Category Archives: SEO

A beginner’s guide to VPS hosting for business

Creating a business today often involves having an existing presence in both the physical and digital spaces. This means we’re not just dealing with papers, but data too. We conduct meetings face-to-face but can also use the likes of Skype and Facetime, communicating with anyone around the world in real-time. Our concerns should therefore extend in this direction, too. We must take into account that we’re no longer merely protecting the tangible assets within a business – we also have a responsibility to data that can be stored, moved and utilised in a digital way.

To this end, we should consider how we’ve set up our offices so that they can make use of the digital world effectively. In a world where someone can run an entire business from their smartphone and order groceries without leaving the couch, we need to be more on the ball than ever when it comes to working with digital tools.

Digital workspace

Working in a central location, according to set times, was designed to create a productive environment. Everyone is there, able to collaborate, feed each other information and hopefully produce the highest quality product they can, in the shortest time possible. However, today’s digital workspace shows up a lot of the problems we sometimes didn’t realise we had.

As Forbes notes, tying people to a physical time and space can actually be counter-productive.

“There’s objective evidence to show that greater flexibility for your workforce leads to higher levels of productivity, and digital environments provide that flexibility. Your workers can log on during the hours they feel most productive, engage with others at their leisure (thanks to new systems of communication that allow for delayed responses), and address items when they feel it’s most appropriate.”

If we have questions, we can either leave an email or instant message someone. Even before the many methods of communication available to us today, phonecalls were still a possibility.

A digital workspace also allows for more, not less, accountability. We can track work times, current tasks and a range of other aspects relevant to oversight. We no longer have to only rely on an employee’s word – we have evidence at our fingertips, using management tools.

The world also moves faster than ever before. Today we’re no longer restricted to clients only in our town, city or country. We can run projects, deals and other operations for anyone all over the world. As individuals, we can even freelance for whomever will have us, thanks to internet connectivity.

Of course, as with all things we create, there are dangers. This is where we need to consider the importance of cyber security and VPS hosting.

What is cyber security?  

Just as we have security for office spaces, such as alarms and door locks, so we require security for our digital spaces.. As What Is defines it: “Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access.”

Part of cyber security involves considering how to secure the networks and applications we work on. This is why VPS hosting has become incredibly important.

What is VPS hosting?

VPS stands for “virtual private server”. Often when we use online tools, we end up sharing part of a server to access these online tools (for example, people who use the free WordPress site are sharing part of the overall server while running their blog. Their data must be stored somewhere and it’s not only on their computer.) But, for businesses, this can be a mistake, since we need fast, immediate access to tools and services. If the shared server goes down, everyone loses out. A VPS can help. As Techopedia defines it:

“The concept of a virtual private server can be better explained as a virtual machine that caters to the individual needs of a user just as a separate physical computer that is dedicated to a particular user. The virtual dedicated server provides the same functionality and privacy as that of a normal physical computer.”

A VPS can connect shared web hosting services with dedicated hosting services. Because these servers can have their own copy of the OS (operating system), “VPS provides the user with super-user privileges in the operating system.” We have complete freedom when it comes to VPS, thus minimising the dangers of outside interference.

Of course, many wonder how to setup VPS hosting but there are plenty of companies who install and manage it for us. The question we should be asking is what is VPS hosting used for.

Mainly, businesses use them to run websites. They don’t have to rely on the functionality of other servers, maintained by outsiders – this can ruin customer experience, since we are at the mercy of other people if our site has server problems. If we have our own server, we are responsible, making it more likely the problem will be resolved sooner.

As Make Use Of notes: “Provided you don’t overload your VPS, your website will perform much better [than if it was run on an external server]. Plus, once your website grows, you can easily upgrade your VPS to a more powerful one in a matter of minutes – no migration required.”

VPS then is not only about security, but functionality too. Though we are responsible for keeping the data secure, it still means we are not relying on outsiders to do the heavy lifting – indeed, because it is our responsibility, there is a higher chance we will be more aggressive in instituting proper security protocols.

Main secrets for businesses to exist online successfully

The modern business must exist online. Businesses that don’t do so are doomed to obscurity and invisibility. Even on the African continent, the widespread adoption of smart mobile devices means more people are using the internet on a daily basis. But existing online is one part of a major marketing move requiring its own focus. Let’s consider some important aspects to having a digital presence in today’s world.

Why existing online matters

As indicated, the idea of the internet only being accessible to rich countries is undermined by facts. HTXT summarised a recent report about African internet usage, which showed: “Global active internet usage grew 10% in 2016, adding 332 million more users, while Africa saw 42.7 million more active users being added.”

Mobile devices are, of course, the most frequently used. What this indicates is that if we run a business, even in Africa, we need to care about existing online – there are literally billions who will have access to our sites. They will be searching for information and the websites we control should be the first place they land (not our opposition or social media complaints).

How to make this happen

In order to drive people to our sites, we need to select a number of aspects. One of the first is to get the right domain. While people won’t check on the domain owner, usually, there are other aspects to consider.  

To choose the right domain, we should align it with our brand. Sometimes, our name will be so broad, it might already be taken. We can check the domain owner and attempt to purchase it from them, but we should rather opt to choose alternatives. Search engine optimisers who work to promote businesses online suggest choosing as close as possible to the brand itself.

Consistency is also key. We must maintain the same colours, themes, styles, logos and so on from the physical world into the digital. This continuity is important to convey to potential clients we are a serious business.

