Load Balancing and Failover Improve Hosting

Everyone wants their traffic to go viral, but most don’t realize that if they do get mentioned on a major site or go viral on social media their hosting company is likely to take their site down. When this happens, they lose the benefit of having gone viral!

The reason for this is traffic limits on almost every hosting solution. If you go over your traffic limit, some hosting companies may charge you for the overage while others will immediately take your site offline.

This is only one disadvantage of typical hosting plans. Another is server failure. Your site is typically hosted on only one server. If that server has a hard drive head crash or any other technical failure your site goes down.

Content Delivery Network

By using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) also known as a Content Distribution Network, your site is hosted on multiple servers in diverse locations. This is the ultimate protection against technical failures, power outages, and internet slowdowns.

CDNs also provide caching in multiple locations closer to the end users, decreasing page load times. Other benefits are enhanced security and resistance to DDoS attacks thanks to high capacity networks of servers.

Server Failover

The best CDNs automatically reroute traffic from a failed server to the backup, ideally without human intervention. Some CDNs require the process to be activated manually while others provides automatic failover detection to immediately activate your preconfigured backup server and alert you via email.

 

Load Balancing

With Google’s emphasis on page load speed, using a CDN with load balancing can be the easiest method to decrease delays.  The idea is to have multiple servers that can serve traffic and then use the CDN as the “middle-man” to distribute the incoming requests between these multiple servers. There are many load balancing methods. Legacy CDNs usually rely on Anycast routing while the more modern ones take it a step further with layer 7 load balancing solutions.

The benefit of the later method is that, while Anycast routing using the shorter path from user to server, the layer 7 load balancing is also able to route traffic to servers based on their current traffic load.  Using both helps you not only take the shortest path but also to choose the best recipient. However, with Anycast-only solutions you always run the risk of overcrowding the popular servers while leaving the un-popular ones un-visited and underperforming.

Security

CDNs are a very effective method of protecting your site from DDoS threats and other cyber-attacks because a CDN network of servers can handle vastly more requests at one time and because its servers are positioned on the edge of your network, where they can expect all incoming traffic.

“An effective defense against an HTTP flood can be the deployment of a reverse proxy – in particular collection of reverse proxies spread across multiple hosting locations. A reverse proxy is somewhat akin to a bouncer at a nightclub, deciding which guests are allowed into the party, where the real web server is. By deploying many bouncers in different locations, the crush of incoming traffic is split into fractions, lessening the possibility of the network becoming overwhelmed.”

Today some CDN platforms also provide websites with Web Application Firewall (WAF) and even offer the options to add custom security rules for organizations that want to tweak the default security policies.

Simple Implementation

Manually implementing your own load balancing or failover solution is extremely complex. Mistakes could lead to loss of traffic and other undesirable side-effects (i.e. temporary loss of Google rankings). Fortunately, implementing an existing CDN solution can be as simple as changing the DNS for your site at your domain registrar to route your traffic through the CDN.

How CDNs Work

When an internet user goes to your URL (such as www.yoursite.com), instead of the domain name server (DNS) pointing directly to your original server that hosts your site, the CDN will send the user to the server closest to their location (based on their IP address) or least busy instead. Depending upon the size of the CDN, there could be dozens of copies of your site each on a server in a different location.

Do You Need a CDN?

Huge sites with thousands of simultaneous visitors spread across the world need CDNs. Whether you need a CDN or not depends on the type of site you run and how critical it is for you financially for that site to stay online

Business focused websites will benefit from the security aspects, faster page load times and additional availability options. With commercial CDNs services available for just few dozen dollars a month, and freemium CDNs offering free plans and trial offers, any site owner whose income is derived from being online should consider upgrading to the use of a CDN.

How to Monetize Your Blog Like a Pro

Last year, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) earned an astonishing $15,000 in daily income, as his website gained a value of $2.66 million. Tech Crunch, starting out as a blog, has become a viable brand, worth $10.82 million.

Blogging has become an industry in itself. Once upon a time it was a platform for personal journalling, but over the years blogs have gained legitimacy, visibility and power on the web and beyond it. As you can see, one of the changes has been the fact that you can make real money blogging, even without becoming a major information powerhouse.

If you have thought about monetizing your website, here are some tips to help you get started.

