HostGator Blog Web Hosting and Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs Mon, 29 Jun 2020 21:15:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 151369968 How to Optimize Keyword Bidding on a $100 Google Ads Budget Thu, 02 Jul 2020 13:35:00 +0000 The post How to Optimize Keyword Bidding on a $100 Google Ads Budget appeared first on HostGator Blog.

This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts...

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The post How to Optimize Keyword Bidding on a $100 Google Ads Budget appeared first on HostGator Blog.

This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website. 

Are you ready to run ads for your business online? Is the $100 Google Ads credit that came with your new HostGator Hatchling plan is burning a hole in your virtual pocket? 

Google and other search engines make it easy to run ads that appear on their search results pages. You can set up your first pay-per-click (PPC) campaign in just a few minutes. To get the most value from the money you spend on these ads, there are a few things it’s helpful to know first. 

Know your keyword match options

Before you start bidding, it’s important to understand the different ways that Google matches searches to the keywords that trigger your ads to appear

While you’re setting up your keyword plans, you can choose from three different types of matches for your keywords: exact match, phrase match and broad match

What are broad match keywords?

By default, Google Ads sets all your keywords to broad match. It’s the most general match category, and it reaches the widest possible audience, because Google will loosely match people’s search terms to that keyword for broad match.

However, that audience may not be looking for exactly what you offer. That’s because if your keyword is kids’ t-shirts, the broad match setting may also display your ad on searches for kids’ dresses and men’s t-shirts. Here’s an example from Google:

examples of broad match keywords for google ads

How to set up broad match keywords: Just type in your keyword phrases in Keyword Planner without brackets or quotation marks.

What are phrase match keywords?

Phrase match keywords help you reach a more specific audience. For example, if your phrase is “kids’ t-shirts” your ad may display on search results for similar phrases, like discounts on t-shirts for kids and tag-free children’s tee shirts.

examples of phrase match keywords for google ads

How to set up phrase match keywords: Enclose your keyword phrases in quotation marks.

What are exact match keywords?

When you select exact match for your keywords, your ads will only display on searches where people type in exactly the same text as your keyword phrase or a phrase that shows the same intent. With [kids’ t-shirts] as your exact match keyword phrase, only people who search for kids’ t-shirts and related terms like children’s t-shirts may see your ad.

examples of exact match keywords for google ads

How to set up exact match keywords: Enclose your keyword phrases in square brackets.

Why exact match keywords are best for bidding on a budget

To get the most value from your ad budget, you want to utilize exact match keywords as much as possible. That’s because people who are searching with those terms are looking for something specific, and it usually means they’re ready to make a purchase, so you want to get them to visit your store. 

You may have heard this kind of keyword search referred to as long-tail keywords. You can and should do your own keyword research over time, but Keyword Planner is great for finding exact match keywords fast. To do this, choose Discover new keywords

discover new keywords in google keyword planner

Then choose start with a website. You can type in your website address and the planner will generate a list of keyword suggestions. Here’s what happens when we enter

enter your website url to have google ads suggest keywords for you

For each suggested keyword, you can see how much traffic is available and how much competition there is. Further to the right in the table, you’ll also see the low and high ranges for bids that would put your ad for each keyword at the top of a results page. Here’s an example from an online flower delivery website:

view the high and low range of bids for ad keywords

Notice that for these keyword suggestions, there’s a lot of competition, so getting just one click from a top-of-the-page ad could cost more than $5 for someone who’s looking for general same-day flowers. When you have $100 to spend, you may want to direct your spending toward people who are closer to making a specific kind of flower purchase.

To do this, instead of bidding on the most competitive and general searches, you may want to pick the suggested keywords that are longtail but that have a decent amount of traffic. 

Remember that generally speaking, longer tail keywords show higher intent to purchase. So instead of bidding on “online flower delivery” you might instead bid on “graduation flower bouquet” or “graduation flowers for guys.” These are still competitive keywords with lots of traffic, but they show more intent to purchase—and it costs less to get your ad on the top of the results page.

longer tail keywords have high competition but lower cost

So, you find your long-tail keywords to use as exact match keywords [in brackets] in your first Google Ads. As you set up those campaigns, you’ll get more mileage from your budget by thinking about time and money. Is this your first time using Google Ads? Read my guide to setting up your first ad campaign.

