3 Killer Services to Test Your Website’s Loading Times – The A2 Posting

A pink car speeding along a highway.



You can build the perfect website, with awesome content and a gorgeous design. However, none of that will matter if it takes forever for your pages to load. In the end, visitors will probably end up leaving for another website just so they don’t have to sit around waiting for yours to be ready.

That’s where speed testing tools come in. Instead of trying to measure your website’s load time on your own, these services provide you with accurate times down to the millisecond. What’s more, a lot of them go one step further and tell you how to go about improving your score.

In this article, we’re going to talk about why performance is so important. Then we’ll introduce you to three top services you can use to measure your loading times and how you can optimize them. Time is money, so let’s get started!

Why It’s Important For Your Website to Load Quickly

No one likes to sit around waiting for a website to load. In fact, long loading times can have a more significant impact than simply annoying your visitors. For example, low performance usually leads to abnormally high bounce rates, as well as lower conversions. In other words, failing to optimize your website could be costing you money (at least if your site is monetized).

In general terms, you should be okay if your website takes fewer than two seconds to load. However, even if you’re below that threshold, it’s smart to try and lower your number even further. To do that, let’s talk about how to measure your load times in the first place.

3 Top Services to Test Your Website’s Loading Times

The services below fulfill the same function in general terms – you give them a page, and they tell you how long that page takes to load from their end. However, some of them also offer additional tips on how to improve your website’s performance. For the best possible results, you’ll want to run your tests multiple times, and use more than one of the following tools to ensure that your numbers are accurate.

1. Pingdom Tools

The Pingdom Tools homepage.

Pingdom Tools scores your website in numerous ways. Along with telling you how fast it is, it also compares that time with other results on its database. Then, it provides you with an overall performance score. To get started, just type the URL of the website you want to test on the service’s homepage and choose a server. Pingdom will do its thing, and your results should appear shortly:

Your Pingdom Tools results.

Keep in mind that Pingdom runs three servers located in different regions around the world. You’ll want to use the one that’s closest to your website’s data center for the best possible results. If you’re not sure where that is, check out your web host’s homepage for more information. In most cases, you should be fine using test servers located in the United States, however.

Aside from your results, Pingdom also displays a list of ‘insights’ on your website’s performance:

Multiple examples of Pingdom Tools' insights.

Clicking on any of them will provide you with more information about what they are and how to improve them. If your insights are mostly green, though, you’re already doing great.

2. GTmetrix

The GTMetrix homepage.

GTmetrix is very similar to Pingdom Tools when it comes to functionality. In most cases, our tests have seen similar results on both platforms. However, GTmetrix goes the extra mile by explaining what each of its insights mean. To check out an example, let’s test the Google home page again and see what results we get:

An example of GTMetrix results.

In most cases, GTmetrix defaults to a Canadian server, which should provide reliable results for websites hosted on American datacenters.

If you scroll down below the results, you’ll see a list of insights – clicking on any of them will display the elements you need to fix. Plus, there’s a What’s this mean? button you can mouse over, to learn about what you need to do in order to fix each issue:

Multiple examples of GTMetrix's insights.

GTmetrix also offers a premium service that provides more in-depth results and enables you to schedule tests. Those are nice features, but the insights on its free service are more than enough to steer most websites on the right path.

3. WebPagetest

The WebPagetest homepage.

WebPagetest looks like an outdated website at first glance. However, it provides incredibly in-depth results for its speed tests, so you shouldn’t discount it based on appearance.

When you load the service, it defaults to Advanced Testing mode, which is fine for our purposes. On this screen, you can choose the location of your test server and which browser you want the service to use:

Testing a website using WebPagetest.

Between those two settings, you have dozens of options available. Once your results are in, you’ll see a simple scorecard that gives you an overview of your website’s performance:

Your performance scorecard.

Below that, you’ll find more detailed results. These include how long the website took to load overall (load time), the time it took for the server to respond to your request (first byte), and even how long it took for the website to start loading (start render):

An example of WebPagetest's results.

Combining this information provides you with a far more in-depth picture than many other services. The only area where WebPagetest is lacking is that it doesn’t provide you with in-depth insights like the other services we’ve talked about. However, if you jump over to the Performance Review tab, you’ll find a few suggestions for making improvements to your performance:

WebPagetest's Performance Review tab.

If you’re not sure what each term means, you can scroll down to the bottom of the Performance Review tab to find a glossary that explains what they are. Once you’ve identified your website’s weak spots, it’s just a matter of tackling them one by one.


It’s difficult to overstate how important speed is for every website. Even if your web hosting provider takes pains to optimize for performance, you should still monitor your loading times periodically. That way, you’ll know if your website starts to slow down, and be able to take care of it right away.

