Tag: Site

Does The Site System Really Work?

When it comes to making money online, there are so many internet marketing programs out there it can make your head spin. You just don’t know which business to trust or if they are worth your time. Authority Hacker is yet another marketing site that claims to help people build a successful online business. So you’re probably wondering whether they’re full of crap, and that’s why you’re going through several Authority Hacker reviews

Well you’re right to be skeptical! So with that in mind we pulled back the curtains in this Authority Hacker review to reveal some of the shocking complaints you may not know about.

Don’t you dare buy the Authority Site System until you’ve gone through this full review. You’ve been warned.

What Is The Authority Site System?

Authority Hacker has a product known as the authority site system. It is a video and text-based internet marketing training program created by Affiliate Marketing experts Gael Breton and Mark Webster in 2014 to teach people how to build authority websites that make you passive income. 

Mark and Gael basically build and run a portfolio of authority sites, many of which they reveal publicly. Gael creates and curates content for both the blog and training courses while Mark Webster handles the science and tech aspect of the system. 

Through their site AuthorityHacker.com, they share all they’ve learned since they started making money online. They basically remove the fluff by creating useful, actionable strategies, tools and training to educate users on how to create successful online marketing & affiliate marketing authority websites. 

How Does The Authority Site System Work?

Basically Gael and Webster are teaching you how to build a website that is an authority on a certain topic. Where most websites may cover various topics like amazon and make money selling things directly. Following the Authority Site System you’ll be learning to create a authority site around a specific passion or problem. Then you’re taught to monetize this authority site in various ways including:

  • Selling ads
  • Promoting other people’s products using affiliate marketing.
  • Selling your own product or service.

The founders used their background, knowledge and experience to create a complete, step-by-step authority site system to help people create and grow a profitable business online using an authority site. 

Best of all you don’t need prior experience and if you do you will still learn new things.

The Authority Site System Features

At the time of writing, here are the most outstanding features of the Authority Site System

120+ Video Lessons – The Authority site system includes hundreds of easy-to-follow video lessons that explain the different aspects of developing your authority site and making money with it. The videos will assist you bypass common roadblocks with their in-depth, over the shoulder tutorials and demonstrations. They continuously update the videos, so you’re never out of the loop or have out of date information.

Real Life Case Study – If you’re finding it hard to take their word for it, they literally walk you through an authority site they build up from the ground up so you can see the training in action and not just theory. You can go here and check out the current case study website. 

Copy/Paste-Ready Templates – These templates are designed to help you speed up the learning curve and applying the course. They assist you come up with content for your website that drives traffic and makes you money. They’re in line with best white-hat SEO marketing practices that should help your website content rank well on the search engine. 

Site Building To-Do List – There’s a lot to get done while building a business website and usually this can be overwhelming for people. Fortunately, the authority hacker site system provides you a whole to do list project management system so you can organize all your website building activities, set realistic goals and eventually make it easier to follow through on your tasks. 

Active Facebook Community – The authority hacker site system is backed by an active user community on Facebook, that’s always buzzing with activity. This makes it easier to get help, brainstorm and consult with other members instead of relying on Authority Hacker’s customer service alone. 

Q&A Forums – The Q&A forum is designed to help new people with quick fire questions and immediate answers. These forums are ongoing as we speak and add to the “community based” aspect of Affiliate Hacker. 

What Is Inside The Authority Site System Members Area?

If you’re like me, you want to know what’s actually in the members’ area of a training area before you join to determine if it will cover everything you think it will. Well, here’s the breakdown of what you can expect to find inside the authority site system members area:

Introduction: The Authority Site System Model

The Authority Site System spreads across six stages of creating an online business. One of the founders, Gael, brushes through the steps involved in setting up your authority site, highlights on how to make money with it and of course the challenges you may run into while getting started. 

Niche Selection

This 17 lesson module takes you through how to select a successful niche, making up the longest and most involved class in the course for good reason. If you fail to pick the right topic aka niche you won’t get traffic or make money. 

Clearly this is why Gael puts so much time in this section. By the end of this module, you’ll know how to select the right niche for you and eventually make the site’s skeleton. Your site should be ready to go live at this point. 

Site Setup 

This section covers the technical aspects of your website such as buying a domain name, setting up WordPress, adding plugins, setting up pages, adding analytics, etc. Don’t worry if some of these terms don’t make sense to you yet. The training will walk you through it step by step. 

Content Creation

This is one of the most important aspects of the training since the content you write will drive the traffic and money you make. First it starts with keyword research. Building content without doing keyword research is like building a house without a foundation. So keyword research is covered. So now what do you do with that keyword research? Well, fortunately you don’t have to guess because they provide you content templates that you can easily fill out to come up with content quickly. And if you really hate the idea of writing content they will even show you how to outsource the content writing. But you’re still expected to do the keyword research though. Furthermore, this is the section where you learn how to make your business website profitable with affiliate marketing.

Link Building

The more sites that link to your website, the more popular Google thinks you are. So link building can help you rank faster and higher in Google. So in this link building module, they teach you how to do link building effectively and in a way that won’t get you banned by Google. Trust me I’ve done link building incorrectly and my site tanked. So this section would have been a big help to me back in the days.

How Much Does The Authority Site System Cost?

At the time of writing, the Authority Hacker Site System will cost you a one-off fee of $997. The best part is, you can try the program 100% RISK-FREE. That means you get a front-row seat to the whole course for 30 days. If you don’t like what you see, they’ll give you a full refund, no questions asked

Are There Any Authority Hacker Up-Sells?

The answer is yes and no. Unlike many warrior plus based internet marketing products, you don’t get immediately bombarded with up-sells by Authority Hacker when you join. They do have other courses that compliment the site system. But you don’t hear about them until months later which by the point you had hopefully built up your business.

And now you’re looking to scale up. So the up-sells that are made available later are more advanced courses designed for people that have reached a ceiling in their affiliate marketing business and want to increase their site income. Think of it the following way; the Authority Site System is like your high school education. Then Authority Hacker Pro is like going to college. And the Authority Hacker Pro Platinum is like going to graduate school. Each Authority Site System up-sell is designed to work off each other. You can join one or all of them and still be successful!

The Authority Hacker Site System Coupons & Promo Codes

If you don’t want to pay full price for the authority site system, you don’t have to. You can go through their free webinar and get a discount after watching it. Watching the webinar brings down the price to $599. 

Authority Site System Refund Policy

Although Gael and Mark don’t have a free trial like a Wealthy Affiliate. They do have a 30-day “no questions asked” money-back policy. So you eliminate any risk if you decide this business is not right for you.

How Much Can I Make With The Authority Hacker Site System?

There’s absolutely no way of telling how much money you can make applying what the Authority Site System teaches you. The founders Gael & Mark and have made well over $1.5 million at this time, and you can either make more or less depending on how you apply the training that you will get. 

Some members have made nothing others have made well over seven figures based on the testimonials we came across.  

Of course, we have no way of verifying that it is indeed what they make, but based on what I know, these claims seem realistically achievable. But keep in mind that Authority Hacker is a training system, so how much you stand to make is highly subjective, as there’s no cap to the monetary potential of your website.

Case in point – Robert Botha went from being an English teacher to a six figure annual payday.


Then you have Jiangpeng Zhang, a former 9-5er who is making well over $400,000 a year from his authority site. 

What We Like About The Authority Hacker Site System

Satisfaction Guarantee – It may cost close to a grand at first, but if you don’t like the system you can simply email them and you’ll get your money back in no time. That means zero risks on your end and you only pay if you’re convinced that the program is worth the money. 

Simple To Follow Modules – The modules may have 60+ steps and may probably be more by the time you sign up. But they are really simple to follow. Gael Breton and Mark Webster do a remarkable job at explaining the steps and procedures, besides the benefits you get from watching the visual demonstrations. You also get a text summary of the contents of the video below each video. 

Useful Features – They provide a case study of a real site they built using the very same system to get over 500,000 daily users. This way you can see the system working in practice and not just theory. They also have an active online community, recommendations for some of the best research tools in the industry and content creation templates. All of this pretty much makes it easier for you to achieve success.

Free Webinar – Although they may not have a trial period, they do provide a free very in depth webinar that walks you through the overall concept of the business you will learn. 

Profitable Affiliate Program – Gael and Mark teach affiliate marketing as a way to make your business website profitable. And not surprisingly they have an affiliate marketing program you can join. You can join their affiliate program and promote their Authority Hacker courses to people who may want to join and create their own business.

Authority Hacker Complaints

In this review, if I told you that this program is flawless I would be lying, as no company is perfect. So let’s dive into some of these complaints. You can then decide for yourself if they are deal breakers or not. 

High Ticket Price Point

Although It’s still cheaper than starting an offline business, the initial one time investment of $997 for the authority site system may be out of the reach of some people. But because you are reading this review, you can get a discount if you watch their Free Training Webinar here which will give you this training for $599. But it’s still pretty expensive for some people even if it’s worth every penny. 

