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Scale Up vs Scale Out: When Would You Want to Use One Scaling Model over the Other?
Based on your app's features, which scaling strategy should you go for: scale up vs scale out? How do you figure out which one's best for you? What are each scaling model's use cases, benefits, and tradeoffs? What specific needs — more memory, high availability, accessibility, more processor capacity, cost efficiency, long-term viability, etc. — does each solution respond to? And what key factors should you keep in mind when choosing to scale your app out or up? Now, let's get you some answers: 1. Scale Up vs Scale Out: What's the Difference? The challenge you're facing now: Your web app's under heavier traffic loads these days. So, you need to expend its presence, accessibility, power, other resources... So, do you scale up or scale out? What's the difference between vertical scale up and horizontal scale out?  1.1. What Does Vertical Scaling (or “Scaling Up”) Mean?  The process comes down to adding more power to your current machine so that it should carry more load. Let's say that your server can no longer handle your app's load of input/output demands. By scaling it up you add more RAM and processing capacity to your existing server. Or you switch to a new, more powerful server. 1.2. What Does Horizontal Scaling (or “Scaling Out”) Mean? “What does scale out mean?” It means adding more power by bringing in more lower-performance machines to the mix. In short, the key difference between the scale up and the scale out process is the specific approach to the way that you're adding computing resources to your system: Adding more processor capacity to your existing server vs adding more simple servers to your infrastructure, that share the memory workload and the processing effort. 2. Why Would You Scale Out? Faced with a “scale up vs scale out” dilemma you ask yourself: “What are the benefits of horizontal scaling?” 2.1. Higher availability for your app Or, better said: higher, instant, and continuous availability for your application. No matter how heavy the workload gets, each system component remains bounded over time. 2.2. You're not limited to your existing hardware capacity You can bring in new and new machines to your infrastructure to expend its capacity. 2.3. You're not constrained to dig deep into your wallet each time traffic is on the rise No need to pay for your server's upgrade each and every time you're dealing with peak demand. 2.4. You can tie your costs to use 2.5. You don't need to take your server offline at every traffic spike Instead, you can keep the existing resources online all while adding some more, so that your app can cope with the workload and remain available. All the time... 2.6 You can make the most out of this scaling model's elasticity Add as many computing services as needed so that your app withstands the peak demand. 2.7. You can adjust it to your needs Size and... resize your network of machines to serve your app's fluctuating needs of memory and processor capacity. 2.8. You get to tap into the latest server technologies Why keep expanding the same old hardware when you can get the most out of the newest server technologies for system monitoring and fault tolerance and keep downtime to a minimum? 2.9. You're free to upgrade your system Unlike with the scaling-up model, where some upgrades might be limited by vendor lock-in, when you scale your app horizontally you're free to level up to the latest: storage processor memory … technology. 3. Why Would You Scale Up? What are the key benefits of scaling your app vertically? 3.1. It's easier to manage … and to address specific data quality issues. Here, the “scale up vs scale out” dilemma comes down to: Having one storage system management vs having to manage a whole cluster of different elements. 3.2. It's (more) cost-effective You'll pay less for your network equipment and licensing since you only have one larger server to manage. 4. What Are the Tradeoffs of Horizontal Scaling?  For there are some power-performance trade-offs to be aware of when you opt for this scaling model: your servers have to be stateless: they can't contain any user-related data such as profile pictures or sessions scaling up your app leads to more complexity (cloning servers is needed) your downstream servers (e.g. databases and caches) are challenged to withstand more connections simultaneously while upstream servers are scaling out 5. What Are the Trade-Offs of Vertical Scaling? As you're trying to solve your “scale up vs scale out” dilemma, you'll ask yourself: What are the challenges of vertical scaling? Well, here are the main aspects that could discourage you from choosing it: it's less viable: you're locked-in to a specific hardware piece on the market you need to go over the same server upgrading process at every spike of traffic you're constrained to taking your existing server offline while replacing it with a new, more powerful one: during this time, your app is non-available 6. When Would It Be Appropriate to Scale Vertically? When should you scale up your deployment? when you're dealing with repeatedly increasing workloads if you haven't reached the full potential of your current infrastructure and you can still add on storage, CPUs, memory resources if you don't anticipate growth of your dataset over the next 3-5 years when you need to store large files that you can't split and distribute across multiple nodes when dealing with a small data set 7. And In Which Cases Does It Make Sense to Scale Horizontally? Here are some of the best scenarios where “out” is the answer to your “scale up vs scale out” dilemma: you've already structured your app so that it should scale up, but it didn't reach the level of performance that you expected you've reached the limit of your current infrastructure's potential so... there's no other option but to scale out you expect huge and steady growth in data over a long period of time you need to distribute an overstrained storage workload across several storage nodes 8. Final Word: When to Scale Up vs Scale Out Here are the 2 key factors to consider when you're trying to figure out which strategy is best for you: Your expansion needs: are they long-term or short-term? Are you dealing with a temporary traffic peak or do you predict a constant traffic overload in the long term? The type of workload that you're dealing with: how large is your dataset? If you're still not sure which approach — scale-up or scale-out — would best suit your app project, let us help you find your answer: Just drop us a line, let us know what your app features are, and we'll structure your app so that it meets your specific expansion needs. Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 12'2020
What Makes a Website Easy to Navigate? 11 Best Practices for Organizing Your Website’s Navigation
