What is Unmanaged Hosting?

If you are searching for a hosting provider which offers services beyond shared hosting, you will likely come across the term unmanaged hosting. This term may sound odd. Shouldn’t all hosting be managed? Let’s explain what unmanaged hosting is.

Each host will interpret the term unmanaged hosting in their own way, but the following is a fair definition of what unmanaged hosting is:

Unmanaged Hosting
Web hosting in which the provider manages the network and hardware of the server, but very little (if anything) else. Unmanaged hosting is a term typically used for VPS, Cloud and Dedicated platforms, sometimes referred to simply by the type of hosting (such as VPS as opposed to Managed VPS), or called user managed.

The unmanaged hosting environment is often chosen by someone who knows how to handle a server environment and requires resources higher than that of a standard shared hosting platform. Also, it will usually come with root access to the server to allow the customer the ability to configure the server the way they want, and install various software which may be unsuitable for shared hosting. For instance, someone wanting to run a resource heavy chat client would choose an unmanaged VPS or dedicated server to run their application, something usually prohibited by shared hosting terms of service policies.

Unmanaged hosting is usually less expensive than it’s opposite, managed hosting. This is because the cost of additional labor to handle configuration and troubleshooting, as well as provider installed software is not needed. However, the cost is only worth it if you know what you are doing. If you feel comfortable with an unmanaged platform, go for it. If not, you may want to check out managed hosting.

What is Managed Hosting?

A term you may see mentioned by several web hosts is Managed Hosting. Those who are shopping for a platform above that of regular shared hosting, such as VPS, Cloud or Dedicated, will likely see this term on hosting websites. But what exactly does it mean?

While every host will have a different interpretation of their services, the following definition provides a pretty fair idea of what managed hosting is:

Managed Hosting
Web hosting in which the hosting provider manages the network, hardware, and configuration of the hosting service. Often referred to in VPS, Cloud and Dedicated services, the host typically handles the service in the same way (or close to) they do their shared services, but with the addition of more advanced configuration.

The managed hosting environment is typically the option chosen by someone who doesn’t know how or doesn’t want to have to manage the server themselves. For instance, a small business who has a bustling website that is too popular for shared hosting will often choose to upgrade to a Managed VPS so the host can continue handling the server, and they can keep up with their business.

Managed hosting is usually more expensive than it’s opposite, unmanaged (or user managed) hosting. The premium cost is there to cover the additional labor and/or features that come with managed hosting. Still, if you don’t know much about managing a server environment, the extra cost is worth it, as you won’t have to learn to become a server administrator overnight.

What is a web host?

A web host (website host) is a company that offers a place for your website to live, making it visible to the world. They offer space on what is called a server, a powerful computer configured to run websites and web applications.

An easy way to think of a web host is like a land owner. Your house is your website, and the land owner is the web host. Without the land the land owner has, your house has no where to exist. The same is true for a web host.

A web host will typically offer web hosting in a variety of types, with the most common being shared hosting. Some web hosts offer hosting services for free, while most charge a fee. To explain the typical differences between free and fee based web hosts, we’ve created a small list below:

Pros of Typical Free Web Hosts

[checklist]No cost
Simple to moderately advanced web builder
Instant setup
Free site templates
Free site tools (guestbooks, contact forms)
Paid hosting upgrades
Free URL[/checklist]

Cons of Typical Web Hosts

[xlist]Include advertising on your site
May not allow personal domain names (your own .com)
May not offer programming engines like PHP, Java or Ruby
May not offer databases
Do not allow DNS editing
Do not allow your own SSL
Hugely limited storage
Hugely limited bandwidth
Free URL is branded with the host’s name
No support for popular web applications like WordPress, Joomla, or Magento.
No ecommerce support[/xlist]

Pros of Typical Paid Web Hosts

[checklist]No advertising
Supports PHP, MySQL, Python, and Perl. Some also support Java and Ruby
Supports multiple (sometimes unlimited) email accounts, MySQL databases, addon domains, parked domains, and subdomains.
Huge storage
Huge bandwidth (unlimited in many cases)
Supports domain
Auto installers to provide installation of popular web applications
Allows SSL Certificates
Allows DNS editing
Greater upgrade possibilities[/checklist]

Cons of Typical Paid Web Hosts

[xlist]Not free
Often requires domain name without option for free URLs[/xlist]

As you can see from the list, a paid web host is going to offer a lot more than a free host. It also won’t negatively affect your web presence as much as a free host. You don’t want your design impacted by forced advertisements or your URL showing off your web host.

No matter which web host you choose, make sure they can support your site in it’s current form and as it grows. Moving from one host to another is a hassle that is better left avoided if possible.

