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Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

 

Why You Need a CDN for Your Website

 

 

Caching your website is a crucial process for keeping your website fast. It relieves stress on the host and helps report information back to the browser. Great, right? We can do better. Shamrck uses world-class cloud hosting to make sure you have a reliable, speedy hosting service, but today, we’re going to talk more about WordPress content delivery networks, or CDN. 

 

You only have a few seconds to make a first impression on a site visitor, so slow page speeds set you back immediately. Website caching and image compression are excellent ways to maintain fast load times, so why do we need a CDN? Physical hosting sites help “store” your host on a server. The server location affects load times regardless of your compression settings or caching. This effect is called latency. Naturally, when information has farther to go, it will take longer to get there. CDNs help reduce latency.

 

 

 

What is a CDN?

 

Content delivery networks, or CDNs, are a way to speed up your website. They are a network of servers built to store static content. By storing static page information in an easy-to-access location, your site can retrieve page information and deliver it to a browser blazingly fast. 

 

 

 

How Does a CDN Work?

 

CDNs operate as a large network of servers meaning information can be stored anywhere in the world and relayed back to your website. Visitors anywhere can view your website faster. Your information is stored on a “host” server. As we mentioned earlier, the further away your visitor is, the longer the load times. This latency is due to “hops.” Hops refer to how often information needs to jump from server to server before being delivered to the visitor. The more hops, the longer the load time. Choosing the location for your host server is important because it will play a major role in your page load times.

 

By serving as a storage resource, CDNs automatically pull information from your website as information like HTML or JavaScript code for future use. Your server can then rewrite links to those pieces of information to make sure it’s pulled from the CDN moving forward.

 

 

 

CDN Benefits

 

A CDN can help your website perform better in every way, including sales. Visitors are more likely to have a better user experience when a site loads quickly and easily navigates from page to page. When you’re trying to convert leads to sales with website content, an engaging website is vital.

 

CDNs also employ a caching system much like your server. Site information moves from your server to the CDN freeing up bandwidth. On that note, a CDN is exactly that, a content delivery network. Utilizing the network helps handle large spikes in traffic since it can spread information over several servers. 

 

Most importantly, CDNs are scalable. Your website will see user ebbs and flows, but ultimately, the goal is to grow your visits. When that happens, your server needs to be ready to handle the new traffic. Content delivery networks are a ready-made solution to make sure you don’t run into any kinks.

 

 

 

CDN Speeds

 

CDNs are becoming more and more popular for their versatility and speed enhancements. Just like with caching, a CDN reduces latency and load times. We know slow page speeds can kill your traffic and SEO. Every additional second of load time costs you potential sales and crucial visitors. Since the CDN stores much of the site’s information, page speeds go up exponentially. 

 

One issue websites run into is a slow TTFB, or time to first byte. Without going too far into the weeds, this refers to how long it takes for your website to retrieve data for the browser request. Depending on the server and the data, your TTFB could have a negative impact on site performance. CDNs dramatically increase TTFB just by moving bits of information away from your server and onto the network. Shamrck’s website health check helps test for your time to first byte. 

 

 

 

Shamrck and DigitalOcean Spaces CDN

 

Shamrck hosts on a cloud server and uses DigitalOcean Spaces CDN to speed up websites even more. DigitalOcean is a cloud infrastructure with data centers all over the world. Spaces is an S3-compatible object storage service that lets you store and serve large amounts of data. By working with the power of DigitalOcean’s CDN, Shamrck is free to provide excellent hosting and website performance. 

 

 

 

Why a CDN is Right for Your Website

 

Working in tandem with your host, a CDN speeds up your site and boosts performance. It’s that simple. We walked through how CDNs work and some specific benefits, but everything leads back to enhancing load times, user experience, and other vital aspects of running a website. Utilizing a network of servers to store information and free up bandwidth on your host server is invaluable, and the results speak for themselves. 

 

 

 

We’d love to help you get started on your website improvements. Reach out today and we’ll do a full website health check!

 

 

 

Enter Caching.

