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What Does PHP 5.6’s End-of-Life Mean For WordPress Users?

What Does PHP 5.6’s End-of-Life Mean For WordPress Users?

PHP 5.6 is the most widely used minor version of a programming language on the web. The PHP language is used on 79% of websites where the server-side language is known. PHP 5 is used on 58% of the web, and PHP 5.6 is used on around a quarter of all websites. It would not be an exaggeration to say there are millions of websites running PHP 5.6 — and also millions using older versions of PHP.

The statistics for WordPress are in the same ballpark: 35% of WordPress sites run on PHP 5.6. For a four-year-old piece of software, PHP 5.6 remains remarkably successful. It is also unsupported, receiving neither bug fixes nor security updates.

By the end of December 2018, PHP 5.6 hadn’t been actively supported for two years, during which time it received no bug-fix releases. Its official end of life was reached as 2018 came to a close, and, going forward, it will no longer be updated for critical security issues either.

PHP 5.6 and WordPress

WordPress recommends that hosting providers support PHP 7.3, which is the most recent version. At the time of writing, modern versions of WordPress will run on much older PHP versions, back to PHP 5.2.4, but, as WordPress’ developers make clear, using an older version may expose your site to security vulnerabilities. When WordPress 5.1 is released later this year, PHP 5.6 will become the minimum supported version, and sites using older versions may begin to experience compatibility problems. There are tentative plans to make PHP 7 the minimum supported version as early as the end of 2019, but given the huge install base for WordPress on PHP 5.6, it’s uncertain that this will actually happen.

Your site will continue to work. Although PHP 5.6 is no longer supported, WordPress sites that use it will continue to work for the foreseeable future. WordPress’ developers prefer site owners to use up-to-date versions, but they ensure that WordPress is compatible with older versions. However, it’s not guaranteed that WordPress will remain compatible with older versions forever or that developers will continue to support old versions for as long as they have.

Using older versions is a security risk. If a critical vulnerability is discovered in PHP 5.6, it won’t be fixed. It’s impossible to say how much of a risk this poses because no one knows if there are any critical security vulnerabilities in PHP 5.6. Over the last couple of years, numerous denial of service vulnerabilities were discovered and patched in PHP 5.6, but few critical remote code execution or privilege escalation vulnerabilities. After four years, the risk of show-stopping vulnerabilities is not high, but it is not zero.

New WordPress sites should use supported versions of PHP. There is no good reason to launch a new WordPress site on an unsupported version of PHP. Hosting providers that use outdated versions for new sites are negligent, knowingly put their clients at risk. Responsible hosting providers regularly upgrade PHP across their hosting platforms. Hostdedi offers the most recent supported version for new WordPress hosting accounts, although we continue to support older versions for clients who need them.

In summary, while there is no need to panic, hosting clients with sites based on PHP 5.6 should consider upgrading to a more recent version because there is a non-negligible security risk when using older versions of PHP.

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Using WordPress Logs To Understand Activity On Your Site

Using WordPress Logs To Understand Activity On Your Site

Using WordPress Logs To Understand Activity On Your SiteWordPress has a fairly simple interface, but there is a lot happening beneath the surface that you don’t see. Every page load and configuration change may trigger dozens of functions which, in turn, may trigger dozens more. Most of the time, the activity is hidden and that’s a good thing: you don’t need to know everything your WordPress site does behind the scenes.

But sometimes it’s useful to move the curtain aside and see what’s really happening. WordPress can communicate with you in various ways: it can send you emails, it can display notifications, but today we’re going to look at logs.

A log is a list of events, usually displayed in the order in which they occurred. Logs often include errors, but they might also include the day-to-day activities of your site.

Logs are useful for figuring out what is happening when it isn’t obvious from the interface. For example, you might install and configure a plugin so that a widget is displayed on the home page. If the widget doesn’t appear, you can look at log files for clues about what went wrong.

  Low activity may be due to slow site speed. Here are some simple optimizations to speed up your website

The WordPress Error Log

WordPress doesn’t produce a log of errors unless you ask it to. There are a couple of ways to get WordPress to generate an error log. We’ll look at doing it manually first.

In the root of your WordPress installation is a file called wp-config.php. It includes variable definitions and other code for configuring WordPress. You can edit this file by SSHing into your WordPress hosting account or by using an FTP client like Filezilla.

