Monthly Archives: November 2018

Debunking the Top 10 Myths About Web Hosting

What is a web hosting? In layman’s terms, a web hosting simply defined as a service that makes your website viewable on the Internet. On a deeper level, the right web hosting choice will ensure that your website is capable to reach out to wider audience, increase your online business revenue, and gives you the help you need to ensure that you’re making the most of your online presence.

 

If you are new to web hosting and not sure how to choose the right hosting provider, then this article will assist you greatly because we will help you to separate the facts from the myths. In this article, we are going to expose the 10 biggest myths regarding web hosting.

 

Myth #1: You Need to Be an IT Expert to Use a Web Hosting

This statement may have been true when websites were built decades ago, but now it’s far from the case.

The truth is that many hosting providers now offer a huge benefit of a user-friendly interface with an easy-to-use hosting control panel such as cPanel and while graphic design prowess can certainly help to give you a one-of-a-kind high end site, there are several sites that make creating your own custom website or blog a piece of cake.

For instance, Joomla And WordPress are two of the most popular sites due to their ease-of-use, free guides, and support articles from users that are pretty much everywhere you look online.

Nowadays, you don’t even need to know how to code in order to create a dynamic site that runs on databases.  In essence, there are so many features already built in on existing platforms with graphic user interfaces that anyone even non-technical people can create a great looking custom site with just a few clicks.

 

Myth #2: If You Use a Windows Computer You Need Windows Hosting

This is the most common misconception among first time web hosting user. For your information, majority web hosting service providers offer both Linux and Windows servers. There are pros and cons to each, but this has nothing to do with the kind of computer or operating system you are using. The majority of web hosting plans actually use Linux, which is generally cheaper and commonly used among web hosting user. This is also perfectly compatible with a Windows based computer. So do not think that a Windows based computer will require a Windows server.

 

Myth #3: Every Web Hosting Provider Are the Same

If you have performed research on web hosting companies on Google before, you might have realized that majority of the ads from various web hosting companies almost offer the same hosting plans with similar prices. So why bother to shop for the best ones? Well, there is a significant difference among these companies which is the uptime factor.

What is an Uptime? Uptime is referring to the amount of time your website is online – a number ideally close to 100%. Many of these hosting companies promote 99% uptime but there are some which do not mention about uptime at all.  You should realize that a small difference in uptime percentage will affect your website negatively. Here’s a sample calculation between a 99.9% uptime with a 98% uptime.

98% = 28.8 mins/day – 3.4 hours/week – 14.4 hours/month – 7.3 days/year
99% = 14.4 mins/day – 1.7 hours/week – 7.2 hours/month – 3.65 days/year
99.5% = 7.2 mins/day – 0.84 hours/week – 3.6 hours/month – 1.83 days/year
99.9% = 1.44 mins/day – 0.17 hours/week – 0.72 hours/month – 8.8 hours/year

From the calculation above, you can see that your website will be offline for nearly 30 minutes per day or nearly 3.5 hours per week (for 98% uptime) compare to a short downtime period of nearly 2 minute/day or 0.17 hours/week (for 99.9% uptime).

Therefore, always find a host provider that has uptime guarantees of 99% and above!

 

Myth #4: Free Web Hosting is the Way to Go!

Reliability is a big difference between paid and free web hosting. When an issue arises, you would definitely need the comfort of a support team to get your problem solved. If you go with free hosting, you are essentially alone in your battle against inevitable complications. More disadvantages, like limited amount of hard drive space, should convince you not to pinch pennies with hosting. Therefore, always choose a high quality & reliable hosting provider and spend some money!

 

Myth #5:  Good Web Hosting Should Be Expensive!

While free hosting is not the bargain it may seem to be as discussed previously in Myth #4, that doesn’t mean you have to pay a lot for hosting. Some of the best web hosts, in fact, charge less than RM20 per month. For example, you can sign up for a top quality cPanel web hosting plan from ServerFreak for only RM190/year which works out for less than RM16/month ! In fact, you can save even more money if you sign up for their web hosting plan during special promotional period. While you should always look at the big picture, such as all of the features offered by the company and its overall reputation, you don’t have to pay top dollar to get the best service.

 

Myth #6:  Find Web Hosting Provider with Zero Negative Reviews

As they say “haters gonna hate”. The truth is that every hosting company no matter how great they may be – will have negative reviews.

For web hosting beginners searching for hosting, they may see a bad review, and move on to the next company’s reviews. If you finally find a hosting company with zero negative reviews, odds are they are just starting out.