If you’re not sure how to go about measuring your website’s loading times, all you have to do is use the following sites:

  1. Pingdom Tools: This user-friendly tool provides you with loading time information in seconds, as well as detailed insights.
  2. GTmetrix: Along with loading time information, this service breaks down what you need to do to improve your website’s performance.
  3. WebPagetest: As far as speed testing tools go, this one provides you with the most detailed information concerning loading times.

What tool do you use to measure your website’s loading times? Share your pick and tell us why in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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The Anatomy of a Stellar Domain Name – The A2 Posting

Multiple wooden models in different positions.

A captivating and memorable URL is made up of several parts, even if it doesn’t look that way on the surface. Unless you understand what those elements are and how they work, you’ll have a hard time with domain management, which is an essential part of running your website.

For example, some URLs require you to use ‘www’ to access a website, whereas others don’t. Knowing how to configure this setting can help you make your site more accessible. Similarly, there are other parts of your domain that you may need to change or optimize.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the four elements that make up every domain name and URL. We’ll explain what they are and how they work, and help you choose between the options available. Let’s get to it!

An Introduction to Domains

If you want to access a website, you’ll need to know its domain name. For example, if you want to visit the A2 Hosting home page, you have to type https://www.a2hosting.com into your browser. That entire address is what’s called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), and the a2hosting.com portion is our domain name.

As you might know, you can also connect to a website using its IP address. This is a series of numbers that identifies a unique server over the web. However, it’s far easier to type in and remember a short name. When you register a domain, you’re basically paying to associate it with your website’s IP, so people have an easier time finding your site.

The Anatomy of a Domain Name (4 Key Elements)

In this section, we’re going to break down a full URL and teach you what each element does. That way, you won’t be caught off guard if you ever have to perform any domain management tasks.

1. The HTTP Protocol

The HTTP protocol.

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) governs the way that servers and browsers behave and communicate with each other. For example, each time you try to access a normal website through your browser, it sends an HTTP request to the server at the other end. If the server replies, the website will load. Sometimes, things go wrong during this process, which is why you’ll run into HTTP errors occasionally.

HTTPS, on the other hand, is a more secure version of the original protocol. It works in basically the same way, except that it encrypts all the data between the server and browser, for added safety. Using HTTPS can also have a positive impact on a site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This means it’s well worth making the switch on your own site, if you haven’t already.

However, you can’t just replace the HTTP portion of your URL with HTTPS out of the blue – you need to get a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate first. This certificate shows you went through a process of verification before enabling HTTPS. You can even get an SSL certificate for free. Once it’s all set up, your site will be more secure.

2. The www Prefix

The www prefix.

As you may know, the www that’s in most URLs stands for “world wide web”. You don’t need to use this prefix in your URLs, but a lot of websites do so anyway. The reason is that search engines recognize different URLs as unique pages. For example, take these two URLs:

  1. http://www.a2hosting.com
  2. http://a2hosting.com

Search engines think those are two different websites, so for consistency’s sake you should stick to a single structure throughout your site. In other words, you need to choose a master or ‘canonical’ URL, and use it for both your internal and external links.

From a technical standpoint, www URLs are usually a better choice, since they enable you to use CNAME records and are better for caching purposes. You’ll want to read more about what those terms mean at some point, but for now, all you need to know is that unless you have a strong reason not to, you’re better off using www for your website’s URL. Plus, you can always set things up so that when people type your domain without the www prefix, they’ll get redirected.

3. Your Domain Name

Your domain name.

This is the most straightforward element of any URL – it’s the name you pick to identify your website. We already talked about how domains work earlier, so for now let’s focus on how to choose the right one.

Your domain name needs to be both functional and memorable, so here are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind:

  1. Select a name that’s related to your site’s niche or topic.
  2. Keep the domain short, so it’s easier to type and remember.
  3. Avoid names that sound too similar to your competitors.
  4. Compare multiple options, and check to see if they’re available using a domain registrar.

Registering a new domain isn’t that expensive, but you want to get it right the first time. After all, changing a domain name can be a bit complicated, depending on how popular your website is. If you’re not sure where you can register a one, or how to do it, check out our domains section to get started:

A2 Hosting Domain Registration

Likewise, you may need some help brainstorming domain name options. If that’s the case, there are services known as ‘domain spinners’ that can help you come up with ideas if you provide them with a few keywords.

4. Your Top-Level Domain (TLD)

Your top level domain.

TLDs are the suffixes that come right after your domain name. For example, a2hosting.com uses the .com suffix. Most people only know about popular TLDs such as .com.net, and .org. However, there are hundreds of TLD options available, and you can pick basically any of them for your domain.

The reason why most people stick to .com TLDs and other popular options is that they make websites seem more professional, and they’re easier for visitors to remember. Plus, some TLDs cost more to register than others. For example, you can usually find .com domains for under $15, but specialty TLDs are often more expensive.

However, people are becoming a lot more open to using unusual TLDs. Take .io for example, which is incredibly popular among startups, or .blog which is excellent for personal websites. Likewise, there are other TLDs for particular types of sites, such as .wiki and .realty. In most cases, however, we recommend sticking with .com unless it isn’t available for your domain name. In that case, feel free to look for TLDs that are relevant to your website’s field.


