for the whole system to catch up with you, so it’s wise to input the data as early as you can.

Another helpful tip: Begin the process at a time of day (or night) when web traffic will be at a minimum, so your visitors and customers aren’t affected heavily by that few hours’ downtime. Then your domain transfer service is free and unlikely to cost you anything in terms of losing business.

Contact Your Current and New Providers


It’s never a bad idea to get in touch with your hosting providers - old and new - and inform them about the process. In fact, you should absolutely do this, especially if you are in any way contractually obliged to do so. If they both know about the free domain transfer, they can usually provide helpful and free assistance to make sure the whole process is dealt with efficiently. They might have settings you aren’t aware of that need tweaking manually, or details for your new account that you have yet to input.

Your new hosting home might have special requirements for transferring an old domain over.  Make sure you don’t get caught out or breach any terms and conditions that you’ve agreed to by signing up with your original hosting provider.

Backup Your Files


We can’t emphasize this enough: Make sure every file and setting you need is securely stored elsewhere! There’s never any harm in preparing for the worst-case scenario. It’s free to back up your files, and you don’t want to risk losing everything on your old domain when you transfer over. Record everything vital ahead of time and prevent a potential crisis! Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Most domain transfer services are free between hosting providers. The fact is they want your business so it doesn’t make sense for them to charge you to start using their company. Just make sure you’ve informed everyone who needs to know and you’ve completed the process properly.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Where do you want your website to live? One of the first decisions that people who just created a site find themselves facing is whether to choose a shared or dedicated hosting server. These are two of the most popular types of hosting packages available, and picking the best one for you isn’t always an easy choice to make. This is especially true for those who aren’t sure about the differences between these two different server types.

Sizing Up Dedicated vs Shared Hosting Solutions

Depending upon what kind of website you have and how much traffic you plan to attract, one of these options is a smarter choice. Here are the definitions, as well as pros and cons, of shared and dedicated hosting to help you decide which is best for you.

Dedicated Hosting 

When you sign up for a dedicated hosting plan, you get a server that exists solely to keep your website, and yours alone, online. Here are some of the most notable pros and cons of dedicated hosting.

Sizing Up Dedicated vs Shared Hosting Solutions

Pros of Dedicated Hosting 

⟹ Increased performance and reliability
⟹ Increased ability to manage bandwidth, allowing dedicated servers to withstand traffic surges
⟹ Faster loading times for visitors
⟹ Unrestricted control over server software
⟹ More secure because resources aren’t shared

Cons of Dedicated Hosting 

⟹ Higher price tag than alternative options
⟹ More work--all maintenance is do-it-yourself on these hosting plans
⟹ Higher degree of tech-savviness is required to properly set up a server
⟹ Increased resources needed to recover from crashes

Shared Hosting 

Shared servers simultaneously host many different websites on the same machine, with each different site stored in its own designated space. Here are a few pros and cons commonly associated with shared hosting.

Sizing Up Dedicated vs Shared Hosting Solutions

Pros of Shared Hosting 

⟹ Much more affordable than dedicated servers
⟹ More hands-off--hosting companies handle software updates and maintenance
⟹ Easier for non-techies to manage and use
⟹ Freat for bloggers, small businesses, and personal websites

Cons of Shared Hosting 

⟹ Not ultra-secure since resources are shared with other websites
⟹ Restricted to running software supported by the host company
⟹ Slower load times

Dedicated vs Shared Hosting: Which Is Better For You? 

With dedicated vs shared hosting, it really boils down to your budget and how much traffic you think your site will receive. Do you run an offline business, like a restaurant, whose website is really just meant to provide contact info and a few images? On the other hand, maybe your site is vital for something like e-commerce sales and you’re continually trying to increase traffic. What it comes down to is that shared hosting plans are perfect for most individuals and small businesses, whereas dedicated servers make more sense for larger operations or big-name brands.

No matter which type of server you ultimately choose, be sure to research the different website hosts' offerings and reputations. Hosting companies vary and you’ll want to put the same amount of thought into choosing a hosting provider as you did with choosing a hosting type.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Having access to detailed statistics about your account usage makes it way easier to troubleshoot any issues you may have, pinpoint parts of your website that slow it down, or check whether your site is getting popular instead of getting spammed. Until now, our clients could have obtained this information from a few different places, but never on one page organized in a convenient way. We now have deployed on our shared plans a new and more detailed version of our account statistics system for your convenience.

