How to Pick Effective Exact Match Domain Names (EMDs)

March 29th, 2012 @ 9:28 am

While registering a domain is a very quick and easy process, there are many factors and best practices to keep in mind as you purchase web real estate in order to maximize your site’s effectiveness. The domain name is one of the primary identifiers for your site for both visitors and search engines- it should make it clear what your site is about and ideally should match the title of your website.

While it isn’t as simple as just picking something that sounds catchy and relates to your topic, it really isn’t much more complicated than that. Your only other responsibilities will be some basic keyword research and flex your marketing muscles to end up with a domain name that’s memorable and accurate for human visitors and streamlined in a way that search engines can easily identify you.

Choosing Exact Match Domains – EMDs

You’ve probably heard this phrase thrown around a lot when people start talking domains- and with good reason because it’s a very important principle that sets up an important part of your overall SEO strategy. An Exact Match Domain is a domain that contains the main keyword you are targeting in its exact form, meaning if your main keyword is “blue widget accessories” an EMD would be bluewidgetaccessories.com or something like blue-widget-accessories.net.

So what advantage does this practice give you in terms of SEO? Domain names are a big factor that search engines take into account when putting your site through their algorithm, so any keyword contained within the domain is associated with every page on your site (especially the homepage), which reinforces your sites association with the topic.

It sounds a tad confusing but it really isn’t as hard as it seems. To come up with an effective EMD for your site you need to start with a foundation of solid keyword research, use a reliable keyword analysis tool like Google Keyword Tool and make a list of viable and profitable keywords that you intend on targeting (this means keywords that have enough traffic to be profitable while having as little competition as possible). Try to put a more general term in the EMD, long tails are certainly where the low-hanging fruit is but we need our domain to fit every piece of content so it needs to be an appropriate title for your niche.

An example would clear things up. So let’s say we want to make a site about kayaking equipment and we are looking for a good EMD. After some keyword research, let’s say (for the sake of the example) that the term ‘high-end kayak gear’ is getting a good amount of traffic and that we can easily beat the competition on page one of Google. For an EMD, a good choice might be highendkayakgearreviews.com, or high-end-kayak-gear.net, or highendkayakgearblog.com. As you can see, adding a word or phrase to the beginning or end of the keyword is a great way to fit the term in the domain name if the most obvious ones are already taken. From this point on you can write a series of articles related to high-end kayaking equipment to go after some less competitive long tails while reaping the benefit of the EMD, optimizing the home page for ‘high end kayak gear’ would also be a good idea.

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Reseller Hosting – For Resellers or Webmasters?

March 26th, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

When internet marketing beginners first start to look around for a good hosting plan, chances are that they see someone offering reseller hosting. This can be a tad confusing for some because reseller plans enable users to sell hosting slots on their plan to clients, hence the name reseller. Because of this functionality, some assume that reseller hosting is meant only for users who intend on opening up a hosting service of their own, but this assumption is far from the truth and can lead to some bad decisions when it comes to choosing a host. Let’s take a look at reseller hosting and its various uses so you can determine if it’s the best choice for you.

Reseller hosting for resellers

Selling slots on your reseller plan to clients can be quite lucrative, but you need to know what people are looking for in a host and your presentation need to make your business seem very professional and trustworthy- no one wants hosting from a fly-by-night operation.

Reseller hosting allows you to completely customize the hosting plans that you want to sell- you can edit everything from prices to features. Your clients will have an experience very similar to that of any regular hosting provider, you can have them billed automatically and they will be able to access their H-sphere control panel- You will even be able to privately brand everything so that your clients don’t suspect you are reselling server space instead of offering your own.

This can be a great business plan for those willing to make a commitment to becoming a hosting reseller, but it’s not something that can be taken lightly or put on autopilot- Being a reseller requires lots of attention and some technical skills, not to mention the time you’ll be spending interacting with clients. The good news is that if you give it a shot and it isn’t for you, you can still use your reseller account to host your own websites.

Reseller hosting is a great idea for freelance web designers and programmers because it allows you to offer your client your own hosting service instead of referring them to another provider, which means you make residual income as you do work for more clients and before you know it you’re getting a respectable amount of monthly rebills.

Reseller hosting for webmasters

So why would a webmaster who doesn’t intend on reselling hosting slots choose a reseller plan instead of a VPS, shared, or dedicated server plan? The answer is that it’s one of the most cost-effective hosting plans considering the amount of resources and features you get, and it’s just as easy to host your own websites with a reseller account as it is with shared hosting as opposed to jumping through the technical hoops of running a dedicated server.

