Networking Champions Do This. Do You?

Networking-Champions

Here’s a networking tip for when you’re out and about spreading the word about your new business. Instead of chatting briefly and exchanging business cards, ask this, “If I were talking to someone who needed your services, what should I say to them?” This gives them the opportunity to give you their 30 second commercial touting their business. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their business.

Ask for ten of their business cards

Then ask them for 10 of their business cards instead of one. Why? Because it says to them that you’re interested in networking with them, instead of just marketing to them directly – like every other sales rep they’ve ever met. It sets you apart.

Reaching their sphere of influence

When you think about it, everyone has a sphere of influence. When you say word of mouth is the best way to grow your business, how do you get that prospect or client to spread the word about your business? It all starts by showing an interest in their business, providing solutions that help them, and above all – great customer service.

They just said, YES

You’ll never be able to reach their sphere of influence on your own. Ask them for referrals (their sphere of influence) immediately after the sale. They’ve just said YES to your product or service. They know, like and trust you. Take it one step further. Ask them to let the person they just referred to you know that you’ll be calling.

Ask for the referral

All sales reps know that you have to ask for the sale. The same principle applies in networking – you have to ask for the referral.

Avoiding WordPress Pitfalls

Avoiding-WordPress-Pitfalls

My gosh, there must be a thousand tutorials on how to set up WordPress, but most of them miss a few key points that can spell trouble down the line. I’ll list a few of the more important things to look for, but this is far from a complete list.

Poorly written themes and plug-ins can wreak havoc on your website

WordPress core files won’t typically cause any issues unless webmasters don’t keep pace with their revisions, but poorly written themes and plug-ins certainly can and frequently do create havoc. Why?

Not all themes and plug-ins are created equally

Thousands of different individuals and vendors have created plug-ins and built custom themes to improve the functionality and look of WordPress websites. Unfortunately, some are better coded than others, and many do not stay current or compatible with updated versions of WordPress (which we all know happens a LOT).

Before you start performing Internet speed tests, check your plug-ins

When you have, for instance 15 plugins installed on your site, and something bizarre kicks up its crazy head, like response time slowing to a crawl, many times it isn’t the server causing this issue, or the speed of your Internet connection. It’s one plug-in or theme throwing rocks as big as boulders at your site.

Easter Egging

How do you know which one is the culprit? More often than not, unless a Google search uncovers a common problem across multiples sites, the way most recommended is to turn off your plug-ins one by one and re-test. It’s called Easter Egg troubleshooting.

Selecting the right plug-in

When you’re analyzing which plug-in to install, you’ll be presented with its version, the author’s name, when it was last updated, what version of WordPress it requires, which version of WordPress that it’s compatible with, how many active installations there are and its average rating from one to five stars based on total reviews.

You’ll also see its description, installation instructions, frequently asked questions (FAQ), screenshots, reviews and a link to its Homepage.

What to look for

Of course, the most important of these is its description. Does it add functionality to your website? From there, I recommend checking when it was last updated and is it compatible with your current version of WordPress.

What do the reviews say?

Read a few of the 5 star reviews AND the 1 star reviews. Sometimes, a one-star review will point out something that completely disqualifies using it on your site. Some examples:

  • TERRIBLE SUPPORT
  • Extremely slows down MySQL
  • Or the plugin was the main problem on my site.

Don’t forget to check how long ago that review was written. Maybe that issue was addressed in later revisions.

Themes, on the other hand, are a different breed

Just on Themeforest alone, there are over 11 thousand WordPress themes ranging in price from free to over sixty dollars. Most of the themes display their version numbers, and are updated just like WordPress from time to time.

Take note of total sales and comments

Some themes have sold thousands of times, but that doesn’t mean your website will look like any of the others. Most themes are highly customizable.

What you’ll need to look for is whether that theme is high resolution, is it widget ready, what browsers is it compatible with, what software versions of WordPress is it compatible with, what plugins will it work with, is it mobile responsive, is it well documented and what files are included.

Most themes have Live Previews

Absolutely look at some of your prospective themes in live preview mode. Be aware though that the images on that demo are generally not included and only serve as placeholders for presentation purposes.

If on ThemeForest, was the author of that theme an Elite Author

Has that author’s work ever been featured? And do they offer extended support, and if so, at what price? Does that author respond to support requests quickly and are his answers professional and value-add.