Use dayparting to get more value from your ad budget

Google ad scheduling tools let you choose when you want your campaign to be active. This can ensure that customers see your ad when your store is open, or that your ads only display at the times when you know your customers are most likely to buy.

To choose when you want your ad to run, click on the campaign in your Ads dashboard. While you’re  choosing your days and times, remember that you’re looking at your time zone. If your customers are several times zones away, you’ll need to adjust for that. Save your selections, and your schedule is ready.

Decide on your maximum daily ad spend

It’s tempting to bid low when you’re working with a small ad budget, to make that money last as long as possible. But to be effective, your ad generally needs to be the first one people see on a page. 

Why? Nobody really looks down the page if they don’t have to. Of course, the higher the placement on the page, the higher your cost per click. 

To get that top placement, you’ll need to bid close to the max bid range, which you can find for each keyword on your planner list. The best thing to do is spend as much per day as you’re comfortable so customers can see you at the top of their searches—and so you can start getting data on how your ads perform.

Study your campaign results

Your Google Ads dashboard lets you generate reports so you can see which ads work best. Once you start getting data from your first ads, you can start making decisions on which keywords get the best results, and which ads get the most click-throughs and conversions. 

You can use that information to decide which keywords to focus on, which dayparts give you the best results, and the wording in your ads that works best. Keep building on that knowledge, keep testing ways to improve your keywords and ads, and you can keep getting the most from your ad budget. 

Ready to start running pay-per-click ads for your business? HostGator’s Hatchling plan comes with a $100 credit for Google Adwords when you spend $25 on ads, and a free $100 credit for Bing Ads.

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7 Mobile-Friendly Design Tips for Your Blog or Website Wed, 01 Jul 2020 13:19:00 +0000 The post 7 Mobile-Friendly Design Tips for Your Blog or Website appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Think about the last time you were in public with a bunch of strangers. What were people doing when you...

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Think about the last time you were in public with a bunch of strangers. What were people doing when you looked around? I bet you a shiny silver dollar that they had their heads buried deep into their smartphone, checking social media or browsing websites.

If you don’t like to rely on anecdotal evidence alone, recent research shows that the number of smartphone users in just the United States is over 257.3 million. That’s nearly 80 percent of the total US population.

All of this is just to say that if you have a blog or website, or are planning to launch one soon, and want to capture the attention of smartphone users, you have to make your website mobile-friendly. In other words, you have to make it possible for smartphone users to easily read and navigate your website from a mobile device. None of this pinching, scrolling, and zooming business!

This post will provide the top seven mobile-friendly design tips for your blog or website.

drag and drop website builder

1. Pick a mobile-responsive website or blog theme

No one said you had to be a web designer to have a mobile-friendly website. They did say, however, that you have to be picky when it comes to choosing a theme. Save yourself a headache and pick a mobile-friendly theme.

As a quick review, a theme is a preconfigured framework that defines how your website looks. Mobile-responsive themes are pre-coded for both optimal desktop and mobile navigation. 

If you have a WordPress blog or website, most templates will already be optimized for mobile devices. However, you can double-check by reading the theme description and also by testing the demo URL for responsiveness

If you buy a third-party WordPress website, the theme product page will usually include a picture or demo of how the theme will look on a desktop and mobile device (see below).

example of wordpress theme with mobile version

If you’re running your website in HostGator, take note that all of our drag-and-drop website builder templates are mobile-friendly.

gator website builder design templates

2. Include a viewport meta tag

If you’re the “I’ll do what you say, no questions asked type of human,” here’s what you need to do:

  1. Copy. Copy the following code: <meta name=″viewport″ content=″width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>
  2. Paste. Paste the code in the HTML <head> area for each page of your website.

Tada! You’re done. Pat yourself on the back.

Now the explanation. The viewport code provides search engines with the information needed to correctly display the size and scale of the content, based on what device an internet searcher is using. 

Put simply: this meta tag provides a top-notch, multiple-device navigation experience, so website visitors can enjoy your content from a large desktop and a small six-inch mobile screen alike.

3. Simplify your content

Any time you, as an internet browser, navigate a good mobile version of a website, you’ll notice the content isn’t as rich as it is on a desktop.