On the other hand, large hosting companies with tens of thousands of customers, are bound to have a few negative comments. Don’t dismiss these comments, rather see how the company responds to them. If the majority of comments are positive, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

 

Myth #7:  Need Some Hosting Experience to Manage a Website

This is far from the truth because managing a website has become effortless thanks to the expansive control panel that improve website functionality. For instance, the control panel cPanel allows you to create and manage your email accounts, FTP accounts, MySQL database, password reset, setup error pages, perform domain redirection and many more.  As you can see, it does not require any technical experience at all to manage your website – even if you’re beginner.

 

Myth #8: Host Both Your Domain Name and Hosting with the Same Company

Some web hosting companies like ServerFreak offer a free domain name with their web hosting plans. There are also domain registrars, such as Godaddy.com and Namecheap.com that offer hosting. While it can be convenient to get these two services from the same company, you shouldn’t make your decision on this basis. Domain name registration is not complicated therefore do not simply sign up for a web hosting with the same domain registrar because of convenience or laziness. Always seek the web hosting company that offers the most value.  If they happen to offer a domain as part of the package, that’s fine. But this shouldn’t be the sole reason you choose a web host.

 

Myth #9:  Many Hosting Companies Have Their Own Dedicated Datacenter

This is something that you might assume, but it’s not always the case. There is a good chance they are outsourcing this unless they state it explicitly that they have their own datacenters.  It is common nowadays for web hosting companies to use third party datacenters. However, outsourcing datacenters does not mean that the company is offering poor service. Meanwhile, there are definite advantages dealing with company that manage everything in-house.  A hosting provider that has command over their datacenter, hardware, and support is better equipped to provide you with exceptional help.

 

Myth #10:  Outsource Web Hosting

Some things are best done by yourself even though the idea of outsourcing everything is getting a lot of attention nowadays.  As discussed in myth#7, it’s now even easier to build and manage your website by leveraging the tools provided by the hosting company.

 

If you outsource this, you are setting yourself up for potential problems and unnecessary expenses. You will have to contact or call the person you’ve hired each time you need to perform simple changes – such as typo or misspelling fix. It’s much easier to get comfortable with logging into your own control panel and making the changes yourself.

 

Conclusion:

Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself to be an expert on web hosting, it’s a good idea to refresh your knowledge from time to time to make sure that you fully understand just how valuable website hosting can really be. Hopefully, this article has given you the insight you need to separate the facts from the myths in web hosting.

8 Useful Tips on How to Optimize Your WordPress Blog

It is imperative to keep your blog or website in optimized condition because how your website is ranked in the search engines is influenced by the loading speed of your website. Both Google and Bing search engines are emphasizing good user experience (UX) thus the faster your website loads, the better the chances of getting your website ranked higher in the eyes of Google or Bing.  In addition, online visitors are impatient a lot these days as they will click the back button if your website is taking a lot of time to load.

In this article, we are going to share top 8 tips on how to optimize your WordPress blog properly and decrease page loading times. If you follow these techniques and best practices, your website will definitely loads much quicker.

 

1. Choosing the Correct Web Hosting Plan

Which hosting plan you’re currently subscribed to will affect the performance of your website. A website hosted in a shared server environment will definitely perform slightly slower compare to a website hosted in a higher end server i.e. Cloud server or Dedicated Server. This is due to the fact that hundreds of websites are hosted on the same shared server which consume the same CPU power and RAM resources; unlike websites that are hosted in a dedicated server which enjoy higher server resources that can handle sudden traffic spikes.  Hence, it’s essential to pay attention to what your website requires to run smoothly. Do not be a cheapskate and go for the cheapest option. Pick a hosting plan that can handle traffic spikes efficiently. If you have a website with high traffic, you should always opt for a cloud-based server that assures superb website loading speed regardless of the load on the website.

Another way to test your server response time is by using third party website performance monitoring tools such GTMetrix and Pingdom Tools.

By using these tools, they will advise you of the exact response time of your server. We recommend testing the response time of your own website against similar websites. For example, if you run a Cooking blog, view how your server response time compares to other Cooking blogs within your niche.

 

2. Keep Your Plugins, Themes and WordPress Updated

WordPress is a popular Content Management System (CRM) but it is also heavily-loaded with tons of features, scripts and stylesheets.  If you’re using a complex and bloated WordPress theme with many included scripts and stylesheets, this may cause your site’s performance to suffer because this will increase the loading time of your website due to the additional stuff needs to be loaded when somebody reach your website.  At the end, this will affect overall user experience.