Don’t forget categories of themes

Thousands of WordPress themes have been written in different categories such as corporate, retail, entertainment, education, wedding and technology. You name it – there’s a category for it.

Pitfalls – smitfalls! You’ve got this covered now.

PS: Many of the issues created by coders can be overcome by simply hosting your website on an insanely fast web server, like Hostirian’s PCIe NVMe servers. They’re six times faster than SSD servers and many times faster than the server you’re probably using now.

A Key to Selecting the Right Operating System to Host Your Website

Right-Operating-System

Are you confused when presented with which operating system to choose when selecting a web hosting provider’s hosting packages? You’re not alone. And no, it doesn’t matter what operating system you have on your desktop or work station – they don’t have to match your hosting platform. You can be using Windows 7 on your desktop and Linux on your web server. So what are the key guidelines to select one versus the other?

Applications make the difference

On a shared web hosting platform, both operating systems are normally priced the same. If you’re leasing a dedicated server though, Linux is open source (free) and Windows is proprietary to Microsoft applications that require license fees. If you need services like Active Server Pages (ASP), MSSQL, MS Access, Visual Basic or remote desktop, these applications are Windows specific.

Are Linux servers more secure?

I see this brought up quite often in comparisons and the answers are all over the board. Very simply, the answer is NO. Both operating systems can be locked down tight. What I generally see are providers that only offer Linux platforms stating that Linux is preferred.  Both support a wide range of software applications, languages and databases.

Control panels for operating systems

Control panels do vary by operating system platforms with cPanel frequently offered for Linux versus Plesk for Windows. Of the two, cPanel is more popular, but both are comprehensive.

CentOS is popular, but there are other flavors

There are different flavors of each operating system: with Linux; CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and others, and with Windows; 2016 Standard and Data Center Edition.

My recommendation is to match your specific requirements to the Operating System that best fits your website. If in doubt, call us – 800-615-9349. We can help.

Your website can be much more PROFITABLE!

Test your website today to get a free report instantly

We offer a simple little tool that has helped millions of people improve their online presence by auditing more than 70 factors laid out by the major search engines. It starts with an overall score of your website and the number of issues it uncovers. The analysis is date and time stamped so you can set a baseline for improvement.

Busy schedule?

This analysis can be performed in less than a couple of minutes and then downloaded as a PDF for viewing at a later date, by one of your associates or if you need help, we’ll review the analysis with you FREE of charge (no obligation whatsoever).

Your site will be ranked on:

  • On-Page SEO
  • Responsiveness
  • Page Speed
  • Links
Where the analysis starts

The analysis begins with Page Titles and Meta Descriptions, with Best Practice Tips and Recommendations. Then it goes into Single, Two, Three and Four Word Keywords, how often they occur, their density and whether they could be picked up as spam.

What is your site’s ratio of text to HTML?

Total words are counted, then a text/HTML Ratio Test is executed. The ideal ratio of text to HTML code must be between 20 to 60%. Where is yours?

Are you properly using H tags?

H tags are then analyzed followed by whether your site has robot.txt and a sitemap. Not all of your site should be indexed, but every site should have a sitemap.

Favicon

Oft overlooked is the Favicon. Sites without favicons are frowned upon for lack of attention to detail, and lost opportunities for branding.

Image Alt Text

This one catches a ton of websites, but it is important as it strengthens the message toward search engine providers AND improves the accessibility of your website.

Is your site Doc Type defined and does it contain depreciated HTML tags?

Doc Type isn’t critical, but it is used to validate your web page. Are you using older HTML tags and attributes? If yes, be aware that they’re likely to become obsolete, so future support cannot be guaranteed.

HTML Page Size 

Ideally, you want your pages to load fast, so reducing size matters, but so does structuring your site so that the most critical things load first. Enabling GZIP compression also helps. Is your site GZIP compression enabled?

Inline and Internal CSS occurrences

Excessive inline or internal CSS occurrences increase the loading time of your site. Not only is this a ranking factor for the search engines, but it also correlates to viewer experience. Once a visitor finds your site, your goal should be for them to hang around a while, get to know you and maybe purchase something.

Microdata Schema Test

Think of microdata as underlying information that helps the search engines better understand your content. The result? Significantly better search results!

IP Canonicalization Test

What our analysis looks for here are multiple domain names registered under a single IP address. Why? Search bots can label other sites as duplicates.

