5 Ways to Improve Your Website’s PageSpeed Using HTTP/2

speedup-website

HyperText Transfer Protocol version 2, or HTTP/2, is the latest standard of HTTP. The updates to the protocol will improve the speed, efficiency, and security of web traffic. However, the transition isn’t automatic. This article aims to give you some insight into what HTTP/2 means to you, and how to configure your website or server to take advantage of the new features. What HTTP/2 Means for You For regular users, the changes from HTTP/1.1 to HTTP/2 will be pretty invisible. All browsers will require a valid Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate to serve websites over HTTP/2. So beyond faster page loading,…

Read the full article: 5 Ways to Improve Your Website’s PageSpeed Using HTTP/2

HyperText Transfer Protocol version 2, or HTTP/2, is the latest standard of HTTP. The updates to the protocol will improve the speed, efficiency, and security of web traffic. However, the transition isn’t automatic.

This article aims to give you some insight into what HTTP/2 means to you, and how to configure your website or server to take advantage of the new features.

What HTTP/2 Means for You

For regular users, the changes from HTTP/1.1 to HTTP/2 will be pretty invisible.

All browsers will require a valid Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate to serve websites over HTTP/2. So beyond faster page loading, there will also be an increase in website security.

For web designers and owners, HTTP/2 can improve your site’s load speed across all devices.

Every modern browser already supports the new protocol standard (although these mobile browsers don’t support HTTP/2). However, in cases where the browser or server doesn’t support HTTP/2, the HTTP/1.1 standard will be used automatically.

How Will HTTP/2 Affect Website Design?

The changes introduced in HTTP/2 will affect how we optimize websites and servers for efficiency and speed.

New features introduced in HTTP/2 will allow us to disregard many of HTTP/1’s workarounds and optimization techniques. This includes no longer inlining scripts into HTML or combining files to reduce server requests. Domain sharding is also no longer useful.

In some cases, these workarounds will even negatively affect your page speed if it’s served HTTP/2.

The majority of internet traffic is mobile based, so consider mobile internet speeds and keep your media files small and optimized for these devices. You should also continue to minify your JavaScript (JS), HTML and CSS.

If you’re not sure why you should minify your files, a good start would be our article on how and why to minify your JavaScript.

HTTP Concepts You Should Know

In case you aren’t familiar with the terms referred to in this article, here’s a quick introduction

Inlining Script is to add JavaScript directly into a HTML document with the <script> tag. In HTML/1.1 this gets rid of small JavaScript files and will reduce server requests and load scripts faster.

Reducing the number of files is no longer as big of an issue for page speed in HTTP/2 thanks to Multiplexing, Stream Prioritization, and Server Push.

Multiplexing is a new feature in HTML/2 which allows for multiple Data Streams over a single Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection.

Data Streams is an HTML/2 term used for bi-directional streams of data. We can prioritize each stream thanks to their unique identifier, which will help us optimize data delivery.

Stream Prioritization is another new feature in HTML/2. This gives us the ability to tell a server to allocate resources and bandwidth to prioritized Data Streams. Thus ensuring optimal delivery of high priority content to clients.

Domain Sharding is the act of splitting website resources across multiple sites or domains to get around the simultaneous download limitation in HTML/1.1.

In HTML/2, Multiplexing and Server Push will do simultaneous downloads faster and more efficient than Domain Sharding. In fact, there is currently no support to use these features across multiple domains.

Server Push will allow a server to send multiple responses for a single client request. In short, the server can make assumptions as to what files a browser needs to load a page, without the browser specifically requesting them.

We’ll now focus on some of the changes website owners should make to optimize websites for HTTP/2. For a deeper insight into these concepts, read our previous article: “What Is HTTP/2 and How Does It Affect the Internet’s Future?“.

5 Website Changes to Make for HTTP/2 Optimization

The main changes you should be aware of as a website owner are related to how to deal with website resources. Specifically in regards to how your website’s server will talk to a browser, and how the files are delivered.

Below are the most common changes you should look into to optimize your website of HTTP/2.

1. Don’t Combine Your CSS or JavaScript

You should no longer concatenate, or combine your website resources. In HTTP/1.1, this will reduce the number of HTTP requests, and files needed to be downloaded to display your website.

Each HTTP request will add latency, so in HTTP/1.1 downloading a single file is often more efficient than downloading multiple files. Fewer files also help get around the limit to simultaneous downloads in HTTP/1.1.

As HTTP/2 allows for multiple downloads without multiple server requests, the number of files is less important when optimizing for speed. Combined with caching, specific files are better in HTTP/2.

In effect, more specific files allow you to serve most of your website from your Content Delivery Network (CDN) and the user’s browser cache. It also means the browser won’t have to download and parse a single large file from your server when you make minor tweaks to your website.

2. Don’t Inline Scripts in HTML

Embedding CSS and JS files in your HTML document will improve your page loading speed in HTTP/1.1. As with combining files, it will reduce file numbers and server requests.

Inlining scripts in HTML when using HTTP/2 will reduce your page speed optimization from caching, by removing a browser’s ability to cache assets individually.

It will also break any improvement from Stream Prioritization, as all embedded script and content will get the same priority level as your HTML content.

Instead of inlining assets to reduce HTTP requests, take advantage of multiplexing and server push. This will allow browsers to download more resources with fewer request, and improve your page’s load speed.

In short, keep your resources separate and small when possible.

3. Stop Using CSS Image Sprites

Example of image sprites using chess pieces
Image Credit: jurgenwesterhof/Wikimedia

Image Sprites are images made up of many smaller images (like the one above). CSS then specifies which sections of the image to display.

As with most HTTP/1.1 workarounds, we use image sprites partly to reduce server requests. In HTTP/2, you can safely use separate images without negatively affect your page’s load speed.

Smaller files will download faster and more efficiently thanks to multiplexing and server push.

4. Do Not Use Domain Sharding

Domain sharding is used to circumvent the simultaneous download limitations in HTTP/1. This limitation is usually between four and eight per domain and is set by browsers partly to reduce DDOS attacks.

Sharding your website across four domains, for example, can theoretically serve resources in a quarter of the time in HTTP/1.1.

Domain sharding is no longer necessary thanks to HTTP/2’s multiplexing.

Note that browsers cannot take advantage of multiplexing and parallel downloads across multiple domains in HTTP/2. Sharding will also break HTTP/2’s stream prioritization, further reducing the benefits of using HTTP/2.

5. Take Advantage of Server Push

http1 vs http2 with server push

Possibly the most significant improvement of HTTP/2 is server push.

In HTTP/1.1, when you request to view a page, the server will send the HTML document first. Your browser will then start parsing this, and separately request CSS, JS, and media files referred to in the document.

In HTTP/2, server push enables a server to push required resources to a browser without a separate request for them. This includes CSS and JavaScript files, as well as media, and will reduce HTTP requests and speed up page loading.

Smashing Magazine has a great comprehensive guide on HTTP/2’s server push with insight into how it works and how to enable it.

How to Configure Your Server for HTTP/2

HTTP/2 test tool

Most server implementations already support HTTP/2. However, if you are using a shared host you’ll need to check with your server admin if they have activated HTTP/2. If you are curious, GitHub has a list of server implementations that support HTTP/2.

Nginx servers have native support for HTTP/2, whereas you might need to configure Apache servers to enable HTTP/2 support.

If your website is HTTPS enabled, (a HTTP/2 requirement) you can check if your website is delivered with HTTP/2 at http2.pro. That said, if you use Cloudflare as your CDN, any content from their servers be served over HTTP/2 without you having to make any changes.