When creating copy and design elements for your mobile website, the hard and fast rule is: simplify everything.

Here’s what I mean.

When I search Krispy Kreme (I’m not eating a dozen doughnuts, you are!) on my desktop, this is what the home page looks like.

desktop version of krispy kreme website

It’s complete and full of all the information you could ever want to learn about these delicious confections. 

What happens when I search for the same website via a mobile device? This is how the home page looks now.

mobile version of krispy kreme website

You only see the essentials. Krispy Kreme puts the most important information on the top (“order now”) and eliminates any elements that aren’t critical to a mobile shopping experience. It’s awesome. Do as Krispy Kreme does.

4. Avoid fancy design elements

The goal of mobile search is to get answers from brands as quickly and efficiently as possible. This means when you are designing your mobile-friendly website, you have to let go of all your fancy design ideas and opt for the quick and simple.

Here are the two things to forget about first.

Flash? Just say no.

As it turns out, Flash is not an apt name for the technology. Why? Flash can slow down a site’s load time significantly. The more you can do to speed up your site’s load time, the more attractive your website will be to users.

Additionally, neither Android nor iOS supports Flash. This means if your websites’ mobile experience is dependent on whether or not your viewers can see your Flash animation, you’re going to run into trouble when someone searches via a mobile device.

Avoid the use of pop-ups and refreshers

Pop-ups and refreshers can be a great tool for desktop viewing. They are especially helpful in capturing new subscribers, making announcements, and giving discount codes.

However, these tools are distracting on a mobile device. You want your content to be as simple and easy for your visitors to navigate as possible. If your visitors see irrelevant pop-ups that take up the whole screen, it could lead to a potential customer getting frustrated and clicking out of your website.

Also, have you ever tried to hit the tiny close pop-up “x” on a small screen? It’s impossible.

A smart alternative is to include a small bar at the top of your mobile search page where you include promotions, announcements, or free shipping.

sticky website banner on mobile website

5. Consider the size of your font and buttons 

Have you ever visited a blog on a mobile device and had to zoom in to consume the content? How long did you keep reading? Chances are it wasn’t very long. 

The font on mobile sites should be at least 14px. This makes it easy for most people to read your content without any problems. If you have any copy that is supplemental, you can keep the font at 12px.

Reading articles on a mobile device isn’t the only time where the size of the design element comes into question. It’s also important to design any clickable buttons correctly.

The last thing you want is for your mobile visitors to have a difficult time selecting products or tapping on buttons. Bigger buttons are best. Shoot for button sizes that are at least 44px by 44px. 

44px by 44px is the size of this circle:

6. Compress your images and CSS

Did you know that 47 percent of website visitors expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds, according to Kissmetrics? And, 40 percent of visitors will exit out of the website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds.

You’ve already avoided using Flash and eliminated distracting elements like pop-ups, but what about images and CSS? Images and CSS take up a lot of server space, meaning they take longer to load. But, you don’t want to get rid of visual design elements that make the mobile user experience better.

The solution is not to leave out images or style sheets, but to compress them. When you compress your image file sizes they load faster without negatively affecting the quality of your site.

7. Include a search function if you sell products on your mobile site

Think about the popular eCommerce platform, Amazon, for a second. There are over 12 million products on Amazon; yet, anyone can find and purchase exactly what they want in a matter of seconds.

One way Amazon accomplishes this is by including a search bar at the top of their mobile app.

search bar on amazon mobile app

You may not have 12 million products, but that doesn’t mean the magic of a search bar can’t help you organize the products you do offer.

Design Your Mobile-Friendly Website

There are over a billion websites in the world, but not all of these websites are created equal. Website owners that work hard to improve the mobile user experience get rewarded with more traffic, referrals, and repeat visitors.

As you design your mobile-friendly website, implement the design tips listed above. These tips will help keep your website working properly when someone comes searching from a desktop or mobile device. You can get started with these responsive web design tools.

Remember, you don’t have to do all the hard work yourself. HostGator’s drag and drop website builder is already optimized for mobile viewing. All you have to do is pick a template and customize it to your liking.

Or, you can have our web design pros create a professional, mobile-friendly web design that’s all your own.