Plain Text Email Test

Do you like spam? None of us do, so one of the things our analysis looks for is plain text email addresses on your site. Scraping agents are constantly crawling websites looking for victims.

Mobile Friendly Check

This one should be obvious. Everyone and their brother or sister carries a mobile device of some sort. Does your site display properly across the broad range of mobile devices on the market?
Are all of your links and buttons large enough for your visitors to easily tap? Does your mobile site download quickly? Want to know what your Google Page Speed Insight score is? Our analysis gives you that score.

What else do we analyze?

We look at Page Statistics, the Plugins you may be using, whether your font sizes are legible, your Google Desktop Page Speed Score, any landing page redirects and whether your site leverages browser caching.

How quickly does your server respond?

If your site is underperforming, our analysis addresses the issues and identifies potential problems.

Is your CSS, HTML and JavaScript minified? 

Not only does our analysis identify how resource size can be reduced, it gives you the percentage of possible reduction.

Optimizing Images

This one is a biggie. Our analysis identifies images that should be optimized and displays the percentage of possible reduction. What you want to do is reduce an image’s size without reducing its quality.

Above the fold

What we analyze here is whether the above the fold content is properly prioritized.

Link Information

We identify all of your site’s internal and external links, plus your NoIndex, NoFollow and DoFollow Links AND if your links are SEO friendly.

An SEO friendly link follows these basic rules:

The URL should use a dash as a separator, not use parameters or numbers, and should be a static URL.

To resolve this, use these techniques.

1) Replace underscores or other separators with a dash, clean URL by deleting or replacing numbers and parameters.
2) Merge your www and non www URLs.
3) Do not use dynamic and related URLs. Create an XML sitemap for proper indexing by search engines.
4) Block unfriendly and irrelevant links with robot.txt
5) Endorse your URLs in canonical tags.

AlexaRank

Need to know what your traffic or reach rank are? We give you the score that Alexa assigns to your website.

Finishing Up

Do you know who your site is hosted with or where they’re located, or whether you’re IPv4 and IPv6 compatible? How about cURL responses?

About Hostirian

Hostirian has been helping businesses with IT solutions for over 20 years. Offering this FREE resource is just one way we push the envelope to help businesses do what they do best, and that is to run successful online businesses.

How important is a fast, reliable online presence? And why settle for less?

Everyone seems to agree that uptime is important and that the faster a visitor can download a website, the more apt they are to stick around, increasing time-on-site averages AND conversion rates.

Reliability? No one likes their online presence to go offline, for ANY amount of time. After all, a website is the face of a business online, so why do so many settle for less?

Why port speed, RAM and processing power aren’t all that!  

Well, actually they are all that, but hundreds of millions of websites are still powered by spinning hard disk drives and SATA SSDs. Websites, after all, are still just a compilation of ones and zeroes, and how well your website performs depends on how quickly those ones and zeroes are processed. The weak link is typically the storage device.

PCIe NVMe to the rescue

So what is PCIe NVMe and why should it matter to you? What their synonyms stand for is inconsequential, but what this technology does in the background for your website is incredible.

By now, most folks know that any type of SSD outperforms a hard disk drive (HDD). A PCIe NVMe SSD outperforms SATA SSDs by a ratio of six to one. You thought SATA SSD was fast?! PCIe NVMe SSD screams, or as we like to say, it’s insanely fast. So I ask you again, “WHY SETTLE FOR LESS?” Your website’s performance is what sets you apart from your competition.

State-of-the-art servers are one of the many ways that Hostirian helps you on the OTHER side.

We heavily invest in both technology and in our staff so that our clients enjoy the best possible hosting experience available on the Web. I’m sure you’ve heard the term, positive in – positive out.

The culture we promote and commit ourselves to is complete customer satisfaction. If that means offering the fastest freak’n servers on the Internet to our clients, that’s where we’re going. If that means scheduling after-hours training so new services are smoothly implemented and issues are resolved quickly, that’s Hostirian. We are here to help YOU.

Joomla or WordPress? Finding the right script to power your website.

WordPress and Joomla are both content management systems, and while both have been around for years, WordPress has surged ahead of Joomla in popularity and add-on functionality.

Look at the numbers. With nearly 2 billion (that’s billion with a B) sites online, WordPress controls 30% of those, and approximately 60% of sites built with content management systems. Where is Joomla? In second place at 7%, followed by Drupal at 5%.

Both are available for quick installs via Softaculous.