WordPress specific hosts will sometimes limit the configuration changes you can make, especially in their lower tier services. That said, we recommend Bluehost for your WordPress sites. Bluehost offer free SSL and CDN, and will serve your websites over HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 Is Just the First Step

HTTP/2 is a huge improvement on the previous standard, and you should now have some insight into the benefits you can get from implementing it.

Enabled websites will load faster and be more secure, which will also boost your search rankings. HTTP/3 is already on the way, and configuring your website for HTTP/2 will make your eventual jump to HTTP/3 much smoother.

Beyond setting up your website for HTTP/2, you should also use consider these ways to make your website load faster.

Read the full article: 5 Ways to Improve Your Website’s PageSpeed Using HTTP/2

What Is Google AMP? How It Works and Why It’s Useful for Mobile Sites

google-amp

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an open-source project created by Google with the aim of facilitating a smoother browsing experience for mobile devices. The project promises higher performance, increased engagement, and less data usage that benefits both users and publishers. How Does AMP Work? Page Speed became a ranking factor for mobile pages in July of this year (2018), and AMP is here to satisfy your website’s need for speed. In fact, AMP promises to make mobile browsing up to 85% faster. Through a combination of optimizations and restrictions for HTML, JavaScript, and CSS; AMP pages load almost instantly….

Read the full article: What Is Google AMP? How It Works and Why It’s Useful for Mobile Sites

google-amp

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an open-source project created by Google with the aim of facilitating a smoother browsing experience for mobile devices.

The project promises higher performance, increased engagement, and less data usage that benefits both users and publishers.

How Does AMP Work?

Page Speed became a ranking factor for mobile pages in July of this year (2018), and AMP is here to satisfy your website’s need for speed. In fact, AMP promises to make mobile browsing up to 85% faster.

Through a combination of optimizations and restrictions for HTML, JavaScript, and CSS; AMP pages load almost instantly. In place of author-written JavaScript, AMP-specific elements ensure speed and compatibility.

Page speed also improves with above-the-fold prioritization, specific AMP caches, and prerendering. Additionally, the use of small files and media, and few resource requests from the server adds further speed improvements.

The optimizations in AMP will also make sure the layout of your pages always load correctly, even before images and iframes (for adverts) are loaded.

This is done by specifying the size of images and iframes in the HTML document (called “static layouting”). And basically stops content moving around to fit the resources as they load.

What Is AMP Caching?

If you publish a valid AMP site, your pages are automatically cached as part of the AMP ecosystem. The cache will store your AMP documents, fonts, and images.

There are two AMP caches in use today, Google’s AMP Cache and Cloudflare’s AMP Cache. Cloudflare’s servers alone cover 102 locations in 50 different countries.

The cache is updated each time someone accesses content, and the updated content is served to the next user automatically. This ensures the latest version is served quickly to as many people as possible.

In addition to caching the content, the cache server will also provide some optimizations and modifications such as:

  • Validating the AMP format.
  • Limiting image dimensions to prevent browser memory issues and poor responsiveness.
  • Removal of image data that is invisible or difficult to see, such as certain metadata.
  • Converting images to smaller and more mobile-friendly image formats, such as converting GIF, PNG, and JPEG format images to WebP (what is WebP?) in browsers that support WebP.
  • Transforming images to lower quality if the request includes the Save-Data header.
  • Adds support for responsively sized images.
  • Serves over a secure channel (HTTPS) and uses the latest web protocols (SPDY, HTTP/2).
  • Sanitizes AMP documents to prevent XSS attacks based on incorrectly closed HTML tags, comments, and more.

In addition to these optimizations, the cache will also complete many HTML sanitization processes to normalize parsing.

A full list of AMP cache optimizations is available on the Google Developers pages.

What Are the Actual Benefits of AMP?

Speed is the main attraction of AMP. And it’s why many publishers like Google, Facebook, Baidu, Pinterest, and Twitter have already adopted the technology. The improved speed adds engagement and lowers bounce rates almost across the board.

AMP is especially useful in areas of low mobile internet coverage, or on congested and slow public networks like airports and coffee shops. And it’s why content loads in their apps so fast when regular browsing is slow.

Research done in a Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact study (commissioned by Google) last year, found that:

“AMP leads to a 10% increase in website traffic with a 2x increase in time spent on page. For e-commerce websites using AMP, the study also found a 20% increase in sales conversions compared to non-AMP pages.”

Google’s Top Stories Carousel on mobile will only use Google’s AMP Cache to display articles, so for many publishers, using AMP should be an automatic choice.

New York Times, eBay, and AliExpress are good examples to check out that have taken advantage of AMP. If you click content from these sites (marked with an amp icon) in Google search on your mobile, you will load the AMP version of their pages.

AMP Stories

An addition to the AMP ecosystem earlier this year was the AMP Story. Similar to Snapchat stories, these are already in use by many publishers. Good examples include CNN’s story about missions still exploring our Solar System, and Mashable’s essential guide to Black Panther.

AMP Story Ads, an addition to the stories feature, was recently made available to all websites that use Google Ad Manager. These are fullscreen ads that appear in AMP stories, and are one of the many improvements that have made AMP much more useful than even a year ago.

What Are the Downsides to AMP?

Google mobile search
Image Credit: DepositPhotos

If you use Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Messenger, etc., you will notice that external links will open within the domain itself, instead of the domain it’s linked to.

Although the AMP viewer improves the browsing experience for users, it can be a negative for website owners. It takes away from your power to control visitor’s navigation through your site.

This can rob your site of page-views and could disturb your ad revenue. There are even some analytics and tracking issues that can be difficult to solve unless you use Google Analytics for AMP.

That said, some readers may prefer the tracking difficulties. If so here’s what you can do to find out who is tracking you online.

Google’s Top Stories Carousel on mobile devices will only feature AMP ready content. This is an important fact since the majority of traffic to all AMP content comes from people searching on Google.com.

This AMP favoritism doesn’t just stop at the news carousel. Google will also feature AMP enabled websites higher than any other links, including standard mobile-friendly sites. All that said, AMP itself is not technically a Page Rank factor (yet), but the speed improvements are.

Cloudflare can improve your Accelerated Mobile Pages

Even if you make your AMP pages available, they won’t always be used depending on the OS, apps, or device used. If you use Cloudflare, you can enable Accelerated Mobile Links to identify and display AMP content from your site on mobile, no matter the source.

Cloudflare can also help you improve your privacy and performance when using your mobile.

Visualization and Design in AMP

We love ourselves some fancy looking websites. However, limitations of AMP can make you lose some of your sites visual appeal that you can otherwise retain using Responsive websites and Mobile design.

Plugins in WordPress, for example, will serve AMP by offering a simplified version of your website. These WordPress to AMP converters offer very little visual appeal and are one of the main reasons why many AMP sites look similar.

If you design your AMP pages by hand, rather than using converters, you can get a design that is similar to traditional mobile design, and more visually appealing.

AMP still has a way to go, and many developers are strongly against its use as it’s forcing them to enter the Google ecosystem even further. This is causing many to search for Google alternatives.

Should You Create AMP Pages?

AMP brings a lot of benefits for website owners, especially if you serve high volumes of content daily. However, you can solve many of the issues that slow down a website like excessive use of JavaScript, slow server response, and large file sizes without implementing AMP.

Being smart with your mobile design can serve your website fast. Jenny Gove at Google has written a great article on What Makes a Good Mobile Site, which is worth a read.