Your domain name is an integral part of your website. If it’s memorable, people may visit more often. However, it’s also important for you to know what the other elements in your URL are, aside from the name you chose. For example, knowing that you have multiple TLD options available can help you choose the one that’s best suited to your niche.

Before we wrap up, let’s recap the four elements that make up every URL:

  1. The HTTP or HTTPS protocol.
  2. The www prefix.
  3. Your domain name.
  4. Your choice of TLD.

Do you have any questions about the elements of your domain name? Ask away in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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20 links every online business owner should click before 2017 ends

20 links every online business owner should click before 2017 ends

2017 has been an eventful year, with lots of changes in most aspects of digital marketing. But since we know how challenging it can be to keep up with all this information while trying to run a successful business, we’re happy to help you catch up.

Here are 20 of the best resources from 2017 that you can use to get started online with your new business and ways to use tools like social media, search engine optimisation (SEO) and email marketing to promote your business, engage customers and increase your revenue.

Getting started with a new business

Whether you want to sell handmade jewellery, plumbing services or an app, the following resources are filled with great tips and advice on how to get started, from how to get your business up and running to ways to promote it online.

Naming your business – In this video you’ll find crucial advice on things to avoid when naming your business or buying a domain to help you avoid some potential costly mistakes.

Getting your business online – This article details the essential products you’ll need to get your business online, including the costs you can expect to pay for each. This way you get a better idea of the kind of budget you need to start your business and get it online.

Promoting your new website – This guide walks you through the six steps to get you started with digital marketing for a new website so you get to grips with important concepts. You’ll learn everything from how to identify your target audience and set goals to deciding which marketing channels to use to reach your ideal customers.

Mistakes to avoid – No matter how (in)experienced you are, you’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them. Just make sure to avoid these 13 common mistakes when launching your small business, and you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors.

Social media

In this day and age, your business can’t exist without a social media presence. Are you using the right social channels to connect with your audience? And are you making the most of each to educate, entertain and engage your followers? The following resources will teach you how.

Developing a social media strategy – It’s no longer about being present on Twitter or Facebook, sharing a few updates and answering a few comments. If you want to be successful on social media, you need a plan. This guide will teach you all about proper social media strategy for a small business – what it is, why it’s important, and how to develop one that’s right for your business.

If you want to dig deeper, the 123 Reg free digital course on social media includes lots more information about setting strategy and goals but also what type of content to post and when, plus how to analyse the results of your efforts.

Getting started with Instagram for business – If you’ve decided you’d like to use the popular photo and video sharing social network for business but don’t know how to get started, this is the guide for you. In it you’ll find out everything about using Instagram for marketing, from how to set up your business profile to the type of visual content that is most successful on this platform.

Using hashtags to reach more people – If you’re on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn but aren’t using hashtags to tag your content, you’re missing out. When used right, hashtags are powerful and can help users discover your content more easily. If you’re ready to take advantage and learn how to use them for your business, check this beginner’s guide to hashtags.

Automating social media – Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer and CoSchedule are fantastic at helping you to create, curate and distribute content on the social channels you’re active on. This article shares six other such tools that can simply and automate your social media tasks.

Finding new content ideas – One of the hardest parts about social media for business is having to constantly come up with new, useful, entertaining content to share with your audience. If you need some inspiration, in this article you’ll find 20 social media ideas to keep your brand’s feed fresh and engaging.

Building relationships with influencers – We’ve written many times about influencers on the blog and the significant impact they can have on people’s purchasing decisions. In this guide on building relationships with influencers you’ll learn why influencers matter and how you can team up with them so they promote your business to their fans and followers.

Offer customer service around the clock on Facebook – Messaging apps are becoming popular tools for businesses to provide support and answer users’ questions and concerns. So, if you’re using Facebook for business but aren’t using Facebook Messenger for business, it’s time you get started. In this article you’ll learn how to create a Facebook Messenger chatbot for your business so you can not only save time but also enhance your customer service and marketing for your small business.

SEO and content marketing

Search engine optimisation

Whether you’re just getting started with optimising your website or looking into additional ways to make it more visible in the search results, these resources might come in handy.

Showing up on Google Maps – More than a quarter of mobile searches are related to location. So if you’re not on Google Maps when prospects are searching for your business, you’re missing out. Don’t know the steps? Read this guide to learn the steps to getting your business to appear on Google Maps.

Optimising for local search – If you’re a local business, you need to make sure you’re visible to local customers. But how do you go about optimising your website when you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location? This guide explains the local SEO tactics you should use to optimise your site when you don’t have a physical address.

