The A to Z of Hosting - Part 1

150120---AtoZofHosting Choosing the right hosting provider can be a minefield so we thought we’d produced this A to Z to help you decide on which hosting provider is right for you. We’d love you to become an intrahost customer and hopefully within this article we can prove to you that we have all the bases covered.

A – Accreditation

Our data centres are accredited with ISO27001, the international standard for Information Security Management, which assures customers of the physical and logical security of our hosting facilities. They are also accredited with ISO14001, the international standard for Environmental Management, which allows us to control the impact of our operations and facilities on the environment.

B – Backups

Intrahost offer free backups as standard for customers buying Cloud and VMware Servers and as an optional extra on our dedicated servers. Web Hosting customers can backup easily via their control panel free of charge!

C – Cloud Servers

Cloud server hosting enables you to enjoy all the benefits of a dedicated server while reducing your monthly overheads. With a cloud server you share the expense of acquiring the server hardware and network connections and to eliminate the difficulty and cost of maintaining them.

Cloud server customers share the same hardware node, or physical host computer, they do not have access to each other’s hardware resources (RAM, CPU and disk storage). In other words the cloud server has its own operating system, dedicated application software and complete directory structure. You can restart the cloud server without it affecting any other virtual machines which share the same physical host server.

D – Dedicated Servers

A dedicated server is a physical network-grade computer optimised to 'serve' web pages, database queries, etc. to end-users. Intrahost dedicated servers are mounted in a tall rack/cabinet in one of our four data centres.

Dedicated servers still have a place alongside cloud options It also gives you the best value for money for the resources that you receive and we can customise the hardware to meet your exact requirements.

You can either use a dedicated server as a stand alone box, combine a cluster to create a highly-secure private cloud or add them on to your cloud package and create a hybrid system with the best of both worlds.

E – Ecommerce

According to the Aberdeen Group, page load delays can cost an ecommerce website millions of pounds in sales per year. Host with intrahost and make sure your site loads quickly year-round—even during your busy seasons.

F – Fast and Friendly Support TM

Our infrastructure team can recommend and design your full hosting solution or build a system based on your exact specification. Our Fast & Friendly approach guarantees that you will always speak to an expert, UK based senior engineer who speaks in plain English. Our Investors in People Award testifies to our commitment to staff training and full involvement with company direction and management.

G – Guaranteed Service

At Intrahost we offer:

  • 99.99% Network Uptime Guarantee
  • 99.99% Server Uptime Guarantee
  • 99.99% SLA Guarantee

H – Hosted Exchange

Microsoft Exchange is an email server with calendar, contacts, tasks and notes functionality. Traditionally this software is run from a server within an office which can be very complicated and costly to maintain. Our hosted exchange service offers all the powerful features without any of the complicated set-up and maintenance.

Our exchange experts have configured our packages to include everything that you could possibly need from your exchange server.

Our Hosted exchange solutions offer:

  • Scalable (from 1 up to 1000’s of users)
  • No specialist knowledge required
  • Award Winning Anti-Spam and Anti-Virus solutions included
  • Uptime SLAs and guarantees
  • Instant ‘Push’ Mobile Technology
  • Outlook Web Access
  • Migration Service
  • Triple Hosted Mailbox

I – Industry Leading Hardware

The quality of the server hardware plays a silent but critical role in the loading speed and performance of your website. This means you should make sure the web hosting provider for your ecommerce site uses advanced and best quality hardware to power your website. If the hardware configuration is not mentioned on the site, you may have to check it out with their customer support to ensure this. Better server hardware will provide better navigation of the website without any kind of degradation of service. So, it is better to steer clear of those who use outdated hardware.

We use only premium, branded hardware. This ensures the reliability and performance of your servers.

J – Judge for yourself

If you’re thinking of moving to a new hosting provider, why not give us a try. Above all else, Intrahost provides a high quality service that you will be proud of. We are so confident about our services that we offer a full, no hassle 30 day money back guarantee on managed web hosting and cloud server hosting if you are not satisfied with the service provided.