There are WordPress AMP plugins and Drupal AMP plugins that can assist you in generating AMP content. Otherwise, the AmpProject quickstart documents are a valuable resource to use to hand code your AMP pages.

The entire AMPProject website is actually created and rendered in AMP, so it’s is a good example of how these pages can look in all resolutions, not just on mobile.

Although people have a strong dislike of AMP for many different reasons, Stonetemple.com has looked at 10 case studies to see the difference in user engagement and conversion. They conclude that as long as the AMP implementation is done completely, most websites, regardless of their niche, will see benefits.

The bottom line is that you should consider whether your customers will get any benefits from AMP. Depending on the services you offer and the content you serve, it may not add improvements over mobile pages. With proper optimization, mobile pages can load pretty fast too!

How to Disable AMP

Caching is a core part of the AMP ecosystem, and publishing a valid AMP document automatically opts it into cache delivery. If you want to remove your pages, Google has written a guide on how to remove AMP Content from Google Search.

If you want to stop loading AMP pages as a user, you can  disable AMP Links and load the original pages instead on your mobile.

Read the full article: What Is Google AMP? How It Works and Why It’s Useful for Mobile Sites

7 Ways to Make Your Website or Blog Load Faster for Visitors

website-load-fast

Slow page loading speed is one of the main reasons why your website is not getting the hits it deserves. As audience attention is at an all-time low, here are some top tips to speed up your site to make sure your visitors stick around. 1. Decrease the Actual Size of Your Website If your website loads slower than three seconds, people are likely to abandon it even before the homepage loads. Using the wrong format for your images can easily bloat your website, and ruin an otherwise great browsing experience. Over 70% of mobile web pages are over 1MB,…

Read the full article: 7 Ways to Make Your Website or Blog Load Faster for Visitors

website-load-fast

Slow page loading speed is one of the main reasons why your website is not getting the hits it deserves.

As audience attention is at an all-time low, here are some top tips to speed up your site to make sure your visitors stick around.

1. Decrease the Actual Size of Your Website

If your website loads slower than three seconds, people are likely to abandon it even before the homepage loads. Using the wrong format for your images can easily bloat your website, and ruin an otherwise great browsing experience.

Over 70% of mobile web pages are over 1MB, and 12% are over 4MB! Keep in mind that it takes seven seconds to download 1.5MB on a good 3G connection. The best practice is to keep each page under 0.5MB.

Learn the difference between JPG, PNG, and GIF, and make sure you’re using the resolution that you need.

According to GlobalStats, these are the most used screen resolutions for 2018:

  • 22.55% use a resolution of 360 x 640 (mobile)
  • 11.73% use a resolution of 1366 x 768
  • 8.26% use a resolution of 1920 x 1080
  • 4.91% use a resolution of 375 x 667 (mobile)
  • 2.94% use a resolution of 1440 x 900

This is over 50% of all users, so consider this when you add photos to your website.

2. Design Your Website for Mobile

According to research done by Google last year on mobile page speed:

The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, according to a new analysis. Yet 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s a big problem.

Over 75% of mobile sites take 10 seconds or more to load over 3G. Well over half of all traffic is via mobile devices, and this is not likely to go down. So keep a small website footprint to make mobile internet users happy, and make sure they stick around!

If you use a CMS like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, there are plugins to help make your website more mobile-friendly.

Alternatively, you can use tools like bMobilized or Duda Mobile to convert your desktop website to mobile. That said, it’s often best to design a separate website to ensure the best experience for your mobile users.

You should also consider offering a simplified version of your website using the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. Using AMP pages will improve the page loading speed on mobile. There are strict guidelines for JavaScript and CSS, but the benefits are measurable.

Whichever route you decide to go down, make sure your mobile website is a lightweight option.And try to keep under the 0.5MB recommendation per page.

3. Make Sure Your Website Is Minified

If you’re writing your own website from scratch, edit it regularly. As your project develops, you’re likely learning more efficient ways of doing things, so make sure you go back through your code as you improve.

Minify and combine your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. If you use a CDN like Cloudflare for example, there is a specific tab for speed improvements, where the first option is Auto Minify. If you use a website builder (like Squarespace or Weebly) this is likely done for you by default.

Cloudflare Auto Minify options

Make sure you test your website after enabling anything that combines or minifies your website’s resources. Experiment with the different options to see what’s best for your website, as some features can break with Minify enabled.

4. Avoid Loading Scripts When Not Needed

Having to load several JavaScript files before they are needed will slow down the speed of the entire page unnecessarily. Avoid loading scripts from third-party servers if you can.

Requesting these will slow down your loading speed, further and can potentially pose a security risk. Keep them on your website’s server when possible.

You can use defer or async to delay the loading of specific JavaScript files to reduce the strain on visitor’s devices and improve the load speed of your pages. Alternatively, for small scripts, you can inline the JavaScript directly into the HTML document.

Async will tell the browser to continue parsing the HTML at the same time as the JavaScript files are being downloaded. The pause will then happen after the file is fully downloaded.

Meanwhile, defer will tell the browser to execute JavaScript files after the browser has finished parsing the entire HTML document.

A browser will by default pause parsing HTML files while any JavaScript files are fetched and executed.

Inlining JavaScript in the HTML document will help by reducing the number of files a browser has to download before displaying a page. You can inline JavaScript by adding the content of any external JavaScript file between script tags.

You can safely use defer and async on Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, and other analytics and error reporting tools without affecting the functionality of the page.

Lastly, consider whether the tracking codes, analytics, extra features, and ads you have running on your website are necessary. Use more lightweight options when possible, and scrap them if they don’t add anything of value to you or your visitors.

5. Use Caching and a CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) will copy your site onto servers worldwide and reduce the data’s travel time by connecting visitors to a server geographically closer to them. Static content will also be cached and delivered by the CDN’s servers.

Cloudflare is likely the CDN you know best, but Akamai and Amazon CloudFront are well-established alternatives.

Make sure you also leverage browser caching to improve the loading speed of your website for repeat visitors. Browser caching works by downloading these files from the server onto the user’s device.

On further page views or visits, these files will load locally from the user’s device instead of requesting them from the external server (depending on the expiry date of the files).

6. Get Rid of Non-Essential Plugins

Plugins should only be used when necessary. This is true whether you use Wix, Weebly, WordPress, or Squarespace or anything else. Any features you can do by adding simple CSS rather than a plugin, you should. Use Code Injection on Squarespace, use the CSS Customizer in WordPress , and Custom CSS on Wix.

Plugins can cause a high CPU or memory strain on your server, and this can slow down or even stop your website from loading.

If you use WordPress, it’s likely that you’re not using all of its built-in features. Disable these with a plugin like Clearfy.

Always consider the plugins you are using. If you’re using few features in plugins like JetPack, consider removing them altogether, and replace them with more lightweight plugins that do the same job.

7. Server Settings to Speed Up Your Website

Server delay will have a big negative impact on your page load speed and your PageRank.

Google recommends that the Time to First Byte (TTFB) is 1.3 seconds or less. This is the longest delay before a device starts downloading a page after initially contacting the server. That said, the average page has a TTFB of over 2 seconds, well above their recommendation.

Shared hosts are usually the reason for this, but there are some settings you can configure to improve your server response time.

  • Use the latest version of PHP that your website is compatible with. The latest version (PHP 7.2)  has massive speed improvements.
  • Switch on “Keep-Alive”
  • Enable HTTP/2
  • Take advantage of HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS)
  • Set your backups to complete at night

If your website is made in WordPress, make sure you use a host that specializes in WordPress hosting, like Bluehost. This will make sure that the server settings are configured specifically for WordPress performance.