When it comes to WordPress, you should always ensure to update every aspect of your website as soon as possible. The most important reason for this is security, as new updates will safeguard your website against the latest threats.   Besides security threats protection, updating your WordPress software will also help to keep your website as fast as possible.  It is known that WordPress developers are always improving the core software to be faster and better optimized. By updating your WordPress software, you’re ensuring that your site is safe against the latest threats.

Another myth is using paid plugins are the best but it’s often the opposite.  Popular plugins usually slow down the sites most and this can be proven by performing test. This can be done by using P3 Profiler plugin, which is a free plugin which can be used to evaluate plugin load time in milliseconds. Using P3 Profiler plugin, you can track down which plugin is the most resource-hogging plugin. However, the only downside is that you need to rollback PHP 7.1 to PHP 5.6 if you need to utilize this plugin. By using this plugin, you can identify which plugin is slowing down your website and perform substitution accordingly.

 

3. Empty Your Thrash

If you’re using WordPress, you will know that whenever content is deleted, be it a comment, post, page, media etc., it will be sent to thrash.

In the system, the deleted content can be restored or deleted permanently.

It is effectively a fail-safe system that helps you recover anything that was accidentally deleted.

For your information, trash can take up a lot of unnecessary room in your website’s database.

The bigger the database, the longer it is to retrieve information from it.

By default, WordPress will automatically empty thrash after 30 days.

This can be reduced by modifying the wp-config.php file.

For instance, you could reduce this to seven days by adding the following text:

define (‘EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS’, 7);

You can completely disable the trash system by adding this to your wp-config.php file.

define (‘EMPTY_TRASH_DAYS’, 0);

 

 

4. Optimize Images for Web

Images can help break up long pieces of text and can help your articles be shared more frequently on social media services; however they also take up a lot of storage. Therefore, pages that contain many images can take a long time to load.

 

Image optimization is also important. Always ensure all of your images have been optimized before you upload them to your website.  If you’re using a Photoshop, you can do this via the “Save for Web” option. Another alternative is using a good plugin such as WP Smush.it. You may use this plugin to optimize images that have already been uploaded to your WordPress site.  How it works is by utilizes the Smush.it API to optimize JPEG images, strip meta data from JPEGs and convert GIF images to PNG.  However, you need to be aware that the plugin will consume a lot resource during the image converting process; therefore your website may be slow whilst it is running.

 

Another good plugin is Lazy Load. The plugin ensures that images are only loaded when the area becomes visible to the user. This will greatly reduce page loading times.

 

Other recommended plugin is ShortPixel, which can be used to compress all of your existing images by using its powerful bulk optimization tool. This feature will save you plenty of bandwidth and disk space in the long run.

 

 

5.  Enable GZip Compression

Gzip compression enables a website page to be transferred to a browser at up to 70% of its original size. The browser will then decompress the page and display it to the user.

Gzip can be enabled via the WordPress options page. You can locate this page at www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin/options.php

To enable Gzip, simply update the value of the Gzip field from 0 to 1.

 

6. Minify & Combine CSS and Javascript

Each call to your CSS and Javascript files is an HTTP request. This means that when someone visits your website, their computer sends a request for a file and then and the server will delivers it back. The logic is that the more the requests you send to your server, the longer it takes for your pages to load.

Hence, it is highly recommended to use WP Minify, Fast Velocity Minify or Better WordPress Minify plugins to minify your CSS and Javascript files.

The PHP5 application Minify combines multiple CSS and Javascript files into a single file. This helps to reduce the number of HTTP requests efficiently. The application also removes unnecessary whitespace and comments.

 

7. Use Content Delivery Network

Using Content Delivery Network (CDN) will help to boost your website performance. Your website could be hosted in a data center somewhere in the world. The longer it takes for your website to load if your website is hosted further away from your location. In order to address this issue, CDN uses dozens of data centers around the world. They take the heavy work away from your hosting company by hosting your images, CSS and Javascript files and deliver these files to visitors from the nearest location to them.  Several seconds can be taken away from your page loading times due to CDN.

 

There are multiple CDN companies which are quite popular which include MaxCDN, Cloudflare and Amazon CloudFront.  We are also proud to introduce our web hosting packages which have been integrated with Cloudflare Railgun Technology.  With this technology, this can help to improve your HTML load times by 143% and a 90% decrease in Time to First Byte (TTFB) responses.

 

8. Install Cache Plugins

Another smart and powerful method to speed up your website is by implementing “caching”. A simple way to describe caching is to think of it as a website’s short-term memory. When a website is accessed for the first time, a copy of all requested files is saved. The next time the same site is visited again, these “cached” files are then displayed.

