How do you decide if a web host is a good choice? Are disk storage features and bandwidth still important? Choosing a web host for your site is almost more of an art than a science. But, there is also a methodology to it all. It is a matter of you defining the process that works for you.
For many, it can be downright tricky. This is especially true if a person doesn’t know what to look for in a web host. It is really helpful to have a checklist to help you get through all that trickiness. Defining the checklist is almost a personal journey, but a little help (qualified, that is) never hurt anyone, or at least that is what they say.
What is the Big Deal About Hosting Companies?
Nothing is more important to your website’s functionality than a reliable web host. Your web host needs to operate on a powerful enough server and have a stable network connection to the rest of the world. The recommended uptime score is anything above 99.5; with the unacceptable rate being anything below 99 percent.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the people factor. That can include the customer service, but also the knowledge level. Many times there is a fair amount of knowledge floating around at a hosting company, but one needs to beware of the hosting companies (usually occurring in the smaller companies more so than the larger, established companies) that have people who are more talented at selling used cars than understanding the definition of DNS.
Tips for Choosing a Hosting Service
If you look online, you’ll find plenty of articles with information about publishing platforms. However, while these platforms work well for building an online presence, a web host can easily taint even the prettiest web page.
Also, keep in mind that the definition of a publishing platform can include user-generated-content (UGC) sites like blogger.com and medium. Those are platforms where you can publish your own content, by virtue of the fact that the owners of the domain/site give you permission to do so. These sites are hosted, yes, but you are not the one that has to deal with the hosting company. Instead, you are dealing with the owner of the site who has given you permission to publish using their publishing platform/software.
In cases such as WordPress, you may have a publishing platform, like WordPress.com or you may be downloading the WordPress software (from WordPress.org) and installing it on your own web host. When you go through the installation process/choice, you have a publishing platform that is called WordPress, but it is a choice of using the WordPress.com (who handles their own hosting issues) or setting up your site and having your own publishing platform installation (downloaded from WordPress.org). In the second case, you are the one who is dealing with the hosting company and therefore, the choice of which hosting company you want.
Does it still sound a bit confusing? Check out this article on the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. That should help clear up the WordPress explanation as well as applying to other similar situations.
We will come back to a discussion that is specifically catering to WordPress in just a bit. But first, let’s return to the discussion about that host of ours, shall we?
How Can the Selection of a Bad Hosting Affect Me?
Many people may initially think that saving money is the end all and all that is important, especially when starting out with a shoestring budget.
Oh, sure. It is important not to be throwing your money at unnecessary doodads, but at the same time, be careful. Many times it is a case of getting what you pay for and if you are not paying that much, think about what you are getting in return.
Choosing the least expensive web host many save you money, but it can also lead to slower download speeds, freezing web pages, and a loss when it comes to the Return-on-Investment (ROI).
You really need to do your homework and find out the answers to your questions, before selecting that host. Not doing your homework beforehand can:
- Negatively affect your ranking;
- Waste your money;
- Affect your online authority.
When comparing web hosts, also remember that bigger doesn’t always mean better. Even the best companies can get so blindsided by their success that they stop paying attention to the little guy. If their hosting solutions don’t suit your specific needs, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere.
Keeping the Hosting Features in Mind
You need to do more than looking for the highest quality at the lowest price. You need to look for solutions. For example, do you need unique software? If so, can the host support it? If you only need a simple WordPress site, be certain that your host can provide managed WordPress hosting. Deciding factors should include these types of features in the list. While things like price are important, these other factors may make or break the deal.
Don’t Forget the Advantage of Online Reviews
Each web host has different features, so to get a feel of how they function, check out their website and look to other online review sites. Use your best Google search methods to find out what others are saying about the hosting company.
Remember to remain impartial and look to see how the hosting company rates overall. Are there more than a few disgruntled customers complaining about the price? Are there numerous complaints about the host’s overall performance? These are the types of questions you need to ask before your purchase a plan.
Considering the Special Needs
We already mentioned that sometimes you have specialized needs for your website. That may be a Drupal installation, a specialized database installation for a specific application, or a case where someone has set up your site in a corporate environment, and now, as you are moving it, you realized that you are not like everyone else on the planet.
The most common specialized need is hosting for WordPress. That said, it is becoming so common that many hosting providers are ready for it and have ways for you to click a button and have the server system software install the WordPress installation for you. It used to be, in years past, that it was not uncommon to contact the hosting provider’s support team and request that they install WordPress.