Getting your YouTube videos found – For years, YouTube has been a popular marketing tool for lots of businesses, and with 55% of users watching videos online every day, you need to take advantage. But that doesn’t mean just creating videos and uploading them to YouTube. If you really want results, you need to optimise them to ensure your videos get noticed more often. This article shows you exactly how to optimise a YouTube video so it gets found by potential customers.

SEO ranking factors in 2017: Find out more about the most crucial search engine ranking factors and get practical expert advice on how to use these factors to increase your site’s visibility in the search engines.

Email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most popular and effective tools to keep in touch with prospects, to update and entertain them with fresh, useful content and information and, of course, to market your products and services. Check out these resources for the latest tips on how to make the most of email marketing.

Creating your first mailing list – As a new business, you need to find ways to entice prospects to sign up to your mailing list so you can then send them useful content and stay in touch with them. But how do go about it? How do you entice people with a full inbox to sign up for yet another mailing list? Find out how in this beginner’s guide to building your first email list.

Personalising emails – Personalisation is key to successful marketing now and in the years to come. That means that to get results you’ll need to make email all about the customer by serving up relevant, valuable offers and content intended for each group of customers. Read this article to learn how to use personalisation in your emails to get better results.

Measuring results – Want to find out how your emails are performing, what’s working and what you should improve to get better results? In this beginner’s guide to email analytics you’ll learn how to use Google Analytics to track your campaigns and which metrics to focus on when evaluating email performance.

If you’re looking to learn more about email marketing and how to use it to engage your prospects and grow your business, make sure to take our free digital course on email marketing. In it you’ll find out not only how to get started with email marketing but also how to design your email, how to use marketing automation and how to analyse your results.

There you have it – 20 useful links with lots of advice and information on how to improve your business and better market it to your target audience using social media, SEO and email marketing.


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5 tips to boost your ecommerce sales in 2018

5 tips to boost your ecommerce sales in 2018

If you’re running an ecommerce website, you should always be searching for ways to improve your sales.

In this guide, we’ll look through some methods to entice more people to make a purchase from your website.

To make the most of some of these tips, you’ll either need to polish up your technical skills, or considering hiring an agency to help you out. That may seem like a big step, but doing so can really help take your business to the next level.

Run A/B tests

Could changing the colour of your “buy now” button boost sales? It may seem like a strange question, but the fact is you can never tell how a change to your website will impact sales until you try it.

Of course, it’s not a good idea to go round making site changes just for the sake of it. You need to identify potential changes and then test them against your existing website one at a time so you can tell whether they have a positive or negative impact on your sales.

That’s where A/B testing comes in. The concept behind the test is simple – you make one small change to a page on your website and see whether it makes a difference to your conversion rate compared to your existing page.

In practice, A/B testing is a little bit more complicated than this, as you have to worry about things like statistical significance, and the technical side of setting up your tests.

That said, the effort required to run A/B tests is more than worth it as you’ll almost certainly discover changes that boost your sales and hence your revenue.

Check out this guide to learn more about getting started with A/B testing.

Make better use of your email marketing list

You do have an email marketing list, right? If not, then make creating one your top priority. If you already have a list, then a great way to boost sales is by making sure you’re using it in the right way.

If you’re just sending out the same email to all your customers, then you’re not using the channel to its full potential.

Targeted, segmented marketing emails can boost your conversion rates. You can even make use of clever techniques like abandoned cart emails, which contact people after they leave your site with items in their shopping cart that they haven’t checked out.

This is the webinar for you if you want to learn more about how to make the most of your email marketing list.

Optimise your PPC ads

Pay per click (PPC) ads are the lifeblood of many an ecommerce business. Done right, they can drive plenty of sales and increase your profits. Done badly, PPC ads can be a time consuming, expensive failure.

So how can you make PPC ads? Well, if you haven’t tried them in the past, or have tried them and struggled to get them working for you, then why not check out this free course on getting started with PPC ads.

This is the place to go if you’re looking for some more advanced PPC tips and tricks.

If on the other hand, you don’t want to worry about running PPC ads yourself but still want to reap all the benefits, why not let 123 Reg take care of things for you? Get in touch with our PPC management team to see what we can do for you.

Streamline your website

How many clicks does it take for someone to buy a product from your website? How many fields do they have to fill in when signing up?

If people have to jump through hoops to become your customer, then they’re far less likely to actually become a customer.

The worst thing is, you can sometimes put obstacles in people’s way without realising. What may seem like a perfectly logical website setup to you could be very confusing to first-time visitors.

Testing is the answer here. A/B testing can help you with basic questions such as “what happens if I reduce the number of fields in my sign up form?”.

However, to discover things like how your potential customers expect your site’s navigation to be structured, you need to run in depth user tests.

User testing is a great way to improve your site, because it allows you to get an insight into the minds of the people who matter – existing and potential customers.

As you might imagine, it’s a complex task. We have a guide to getting started with user testing here. But if you’re serious about it, you may want to seek out the help of a specialist agency.