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3 Surprising Ways Bloggers Can Drive More Site Traffic Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:44:00 +0000 The post 3 Surprising Ways Bloggers Can Drive More Site Traffic appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Don’t let what I’m about to say scare you (because, secretly, it’s awesome for you). Recent stats suggest one-fifth of...

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Don’t let what I’m about to say scare you (because, secretly, it’s awesome for you).

Recent stats suggest one-fifth of bloggers report that it has become more challenging to get traffic from Google, and 50% of bloggers say it’s gotten harder to get traffic from Facebook. 

This makes sense considering there were more than 500 million existing blogs in 2019, and the number of bloggers in the U.S. is expected to increase to 31.7 million in 2020.

But, does the abundance of bloggers mean you should throw your hands up and abandon all plans?

Can I get a loud and resounding “no” here?

The reason why more and more people are building blogs is that it’s a surefire way to grow your business, establish credibility, capture more email subscribers, and help people find your business or side hustle online.

Creating a blog

While there is an abundance of bloggers, and some bloggers find it more difficult to get more traffic, it’s essential to remember a couple of things. First, Google’s algorithm is doing a better job than ever delivering up relevant content to search engine users. This means if you are writing helpful content on your blog, Google will reward you, and you won’t be one of the one-fifth worried about relevant traffic.

There are also specific and surefire strategies you can employ on your blog posts to help Google understand what your site is about, so Google can deliver your content to the people that want to hear from you. These conventional strategies include writing helpful on-topic content consistently, engaging in off-page SEO, and optimizing your on-page content for the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

But, surprise! We’re not going to talk about those today. This post is going to cover three of the less obvious ways you can drive more traffic to your site via your blog posts.

1. Include images or videos in all of your blog posts

use images in all of your blog posts

Blogging is all about the written word, right? Nope. Stats show that articles that include images get 94% more views than blog posts that don’t use any visuals.

The wild thing is only 19% of bloggers are now including video in their posts. This means the second you start adding images to your blog posts, you are giving yourself a competitive edge over bloggers in the same niche.

Here are two insider tips to know that will lead to a boost in website performance.

Use real images in your blog posts

You may be tempted to pay for a stock image. While stock images are better than no images at all, research shows that real photos can result in a 35% increase in conversion

You may not be a pro photographer, but that doesn’t matter. People want to see a real picture of your garden, sourdough start, art project, or whatever it is you specialize in. 

Use a free image design service

If you want to design images to use in your blog post (like the one above), there are tons of free resources on the internet like Canva and Crello.

The cool thing about these types of free image design services is they offer thousands of templates you can customize to fit the tone and style of your blog. That means you don’t have to be a designer to create a fun and shareable image.

Additionally, you can count on the dimensions being correct for social shares. This means if someone goes to your blog and decides to share your post, the image will automatically be the correct size for a social share.

create social media posts in canva

Optimize your image for search engines

If you’re a novice blogger and only know the basics of how the internet works, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Remember, Google reads words, not pictures. 

The best way for Google to understand your images are is to label them appropriately. In SEO terms, this is called using an alt tag

All you have to do to become a professional SEO alt tagger is save the picture you are going to use to your desktop, then right-click on your picture and select “rename.” Instead of “img10393” (or whatever mumbo jumbo the image is named), rename it your primary keyword.

Here is an example of a recent image relabeled with the primary keyword “gardening tips.”

gardening tips alt text for blog images

If I include the “gardening tips” image instead of the “screenshot…” image, Google knows what my picture is. Magic.

If you’re really ambitious, you can also include a video in your content. Video is particularly strategic, as 43% of consumers increasingly want video content, and video content is 50X more likely to drive organic search traffic than text only.

2. Follow blog headline best practices

Writing a blog title can be one of the most difficult parts of publishing a blog post. It’s challenging to think of one line that summarizes your entire post, draws readers in, and makes them want to click. 

However, having an awesome headline is one of the best ways to bring traffic to your website. In fact, making appropriate headline changes has the power to provide a 10% increase in clicks, according to MarketingExperiments.

Here is a quick list of what makes a good headline.

Include your target keyword in the first part of the headline

When a searcher types a keyword into Google, Google’s algorithm searches through all relevant posts on the internet to deliver up the right content. Google looks at headlines to understand the theme of a post. That’s why it’s critical to include your primary keyword in your headline.

