About Nile

Nile is a 33 year old female from Southern Illinois. Nile is a mother of 1 son. She is also a web designer and developer, a graphic designer, and a public speaker, who exclusively designs and develops using WordPress. She is currently a student working for a Bachelors in Business. She also blogs at FamousBloggers.net and her very personal site, Blackish.net. Click to read more about Nile and Blondish.net

#Fail – HostGator Needs To Wake Up!

hosting-failHostGator reported on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at 11:00 AM CST USA, that their Provo datacenter had a network outage. The outage turned into a solid downtime of 13 to 15 hours for some hostees, including myself. In fact, my dedicated server is still having hiccups – short downtime spells.

This is what I had to look at for nearly 15 hours:

blondishnet-hostgatoroutage-april2014-oopsie

There have still been hiccups reported as late as 5PM CST USA on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Just to expand upon the seriousness of the outage, this downtime includes the following web hosting companies: Hostgator, Justhost, Hostmonster, and Bluehost.

Joshua Martin, Director of Customer Service at HostGator stated that the reason for this outage was:

We experienced a degradation of network service in one of our data centers due to a firmware bug in one of our vendor’s hardware solutions. This was an undocumented bug and we worked with our partner to diagnose the issue and deployed a firmware update to the systems to remediate the problem. Only websites that were being served by this hardware were affected.

Mr. Martin also revealed that it took so long to fix the problem because:

We started to address the problem immediately when we began to see performance issues. The root cause of the problem was complicated to diagnose because it was an undocumented bug in software of a vendor’s hardware solution. Full service for some customers was restored immediately, but some servers were not visible on our network. We apologize for any downtime that you experienced. The servers continued to operate during this entire period, which means, that at no point in time was your data at risk. The problem was access to the servers because of the firmware issue.

This network outage wasn’t the first occurrence. In fact, since Endurance International Group acquired HostGator, in late 2012, there have been several outages. It’s important to note that while HostGator and many other hosts are under EIG (Endurance), that they are actually independently operated.

One longtime HostGator member, guruperl, even recalled the HostGator outage dates since 2013:

01-13-2013
03-23-2013
04-15-2013
07-25-2013
01-09-2014
04-16-2014

On Facebook, Michael McDermott commented on HostGator’s fan page in response to their reason about the firmware problem:

No excuse. If you updated the firmware during the day you were stupid. If you patched a bug into the network load balancer, firewall or edge routers, you should have only done it to one or two of them to see how they responded. This outage tells me you don’t have an edge network that can withstand the outage of one device, it tells me you don’t have a core network that can be routed to ‘hot” standby, and it tells me that you rely on the “vendor” to solve the problem vs. having talent in house to do so.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/HostGator/posts/10152293039142092?comment_id=29906565&offset=0&total_comments=78

More responses from Facebook:

hostgator-fail-04162014-fbresponse-1

hostgator-fail-04162014-fbresponse-2

Much of the responses were somewhat the same, including those on Twitter.

hostgator-fail-04162014-twitterresponse-1

hostgator-fail-04162014-twitterresponse-2

hostgator-fail-04162014-twitterresponse-3

On the jesting side, I found the following meme being passed around. (Let me know the origin of this source so I can credit them.):

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While there is no doubt about an outage, and no doubt that some hard work was done, this has left a bad taste in a lot of HostGator hostees’ mouths. Much of the problems seems to stem from yet another procedure problem. Most of the responses from dedicated server customers like myself have revolved around the fact that server data was moved from the Texas data center to the one in Utah without the customer’s permission.

Are you using HostGator? Did you experience downtime on April 16th or 17th of 2014? And if so, for how long? What were your thoughts during the downtime? Are you going to remain with HostGator?

Implementing Fonts in WordPress Using the @font-face Method

fontface-plus-wp-thumbnailI’m a stickler for telling people to stop using Google Fonts. Everyone knows that some services of Google have been slow or down at times. It’s not often, but it is an annoyance because the end user can’t do anything. Most web hosts allow you to host your fonts in house, so why not do that.

As long as you’re keeping within the license of the font, you are fine. In fact, FontSquirrel.com has a ton of fonts and the ability to generate a font kit so you can implement the fonts via CSS using the @font-face method.