Focus on customer service

If you’ve been running your ecommerce business for a while, you’ll have undoubtedly heard the old adage that it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to attract a new one. And it’s true.

So ask yourself are you really doing enough to keep customers happy? If you aren’t able to answer this question with a resounding yes, backed up by data that proves it, then it’s an area you need to focus on in 2018.

The key to improving customer service is understanding exactly what your customers think of your business.

By implementing the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system, you’ll be able to understand what customers do and don’t like about your business. From there, you can’t start making improvements to keep customers happy.

This guide will help you get started with NPS.

Summing up

Hopefully you’ve been inspired to try out at least one method of growing your ecommerce sales, and no matter how you’re planning to grow your business in 2018, 123 Reg will be with you every step of the way.

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Teaching Code through Visual Web Design Courses

Teaching Code through Visual Web Design Courses

Teaching Code through Visual Web Design Courses

December 13, 2017


Now that coding is widely recognised as a core skillset that students should learn, schools around the world are looking for code curriculums.

Too many code courses!

There are plenty of code courses out there, but unfortunately, the vast majority are created by coders who have no teaching skill, or experience. For adult students, you can get away with that, but when it comes to middle school and high school students, you need a set of courses created by experienced teachers.

What makes a great coding course for middle school and high school students?

It comes down to a few things:

  1. The lessons have to be video based.
  2. The video lessons have to be a reasonable length, otherwise students will quickly get bored.
  3. A code teaching platform should provide instant feedback, and other incentives to engage students.
  4. Code courses should breakdown concepts into small chunks that students can learn.
  5. A teaching platform should provide flexible lesson plans and other materials teachers need.
  6. Most of all, the courses have to fun!

Why use web design to teach code?

Read more

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Managing Your Blog On a Mobile Device

Managing Your Blog On a Mobile Device

Managing Your Blog On a Mobile Device

A few enhancements we’ve added to the iOS and Android apps for easier blogging.

Have you given the WordPress mobile apps a try lately? We’ve been working hard to make sure our iOS and Android apps are simple to use and have the features you need to blog right from your phone or tablet. Here are a few recent additions and updates that make blogging on the go easier:

Add Categories and Tags

Before publishing a blog post, you can add categories and tags right in the app’s post editor. To add categories and tags to a post in the iOS editor, tap the at the top right, then Options. On Android, tap the gear icon at the top right.

(Need a refresher? Categories allow you to group related posts together on your site, and tags help people find you in the WordPress.com Reader. Keep in mind that the Reader will filter out posts using more than 15 categories and tags total, so stick to 15 or fewer.)

Edit Post Slugs and Excerpts

A post slug is the part of a post’s URL after the .com (or the .blog, .org, .net, or whichever kind of address you use). WordPress generates one for you automatically based on your post’s title — but if your post has a very long title, it will also have a very long URL. Now, you can edit your slugs in the apps to shorten them.

You can also add and edit excerpts — little summaries of your posts — in the app. Some themes display post excerpts on your home page; if yours does, you’ll want to add one to each post. They also display in the WordPress.com Reader, giving you more control over what appears there.

To find the slug and excerpt in the apps, go back into your post’s settings: head to a post and tap on … → Options (iOS) or on the gear icon (Android), Scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the slug and excerpt options.

Add a Featured Image

Lots of themes use Featured Images to draw readers’ eyes to your posts and pages. And when readers share your posts, the Featured Image is often used by Twitter, Facebook, and other networks. It’s the first part of a post most people see, and plays a big role in whether people decide to read.

To add a featured image to a post, open a post and go back to — you guessed it! — …→ Options (iOS) or the gear icon (Android). You can change an existing featured image there, too.

Easier Reading and Accessibility

The apps have seen several changes to make them easier to use, including better button and image descriptions for screen readers and improved zooming to increase text size. If you’ve had trouble with small text in one of the apps before or found something to be inaccessible, give it another try and be sure to let our support team know if you see areas where we can improve further.

In-App Support

If you have any questions, you can reach our support team right in the apps by going to Me → Help & Support → Contact Us. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t have the WordPress mobile app yet? Download it here.

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123 Reg embraces Domain Connect

If you’re setting up a new website you want it to be as quick and easy as possible.

Whether you’re launching a new blog or a new business, you don’t want to spend time worrying about technical details if you don’t have to.

That’s why 123 Reg has embraced Domain Connect.

Domain Connect makes it easier than ever before to use your 123 Reg domain name with a range of service providers. If you decide to use a 123 Reg domain name when building a website with Wix, Shopify or Squarespace, then Domain Connect will make the process easier. It will even help if you want to run your email through Office 365. Click here to view a full list of Domain Connect service providers.

If you’ve ever used a third-party service provider with your 123 Reg domain name, you’ll remember that you had to change the DNS settings in your 123 Reg control panel. Domain Connect removes the need for you to  make those DNS settings changes manually. Now whenever you set up your 123 Reg domain with a Domain Connect service provider, all it will take is just a few clicks on the service provider’s settings page.

