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WordPress and Video Games – WordCamp Orlando 2014

As some of you may know, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Orlando this past weekend.  If you didn’t quite get it from the title, everything was classic video game themed. Being someone who loves classic games (but doesn’t have much time to play them) it was great to see all of the work that the organizers put into everything.

Due to Orlando being another WordCamp where individuals flew in from all around the country, I was able to reconnect with others that I have previously met, as well as meet new people whom I was able to learn from and share new ideas.  Meeting with other like-minded individuals and sharing ideas is incredibly motivating.

The Main Event

Unlike most WordCamps that run on Saturday and Sunday, WordCamp Orlando took place on Friday and Saturday.  Throughout the weekend, I couldn’t seem to remember what day it was, but it seemed to work out well as the majority of people were representing a business or freelancing.

WordCamp Orlando was full of talent.  From Syed Balkhi’s incredible business genius to Mark Jaquith’s developer mind, all aspects of the WordPress world were well covered in some sort of “success wonderland”.  Not once was my mind not blown by a conversation I had.

My Presentation on Writing Better Documentation

At WordCamp Orlando, I had the pleasure of deploying my documentation skills onto the brains of developers.  Often times, I feel as if documentation is neglected in lieu of new features.  While new features are great, if not properly documented, those features because hard to use.

I feel that I made a great impact on how developers can write better documentation to enhance user experience and reduce support tickets.  The feedback was excellent and if I got even a single developer to better their documentation, my presentation was a success.

Overall

Overall, WordCamp Orlando was an excellent experience and will go down as one of my favorite WordCamps.  The attendees were top notch, the presentations were inspiring, and the organizers’ efforts were extremely appreciated.  A big thanks goes out to everyone involved who made WordCamp Orlando and unforgettable experience.

 

InMotion Hosting # 1 on HostingReview360

It seems to be awards season everywhere, even in the hosting world!  InMotion Hosting has once again received a #1 hosting for personal and small business award from a prestigious review site, https://hostingreview360.com, and we are all “stumble up the stairs in a designer gown to accept an Oscar excited!!!”

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As a company, InMotion Hosting took the initiative to not only change the perception of calling technical support, but to develop a top-notch Support Center, and a network and service so solid that customers may find Support as a backup option to resolving their problems.  An amazing, 24/7 chat, phone, and ticket backup staffed by brilliant and amazing people who are not only technical, but understand what it is to be human and have a question.

So, it’s beyond rewarding to have Lucy over at https://hostingreview360.com sit up and take notice. Our recent addition of SSD hard drives and ever updating security and network protocols have been the focus of our energies in recent months, and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve those without the solid foundation of our Customer Service and Support Teams who continually deliver the out of this world service upon which InMotion was founded.  We have been able to maintain the reputation we earned in the industry thanks to our hard-working teams who are ever ready to put the servers and our customers’ experiences first.

https://hostingreview360.com gives us an in depth and detailed hosting review that lays everything out on the table.  This honest approach is not only done for InMotion, but also for other top hosting companies.  Having so much of your information put out to the public in such a manner may intimidate other companies, but here at InMotion, we know we’ve got a great service, and it turns out that is easy for others to see as well.

When delivering the good news, Lucy, the founder of https://hostingreview360.com which recommends us as the best choice for personal and small business, said,

“The limitless and rich-features shall not be the selling points right now. An evaluation of a web host is on their hosting reliability, loading speed, and technical support – these almost entirely depend on whether this company oversells their servers and whether this company invests sufficiently in their support team. As a professional reviewer devoted into this industry for 10 years, my 3 years’ of personal experience being hosted by InMotion Hosting, and my personal visit to their office in Los Angeles, have confirmed that this company is trusted on all  3 aspects.”

We just want to say, thank you, to Lucy and everyone at https://hostingreview360.com, we’re blushing!

We’ll keep working to continually update an improve all already stellar service (if I do say so myself,) and you keep holding us to our words!  If you’re interested in reading all that the review had to say, head on over to https://hostingreview360.com/inmotion-review/ and take a look!

Thank you again, to Lucy and https://hostingreview360.com for noticing the hard work and love we put into every aspect of our hosting service!  This is an amazing holiday gift.

Joomla Day Minnesota Recap

The fun began early!

