Five tips to Drive Traffic to your Website

Whether you’re looking to start a website to earn money, or you just want to share your opinions with the world, one of the first things you’ll need is traffic coming to your site.  Traffic, or visitors, is really the life blood of any website.  Without it, you may as well just be pulling out an old notebook and writing in your journal.

The problem most new website owners have is that they mistakenly think that if they just go out and publish their articles, videos or other content, people will eventually find it.  The fact is, that is not the case.  You need to go out and actively work at getting your site in front of your desired audience so that they will visit your site.  If they like it, they will keep coming back again and again.  Getting people to visit your site is an essential part of running any page.  Fortunately, when you follow some, or all, of the following tips, you’ll be having visitors in no time.

The following five tips will introduce you to some of the most important, and effective, ways to drive traffic to your site.

Tip #1 – Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important ways you can help bring traffic to your site.  SEO is essentially any effort you make to help get Google and the other search engines to find your site, and rank it for specific keywords.  There are billions of searches made on search engines each day,so you just need a tiny number of those searches to return your site on the first page of the results and you’ll have a nice stream of traffic every day.  There are two types of SEO you need to worry about:

On Page SEO

On page SEO is any effort that is done on your site itself.  Things like making sure your site loads fast, having an easy to navigate organizational structure, and adding content that uses the types of keywords that people will search for are all great examples of on page SEO.  The bottom line here is you need to fill your site with high quality content that your visitors will love, and do it in a way that the search engines understand.

Off Site SEO

Offsite SEO is any effort you make away from your site to improve your rankings with the search engines.  This is a huge, and ever changing, concept, but let’s just touch on a few of the most important strategies:

  • Link Building – Getting other sites to link to your page.  This is how people, and search engines, find their way to your site.
  • Social Networking – Having a page on Facebook, Twitter and other sites that is for your website will help search engines see that your site is worth ranking.
  • Local Directories – If your site is targeting a geographically local area, registering with directories like Google Locations and the Yellow Pages is very important.

There is a lot more to SEO than just this.  In fact, there are entire books available that discuss just this concept.  This should be enough to get your feet wet, however; also, remember that it is something you’ll always be learning more about.  SEO is a long term effort that drives traffic over time, so there is no real need to become a master overnight.

Tip #2 – Using Forums

One of the most effective, yet least utilized ways to drive traffic to your website is by using forums.  If you’ve never used them before, forums are websites where people come together to ‘talk’ about a specific topic. There are forums about virtually any topic you can imagine, and they are quite easy to find by simply Googling, “Your Topic Forums.”

Forums will give you two major benefits.  First, you’ll be interacting with a community of people who are interested in the same thing as your site is about.  This will help you to come up with new ideas on what to write about for your site.  Second, you can add a ‘signature’ to your forums posts.  In your signature, you can include a link back to your web page.

When people see the link, they may click on it and find your page.  This is a great way to get visitors to your site who you know are interested in what you have to say.  These links will also be part of your offsite SEO strategy (mentioned above) and help your site get ranked better with search engines.

Tip #3 – Social Media

Social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, have millions of people on them at all times.  When done properly, you can help encourage some of these people to come visit your site.  The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a page, or account, with each of the major social media sites.  The account should be named the same as your website, and should include a link back to your site. seo2

Once you’ve got your accounts set up, you can post from them on things that are related to your page.  For example, if you have a website about soccer, you can go find public posts about the World Cup and make a quick post from your website’s Facebook account.  When people see it, some of them will click on your ‘name’ (which is the name of your site) and be brought to your site’s Facebook page.

From here, there should be links to all the content you wrote for your site, and other valuable items that will show visitors that they should come to your web page.  This strategy can be used on all the social media sites, and will help to not only drive traffic, but also build up relationships with many visitors.  When it comes to social media, make sure you use more than just Facebook and Twitter.  There are dozens of great social media sites, so try them all and see which ones work best for you.

Tip #4 – Guest Blogging

Another great way to not only get traffic to your site, but targeted traffic is by guest blogging on other websites that are similar to yours.  If there is another site that is made for the type of audience that you want to visit your site, reach out to the page owner and ask if they accept guest posts.  A guest post, or guest blog, is simply content that is written by someone else (you in this case) and posted on their site.