Get Your Toolbox in Order

Whichever method (or methods) below you pick, the key is to use the right tools to organize the process well. Here are just a few good ones to consider:

  • Google Analytics is a necessary evil for properly monitoring your traffic sources
  • Register an account at ShareASale. That’s an affiliate marketing network that will connect you to quite a few cool programs
  • If you are going to be creating and selling a product or a service, make sure to use a sales management platform to organize leads properly. Salemate is a good affordable option

salesmate

Don’t Begin Right Away

This is an unpopular opinion with some, but the truth. It might seem like a good idea to immediately start trying to monetize a blog you’ve just started. But in the beginning you won’t have any traffic to drive profit.

The exception to this rule is if you already have a viable brand and are expanding it to include a blog for engagement and social marketing. In which case the traffic will come from your initial site, and monetizing right away makes sense. If not, focus on building that blog before you think about making money from it.

Join AdSense

Google AdSense is an important tool for anyone seeking to monetize their website. They provide both text and image ads, and usually the image ads attract the most attention and lead to the most clicks.

Of course, this is dependent on your traffic, as most people will not click through to ads. But the payout is decent, it adds up over time, and they are a trusted source for such a program. Other ad programs exist, but none come as highly recommended.

Use Affiliate Programs

Affiliates are going to be one of your greatest sources of income. Whether someone is promoting your product, or you are promoting someone elses, even small payouts will lead to a decent payout over time.

The more momentum a program gains, the more passive income you will start to make. You would be surprised by the numbers and the way they build after the first six months, and especially after the first year.

You can also offer your blog to companies of products you commonly buy and enjoy. Many will pay several hundred dollars for a solid review on a well established site.

Don’t forget that for both affiliate links and sponsored reviews you should use a proper disclaimer not to lose your readers’ trust and to be in-line with the US laws (and Google).

Optimize Your Search Ranking

You have to come up high in a search if you want to bring in the traffic that will inevitably up your income.

Since no one goes to the second page of Google, you have to have a good market share on certain keywords, and optimize your blog using that data. Invest in market research to find the best keywords that you can use, both long and short tailed, to improve your SEO.

Open a Shop

Having a shop only works for some people, as often a niche won’t really apply to a product series very well. But even selling mugs to those who might want to help support your site can be beneficial.

Try and create products that relate well to your niche, however, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of inside jokes and references that you have built with your followers over time.

Release an Ebook

Ebooks are big, and they have plenty of uses. They don’t bring in a lot of money, however, which can be a problem unless you have the status in your industry to be able to charge a higher price for a download.

Most people will offer them cheap or free, and use it to improve their visibility and draw people to their blog, thereby improving their other income possibilities. It will ultimately depend on you.

Example: The Lost Girls knew that and wrote an excellent book about their travels that has gotten great reviews. Both ebooks and self publication are potential routes for this goal.

Become a Speaker or Consultant

Are you now fairly well known? Have some street cred in your niche? Then start using your blog as a platform for finding guest speaker or consulting opportunities. You can earn thousands doing this.

Offer Freelancing Services

Your blog can act as a kind of portfolio, showing off your writings skills, nature and passion. That makes it a great opportunity to attract other people who want you to write for them.

Occasionally you will want to write a free guest blog post to promote your site. But otherwise you can offer your writing for pay, advertising yourself both through your blog and on sites like oDesk.

Start a Class or Series

Want something a little more hands on or creative? Then why not run a class or webinar series from your blog? People will pay good money for a well organized class, and you can offer the world your knowledge while improving your own financial stability. Everyone wins.

Udemy is the perfect place to start an online course and you can sell it through the platform too! Another great tool is Google Helpouts.

It might seem like a heavy task, and too good to be true. But you can genuinely turn your website into a profitable one, even if it takes time. You just need to know how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for people who have managed to boost their regular traffic and are now looking to capitalize on that growing popularity

To get inspired, see this list of indie blogs that pay for a living.

Have some tips for monetizing your blog? Questions? Let us know in the comments

Color Theory in Display Advertising

Advertising online has been a tricky business for awhile. Unlike traditional advertising, which can be slow to adapt, the Internet is always changing and attempting to find more ways to attract its core audience. Sometimes the shifts in tone will be so extreme that you will be shocked that they actually worked.

It definitely isn’t your grandpa’s marketing.

Color has a unique plan in advertising. In fact, it may be one of the most important elements to it.

Color and The Human Brain

All species have a reaction to color. Red may signify danger, green food, others help enhance movement or let prey ward off predators. As human beings, we come from the same evolutionary perspective. We also react to color, but on a much deeper scale.

Humans will connect on an emotional level with color schemes. Which is why it is so important to find the right one when branding. Advertisements, logos, promotional content, and designs are all impacted by the colors we choose.

When you select the right colors to match the tone of your ad, you will be able to improve results.