Working with InMotion Hosting’s Customer Community team has it’s payoffs: learning about Joomla, writing tutorials that help 100,000’s of users, and getting my hands dirty from time to time with some development work.

Every few months I get to travel and attend some great conferences too. Last March I attended Joomla Day Boston 2014. Over the weekend I had the privilege to both attend and present at Joomla Day Minnesota 2014!

Before the event started, the gracious organizers took some of the event’s sponsors out to a Twins game! Unfortunately the Twins didn’t win, but that didn’t matter, watching the game from the box seats helped make the night one to remember.

Sessions and Speakers

STATE OF THE JOOMLA! UNION

Rod Martin was the event’s keynote speaker in the morning. His talk was all about the current state of Joomla!.

Do you remember being 10 years old, and do you understand how far you’ve come since then? Do you know that Joomla is turning 10 next year? That’s right, and Rod did an excellent job through his stories driving home that point.

The evening before his presentation, Rod and I had some time to talk WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. He has significant experience in all three, and he wasn’t shy about praising his favorite (guess which CMS?). I saw his optimism and excitement for the future of Joomla during our conversations and while he took the podium.

The Success of Joomla 3!

Michael Babker, member of the Joomla Leadership Team, spoke in the afternoon on some of the successes of Joomla 3.

Some of the highlights shared during his talk included:

Free Schwag!

USB thumb drives, cool iphone chargers, and free hosting! That’s right, I came packing! How cool is it when your job is to give away some cool schwag to fellow Joomla users? Very cool!

If you ever see us at an event, stop by and say hello! And don’t be afraid to ask, we’re usually equipped with goodies you can take home and show off to your friends.

Looking forward

This year was the first year for Joomla Day MN. There’s no doubt that this was a very successful event! A big congratulations goes out to Demo, Ryan Book, and the other event organizers.

The event went so well that the team is already organizing Joomla Day MN 2015! Next year the event will be held at Mall of America. My fingers are crossed – I hope to attend!

Thank you Joomla Day MN!
Brad Markle

SPYR MEDIA: Affiliate Marketing for the Rest of Us

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First, a disclaimer: We are not affiliate marketers. At least not in the traditional sense.

According to nearly every article on affiliate marketing, achieving success is a complicated, cut-throat endeavor requiring loads of time and training and writing and list/link building and advertising and researching and reputation building and gaming and social media-ing, and… well, the list goes on and on.

For many this actually sounds like an endless source of fun and adventure. For us this sounds like an endless source of misery. Fortunately, there’s always another way.

Now, affiliate marketing has never been a big focus for SPYR Media. Hell, aside from posting stupid pictures of ourselves on social media we give zero attention to marketing and just do the work (all of our leads come via word of mouth). However, despite the lack of emphasis we place upon marketing, affiliate marketing has become a pretty significant revenue stream in the past few years.

Of course, we all know the big internet names rake it in through affiliate programs. They have the audience, the traffic and, most importantly, the influence that garners top commission rates to match their performance. Good for them. They did the work and deserve every bit of it.

But, we’re not all big names nor do we all aspire to be. Some of us are more effective in a behind-the-scenes capacity. We’re facilitators. So, why not facilitate?

No matter how well an income stream is performing, an improvement is always welcomed. If you can facilitate that refinement, you can then create a mutually beneficial relationship where everyone wins.

Facilitation is precisely the approach we’ve taken with affiliate marketing. We don’t want to become content producers or marketers. We aren’t interested in building lists and writing copy or, for that matter, selling in general. We’re a creative agency and let our work speak for itself relying on the, ever powerful, word of mouth to handle the rest.

Rather than approaching affiliate marketing as a new ‘job’, we instead looked at what value we could already bring to the table, who would most benefit from our input and skills, and reached out to a chosen few who we knew would experience the biggest returns. As a design company, we impact perception through imagery and product development and knew this would be a valuable compliment to the efforts of our marketing and blogging colleagues.

So we turned to others in our circles – past clients, friends, etc – who have the established audience and influence that we lack and teamed up to create mutually beneficial scenarios where we better position their publicly facing affiliate promotions, negotiate commission structures for them (they’re completely hands off) and take a small cut through tiered affiliate programs. Basically, we’re earning money by helping other, more popular people earn money.