Quick and easy access to the content they're after is more important for your website users than a... visually-stunning design. Simple, straightforward navigation is what they expect to find. But what makes a website easy to navigate?  What are some good practices to follow to make your website easier to navigate? Here's a top 11: 1. Put Your Navigation Right Where Users Expect to Find It Don't compromise good user experience for the sake of "wowing" visitors with your innovative navigation system. Do users expect to see a navigation bar at the top of the page? Or a navigation menu in the top right corner? Give them that. This way, they get faster access to the information on your website that they're interested in. Tip! Do you feel particularly creative and you want to add multimedia content to your navigation? Make it obvious to your site visitors that those are clickable elements. 2. Tailor the Navigation Bar To Your Own Audience and Business  A navigation bar optimized to meet the needs of a particular audience is what makes a website easy to navigate. So, ask yourself this: What do visitors do on your website? What are they're looking for? More information on some of the services that you provide? Or maybe they want to have a look at the projects in your portfolio and at your previous clients' testimonials? Are they on your website for your blog posts? Once you're done with this empathy exercise and you have all the data, you'll know how many links are "too many" or "too few" for your navigation menu.   Source: Clutch.co  3. Make Your Sidebars Stand Out from the Rest of the Page "How do I organize my website navigation?" You make sure your sidebars don't blend in with the content on the page. And there are many simple and effective ways that you can set it apart from the body copy. Here are just 2 of them: use a different background color for your sidebars use white space strategically to make it stand out from the other elements on the page 4. Make It Legible and Easy to Read on Any Screen  How easy is your website to navigate?  Before you rush in to answer that, make sure you test it for legibility on smaller screen devices, as well. Here 2 of the best practices to follow for legible navigation in all usage contexts: use a font that's at least 12 pixels avoid narrow scripts and fonts break out your navigation into clear categories with up to 7 items use main menu, second, and third-level dropdown menu, as well, to organize your navigation if your website holds a lot of pages 5. What Makes a Website Easy to Navigate? A Fairly Straightforward Navigation Menu  Keep your navigation titles clear, accurate, and easily recognizable: stay away from witty or riddle-like titles. Why would you want to change already familiar title phrases like "About Us" or "Contact Us" and risk to confuse the user? To make him/her lose valuable time trying to figure out "what the poet meant by..."? Just keep it simple and predictable. 6. Make Your Hypertext Stand Out from the Body Copy "How do I make my website easier to navigate?" You make sure that users can tell hyperlinks from the rest of the page content. How? make them bold use another color underline them ... Just make sure your navigation links are 100% usable.  Make it obvious to the users that that is a hypertext and they can click on it. Source: Clutch.co  7. Make Sure Your Navigation Is Fully Responsive  This is, by far, one of the website navigation best practices. And the adjustments to consider for your mobile navigation menu range from:  making the links large enough for mobile phone users to tap on with no effort  to tightening the menu so that it fits smaller screen sizes to using a hamburger menu on mobile devices 8. Mind the Footer  Too often overlooked, the footer navigation has a big impact on the user experience (positive or negative, depending on whether you "forget" about it or not). Just put yourself into the shoes of a user who's just landed on your website: You've scrolled all the way to the bottom of the homepage and you now want to go to a specific service page or product page. Wouldn't it be great if you could access it via a hyperlink placed right there, in the footer? That, instead of going back to the header menu... "But what should I put in my footer?" you ask yourself. You can either: mirror the links included in your header navigation menu or put links to other key pages on your website: contact page, target blog posts, email newsletter sign up, etc. 9. Include Internal Search Functionality  What makes a website easy to navigate? Effective on-site search functionality... Especially if you have an eCommerce website, where users look for specific products/services. Once you've implemented it, follow these tips for making your search bar stand out: use an icon of a magnifying glass insert a "Search Here" text inside the search box use a different color to make it pop out And don't stop there: Merely adding internal search functionality is just the first step. Make sure that the entire search experience meets the user's expectations. And in 2020 users expect much more than just the basic product filters like color, size, and style. They want to narrow down their selection to products that are on sale or to products that have been recently added to the website or... 10. Use Text Links Instead of Buttons for Your CTAs Here's why you don't want to use buttons in your header navigation: it's bad for your SEO: search rankings can't read buttons (but they can read text) they make your navigation look clunky you can't make a specific link stand out from the rest buttons load slower, affecting the overall page loading speed In short, use text for your menu items for both usability and SEO. It's one of the website navigation best practices in 2020. 11. Create a Sitemap for Your Website's Visitors Provide them with a map before you expect them to explore your website. This way, you: make your website more usable for its visitors help search engines crawl in and index your web pages A win-win. The END! With these best practices on what makes a website easy to navigate at hand... what next? How do you implement them on your own website? We're ready to help you create that intuitive and effective navigation system. Just drop us a line. Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jun 10'2020
How to Keep Your SEO When Redesigning a Website: 12 Things to Check
What's the best approach? The foolproof methods to keep your SEO when redesigning a website? And the chances that things go wrong are high: indexing issues traffic drop after the redesign ranking going down ... You need something like a... checklist. One that includes all the key elements to monitor during and after revamping your website, right? This is precisely what you'll get in this post: A 12-point list to check off along the way, so you can redesign your website without losing SEO rankings and traffic. But Does a Website Redesign (Really) Affect SEO? "If I change my website, will I lose my Google ranking?" Yes, you stand all the chances. Here are just some of the changes applied to your website that pose the biggest "threats" for your Google ranking: you remove/change content you change the current on-page optimization process you change your URL structure you change your domain/subdomain you move content around, to suit your website's new sitemap or navigation structure  From the: updates that you make for improving the user experience on your website to those aimed at rebranding to those changes that you apply to your backend ... it all bubbles up to your SEO ranking, traffic, and overall long-term growth of your website. Step 1: Audit Your Current Website This first step on your website redesign SEO checklist will help you gain a bird's eye view of: what needs to be improved/fixed about your existing website what are the high ranking areas that