How To Set Up Google PageSpeed Service With WordPress

Recently Andrew over at We Build Your Blog let me know that Google’s PageSpeed Service was now available for website owners to use.

What is Google PageSpeed Service?

It’s a service that essentially takes your website, optimizes it for speed and then serves it back to readers seamlessley. This video explains more:

How do I get it?

At the time of writing it’s invite only, but invites appear very quickly after applying.

1) Go over to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/service and sign up.

2) Once approved you will get an email with your access link.

3) Click on Add New Domain and the box will expand

google-pagespeed2

4) Enter your URL in there and press add. Note that the URL needs to have www. in it. If your site doesn’t use www in the URL you will need to change it to, see below for instructions.

5) You need to make a CNAME change in your domain. Usually this is in your web host. So if your webhost has cPanel, login and go to Advanced DNS Zone Editor (in the domain section). Select your domain from the dropdown and once the Zone File Records section opens find the row that looks like

www.domain-name.com. 14400 IN CNAME domain-name.com

where domain-name is your website domain name. Click the Edit to the right and change the Record to be pagespeed.googlehosted.com instead. So the record now looks like:

www.domain-name.com. 14400 IN CNAME pagespeed.googlehosted.com

Messing this up can break your site, but if you get any errors with your website just change it back to the domain name and your site will work again.

6) That’s it! Check your site is still working. Then back in your PageSpeed Service Overview (where you added the domain in step 3) you can run a speed test and it will show you how much time has been taken off your loading time.

The below is only needed if your site doesn’t have www in it.

google-pagespeed1

Changing your site to use www

There are three steps in WordPress to adding in www to your URL if you don’t have it.

1) In WordPress itself go to Settings > General and add in www.

2) In your .htaccess file in the root folder of your website, add in the following. Please, please make a backup of .htaccess first as any wrong move can break your site.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^domain-name\.com
RewriteRule (.*) http://www.domain-name\.com/$1 [R=301,L]

where domain-name is replaced with the actual name of your site. All this is doing is redirecting non-www URLs to www ones.

3) In Google Webmaster Tools, in your domain go to Configuration > Settings and set the preferred domain to be www (see below):

google-webmasters

Then your site will use www and your search engine rankings will stay the same as with non-www. Once done you can use the Google PageSpeed Service.

The Best Dedicated WordPress Hosting

Recommending WordPress hosting is always tricky because most hosting companies pay for referrals. So some people simply refer the company that pays the most.

For many years I have recommended HostGator. I still do, their support is awesome and for small starter sites I still don’t think you can beat them.

However what about larger sites that require WordPress hosting, sites that are your main source of income and needs to be rock solid?

After working with them for a couple of clients, I recommend WPEngine. What’s the difference you may ask?

WordPress hosting

  • Dedicated WordPress hosting. You can ONLY use WordPress on it, you can’t install other applications.
  • No caching required – they automatically have caching built in whihc makes for super speedy websites.
  • Daily backups (though this doesn’t include any non-WordPress files and folders or the uploads folder – for that see my backup and update service.
  • Included security scanning – and they will fix a hacked site for free.
  • WordPress upgrades are automatically done for you when appropriate.
  • Their tech support are all WordPress experts, after all that’s all they do!
  • Month-to-month contracts (though you can get two months free if you pre-pay for a year).
  • 60 day money back guarantee.

WPEngine is a lot more expensive than the cheap shared hosts like HostGator, and a little more difficult to set up, but you get a lot more for your money. I currently recommend it to clients who have one main site that they want to keep up at all costs and be safe in the knowledge that it’s rock solid.

if you have many multiple WordPress sites, most of which are small, I would still keep HostGator hosting for them and perhaps move your main site to WPEngine for dedicated WordPress hosting if the cost is justified by the many benefits they provide.

Choosing Ideal Web Hosting

It’s as easy to stumble across a hosting package these days as it is to purchase a loaf of bread. It seems that wherever you look you are besieged with offers from various hosting organizations, from your email inbox to the back of your favorite magazine. While this means a lot of healthy competition, it can make it difficult to know to which company you ought to be entrusting your firm’s website.

Whenever we buy software or sign up to something online, it seems that a hosting offer comes along with it as a matter of course.
server rack
According to Intac, as of March 2010, there were almost 24,000 hosting companies in the US alone, and this figure is set to increase as more and more firms recognize the value in providing a secure, safe, and customer-focused service to their clients.

There are more hosting companies in the US than any other country, the most used being Wild West Domains with a market share of 35.8 percent. The company is part of the Go Daddy Group, providing an easy platform for turnkey domain registrars to become an operation and use the Go Daddy system for registration and support.

However, the most popular company is not necessarily the best; it could be that a firm has a savvy marketing strategy which means that it gets taken up more readily because it is accessible to people, or simply that it has a great network of affiliates pushing the service to generate revenue.

