Understanding Small Business Web Hosting

“As the owner of a website and a small business, you probably didn’t put much thought into choosing your Web hosting company. Be honest: can you even name it off the top of your head?

Many domain registration sites double as Web hosting companies, since it’s an easy upsell. Once you buy a domain name, you may as well add on hosting—especially if it’s marketed in a way that makes it seem like a great package deal, right? But hold on, are you really getting the best Web hosting services for your business and budget?” – Small Business Computing

How to Reduce Your Online Carbon Footprint

If I were to ask you a question about ways in which you could reduce your carbon footprint online, how would you respond?

Many people who are posed this question find it a lot harder to answer because the internet does not have the physical representation that a recycling bag full of cardboard does for example. If you cannot see the effects of your actions then it is often difficult to appreciate that the changes you are making actually are benefiting the environment. It is now more important than ever to have an established internet presence than it is to have an established physical presence. To this end the internet has become the glossy storefront windows of businesses peddling their various services and wares. Common tactics include high resolution graphics, animated pictures and colourful banners. The sheer number of websites is growing at an astounding rate, for example at the end of 1985 there were six websites, fast forward to the end of 2013 and there were 759 million websites with a prediction of 2 billion websites by the end of 2015. While the number of websites has grown out of control so has the size of an individual website. Compared to ten years ago, the average website is fifteen times larger. For example, 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are needed to just keep the internet going per year and this figure will only rise; to put that figure into perspective the entire commercial aviation industry (that’s 16,000 aircraft) produces 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. But it doesn’t need to be this way…

google-energy-infographic

So what can you do to reduce this figure?

The reality is that reducing your online carbon footprint is just as easy, and may in fact require less effort, in comparison to more traditional and well known physical means of being more planet friendly. Taking up roughly 60% of the average website are images, by carefully selecting images which best communicate your message to customers you can both reduce your footprint and make your website load even quicker. A single high definition picture (1080p) is on average 3mb in size. An average video on YouTube is 10mb per five minutes at standard resolution. So let us assume for the sake of an example that your website has one high definition image and a five minute standard definition YouTube video, that’s a total of 13mb without text and any banners. If however you decide to display a picture in 720p and a standard definition YouTube video then your website will only total 6mb which requires just half the energy as before.

The act of reducing your online carbon footprint is really as simple as described above. For example, every 100 visitors to your eco-friendly website will save you 700mb of data; every 1,000 customers will save you 7 GB and 109 pounds of carbon emissions. That’s the equivalent of saving 5 gallons of fuel which will be enough to allow a 200 mile journey in a car doing 40mpg.

Let us now assume that you have optimised your website to make it as environmentally friendly as possible, what do you do now? The answer to this question is that you store it in a data centre which is powered by renewable energy. It is all well and good creating an eco-friendly website but if you store it in your average data centre then this heavily negates any benefits. For example, the average data centre uses the same amount of energy as 180,000 homes. So what can you do about it? An increasingly popular method of storing websites in an eco-friendly way is to use a carbon neutral web host such as Wunderism.  You can quickly see how making very small changes can begin to add up very quickly into a substantial difference. And these changes don’t just benefit you, removing unnecessary content will allow your webpage to load much faster which will make your customer happier and more likely to enlist your services.

 

How to Choose the Best Domain Name For You

Chances are that you will be reading this article because you are either thinking of creating a new website or simply want to add to your existing collection of domain names. Maybe you are even unhappy with your current domain name and are looking for some tips and tricks which you can use next time. This article will look to provide you with some guidance the next time you find yourself in such a situation.

1. What keywords best describe your business?

Anybody who has ever bought or considered buying a domain name has shared the same problem… what on earth should I choose? For those of you who are representing a business, then generally the name of that business will be your first port of call. But what about if your setting up an independent blog or your business name is not suitable to be used as a domain name, for example it contains some uncommon spelling or is just really long? In this instance you should try to isolate the key aspects of your business or blog and build from there. For example, if you own a business that specialises in interior design then you may consider ‘creativeinteriors’ or something to that effect. In terms of a blog it is usually a good idea to use your own name as the domain name; this is because a blog is an extension of yourself and therefore using your own name allows it to become that more personal. After all, your audience may visit for the content, but they keep coming back because of your personality and writing style.

Excellent examples of well thought out domains are autotrader.com, hotmail.com (before it changed to outlook) and Webmd.com. You can guess what each respective website does by simply looking at the domain name. Or go really wacky, the graphic below shows its possible to be wacky and popular if your service quality speaks for itself.

16-best-domain-names-history

Picture courtesy of http://www.dearblogger.org/best-domain-names

2. Make the domain name unique

The last thing you want from a domain name is for it to be familiar to other businesses as they will ultimately be taking away from your traffic. Before committing to buying a domain name, make sure to check around at other domains that may be similar to yours. For example the ‘creativeinteriors’ domain name would be less effective at getting traffic if the domain name ‘interiorcreative’ or ‘creativeinterior’ existed. In order for people to remember your domain name it needs to be memorable and therefore unique. Additionally, don’t choose a name that resembles a well-known business that already exists. For example, the popular photo sharing website Tumblr does not own tumbler.com, instead this domain is owned by a company that sells drinkware. If one of your friends asked you if you had seen something on ‘Tumbler’ you would immediately think of the photo sharing website and not the website that sells drinkware.

