Canadian Web Hosting Blog and News
7Nov/140

Time to go secure

Have you been working on your SEO and hoping to get your website to the top of the search engine?

Google is pushing for HTTPS

On August 6th, 2014, Google tested out using HTTPS as a Ranking Signal. They reported that their test showed positive results when they used encrypted connections as a signal in their ranking algorithm. HTTPS has since become a permanent search ranking signal on Google.

Google stated that the HTTPS is a very lightweight signal that only affects less than 1% of global queries and there has been no reports of ranking changes. So if two sites were the exact same, then the page using HTTPS may rank above the unsecured page. The boost will only be URL specific and not site-wide.

Watch Google’s video on why HTTPS matters: http://bit.ly/1tmM5z5

High quality content on a webpage will still outweigh the HTTPS signal but it looks like Google is pushing for the switch and hinting that the HTTPS signal will become a bigger part of their ranking algorithm in the future.

Even if you are a non-commercial website, it may be wise to switch to a secure server anyway. For one thing, a secure server guarantees that your content cannot be altered, e.g. have unexpected ads added. It also allows your website to look more authentic, an important factor if the content on your website is intended to provide advice, e.g. financial or medical information.

Google may be pushing for HTTPS so that it helps identify site ownership and therefore eliminate spam. It could also be potentially harder for NSA to track the content users are consuming if we browse HTTPS sites.

Migration nightmare?

No, migration to HTTPS doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s relatively easy to purchase the Security Certificate from your web hosting company. But sometimes you may experience a 301 error code, which means the redirect from your HTTP domain to your HTTPS is corrupted. This happens when there is a potential for duplicated content and several other technical issues during transition.

To avoid potential problems during migration, site owners should avoid redirect chains, similar to this one:

  1. I click on your website at http://iloveyoyos.com
  2. You redirect me to http://www.iloveyoyos.com
  3. Then you redirect me to https://www.iloveyoyos.com

If you’re building a new site, changing domain names or making a change to your URL structure (e.g. platform changes) then you won’t be experiencing the redirect issues.

It is estimated that we have two years to move to HTTPS before a non-secured website becomes a critical SEO problem. So you can take your time, but we are starting to see warnings generated on websites that tell visitors they are connecting onto a non-secured website:

Example of website warning/Canadian Web Hosting

So for a low annual sum, it may really be worth it to make the move now and avoid these privacy warnings that kill site traffic.

The different kinds of security certificates

These are the different types of secured/non-secured URLs you will come across:

On Google Chrome:

Non-Secured Connection

DV/OV Certificate Valid

EV Certificate Valid

DV/OV Certificate Error (cert invalid)

DV/OV Certificate Error (mixed content)

 

So which one should we choose for our website?

Google won’t factor in the different kinds of certificates into site rankings at this time, but they do affect user trust and conversion rates, so it is good to understand how to choose from the variety of security certificates available.

- Shared Certificates are commonly offered by web hosts. You use their certificate but the security certificate isn’t connected to your domain name. www.iloveyoyos.com will contain your non-secure content while your shopping cart will go on www.iloveyoyos.cartprovider.com. This is less costly but takes away from your brand name and user confidence.

- Free Certificates are sometimes used for personal websites or forums. Companies may offer these free security certificates for specific reasons, e.g. if you are part of qualified Open Source project. These certificates will not be valid for businesses but may be applicable for non-profit projects.

- Domain Validated (DV) Certificates are the most common SSL certificates. It is often used by small businesses and covers a single subdomain, e.g. www.iloveyoyos.com but not iloveyoyos.com. Users to this website will see a security icon by the domain.

- An Organization Validated (OV) Certificate requires both the organization and the domain registry to verify information. The OV certificate will check to make sure the business is legitimate and is therefore more expensive to get than the DV certificate. Users can only tell the difference between the two if they click the padlock icon.

- The Extended Validation (EV) Certificate is the most expensive and hard to get SSL certificate. It requires a business to include domain ownership and organization information, as well as show legal existence in their organization. The EV Certificate takes more time to process and are more expensive. Users of EV certified websites will see a green bar on their browser and likely be more confident in their shopping experience.

Hopefully by now you have learned more about security on websites and how to improve your business online.