To turn on the error log, look for code that says:

define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, false );

 

Change it to the following:

define( ‘WP_DEBUG’, true );

 

This turns on debugging, but you also need to add another line so that WordPress sends errors to a log:

define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);

 

Make sure that there is only one occurrence of the WP_DEBUG and WP_DEBUG_LOG  definitions in wp-config.php.

Now, if you look in your WordPress installation’s /wp-content directory, you will find a file called debug.log that contains errors and other useful information. As you carry out actions on your site, any errors generated by the site’s code are added to the log.

When you have finished using the log, it’s a good idea to turn off log generation by returning wp-config.php to its default state.

An easier option

If editing the wp-config.php file manually and viewing logs over Filezilla doesn’t sound like fun, you can use a plugin to toggle logging and view the log. WP Log Viewer allows you to turn logging on and off, and provides useful tools for downloading and viewing the error log.

  Get started with the new Gutenberg editor here

Comprehensive Logging

The error log doesn’t tell you everything that happens on your site. If you’re interested in logging comprehensive information about what your site is doing and what users are doing on your site, you need a plugin such as WP Security Audit Log.

WP Security Audit Log logs a huge range of information, including changes to posts and pages, user accounts, settings, the database, and more.

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A Step-By-Step Guide To Moving Your Site To The Cloud

A Step-By-Step Guide To Moving Your Site To The Cloud

Guide To Moving Your Site To The CloudIf you have followed the advice outlined in the previous articles in this series on cloud migration, you are well-prepared to migrate your site to cloud hosting. The information you need has been gathered and is easily accessible. You have informed those who will be affected by the migration. You have chosen a cloud platform and selected an appropriate cloud instance. Now it’s time to put your cloud migration plan into action.

Preparing for the Migration

In the days before the site is to be migrated, it is a good idea to establish a performance and functionality baseline that can be used as a point of comparison after the migration.

Run performance tests on key pages. Google Lighthouse and Pingdom Tools provide comprehensive performance metrics.

Use a web crawling tool to check for broken links (404 errors) and other crawl issues on your site. You could use an application-specific tool such as WordPress’ Broken Link Checker or a specialist tool such as Screaming Frog. It’s a good idea to fix crawl and link issues before migrating so you can tell if the migration itself caused any problems.

Gather a list of redirects implemented on the current site via its .htaccess file or within the application itself. These may need to be checked after migration.

Stepping Through a Cloud Migration

The migration process may be slightly different, depending on the application that is being migrated, but the basic process looks like this:

  • Create an appropriate cloud hosting instance on the new platform.
  • Install the application on the cloud hosting account. You can choose to have the application installed as part of the set-up process on the Hostdedi Cloud.
  • Copy the site’s files and database from the current site to the application running on the cloud platform.
  • Edit DNS records so that they point to the IP address of the cloud platform.

Hostdedi Cloud instances capable of supporting up to 75 concurrent users can be deployed in minutes. Larger dedicated cloud instances will take up to three hours to deploy, so you may want to set-up your cloud instance in advance of migration day.

Test The New Site Before Changing DNS Records

You should ensure that the cloud migration is successful before changing DNS records or the site’s authoritative domain name servers. Carry out the same performance, crawl, and redirection testing as before. There should be no significant regressions.

You may notice worse performance on the new site during initial testing because its caches have not been warmed. This is nothing to worry about, and performance will improve as the caches are filled. On a live site, much of the data is served from caches or a CDN. The newly installed site is generating pages from scratch.

After Migration to the Cloud

Once the cloud migration is complete, you may have to wait up to 24 hours before visitors are reliably directed to the site running on the new platform.

DNS records take time to propagate through the global DNS system. It is likely to take less than 24 hours, but it is best to wait a few hours at least for propagation to complete before concluding that there is a problem.

Once DNS records have propagated, the new site is live. Over the next several days keep a close eye on performance, search traffic referrals, and other site metrics. Once you are confident that the cloud migration was successful, you are safe to delete the site from its original hosting platform and close your account with the provider.

In the next and final article, we summarize the information from this series into a handy cloud migration checklist that you can use to track migration planning, implementation, and testing.

  Download our free guide to Cloud Migration here 

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Introducing the Hostdedi Referral Partner

Introducing the Hostdedi Referral Partner

Hostdedi Referral Partner ProgramPartners have long been a staple in the Hostdedi ecosystem, and a crucial player in our mission to bring the promise of hosting technology to online businesses. But until recently, something was missing.