you shouldn't touch Use Screaming Frog data to inspect your website and put together an inventory of all the: duplicate page titles missing, multiple, or duplicate H1 tags missing Image ALT texts broken internal/external links missing or duplicate meta descriptions page titles over 512 pixels meta descriptions over 923 pixels Furthermore, manually scan key elements like: sitemap URL structure page loading speed (use Google’s PageSpeed Tools) duplicate content Google-indexed pages  robots.txt Tip: download and back up the URL structure of your "old" website; you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to download the updated sitemap of your website. Step 2: Make Sure Your Test Website Is Not Being Indexed For you don't want the risk of Google indexing your test website to add to the pile of... other things that could go wrong during the redesign process. How do you prevent your test site from being indexed? you either block it in the robots.txt file or you click the noindex box in your CMS Step 3: Match Up The Old and the New Pages to Keep Your SEO When Redesigning a Website "How do I preserve rankings and traffic during a website redesign and rebuild?" By making sure that the data on your current website — meta descriptions, word counts, canonical tags, etc. — remain as such on the new site, as well. For this, crawl your test website and put it against the "old" website to identify all the "missing parts" and the areas that need improvement. This is a foolproof method to ensure that the updates that you're about to make are truly needed. Step 4: Check Your New Website for Broken Links Another critical step to put on your website redesign SEO checklist is crawling your new website for broken links.  Use Google Webmaster Tools for this. Step 5: Address The 404 Error Pages One of the major website redesign considerations to keep in mind is that you'll need to handle the 404 issues popping up on your new website. There are 2 ways that you can address a 404 URL: redirect the old URL to the new URL of your test server set up this URL on your test server Step 6: See that Your Live URLs Are Optimized, As Well  A foolproof method for keeping your SEO when redesigning a website is to make sure that those live URLs, that aren't yet on your current website (the most recently added ones) are properly optimized. Just use the following on-page optimization checklist, which includes all the key areas where you should add your focus keywords (or semantic keywords): page title tag H1 tag page URL H2, H3, H4 tags meta description  body content  image ALT tag Step 7: Keep the URL Architecture Identical  Since the SEO impact of changing URL is huge. Do you remember that you've downloaded the URL structure while auditing the old website (see Step 1)? Make sure to back it up and stick to it after the redesign process, as well. Step 8: If Some of Them Do Change, Set Up 301 Redirects If the unwanted scenario does happen and some of your URLs do change, keep in mind to map out 301s to their corresponding new URLs. That, if you do want to preserve your rankings and traffic, of course... How? by manually updating your .htaccess file: Redirect301/old/oldsite.html http://www.yoursite.com/newurl.html   by using a redirect plugin: the process is no more complicated than filling in a form Step 9: Leave the Content Unchanged on Your High Ranking Pages  One of the things to watch out for in order to keep your SEO when redesigning a website is the "temptation" of changing content on your high ranking pages. Tip! A safe way to redesign your website without losing SEO is to make changes to the pages' design elements only. Once you've launched the new website, monitor your rankings for a while and, unless you notice some alarming drops, go ahead and apply (some) changes to the written content, as well (if absolutely necessary). Step 10: Check Your Robots.txt File Make sure that your robots.txt file didn't get corrupted during the website redesign and rebuild process. Just click on the “robots.txt” option under the crawl section. Step 11: Resubmit Your Sitemap to Google A key step to take for avoiding new website Google ranking issues. Submit your new website's XML to Google (and Bing) so that its new structure gets crawled and indexed in due time.  Step 12: Check and Monitor Your Ranking Position So, you've finally launched the improved version of your old website. Your team's hard work over the last few months is now live. Still, you'd better remain vigilant and monitor your new website for 2-3 more months. During this time: keep track of how your top keywords are ranking make sure Google's not indexing the wrong pages for those keywords be ready to detect any sudden drop or... boost in your website's Google ranking Take this monitoring time as a way of... futureproofing all the efforts you've done to keep your SEO when redesigning a website. But maybe you are, indeed, planning to give your website a facelift and a performance boost. And yes: you do worry that this might affect your SEO rankings and traffic. Yet, you want some professionals — a team of experienced web designers, web developers, and SEO experts — to handle your website redesign process.  We're ready to help you. Just drop us a line and let's plan an SEO-oriented redesign process for your website. Image by k-images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 08'2020
What Are Some Good Examples of Drupal Sites for Nonprofit Organizations? Top 10 Nonprofit Websites Built with Drupal
Feeling a bit... uninspired? Or maybe you just don't see why you should consider Drupal for your NGO website? What if you could have a look at the top 10 nonprofit websites built with Drupal? And we're talking here about some of the world's most influential charity and non-profit organizations. Here are the 2 main criteria that we've used for putting together this top:   to be straightforward and easy to navigate to be visually pleasing and engaging: a clean and simple design helps the NGO's message shine through   Are these your own requirements, as well, for your non-profit website? Then, get ready to find plenty of inspiration by scanning through these great examples of what other non-profits have managed to do with Drupal: 1. Equal Opportunity Community Initiative  Who is EOCI?  The organization defines its own mission so clearly on its website: “... to build a world where children have equal opportunities to reach their dreams.” And all their projects and initiatives converge to meet this goal: providing equal access to educational resources for all children. Equal opportunity to compete and to succeed. The website that we've built for this international profit (revamping an age-old site, with little traffic and low conversion rate) is still one of the projects in our portfolio that we're most proud of. What makes it a great nonprofit website?   it's visually engaging: it tells a compelling story through visuals it's well-organized and easy to navigate: Drupal 8 has made it easier for us to structure content and to put together an information architecture that's easy to step through it's fast: the better the user experience, the higher the chances that they should turn themselves into the future volunteers or donors supporting the EOCI's initiatives   “The site’s beautiful and performing exactly how we’d hoped it would. The company that manages our Google Ads has found that our conversions have increased...  