This article will show you step by step on how to get the font, load it up, and then implement it into your WordPress theme’s stylesheet.

Implementing Fonts in WordPress Using the @font-face Method

1. Choose your font. If you’re using FontSquirrel.com, just pick a font that you like. Some fonts come available with a Webfont kit. Others, you may have to download the Open Type or True Type font, and then load it to the Webfont Generator.

fontsquirrel-individualfont-screenshot

fontsquirrel-webfontgenerator-screenshot

Download the file to your computer

2. Unzip the files.

3. Load only the files with .eot, .ttf, .svg, and .woff to your theme. You might want to name a directory as ‘font’, to load all your fonts to it.

4. Open the stylesheet (style.css) that was in your zip file. Copy the code. It will look something like the following code:

5. Open up your theme’s stylesheet (also style.css), and paste your @font-face CSS. You may want to label it. You will need to add the correct path to your font like the example below.

6. Adjust the CSS in your theme’s stylesheet to the font family you desire. For example, if you want all the headings to have the custom font you uploaded, you would do the following:

Please note that the font listed on the line for font-family in step 5 is the one that you want to use. Also, note that there are other fonts listed after. These are fonts to fall back on just in case the font fails or the file becomes corrupted. It’s always good to have a couple listed.

You can use several fonts using the @font-face method. However, use them at your own discretion, and choose fonts that are easy to read, especially for the content areas on your website.

In the case you don’t want to fool with much code in WordPress, you can install the WP font-face plugin and it will work in a similar manner. This plugin will allow you to select the font in the styles dropdown in the TinyMCE editor.

Do you use custom fonts on your site? What method do you use?

Does Spelling and Grammar Matter In SEO?

Vintage banner.Background chalkboard.Does spelling and grammar matter in SEO? Yes, it does matter. Even though blogging isn’t something that has to be perfect, being understood is extremely important. Every blogger brings to the table their own blog voice, and that includes their own style of writing.

This is influenced by the blogger’s past education and the individual’s own decisions in learning how to read, write, and speak. Some bloggers may have grown up with learning disorders or their primary language is different. However, in the world of blogging, if you’re putting your words out there for the world to read, then you’re trying to get feedback.

If you’re not using fair grammar, then you’ve just made it that much harder for another person to understand, especially if they have a learning disorder, or whose primary language is different. There’s really no excuse. Examples of common grammar issues:

  • Long run on sentences
  • Lack of proper punctuation
  • Awkward sentence structure
  • Using the wrong word for meaning or emphasis
  • Using prepositions incorrectly
  • Using the incorrect verb tense
  • Mixing up wrong homonyms and homophones (example: bark as tree bark, or bark as a dog bark, OR there, their, and they’re)

Spelling and grammar do matter even if you’re a blogger that has little ambition to becoming the top dog in your niche. You are STILL trying to reach people. The spelling, some people can forgive, but sentences that make very little sense tend to draw a big question mark from people. It’s very difficult for anyone to give feedback on an article they have trouble understanding.

For those just trying to play the SEO game just to gain money from Adsense or other types of advertising, you eventually will lose out to sites that are creating better content.

For those bloggers with good intentions that are providing great content, you should be going back to older posts and editing them to improve them. In fact, Kimberly Castleberry mentions some cool tools to help bloggers with grammar and spelling. Language barriers are just an excuse. Learning disorders are an excuse. There are bloggers in terrible situations, like disabilities, that do better than many of the great bloggers out there.

If you want to reach a lot of people, you’ve got to put that extra effort to giving your users a quality experience. Matt Cutt’s actually talked about this is a short video answering the question to “Do spelling and grammar matter when evaluating content and site quality?”

Remember – Content is King, and the Visitors are Queen. Their feedback is considered as important as the content by the search engines. Remember, in the end, it’s the visitors looking for the content, sharing the content, and commenting.

Some people are really nice, and won’t tell you a thing if there is something wrong. Others may give you some harsh criticism or some constructive criticism. If your reaction is to be snarky with them or get offended, then you don’t care about your readers.