Still confused or need help with getting a SSL certificate? Contact Canadian Web Hosting today by emailing sales@canadianwebhosting.com.

 

Sheila W.
@CAWebHosting
@CWHUpdates

1Nov/130

Optimizing WordPress

We get a lot of questions from clients about how to get the most out of their websites and move higher up on Google search ratings.  Aside from various SEO techniques and including proper keywords in your site, one of the most important factors to consider is load time.   For the purposes of this blog, we will look specifically at WordPress.  By optimizing your WordPress site, the major search engines will view your site more favorably and some of the steps below will help move you toward the top . More importantly, it will improve your overall customer experience and make it easier to navigate your WordPress site.   Listed below are 5 quick steps to get you started.

 

1) Enable Caching

By enabling caching, you decrease load time on your Canadian Web Hosting server and this allows client devices to cache records thereby improving load and performance each time they make a visit to your WordPress website. 

Listed below are some popular plugins that will help you enable caching and allow you to tweak the caching settings

  • WP Super cache
  • Hyper cache
  • W3 Total cache

 

2. Compress Images

by compressing your images, you will reduce the total file size and increase download speeds on the client side.  Listed below is another popular plug-in to enable compression.

  • WP Smush.it

 

 3) Use Proper Image Files

Using proper image files plays a significant role to ensure files load smoothly and are presented correctly to your end users.  The list below provides a quick overview on preferred file types and the benefits they provide.

  • PNG: this file type is supported by most of the well-known browsers, making use of this file type makes it possible for your users to see what you want them too see.
  • JPG: for sharper images requiring detail you can use the .jpg extension.
  • BMP/TIFF: these file types are normally much larger than the alternatives, which would decrease responsiveness on the site.

 

4) "Minify" HTML, CSS and Javascript

An frequently looked over optimization technique is to make sure that you reduce the whitespace contained in your site code so it can be compiled quicker.  If you aren't a coder, you can just use the following plugin to "minify" your site.

  • WP-minify

 

5) Perform Updates

We can stress this enough as we see customers run into issues because they don't update their site regularly.  Updating your version of WordPress and plugins will improve performance and increase the security and effectiveness of your site.  Or put another way, if you don't update your site you will get hacked with malicious code.  It is not a matter of if you get hacked but rather when.  We do have Canadian Web Hosting customers who on occasion can't upgrade their version due to compatibility issues. In this situation, there are techniques and tools that we leverage to virtually patch WordPress servers.  Canadian Web Hosting has partnered with the leading WordPress security firm Sucuri to enable customers to protect their sites.  Contact our sales team at sales@canadianwebhosting.com if you want to know more.

 

Following these 5 simple steps can help create a more efficient site and significantly improve your customers overall experience which improves your ranking on the search engines.  

23Aug/120

Using Infographics As a Link Building Tool

In the past year, an effective but under-utilized search engine technique to bait other websites to link to you is to create infographics (short for information graphics). According to Wikipedia, "infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge". "These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly." An example of infographic is history of the food blender and combating global warming.

In exchange for the use of the infographic on a website, the creator requests a link back to their website. This can create an enormous boost in social medial signals generating tool and also Google PR. The only problem is infographics are very difficult to produce. It requires a great idea, strong research and fact gathering, great visualization and a decent graphic artist to create it.

There is a great DIY Infographic Process that's a great read for anyone wanting to create one. The graphic explains the process in detail but can be summarized in the following 6 steps:

1. Ideation - select an idea that will generate interest and research

2. Idea Selection - find and flesh out your idea

3. Research - fact gathering to support your idea

4. Conceptual Visualization - graphic direction

5. First Full Draft - self explanatory

6. Revisions - polish and revise as needed

See how much easier it is to look at a graphic representation:

The process of creating infographics

Another cool website to bookmark and review is the industry website, Cool Infograhics. It features daily new infographics created by companies worldwide. It's a great resource to generate new ideas and for thoese interested in understanding and correcting mistakes used in past infographics.

Then there's the Infographic of Ingraphics which assists with the topic of data visualization. It provides pointers on chart, font and color recommendations and how many words to use in the title. It's a great reference when you're creating your own.