Softaculous is a great auto-installer having 446 great scripts, 1115 PHP Classes and they are still adding more. These scripts cover most of the uses a business owner or entrepreneur could ever use. It covers a wide array of Categories so that everyone can find just the right script to power their website.

Why Joomla? How will it help your business?

Joomla is an open source platform on which Web sites and applications can be created. It is a content management system (CMS) which connects your site to a MySQLi, MySQL, or PostgreSQL database in order to make content management and delivery easier.

Joomla 4 new features:

  • Bootstrap 4 Integration
  • More friendly Back-end User Interface
  • Coding improvements
  • New front-end template and back-end template
  • New Media manager
  • Simplified installation process
  • Faster page loading times
  • Features to improve Search Engine Optimization

Why we recommend WordPress.

WordPress was designed for everyone, not just developers. That’s HUGE! You don’t have to be tech-savvy to use it, so forget stressing over learning code. Do you want the ability to tweak your website after its initial development? Compared to Joomla, WordPress shines in this department. It’s user friendly, it’s versatile and it flat out works. One word of caution – hackers love WordPress, so keep those themes and plugins up-to-date, and install some sort of security software.

 

WordPress 4.9.8 Features

The talk of the day is Gutenberg (a new editing environment) and while it still doesn’t hold ground against Elementor, prepare yourself as it is soon to become part of the WordPress core. Gutenberg lays the groundwork for incredibly exciting developments.

Gutenberg is at stage one of a three-pronged roll-out strategy. First, WordPress will get a redeveloped editor, and after that the project will focus on page templates, then in the final stage it will become a full site customizer. As you can imagine, this will empower developers with endless possibilities.

Oh no, I just locked myself out of my server

lock_open_solid_1I had just installed a nifty firewall I found on the Internet, and dang it, I locked myself out of my server. OK, those weren’t the exact words I used, but you get the picture. My name is Bob (real name hidden for fear of ridicule) and I had just leased an insanely fast NVMe server from Hostirian.

Fortunately, they offer IP KVM which allowed me to remotely disable the firewall and gain access to my server again. Whew!! Managing a server is so much easier when you have some great tools at your disposal.

For more information about Hostirian’s dedicated servers, click here.

Two free Softaculous scripts that will make your life easier

Softaculous V3Open source software, like the scripts offered by Softaculous, is widely used by companies in a broad range of industries from retail to wholesale, and from finance to automotive. Why? Obviously free helps, but many of these scripts are used by millions of businesses for reasons other than cost. They improve productivity, workflow and a myriad of assorted value-add functionalities across multiple industries.

Over 400 free scripts are available via Softaculous

No, you don’t need to know any code to install these scripts. Softaculous scripts can typically be installed with just one click. We obviously can’t review 400+ scripts here, but we will discuss a couple of popular scripts that are designed to make your life much easier (more in future newsletters).

If you’d like a full list of the scripts that are available via Softaculous, head on over to our Cloud Website page. We’ve divided these scripts into categories like e-commerce, blogs, gaming, ad management and others. Each of these categories can be expanded to display the scripts that are in that category. Each of those is linked to extensive information about that script, including reviews, screenshots, ratings and features.

1First up, an e-Commerce script called PrestaShop

“The PrestaShop e-Commerce Solution was built to take advantage of essential Web 2.0 innovations such as dynamic AJAX-powered features and next-generation ergonomy. PrestaShop guides users through your product catalog intelligently and effortlessly, turning intrigued visitors into paying customers.”

We’ve selected to feature PrestaShop based on it’s popularity and rating, as it has scored 4.52 stars out of a possible 5 from 2452 voters. What we hear quite frequently from entrepreneurs/solopreneurs are queries about launching online stores. What differentiates PrestaShop from other shopping programs is its front and back office features. 

Front-office

  • Featured products on homepage
  • Top sellers on homepage
  • New items on homepage
  • ‘Free shipping’ offers
  • Cross-selling (Accessories)
  • Product image zoom
  • Order out-of-stock items
  • Customer subscription & user accounts
  • Payment by bank wire
  • Google Checkout module
  • Cash-On-Delivery (COD)
  • Pre-configured for Paypal
 Back-office

  • Unlimited categories & subcategories, product attribute combinations, product specs, images, currencies, tax settings, carriers & destinations
  • Real-time currency exchange rates
  • Inventory management
  • Unlimited languages & dialects
  • 100% modifiable graphic themes
  • Newsletter contact export
  • Alias search
  • SSL encryption
  • Visitors online
  • Customer groups

Of course, if you’re selling to a local market, you wouldn’t need unlimited languages and dialects, but good to know that’s available. Being pre-configured for PayPal is huge, simply because PayPal is a highly recognizable payment solution trusted by millions worldwide.