What is domain privacy?

When you register a domain name, your name, address, phone number and email address become public record. Anyone who wants to find out who owns a domain name can run a whois search to grab information about you in just a few seconds. Did you know that you can hide that information? That’s what domain privacy is.

When you sign up for home telephone service, your name and address are listed in the phone book. For those who wish to keep their info out of the public directory, the phone company will offer to have your information unlisted for an additional fee. Domain privacy works the same way.

Do you use domain privacy?Nearly every domain registrar offers a feature to hide your personal information from domain name whois searches. Domain privacy (sometimes called whois protection) is a service which when used, replaces your personal information with the name, phone number, address, and email contact of the domain privacy service.

This can help protect your identity from prying eyes, spammers, scammers, and other annoyances that you wouldn’t want to have your info. Best of all, this service is usually inexpensive, and some will offer domain privacy for free for the first year.

Important things to remember about domain privacy services

  • If you add the privacy service after you have already registered your domain, your information may still be available. Whois search engines may not update instantly, while some services may choose to include it in a history of ownership list.
  • Some websites exist solely to provide information about websites, including the domain owner’s information. This data will remain available until the website providing it decides to remove it.
  • Domain registrars must adhere to the law. Don’t think that using domain privacy will allow you to anonymously break the law. After all, the domain registrar has your information and they will provide it to law enforcement if required.
  • When using domain privacy, you are no longer listed as the owner of the domain name. While there isn’t usually anything to worry about, there have been times in the past when domain ownership issues have occurred between the person who purchased the domain and the privacy company entrusted to hide your identity.
  • You may need to renew your domain privacy individually. Some domain registrars will include an option to set auto-renew for domain privacy just as you can do for the domain name itself.

It’s Your Choice

Most people choose domain privacy to keep spammers, scammers, and floods of marketing from showing up in their emails, voicemails, and mailboxes. This is quite understandable. At $4 or less per year, it’s also an affordable option to hide your domain’s ownership information.

What is a domain name?

You’ve probably heard the term “domain name” before. As a beginner, you may not know what it is or how important it can be. In this article, you will learn what a domain is and why it’s important.

A domain name is your website address, also called your URL. For this site, our domain name is webmasternotebook.com. It is the address people type into their web browser to get them to our website.

There are several domain extensions to choose from.
There are several domain extensions to choose from.

Domain names consist of a name and an extension. The extension, also known as a TLD (top level domain), is the part that comes after your domain name. Popular domain extensions are .com, .net, and .org.

While most domain extensions are available to anyone in the general public, there are a few that you may have visited which are only available to specific groups. The .edu extension is only available to educational institutions that fit specific criteria. The .gov extension is reserved for the United States government, while .mil is reserved for use by the United States military.

Domain names can include letters, numbers, and hyphens. It can be up to 63 characters long. To get a domain name, you simply sign up with a domain registrar like Godaddy, Namecheap or Name.com. Many website hosting providers will offer domain registration to their customers as well.

When registering a domain name, you pay for the length of time you wish to register for. The shortest length of time you can register your domain for is 1 year, and when the time comes for your registration to be renewed, you can choose to register again or let the domain go, making it available for anyone in the public to purchase and own.

To start searching for your domain name, we recommend using Namecheap or Name.com. They both offer great prices on domains, use easy to understand interfaces, and typically run promotions to new signups.

Understanding Bounce Rate

When it comes to website metrics, you generally want to see high numbers on whatever analytics reporting system you use. You want lots of unique visitors, long amounts of time being spent on your site, and page hits to go through the roof. However, there is one number that you almost always want to be as low as possible, and that’s what we’re going to discuss here.

What Is Bounce Rate?

Google Analytics will report bounce rate, showing you how many people visit only a single page of your site and leave.
Google Analytics will report bounce rate, showing you how many people visit only a single page of your site and leave.

Anytime people come to your website, that is considered a visit. If a person comes to your site and leaves after only viewing the page they landed on, that is considered a bounce. They essentially “bounced” off of your website.

Your bounce rate is the number of visitors who bounced, divided by the total number of visitors to your website (those who did and did not bounce). As a metric, this number can show you what percentage of your visitors are not viewing more than one page of your website.

I mentioned that the bounce rate is a number that you almost always want to be as low as possible–almost being the operative word. For some websites and pages, a high bounce rate is normal. For instance, if you have a one page website, a high bounce rate is perfectly normal because there are no other pages to view. If you have your contact information on every page (such as a phone number in the header of the page) for the purpose of being contacted by visitors, a high bounce rate can be considered normal as long as you’re being contacted.

