Choosing the best baby monitor for 2017

Choosing the best baby monitor for summer 2017

best baby monitor for 2016

As an online sales copywriter, I spend a lot of time each day researching background information and reviews on all kinds of products. Recently I was looking at baby monitors. Easy eh? You would think that the big names in the industry like Samsung, Tomy, BT and Motorola would have a vast range of superb monitors to choose from.

Surprisingly, that’s not what I found.


The baby monitor market

There are hundreds of different types of baby monitor on the market. These range from cheap audio monitors, right up to really expensive, high definition video systems. It’s incredible to find out that, no matter how much you spend, many baby monitors have poor reliability and basic design flaws.

The best value baby monitor

Some of the most reliable baby monitor systems are simple, audio only, parent and baby units. Why is this the case? My guess is that there’s simply less to go wrong with a basic, audio system. If you’re looking online for the best value baby monitor, I’d recommend a simple audio monitor as the best option.

The best video baby monitors

If you do prefer to see that baby is snoozing safely in the nursery, you’re going to have a tough time trawling through the hundreds of video baby monitors currently on sale.

Two of the most popular brands for online baby monitor sales are Motorola and Summer Infant. Generally, many of the video monitors in their respective product ranges are well received by most buyers. I’ve selected two of the best, based on buyer feedback and reviews on sites like Amazon, Which Magazine and Mumsnet. I also went through the technical details of each product to check things like battery life and range.

You’ll notice that there are no WiFi baby monitors in my list. What some buyers don’t realise is that many WiFi cameras feed their video and audio content to external servers. As we have no idea where these servers are located, or who operates them, I personally don’t feel 100% confident about their reliability, privacy or security.

All of the baby monitors that I recommend below have been chosen for their simplicity, reliability and security. Oh … and excellent value for money too!


Philips Avent DECT Baby Audio Monitor System SCD560/01

Philips audio baby monitor features:

  • Simple audio baby monitor
  • Portable parent unit
  • Nursery temperature monitor
  • Nightlight, 5 lullabies & two way talk
  • ECO battery power saving feature

Without the added complexity of a video screen, this simple Philips ‘Avent DECT’ Baby Audio Monitor System is easy to set up and use. A portable, battery operated ‘parent’ unit can be carried with you around the home.

The system is sensitive enough to pick up every sound from baby. Along with the sounds of baby’s movement and breathing, the parent monitor also displays the nursery temperature on a basic LCD screen.

For comforting reassurance if your baby wakes, you have the option of a nightlight, five lullabies, or two-way conversation.

Although a little pricey, many buyers find the Philips Avent DECT Baby Audio Monitor System to be highly reliable. Philips is a trusted manufacturer with a reputation for quality.

Click here for more details and buyer reviews (Amazon).


Motorola MBP36S Digital Video Baby Monitor


Motorola video baby monitor features:

  • High quality audio/video baby monitor
  • Portable parent unit with 3.5 inch colour monitor
  • Nursery temperature display
  • Lullaby & two way talk features
  • Displays optional extra cameras on split screen

Great sound and video quality, along with easy setup, make this one of the most popular video baby monitors currently on sale. The Motorola brand is often placed high in ‘Top 10’ style baby monitor reviews.

The Motorola MBP36S Digital Video Baby Monitor comes with all of the popular features. These include superb infra-red night vision, a bright, 3.5 inch colour video screen, lullabies and a two-way baby talk facility. Nursery temperature is also displayed on the parent unit.

This baby monitor system offers excellent remote control of camera pan, tilt and zoom.

With a very affordable price tag, many buyers appreciate the quality and reliability of this Motorola video baby monitor. The parent unit will also display optional extra cameras in a special ‘split screen’ mode.

Click here to read genuine buyer reviews (Amazon).


Summer Infant Wide View Digital Video Monitor

Summer Infant video baby monitor features:

  • Wide-angle view of the nursery
  • Big 5 inch colour screen on portable parent unit
  • Nursery temperature check displayed
  • Two-way talk with baby
  • Simple troubleshooting checklist

If you’re expecting a summer baby in 2017, how about this ‘Summer Infant’ baby monitor? With simple, easy to use design, this digital baby camera kit gives a wide angle view of your nursery. A basic digital zoom feature allows you to take a closer look while baby sleeps or plays in the cot.