The key thing, when it comes to the special needs, like WordPress, is to ensure that it is available to you with this hosting provider and that you have the level of technology help that is needed. So, if you are not tech-savvy at all, you want that click-button option. If you are really tech-savvy (as in having run your own hosting company, as we did), you may be willing to sacrifice some technology support (because you don’t want or need it in the first place) for some discount on the price of the hosting.
What Do Other Professionals Say on the Matter?
We asked a couple of SEO experts what they thought about hosting, the companies/providers, and what is most important when it comes to evaluating hosting service features. The following are their answers, compiled through the service at MyBlogU.com.
Q1. What are the most important aspects or features when considering a hosting company for your site or blog?
A1a. Mike Khorev (Independent SEO expert)
I usually host more than one website, and I always look at the number of MySQL databases, available space, and traffic allowance that the host provides. Company reputation and years in business are also important factors as I have had a negative experience with new companies being closed and taking down my domains and website files with them.
A1b. Riverbedmarketing (Senior Inbound Marketing Team Leader)
I would say that some of the most important aspects to consider are the following when it concerns the selection of a hosting company for anyone launching an online business:
- Server Reliability (How does the server handle itself under a heavy load?);
- Hosting space, size, & speed.
- Is there an option for dedicated hosting (not shared hosting) and if so, how much hosting space does the provider offer in those plans
Q2. What tips or insights can you share, when it comes to hosting companies, experiences with hosting companies, and any other tips or insights you would like to share with us?
A2a. Mike Khorev (Independent SEO expert)
I’ve used quite a few hosting companies in the past ten years, and I found one that offers the best pricing, hosting services, and flexibility to fit smaller websites. I host more than ten websites on the same account, and it would be troublesome to migrate them all to another hosting provider, so I am content to keep them running on the same account that I have right now.
A2b. Riverbedmarketing (Senior Inbound Marketing Team Leader)
Minimal downtime and fast response to server issues and inquiries are things that are important to me. A host that provides maximum control to their clients is key. So, for example, a hosting provider that allows us, as clients, the ability to access CPANEL and the ability to hand out logins to our developers freely is very important. That would be the self-service accounts.
Q3. Is customer service a key make-it-or-break-it component when deciding on a hosting company? Why or why not?
A3a. Mike Khorev (Independent SEO expert)
Customer service is of secondary importance to me. The most important factor is how fast my website will load for visitors, and it depends on server CPUs, connection speed, and database. Reliability is more important to me than customer service.
A3b. Riverbedmarketing (Senior Inbound Marketing Team Leader)
Customer service is at the forefront of what I look for when recommending hosts to my clients. This is crucial and critical in order to ensure that downtime is minimalized, especially in the case of e-commerce stores/sites.
The following is a little bit more about our two volunteer interviewees.
Mike Khorev (Independent SEO expert)
Mike Khorev is an Independent SEO Expert with over eight years of experience in web design and digital marketing. Here are a few links to help you connect with Mike:
Riverbedmarketing (Senior Inbound Marketing Team Leader)
Michael Bergen has been working in the digital marketing industry for over ten years. Currently, he has been overseeing his agency’s operations. His technical strengths are in marketing analysis, SEO, content strategy, and inbound marketing. His agency has experience working with quite a number of WordPress sites and typically works with private hosting companies that provide the white glove service. Finding the right fit between client and host is very important. Here are a few links to help you connect with Michael:
Summing Up Those Three Reasons
The three powerful reasons why that host selection is essential:
- When you have an online business, you need it to run smoothly without a hitch.
- When you have technology needs, you need to have a solution that does not involve you pulling all of your hair out of your head.
- You need to ensure that no damage besets you (i.e. reputation, traffic, etc.) because of a poor (or non-existent) decision-making process in hosting provider selection.
As an online business, choosing a web host is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You already know what features are necessary. Now, focus only on the bottom line, but not so much that you leave out some important factors. If the host has exceptional functionality, supports your specific needs, and has exemplary customer service, follow your gut instinct.
Above all else, never settle for less simply because it costs less.
Now, you might want to grab your favorite drink and sit down in your favorite spot. Next, start making that checklist of important components that you require in a web host. Then, stick to it, ok? 🙂
You have the marketing of your blog to consider. You also have a few contracts on the side, for search engine optimization (SEO) of client sites. This is great! You are a success!
But, while you are serving everyone else’s needs, you sometimes do not have enough time to address your own blog. When you do, the content does not seem to rise to the same level as that of the content that you may be helping your clients to obtain and publish.
Possible Solutions to Your Problem
Oh, there are many solutions that you could incorporate into your blogging process and content production process. However, which one is right for you?
For example, you could hire writers and create a writing staff for your blog. But, you could also hire other positions, like a technology person for your WordPress site, and maybe you have already done this in both cases, as well as other roles to support your SEO blog.