Other Sites and Investments Required

Unlike sites like Wealthy Affiliate where you can build your authority site and get a domain right from WA, with the authority site system you will need to use other sites and services to build your site and business. Fortunately Authority Hacker recommends services that are quality products and affordable. And they walk you through with video and text how to use these other services. So it’s easy. But regardless it’s an additional expense outside of your authority site system investment. 

Patience is Required

Because you’re building an authority site that can earn you up to a full-time income passively, you will need to invest a lot of time upfront to make it happen. Fortunately, the Authority System lays out exactly what you should be doing and when. So you have total control over when you do this. But this business isn’t for someone looking to making income next month. It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to see results. But the time you invest now would later pay you way more than what you may make with survey sites and other little work at home opportunities.

Authority Hacker Site System Alternatives

Some of these complaints may bother you and that’s totally understandable. So to make this review complete, let’s compare Authority Hacker with other marketing course. As always, we’ll leave the final decision to you. 

Authority Hacker vs Wealthy Affiliate

While you have to pay a membership fee to get started with the Authority Hacker’s system, with Wealthy Affiliate you can get started for FREE and later decide whether you would want to join the paid premium plan of their marketing course. 

Another huge difference between the two marketing course is that Wealthy Affiliate costs $49 a month to join. This could be even cheaper if you go in for the entire year which costs $359. The only other expense is the $13 domain you should get for your website. But the $359 per year covers your hosting, website building tools, keyword research tools, live 24/7 help and ongoing new training classes that occur every week. 

Authority Hacker Site System will still require you to invest a significant amount of money in other tools to get your authority site started after you join. But to be fair some of those tools you can cancel later. So in the long-run, the Authority Hacker site system might be cheaper. Because the sign-up fee is one-off versus WA’s recurring membership fee. You can read our complete Wealthy Affiliate review here

Authority Hacker also places a big emphasis on link building. I’ve personally had positive and negative experiences with link building. And I have found link building isn’t necessary to create a successful authority site. But many would argue link building is still a prominent factor in ranking authority sites. So the Authority Hacker site system covers aspects of link building that Wealthy Affiliate will ignore.

Ultimately both programs are high quality. They will teach you how to build a high quality authority websites and get started with affiliate marketing & internet marketing. They both have video lessons. They just go about building an authority site in different ways. People that are more technically savvy may feel limited by Wealthy Affiliate’s simple in-house approach to building and managing your website. They take away a lot of the technical aspects from building and marketing your business. Whereas Authority Hacker focuses on the use of tools that may be a little more intimidating to newbies. But they have such great step by step instructions most newbies should be able to manage.

Authority Hacker vs Legendary Marketer

Legendary Marketer tends to focus on teaching online marketing and various ways to make money online not primarily affiliate marketing like Authority hacker. Furthermore, Legendary Marketer places more emphasis on teaching its members paid traffic methods using landing pages and not blogging as Authority Hacker does. Paid traffic marketing techniques can get you results faster. But you could lose a lot of money while you learn the marketing ins and outs. So if you’re on a budget this is probably not the best way to start a new internet business.

The two companies also differ greatly in terms of their affiliate program, Legendary Marketer provides various high ticket product options that you can promote and earn very high commissions on. Whereas Authority Hacker only has a few products and the commission rates aren’t as high as Legendary Marketer. 

Legendary marketer does offer lower price point products that people can try before upgrading to higher priced training. Whereas Authority Hacker provides a free webinar that is informative but only provides high level information on building an authority site. 

Authority Hacker gives to an all-access ticket to all their resources. But Legendary Marketer lets you buy what you need after you pay the initial recurring membership fee. 

That’s some of the major differences between Legendary Marketer vs The Authority Hacker Site System. You can read the full Legendary Marketer Review here

Authority Hacker FAQS

Hopefully in this review we have answered most of your questions about the Authority Hacker site training system. Mark Webster and Gael Breton have definitely made it easy to get started with creating authority sites that can be monetized with affiliate marketing. But just in case we failed to answer your Authority Hacker questions, we’ve listed some down below.

What is Authority Hacker Pro?

Mark Webster and Gael Breton have also created Authority Hacker pro. This training is really designed for people that already have successful authority sites that make money but want to build up your income. Whereas the Authority Hacker Site System is designed to help newbies to get started building authority sites. That said, Authority Hacker Pro also comes with free access to The Authority Hacker Site System as well. 

What is an Authority Site?

According to Gael & Mark Authority Hacker podcast, An authority site is content-driven website that is a respected and trusted source of information. It is a larger website that delivers real value through its excellent editorial standards. This makes people trust the advice and recommendations from this authority site. An authority site can be monetized in different ways such as affiliate marketing or ad revenue.

How do you build an authority Site?

The Authority Hacker system obviously helps you get started with building an authority site. However if you like the idea of building your business on your own, here are the steps to get your authority site online. First you need to build a website using a website builder like WordPress. Then you need to buy a domain for your authority site. The next thing you need to do is write quality content that will help people to visit your authority website. Then you need to use SEO to drive people to your business website. The way to make your website profitable is to add affiliate marketing links to your authority site.

Who is The Authority Site System NOT for?

Gael & Mark have built one of the most amazing online business and marketing courses I’ve seen on the internet. But the reality is that the Authority Hacker Site system is not for everyone. Some people have the notion that making money online should be fast and easy. If you’re one of those people then you should avoid this system and other courses like this. It takes a lot of time to get your business profitable.

So I wouldn’t recommend the authority hacker site system to people that need be profitable right away. It takes time to build a successful internet marketing business. And you need to be patient enough to learn all the internet marketing and business principles taught by Gael & Mark.

What is the best affiliate marketing course?

Honestly this is totally subjective and it’s based on your needs and price point. Some would argue that the Authority Site System is the best affiliate marketing course. Others might say that Wealthy Affiliate is the best affiliate marketing course. I would say that none of these assertions would be wrong. I like both of them. If you’re less technically sounds then Wealthy Affiliate is the best affiliate marketing course for you. But if you’re comfortable with technology and want more control over it with your online business than the Authority Site System may be the best course for you.

Does The Authority Hacker Site System Work?

The Authority Hacker System does work for various people, and Gael and Mark have documented proof of a working, profit-yielding authority site they built from scratch. I also know the authority hacker system works because I use many of the same principles on my authority site. So I’m basing this review on some real world experience. The fact you’re here reading this review is not by accident. It’s because I apply the same principles they teach here in this review. 

Ultimately the authority hacker course is fairly easy to follow, and the demo videos are precise and straight to the point. Gael and Mark are not selling air, they’re teaching real skills that will work in time to help you build a successful authority site of your own. 

The initial price of the Authority Hacker system may turn some people off. But when you factor the cost of an offline business vs an online business this is significantly cheaper. It’s definitely cheaper than a brick and mortar based business. Furthermore, you can get a discount on the Authority Hacker system if you watch their Free Training Webinar here which will give you this training for $599. Either way I think the price that Gael and Mark are charging is totally fair given what you learn and how much you can make.

It also worth noting you can grow your business to the next level by later investing in the authority hacker pro optional course. Unfortunately authority hacker pros is not always available. But eventually you will reach a point in your authority site where you have taken it as far as you can. The authority hacker pro course can then take you to the next level. So although it’s not a requirement, I would recommend investing the authority hacker pro course option later if you can afford it.

Well, that’s my Authority Hacker Site System Review. Hopefully you found value in it and will invest in the authority hacker course. It’s definitely been one of the best courses I’ve used. It will definitely help you make money online in time. And it fills in the gaps I’ve seen in other programs. So I can totally understand why it may cost more. 

So, how good is Authority Hacker system compared to other online marketing & affiliate marketing courses you know of? Would you join? Let us know in the comments section below. If you have more questions about the program, feel free to sign up for their free webinar and ask your questions there. 

Until next time

Eddy “With a Y”


Get More Mileage From Your Site With These 6 WordPress Popup Plugins

Using a WordPress Popup plugin is a fast and easy way to get more value out of your site. Show visitors timely offers, divert them towards key pages – they can boost conversions considerably. Not every popup maker is equal, though, and how you design and place them is equally important.

This guide will take you through some of the best WordPress Popup plugins in the market and how you can use them effectively. Stop losing potential subscribers or customers today with these ultra-handy tools.

6 Best WordPress Popup Plugins

Before you dive into this list, I’d like to take a moment as a reminder. While popups can be very useful, they can also be a double-edged sword. This fact is especially true if you’re new to creating and using them. 

Make sure to check out the tips section once you’ve gone through the options on this list!

1. Popup Maker

Popup Maker - WordPress Popup plugin that is in use on over 600,000 sites at last count.

Website: https://wppopupmaker.com/

Starting Price: Free – $87/year

Popup Maker was the first WordPress popup plugin I came across when I was searching for one. It shows up high on the WordPress plugin repository and is in use on over 600,000 sites at last count.

This plugin allows you to build almost any kind of popup imaginable visually. While that may be expected of a top plugin, Popup Maker also features an incredible number of ways you can have popups triggered by visitors.

Imagine having a bunch of popups that behave following what individual visitors do. Trigger a popup just before they leave, or open a timely offer if they happen to show interest in a particular product.

It’s so easy to use that you can build and deploy a basic popup in a matter of minutes. The free version is suitable for most regular sites, but paid plans have eCommerce support features. 