 

Caching is the quick and (sometimes) easy way to speed everything up. At a server-level, caching can be broken down into very technical terms, but for the average end-user, plugins like WP Rocket help take care of the work for you. Here are some ways to speed up your website with caching.

 

 

What is Cache?

 

 

A cache is a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place. In the software world, we refer to it all the time. Traditionally, when someone clicks into a web page, the site has to request information from the server, which sends the data back to the browser, and users see the end result. Caching speeds up your website by not requiring it to request page information every time someone visits. 

 

Since most webpages contain headers, bodies, and footers, continually having to piece together every bit of information after each click is, understandably, time-consuming. The process slows down page load times since the server is processing so many requests at once. 

 

 

Why is caching important for websites?

 

 

Caching saves much of the website’s information for a server, so it doesn’t have to handle requests for every part of a web page anymore. The cache stores files to a disk or RAM, making it easier to duplicate the information when requested. This process limits the amount of work going into loading and reloading webpages, making them load faster.

 

Since these repeat files are stored, caching reduces the stress on your server. A fast server equals faster page load times, which has a substantial impact on your SEO. But more on that in a minute. This process also speeds up the time to first byte (TTFB). Essentially, the TTFB is the time it takes for a browser to start to receive information from the server. A low TTFB is crucial to fast load times.

 

 

Server-level caching with a good host.

 

 

A good host will handle caching for you. There are generally four types of caching done at the server-level: Bytecode, Page, Object, and CDN. We can break these down one at a time to understand why each is essential and why utilizing a speedy server with a good host is vital.

 

  • Bytecode: Bytecode cache deals with PHP code. PHP codes must be compiled into what’s known as a readable “opcode.” Once the opcode is in place, the server no longer needs to sift through the PHP to return browser requests. 

 

 

  • Page: Page caching refers to storing the entirety of the HTML from a webpage, so WordPress does not need to generate the page over and over. Most pages are static and evergreen, meaning they don’t change much. The server does not need to build the page for every click continually. 

 

 

  • Object: Object caching refers to storing database query information. Querying a database can be arduous and time-consuming for a server. Caching bits of data produced by a search means speeding up the page load times since there’s no need to query an entire database every time.

 

 

  • CDN: CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. CDN caching stores website files like javascript, CSS, and media. CDN caching is a more complicated process because it involves storing information away from the server on a, you guessed it, separate network. CDNs can deliver the website information instead of the server, reducing the stress on the server and speeding up load times.

 

Server-level caching is crucial because a good host does all of this behind the scenes. Since page load times are vital to your website’s SEO, caching as much information as possible is paramount.

 

 

WordPress Caching with WP Rocket.

 

 

Sometimes we need to go further than our server-level caching. WordPress has mechanisms in place to replace or supplement caching strategies. You can use plugins to perform caching functions if you are self-hosting or using a shared host. There are dozens of plugins to choose from, but we recommend WP Rocket. 

 

WP Rocket is exceptionally robust but simple to use. Developers will love the ability to play around inside the plugin, but we love that it is excellent for beginners who might feel overwhelmed quickly. The WP Rocket dashboard and settings are easy to set up and understand. The plugin also seamlessly works with eCommerce sites to make sure page load times are blazingly fast.

 

WP Rocket is a premium plugin offering different pricing plans, but given the usability and depth of the software, we recommend at least trying out the free trial.

 

 

How caching affects SEO

 

 

One of the largest hurdles websites face when trying to rank on Google is page load times. The Google search algorithms weigh load times heavily when ranking sites. This factor makes caching a must-have. Without caching, your server load speeds will deteriorate as your pages become more dynamic, and the servers have to request and report every line of code/image/etc. for every click. 

 

The stress will be too much for your server, and page load times will be slow. Not only will that affect your SEO, but you’ll lose traffic almost immediately. No one wants to wait more than five to seven seconds on a website to load. For every second it takes until TTFB, your site slips slightly further in the rankings and becomes more invisible in searches.