The challenges are that either you are paying less and receiving lower quality, or you are paying through the nose.
If you have unlimited funding, hiring a staff of qualified individuals may be the best option. Of course, that includes paying them a sufficient salary (don’t be stingy, if you want quality). If you want the quality of your content marketing to remain at a high-quality level, then the amount you pay for it is also going to reflect that.
You also want to include the content marketing aspect of ensuring that that same writing staff is mentioning you on other blogs, including articles that sing your praises, throughout the internet, bringing that traffic back to your site. That is one of the reasons that you would not want to be stingy on who you hire (or how much you pay them).
Expanding on our “Ideas List”
It also helps if ideas flood your mind and you are inspired by your own expertise, for example, as an SEO Expert.
In November (2016), we shared tips on how to prove that you are an SEO Expert. This included the SEO and Advanced SEO courses offered by Simplilearn.
However, not all of us can depend on the genius of our minds to flow out ideas at incredible speeds, let alone to convert those ideas into content and then promoting it, etc. So, we need another idea, in addition to our ingenious ideas (or hiring staff to do it for us).
MyBlogU >> Practically Writing the Content For You!
Originally, I set out to have this article mostly about RSS and RSS applications and services. What I found is that I cannot seem to write any article about developing content without singing the praises of MyBlogU (and no, no one is paying me to say this — It is my personal/professional opinion!).
MyBlogU, developed and owned by your very own Ann Smarty, is a magnificent platform. It is a place where you can share tips and ideas with other writers, helping to develop that article idea list that we talk about further in this article. But, more than that, it is a place where you can collect interview responses from experts.
You have all seen them, right? The round-up articles? The articles cover a topic and include tips and responses from multiple experts in the field. Here is an example, on the seochat.com domain, using MyBlogU >> How Infographics Can Improve Your SEO!
Well, MyBlogU.com helps you to put that together, making the work almost non-existent because Ann’s site does it for you!
So, while MyBlogU may not fit in the list of RSS applications, we cannot deny its rightful place under the topic of creating mind-blowing content for your site. If you haven’t already checked it out, bookmark it now so that you can be sure to visit the site later. You’ll be glad you did!
The Simple, Yet Flexible Solution of RSS
One favorite method to get fresh ideas for the content for your site is to access an RSS from one of your favorite SEO sites. Examples of those sites, related to an SEO blog, may include this site (SEOchat.com), searchenginepeople.com, searchengineland.com, as well as searchenginejournal.com (to name a few).
RSS feeds for the domains mentioned above:
In some cases, including those sites listed above, the RSS Feed (or just “feed”) is located by clicking on the RSS symbol, shown in the image, above, to the left of the Twitter bird.
However, there are cases where the site has a built-in feed, and you have to find it using a manual method. There are site owners who have feeds and do not necessarily know it or use it. Fortunately, there are methods you can use to find those RSS feeds manually.
It isn’t guaranteed that you will find it. If a feed doesn’t exist, you are not going to locate the feed. However, there are other options, even if it means that you bookmark the site and visit it frequently (not ideal, but an option nonetheless).
Some Introductory Discussion about RSS
Oh, let’s take a sidebar and differentiate between two RSS topics. First, there is the act of reading an RSS feed of another site or blog. That is what is most important for this article.
However, while we are on the topic of RSS feeds, it might not be a bad idea to ensure that you have yours set up for your site, encouraging others to use your incredible content as their idea-inspiration tool. So, we have included some information to help you in that area (under the Sidebar in this article).
To give some perspective, to help orient us to the two different aspects of RSS, let’s mention a couple of Google apps that you may have heard of in the past. One is the Google Reader, which is no longer available. That is the ability to read the RSS feed and the one that most directly relates to this article.
The other is the application that converts your feed (that already exists if you use WordPress for your blog) into a feed that others can read. This is not directly related, but the highly recommended so that others can subscribe to your feed.
What Is RSS?
Not sure about this whole RSS thing and what it is? Here is an exceptional article on the subject of RSS. Also, it mentions a free option of FeedBurner. Amy (the writer) does an excellent job of explaining why some of us are concerned about using FeedBurner. I don’t intend to be biased here, but she states it very well in her article. Still, FeedBurner, assuming it is still around when you read this, is a free (or at least was) option and worth considering if your budget is really tight.
Remember, FeedBurner is the “sidebar topic” of getting your site ready for others to use it to inspire them.
Even though RSS was quite popular a few years ago, it has not gone away. Oh yes, there was quite a bit of popularity during the Google Reader days (hey, I used Google Reader faithfully), but there are still ways to get a similar experience.