A big, 5 inch (12.7cm) parent unit offers clear daytime viewing. Switch to black and white, Infra-Red mode for night-time operation. The monitor also displays the nursery temperature. This could be useful in hot summers or cold winters. As with most dedicated baby monitors, two-way talk with baby is a basic feature.

The Summer Infant baby monitor comes with a very clear troubleshooting checklist. Most buyers seem to be very happy with their purchase. Naturally, the large LCD screen on the portable parent unit will drain the rechargeable battery quite quickly. With a little forward planning this shouldn’t be a big problem.

Click here to check out the BIG LCD SCREEN on this wide-angle baby monitor (Amazon).


Motorola MBP10 Digital Audio Baby Monitor

Motorola audio baby monitor features:

  • Simple, cheap baby monitor
  • Audio monitoring only
  • Powered baby unit – portable (rechargeable) parent unit
  • LED display of sound level in the nursery
  • No fancy features – good reliability

Here’s a really simple, audio only monitor from Motorola. The great thing about this MBP10 model is the price. The Motorola MBP10 Digital Audio Baby Monitor retails at about £20 to £30.

This is probably one of the cheapest baby monitors that you’ll find online. Most of the monitors in this price range have poor reliability, or other fundamental problems. This basic, no-fuss monitor outshines all of the competition.

The Motorola MBP10 works exceptionally well to give a simple LED display of the sound level in the nursery. You can see when baby is crying – even with the volume turned down on the parent unit. The parent unit comes with two ‘AAA’ size, rechargeable batteries. Many buyers find that the parent unit runs out of battery charge after a few hours. Maybe you could work around this minor problem?

Click here to check out the latest Amazon price for a Motorola MBP10 Digital Audio Baby Monitor.


Thanks for reading my reviews and recommendations – more top quality baby products coming soon!


Cute baby image courtesy of hin255 at

Freelance Steve footnote


Maintain your Google pagerank with organic SEO

How to maintain your Google pagerank

Google pagerankSince the launch of Google’s Panda search algorithm large numbers of online traders and entrepreneurs have seen a fall in their site’s Google pagerank. Site owners regularly voice their bewilderment and anger on Google search forums. Sadly, the bottom line is that some site owners just don’t understand Google’s basic philosophy and terms of service. In this post I’ll spell out the key factors that can help you to maintain or improve your Google pagerank.


The lawless frontier

In some respects, the Web has been a lawless, unregulated frontier, where opportunists found it easy to make a fast buck at the expense of a naïve punter. Over recent years, Google has taken steps to level the field by introducing the Panda search algorithm. Their focus is now on ‘high quality, relevant content’ that needs to be honest and up-front. In this new ‘organic’ SEO landscape, your content needs to offer real value to the users who enter more than 3.5 billion Google search queries every day.

High & low quality content

OK, I hear you – your site is full of high quality content, right?

Let’s take a moment to list the types of low-quality content that have the potential to damage your Google ranking:

  • Keyword stuffed content that sounds unnatural
  • Duplicated, scraped and unoriginal content
  • Content which is generated automatically
  • Insufficient content to provide any value to your site visitors

Expect your Google pagerank to fall over the next year or two if you are using any of these techniques. In severe cases, Google may post a ‘Thin content with little or no added value’ warning in your site’s Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) account. Ignore the warning and you may find that your site is removed from Google SERPs  (search engine results pages).

Use natural organic keywords

Well written content is usually rich in natural, organic keywords. Problems arise when content is written specifically to manipulate search results – a breach of Google’s guidelines!

Without relevant keywords in your content Google won’t be able to position your site in SERPs. Remember that Google’s indexing robots scan your content for organic keywords. The page’s Meta “keywords” tag is no longer used by any of the main search engines for keyword indexing.

The number of times that an organic keyword or key phrase appears on your page should be natural and not ‘stuffed’ or forced. The total word count of your page should be just long enough to contain all of the the information that you need to get across, in natural, readable language.