For websites that want flow through traffic, such a site that sells products, you will want a lower bounce rate. The more often people click through your site, the more they learn about your products and are likely to buy something. If you have an advertisement supported website, the more a visitor clicks through your site, the better it looks to your current and potential advertisers.

What can a high bounce rate tell you?

A high bounce rate can indicate a need for improvement in either your content, your site design, or both. If a visitor lands on a page on your site and can’t find their way to any other relevant or interesting content, they’ll leave. If they land on a page and it is either wrong, doesn’t make sense or is badly written, they won’t stick around. Make sure you write and present your content in the best way possible, and utilize a layout that makes the visitor want to continue to other areas of your site.

Things that can cause a bounce:

Lots of pop ups

Everyone hates pop ups, and using them can cause negative reactions to your website, especially if there are more than one per page.

Overloading your site with advertisements will cause your visitors to leave your site in a hurry
Overloading your site with advertisements, popups and other invasive items will cause your visitors to leave your site in a hurry

Overloaded Advertisements

Following right along with multiple popups, overloading your pages with advertisements can drive a visitor away in a hurry. It’s understandable that your website may be ad supported, but don’t over do it. It can get to a point where the content is being overpowered by advertisements and the visitor has a hard time using or reading your page.

Noise (music, sound effects, autoplaying video ads)

Unless you are running a music or video website, it’s not a good idea to have music or videos automatically play when the page loads. The visitor may already be listening to music, so your website shouldn’t interfere with what they are doing. I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve immediately left because of autoplaying noise that I don’t want to hear.

Content Issues

Make sure that your content is correct. If what you’re presenting is badly written or simply incorrect, the visitor is unlikely to visit the rest of your website. The same goes for dry and boring content. You don’t have to sound like a technical manual, even if you are a writing technical manual. Try to to keep your readers interested because if they bounce for this reason, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever return.

“Top X Pictures” showing one picture per page

A trick used by some webmasters to increase their page views is to show a list of pictures across several pages, but placing only one picture on each page. This is highly annoying to a user. Rather than being able to see the full list of pictures on one page, you have to click through multiple pages, loading a new page each time. It’s a time consuming trick that drives some people away from the site, especially if the user doesn’t notice that they must click through several pages to view the pictures.

Slow pages

If a page is taking too long to load, it may be the only page they ever try. Make sure your site is loading quickly, and take any necessary steps to speed it up.

What is considered a high bounce rate?

This is a very hard question to answer. The reason is simple: not all websites or content are the same. A photo gallery for cars may have a lower bounce rate than a photo gallery for kitchen designs. A blog about current events in your hometown may have a higher bounce rate than one about current events in your state. Take into account that there are several types of websites that span across countless subjects. They won’t all have the same bounce rate.

Also, as I mentioned before, your site may have a high bounce rate because it’s only one page or has a call to action that doesn’t require the visitor to go further into the site to complete.

So how do you determine what a high bounce rate is? If you know other people who have similar websites, they may be able to give you an idea of what to expect. If not, you can research your website niche to find out what others are reporting. The best way I have found is to simply wait and review your analytics over time. If you have new content being added on a regular basis, you’ll be able to see how some pages rank against others.

If there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in bounce rate across your different pages, it’s likely that either some of your content is better than others, or your topics are so different from each other that judging an average bounce rate this way may not work. Compare the topics of pages that have a wide range between their bounce rate. Some pages will inherently have a higher bounce rate than others. For instance, your contact page will likely have a higher bounce rate than a list of your blog posts.

How can I lower my bounce rate?

While it’s true that you will always have visitors who bounce away from your site after one page view, there are ways that you can lower it. Below are a few effective methods I’ve used.

Internal Links

Internal linking can help reduce your bounce rate and provide your visitors with more information on your own site
Internal linking can help reduce your bounce rate and provide your visitors with more information on your own site

If you have a page that is discussing a topic which relates to other pages on your site, you can link to those pages within your content. This can attract a user to visit pages related to the content they are already reading, without having to leave your site. Link keywords and phrases to their relevant content found in other areas of your site, but don’t overdo it. A paragraph full of links can be irritating to look at for a visitor.

Related Posts

A list of related posts are internal links that connect to pages on your site with similar content. Depending on the way your posts are told to relate, you may be connecting to posts that have the same keywords, were written by the same author, or are in the same category on your website.

Related posts will usually show at the bottom of a page in a list, sometimes with a thumbnail image that represents the related page. It can attract a visitor to click through and read more of your content that relates to what they are already reading. Most Related Posts features on a website are generated automatically based on the content being viewed, which will make it easy to include.