K – Knowledgeable

Intrahost engineers are Microsoft, Citrix and VMware qualified and we have decades of hosting experience across the team. Our pre-sales team are trained to deal with your enquiries however complex and are on hand to advise you on the best solution for you or your customers.

L – Load Balancing

Your business's website, applications, and web-based workloads depend on high availability. Intrahost Cloud and VMware Load Balancers enable you to quickly balance the workload of multiple Cloud Servers for optimal traffic management and maximum failover protection. Load balancers distribute workloads across two or more servers, network links, and other resources to maximize throughput, minimize response time, and avoid network overload.

 Check back for Part 2 next month, or click here to look at our hosting packages!

David Vs. Goliath

141216---DavidVsGoliath How start-ups and small businesses can have the edge over enterprises through use of hosting solutions from intrahost.

Every day business headlines focus on large FTSE 100 and 250 companies, but as you probably already know, the true engine driving the UK economy is overwhelmingly small businesses. Thanks to technology small businesses had the capability to create a brand and compete – particularly online – on the same level as larger, more established companies.

As you build your company’s first website, or even more importantly, you’re planning a redesign and update of your existing site, your number one priority is designing a professional, polished look and feel. It may sound like common sense, but online, your website is your business. When potential customers visit your site, they will develop an opinion about your business – not based on the service or product that you actually provide – but based on the appearance of your website.

With common web tools, templates, or affordable website design services, your website can put you on the same level with your competitors – even competitors with much larger teams and experience.

First Impressions Count

So, how do you figure out the type of site you want or what your redesign should look like? First, you should check out the competitors in your field. But, be aware, their site may also be starting to show its age…don’t stop here. If you’re selling something online or creating an ecommerce site, check out the top ecommerce sites online – Amazon.co.uk, Asos.com, B&Q (diy.com) and many others. Again, there’s no reason that you can’t aspire to build a site that will look and feel just as big as some of those companies. You might be a small business, but with the web, you don’t have to “look” small.

Make notes about the things you like and dislike. And try to figure out what elements appeal to you about the sites that you really like. You don’t have to have a degree in visual design to figure out what looks professional and what doesn’t. As you finalise the design of your site, you should almost always err on a design that’s professional.

It’s absolutely fine to develop a unique, web personality for you and your business. But, as noted above, throughout the design process continually remind yourself that your website is the first impression that someone will have of your business – and what you’re selling.Finally, remember that despite the huge growth in high-speed internet connectivity, there are still potential customers signing on with a lower connection speeds. And, more and more people are surfing the web on mobile devices. If you’re tempted to add a resource intensive graphic or applications on your home page, keep in mind this could limit the potential customers that can view your site. For these potential customers that’s the equivalent of putting up a “Closed” sign on the front page.

With a little planning and research the possibilities of what your business can do online are endless. We love to see the innovative ways our small business customers have created their online brands.

At intrahost, we cater for businesses of all sizes and have a range of services suitable for all budgets and requirements. From the simplest content web-site to the most complex eCommerce site with large volumes of traffic we’re here to support you 24 x 7.

If you have any questions or would like further information on how your business can benefit from hosting with intrahost, please visit our website intrashost.co.uk or call us on 0800 321 3812.

Find out more information about our hosting here

SEO Essentials For Top Search Engine Rankings

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a process of improving your website visibility in the search engines including: Google, Yahoo and Bing. SEO is a long term process of targeted traffic generation. More and more businesses are focusing on search engine optimisation as a method of generating traffic and sales.

Why SEO is important?

Many businesses focus on the organic method of generating search engine traffic. Search engine optimisation is a long term asset for your business.

A small business owner such as the local butchers gathers their business through passing trade and word of mouth. A website or blog that's located on the first page of Google is highly likely to gain more leads and sales because they can be easily found.

Being on the first page of Google is the same principle as participating in the Top 10 Music Singles Chart. Everybody wants to be number one.  The Top 10 Music Singles Chart is highly competitive and there could be a difference of 25,000 sales in records between the number one chart position and the number two chart position.

