business & technology for wedding and lifestyle pros

Servers and The Basics of Hosting

Now that you’ve taken the preliminary steps of designing your blog and purchased your domain name(s), it’s time to select a hosting solution.  If you have a website for your business already, you likely already have a web hosting provider and either space on a server or your own server. If you are setting things up for the first time, you will contract with your chosen web hosting provider who will allot you website space on a server and set you up with a FTP (file transfer protocol – this is the way you upload and download files from your server) account.

Servers and Hosting

Photo: © F.Schmidt / Shutterstock
What are the basics of hosting and which type is right for me?

Basics: A server is essentially a large computer that is held in a hosting provider’s data center. Your hosting plan determines how much of the server your account “owns”. There are three main types of hosting services: shared server, virtual private server, and private server.

Shared Server: The most economical option.  Your website is hosted on a server along with multiple other websites.  The hosting provider that you choose will set limits for your account so that you do not overload the server and cause the rest of your server’s websites to go down.  This option is great for those of you just getting started, as the memory and bandwidth that you will be provided is likely sufficient for your needs.  However, if you expect several thousand visitors per day (at peak times), you may experience slowness with shared server hosting and your web host even has the ability to take your site down to steady the server.

Best for: Just getting started; Non-complex sites; Static websites (non-blogs); Sites without a rush of traffic at peak times

Virtual Private Server: Picture a server as a packing box for glassware.  You get the space for one glass and share the box with multiple other glasses.

The server is partitioned off so that you have full control over only your piece.  No other website can touch your area of the server, and vice versa.  Advantage: your own place to play, guaranteed server resources up to your partition’s cap.  Disadvantage: you can’t take advantage of the resources that the other partitions aren’t using like you can with the shared server.

Best for: I personally don’t recommend VPS hosting.  I tried it for a while and was completely unimpressed.  In for a penny in for a pound, I say, and if I’m spending money and getting dedicated resources, I’d rather have…

Private (Dedicated) Server: Your very own home for your website.  With dedicated hosting, you will have full control over your entire server.  There are differences between private server plans, so you should do your homework and speak with potential hosting companies to see where your website fits in with their offerings.  Be sure to know:

  1. Exactly what type of server you will receive and how much horsepower it has
  2. The level of support you receive from the hosting provider
  3. What you will be charged for (bandwidth, number of databases, disc usage, FTP accounts, etc)

Best for: High-traffic websites, those who want lots of control over their site and the resources it consumes.

Which hosting company is right for me?

As I’ve previously mentioned, each of my domains are registered with DreamHost, but my hosting is with LiquidWeb. I have a dedicated server. LiquidWeb is the third hosting provider that I’ve used, and I could not be more pleased with their service. Real, live people pick up the phone, ya’ll! They are incredibly responsive, my move over from my previous hosting provider was painless, and I experience very few issues. No hosting company is perfect, but LiquidWeb was recommended to me by a trusted friend, and I have personally recommended LiquidWeb to other bloggers who have also experienced the same stellar service.

I also know bloggers who use and enjoy Bluehost, though I have no experience with them.

Managed hosting providers

There are several commonly-used managed hosting providers, such as WP Engine and Synthesis. Managed hosting providers typically offer standard pricing plans, with certain levels falling under either shared, VPS, or dedicated server hosting. The benefit of a managed hosting provider is that their servers and architecture are optimized for WordPress. The downside is that some plugins and other functionality are disabled by default. Many plans also place limits on bandwidth transfer, storage space, and the number of WordPress installations you can run on your account. WP Beginner has a great article on managed WordPress hosting, which I highly recommend that you read if you’re thinking of going this route.

For experienced website owners: what type of hosting do you use and what hosting companies do you recommend? Have you had good experiences with Virtual Private Servers? If you have a high traffic site, when did you switch to a dedicated server, or, have you been able to stick with shared hosting and save money?

Coming up in this series: Setting Up Your Server, Installing WordPress

This page contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you make a purchase through those links. Please note, these are all companies, products and/or services I have used and trust and would recommend even without that commission. Thanks for helping to support Edit and Post!

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Claiming Your Site In Google Webmaster Tools

Whether you have a blog or a website, you definitely want to tell Google that it’s yours!  How do you do that?  Google Webmaster Tools.

Now that you know how to FTP to your site, it will take you about five minutes to claim your site with Google Webmaster Tools.  The benefits are simple but helpful.  You can easily see:

  • The top Google searches that led people to you
  • A complete list of external links
  • All broken links that Google finds as it crawls
  • The keywords that Google views as significant

In addition, Google will notify you on the Webmaster Tools dashboard of any errors that they have found while they were attempting to access your site.

To claim your site:

  1. Visit Google Webmaster Tools and sign in or register with your Google account.
  2. Click “Add a Site”
  3. Input your website and hit continue, you will be taken to the “Verify Ownership” screen.
  4. Download the provided HTML verification file.
  5. Log into your server via FTP (I use CoreFTP).
  6. Navigate your left window to where your file is downloaded, and your right window to the root of your domain.  Select the file on the left, and click the right arrow to copy it to your server.