Top Features

  • Visual popup editor
  • Conditional targeting
  • Popup analytics
  • Third-party form integration
  • Built-in subscriber form

2. OptinMonster

OptinMonster - Popular WordPress popup that works well with several third party services and applications

Website: https://optinmonster.com/

Starting Price: $9/month onward

OptinMonster bills itself as a lead generation tool rather than a popup maker. In reality, though, it is just a popup maker, albeit one with relatively comprehensive features. The plugin feels like it’s almost an entire website builder, thanks to a powerful visual editor.

Part of the reason why OptinMonster markets itself for lead generation is that it envisions how popups are used. Instead of focusing on selling the popup feature, the plugin encourages visitors to create comprehensive popup campaigns to boost lead generation.

It also works with several third-party services and applications such as MailChimp, Salesforce, Facebook, and more. While running your campaigns, you also get intelligent reports that can recommend further actions to improve performance.

The only downside of OptinMonster is the lack of a free version (or even a trial period). This pricing model makes it suitable for commercial use but not very practical if you’re running a personal site or blog.

Top Features

  • Powerful visual editor
  • Build multiple campaign types
  • Multi-event triggering
  • Actionable insights
  • Geo-location targeting

3. Popup Builder

Website: https://popup-builder.com/

Starting Price: Free – from $5 for extra extension

Popup Builder may not rank as highly as some other popup makers, but it does have a sizeable audience. The thing I like most about this popup maker is how simple it is to use. Big and clearly labeled icons segregate the different types of popups which can be created.

This style works in more ways than just simplicity, though. The basic plugin offers what most typical users will need – popups based on image, HTML, or for subscriptions and the like. If you need more advanced tactics, you’ll need to choose an extension.

While this may drive up costs for those seeking an ‘all-in-one’ solution, the extension system is more beneficial than you might think. It helps keep the plugin more streamlined and creates less impact on your hosting resources.

The free version comes with only the basics, and each extra extension you choose comes at a small price. Of course, if you want everything, they have packages that bundle in all extensions as well.

Top Features

  • Modular feature design 
  • Works with PDF forms
  • Animation effects
  • Behavioral targeting
  • Popup themes

4. WP Popups

WP Popups - WordPress popup plugin for real newbies

Website: https://wppopups.com/

Starting Price: Free – $35/year

WP Popups is a pretty good place to start if you haven’t used a popup maker before. It skips past the lead generation marketing speak and jumps into what users want – to quickly get started building a popup.

While not unique, the visual interface is accommodating and has the added advantage of letting you start with templates. The system is convenient for real newbies and can serve as a guidance system.

Beyond that, WP Popups keeps on giving thanks to advanced features that rival almost any popup marker in the market. This comparison is especially prevalent in the area of display rules that allow practically any conditions you need to be set.

Honestly, I find that the way WP Popups is built keeps well to the freemium pricing model. The free version is wholly usable, while paid versions add functionality for those who have mastered the basics.

Top Features

  • Visual editor with templates
  • Highly defined rule system
  • Lots of animations
  • Integrates with email marketing apps
  • A/B testing and analytics 

5. Sumo

Sumo - Popup maker that comes from creators of AppSumo

Website: https://sumo.com/

Starting Price: Free – $39/month

Sumo comes from the creators of AppSumo and takes the form of a suite of tools. While it doesn’t offer pervasive popup functionality, Sumo does help with an essential one for some – list building.

This Sumo feature is dedicated to helping you build your subscriber list and offers a few means to do so. You can either choose to have it done in-line or as a popup. The latter will behave as you configure it to, either on a timer basis, when users try to close your page, or when an event is triggered.

There are also many other rules you can set to govern the way your Sumo list-builder works. For example, implementing controls for mobile devices of varying sizes and the like. Purists may object to Sumo trying to do too many other things in one package.

While there is a free version of Sumo that comes with its branding, you will need to subscribe to a paid plan to remove limitations and branding. Oh yes – free users will still have to sign up for a Sumo account as well.

Top Features

  • Multi-function plugin
  • Connect eCommerce stores
  • Statistics and analytics 
  • Social media sharing

6. ConvertPlus

ConvertPlus - Popup plugin with a crazy amount of features.

Website: https://www.convertplug.com/

Starting Price: Free – $23

Even by the standards of popup plugins today ConvertPlus comes with a crazy amount of features. It seems determined to do everything it can to cover the entire field of lead generation rather than just offer popups.

The plugin offers detailed control over almost everything from background settings to animations and size. If the design options in place aren;’t enough, go ahead and add your own custom CSS to it as well.

Of course, there are also the trigger rules you can set, including a rather unique two-step popup to push your conversion rates even further. YOu can even create triggers on scroll activities!

Despite the name, ConvertPlus isn’t the paid version of it and offers some decent levels of capability. To get the whole shebang, you will need to sign up for ConvertPlus Pro – which sounds a little strange.

Top Features

  • Launch after content
  • Referrer detection
  • Visitor recognition (old vs new)
  • Cookie control

Tips for Using WordPress Popups Effectively

Nothing is more annoying than a website bombarding you with popups constantly. Using a popup maker to create a popup is easy, but working with them to create the results you want may not be.

Here are some areas to consider when using popups with your WordPress site;

Time Popups Carefully

When someone lands on your site, they are likely to have come as part of their search for something. Throwing a popup in their face is both rude and highly annoying. Chances are they’ll simply ignore the popup or even close the browser tab entirely.

Design Effectively

The art of design is more than building something that looks pretty. Popups are distracting for users, and you need to capture their attention quickly. You need a careful blend of colors and text that maximizes impact and effect.

Don’t Be Shy With Your CTA

I’ve seen users that place their Call-to-Action (CTA) so unobtrusively that it’s virtually invisible. Your popup is there for effect, so be bold and make your CTA prominent in color, font, size, and placement.

Follow Guidelines

Aside from what works or doesn’t with visitors, there are serious rules you need to consider. For example, Google will penalize sites using overly intrusive popups (especially for mobile devices). Make sure you’re aware of these potential pitfalls.

Following these guidelines can be difficult, especially since competition is so high nowadays. However, I’m sure you’ve felt the immense frustration at continually being bombarded by popups on every site you visit – show some consideration for your site visitors as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a popup for WordPress?

Using a plugin is the fastest and easiest way of creating a popup for your WordPress site. There are many to choose from and lots of free options that work well.

Do popup ads work?

Yes, but only if you design and use them carefully. Popups have a bad reputation due to many sites implementing them poorly and affecting user experience negatively.

How do I install a popup plugin?

Finding one from your WordPress plugin dashboard is the simplest way. You can search, install, activate, and configure it from one convenient location.

How do I add popups to WordPress without plugins?

Aside from plugins, you can also code popups manually or use third-party popup services like Popupsmart

What is a lightbox in WordPress?

Lightboxes are popup windows that display an image while dimming the rest of the page behind it.


I’ve tried a couple of the popups on this list, but my favorite is Popup Maker. For me, it was the perfect blend of simplicity and features. Yet all of us have diverse needs, so choose the WordPress popup maker that fits your requirements. Remember, plugins consume resources, so having one that does more than you need isn’t always the ideal solution.

Read more:

My siteground site came with a domainkey in the DNS but I have a google key, what should i do?

Check out this SS: https://ibb.co/ZVfmZQZ

I recently moved my site to siteground and they have stuff in the DNS that I’ve never seen before.

I’m trying to set up my google DKIM and SPF records because we use Gsuite business for our emails and im not sure what to do.

Here is what I planned on doing, let me know if it is correct.

#1. delete that second entry — v=DKIM1: o=~

#2. on the 3rd entry delete that and replace it with v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all

is that the correct way to handle this?

re: Blogging — Is anyone using Host Armada for their site? How is it?

I was planning to avail of SiteGround’s half price Black Friday sales, but I procrastinated too long on it and they’re now back upto full price

The only hosting company with good reviews that still with a sale on seems to be Host Armada


Is anyone here using them?

How are they for:

  • Ease of use for a newbie

  • Speed

  • Support

Side question: If you’re not with Armada, who are your hosting company and how would you rate them?


Use a Website Builder to Create Your eCommerce Site [15-Step Guide]

Even before the pandemic drove most retail businesses online, eCommerce was on the upswing. Many small businesses that have served customers in-store for years have been slow to get a website up, but know they can’t wait any longer.

At the same time, many new entrepreneurs are treating the changing economy as an opportunity to start new eCommerce businesses. Both groups have one thing in common: you need to create an eCommerce website.

In the early years of the web, creating an eCommerce site was difficult. You’d need to hire a professional developer to build the complex elements required to sell products online. But now that the internet’s a common part of our lives, new web tools have become available to make the process easier. 

Now anyone, no matter your level of skill, can build an eCommerce website. All you need is an intuitive website builder. 

Below you’ll learn how an eCommerce website builder can help you build an eCommerce store in record time, the benefits to doing so, and the steps you’ll want to take to get started.

Why Use a Website Builder?

When you’re building an eCommerce store, you have a lot on your plate.

