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April 2012 Features » Meta Tag Primer, Moving to a New Web Host

Nancy McCord, Owner of McCord Web Services LLC.Dear Friend,

Even if you don't update your website yourself, it is important to know a few things such as why an element is so important or when you should consider changing web hosts.

This newsletter will help you to understand these topics is a easy to understand way. With the meta tags giving you placement and web hosting providing access to your files for web visitors these are two very key elements in your online presence.

Next month I will be reviewing the application Go To My PC and a review on using a Microsoft Exchange Mail Server.

Best Regards,

Nancy McCord

Connect with me online on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Our Blog | Google+


Meta Tag Primer | Moving to a New Web Host

What Are Meta Tags and Why Are They So Important?

First, let's review what exactly meta tags are. Meta tags are sentences arranged in a specific format that contain information that is crucial to search engines. This information contained in meta tags provides specific criteria that search engine use to categorize your web pages.

Of all the Meta tags that can appear in the source code of a page the most important are the following:

  • Meta Title Tag
  • Meta Description Tag

I consider these two tags top priority real estate for your website. So what about the Meta Keyword tag, is that one important? It used to be, but is no longer used by any of the search engines.

The importance and use of Meta Tags comes and goes. Several years ago, Google did not even use the Meta Description tag. Google instead either created it's own from sentences grabbed from your page content or used the description found in the Open Directory Project. Now Google is re-using the Meta Description Tag that you embed in your website source code. For some websites Google is not even using the Meta Title Tag, but we still strongly recommend that you craft a unique one for each page.

Bing and Yahoo for a while were creating their own versions of your Meta Title and Meta Description Tags and in some cases they supplied the first h1 tag or header tag from the content of your web page. However, in the last year both have reverted to showing the tags as you have created them.

Brite Idea Tip on Meta TagsPersonally, I feel that the Title Tag and Meta Description Tag are some of the most important tags on your page. The first, your Title Tag, is typically crafted as a keyword dense string of keywords or a keyword dense phrase of about 80 characters in length. I never include the business name in this very small space as search engines will pick that up from the page's content.

The Meta Description tag I usually craft as a keyword dense series of two or three sentences that are done with proper punctuation and grammar. I stick closely to the theme of the content on the page. Additionally I craft a different Meta Title and Meta Description for each page in the website when humanly possible.

I have seen sites move up in the search results based on changes in these two crucial areas alone. They are very important to organic placement on search engines.

The Meta Description Tag is visible by right clicking on your web page and by selecting view source. Your browser will most likely open the page's source code in Notepad. Scroll or use "Find" to locate this line <meta name="description" content=" This is the lead-in code syntax where your webmaster or web developer has placed your actual Meta Description. Some sites will not have this important Meta Tag and we recommend correcting this for best search engine placement.

There is a whole lot more to getting organic search placement than just having the "right" Meta Title Tag and Meta Description Tag, but these are excellent places to start working on to improve your organic search placement performance.

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What to Know About Moving Your Website to a New Web Host

Moving to a new web host is never easy. In fact, it can be downright hard and fraught with problems depending on the type of technology that your website is using behind the scenes. You should never feel that your website files are held hostage by your web host, but it is important to consider moving to a new host only to solve serious problems.

When Should You Consider Moving to a New Web Host?

Image of web hosting servers powering your website.Many of the reasons I have heard why a client wants to change web hosts typically have to do with issues that are truthfully not the original web host's fault. Here are a few tips when you should consider moving and when you should not.

You should move to a new web host if...

  • Your IP address block is linked to a blacklisted spammer and all of your mail is blocked literally shutting down your business.

  • If your web host does not offer the technology that you really need to run your website. For example if your host does not have Windows servers and your brand new website is all done in .aspx, you will have to move.

  • If your website or e-commerce store has suffered significant service outages due to either high server load and the use of older technology by your host and they cannot accommodate your website traffic.

  • If your website has been taken down by a virus spread from another user on your shared server because your host did not have the proper security or firewalls in place causing your website files to be trashed.

You should NOT move to a new web host if...

  • If you have had a spam problem in your inboxes. Unfortunately poor mailbox management is not your host's problem, but is rather an issue that you are not attending to the items that impact your mail delivery. You will continue to have these same problems where ever you go. You should change your procedures and not your host.

  • If you think you can save money on hosting fees. You may eat up any savings from the money to bring your website or e-commerce store back online. Make sure to read the rest of this article for why.

  • You have had one incident of poor customer service. Be patient when you have a problem, get another service rep to help you and try to be courteous in helping them to help you. There can always be a one time incident where someone (you or them) has simply had a bad day and not reacted well. Give their tech support another go before you decide you must move.

Cautions About Moving Web Hosts

If you have decided that you absolutely must move to a new web host please be aware that you cannot simply set up a new account and upload your website files and everything will just magically work. In fact everything will break when you move to a new web host!

Database connections, if you have them for e-commerce, as well as the database itself will need to be created and the new connection code syntax embedded in all pages when you move to a new web host. Contact forms will need to be scripted again using the new hosts scripting and cgi-bin address, PHP websites will need to have PHP re-enabled and possibly PHP.ini settings updated on the new host to make the site work, and of course all email accounts will need to be set up again and passwords added.

Moving to a new web host is highly complicated for many sites. Even for a simple HTML website, new contact form scripting, and time to set up email accounts and then update the settings on your computers to be able to download your mail again takes time and creates an expense.

In fact, you may find that to move your site will cost you more in expenses for set up, reconfiguration and down time than you had ever even expected. If you feel that you really must move make sure that you are carefully analyzing what the costs actually will be.

Our Top Picks For Web Hosts

We have two recommendations for hosts and use both of them for our business websites and so have real world experience with both. Our top preferred host is Hostway. The majority of our business clients as well as our own website, are hosted by Hostway. I like Hostway as their control panel is intuitive, easy for clients to use without my involvement, and online performance is excellent.

Our second choice is GoDaddy.com For some clients this may be the preferred solution however the control panel, and email application is more difficult to use and I do not consider their control panel intuitive. They do have a WordPress auto installer that makes setting up a WordPress blog super easy and integrates easily onto your server.

The bottom line is when it comes to wanting to change web hosts, make sure you are changing for the right reason and that you are selecting a new host that will be a better long term choice than your previous one.

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