Web Hosting Blog
SSL Certificate – Give Your Customers Peace of Mindposted by Chris Chase
SSL certificates give online shoppers peace of mind…and since online shopping is an important part of modern commerce, and your business should make sure to take full advantage.
Online shoppers love convenience but hate risk. No one wants to be unsure about placing a purchase because they might be giving their financial information to an insecure site. Don’t let that happen to your business: give your customer a guarantee.
This guarantee is a digital certificate. Also known as an “SSL Certificate,”it encrypts your site’s online shopping cart, making it incredibly tough for a third party to snatch the credit card/mailing info your customers provide you.
And how will your customers know you’ve encrypted your website? Firstly, you can display a graphic (showing a seal of the certificate, or a lock, etc) on your site, but…more importantly…if your cart is properly encrypted, the “http://” in your store’s web address will display as “https://” (the “s” literally stands for “secure”, and there is no way to get it without encryption).
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Good Domain Names – How Valuable Are They?posted by Tom Sullivan
Though the focus was specifically on whether startups should spend venture capital funding on a domain name, the article was a good reminder of domain name basics (as we’ve previously posted about; see Best Website Domain Names) and provided valuable insight and domain strategies to use when the domain you want is unavailable.
The article asserts that while domain names are currently a little less important (because of mobile and apps), they are still your email identity (as we also wrote about a couple of weeks ago in Domain Email…What Are You Waiting for?) and an important part of your marketing.
A domain name can even be the difference between winning and losing companies, one of the factors that tips the competitive balance from one startup to another; for example, the stronger Mint.com domain winning out over Wesabe.com.
Why? Because a good domain name catches attention, is easy to remember, and easy to find online. It represents your company often before you have any other way to influence potential customers, investors, or even future employees.
Three main domain name factors proposed in the article are:
- Fit. This is perhaps obvious, so Teten doesn’t explain any more than to say the domain should match the business. There are, of course, different ways to “match” or “fit.” As we’ve previously written, a domain name that is an exact match or close match to your company name (assuming you’re not a startup with no previous company name) is often the number-one recommendation. Next would be a strong, popular keyword that’s associated with your business, like one of your core products or services. I would say that the domain doesn’t have to be immediately obvious but it should makes sense when you think about it. Like the Facebook domain. While “facebook” wasn’t a popular keyword and people first hearing the domain may have wondered what it was, a social network like this is kind of like a contact “book” with the “faces” (and other personal detail) of friends. So it fits.
- SEO. Here’s another push for keyword-rich domain names. If your domain name exactly matches keywords people are using to find the products or services you sell, your website will get a real boost towards the first page of search results (assuming you have a non-hyphenated .COM site). If you are lucky enough to have such a domain (or can get one), make sure you optimize the homepage for your domain name keywords. In other words, the content of the homepage should support the URL/domain.
- Linguistic Characteristics. Though we have written about certain aspects of these good domain name characteristics before (notably that you want a short domain, without hyphens or numerals, that’s easy to spell and therefore remember), some of Teten’s other recommendations about the internal sounds of domain names were new and intriguing.
No matter what your domain name means, data suggests that the best ones generally have these linguistic characteristics:
- are short
- use dictionary words
- do no include hyphens or numerals
- have initial sounds that are easy to articulate
- avoid internal sounds phonemes associated with disgust (like the uh sound in yuck and the ew sound in puke)
The bad news: If you’re going to be bidding on domain names that are already owned, you’ll probably need fairly deep pockets. Average domains are said to go from $5,000 – $20,000, with the very top of the market going in the millions.
The good news: Teten advises most new businesses to start with a free or very low-cost dot-com domain name. If your ideal domain name isn’t available but there is no website yet active at that domain, you may want to purchase a similar domain to launch your business with the goal to transition to the other domain when you can purchase it. These EarthLink Web Hosting services offer a free domain name for one year.
To get more domain name advice for startups, read the full article on Forbes.com.
When you’re ready to get started, here’s a step by step guide to choosing a new domain name with EarthLink.