Reseller plans are also scalable and can be upgraded easily to accommodate more sites and traffic so you don’t have to worry about the headaches of transferring hosts if you need more resources. The features can also be quite helpful- the ability to create accounts and roles means that each of your sites can get its own H-Sphere control panel so you have more control of their settings.

Reseller hosting is a good idea whether you plan on becoming a reseller or not for a variety of reasons, it has the functionality and resources to handle almost anyone’s hosting needs for a very affordable price.

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What are Content Delivery Networks?

March 23rd, 2012 @ 11:02 am

We’ve talked about how important it is to speed up your website in a previous post, but we only briefly mentioned one of the best methods of doing so: Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). CDNs are networks of servers that supplement the power and resources of your host and serve data faster than normal, resulting in a more fluid and responsive user experience.

How does CDN Technology work?

Content delivery networks are more efficient at serving content than traditional servers alone because they operate on a large infrastructure with many nodes, servers, and access points in a variety of different locations. When a user requests data from your website, the CDN chooses the most opportune server and node to serve the information as efficiently as possible depending on a variety of factors (geographical location, server load, content type) as opposed to serving everyone from the same central server. Think of it as sort of a ‘cloud’ implementation to your hosting server- your content is being distributed by a more nebulous and widespread network of servers that improve your site’s reliability as well as its speed and efficiency.

CDNs make use of the cache feature that many web developers are familiar with- while caching can be done on your own host server to speed up load times it can also be implemented with a CDN so that your most popular pages have copies stored on the whole network. This means that the requested data hops through fewer nodes than it normally would and is served directly from the CDN to the user instead of referencing your host server first.

CDNs operate in different ways depending on the provider and the client’s needs, one site may only need a CDN for their heavy bandwidth usage content like multimedia and games while another might want a more general setup that covers all their content- other users might want a CDN to handle downloads from a virtual goods store (Apple uses one for the iTunes marketplace). You’ll need to assess your needs and decide what setup is best for you- chances are if you just want to make your site snappier you can go with one the popular CDNs on their basic service.

CDN’s reduce the load on your own host server, meaning you’ll be using less of your own bandwidth and data. On the flip side, most CDNs will have you pay depending on the amount of bandwidth you use, which works out for most webmasters because more traffic means more income- so paying the CDN and hosting bills should be no problem.

CDN Providers

Assuming you don’t have any specialized needs and you just want to make your website faster (which you do- Google likes efficient sites) your best bet is probably to go with one of the more popular and established CDNs. Here are a few that you can’t go wrong with:

Cloudflare – Cloudflare is extremely popular and a very well performing CDN, they offer a free plan that’s super easy to set up and has impressive results so there’s really no excuse to not at least run Cloudflare if you don’t want to spend any extra each month apart from your hosting bill.

Amazon Cloudfront – This CDN provided by Amazon is known for its reliability and flexibility. It’s very easy to set up and understand and you are only billed for the data that you use. The performance is what you’d expect from a network as big as Amazons and it’s suitable for almost any type of content.

NetDNA – Some very big and recognizable brands are powered by NetDNA CDN such as Facebook, Garmin, Mashable, and Sitepoint. This is a great service especially for users who need to handle lots of traffic and big data loads, which is great if you are running web applications for your audience.

Which Hosting does it work with?

The great thing about CDNs is that they work with almost anything, you can set it up to work with shared, reseller, or VPS hosting and enable it for almost any web assets you plan on serving to visitors.

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Setting up a SQL database and using phpMyAdmin

March 19th, 2012 @ 10:15 am

We already covered the basics of SQL databases in another post, but it’s also important to know how to create one and become familiar the tools you need to access and use SQL databases so you aren’t intimidated when the time comes to use a program like phpMyAdmin when working with a database.

phpMyadmin is one of the most commonly used SQL management programs around and it’s a part of almost every web host’s backend. It is, as per the title, written in PHP like many web scripts are and it serves as one of the main interfaces needed to manage a SQL database. It is open source software which means that the community has access to the inner workings of the program and it is published under an open license, so you won’t need to pay anything to use it.

Creating a SQL database

Most web hosts use H-Sphere as a backend GUI because of its user friendliness and flexibility, so we will go through the process of creating a database using the basic tools in H-Sphere. If you use something else, chances are the process is very similar.

There should be a section among all of the menus in H-Sphere called Databases. Here you’ll find a few of the main functions for managing mySQL databases. To create one, click on MySQL Database Wizard. After that you’ll have the option to create a new database.