On the flip side, you’ll likely have to purchase several (often expensive) add-on modules to integrate different software programs to add functionality to Prestashop. If you have limited tech knowledge, you might consider investing in a web developer to help you through the rough spots. The good news is that once it’s set up, day-to-day operations are a breeze.

2Next up is a customer support script called osTicket

“osTicket is a widely-used open source support ticket system. It seamlessly integrates inquiries created via email and web-based forms into a simple easy to use multi-user web interface. Easily manage, organize and archive all your support requests and responses in one place while providing your clients with accountability and responsiveness they deserve.

osTicket is an attractive alternative to higher-cost and complex customer support systems; simple, lightweight, reliable, open source, and easy to setup and use. The best part is, it’s completely free.”

osTicket ranks 4.6 stars out of 5 based on 225 voters, essentially because it simply works AND it’s free.

Its features:

Web-based Platform : osTicket is a web-based multi-user customer support platform. No local installation required. Access it anytime – from anywhere.

Customer Portal : All support requests and responses are archived online. User can login using email and ticket ID. No user account or registration required to submit a ticket.

Autoresponder : Configurable automatic reply sent out when a new ticket is opened or a message is received.

Email Integration : Tickets can be created via email, online forms or phone (created by staff). Flexible configuration and mapping.

Role-based Access : Control staff’s access level based on assigned groups, departments and teams.

Collision Avoidance : Ticket locking mechanism to allow staff to lock tickets during response and avoid conflicting responses.

Ticket Assignment : Assign tickets to a staff or a teams. Assignment notes are logged as internal notes.

Ticket Filters : Apply conditional rules to route incoming tickets to the right departments or staff members, and action triggers.

Service Level Agreements : SLA support allow you to track tickets and due dates without the hassle. Get overdue alerts and notices on missed due dates, and priority escalation.

Ticket Transfer : Transfer tickets between departments to make sure it’s being handled by the correct staff.

Due Dates : Set due dates on individual tickets and overwrite default grace period. Get overdue alerts and notices on missed due dates.

Alerts & Notices : Staff and clients are kept up to date with email alerts. Configurable and flexible settings.

Dashboard & Reports : Get system overview and basic historical statistics on tickets count and status per department, staff and help topics.

Canned Responses : Predefined responses for frequently asked questions. Ticket variables supported for personalized responses.

Internal Notes : Add internal notes to tickets for staff. Activity logs let you see events or what actions have been taken, when, and by whom.

Attachment Support : Allow web or emailed attachments. Configurable file type whitelisting to enhance security.

Email Templates : Manage and configure email templates used for auto-reply, alerts, notices and responses. Ticket variables supported for personalized messages.

One review by a Guest says, “It just worked out of the box. It does all the basics extremely well and is highly stable and reliable. I have a small support team (including contractors) and this product does all the things I need and does them very nicely. Highly recommend you give it a try, I am confident you won’t be disappointed.”

Other than being FREE which obviously helps keep your cost down, it offers enough features to run a decent sized business support department successfully.

We are upgrading the reliability and redundancy of our network

Understanding that high network reliability is the lifeblood of our clients, we are implementing network upgrades in a series of maintenance windows starting this August and lasting through September 2018. Why more than one maintenance window? Best practice mandates minimizing introducing too many variables at one time. In fact, over the past two decades, Hostirian has systematically implemented strategies to keep pace with technological advances.

“Our network is continually evolving in order to effectively maintain a redundant network with no single point of failure,”  said Dakota Jones, Hostirian’s Director of Network Operations.

To accomplish this with minimal disruption to our clients, we routinely schedule an orderly and well-prepared series of maintenance windows during time frames outside of peak business hours.

“Our goal,” according to Sascha Wintz, Vice President of Hostirian, “is to maintain a scalable and highly reliable network according to current standards.”

As always, we’re here to help 24 x 7 x Forever. Our support staff is physically located in the data-center so if you have an issue with your service, we are here to help you resolve that issue immediately. You do not have to wait or play phone tag to get ahold of someone who can actually help you with your problem.