Avoid duplicated content

Many online stores still use duplicated manufacturer’s product descriptions for their catalog. While the ranking penalties for this seem to be insignificant right now, it’s likely that content duplication will result in lower rankings in the years ahead.

While Google currently have quite a relaxed attitude to ‘non-malicious’ duplication, the penalty for deliberately setting out to dupe users can be severe. It can even result in your site being removed from SERPs.

Auto-generated content sucks

At this point you should have a pretty good understanding of Google’s quality guidelines. The use of non-curated, automatically generated content is another example of a deceptive technique which is often employed to generate hits. These types of pages often feature affiliate product feeds, or some form of automated search results pages. Under Google’s guidelines, if the pages have little or no value to the user, they’ll either be reported as spam, or plummet down to the lower rankings.

No Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy?

We’ve already mentioned that Google needs content to be able to crawl and index each page. It’s surprising how many site owners fill their pages with cool images, sliders and graphics, but only feature a few paragraphs of text on the whole site.

As well as making life difficult for the search providers, ‘thin content’ can also affect the user’s trust in a site. A website with no ‘About us’, ‘Terms of Service’ or ‘Privacy Policy’ pages immediately arouses suspicion for many users.

There’s a lot of discussion about the ideal word count required for a webpage to gain the best Google pagerank. Again, Google would prefer that you focused on user experience rather than SEO. Write just enough to inform or entertain the reader. Write for your readers and not for Google.

The SEO landscape in 2016

Hopefully, you will now have a better understanding of the way that the SEO landscape is changing. While it may require a little extra work from site owners and webmasters, most search engine users will be pleased to see the spammy, exploitation sites gradually disappearing from their search results.

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines provide a simple, easy to understand explanation of the post-Panda world of web design and content creation. This link is a great place to start:


Google Webmaster Guidelines


Freelance Steve footnote

Using meta description tags for better CTR

Using HTML meta description tags to improve your click through rate (CTR)

html meta tagsOften ignored or duplicated, the simple meta description tag is actually vital for maintaining your site’s click through rate (CTR). 
In this post I’ll highlight the importance of the tag and explain how it works – and why it sometimes doesn’t!


How is the HTML meta description tag used?

Whenever you see a list of search results in Google, Bing or the other major search engines, you’ll notice a little snippet of information about each page below its link. If the page has an effective meta “description” in its HTML code, the description will often be displayed prominently in the snippet.

Even better, if the site page meta description contains the search phrase or  keywords that the user entered as a search term, those phrases and terms are likely to be shown as bold text in the Google snippet.

Investing a little time and effort in creating a great meta description snippet will help your site to stand out in the search results pages (SERP).

How does the meta description snippet boost CTR?

It’s simple – a good meta description snippet is often your first direct communication with a potential site visitor. You need to tailor that little Google snippet to speak directly to your potential client, viewer or buyer.

To beat the competition, it’s vital that your snippet shouts out, “Hey, look at me – I’m exactly what you were searching for!

Keyword confusion

Don’t get the idea that your meta description tag has anything to do with keyword ranking SEO. This is a common misunderstanding. Google doesn’t rank your site based on keywords that it finds in the meta description! It simply marks any of the visitor’s search keywords found in the description snippet in bold text.

Remember that this tag is about increasing your click through rate, not boosting your rankings with keyword SEO.

How to check the meta description on any web page

This is easy! In most browsers just right-click in the page content and select “View page source” (“View source” in Internet Explorer) from the pop-up menu. This will show you the raw HTML code that builds the page.

Look through the lines of code at the top of the page for:

<meta name=”description content=”

Actual code looks something like this:

Meta Description Example

The quoted information after content=” is often displayed as the snippet below your site link. This can’t be guaranteed – the search terms entered, along with the quality of your snippet and site content are all part of the equation.

Don’t worry too much if the meta description is blank on your pages – most search engines will extract relevant content from your page and build an informative snippet for you. Unfortunately, these machine-created snippets sometimes look a little garbled and confusing in the search results listing.