Another issue when it comes to maintaining a website is that we need new content, making it more visible to Google searches. Google is able to indicate how relevant content is as well as duplicates – so we need fresh, unique copy. This tells Google – and therefore its users – that the site is receiving attention, is worth seeing and remains relevant to what the business focuses on.

Tips to stay ahead in today’s world

Businesses must be faster and yet more accurate than ever before. With rolling news that never stops, constant sources of information and a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, all businesses should be rethinking how they operate. There’s no point in business people ignoring progress, even if it has resulted in them feeling overwhelmed. If we don’t keep up, we’ll either be left behind or swept aside by those able to ride the currents.

We should therefore consider the various ways we can use tech to help us stay ahead.

Use Social Media

One often overlooked area businesses must consider is social media. Though each platform is different, each caters to particular needs and audiences. For example, Twitter is ideal for short, instant messages that many will read quickly. Tweets are easily shareable and, recently, can contain various forms of media: videos, static and moving images.

Facebook allows for longer posts and tends to mean a more engaged experience, as clients write directly on our pages and accounts. With other tools, like Facebook Live, we can also create relevant, longer content.

Aside from marketing, social media can act as a source of business, industry and market news. Considering how quickly information is distributed, this can help us stay on top of what’s happening in our field and those related to us.

Be ready to upgrade

All sorts of equipment can quickly become outdated. For example, computers stop receiving software support. This means they can no longer run the latest versions of important software clients might use. We must be willing to upgrade where necessary, meaning we should have money put aside specifically to upgrade the tools we use everyday.

Upskill staff

Be sure to carve out time for staff to improve themselves. This keeps them abreast of information and where the market is going. They improve their own skills, meaning they become more valuable in general and specifically for us. We’re therefore investing. In this way, we have staff who are constantly keeping their heads above the water.

(Picture credit: unsplash / Pexels)

The perils of social media for 2016

Few could’ve predicted that social media would prove to be as important as it has become. Popular people on various social media platforms sometimes have a wider audience and reach than even some papers or news networks. Indeed, YouTube’s most watched channel is run by a man who’s now a millionaire for playing video games. People lose their jobs just as quickly as they make them, because of what they do on social media. We cannot downplay just how important Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other networks have become.

What is social media?

By now, most of us know what social media is. We’re probably subscribed to several, each one focusing on particular forms of media and communication. One of the best definitions comes from Webtrends from About.com. As they state: “Social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information.”

Twitter is a short-message social media platform, ideal for staying up to date with news, sites or businesses. Facebook is designed to be more personal, ideal for families and friends, especially those who live far apart. LinkedIn is designed to enhance our careers, letting us meet and associate in related circles and allowing future recruiters to know who we are.

Almost all such services are free.

How do they benefit businesses?

As we noted, the main focus for social media is the ability to send, share, consume and create information. Twitter is ideal for linking to other sites, Facebook allows for large scale live video recording and so on. Businesses must view these as additional tools to help their marketing, if not the business itself.

But not all social media is created the same. As one marketer’s guide highlights: “If you want to create a successful social strategy, you need to familiarize yourself with how each network runs, the kinds of audiences you can reach and how your business can best use each platform.”

What’s important here is to consider social media as expanding on the platforms for your marketing strategy. These days most marketing courses will have at least some focus on social media. The problem is the platforms themselves are so new, rules are always changing and no one has clear, absolute guidelines.

What we are recognising however is that fewer customers tolerate advertisements in their faces. They don’t want to be bombarded with marketing. We therefore need to be smart about what kind of marketing we practice, how best to serve our clients but to do so without annoying an audience.

These are the skills we must develop in the age of social media.

What lies in the future of marketing?

No one can accurately predict the future. Yet we can speculate on broader themes and examine what happened in the past. Making informed predictions does not mean absolutely perfect ones. To that end, we should wonder what lies ahead for marketing. Knowing what we’ll see means knowing what will work – and in this way, we benefit our business.

Social is king

Social media has come to dominate the modern landscape, with smartphone users. Even on the African continent, where mobile phone users outnumber even bank users, social media is rapidly spreading. Of course, social media is completely different than other forms of media since it is controlled by the audience itself. That is, they decide what to see but can then interact with major brands like never before.

This isn’t like an audience who could change the channel – on Twitter, Facebook and so on – users and brands can often operate on the same platform and have the same reach. As Inc.com notes:

“The social approach underscores the importance of the increasingly connected, interactive and vocal audience dominant in social networks. With increasing power over the kind of content they produce and consume, users are becoming more discerning. The mass market approach is thus no longer as relevant as before.”

Recognising the growth of social media is essential for any brands hoping to dominate or have some strong footing in marketing. Creating or working with a tech-savvy, socially capable marketing team is essential.

Mobile will dominate

Related to social media, mobile marketing will also continue to be important. What’s important is to recognise what technology is being used for. For example, SMS messages are no longer as prominent as they once were. This means if we’re still sending SMSes in 2017, we might look as relevant as VCR repair people.

But there’s another often overlooked aspect. As Internet Retailer highlights: “The more screens a shopper uses to access an online retailer, the more loyal and valuable she is.”

Good content

Customers want more than just what the business offers, in terms of products or services. They want an experience. One way to deliver that is to produce relevant content, tapping into wider social events and happenings. We want customers to feel they are dealing with people, not just a blank name or logo. By showing humanity, in terms of keeping up with social events, movements, thought leadership, we provide more ways for them to interact with us.

These are just some considerations for the future, but we should also keep up to date by doing marketing courses, providing us with more concrete foundations for consideration.