You have to research your market, name your store, determine what products you’re going to sell, set your prices, calculate shipping, and market your store. And somehow you need to build a website that looks professional, communicates your brand, and convinces people to buy your products on top of all that.

It’s a lot. 

And for people with limited web experience, the website may look like the most intimidating part. But it doesn’t have to be. With the right website builder, you can let technology do most of the work for you. You input some basic information and—bam!—you’ve got a professional-looking eCommerce website, that only needs a few tweaks to make it yours. 

A website builder takes a lot of time, energy, and cost off your plate. And it means one less item on the to-do list you have hanging over your head as a business owner. 

What to Look for in an eCommerce Website Builder

You’re going to have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to choosing the right eCommerce website builder for your needs. There are a ton website builders out there, but ultimately you’ll want to choose a builder that’s best suited to the needs and goals of your store.

Here are some features to keep an eye out for:

  • An emphasis on building a mobile-friendly website. In our world of ubiquitous smartphones, mobile can’t be an afterthought. Make sure your website builder defaults to creating websites that work well on mobile.  
  • Smart technology that does most of the work for you. The more your website builder does automatically, the less work you’re stuck handling. 
  • An image library included. This is more nice to have than required, but images play a key role in the online experience, so having access to a library of them will make building a visually stunning website much easier. 
  • eCommerce features built in. Your website needs to be able to sell things, that means you need features like inventory management, tax management, and coupon creation.
  • An affordable price. Your business probably has a limited budget, and you don’t want your website builder to cut into the cost of other things your business needs. Luckily, you can find powerful website builders that only cost a few dollars a month. 
  • Bundled website features. If your website builder comes with other important website features you need, like web hosting, an SSL certificate, and a domain name, it saves you the extra cost of buying them separately. And it saves you from having to manage them all through separate accounts. 
  • A reliable, accessible support team. Anyone new to running a website may face questions or issues they need help with. Go with a website builder backed by a company that promises 24/7 support from skilled representatives. 

Once you’ve settled upon an eCommerce website builder, it’s time to start creating your store.

If you’re still unsure about what builder will be best suited for your needs, then take the new Gator Website builder for a spin. It includes all of the features above and more.

How to Use Gator to Create Your eCommerce Store

Building your eCommerce store with a website builder is a simple and intuitive process. With Gator, almost all of the work will be completed for you once you provide some basic information about your business. 

1. Choose Your Category

Gator will automatically select a design for your website based on the type of business you have. Your first step is therefore to fill in what category your business falls under.

Once you start typing a description of your business category, Gator will provide a dropdown list of options you can choose from. Make your selection and click Continue.

choose ecommerce as website category

2. Name Your eCommerce Site

If your eCommerce business already has a name, this step’s super easy. Just fill in the business name here. 

add a name for your online store in gator website builder

If you’re still trying to figure out what to call your eCommerce business, then you’ll want to take some time to figure out the best business and domain name that’s available and suits your brand. Then you can fill in your site’s name.

Notice that once you add your business name in the website builder, it will automatically fill in at the top of the site. As you move through these steps, the information you provide will be applied to the preview window on the right side of the screen, so you can see your website take fruition as you go.

Having good visuals on your website is important to creating a memorable visitor experience and ensuring your website looks professional. The next step is to choose your background image.

You can choose here from the library of free images that come with Gator, and the website builder will supply some suggestions based on your business category. Or you can load your own image file by selecting Upload on the right. 

Anytime you click on an option, you can see how it will look on the site in the preview window. You can take some time to play around with different choices and see which you like best. 

select header image with ecommerce website builder

4. Select Your Font

Your images will make a big contribution to your eCommerce website’s visual identity, but it’s just one part. Font plays an important role too. Gator will provide a selection of font pairings you can choose from. Select the one that feels the most appropriate for your brand. 

As with the images, you can see how the font selection looks by clicking on the option and viewing the preview window on the right. 

select font with ecommerce website builder

5. Choose Your Website Color Scheme

Your online store’s color scheme will be one of the main things visitors associate with your visual brand.

If you have an existing business, think about the color scheme you use for your current brand materials, such as signs, business cards, and advertisements. If you’re building a new eCommerce business and haven’t developed a visual brand identity yet, then this is a good opportunity to do so!

The website builder provides suggestions of colors that go well together, and you can click on different options to see how they look in the preview window before you make a choice.

Make your selection and click Continue.

choose color scheme for ecommerce store

6. Choose Your Navigation Style

You want to make it easy for visitors to find their way around your website. Websites typically have a menu across the top of the site, or behind a hamburger icon that reveals the menu once you click on it. 

The website builder provides a few main options for how to structure your eCommerce website so people can find the navigation features. Try out different ones to see how they look in the preview, and select the one you like the most.

choose navigation style in ecommerce website builder

At this stage, consider what main categories you’ll use to organize your website. The number of items you’ll include in your main menu will influence which navigation structure makes the most sense. If you’ll have a lot of products that will fall into several categories, you’ll want an option that leaves room for a larger menu.

You want to make it as easy as possible for people to figure out how to contact you. The eCommerce website builder puts your contact information right on the bottom of your main page. 

Add your address, phone number, and the best email address for customers and prospects to use. You may have to scroll down to see the information populate on the page in your website preview window. 

add contact information for online store

Click Finish, and the basic structure of your eCommerce website will be in place!

8. Customize Your Homepage Copy

Now you start customizing your website to your specific brand and business. Change the words on the page so they represent your business. Anywhere you see text, click on it and you’ll be able to update it.

You’ll also see a menu pop up right above the text with formatting options you can add as you go.

add copy to ecommerce website

If the website builder added text blocks to the page that you don’t need, you can easily remove them by clicking, highlighting the text, and removing it with the Delete button on your keyboard. 

9. Customize Your Images 

Every image the website builder added to the page can be replaced with another one of the free images in the library, or with one you upload. Click on the image, then click Select Image from the menu of icons that shows up.

add image to ecommerce website with gator website builder

You can search the library of images available, or click on My Images to add your own. 

media library in gator website builder

From the same menu of icons that shows up, you can select:

  • Edit image to make changes to the image itself
  • Link to add a hyperlink to the image
  • Edit alt text to add alternative text to the image (which is good for SEO)

10.  Move and Remove Sections

If there’s a section on the page now you don’t want, or think should be higher or lower on the page, click on it and look in the top right corner. You can use the blue arrows to move the section up and down the page until you get it where you want it. Or use the red trash can icon will delete it completely. 

add or remove sections in gator website builder

By the time you get your homepage looking the way you want, you’ll be an expert in the skills you need to edit your other pages. 

11. Add Your Online Store

For an eCommerce website, the store portion of your website is one of the most important parts.

Look at the menu on the left side of the page to find the Store icon. When you click, it will open up a page that walks you through the steps of adding your store.

add online store using gator website builder

For payment methods and shipping charges, the website builder allows you to go with its default recommendations. If you’re not sure what to choose, stick with the default options or skip these steps for now.

12. Add Your Products

One of the steps in the setup process is to add the products you’ll be selling. Fill in all the details the form asks for.

add product to online store with ecommerce website builder

This information will become the product page, so even though the form won’t require you to fill in all fields, you should if you can. 

A few suggestions for your product pages:

  • Use your product description to provide a clear explanation of what the product is and what it does, and to make a case for why your visitors would want to buy it.
  • Be thoughtful about the language you use on the page. Do some keyword research to figure out what your audience is searching for, and incorporate the keywords they’re using into your copy. This will both appeal more to your target audience, and help with SEO. 
  • Load a high-quality product photo. Anyone buying a product online will have to trust the photo on the page to see what to expect. Make sure your photograph looks great and gives an accurate portrayal of what customers will get.

Once your store is created, when you click Back to Editor, you’ll see that it shows up automatically as part of the website menu. 

13. Add New Pages

Now that the basics are in place, start creating additional pages and getting your website organization into place.  To create a new page, click Pages in the menu on the left side of the screen. Select New Page, then Page.

add new page in gator website builder

If you want this page to become one of the main categories of your website that shows up in the menu, leave the “Parent page” section blank and leave the “Show in navigation” option selected.

If you want your new page to show up in the drop down menu under another page, select the parent page it should go under from the dropdown.

Fill in the name of your page, and the website builder will automatically create a suggested URL based on your page name. You can go with its suggestion, or edit it to one you think is more intuitive or better for SEO.  

Each page you create will start out looking like your homepage. That makes it easier to create an Ecommerce website where each page matches stylistically, since you’re starting with the same colors and structure each time. But you’ll want to make enough changes to differentiate it visually, while also making the content of the page match its unique purpose. So go through and update the images and copy on the page, and move and remove sections as needed. 

Repeat the process with each page you want on your website. 

14. Proofread and Test

If your eCommerce business sells a variety of products, creating your pages, loading your products, and getting all the pages organized in the right way on the website may take some time. Once you’ve got that done, you’re close to ready to launch, but not quite there yet.

Now you need to double check that everything looks good and works the way it should. Go through each page of the website and read back over it, twice. Proofreading is how you catch embarrassing errors like typos, and fix sentences or phrases that have awkward wording. While you’re on the page, go ahead and test out every link on it as well to make sure they all work and go where they should.