Finished Tweaking? Now Test Your Site

ThinkWithGoogle mobile test results

Now that you know the ideal page load time, size, and Time to First Byte (TTFB) that you should be aiming for, how do you know what yours is?

Here are some of our favorite online tools to test your site:

  • varvy.com: these tools will test your desktop and mobile page speed and performance, and give you valuable guides on how to improve your website
  • Google PageSpeed Insight: recently updated, the Google PageSpeed tool will test your speed and give you improvement suggestions
  • GTmetrix: a great tool with actionable advice
  • WebPageTest: test your website on different devices, operating systems, and locations
  • Pingdom: a very popular tool, similar to WebPageTest with a nicer interface

You can test your mobile site with the links above, and also the ThinkWithGoogle Mobile Test (powered by WebPageTest). The results will give you specific tips on what you can improve, with an estimated loading time reduction if you follow the tips.

The recommended best practices are constantly changing, so keep checking your page speed regularly as you make improvements.

For even more valuable insight into how your website is performing, remember to verify your domain on Google and Bing.

Read the full article: 7 Ways to Make Your Website or Blog Load Faster for Visitors

The 5 Main Benefits of Verifying Your Domain on Google and Bing

domain-verification

After you’ve created a new website, one of the first things you should do is verify your domain on Google and Bing’s respective webmaster portals. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits. Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools The two companies’ apps are called Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. You can use your existing Google and Microsoft accounts to sign in. Before you gain access to the apps’ benefits, you need to verify that you own the domain you’re registering. Both apps offer multiple ways to verify your domain. On Google Search Console, you can use…

Read the full article: The 5 Main Benefits of Verifying Your Domain on Google and Bing

domain-verification

After you’ve created a new website, one of the first things you should do is verify your domain on Google and Bing’s respective webmaster portals.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits.

Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

The two companies’ apps are called Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. You can use your existing Google and Microsoft accounts to sign in.

Before you gain access to the apps’ benefits, you need to verify that you own the domain you’re registering.

Both apps offer multiple ways to verify your domain. On Google Search Console, you can use an HTML file, your hosting account credentials, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager, and a meta tag.

bing verify domain

Bing Webmaster Tools also offers meta tag verification, as well as XML files and CNAME records.

If you’re unsure how to proceed, install a service like Yoast or Jetpack. Both provide a quick and painless way to add the verification meta tags to your site. Jetpack is easy to set up and install on WordPress.

The 5 Main Benefits of Verifying Your Domain

There are five principle benefits of verifying your domain.

1. Add Sitemaps

google add sitemap

The first step for any new domain is ensuring Google and Bing are both able to see your site and that your content is appearing in search results.

One of the best ways to ensure the two search engines know where to find the content on your site is to submit a sitemap. If you want your content to appear on Google News, you can also provide a standalone news sitemap on Google’s console.

There are lots of free tools that will help you create a sitemap. If you used a service like WordPress to set up up your blog, there are several plugins that’ll do the job.

2. Check for Crawling Errors

google crawl errors

Once your site has been online for a while, the number of pages and posts will probably start to balloon.

Sometimes, a search engine’s crawler will encounter an issue; perhaps it’s been unexpectedly blocked from crawling a previously indexed page, or it’s encountered server errors (typically shown with a 5[XX] error code).

Some crawling errors might be nothing to worry about, but if there’s anything unusual, the apps give you a way to locate and remedy the issue before it starts to hurt your traffic.

On Bing, you can also tell the crawler at which times of the day your site is most active, thus increasing the crawl frequency.

3. Customize How Your Site Appears in Search Results

Half the battle of getting people to visit your site is making sure the right people see it in search results and that its search result listing looks as professional as possible.

Google and Bing both offer tools to help you achieve this. For example, you can choose to target your site to people in specific geographic locations, check for mobile usability errors, and—in the case of Google—manage your structured data, rich cards, and data highlighter.

4. Detailed Site Reports

google site performance

If you don’t verify your domain, you will not be able to access your site’s detailed performance data. By verifying, you’ll have access to a vast amount of information. You can see:

  • Search queries that people are using to find your site.
  • Lists of your top performing pages and posts across a number of different metrics.
  • The countries where your visitors are based.
  • Which devices your visitors are using to access your content.
  • Lists of internal and externals links to your site.

On Google Search Console, you can further expand on the information available by linking the app with Google Analytics.

Having access to the site reports lets you hone your site for its audience. For example, if most of your visitors are from India, you can tweak the content of your posts to include more links and information that’s relevant to the country. Or if most of your hits come from mobile, you can ensure your site’s ads are optimized for smartphones. The list goes on.

5. Security

bing malware report

We all know about the threats that malware and phishing attacks pose to your home computer. However, many new website owners don’t realize that their website is also at risk. Remember, website security is essential if you want your business to be a success.

If you verify your domain, Google and Bing’s tools will both continually scan your site for issues. If they find malware, unwanted software, or phishing attacks, they will let you know immediately.

From a malware standpoint, they can advise whether you’re facing a server, SQL, code, or error template infection. They can also identify code, content, and URL hacks.

Specialist anti-virus software for websites can help remove malware and fix the issue.

Verify Your Domains on Both Google and Bing

A lot of people only verify their domain on Google Search Console; they overlook Bing Webmaster Tools. After all, nobody uses Bing, right?

Wrong. 2,000 search terms are entered into Bing every second in the US alone. Remember, it underpins Cortana, Microsoft Edge, and Windows 10. Bing is almost certainly your second-largest supplier of traffic. Verifying on Bing will let you customize your site’s in Bing search results and create more Bing-driven organic growth for your website.

Bing also includes two great little tools that you won’t find on Google: Keyword Research and SEO Analyzer.

The keyword tool lets you find query volumes for terms related to your site. The SEO tool makes suggestions that can help your ranking on search engines.

And remember, Google and Bing aren’t the only two webmaster tools out there. If you’re running a global site, you should also register on Russia’s Yandex, China’s Baidu, and any other smaller localized search engines that send traffic to your site.

Read More About Running a Website

Verifying your domain on Google and Bing is just one small part of running a website. There’s a lot more stuff you need to think about.

If you’re operating your own website, make sure you check out our comparison of Bluehost hosting and Hostgator hosting, and start on the right foot with your website.

Read the full article: The 5 Main Benefits of Verifying Your Domain on Google and Bing

How to Spot and Buy Expired Domains at the Cheapest Price

If you’ve ever spent hours trying to come up with a good domain name for your new site, you know how frustrating it can be. Don’t worry, there’s a better solution that you can use to land that premium domain name of your dreams. Every day, hundreds of domain names get dropped from domain registrar lists. Many of those go quietly unclaimed for years. Instead of trying to brainstorm a new domain name for your site, why not browse thousands of popular domains that have already expired? The Domain Expiration Process When someone registers a domain name, they don’t actually…

Read the full article: How to Spot and Buy Expired Domains at the Cheapest Price

If you’ve ever spent hours trying to come up with a good domain name for your new site, you know how frustrating it can be. Don’t worry, there’s a better solution that you can use to land that premium domain name of your dreams.

Every day, hundreds of domain names get dropped from domain registrar lists. Many of those go quietly unclaimed for years.

Instead of trying to brainstorm a new domain name for your site, why not browse thousands of popular domains that have already expired?

