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May
04

HostingCon 2009 is Coming

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For those of you who have been around the website hosting industry for at least the past few years, it is common knowledge that one of the industry’s most well-attended and prestigious conferences and trade shows is HostingCon. For those of you who are either newer to the industry, or who just haven’t had the opportunity to participate in HostingCon – this year’s event offers many reasons to consider attending.

I have personally participated as a speaker or panelist at every HostingCon event since its inception. I recall that last year’s panel on marketing featured none other that myself and another writer and industry marketing veteran from WebHostMagazine and WebHostBlog – Mr. David Dunlap.

A recent email notified me of my acceptance as a speaker at HostingCon 2009. Among the bits of information in the email sent from the HostingCon organizers was the fact that this year the group received over 120 speaker proposals. While the selection committee had difficulty narrowing the speaker field down, the remaining chosen speakers are noted to create an ”exceptional program with diverse and timely topics and actionable substance”.

But don’t take my admittedly biased opinion on HostingCon without some backup – here’s what a few other website hosting professionals had to say about HostingCon 2009.

Jeff Hardy, Vice President of Business Operations with SmarterTools, Inc. commented, ”SmarterTools has customers and technology partners in over one hundred countries. HostingCon is one of the few events that brings the industry together in a way that provides an opportunity to renew our network of industry professionals and meet new ones. Each year SmarterTools comes away from HostingCon with new ideas and perspectives that helps us drive to excellence in our host-friendly software and SaaS offerings.”

Daniel Foster is co-founder of UK web hosting firm 34SP.com and had these comments regarding HostingCon, ”We’re planning to attend HostingCon 2009 in Washington, D.C. to see what’s hot in the industry this year, what people are talking about and where their plans are taking them. We’re also looking forward to catching up with friends made at previous HostingCons and meeting new faces. There’s at least as much to be gained from the show floor and evening events as there is from the presentations given during the day.”

Takeshi Eto, V.P. Marketing and Business Development with ASP.NET hosting firm DiscountASP.NET adds, ”We attend every year because HostingCon is a great opportunity to network. Also, being a niched Windows hoster, we go to a lot of Microsoft events and it’s good to get exposure to what is going on with other areas of the hosting industry.”

Be sure to check out the full story at HostingCon.com. You can see the list of exhibitors, and soon you’ll have access to the complete list of speakers as well. I hope to see you in Washington, D.C. in August.

Categories : Conferences
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Mar
25

Hosting in the USA…not

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I recently attended the fifth annual WebhostingDay in Bruehl, Germany and figured out that there is an enormous world of web hosting outside the United States. Not only does the International hosting community exist – it is doing quite well. Thomas Strohe is the creator and organizer of WebhostingDay and he explained how ”The event is sold out with about 2,500 registered top-class representatives from the hosting industry and online registration has been closed on March 6. Also both of the Phantasialand hotels as well as our backup hotel in Bruehl are sold out.” I can attest to the fact that WebhostingDay 2009 was indeed very crowded and active with International hosting professionals from across Europe and the world.

What drew so many visitors this year? Mr. Strohe speculates that, ”The reason might be the large number of famous partner companies who contribute with talks and exhibitions. Moreover, it is the great success of the previous events which made many people come back. And in Europe, there is no other event that unites so many top level executives from such great and important companies. It is an ideal opportunity for people from the hosting sector to come together, to network and to form new business relationships.” Saneetha Naik, the co-founder of outsourced technical support company Bobcares speculated that the reason that many attendees came was to step up their marketing in a difficult selling environment. First time attendee Phil Robinson from UK-based hosting company 34SP.com added, ”The opportunity to network with my peers in the hosting industry and to learn from true experts in the field is what attracted me to WebhostingDay this year. I find the hosting professionals to be willing to help me and the vendors are always open to sharing their latest developments as well.”

Here are a few statistics as relayed by Professor Jens Bocker, University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg in his opening remarks that bear out the popularity of this year’s WebhostingDay event.

* Attendees and exhibitors were present from more than 40 different countries around the world.

* Registered attendance grew from around 1,000 attendees last year to nearly 2,500 attendees n 2009.

* WebhostingDay 2009 featured 50 speakers from a wide range of hosting-related firms and consultancies.

* There were 45 exhibitors in the exhibit hall this year.