Using this method, this will ensure that your website’s files won’t be requested and and loaded directly from the server each time someone visits it. Caching will significantly reduce the resources required to run your website.  Caching may sound complicated but it’s actually simple to install on a WordPress site. There are several cache plugins you can use to do this which include W3 Total Cache, WP Simple Cache and WP Fastest Cache. Among these plugins, the best cache plugin for WordPress site is the LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress plugin (LSCWP).

 

LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress

LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress (LSCWP) is an all-in-one site acceleration plugin, coming up with server level cache and many optimization features. LSCWP supports many WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, Yoast SEO, bbpress etc.

 

Features of LSCWP:

  • Object Cache (Memcached/LSMCD/Redis)
  • Image Optimization
  • Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
  • Minify inline CSS/JS
  • Combine CSS/JS
  • Lazyload images/iframes
  • Multiple CDN support
  • Load CSS/JS Asynchronously
  • Browser Cache
  • Smart preload crawler with support for SEO-friendly sitemap
  • Database Cleaner and Optimizer
  • PageSpeed score optimization

 

Based on the plugin performance test below, it was found that a standard WordPress website that was experiencing extreme load would deliver an average of 3.52 pages per second (assuming no other caching plugins are being used). With LiteSpeed Cache enabled, these same websites were able to deliver a whopping 2,168 pages per second! It’s a no-brainer, really.

 

 

LiteSpeed Cache is very easy to install using WordPress, costs you nothing, and drastically improves the performance of your website so if you’re not already using it, what are you waiting for?

So get started today with ServerFreak’s cPanel server powered by powerful LiteSpeed Technology !

 

8 Simple Steps to Sell Online

Unlike many years ago when creating an online store seems like a daunting task to many, building your own e-commerce store is no longer difficult anymore. This is due to the advancement and creation of many user-friendly tools and affordable web hosting in the market today.

Regardless of whether you are building an online store from scratch or creating an e-commerce website as an extension to your existing brick-and-mortar business, here are 8 simple steps to sell online.

 

1. Establishing Your Business

This means getting the basic stuff of your business all mapped out. For example, you need to determine what products or services to sell at your website. A proper business plan with all the necessary details such as address, phone number and email address would be good to keep you on track. These are obvious and you need to have all these sorted by now.

 

Another thing you need to consider is traffic to your website. The more visitors your website is able to attract, the higher your chances of closing sales or increasing sales revenue. So, how can you increase your website visitor? The answer is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In order to achieve high SEO ranking in the eyes of the search engines, you will need a lot of good and unique content.  So be prepared to offer informative articles related to your products and service on your website.

 

2. Search for Domain Name & Reliable Web Hosting

The next step is to register a domain name for your website. A good domain name is always linked to your business name. If you have the budget, you can consider registering a few variation of your business name too.

Besides domain registration, you need to subscribe for a good web hosting plan. You can perform your own research easily on Google by typing “top web hosting review”, “best Malaysia web hosting” or “Malaysia web hosting companies” etc.   The search engine results will list down the entire top web hosting providers in Malaysia as well as oversea companies. One of the most reliable web hosting providers in Malaysia is ServerFreak. With many rave reviews from past and existing clients together with their vast experience in the web hosting industry, you can definitely choose ServerFreak to host your website.

 

3. Designing Your  Website

When designing your online store, the most popular choice is to use WordPress. WordPress is a powerful content management system (CMS). The best thing about WordPress is that it is free, user-friendly and allows you to build a professional store easily regardless of whether you understand programming language or not.

Even if you do not have experience in installing WordPress, most hosting providers provide WordPress as part of their package so you shouldn’t have any problems installing it.

For example, ServerFreak’s cPanel and WordPress hosting plan offers Softaculous software that allows you to install WordPress with just a few clicks of the mouse.

 

4. E-Commerce Themes

Once you are done with WordPress setup, you can proceed with theme selection. There are lots of e-commerce themes available for WordPress, both free and premium. Since you are doing online transactions, we would suggest that you choose a premium theme to build a powerful and reliable website that is easy to manage. Free themes’ scripts may not be optimized or updated frequently (if at all) and that can make your e-store a hackers’ easy target.

For WordPress, there are both free and premium themes available for e-commerce. Since you are doing online transactions, I would suggest that you choose a premium theme to construct a powerful and reliable website that is easy to manage. One of the disadvantages of using free themes is that they may not be optimized nor updated frequently, therefore causing your e-store vulnerable to a hacker’s attack.

