Create a website for your business

By moosnews
January 5, 2015

Can having a website help my business even if I don’t set up an online store?

Yes. But we know you want a more in-depth answer than that. Your business has to have a website to compete in the modern market or you’re invisible. We provide SEO services to sites that include online stores and sites that do not.

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Invisibility is cool in just about every situation, except when you’re trying to run a business. So even if you only need a website to generate leads, you still need a website. Local search is exploding, and you don’t need to have an online store to build a valuable online presence.

Consider this: someone needs your product or service and goes to her favorite search engine to find something well-reviewed and nearby. Your competitors all show up in her search results, but your business is nowhere to be found, because you didn’t have an online store to set up and therefore didn’t make a website.

This hypothetical situation may make you uncomfortable, and it should. The only thing worse than no one looking for your products or services is lots of people looking but never being able to find you. What’s the point of running a business that no one can find?

There are plenty of ways to maximize the ability of potential customers to get in touch with you without an online store. For example, Google My Business allows you to claim your business on Google Maps, get reviews and maintain consistent branding throughout Google’s search products. Yahoo has a similar service, and tying these into your own website hosted with FatCow will make you a lot more visible to potential customers.

Our WordPress hosting plans can have your site up and running in minutes. If you manage to publish new content with even moderate frequency, you’ll get a boost in search ranking, becoming even easier for people to find you. More importantly, you can develop a unique voice and brand for your business that isn’t possible if you ignore the need for a website.

Online stores are great. But even if you only create a website, you can build a reputation and keep growing. And isn’t that worth your time?

 

The Basics of SEO

By Jessica Ann
January 2, 2015

Everyone who markets products or services online has heard of search engine optimization. It’s one of the most important aspects of any website, that’s why we provide our own SEO services. But whether or not you hire us to do your SEO, you need to know the basics about what it is and how it works.

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Search engine optimization is a method of organizing the information on a website so it’s easy for search engines to understand. This results in a higher rank in search results. It earned a bad reputation in previous years because many misuse it to unfairly boost the search rank of spam sites and scams. But such “black hat” SEO tactics are not necessary when you’re offering high-quality content.

There are two primary components to good SEO. The first is markup, and the second is user experience. If you achieve both, you’ll be on your way to better search ranking.

SEO Markup

Search engines are robots. Let that sink in for a moment. They don’t have emotions, they never need to eat or sleep, and if left to their own devices they’ll take over the planet.

Perhaps we got a little carried away with that last one. But the point is important. Search engines are robots and the only way to rank better is to learn their language. They look for certain pieces of information.

For example, use <title> elements and ALT descriptions to accurately identify your pages and other components. Also be sure to include keywords in your URLs, particularly those for which you want to rank high in search reuslts. Avoid using rich media like Flash and images unless the content they reference is available elsewhere on your site. Search engines can’t see inside those files.

Use header tags where appropriate to tell search engines about the major sections of each page on your site.

User Experience

Markup is important if you want search engines to understand what your site offers, but it’s not enough. SEO is also about what kind of authority people ascribe to your site. Sites to which many other sites link are presumed to be authoritative and of high quality.

That provides a powerful incentive for web masters to build sites that are actually useful to their visitors. The better your site is for the people who use it, the more people will link to it, and the better it will rank. The natural tendency for the most useful sites to become the most popular is referred to as high organic search rank.

Finally, the most useful thing to your visitors is fresh, new content every time they visit your site. All major search engines take freshness into account for their rankings. Maintain a blog about your products or services. Even better, maintain a blog about your industry in general. Consistent content that uses relevant keywords helps you do just that.

Now get to it.

 

 

Website building with WordPress and Weebly

By Jessica Ann
December 31, 2014

 

Websites are easier than ever to build. But some people need more complex websites than others. That’s why FatCow offers both WordPress and Weebly integration.

There are many factors to consider when you’re deciding how to build a website. What is its purpose? Who is the audience? Do you have help or will you maintain and update the site yourself? What’s your level of expertise with building and managing websites?

Both platforms let you automatically share blog posts to social networks. They also let others easily share your posts to their own social media accounts. And they offer search engine optimization, helping you to appear in search results related to your site’s topic. But that’s where the similarities end.

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If you’re building a complex site, consider choosing WordPress. It’s a full-fledged content management system (CMS) that allows you to create and manage large numbers of web pages and blog posts. It also lets you create multiple users.

That comes in handy when you’re planning a company website or a team blog. It enables elaborate editorial workflows, which explains why as much as 23 percent of all websites are built with WordPress.