3. What top-level-domain (TDL) should I choose?

If you are not a multinational company then this decision will be made for you to some degree. For example if you supply trade to exclusively UK companies then you may prefer a .co.uk domain over a .com domain. This is because people are more likely to search for a .co.uk domain if they are looking for a UK based company. This will also increase the likelihood of your website appearing nearer the top of Google search results. If your business is not restricted by logistical boundaries then by all means select a .com domain as these are the most common and are therefore more likely to increase your internet exposure. There is of course the argument that if you have developed the most perfect of domain names then the extension won’t play a significant factor in its success. After all, who ever includes the domain name extension in their Google search? At the end of the day, a top level domain is not going to make or break your business.

4. Keep it short, simple and sweet

The average domain name contains between six and nine characters, while you do not have to limit yourself to these figures you get the idea that snappy domains are generally more effective. A domain name that is short has more benefits than you may at first appreciate. As well as being easier to remember, it is easier to say in public, easier to fit onto business cards and easier to spell. All of these factors play an equally important role in getting people to visit your website. This is especially true if you attend exhibitions where people will have many other websites thrown at them and it is often the most memorable which win the day. This also means trying to avoid hyphens, dashes and the like where possible and only including them if it is absolutely necessary.

5. Don’t buy from the first domain registrar you find

If you find that the domain you want is available then never go rushing to the first registrar you can find. In theory, if a domain name is available then it will be available everywhere. Your choice of registrar will however be restricted if you are looking for a country specific domain name such as .co.uk or .tv. A company called Nominet control the .co.uk domains and so you would have to go through them in order to buy a domain name. However if you are happy with domain names such as .biz, .net, .com then you should be able to shop around. There’s not a whole lot of variation in prices for a single domain name of a particular type, nevertheless it is always good to make sure. There will be a more significant variation between the different types of domain name though so have a clear plan in mind before you go looking for domain names.

What Is Carbon Neutral Web Hosting?

A fundamental aspect of web hosting is that without it there would be no internet. The term ‘web hosting’ describes the physical storage of a website which is typically contained on a server. Whenever you wish to access a website, your computer will communicate with the server on which your desired website is held in order to display that website on your screen. The number of websites that a server can store depends largely on the nature of the websites in question, if a server held websites which were exclusively text based then it could potentially hold thousands however we all know that websites are not like that. The best way to imagine a server is like an mp3 player. The rate at which the capacity of the mp3 player is used up is dependent upon the length of the song; such is the relationship between the server and the websites it holds. The server is contained within a data centre which holds many more servers of the same type all storing different websites much like books in a library. Recently, the CEO of Microsoft (Steve Ballmer) estimated that Microsoft had over 1 million servers in its various data centres; reports generally agree that Google have about 900,000 servers spread across their twelve data centres. Here is a quick guided tour of one such data centre:

The ease at which people can access the internet, be it from a computer or mobile device, means that servers process a large number of requests and run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All of this processing makes the servers extremely hot and necessitates installation of huge fans and air conditioning systems. This results in staggering electrical bills and environmental damage. For example, a larger data centre can use enough energy to power 180,000 homes and when all data centres are combined produces 230 more tonnes of carbon dioxide than the entire commercial aviation industry. This is where the phrase ‘carbon neutral’ comes into the equation, but what exactly does it mean?

As the name ‘carbon neutral’ implies, the carbon dioxide produced by a company is offset in some way, this could be due to the company powering themselves with renewable energy sources or planting a tree per number of websites hosted or something along those lines. Regardless of the exact methodology, companies (such as Wunderism) are attempting to eliminate any negative effects they have on the environment. Wunderism have teamed up with Memset who are the only certified carbon neutral web hosting provider in the UK. Recent scientific research has cast some doubt over the validity of planting trees as an offset measure. In response to this concern, Wunderism decided to support projects in Germany which reduce methane emitted from abandoned mines. Initial research into methane capture has provided results which suggest it to be 21 times more effective than planting trees. So why should you get involved with carbon neutral hosting?

Just to give you a quick idea here is a graph illustrating the differences between traditional web hosting and green web hosting.

Data centre graphic

In 2015 alone there is a predicted saving of 75 million tonnes which is equivalent to just under half the total number of emissions produced by the whole of Australia.
Getting involved with a carbon neutral web hosting service such as Wunderism has many benefits besides the obvious environmental reduction in carbon dioxide. Customers are becoming increasingly aware of and value environmental protection as a desirable commodity, by committing to a carbon neutral plan you are communicating to customers that you share their concerns and are intent on doing something about it. In addition carbon neutral plans can be cheaper than your existing web hosting arrangement. Governments and local councils are also keen to reward environmentally conscious businesses and you may find your company eligible for tax rebates or even funding opportunities. You also are able to display Wunderism’s own carbon neutral badge on your website to communicate to everyone that you have gone green.