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SEM vs SEO

Today we discuss on something are related to web hosting. Or rather a website. In this century, almost all businesses have a website. Some showcase their products and some sell them online. Whatever the case, it is to generate incomes.

httpsHow you will make people visit your website. Yes, if they know you have a website and the website URL. The true story for most is the visitors do not know you and your website. So, now how you make people go to your website? This is known as web traffic.

In the past or even nowadays, people are relying on search engines to look for the thing they wanted. An item, a house, a car and etc. The search engine has become the most efficient and effective tool when you browse the internet.

So here are why SEO and SEM. SEO is known as search engine optimization and SEM is known as search engine marketing. Both have served the same purpose on increasing web traffic to your website using search engines.

However, they are different. What are the differences? Well, read further to learn more.

Basically, SEO or SEO is to drive web traffic to your website. But here are the differences;

  1. SEM is buying advertising space in search engine base on your budget. The result can be immediate or as soon as your advertisement is approved. Advertising charge is base on how effective is the advertisement, the keyword you are advertising and more impressions and clicks for a higher budget. Nowadays, you are limited to advertise online with search engines but social media too.
  2. SEO is more complicated. You can do it in a cheaper way or you can afford more time and money for it to be effective. SEO is to rank high in search engine for certain keywords, so people can find you. If your website has appeared in the 1st page, the higher the opportunity. The opportunity will go lesser if your website at the higher pages, They are usually 10 websites on a page.
  3. SEO is affected by many factors. Google or others do not usually publish what they are looking for but there are some elements will affect ranking. The more popular website and more people clicked on your website will promote ranking.
  4. SEO has become a skill and technique some have made a living. Coupled with SEM, especially good for a new website while you want people to know your existence.

You can choose to SEO and SEM yourselves to save money. For SEO, you need a lot of patience and effort. I do not recommend only SEO alone for a new website. SEO is more like an ongoing task, a routine while SEM you can do it on special occasions to boost sales and traffic. SEM is straight forward while SEO s somethings you need to go and find out and plenty of monitoring works.

 

 

 

Why is monitoring important?

MONITORINGMonitoring is hardly in the budget when you buy a web hosting. For many years, I seldom hear my customers were asking for monitoring. Occasionally, we prove the monitoring service at no cost. In my opinion, monitoring is important and it should be set up together with web hosting.

There are many types of monitoring services. Some are must have. Monitoring can reduce downtime, especially in unexpected situations. Unless downtime is not your concern, these are a few services you should monitor. Should there be a service failure? You will be notified by SMS text message and email not longer than 5 minutes.

  • Ping – you will know the hosted domain name is contactable. Unless echo on ICMP is turned off which in rare cases. Some Ping alerts respond to packet loss too. And Ping must be monitored at a few locations.
  • Avance Http – The status of the web page by using the return code 200 will give you an idea if your website is working properly.
  • Monitor all email protocols (SMTP, Submission port, POP3 & IMAP4) Email communication has became relatively important to an organization.
  • SSL certificate expiration – The website should be https by now. Whether you are using the free or the paid SSL certificate. An expired certificate will stop your visitors.
  • MySQL, MsSQL or similar – To monitor this which need basic skills, like restricted connections from your monitoring or agent installed locally.

There are other monitorings but above are the most essential to most circumstances. Monitoring informs you of service failure. Apart from this, you are also informed of erratic performance should the service failed and recovered often.

If you do not have monitoring, basically you have no idea on what has happened until someone has told you.

 

More RAM please?

SERVERThis is not a difficult question, most will say the more the merrier. YES! In theory, more RAM helped to “speed” things up. The questions are what kind of applications? And by how much?

On a VPS or dedicated server, you can buy more RAM or some called it ‘memory’ somehow to improve performance but you are buying, they aren’t free. When you add RAM, do you know the limitation of the OS? The applications? Addin more RAM to a 32bit OS, might not improve the situation. Because there is a limitation on the OS.

However, if you have a database has a lot of transaction, more RAM will help. But if the database is simply serving web content and does not have much transactions or updates. Anything at 4Gb is probably enough.

Here is my point, understand the server’s performance is relatively important. Paying more to buy more RAM every month might not solve your problem. On the other hand, should you pay more to buy more RAM to get rid of the bottleneck?