Improved and More Detailed Account Statistics


Where to access the new stats?


Improved and More Detailed Account Statistics

The detailed account statistics are located in your cPanel – look for the Detailed Stats button in the left column of your cPanel. It will take you to a brand new page that's separated into two tabs. Each one of them provides different type of information about your account and the domain names you have in it.

Account Executions and Scripts Stats


In this tab, you will find information for your entire account no matter how many parked or addon domains you have associated with it. There are two things you can see on this page - a graph that shows your CPU usage and account executions, and the top ten most executed scripts for your account. This tab shows you at a glance which scripts are hit most often for your entire account. For example, if you're reaching the number of hits limitation for that account, it's really easy to see which particular script is causing this - it can be a malfunctioning plugin, theme or something like the WordPress heartbeat issue. Whatever it is - you will be able to troubleshoot it way faster and easier.

Domain Hit Stats


In this tab, the information you receive is grouped by the domain names you have associated with your account. Since especially the higher plans give a lot of resources, and many people are using them to host more than one website, it's very useful to see how each domain is performing. Once you select the domain from the drop-down list (they are sorted by the number of hits they get per month) you will get the following information:

Page URL - a list of the ten most-visited pages on that domain name. This data is a great way to check which parts of your site take most resources.
IP Addresses - a list of the IP addresses that have visited your site most often. Useful to see if someone is trying to brute-force your site or spam it.
User Agent - what are the most popular user agents that visit your site. Especially convenient to detect and block spam bots.

Friday, 19 June 2015

We’ve cooked up a list of things you need to look out for when deciding on your web host. Remember. picking the right host is like picking a good tailor. There are plenty cheap ones out there, some might actually be half as good but when it comes to your website, you’ve got to account for the right things and take learnt decisions.

There is no substitute for good support: A website has a lot of moving parts. Things could break and it’s at such times that a good host makes all the difference, they’re there when you need them the most.

➠ No Ads Please: Not only are these ads annoying, you can forget about making a mark if you’re going this route. No respectable site has irrelevant ads shoved into them.
➠ Local Support: Most hosting companies offer round the clock support these days but it’s a bonus to host with someone from your geography.
➠ Respectable Uptime: A 99.99% uptime has become a norm these days but the difference with a good host is that you will get this kinda uptime with them.
➠ Ready to grow when you are: This may not apply to everyone but is critical for growing businesses. Small players may offer decent shared hosting solutions but when it comes to scaling you’ll be left high and dry. Pick someone who’ll allow you to scale without any trouble.
➠ Check under the hood: Be sure to check the plans in detail. Do they support the apps you want to run? do they offer the infra you need to run your site? What are the limitations, if any? These are the questions you need to ask before you zero in on a web host or a plan.

And so the list goes on but you get the jist. This quick guide sets the stage for things to look out for and the reason behind picking a good hosting provider. If you have additional points to add to list then please do share with us via the comments section below.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

With the Ruby developer community continuing to grow, we often get requests for Ruby support from providers wanting to be able to offer their customers the ability to run Rails applications.  We do not recommend using the current Ruby on Rails feature provided by cPanel, as it relies on the CentOS-provided version of Ruby as well as Mongrel 1, both of which are extremely outdated. While cPanel has indicated they have plans to implement Phusion Passenger-based RoR support, there has been little indication this project is still moving along.

We want to reiterate that a server running cPanel is probably not the best production platform for a production RoR application to be housed, but it’s certainly possible and sustainable.  And for some people, it may be their only option.