The point is, use the tools you currently have to fill in the gaps for others. If we believed the only way to succeed in affiliate marketing was to be great content producers with a giant list we would have never started. Be creative, help others succeed and everyone involved can reap the rewards.

LA Holiday Event 2013

la_holiday_2013This year for our holiday party, we had an amazing and festive time with good people at The Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey. We had a Christmas boat parade, St. Jude’s Toy Drive, buffet, sweet treats, and a photo booth that everyone, including our CEOs, got to let loose and be silly in. Check out some of the fun we had in our Facebook photo album.

Keep Your Business Strong with Effective Communication

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The majority of our customers at InMotion Hosting are small companies or startups with a strong vision and desire to build a solid foundation to grow their business on. Like many of our customers, InMotion Hosting started off small and worked its way up to be the successful company it is today. What every company should try to keep in mind is how they first started off and what specifically accelerated their initial growth spurt. What’s most amazing about a lot of startups is how quickly they are able to get things done, how well they stay focused, and how they maintain the passion and motivation that drive it all. That is the envy of most major companies today.

When you start off small, you have some great advantages. Communication is easier and tasks are done more effectively and efficiently because there are less people to reach out to or wait on. Keeping this process strong is the hardest part when a company begins to grow. Waiting on people seems to be the biggest obstacle when communication isn’t fully there. Being aware of this and making sure you have a good system in place for getting things done, no matter how big your company becomes, will save you a lot of time and headache, and make a world of difference.

With our team still growing, we’ve had to try to adjust and figure out the best way to manage our projects. At first, we had hit some obstacles that we had to overcome with trial and error. Then we looked back at old processes and tried new ones instead. Finally we realized that using different channels to reiterate the same things can get confusing and messy. You want to go along with what your team feels more comfortable using, instead of using just one solution for the sake of simplifying. When processes begin to become a struggle, reassess them and find out why; Find a different solution. Don’t keep doing something because that’s how it was done before.

Use a Project Management Tool

We’ve come to rely on Basecamp as a project management tool to assign projects, refer to message threads, check out the project calendar, and add people to projects or reassign them. It helps to visually see what’s going on, what’s been done, and what still needs to get done. Being able to easily reference interactions among everyone within a team makes a tool like Basecamp a great resource.

Daily Stand-Up Meetings

Another good way of keeping the communication strong and everyone in the loop are daily stand-up meetings. Everyone literally stands up and moves away from their desks. The benefit of this is that it allows for participation from all team members and frees them from distraction.  You can customize these to your liking of how often you’d like to do them, and which departments you want to include.

For our marketing team, every morning everyone stands up and tells the team what they’ve been working on, what they plan to work on, and if they have any obstacles that someone else within the team can help out with. This way, everyone is aware of what’s going on and it keeps all the processes clear. If you have multiple teams within a team, a representative from each team informs the group as to what’s going on. The total amount of time of the meeting should be limited to about 15 minutes.  If more meetings are needed to discuss specific projects, then these can be arranged during the stand-up meeting and taken away from the group.

Face-to-Face Conversations

And don’t ever forget about the good ol’ face to face interactions. It’s great for team building and a lot of small things won’t fall through the cracks as they often do in communicating through technology channels. It can also save a lot of time when you’re waiting on responses and going through a bunch of email threads. If you need to have a record of what was discussed in a conversation, write one quick email to reiterate what was just said and use that as your reference.

This type of communication may lead to more interruptions, so you need to be approachable and open to face-to-face conversation. However, these interruptions are worth it since you don’t have to deal with going back and spending more time clarifying an issue again. You can always block out time and find a quiet space in the office to be interruption free and stay focused once a week or for a few hours in the day if you do begin to get interrupted too frequently. In the end, you will save a lot of time and everything will be crystal clear.

Smooth and clear communication has to be a priority of the company and it has to be optimized to keep it going strong, no matter how quickly or big your business grows.

How To: Enable Zend Optimizer

The Zend Optimizer is a free application can boost the performance of your PHP sites. It works by going over your code and optimizing it for faster execution. This means your site can load faster for your users while also utilizing less of the server resources.