The Domain Expiration Process

When someone registers a domain name, they don’t actually “own” that domain. They lease that domain name for a certain amount of time.

This usually ranges anywhere from one to five years.

For any variety of reasons, many people never get around to renewing their domain. When that happens, the domain expiration process follows specific steps.

  1. The registrar informs the owner that their domain name has expired
  2. The domain name enters a grace period (usually from 2 to 40 days)
  3. If the domain is not renewed, it could be auctioned off if there are any backorders (see below)
  4. If it’s not renewed or purchased at an auction, the domain is returned to the registry
  5. The registry then releases the domain for public registration

There are different steps in this process where you can get the domain. The earlier in the process, the more expensive that domain will be.

Make an Offer

If there’s a specific domain that you really want, you may be able to purchase it before it goes to auction.

First, search any domain registration tool, like DomainTools.com, to see if your desired domain is available. For example, let’s say you want technews.com.

The Whois details show that the site is registered to The Washington Post

Sure enough, if you type technews.com into a browser URL, it redirects to the Technology section of The Washington Post website.

technews redirect

It appears The Washington Post purchased this domain to redirect it to their own site. The chance of buying this domain from The Washington Post is very low.

Trying techgeeks.com as an alternative reveals that whoever purchased techgeeks.com has listed it for sale.

techgeeks for sale

You can buy the domain, but you’re going to have to cough up a lot of money.

You’ll see this a lot. There are domain investors who’ve purchased up a lot of premium domains and leave the domain unused but list them for sale for significant profits.

It isn’t always this expensive. You’ll find domains listed for anything from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

Buying a Domain at an Auction

A less expensive option is to wait for premium domains to enter the redemption (grace) period once they expire. During the grace period, you can “backorder” the domain.

There are a number of websites that list expired domains you can backorder. Typically there is more than one person trying to backorder expired domains. In those cases, it’s likely to enter into an auction.

To find recently expired domains, you can use one of the popular services below.

ExpiredDomains.net

expireddomains domain search

Expired domains lets you search through the list of available expired domains (almost 200,000 as of this writing). You can use the filter to narrow down domains with existing backlinks, a high Alexa or Dmoz rank, shorter names, and more.

When you find one you want, click on the menu icon on the right and choose from one of the backorder resources to submit your backorder.

backorder a domain

These backorder sites are also good places to go to search for expired domain names.

DropCatch.com

dropcatch domain search

DropCatch has a simple text-based search that lets you see expired domain names available for backorder.

You can see how many bids already exist, and how much time is left before the domain goes up for auction.

FreshDrop

freshdrop domain search

FreshDrop lets you search for expired domains, or those that are already for sale at auction.

The database listing here seems a bit smaller than the other sites, but most of the domains are short and clean.

You can filter the search by things like whether the domain is indexed by Google, listed by Dmoz, the number of existing backlinks, and more.

NameJet

namejet domain auctions

NameJet is the eBay of domain names. The filter is more limited than other sites, but you’ll see only premium domain names listed. Each listing shows how many bidders there are (unlike other sites that won’t show you this). You can place your bid higher than the “high bid”, and hope for the best.

If you organize the list by “Type”, you’ll be able to bid on sites that are already in the auction phase. Or you can backorder by bidding on a “PreRelease” domain and waiting until the auction starts (unless you’re the only bidder).

Pool.com

pool expired domains

Pool is one of the most popular expired domain backorder services. People who’ve used it reported having the best success rates at obtaining the expired domains once they’re released.

However, Pool uses what some have called a “two-phase” auction system. This means that once you win your original backorder, Pool will then move you into the auction phase where you compete with other bidders for the domain. Pool doesn’t reveal how many bidders there are or what they’re bidding, so you have to offer the highest price you’re willing to if you want to get that dream domain.

You also can’t place backorders or search for specific domains without signing up for a free account. You’ll need to provide credit card information to do so.

GoDaddy Domain Auctions

godaddy domain auctions

No list of expired domain sites would be complete without including GoDaddy Domain Auctions.

The advanced search feature lets you limit by domain extension, age, number of characters, and type. Types include expiring, auction, buy now, and more.

The GoDaddy auction listing is one of the most extensive, with a lot of really good domain names ready to buy. In many cases, you may not even have to compete with any other bidders.

Buying a Dropped Domain

The easiest option is to look for domains that are past the auction stage and are just sitting out there waiting for you to buy them.

The selection may be more limited, but you can still find some great domains that people have passed up.

The best tool for this is the ExpiredDomains.net mentioned above. From the main page, just click on the Dropped Domains link to see a full list of all domains that have been dropped.

expireddomains deleted domains

If any of these show a status of “Available” (filter by Deleted Domains), these are publicly available for purchase from any registrar.

Make sure to sign up for a free account so that you can see the full database listing of available, recently expired domains.

Buying an Expired Domain

Many people think that you need a lot of money for a great domain name. That’s not the case at all.

By using the resources above and a small investment, you’ll be able to find the perfect domain name.

If you really don’t want to spend anything at all for your domain, that’s okay too. There are lots of ways you can get a free domain name for your website. In the end, a domain name is really only a small part of your site. Really, the success of a site depends largely upon what you decide to do with it.

Image Credit: Gajus Images/DepositPhotos

Read the full article: How to Spot and Buy Expired Domains at the Cheapest Price

Netlify just got $30 million to change the way developers build websites

Netlify wants to revolutionize the way developers build websites, abstracting away the web server and breaking web sites into microservices, making the process more like building a mobile application than a traditional website. Today, the company announced a $30M Series B investment to help continue to build on that vision. Kleiner Perkins led the round. […]

Netlify wants to revolutionize the way developers build websites, abstracting away the web server and breaking web sites into microservices, making the process more like building a mobile application than a traditional website. Today, the company announced a $30M Series B investment to help continue to build on that vision.

Kleiner Perkins led the round. Andreessen Horowitz and the founders of Slack (Stewart Butterfield), Yelp (Jeremy Stoppelman) and Figma (Dylan Field) all participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to over $44 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Chris Bach, co-founder and president and Matt Biilmann, co-founder and CEO see the change they are trying to make as part of the larger shift to an API economy. They want to take the same ease of development APIs have given programmers in a mobile context and bring that to web development.

As I wrote earlier this year when they announced support for AWS Lambda, they want to reduce the complexity around web development:

“Netlify has abstracted away the concept of a web server, which it says is slow to deploy and hard to secure and scale. By shifting from a monolithic website to a static front end with back-end microservices, it believes it can solve security and scaling issues and deliver the site much faster.”

The founders have a grand vision, “We are basically out to replace all web servers with a with a global application delivery network,” Bach explained.

Mamoon Hamid, general partner at investor Kleiner Perkins says that while the website backend has evolved over recent years, the front end has remained static, and that’s what Netlify is addressing with their microservices-based approach to web development. “Netlify smack dab hits our view of where we need to go for the web to flourish,” Hamid told TechCrunch.

He believes the last shift of this magnitude in web development at the presentation layer was the advent of the CMS 15 years ago, and we are starting to see developers attracted to the Netlify approach in a big way. “We really believe that with this 300,000 strong developer force that’s already behind Netlify that they’re showing early signs of tapping into what could be  the platform from which a significant portion of the web content is served from [in the future],” Hamid said.

Netlify is working to increase the number of websites running on their approach in the coming years and see this as a mission to change the web. “For us, it’s very important to keep being a place where developers want to go and very easily can get something up and running. And then you can scale from there,” Bach said.