By writing your own, tailor-made meta description you can attract more attention to your page link!

What are the rules for creating great meta descriptions?

The first rule is to create meta page descriptions for all of your main pages. Good webmasters will have handled this already.

Rule number two – don’t duplicate your meta descriptions. While small-scale duplication is likely to be ignored, large scale duplication may damage your search engine ranking.

Don’t go crazy with the description. The recommended length is 156 characters, including spaces.

A recommendation … put important keywords at the front of the description. This isn’t for SEO – it’s just that they’ll show up in bold text if they match the phrases entered by the searcher. It just has more impact if the keywords are at the beginning.

A final recommendation … make the description ‘human’. It should appeal directly to a real person who is looking for your special page, product or service.

Editing your HTML meta description tags

If you have any kind of HTML editing experience it’s pretty easy to create or edit the tag with your usual plain text/HTML editor.

WordPress users have the luxury of a superb Yoast SEO plugin that will guide you through the whole process. Oh … other SEO plugins perform equally well!

Many other content management systems and online stores have their own facilities for editing meta tags. It’s often pretty simple and straightforward.

If HTML edits seem a little too complicated you can speak to your site webmaster about updating the tags for you. It’s a quick, simple exercise that could help to increase the number of clicks on your site!


Freelance Steve footnote

Get more from your freelance copywriter

Hiring a freelance copywriter can be a smart investment!

freelance copywriting thumbnailHiring a good freelance copywriter can be a smart investment that will save your time, improve your site’s readability and boost organic search engine rankings. In this post I’ll show you how to find a good freelancer writer online, then manage your working relationship to ensure a pain-free, prosperous outcome for both parties.

First steps – setting your budget

Website content writers are actually pretty easy to find. Their rates are as diverse as their abilities, ranging from a few dollars per item, up to … well, how much can you afford to spend? As with most B2B services, the quality of the work that you can expect to receive is directly proportional to your cash investment.

A low budget will give you access to online copywriters on sites like Fiverr, Copify and There are good freelance writers working on these sites – but expect to spend a lot of time trying to find them. There are a whole lot of copywriters here offering low-quality content for a few dollars.

In the mid-budget range you’ll find independent writers with their own websites, along with a broad range of freelancers working sites like PeoplePerHour and Elance. Again, standards vary alarmingly, so it can be quite time-consuming to check each writer’s profile to ensure that you get the biggest bang for your bucks.

Top of the range are the larger agencies like StickyContent and BJL that cover everything, from product descriptions to full marketing strategies. We’re really looking at ‘corporate’ budgets here – these guys have a lot of overheads to take care of.

Choosing your freelance writer

With a rough idea of your budget and expectations, it’s time to go fishing for your freelancer! As with most purchases, customer feedback is a good place to start.

Client feedback is a standard feature on all of the freelancing websites, but it’s worth noting that the star ratings are sometimes a little generous. It’s down to basic psychology – nobody wants to downplay a freelancer’s efforts – unless they were really bad!

Most of the independent freelancers will have customer feedback on their websites. Just make sure that there’s lots of it, and that it’s fairly recent.

With the client feedback box ticked it’s time to check your potential writer’s portfolio. While a good freelancer should be able to adapt their style and tone to meet your needs, you really need a writer with some natural ability and authority. No portfolio? Just move on to the next candidate. There’s no excuse for not having an impressive portfolio to ‘wow’ potential clients!

Now it’s down to the fee … as we saw earlier, it’s basically a case of choosing the best freelancer that you can afford within the range of your budget. It’s quite unusual for independent freelancers to quote rates on their websites. With so many variables to consider, and the keen competition within the freelancing market, this is no big surprise. Before providing a quote, most professional freelancers will need to see some kind of project brief or scope of the work involved.

Your freelancer’s brief

Every successful project starts with an excellent brief, so it’s worth taking a little time to prepare a detailed package of instructions for your freelancer. As a minimum, it should explain what you need written, the expected length, tone and your target audience.

It’s also essential to be specific about your timescale. Most successful freelancers will have a busy schedule, so a clear deadline sidesteps a lot of potential problems.