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Zend Optimizer can be enabled on servers with PHP 5.2 or higher (this includes most of our servers). To enable this feature, first add the two lines below to your .htaccess file in order to enable use of custom PHP settings. Be sure to replace [username] with your actual cPanel username.

suphp_configpath /home/[username]/public_html
AddHandler application/x-httpd-php52 .php

Next, you will need to enable the Zend Optimizer extension by adding the following line to your custom php.ini file (read http://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/website/general-server-setup/update-local-php-settings for more information on how to do this). This line can be added anywhere, though we recommend having it at the bottom of the file.

zend_extension=/opt/php52/lib/php/extensions/no-debug-non-zts-20060613/ZendOptimizer.so

If configured correctly, a phpinfo page will then display “with Zend Optimizer v3.3.9″ as one of the available Zend modules. More information about creating a phpinfo page is available at http://www.inmotionhosting.com/support/website/general-server-setup/create-phpinfo-page-to-see-php-settings.

Search Engine Optimization: “Allintitle” Searches

We love search engine optimization. Sometimes it can get a bad reputation because so many people see it as cheating the system. However, honest, content-based search engine optimization guarantees your website will get noticed by the audience best matched with your business. So, that’s what we focus on and what we advise, honest SEO.

Where do I start?

When building your site, SEO should be part of your focus through the whole process. Build your content around your audience. But, before you begin developing content do some keyword research so you know which words to focus your content on. Once you’ve created your list and selected the words that have a high number of searches and are directly relevant to your website, you need to determine the competition level on that keyword.

There are so many factors in search engine optimization; it can make it difficult for a smaller or newer website to compete with certain keywords. So, when selecting keywords for your website, be sure to consider the competitiveness level, meaning the number of other sites with similar keywords.

How do I determine the competition for my chosen keywords?

For the purpose of this article, we are focusing on Google and using its free webmaster tools to determine which keywords to focus your content on. While Google’s webmaster tools will have a description that displays the competition level, an “allintitle” search will give you a more specific explanation of the number of pages that are also optimized for that keyword.

What is an “allintitle” search?

When searching for a keyword via the “allintitle” command, you will be given the number of pages that have that exact keyword in their Title Tag. Because the title tag is an important factor in SEO, this is a great way to determine how many other sites are also using those keywords. The more sites that use those keywords, the more difficult it will be to have page one ranking. Not impossible, but difficult.

How do I perform an “allintitle” search?

Performing an “allintitle” search is very simple:

  1. Go to http://google.com
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  2. In the search field type “allintitle: your key words” and run the search. (For this example, our keywords are “chocolate cake” because who doesn’t like chocolate cake?)aitsearch
  3. Google will provide the number of websites with that phrase in the title tags. Chocolate cake has more than 1 million pages with it in the title tags!aitresults

*Note: In order to prevent bots from running automatic “allintitle” searches, Google may block you from running too many in quick succession. One way to avoid this temporary block is to take your time between each search. Take a moment to document the results before running the next phrase. If you find that you are blocked, move on to something else for a while and come back to the “allintitle” searches.

Ideally, you would work only with keywords that have less than one thousand results. That is what we would consider “non-competitive”. However, that is not always possible, especially as more and more people are taking to the internet. A general rule to determine the competition level can be seen below:

  • Under 1,000 – Non-competitive
  • 1,000 – 4,000 – Mildly competitive
  • 4,000 – 6,000 – Competitive
  • 6,000+ – Highly Competitive

It is not always possible to stay within those ranges, especially if your most relevant keywords are something as popular as chocolate cake. In those cases, use more than one keyword phrase as your focus and balance the competitive with something less competitive. Also, you can use more competitive keywords on your homepage because homepages are usually given more weight by bots.

Another point to keep in mind when doing this research is that each page on your site will have a different focus, so you will want to do this research for each page and come up with 3-5 keywords per page to focus your content around; the more content you have on your pages the more keywords you can use.

Take the results of your “allintitle” searches to create groups of words based on competitiveness and then pick words from each group that will give you a nice balance of non-competitive and highly competitive words.

SEO is an intricate process that takes time. You may find as you write your content that the keywords do not fit the purpose of your site and you will have to perform some more research. You may also find other tricks that help to make your site more successful. Remember, there is no one formula for SEO success. Keep your content strong and relevant and only use the advice that works for you and your site will become successful.

Chicken Gyro Sandwich

A Hidden Foodie Treasure

As a foodie, I’m always open to new suggestions and trying new things.  So it’s always great to get a suggestion that you would’ve never thought of to try, especially if it was one of those “whole in the wall” places that turn out amazing!