Now, see if you can enlist a friend or family member (bonus points if it’s someone that matches your target demographic) to spend some time on your website to make sure it seems intuitive. Ask for feedback about how well it’s designed and organized. Did they find anything confusing? If their feedback is positive, you’re good to go. 

15. Publish Your eCommerce Store! 

Once your website is done, click Publish in the top right corner of the website editor.

Since Gator comes with free website hosting and a domain name, those things will already be in place. You just need to press that button to take the website live. 

Get Started Building Your eCommerce Site Now

With Gator, you can build out a simple eCommerce store in a matter of hours. And while stores that include a lot of products or categories will take more time than that, adding everything you need will be a simple process.

The faster you can get your website up, the sooner you start making money from it. Dive right in and start building now!

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

How to Prep Your Site for Black Friday/Cyber Monday (2020)

You probably haven’t started thinking about turkey and cranberry sauce, but maybe it’s time you did.

No, you don’t need to go grocery shopping or plan your Thanksgiving feast quite yet. Still, as your hosting experts, we’re telling all you website owners out there: You need to start strategizing for the epic holiday weekend. 

We know it’s been a difficult year in many ways. You’ve likely felt that strain hard in your business as you’ve adjusted during COVID-19 conditions and embraced an online environment. The reality is this: Many people are out of work, small businesses are struggling, and consumers likely have less $$$ to spend. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to end the year on a sour note. As the calendar approaches the normally mammoth holiday shopping dates of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can prep your business — and your website — to make the most of the spending season.

Even in less-than-ideal conditions, holiday shopping has a lot of potential to boost your business.

Historically, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend has been a record-shattering buying event that you’ll want to get your business on board with. Last year, Black Friday brought in more than 93 million  in online sales

Those aren’t the only eye-opening numbers; a survey reported that more than 189 million Americans shopped online during the holiday shopping season’s harbinger weekend. That’s a lot of potential customers — and potential sales — for your business.

Here’s the catch: If you aren’t anticipating the Black Friday e-rush well ahead of time, you could be looking at a mass exodus of your site’s visitors, who will happily take their credit cards elsewhere for the year‘s biggest spending season. Cue the flying-money emoji. 💸💸💸

Over the years, people have increasingly turned to their screens for Black Friday deals rather than retail stores. For example, in 2019, consumers spent a whopping $7.4 billion at online stores on Black Friday — an increase of $1.2 billion from 2018. This year will likely break e-commerce records as people shop from the safety of their homes. 

And never underestimate Cyber Monday’s money-making potential; in 2019, Cyber Monday brought in $9.4 billion online, a near 19% jump from the previous year and markedly the biggest online shopping day in history.

So what’s on your Black Friday/Cyber Monday To-Do list? Well, you need to prep. Your site needs to be whip-quick and bug-free, not to mention stocked with quality products and smart navigation. 

And we can help with that! 

First, we’ll talk strategy, helping you plan out the best ways to get your sales in front of customers. 

Then we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of prepping your sites for the e-crowds, one technical task at a time. 

With a website primed for a critical weekend of sales, you can put on your stretchy pants and enjoy another slice of pumpkin pie — while you watch your business grow. 

Get Ready for BFCM Weekend

Join our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build a better site, increase traffic, and boost sales during the holiday season and beyond!

Create Your Marketing Strategy

Whether your small biz is a team of one or one hundred, you need to have a pow-wow, STAT. You must organize a Black Friday plan of attack before your site gets left out in the dust. With an increased focus on online sales during the holiday shopping season, you have to be ready. Start with baby steps. 

1. Take Stock (Literally and Figuratively)

It’s smart first to take a look at where your business stands. What are your goals? How established is your brand? How is your social media presence? And what are you hoping for — in sales terms and otherwise — for the big Thanksgiving shopping holiday?

Calculating percentages in daily planner.

Knowing where you are and where you want to go helps you set appropriate goals and put a plan in place to accomplish them.

Then there’s physical merchandise or, if you sell a service or non-physical commodity, virtual goods. 

In the case of tangible products, you will need to take stock of your items and increase inventory (and shipping supplies) in anticipation of sales (especially of your best-selling items) so that those ever-important buying days run as smoothly as possible. Keep a spreadsheet of inventory handy — this can help you stay organized and be useful if contingencies arise (more on this later).

Regardless of what you sell, you need to make sure you have the tools in place to run a sale on your site and figure out the kind of sale you want to offer — based on lifetime customer value or cost per acquisition stats — or if you’d be better to provide more out-of-the-box savings, like service upgrades or add-ons.

So, make some calculations and gather your data — you need this information for our next stage of planning.

Remember that COVID-19 has moved many businesses nearly entirely online. So how you approach inventory, shipping, and the services you offer will differ from years past. It will likely require additional time, planning, and resources to successfully navigate a successful holiday shopping season. Plan ahead and prepare for contingencies (we know you’ve been dealing with a whole year of contingencies).

2. Plan Out Your Sales

Believe it or not, holiday shoppers are researching products and scouting deals well ahead of time — like, now. So it’s important — crucial even — to take time to get organized by mapping out the sales you’re going to offer for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Plan ahead to avoid messy last-minute sale scrambles and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants deals (yikes).

Also, note that coronavirus conditions have caused shortages in many industries, many of which could affect your manufacturers, suppliers, or operation suppliers. It may take extra time to get what you need, so plan for these delays well ahead of time when planning sales.

The sooner you have a plan in place, the sooner you can bring attention to your Black Friday sale and prep customers to bring their holiday dollars to your shop.

A simple Excel sheet works well for outlining planned sales — identify products or a set discount, regular and sale prices, the sale timeline, and how you anticipate promoting that sale.

Holiday sales map spreadsheet.

You may need to talk with your supplier (if it’s not you) to work out the production details of increased demand.

Also, keep in mind that most Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers haven’t completed their holiday shopping at the end of the Thanksgiving spending spree. Last year, only 18% of people (46.3 million) were done with holiday shopping before Nov. 1. So don’t see Black Friday as the end-all, be-all. 

In your plan, include actions (and additional incentives) that encourage Black Friday shoppers to return to your e-commerce store throughout their holiday shopping and, eventually, become loyal customers. 

3. Map Out a Marketing Campaign

Now that you know what kind of sales you’re going to offer, you need to disseminate that information effectively to consumers. Advertise well ahead of time and prep your customers for buying.

We know things this year have been hard. Since we’re all pinching our pennies, here are some affordable — and creative — ways you can create a BFCM campaign that drives sales. 

Email Marketing

If you’re wondering where to start with Black Friday marketing, email is truly a safe bet, since a healthy, growing email list is invaluable for your small business or e-commerce website. 

Sending marketing campaigns to those who have chosen to be engaged with your business allows you to tailor personalized messages that have the most impact come buying time. 

Black Friday deal from Best Buy.
Electronics giant Best Buy hypes up Black Friday discounts with anticipatory email messages.

Promotional emails can prep your most loyal consumers for an upcoming sale or reward frequent buyers, and specific types of communications (like abandoned cart emails) can help wary or slow-to-act visitors complete unfinished purchases.

Your promotions can also help you to build an email list. It’s like an epic circle of benefits.

Social Media Marketing

While social media tends to cast a wider net in marketing, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can help you tease upcoming promotions and provide creative ways of distributing Cyber Week deals. You can also boost your posts to target specific audiences or reach a larger crowd for only pennies on the dollar. Tailor your content to each platform for maximum effectiveness.

Create a calendar to help you determine and plan out the best times to distribute marketing content — then stick to it! Consistency rules.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Sure, the saying goes that the early bird gets the worm, but if you’re planning deals late in the game, all hope is not lost. While search engine optimization (SEO) and other organic traffic drivers take time to implement, pay-per-click advertising allows you to pay for more clicks (hence the name) right now

If you’ve got more of a marketing budget at your disposal, you can utilize PPC campaigns to have more control over your search engine rankings and, at best, turn clicks into customers and see strong ROI. 

The basic steps are to create an ad and make bids on virtual auctions for top placement in search engines. Check out Google AdWords to learn more and start generating more traffic to your site.

4. Keep an Eye on the Competition

With a tidal wave of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals flooding every inch of the web, your small biz needs to set itself apart against other small operations and big-name retailers.

Ecommerce business owner on laptop.

Extra touches can help distinguish your site from a rival online retailer; consider offering a gift (or an additional discount on future return purchases) with each sale, expedited or free shipping, special packaging, or customized thanks-for-shopping messages from your business. Watch your industry competitors and work to have the leg up.

Rifle Paper Co. discount offer.
Rifle Paper Co. incentivizes customer purchases with bonus gifts.

And even if manpower or budget limitations restrict you from including additional incentives, always provide hassle-free returns and friendly, prompt customer service. Emphasize the personality and care offered by your small business versus big-box retailers. Customers like to support small businesses and, in most cases, will appreciate, remember, and reward a more intimate online shopping experience.

5. Build (More) Buzz

In addition to your organized marketing efforts, you can boost the hype for your Black Friday steals by engaging in additional awareness-building activities.