A couple of our donors are thrilled with the website and have committed their support again. They’re happy to be on the partners' page with a fresh look and approach to the public.” (Sean Kelly, Executive Director, Equal Opportunity Community Initiative, Source: Clutch.co)  2. Rotary International, One of the Top 10 Nonprofit Websites Built with Drupal  Who hasn't heard of Rotary International? A global network of community volunteers (1.2 million leaders and problem-solvers) actively involved in a wide variety of campaigns:   kicking Polo out of Africa providing clean water growing local economies supporting education   Why did they go for Drupal? For 2 strong reasons:   it's flexible: there's a module for almost any feature, any functionality they needed to implement to their nonprofit website it's extensible: no matter how "ambitious" the organization's future causes and campaigns and expectations from their website might get, Drupal's built to scale up to their growing needs 3. Doctors Without Borders Probably one of the best examples of nonprofit websites built with Drupal is Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). A Nobel Prize-awarded organization of volunteering doctors, nurses, other staff, and journalists. Their mission? Providing medical aid to people affected by pandemics, epidemics, natural disasters, or armed conflicts, no matter their sex, nationality, religion, or political affiliation. Why Drupal?   because it's a multisite network that this global NGO needed and Drupal's famed for its built-in multi-site support. because Drupal's robust enough to withstand massive amounts of traffic (it's the biggest NGO in the world), all while being a conveniently flexible content management solution. 4. Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)   Another one of the top 10 nonprofit websites built with Drupal. HFHI is an international, Christian NGO with a clear mission: building and renovating houses for low-income people.  To carry out its mission, it brings together donors, volunteers, and members of the families in need, who're co-opted in the process of building/repairing their own houses. How come their website is built on Drupal 8?   Drupal 8 is mobile-ready right out of the box it's open-source, which translates into lower costs it's flexible enough to empower their team to create, update, publish, and manage content on the go it scales to meet all the organization's future needs it ships with outstanding multi-language support it's fast 5. World Vision International "What are the most popular nonprofit websites that run in Drupal?" World Vision International's website is listed in any "top 5". No wonder:   the organization is the world's largest international children charity their website taps into Drupal 8's best features: easy third-party integration, freedom of customization, flexibility, and scalability guaranteed by its rich module collection   A nonprofit multisite that tells a series of highly compelling stories and grants a simplified donation process. 6. Human Rights Watch   A worldwide known independent organization, headquartered in New York, dedicated to protecting human rights.  And they define their own cause better than anyone else: "... we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes.”  Why did one of the most powerful NGOs in the world opt for Drupal?   because it's the best option for multilingual websites because it makes it easy to keep consistency while "joggling with" multiple content types  because it empowers content authors and editors to publish content quick and easy 7. Save the Children Spain   A member of the Save the Children International — the world's leading NGO dedicated to protecting and improving children's lives — Save the Children Spain has its website running on Drupal 8. And it is, by far, one of the 10 best nonprofit websites out there. Not just due to the global reputation of this humanitarian organization, but thanks to the complex needs that the Drupal website manages to meet:   it handles an entire network of operations that are critical for the NGO's activities: donations, news publishing, crowd fundings, training, collecting signatures, communicating with the press, etc. it withstands large influxes of traffic it supports a multi-site infrastructure it makes it easy for multiple teams (see Drupal's granular permission and access control system) to operate on the website, to integrate the tools they need for doing their work it integrates easily with all kinds of e-commerce third-party platforms (needed for their donation process, signature, membership, etc.) 8. Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity   One of the UK's largest charities, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (GOSH ) is dedicated to supporting the Bloomsbury-based children hospital and its patients. How? By focusing their efforts in 4 major areas:   supporting the little patients and their families investing in rebuilding and renovation projects pioneering research into children's health investing in life-saving medical equipment   When did Drupal come into the picture?  When the charity looked for a platform that would provide them with:   scalable architecture for their website, robust enough to scale up and down, to their fluctuating levels of traffic multi-site support, out of the box: GOSH.org is made out of 2 large websites and an ecosystem of 10 different sub-sites easy third-party integration: they needed to keep the same staff, so they looked to streamline their team's work, by integrating time-saving tools  9. The Wildlife Trusts We couldn't have left the Wildlife Trusts website out of our list Drupal nonprofit organization websites that stand out. The UK-wide group, comprising 45 local Wildlife Trusts, shares a common interest in preserving the wildlife and the biodiversity in their local area. And we're here talking about 2,300 nature reserves, on 98,000 hectares. 46 different independent charities, each with its specific activities, constitution, and membership criteria, under one “umbrella”? This multi-site project had “Drupal” written all over it... Now, let me outline, briefly, the key reasons why Wildlife Trusts has chosen Drupal for its website:   it provides great multi-site capabilities: the organization wanted to empower each trust to control its own content creation and publishing process, but they still needed some sort of a “central hub” it provides outstanding content management capabilities, much needed in this case, where huge volumes of content had to be managed effectively it meets their need of delivering the best mobile user experience it empowers the Wildlife Trusts editors to tailor page layouts as needed: and we're talking here about a multi-site that's rich in stunning visuals and video content 10. Top 10 Nonprofit Websites Built with Drupal: Allard Prize for International Integrity Another project from our portfolio that we're particularly proud of. The Allard Prize for International Integritiy is a photography competition that recognizes and awards people and organisations standing out through their efforts in fighting corruption and defending human rights. Why did they go with Drupal?   because they wanted to give their website a performance boost because Drupal provides them with a reliable translation system, a crucial feature when dealing with a global audience In Short, Why Would You Choose Drupal for Your Nonprofit Website? Here's a short inventory of the main reasons why you'd choose Drupal for setting up your nonprofit website:   you save money (Drupal's open-source) you get your multi-site, multi-language website ready to go in no time (especially if you opt for a Drupal distribution) you're free to further extend your website's capabilities by adding new modules and integrating new third-party apps  you get robust SEO features right out of the box you get a website that scales to fluctuating levels of traffic  you get to categorize, neatly structure, create, edit, publish, and manage your content quick and easy you're free to customize your page layouts to your liking   Need help setting everything up? Just send us a message with your feature requirements and specific expectations from your future nonprofit website and let's get your message out there. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 05'2020