Consider using a list-based headline (they are wildly popular)

People browse the internet when they are looking for how to do something or for best practices. A list-based article is an outstanding way to present information.

Lists are easy to scan, informative, and quickly give readers the information they seek. If you write a list-based article, then your headline should show readers the post is a list (e.g., 7 Top Gardening Tips for Novice Green Thumbs). According to ConversionXL, 36% of people prefer list-based headlines.

As an added bit of advice, odd-numbered lists tend to outperform even-numbered listicles by 20%.

Hit the headline word-count sweet spot (6-8 words, but up to 13)

If a headline is too short, Google will have a hard time determining the relevance of the post. Google will have the same problem if the headline is too long.

So, what’s the sweet spot? Stats show that headlines with 6-13 words attract the most traffic, and if your headline is between 6-8 words, it can increase your click-through rate by 21%.

3. Publish blog posts regularly

The last tip for driving more site traffic to your website is to publish blog posts regularly. Research shows that companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get nearly 3.5x more traffic than those that publish 0-4 monthly.

There are a couple of reasons why Google rewards more active blogs with better search result rankings and why they get more traffic. Maybe the reasons are obvious, but since posting regularly is critical to the success of your blog, let’s cover them anyway.

The first reason is that the more content you produce, the more pages Google’s algorithm has to sort through. When you have more content, it’s easier for Google to understand your particular niche, find relevant keywords, and deliver your content to the audience that is looking for you.

The next reason is that the more high-quality content you have on your blog, the more it establishes you as an industry leader. As you provide excellent blog posts, people will come back and visit your site often for more of your expertise. 

Not to mention, businesses that maintain blogs receive twice as much email traffic as those that don’t. Email is yet another way to reach your audience and drive meaningful traffic to your website.

Start your blog with HostGator today!

Blogging is undoubtedly one of the best ways to capture the attention (and business) of your target audience. That’s why there are over 500 million blogs on the internet. 

If you follow SEO best practices as well as the three tips listed above, your blog will be a successful tool in capturing customers.

To get started with your blog, sign up with HostGator today. You can either use HostGator’s Website Builder, or you can start a WordPress blog via HostGator. We can’t wait for you to build your website.

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The 6 Best WordPress Plugins Every Blog Needs Mon, 29 Jun 2020 15:37:51 +0000 The post The 6 Best WordPress Plugins Every Blog Needs appeared first on HostGator Blog.

Blogs are a must-have to establish an online presence. With blogging, you get to communicate with your visitors about the...

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Blogs are a must-have to establish an online presence. With blogging, you get to communicate with your visitors about the latest trends, showcase your products and services, and even ask for their feedback. 

But blogging is more than just writing a few words or posting a couple of videos. To run a successful blog, you also must consider search engine optimization, security measures, and promotion. 

Luckily, WordPress plugins can help you with these pressing needs. Check out the six best WordPress plugins for blogs below.

best WordPress hosting

1. Yoast SEO

Blogging is a long-term strategy to bring attention to your brand. It’s a combination of writing relevant content and getting people excited to visit your website. 

Search engine optimization plays a huge role in helping visitors discover your content on the web. Using the right keywords can ensure you’re attracting the right people. Adam Enfroy, a full-time blogger and affiliate marketing expert, says:

“Optimizing your blog posts is not about stuffing as many relevant keywords into the article as you can (that can actually hurt your SEO now). It’s about writing for humans first, and search engines second.”

Yoast SEO is an essential WordPress plugin to get your blog content ranked on search engines. This plugin comes with a readability analysis feature, title and meta description templating, breadcrumb controls, and XML Sitemaps functionality.

yoast seo wordpress plugin

2. Newsletter

Visitor engagement doesn’t stop when people land on your blog. The next step is to capture their email address, so you can send visitors more relevant content. That way, you can build a quality relationship with your audience. 