Voila!  Hit the “Verify” button and your domain is now “yours” in Google’s eyes.  In a few days you should be able to log in and see all of the wonderful information above!  Easy peasy, right?

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Domain Names

So you have done some research and finalized a name for your blog or website. Now what? It’s time to purchase and register domain names!

All About Domain Names

The steps to buying domain names are different depending on the registrar, but they all typically make this pretty easy for you. Choose a registrar (DreamHost, BlueHost, LiquidWeb, GoDaddy or the like), look for “registrations” or “manage domains”, and for around $10 and in around 10 minutes, you can register a domain. You do not have to register your domain with the hosting company you ultimately choose (we’ll chat about hosting in the next part of this series!). Each of my domains are registered with DreamHost, but my hosting is with LiquidWeb.

When you are registering a domain, certain information will be required so that the owner of the domain is visible in engines like Whois. Your hosting provider should have a privacy service that you can take advantage of, so that your personal information is not used for the registration. I use DreamHost to register my domains because of their free Whois privacy service.

At a minimum, register the .com and .net versions of your new domain. You likely also want to purchase common variations and misspellings of your name. You should determine which of those will be your primary site and redirect the other. So, for example, if you visit, it will redirect you to Redirects are key because you want visitors and search engines knowing your site by only one address, to strengthen that address’s results in searches. To redirect your domain, visit the domain settings in your registrar’s panel. Redirects are likely under “hosting options”—you do not need to purchase hosting to redirect your domain.

Other options for registration are the version of your domain, .info, .mobi, .biz, .org, etc. There are even fun choices these days like .wedding!

After you have registered your domain, our next step will be selecting a hosting provider. Then you will be ready to do some basic setup on your server and install WordPress! Aren’t you excited?

This page contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you make a purchase through those links. Please note, these are all companies, products and/or services I have used and trust and would recommend even without that commission. Thanks for helping to support Edit and Post!

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You may have noticed in the comment sections of each Edit and Post post that some comments have photos and others have the default avatar.

WordPress by default supports photos in the form of Gravatars, or globally recognized avatars.  It takes about 30 seconds to sign up for a Gravatar.  If you are the owner of a blog, or have a WordPress blog installed on your own server and use the Akismet or Jetpack plugins, you can sign into Gravatar with your existing username and password. Otherwise, simply:

  • Click here
  • Input your email address
  • Click on the link in the confirmation email
  • Create a Gravatar username and password
  • Import a photo of yourself and crop it as desired
  • Add as many other email addresses to your account as you like

And voila, the next time you comment here (or on any other WordPress blog with avatars enabled), we will get to put a face to a name.  Yay!

For those of you who have WordPress blogs already (or will be installing them soon after reading the Building Your WordPress Blog post series), include avatars in your comment section by visiting Settings -> Discussion in your WordPress dashboard and checking “Show Avatars”.

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Images In Blog Posts: The Technical Side

We’ve talked about the legalities and etiquette of images in your blog posts.  Today, let’s chat about some of the tech tips for blog images.

Tech Tips for Images in Blog Posts

Size matters

High resolution images are a no-no.  Not only will it kill the speed of your site to host high resolution images, but it’s also bad blogging etiquette. Use WordPress’s built-in Media resizing functionality to help you out with resizing.  Under Settings -> Media you can supply a thumbnail size, a medium size (I use this for vertical images) and a large size (horizontal).  As you upload photos, WordPress will automatically create copies of the image resized to each of your specified dimensions.

Because most people are viewing your site on a widescreen monitor, portrait/vertical photos should be sized to about half of the width of landscape/horizontal photos.  This will help to keep the file sizes smaller, as well as keep each image within the viewable area of everyone’s screen.  For aesthetic reasons, this is why many blogs choose to “pair up” verticals in their posts.

What’s in a name?

A lot actually.  Search engines can’t “see” images, they simply recognize the caption (aka alt text), title, and image name and read those to index the image.  Name your images something descriptive and WordPress will automatically fill in the alt text with your image name.

When deciding on a file name, put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. “Juli and Jon Wedding.jpg” likely won’t produce any search hits. But “Yellow Sunflower Bouquet.jpg” might. Your alt text will also become your default Pinterest text when a reader pins an image from your site, so choose wisely!

A helpful hint

Using a Content Delivery Network (“CDN”) helps to speed up the delivery of images. A CDN makes copies of your images (along with stylesheets, javascript files, and the like) and places them on their servers worldwide. This way, your visitors are served up a file from the location closest to them. Cloudflare is a great choice for starting out with a CDN, as they have a free plan. WordPress’ Jetpack plugin also includes the option to use their Photon service.

In future posts, we’ll cover more advanced WordPress image issues, such as custom fields for image photography credits, media tagging, and the like. What other image tips and tricks do you have to share?

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