These instructions have been adapted from Digital Ocean’s instructions for Rails deployment on a bare CentOS 6 box.  This guide also assumes the following is true on your server:

1) You are on a cPanel server (if not, please refer to Digital Ocean’s guide linked above)
2) You have used EasyApache to install Apache 2.2 or Apache 2.4. To confirm this:

root@server [~]# httpd -v
 Server version: Apache/2.4.12 (Unix)
 Server built: May 27 2015 19:16:47
 Cpanel::Easy::Apache v3.30.0 rev9999
3) Your server has at least 1GB of memory, though 1.5GB is preferred for the installation itself
4) You have root-level access

Install ruby


Some guides will advise simply using Yum to install Ruby, however, we do not recommend that since CentOS uses a very old version. Use RVM (Ruby Version Manager) instead:

gpg2 --keyserver hkp://keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 409B6B1796C275462A1703113804BB82D39DC0E3
curl -L get.rvm.io | bash -s stable
source /etc/profile.d/rvm.sh
rvm requirements
At the time of this writing, 2.2.2 is the latest Ruby version. You might want to go to the Ruby website to see what the most recent version is.  Use that version in the below command:

rvm install 2.2.3
Configure 2.2.2 to be the default Ruby version:

rvm use 2.2.3 --default

Now, install Rails:

gem install rails

Confirm Ruby and Rails are installed:

root@server [~]# ruby -v
ruby 2.2.3p173 (2015-08-18 revision 51636) [x86_64-linux]root@server [~]# rails -v
Rails 4.2.4

Install Phusion Passenger


gem install passenger
yum -y install curl-devel sqlite-devel
passenger-install-apache2-module

If you get an unclear error on the last step, the most likely cause is running out of memory. While 1GB is recommended, we’ve seen that it often takes up to 1.5GB or more of RAM for the modules to compile.

Now we need to add this to our Apache configuration. On cPanel servers, this is the main point of difference from non-cPanel servers since you cannot directly edit certain configurations in httpd.conf. So you’ll need to create an include. In a text editor, create the following file:

/usr/local/apache/conf/passenger.conf

Inside of this file, add the following lines:

LoadModule passenger_module /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.2.3/gems/passenger-5.0.24/buildout/apache2/mod_passenger.so
PassengerRoot /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.2.3/gems/passenger-5.0.24
PassengerDefaultRuby /usr/local/rvm/wrappers/ruby-2.2.3/ruby

(There are three lines here – the formatting on our website may alter how it appears)

With the above configuration, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the correct paths based on the versions of Ruby an Passenger you installed.

Now open this file:

/usr/local/apache/conf/includes/pre_main_global.conf

And add the following line:

Include “/usr/local/apache/conf/passenger.conf”

Then rebuild the configuration and restart Apache:

/scripts/rebuildhttpdconf
 service httpd restart

Testing


Create a new cPanel account or use an existing one. Go into that user’s public_html:

cd /home/rubyapp/public_html
 rails new testapp
 cd testapp
Open GemFile and add this line before ‘end’:

gem ‘therubyracer’

Run:

bundle install
 rake db:migrate

From here, and in general, you’ll need to alter the domain’s document root to point to the ‘public’ folder of the application. On cPanel servers, you do this by editing /var/cpanel/userdata/$user/domain.

You’ll also need to create an include for the application environment:

mkdir /usr/local/apache/conf/userdata/std/2_4/$user/$domain/

(Hint: if you look at the Virtual Host for the domain in httpd.conf, you’ll see the path for the include you need to create)

Update: A reader commented on the following script that helps generate includes for this:

https://github.com/ramsy1980/phusion_passenger_script

Create a file in this folder called rails.conf with the following:


RackEnv development
<Directory /home/$user/public_html/testapp/public>
Options -MultiViews
</Directory>

Make sure the domain’s document root is pointed to the same folder.  For an addon or subdomain you can specify the directory when it is created in cPanel, or otherwise edit it in /var/cpanel/userdata/$user/$domain.

Then comment out the include line for this virtual host in httpd.conf and run the following commands:

/scripts/rebuildhttpdconf
 service httpd restart

You should be able to now go to the domain you set up and see the “Welcome aboard” message in your browser, indicating that Ruby and Passenger are working.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A free domain name service is frequently offered when you purchase web hosting. But how does this work? Essentially when you buy your hosting from a company they’re in a position to offer you a few incentives. One of these is a free domain (something you’d normally have to pay for either on an annual or monthly basis) and some even offer unlimited free domains. Most only offer one, but this is still a great perk and 99% of customers only need one anyway.