Some of the options that we recommend, for reading feeds, are free and others are not. Most of the options that I have found have been reasonably priced. This is helpful for our pocketbooks.
Ok, let’s get on with the explanation of how to use RSS services. That way, all of this babble makes more sense! Before we do that, let’s cover the sidebar. As we mentioned, it is about getting your site in a position where others can subscribe to it. This is our sidebar, and then we will continue with the methods for reading feeds so that you can inspire those ideas (the main gist of this article).
Sidebar: Using an RSS Service for YOUR Site Feed
My favorite RSS service is FeedBlitz, who offers a reasonably priced service, but oh so many options.
Some of the options available in FeedBlitz include:
- email subscriptions for your site (automated);
- email marketing for your business;
- consolidation of things like autoresponders, list management, eCommerce, etc.;
- integration with social media marketing options.
I couldn’t have said it better than the way Brian Clark puts it, here (from the feedblitz.com site):
Reading Method 1: Using RSS-Based Systems
Here is an example of one of the articles obtained from using seo.alltop.com:
A fresh perspective on SEO for B2B companies (from seo.alltop.com using RSS feeds).
Interestingly, Alltop.com also uses an RSS service. In Alltop’s case, the RSS service is feedpress.com. That isn’t something that you have to know (fortunately) to visit their site. Remember, this is a case of mentioning a site that uses RSS feeds to compile a list of reading material for you, automatically. You don’t have to do anything to set up an RSS feed for it because the service did it for you! You just read what Alltop produces for you.
The key thing to remember here is that there are sites out there who are already compiling/aggregating content sources for you, so you do not have to do it yourself. Alltop is just one example, and we specifically mentioned their SEO topic aid.
Method 2: Manually Reading Site Feeds with an App (Hosted or Downloaded)
RSS Feeds, in their raw form, are not naturally easy to read. However, on the positive side, we have come a long way, so quite a few reader options are available, and in many cases, your OS (i.e. Windows 10, Apple, etc.) has a built-in process of leading you to the available options.
When you read the RSS, it is the readable version and not the RSS in its raw form. Doesn’t make sense? That’s ok because these days, that is generally taken care of for you so you don’t have to get techie.
There are two different ways that you can manually read RSS feeds with an app. It could be a web app (called a hosted solution), like feedly.com. It could also be an application, like RSSOwl (available for multiple OSs, including Windows) or NetNewsWire for Mac (shown below).
If a feed is not available (or even when it is), another option is to use your browser to subscribe to a site. It may not officially be an RSS solution, but who cares what we call it as long as it gets the job done, right?
One thing that is helpful, regardless of what method you use to READ any feed, is understanding the setup. Understanding how to set it up to be conducive to your needs is a requirement for effectiveness. Here is a tutorial for Feedly, but you could adapt the steps to other methods, as well.
Let’s Put it All Together Into a Simple Step-by-Step How-To Listing
- Determine how you are going to record your content ideas (i.e. Notepad, Spreadsheet, or even as drafts in your WordPress blog).
- Determine which method you are going to use to obtain these ideas (i.e. your feed reading choice).
- Now, go through your chosen feeds (from Step #2) and be inspired in a way that helps you create ideas for the content for your site. Obviously, don’t copy, but allow yourself to think freely and to see what is popular (i.e. comments / social shares). In this way, you can see what your SEO target audience is looking to read AND get ideas for your site. Add the ideas to your list (created in Step #1).
- When it is time, write the content, or have it written, based on your idea list from this method.
- The final step is to promote it. Check out this OnPoint Internet Marketing article about backlinks to find some unique promotional tips. To your advantage, it is not your norm, but instead, tips that will get your mind-blowing content to the audience that will likely share it for you!
It sounds simple enough (and actually is simple), but experience says that this method helps. Sometimes, I find that coming up with the ideas for the articles is 50% of the work and the writing is the easy part.
Granted, I don’t expect that everyone is like me, but I am pretty sure that getting an idea list going, using methods like the RSS reading method, will help you to gain the success of producing content that your audience cannot resist.
Gather your content ideas list, write it, promote it. Sit back and enjoy your success. 🙂
I’m not doubting that you are a qualified Expert SEO, but my question for you is, "How do you prove just how qualified you are, especially when attempting to solicit new clients?"
Now before you take the question personally (please don’t!), let’s step back and ask this in a more general, industry-centric way. How does anyone prove that they are an expert SEO? What are the qualifications or milestones and how does one prove that they have earned the title?