What Are the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020? 13 Ways that You Can Sabotage Your Own Website’s SEO Performance- Part 2
Ready to dig up some more (all too) common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020? As promised, in this post I'll be exposing to you another 6 bad habits that are costing you your website's ranking and traffic. They range from neglecting serious issues, that you consider "minor", to highly damaging practices that you're probably still doing. So, let's dive right in: 8. You're Ignoring Site Structure Issues That Are Affecting the UX And this is one of the biggest SEO mistakes that you could make. Here's how you can identify a poor website structure:   users don't get directed to your homepage once they click on the logo your service pages don't automatically load in new tabs your website feels cramped and cluttered; users need to work hard to navigate through   And since user experience is a huge SEO factor, you might want to consider scheduling a declutter and reorganizing process for your site. Aim for a clean, fluid, and intuitive navigation on your website. 9. You're Not Optimizing Your Web Presence for Local Search A bad practice that you'll find in any "top 10 SEO mistakes".  And which seems to be still so "popular" in 2020, as well (but you'll be bucking this trend, won't you?). Here are the opportunities that you miss when you don't optimize your website for local search:   you could have stepped ahead of your competitors, who may not have a region-specific strategy set in place you could have turned it into a huge advantage when competing against larger, national brands (with huge budgets to invest in SEO), that might be targetting broader keywords you could have turned all those potential local visitors into more traffic and... loyal customers   Source: moz.com   10. You've Updated Your Website But... Kept the Old URLs Another rookie and still so common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020. So, you've updated your website. It's optimized for the best-fitting keywords, it has well written, SEO-friendly meta descriptions... but all these efforts are pointless if your URLs:   include underscores open HTTP pages and you've just enabled HTTPS on your website      See my point?  Updating your website, but forgetting to update the URLs, as well, is like... changing your oil, but forgetting to fill up your gas tank. It won't get you too far. 11. You're Using H1 Tags the Wrong Way: One of the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020 Are you "guilty" of any of these 2 bad habits when it comes to using H1 tags?   there are no H1 tags, at all, on your web pages you're using multiple H1 tags on the same page (for aesthetic purposes) you're turning all the headings on a page into H1 tags It's the H1 tags that let the search engines know what the topic of a page is. By using none or multiple H1 tags, you're just confusing them and lowering your website's chances to rank high on the results page. 12. You Have No Link Building Strategy  Or you have a totally ineffective one, based on:   a too low number of backlinks low-quality backlinks   Start building more backlinks to your website, from relevant authority websites. 13. You've Overlooked to Add Your Sitemap to Your Robots.txt File And so you've left search engines with no clue on what URLs you have on your website. This is the surest way of sabotaging their own work — indexing your website's pages — and, implicitly, your website's SEO performance. Source: semrush.com But you can still fix it: just go ahead and add a sitemap.xml file to your robots.txt file. Key Takeaway The common mistakes to avoid in 2020 are the... basic ones. Those issues that you might find too trivial to fix or to avoid. And these apparently insignificant SEO mistakes fall into 3 major categories that you should focus on:   content: too thin or duplicate content (stuffed with keywords) won't add any value to the user experience delivered on your website internal links: let your common sense tell you how many is enough; make sure they're relevant and useful to the readers website architecture: avoid poorly written, unoptimized descriptions and title tags, use H1 and H2 tags the proper way, add ALT tags to your images, look for broken or unoptimized URLs...   In short: don't underestimate the basic stuff, that's still being ignored or considered "acceptable" on too many websites. Now, have you decided to break your bad SEO habits, but you just don't know how to fix the mistakes?  We're ready to help you with that.  Just drop us a line! Let's identify all the SEO errors lowering your website's potential and get them fixed. Image by xiaoxinghai from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 03'2020
What Are the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020? 13 Ways that You Can Sabotage Your Own Website’s SEO Performance- Part 1
Have you seen a downfall in your website's ranking (and traffic)? What if you're to blame? What if you're making the all-too-common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020? Or at least some of them... "But which are they?" you ask yourself. This is precisely what I'll be pinpointing in this post: The 13 all-too-frequent bad SEO habits that you, too, might be guilty of. And which are harming your website's SEO potential. You're Optimizing for All the Wrong Keywords You're Leaving Broken Images and Broken Links Lingering in There You're Ignoring The Simplest Fixes to Your Site's Performance Issues You're Not Including the Target Keywords in Your URLs You're Using Automatically-Generated (Duplicate) Page Titles You're Not Optimizing Your Site Pages' <Title> Tags You're OK with Having One Internal Link and Even Orphan Pages You're Ignoring Site Structure Issues That Are Hurting the User Experience You're Not Optimizing Your Web Presence for Local Search You've Updated Your Website But... Kept the Old URLs One of the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020: Improper Use of H1 Tags You Have No Link Building Strategy You've Overlooked to Add Your Sitemap to Your Robots.txt File So, let's dive in: 1. You're Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords And by "wrong keywords" I mean:   short-tail keywords keywords that are "out of your league" (i.e. high competition keywords) Instead, target long-tail keywords, that you can realistically rank for. It's the "2-step" formula to success when optimizing a website for specific keywords. Pro tip: if you're running an e-commerce website, target transactional keywords (they usually include terms like "subscribe", "for sale", "order", "apply", "reserve", "schedule" + the exact name of your branded product/service or general industry products/services) 2. You're Leaving Broken Images and Broken Links Lingering in There One of the top SEO mistakes (since it's still so "popular") that you, too, might be making on your website: You're being "sloppy" with your website's links and internal images. In other words, you leave behind "residues" like:   misspelled URLs images with no ALT-text images with poor file names image linking to files that no longer exist 3. You're Ignoring The Simple Fixes to Your Site's Performance Issues Has your website started to... slow down?  