WordPress has a massive community of people investing time and attention in it. That user base powers its forums, where you can get an answer to almost any question about the platform. They also write plugins which add functionality to WordPress.

And if you know HTML and CSS, you can choose from thousands of themes and then customize it. Even without any coding knowledge, WordPress has powerful customization settings. That makes it the perfect choice for people who need to stand out from the crowd.

Weebly

Weebly doesn’t pack as much power as WordPress, but that still means it’s a great choice. If you need a simple website that still looks professional, take a look at Weebly. It’s easy to use even if you’ve never built a website.

Weebly’s Drag and Drop Builder lets you see your site exactly as visitors will see it. You can manage Weebly after you log into your Control Panel. Click Weebly Drag and Drop Builder.

Weebly makes it easy to maintain your site with minimal assistance. They also make it easy to integrate eCommerce into your site, so you can sell goods or services. While Weebly includes a bogging functionality, it’s better suited to sites with infrequent updates.

Whether you choose WordPress or Weebly, you can’t go wrong.

FatCow’s Free Resources

By moosnews
December 11, 2014

Buying website hosting is daunting if you have never done it before. But if you have a website, particularly if you are setting the site up yourself, you will need to buy hosting. It is not an optional extra. Luckily there is FatCow.

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FatCow does things differently than other website hosting companies. For a start, it keeps jargon to a minimum. And let’s face it; there is a lot of jargon in the hosting industry. After all, who gave them permission to commandeer the word “bandwidth” when we all knew and understood it as a radio term. “VPS” sounds like an affliction you’d prefer not to disclose publically. And as for “content delivery network” – that sounds like a phrase dreamed up by an over-worked US Postal Service middle manager who is trying to impress his boss but got overly caffeinated instead.

FatCow’s attempts to cut through this jargon by offering simple products at easy-to-understand price points. They do all the other things that good website hosts do: domain name registration, software installations, security solutions etc. – plus they do a little bit more. That little bit more is giving away things for free. And who doesn’t like a freebie?

FatCow’s Free Design Resources

Unlike other freebies that you find on the internet, these are actually useful if you are building and marketing a website. They provide you an alternative to using defaults, like so many other websites on the internet, and to paying for resources. Combine these resources with a free site builder tool, or a free CMS like WordPress, and you can build a professional and unique website for the cost of your hosting.

What are the Freebies?

Anyone can download these freebies, whether you are a customer of FatCow or not. Just follow the links:

Web icons - Icons are a great way of breaking up the text on your page and making it more visually attractive. They are also helpful to users who are looking for information quickly and can spot an icon quicker than they can read text. FatCow’s free icon resource contains 3,296 icons in various sizes, colors and formats.

Font – Choosing the right font is a key part of making your website look professional, fresh and easy-to-read. There are standard fonts available, but if you want something different you can get FatCow’s free font. It is called Slimpact.

Photos – If you need photos for your website you have two choices: you can take them or you can buy them. If you need photos of data centers or racked computers, FatCow is offering 24 for free.

Theme – A professional WordPress website needs a professional theme. You can build your site using a free theme, but it will look bland unless you get deep into the CSS and HTML. The problem is professional themes cost money, except for the free one FatCow is giving away. It is called Firehouse.

Admin icons – The administration section of WordPress is bland, plus it could be more intuitive. Customizing the interface will make it easier to use and nicer to look at for you and your team. One way to do this is with icons, and FatCow is giving away 23 for free.

Logo – Getting a logo for your business, or upgrading an existing logo, is often expensive. There is a cheaper way though: just download the 50 free logo designs offered on FatCow, change the text, and upload to your website. It couldn’t be simpler.

So, FatCow makes buying website hosting easier by making the packages and processes as simple as possible. Plus they can help you build your website if you use the free resources they offer. In other words, if you have a cow in your backyard you do not need to buy milk. Now that you have FatCow, you can spend less of your money on website resources.

How to Change Your FatCow Spam Settings

By Jessica Ann
December 9, 2014

Many companies (and humans) try to defeat spam. But we still get a few unwanted emails. Spam is always annoying, but sometimes it can even be dangerous, carrying with it potential viruses or identity theft scams. That’s why we’ve integrated some spam control settings right into your Control Panel.

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Once you’ve signed into your Control Panel, click on Manage Spam Filter. Then select Yes, Scan My Email for Spam. This will tell our server to keep an eye out for all useless email messages – you know, the emails that you never asked for in the first place.