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Managing Your EarthLink Web Hosting Accountposted by Tom Sullivan
We’ve previously posted about several of the sections of the Control Center, including how to build your website, how to manage your domain email, how to manage your website, and how to manage your domain.
Today we’ll focus on the Manage Account section of the Control Center. It offers you one centralized place to access essential settings information, account statistics, alerts, available services, important account-related dates, disk usage, and more.
So let’s take a look.
As always, you should start by going to control.earthlink.net and logging in with your Web Hosting domain name, username, and password. (If you have multiple domain names, you can access them all by using your primary domain information.)
Then, simply click the Account tab at the top of your screen to go to the Manage Account section of your Control Center.
If you have more than one domain name, the first thing you’ll want to do is use the Show & Manage menu to select the domain you want to manage.
Click the plus sign (+) next to FTP Settings, Mail Settings or FTP Dropbox Settings to verify these account-related settings. You’ll need the FTP setting if you are going to FTP files to your website (rather than only using our built-in Site Builder to control your website). Use the Mail Settings if you want to set up an email client to access your domain name email or use our Web Mail for Web Hosting.
This section gives you a quick look at a few of your most important stats:
- Disk Usage: see how much webspace you are currently using and what the limit of your web hosting plan is.
- FTP Users: Just a reminder of how many people have FTP access to your domain.
- Bandwidth: Similar to Disk Usage, it’s a snapshot of how much bandwidth (also called web transfer) you’ve used this month and your monthly Web Hosting account limit.
Click the Assistants Manager icon if you want to add users to your web hosting account and assign them specific privileges. See our previous post on adding web hosting assistants.
It’s a good idea to click into the Alerts page of your Control Center every now and then to see if there are any issues that require your attention. Alerts listed here may be billing issues, system updates, announcements of planned downtime and other important information. Click to open and read any alert you have and then click the X to close the alert. Then choose to Mark as unread, Mark as read or Delete.
Click the My Services icon to view all available services as well as upcoming billing dates for all your web hosting services. This section gives you a quick look at this information only; if you need to modify any account information or make a payment, click the My EarthLink Account icon instead.
My EarthLink Account
Clicking My EarthLink Account opens a new browser window with our My Account portal, the place to go when you want to make any changes or updates to your Web Hosting account. See our previous post about My Account for more information.
The Account Statistics section we mentioned above already gave you a quick look at your primary account statistics. Click into Disk Usage if you want a bit more. You’ll get a more detailed look at your available disk space, used disk space, free disk space, available bandwidth, current bandwidth, and email boxes. All stats are in megabytes (MB) except mailboxes, which show current number of boxes and the total allowed for your web hosting plan.
The statistics listed on top of the Disk Usage page are for the current month only. If you want to see how this information compares to other months, use the drop-down menu to select previous months.
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Domain Email … What are You Waiting For?posted by Tom Sullivan
We know that web hosting provides a great return on investment.
But we also know that you still may not be ready for web hosting.
So, what about domain email hosting?
For some, getting a domain name to use for email is a smart first step before moving on to creating a website.
A domain email address can be a valuable extension of your personal or business brand, providing a more consistent and professional way to communicate with customers, prospects, partners and vendors.
Wouldn’t it be nicer to be You@YourBusiness.com or CEO@YourCompany.com than something like firstname.lastname@example.org when you are communicating about your business?
As a potential customer, I know I’d feel better about doing business with someone using a branded domain than a free email service.
Not having a company email domain suggests you don’t really take your business seriously. And if you don’t, why should others?
After all, getting started with domain email is simple and inexpensive. For just $4.95 a month, our Domain with Email service includes:
- 50 email addresses @ your domain name
- Email mailing lists, forwarders and auto-responders
- 1GB of storage per email address
- Easy Web Mail access from any online computer or device
- Built-in spam and virus protection
To learn more, these previous domain-related blog posts may be helpful:
- How to choose the best domain name
- How to set up your domain email in our Control Center
- How to configure domain email on your email client or mobile device
- How to use your domain email with Web Mail
One final word of advice: get your domain name as soon as you can.
There’s a lot of competition for good names. And it would be a shame if you waited too long and then couldn’t get one that works well for your business.