You’ll write up a great post for their site, and at the end of it there will be a ‘bio box’ which contains information about you, and your site.  There will be a link back to your site in this box.  Some sites allow you to add a link in the text of your post, and even have your name at the top hyperlinked back to your page.

The big benefit to guest blogging is that you are getting in front of the exact people who you want to see your site.  If you write a great article, for example, they will see that you offer quality information and will want to visit your page.  If they like what they see, they will keep coming back on a regular basis.

Of course, the links on these related pages are great for your SEO efforts too, so this is another way to ‘double dip’ when it comes to driving traffic.

Tip #5 – Buy Your Traffic

If you really want to bring traffic to your site as quickly as possible, the absolute best option is to buy it.  There are many different ways you can pay to advertise your site, and get hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your page each day.  The best option when it comes to paid traffic is using Pay Per Click (PPC) services.

There are dozens of different PPC providers, but the two biggest are Google and Facebook.  You can pay them a set amount for each person who clicks on your link and visits your site.  When setting up your advertising campaign, you will identify exactly when you want your link to show up based on a number of factors.

For example, with Google AdWords (that’s the name of their PPC program) you can set it so your ad is displayed only to people from one country (or even state, city or zip code) and only when they type in specific searches.  This allows you to drive extremely targeted traffic to your site.  You can do the same type of thing with Facebook ads, and have it displayed only to people who ‘like’ certain things.

Driving traffic using PPC campaigns is typically only done for sites that are made to make money, but they can be useful for anyone.  Just be careful to monitor how much you’re spending to ensure you don’t go over your budget.

Keeping your Visitors Happy

As you can see, getting people to your site doesn’t have to be too difficult, but it does take consistent effort on your part.  No matter how you decide to drive traffic, however, you need to make sure every visitor likes what they see once they get to your site.  If they don’t, they won’t ever come back again and without repeat visitors, it is hard to have a successful page.

 

 

 

Do You Need Shared Hosting, a VPS or a Dedicated Server

Whether you’re just starting a brand new website or you’ve got an established and successful site up and running, you’ll need to make sure you are always using the proper web hosting.  There are three main categories of web hosting, which are shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), and dedicated server(s).  Within each category, there are several different levels of service to choose from as well.

Before you make any decisions, it is important to have a good understanding of what each of these types of hosting are, and a little bit about how they work.  From there, you can evaluate your specific needs based on a variety of factors about your site.

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a service provided by hosting companies where multiple customers host their websites on a single web server.  Each customer is given a partition of the server where they can upload their website files, and edit them as needed.  The partitions also help to ensure that the different customers can only access their own files, and not the files of other people on the same server

The web hosting company will manage the hardware of the server, including monitoring it to ensure there are not any problems, performing any necessary upgrades, and replacing any parts when problems arise.  In addition, they will manage the software of the system to ensure the traffic coming into that server is directed to the right website.  There are many benefits to shared hosting, including the following:

  • Price – Since several individuals are all using the same physical hardware, the cost of this service is quite inexpensive.  In most cases, shared web hosting can be purchased for under $5 per month.  Here at Interserver, you can get high quality shared hosting for just $3.96 per month when you pay in advance.
  • Minimal Technical Knowledge Required – Since the web hosting company handles all the technical requirements, you really don’t have to be an IT expert to get your site up and running properly.  Even for basic technical things like entering name servers, the hosting company will provide detailed instructions on how to do it.
  • Rapid Setup – Since this type of hosting is used primarily for people who operate standard websites, there is no advanced setup required.  You can typically have your hosting up and ready to go in well under an hour.

For most people, there are only two real downsides to shared hosting.  The first is that eventually, your site may ‘outgrow’ the resources offered by the shared server.  When this happens, your site may begin to operate slowly or have other issues.  Fortunately, upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server is quite simple.  The other downside is that you have limited control over the server itself, because you are sharing the resources with other sites. All the customers are under the same operating system, which means what is done to one customer can have an effect on the others.

What is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A VPS is essentially a cross between shared hosting and a dedicated server.  Several customers will share the same physical hardware, but rather than sharing one operating system, each customer gets their own OS installed.