You have a few options about what to do with the flagged spam in your email (keep in mind that the first two options are not available if you’re using an Exchange server for your email):

  • You can have all the suspected spam sent to its own folder, where it’s stored for seven days and then deleted.
  • You can receive one email combining all of the day’s spam, called a digest, and have the original spam messages instantly deleted.
  • You can simply have all the spam deleted immediately.
  • You can receive suspected spam in your inbox with a subject line prefix of your choosing.

These last two options will work whether or not you use an Exchange server for your email. The prefix option keeps all of your inbound email in your inbox, and lets you distinguish potential spam from other messages. For example, using the prefix “SPAM:” would send a spam message with the subject line “Here’s a useless email” right into your inbox, with the new subject line “SPAM: Here’s a useless email.” That’s handy, but not very creative if you ask us. Consider using a more fun prefix, like “AHHH!!!!,” “Guess what’s useless?” or even “Unidentified amalgamation of meat products.” These ideas give your spam more pizzazz, and make unwanted messages easier to spot – and therefore easier to skip or delete.

The prefix option is also handy if you want to do more advanced management of spam messages. You can use email filters that search for your specific prefix and perform automated actions on those messages. You could, for example, automatically forward potential spam to a different address, send it to a “Check later” folder, or mark it as read. Whatever you choose, get rid of Spam before it takes over your inbox. You won’t be sorry.

Adding Your Exchange Account to Your Apple Device

By Jessica Ann
December 2, 2014

Microsoft and Apple are usually only mentioned in the same sentence as alternatives to one another. But with FatCow’s Mail Central, these two lifelong competitors are combined to make your life easier. 

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You should know that while Exchange should sync reliably, there are a few limitations. The most important one is that all of your existing contact and calendar information will be overwritten. If this scares you, back up your stuff before proceeding. Finally, you can only sync one Exchange account to your Apple device at a time. Also, iTunes will no longer sync your contacts and calendar to your desktop computer. 

Ensure you have the Exchange ActiveSync upgradeMail Central has a section called Exchange Setup. Head over there and note your Microsoft Exchange Server, full email address and your password for that mailbox. You’ll need these to add the account to your Apple device. Now get out your iPhone or iPad. Open the Settings app and go to Mail, Contacts, and Calendars. Select Add Account and choose Microsoft Exchange.

Enter your full email address but just ignore the Domain field. You’ll have to enter your User Name, which should be the part of your email address before the “@” symbol. Type in your password and come up with a Description of the account. Call it Work or Personal or The Email Account of a Genius. We won’t judge you. Just make it easy to distinguish from your other accounts. 

Select Next and wait patiently while your Apple device talks to your Exchange server. You shouldn’t actually hear any talking during this process. If you do, you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Consider taking a nap (after you finish reading this article). 

If all goes well, your Apple device will ask you what you want to synchronize. You can sync any combination of mail, contacts or calendars from your Exchange account to your Apple device, or you can sync them all. Once you’re done, tap Save. 

If your Apple device can’t connect to your Exchange server, we suggest a momentary frown. It’s important to express your feelings. Once the disappointment has faded, you’ll notice the device is asking you for your server setting. Try entering the Microsoft Exchange Server we told you to take note of in the second paragraph. Tap Next again and everything should connect. You’ll be asked to choose what to synchronize and then you can tap Save. No more need for that frown – so get rid of it. And smile instead. You’re connected.

Buying a Domain with FatCow

By moosnews
November 17, 2014

Maybe you had domain when you came to FatCow. Maybe not. It’s convenient to manage all your domains in one place. That’s why we give our customers the ability to buy domains from right inside their account. Here’s a guide for purchasing a domain from FatCow.

Domain-names

Get started by logging into your FatCow Control Panel. Click on Domain Central and select Register New. This is where you’ll enter the name of the domain you want to buy. Be careful here, though. There are restrictions on what you can put in a domain name. For example, you can’t use special characters, spaces, or non-English letters. You can use lower-case letters, numbers, and hyphens. For example, your name with a hyphen between each letter will work, but it’ll look weird. So, maybe don’t do that.

After choosing your domain name you’ll need to select an extension. Most people prefer the .com if it’s available, but we also sell others, such as .net, .org, .biz, .co and more.  If you want to spice things up a bit, take a look at some of the new TLDs to hit the Internet. TLD stands for “top level domain” and these can be used in addition to any .com domains that you may already use. The new TLDs provide a much more interesting and descriptive domain name. And there’s a good chance that you can get the word or phrase that you want. Some examples include: .photography, .university, menu, .fitness, and .dental. When you’ve selected your domain and extension click Register.