Today, we’re introducing a new partner level designed to bridge the space between our existing levels of Agency and Affiliate. We’re calling this the Referral Partner.

The Referral Partner level offers $200.00 for every cloud hosting referral and an initial deposit of $100.00 just for signing up.

Introducing the Referral Partner

Every year, we strive to provide a better hosting solution to as many online businesses as possible.

We realized that a middle-tier partner level was an important addition when multiple agencies and freelancers inquired about partnering at events but didn’t feel our current partner programs were the right fit for them.

We immediately set to work creating a competitive mid-level tier for those that felt left out. We settled on a program that featured a mix of value, features, and simplicity.

Spearheading the partner initiative was Jerry Eadeh, who stated that:

We analyzed various affiliate and partner programs belonging to many service providers similar to Hostdedi. We found many of the programs fell short of developing a simple program that didn’t include complex stipulations and exclusionary circumstances.

It was important to us to develop a competitive program that both rewards agencies for their referral activity and focuses on creating great relationships. We’re seeking agencies invested in building a collaborative partnership for us to align our efforts from support through to site maintenance and live launch deployment.”

A Renewed Commitment to Startup Agencies

Hosting is an essential foundation for any new website, but it’s often the last item to be discussed with a client.

The Referral Partner level comes with a renewed commitment to supporting startup agencies and freelancers looking to provide clients with a better hosting solution.

Joining the Hostdedi partner program means more than just earning a commision. We make conversations regarding hosting simple, with optimized environments, secure infrastructure, and 24/7/365 U.S. based support being only some of the benefits our partners and their clients enjoy.

How Can You Become a Referral Partner?

Becoming a Referral Partner is simple. You can contact our staff for more information about the Referral Partner program by email at [email protected].

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The Official Cloud Migration Checklist

The Official Cloud Migration Checklist

The Official Cloud Migration ChecklistEarlier in this series on cloud migration, I compared migrating a website to moving to a new house. It may be stressful, but how stressful depends on how well prepared you are. This, the final article of the series, is a comprehensive cloud migration checklist. Follow this list, and you will have a stress-free cloud migration.

Cloud Migration Preparations

  • Verify that you have access to the following information.
    • SSH or FTP usernames and passwords for the site’s current hosting.
    • Hosting control panel usernames and passwords.
    • Usernames and passwords for services such as the CDN and analytics.
    • DNS service provider information: That may include a DNS registrar and a DNS hosting provider.
    • If you are migrating DNS hosting at the same time, you will need to take note of the new DNS host’s name servers.
  • Inform all stakeholders of the cloud migration plan in advance. Give them time to respond.

Pre-Migration Testing

  • Create a list of your site’s top-performing pages.
  • Run performance tests on the top-performing pages using a service such as Google’s Lighthouse or Pingdom Tools to establish a performance baseline.
  • Check for broken links (404 errors) and other crawl errors.

Cloud Migration Day

  • Create a suitable cloud instance on the target platform.
  • Install the relevant CMS or eCommerce store application on the cloud instance. The Hostdedi Cloud can automatically install your chosen application in a secure, optimized hosting environment.
  • Create a copy of your site’s files and database. You can use application-specific backup tools or create the copy manually over SSH / FTP.
  • Import the database and files into the new application.

The Hostdedi team is happy to handle the migration of the site’s files and database for free. Ask our support team about free cloud migration.

Post-Migration Testing

Tests should be run again after the site is copied but before DNS records are changed.

  • Verify that the top-performing pages and a random sample of other pages are reachable on the new cloud-hosted site.
  • Re-run performance tests.
  • Re-run crawl tests: look for 404 and other errors.

Edit DNS Records

  • If you are migrating your domain’s DNS hosting to the new cloud platform, log in to your domain registrar’s dashboard and add the cloud platform’s name servers.
  • Otherwise, log in to your DNS hosting provider’s control panel and edit the domain’s DNS records to match those supplied by the new cloud hosting provider.
  • Wait for the DNS records to propagate – this could take up to 24 hours, but will probably be faster.
  • You will now begin to receive traffic at your new cloud-hosted website!

After the domain records have propagated, re-run performance and crawl tests to make sure the site is working as expected. You should also carry out any necessary reconfiguration of your content distribution network and test embedded analytics tools like Google Analytics to ensure that they function as expected.