 

 

Caching is crucial

 

 

Websites today are dynamic, loaded with images, and interactive modal windows. Ecommerce sites have tons of media, links, and walls of text. The sheer amount of data on each page is enough to strain any server. This is why caching is so vital. Without caching, servers can be spread too thin, and page load speeds can drop dramatically. The consequences can be disastrous. 

 

Imagine your website is a store on the main street, but you start to open later in the day than other stores. So, the city moves your store to 3rd street. Search engines are no different. Search algorithms look for the “stores” that open early. Websites with fast speeds will outrank the slower ones, so make sure your site is as quick as possible. Don’t lose your place in the market because you didn’t apply some simple methods to make your website faster.

 

Shamrck knows website caching is crucial to a site’s success. We’d love to talk to you about your website’s performance and how some simple caching techniques can help immediately.

 

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How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

How to Move From Squarespace to WordPress

Squarespace provides an easy-to-use website builder. There are some templates and drag and drop functions, but Squarespace isn’t anything special at the end of the day. Sooner or later, many users see the limitations and conclude that they’re better off moving away. If you’re looking to move from Squarespace, there are some essential things to consider. The move tends to be over to the more flexible WordPress.

 

Why is WordPress Better Than Squarespace?

WordPress is much more dynamic. Squarespace puts you in a box, and all sites are basically the same. With WordPress, the possibilities are endless. Using the right developer, you can create the perfect website designed to your specific standards instead of someone else’s. The intricate capabilities of WordPress are invaluable to a company trying to define an online presence. Squarespace limits your options to the point you can become frustrated over what should be simple features. 

The move from Squarespace to WordPress opens up a vast array of opportunities to improve your brand and increase your traffic. The only question is, why haven’t you already moved over?

 

Export Content

Of course, you already have content on Squarespace, and starting from scratch is not an option. The good news is that you can export much of your information automatically. You can easily export your blog posts and pages. Unfortunately, you can’t export everything so easily. 

Squarespace won’t let you export:

-Album pages, indexes, product, or events
-Blocks like audio or product
-Custom CSS
-Style changes
-Squarespace template

Even so, the bulk of your content can be uploaded onto your new site reasonably smoothly. Luckily, the aspects of the information you can’t bring from Squarespace is replicable in WordPress, and again, working with a design and development team will help a lot. 

To Export

  1. Log in to Squarespace and go to the “Settings” option on the left-hand side of the screen for whichever site you want to export (if you have multiple sites).
  2. Scroll down to “Advanced,” and from there, select “Export.” You’ll be asked for the export site, so be sure to choose WordPress if there are multiple options.
  3. Wait for a pop-up letting you download the information. *If you have multiple blog pages, you’ll need to choose which one to export before proceeding. 

 

Point Domain to New WordPress Install

If you purchased a domain, you’ll probably want to carry it over to your new WordPress site. The task isn’t difficult. You’ll need to change your domain’s nameservers to point to WordPress instead of Squarespace. 

The only word of caution may be to make sure you’re ready to make the switch ultimately. You can work with your WordPress host to set up a WordPress staging site. This way, you can handle any Squarespace traffic while waiting on the work to be finished for your full website. 

Remember to go to your domain registrar to change the settings too. Once you have your site built and domain pointed to WordPress, you’ll ultimately be ready to move from Squarespace.

 

Import Content to WordPress

Now that you have your .xml file, it’s time to import. 

  1. Head over to your WordPress dashboard and find the Tools menu. 
  2. When you click on Tools, you’ll see the import option below.
  3. Click import next and find WordPress at the bottom of the list, and then click Install Now.
  4. The link will change from Install Now to Run Importer.
  5. From here, choose the .xml file to import, and click the upload file and import. This step will get the upload process started. 
  6. The next page you come to will offer to create a new user for this upload, but your best bet is to select a current user from the dropdown list.
  7.  Check the import attachments box and submit!

 

The last step is to make sure your content is uploaded correctly. Check your pages and posts to ensure everything is where it’s supposed to be, and it looks good. If not, you may need to make changes page by page, or you can start the process over to try again.