This applies whether you’re setting up a newly registered 123 Reg domain name with a third-party service that uses Domain Connect, or you’re planning to use an existing 123 Reg domain name with a third-party service that uses Domain Connect.

How does Domain Connect work?

The beauty of Domain Connect is that it just works – if you’re not technically minded, you don’t need to get to grips with the ins and out of the system to use it. But if you do want to learn more, visit the Domain Connect website.

Will this change affect any existing DNS configurations?

No. If you have a 123 Reg domain name set up with a third-party service provider, then this change won’t make a different to those settings – regardless of whether they use the Domain Connect system or not.

If in the future you decide to a) set up a new 123 Reg domain name with a third-party service that uses Domain Connect, or b) switch to a third-party service that uses Domain Connect on an existing 123 Reg domain name, then the Domain Connect system will mean you don’t have to make any manual DNS changes.

What if I want to use my 123 Reg domain with a non-Domain Connect service provider?

You’ll still be able to use your 123 Reg domain with any third-party service provider of your choosing, but if they’re not part of the Domain Connect service, then you’ll have to manually configure the DNS settings.

For that reason, you may find it easier to opt for a service provider that does use Domain Connect.

Will more service providers be added to Domain Connect in the future?

Domain Connect is an open standard, which means that anyone can implement it. It is hoped that more service providers will make use of the standard in future, but it is not something that 123 Reg has control over.


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Our favourite small business resources and tools of 2017

Our favourite small business resources and tools of 2017

Whether you’re fine-tuning your social presence, optimising your website or digging through data, relying on the right tools means saving time and maintaining your sanity at the same time. The problem is there are always new online marketing tools, trends and resources that pop up so how do you know which ones to use?

In this post we’ll share with you some of our favourite small business tools and resources. Some are new and some are established, but they’re all very useful. We divided the list into three sections – social media, search engine optimisation (SEO) and general online marketing – so you can get a better sense of which tools and resources you can use for different tasks.

Let’s get started!

Social media marketing

Social media continues to be a powerful tool for reaching and connecting with your audience, whether by providing great content, by offering advice and support or by simply engaging with them in conversation. Here are some great resources and tools that can help you do just that.

Display Purposes

If you’re using Instagram to reach your audience, you probably know just how important it is to use the right hashtags and how much of a difference they can make in how many users find your posts. If you’re struggling to come up with the best, most relevant hashtags for your Instagram photos, make sure you try Display Purposes.

This tool was created by photographer and developer Fay Montage, and it’s extremely simple to use. All you need to do is enter one or two hashtags that are relevant to your photo and the site will return a list of 30 similar hashtags that are often used on Instagram alongside the ones you entered.

Here are some results we got when we entered #london and #burger:

If you’re not using hashtags already, this guide explains all you need to know about hashtags and how to use them for your business on popular social networks like Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.


Curating content that’s relevant to your audience is probably amongst the most time-consuming social media tasks. Quuu makes this job easier by suggesting content that’s hand-picked specifically for your social audience.

The tool gathers selections from hundreds of categories specifically geared toward your audience.

To get started, you’ll need to select the categories that matter to you and based on them, the tool will return with content suggestions your audience might enjoy. You can approve and schedule the ones you like on your preferred social channels using Buffer or Hubspot, or you can let the team at Quuu handle everything for you.


If you want to try it out, with the free forever plan you can choose up to five interest categories and get two content suggestions per day.


If you have an active presence on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or others, you know how time-consuming it can be to deal with everything from posting content to engaging with your audience and tracking results.

That’s what makes Hootsuite one of our favourite time-saving tools of 2017. You probably already know that it’s one of the most popular platforms for scheduling social media content in advance, but did you also know that with Hootsuite’s improved Bulk Composer feature you can schedule up to 350 posts at once?

If that seems like a lot and don’t know how you could go about creating so much content, this super-useful guide explains how to create a social media calendar and organise a year of posts the easy way.

And if you’re looking to save even more hours of work, here are seven social media templates you can use for everything from planning and message scheduling, to publishing and tracking results. Here’s an example of a social media content calendar template you can use:


Facebook Creator

Facebook Live is huge, drawing engagement and comments over ten times the rate of non-live videos. So, if you’ve been wanting to give live video a try, with the new Facebook Creator app you have no excuse not to.

Facebook launched the Facebook Creator app in November 2017 and we think it’s worth checking out. The app includes lots of great tools for streaming video, updating Stories and message people across Facebook’s platforms.

The main draw are the features for Facebook Live that allow you to create custom intros and outros for live broadcasts, as well as add interactive stickers and a custom video frame.


So if your business has an active presence on Facebook and want to give live video a try, install the Facebook Creator app and see how you like it. On the Facebook for Creators website you’ll find some useful resources and tips on how to create videos using the app.


Search engine optimisation

Local Listing 

You can’t really blame us for talking up 123 Reg, can you?