Post-Migration Cleanup

Once you are satisfied that the migration is a complete success, you can delete the old version of the site and close the legacy hosting account.

Congratulations on a successful cloud migration!

  Download our free guide to Cloud Migration here

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5 WordPress Plugins for Increasing Conversions

5 WordPress Plugins for Increasing Conversions

WordPress Plugins for Increasing ConversionsStaring down the WordPress plugins page, you find yourself asking which plugins are right for your site. You want more conversions, and you have a basic idea of what that entails, but you don’t know how that translates into what visitors should see on the page. Here are 5 WordPress plugins that can figure that out for you.

You’ve decided on a WordPress site, and for good reason. Over 25% of the top 10 million sites use WordPress because it’s easy to use, the interface is intuitive, and best of all, it’s open source. Now all you need is a way to increase conversions.

Set your site apart from the competition with WordPress plugins designed to increase conversions. All while still giving you the freedom to create, share, and realize the potential of your site. Here are five plugins we think fit the bill.

  Make WordPress even easier with Hostdedi. Learn More.

1. OptinMonster

OptimMonster homepage for optimizing WordPress conversionsOptinMonster is a highly recommended plugin for increasing WordPress conversions and a great tool for both beginner and intermediate WordPress developers.

It works by allowing you to serve visitors to your website with opt-in forms for joining an email subscriber list or to become part of a specific campaign.

Currently, the plugin is live on 276,000 websites, with a lot of conversion success stories – just Google it.

A great plugin if you’re looking for:

  • An easy to use form builder
  • Integration with other marketing services
  • Advanced page level targeting
  • Behavior personalization
  • Easy A/B testing
  • Detailed conversion analytics

2. WordPress Calls to Action

WordPress Calls to Action for ConversionsWe’re not huge fans of screens littered with ads for our own content. Like most visitors, we want more space dedicated to high-quality, easy-to-read content (and some white space). Which is why when it comes to calls to action, we like this conversion boosting plugin the most.

WordPress Calls to Action will help you to place conversion boosting CTAs in your text (not along the top or in an annoying pop-up box). You can design these CTAs to look and feel exactly like the rest of your site, so they won’t stand out and interfere with your otherwise perfected user experience. A great WordPress plugin and one we highly recommend.

A great plugin if you’re looking for:

  • Convincing CTAs throughout your site
  • CTAs that don’t interfere with the user experience
  • WordPress conversion boosting in an unobtrusive way

3. WordPress Local SEO

WordPress Local SEO helps with site SEO for Omnichannel businessesThere are A LOT of SEO plugins out there for boosting conversions. After all, increasing conversions sometimes means just attracting more people to your site through. Optimized organic search presence through improving SEO is one of the best ways to do that.

So instead of focusing on SEO in general, we’re recommending a plugin for boosting local SEO – something often left out of SEO considerations for small and medium businesses.

This is especially important if you’re a small, omnichannel business looking to make sales both online and instore. This plugin will help you to have a consistent presence across the web so locals can find you.

A great plugin if you:

  • Are an omnichannel store looking to make sales online and instore
  • Want local customers to find you
  • Understand the basics of SEO but need to take it a step further

4. TweetDis  

TweetDis is great for Social Media And WordPress Conversions IncreasesIf you’re in an industry where thought leadership can boost conversions (most industries), then adding a little quotable Twitter magic to your blog posts can go a long way.

It’s no secret that, while with some themes they are pretty, WordPress quotes have no pragmatic use – other than to make something stand out on the page.

TweetDis takes that lack of functionality and expands on it with shiny quotes that are also directly sharable to Twitter. All that’s left for you to do is create tweetable content.

A great plugin if you:

  • Have an active social presence
  • Create great, tweetable content snippets
  • Are in an industry where being a thought leader is key

5. Nello AB Testing

Nello AB Testing results give clear insightsA/B testing is a vital tool in every marketer’s toolbox, regardless of whether they’re working with a WordPress site or not. To finish up our list of 5 WordPress plugins for increasing conversions, we’re going with our favorite A/B testing plugin yet: Nello AB testing.

The reason we like this plugin is that it lets you test practically anything and do so easily. That includes headlines, widgets, post types, themes, menus, entire blog posts, and more.