To overcome this shortcoming, it’s wise to choose premium theme for your e-commerce website. You may consider purchasing a simple and effective e-commerce theme such as the eStore eCommerce WordPress Theme from Elegant Themes. This professional theme can be integrated easily with other e-commerce plugins and very simple to configure. The cost is only USD89/year but you will receive full updates and support from their theme developer as well as full access to all of the themes inside the Elegant Themes library.

 

5. Shopping Cart Applications

Once you have WordPress installed in your hosting account, you can proceed to install a good shopping cart application for your online store.

We recommend Woocommerce as the best shopping cart plugin for WordPress websites and blogs. The greatest benefits of Woocommerce are its simplicity. Business owners already having a self-hosted WordPress can install WooCommerce just as easily as if they were adding another plugin. The setup is intuitive and fast, and within minutes, allows users to add and sell products via their WooCommerce shop.

Other than Woocommerce, you can also consider other famous shopping cart applications such as ZenCart, Prestashop and Magento. Just look under the e-commerce features in your hosting plan for these shopping cart solutions.

 

6. Your E-Store’s Navigation

Once you have decided on your theme or shopping cart application, you can get down to customizing your e-store.

The first thing to look into would be your “Products or Services” category. The navigation through these categories should be concise. You can always create “sub-categories” to make things simple and avoid confusion among visitors or customers. Adding a search box at the top of your website will improve navigation and browsing experience too!

Secondly, name your products clearly. For example, if you are selling a “Calvin Klein’s perfume”, you could list it as “Calvin Klein’s Men Perfume – 2018 limited edition” together with a few clear images of the fragrance. Oh, do remember to put in a detailed description of your product.

Always remember to make navigation and product labelling on your online store to be as simple as possible!

 

7.   Payment & Shipping Methods

Payments are essentially the lifeblood of an eCommerce business and the choice of the right payment gateway is critical to the success of your online store.

Besides accepting payment online through local bank transfer, we highly recommend that you integrate a reliable and secure payment gateway such as Paypal. You can also integrate credit card payment on your online store by using popular local payment gateways such as Ipay88 and MOLPay. For international payment gateways, you may consider WorldPay and MasterCard Internet Gateway Service (MiGS).

Shipping, on the other hand, is pretty easy to manage. Just check with your local post office or courier services for quotes and do up a table according to weight and distance and upload it on your website. Alternatively, you can incorporate the shipping charges into the items and offer “Free Delivery” to your customers!

 

8.   Website Maintenance / Housekeeping

Once your e-store or e-commerce site is up and running, you would still need to perform maintenance work. It is imperative that you update your software and plugins in order to ensure that bugs are fixed and security are intact. You can’t afford to lose your customers’ trust and your reputation!

Do remember to update your product’s inventory as well as the product information too! You do not want your customers to feel disappointed when they find out that your product is already running out of stock!

In conclusion, starting an online web store is not difficult at all as long as you follow the 8 simple steps above. If you need a reliable web hosting to host your e-commerce store, please feel free to contact us at sales@serverfreak.com for assistance or you may choose our Semi-Pro cPanel hosting plan, which is our most popular hosting plan for every businesses and webmasters’ needs.

Maintaining Your Website: Important Things You Need to Know

According to Analytics Week, for every minute of the day there are approximately 571 new websites being published online. This statistics proves that competition among website owners is getting super competitive nowadays and if you want your business website to be successful and stand out among the rest, you’ll need to know the essentials about maintaining it. A well-maintained business website consists of the following features:

  • Able to attract customer interest and has a steady stream of traffic
  • Able to form trust with visitors because it’s reliable and secure
  • Lands more conversions and sales
  • Ranks higher in search engines

In this article, we will be focusing on the essential things you need to know about maintaining your business website.

 

  1. Installing Updates Regularly is Critical

A well-maintained website will always have updated extensions, plugins, themes and software.  Your users could experience bugs that make it impossible for them to access content on your site if all the components on your website are not properly updated.  Additionally a poorly maintained website could be at risk of being hacked, and your business’s reputation will be placed on the line. Therefore, it is highly important to install updates for anything on or connected to your website regularly as soon as they’re released so that there will be no interruptions or breaches. It is recommended to check on each plugin or extension and manually install updates whenever a new patch is released by the developer.

 

   2. Change in Security Vulnerabilities

As more users are accessing and sharing confidential and personal information online when they fill out forms, or making purchases, website security is becoming increasingly important than ever before.