From the point of view of the customer, it appears as though they have their own dedicated server, even though in reality they don’t.  Another benefit to the VPS is that hosting companies typically only put a few customers on each physical server (depending on the hardware specs of the server).  Since the customer has their own operating system installed on the server, they will enjoy much more control over how it is set up and operates.  Some key benefits of a VPS include:

  • Price – A VPS is still going to be significantly less expensive than a dedicated server, though quite a bit more than shared hosting.
  • Control – When you have a VPS you can typically install any web applications or other software onto your virtual server.  You are also able to reboot your server any time you would like, since it won’t affect the other customers on the server.
  • Power – Rather than sharing resources with other customers, you are allocated a set amount of resources from the server that will be dedicated to your account.  When you sign up for a VPS you can typically choose how much hard disk space you need, how much memory, and even how much of the CPU you will need to utilize.
  • Upgradability – Since your VPS is assigned resources, you can often upgrade on the fly.  If you find that your site is growing to the point where you need more memory, for example, you can work with the hosting company to allocate the additional memory needed.

For many people, the VPS is the perfect solution for running sites that either need more resources, or more control than a typical site normally would. Since you can negotiate the exact technical specs you need, it is possible to operate sites that get a high amount of traffic, while still saving a lot of money.  The only potential down side is that you may need some level of technical understanding if you want to make specific changes.  Of course, you can always request technical support to help you along the way.

What is a Dedicated Server?

The highest level of web hosting is the dedicated server.  With this type of solution you will essentially be leasing an entire server to run your website.  Since you’re not sharing any of the resources with any other customers, you will have full control over how you want the server to operate.

Within this category, you can choose from a wide range of different hardware specs based on your specific requirements.  Web hosting companies like InterServer have some servers available for rapid deployment, but if you need a custom build, that is often an option as well.  You’ll enjoy the following benefits if you choose to go with a dedicated server:

  • High End Power – Since the entire server is dedicated only to your site, or sites, you will enjoy the full computing power of all the resources on the server.
  • Customizable – If you ever find that you need more resources, you can pay to have your server upgraded at any time.  If necessary, it is even possible to use two or more dedicated servers to operate a single site.
  • Absolute Control – Since you are essentially leasing the full server, you can set it up and configure it in any way you desire.  Most people who go with a dedicated server manage the entire system themselves, and only rely on the web hosting company for housing the server and managing the hardware and internet lines.

The two biggest problems people have with dedicated servers is that they can be quite expensive, and that you need to have the technical ability to configure and operate it properly.  When sites get to the point where they require this type of solution, however, these types of concerns aren’t typically going to cause any issues.

Which One is Right for You?

There are a number of different things to consider when deciding which level of hosting you will need.  Some of the most important factors to consider are the following:

  • Number of Visitors – Even shared hosting can handle a large number of visitors per day.  The issues can come in if the majority of your visitors come in at the same time of the day.  Handling thousands of people at once will cause you to overload your shared hosting.  The real issue with visitors, however, is actually with the next point, database queries.
  • Number of Database Queries – When it comes to traffic related hosting issues, most of them are caused by the number of queries the visitors are making.  If each page on your site makes multiple queries per visitor, it can get overloaded.
  • Database Size – As you add more content to your site, your database will grow.  The bigger it gets, the more resources are required to pull each piece of data.
  • Number of Items Loaded per Page – Each file that is displayed on your page requires your web hosting server to process the request and serve it.  Every picture, video, audio file and others require their own requests to the server, so if your pages are graphically intense, for example, it may cause issues.

When you look at the stats of your website, you can get the information you need to decide what type of server you require.  If you’re not familiar with this type of information, you can pull logs and ask the technical team at InterServer to review them and make a recommendation.

For most people, however, a shared hosting solution is sufficient for their websites.  VPS accounts are only really needed for very busy sites, or those where a lot of resource intensive activity is being performed (such as forums or video sharing).  Dedicated servers are only needed by the largest sites, so unless you are quite sure that this is what you need, the chances are you can go with a shared or VPS solution.  No matter which option you choose, always remember that this isn’t a permanent choice.  You can upgrade, or downgrade at any time by simply submitting a request to your support team.

Why Paid Hosting is Superior to Free Hosting

If you’re thinking about starting a website, you’ll need to decide what type of hosting service you need.  There are many different options to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantages.  To narrow it down for the purposes of this article, however, the two main categories are free hosting and paid hosting.  As the name implies, free hosting doesn’t charge you, the customer, for their services.  Paid hosting, on the other hand, require you to pay a set amount each month.