A great plugin if:

  • You want to start AB testing site elements
  • You’re looking for an easy way to implement and track differences in tests

Optimize Your WordPress Site

It takes more than just plugins to fully optimize a WordPress website. Plugins will help you to increase conversions, but there are other steps to make it into the top 10 million websites on the internet. Another great method for optimizing conversions is to optimize page speed. Check out our guide on how to improve page speed (and so conversions) with simple optimizations anyone can make.

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Building A Cloud Migration Plan

Building A Cloud Migration Plan

Building A Cloud Migration PlanEvery cloud migration starts with a plan, and every plan starts with information gathering. A website is composed of many parts that work together. Migrating to the Hostdedi Cloud is easier than many cloud migrations because we handle the setup of the server, software stack, and application for you. That gets you a long way towards a successful migration, but it will go more smoothly if you have the necessary information at your fingertips.

Assess Your Site’s Resource Requirements

Cloud hosting is sold in resource tiers. It’s easy to move between tiers, but you should be aware of the resources your site consumes and choose a suitable cloud plan for the initial migration.

The Hostdedi Cloud indicates how many concurrent users each plan supports, so it’s easy to figure out which is appropriate for your site or store.

Gather the Relevant Information

Compile a list of services your site depends on and the associated authentication credentials.

You are likely to need the following information:

  • Login details of your current hosting provider’s control panel.
  • SSH or FTP passwords for the hosting account you intend to migrate from.
  • Login details for services you use on your site, such as Google Analytics.
  • The name of your domain registrar and login details for the registrar’s control panel. This is important if you are also migrating DNS hosting. You may need to change the authoritative domain name servers for the site’s domain.
  • If you use a third-party DNS hosting provider, you need the details of that account to change the DNS records to point to the destination cloud hosting.
  • If your site uses a third-party CDN to distribute static assets, you may need login credentials to make changes to the CDN configuration.

It is important to have these details ready before attempting a cloud migration. It would be unfortunate if the migration goes well, but DNS or CDN problems cause availability issues.

Install Backup Software on Your Application

The core of your site is composed of two main components: its files and its database. Once the application – WordPress, for example – has been installed on the cloud hosting account, the migration involves copying the files to the new cloud instance and the data to a database running on that instance.

Backup software is useful in two ways: it allows you to create a copy of the site in case something goes wrong, and the same files and data can be copied to the new cloud instance.

Most web applications provide plugins or extensions that can copy the data from the old installation to the new installation for you. If you would prefer to let us handle this part of the migration process, contact Hostdedi support for more information about our free migration service.

Pick A Day

Once you have gathered the necessary information, it’s time to choose a migration date. With proper planning, there will be little downtime, but it is better to choose a day that you don’t expect the site to be especially busy.

  Download our free guide to Cloud Migration here

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5 Methods For Optimizing eCommerce Conversions

5 Methods For Optimizing eCommerce Conversions

5 Methods For Optimizing eCommerce ConversionsWhen you opened your eCommerce store, where did you see yourself in five years? As a small and consistent merchant providing an excellent, personal service, or a global supplier of high-quality products?

For many merchants, the goal is sales growth. Achieving this is a mix of reputation, product, and service. Unfortunately, you can’t control any of these things 100%, but you can proactively keep them in check by paying attention to some of the main eCommerce issues buyer’s encounter. this may include:

  • Slow loading pages
  • Hard to find products
  • An unintuitive use experience (UX)
  • Unappealing products
  • Confusing Information

Before we take a look at how to keep these things in check, let’s see how your store’s conversion rate compares to the competition.

What Constitutes an eCommerce Success?

 

For the purposes of this article, eCommerce success can be measured by conversions. A conversion is when someone completes a goal you have set. For eCommerce stores (and the purposes of this article), this is typically a sale.

eCommerce conversion rates 2017 and 2018

Taking a look at historical data, eCommerce conversion rates have actually decreased in 2018. In Q4 2018, the average rate across all industries in the US was 2.96%. That means that 2.96% of visitors to the average eCommerce store would make a purchase. In Q2 2018, that number was 2.63%. A small, but significant drop.

One report by ComScore suggests that increased concerns regarding security, a lack of easily accessible information, inefficient UX, and hard to find products are some of the main reasons for this decline. Other sources suggest that a shift in the market has lead to this change.