If you’re commissioning a journalistic style piece with a detailed back story, it may involve extensive research, telephone or Skype interviews. This will increase your freelancer’s fee. For sales copy, your freelancer may ask for JPG’s and specifications of the products. Keep the fees low by providing as much up-front information as possible. Generally, the more information that you can provide, the sharper and more focused the article will be.

By providing a first-class brief you’ve proved your professionalism to your freelancer. It’s clear that you’re going to be  a good client to work with, and that there may even be a possibility of more work in the future.

Getting more from your freelance copywriter

Once you get the quote it’s a great time to negotiate a few little extras. How about some free SEO keyword research? If your freelancer is promising to write an SEO friendly article or blog post then it must be based on some kind of research?

If you’re paying for product descriptions, how about getting SEO optimized titles and 5 ‘Feature’ bullet points thrown-in for the fee.

Some free promotion is always useful too – ask your freelancer to publicize the piece through their social media connections, after it’s published!

Keep your freelancer

Once you’ve found a good freelance copywriter it pays to keep in touch. Your freelancer will appreciate advance notice of your up-coming writing projects and may even offer a little discount to win the gig!


Freelance Steve footnote

Google Chrome installation causing slow running of Windows 8.1 64-bit OS

Make sure that you install the right version of Chrome for Windows 8.1 64-bit OS!

chromeRecently I spent about 3 days trying to work out why Windows 8.1 had suddenly become unusable on a Sony Vaio i5 laptop. The main symptoms included slow running applications, “Limited internet access” error reports, and the computer being unable to shut-down or restart properly. I was surprised to find that Google’s Chrome browser was the source of the problem!

Early investigations

I’d been told that the problem appeared after adding a new email account in Microsoft Outlook. Right from the start, I thought that this was unlikely to be the cause of what looked like a serious Operating System failure. I was convinced that that laptop had suffered a ‘forced’ shutdown halfway through a Windows update.

My early efforts involved trying to resolving the “Limited internet access” error. My plan was to re-establish an Internet connection so that the suspected faulty updates could be removed and re-loaded.

I found a pretty good YouTube video that explains the process at:

It was quite easy to follow all of the steps advised in the video. Unfortunately, this just didn’t work.

Disabling Fast Startup on Windows 8.1

A few minutes on Google led to the discovery that a LOT of Windows 8 users were having startup and shutdown problems. Disabling the Windows 8 (and 8.1) “Fast Startup” feature was offered as a possible solution.

I found this post which explained the whole process:

Even with the Fast Startup feature disabled, the laptop was taking about 30 hours (yes 30 hours!) to shut down and about 45 minutes to restart – still with all of the applications running dead-slow.

By now I was seriously thinking about wiping the hard-drive and re-installing the Operating System.

The simple solution

While most of the Windows applications were running incredibly slowly, I noticed that there was one application that wasn’t running at all … Google Chrome! For some reason I decided to uninstall Chrome – even though the laptop was a complete wreck.

It was pretty amazing to see the laptop spring back to life as soon as Chrome was removed!

I ran through 3 or 4 reboot cycles – all of the problems were solved, even the “Limited internet access” error.

After a little more investigation I found that the laptop was running in Windows 8.1, 64-bit mode. Right now, it looks like the default, 32-bit Google Chrome browser for Windows 8 causes a catastrophic failure of Windows 8.1 in 64-bit mode. Maybe in future updates Google or Microsoft may resolve the problem.

Right now, if you’re using Windows 8.1 64-bit and you’ve been experiencing any of the problems that I’ve described above, you can download the fully compatible, 64-bit Chrome browser, directly from Google via this link:


Freelance Steve footnote

Writing product descriptions for increasing sales

Five easy tips to improve your online sales copy

Thinking about product descriptions thumbnailGreat product descriptions are the key to conversion, transforming those hits on your store into steadily increasing sales. In this post I’ll provide 5 easy tips to help you write unique, SEO optimized product descriptions that will boost your revenue.

 1) Know your buyer

Even now in 2015 one of the oldest marketing rules still applies!