Newsletter is a WordPress plugin that helps you with list building and sending emails. This email marketing tool allows you to create responsive newsletters with its drag-and-drop composer. There’s even a subscription spam check to block unwanted bots.

newsletter wordpress plugin for blogs

Experts suggest building an email list as soon as you create your blog. It’s also wise to try different methods to boost your subscribers. Belle Beth Cooper, the first content crafter at Buffer, writes:

“When you’re asking readers to sign up for your email list, you might want to try experimenting with a different language. Willy Franzen found that his subscription rate jumped 254% higher when he changed his call-to-action from ‘subscribe by email’ to ‘get jobs by email’.”

3. Wordfence Security

Reports indicate that 43% of cyber-attacks are made against small businesses. One reason for this staggering statistic is the lack of security infrastructure. Similar to adding an alarm system to your new home, your website needs tools to protect it from potential breaches and suspicious attackers. There’s no better time to add security to your site than right now. 

Wordfence Security keeps your website safe with its firewall and malware scanner. This plugin identifies and blocks malicious traffic and checks core files for malware, bad URLs, and SEO spam. You’ll get access to a dashboard with an overview of your site’s security including notifications and total attacks blocked. 

wordfence security wordpress plugin for blogs

This tool also comes with two-factor authentication and CAPTCHA to stop bots from logging into your site. If you upgrade to the premium version, you’ll get real-time malware signature updates along with checks to see if your site has been blacklisted for malicious activity.

4. wpDiscuz

A blog serves as a central location for your brand to discuss topics relevant to your audience. Your blog posts will give insight into your business’s culture, products, and team. 

But it’s also important to get feedback. The comment section of your blog gives readers a chance to express their opinions directly to you. Every once in a while, it’s okay to get a little controversial.

“Begin a conversation in which you share your position and invite others to disagree. Be careful of overdoing this, though, as being contentious all the time can get weary. It can look like you’re just trying to pick a fight,” writes Jeff Goins, best-selling author of five books.

Supercharge your blog comments with wpDiscuz. This plugin adds an interactive comment box on your posts. You can accept and deny specific comments, sort the comments by newest or oldest, and enable comment voting.

wpdiscuz wordpress comment plugin for blogs

5. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Getting traffic to your blog matters to your brand. So much so that there’s been a 93% increase in blogs using promotional techniques to drive traffic to their posts.

You need a way to observe your traffic as it comes in. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP helps you set up all your tracking features without writing any code or hiring a developer. No more leaving WordPress to view key stats in Google Analytics; now, you can monitor them inside your dashboard.

google analytics dashboard for wp plugin for blogs

Get real-time stats of who’s viewing your website, where they’re coming from, how they found your site, and how long they’re staying on your site.  You also can automatically track clicks on affiliate links and track every file download with just one click.

Haven’t set up Google Analytics for your WordPress blog just yet? Read our step-by-step guide.

6. Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons

Writing great content is only one part of a successful blog. The other part is actually getting people to read and engage with your blog posts. Beyond SEO, you will need additional content distribution channels to attract visitors to your blog. 

Social media is an effective way to spread the word about your website. Ben Sailer, inbound marketing lead at CoSchedule, states: 

“Another way to connect your audience to your content and encourage them to share it is to create content that revolves around their values. Your audience wants to know that the values of your company or product align with theirs.”

Encourage your current visitors to share your blog posts with the Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons plugin. You can pick from 16 different designs to match your brand’s site. 

social media share buttons wordpress plugin for blogs

This tool gives you the option to make your social media icons static or dynamic. You also can add a counting feature to the buttons.

Upgrade Your Blog With These WordPress Blog Plugins

It’s time to attract new visitors to your blog. Use these six WordPress plugins to boost your SEO results, gain traffic from social media, and track your site’s analytics. 

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How to Create Your Small Business Website in 3 Quick Steps Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:02:00 +0000 The post How to Create Your Small Business Website in 3 Quick Steps appeared first on HostGator Blog.

In an age when we can shop for everything from cars to cocktails online, it may come as a surprise...

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In an age when we can shop for everything from cars to cocktails online, it may come as a surprise that 29% of small businesses are just now thinking about setting up websites. We say, now is the time to get it done.

If you’re ready, you’ve come to the right place. The only thing we love more than talking about why every business needs a website is helping business owners build their sites. 

And we have a ton of resources to guide you through the process, from video tutorials and a huge collection of Getting Started articles to live support and, of course, blog posts. 