At first glance you might be thinking that free hosting is the obvious choice, however, that is not necessary the case.  As you might expect, there is a catch.  After all, webhosting can’t be given away by a company if they want to stay in business.

Problems with Free Hosting Companies

There are many different types of hosting companies that offer their services free of charge.  Rather than charging their customers directly, they make money through advertising or other methods.  This type of hosting is sufficient for certain projects, but it also comes with a variety of different problems, including the following:

  • Disruptive Advertising – Almost all free hosting companies make money by displaying advertisements on your site.  Since they are not concerned with the actual users visiting your page, they often use disruptive ads that make the user experience almost unbearable.  So, for example, if you use a free host, visitors to your website may see nothing but advertisements when your site loads, and your content will only be displayed if the visitors scroll down.
  • Limited Advertising Options – Another concern is that since the hosting company is displaying ads on your site, they typically don’t allow you to run your own ads.  If you’re hoping to make money off of your page, you will be severely limited in your monetization options if you choose to go with a free hosting company.
  • Increased Downtime – Companies that don’t charge for web hosting often have to do all they can to keep their costs down, which typically translates into increased down time.  Since their customers are not paying for the service, they have virtually no leverage when attempting to get better service.
  • Slow Site Speeds – Similar to the increased down time, sites that are hosted on free hosting accounts typically respond far slower than with paid options.
  • Long Domain Names – Most free webhosting services don’t allow you to use your own domain name. Instead, you’ll get something like YourSite.FreeWebHosting.com.  This type of domain is extremely difficult to remember, and does not sound professional at all.
  • Limited Storage & Bandwidth – In order to ensure they can make a profit through advertising, free hosting companies put a variety of limitations on each account. This typically comes in the form of restrictions on the amount of disk space you can use, and how much bandwidth per month you are allocated.
  • File Type Limitations – Another way these hosting companies limit the resources that are being used is by blocking certain file types that take up a lot of system resources.  Things like videos and flash files are often not permitted.

It is important to keep in mind that free hosting companies don’t typically have all of these shortcomings.  They may even actively advertise the fact that, for example, they offer unlimited bandwidth (or any other feature) to their customers.  When you look into it further, however, you’ll find that they never account for all of the above mentioned issues.

Benefits of Paid Hosting

Paid web hosting services typically don’t have any of the restrictions or problems associated with them.  In addition to simply overcoming the short falls of free web hosting, however, a good hosting company, like InterServer, provides customers with a variety of additional benefits:

  • Exceptional Customer Support – When people are paying for a service, they demand the best customer support possible.  Paid web hosting company’s offer 24/7 technical support to respond to any site problems immediately.
  • Advanced Monitoring – In order to make sure all their paying customers are happy, web hosting companies use advanced software to monitor the status of all their hardware and websites.  This allows them to identify problems and fix them, often before there is any impact to the accessibility of the sites.
  • Upgradeability – You can start out on a very inexpensive web hosting plan, and if the site gets too popular, you can upgrade to a faster, more powerful solution to ensure your site is always ready to meet the needs of your visitors.
  • Professional Appearance – There are never any ads or other intrusive things added to your website when you use a paid host.  The only thing your customers will see is what you put up on your website, which helps to ensure you have a professional appearance.
  • Latest Hardware & Software – Paid hosting companies have to keep their hardware and software up to date with the latest advancements or their customers will move to another company.
  • Advanced Security – Paid hosting companies are also committed to keeping all the sites on their system safe from hackers, DDOS attacks and other security problems.  With this in mind, paid web hosting packages typically include a variety of advanced security features built right in.

Still Very Affordable

There is really no debate that paid hosting is far superior to free hosting, but is it really worth the money?  The fact is, even paid hosting packages are extremely affordable.  The vast majority of sites, especially when they are new, can operate flawlessly on a hosting plan that costs just a few dollars per month.  For example, here at InterServer, you can get industry leading hosting for just $4.95 per month with no long term contract.  If you choose to pay up front for a longer period of time, that price drops down as low as $3.96 per month.

With prices this low, there is really no reason to put up with all the problems associated with free hosting, or to turn down the many great benefits you’ll get from a paid host.  So, when you’re ready to get your website up and running, be sure you go with paid hosting.  You’ll be glad you did.