The Trick to Getting a Free Domain


How to choose your domain name

The name you choose for your site will affect your search ranking in domain name searches. You’ll want to choose something easy to remember, or relevant to your product. If you’re going for the memorable option, keep it short and snappy. Single word websites are easy to search for such as Google, Twitter or Bing. Even if you go for the product-based approach, the advice to keep it short will still help when it comes to being memorable. If you’re confident that it is the right approach, you could create your own word that reflects your concept – e.g. Facebook or Instagram. These may seem like basic tips, but they are crucial for ensuring that your business comes out at the top of a relevant domain name search.

What accreditation can I obtain?

ICANN, also known as Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is a not for profit organization that accredits a wide range of domain registration websites. To ensure that you purchase a reliable domain name for your website, it is important to check that your domain is registered with a company which is ICANN accredited. This will go some way to reassuring you, your clients and customers that your website is reliable. You’ll receive more repeat traffic and the knock on effect of that is maintaining an excellent reputation.

Domain Name Extensions

The top 3 highest-level domain name extensions are recognized all over the world. These are .com (commercial), .org (organization) and .net (network). They initially represented different types of website, for example, .org was intended for non-profit organizations and is still mostly used by them today, but as the lines are blurred between businesses and personal sites, those distinctions have become less meaningful. They are important to consider when registering your domain name, particularly if you’re being offered a free service. Not every extension is available from every provider; so make sure you’re getting the extension you want, as it could affect your domain name search rankings if you end up with one that is not at a high level.

What's Included in the Registration Fee?

The domain name registration fee will vary between domains and will also be affected by the level of the extension you choose. Highest-level extensions such as .com cost more to register than lower level .me or .biz. If your domain name does not come as a free service, most domain name registration companies will sell names for an advertised price but occasionally there’ll be extra fees. These are sometimes broken down for you but just as often they’ll be hidden. If your registration company is ICANN accredited, there may well be a small fee of $0.20 on top of the registration fee. Always read the small print and, unless you have a fixed price agreement, be prepared for renewal price changes to reflect inflation over long-term domain name purchases.

Policies in Domain Name Transfers

Before registering a domain name you must read the transfer policies and documents regarding your purchase. If you are unhappy with a registration company and want to change provider, you need to know you can keep your domain name. Some registrars make it difficult to transfer your domain name unless it is stated as an option in their transfer policy. So read the terms of purchase first to make sure you’re happy with your company before you buy.

Register the Domain to Yourself

It sounds obvious, but make sure the domain name is registered to you. Don’t buy into a third party registration or allow the site to say the domain name belongs to your hosting website. The domain name for your website needs to be registered to your name so you have ownership and control over the site.

Domain Names through Web Hosting

You’ll have to choose a hosting company for your website and it may offer domain name registration. Registering through your hosting company could save you money on the domain name especially because hosting companies often offer one free with your hosting package. If you already have a domain name, most web hosting companies will transfer it either free of charge or for a small fee. Just remember to check those transfer policies!
Starting out with any new website can be an overwhelming experience, with decisions to be made around every corner. An initial and integral choice will be the kind of hosting you opt for. Top 10 Best Website Hosts  can help you choose a company to provide your hosting. From there, you may be faced with the choice of a server type, which can be confusing to say the least.

Comparing Web Hosting Options

We’ve broken it down for you, and compared the features of three main options, so you can make sure you’re getting exactly what you need.

Is Shared Hosting the right choice for me?

A shared server is the most commonly chosen type of hosting platform, and is the right choice if you are looking to launch a personal website, a blog or a small business website. It is simple to set up, the cheapest type of hosting, and there is generally no technical knowledge needed, as the server maintenance will be managed for you throughout. Remember however, you will be sharing your server and its resources with other customers that your hosting provider supports, which include not just bandwidth, but also RAM and CPU. Without a dedicated IP address, the performance of your website is directly affected by other users, and you have no control whatsoever if there is a problem or the website goes down. Additionally, a shared hosting provider will not let you configure your website outside of its own limited parameters; there is no room for customization.

Bottom Line: Shared Hosting offers less customizability, less security, and less room for growth, but is a cost-effective and efficient way to get up and running.