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How to Manage Your Domain with the EarthLink Web Hosting Control Centerposted by Tom Sullivan
Domain names are such an important part of business web hosting that web hosting is often called domain hosting or domain web hosting.
We’ve previously posted about the best domain names for SEO, branding and online success, how to choose a domain name, step by step, and why you should buy multiple version of your domain name.
To get started, go to our Web Hosting Control Center at control.earthlink.net and sign in with your domain name, user name and password. Then click Manage Domain from the top navigation. Depending on the status of your domain, you’ll see six to nine icons representing all your domain name management options.
- DNS Records
- Change Domain Password
- Manage Nameservers
- Manage Domain Contacts
- Lock/Unlock Domains
- Domain Monitor Settings
- Domain Guard Settings
- Domain Redirect
- Add Subdomain
DNS Records: First, the warning: you probably shouldn’t change DNS settings unless you really know what you’re doing. If you make a mistake, your entire domain could be inaccessible for up to 72 hours. Ouch! If you’re not scared off, the DNS manager makes it easy to make changes to your zone file, which allows you to set up domain redirects, add subdomains, and add email servers to your domain. Add or delete MX Records, A Records and CNAME Records.
Change Domain Password: This one’s very simple: click this icon to change the password for your domain. The Transfer Authorization Code of your domain will be set to match your domain password.
Manage Nameservers: Click this icon to manage all the nameservers on your domain. If your domain is locked, you’ll need to unlock it first before you can change any of your nameservers. Luckily that Lock/Unlock Domains tool is in the same Manage Domain section of the Control Center.
Manage Domain Contacts: This tool lets you make changes to the contact information associated with your website. Click the checkbox above the contacts form if you want to use the same person as your Registrant, Administrative, and Technical contact; otherwise enter unique contact information for each type.
Lock/Unlock Domains: To prevent your domain name from being hijacked, you may want to click here and lock your domain. If it’s already locked, click here to unlock if you need to change your nameservers or transfer to another domain registrar.
Domain Monitor Settings: Domain Monitor is a complete, unmetered domain status monitoring tool. It lets you monitor the daily status of any domain and get daily email updates when one or more of your domain names changes status.
Domain Guard Settings: Domain Guard lets you know each time a new domain is registered that is similar to yours. This can help you protect your trademarks, copyrights, and brand.
Domain Redirect: This tool makes it simple to redirect pages or directories on your website to other locations. You choose whether you want them to be 301 redirects (permanent redirect that’s best for SEO) or a 302 temporary redirect. You can also specify Global Redirection of your domain to one version (www.YourDomain.com or YourDomain.com), which is also beneficial for SEO.
Add Subdomain: Create a new subsection of your website that replaces the www domain prefix in your URL instead of appearing after the domain.
For example, the EarthLink.net domain has several subdomains (support, webmail, myaccount, control, etc.):
Simply enter any keyword you want to use as a subdomain and click the Add Sub-Domain button.
That’s all there is to it.
And remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself. You can add an assistant to your web hosting account to help you manage your domain.
Email Marketing Results – How to Track Them with Announcer Proposted by Tom Sullivan
Several months ago, we posted about how to create and send your first marketing emails with Announcer Pro, an easy-to-use tool that’s built into the EarthLink Web Hosting Control panel.
Announcer Pro is included with all our EarthLink web hosting, ecommerce hosting, and professional website design and hosting plans. (The maximum number of contacts you can use, however, does vary by plan.)
After you’ve sent your first marketing email (using the 5 steps outlined in our previous post), you should get ready to monitor the results.
Today we’ll show you just what results and stats you can track with Announcer Pro.
How to View Your Email Marketing Results
- Sign in to your EarthLink Web Hosting Control Panel at control.earthlink.net.
- Click on the Email tab and then the icon for Announcer Pro.
- On the Main Menu screen, you’ll see some results in the Activity section as well as the Latest Email Statistics section.
- Click on the View Results tab at the top of the page to go to the Delivery Results page.
