Web Hosting for Profitable Websites

Posted: Saturday April 9th

Choosing a good host is one of the most important decisions you will make about your online business. A poor host provides constant distractions, downtime, or content loss. With a good host, your website is available 99.9% of the time, loads rapidly, and has sufficient space and bandwidth.

Perhaps the most critical component of a good web hosting company is their support. Test a prospective host, send them an e-mail question, or even call. If you do not get a response in under 12 hours for e-mail, or cannot get through to a support person on the phone, look elsewhere. You will have technical support issues sooner or later, and every minute you wait for help is a minute you are losing money.

Space and bandwidth are important in your web host decision process. If you are doing a small e-commerce site, space is a minor issue unless you are hosting a large amount of video or pictures. A 10gp plan is a huge amount of hosting for a single website. New websites with little traffic also require little bandwidth. However, to make money, you will need some traffic, so make sure there is room to grow. Also, decide if you are hosting one domain or many. Hosting solutions often offer packages to support a single domain, or a single domain with add on domains. If you are likely to host additional websites, look for a plan that allows add on domains.

You need to consider what additional hosting requirements you need. If you are running an e-commerce store, you will need PHP and MySQL as part of your hosting package. Anything beyond a simple html pages require those tools, such as WordPress or Joomla. If you are interested in great web tools such as WordPress, but lack any Unix experience, look for a program called Fantastico as part of the package. Fantastico makes installation of CMS systems simple.

Finally consider price. Basic shared hosting is inexpensive. At this point, you likely have no need of dedicated or shared servers, so stick with the inexpensive plans that meet your above requirements. Powerful plans such as the Host Gator business package are selling for $12.95 or less, and will meet your hosting requirements for some time to come.

Tips for Choosing the Right Web Hosting Company

Posted: Saturday April 9th

by Kristine Schwartzman

Choosing the right web host for your business web site is just as important as the site design itself. There are many factors to consider when searching for a web site host. While pricing is often the first consideration, it should by no means be the only one. The least expensive hosting service may very well cost a business more over time in lost sales and expenses.

Whether large or small, businesses should look for the following minimum features from a web host:

1. Email Accounts – Enough email accounts should be included to adequately provide an email address to each company employee who needs one. Generally, both POP (Post Office Protocol) email accounts and web mail should be offered.

2. 99% Uptime – Uptime is the average time the server remains online in a 24 hour period. While no host can guarantee 100% uptime, this percentage should be very high.

3. FTP – FTP stands for “file transfer protocol” and allows direct file transfer to the hosting server. Some of the more inexpensive hosting plans do not offer FTP, but it is a necessary function for business web sites.

A small, brochure-type web site will require different features from a web site host than a larger e-commerce site. Determine the following before choosing a web host and hosting plan:

1. Is the web site coded in a specific programming language such as ASP.NET, PHP or Java? The host must offer hosting in that language for the site to perform properly.

2. How much disk space and bandwidth does the web site require? A small web site with few graphics may require as little as 5MB. Large, e-commerce sites will need much more to function properly.

3. Security should be a high priority with any hosting service. Not only should sensitive data be secure, but periodic file backups should also be done in case of server failure.

4. Determine how difficult it will be to upgrade or downgrade to a different hosting plan should business demands change.

5. Ask how the hosting company handles support issues. Are technical support matters handled through email, a support ticket portal or is there a phone number with 24-hour assistance?

6. One of the best ways to investigate a web hosting company is by visiting the company’s public support forum, if possible. Current customer problems and support staff responses will often be available to read.

7. Sign up for the shortest amount of time when first using a web host. It may cost a little more in the beginning, but it allows for a thorough evaluation of the hosting company and the freedom to move to a different web host after a short period of time, if necessary.

A professional and reliable web host will enhance, not hinder, any business web site. By making it easy to upgrade hosting plans and add features, maintaining at least a 99% uptime average and ensuring that the web site is secure and available to visitors, the right web hosting company can do much to help businesses start and maintain a successful online presence.

What is Server Virtualization?

Posted: Saturday April 9th

Server virtualization technology effectively gives your physical server computers multiple personalities. With virtualization, administrators can install multiple instances of an environment in order to better take advantage of the full capacity of the physical machine. Virtualization makes use of a thin client software or single kernel installed on the server to create and manage the different virtual machine environments. Virtual machines cannot directly communicate with each other. In the event that one of the virtual servers gets attacked, fails or is otherwise compromised, the remaining servers will be safe and unaffected. Each instance operates as a separate partition and fully functioning server setup.