The company wants to build out a more organized sales and marketing team to sell the Netlify approach to larger organizations, while continuing to build out the product and developer outreach. All of this takes money and that’s why they went for such a large round today.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Which Web Hosting Service Is Best for You?

bluehost-vs-hostgator

If you want to either launch a new website or migrate your existing site to a new provider, you will see two names pop up everywhere: Bluehost HostGator They are two of the largest web hosting providers in the world. Between them, they provide the backend to tens of millions of sites. But which one should you use? A lot depends on the service you need. So, keep reading as we compare Bluehost and HostGator and establish a winner. Bluehost vs. HostGator: Ease of Use As more and more people attempt to create their own website, a service’s ease-of-use is…

Read the full article: Bluehost vs. HostGator: Which Web Hosting Service Is Best for You?

If you want to either launch a new website or migrate your existing site to a new provider, you will see two names pop up everywhere:

They are two of the largest web hosting providers in the world. Between them, they provide the backend to tens of millions of sites.

But which one should you use? A lot depends on the service you need. So, keep reading as we compare Bluehost and HostGator and establish a winner.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Ease of Use

As more and more people attempt to create their own website, a service’s ease-of-use is an increasingly important feature to consider. Beginners need to be able to get their site online with the minimum of fuss.

Both Bluehost and HostGator use cPanel. cPanel is a widely-used Linux-based platform that offers a range of administrative tools through a graphical interface. While HostGator’s cPanel screen is fairly standard, Bluehost has shifted some menus around to customize its version.

The two hosting companies provide access to the MOJO Marketplace. You can use the marketplace to install WordPress, Weebly, Joomla, Drupal, and many more site-building tools.

Bluehost and HostGator also offer site migration services. Using their migration services means you don’t have to fiddle with FTP and other complicated web hosting practices, saving you both stress and time. HostGator is free if you migrate within the first 30 days, Bluehost charges a surprisingly high $149.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Server Uptime

If you already run a successful site, one of the most important things to research about your new host is its uptime stats. Downtime leads to lost business opportunities and lost revenue.

Don’t believe us? To use an extreme example, for every five minutes that Amazon is offline, it loses $330,000. Your site might not be on the same scale as Amazon, but uptime definitely matters.

HostGator’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) says you’re entitled to 99.99 percent uptime per year. Bluehost has a projected uptime of 99.982 percent per year; that equates to 1.6 hours of downtime every 12 months.

At the time of writing, the most recent uptime reports (for July 2018) showed HostGator had an uptime of 99.98 percent (with a total downtime of eight minutes). Bluehost had 99.97 percent uptime and 13 minutes of downtime.

Remember, these are company-wide averages. The uptime will vary from plan to plan. The more expensive plans typically offer more reliable uptime.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Website Speed

Closely tied to uptime is your website’s speed. Like with uptime, a slow site can cause visitors to hit the back button before they’ve had a chance to see what you’re offering.

A recent study showed HostGator had a maximum response time of 3.2 seconds and a minimum response time of 258.07 milliseconds. In contrast, Bluehost had a maximum response time of 2.6 seconds and a minimum time of 915.53 milliseconds.

Despite Bluehost’s lower maximum time, the results revealed Bluehost’s response time increased as traffic increased. HostGator had no such correlation. Worryingly, with just 10 concurrent users, the response time on Bluehost went as high as 3500ms. At 20 users, it jumped to 1060ms.

HostGator’s servers also returned the first byte of data faster than Bluehost, taking 0.377 seconds compared to Bluehost’s 0.401 seconds. The speed it takes to load the first byte of data is unaffected by other things that can cause a page to load slowly (like plugins and media files). This result is entirely determined by a company’s servers.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Security Features

HostGator and Bluehost provide some basic security features to protect you against hackers and cybercriminals. The protections are very similar.

Regardless of which web hosting provider you choose, you will get a free SSL certificate. HostGator also offers free weekly offsite backups of all your content.

Both companies provide access to SiteLock. It will check for spam, validate your business information, monitor search engine blacklists to avoid an unexpected quarantining, and check for malware.

The two services also both have built-in DDoS protection. Bluehost doesn’t go into much detail about its protections, but HostGator uses a custom firewall and mod security rule sets to protect its users. Each individual datacenter can also enable flood protection on an individual basis if an attack is suspected.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Plans and Costs

Okay, so how do the Bluehost and HostGator compare in terms of cost? As you would expect, both companies offer a diverse range of plans for everyone from hobbyists to large organizations.

If you’re looking for an entry-level shared web hosting plan, Bluehost and HostGator each provide three choices. The plans offer cheaper rates if you sign up for more months.

Without considering the sign-up discounts, which both companies frequently offer and can be worth 50 percent or more, the cheapest Bluehost plan is $7.99 per month, and the most affordable HostGator plan is $6.95 per month.

For that price, HostGator gives you unlimited storage and unlimited email space, while Bluehost only offers 50GB of SSD storage and 100MB per account of email space. Both entry-level plans only allow one domain.

Note: Check out our guide if you’re not sure how to set up your email on Bluehost.

Moving up, the mid-level shared hosting plans on Bluehost, and HostGator cost $10.99 and $9.95 per month respectively. The top shared hosting plans are $14.99 and $14.95.

At the other end of the scale, HostGator’s top-end dedicated server hosting plan costs $289.99 per month. The money will buy you 8GB of RAM, a four-core CPU, 240GB of disk space, and 3TB of bandwidth.

Bluehost’s competing product is $209.99 per month. You’ll get a four-core, eight thread, 3.3GHz CPU, 1TB of storage, and 15TB of bandwidth.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: Customer Support

Things will go wrong occasionally. It’s one of the inevitabilities of running a website. And when things do go wrong, you need someone to fix them ASAP.

Therefore, the level of support offered by your web hosting company is important.

We’re pleased to report that both Bluehost and HostGator offer excellent customer support. There’s little to choose between them. Each company provides 24/7 support in the form of live chat, email tickets, and telephone reps.

If anything, Bluehost’s support services are slightly more intuitive and thus easier to use.

Bluehost vs. HostGator: The Winner Is…

Look, there’s very little separating the two platforms. We can honestly recommend both Bluehost and HostGator as excellent options if you’re looking for a professional-quality web hosting provider.

But if we had to pick a winner of the Bluehost vs. HostGator faceoff?

HostGator. Its servers are a bit faster, it suffers slightly less downtime, and its plans—at least at the entry-level—are a fraction cheaper.

To Bluehost’s credit, we think it’s support services are more organized than HostGator’s. Bluehost’s user interface is also cleaner and more professional. WordPress also recommends Bluehost.

If you’d like to sign up for a web hosting plan with Bluehost, you’re in luck: Get up to 63% off using this special discount link!

Read the full article: Bluehost vs. HostGator: Which Web Hosting Service Is Best for You?

The Best WordPress Hosting Providers

wordpress-hosting

WordPress is the world’s most popular web-based content management system (CMS). It powers more than 30 percent of the internet’s top 10 million sites. The WordPress software (which you shouldn’t confuse with WordPress.com hosting) is open source, incredibly easy to set up, and entirely free to use. All you need is a domain name and a web hosting plan. Here are eight of the best WordPress hosting providers. 1. InMotion Hosting Unusually, InMotion Hosting offers six dedicated WordPress hosting plans. Most companies only offer a couple. The cheapest plan is WP-1000S. It will set you back $8.99 per month and…

Read the full article: The Best WordPress Hosting Providers

wordpress-hosting

WordPress is the world’s most popular web-based content management system (CMS). It powers more than 30 percent of the internet’s top 10 million sites.