Craft Winning Copy and Create Alluring Graphics 

Time is on your side; with your early-bird preparation, you can plan out and prep copy that is engaging, personable, and error-free. Same with photos and graphics; planning ahead guarantees you have attractive visuals that impress and persuade. Putting special attention to even these most basic of website fundamentals can significantly improve your users’ experience during their holiday shopping.

Utilize Hashtags

Insert yourself into the popular topics of each week by taking advantage of trending hashtags. The viral hype will seamlessly (and effortlessly) aid in spreading the word about your products and upcoming sales. #blessed

Build in Scarcity

Shoppers will naturally feel a sense of urgency to buy if they know your limited-edition, few-in-number, or wildly-discounted product won’t last long. Use language that reminds shoppers to act quickly to score the best deals.

Madewell discount offer on Instagram.
Powerhouse retail brand Madewell offers customers a product exclusive — enticing buyers to act quickly.

Display Shop Signage

Well before the actual Black Friday/Cyber Monday crowds hit your e-shop, you can outfit your site to prep visitors for approaching sales. Consider updating your homepage with a special Black Friday header or landing page signage that cements SALE into your customers’ minds — especially those who are conducting their holiday gift-giving research now.

Anthropologie website homepage showing discounts.
Clothing company Anthropologie displays sale signage on their site homepage, inviting visitors to engage.

Update Your Blog

Hopefully, your blog is regularly outfitted with quality posts that are relevant and engaging. If it’s not, get writing. A blog consistently updated with useful content brings visitors back to your site and builds your brand. Use friendly, personable language that establishes you as a trusted authority in your field or industry.

In the next few weeks, consider publishing useful holiday shopping content, like curated gift lists or helpful instructional guides (wink, wink) that feature your products and provide a service to customers.

A Brit + Co blog post featuring gift ideas.

Media entertainment company Brit + Co compiles helpful content for visitors — a creative way to feature their products.

Pitch to Other Blogs and Social Media Influencers

Influencers are called influencers for a reason. Get your products in front of the web’s most influential people, and you could be rewarded with more traffic to your site — and ideally, new shoppers. 

Free photo prints offer from Mixbook.

Pitch your products to other sites (for their gift guides, guest posts, or other content), and you’re inviting a whole new set of eyes to explore your offerings. Score!

Share Positive Product Reviews

Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, especially in e-commerce. With prompts on your site or through after-purchase email messages, invite your customers to leave product reviews. Share the glowing ones with new customers (and turn them into repeat customers) or use them to persuade on-the-fence buyers.

Customer reviews on DreamHost.com.

Write and Share Customer Spotlights

Bring attention to the superstars championing your products or services — your existing customers! Profile their unique story and how your business helps them achieve success. These stories (like our own tales of a millennial-minded online publication creator or writer looking for a quick way to set up a website) will inspire other consumers to engage with your brand and, ideally, make purchases.

If you’re looking to go even more out of the box, try these other creative promotional ideas

And lastly, know this: According to Adobe, the power of social media influence on purchases is decreasing, but retailers have greater opportunities to invest in email marketing and search optimization for increased revenue. That could be a major thumbs up for your site if done well. So plan now.

Prepare the Technical Aspects of Your Site

Planning the details of your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales is essential. But that’s only the first step. Especially when shoppers notice the buzz you’ve created and want to make purchases. Is your website up to the challenge? If not, start here!

1. Consult With Your Hosting Provider

As is necessary for success in all parts of your website, a site that’s functional and ready to deliver during the fall’s killer shopping holidays depends on your website’s foundation: your hosting provider. Your provider should be reliable and helpful, and at the most fundamental level, keep your site up and running 24/7.

Yes, a good hosting provider is essential. So consider: 

  • Can your hosting plan handle surges in traffic that may occur during Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales? 
  • Can it keep you safe from virtual vulnerabilities? 
  • And if your site does go down, will you be compensated by an uptime guarantee

Based on your needs, you may need to consider upgrading to a plan that can do more heavy lifting during the rush.  

Not sure what plan is best for your site? Chat with us. We’ve totally got your back.

Is Your Site Ready for a Cyber Monday Sale?

DreamHost has the perfect hosting plan to handle your holiday season traffic.

2. Set Up Your E-Shop

Before you can draw customers in with deep discounts, you need to make sure your site is actually outfitted for e-commerce, if you haven’t already. 

Whatever tool you use — like WooCommerce or Shopify — get it up and running well before the big day. Ensure that it’s capable of handling your site’s crowds and that it allows customers to make purchases using a simplified checkout process. 

3. Provide a Safe Shopping Experience

A vital part of building trust with your clients (and ensuring that they make return visits) is shopping safety. 

Shoppers — especially ones with the seasonal inclination to splurge — want to know that their information is safe on your site. That’s a big reason to think about security. A study by the Department of Commerce revealed that half of U.S. internet users are deterred from buying online because of worries about privacy and security.

To remove worry from customers’ minds, display prominently on your site’s checkout pages signage that proves it’s safe to shop with you.

Otter’s safe shopping signage puts customers at ease.

More often than not, your hosting provider can help you get set up with a free or low-cost SSL/TLS certificate (an authentication and encryption system — meaning, data is transferred online safely). If you’re a DreamHost user, we’ve got you covered.

Another way to ease your customers’ minds about security: Share the other websites that have featured your products. Display endorsements from other blogs and companies, (it’s OK to toot your own horn!) and give your products and services an outside seal of approval.

Tubby Todd displaying partner websites.
Bath product company Tubby Todd boasts the backing of other sites that help establish trust and authority with potential customers.

Visitors to your site will see the buzz already building around your business from other familiar companies and will be more likely to engage. Consider it e-commerce FOMO.

These trust-building measures that can make a world of difference, especially on those big shopping days. 

4. Create an Easy-to-Find Return Policy

It’s inevitable — some customers are just not going to love their purchases. The National Retail Federation estimates the value of holiday gift returns in 2019 to be nearly $100 billion. Currently, up to 40% of all online purchases will be returned, but 96% of customers said they would shop with a retailer again if their return experience with that business was positive. 

With the vast majority embracing online shopping this year, you’re likely to see an increased rate of returns. Returns are not only a part of the holiday season but a valuable point of interaction with consumers. They are an opportunity to connect with your audiences, provide them the best possible experience, and encourage repeat business and customer loyalty.

REI’s return policy is clear and easily found. 

First, make your return policy easy to find — in a limited number of glances or clicks. Keep your customers loyal by avoiding “the fine print” mentality; clearly state shipping costs, deadlines, and return policies (and make it big enough to read, please).

5. Fine-Tune for Optimization

You want every aspect of your site to be optimized for the best possible web experience. With eyes on increased sales, more traffic, and a loyal following, fine-tuning your site in these specific areas will help you build your numbers.

Make Your Site Mobile

We could easily inundate you with reasons why having a mobile-responsive site is so important, but we’ve already been there, done that. So instead, we’ll just pass along a few key statistics to prove our point.

Like the fact that Black Friday is big (no, let’s say B-I-G!!!) for mobile. Last year, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday were record-breaking days in retail history for e-commerce, with sales reaching nearly $3 billion on mobile.and 61% of all online retail coming from smartphone transactions — and that’s only on Black Friday.  

Cyber Monday also made waves for mobile in big ways, with transactions soaring to $3.1 billion, the highest ever year-over-year dollar gain for smartphones. What’s more, smartphones accounted for more than half of all traffic on retail websites on Cyber Monday.

Holy smartphone, Batman. 

Mobile is also crucial for good SEO. How? Well, having a site that’s mobile-responsive increases your chances of earning a high ranking in search engines, and therefore, your chances of being found by potential customers.

Your site can look snazzy on a desktop, but if it delivers a disappointing mobile presence, then you can say adios to your sales. 

Ensure that your site’s template is mobile-responsive. Make sure that your site loads fast on a mobile device, links work, images load correctly, and any pop-up forms display correctly. Consider utilizing the AMP initiative to upgrade your mobile experience for users.

Boost Your SEO

As a small business or website owner, you’ve probably already had a rudimentary education in the importance of SEO. 

Simply put, SEO means positioning your site for discovery in search engines. After all, a simple search is where most people begin their holiday (or basically any) shopping. 

Google search bar on mobile.

More than any other shopping season, you want your site — and by extension, your products — to have the best chance of meeting the eyes of potential customers. So prepping your website by establishing good SEO is a task of high importance as you anticipate Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Even if you’re a beginner, you can take a few small steps to improve your SEO. But remember, SEO gains take time, so get started now — the sooner you optimize, the better.

If you want to dig deeper into optimization, consider taking a few additional measures to improve. We recently outlined 13 key steps to boosting your SEO, but check out these main takeaways:

  1. Ensure that you’re using a quality hosting provider. (Ahem, over here. Waves.) This can make a big difference. A reliable hosting service that helps your site perform will aid in your site ranking highly.
  2. Choose a site theme that’s designed with SEO in mind. There are many themes available out there, but not all will help your site increase in rank. Not only does a well-picked web template provide an attractive layout and improved functionality (which aids SEO, too), but its quality code does wonders for optimization. When choosing a theme, look for ones identified as “SEO-Friendly.”
  3. Use an SEO plugin, like Yoast
  4. Improve your permalink structure.
  5. Use a responsive design (meaning: works across devices — see the “Make Your Site Mobile” section above).
  6. Get wordy! Long-form content is rewarded by Google algorithms, so go in-depth on your blog posts and be comprehensive. Provide value. And don’t forget to analyze and organize content. Perform a content audit if necessary.
  7. Optimize your images. Resize your photos to increase load times and use the right file format. Oh, and no “asdfjk.jpeg” file names here. Get descriptive on your photo files. Really, it helps.