 

Import Images to WordPress

We discussed at the beginning that not everything shares over flawlessly. You’ll notice some or all of your images when you move from Squarespace did not load. You have a couple of options to add them back in. First, you can go one page at a time and upload each image one by one. That method can be a little tedious, though. Luckily, there are plugins available to help with the task. 

Plugins like Auto Upload Images will find URLs in your post and automatically upload the image files to your WordPress media database. Rather than going page by page, the plugin will let you mass select posts and pages and then do a bulk action to update all of your pages. 

  1. Go to your “Posts” page in WordPress
  2. Select all of the posts you need to update
  3. Use the bulk action dropdown and click Edit and then apply
  4. A new window will appear, but you won’t need to make changes. Just click Update.
  5. All the images from your Squarespace pages should now be showing up on your WordPress pages.

 

Configure Permalinks

Permalinks are how traffic finds your website. When you posted something on Squarespace, you received a permalink resembling something like https://example.com/blog-post-title. WordPress can mimic that or other types of dynamic permalinks through a quick setting change.

  1. Go to the Settings in your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click Permalinks to open the menu
  3. Select the Date and Name option since it’s the most commonly used.
  4. Use the custom structure to recreate something close to the Squarespace link. Since theirs is usually a date-page-post, you can create a custom structure using a dynamic link. For example .com/%year%/%month%/%day%/blog/%post%
  5. Hit save changes to lock everything in place.

 

Recreate the Template in Divi

You can’t take your Squarespace template with you, and most people don’t particularly want to. However, if you’re in love with the look, you’ll be able to recreate it with Divi. Divi’s page builder option gives you a vast amount of possibilities to effortlessly insert rows, sections, columns, text, blocks, etc. Creating the look and feel flows smoothly, and Divi offers excellent customer experience to help. 

The Divi builder makes it easy to take your current content and build it into the same type of template you had or if you prefer, a brand new look. You have options like custom CSS, responsive editing, and simple drag and drop tools, among others. If you’re not ready to build from scratch, Divi also has an immense library of pre-created options. 

 

Leaving Squarespace

The move from Squarespace is inevitable for a lot of people. The system can be clunky, limiting, and expensive for what you actually get. WordPress provides a much better opportunity to make something with more flexibility that better represents your brand and lets you grow. The change can be difficult, though. Despite the step-by-step instructions above, your site and user experience can get lost in the shuffle. 

Professional firms like WPClover are here specifically to help you make your WordPress site precisely the way you want it instead of how someone else wants it. We’d love to talk more with you about how working with us can save you time and money, not to mention all of the perks that go along with a WordPress website. Reach out, and let’s get started!

 

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5 Reasons Your Website Needs a Blog

5 Reasons Your Website Needs a Blog

5 Reasons Your Website Needs a Blog

 

Why do company websites maintain a blog? Online stores shouldn’t need to write articles about clothes to get customers to buy a shirt. How can writing blog posts help a restaurant chain drive more business? The truth is every industry is constantly changing. Cooking trends update frequently, and the content needs to keep with the times.

 

Blogs are an online series of pages with articles. As opposed to academic articles, blogs tend to be much more informal and conversational. They typically run 800-1,000 and can cover almost any topic. These online articles allow the writers, or bloggers, to use a comfortable writing style to convey information about their business, industry, or everyday life. 

 

For businesses, writing blog posts serve several purposes. Websites are no longer optional for companies. Businesses, large and small, maintain blog posts in addition to the more traditional elements of a website. We’ll talk about why your website needs a blog, and what it can do for your business. 

 

Here are five reasons you need to start a blog immediately.

 

SEO

 

One of the most heavily weighted search algorithms revolves around fresh, relevant content. For SEO, a popular blog is essential. Search engines like Google use a series of query algorithms to rank websites. The results aren’t usually turning up articles from 15 years ago. We need to see the most recent information available. Search engines prioritize keywords and phrases, so writing new content isn’t always enough. We need to be specific.

 

Another tactic we need to consider for SEO purposes is volume. We need to flood the web with keyword dense content. Remember, search engines look for fresh content, so active websites are more likely to perform well in searches. Write with a focus on the exact topic you think will attract traffic and new business. This method will help you write several pieces with a similar concept, so you begin to grow your optimization organically.

