A couple of years ago bandwidth costs in South Africa were high and often people would run out of international cap after which it was only possible to view locally hosted websites. As a result, local server owners’ costs were much higher than that of their international counterparts.
Things have changed for the better in and we now have access to relatively low cost internet. The one thing that remains the same is the extremely high cost of renting space on a local server.
The Local Hosting Myths
Faster website loading
With the new Seacom cables and broadband connections getting faster there really is no noticeable difference in the loading time of local and international servers. Local servers may only be a few milliseconds faster because they are closer by. If you are still using a dial up connection (perish the thought) you may notice this difference, but seriously upgrade.
The speed that a website loads is also affected by the time of day that you are loading any particular page. Some times are busier than others and with so many people trying to pass data through a small pipe the connection speed suffers. This has nothing to do with were the server is hosted. I have heard other ‘local provider’ claim that international sites are 3X slower, I haven’t seen it, even on a GPRS connection.
Better Google Rankings
I have seen some web hosting providers using Google as a justification for the high price of local server hosting. They say that you will get better search ranking in South Africa if your site is hosted in South Africa. That is hysterical! Either they are trying to hoodwink their customers or they know nothing about search engine optimisation.
Firstly, when you search for something on Google, the default is “the web”. You have to specify if you want to see ‘pages from South Africa’.
Secondly, if your domain is .co.za or any other .za, it doesn’t matter where your server is located, it is still a South African page.
And lastly, if you are serious about having high Google rankings you will optimise your site for the search engines. That would include having South Africa mentioned in your site so that if someone specifies South Africa you will show up, regardless of your location.
Better Local Support?
Most local ISPs work local business hours. Some do offer 24 hour support and good turnaround times. International hosting providers offer 24/7 service. The people employed at the international support desks are well trained and fix problems quickly. It doesn’t help having a 1 hours turnaround time if you still have the problem 3 days later.
It has been claimed that local ISP’s lose their connection to international servers more frequently than with local servers. Once again, that is an old argument although it may have been true in the past, the increases in bandwidth and improved server technology has rendered that argument obsolete.
If you still have doubts about using an international server to host your South African website there is still one thing to consider… price. Your local hosting will cost you, on average, 5 times more than international hosting. Whatever perceived issues their might be with international hosting, I can’t justify the cost.
Perhaps in the future when local server owners decide to start supporting the local market instead of profiteering from it, I will start to support them. Who knows, maybe ICASA will start turning the screws on them soon and we will be enjoying competitive pricing.
Until then, the 30 websites that I own will be hosted internationally along with the hundreds of happy client’s that I service.
Wehosting and Fanpages
Facebook have announced that from October 1, 2011 all fanpages must be secured.
What this means is that every website that hosts a Facebook fanpage, whether an application or a page tab must have an SSL certificate.
What is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. Basically, it’s the technology whereby a user’s browser and your server talk to each other using encrypted data. This makes it much harder (not impossible) for hackers and other nasty people to get personal data. To secure your site, your server needs to have a secure certificate installed, You’ll also need a dedicated IP address for your site.
This technology was created for banks and other online businesses that capture and store sensitive personal information. There are a number of companies that offer secure certificates and they usually include an insurance to cover any losses they may be incurred resulting from a breach in their security.
We believe that this move is excessive when you consider that most fanpages only contain graphics and information, but with the increase in facebook accounts being hacked, facebook has viewed this as the olny viable solution to ensure that their member’s information is kept safe. Fanpages are not stored on Facebook but on your own server and once the application has been created to link your server to your fanpage you are able to put pretty much anything on the fanpage. This includes the capturing of personal infomation that could be accessed by hackers. So this policy change does make sense.
There are unfortunately consequences to anyone that owns a fanpage. The costs for a SSL certificate are high. In most cases they are over R1000 per year and that does not include the dedicated IP which usually costs around R300 – R400 per year.
For the last few weeks we have been negotiating with securtiy certificate companies and our server administrators to ensure that our clients receive the best possible deal. We have already updated the prices of fanpages on our website to accomodate the SSL certificate and dedicated IP. Our exisiting fanpage clients will be charged only R700 per year extra for these services should they with to continue using them.
If you have a fanpage hosted by us and you wish to contunie using the fanpage, please let us know and we will add the necessery services. Should you wish to cancel your fanpage, as a result of the additional costs, please contact us and we will make arrangements for a prorata refund from the end of September. We are considering other options for our static fanpage clients but these options will not be available for WordPress fanpages.
It is very important that you let us know your decision urgently because fanpages that are not secure will not be visible from 1 October. for more information you can visit the Facebook Developer Blog
We apologise for the inconveniece. We believe strongly that online business should not cost you a fortune and we will continue to bring you excellent low cost products but our hands are tied on this one.
Some Email Statistics
In 2010 around 294,000,000,000 (294 Billion) emails were sent… per day. This means that about 3.4 million email are sent every second. The problem is that only a small percentage are emails that you actually want.