Looking at conversion rates across industries, the difference is stark. Arts and Crafts, for instance, manages to a conversion rate nearing 4.0%, while the Baby and Child sector remains below 1.0%. Before deciding how much your store needs to improve, check the average conversion rate in your industry. If you feel your number is still too low, continue reading.

eCommerce conversion rates by industry in 2018

1. Increase Conversion Speed

Speed is king in the world of eCommerce. Multiple studies have confirmed slow loading eCommerce stores have lower conversion rates.

A 1-second page delay results in:

  • 16% less customer satisfaction
  • 11% fewer page views
  • 7% conversion decrease

What can you do to avoid this?

Check Your Hosting

Check the quality of your hosting providerThe first step is to check your hosting. If you’re an eCommerce store, you don’t want to opt for the cheapest provider. You should be looking for performance and support, not a low monthly fee.

There are two primary periods of concern you should prepare for: traffic spikes, and downtime

Traffic spikes can easily be managed in modern hosting with an auto scaling feature. True auto scaling allows for an automatic increase to site capacity when it’s required. This is perfect for sales events or when one of your products goes viral and saves you from having to upgrade your entire solution for an extended period of time.

Downtime can be more of a problem. Support is your solution. You’ll want a team that’s available 24/7/365 and with physical access to the data center your site is stored in. That means hosting with a provider that owns their own data center. This way, if something does happen to your eCommerce store, you’ll know that you’ll be back up and be converting potential buyers as soon as possible.

In addition to the points above, your hosting solution should be optimized for your application; especially if you’re running the caching heavy Magento. Check with your provider as to what is a good

Another good thing to check is your DNS provider. The difference between a good DNS provider and a bad one can be lots of conversions or none at all.

  Find out what questions you should be asking your hosting provider. Learn more

Remove Bloat

Once you’ve checked that your hosting provider is optimized for eCommerce, the next step is to see if your server is bogged down with bloat.

Begin by removing all unnecessary plugins and extensions from your CMS.

If you’re using Magento, go to System -> Magento Connect -> Magento Connect Manager. Scroll through the list of installed extensions and select the ones you no longer need. On the drop-down menu, select uninstall and then click Commit Changes.

If you’re using WooCommerce with WordPress, head to your admin panel, then Plugins -> Installed Plugins. From here you’ll be able to see all the plugins you currently have installed and remove those you don’t need.

We recommend committing these changes to a dev site before doing so with a production environment. This allows you to see how they will affect your site from a buyer’s perspective.

Basic Website Optimization

There are optimizations non-specific to eCommerce but that will help to increase speed and keep conversions up. These are simple website optimizations that anyone can do – regardless of whether they have any technical knowledge.

2. Plugins & Extensions

Plugins and extensions are a great way to increase conversion rateModern CMSs know that the functionality required for different sites is, well, different. One store may be perfectly happy using what’s available by default, while the next needs an extra something. With plugins and extensions, that something can easily be found and added.

There are a number of plugins and extensions perfect for boosting conversions. We highly recommend looking into tools to:

  • Run A/B tests
  • Manage opt-in forms
  • Promote your content on social
  • Optimize SEO
  • Deliver high-quality, non-invasive Calls to Action

Before installing a new plugin or extension, ask yourself: Will it boost conversions? If that answer to that question is yes or maybe, install away. If it’s no, find something else.

Turpentine

We’ve created our own Magento extension designed to increase load times in Magento. We’ve called it Turpentine and it works by improving the already efficient Varnish with noticeable improvements to the cache hit rate.

3. Optimize the Buyer’s Journey

As we looked at earlier, one of the main reasons for an industry-wide decline in conversion rate is hard to find products.

To combat this, you want to make it as easy as possible for a buyer to find what they are looking for. This means more than simply directing them to your sales page; it means placing them on a journey.

The buyer's Journey displayed as a funnel

The buyer’s journey as a sales funnel.

A traditional buyer’s journey consists of three main stages:

  • Awareness – Aware of a need for something new
  • Consideration – Analyzing the different options available to them
  • Decision – Final purchasing decision (a conversion)

These stages are often embodied as a funnel. This funnel mimics how the number of people decreases as they journey down the funnel. No store has a 100% conversion rate.

A buyer’s journey is often unique and forcing a myriad of different audiences down only a handful of funnels will mean fewer sales and lower retention. As a store owner, it is important for you to manage these stages in accordance with the data you collect from successes and wins.

Yet creating content that keeps visitors engaged can be a tricky process. Where do you start? Here are three methods that we’ve seen work incredibly well in the modern digitally-driven buyer’s journey.