Apart from the basic demographics like gender, age and income, it’s vital to understand your customers’ buying behavior before you set out to write your product descriptions. For example, do your buyers take the time to study and compare product specifications? Or do they make rapid, impulsive purchase decisions based on an emotional response to seductive styling, images and content?

A detailed understanding of your desired customers’ purchasing profile will help you to make a decision on the tone and length of your product descriptions. A brief paragraph with bulleted technical data may be great for selling a jet washer, but not so hot for a new line in lingerie.

2) Know your products

I don’t need to tell you how competitive the on-line market is in 2015. How can you draft your product descriptions to get ahead of the competition?

A little research or inside knowledge can often help to add a glowing spark of originality to an otherwise dull product description. Share a specialist tip or a little known fact about your product with your potential buyer. This personal touch might just help to tip the balance in your favour when it comes to hitting the ‘add to cart’ button.

Even if it doesn’t convert the sale, the added originality will help to boost your product’s SEO.

3) Keep it Simple

Recently I had a client contact me asking if I could remove the ‘fluff’ from his product descriptions. Smart move! Just like a bestselling book, good product descriptions have a one or two line ‘hook’ to draw the reader into your page.

In some cases the ‘hook’, possibly with some tech-spec’s and user reviews, may be all that you need to reach your conversion goals. This is typically the case if you’re selling utility products in large numbers.

For more sophisticated products you’ll need to do a little more work.

4) Get psychological

Psychology is a critical element in the copywriting process. A few carefully chosen words can often work at a subliminal level to help casual visitors to your store develop an emotional response to your products. Even a quite subtle response can help to convert hits to sales.

Smart content writers are taking it even further by writing product descriptions which involve their readers in stories and journeys which appeal directly to their subconscious desires and aspirations. This is an exciting, imaginative approach if you have the flair and confidence for it.

With this approach it’s wise to leave your newly written content for a few days before publishing it on your store. A second opinion is helpful too. Don’t be too precious about your work!

5) Don’t forget the keywords

One of the most frustrating things about working in ecommerce is the phenomenal rate of change. The rapid evolution of Google’s search ranking algorithms is a particular pain: the latest development being their push to improve the originality and relevance of content with their ‘Panda’ search algorithm.

In 2015 the keyword debate is becoming increasingly heated, but the general consensus is that keywords still have significant value in SEO.

With a little common sense and research you should be able identify the main keywords and search terms that are likely to bring visitors to your site. The intelligent approach is to weave these terms, along with their relevant synonyms, into unique, readable content. The golden rule is to avoid dropping the keywords often and inappropriately into your product descriptions. It’s a real turn-off for potential buyers.

Google Adwords (link) is a brilliant keyword research tool, but remember that your content is primarily for your customers, not for Google, Bing or any other search engine.

Using this approach, along with the tips outlined above, should bring steadily increasing numbers of visitors to your site, and encourage more of them to hit that ‘add to cart’ button.


Freelance Steve footnote


Product description copywriting

The business case for original content

Product description copywriting thumbnailIn this post I’m going to spell out exactly why you need to have original product descriptions for your online store. While some freelance copywriters and agencies may tell you that it’s all about SEO, the plain truth is a lot less complicated. Even if your product descriptions have superb SEO there’s no guarantee that they’ll make it into the higher level rankings!

Top of the search listings …

The first thing that I do when I’m hired to write a product description is Google the product, then check out the descriptions that are topping the search listings. Despite all the talk about intelligent search algorithms demoting poor-quality sales content, I regularly find garbage at the top of the product listings in most of the major search engines.

Here’s an example …

I did a Google search for a (random) Michael Kors model MK8314 wristwatch, using the term “Michael Kors MK8314”. Top of the results list was an expired eBay listing. Second on the list was an Amazon listing with no description and a JPG of a diamond ring rather than a wristwatch. Third on the list – another Amazon listing with no description. The fourth listing took me to a page of Michael Kors ladies’ handbags.

Poor quality results …

This isn’t an unusual occurrence – it’s something that I see every day as a product description copywriter. The problem isn’t confined to Google – the same search in Bing returned a similar listing of poor quality results for model number MK5314 – not even the model I’d searched for!