Click Add or Add to Cart next to each domain you want to purchase. Note that some domains come with optional domain privacy. Domain privacy will allow you to keep the contact information for each domain private by using FatCow’s information as a proxy for your own. If you have a business address this may not matter much to you, but if you only have a home address to provide, consider taking advantage of the domain privacy offering at FatCow. If Add Domain Privacy is checked when you add a domain to your cart, your purchase will include a domain privacy charge.  Click on Checkout when you’re done adding domains.

The next screen will allow you to decide how long you want your registration to last. You can buy domains for a minimum of one-year terms. You can buy longer terms to decrease the amount of renewals you need to do in the future. If you’re planning on using your domain for a long-term business, it may be worth it to buy a longer term. Then choose Continue, verify your information and choose Continue again. Now you’re on the billing screen, where you’ll enter payment details. Select Checkout and your order will be placed. You’ll be charged immediately and the domains will show up in your account’s Domain Central within minutes. Sometimes it takes up to 48 hours for a domain to fully register onto your account. We don’t like it any more than you do. But we’ll get it ready for you as fast as possible. Enjoy your new domain!

Use Google Apps with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
November 12, 2014

Google Apps for Business is a comprehensive suite of office software, and you can integrate it with your FatCow account. It includes email, calendars, storage and more. Here’s how to get a Google Apps account set up, as well as how to connect it to your FatCow account: You can check out the Google Apps site for more information on how it all works. But the easy way to do this is to create a Google account, with all of the services the company offers to Gmail users. This includes Google Drive, Google Calendar, and more. And you can use your FatCow domain name to do it. That gives you the business benefits of using your own brand name online, and the efficiency of letting Google and FatCow handle much of the administrative heavy lifting.

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Buy Google Apps for Your FatCow Account

Log in to your FatCow Control Panel and then head over to Mail Central. Next click on New Mailbox. You’ll have three options, Standard Email, Forward to Another Mailbox, and Google Apps. Click that last one. You’ll see a big blue button that says “Add License,” and that’s what you’re going to select. Google bills for Apps accounts annually. That means if you purchase more than one Google Apps account, they’ll all be billed on the same date each year. Licenses you’ve purchased since the last billing period will be pro-rated so you only pay for the time since you actually bought the license.

Verify Your Google Apps Domain

Your first Google Apps account will be your Google Apps Admin account. Fans of Lord of the Rings can think of this as One Apps Account to Rule Them All. It’s the one you use to manage all of the settings for any other Apps accounts. Verification is part of the setup process, and the domain you choose for your first Google Apps license will be verified by the time you’re done. When prompted, choose the FatCow domain you want to use with Google Apps. Then provide the requested contact information. Your domain will be automatically configured to work with Google Apps. That’s handy, because some hosting companies make customers do a lot of fiddling with settings to get that stuff working. We wouldn’t do that to you, though.

Upgrade an Existing Mailbox to Google Apps

You can bestow all of the magical powers of Google Apps on a pre-existing mailbox under your FatCow account. Just head back to the all-powerful Control Panel and click your way into Mail Central. Now choose the email account you want to upgrade. You’ll see several tabs, including Basic Info, Server Setup, Mail Delivery, Autoresponder, Upgrades and Special. We trust you know which one to choose. Once you’re in the Upgrades tab, click the big blue Upgrade button. Assuming you already purchased an Apps license and verified your domain, you’ll have to add a password, a first and last name, and click Create Account. Wait a moment and then click Continue. When Mail Central refreshes, your email account will have been turned into a Google Apps account. Log in to that email address to accept the Terms of Service and activate your account.

Going on Vacation? Create an Email Autoresponder

By Jessica Ann
October 28, 2014

Email is a major part of any productive workflow. That’s why we proudly provide a robust email interface at MailCentral in your FatCow Control Panel. But productive people need to have a handle on how to stay productive, and that often means scheduling some downtime. Some people prefer to keep receiving and responding to their email even when they’re on vacation. That doesn’t sound very relaxing though. You can take a break from email without vanishing from the grid. You just have to set up a way of notifying your colleagues and clients about your temporary absence. That’s where autoresponders come in.

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How to Activate and Deactivate Autoresponders

Autoresponders automatically reply to incoming email messages with a preset response. They can be edited and turned on or off from MailCentral. Here’s how to create one: Log into your Control Panel and click on MailCentral. Next, choose the email address you want to send automatic responses from and click Autoresponder. Type in your message and click Save. Your autoresponder is active. Now a software robot living inside a FatCow email server will reply to all of your email for you. If software robots freak you out, just picture our own FatCow mascot, Slim. He’s a smiling, friendly cow. You can turn off any autoresponder any time by logging back into Control Panel, heading to MailCentral, clicking Autoresponder and selecting Disable next to the one you want to turn off.