We’ve launched the Local Listing tool this year and in case you haven’t had the chance to use it yet, know that we’ve created it to make the process of local SEO as quick and as painless as possible.

So instead of spending time submitting your site to directories and then more time keeping those directories updated, our tool does the work for you. It makes it quick and hassle-free to submit your details to relevant directories, and updating your details takes just a few seconds.

In addition, you can use Local Listing to monitor the reviews you may receive on these sites, which helps to manage your reputation and respond quickly to any negative comments or issues that may arise.

We believe the 123 Reg Local Listing’s features and functionalities can speak for themselves so why not start with a free report on the current state of your local SEO? 

New search engines

While Google is the most popular search engine that almost every business focuses on, there are lots of other noteworthy search engines out there. Some focus on more niche areas, like academia, while others distinguish themselves in other ways that’s attracting users.

For example, Semantic Scholar is an academic research search engine where you can find lots of reliable resources:

So, just like you experiment with different SEO tools or marketing tactics to see which ones work best for your business, we encourage you to also test other search engines and see how they can help to increase your brand’s visibility.

Here is a break-down of six new search engines you should be keeping your eye on and why.

General online marketing

While there are lots of strategies and tactics you can try, which can sometimes feel overwhelming, with the right tools and resources you can start to make progress faster. Here are some interesting ones you can experiment with.

BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer

We’ve mentioned BuzzSumo lots of times on the 123 Reg blog. That’s because it’s a fantastic tool for discovering the most popular content on social media and on the web. It can also tell you who are the most influential users within a particular topic area, so it’s effective at helping you to identify relevant and valuable influencers you should connect with.

A few months ago BuzzSumo added a new feature within its platform called Question Analyzer. The tool is designed to help content marketer search for questions being asked about topics related to their business.

This is extremely useful because the best content you can possibly create is the one where you address the questions and pain points that prospects have.

The Question Analyzer crawls about 100,000 forums, such as Reddit, Quora and Amazon and other Q&A sites, and groups all the questions being asked pertaining to a topic or product.

So, if you’re doing customer research to find out more about your prospects’ pain points, questions and concerns, or if you’re looking for new content ideas that your audience is interested in, you’ll want to give this tool a try.


You’ve probably gone through a plethora of resources about influencers and how much they can influence people’s buying decisions. Up until not too long ago, the top advice was to reach out to influencers with millions of fans and followers. But as a small business, you probably can’t afford those types of influencers.

The great news is you don’t have to. In fact, influencers with a smaller but more loyal following (also known as micro-influencers) can help you to reach your target audience and get better results than influencers with a huge following.

So, one of our favourite resources of 2017 is this article about promoting a brand using micro-influencers and how the best type of influencers are those who are already fans of your brand.

Wrapping up

There you have it – some of our favourite small business tools and resources of 2017. We’d love to hear from you in a tweet @123Reg about which of these you’ve used or any new ones that might be worth checking out.


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Tips for planning your social media over the festive season

Tips for planning your social media over the festive season

The festive seasons is an incredibly important time for brands, both big and small, and many have been preparing for this moment for months. Whether you’re looking to get into the festive spirit with a mix of fun posts and special offers or just want to let things go quiet over the holidays, we’ve put together this essential list of great tip for managing your social media profiles this season.

Use this compilation of tips to ensure you’re making the most of your social media over the festive season.

Do your research

If you’re using social media management tools like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule your posts, make sure to also look at the data analytics to gain insight into your audience’s preferences. Take a look at how they interact with your brand on your various social channels and then use this information to create content that will resonate and truly make an impact.

You can also use the data analytics from these tools, as well as from your Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, to see what has worked well in the past. You can then use the data from your previous campaigns to enhance and improve your efforts this year.

Know when and how to post content

The tools we mentioned above can also help you to discover which days and time of the day your audience spends most time online. Usually, during the festive season and until the beginning of January, people take time off from work, which means they’ll have more free time to browse the web and social media. Take advantage of this to share interesting content and great offers.

The easiest thing you can do to get organised it to create an editorial calendar where you add all your upcoming social media activity. Your calendar should include the posts you’re planning to schedule, the time and day when they’ll be posted and the social channels where they’ll be published on.

Scheduling content is a good move if you want to take some time off but if you’re site is still taking orders. However, this doesn’t abdicate your responsibility to keep an eye on your social media and respond to comments and mentions. It’ll hurt your reputation if you receive comments and don’t respond while your business continues to push out updates on social media.

Read our post for more best practices on why and how to schedule your social media posts.
time social media

Help spread the holiday spirit

Nobody likes a Grinch or a Scrooge, right? So make sure that your online presence on social media reflects all the good holiday cheer that lifts everyone’s mood and makes the season memorable.

This can include customising your social media covers and themes to be bright and colourful. Just make sure your branding is consistent as you don’t want to confuse your fans. Pick a single theme, colour scheme and font pack and stick with it. You can also have a bit of fun and add a bit of festive cheer to your updates and replies.