Just the other day, one of our Marketing team members was looking up new, healthy places to try out in our area (somewhere in between Westchester and Culver City), and came across Aliki’s Greek Taverna, which one of our other coworkers has tried in the past and confirmed that it was good.  I was really skeptical of trying this place because of it’s location, which is connected to a Super 8 Motel!  Not the classiest lol.

So when we got there, I went straight to the front of the restaurant to check out their health department rating, which I was glad to see that it was an A!  Phew!

Well, to my surprise, I was very pleased to have given this place a try.  It’s one of the best Greek restaurants I’ve ever tried!  I was given the recommendation of trying their Gyro Sandwich with a side of Greek Lemon Potatoes.  It was absolutely delicious!  I also had a try of one my coworker’s orders, which was the Moussaka.  It’s basically like a Greek lasagna, and it was AMAZING!

Well now onto our Friday’s lunch order.  I figured I’d try something a little different, so I opted for their Chicken Gyro instead.  This was actually quite a bit of a miss this time.  Definitely not as good as the regular Gyro made of beef and lamb.  Funny thing is that the majority of the IMH office ordered the same, so unfortunately we didn’t have the best experience with the quality of their food with the Chicken Gyro choice.

Chicken Gyro Sandwich

On the other hand, I also tried another dish that another coworker ordered, which was the Athenian Chicken.  Now this is the quality that I was expecting.  It was another amazing dish!

Well, since the majority of the office didn’t get the best item on the menu, we gave this place 4 stars.  I’m sure if we order the right dishes next time around, we’d give it a 5!  So, yes we WILL be trying this place again and give it another chance because the few people that ordered the regular Gyro Sandwich and other dished gave this place 5 stars.

So in conclusion, definitely check this place out and don’t be quick to judge a book by it’s cover.  We recommend the beef and lamp Gyro over the Chicken Gyro.  And I’m sure the majority of their other entrees are excellent!

Athenian Chicken

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Dropbox and Google Drive

How Dropbox is keeping my business.

I’ve had a free Dropbox account for a couple of years now. It’s a very handy way to keep files and information that you need frequently in the cloud. Very straightforward and easy to use. As the name implies, just drop some files into your Dropbox folder, and everything gets synced and stored in the cloud.

But a few weeks ago, a new player ventured into my world. Box.com, a direct competitor to Dropbox, offered me 5GB of free storage. Considering that Dropbox only gives you 2GB to start, I decided to switch my cloud storage provider. It was painless, seamless, and integrated within a matter of minutes with my Android phone. I started to upload some of the files that I had in Dropbox to Box. Consumer perception was that the two services were pretty much identical, but one offered more storage. So who would I go with? No brainer, right?

But what happened next really stuck in my head as an ingenious way to deal with new competitors and threats to your business model; offer a service that’s new and innovative. Now that is easier said than done, but I’m pretty positive that what Dropbox did was planned for months, if not years in advance.

Dropbox knew that competition was inevitable. So how do you keep the customers that you currently have with you? When I was offered the 5GB of storage, I switched without hesitation because there was no difference in the two services. A few days after I had moved everything to my Box account, Dropbox sent me an email letting me know that I could sync my photos on my phone automatically without having to manually upload them. Since pictures and videos are probably one of our most prized assets, backing them up is generally a good idea. Now it was going to do it for me automatically? Awesome. So I clicked through a few buttons, and voilà!…all of my photos on my phone were in the cloud. After I took a picture, it would automatically send the pic to my Dropbox folder. Ingenious. Once again it was painless, seamless, and integrated within minutes. However this time around, it left an impression in my brain. I didn’t switch back to Dropbox because it offered more storage space. It offered me a service that I wanted to use. This simple feature, which could have been available years ago, was strategically launched after Box.com came into the scene, so that it could ward off their threats.

Now with Google Drive, Google is planning to enter the cloud storage scene, where they’ll be offering 5GB of storage to start. (http://techland.time.com/2012/04/17/a-5gb-google-drive-next-week-almost-time-to-leave-dropbox/) But this time around, I won’t be switching unless Google offers some type of added value. Innovation has kept me a happy and now loyal fan of Dropbox.