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hostingThere are a plethora of shared hosting plans to be found online, some great, others mediocre and some downright bad. This makes choosing a host for your Joomla website something of a headache, if you’ve never done it before, as there are just so many options.

However, we’ve had a look around for some of the well-known and respected hosts that specialise in Joomla to help take the hard work out of finding one.

Planning is essential

Before you go ahead, plan your site out – is it going to be a hobby or blogging site or are you looking for something commercial? If you’re looking to use the site for a business, it’s not recommended that you go with shared hosting as it’s likely you’ll need a premium plan.

For hobbies and bloggers, who just want a basic platform on which to share their passions with the world, it’s possible to get free or shared hosting that costs a negligible amount.

Decent free hosting for a Joomla website is rare, and if you’re going to go down that route then the only real advantage you will have is the opportunity to use your own domain name.

Shared hosting, on the hand, is ideal for many people who don’t want to pay the earth as they share a server and its resources with others. Shared hosting tends to cost in the region of $4-20 and should include the following:

  • Reliability is vital if you want your site to be live at all times – ask for speed and uptime percentage before going ahead
  • Size is important! Ensure that there is enough disk space to suit your needs, especially for photographers and video enthusiasts
  • Security is also worth considering, ensure that server builds are secure and webmail etc is protected
  • Tech support is vital for the user who is not especially au fait with internet technology, look for reviews that promise a fast, reliable and friendly support service

Our Picks:

  1. CloudAccess: They are very specialized in Joomla hosting. They manage your joomla setup and plans start from $19.95.
  2. Siteground: These have an excellent reputation for providing outstanding uptime and security, as well as super-fast data transfer rates. Prices start at $3.95 and include a free domain name.
  3. Rochen: They are the official Joomla hoster of joomla.org, start at $8.95.

Hopefully, this should give you a good starting point when it comes to choosing a host. There are plenty more hosting companies out there which are just as good as those mentioned, but this will give you some kind of benchmark to work from.

Happy hunting!

Writing for joomla contentYou may have heard the phrase ‘content is king’ which has become so well used recently it’s more or less become a cliché. However, it’s true now more than ever before following the Google algorithm updates last year, so if you create regular content for your Joomla site, it’s more important than ever to get it right.

The first thing to consider when planning written content is whether you can actually write well. Google’s algorithms now look for a combination of things to check whether written content is legible.

These include:

  • Excellent spelling and grammar
  • Good use of language
  • A low (ish) keyword density (note that keywords still have their place but ‘keyword stuffing’ should be avoided)
  • Relevance to the website’s industry and other content

What does this mean to the content creator?

Well, if you can’t write and your spelling is atrocious, hire a professional to do it for you. Bloggers and article writers vary wildly in price but there are a lot of them out there so set up a job on Problogger Job Boards and outline the project and what you’re looking for in a writer in full.

Of course, content mills still exist, where you can pick up a writer for pennies, but the quality is generally very low. This is one reason that Google brought out the updates, to address poor quality sites, stuffed with keywords which read atrociously.

Another route is to find an employee that kind write well within the company. You may be surprised who comes forward, there are plenty of budding writers out there that just don’t have the confidence to do it for a living.

Other content

When planning your content, think about how you can mix it up with images and video. Web video and infographics are very popular these days as they are an easy way for people to take in information.

People surfing the internet become bored and distracted very quickly and prefer content that they can disseminate rapidly. This means that videos should be short and preferably, amusing.

Images can be from many sources, but do check out distribution rights before taking from Google images or any other source. It’s not in your interest to be sued for copyright infringement. Again, people love infographics as they provide a strong visual with little in the way of text that isn’t completely informational.

Also ensure that written content is presented in short paragraphs, using relatively simple language, depending on the audience and with white space in between each paragraph so that it’s easy to scan.

social-media-campaignJoomla is one of the world’s most popular platforms for building a website and content management with around 3 million downloads and 6,000 extensions.

With this in mind, it makes sense that there are a plethora of social media add-ons in this day of social sharing and content marketing. Many web developers are pretty savvy when it comes to SEO and social and how this can drive traffic to a site, whilst others ignore it.

The power of social sharing

However, social media is one of the most powerful resources available and as such, should be used to publish content such as blogs, pictures, events and so on. This is because the more social sharing that is done via your site and social channels, the more important the site will appear to Google.

Gone are the days when keywords and optimized pages were enough to get you good rankings in the SERPs, these days it’s all about content as well.

What social channels should I use?

This really depends on your industry. Facebook is ideal for B2C companies such as retailers, whilst LinkedIn is better for networking with other professionals. However, it doesn’t hurt to set up social media accounts on a few channels, starting with the most important.

Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages are free. Whilst there has been some debate recently on whether reach for non-paying advertisers on Facebook is being suppressed by the network, this is something that Facebook themselves deny.

However, if you can afford to advertise, then you will get better reach and engagement but it’s not essential.

Twitter and Pinterest

Twitter is a great resource and should be used by all, whilst Pinterest is only really viable if you have something aesthetically pleasing that you can share.

Saying that, you can use any images with Pinterest and I use it to post infographics and the featured images that accompany many of my blogs.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great resource, whatever business you’re in and should have a company page and a discussion group if you are to get the most from it. Endorsements on LinkedIn are a relatively new thing but very useful for showing off your skills as they are almost like mini-testimonials.