It’s all about conversion!

Obviously this isn’t a detailed, scientific survey, but it does illustrate my point that SEO shouldn’t be your main motivation for using original product descriptions in your online store. Product description copywriting isn’t really about SEO – it’s about communicating with your customers and converting hits on your site into sales!

As an online trader you’ll be well aware of the increasing numbers of competitors that are coming into the market. For most buyers, the price and user reviews are still the most important factors in their purchase decision. Even so, this is a ‘numbers game’ where a tiny competitive advantage will win sales. This is where original, well written product descriptions can make a difference!

Are you yawning in the face of your buyer?

A duplicated, keyword stuffed description is an insult to your buyer. Can you imagine walking into a high street store and having a sales assistant yawn in your face, then answer your questions by repeating the same, pre-written speech over and over again? Your product description is your opportunity to outshine your competitors and demonstrate your unique customer service.

Original product descriptions – a compelling business case

The business case for original, top-quality product descriptions is strong and compelling. If you don’t have the time to write your own sales copy there are thousands of freelancers online offering copywriting services at really low prices. If you can’t afford to have your full range covered, why not boost sales of just a few of your products with a special promotion and some fresh, original descriptions!


Freelance Steve footnote


How to choose the best hosting for ecommerce

A critical decision

Web hosting blog post thumbnailIf you’re thinking of joining the growing ranks of online storekeepers, your choice of hosting provider could be the most critical decision that you’ll make. In this post I’ll run through the key points to consider when you  choose a hosting service for your new ecommerce store. This is particularly important if you’re going to use one of the heavyweight stores like WooCommerce (WordPress) or Magento.

The reasons why …

Most ecommerce applications tend to place a heavy load on server resources – if your web hosting plan has limitations, either up-front or behind the scenes, it’s going to have a serious impact on performance. Typically, your customers will get slow site load times when they visit your store – that’s a knock-out blow for sales, and for your Google search ranking! Let’s take a look at some of the hosting provider limitations that cause these kinds of problems.

Most web hosting companies offer ‘Shared’ hosting packages at the low-budget end of the scale. This means that you are sharing server resources with your provider’s other clients. These shared resources include disk space, bandwidth (number of hits on your store), and processor time. Naturally, if you’re sharing these resources with other users, their activity on the server will affect the performance of your store! A good shared hosting plan may be OK for a small online store, but it’s not really feasible for Magento or WordPress hosting. The next step up the ladder is a VPS (Virtual Private Server) solution.

A VPS hosting plan gives you more control

A VPS hosting plan gives you more control over your three key resources: storage, bandwidth and processing power. More importantly, the availability of these resources is guaranteed and doesn’t depend on the activity of your hosting company’s other clients. Many hosting companies offer ‘Managed’ VPS plans where their support team will help with optimization and performance tuning.

For the ultimate reliability, security and optimization of a large Magento or WordPress store choose a ‘Dedicated’ server plan. With this type of plan you actually rent the physical server hardware in a datacenter. This gives you full control of your key resources. Just like the VPS plans, ‘Managed’ options are available to help out with technical aspects of optimization and maintenance.

Don’t forget your geography

Another important consideration is the geographic location of your hosting provider’s datacenters. Your store’s server needs to be close to your customers to get optimum page load times. This is particularly important if you’re targeting customers on another continent. Global Content Delivery Networks (CDN’s) like CloudFlare offer an alternative solution to this problem, but they do come with their own technical difficulties relating to store setup and security.

Evaluate your options

Hosting reviews blog post thumbnailBefore checking the plans and prices of any hosting provider take a little time to evaluate their credibility. Great service providers will be proud of their customer reviews or testimonials. These should be on display on their site. Ideally you need a hosting provider with a proven track record of ecommerce experience.

If you’re launching an online store on a tight budget, hosting isn’t really an area where you should compromise on quality. Go for a well-resourced VPS plan, possibly with SSD’s (Solid State Drives) for the fastest load times that you can afford. Your investment will be rewarded with lower bounce rates, more sales and better search engine rankings!


Freelance Steve footnote