What do you get when you “lease” space on our Dedicated Server?

So even though I have much of this information in our Terms & Conditions, I thought I would spell it out in more detail, in an easier to read, and easier to digest form.

The cost of “leasing” space on our Virtual Private Server (VPS) is $685/yr, but what does this buy you?

SEO Tips

My tips for better SEO

5 tips for better SEO. No Blackhat Techniques, Page Speed Optimisation, Quality Content, Internal Linking, Page Titles and Meta Descriptions.

New Terms & Conditions for 2017

Happy New Year.

This is just a quick Post to let everyone know that I have updated my T’s & C’s effective 1 Jan 2017.

The full T’s & C’s can be read at full at https://www.websitedesignmorayfield.com.au/terms-conditions/, but here is a Summary of the Main Changes:

  1. My hourly rate has increased from $44/hr to $55/hr. This is still way less than my competitors rates.
  2. Any changes to your websites will incur a minimum charge of $33. This has been introduced because some customers are requesting lots of minor changes one after the other. If changes are required, please have a think about it and include them all in the one request. This will make the process more time and cost effective.
  3. My Payment Terms are strictly 7 Days from the date shown on an Invoice. This has always been the case, but now there is an addition to my terms that expands on this. That being, “if payment of Invoices exceeds the 7 days, no further website development will be undertaken until payment is made, and any applicable services may be cancelled”. I have introduced this measure due to ongoing instances by some customers not paying their Invoices on time. I am generally expected to carry out the work requested straight away, and I therefore expect that Invoices are paid within the 7 days. I do not think that this is an unreasonable request. This is not directed at customers who have not paid Invoices for December. I realise that people are away on holidays. This is aimed at Invoices that were overdue throughout 2016.
RIOT - Radical Image Optimisation Tool

Image Optimisation

Image OptimisationWhen it comes to managing your own website, many people upload images at the largest size and highest resolution, which results is slower page loads and that creates a large website that becomes problematic to backup, and restore if necessary.

Backups become very large and can time-out, and restoring the website from a backup is a drama too.

So what should you be doing?

Image Resizing

First of all, you should resize all images, and I usually recommend making the longest side around 1024px.

Why 1024px and not 1000px or 1100px? Well that’s just me and a hangover from the early days.

1024 bytes = 1kb, 1024kb = 1MB and so on.

So you can use whatever size you like, but around that pixel number is fine.

That will make the image large enough to show details without being overly big.

Of course, you may well have a requirement for larger images, say those for a full width Slider, so you would resize them accordingly.

Image Optimisation

In addition to resizing your images, you also need to optimise them for web use.

I use Photoshop for this task, but many if not most people do not have access to Photoshop.

Optimising your images reduces their physical size.

So for example, you might have an image that is a couple of Megabytes in size, and optimising it will reduce it to several hundred kilobytes instead, without a visible reduction in quality.

There are many tools available, but I’ve just stumbled across a free tool called RIOT (Radical Image Optimisation Tool).

What is RIOT?

RIOT is short for Radical Image Optimisation Tool, and it is a free Image Optimiser that allows you to adjust compression parameters “visually” and allowing you to monitor the file size whilst doing it.

RIOT - Radical Image Optimisation ToolIt uses a side by side (dual view – shown to the left), or a single view interface that lets you compare the original with the optimised image in real time, and instantly see the resulting file size.

You can control the compression level, the number of colours, metadata and more, and you can select the image output file formats to .JPG, .GIF or .PNG.

RIOT can also be integrated as plug-in in programs like The GIMP, IrfanView and XnView.

Shared Hosting vs a VPS

Shared Hosting vs a VPSIt’s been a tough couple of weeks for my customers on Shared Hosting, with Server issues and a percentage of downtime that I just wasn’t comfortable with. Not the ideal situation for a Website Owner. So this has prompted me to write this Blog Post.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that Budget Shared Hosting is really only for small websites, with an average amount of pages and images, and average traffic, and if you have a website that needs to be fast and reliable, then you really need to start thinking about a VPS (Virtual Private Server).