What content should I use to feed my social campaign?

This varies by social site but for a start, your blog, articles, whitepapers and any other content that you have produced for your site should be shared via the social networks. Other content can be used to point to articles that your readership will find useful, as well as infographics and anything that gives the reader value.

These should include:

  • Blogs – from your site and others which are valuable to reader so give good advice, insight into your industry or ‘how to’ carry something out.
  • Images – these should be mixed up into a collection of amusing and informative, with more emphasis on funny as they prompt more user action. This is because any content should evoke some kind of emotional response and amusement is the one which will get you the most engagement.
  • Questions – think up something to ask your audience each day
  • Polls – on something relevant to your industry SEO in the Panda and Penguin age

For Pinterest, you should look for beautiful images and think about how these relate to your site so that people will click through. If you’re a Joomla developer this can be template pages, typography pieces and so on.

Use common sense when it comes to what to post where; obviously a silly post that people laugh at on Facebook and Twitter will not have the same impact on LinkedIn, which is more likely to be receptive to a discussion about coding or extensions.

Whilst this is just a short introduction to social and sharing, it flags up the assertion that social is important and should make up a part of your SEO efforts. In future posts we’ll be looking a little closer at each network and SEO practices for the modern web.

php-5-2Since DPCalendar version 3.0, which was released in February 2013, we no longer support PHP 5.2, please let us explain why we decided to drop PHP 5.2 support.

PHP 5.2 became end-of-life on January 6th, 2011 when the final version, PHP 5.2.17, was released. As the PHP website reads on that page:

If you are using these releases, you are strongly urged to upgrade to a current version, as using older versions may expose you to security vulnerabilities and bugs that have been fixed in more recent versions of PHP.

 

Security risk

This is exactly the case with PHP 5.2, a version of PHP which is end of life for over 2 years now. As a matter of fact, just a mere days after it became end of life a major security flaw was detected. It was fixed in PHP 5.3 but not in PHP 5.2. If you are using PHP 5.2 you are exposed to known security threats which are being used to attack web sites. The nature of these attacks means that your server's firewall and/or other security tools cannot protect your site. If you are using PHP 5.2 your site will be hacked. The question is not if, but when. So, using PHP 5.2 hurts your site's security. We are not joking!!!

PHP 5.3 is approaching the end-of-life mark itself, whereas PHP 5.4 is now officially considered mature. So, using PHP 5.2 is, practically, being two major releases behind, in the software timescale that's an eternity.

What happens now when my host is still on PHP 5.2?

There are hosts which still offer PHP 5.2 by default but do support PHP 5.3 or 5.4 as an option. On these hosts you can ask them for the proper way to upgrade to PHP 5.3. Usually it's a configuration option in your site's control panel or in your .htaccess. Please do. Joomla! 2.5 and all of its extensions are PHP 5.3 ready. Joomla! 3.0 and later actually requires PHP 5.3, you can't use it on older PHP versions.

There are still hosts which do not offer you any way to use PHP 5.3 or later. These hosts must be avoided at all cost. It means that the hosting company doesn't care about investing the minimal amount of time required to properly setup their machines and ensure your security. Do you really want to trust them with your site? If you're stuck on such a host we strongly recommending moving to a decent hosting company.

mobile devicesWe’re excited to announce some great new features to DPCalender this month, which we've developed alongside a host of bug fixes and tons of minor improvements to the software. We hope that the changes will make users’ lives even easier as they use DPCalendar every day.

The foremost new feature to be added in the latest DPCalender Joomla installation is the ability for all personal calendars to be managed through any CalDAV app. CalDAV is a popular open protocol which allows calendar access via WebDAV and presents calendar events in iCalendar format. DPCalendar is the first Joomla calendar and event manager who supports the caldav protocol.

Integrated iCal

Additionally DPCalendar users now have the ability to use the integrated iCal URL so that their information can be shared easily across devices. Simply subscribe to the URL from any device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or PC and your information will be synchronised so that you always know what you have on, wherever you are.

This is perfect for organising time on the go and ideal for those who use a BYOD scheme at work, as important information is never any more than a click away. Now not only can you have one of the best Joomla calendars out there, but you can manage your life from the car, work or even in a restaurant!

Access calender from anywhere!

We recognise that this is an important requirement for today’s connected world and with more smartphones than toothbrushes now in the world, the majority of owners want to access information from a variety of places.

DPCalendar was already a great, high-end product, designed for ease of use and maximum functionality for today’s busy web owner. Not only does it have all the features you would expect from a Joomla calendar, such as Ajax powered event browsing, frontend editing, ACL, nested calendars and batch editing, it can now be accessed on the go.

Sleek design and social media integration

Add to this the beautifully sleek design and its ability to be integrated with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, DPCalendar also features SEO settings for the ultimate in professional calendar and event management for Joomla.

We hope you enjoy the new and improved DPCalendar, with all of the tweaking we’ve been doing, alongside the new features, we think you’ll love it!

What will come next!

As we focused in this release to make your calendars accessible from everywhere, the next release will be about including your visitors in the event process.

  • Attending events
  • Notification and reminders
  • Improved sharing of calendars
  • Profile enhancements
  • Speeding up the process of creating events

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