Let’s Explain Web Hosting – Behind the Scenes [Video]

Ever get bored of the techie trying to explain to you what web-hosting is all about from his bedroom recorded Skype video? Ever get confused with all the funny terms they drop in – like ‘Shared Hosting’, ‘Dedicated Servers’, it’s usually jumbled up with more screenshots of jargon, added to a robotic voiceover – you must know the type of video I mean!

Well, we understand how you feel! So our team got together and decided to ‘splain it in low-tech everyday stuff, so that even YOU can explain it to your Mom, Dad, dog, and client.

Check out our video below:

This is the catch, it was just us folks in the office, trying to explain it without going near the technology we take for granted around us. Um, do you think I set up an uncool [unfair] challenge or not?

Here’s what Anie had to say:

I guess I’d like to say what a fun process it was and how it was a different kind of teamwork that we’ve never experienced before, and we get to share this with our customers in order to have a more fun and shared perspective of web hosting from our customer’s point of view.

Which is pretty much what I was hoping for.

Anie: From beginning to end it was fun: drawing, cutting, taping, setting up and rehearsing!

Jason: I’m looking forward to using it to explain web hosting, VPS, and what I do to my friends, colleagues and affiliates. It was always a sticking point if you try to go there.

Alex: I enjoyed recording the sound with everyday office noises – even more so that I managed to get one of my own songs into the background party bit!

And the point I was making? Well, wouldn’t it be cool if as a new start-up or web-business, you could put together a simple video like this to explain your business? I’ve proven that we don’t have to have fantastic performance skills to produce something that could be meaningful to our audience. I hope you share the video as inspiration for your own office/business videos!

web hosting for beginners

lets explain web hosting

Visual.ly’s New Infographic Tool

It’s no secret that infographics have become a big craze for the past couple of years. More and more people want visual presentations of complex information that are enjoyable and easy to digest.

To accommodate this thirst for fun information, Visual.ly has developed a new platform that allows you to effortlessly create your own data visualizations. You simply browse a gallery of templates and themes, and select one to customize and tweak. Not only is it designed for you, but it draws in data such as demographics and statistics for you from Facebook and Twitter too.

Because infographics are becoming more valuable and desirable, prices for them are going up as well, so this tool ends up being a great alternative for those who need a quick and easy graphic. It’s a free service to everyone, and companies can even connect with any of the designers who contribute to the website. Premium accounts, which they charge for, are also available for those who wish to have something a lot more specific designed for them. They simply reach out to one of the designers to provide that special attention.

Visual.ly will be adding more datasets to pull from in the future, so there will be no need to only rely on Facebook and Twitter. There will also be a lot more modifiable themes and graphics to choose from in the next few months.

SMO Periodic Table and App Map

Web hosting is our specialty, but we also like to share useful information with our community of web business owners that want to optimize their promotion and web traffic acquired from Social Media.

We have selected some of the top tools for Social Media Optimization [SMO] and configured these apps into 2 visual solutions for describing or selecting them. The SMO Periodic Table and App Map can be easily printed or posted on your website using the provided HTML code.

SMO Periodic Table
Click to Zoom

Right Click to see full image

Prints on:

  • Letter (8.5″ x 11″)
  • US B (11″ x 17″)
  • Super B (13″ x 19″)


The 20-Minutes or Less SEO Audit Checklist

Sniffing out most of a website’s basic SEO (search engine optimization) problems can be done in 20 minutes or less if you know what you’re doing.  In this guide, I’ll provide you the essentials to conducting an effective and fast SEO audit.  Take a dive into this guide’s information. Plenty of notes couldn’t hurt either.

20 Minutes or Less SEO Audit Infographic

Prints on the following paper sizes:

  • Letter (8.5″ x 11″)
  • US B (11″ x 17″)
  • Super B (13″ x 19″)

Note:  See The 20-Minutes or Less SEO Audit Infographic to see the full infographic.  Btw, the tutorial was originally posted on SearchEngineJournal, but this post has graphics that better visually explain the process.

This guide is broken down into the following components for your reading convenience:

  • Adjusting Your Browser
  • Evaluating Your Homepage
  • Testing The Website’s Global Navigation
  • Reviewing Your Website’s Category Pages and Subcategory Pages
  • Checking For Optimized Content
  • Analyzing Your Website’s Off-Page SEO

Adjusting Your Browser
In order to perform a high-powered SEO audit in 20 minutes, you’ll first need to adjust your web browser so that you can determine if the website has crawling errors..