The WordPress software (which you shouldn’t confuse with WordPress.com hosting) is open source, incredibly easy to set up, and entirely free to use. All you need is a domain name and a web hosting plan.

Here are eight of the best WordPress hosting providers.

1. InMotion Hosting

InMotion monthly costs

Unusually, InMotion Hosting offers six dedicated WordPress hosting plans. Most companies only offer a couple.

The cheapest plan is WP-1000S. It will set you back $8.99 per month and is suitable for up to 20,000 monthly visitors. It includes unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email accounts, and 40GB of SSD storage space.

At the other end of the scale is the WP-6000S plan. It costs $119.99 per month and is suitable for up to 1.2 million monthly page views.

The three most expensive plans all include a dedicated IP address and a free subscription to Jetpack Professional. (Get up to 50% off using this link!)

Regardless of which plan you choose, WordPress comes preinstalled; you won’t need to fiddle with third-party installers. You can also decide whether you want to optimize your site for traffic from either the eastern or western hemisphere.

InMotion’s uptime runs at 99.97 percent. Its average load time is 752ms.

2. Bluehost

Bluehost monthly costs

Bluehost is arguably the most recognizable name in the world of WordPress web hosting; the company has been around since 1996. Indeed, WordPress actively recommends Bluehost on its site and has done since 2005. We’ve also covered how to start using Bluehost.

If you’re creating a website for the first time, you probably won’t have much traffic to start with. In that case, the company’s shared hosting plan will suffice. It offers 50GB of space, unmetered bandwidth, and five email accounts. Bluehost has an average uptime of >99.99 percent and average load times of 419ms.

The plan costs $7.99 per month. However, significant discounts are available for new customers, making it one of the cheapest WordPress hosting plans. (Get up to 63% off using this link!)

If you need something with a bit more power, check out the VPS (virtual private server) plans. For $19.99 per month, you get 2GB of RAM, 30GB of SSD storage, two cores, and free SSL.

3. WordPlus

WordPlus homepage

None of the big companies offer free WordPress hosting, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t free web hosting services out there.

Of course, you could just head to WordPress.com. Its servers are powerful enough to handle any traffic you throw at it. But there are some trade-offs—for example, you can only install your own plugins and run Jetpack if you pay a monthly fee. The free version is limited to 3GB of space, and you cannot display your own ads.

Instead, check out WordPlus. The free flavor gives you 128MB of SSD space, unlimited bandwidth, free SSL, free CDN, and access to cPanel. You can also use all WordPress’ best plugins.

If that doesn’t cover your needs, other popular free WordPress hosting providers include 000webhost, HostAwesome, and Byet. The four providers all have very different features and capabilities, so make sure you do your research before choosing.

4. SiteGround

SiteGround monthly costs

In addition to the entry-level shared web hosting plans, lots of companies also offer managed WordPress hosting.

Typically, managed WordPress hosting is more expensive than its shared hosting counterpart, even though the list of features is often very similar.

The difference comes in the level of support you receive. If you’re not technically inclined and would rather focus on producing content rather than managing the backend of a website, a managed WordPress hosting plan could be for you.

The hosting provider will manage all the behind-the-scenes stuff, including security, speed optimization, updates, and backups. The security support is perhaps the most important, it’s easy to overlook when you start a new website.

On the downside, you can only run WordPress. If you decide to convert to a different CMS in the future, you’ll need to migrate your entire site to a new plan. You might also find that your host will block some plugins that reduce performance.

If you’d like a managed WordPress hosting plan, check out SiteGround. With 99.98 percent uptime and a load time of 722ms, it’s one of the best performing hosts on this list.

It’s cheapest managed hosting plan—called StartUp—costs $11.95 per month. It’s suitable for 10,000 monthly visits and offers 10GB of space.

5. A2 Hosting

A2 hosting monthly costs

A2 Hosting is a company I can personally vouch for. I use it to host four websites and have never had any issues.

When I first migrated to A2 Hosting from my previous provider, the company was quick to resolve technical issues that arose from the transfer, even though it later transpired that the problems were caused by the old host and were not of A2’s making.

Since then, every time I have opened a support ticket, A2 has responded quickly and accurately. I’ve lost track of the number of times the reps on the company’s 24/7 live chat have solved my issues in the middle of the night.

Regarding plans, A2 offers shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated hosting. The entry-level shared hosting plan includes 25 email addresses, a 2.1 GHz core, five databases, and a server with a guaranteed 64GB of RAM. Regardless of which plan you pick, you can easily install WordPress using Softaculous.

Interestingly, A2 Hosting has compiled two of its own WordPress plugins that are worth using. A2 Fixed W3 Total Cache is a tweaked version of the popular W3 Total Cache plugin, while A2 Optimized WP offers performance improvements such as minifying files and pages, GZIP compression, image compression, and security improvements.

Finally, with an uptime of 99.90 percent and an average load time of 413ms, A2 Hosting is unquestionably one of the best WordPress hosting providers out there.

6. GoDaddy

godaddy monthly costs

Another managed WordPress hosting provider worth considering is GoDaddy.

The company is more commonly associated with domain names rather than hosting plans, but its managed plan can comfortably compete with other companies’ offerings on both price and features.

The cheapest GoDaddy WordPress hosting plan costs $8.99 per month. It is suitable for up to 25,000 visitors per month. It offers 10GB of storage and 99.99 percent uptime.

Because the plan is managed, you can expect nightly backups, automatic malware scanning and removal, a staging environment to test changes, and automatic DDoS protection.

7. HostGator

Hostgator monthly costs

Our final recommendation is HostGator. Like Bluehost, it’s a well-established name in the industry and supports more than 10 million sites.

The entry-level cloud plan $9.95 per month. You will get two CPU cores, 2GB of RAM, free SSL, and unlimited bandwidth and storage. It can handle 100,000 visits per month.

If you need more power, check out the Business plan instead. For $22.95 per month, you will get 6GB of RAM, six CPU cores, and a dedicated IP address. You can also have an unlimited number of parked domains. It’s suitable for 500,000 visits per month.

Lastly, HostGator has some of the most impressive performance stats in this list. It boasts an uptime of 99.96 percent and a load time of 462ms.

8. Kinsta

Kinsta app dashbaord

Kinsta offers managed WordPress hosting on the Google Cloud Platform.

Some of its best features include a free content delivery network from KeyCDN, free SSL certificates through Let’s Encrypt, HTTPS support, a daily backup service, and SSH support for sysadmin tasks.

And if you’re migrating an existing site from an old provider, you don’t need to worry. Kinsta offers a free migration service for new accounts.

Several plans are available. The cheapest is the Starter package. It costs $30 per month. If you need a bit more power, consider buying the Pro plan for $60 per month.

We have reviewed Kinsta in detail if you would like to learn more.

Making the Right WordPress Hosting Choice

The world of WordPress hosting is a competitive place. There is not a great deal of difference between any of the mainstream providers; they all offer similar features for a similar price.

The biggest decision you need to make is whether to buy managed WordPress hosting or regular hosting. Your level of technical expertise and willingness to learn should guide your thought process.

For more information about web hosting, check out our articles on the best web hosting services and the reasons free web hosting is bad for your first website.