 

Show your expertise

 

Blogs are a phenomenal way to increase organic SEO, but additionally, blog posts are an opportunity to show off your knowledge of the industry. Most people don’t want to learn biology from a historian. We want an authority in the field. A regularly updated blog is how you prove you are the expert. Industries change and progress every day. You need to show you’re keeping up and that customers can trust your expertise.

 

Connect with your customers

 

Since blog posts follow a conversational tone, you can be a little more informal. Academic articles feel stuffy and unrelatable, but blogs can convey the same level of information in a much more readable way. Writing in a conversational style helps your readers connect with you and put a personality to the words instead of only a name.

 

Connecting with your customers carries another benefit, repeat traffic. When you write excellent content that engages readers, they tend to come back for more. That effect keeps them on your site longer and more likely to convert from reader to customer. Repeat traffic is a gold mine. Don’t overlook it!

 

Targeting

 

Choosing your topics can be tricky. How do you know what to write about? The main question to answer is who your target demographic is. Unless you run a very niche market, you’ll probably have several demographics. The goal is to write each post with one demographic in mind.

 

Imagine running a culinary website. New and creative recipes pop up every day, but really, everyone is making a variation of an old dish. What brings in the traffic for your site is your blog content. You can tell stories of how you came up with recipes. Hunting for bakers? Write about your first baking experience, what you learned, how to bake your dish, and where to buy your cookbook. You connected with bakers, in particular, shared your recipe, and sold your product. Win-win-win!

 

While that example is for a cooking site, the same recipe (get it?) applies to any field. Determine who you want to reach and write directly to that group.

 

Helps build your email list

 

First, if you don’t have an email list of customers and potential customers, stop reading now and get started on one. Email lists are crucial for everything from announcing giveaways to providing business advice to just flat making sure people know you’re still there. Regular email blasts are also a great way to refer old visitors back to your website with links to new posts or announcements. 

 

Blog posts can help build that email list. Websites use various ways to gather email information, but one of the most popular ways is requiring visitors to sign up for a newsletter to continue reading a post. We also use pop-ups or a good old-fashioned invitation to subscribe at the bottom of the page. No matter what method you use, the crucial ingredient is excellent content. People will only want to sign up if they look forward to reading more of your work.

 

Summary

 

Blog posts are not only an essential part of a modern business website, but they can also be fun! Connecting with a targeted demographic of potential customers to write content regularly is excellent for you and your team too. Blogging is an outlet to show what you know and write with your own voice. The benefit of organic SEO growth is a by-product of a quality blog. 

 

If you don’t know where to start, visit some other websites utilizing regular blog posts (like this one!) in your field and see how they’re approaching the task. You know your business and your industry better than most. Pick a topic and start writing!

 

Still not sure where to get started? Or, maybe you just need a little guidance. Schedule an appointment with experts at WPClover for a one-to-one conversation on starting a blog or some tips and tricks on improving.

 

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7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

7 Elements Every Business Website Should Have

Your business’ website is the face of the company. Many elements have to come together to make a successful website. How does your site perform? Sometimes, all we need is a little overhaul. Other times, we need to rebuild (or build!) from the foundation. The goal is to incorporate essential elements like mission statements, content, and reliable hosting into a website we can run confidently. 

Successful websites show up on the front page of Google searches and maintain a high number of page views. Does your website check all the boxes needed to be successful? Here are seven elements every business website should have.

 

Discuss your business core first.

Think of your 30-second elevator pitch. Do you go off on tangents about non-essential parts of your business? No. You stay on point and focus on your main value proposition. Does that mean you ignore your other products and auxiliary features? Of course not!

Your job is to build value immediately. The homepage of your site should be brand intensive with dense amounts of services you provide. Short descriptions are best for your services, but make sure they are teasers to get traffic to navigate to other pages. 

Yes, your secondary products are essential, and yes, they deserve attention. However, your website needs to start with the basics of what your business does.