First, disable JavaScript and cookies via your browser’s option settings as shown below in Firefox.

By disabling JavaScript on your website, you’re essentially viewing your website the way a search engine would see it.  If any JavaScript or Ajax-based elements of your website are missing while viewing in this mode, it’s very likely that your website may be having crawling issues.

Many web pages prohibit access to online users if cookies are disabled.  Disabling cookies on your browser helps you see which pages you can and cannot access.  Browse through your website and remember to note web pages that have restricted access.

Nearly 70% of all search engine queries occur on Google so it makes sense to see your website from its point of view.  You can do this by installing User Agent Switcher for Firefox and changing your user agent to GoogleBot 2.1.  Give your website another run-through with Googlebot as your user agent and see if your website displays content other than the content shown as a default user agent.  If so, your website might be running the risk of cloaking and could get penalized and even banned.

Evaluating Your Homepage
As the saying goes, “first impressions are lasting impressions.”  The same can also be said about an online users visiting a website for the first time.  This is why an evaluation of your homepage is absolutely critical.

Start by getting into the mindset of a casual browser.  Scroll down your homepage and see what feelings/thoughts occur as you view the page.  Does the homepage feel trustworthy?  Would you refer this website to a friend or relative?  Would you feel comfortable providing this website your credit card information?  These are all very important questions to ask yourself when assessing the homepage and website overall.

In fact, Google asked these questions along with some others before releasing their highly publicized Panda update earlier this year.  Google’s Panda update was aimed at improving the quality of search results for their users.  As a result, your main concern as an SEO should be the user experience that your homepage provides its users.

As mentioned earlier, check your homepage with JavaScript on and off and take note of any missing elements (if there are any).  Obviously, a good user experience on the homepage, which search engines can tell from metrics such as bounce rate, time spent on a page, page load time, social shares, etc., is usually rewarded with higher rankings in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Lastly, and probably most importantly, you will want to make sure there aren’t any duplicate or canonical issues associated with the homepage.  Check to see that your website doesn’t have the following issues:

  • A www (www.yoursite.com) version and non-www (http://yoursite.com) version of your homepage/website.
  • The homepage (primary) URL doesn’t redirect to another website or irrelevant page?
  • Is your homepage title tag duplicated on another web page?  Can your title tag be improved to be more user-friendly?

Testing The Website’s Global Navigation
As you can tell from the screen shot of InMotion Hosting’s page, the global navigation is the set of links that can be accessed from any page on a website. Your global navigation also distributes your SEO “link juice,”  the power that the search engine’s assign your website, across the various pages of your website.  Therefore, you will want to check that everything is intact with it.

Main Category -- Global Navigation

Again, start by disabling JavaScript before accessing your website.  Check to see if all your global navigation links are working properly and that they are for the most part all HTML links, as these are the type of links that are most effective in passing link juice.

Now, enable your JavaScript and see if your JavaScript and Ajax-based navigation work as well.  Note any errors you notice with your global navigation at first glance, but for the sake of time you don’t have to review every single link in your global navigation.

Reviewing Your Website’s Category Pages & Subcategory Pages
There should be rhyme and reason to each page that is created on a website.  As an SEO, your primary goal is to make sure that each page has enough (good) content to make it a worthy link in and of itself.  Ask yourself if people would even search for this content.  If so, you probably have enough justification to create a category page or subcategory page.

Below is a screen shot of our Custom Web Design page (main category) and its subcategory pages (Overview, Business Websites, Ecommerce, SEO, etc.).

The Custom Web Design page contains content that serves as an overview of the main category.  While some details are mentioned for the subcategory pages, most of the in-depth details are placed in the content for each of the subcategory pages.  This not only gave meaning and reason for the creation of that page, it also allowed for maximum ranking in the search results.   For instance, if you search “inmotion hosting seo” in Google, you will notice that our SEO subcategory page ranks higher for that query than our Custom Web Design page.

After assessing your content, determine if your design layout is conducive to readability.  Are there eye sores obstructing your ability to read the content?  Are there too many chunky blocks of texts?  Are the text columns so wide that it’s hard for your eyes to read long the lines?

Lastly for this section, you’ll want to check that you’re properly linking to your other main and subcategory pages.  Be conscience of your website’s link juice and avoid excessive hyperlinking to meaningless pages.  Also make sure that you’re utilizing an anchor-text nomenclature that provides for optimal click- through rates and search engine indexation.