But first, a quick recap of what a Shared Hosting Server is.

By far and away the most common Hosting out there is Shared Hosting. What does that mean? Well it means that your website is on a Server with potentially hundreds of other websites. All of these websites are vying for the Server resources, predominantly Memory (RAM). And there are set limits on how much your website is allowed to use in terms of Bandwidth and to a lesser extent, Disk Space.

So what happens if you exceed these limits? Well basically your website is shut down, and as one of my customers is experiencing right now, you will see a message displayed that reads, “Resource Limit Exceeded”, and no one can see your website.

The other problem with Shared Hosting is that generally speaking, page load speeds are slower due to the number of websites on the Server and the lack of available Memory (RAM). The Hosting Market Space has become very competitive, and Vendors are keen to extract the most out of their investments. So rather than have more RAM available than is absolutely necessary, they will allocate just enough to do the job. This means that if something goes wrong with one or more websites on the Shared Server, it can start using more RAM than is ideal, and it can drag the whole Server down.

So how is a VPS different?

A VPS is your own Server. That is to say, only your website, or websites (yes, you can have multiple website on your VPS), is on that Server, and ALL the resources that you purchase with the VPS are at your website’s disposal. You are not at the mercy of any other website or the imposed resources limits. You can purchase and allocate as much RAM and assign as much bandwidth as you like. The side effect of this is that your page load speeds are significantly faster because you have plenty of these resources available.

A VPS is relatively expensive, are there any other options?

The short answer is yes. All of the preceding issues has prompted me to rethink what I offer customers.

The problem has been that Shared Hosting is attractive because it is so cheap. But the results can be frustrating for someone who really needs a reliable and fast website, but can’t afford a VPS.

So this led me to look into what was required to offer customers a place on my own VPS, with a long term view to setting up multiple VPSs to host customers websites on something that I have more control over and can purchase more RAM and Disk space as I add more customers websites. In this way I can offer a more affordable VPS solution.

Earlier this year I wrote another Blog post about the advantages of a VPS. You can read it here.

I won’t go into pricing here, but if you are interested, give me a call on (07) 5428-7905, or fill in the Contact Form below and we will be in touch.


Is it time to step up to a VPS in 2016?

VPSAt some stage in the hosting life cycle for Mission Critical websites, a time comes where a site owner can no longer accept the occasional ups and downs of a Shared Hosting platform. A fast, reliable and robust Hosting solution is required.

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is the next step up from Shared Hosting and is the perfect answer to those who require dedicated resources, uptime guarantees, and more control without being affected by their hosting neighbours. While a VPS is also technically hosted on a shared platform, a portion of the server has resources that are assigned to only the one user, which means no fighting for this resource allocation. The user also has the ability to gain full control over the server and make use of it however they’d like.

Shared hosting, while it is the most popular due to it’s low cost, uses the same resources as their hosting neighbours. Websites hosted on a Shared Hosting platform are much more susceptible to their site going down as it pulls these resources in a “first come, first served” basis.

If your intention is to host multiple or even one website with reliability and speed, a VPS is a must for you. There is a higher guarantee that your website will run efficiently and handle high spikes of traffic than if it were to run on basic Shared Hosting Server.

If you would like to know more about our VPS Hosting Plans, please contact us on (07) 5428-7905 0r via email at info@spottydog.com.au

Millions of Joomla websites at risk due to bug

Joomla BugUh oh, this isn’t good.

It seems that for over two years there has been a SQL-injection vulnerability in the Joomla Platform (which is used in millions of websites) that will allow remote takeover hacks.

SQL-injection vulnerabilities allow end users to execute powerful commands on a website’s backend database by entering “special” text in search boxes or other input fields found on a website. The flaws, which are among the most commonly exploited website vulnerabilities, are the result of an insecure Web application failing to enforce the treatment of incoming data as plain text rather than executable code. Often, this makes it possible for hackers to download confidential files from the vulnerable server.