Do yourself and your blog a favor – think about your readers for once.

Do you have problems writing? Do you use any tools to help you with your spelling and grammar issues? What tools do you use?

Podcast Presentation: Podcasting for WordPress

wordpress-podcast-presentationI enjoy talking about different types of content creation, like podcasting, so when WordCamp Dayton came around, I was excited to be a part of the event.

A lot of people aren’t quite sure how to implement podcasting as another way to broadcast their content. It can be quite powerful if used as it allows you to reach those who connect better by listening.

If you’re already podcasting, compare what is being shared in this presentation called Podcasting for WordPress to what you’re currently doing. And, for those who haven’t started podcasting, or are considering it, this will give you all the tools and tips you need to start off on the right foot.

I do want to thank Kimberly Castleberry and Daniel Lewis for taking a peek a my presentation before I gave it, as I wanted it to be fairly solid. I rarely consult with others, but because I knew Daniel was going to sit in, I had to make sure that it covered the basics of podcasting.

You can view the 23 minute podcast presentation via video, or use the podcast and follow along with the slides. If you have any questions… please don’t hesitate to ask.

Video Presentation: Podcasting for WordPress

Slides Presentation: Podcasting for WordPress

Podcast Presentation: Podcasting for WordPress

Play

Podcast Presentation: WordPress SEO – Getting Back to the Basics

wordpress-podcast-presentationAt WordCamp St. Louis 2014, I was honored to speak on WordPress SEO: Getting Back to the Basics. This is a very dear topic to me as I see a lot of sites, even well known ones not doing it right. They are the same people that complain about their rank going down, or losing traffic, or being docked by Google.

I’m not perfect, but I believe in trying to build a site as organically as possible. There are a lot of websites out there giving advice that contradicts. There are so many that preach about their familiarity with search engine optimization, but clearly missed the bus.

This presentation is over 40 minutes long, but packed with tips, and tools for getting anyone back on track with some basics. I’ve included a couple ways to listen and follow along. Anyone who went to WordCamp St. Louis and saw this, there might be a little more to hear. I’m not really that patient on waiting for my video recorded at the venue to be put up on WordPress.tv, and never have…. which is why I normally podcast all of my presentations.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. :)

Video: WordPress SEO – Getting Back to the Basics

Slide Presentation: WordPress SEO – Getting Back to the Basics

Podcast Presentation: WordPress SEO – Getting Back to the Basics

Play

Can Your Business Be Too Blog Focused?

good-bad-writerCan your business be too blog focused? An article on Forbes said that one of the biggest mistakes in creating a website for a business, is being too blog focused.

I don’t fully agree with this point on several levels and while there are 5 mistakes listed, I’m sticking to this particular topic. In fact, much of the article was weakly written and shows me how little the author understands blogging and social media marketing. I could write a long comment on that Forbes article saying what I’m about to say here, but I’m not going to waste time. AND…. writing it here is a benefit to everyone, more so than a comment.

My answer to whether your business can be too blog focused or not is that this actually depends on the website and the business. If your business revolves solely on content creation, specifically blogging, then your site isn’t really too blog focused. If your site is really active, and your readers are eager for constant content fed their way, then again, it’s not blog focused. If your site is not emphasizing on the core focus of your website, and you’re just blogging away, then yes, your site may be too blog focused.

The real problem stems with not using effective website conversion. You can blog all you want, but are you getting people to share your articles, subscribe to your feed and newsletter, or even buy something you sell or affiliate market? If not, then you need to go back to your business plan and implement a better marketing strategy.

Your visitors need to know what you want them to do. If you’re blogging:

  • Do have social icons visible and working.
  • Do write about your products or services.
  • Do have a subscription form for RSS or newsletters.

If you want a return on investment, you have to make a clear path pointing your visitors in the right direction. You can still do this while even blogging, tweeting, and posting on social network sites to your heart’s content.

Now, I completely understand that there are people who are just getting into blogging and may not understand how to leverage it for their business, that’s why I teach people about blogging, WordPress, search engine optimization, and all the things between that help a business person create, maintain, and promote their website.