Your Delivery Results Page
The Announcer Pro delivery results page is an easy-to-read overview of your marketing email. Here’s what you’ll see on the main part of the page:
- A large pie chart showing the percentage of opened, unopened and bounced emails
- Percentage of your emails that were successfully sent
- Click rate percentage for your emails
- Percentage of recipients that unsubscribed
- Percentage of emails that were flagged as spam
- Twitter click percentage
- Facebook click percentage
In the left-side column, you’ll see an Email Summary with the email name, subject line, reply-to-email address, and date sent. You’ll also get links that allow you to dig deeper into the results of your email.
Click, for example, on Clicks: 40% (that was my click-rate on my last email test; so this number will vary by campaign) and you’ll see the URL or URLs that were clicked on in your email, and a list of names and email addresses of the recipients who clicked on your email.
At the bottom of the left column, you’ll have the option to download a detailed report as an HTML, CSV, or PDF file.
Good luck with your email marketing efforts. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments section below.
Website Templates Can be Professional-Looking and Easy to Use!posted by Chris Chase
Website templates can look cheap and they can be hard to use…but they don’t have to be, so EarthLink wants you to know about the amazing template options in their web hosting packages (which includes an easy-to-use website builder).
The Website Builder includes professional-grade templates, and you don’t need to do any coding whatsoever! Just choose the webpage template you know will work best for your business. fill in the text, add images (upload them straight from your computer), answer a few basic questions, and click on “publish.”
Check out some of the pre-made templates we have:
Website Templates Available with EarthLink Web Hosting
- Animals & Pets
- Antiques & Collectibles
- Café / Restaurant
- Cleaning & Maintenance
- Employment Agency
- Flowers & Gardening
- Food & Drinks
- General Contractors
- Health & Beauty
- Health Care
- Heating & Air
- Interior Design
- Landscaping & Lawn Care
- Office Supplies
- Pawn Brokers & Auctioneers
- Personal Pages
- Pest Control
- Photo & Video
- Politics & Government
- Property Management
- Real Estate
- Sports & Recreation
- Tourism & Travel
Don’t see a template category name that’s a perfect fit? Many of the website templates listed above can be easily adapted to fit other businesses simply by altering the text and images you use!
Help! How to Add an Assistant to Your Web Hosting Accountposted by Tom Sullivan
You can simply add one or more assistants to your EarthLink Web Hosting account. Here’s how easy it is:
- Sign in to your Web Hosting Control Panel at https://control.earthlink.net.
- Click the Account tab.
- Click the Assistants Manager icon.
- Click the create new assistant link.
- Enter the Full Name, Email Address, Username, and Password for your assistant.
- Designate the assistant as a Site Administrator if you want he/she to have full access to the Control Panel, including the ability to add or delete other users (don’t worry, no user can delete the Primary Administrator).
- If you don’t designate the assistant as a Site Administrator, you can choose individual privileges you’d like him/her to have.
- Select the domain or domains (if you have more than one) that you’d like the assistant to be assigned to.
- Click the green Save button.
That’s all there is to adding an assistant to your EarthLink Web Hosting account.
If you ever want to change an assistant’s information (email address, password, etc.) or privileges, or delete the assistant, simply follow the first three steps above and then click either Edit or Delete next to the assistant’s name. Make your changes and click Save.
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Business Web Hostingposted by Tom Sullivan
Happy April Fools’ Day!
Before we get to our regular Monday topic, Web Hosting, here’s a quick roundup of April Fools’ gags from Google, Sony, Twitter, and other companies.
And now, no fooling, back to web hosting. Specifically business web hosting.
What distinguishes regular web hosting from business web hosting? Sometimes nothing, because the terms are often used synonymously. But there certainly are several requirements for a web hosting service to be called business web hosting.
Business web hosting clearly means that the web hosting service is intended for businesses, probably small to medium-sized businesses (the term enterprise web hosting is often used for the largest businesses).
The number-one distinction for business web hosting would be from various forms of free hosting intended for personal consumer use. EarthLink Internet access, for example, gives dial-up, DSL, cable Internet and other subscribers a small amount of free webspace that we host on our home.earthlink.net domain (rather than at their own domain name). People typically use these very small, simple sites to share their interests or post something about their family.