This step-by-step post will connect you to the site setup resources you need, so you can get found, make more sales and grow your business.

Step 1: Get a domain name

Your domain name is your “street address” on the web. For example, in, hostgator is the domain name. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get a domain name that exactly matches your business. That’s the best option for branding.

How do you know if the domain you want is available? You can look it up with HostGator’s Search Domains tool. If no one else has registered it, you can snap it up right away.

search for domains on hostgator

If it’s not available, you can choose a different domain name. You can also look into buying the domain you want from its current owner.

When you’ve settled on an available domain, you need to register it so you can use it. We recommend adding domain privacy protection to your registration cart. That way, spammers around the world won’t see your contact information in the public WHOIS domain registration database. 

Is it really that easy to register a domain? Yes, but there’s always more to learn. To learn how to choose the best domain name and get the most value from it, check out this domain webinar by two of HostGator’s Web Pros.

Step 2: Get web hosting

Now that you have a digital address sign for your business, you need a service to host your site on the web. 

What’s web hosting? The web host you choose will make a place for your site’s database and files on one of its servers. It will also make sure your site is available when visitors come by, and it will protect your site from cybercriminals and pranksters. Want to learn more? This post explains exactly what a web host does and why it matters.

What kind of web hosting do you need? Lots of hosting companies, including HostGator, offer different types of hosting

different types of web hosting

When you’re a small business owner just starting out online, you don’t need to worry about VPS or dedicated server hosting just yet—but look into them as your business grows!

For now, it’s best to stick with the options that work well for DIY site design. That means going with a WordPress hosting plan or a shared hosting plan that supports HostGator’s Gator Website Builder tool. 

OK, what’s WordPress hosting? WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system – the software that helps you add things to your site, choose how they appear onscreen, and do important stuff like run your online store and set up contact forms. 

HostGator offers managed WordPress hosting that helps your site load fast, handle surges in traffic, and stay secure with automatic updates.

WordPress hosting is for you if you 

  • Want a simple site setup process.
  • Want lots of customization options. WordPress has thousands of design templates and plugins for things like chatbots, SEO and eCommerce.

Sounds pretty simple, yeah? It is – but there’s an even simpler option.

OK, what’s Gator Website Builder? Gator is HostGator’s very own website creation tool, designed for super simplicity. The best thing about Gator is that you can drag and drop different elements onto your site, and they’ll show up exactly where you put them—no fiddling with margins and code required. 

Gator supports eCommerce, has hundreds of design templates and makes blogging easy. And unlike some website builders, Gator doesn’t put ads on your site, so visitors are focused on your brand. 

Gator works with HostGator’s shared hosting plans, and it’s for you if you

  • Don’t want to have to learn WordPress.
  • Want to drag, drop, publish and go live quickly.
  • Want built-in analytics to track visits and visitor activity on your site.

Once you decide what kind of hosting you want, you’re ready for the final step.

Step 3: Set up your small business website

Is this really just one step? It’s one big step for you, one giant leap for your business visibility online. Site setup can take anywhere from a few minutes to forever, depending on 

  • how complex your site plan is
  • how clear you are on what you want before you start
  • how comfortable you are clicking “publish” and putting your site out there (it’s OK, we get it!)

Naturally, we’re in the “sooner is better” camp when it comes to launching your business site. Website visibility is critical to business survival these days, and a simple website with accurate contact information is much better than no site at all.

Our recommendation is to start simple and then add features as your schedule allows. For example, Zippy’s Duck Supply might start with a simple set of pages (homepage, about, contact, testimonials) this week and then add an online store next week, once Zippy’s had time to take product photos. 

BTW, Zippy’s Duck Supply is a fictional example, but Zippy himself is real. He’s 3 weeks old and loves to play in muddy water:

OK, so how do you set up your site? We have tutorials to show you every step of the way! 

If you’ve decided on WordPress hosting, watch our Web Pro Blair Williamson show you how to build your first WordPress site.

If you’re going with Gator Website Builder, let Blair and Web Pro Keith McKinney walk you through setting up your site with Gator, including your online store.

With these tutorials, you should be able to get your basic business website up and running fast. And if you need more help, check out these resources:

Ready to finally get your business website set up? Pick your hosting plan and register your domain now.

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