 

Branded design

Few things are more critical to your company’s image than a detailed brand design. Your brand is how you want people to identify your business. Branding is how you become memorable and known in your field. Some people conflate branding with a fancy logo and a chic color scheme. 

Just Do It.
Eat Fresh.
Love the skin you’re in.
I’m lovin’ it.

Immediately, you can name those brands, what industry they’re in, and the products they’re best known for. However, Nike, Subway, Dove, and McDonald’s didn’t get there overnight. That level of recognition comes with a mix of design and positioning.

Your website will play an enormous role in both. Site design is a crucial step toward an online presence. It defines the look and feel your traffic gets as soon as they visit your site. This first impression is your chance to make your brand as memorable as possible. Don’t overlook it!

 

Who we are

Every successful business understands it needs to be relatable. Your website provides an excellent opportunity to tell your story and your mission. Where do you come from, and how did your business get its start? Talk about your experience in the industry and your phenomenal team. Help your customers understand your company on a personal level. 

Channel all of that biographic information into your company’s mission statement. We know who you and your team are and when the company started. But what do you do? This space is another opportunity to showcase your core business beliefs. Express why your company exists and what you bring to the table.

The “who we are” section of your website is a place to show off. Share your expertise and why people should trust you with their business. Now is not the time to be humble. The competition isn’t. 

 

Contact us

Offering a way for customers and leads to connect seems obvious. However, there are a few things to consider. Try to avoid listing emails or phone numbers for security reasons. Giving an email address is asking for spam, so do your best to stick to communication forms. 

Most companies can use a generic contact form, but sometimes we need to capture more data or direct communication to a specific person. Builders like Formidable Forms help create more intricate forms to fit your exact needs.

 

Content management

Writing content for your website is essential. From your mission statement to the descriptions of your services to any blog posts, you need to load your site with relevant content. For one, a large amount of relevant content will help your site show up on search engines. The more pages you create are more pages for search engines to index.

Knowing you need relevant content isn’t enough, though. You need to do your best to read your target audience. Are you looking for industry professionals who will already know the jargon? If not, you’ll want to avoid acronyms and other technical lingo. Visitors who aren’t familiar with the industry will be lost and leave your website. 

Sometimes businesses fall into the trap of writing unreadable content just to fill up pages. This error leads to confusion or perception of laziness. Content may be the most important element of your website, so take the time to write thought-out pages. 

 

Optimized speed and performance

We discussed the need for content regarding SEO, but just as critical, your website needs to be fast. Page load speeds carry a lot of weight with search engines. Everything about your website may be better than a rival, but if you have a slow server, their site might perform better in searches leaving you one step behind. 

Not only does a slow page speed hurt your search engine status, but you’ll also lose traffic. Pages have approximately seven seconds to grab and retain someone’s attention. If your website takes four seconds to load, your chances of keeping a visitor on your site diminish dramatically. 

Your focus should be on a fast, reliable host. Keeping your website up to industry standards for speed and performance can make or break your site’s success. 

 

Maintain what you have.

Building a website is only the beginning. Everything you create needs constant maintenance. From updating plugins to writing new content, your site needs to stay fresh. Regardless of how amazing an article is, it’ll be replaced by something more modern in searches. Some pages will be (somewhat) evergreen, such as your mission statement, but blog posts and articles need to be updated frequently. 

One easy way to maintain fresh content is to stay up to date with current events and tie articles into topical situations in your industry. Trends are always changing. Make sure your site can keep up.

 

Summary

Successful business websites incorporate several various elements. Each one has its different purpose, but without them, you can fall behind the competition. Make your company relatable, and create a memorable brand. Make sure people can get in touch when they need to! Write relevant content with frequent updates, and make sure your website loads fast enough to keep people around long enough to read it. 

Building and maintaining a business site you can run with confidence takes a lot of diligence, but you can make life a little bit easier with a blueprint. Does your website have all the right elements?

 

WPClover is here to help get your website where it needs to be. Schedule an appointment with our experts to analyze your website and discuss how to improve. 

 

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