The best advice is to stay informed always of the latest security threats and concerns, and install plugins and applications that consistently and automatically scan your website for threats. This is due to the fact that hackers are always perfecting their skills and changing the way they try to infiltrate applications, databases, systems and websites. We believe that you do not want your website to be part of the hacking statistics hence it’s crucial to understand the threats and learn more about things you can do right now to safeguard your website.

 

3.Outdated Codes or Outdated Scripts

Due to advances in technology and computing, code for applications, systems, web browsers and even your website scripts will become outdated and require updates eventually.

It is advisable to monitor the source code of your website consistently, to ensure your website is free from malware injection, accessible and viewable to others.

Source code for websites typically includes HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) code and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) code. HTML ensures your website is viewable on the web, and CSS defines how your website content will appear.

Whenever larger web standards or application updates are released, you need to perform website source code verification in order to make sure your website is consistently appearing appropriately in the search engine results and across devices correctly.

 

4. Backups are Necessary

You may want to perform back up on your website content files multiple times daily in order to prevent losing all the content files on your website to potential glitches, hackers or system errors.

It is wise to distribute your backup files to various locations such as external hard drives, cloud servers or hosting servers. Nowadays, most website hosting providers will generate backups of your website and will remind you to schedule automatic updates so that you never forget. In fact, you can generate a backup copy of your website from inside your hosting control panel if you know how to do it yourself. Here are some popular plugins you can install too, to help you get started:

 

  • BackupBuddy
  • CodeGuard
  • UpdraftPlus
  • BackWPup Free
  • VaultPress

 

 

5. Only Keep What Matters to You, Remove the Rest

To prevent possible hacking incidents toward your website, hosting account and important website files, it is highly recommended to keep what you need on your website only while deleting unused or unwanted plugins, themes, user accounts (especially WordPress, Joomla and other popular CMS) and applications.

Otherwise, hackers can still use unused and outdated plugins and accounts to penetrate your website and access its content files. You also run the risk of bogging down your website with outdated and unused files, applications, content, etc.

 

 

6. Monitor and Manage Your Database

It is inevitable that your website database will start to accumulate and store a lot of unneeded information that can reduce your website performance, especially after your website has been active for a certain period.

This makes your website loading time slower, which will irritate site visitors and may potentially cause them to leave your site even before engaging with your content or converting into paying customers.

Therefore it is highly recommended to monitor and manage your databases so that you have deleted unnecessary content files to make room for new files, optimizing data sets and reporting (especially for customer transactions and information), and keeping everything well-organized and easy to find.

For this purpose, you may consider to install some of the popular database backup plugins for WordPress below:

 

  • WP Clean Up
  • WP DBManager
  • WP-Optimize
  • WP Sweep

 

Things to Monitor to Maintain Your Website’s Health

If you wish to own a truly healthy website, here are some things you’ll want to keep an eye on:

 

a) Comments and Spam

If you own a WordPress site, spam comment is one of the most common issues you are going to encounter. Always remove comments that are spam-like and non-relevant to your business or website. This action is crucial if you want gain your visitor’s trust and getting your web content to rank well in search engines.

Occasionally you may also receiving unwanted spam links in the comments sections that redirects the visitors to potential malware sites or inappropriate adult sites. To counter this problem, you can implement security features that disable all comments or forcing commenters to verify their identity first before they can start placing comments on your blog post.

 

b) Loading Time

For your information, a well-maintained website is one that will load in less than three seconds. A well optimized website will not be bogged down with unneeded files, plugins, etc.

You can analyze your website loading speed by using a free tool like GTmetrix. GTmetrix generates scores for your pages and offers actionable recommendations on how to fix them.

 

c) Broken Links

It is recommended to fix or remove all broken URL links that don’t redirect visitors to actual web pages because a website with broken outgoing links will badly affect your website ranking in the search engines. You can always use a tool like SEMRush to audit all the links on your website on a rolling basis, so you can easily identify and replace dead links that don’t redirect visitors to valid web pages.

 

Browser and Device Compatibility

A website with responsive web design is a site that is able to adapt to the screen it is being used on, regardless of what device it is. The website automatically reformats to offer the visitor a better experience that is well suited to their device and in line with Google recommendations.  Therefore, always make sure that your website is accessible and readable on all mobile devices and in any web browser. Be sure all your forms are easy to fill out on mobile and that your website is easy to navigate on any mobile device. You should use tools like those provided by Google Webmaster Tools to continually troubleshoot easy-to-spot issues with your site that you can easily fix, and to stay up-to-date with web maintenance concerns and technology. Once you work hard to build the perfect website for your business, don’t forget to maintain it or you could be losing out on real opportunities to outshine your competition and gain more customers.