Years ago (many years ago!), it used to be that all one had to do is show the results in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and demonstrate to their future clients how quickly they could give them top rankings. (It was also a lot easier back then to get a top ranking!).
However, now there are all of these rules. (Are they really rules, or just a particular entity’s “opinion” and then again, that opinion does, uh, matter quite a bit if one is ranking on that “entity,” if you know what I mean.)
Before I talk in circles more than what I am already doing, let’s just say that results do not always prove capability and capability is not always demonstrated in results.
So, let’s go back to our original question. How can you prove you competence, and more importantly, your expertise in the area of search engine optimization?
Let me offer one way of proving yourself, or at least providing something tangible that your clients may be able to see with their own eyes. That is, certification.
Certification Demonstrates Acquisition (Mastery) of Knowledge
Certification is not a new concept. In fact, there are many different companies who offer certification and offer it for different knowledge areas.
There are many different skill sets for which you can get certified out there in the real, as well as the virtual world. But, there are also other free certification programs (including HubSpot) available to whet your appetite and get you ready for bigger and better opportunities. That is just a mention of two ends of the spectrum of training and certification available on the internet.
Read further down to hear about some of those favorable things that are said about Simplilearn, not just my words, but other learners who have taken the Simplilearn course(s)!
Whichever path you choose, there are quite a few options available when it comes to “getting certified” in your skill set (and new skill sets).
In this case, since we are talking about proving that you are an expert in the knowledge and application of search engine optimization skills and the skill set as a whole, we would be referencing a type of SEO certification. And, I know just the place that offers the training that you need for SEO certification. That place is Simplilearn.
Simplilearn’s Track Record of Excellent Ratings
Simplilearn, with their “Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training” has done very well for themselves, with 1,318 learners and a near perfect star rating. Almost fifteen hundred students can’t be wrong, can they?
Tip: When you are looking for a training company and/or a certification company, be sure to see what others say about them. You want to check out the testimonials, the reviews, the ratings. In this case, Simplilearn has them.
Online Learning at its Best
Online learning has been around for a while. Several universities offer it and have developed ways for learners to incorporate traditional methods of learning in virtual (privacy of their own homes) environments.
Simplilearn has done the same thing and offers it in a self-paced environment. Years ago, before the internet, self-paced courses were offered through the mail and sometimes called “correspondence courses.” Now, with the advent of the internet, it is much easier to go through a fulfilling training process, with access to instructors (who are experts themselves) and to pace through the program at a rate that is comfortable for you, and conducive to your busy schedule (as we all have these days!).
Simplilearn also offers training for certification in other programs, such as their Digital Marketing Certified Associate course.
What Are People Saying About the Simplilearn Training Experience?
Gail Gardner, proprietress of the popular GrowMap.com web site has only good things to say about her experience as a Simplilearn learner.
In fact, she has written quite an extensive recommendation of the Simplilearn programs on her own site, at “Simplilearn Digital Marketing Training: Get Qualified Now for High Paying In-Demand Jobs.”
Need Some More Convincing?
If the provision of a way of proving that you are truly the expert SEO that you know that you are (and have been saying that you are) is not reason enough, there are plenty more reasons why this SEO training is something that is highly appealing to those interested in SEO. (And, don’t forget about the other training opportunities that Simplilearn offers, even though we are talking about SEO here!).
Here is a broad list and I know that you can add to it!
- Proof that you know your stuff;
- No matter how much we know, we can always learn more, and here is your opportunity to learn more about SEO;
- The opportunity to practice your skills while under the tutelage of the masters;
- Becoming a “Master” yourself (maybe teaching someday?);
- Getting up to speed on all of the new information; techniques; analytics; tips; strategies (need I list more?);
- Interactive methods of learning, including workbooks, exercise, and quizzes that help to test your knowledge and give you a feel for where you are in the learning process;
- The knowledge breadth of SEO topics >> start to finish;
- A simulation exam for that practice run at it before the real thing;
- And, bringing it full circle, that certificate of completion of your training.
It is very likely that when you have completed this SEO coursework and training (Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training) that you may not even feel the need to actually “prove” yourself. You will have gained so much confidence in what you have already been practicing (and have now enhanced beyond that beginning point) that you naturally exude the confidence and strength in what you are doing.
Your peers and your future clients will be able to sense this and naturally follow your lead. They will likely be moved by your confidence and be drawn to you. It wouldn’t surprise me (assuming you target the completion of your training) if those clients are flocking to YOU as that expert SEO! Once that happens, consider yourself having proven that you know your stuff, and all thanks to taking that step toward SEO Certification and the Search Engine Optimization Training like that which is offered by Simplilearn.