I need more control over my website, should I choose a Dedicated Server?

If you’re looking for more control and reliability, and can afford to pay a top dollar price ticket, a dedicated server is the elite choice of website hosting. You are actively leasing an entire server for your own website, giving you complete control and the ability to customize every aspect of your hosting experience. Install, edit and run what software you choose, enjoy limitless resources, even reboot the entire server on your own terms, you are free to manage your own website however you please. Hard drive capacity, memory, storage and bandwidth, as well as network access and processing power are all dedicated to a single customer, meaning your website can handle whatever traffic and data you throw in its direction, and is unaffected by the performance or user base of any other.

Comparing Web Hosting Options
Security is also a key factor for many when choosing a dedicated server. When using a shared server, it only takes one website on the server to be compromised, to endanger your own. An intelligent hacker could even use his website on the shared server to gain information from yours. Without access to the PHP or Apache configuration, you have no ability to harden the security of the server, leaving you vulnerable to security breaches. A dedicated server removes all of these risks, allowing you the control over your own security, and virtually ensuring that your content and perhaps more vitally-your customer data, is safe.

Bottom Line: Dedicated hosting gives you full control over customizing your server and its security and is the perfect choice for large businesses who can afford a substantial cost for maximum reliability, customization options and security.

Shared Hosting sounds risky for my business, but I can’t afford a Dedicated host - Help!

If you’re worried about taking the leap to a fully dedicated server, a Virtual Private Server may be the right choice for you. Similar to a dedicated hosting provider but on a smaller scale, many medium sized businesses who need the next step up in security and reliability are opting for a VPS. The price ticket falls somewhere in between shared and dedicated, and the customization options usually do too, depending on the company you choose.

Costings are lower because you are still sharing a server with other users, but you will be provided with a guaranteed amount of RAM and CPU allowance, meaning your website is not affected by the performance of others on the server. This makes VPS great for businesses experiencing rapid growth or heavy traffic, or who support complex applications on their site. Lastly, VPS will come with a dedicated IP address for your website, ensuring you maintain a much higher level of security than with shared hosting.

Bottom Line: Offering better performance and security than shared hosting solutions, a VPS is a more basic version of a dedicated server for medium to large sized businesses who want more flexibility from their hosting choice.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

At one time an exact match domain name (EMD) was a great way of getting a quick listing and good ranking position for your web pages or blog. However, much has been written lately about Google now penalizing exact match domains and regarding the tactic as being somehow underhand.


While such domain names no longer have the same impact as they once had, this is not what Google has been doing. Yes, there is less weighting given to such domains, but Google is not applying a penalty as such. Let’s face it, if your business is selling red widgets, then Google is not going to penalize you for using the domain name redwidgets.com. It is informative and tells the reader what your blog or website is about.0

The Truth about Exact Match Domain Names


The reason Google took a careful look at exact match domains was that some people were buying a domain name that was an exact match to the keyword they wanted ranked for, and then filling it with scraped and low quality content. Due to the heavy SEO weighting given to an EMD at that time, such pages were getting much higher rankings than their content warranted.

In order to tackle this issue, Google recently changed its ranking algorithm to provide a significantly lower weighting to EMDs. The result was that the poorer sites and blogs disappeared from the rankings overnight. Rather than being listed on Page 1 of the search engine results they might appear on page 5 or even languish unseen down in the supplementary results.

This was regarded by those involved as a ‘penalty’ for using an exact match domain name, while it was actually nothing of the sort. The page was simply receiving the ranking position its content deserved. That is the situation as it stands now.

If you are blogging on the topic of red widgets, then a domain name containing that term will be fine. You will not be punished or penalized for using it. However, it will no longer be a fast-track to a high ranking listing for the search term ‘red widgets’ – but it will help. You will have to do more to earn your ranking position.

The Real Issue: Exact Match Over-Optimization


The real issue with EMDs lies in Google’s problem with over-optimization and excessive on-page branding. While Google’s focus was on providing its users with a good search experience by offering them a variety of pages containing diverse information relevant to the search term or keywords they used, the page owner’s objective was to get a high ranking.