Happy Diwali 2018: Festival of Lights

May the Divine Light of Diwali spread into your life Peace, Prosperity, Happiness, and Good Health. Wishes you a very Happy Diwali!

In conjunction with Deepavali Celebration, Serverfreak Management Office will be closed on 6th November 2018, (Tuesday)  Our office will reopen on February 7th November 2018 (Wednesday). Enjoy your Holiday.

Essential 9-Step Checklist to Use Before Creating Your First Website

It may seem like a daunting task to create a website especially for those who are unfamiliar with web development or never been through the process before.  However the design and development process can be made easier once the individual understand the basics of web design and the general process of setting up a website.

If you are new to website creation and facing this challenge right now, then a bit of extra planning and effort now can save you trouble later on down the road.  Once you acquire a general understanding of web design and how websites work, setting up a basic website can be relatively easy. Fortunately, you can acquire the basic knowledge you need right here. We’ve put together this short guide to make the website design process easier, so let’s get started!

 

  1. Consider and Register the Domain Name

Before setting up a website, you need to register a domain name first. There are many domain name service provider that allow you to register a brand new domain for a small fee. For respectable and common website address, it’s advisable to pick .com and .org domains.

If you are building a website for your own company, it’s important to choose a domain name that fits your company’s brand and style.  The shorter the domain name, the easier you can remember! In some cases, the domain name you wish to register might have been taken. If that’s the case, you try adding geo-location to the domain name. For example, if  SpaHouse.com is taken, you may try SpaHouseKL.com, SpaHouseKlang.com or SpaHouseAsia.com and check  if any of these is available for registration.

In order to organize your work and simplify things, it is highly advisable to sign up both domain name and hosting by engaging the same provider. ServerFreak Technologies makes it easy for companies to register a domain name and setting up hosting account with a single account registration.

 

  1. Understand Your Goals

Before you start making a fully functional website, you need to ask yourself first why you are creating your website at the first place. The answer may seem obvious. But for different individuals, the answers may vary.  For some, especially those people or companies looking to launch their own website, their answers could be “Building awareness”, “Increasing Sales”, and “Providing Information”.

Most websites, however, are driven by multiple goals, and micro-goals that are part of these larger goals. Therefore it is crucial to understand and outline micro-goals before you begin developing your website because once you have identified your goals, you can start to research on how to achieve them.

If you have scoured the web before, you will notice some websites are properly designed and well organized while a small number of them are poorly designed.  Examples of poorly designed sites include restaurant websites that do not bother listing contact information, menus, or hours. Sales websites that lacks calls-to-action (CTA), or educational sites that are bombarded with CTAs and sales text. These websites were not designed with the proper goals in mind. As a result, they will underperform.

If you are capable of outlining specific and detailed goals, you are already able to minimize the risk of building a website that won’t meet your requirements.

 

  1. Know Your Audience

Understanding your audience is the key to building a lively and engaging website.  You need to perform research on your targeted audience as detailed as possible, which includes demographics, such as age, sex, income, location, education, and all the rest. Deeper level of understanding is important too. For instance, what are they looking for? what are their wants, needs, and pains?

Once you have identified who your customers are, you need to think how you can engage with them. For example, selling products or services to highly-educated adults, such as doctors or engineers, differs greatly from marketing to teenagers. Well-educated professionals are going to be more detailed in their research, will use a higher vocabulary, and are often less distracted by strong CTAs.

In addition, you need to constantly think of things from your audience’s point of view. If you create a great website with all the bells & whistles, but are speaking to the wrong audience, it is highly unlikely you will reach your goals. Creating buyer personas can help you understand more about your potential customers and how you can make yourself appeal to them.

 

  1. Consider Advanced Features That You Might Need

Once you have clearly identified your goals and your audience’s requirements, the next thing you need to consider is “Advanced Features”. So, what is an “Advanced Feature”?

First, let’s talk about basic features. These are static content, such as images, links, and text.

We can define “Advanced Features” as non-static features that allow users to interact with your website. For instance, if you are going to run an ecommerce site, you’re going to need product listings, product review submission box, secure payment processing, and other features ready. If you are going to allow users to comment, or to sign up for newsletters (to collect leads), you are looking at “advanced” features.

Lastly, do not get intimidated by the term “advance.” It is not complicated and does not always require technical coding or know-how, or spending huge sum of money. These “advanced features” can be setup quickly and easily with the use of “plugins”. By knowing what advanced features you require, and then doing careful research before you initiate the development process, you can keep your overall costs down.