Unlike the music industry, once you've reached the first page of Google you’re more likely to be on the first page of Google longer. However, it’s always a constant effort to stay on the first page of Google.

The Internet has thousands of niches and varying levels of competition.  Niches such as “credit cards” or “mortgages” are highly competitive and these businesses depend on high SEO rankings to maintain their profit margins. Businesses understand the importance of high search engine rankings.

How Google sees the Internet

Google doesn't see fancy graphics, video or audio. Google can only read HTML. It’s more important than ever to develop a search engine friendly website or blog. Google loves content. Google is like a journalist that’s eager to find the latest news.

Websites such as: YouTube, Facebook, Digg and Twitter are crawled more often than a website that’s updated once a month. The Googlebot (Google’s search engine spider) is always searching for fresh new information.

Many businesses are beginning to implement blogs into their marketing strategy. You may have heard the term blog referred as “better listings on Google”.

Below is an example of how Google sees a web page. The Googlebot will read a web page and all the hyperlinks that are located on that web page. It’s important to have a strong link structure throughout your website.

Google Cache Example

SEO tips for Designers & Developers

Search engine optimisation can sometimes be overlooked by web designers. Web designers usually focus on making the web page look attractive.  A website or blog is a marketing machine that should generate results and traffic.

SEO tips for Web Designers

  1. Write your website mostly in HTML. The search engines can read HTML clearly and concise.
  2. Avoid making websites entirely in Adobe Flash. Websites that are self-contained within an Adobe Flash Player can’t be read by the search engines.  An example of using Flash would be in a banner or an interactive diagram. Avoid using Flash in your main navigation.
  3. Before designing your website, think about your information structure. Ask your client for the goals of the website. Content is an important part of any online presence.
  4. Take into consideration how Google sees your website or blog. The client wants results from their website or blog.
  5. Many web designers overlook the content structure of a website. The most popular websites have an outstanding content structure. Web users visit the Internet to find and research content that's relevant to them.  When you design a new website focus on the target audience and the benefits from a content point of view. Design is important, but content is crucial.

Ask yourself this question:

“If you become highly skilled at SEO and can generate an abundance of sales, how many clients would demand your skills?”

Search engine optimisation is a long-term asset that businesses are craving for.

On-Page SEO

There are a number of techniques that can be applied directly to your website or blog. The beauty of On-Page SEO is you have full control of your online presence. It’s important to get your website ready for the search engines by using On-Page SEO methods before launching your website or blog. Everybody needs targeted traffic. Everybody wants targeted traffic. Creating an excellent link structure will prove to be an important factor for any online presence.

20 tips to develop an SEO friendly website or blog

1. Web Hosting

Purchase reliable web hosting. Google review website speed as an important factor in their search engine ranking algorithms.  It's a good idea to use a local web hosting provider. You want your web hosting provider to be located as close to your business address as possible. The Googlebot establishes your business from where your hosting is located. If you have a local shop that is based in Newcastle, but your web hosting is based in the United States you will not benefit from local search. Search engine positions vary from different locations.

2. Review your competition

The Internet is a fantastic research tool. Thanks to Google, you can review all your competition just by conducting a search query. If you’re serious about creating a great website or blog review your top ten competitors in the Google search.

Review their online presence for the following:

  • Does your competitor have any unique content?
  • Does your competitor use multimedia?
  • Where are your competitor’s back links coming from?
  • What’s your competitor’s unique selling point?
  • How can you make your website or blog better than your competitors?
  • Does your competitor use: social media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any aspects of social bookmarking?

3. Keyword research

Before purchasing a domain name focus on your target audience. Research the key phrases or keywords that your potential customers will be searching for to find their information.  Research the competition of the keywords that you wish to rank for.

Choosing the correct keywords is extremely important. Use the Google Keyword Tool to help find the correct search terms.

If your website or blog is in a competitive niche, it’s going to be more difficult to reach the first page of Google.  Target long tail keywords and you’ll have more success.