How about implementing the quickest fixes at hand to speed up things a bit in there?  Here are 2 simple and effective steps you can take right away:   minify your CSS and JS files enable a good caching plugin 4. You're Not Including the Target Keywords in Your URLs "What are some common SEO mistakes?" Sticking to a poor URL structure is one of them. And why would you bother including keywords in your URL structure? Since users can still find your website, even if it doesn't have keyword-optimized URLs? Because keyword-rich URLs make it easier for search engines to locate your website. 5. You're Using Automatically-Generated (Duplicate) Page Titles Another one of the all-too-common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020: Generating your page titles dynamically instead of creating them manually. Especially if we're talking about key pages on your website. In this case, the risk of ending up with duplicate page titles, that will only confuse search engines, is very high.  6. You're Not Optimizing Your Title Tags: One of the Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2020 And this is one bad habit that's going to cost you your website's high ranking in the search results. As a rule of thumb, keep in mind to always insert your target keywords in the pages' title tags, as well.  And to stick to the proper length: less than 60 characters. 7. You're OK with Having One Internal Link and Even Orphaned Pages "What SEO mistakes am I making with my website?" You're underestimating the power of internal linking. Or the negative impact that such a bad practice can have on your site's ranking if you want to put it this way. In other words:   having just one internal link on a page is not enough having orphaned pages, that are not linked to anywhere on your website, is... unacceptable   Source: searchenginejournal.com   The END of Part 1! These are the first 7 common SEO mistakes to avoid in 2020 from the list that we've put together for you. So, stay tuned for the second series of SEO bad practices... Now, how many of them have you identified on your own website? Are you having trouble getting them fixed? Or maybe just not enough time or enough SEO expertise in your team? We're ready to land you a hand with that.  Just drop us a line and let's identify and fructify all those missed SEO opportunities on your website. Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay    ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 02'2020
Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse: How Are They Different and Which Tool Should You Use?
Which tool should you be auditing your website with? In a Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse “debate”, which score is right? What's the difference between running a Google PageSpeed test and running Lighthouse Audit in Chrome?  You have all the reasons to be confused about the fact that they use similar technology, yet they deliver you different results. It's time to shed some light here.  So, keep on reading to get your answers to questions like:   What Is Google Pagespeed Insights? What Is Google Lighthouse? What Are the Main Differences Between Them? When Should You Use Each of Them? 1. What Is Google PageSpeed Insights? Or: “What is Google PageSpeed score?” What does it measure? And what type of data does it use when evaluating your website? Lab and real-world data... In other words, Google PageSpeed will use both real-world data available in the Chrome User Experience report and lab data. Now, if I was to put together a short, yet complete definition, it would be: Google PageSpeed is a tool that analyzes the performance of your web pages, generating a report of the overall speed of your website. As well as actionable advice on how you can improve its score. 2. What Is Google Lighthouse? “How does Google Lighthouse work?” It uses lab data (only) to measure your website's performance, but also its SEO performance, PWA, and other best practices.  And here, you can already identify the first difference that any Google Lighthouse vs PageSpeed comparison reveals:  Lighthouse goes beyond the page speed metric when auditing your website. 3. Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse: How Are They Different? What's the difference or, better said, “the differences” between these two audit tools provided by Google?   PageSpeed Insights measures the performance metric only, whereas Lighthouse audits other aspects of a website, as well (SEO, accessibility, progressive web app, etc.) Google PageSpeed uses a “combo” of lab and real-world data, whereas Lighthouse uses lab data only (under consistent conditions) to build its report   Lighthouse is now incorporated into PageSpeed Insights. It is PageSpeed's integrated analysis engine. 4. When Should You Use Google PageSpeed Insights? So, you have your answers to your “Google PageSpeed Insights vs Lighthouse” dilemma. You know now how they differ from one another. But how do you know when to use... PageSpeed, for instance? Here are the 4 main scenarios:   you need to share a link to your website's audit report you're only interested in checking your website's page loading speed you want an accurate report of the loading times experienced by your website's visitors you're not a big fan of using Chrome developer tools for analyzing your website's performance 5. When Should You Use Lighthouse? What are the specific scenarios when you should consider turning to Lighthouse for auditing your website's performance? when you want to run audits programmatically when you need to evaluate other aspects of your website, in addition to its loading times when you want to incorporate the Lighthouse API into your own systems   For instance, you can use Lighthouse API to automatically block those releases that don't meet your pre-defined performance and SEO standards. 6. Google PageSpeed vs Lighthouse: Key Takeaway If there was only one takeaway that you'd take from this post it should be that: While Google PageSpeed uses the information generated by Lighthouse, enriching it with real-world data, Lighthouse delivers you more than just one score. It goes beyond measuring your website's loading times. Do you need to know how fast your website loads from its visitors' perspective? Or do you need to dig deeper? To evaluate more than just its speed, knowing, though, that the results that you'll get are based on lab data only? Now, let's say that you've already made your decision. You've chosen the website analysis tool that best suits your needs and you've run the test on your site. With your list of optimization suggestions at hand... what do you do?  You can either put all your current projects “on hold” and ask your own team to implement those recommendations. Or you can drop us a line and leave it to us. Photo by Dids from Pexels ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 29'2020