Actually, it is a debatable question, on many occasions, it is the ‘feel’ that counts. Metrix on performance are usually in very detailed value like millisecond (ms). Unless the gap is big, otherwise it is difficult to tell with a pair of naked eyes. So, understand your applications. Not forgetting RAM too has different speed, a larger RAM in capacity but slower speed or a faster RAM with lesser RAM is a debatable question too. Maybe in my next discussion.

 

Do you need a web control panel?

RELAXThis question is more for the VPS and the dedicated server users. A web control panel is likely an option when you order one of these web hostings.

The popular control panels are Plesk Onyx and cPanel with WHM. cPanel can hosts unlimited domains while Plesk Onyx comes in 3 variants support up to 10, 30 and unlimited domains. And if you are a reseller or managing a lot of users for a different domain, you should order Web Pro edition and above.

This has happened to be an option when you are ordering a VPS or dedicated server. You might be saving up to $20 every month if you are not installing a licensed control panel. There are free one but they have limited functions.

In my opinion, you can do most things without a control panel. But how soon? How fast? Who is or are using? Alright, we need to find out who are the users. If your users are business users and you are reselling, you need a control panel. If you are the administrator, you can do without in these conditions;

  • Do you have the knowledge to do it? Like to create a website, mailbox or an SSL certificate.
  • Do you have the resources? Like installing a mail server or an FTP server.
  • Do you have the time? If you need to repeatedly do the same task frequently,

 

To save the money without a control panel might require you t spend more time managing websites. Unless you are confident to do it quickly and the steps are correct, otherwise a control panel makes your life easier and you can get things done quickly.

Is Google PagLigheSpeed insights important?

THUMB UPIn case you do not know what is Google PageSpeed insights? Pagespeed insights from Google is a grading system, to determine the speed of the website loads using their grade based on Google Lighthouse.

However, many have the perception it is a very important grading system because Google owns the largest search engine on the internet. A slow website will affect your ranking.

A grade is a matrix determined by someone to compare or judge the differences on somethings. Speed is a perceived performance of how a person feels. So, what I’m saying the search engine bots do not grade but if your site loads faster, you are reachable, more pages are indexed. There are a few factors to rank your website higher, speed is just an element but not the entire of SEO.

There are many online tools grade your website speed and help you to debug JS and CSS on your website. You should not be limited to PageSpeed insights only. I have seen websites have a very low grade in PageSpeed insights but high in Pingdom and GTmetrix and the other war round.

So, I suggest if you are making a website, you should test your website’s speed with a few tools, not limited to Paespeed insights. Also, do some comparison with your competitors’ website. If you are using WordPress, by nature a WordPress might be slower especially if you have many active plugins. f that’s the case, a cache plugins might help to reduce your website load time.

 

Power Supply in a Server

dedicated serverYou might not have seen but a good server power supply supplies enough current to the parts to ensure smooth operation. The reliability will greatly reduce downtime. The power supply generates a lot of heat which is not healthy to a server. Thus, manufacturers introduce fans to reduce the heat to prolong life span.

Some use 2 fans and some use bigger fans due to its size. Hence, it is different for a 1U server and 2U server power supplies. Size is not the crucial factor to determine how fast you can bring down the temperature but CFM. CFM stands for cubic per feet, the airflow is the crucial factor to reduce the heat. Usually, the higher CFM spins faster, hence more noise is generated but not the size matter.

There are brushless and ball bearing fan. The later lasts longer, bettter MTBF compared to a brushless fan. Of course, they are many other components like capacitors are crucial too. So, if the power supply is cheaper than usual, either it is an imitation of a certain brand, pre-owned or its components’ price are lower. These are the power supplies you should avoid.

Why do you need a VPS?

Many bought VPS, thinking it is a server. But until……. Yes, someone is telling you are still sharing a server. Huh?  am I? Yes, in the web hosting market a server may cost you a few hundreds a month, a VPS may cost you as little as $10, it will make no sense if some hoster is selling a server at $10. It is never possible.

So, what is a VPS? VPS shares a server and the server is partitioned into a few VPS. Sharing resources like CPU, Memory and even operating system. Alright, it is sharing, isn’t the same as shared hosting?