Spam and other evils
It is estimated that 90% of the 100 trillion emails sent each year are spam. So what is regarded as spam?
Spam is basically unsolicited email. These are email that you didn’t ask for and if you have had an active email address for any amount of time, you will be getting loads of spam. If you use an online email account like Gmail, most of the spam that you receive goes unnoticed directly to your spam folder and is automatically deleted after 30 days. However, some spam filters are better than others and you might find heaps of spam in your inbox.
It is totally up to you whether you want to support the spam industry by clicking on these emails but you could do the world a favour and avoid them. If no one responded to these emails there would be a whole lot less of them.
According to Commtech Software Ltd the breakdown of types of spam for the first quarter of 2010 is as follows:
Pharmacy – 81%
Replicas – 5.4%
Enhancers – 2.3%
Phishing – 2.3%
Degrees – 1.3%
Casinos – 1%
Weight Loss – 0.4%
Others – 6.3%
So it seems the target of spammers are uneducated, overweight, sick gamblers with a compulsion for collecting copies of things and have undersized wieners or erectile dysfunction. Unless you are one of these people there is absolutely no need to open any of these mails. If you, and you get viruses or malware on your computer you only have yourself to blame.
How to Identify Spam
It is usually quite easy to identify spam. Firstly, the subject of the email is a dead giveaway. If the subject is something you have no interest in, there is a good chance it is spam.
Spammers are quite clever at tricking the unsuspecting people into opening their spam emails by making it look like the mail was sent by someone other than them. When you open your emails you might find the an email has been sent by your bank or another trusted source but before you open it, hover your mouse over the ‘from’ name is in most cases you will find that it comes from some dodgy email address like email@example.com. Obviously this does not come from your bank. But still be alert because they are still able to make the email address look like it came from a trusted source.
What you may find is that you open an email that actually looks like it is from your bank and you are required to click on a link or open an attachment. For goodness sakes, don’t do it. This could very well be a phishing email.
Phishing (pronounced: fishing) emails are the most dangerous type of email. These con artists include a link in the email that they send to you. It usually looks like it is coming from a bank and the message tells you that your account will be closed for inactivity, you have money owing to you, some kind of an upgrade or some other message to entice you to click on the link and log in to “your” account.
When you click on that link you are taken to a website that looks just like the bank’s website login page. But… it is not your bank’s website. When you enter your information it goes to the phisher who is able to access your account and steal your money.
Banks or anyone else of worth will never ask you to click on a link in an email and they will never ask you to confirm your details online. Now you know, so don’t do it.
On a final note, a scam artist is able to steal your identity with only your bank account details and ID/Social Security number. This will allow them to open accounts and even get credit cards in your name. An easy way to avoid this is to make sure you NEVER give out these details to anyone that you don’t know… EVER.
The internet is a safe and rewarding place to have a presence as long as you stay vigilant and be aware of potential threats. Enjoy it!
Statistical information sourced from:
Commtech Software Ltd
If you have a website or are planning to create your own piece of online real estate, you will undoubtedly want some people to see it. Keywords are really important when setting up your site. You need to make sure that you are using the right keywords and that you are using them correctly. After all, the idea of free traffic is all important.
Google and Other Search Engines
The way people find your site, without you having to advertise, is through a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Lycos or Alta Vista. In order to do that you will firstly need to ensure that you are using the keywords or key phases that your potential market is going to look for.
Keyword research is very involved and it will take a lot more than a paragraph in an article. It is a skill that must be acquired through knowledge and practice and looking at how the professionals do it. There are many tools available to help but if you want targeted traffic you will need to do it well.
There really is no right way or wrong way only the way that you get the best results. This may take time and a bit of tweaking and you will eventually get there.
Content, Competition and Ranking
So you have your keywords sorted out and your website is published, you check your keywords on Google and… Nothing! Your site is not even on the first 100 pages. Here are some possible reasons:
- There is too much competition with the keywords that you are using (but you should have seen that when you did your keyword research).
- It might be too early. It takes time for Google’s crawlers to index all the pages on the web.
- You have no content on your site to index and/or you have not submitted a sitemap.
- You have NO BACKLINKS!
You need to have other websites link to your site which will help your PageRank and get you onto that elusive Page #1. PageRank is a measure out of 10 ranking your site for their search engine.
Suppose you ran around with a sign saying, “I am great!” No one is going to take you seriously. But, if a bunch of other people wore signs saying that you are great, now that would mean something. Even better would be if a well known and trusted celebrity wore a sign saying that you are great, that would really boost you.
Well, backlinks are very much the same to Google. You are not going to get a lot of recognition trying to tell the other websites about your great site. But, if a whole bunch of them said that your site is great, other people will visit it and Google will recognise that. If you manage to get backlinks from a website will a high PageRank you will start doing really well.
Besides the improved PageRank you will also start generating that all important holy grail of internet marketing… Free traffic!