Read the full article: The Best WordPress Hosting Providers

The 7 Best Sites to Track a Website’s Traffic

Have you ever wondered how popular a certain website really is? Unfortunately, most sites don’t publish their stats for public viewing so accurate numbers are hard to come by. At best, you can look for a website’s “advertising page” which may include marketing materials, demographic information, and yes, monthly traffic data. But when that’s not available, your only option is to rely on a website traffic estimator. Since these are never 100 percent accurate, we only recommend using them to compare traffic of sites in relative terms—and even then, you should only compare readings from the same tool. 1. SimilarWeb…

Read the full article: The 7 Best Sites to Track a Website’s Traffic

Have you ever wondered how popular a certain website really is?

Unfortunately, most sites don’t publish their stats for public viewing so accurate numbers are hard to come by. At best, you can look for a website’s “advertising page” which may include marketing materials, demographic information, and yes, monthly traffic data.

But when that’s not available, your only option is to rely on a website traffic estimator.

Since these are never 100 percent accurate, we only recommend using them to compare traffic of sites in relative terms—and even then, you should only compare readings from the same tool.

1. SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is my estimator of choice when I want to see what kind of traffic a website gets.

The real value of SimilarWeb is its Top Website Rankings page where you can the top ranking sites according to category and country (limited to the top 50 for free users), but it also lets you search for a specific domain and see that particular site’s stats.

When you look up a site, you get three points of data right away: global rank, country rank, and category rank. These are awesome for seeing competitive health at a glance. But if you scroll down, you can see the engagement stats: monthly traffic, average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate.

Keep scrolling and you’ll see a bunch of other details, such as traffic source breakdown, top referring sites, social media traffic, audience demographics, and more. All of it’s available for free, solidifying this as the best estimator tool.

2. Quantcast

Quantcast is probably the most accurate traffic estimator tool currently available, but it comes with two important caveats: first, its accuracy is still spotty from site to site, and second, its data set is severely limited when compared to sites like SimilarWeb or Alexa.

This is due to how Quantcast works: a website must set up Quantcast’s data collection feed on the site itself, which allows Quantcast to start collecting data and estimating traffic. Quantcast cannot accurately estimate traffic for sites that don’t participate. Sadly, you won’t find stats for most lesser-known websites on Quantcast.

That being said, when a site is being tracked, Quantcast offers a lot of amazing data to pore over. The demographic breakdown is especially insightful, which includes visitor ethnicity, shopping interests, media interests, occupations, and political affiliations.

3. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a powerful search engine optimization tool for webmasters, and is mainly used for mining all kinds of search traffic-related data—both for your own sites and for competitors’ sites.

Not only can you see accurate measures of a site’s monthly search traffic, but you can see detailed breakdowns of where that traffic is coming from and what kinds of keywords are bringing the traffic. You can also see backlink information, such as which other sites are linking to the site, how often they’re linking, and how that data changes over time.

Unfortunately, while Ahrefs is the most powerful tool in this list, that power comes at a price. There’s no free plan, but you can try a seven-day no-restrictions trial for $7. After that, it costs at least $99 per month for the lowest plan. It’s expensive, but the data is good.

4. SEMRush

SEMRush is primarily a search engine optimization tool, meaning you’d use it as a website owner to help find and target keywords that bring you more search engine traffic. However, as a regular web surfer, you can use it to see what kind of search traffic a site gets.

Just to be clear, SEMRush won’t give you absolute traffic numbers—if that’s what you’re looking for, turn to SimilarWeb or Quantcast. SEMRush is best when you only care about search traffic and you want to compare search traffic patterns between sites. For that, SEMRush tends to be the most accurate.

SEMRush shows you top keywords for a given site, but on top of that, you can see actual numbers and search engine positions for those keywords. You can also filter the stats by country, allowing you to see search patterns on a regional basis.

Note that SEMRush is a freemium tool. As a free user, you get 10 free searches per day and only get access to a basic overview. You’ll need a paid plan to unlock higher limits and more data, and they start at $100 per month.

5. Alexa

Alexa is probably the first tool that popped into mind when you went looking for a website traffic estimation. Unfortunately, Alexa has dumbed down its free option so much over the years that it’s almost useless now.

Search for any website and you’ll see its Global Alexa Rank and Country Alexa Rank, plus a simple chart showing its rise and fall in ranking over the past year. You’ll also see limited demographics and keywords information. It’s quite stingy, but suffices if you just want to compare two sites and see which one is more popular.

If you want to see more than the limited data you get as a free Alexa user, you’ll need to upgrade to the Insight plan—and that costs $79 per month. You can sign up for a seven-day free trial, but you’ll have to enter your credit card details and make sure you cancel before the free trial ends.

6. SitePrice

SitePrice is actually a website value calculator and not a traffic estimator, but it does include traffic estimates in its value calculations. When you look up a site, just scroll down to see the estimated traffic and revenue stats, including daily pageviews, daily unique visitors, and daily ad revenues.

You’ll notice that these values are way off from what you’d find on, say, SimilarWeb or Quantcast. That’s because SitePrice pulls its data from several sources (including SimilarWeb and Quantcast) and averages them to get a more “accurate” reading. It’s up to you whether you trust it more or less.

Other nifty stats include search engine visibility, backlink counts, domain age, and top competitors. Also, remember that this tool is just an estimator so don’t take its website valuations at face value.

7. Traffic Estimate

Traffic Estimate may not be the best-looking estimator tool, but it serves its purpose in a pinch. The estimation graph shows you a website’s traffic patterns over the past year, and you get a numerical traffic value for the past 30 days. It’s pretty simplistic—perhaps too much.

Scroll down and you’ll see data on which keywords are targeted by the site. This is helpful to explore which other sites are the main competitors for this site. There isn’t much beyond that. For best results, use Traffic Estimate as a supplementary tool in conjunction with the others on this list.

How Popular Are Your Favorite Websites?

You’ll notice that two oft-recommended tools are missing from this list: Alexa and Compete.

If you want to see traffic estimates for websites using Alexa, you’ll need to sign up for the Advanced plan which costs $149 per month, and that’s way too expensive when you can get similar estimates elsewhere for free. As for Compete, it was shut down at the end of 2016.

Now that you know how to estimate a website’s traffic, why not check out our roundup of the best websites on the internet and see how popular they are?

Image Credit: Rawpixel/Depositphotos

Read the full article: The 7 Best Sites to Track a Website’s Traffic

SNES.party lets you play Super Nintendo with your friends

Hot on the heels of the wonderful NES.party comes Haukur Rosinkranz’s SNES.party, a site that lets you play Super Nintendo with all your buds. Rosinkranz is Icelandic but lives in Berlin now. He made NES.party a year ago while experimenting with WebRTC and WebSockets and he updated his software to support the SNES. “The reason […]

Hot on the heels of the wonderful NES.party comes Haukur Rosinkranz’s SNES.party, a site that lets you play Super Nintendo with all your buds.

Rosinkranz is Icelandic but lives in Berlin now. He made NES.party a year ago while experimenting with WebRTC and WebSockets and he updated his software to support the SNES.

“The reason I made it was simply because I discovered how advanced the RTC implementation in Chrome had become and wanted to do something with it,” he said. “When I discovered that it’s possible to take a video element and stream it over the network I just knew I had to do something cool with this and I came up with the idea of streaming emulators.”

He said it took him six months to build the app and a month to add NES support.

“It’s hard to say how long it took because I basically created my own framework for web applications that need realtime communication between one or more participants,” he said. He is a freelance programmer.

It’s a clever hack that could add a little fun to your otherwise dismal day. Feel like a little Link to the Past? Pop over here and let’s play!