Display Advertising Color Tools

1. Bannersnack

Bannersnack

Bannersnack is a comprehensive platform allowing you to design and monitor your display marketing creatives.

Not only will it let you create amazing banners but it will also allow you to manage your display advertising (Facebook, Adwords, etc) from one place.

You can create static, animated HTML5 and interactive banner ads using Bannersnack advanced visual editor.

2. Photocopa

Photocopa

This tool lets you generate color palette based on any picture you upload. This is a very useful tool when you want to match your banner to your logo or a social media branding:

3. Color Contrast Analyzer (Google Chrome)

Color Contrast Analyzer

This extension allows you to analyze color contrast on web pages. Unlike other color contrast analyzers, this one assesses text within images and reports how well your text overlay can be seen (especially to people with poor eyesight)

Using Color To Improve Your Brand Recognition

There are some colors that are immediately associated with a certain brand. Red and orange to match the clown mascot with McDonalds. Blue, orange and white for Walmart. Black, silver and gold for Chrysler. These are iconic.

In the case of your own brand, you may or may not reach those levels of recognition (every major corporation had to start somewhere). But you can at least lodge yourself into the brain of consumers by selecting the right colors for your brand.

Triggering Emotional Responses In Customers

Emotional Responses In Customers

Goal is important when choosing colors for ads. Of course you want conversions, so put that out of your head and assume it is a given. A better focus is triggering an emotional response that will make the customer want your product.

Your logo is going to be separate from this task. It will already feature on any banner ads, promotional materials, designs, commercials, etc., that you post on the web. And it doesn’t matter if it “clashes” with ad colors, because that will only make it stand out more.

That doesn’t mean you can’t match your ad and your logo. Just that it should be a secondary concern.

When choosing an ad, start by deciding what feeling to put off. Do you want your customers to think of your product as something that will put them at ease? That will pump them up? That will help them live a healthier lifestyle? That will make them more trendy? That will put them on the cutting edge? That will make them happy?

Try to think of two or three adjectives relevant to the focus of your ad. Then begin incorporating it into your advertising.

  1. Red – As the boldest of the colors, red is a great attention grabber. But it is also aggressive. While customers will take notice, they may not respond in the way you want them to. Different tones of red, making it brighter or darker, may blunt that in-your-face feeling, and make it a bit more moldable to your brand. Unless the idea of your ad is to be extreme, in which case a bright red can really get the job done.
  2. Green – Earthy and natural, green is a big promoter of health, wellness, wealth, and growth. It is perfect for any product or brand that centers itself around those concepts. Which is why it is the most commonly used color in natural supplements like vitamins and weight loss products. Anything that aims to promote forward motion and progress is perfect for green.
  3. Blue – The most calm and tranquil of all of the colors, medical centers are especially apt at using blue for their services. It elicits emotions of trust, peace and serenity, like floating on a gentle ocean, or looking up at a clear sky. When put with other mild shades, such as white, it is further softened. But paired with darker shades, like black, it can take on a harder edge. Tech companies that need to show their machines as dependable are often seen using blue in their ads.
  4. Yellow – Bright and bubbly, yellow is the happiest and most optimistic of all colors. That extends to its more passionate, playful cousin, orange. Both can give your advertisement a sense of importance and cheer that catches the customer’s attention, and makes them feel positive about the product.
  5. Purple – Regal and rich, purple is the color that best promotes luxury and suave-cool. It is also a color used to represent intelligence and wisdom, appealing to customers as a symbol of the power of the mind. It is a highly sophisticated tone.
  6. White and Black – Balance is an important part of advertising, and when using black and white you have to take care to strike that balance. In some instances both can be used to great effect, but too much of either can really damage your message. Think of both as enhancers, not straight themes. If you do need to do with a contrast, try grayscale instead. And make sure you are using it properly… these shades on their own, even in moderate gray, can come off as depressing to many customers.

Examples of Color In Advertising

Target

Target banner ads

Target uses bright red to advertise based around a theme. Being a bullseye in their logo, the harsh combo of red and white work to give it a bold look that works for the brand.

Home Depot

Home Depot banner ads

Home Depot goes with an orange advertising theme, and it works well. It speaks of work and progression and optimism. Something that many people feel when undertaking home projects.

Milka

Milka banner ads

Purple is the color used by chocolate company Milka. It signifies the rich of their food product, and shows them off as a luxury brand.

Do you have an example of how color was used successfully in advertising or branding? Let us know in the comments!

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Gail Gardner is the Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap.com
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