Domain Web Hosting
Business web hosting would always be a domain web hosting service, meaning it would support your website at its own domain name (e.g., www.YourDomainName.com). EarthLink Web Hosting plans support from 5 to 50 domain names depending on the service level, and all plans come with one free domain name. Having your website at its own domain is the main requirement of a business web hosting service. (Take a look back at this post about the best website domain names for SEO, branding and online success.)
Business web hosting often provides domain email service as well, although some web hosting providers outsource this to another email provider. EarthLink Web Hosting plans come with from 100 – 1,000 business-class email accounts, so business employees’ and departments’ communication with customers is a branded experience. (See our previous post about domain email addresses for your business.)
Other business web hosting features may include FTP accounts, database support, support for multiple programming languages, content management tools, and marketing tools (our Business Website Plus plan provides a comprehensive suite of online marketing tools).
Ecommerce Web Hosting
When some people use the term business web hosting, they mean ecommerce web hosting: the hosting of a website with online store capabilities. While ecommerce hosting is always business web hosting, not all business website hosting is ecommerce hosting. Ecommerce hosting is specifically geared towards those businesses that need to provide real-time credit card processing on their website, so customers can buy from an online catalog or store, using an online shopping cart. However, not all businesses, even very large ones, need an online store.
Cloud Hosting and Dedicated Server Hosting
Cloud hosting means building and hosting a virtual server in the cloud (at the cloud hosting provider) that is dedicated to one company (for that reason it is also called cloud server hosting). Cloud hosting isn’t always used for web hosting; often the cloud servers are used for application hosting or other IT needs. Cloud hosting for websites offers businesses a greater amount of performance, scalability and security, since the business website is on its own virtual server.
Dedicated server hosting is when you lease an entire physical server from a service provider such as EarthLink Business. When the dedicated server is used for a website it is called dedicated web hosting. Dedicated web hosting offers an even greater degree of control, reliability and security since you have control over an entire server housed and monitored by the hosting company.
If you have basic business web hosting or ecommerce web hosting needs, EarthLink Web Hosting offers six plans to choose from. For very high-traffic sites or complex web hosting or security requirements, you should probably give EarthLink Business a call at 1-855-873-1393 to ask about Cloud Hosting or Dedicated Server Hosting.
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Mobile Websites: Do I Really Need One?posted by Tom Sullivan
Your customers expect you to have a website to consider you a legitimate business.
That’s why we started offering our web hosting services way back in 1995. But a lot has changed in those 18 years. Just having a website isn’t enough for many businesses.
Most businesses also need a mobile website.
If you’re wondering why, remember the immortal (if apocryphal) words of the notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton is said to have responded, “Because that’s where the money is.”
That’s a pretty concise summary of why you need mobile site for your business. More and more, mobile is where your customers are. And if that’s where your customers are, that’s where your money is.
Consider these stats from a 2012, Google-sponsored study of smartphone usage called Our Mobile Planet (PDF):
- 96% of smartphone users have researched a product or service on their device
- 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone
- 90% purchase, contact the business or take another action after local research
- 66% access the Internet every day on their smartphone
- 57% search on their smartphones every day
- 37% have researched on their smartphone and then purchased on a computer
- 35% have made a purchase on their phone
- 32% have researched on their smartphone and then purchased the product offline
That’s a lot of money to leave on the table.
Also consider that smartphone penetration is still growing and 31% of smartphone users expect to make even more mobile purchases in the future.
That’s why most of our web hosting plans and all of our ecommerce hosting plans include a mobile website with click-to-map and click-to-call functionality. Because we don’t want you to miss out on the ever-growing mobile market of smartphone and tablet users.
These are the EarthLink Web Hosting plans that include a mobile-optimized website:
- Business Website Plus web hosting service
- eCommerce Website Plus ecommerce hosting service
- Standard Design & Marketing Website – professional web design and web hosting service
- Premium Design & Marketing Website – professional web design and web hosting service
- eCommerce Design & Marketing Website – professional web design and ecommerce hosting service
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