Not exactly, even they are sharing a server but overheads on VPS is still higher. VPS has its own operating system, control panel and a dedicated IP. Don’t get me wrong, shared hosting user gets or an option for dedicated IP but control panel is shared for sure.

So VPS is better? It may not the case if the hoster uses an operating system like ClloudLinux they can limit the usage of resources of one user sometimes not advertised. As such, User can decide to choose a VPS with greater resources for better performance. But if the hoster is not doing this, and the server is not overpopulated, shared hosting can be a better performance than a VPS.  A shared user can consume what is available since there is no limitation.

Thus CloudLinux is a popular choice to hosting providers sell Shared Hosting because it will throttle your usage as soon as you hit the limit.

Another reason is dedicated IP is available out of the box for VPS, there is no additional cost. So, you are sharing the same IP address with others especially good for outgoing email because of RBL.

Resell web hosting space is also the reason of buy VPS, instead of a few shared hosting accounts, you can administrate your own customers, their control panel accounts, FTP accounts etc.

Most VPS has the greater room of expansion. You can upgrade the resources like RAM, CPU or disk place and some even let you choose between SSD or the conventional hard drive.

I personally like VPS for its flexibility. I move an instance often, thus portability is important. Currently, our VPS offers this and it is easy to back things up or roll back especially they are your Sandbox.   Basically, I use them for my own reason. How about you?

Virtualize or not virtualize

VPSEver since there is virtualization especially these few years, your IT team might have been bothered by this question. To virtualize a server or….? The answer is depending. Depends on? Clearly, there are more advantages to virtualize; example license of the software is cheaper, you can install more than one instances on the same server, a virtual switch, it is portable etc.

However, there are a few things to consider that virtualization might not work for you. If you need to split the instances for different departments and it has total privacy. Virtualization does not give you true isolation, there is risk your virtualized server is accessible through the underlying virtualization OS.

Disk IO is started to divide with the number of guest machines you have deployed. The greater the number of guest machines, the slower the disk IO. If you are still using hard disk storage, this is a crucial factor for the SQL database to some.

Failure risk – if your server has failed due to hardware, you might have more than one servers are failed if you virtualized. Especially to those do not have spare resources or a virtualized cluster. Not for dedicated servers, if one failed, the rest will continue to work.

If your guest machines are not paravirtualized, there is a performance overhead, For example, a true hardware ethernet will perform 2 ~4% better than a virtualized network card.

Some software makers have realized they are missing the virtualization segment and have made changes from processor count to core count license but the end of the day virtualization will save you money if you environment permit you to do do.

 

 

A Snapshot vs a Backup

backupMany have not understood what is a snapshot? What are the differences? Which is better? Today, we are here to explain to you the differences, the pros and cons of the backups and the snapshots.

Snapshot is only available to a VM. Whether they are called VPS or something else. If the instance is virtualized, a snapshot is possible. Backup is installing an agent into the guest OS or the dedicated server, transfer the partition or files into a backup storage device.

Snapshot takes an image of the instance of its current state and dumped into a compressed file format like LZO. It is only possible to restore the entire VM. to restore files, you will have to extract files after you have restored the VM to another instance which is very time-consuming.

However, you can restore files from a backup. Even a bootable partition for some backup solutions. To restore a partition, you must have a temp portable partition on the memory to restore the restored bootable partition backup. This is a very slow process especially the restoration involved a huge partition.

Files restoration is the fastest and if you need to roll back the entire server, a snapshot restoration is much faster than restoring a bootable partition. However, if your backup retention is longer, you will need lesser space on your backup devices.

Most snapshot use NFS. It is cheaper to build an NFS storage than a proprietary backup solution. Nowadays, VM snapshot uses LVM-Thin to conserve disk space, it helps reduce disk space usage significantly. There is a drawback using LVM-Thin, the server must have a faster write and read space especially restoration, otherwise, it will affect the speed on other guest machines on the same server.

Enable DKIM in SmarterMail

DKIM has been popular to ensure email delivery, especially for bulk senders. You can enable DKIM signing on all your outgoing emails. The feature is handy for all SmarterMail administrators. The feature is located in Domain settings.

enable DKIM

DKIM key in SmarterMail

Create and copy the DKIM keys into your domain DNS txt record.

That’s all. Now, you have enabled DKIM.