Simplify Your Navigation

The Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping weekend is crucial for your business or website. Fail to simplify your navigation, and you could be looking at potentially lost sales and disengaged — not to mention frustrated — customers. 

Don’t squander your opportunity by making your website a maze of riddles. It’s got to be easy to navigate. 

Whether that means streamlining your design or improving the menu, tidy up your site structure. Simplify searches and checkout processes so that your customer can get from Point A to Point B in a minimal number of clicks — and you can make those sales that much faster.

Reduce Your Load Times

A reality check here: No customer (Black Friday-frenzied or not) will stick around on a slow site

As attention spans on the web get increasingly shortened, you need to think speed. One major key to a speedy site? Your site’s design. We outlined all the dos and don’ts in-depth, but here’s what you need to know for the holiday crunch:

  1. Choose a good hosting provider (Check! We’ve got your back).
  2. Optimize your images.
  3. Minify resources like JavaScript and CSS.
  4. Leverage browser caching. If you’re using WordPress, you can use a handy plugin or utilize our services.
  5. Get rid of outdated or unused plugins.
  6. Utilize expired headers.
  7. Enable CSS sprites.
  8. Implement open-source AMP technology (a Google-developed initiative designed to help developers build sites run optimally on mobile). Use the AMP WordPress plugin to start.
  9. Once you’ve used your load-speed toolbox, test your site’s performance with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

6. Be Available for Customer Service

While shopping, your customers may have an urgent question about your holiday sale, sizing, or shipping (or a million other things). 

If possible, be available to answer their up-to-the-minute questions during the Thanksgiving weekend. If you anticipate heavy crowds, assemble a team to help address consumers’ pressing needs, and leave them with a positive and memorable customer service experience. 

Enable a live chat function on your site or have a customer service email readily available for them to contact you — and be waiting by the keyboard. 

Glasses retailer Warby Parker makes customer service easy with accessible buttons.

(And you DreamHost users know that you can count on us on Black Friday. We’re just a chat away.)

7. Test, Test, Test

The best way to anticipate any potential glitches or problems with your e-commerce site during the holiday shopping rush is to test it. 

We know we sound like a broken-record-meets-Jan-Brady, but: TEST, TEST, TEST. 

Think about it: You wouldn’t turn in a term paper without reading through it, using spell check, or editing for grammar mistakes. And the way your site looks is just as high-stakes for your business, so perform necessary trial runs.

Test your links for functionality (this handy WordPress tool can help), analyze responsiveness across devices, check load times, and even request visitors’ feedback. The more you can correct beforehand, the better.

8. Plan for Contingencies

By now, 2020 has taught us all that even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. So in your preparation, you should try to account for unforeseen circumstances (like website downtime) and — dare we say it — emergencies you might encounter during the holiday shopping rush.

Besides allowing us to Zoom in our pajamas and inspiring our makeshift WFH spaces, the pandemic has caused us to pivot in many business-altering ways. Some things to think about as you prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday: 

  • Do you have no-contact pickup options for online sales? Make sure to set up curbside pickup as a delivery option on your website. 
  • You might need to bulk-buy hand sanitizer or make your meetings virtual. But your website also needs crisis-friendly adjustments. Website owners should make sure to update eleven key things
  • Are you a service-based business used to running your business IRL? If you’re needing to adapt and run operations online, consult these moving tips. (No heavy-furniture-lifting required.)

Luckily, preparation can help you anticipate some of those potential mishaps. Make a contingency plan for situations that may arise — like an “if ___, then ___” exercise — so that you can quickly correct problems (and keep your blood pressure low because #holidaystress).

To help prevent unanticipated issues, take a few prep steps, like analyzing your site’s past Black Friday statistics (see the next section) and asking helpers to stand by. 

9. Analyze Your Results

A good rule of thumb after executing a plan is to review your outcomes. Whether you utilize Google Analytics or another metrics platform, gather the data and use it to make informed decisions on how to improve your site. 

Charts on a laptop screen.

Don’t let those numbers go to waste — they provide you with valuable info about customers’ behavioral patterns and a starting point for further improvement. Dedicate specific time to reviewing last year’s data (as you prep for this year’s shopping rush) and this year’s — so that you can continue to reap the financial benefits of the holiday shopping season. 

Are You Ready for Black Friday Weekend?

Hey, you’ve made it this far into 2020. Give yourself a pat on the back. Wave your mask in the air. We know it’s been hard. But as the holiday shopping season approaches, you can still prime your business operations to take advantage of and prepare for the increase in online traffic. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a big deal for your website, and the time to prepare your site and strategy is now!

With a website primed for handling the e-crowds and a winning marketing strategy designed for our “new normal”, you’ll be able to navigate Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 and turn seasonal shoppers into frequent buyers that’ll follow you into 2021. 

Ready to optimize your site for Black Friday? Start with DreamHost. Leave migrating your site, installing WordPress, managing security and updates, and optimizing server performance to us. Now you can focus on what matters most — taking care of your customers! Check out plans today.

5 Expert Tips on How to Increase Site Traffic in 2020

It’s no secret that Google loves updating its SEO algorithm. In fact, over the course of a year, they may make upwards of 500+ changes!

SEO is the process of optimizing your content, so it shows up more often in search results. With so many changes to navigate, it’s easy to miss something. And soon enough, you could find your first page search rankings now on the second or third pages.

If your site content isn’t ranking in the search engines for your preferred keywords and phrases, all is not lost. There are still plenty of ways to improve your rankings while also getting quality traffic from other locations as well.

But if you get it right, you can reap the benefits of increased traffic, which leads to more conversions, improves lead generation, and boosts sales.

To help with this process, here are five practical content creation and marketing tips that worth exploring. Be sure to read along and follow these tips to increase back traffic to your website.

1. Blog Regularly and On Schedule

In recent years, blogging and content marketing have been very big components of the digital marketing landscape.

Now it seems like most businesses and websites have their own blog, and with good reason – blogging brings more traffic to your website, helps you establish better and stronger relations with the audience, and will help you to establish yourself as a lead thought in the niche.

However, it to comes to blogging and business, there is a certain art to it. For example, what are ecommerce sites and ‘boring’ niche markets supposed to blog about?

More often than not, the best way to get around this is to create content that is relevant to the business or service offered, but still providing value to your audience.

A perfect example of this can be seen on WithClutch, as they are a refinance and personal finance business, but also have blog topics ranging from “When is the best time to buy a car?” or “Whats the cheapest state to buy a car in?” and other related topics.

The key takeaway here is that they are able to create content through their blog that are covering topics that their audiences and potential customers are likely already searching for. This is a win-win situation for both the blog and the end user.

As with all blogging efforts, will take time, but it’s really worth it when you have a clear plan and a content calendar in place. You can also convert the blog content into an infographic, slide deck or e-book. And definitely make sure you are taking advantage of social media and everything it has to offer.

The better the content, the more it is enjoyed and discussed by the public, which means more readers and loyal fans who visit your blog on a daily basis.

2. Focus on SEO and Long Tail Keywords

Like it or not, search traffic is still one of the most effective ways to get high quality traffic and leads back to your site. The only problem is it’s super competitive and saturated.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process by which a website is visible in the search results, and can improve their rankings by making improvements to their site, content and social channels.

This can be done by optimizing keywords and site layout, reducing loading time and making the website easy for mobile users to search the site. It’s also important to make sure you are using SERP tracking tools to see what keyword and ranking movements your optimization efforts are having.

The early ranking algorithms of the search engine relied heavily on the content of the keyword for ranking purposes. This meant, however, that website designers could hack the system and use keyword stuffing to increase rank.

Now it’s a much more complicated process and not one that is easy to game. Page ranking algorithms are much more advanced and rely on several factors, like inbound or backlink quality and relevance.

3. Create Comprehensive, Authoritative, Evergreen Content

If you are going to spend your time writing content, it’s important that you make sure it’s worth your audiences time and provides real value. It’s also a good idea to focus on ‘evergreen’ topics so you content doesn’t go stale after just a few months.

Some of the best forms of evergreen content come in the form of resource guides, how to’s, and user tutorials. You must then create content that targets the customers rather than robots—using quick, short, but true phrases.

Depending on the niche market you are currently focused on, this might be easier or harder to accomplish. MeetEdgar has a nice resource guide that highlights a few different examples of evergreen content across a wide range of niche markets. Be sure to check it out to get some new content ideas for your site or blog.

No matter what type of content you are creating or who it’s for, there are several great ways to show search engines that your site really provides content of value — and that through detailed, authoritative, evergreen content.

Here are some of the working methods to best accomplish this.