What’s the Best Drupal Managed Hosting Provider? Here Are Your Top 4 Options
You want it to be easy to use, to provide you with as much automated maintenance as possible and... up to 100% uptime. So, what's the best Drupal managed hosting solution for your needs? And, let me guess: your “feature wishlist” is a bit longer actually:   autoscaling capability multi-site support: you want to be able to manage all your Drupal websites from a single dashboard CDN backups and easy restores on a daily basis support for migration Given your list of requirements, what are your best choices here? I've done my research and narrowed down your options to 4. 4 fully managed hosting solutions for Drupal that you should consider first. Here they are:   But First: Why Managed Hosting? What Does It Really Get You? Why would you want to go for a fully managed hosting solution for your Drupal website(s) instead of a... self-managed one? Because:   you gain so much time; time that you'd otherwise invest in setting the Drupal infrastructure yourself, from the ground up you avoid the risk of getting tangled up in software installation, configuration, infrastructure management (which can turn into a time and energy-consuming ordeal even if you have the know-how to set up a scalable VPS on AWS yourself) you avoid the headache of maintaining a whole infrastructure of Drupal sites you get remote administration that covers mundane, regular operations such as module updating   In short: you delegate your managed hosting provider with everything outside the codebase. Why spend time on the ongoing maintenance of your website when you can invest it in... improving it? In growing it?   1. Pantheon Drupal Hosting   Disclaimer: it's the Drupal hosting that we are using here, at OPTASY. But is Pantheon the best solution for your own use case? For your expectations of a hosting platform? It is if it's a simplified, easy to use hosting solution that you need for your Drupal website(s). One that provides you with:   great support solid tooling  almost instant patching great developer experience ease of use with Drupal high availability and scaling intuitive interface, which makes migrating and cloning your Drupal websites so much easier lots of integrations   But let's see precisely what services it provides you with.   Pantheon Drupal's Key Features   php7 Git 24/7 Drupal support  Once-click core updates  Built-in stagging environments: dev, test, live Global CDN Solr Developer dashboard   2. Acquia, One of the Best Drupal Managed Hosting Solutions   Acquia Drupal hosting is another great option to consider when you're trying to figure out which is the best service for you. Why? Because it provides you with:   some of the best tools: both powerful and easy to use enterprise-level security cloud hosting specifically tailored to suit Drupal websites unmatched scalability: Acquia Drupal 8 hosting powers some of the largest Drupal websites in the world    Acquia Drupal Hosting Key Features   Enterprise-grade security and recovery: a whole set of firewall controls and access and authentication controls; Acquia-hosted websites are known to be better equipped to recover from cyber attacks A hosting platform optimized for Drupal exclusively A turnkey solution: the built-in Node.js support enables you to develop your Drupal back-end apps, as well as your server-side rendered front-end apps, on the same hosting platform Robust development tools: APIs, integrations, and command-line tools that help you build and optimize your apps in no time Real-time monitoring, analyzing, and troubleshooting Close to 100% uptime: Drupal hosting Acquia makes the best choice for you if your uptime and performance requirements are way beyond basic Centralized dashboard for all your websites and a unique Drupal codebase Source: acquia.com   3. SiteGround Drupal Hosting Another popular hosting option for Drupal websites is Siteground, a platform robust enough to withstand the challenges of user-heavy, high traffic sites. It's also the most versatile managed hosting solution on this list, for it meets the needs of both small website owners and enterprise and large organizations. But why would you choose if over other Drupal 8 hosting services? SiteGround Drupal 8 Hosting Key Features   Daily backups 1-Click Drupal installation Responsive support from actual Drupal developers by mail, chat, helpdesk ticket Dynamic NGINX caching (available only on some of the hosting plans) Website transfer assistance with zero downtime   4. Cloudways Managed Drupal Cloud Hosting     Cloudways is not just one of your best Drupal managed to host options. It's also one of the most... different. It allows you to choose the cloud hosting provider for your Drupal infrastructure. You're free to go for Amazon AWS or Digital Ocean, Google Cloud or maybe Vultr, you name it. Why cloud hosting? Because it's easier to scale, more cost-effective, and faster.  In short: it's top performance hosting that scales that you get with Cloudways. But there are also other strong reasons why you'd want to choose to host your Drupal website(s) on Cloudways. Cloudways Managed Drupal Hosting Key Features   Composer support  ease of use: just sift through all the different options that it provides you with through an intuitive UI, select the ones that you prefer via quick one-click access, and set up your Drupal website in no time  HTTP/2 support PHP migration support Free migration SSD-Based Drupal Cloud Hosting CloudwaysCDN you get to host multiple Drupal websites on one server you can add more team members and share server access across your entire team  built-in caching options auto-scalable kyup servers: they downscale and upscale, depending on the amount of traffic on your website(s), with zero downtime managed platform: you can spin up servers and deploy your apps in the blink of an eye   Final Word  The key takeaway is that choosing the best hosting services for your Drupal site(s) is crucial. Imagine that you'd buy yourself a Porsche, but you don't afford a... garage for it. Or its maintenance costs. See my point? When you run your website on a performance powerhouse like Drupal, you need to look for a hosting platform that can match such a robust setup. And speaking of keeping your Drupal infrastructure secure and well-maintained, we have an entire team of Drupal experts that you can delegate your time-consuming maintenance tasks to:   updating Drupal modules running security patches as they get released monitoring your website's performance monitoring it for suspicious activities ...   Just drop us a line and let's tailor a Drupal security and maintenance plan to suit your website(s) needs.   Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 28'2020
How to Perform a Security Audit: 11 Things to Put on Your Checklist (plus, the best tools you could use)