The vast majority of attendees that I ran into were from Europe. That is exactly what you would expect, but it still took a bit of adjustment as I have a very ”USA-centric” worldview. Apparently I am not alone in this, mighty search engine Google skews USA as well. Consider the recent logo and link that Google placed onto Google New Zealand to note the arrival of Fall in that hemisphere. Pretty normal, right? Well, not exactly as the term ”Fall” which was used in the logo and the link is used almost exclusively in the USA. The correct term down under is ”Autumn” and yields distinctly different search results. You can see how this was an affront to the local audience and points out Google’s USA-centric worldview by reading this blog post on the subject.

Which brings me back to the subject of this post – Hosting in the USA…not. I will be attending HostingCon this year as well, and expect to see many of my new friends from the International hosting community in attendance. I will not, however, make the mistake of assuming that the way that we do hosting in the USA – be it marketing, operations, plans types, or operating systems – is the exact right fit for international hosting operations.

Categories : Marketing
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Mar
09

WebhostingDay 2009 Sells Out

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It’s official. WebhostingDay 2009 has completely sold out its remaining available spots. The fifth annual version of Europe’s premier web hosting event and conference was running at pre-registration levels far above last year, and a sell out looked likely. According to show creator and organizer, Thomas Strohe, the limit of 2,500 attendees has been reached – well in advance of the show opening dates. WebhostingDay 2009 will be held from March 18-20 2009 in the city of Bruehl, Germany – which is about 25 kilometers outside Cologne. The event venue is Phantasialand which was the determining factor in the attendance levels.

Although the conference is officially sold out at this point, Mr. Strohe left open the possibility that there may be a few ”walk on” spots available at the show itself. That is, if someone who has reserved a spot does not show up, that spot may be given to someone who shows up at the show in person – but without a reserved spot. Of course that still leaves the problem of where to book your hotel room, since every room within a 25 kilometer radius of the event is booked up as well. If you were to sign up at the show, the regular attendance fee would be charged.

So how does a trade show sell out in this depressed economic environment? According to Mr. Strohe a large part of the interest is due to the ”large number of famous partner companies who contribute with talks and exhibitions.” One of those famous partner companies is Advanced Micro Devices or AMD. Sabine Eiserloh-Kaiser is Business Development Manager Enterprise with AMD and speculated on why this show has sold out, ”According to IDC, spending on IT cloud services is supposed to be 25% of IT spending growth by 2012. Cloud computing is one of the strongest growing segments in IT these days.” AMD is sponsoring the CloudCamp portion of the WebhostingDay agenda – which is focused on cloud computing.

Other attendees point to much simpler reasons, interest in networking with European colleagues and learning more about the European hosting markets. ”I’m drawn to the WebhostingDay conference by the opportunity to network with other hosting professionals,” says Phil Robinson, a programmer and developer at UK based website hosting company 34SP.com. ”In addition, I’ve never been to a web hosting conference in Germany and I’m looking forward to sampling the local culture and cuisine.”

Blogger and web hosting expert, Dimitar Avramovis the creator and current editor of the Daw Web Hosting Blog. Mr. Avramovis explained his agenda for the pre-conference period and also at the show, ”I’m originally from Bulgaria, so prior to my WebhostingDay trip I’ll be in Milan, Italy and when the conference ends I’m going to Amsterdam on business. I’m planning to have 2 days for sightseeing as well. You know Europe is a great continent. It is easy to travel and to do business. There are also thousands of wonderful historical places. I know there are some wonderful castles around Cologne (Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Bruehl), part of UNESCO world heritage. I’m definitely going to see the Cathedral. As a media representative and blogger my expectations are a little bit different than those that other participants might have. Most of them will go to WebhostingDay to do business. I’ll be there to cover the event, and to engage in networking.”

I’ll be at the show (luckily I signed up a couple of weeks ago) and look forward to meeting any of you that will also be at WebhostingDay 2009.

Categories : In the News
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Feb
25

Gmail Takes a Dive

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As anyone who regularly uses Google’s Gmail service probably now knows, Gmail suffered a 4 hour outage yesterday. Now it goes without saying that it is by no means easy to maintain email communications for the estimated 113 million worldwide Gmail users – but this is Google we’re talking about. Among the first to realize there was an outage and then message it to their customers was UK hosting company 34SP.com. Here you can read their original blog post entitled, Gmail Outage.

Immediately Twitter began to fire on all cylinders as tweets began to fly complaining of the outage and looking for answers. So what exactly did happen? What brought the most successful modern messaging and information company to their knees?