Checking For Optimized Content
Now that you know how to take a high-level assessment of your website’s various pages, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty elements of your content.  Check to see if the following elements are using SEO best practices:

  • Title Tags
    • No more than 65 to 75 characters
    • Proper and consistent formatting
    • Are not duplicated
    • Are keyword-specific
    • Easy to read and understand from the SERPs
  • Meta Descriptions
    • Though they are not used as signals for ranking higher in the SERPs, a well-written meta description improves click-through rates, which is a signal for ranking higher.
  • URLs
    • Contain keywords specific to web page
    • Short, human-eye friendly
    • Easy to remember
  • Alt Tags for Images
    • Contain keywords
    • Describe the image
    • Read properly in a screen reader; this improves web accessibility for the visually impaired
  • H1 & H2 Tags
    • Proper but not abusive use of keywords in header tags
    • Separates large amounts of content on a web page
  • Limited Use of Flash & JavaScript
    • Content created in these languages still lead to crawling and indexing issues with the search engines

These HTML elements may seem small and meaningless to the average online user, but any seasoned SEO wouldn’t disregard the importance of them.  There are enough studies done by leading SEO experts out there that suggest that there’s a high correlation with optimizing them and higher rankings in SERPs.  Take advantage of these on-page SEO weaknesses as they are the easiest and least time-consuming to fix.

Analyzing Your Website’s Off-Page SEO
No audit is complete until you have analyzed its off-page optimizations.  I strongly recommend subscribing to SEOmoz if you haven’t already for their very comprehensive SEO software package.  As a premium account holder, you are granted access to one of my favorite off-page analysis tools, Open Site Explorer.  With Open Site Explorer, you just have to enter the URL that you want analyzed, and it will access SEOmoz’s index of the Web to gather data about your website.

Here is the information that you’ll want to gather for your website:

  • Page Authority and Domain Authority
  • Total Links and Link Root Domains (the number of different domains linking to your website)
  • Anchor text distribution of inbound links
  • Facebook Likes/Shares and Tweets

Now you’ll want to compare this information to competitors that are experiencing better success in the SERPS.  You might discover that there are some crucial categories in your off-page SEO that your competitors are simply running laps around you in.

Next, you’ll also want want to determine how well your overall website has been indexed by the search engines.  For a relatively brand new website, I like to throw in a few competitive keywords in SEOBook’s Rank Tracker and see which URLs are ranking in the three major search engines (as shown below).

If your website doesn’t show up at all in the results on Rank Checker, it can be due to a few things:

  1. Your website simply does not rank for the keyword.
  2. You have not submitted a sitemap of your website to the search engines.
  3. Your web page(s) has been de-indexed from the search engines.
  4. Your website is banned from the search engine indices.

The latter two issues are more serious and require attention.  For a deindexed page, check the source to make sure that a developer hasn’t accidentally inserted a “noindex” tag or prevented the page from being crawled/indexed by the search engines with overzealous editing of the robot.txt file.  If you’re not sure whether or not your website was banned by the search engines, it’s as easy as doing a branded search query, such as “Example.com” in the Google search bar.  If you’re not appearing in the search results then you’ve most likely done something to anger the Search Engine gods.  Therefore, you might have to resubmit a re-inclusion request to Google.

Finally as you wrap up this last step, you’ll want to make sure that your website doesn’t have any duplicate content.  Simply copy and paste content from your website into a search bar and place quotation marks around it.  Click submit and see if that content appears elsewhere on your website or on the Web.  You can also check Google Webmaster Tool to see if there are any reported duplicate title tags issues.  Duplicate content is an important issue to check for during your SEO audit.  Any pages with duplicate content or title tags have the potential of competing with each other in the SERPs.  In these instances, you leave it to the search engines to make the decision on which page is the correct one.  Many times, unfortunately, the search engine may select the wrong one which can have outdated or incorrect information.  This is not a good situation for your website’s SEO and user experience.

Now That You’ve Finished Each Component Of This Guide…
You’ll want to review all notes taken during your SEO audit.  Create a checklist and prioritize your action items.  I always recommend fixing the low-energy/high-yielding items first before working on more complicated and time-consuming issues.  Lastly, since this is a lengthy and information-packed article, below is a trusty infographic that you can use for quick referencing.  And as an added bonus, you can conveniently copy the HTML code snippet below and paste it onto your website for easy blog posting.