 

  1. Understand the Basic Principles of Web Design

Web designing can be described as a combination of both science and art. To substantiate this claim, you just need to take a look at top web developers. The best web developers spend a lot of time crafting their skills and at the same time never stop educating themselves on changing codes, design principles, technology and user experience best practices. This article is not going to go over web design principles in details, but we do need to focus on some basics.

First, every website needs to be optimized for mobile use. Many websites are built to be mobile responsive which indicates that all websites will automatically change to be mobile friendly. Nowadays, both smartphones and tablet devices make up a majority of website browsing activity, defeating desktop use. Hence if your website is not optimized for these devices, the search engines will punish you, and visits will be brief.

 

Here are some “basic” web designing principles that you need to consider:

  • Incorporate more images and videos on your website. Avoid auto-play function in your video.
  • No Flash or distracting effects. The use of Flash will slow down the website itself.
  • Navigation friendly- Ensure menus are accessible on every device, and that the page layout makes it easy to access content.
  • Reader friendly. Avoiding huge blocks of text and content overload. Content should be well-written, typo free, and easy to read.

 

  1. Understand/Study Your Competitors

Competition among online businesses is getting fierce nowadays.  Competing online means you have to study who your competitors are and most importantly at least you want to own a website that is as good as your main competitors. In fact, having a better website than your competitors will always give you an added advantage therefore performing competitive research before you even start developing your website is imperative.

Once you know what you want your website to do, and have planned for a basic web design, you need to check out the competition. If you’re running an online business, you should find the leading websites in your niche. Or, if you want to launch a fashion blog, check out other fashion blogs. Always ask yourself the following questions when you visit their website: What do you like? What don’t you like?

Just like brick-and-mortar business, the competition should always set the bar for you. Always strive to be better than your competitors. If your competitors are setting a low bar, you need to find a higher one. Let’s say you run a match-making agency in your local town. The local match-making agencies all have old, dated websites. This doesn’t give you a free pass to build an outdated website. Instead, find the thought leaders in your business segment. If you run a match-making agency in a small town and the other local businesses have sub-par websites, search for the best match-making websites elsewhere.

 

  1. Ensure Communication Made Easy

Always make sure you are considering communication methods right from the beginning. It is highly recommended to place your contact information or email address at places where it can be accessed easily i.e. at Contact Us section.  For professional reason, you can always consider setting up your own custom email address that represents your company such as yourname@yourcompany.com

Many hosting companies, like ServerFreak Web Hosting offer the ability to create email addresses that match your domain. This makes you appearing professional and credible than using an email from free services such as Gmail or YahooMail. Once you create the email, you need to get into the habit of using it – checking your email at least once per day and strive to replying all inquiries within 24 hours.

 

  1. Identify Web Hosting Service Options

By now, you should have a good idea of what goes into developing a website. As you have seen, a lot of planning is involved in order to build a successful website. There are many factors to consider. While you are working on your website, you should also consider web hosting options. There are many different website hosting server options in the marketplace right now, and you need to select the one that matches your needs based on affordability, availability, and scalability.

ServerFreak currently offers a range of web hosting plans for small businesses. In addition, we also offer website builder hosting plan that makes it easy for non-website developers to build their own website.

 

  1. Start Planning Ahead: Marketing Beyond the Website

Launching your website is just the beginning. For an effective digital marketing campaign, you should continue to update content and even the website itself. Ask for feedback from friends and family, and tell them not to hold back. If something doesn’t work, or they don’t like a feature on your website, you need to know. Once you have feedback in hand, adjust.

Always build a good rapport with your customers by using email marketing. Email marketing campaign is a good way to stay in touch with your customers and make them aware of your new content and special offers. This can be a great engagement tool and is relatively inexpensive.

Ensure your content is optimized for the search engine is also critical. Always dedicate some time to read up about the latest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips which will help you understand what terms your customers are searching for and create the content to help you appear at the top of the search results. You should keep yourself updated with the latest search engine algorithm change too because this will influence your website ranking for your targeted keywords.

If you plan on running ad campaigns, it’s important to allocate sufficient ad budget and set your end goals. If you want to see results for your efforts, targeting the right audience is crucial. However, handling paid ads can get tricky if you are inexperienced, so you may want to engage professional marketing agencies that specialize in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads to manage the campaigns for you.

Remember constant improvement will bring you ever closer to perfection. By referring to the tips listed in this article, we hope that your website will be on its way to achieve huge success!