Create Stand Out Content

Create content that does more than just duplicate what the competition is doing. Try to find what type of content your audience wants. Look beyond the data if you have to.

Create Longtail Content

Perform a long tail keyword analysis to see where you should be directing some of your content and SEO efforts. Short tails are great for sales pages, but optimizing for long tails is the best way to target your audience – especially if they’re niche.  

Nurture Leads With Personalized Outreach

Do more than just personalize the “To” field in emails. Reach out to your audience directly. Finding influencers and people who already do this effectively is a great shortcut. You can also optimize on-page content. Check out these WordPress AI and machine learning plugins for delivering personalized content at the right stage of the funnel.

4. Create a Story With Emotion

One of the most effective ways to optimize eCommerce conversions is to change the fundamental way in which you are selling your products. 

Buyers want an experience when they buy from you, not just a list of technical specifications (most of the time). This directly addressed one of the reasons for a decline in conversions: a lack of interest in products.

Hubspot has created a really useful article on how to use emotion to sell. They’ve gone with six different emotions (to start). Depending on your audience and the product you’re trying to sell, you appeal to a different emotion.

  • Greed
  • Fear
  • Altruism
  • Envy
  • Pride
  • Shame

For instance, if you’re working for a non-profit and trying to boost eCommerce conversions for a donations package, altruism is likely your best option (unless that donation package comes packed with chocolate). If you’re trying to increase conversions on the latest Mercedes though, you’re probably better off going to envy and a sense of keeping up with the Joneses.

All of this leads into our final method for optimizing eCommerce store conversions:

5. Test, Test, Test

Testing should be the bedrock of your conversion optimization strategy.

It’s unlikely you’re going to hit a jackpot every time. Even after years of working with the same audience and products, there are going to be times where your tests misfire or miss the mark. Trial and error let you refine your conversion strategy and improve.

There is always room for improvement, regardless of how well you’re already doing.

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Exploring Nashville During WordCamp US 2018

Exploring Nashville During WordCamp US 2018

Exploring Nashville During WordCamp US 2018With WordCamp US 2018 on the horizon, there couldn’t be more of a perfect time for deciding what to do when you’re in Nashville (besides WordCamp). We recently visited Nashville with exactly that purpose and put together a guide to exploring the city. 

So grab one of the city’s many rent-a-scooters or get your walking boots on, because we’re about to take you on a tour through some of the best sights and sounds Nashville has to offer during WordCamp US.

 

  To celebrate WordCamp US, we’re giving away the first month of WordPress hosting for half price! Learn more

Take a Picture With Nashville’s Angel Wings

WordCamp Us Stop 1 Angel Wings302 11th Ave S

The Nashville WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural is a staple of the Nashville street art scene. Created by Kelsey Montague, you’ll find both a 20-foot tall set of wings and a smaller pair next door.

While you’re in the area, you can also pick up some morning hydration from the juice bar around the corner.

 

See the Parthenon Before the Crowds

2500 West End Ave

A truly impressive 1-to-1 replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. At first, the Parthenon seems to stick out like a sore thumb. Once you learn its history though, you realize that it’s actually one of Nashville’s greatest architectural assets.

Built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, you’ll find the entrance to the Parthenon at its base (with a little gift shop). Exploring the inside is like taking a step back in time.

Just make sure your scooter doesn’t run out of battery here: the area is notorious for not having many lying around.

Walk Through the Grounds of Vanderbilt University

WordCamp US Vanderbilt University2201 West End Ave

One of the most beautiful university campuses in the US, Vanderbilt University is the perfect shortcut from the Parthenon and back into the city downtown proper.

We highly recommend taking it slow and ditching the scooter until you get to the other side. The campus is beautiful, with trees and street lamps reminiscent of a time from before.

Have Lunch at an Authentic Nashville Cafeteria

WordCamp US ArnoldsArnolds, 605 8th Avenue South

There’s nothing quite like grabbing a bite to eat at a local eatery, and we’ve got just the spot for you. Arnold’s serves up traditional home-cooked “Meat & 3”, and has been doing so for the past 30 years.

Open Monday – Friday from 10:30 am to 2:45 pm, it’s the perfect spot for lunch either the day before or after WordCamp US. Monday and Friday usually have Roast Beef as the main course, with several vegetable options for the “&3”.