Another thing you can do is to share some behind-the-scene pics. Upload Christmas party pictures or share your team members’ plans for the New Year. Share any type of content that can make your customers feel personal with the brand.

Check before you post

If you’ve scheduled content so you have one less thing to worry about during the holiday season, make sure you take another look before it goes live. Do this not only to ensure they’re error-free but also that they’re still accurate. There are many examples of brands that have used various tools to automate their social media posts while away, only to discover the posts went viral, but not in a good way.

So if you do decide to automate your social posts while on holiday, make sure you still keep an eye on the news and also check your posts before they go live. Your surely don’t want to be given as an example of a social media disaster, like these other brands.

Get in touch with your customers

This is the perfect time to initiate conversations with your audience on social media. For example, on Instagram you can post an image of one of your most popular products and ask customers to share a pic or a short video of how they’re using it or to whom they’re planning to give it to. You can also create fun, holiday-themed hashtags to initiate conversions around your brand.

Going into the New Year, you can share a fun card or a discount as a small token of appreciation for their trust and loyalty. It’s a simple gesture that can get you new brand advocates and even more loyal customers for years to come.

Let things go quiet (but tell people you’re doing so)

It’s ok to let things go quiet over the holidays, but make sure to let people know! As a small business, your customers will be more understanding as they’re aware you don’t have a huge team of people that’s available 24/7. Just make sure to let them know that you’re on a break and when you’ll be back. Simply share a quick update a few days before your time off so they have time to get in touch with you before you leave.
girl writing list

Don’t slack on customer support

If you’re selling products online and especially if you’re running a campaign, the chances are that customer feedback and queries will increase during this period. And where do they go to voice their complaints or ask their questions? Social media, of course!

Whether you’re short-staffed or you’re taking some time off, you need to be ready to deal with any queries from customers. So even if you’re on a break, make sure to check your social media channels at least twice a day to reply to all comments from customers.

Don’t forget to have fun!

While this is a great time to boost sales, focusing solely on sales promotions will drive customers away. So make sure you include a mix of engaging content in any format, whether text, links or videos. Remember that this is a time for having fun so embrace it with your social media.

If you want to save even more time during the holiday season, here are some other tasks that you can automate.

There you have it, our top tips for making the most of social media during the holiday season. Any other you’d add to this list?

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New Premium Themes: Small Business and Photo Blog

New Premium Themes: Small Business and Photo Blog

New Premium Themes: Small Business and Photo Blog

Introducing two new premium themes: Small Business, made for your entrepreneurial endeavors, and Photo Blog, designed to make your photography shine.

Today we’re excited to announce two new premium themes: Small Business and Photo Blog.

Small Business

Small Business is a new premium theme for your entrepreneurial endeavors. At an introductory price of just $5 (or free with the Premium or Business plans), it’s a worthwhile investment for your business.

Small Business Theme Setup Instructions

We know that running a business is no small task, which is why Small Business includes comprehensive video instructions for its key features so you can get your business’ website online faster.

Small Business was designed with a simple, single-column layout for a consistent reading experience no matter the device or screen size, and uses system fonts to reduce page-load time. We’ve also included a few tailored features just for small businesses, like:

Contact Information: Your customers are busy people – that’s why easy access to essential information like your phone number and address is so important. Small Business displays a banner with your contact information on every page and turns all the information into links, so your customers can call, email, or find you on a map with a click.

Small Business - Contact Info

Promo Area: Do you have a new product coming out? A seasonal sale? A special event? Whatever it is, you’ll want to put this information right on the front page to make sure your customers see and act on it. Small Business includes a Promo Area area that makes it as easy as flipping a switch!

Style Packs: If Small Business’ bold design doesn’t feel right for you, choose one of the three included Style Packs — Modern Flair, Country Charm, or Classic Elegance — for a different look and feel with the click of a button.

Learn more about how to use all of Small Business’ features with these step-by-step instructions and videos or by checking out the demo — or just try it out on your own site!

Photo Blog

Photo Blog is our new premium theme for visual storytellers. It’s available for $36, or comes free with the Premium or Business plans.

Photo Blog comes with many features that help your photographs shine:

Layout: Along with its default square layout, Photo Blog comes with two additional layout options. The Grid layout adds space between your images, while Masonry creates an interlocking grid, which respects your image orientation and pieces them cleanly together.

Featured Images Filter: Photo Blog comes with a variety of image filters you can apply to your Featured Images. Choose from faded Reyes, black-and-white Willow, saturated Lo-fi, or one of the other 23 options.

Style Packs: If you’re searching for a different look for Photo Blog, check out its Style Packs — Elegant, Retro Photo, or Vintage Paper — to change up your site’s appearance.

You can learn more about Photo Blog by checking out these step-by-step instructions and videos, or visiting the theme’s demo site!

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