These conflicting objectives involved on the one side a focus on relevance using statistical formulae (algorithms) to establish that relevance, and on the other side a focus on playing these algorithms to attain a high mathematical ranking based upon quantity of markers rather than quality of content.

SEO techniques enabled a webmaster or blogger to include markers that would be detected and counted by algorithms and help that page or post to be listed in a prominent position for specific search terms (keywords.) As competition for ranking position heated up, content became over-optimized and relevance was artificially incorporated in the form of keyword stuffing and excessive use of keyword-rich anchor text used in on-page links.

Panda and Penguin Algorithm Updates


Panda and Penguin between them dealt with much of this SEO gaming. Panda tackled the issue of poor quality backlinks while Penguin targeting overuse of keywords in anchor text and brand promotion. Exact match domain names were viewed as another way of gaming the system. Rather than punish EMDs in the same way that keyword stuffing was punished, their relevance was marked down so that they had less of an impact on ranking position.

While the Google Penguin algorithm updates hunted down overuse of exact match or keyword-rich anchor text, initially on the homepage and subsequently on internal pages, the Page Layout algorithm tackled excessive use of advertising above the fold. All of this was designed to improve Google as a search engine and increase its share of online searches.

Do Exact Match Domains Still Benefit Me?


Yes they do: perhaps not as much as before, but there are still advantages of using an exact match domain name if you can find one. Having your main keyword in your domain name is more powerful than using it in your page or post title. Here are some other benefits of using an EMD:

➨ An EMD is still a ranking parameter and can make a difference to your search engine results position.
➨ Your visitor can see immediately what your website is about. If somebody is looking for red widgets, and sees a URL containing the domain name RedWidgets, guess where he will go!
➨ You may be seen as the dominant site in your niche.
➨ Your brand will be the same as the main keyword for your product so easier for clients to remember.
➨ Exact match domains are more likely to be displayed on internet searches.
➨ When people use keywords they are also using your website name.
➨ Less chance of potential visitors misspelling your site.

There are many others, but these are sufficient to show that an exact domain name is a good idea. However, always keep in mind that Google is still looking for everything else it requires before you will receive a top ranking. You still need interesting, authoritative, well-written content, and you still need backlinks and mentions on social sites. An EMD is not enough on its own. It may have been at one time, but not now!

Some EMD Negatives


Not everything about such domains is rosy – there are also a few negatives of which you should be aware:

➨ An EMD can cost more than a more general domain name. You might be lucky and find a good 2 or 3-word name for your site, but most have been snatched up and have to be purchased privately from its owner.
➨ Can confuse people between your brand and the keyword.
➨ Social media mentions can also be confusing: are they referring to your site or a keyword?
➨ They are limited to the major keywords for your product or service, so there are not many of them around that would suit your site.
➨ Finally, it limits the scope of your site to that niche and could limit the expansion of your brand in the future. People searching for blue widgets will not click on a red widget domain.

This last point is probably the biggest limitation of using an exact match domain name. It is no good for gateway sites and broad scope blogs, but is perfect for a narrow niche. If you have a series of mini-sites, each with its own domain name, then an EMD for each would be perfect.

There is no exact match domain name penalty! Just as there is no Google duplicate content penalty! Google reduces the effectiveness of EMDs just as it reduces the effectiveness of multiple publications of the same content.

Who Should Use an EMD?


Imagine if Amazon had called itself ‘bookstore.com’. It would forever have been associated with books! Although Amazon started off life as an online bookstore, it has developed into one of the world’s largest online stores for just about everything other than groceries. It would have been very difficult for Amazon to have done this with the domain name Bookstore!

You should avoid restricting yourself with an exact match domain name if you want to expand your business in the future – perhaps into fields other than the niche you are currently in. Keep in mind that ‘exact match’ refers to the keyword used by the person carrying out an online search. ‘Bookstore.com’ would not appear to somebody searching for cell phone covers!

If you are in a narrow niche, selling a specialist product or service, them an EMD might be ideal for you. In fact, as you sell other specialist products, you might prefer to offer each one its own exact match domain. In some cases, you might even be able to use subdomains for this, so you would have no need to purchase an expensive domain name that somebody else already owns. Thus, redwigets.mydomain.com might work better for you in some cases than just mydomain.com. 

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