Put in a name for the database and hit the button and an empty SQL database is created. Next you need to assign a user to it so you can sign in an as that user and gain access to its entries. Use an existing username or create a new one and assign it to the database with administrative privileges, remember the password and other information because any programs that rely on this new database will need it. Once the user is assigned you’re all set, the database is ready to be populated.

For a detailed step-by-step, refer to our flash tutorials section.

Using phpMyAdmin

Now that you’ve created a SQL database, you can click on phpMyAdmin from the H-Sphere main menu and find your database by its name on the left. You can select it and perform a variety of actions from the GUI- here are some of the most common ones:

Importing and Exporting .sql files

If you already have some tables and information saved as a .sql database file you can upload it with phpMyAdmin easily and have it on your database in a matter of seconds. Just click on Import on the top menu and you can browse for a .sql file to upload. Conversely, you can save your current database as a .sql file as a backup for later use, or if you are migrating to a new server.

Modifying Databases

If you want to change a value or make a quick edit to your database, it’s as easy as going to the Structure tab and navigating the table until you find what you need, it’s a bit like an excel table with the ability to have nested entries. If you want to add a table or rename the database just go to Operations and fill out the respective forms.

Queries

One of the most basic functions one would need when managing a MySQL database is the ability to run queries. Queries are pieces of code that you can input into phpMyAdmin to do things like update, create, and delete entries and easy make changes to your database quickly without fiddling with a GUI. Just click on the Query tab and put your code into the text box and hit Go to run it. If you don’t know the proper syntax or aren’t sure what you’re doing, it’s best to stay away from queries until you do.

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Setting up and hosting a Forum – It’s Easier than you Think

March 12th, 2012 @ 11:20 am

Many people are intimidated by the idea of starting a web forum because it seems like a daunting task that requires a lot of attention and resources- and while it is a very big project to undertake the process of actually setting it up and hosting it is pretty simple. The real work begins when it comes time to populate your forum and turn it into a lively discussion board that drives traffic, but you’ll never make it to that stage if you don’t take the first step and learn how to set up and host a forum.

Choosing and installing forum software

Web scripts make it extremely easy to set up a functioning website, without them web development would be a nightmare. So, considering how easy it is to set up a blog using a foundation like WordPress, it should be just as simple to set up a forum using the right script.

However, not all forum templates are created equal. You should learn about their varying functionality and extendibility to see which one best suits your purposes before installing anything. The main contenders in the world of forums are Phpbb3, MyBB, bbPress, Simple Machines, and a few others. Most of these should be available from your QuickInstall or Fantastico menu depending on your hosting, but you can also download them from their official websites and install them yourself.

Here’s a quick overview of the two forum scripts usually recommended for beginners so you have a general idea of what they’re best for, make sure to do your own research and check out the features of each one.

phpBB3

PhpBB is an open source platform (like many forum packages) that’s been in development since 2000, it boasts one of the most complete feature sets of any forum software and it’s very flexible with a lot of room for customization. This emphasis on micro management can be a hurdle for beginners, but the streamlined GUI makes it easy to digest. The community is large and very active, they are more than happy to help people out with technical issues and they have created a cornucopia of different extensions and modifications. This is one of the most commonly used and reliable platforms and it’s suitable for almost every situation due to its extendibility.

MyBB

MyBB was once considered an outsider when it comes to forum software, but it’s proven itself to be one of the most intuitive and easy to use solutions around. It’s open source which is always a plus, there is a huge community behind it and the development team gives it a lot of love with frequent updates. One of the most attractive parts about it is the streamlined administration panel, everything is laid out in a way that makes sense and even a beginner can figure out how to manage their forum just by clicking around on their own. Don’t let its ease of use fool you, MyBB is very powerful and extendible and some of the largest boards on the net run it. The library of plugins and themes is mammoth and with version 2.0 on the horizon it shows no signs of slowing down.

Choosing a hosting plan

Forums are a different beast than the average website or blog, the content is created entirely by the users which means that interactivity is a big factor- it’s much more difficult for a server to load a page worth of dynamic forum posts than a regular static article, the information is coming from a variety of sources. The database will be much more complex because it needs to store everything about the users and what they’re doing, which means the more they interact with the site and each other the more power you need from your host.

A shared plan from one of the bargain hosts isn’t going to cut it, sure they claim to give you ‘unlimited’ resources in a lot of areas but that simply isn’t true- it’s called shared hosting for a reason and those resources are being allocated to other sites as well. It may be fine to start out with a shared plan for testing purposes, but once (if) you start getting traffic you will need to invest in either VPS hosting or reseller hosting at some point to handle the load if you haven’t already.

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