Make your navigation easy to follow

A site that is easy to navigate around is going to have a much better chance of reducing it’s bounce rate. Use a clean, well designed navigation that isn’t complicated or overly cluttered.

Use your sidebars

On several sites I work with, we maximize the visibility of other areas of the site by using the sidebars. Showing links to other categories, new posts and related posts, visitor comments, and featured content, we have managed to reduce the bounce rate significantly as opposed to not using that space.

[info color=”light” ]Tip: Try using pictures to catch the visitors attention. When using a Featured Post widget in the sidebar, we also include an image to accompany that post. It catches the visitors attention better than just using text, and can help to reduce your bounce rate with each click through.[/info]

These tips should help you reduce your bounce rate and keep visitor traffic flowing through your site. There are many ways to reduce your bounce rate, but one of the best is to consider the site from a visitor’s point of view. Look at it from an outsider’s perspective, or better yet, ask others what they think of your site. Look for the negative so you can improve and keep people moving through your site to see the content you worked hard to build.

Install Software with Softaculous in 1 Click

The web is a fast paced world. You want something that works just as quickly as you do. These days tools like Softaculous have made it much easier and faster for a webmaster to get software installed and working. But what can you install and how does it work?

What is Softaculous?

Softaculous is an automatic installer for web apps like WordPress, Joomla, PHPBB, OpenCart and Magento. It gives you a one click method to get your site software installed without the need to FTP all of your files, setup a database, and other tasks needed just to get the app activated. This can save you a lot of time, especially if your internet connection doesn’t upload very fast.

New and seasoned webmasters will enjoy how easy it is to use. In less than 2 minutes, you can go from nothing to ready by filling in a few form details and hitting Install. Most of the form is already filled out, so you may only need to set your login, email, and password to get going. If you make a mistake or miss anything, you’ll get an on screen error message to let you know what needs to be fixed. Most of the time, you can use the defaults, but it’s a good idea to change your login information before the software is installed.

Focus on using apps rather than spending time on installing them.

Softaculous is the current king of automatic installers, giving a webmaster rapid installation of over 100 applications. It does everything for you, from downloading the necessary files to creating a database. It even offers automatic updating and automatic backups for your installation. This way you can focus on building your content, while your site remains up to date and backed up automatically.

Where can I find Softaculous?

Many web hosting providers offer Softaculous. Because of the easy to use interface and power it brings, web hosts like A2 Hosting realize that their customers will benefit greatly with this feature addition. If your web host offers cPanel, check your Software/Services section for the Softaculous icon.

Softaculous is a popular auto installer offered by web hosts like A2 Hosting.
Softaculous is a popular auto installer offered by web hosts like A2 Hosting.

If you can’t find the icon in your control panel, check with your web host. These days, it’s hard to find a great web host who doesn’t offer Softaculous.

5 Great WordPress Plugins to Improve Your Website

If you’re running a website that uses WordPress, you should be taking advantage of the Plugins feature. It provides a huge universe of additional functionality that you can add to your website easily, usually without needing to do anything outside of the admin panel.

Plugins can help improve your website in many ways. What I’m going to do is go over 5 fantastic plugins that you should add to your WordPress website to make it even better.

WordPress SEO

If you’re concerned about search engine optimization (and you should be), using WordPress SEO should be on the top of your to-do list. It’s a highly powerful tool that gives you a lot of advanced features to make your site more attractive to search engines.

Akismet

Everyone hates spam. Something you’ll notice on your WordPress website is that your comment section can often become a breeding ground for fake purses, medications, and other strange comments that usually don’t relate to your content.

One of the best ways to fight comment spam is by using the Akismet plugin. It can punch back the junk and keep your blog posts free of spam. It does require a subscription to use, but it’s free to sign up for. We highly recommend it.

WP Super Cache

Your WordPress website is powered by a database. Because of that, things are a little more intense for the server you’re hosted on. This usually isn’t a problem until your site gets really popular.

To help your site stay quick and keep your web host from complaining, we recommend using WP Super Cache. This plugin can take your content and build static files to provide for visitors instead of pulling from the database. They won’t notice any difference other than a possible speed increase.

Wordfence Security

Security is always a concern. To help take the pressure off, the Wordfence Security plugin is there to help prevent unauthorized logins, alert you to out of date plugins and bad URLs, find changes in files and locate malware. It can do a lot more than this list shows and is highly recommended to use.

Jetpack

An official WordPress plugin, using Jetpack is like throwing an entire toolbox at your website. It comes with a large number of features for your website. From social sharing and contact forms to visitor stats and proofreading, Jetpack can give you a lot.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the plugins you should be using, but instead, a few of the most important ones we feel will help improve your website.

[cite]Photo Credit: PicJumbo[/cite]