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The Official Blog For A2 Hosting

Delivering the top tips for achieving the highest-performance for your website and getting the most of your marketing efforts.

  • Updates To Google Webmaster Guidelines Summary

    One of the documents that I always urge anyone interested in learning about SEO to read is the Google Webmaster Guidelines. It is essentially Google's playbook on how to format your site to help the search engine to find, index and rank your pages.


    From time to time Google updates this playbook by adding, updating and removing recommendations from their guidelines. Google has recently done just that. As you would expect, many of these updates have to do with security, speed and usability. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the more important additions and updates.


    1.) Google has been expressing the importance of designing your site for mobile devices for some time now. This has finally made the Webmaster Guidelines:


    "Design your site for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Use the mobile friendly testing tool to test how well your pages work on mobile devices, and get feedback on what needs to be fixed."


    2.) Another item that Google has recommended for awhile now, while not as definitively as designing for mobile, is using HTTPS to secure your site. This is now not just recommended, but apparently it's viewed as a requirement now:


    "If possible, secure your site's connections with HTTPS. Encrypting interactions between the user and your website is a good practice for communication on the web."

    3.) If you're using tabs on your site, make sure that the most important content is shown by default:


    "Make your site's important content visible by default. Google is able to crawl HTML content hidden inside navigational elements such as tabs or expanding sections, however we consider this content less accessible to users, and believe that you should make your most important information visible in the default page view."


    4.) While Google once recommended that the maximum amount of links on a page to be a few hundred, they have updated this recommendation to:


    "Limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a few thousand at most)."


    5.) The importance of designing for users with visual impairments has been added:


    "Ensure that your pages are useful for readers with visual impairments, for example, by testing usability with a screen-reader."

  • WordPress & Learning JavaScript “Deeply”

    WordPress is in use by more than 60 million websites, making it the most popular site management system on the Internet. Part of the popularity is that it's a free, open-source software with handy plugin features, templates, and a constant source of new features coming from its contributors. But traditionally it has run on PHP, which does have a bit more of a learning curve.

    If you've followed or used WordPress, you probably notice more and more JavaScript showing up, continuing with the release of WordPress 4.4.1. Matt Mullenweg, the man behind WordPress, made it clear this past year that this is a trend that will continue for some time to come, so every WordPress developer and site admin is faced with the prospect of learning JavaScript "deeply" to get the most out of WordPress. Mullenweg stated that WordPress would become a JavaScript-driven interface, so more and more of the web will likely follow suit.

    JavaScript first appeared as a programming language back in 1995 with Netscape Navigator, and was picked up Microsoft, who released it the following year with its own version, JScript. It quickly became one of the most popular programming languages in use on the Web. JavaScript provides functionality to make web pages interactive, but one of the main benefits is that it runs on the visitor's computer, not the server, so it doesn't require constant feedback from a website that degrades service. It can add tons of features, from producing a series of on-hover images to creating in-depth polls and quizzes.

    JavaScript is easy to use, in principle, because it mainly involves pasting a script block into existing web code. Some professional programmers disdained it in favor of other languages - like PHP or Perl - but after the release of Ajax, and the continuing explosion of new web sites, JavaScript got more attention from the programming community. This led to the creation of extensive frameworks and libraries, as well as server-side components, which brought JavaScript much closer to being a fully developed object-oriented language like Java or C++.

    Gains in the performance and prevalence of JavaScript mean that newer operating systems and browsers, such as Windows 8 and IE 10, were optimized to take advantage of it. On the other hand, as its power and flexibility increase, more demand is placed on the JavaScript engine. Performance is always an issue to keep in mind.

    If you're like me, your first forays into JavaScript involved borrowing and adapting code that you could simply drop into your pages with minimal work to introduce some clever tricks for your visitors. JavaScript was a language for browsers. It's quite a bit more than that, but it still works seamlessly alongside such tried-and-true web code as HTML and CSS. For somebody who has some basic knowledge of how to put together a web page, as well as the fundamentals of programming, JavaScript isn't hard to learn or to use at any level of development you need. 

    You've probably heard, or will hear as you progress, about libraries like jQuery, or frameworks such as Dojo or Mootools. You can view these as a set of utilities which you may or may not need. If you take the time to learn them, they could save you a lot of work, but the end result won't be quite the JavaScript code you'll come to know and love. 

    To begin learning JavaScript, your WordPress site is already a source of code you can learn from. Open a WordPress folder in your host's control panel, and in the /wp-admin/ folder or the /wp-includes/ folder you'll find the /js/ folder. You'll see JavaScript code already plays a part in your themes.php file, which determines the look and feel of your WordPress site. (If you have a sudden urge to start playing with it, be sure to save a copy of the original code!) 

    Most web programmers agree that one of the worst ways to being programming is the above-mentioned bad habit of simply copying and pasting random bits of code and making them work. Maybe that's all you want, but real development, and real results in WordPress, mean learning a more comprehensive view of how JavaScript works and what it can potentially do. Another bad approach is those plodding online tutorials that aren't much better. You learn all the basics, but very little in the way of putting them together. Try to do anything more ambitious and you'll find yourself stuck pretty quickly.