So, you need to do a quick risk assessment of your site. How do you perform a security audit? Are there any quick and easy (and effective) things that you can do to evaluate your website and to detect any security risks lurking in there? And what are some of the tools that you could use? Here are the answers to all the dilemmas stemming from your main question: "Security auditing: what do to?" 1. But First: What Is a Security Audit Report? What do we mean by "audits" in this context?   pentests regular security assessments "security posture" tests auditing logs   And what is a security audit report, more precisely? Source: searchcio.techtarget.com In short: when you run a security audit you evaluate your website's performance in relation to a list of criteria. And, more often than not, you'd want to include other types of security diagnosis into your workflow, as well:   penetration testing: where you (or an expert in your team) simulate the actions of a potential hacker, performing several attacks on your website to test its resilience vulnerability assessment: where you try to identify any security weaknesses  2. What Tasks Should You Put Into Your Security Audit Checklist? Top 11 What should you do in your regular security audits?  What security audit procedures to include? We've put together a list of 11 steps to put on your checklist. So, when conducting a security audit the first step is to: 2.1. Determine the Assets that You'll Be Focusing On Set the scope of your audit: Which are the high priority assets that you'll be scanning and monitoring? For example, your list could include key assets like:   sensitive customer and company data internal documentation IT infrastructure   You can't expect to future-proof your website's improved level security if you're going to use the same vulnerable IT equipment, right? Next, you'll want to set your security perimeter, as well: What are the things that your audit will cover and those that should be skipped? 2.2. List Out Potential Threats You can't build a shield around your website against a "no-name" threat, right? You need to go ahead and name those threats, so you know what to look for and how to adapt your future security measures: Here are just some examples of security threats that you might want to put on your list:    negligent employees using weak passwords for sensitive company data  malware phishing attacks denial of service attacks malicious insiders 2.3. Assess the Current Level of Security Performance Another key step to put on your security audit checklist. Your team could be using the strongest passwords. They could be sticking to rigorous security procedures and best practices. And yet, they might not be informed about the latest methods that hackers use to infiltrate systems... A good evaluation of your organization's current security performance will help you identify precisely weak links like that one. 2.4. Set Up Configuration Scans Using a higher-end scanner will help you:   detect security vulnerabilities  assess the hardening of the PCs   Are there any malware/anti-spyware programs in there? Turned on encryption, settings that are temporarily changed?  Therefore, keep in mind to run some configuration scans, too, when you do a security audit. They make a great "ally" for spotting any config mistakes that people in your team might have made. 2.5. Keep an Eye on Reports (Not Just on the Urgent Alerts) As you put all your focus on urgent alerts, you might be tempted to underestimate the value of the reports generated by your auditing tools. Now, that's one risky thing to do. Instead, you'd want to keep an eye on those reports, for they can be a tremendous source of valuable information. "Information" that might look non-alarming to you now, but, which — with time, if a suspicious activity becomes a routine — can turn into a major threat. One that you'd ignore by... overlooking to go through your reports. 2.6. Monitor DNS for any Unexpected Changes Are there any signs of sloppiness when it comes to the credentials used for your domain? The quicker you identify them, the lower the security risk. 2.7. Run Daily Scans of Your Internet-facing Network As you'll security audit your website, you'll want to be alerted (on a daily basis, if possible) about any "surprising" changes.   2.8. Mirror Your Website Why is this a "must" task to include in your security auditing plan? Because by mirroring your website you spot some otherwise hard-to-access files and directories. You'd be surprised at how many valuable:   internal IP addressing schemes email addresses and phone numbers of people in your team code-related comments software versions server names   ... you can find in those comment fields. 2.9. Perform an Internal Vulnerability Scan How? By opting for an enterprise-level vulnerability scanner. What it does is install an agent on each computer in your organization, that will monitor their... vulnerability level. How often should you run this type of scan?  Monthly or quarterly would be great. 2.10. Run Some Phishing Tests You'll want to set up a routine of sending out fake phishing emails to people in your team. It's still the most effective type of cybersecurity training that you could give your team:   they get a close-to-real-life experience of a phishing attack they can assess their own vulnerability to scenarios where they'd give hackers access to sensitive information (by clicking on links or attachments in a phishing email) 2.11. Monitor Your Firewall's Logs Watch for any inconsistent or unusual behavior in your firewall.  3. What Are Some of the Best Security Auditing Tools You Can Use? Top 5 Now that you have a plan put in place you need some tools to carry it out, right? We've done our research, put together a list, then narrowed down the options to 5 tools that you should consider evaluating first: 3.1. The OWASP Testing Guide A step-by-step checklist that'll streamline your manual testing efforts. Note: running an OWASP top 10 check is one of those "quick and easy" things you that can do for assessing your website's security performance. You'd be testing it for 10 of the most common security risks. 3.2. Burp Suite What if you wanted to put your security audit on autopilot? You could go for Burp Suite to manually analyze your website, then run an active scan. Note: the tool comes in two "flavors", a pro and a free version. 3.3. Nessus If you're looking for an easy to use tool, Nessus Tenable's the one. Use it to track down security vulnerabilities on your website. It's effective and it generates some detailed reports. 3.4. Qualys Web App Scans  Its main selling points:   great coverage accurate reports 3.5. Rapid7  You might want to try their vulnerability scanner.   And 2 honorable mentions: Rapidfiretools.com and Risksense. 4. Final (Wise) Word The keyword that best describes an effective security audit is "on-going": It's definitelty not a one-time event, but rather a routine made of several "healthy" habits that you stick to. A "routine" aimed at helping you formulate a custom set of security solutions:   network monitoring data backup employee education awareness software updates email protection   What if you don't have the resources — the time and the available people in your team — to run a security audit? We're here to help. Just drop us a line and let's tailor a security audit checklist that meets your website's specific challenges. Image by raphaelsilva from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 22'2020