Choosing your ideal Web host comes down to a number of factors including, what you are looking for, what you are prepared to pay, and what kind of service you need in addition to your basic hosting package.

A Myriad of Options

One of the first things that may strike you in any promotional package is mention of the word “Unlimited” bandwidth, or disk space. However good this may sound, there probably are some limits to the amount of space you get allocated within your chosen package, and it’s well worth taking a moment to check out what your allocation will be when you sign up.

If you are looking to put a basic site live to represent your company in a simple way, then the chances are good that you will be satisfied with what you are provided. However, more complex sites are obviously going to require a great deal of bandwidth to perform more technical tasks and it’s worth working out what your requirements are before you commit to a hosting package.

Web hosting providers have costs associated with providing an allocated amount of space. That cost is then passed on to you through the Web hosting plan. The amount of bandwidth you use up can depend on a number of factors, such as the number of visitors that you receive and the size of files that you are providing to them (graphics, video and so on). Your considerations when choosing your host need to take into account the volume and intensity of your incoming traffic.

Checking the Criteria

One of the key factors when picking your ideal hosting company needs to be a consideration of the kind of customer service support they offer. Check the terms carefully to make sure you don’t get stung by a hefty bill when you call up to get something fixed. I normally choose companies that offer text chats or toll-free telephone support, to keep costs to a minimum. Text chats are ideal for US hosting companies, but if you’re based outside of the US, consider the terms of service that they offer.

I usually use well-known hosts including HostGator, Bluehost, and DreamHost, as they have great customer service and tend to honor their commitment to the client. When you select a well-known company, you minimize the risk of selecting an organization that could go under or be unable to provide a consistent service.

The highest quality support from your host company comes through 24/7 services. This means you won’t get passed around a frustrating call center system, and you can choose times to phone that reduce the risk of being stuck in queues or put on hold.

Again, check the terms of your company to ensure you get the best possible support deal included in your packages. In addition, it’s worth checking what support is on offer for the particular applications (such as WordPress) that you will be using.

Picking a shared hosting package is a good idea when you first start out, but check the pricing options for virtual private servers and dedicated servers. It’s easier to upgrade with this type of service, and you may find that your needs grow in line with the success of your business. If you already have a hosting company and want to change, pick a company that will handle the switch, saving you time, effort, and money.

Personal Recommendations

Nothing beats recommendations when it comes to picking your hosting package. While many companies use affiliate schemes to generate sales, the best form of recommendation comes from friends and family who are already using the service. Most people have a tale to tell about a poor hosting company, so gather data and make an informed decision.

Ultimately, choosing your ideal service for hosting comes down to your individual needs, what you can find out from people who have already signed up to specific organizations, and the type of service you are specifically looking for.

I personally use and recommend HostGator as their support and customer service is second to none, especially for the price. Of course good hosting is more than good customer service, but for small businesses they’re hard to beat.

Keeping Abreast Of Blogging Trends

Technology is moving along at a rapid pace, as it always has. You only need to pop in to the Google official blog, or check out the new offerings and versions that WordPress issue to see that the world of online business moves faster than most other industries.

In a competitive environment, where every organization which deals with gadgets, software or online solutions are in direct competition to stay ahead of their competitors, it’s not surprising that trends seem to shift and progress more rapidly in this environment than in any other.

As business bloggers, this puts a lot of pressure on us to stay ahead of what has been going on, to make sure we don’t get left behind as our rivals seize on bigger and better ways to service their customers. The blogger who stays static while those around them moves on with new initiatives and streamlined processes runs the very real risk of losing revenue, as people lose faith in them as industry leaders.

Keeping abreast of new technologies is harder than it may seem, however. There is a wealth of information out there about how to optimize our sites, generate more revenue or grow our customer base, but often much of the information can seem to conflict as every business seems to have a different idea about how we should be spending our money and time in investing in our products and services.

It takes a certain level of knowledge to avoid the pitfalls of spam and spin to make sound business decisions about how to take our sites forward, without getting sucked in to money traps which promise the world and deliver very little.

When it comes to getting sound business advice about how to invest our money and time, who should we trust?

The media offers a range of different ideas about what trends are emerging, and what businesses need to do to stay ahead of the competition. While some sources can be trusted, there is also a lot of supposition out there which can put even the most savvy blogger on the wrong track and prompt us to spend cash which will not deliver any return on our investment.

It’s kind of reassuring to know that even the market leaders can still make huge mistakes – you only need to look at AOL’s acquisition of the social networking site Bebo, for example, to see how even the most well-informed industry experts can screw up, spending millions of dollars on ventures which prove to be fruitless.

The trick to avoiding the pitfalls of predictive trends is to read widely, do lots of research, and strike a balance between being early adopters, and stagnant business owners. It’s a good rule of thumb to be cautious when we consider making a significant investment for our business, and we need to make sure that any large expenditure in terms of both time and money is well thought out and considered.