Once you've completed your infographic, what do you do with it and how do you promote it? Well, there's a large number of infographic databases where you can submit for promotion.

Here's a quick list of a few of them (more can be found by Googling "infographics directories"):

http://infographicsbin.tumblr.com

http://infographicsgenerator.com

http://www.infographicgallery.com/

http://infographicsite.com/

http://www.infographicpost.com/

http://infographipedia.com/

http://www.infographicsarchive.com/

http://infographr.tumblr.com/

http://www.infographicsshowcase.com/

http://www.infographicas.com/

http://www.pureinfographics.com/

http://theinfographics.blogspot.com/

http://www.omginfographics.com/

Infographics are an effective link building option to add as one of the options in your link building toolbox in 2012.

But Matt Cutts of Google spoke on this topic, warning that many infographics are misused. He specifically pointed out that infographics are often on topics that are not relevant to the site they link from (example, infographics about babies but linked from a gambling site). He also warned that any information included within the infographic had better be accurate. There are so much infographics popping up as link bait and publishing poorly researched information. He went as far as to say that in the future, Google will start to discount these infographic-type links if they are abused.

He was quoted saying the following:

"Any infographics you create will do better if they're closely related to your business, and it needs to be fully disclosed what you are doing. The big key is that the person publishing the infographic has to know, and agree with, including an endorsement to your site as attribution with the infographic. Even then, there is reason to believe that the link is more about the barter to get the infographic than a real endorsement of your site."

Here's his recent interview on the use of infographics.



Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Canadian Web Hosting

31Jul/120

A Common Trait Between an Olympian and StopTheHacker: Prevention

The 2012 Olympics in London are in full swing and like other tech and business bloggers, we feel the urge to make an Olympics’ reference to make topics more relatable to our audience and current events. At the time of this post, Canadians are currently 25th in the medal count leaderboard – 0 gold, 2 silver and 5 bronze. Go Canada go! (Why do we sound like Canucks fans? Sorry, we can't help ourselves.)

Olympics 2012 in London, UK

How does an Olympian’s Training Relate to Web Hosting Online Prevention?

If you happen to be an athlete, say a hockey player, you might already know that according to sports’ studies, athletes can prevent injuries by taking some prevention steps such as strength training, which is one of the benefits in building muscles prior to competing. Strength training is necessary to promote success and safety. As such, the main keyword connects to: prevention. It’s simple. Prevention is one of the elements in an athlete’s overall training and in the web hosting world, prevention is highly important when it comes to protecting your sites, including your blogs. Our team often blogs about online privacy topics, and this time, we want to share with you how StopTheHacker can help you and your business regarding online security. If an athlete gets injured, he or she will lose precious time with physical therapy and such. It’s the same thing with your sites, if you get infected, you’ll lose hours, days and maybe weeks trying to recover data and preventing that from happening should be a must, so please read on. We want to help you become more productive in business and for you to worry less.

What is StopTheHacker?

StopTheHacker is a cloud based website protection suite (AV for Websites) to help prevent, detect and recover from malware (and viruses) attacks. StopTheHacker's technology, supported by the US National Science Foundation, has won multiple awards since 2009, and is a leading application supporting customers all over the globe, protecting their online presence from emerging threats. Each edition comes with a different feature set tailored to each specific target group and varying security requirements.

What are the Key Features of StopTheHacker?

Standard and Advanced Detections. StopTheHacker comes with standard or advanced detections. The standard feature checks all of your pages on your website for known viruses and web malware threats to see if hackers may have injected malicious code into your website. When enrolled, the built-in notification system immediately informs you about any scans found, so you, or your web master, can take actions if needed. The advanced version, in addition to what the standard version does, protects the website from never-before-identified malware. It detects malware within the following website elements including HTML, Java Script, php, iframes to name a few.

Automatic Malware Cleanup. You may not be a security expert, or have the resources available to handle a malware attack. Therefore, the automated malware scanning system can remove it for you and you can decide which level of automations fits the best for you. Let StopTheHacker tool do the work for you, so that you can focus on what’s important for your business.