Examples of keyword research

Example A:

The term web hosting has 196,000,000 results.

The term web hosting is a broad phrase.

There are many types of web hosting including:

  • Cheap web hosting
  • Reliable web hosting
  • Linux web hosting
  • Windows web hosting

A potential customer that’s ready to buy web hosting is more likely to type in something more concise.

Example B:

The key phrase “Linux Plesk Virtual Dedicated Server” has 167,000 results.

This phrase is called a “long-tail” key phrase. The customer knows exactly what they want to look to for and more likely to a make purchase. A broad term such as “web hosting” is likely to be someone researching a nice. If you can focus on targeting long-tail key phrases you’re more likely to make more sales.

4. Choose a keyword rich domain

Once you know your competition. It’s important to purchase a domain name that reflects your target market.  If your business is based in the United Kingdom it’s advisable to purchase a .co.uk domain.

Try and use your keywords in your domain name. Every domain is unique and Google searches for content that’s relevant to your search.

5. SEO friendly links

It’s important to create SEO friendly navigation. Review DMOZ.org for some ideas on SEO friendly links.

The website link below, doesn't tell the search engines or the reader what the hyperlink is about.

This is an example of poor link structuring.

http://www.mydomain.co.uk/?=1334334

An example of good link structure

http://www.intrahost.co.uk/web-hosting/linux-plesk-hosting/

The SEO friendly link demonstrates to the web user and the search engines that the hyperlink refers to web hosting and Linux Plesk hosting. Therefore, both the user and search engines can recognise the meaning of the hyper link.

6. Page title tags

One of the most important aspects regarding search engine optimisation is the title tag. The title tag is the first piece of information that the Googlebot notices.  If you‘re looking to increase your search engine rankings - change the title tags to improve search engine ranking positioning.

Tips for modifying the page title tag.

  • Make your page titles are unique for every page. Google is constantly looking for unique content.
  • Avoid using “and”, “&”, “or” in your page titles. Instead use “-“ or “|”.  Focus on your keywords. You can use up to 70 characters in your page title - it’s highly recommended to use all of them.

7. Heading tags

HTML uses a variety formatting tags known as heading tags. Heading 1 (<H1>Heading one</H1>) being the most influential to Heading 6 (<H6>Heading six</H6>) being the least influential. The search engines understand that content in the heading tags are important.

It’s important to use your keywords in the heading tags. Make full use of your keywords in the heading tags. Keep your headings as short as possible.

Only use the H1 tag once on each page. You can use H2 and H3 multiples times throughout your web content.

8. Create a Sitemap

A sitemap is an excellent tool to the aid search engines. A sitemap is an index for your website that's read by the search engines. The Googlebot will read this and crawl every page on your website. A visual sitemap is another resourceful aid for your web visitors. Not only, a sitemap assists the search engines, but a visual sitemap helps the web user to navigate around the website more efficiently.

9. Use your keywords in the first 50 words of your content

Remember that the search engine’s priority is to find: relevant, resourceful and unique content.  It’s good practice to use your keywords as early as possible in your content.

10. SEO friendly footer

In web design, footers can been generally overlooked.  The purpose of SEO is to increase your visibility in the search engines. This is can be implemented by internal linking.

11. Internal linking

Google is interested in natural link building. An excellent example of internal link building is Wikipedia. The Wikipedia website constantly interlinks resourceful content internally throughout their articles. Internal linking also promotes deep linking, where the search engine spiders can crawl more thoroughly through your website or blog.

12. 404 Error Page

How many times have you seen the “Page Not Found” (404 error) when using the Internet? A customised 404 page can be applied to retain web visitors that have become lost through your online presence. A customised 404 error page can be used to improve your SEO and usability.

13. Create a keyword rich article for your home page

If you’ve got a frequently changing home page on your website, create a keyword rich article to go underneath your footer on the homepage.  This will help to improve relevancy throughout your online presence.