Joomla have now patched the platform, but if website owners do not install the update, they are still vulnerable.

It’s a good thing all of our websites are using the WordPress platform 🙂

You can read more about this issue at Joomla Bug.

News from Google – They will help with reinstating Search Rankings after a Hack Attack

Google will help after a Hack AttackYou may not be aware, but if your website gets hacked, it will affect your search rankings.

This is obvious when you think about it. Google’s main aim is to serve up the best results for the searcher’s query, and obviously, a hacked website is not the best result!!

Google has announced that they will endeavour to assist Webmasters with reinstating their Search Rankings after a hack attack through their revamped Reconsideration Request Process.

In a recent Google Blog Post, they say they have recorded a 180% increase in the number of websites that have been hacked this year, and there has been a 300% increase in the number of Reconsideration Requests they have received.

Google have realised the difficulties inherent in their previous Reconsideration Request process, and have made a few changes that they say will assist Webmasters getting the websites back up and running and restore their previous Search Positions.

Specifically, these three changes:

  1. Better communication
  2. Improved tools
  3. A continuous feedback loop

Google have also also said that the step up for victims of hacking is part of a wider support initiative designed to protect websites from being hacked in the first place.

Better Communication will be in the form of advice specifically tailored to your personal circumstances when responding to a Reconsideration Request. Google will also make more advice available to webmasters to help improve website security and quickly tackle hacking issues if the website is compromised.

Improved Tools will be in the form of better access to resources required to recover from a hack attack. These include the auto removal of hacked manual actions (still in beta testing). This manual action removal will take place when search engine spiders detect that hacked content has already been removed – however, the webmaster will still need to submit a reconsideration request.

A hacked website troubleshooter is also available, and will guides webmasters through the steps required to recover from the attack. The “Fetch as Google” tool can also be used by showing exactly how Google sees the site. This will make it easier for the Webmaster to detect hacked content, including injected content.

Feedback from website owners that have been hacked and who are going through the Reconsideration Request process will continue to mould Google’s practices.


Website Revamp

Our revamped websiteI’m pleased to announce our much anticipated Website Revamp.

I’ve spent the last two weeks designing, tweaking and generally re-doing everything to do with the website.

It features an awesome Home Page “Layered” Slider, animated thumbnails and images, Testimonials and elegant styling.

It is of course responsive, meaning that it will display on all different devices regardless of screen size.

Are the dot com & dot com.au TLD’s dead?

Is the dot com TLD dead?My personal opinion is no, .COM and .COM.AU TLD’s (Top Level Domains) are not dead by a long shot.

However, there are many prominent organistaions out there suggesting that they are going the way of the dinosaur and are dead and buried.

There are a whole raft of new TLD’s now available. For example, .SYDNEY, .MARKET, .DENTIST, .PROPERTY and the list goes on. As a consequence, there has been a concerted push by those selling these new TLD’s to encourage their take-up.

From where I sit, 30 years on from the introduction of the first domain using .COM, it has taken this long for consumers and businesses to get their heads around using and understanding other TLD’s like .NET and .ORG, never mind newer ones like .TV or .BIZ, which I have to say, not one of my customers have opted for.

Is there a benefit in using one of the new TLD’s?

Having said that, I can see the new TLD’s gradually becoming more prominent in the minds of those starting new businesses and looking to take advantage of a Domain Name that was previously unavailable. As an example, there may be a domain registered like www.mydomain.com, and it is therefore not available to a new business. But what if you could register www.mydomain.sydney? Now that would be attractive to a business that has the same name as someone else and is also based in Sydney, because it immediately shows where they are based, and there would be definite SEO advantages having that keyword in the Domain.

But for the meantime, I cannot see people moving away from the good old .COM or .COM.AU any time soon.

You may also be interested in reading Should I use Domain Name email instead of using my ISP assigned email address?