Human error.

According to the Official Google Blog on the Gmail Outage, ”there was a routine maintenance event in one of our European data centers. This typically causes no disruption because accounts are simply served out of another data center. Unexpected side effects of some new code that tries to keep data geographically close to its owner caused another data center in Europe to become overloaded, and that caused cascading problems from one data center to another. It took us about an hour to get it all back under control.” The official comments were communicated by Acacio Cruz, Gmail’s Site Reliability Manager.

So they uploaded some code without properly testing it first in an isolated environment and it busted the whole thing. Too bad they couldn’t just ‘roll it back’. It would have saved a ton of bad publicity.

There has been speculation online that the outage may have been caused by a DDos attack. This seems unlikely though given Google’s official explanation.

Mr. Cruz – who is responsible for the reliability of Gmail did add one more thing: ”We know how painful an outage like this is – we run Google on Gmail, so outages like this affect us the same way they affect you. We always investigate the root causes of rare outages like this one, so we can prevent similar problems in the future.”

Categories : In the News
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Jan
21

Great Website Title Tags

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As we greet the beginning of the New Year, it is an opportune time to review and if necessary revise and update your website’s title tags. First things first, so what exactly is a title tag? The title tag for a web page is displayed in a visitor’s web browser to identify the page, but it originates in the underlying code used to design the website. By right clicking on a website with your mouse you can find the ‘View Source’ command. Selecting view source will permit you to view the underlying code for that web page. You can read an in-depth description of title tags here.

The title tag for any particular page is proceeded by the <title> tag and ends with the </title> tag – the text that appears between these two tags is what will appear in the browser in the main display bar at the top. More importantly for most webmasters is the fact that the title tag indicates to search engines what the page is about, and ultimately where to position that page in the search index. The title tag is often also displayed in the search engine results as the first line in a website’s listing. That means it can either attract or disuade clicks from a web search. It is critical that the title tag be well designed and relevant to the page content in order to rank well at search engines for your chosen terms.

Let’s take a look at a few real-world examples of sites with well constructed title tags.

Our first example is this page: http://webdesignfinders.net/massachusetts-web-designers.html:

The title seems a touch long to me – ”Massachusetts web design: find professional web design firm, web design company, web design services and web designers in Massachusetts”. However, the company has done a few things right. The very first phrase in the title – Massachusetts web design – is the search phrase that I typed into a search engine to find them. This is an important concept in title tags: the most important search phrase for that page should be positioned at the beginning of the tag.

Our second example is from Web Host Magazine:

This title is a great example of addressing multiple audiences via a single title tag. Note the various niches covered: ”Web Host Magazine: Web Hosting Reviews, News, Resources, Articles, & Information”. If a searcher is looking for any one of the target areas, be it ‘web hosting articles’ or ‘web hosting information’ the title tag will catch their eye in a web search. One note on this tag – although not directly listed, the ‘&’ symbol may be considered a ‘stop word’ by Google. What is a stop word? It is a word that will not count when conducting a search. So if you search “keyword” you will get the exact same results as “and keyword” – Google and other engines generally ignore the stop word. Here is a list of stop words that you may want to avoid in your title tag – stop words.

Our final example comes from UK hosting company, 34SP.com.

This company’s title was recently changed and now reads – ”Website Hosting, Cheap Web Hosting, Hosting, UK Hosting”. Why the change? The company was using a title tag that focused on the company name and not the page content of that particular page. This is a common title tag oversight. It is likely that your company will rank well in search engines for its own name without any real additional title tag focus. The title tag should be used to further inform search engines about the exact page content and not just the company name. That doesn’t mean you can’t consciously select to have your company name be an important search phrase, you should just make an informed choice.

One last note on title tags – create a title tag that is unique and describes that page content for every single page of your website. This is a good practice that will benefit your search rankings in the long run. Also be sure to check back on your title tags from time to time, as content of pages may change or your focus for search may change as well.

If you are a more advanced webmaster, you can use Google’s Webmaster Central to determine if you have duplicate title tags and other valuable title tag information. here is a link to the Official Google Blog for Webmaster Central that talks about how to use the tool to examine title tags: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/12/new-content-analysis-and-sitemap.html.

Good luck getting your title tags in shape. The work will pay off so be sure to put some thought into those tags.

Categories : Uncategorized
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