Feel Nostalgic at Third Man Records

WordCamp US Third Man Records623 7th Ave S

Take a step back in time and visit some of your favorite artists at the Third Man Records store. A short scooter ride from Arnold’s, Third Man Records is a great way to wind down after filling up on home-cooked food.

The store features some great memorabilia and a real-life record listening booth at the back of the store. Keep your eyes open for what looks to be a fortune teller machine here too.

Get Some Work Done at Frothy Monkey

WordCamp US Frothy Monkey235 5th Ave N

By this point in the day, you’re probably about ready to sit down for a rest. Why not get some work done and enjoy an excellent cup of coffee at the same time?

Only a few blocks away, Frothy Monkey offers the perfect atmosphere for work, kicking back, and relaxing. Head to the back after you’ve gotten your coffee for some long tables to work in a group and a quiet atmosphere. We also recommend trying some of their bagels — if you’ve still got the room after Arnold’s.

Trek Music Studio Row

WordCamp Us Stop Music Studio Row401 Commerce St

Take a walk past the music studios of Nashville. From small to large, the city is packed with them. It is, after all, dubbed Music City.

You don’t have to dwell, but standing outside of the recording studios where greats such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Elvis once recorded is a tough feeling to beat.

Experience the Nashville Live Music Scene

Take a walk down the main downtown area of Nashville and it’s hard to miss the live music. Starting in the morning and ending well into the night, every single bar and restaurant you pass will ring with the sounds of a live band or musician. Stop in, have a drink, and soak up the ambiance.

See You at WordCamp US!

Once you’ve finished your tour of Nashville, it’s time to get ready for WordCamp US! Swing by the Hostdedi booth for great deals on WordPress hosting and awesome, limited-edition swag. See you there!

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Why Migrate Your Website or eCommerce Store to the Cloud?

Why Migrate Your Website or eCommerce Store to the Cloud?

Why Migrate Your Website or eCommerce Store to the CloudWhen your website or eCommerce store is slow and your hosting provider has no solution, it is time to think about migrating to a new hosting platform. Unhappy hosting clients have lots of options to choose from: traditional shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, virtual server hosting, and more.

But many choose cloud migration to a modern hosting platform that combines the benefits of traditionally managed hosting with the flexibility and scalability of virtualization.

Just like shared hosting, cloud application hosting is a multi-tenant platform – more than one clients’ site is hosted on each server. But that is where the similarity ends. Cloud hosting uses virtualization and orchestration software to join many servers together into a large pool of compute and storage resources. Each site uses a slice of the resources in the pool.

What does that mean for hosting clients? The “pool of resources” model is more flexible than shared hosting or a dedicated server. When a site migrates to cloud hosting it gains superpowers. It can, for example, be given more resources whenever it needs them. When a site hosted on the Hostdedi Cloud is under heavy load, we can give it a bigger slice of the pool automatically.

Let’s look at some other ways a cloud migration could improve your hosting experience.

Scalable

When a site that starts life on shared hosting or a dedicated server grows too big, it has to be migrated to a different platform or more powerful server. In contrast, the cloud makes it easy to scale from small to enormous without migrating. A cloud hosting account has resource limits, but they can be increased indefinitely as the site grows. In the cloud, you will never experience a site that slows to a crawl because it is too successful.

Reliable, Redundant, and Fast

Reliability, redundancy, and performance are difficult for even the largest online businesses to achieve. For smaller businesses without a large IT department, a reliable, redundant, and fast hosting platform is too complex and expensive to build from scratch. But after a site is migrated to cloud hosting, it gains enterprise-grade reliability, redundancy, and performance for “free” – it’s baked right into the platform.

Secure

A well-engineered cloud platform makes it easier to build and maintain a secure site. The Hostdedi Cloud includes security features such as web application firewalls, a PCI-compliant hosting environment, and security hardening at deployment.

Rapid Setup

A new website or eCommerce store can be launched onto a cloud platform in seconds. Large and complex deployments may take a couple of hours, but that is much faster than other types of hosting, which can take days to be ready for migration. Rapid setup has other advantages too. It is quicker and easier to deploy testing and development sites on the cloud. Click a button and your new testing site will be ready and waiting.

Migrating your WordPress site or Magento store to a modern cloud platform is the solution to your hosting reliability, scalability, and performance issues – now and in the future.

  Download our free guide to Cloud Migration here

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