How to Craft an Effective Autoresponse Email

You’re choosing one email that your account will send in response to any incoming emails you receive for a certain period of time. That means it requires a bit of forethought. It needs to be friendly, professional and informative – all in one. That sounds exhausting to some people, but it’s how we do things here at FatCow. We’re hoping we come across friendly, professional and informative. If not, send us a note. Your greeting shouldn’t be time-based, like “Good morning” but also shouldn’t be too casual, so no “Hey there.” Something as simple as “Hello” is probably a good choice. Next, you want to get right to the point by opening with the fact that you’re not checking email until the date you plan to return to work. Tell them the date, of course, but also give them an alternative to waiting for you. Choose a trusted colleague and, with their permission, include their name, title and email address in your autoresponse. Include a caveat, though, that only urgent matters should be referred to them. Reassure senders that you will get back to them promptly when you return.

Bonus Tip: The Extra Day

Here’s a useful tip for minimizing the workload that awaits you upon your return from a vacation. Set your autoresponder to notify people that you’ll be back one day later than you’ll actually be back. That gives you a whole day to catch up on email when you get back. People will be impressed that you are back in the swing of things early. Those you don’t get to won’t think twice about it, because they didn’t expect any contact that day. Pretty clever, aren’t we?

How FatCow Does Dedicated Servers

By Jessica Ann
September 22, 2014

Three types of hosting exist: Shared hosting, virtual private servers and dedicated servers. They each provide increasing levels of independence and customization. But first…what are servers? Servers are powerful computers where websites live.

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Are you still awake? Yeah, we realize that thinking of it this way can seem boring. The good thing is, the FatCow team is highly allergic to boredom. And we don’t want to break out in hives…so we’ll try to make servers interesting (or as interesting as humanly possible).

Keep these things in mind when you’re choosing the level of hosting:

  • What you want to do with your website

  • How much you want to spend on hosting, and

  • The level of control you want over their server

Ready? Now let’s dig in.

How Different Hosting Options Work

Shared Hosting-

Many people prefer to use a shared hosting plan, which places your website on a server with other websites. Shared hosting is cost effective when your site isn’t very large. Or isn’t very popular (yet)! It’s the starter kit of web hosting choices.

Think of shared hosting like an apartment building. Every website lives with every other website in the server. They all use the same plumbing, electrical wiring and ventilation systems.

Virtual Private Servers-

The next step up is the Virtual Private Server (VPS), which lives on a computer with other customers’ websites. But it’s nested inside its own virtual machine. “Virtual machine” is just a nerdy way of saying that each VPS is basically a program that acts like its own fully functional computer. Each is given its own resource limits so it can’t steal resources from the others.

Think of virtual private servers like a group of restaurants on the same street. The websites are all located on the same FatCow computer. But each one is given its own systems and functions independently within those systems. The plumbing, electrical and ventilation in one restaurant won’t affect the others.

Dedicated Servers-

Dedicated Servers give you your very own server. This means that there’s a computer with your stuff in it – and only your stuff. You don’t share with anyone, and you have every last drop of computing power in that server all to yourself. It’s a mansion. There, we said it. Dedicated hosting is a big, glorious mansion with more than enough room for all of your stuff. Visitors bask in the sunlit glow of your well-appointed new digs, with more guest rooms than you can count. And a never-ending buffet with all of your favorite foods.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite that extreme. We got a little carried away. But still, it doesn’t get better than dedicated server hosting. Or does it? Spoiler alert: it does.

How FatCow Makes Dedicated Hosting Even Better

You can get dedicated server hosting at almost any web host. That’s why we decided to take our version even further. We started with what everyone else gives you – and built up from there.

We build each dedicated server with the best features of our virtual private servers, as well. This is going to require translating some geek-speak. But we’ll walk you through it…

We prepare every dedicated server for your use by “imaging” it, which is geek-speak for “installing all the stuff you need.” Our dedicated servers get the same “Open-stack/KVM technology” we use in virtual servers, which is geek-speak for “operating system optimized for running a bunch of smaller servers inside a big one.” See, geek-speak can be fun.

What it all means is that you (or your geek-in-residence) can fine-tune how your server uses its resources. You can also set up multiple redundant versions of your website inside one computer to minimize the strain when your awesome product takes off.

And finally, our combination of dedicated and virtual server tools lets you easily migrate your site to a larger or smaller server when your site needs change.

So, when are you moving into your new mansion?