OpenSSL Security Bug

OpenSSL exploit and vulnerability has recently been discovered.  It is highly recommended that servers running the vulnerable version of OpenSSL (1.0.1 and 1.0.2beta) are upgraded immediately.


https://www.openssl.org/news/secadv_20140407.txt

OpenSSL Security Advisory [07 Apr 2014]
========================================

TLS heartbeat read overrun (CVE-2014-0160)
==========================================

A missing bounds check in the handling of the TLS heartbeat extension can be
used to reveal up to 64k of memory to a connected client or server.

Only 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta releases of OpenSSL are affected including
1.0.1f and 1.0.2-beta1.

Thanks for Neel Mehta of Google Security for discovering this bug and to
Adam Langley <agl@chromium.org> and Bodo Moeller <bmoeller@acm.org> for
preparing the fix.

Affected users should upgrade to OpenSSL 1.0.1g. Users unable to immediately
upgrade can alternatively recompile OpenSSL with -DOPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS.

1.0.2 will be fixed in 1.0.2-beta2.

Introduction to SSL / Secure Certificate

lock greenIntroduction to SSL / Secure Certificate

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is a set of cryptographic protocols commonly used for  encrypting the data being sent between a server and a user visiting a website.  While most websites don’t require this advanced security, it is essential for others.  The following introduction to SLL and Secure Certificates will help determine whether or not you require this type of security, and show how you can obtain it.

What is Required

In order to use SSL, you will need to acquire a SSL Certificate (AKA a Secure Certificate) and have it installed on your server.  If you are an Interserver client, our technical staff can help with this installation.  In addition, you’ll need a dedicated IP address.  Finally, visitors to your website will need to use a modern web browser that supports SSL.  Virtually all browsers today do support it, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

What is it Used For?

This technology is most often used for websites that want the ability to accept credit card payments directly on the website.  All credit card companies require any site directly accepting these payments to have this type of advanced security *Note that you can have third party processors like PayPal on your site without the use of SSL.  SSL is also a requirement for a website to become PCI compliant, which is important for some specific types of companies.

The other reason some website owners want to use SSL is because they have confidential information stored on their website, which should only be accessed by authorized users.  The SSL can help protect usernames and passwords from being compromised, so the data on the website is much safer.

Types of Security Certificates

When looking into adding SSL to your website, you’ll have several different options to choose from.  Each type of security certificate is designed for different types of businesses.  If you need assistance choosing the right certificate for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to our technical support team.  The following are the different options to consider:

  • Shared Certificates – These certificates are not registered to a single domain or company name, and are shared between many sites, typically based on the hosting company.  The advantage is that you don’t have to pay to get the certificate yourself, as you’re just part of a group that is sharing it.  The disadvantage is these certificates often trigger browser security pages, and you normally can’t access the SSL technology from your main domain name.  This is a good option if you want the added security just for yourself, but not the general public users of your page.
  • Domain Validated Certificate – This type of certificate is registered to your specific domain name.  This is commonly used for accepting credit card payments and validating usernames and passwords.  This provides excellent security for any individual website.
  • Company Validated Certificate – This option is similar to the domain validated certificate, except it is tied to the company rather than just the domain.  This can provide some added benefits, but does require additional documentation concerning the company applying for the certificate.
  • Extended Validation Certificates – These certificates actually provide added checks and validations to combat fraud.  This higher level of security is required for certain businesses that have financial transactions or host highly sensitive data.
  • Wildcard Certificates – This option provides the security certificate for a main domain name, plus all subdomains that have the same second level domain name.  If, for example, you run a lot of ‘how to’ sites with domains such as, ‘auto.howto.com’ ‘home.howto.com’ and so on, this would be the best option if you need SSL.

Getting a Security Certificate

If you decide that your site or company requires a security certificate, the first thing you’ll want to do is reach out to our support team and open a ticket.  Explain that you would like to get a security certificate installed on your server.  Our technical support team will work with you to ensure your hosting package meets all the requirements, and if it doesn’t, we’ll help you get everything setup the way it needs to be.  In many cases, our technical teams can also help you through the process of obtaining a security certificate as well.

Keep in mind; this is an advanced security technology that is not required for most general websites.  If you’re not sure whether or not you need one, don’t hesitate to ask.  We can discuss your specific situation and help you make the right decision about SSL.