Server virtualization technology also allows you to install multiple operating systems on the same machine. Since there is no primary operating system for a virtual server, you can install Unix and Windows side-by-side for testing purposes or if you need a feature unique to one of the operating systems. Server virtualization allows for a higher density of servers but does not increase the raw computing power of the physical server, it only makes sure that none of the power goes to waste.

Instances created from server virtualization are called virtual private servers. You can offer these individually created servers to users so that each user can essentially have their own environment to play with. This is especially beneficial in web hosting – offering virtual private servers allows system administrators to make the most of their resources. Many users never use a server to its full capacity, so sharing the physical resources of the host computer ensures that the server can be used to its full potential.

IT departments favor switching to server virtualization technology because it allows them to outsource the physical location of their servers while still allowing them control over the system. However, server virtualization works best with small to medium projects as the power needed for large systems can exceed the capabilities of the physical server.

Server virtualization technology lets system administrators install the different types of web or application servers they need to host their system. HTTP, FTP, DNS LDAP and Active Directory servers can be installed side by side on multiple virtual servers in order to provide redundancy and data backups.

Software licensing can be an issue for server virtualization. As far as the software company is concerned, each virtual server on the physical machine is a separate system and will require a separate license and support agreement. This can quickly add up so where possible some administrators use open source software.

When evaluating the feasibility of server virtualization technology, consider the size and type of server setup you need. High volume systems run best on dedicated physical servers as do systems that require a high percentage of storage or memory resources at any given time. When implemented properly, server virtualization technology can give a much needed improvement to your server systems.

Give Your Web Site Design a Booster Shot

Posted: Friday April 8th

Your Web site just sits there on the WWW, waiting for people to stumble onto it. Millions of people are out there, but they’re not visiting your site. So, what can you do? Give your site design a booster shot to increase profit potentials! Here’s how.

Put Your Site in Motion

Move things around, add more valuable content pages – keep your site moving so it stays under the radar of the search engines. Search engines like sites that are constantly updating with new information. Every Web page you add is a new opportunity to submit your site to the search engines. Every article you write (or have ghost-written) can be submitted to article directories for more exposure to your target audience.

Test Your Site’s Flow

Your site should flow when readers arrive. They should be able to enter your homepage or some other page on your site and feel right at home. Make sure every page works in unison to bring the customer to your ultimate goal – a sale or a click! Make sure a link is included at the bottom of every page presentation for your products or services. Also, be sure all links in the sidebars are working properly.

Proofread Your Site’s Presentation

You should read over your presentation several times to be sure it sounds enticing and grammatically correct. Ask a friend to read it as well. Make sure it reads smoothly and leads the visitor through the site. Every presentation page should contain the following:

*Powerful headline
*Opening paragraph with a pull to read more
*Testimonials or quotes from you
*Closing for the sale
*Order instructions or a link to read more on your site

Test for Search Engine Friendliness

Your site should have a title and description in the Meta tags that will pull a visitor in from a keyword search. Remember, when someone types in a keyword or key phrase at a search engine, your title will appear, then your brief description. This is your actual search engine listing. Having a powerful lead-in is just as important (if not more) as your presentation when they arrive at your site. Besides, your sales presentation doesn’t do a bit of good if the visitors never come!

Take a look at this example for a Meta tag title and description under the key search phrase “101 personal website ideas.”

Title: 101 Personal Website Ideas – FREE!
Description: 101 Ideas for Creating Your Personal Website. Before reading the ideas below, please sign up for our FREE Newsletter offer called the Web Design Weekly …

Notice the title matches the key phrase, and the description re-emphasizes the phrase and leads the customer to click and read more. The description also offers a free service (subscription) from the start. This is crucial to getting visitors to your site from the search engines.

The example above is an actual lead-in listing from Google for my Web site ideas page. This one page listing brings in around 500 visitors per month to my web design training site. These are very targeted visitors!

All these factors working together will help build traffic to your site and turn your visitors into paying customers. This is one booster shot where a needle is not necessary!

by Candice Pardue