  • Long-form content stick. Longer content tends to exceed shorter content (at least 2,000 words).
  • Use LSI keywords. There are keywords or phrases that are closely related to the content of your post.
  • You will have to do research to write quality content so that you can have information that is very valuable.
  • Be easy to learn. Be quick to read. Html uses whitespace, headings, short paragraphs and related photos to facilitate the page’s consumer consumption and time rise.
  • Have links and deals of high relevance on the page. Provide meaningful internal connections to address the query of a reader. This will also reduce error rates significantly to bring people onto the website.
  • Include photos, illustrations, video and text. This catches the interest of readers and makes them more interested in the content.

Before writing your next article, be sure to run through the list above to make sure your content hits all of these fine points.

4.  Comment and Contribute on other Relevant Blogs

Despite what many people thing, commenting on and contributing to other websites and blogs is still very effective today. Yes, you might not get a dofollow link back from these efforts, but they can help with getting your name out there and boosting new clicks and visits over to your site.

Comment threads are very close to forum marketing, in the sense that you can take time to show that, rather than searching for traffic, you are trying to contribute when commenting on a post. In a perfect future, you can frequently try to comment on your own blogs.

And the act of guest blogging or contribution with original content to other sites is also nothing new, however, it is still a huge opportunity for your site and brand. More often than not, the only cost associated with guest blogging is your time and outreach effort, and as you continue to gain new placements on smaller sites, this will help with your ability to contribute to much larger ones down the road.

Both of these methods are perfect for backlinks and creating influencers in your niche, but in this situation, you are still a daily reader and blogger so you won’t sound as though you were a spammer by linking to one of your pages.

5. Find Your Audience on Social Media

Social media can be a perfect way to build your following and consequently boost your website traffic. You cannot, however, only post links to news items or blog posts and hope people can fly.

Instead, you need a plan to identify the best brand platforms and then find out how your specific target customers use those platforms.

And when it comes times to read new audiences, don’t over your options with influencer marketing. And depending on your niche market, the reach and power of influencer marketing can result in higher

With more than 3 billion users spread across the most active social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, it’s now easier than ever before to reach new audiences and redirecting them back to your site.

With influencer marketing in play, it’s also a cost-effective solution for testing out. While celebrities and big players are generating thousands of dollars for individual posts, smaller micro and niche-influencers often cost a fraction of that, but also offer much tigher audience targeting.

Bonus Tip: Promoting Webpages on YouTube

This last bonus tip is one that we could write a whole resource guide on, but we will just quickly recap here and let you explore it in more detail on your own.

In short, YouTube is the largest video search engine in the world. It’s free to use and they even host your video content for free. Throw in that billions of video impressions are taking place daily, and when utilizing this platform correctly, it could be a huge source of traffic for your site.

When creating videos, don’t forget that most readers have a short focus and attention span, so the video must be short, snappy and also includes a call to action telling the viewer to click on the links in the description area.

YouTube allows for users to add backlinks to their video content descriptions, which also means more clicks and traffic back to your site. To learn more about how to rank videos on YouTube, check out this YouTube SEO resource guide.

Quick Tips on How to Increase Real Traffic to Your Site

There you have it. Five simple and effective expert tips to help increase traffic to your site through the use of improved search rankings, more social activity and creating better content for your audience.

Be sure to start implementing these methods, while also keeping an eye on your traffic levels to see which methods work best.

Why did my site suddenly drop to a 500 error?

It dropped around the time I’m pointing to on this image.
I was working on the wordpress admin, uploading images, and it suddenly dropped.
What can I do to bring it back up, and why did this happen? What’s the proper way to debug this situation?

Here’s the cURL output:

➜  ~ curl -IL https://mysite.io 
HTTP/1.1 500 Internal Server Error
Date: Thu, 03 Sep 2020 04:47:33 GMT
Server: Apache/2.4.29 (Ubuntu)
Expires: Wed, 11 Jan 1984 05:00:00 GMT
Cache-Control: no-cache, must-revalidate, max-age=0
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8  

edit: I just enabled the errors and after attempting to connect to the site, I am presented this:

Warning: mysqli_real_connect(): (HY000/2002): Connection refused in /var/www/html/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 1635

Connection refused Error establishing a database connection

This either means that the username and password information in your wp-config.php file is incorrect or we can’t contact the database server at localhost. This could mean your host’s database server is down.

Speed Up Your WordPress Site – Tips That Everyone Should Know

Speeding up a WordPress website is a hot topic because it’s the preferred platform for millions of bloggers and online businesses. Fortunately, there are so many ways bloggers can successfully speed up their WordPress sites.

You enjoy your site more when it’s performing at its best, and your visitors will too. To know your site is not at its best, you should look out for warning signs.

For instance, if you used to rank high on SERPs and all of a sudden you’re not, you should find out if it’s because of your loading time.

When you boost your site’s speed, more visitors are likely to click on your site. Ideally, a website shouldn’t take more than 2 seconds to load. If users click off, your bounce rate will increase and your SEO ranking will be lowered because of it.

Users want sites that load as soon as they click on the link. This is especially true when you’re selling products and services. Online buyers are quite impatient because there are many other options out there.

To capture the attention of your audience, you should always prioritize website speed. Let us look at the tips you can implement to make this possible.

1. Choose a Reputable WordPress Web Hosting Provider

The web hosting provider you choose for your WordPress will play a large part in determining how fast your website will be. Each time you’re considering web hosting providers for WordPress, avoid shared hosting services.

Most new bloggers go for this option because they offer unlimited space, emails, bandwidth, and domains.

Though shared web hosting plans offer unlimited storage, subdomains and other features, you need to be sure that your chosen hosting provider is reliable. Shared hosting is so affordable because multiple users share the resources of a single server. That means a high-traffic surge of another site can affect you.

When you choose a reputable web hosting provider for your WordPress project, you get excellent performance which is what every blogger is looking for. Hosting dedicated for WordPress will save you from shared hosting issues that come with several other websites.

Also, you need a web hosting provider with competitive prices and packages that ensure you can personalize your blogging experience.

What people fail to remember is that working on a shared server has you vulnerable to resource issues unrelated to your site. If you have an individualized server, you can go as far as optimizing it to ensure nothing compromises the site’s speed.

The web hosting industry has greatly advanced and because of this, website owners have access to affordable cloud hosting solutions.

Read more: Cloud Hosting vs Shared Hosting

2. Use a Lightweight Theme

The themes on WordPress have impressive widgets, elements, and social icons you can use to personalize your site. These dynamic and shiny elements need to be used with moderation because overloading your site will likely slow it down.

The more elements you use, the higher your page sizes will be and it doesn’t take rocket science to understand that such pages take ages to load.

To prevent your server from taking a thumping, take your time when you’re choosing the elements you want to use.

The best solution for these scenarios is using lightweight themes. The default WordPress themes are ideal.

3. Reduce Image Sizes

Did you know that images are a major contributor to the size of a web page? You heard that right! Visual media more often than not affect the speed of websites without owners even knowing it.

The trick is to manually optimize every image before you upload it. As you optimize your images, make sure the quality is not compromised. There are quite a number of tools out there you make use to make this possible.

In fact, here are WordPress plugins that allow you to this:

4. Minify JS and CSS files

In case you’re using Google PageSeed to check out your site’s performance, you’ll get notifications to help you minimize the size of your JS and CSS files. When you reduce the number of calls in these files, you automatically improve the speed of your site.

Aside from these prompts, you can do this manually if you know your way around WordPress themes. Google actually provides you with guidelines to help you with the entire process. Not to mention the several available plugins designed to auto-optimize CSS and JS files.

5. Use Advanced Caching Mechanisms

Adding caching to your site elements is quite easy because of WordPress caching plugins that have been around since time immemorial. All you have to do is add a caching plugin and set it up. This setup will store some of your site’s static files on the visitor’s browser, which will improve your site’s load time for recurring visitors.

You can check out a plugin like WP Rocket.

6. Use a CDN

Lastly, make sure you use CDN because people that visit your site come from different parts of the world. The further away a visitor is from where your site is hosted, the longer the loading time will be.

However, when you use CDN, you can achieve a minimum loading speed regardless of where visitors are located. Content Delivery Networks function by keeping a copy of your website in different datacenters all over the world. This way, the loading time is significantly reduced.

Wrapping Up

The loading speed of your site is very important because it determines how high you’ll rank on Google’s SERPs. These tips we’ve outlined ensure that you always optimize your WordPress site’s speed.

About the Author

This article was submitted to us by a third-party writer. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of ThisHosting.Rocks. If you want to write for ThisHosting.Rocks, go here.

Which server loads the site the AWS or the other NS server(case presented below) ?

I tried to host another site on a windows server aside one which runs on WordPress by Bitnami and Automattic( I put the site on windows server as AWS has 750 hours of free tier for Linux server an 750 Hours for Windows server).I used that tutorial and it worked https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSiI7N6i-gI, The A record holds the elastic IP, and the ns is for Awardspace(where I registered the domain.The thing is which server is serving the file the elastic IP(AWS) or the NS server(Awardspace)?

This is for configuring the servers for the website. Any ideas?