    In getting the most out of any programming language, its important that you be able to write your own code, from your own head, rather than rely on a patchwork from somebody else's bag of tricks. By all means, start with the basics, but know that you'll have to move on to something more involved before you can think of yourself as a programmer. Google worked hard on their search engine, so use it often. Check out the many tutorials on YouTube. Register for podcasts and webinars. Look at reviews and forums to find the best tutorials out there. Use the same due diligence when it comes time to pick up a framework to explore. Look for open source code that you can download, study, and play with. When you're ready, find a good book, one that goes into detail, but detail you feel you're ready for. A book that will train you how to build real-world applications from scratch.

    It may take a small monetary investment, but a big investment in valuable time. But as a site administrator or developer who expects to be using WordPress in the future (and you will), you'll get a lot of satisfaction - and traffic - by having the skills to do things with your site that nobody else is doing.


  • Keep Your Site Relevant With Evergreen Content

    Do you ever experience a nice traffic bump due to a new blog post, but that traffic quickly fizzles out? Wouldn't it be nice to get more of a permanent increase in traffic considering all the time you spend writing your content? If so, you should consider an evergreen content strategy. Evergreen content is always timely because it remains relevant and fresh for your readers. It does not become obsolete.


    Unlike most trees, evergreens retain their needles throughout the year as opposed to losing its leaves and requiring it to grow new ones. Likewise evergreen content remains relevant for a long time after it has been published and doesn't die off or need to be refreshed.

    This article you're reading is actually an example of evergreen content because there really isn't an expiration date on this post. Other examples include:


    • Company, product and service reviews
    • Encyclopedia style content
    • Tutorials


    Examples of non-evergreen content:

    • News
    • Articles about trends
    • Rapidly changing stats


    One real life example of non-evergreen content is our own blog post about the release of WordPress 4.4. This is timely content because it explains the new features found in WordPress version 4.4. However it is not timeless because once the next version of WordPress is launched, nobody is going to care about the features found in WordPress 4.4 any longer. The post becomes less and less relevant as more and more WordPress versions are released.


    The trick to writing evergreen content is to imagine a countdown clock as you're writing your content. If this imaginary clock could possibly hit zero, it means your content can become obsolete. You'll know your content is considered evergreen if the countdown clock will never reach zero.


    I am in no way implying that you should never write, or there's anything wrong with a timely blog piece. That wouldn't make sense. However I am proposing you consider a shift in your blogging strategy. It's very much like an investment portfolio. Just as you should diversify your investments, you should diversify your content posts between timely and evergreen style content.


    When you think of the color green, the connotation is something that is always new and fresh. Make your content "forever" green. Write content that is timeless, not just timely.

  • Priority Support For Even Faster Answers

    At A2 Hosting, we strive to offer the fastest, most reliable service possible. Another top goal of ours is to make sure we also offer fast and accurate answers to your questions. There are instances where you may want EVEN faster answers to your ticket questions. Our brand new Priority Support is the perfect service for you! Subscribe to Priority Support and your support ticket questions get answered with the highest urgency by our dedicated Guru Crew Support team with the technical resources to help you more quickly.


    Priority Support is available for just $19.99/mo on all of our hosting packages. Priority Support is already included for free on our Dedicated Server packages. If you have multiple packages, you only need a single Priority Support subscription to cover all of your packages. Add Priority Support to your account now!

  • 2015 – Another Year Of Bringing You Fast Hosting

    As we look forward to 2016, it has become a bit of a tradition here at A2 Hosting to take a moment to look back on everything we've accomplished over the previous year. When looking back, it's particularly satisfying to see the majority of our major accomplishments aligned directly with our overall goal; making sure you get the fastest page load speeds possible.


    Here is the list of A2 Hosting's top 5 significant launches in 2015:


    • Turbo Reseller, VPS & Dedicated Servers


    Our most exciting product launch in 2014 was the launch of our Turbo Web Hosting service, offering page loads up to 20X faster compared to our competitors. We expanded our Turbo product line to our Reseller, VPS and Dedicated services in 2015 allowing those users to experience the same speed benefits.


    • A2 Optimizing More Software


    Just as expanding our Turbo product line built on what we accomplished in 2014, we can say the same thing about A2 Optimizing even more of the most popular software solutions. We previously only offered A2 Optimized WordPress. In 2015 we expanded our A2 Optimized software options to PrestaShop, OpenCart, Magento, Drupal and Joomla. Now all of these solutions come pre-configured with the best performance and security settings when installed at A2 Hosting.


    • Amsterdam & Singapore Data Centers


    One of the easiest ways to get faster page load speeds for your site is to bring your content closer to your site visitors to reduce latency. We were able to help our customers with primarily European and Asian visitors to do just that with the launch of additional global data center options.


    • Patchman Launch


    Speed is important at A2 Hosting, but so is security. Patchman, launched on our Shared SSD Hosting accounts and on HDD servers numbered 81+, is an exciting security solution for a number of reasons. Patchman helps keep your sites secure by notifying you when you have out of date software installed, it quarantines infected files on your account and it also patches WordPress, Joomla and Drupal security issues.


    • Custom Dedicated Servers


    Your sites come in all shapes and sizes. The same can now be said about our Dedicated Servers. You can now customize the amount of RAM, storage and drives included with your Dedicated Server.



    There you go! Those were A2 Hosting's most significant achievements in 2015. As we look through our project plans docket for 2016, you're definitely going to want to stay tuned. It's going to be one exciting year!

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