Following the key players in our industry, by reading up on what they are doing, checking their financial status and staying ahead of new software and technology can be invaluable when it comes to predicting trends and making the right decisions for our business.

For example, if the entire online population are discussing the development of new smartphone apps, the chances are that there is something of substance behind the glut of news coverage. Adapting our blogs to meet these future needs is crucial.

Return Of Membership Site Mastermind

Well, I’m back from a short break and BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas. As always with these type of things, my head is buzzing full of ideas, I just need time to implement them!

If you’re on my email list you will have already heard it, but as we know, Membership sites are a popular way of making money online, and the model was talked about extensively at the conference. Coincidentally, my online friend Yaro Starak has announced he is re-opening the doors to Membership Site Mastermind next week.

I don’t promote many training courses, and all I do I have personally been on myself and this is no exception (my WordPress Blog Training Videos is the result).

He’s released a couple of videos in the past which are well worth watching. The one below is The Blue Sky Video, and there is also The Slide Show Video.

Membership video

As usual I offer no incentives (aka bribes) for signing up for this course through my affiliate link, I want you to sign up for it if you think it’s for you, will benefit you and help you achieve the lifestyle you want. Enjoy the videos though!

Oh, and if you notice something new about the comments, I’ve installed JS Kit Echo. They have to do a manual import of my old comments, but an enhanced service is now available, feel free to try it out! I’ll be writing a post on my experience with it another time.

WordPress Template Tags Cheat Sheet

For those of you who might be like me and need to regularly edit WordPress themes/templates, add custom code, change things around and edit them, then WordPress Template tags are our friend.

Ekin Ertac has produced a WordPress Template Tag Cheatsheet that lists the available template tags and what they do. You can download it in PDF from his site.

It also includes tips on a standard theme structure, what the loop is and a couple of example navigation menus for good measure.

WP_Cheatsheet

[Via WeblogTools Collection]

7 Killer YouTube Traffic Tips

This video is part of the highly recommended Become A Blogger Premium.

It shows you, step-by-step, how to optimize your YouTube videos to help you drive an insane amount of traffic back to your website.

Gideon used these exact same strategies on one of his own YouTube channels, and received over 67,400 views in just 8 weeks! He actually shows the same channel inside the video.

So if you want to get more traffic from YouTube, you’ll like this stuff…

optimize

What Are Nameservers?

I’ve had a few queries in the last couple of weeks about nameservers, or Domain Name Servers, or DNS. So I thought I’d explain, but not in the dictionary definition way, but in what it means to you.

– You buy a domain.
– You buy (or already have) web hosting.
– Now how does the domain know to go to your web host? i.e. when someone types in your domain, how does it know to go to your web host and not elsewhere?

Simple answer – DNS. You tell your domain to be associated with your host’s domain name servers so it points to the right place – your site.

OK, so a more official definition (thanks Wikipedia), and with a slightly different meaning, is a nameserver “… consists of a program or computer server that implements a name-service protocol. It will normally map (i.e. connect) a human-recognizable identifier of a host (for example, the domain name ‘en.wikipedia.org’) to its computer-recognizable identifier (such as the Internet Protocol (IP) address 145.97.39.155), and vice versa”.

So there you go. It joins your domain name and hosting together. Magic.

How The World Has Shifted

I’ve seen this presentation in various forms, a Sony conference and here from Slideshare. Take 5 minutes to look at it and then take a long time to think about the consequences… [Note: I prefer to manually skip through presentations, but it depends how fast you read]

Free Screencast Tool – Jing!

As recommended to me by a client, David Congreave, via Twitter, there is a great free screen capture and screencast tool called Jing.

Created by the makers of the paid-for Camstasia (TechSmith) Jing is a simple free application that lets you easily capture screenshots or videos on your desktop.

jing-before-after

Its simplicity is brilliant, simply select the area you wish to capture, choose video or image and then go. If you select image you can then easily annotate the image with arrows and text. If video, you can choose whether to record audio or not. Once complete you simply hit the share button and it will upload the image or video to screencast.com and give you a URL to share with whoever you want to. It’s so easy and fast.

Of course, with simplicity come downsides. You cannot do everything you want when editing an image. You cannot edit a video at all, it’s a one take wonder. Videos are limited at 5 minutes, and your screencast account has an upload limit and monthly bandwidth limit, both of which can be increased by paying for a Pro account.

After failing to get the browser based Screentoaster working (damn you Flash!), Jing actually seems to be almost everything I was looking for. Now, when a client wants to know how to solve an issue I can send a quick video of how to do it without having to waste time editing it, producing it in the correct format, figuring out where to upload it to and host it. If you need to visually show people what you’ve done or how to do things, then take a look at Jing.