Blacklist and Reputation Monitoring. It is a comprehensive daily check on the status of your website on Google’s Safe Browsing List and other search engines including Yahoo, and Bing; malware blacklists like Malware Patrol and Malware URL; DNS Blacklists; phishing blacklists like PhishTank; spam blacklists like SpamCop; and many more. We will automatically notify you if your website ends up on a blacklist and help you to remove your site from the search engine blacklist.

Vulnerability Assessment. It scans to identify vulnerabilities in your server/application configuration, so you can patch them to prevent web-based attacks by bots and hackers. Today, the tool checks over 35,000 vulnerabilities on your server(s), website and infrastructure. We also check for web application vulnerabilities in some of the most popular software applications like WordPress, Drupal, Django, Joomla, Ruby on Rails, OpenCMS. Through these scans, we can uncover vulnerabilities in custom installations too.

Other Features. They include speed and up-time monitoring, Facebook protection and because it’s cloud based, there’s no software to manage and it’s easy to set up. All services are offered on Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, and they are run outside the firewall.

How can a Customer Take Advantage of StopTheHacker?

It’s easy to implement StopTheHacker for your web hosting prevention needs, contact our sales teams today at 888-821-7888 or by email at sales@canadianwebhosting.com. Our expert team will work with you to examine your existing infrastructure and to relate back to our introduction, as strength training helps sports performance, it is important to remember that it is only one component of an integrated program, and compared to web hosting, prevention is only one of the components too. When you reach out to us, we can help you identify next steps to leverage our industry best services with Canadian Web Hosting along with prevention tools like StopTheHacker. Prevention is key, so don't wait!

What other online tools do you use to prevent your online sites? Please share your thoughts by leaving us a comment, otherwise, you may catch us on Twitter at @cawebhosting or on our Facebook Page, on a social side, we'll even chat with you about your favourite Olympics' event.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru

14Jun/120

Anycast: What Can It Do For Me

Canadian Web Hosting customers frequently ask us how they can improve reliability or streamline their services to “localize” their websites so customers can access their site from a server that is geographically closer to them. Our customers don’t always realize that there is a way to launch servers in Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON and have their servers leverage the same IP address. It’s called Anycast.

Anycast uses routing and addressing policies to affect the most efficient path between a single source and several geographically dispersed targets that "listen" to a service within a receiver group. In laymen’s terms, you can have servers in geographically separated locations and utilize a single IP for these servers. In Anycast, the same IP address space is then used to address each of the listening (server) targets, and then layer 3 routing will handle the transmission of packets from the source to its most appropriate (server) target.  The graphic below shows that if you have two geographically separated locations and host dedicated servers in each location, Anycast will distribute customers to the closest servers and help minimize latency and improve overall customer usability.

 

image

 

For our Canadian Web Hosting customers, Anycast provides a fast and efficient method to leverage geo-dispersed servers. More importantly, Anycast can deliver “enterprise” grade networking to help you keep your site online. If you look at the following benefits table, Anycast can help automatically loadbalance your servers, improve reliability, provide protection against DDoS, and most importantly in the event that a server node goes down, Anycast will remove that node and automatically route traffic to the live server.

What are the benefits of Anycast?

Improved Reliability Anycast improves reliability through the placement of multiple geographically dispersed servers at the same IP address. The redundancy of these servers makes the service more highly available and reliable.
Load Balancing Dynamic layer 3 routing of Anycast IP Addresses will effectively load balance customer queries especially when equal cost route paths are set.
Improved Performance Packets (server data being transmitted) destined for Anycast servers will be routed to the "nearest" server in the topology. This helps ensure that clients are querying their local servers first before using remote servers based upon routing and topology.
Enhanced Security Geographically dispersed servers that operate using the same IP address makes the service more resilient to DoS and/or DDoS attacks because its much tougher to launch attacks on hosts that utilize multiple server nodes.
Simplified Client Configuration Anycast can dramatically simplify the configuration of all DNS client resolvers. It's possible to use the same nameserver IP Addresses for ALL DNS client resolvers.
Increased Availability A DNS Anycast server that becomes unavailable due to failure or routine maintenance will have little impact on name resolution service, Anycast routing will divert this traffic to new alternate best path servers.

Matt McKinney

google.com/+canadianwebhosting