So, if you are feeling that your business is too blog focused, look at your site, or better yet, have someone review your site for you in order to improve your site’s chances of converting.

Do you sometimes feel your business might be too blog focused?

WordPress Plugin Review: Google Analytics For WordPress

google-analytics-for-wordpress-thumbnailGoogle Analytics for WordPress is a plugin that makes it easy for both the basic and advanced user to implement Google Analytics into any website. It does require signing up for Google Analytics and adding your website, in order to track traffic. Let me clarify… it has the ability to help track your site in depth in order to give you an idea of what your visitors are interested in.

WordPress Plugin Review: Google Analytics For WordPress

When I say that it’s easy for both the basic and advanced user, it means that if you’re not familiar with using Google Analytics or not at the point in your website marketing strategy to take advantage of the campaign and extensive tracking features that Google Analytics offers, at least installing and enabling the basic features will suffice.

For the advanced user, the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin gives a lot of ways to track different areas of your website like users, categories, downloads, and much more. In fact if can even help you track specific campaigns you want to run, like one for a product!

For me, I love the ability to track my downloads. Word of caution: Make sure to check your file extensions and add the ones that you are using to the field that allows you to list what you want to track. By default, the file extensions have older versions of Microsoft like doc (Microsoft Word) and ppt (Microsoft PowerPoint), which in newer versions, they are docx and pptx.

If this plugin sounds enticing, you can download Google Analytics for WordPress in the the WordPress plugin repository.

I’ve put together a little walkthrough video of Google Analytics for WordPress.

This is the ONLY plugin I install on all my clients’ websites these days, and the only one I recommend, especially because I know that they will eventually take advantage of some of the advanced tracking settings. I use to have the Google Analyticator plugin installed, but it really didn’t have all the options I needed to track my downloads.

Do you use Google Analytics for WordPress? If so, do you like it? – What features do you take advantage of? If you don’t use this plugin, which one do you use?

How To Set Up Google Analytics In WordPress

google-analytics-for-wordpress-thumbnailGoogle Analytics is just about a standard necessity to have when creating a website, especially for web stats. A lot of new website owners aren’t sure where to implement it, especially with WordPress.

Google has developed their Analytics product to help you track as much of your website, as well as social engagement. Below are two ways on how to set up Google Anaytlics in WordPress.

How To Set Up Google Analytics In WordPress – Without A Plugin

If you are comfortable editing your theme’s template files and prefer to not use a plugin, then this method is for you.

Below is a general generated tracking code from Google Analytics.

Replace the UA with your analytics ID that Google gives you. Note: If you’re having issues finding the tracking code, go log into you Google Analytics account, and then under Admin> Tracking Info> Tracking Code. Copy that as it has your Analytics ID in the code.

However, if you know your Analytics ID for your website, replace the yourdomainname.com with your site’s domain.

Add the code to your header.php file in your theme folder before the ending </head> tag. If you prefer to place it in the footer, find your footer.php file and place it before the ending </html> tag, but after the </body> markup tag.

You could also create a file called googleanalyticstracking.php, paste the above code, and then include the line

Again, this file can be placed in the same areas specified above.

How To Set Up Google Analytics In WordPress – With A Plugin

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If you don’t want to mess with touching any code except copying and pasting your Analytics ID for your website, then Google Analytics or WordPress by Joost de Valk would be a great and easy solution to use.

Once you’ve installed the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin, you can sync your Google Analytics account with it.

google-analytics-screenshot-1

The options for Google Analytics for WordPress are fairly cut and dry. The plugin basically asks you on what you want to track or not to track. All you do is select what you want to track and save. :) If you need to track more, there are some really in depth settings to track things like Internal links, outbound links, authors, logged in users, post types, categories, downloads, and much more.

google-analytics-screenshot-2 google-analytics-screenshot-3

Of course, there are a ton of other Google Analytics related plugins, but this one does a lot to help you track as much of your site as possible. For some, having all of these options at their disposal may be intimidating, but that’s okay. With a little time and learning, anyone can take advantage of all of the features of the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin.

Have you installed Google Analytics on your WordPress powered website? If so, what method did you use? If you used a plugin, did you use the one mentioned above?