14. Install an RSS feed

Many web users are unaware of the power the RSS Feed. Do you have a favourite blog that you visit frequently just to review new updates? The RSS Feed (Really Simple Syndicate) is a free subscription service that informs you when your favourite website or blog has been updated with new content.

For many bloggers, an RSS feed plays an important part of their overall website traffic.  Educate your target audience about the benefits of using an RSS feed.

15. Image Files

Digital cameras are commonly known for producing instant photographs but creating poor file names. For example, you’ve taken a photograph of a Jack Russell Puppy. How relevant is the file name “001.jpg” to you?

Instead of: “001.jpg”, name your file to “jack-russell-puppy.jpg”.  By creating relevant file names you could rank highly on Google Images. This is another opportunity to create targeted web traffic.

16. ALT text

In a nutshell, ALT text (alternative text) is applied to images. Search engines can’t see images, instead they see text. In addition, ALT text is required for accessibility. If an image doesn’t load for whatever reason the ALT text explain what the image is.

For SEO purposes, use clear and concise phrases that describe the image. If possible use relevant keywords that relate to your web page.

17. Create fresh content often as possible

The search engines are constantly searching for relevant and unique information. Develop a content creation strategy for your online presence. Depending on your schedule, try and develop at least three new articles per week and make your content keyword rich.

Focus on quality information rather than quantity. Your target market wants relevant and unique information. Your information must serve the needs of the target market and provide value. An online presence that contains value will be link worthy from other websites and blogs.

18. Submit your content to social bookmarking sites

In order to get your web content noticed, you need to promote your online presence on as many social media sites as possible. Submit your recently published content to the following social media sites:

  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Technorati
  • Digg

The main benefit of submitting your content to the main social bookmarking sites is that the search engines will crawl: Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Technorati much faster than smaller blogs or websites.  Make a habit of submitting your content to social media sites after you’ve published a new article.

19. Keyword Rich Hyperlinks

How many websites have you visited and seen the phrase “Click here?”

The clickable text in the hyperlink is known as “anchor text”. The anchor text plays a major factor in the weight of search engine rankings.

If I wanted to increase my website rankings for the term: cloud servers. My anchor text would be “cloud servers”. Using the relevant anchor text will increase the search engine position for that particular phrase.

"Search engines are constantly looking for relevancy."

20 . Use breadcrumbs in your navigation

An easy to use navigation structure is resourceful for website users.  You’ll notice on a variety of websites or blogs that a breadcrumb structure is common. This promotes internal linking and makes your site user-friendly.

21 . Start blogging

Some businesses are using blogging and social media as a part of their online marketing strategy. Never before, has there been an opportunity to create an online presence and develop conversation.

Blogs are online journals that are search engine friendly and support the Web 2.0 features such as commenting and RSS.

Summary

Marketing is a constant on-going process where you need dedicate your time and efforts to achieving the results that you require. Search engine optimisation is an important factor of any successful marketing campaign.  Some niches are more competitive than others. If you focus on your SEO campaign you're on the way to better search engine listings.

Content generation is an important factor of any online presence. A website or blog is like maintaining a car. A car needs fuel to operate. The engine requires oil to function properly. Regular maintenance tests are required to ensure that the car is running smoothly. But most importantly, a website needs a confident driver to push their online successfully forward.

Focus on developing the best online presence that you possibly can. Constantly supply unique content. Think about developing content that’s link worthy. This is known as link bait. Develop a free eBook or resource and promote your content frequently.

Now it’s your turn

If you’ve done any link building, how successful have your efforts been? Do you have any SEO stories to share? Do you have any tips on traffic generation?

If you’ve enjoyed this article, please ReTweet and if you feel this article will benefit your readers – please link back to us.

How to: check free disk capacity

This is a simple enough task, but one that can shed light on so many issues and save you from urgent scrambles for more disk space. To check free disk capacity use:

df -h

The -h parameter ensures the results are displayed in MB/GB as opposed to 1k blocks.

Each line representsa separate filesystem device/partition.