More email upgrades for SiteGround hosted clients

SiteGround - our new web hosts

If you use the email we provide, either through webmail or Outlook or your phone, then this post contains important information you’ll need to act on.

It applies to all our clients whose website and email are hosted through SiteGround, which means almost everybody who has email mailboxes with us.

What you need to do

Webmail users: If you access webmail via a bookmark, you’ll need to delete it and recreate it – more on that below.

Outlook and phone users – especially iPhone: You’ll need to check the incoming and outgoing mail server settings for email to continue to work.

Your incoming/outgoing mail server settings should be set to match your domain name (not http or www, just the name), so for us that would be moghill.co.uk .

If your settings already say that then leave them alone. If they say one of ukm4.siteground.biz (most likely), ukm3.siteground.biz, or ukm7.siteground.biz you’ll need to change them.

At present we haven’t had any complaints about email stopping working, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You can also find all the setup information you need, including auto setup files, within your webmail control panel. If you’re curious to know why we’re asking you to make this change, then read on.

The quick reason why this is happening

At the beginning of March, the server packages we have with SiteGround were migrated to a new background system. This means that:

  1. The web address where your webmail used to be doesn’t exist any more, so old bookmarks won’t work, and..
  2. We don’t have to use some workarounds we were using to make sure your email gets delivered

Webmail users – what you need to do

Credit goes to Steve at Shrewsbury Steam Rally for picking up on this, when SiteGround didn’t.

If you have any bookmarks pointing to your webmail address, delete them. Then type in your webmail access address, which is https://yourdomain.co.uk/webmail – essentially the address of your website with webmail on the end.

You’ll be taken to a login page like this:

Enter your email address and password and you’ll log in to a new interface.

NOW is the time to bookmark the page again for future use. Or bookmark the login page. It’s up to you.

Once you’ve logged in you’ll see the snazzy new interface that makes it a lot easier to do various email-related tasks, including:

  • Changing your password
  • Forwarding your email to another address
  • Setting up automatic replies
  • Filtering your email
  • Set it up with an email programme like Outlook

Here’s the new interface, showing Roundcube mail.

The long reason why this has happened

There have been some pretty major changes under the skin of our hosting.

SiteGround have moved away from the system used to manage website and email hosting, which was a proprietory system called cPanel – lots of hosting companies use it. The trouble is, using it the way we do involves a lot of workarounds.

Instead they have built their own system – called Site Tools – and to be fair it’s pretty good and better than cPanel, and it’s certainly much more user-friendly and we can get rid of some of those workarounds, such as the incoming/outgoing mail settings.

As for webmail, Now, while the url https://yourdomain.co.uk/webmail has always worked to get to webmail, it is a redirect, which originally pointed to a place in cPanel, now it goes somewhere within Site Tools.

The catch is if you bookmarked the cPanel page and tried to get their now it would, indeed, not work, while going to https://yourdomain.co.uk/webmail continues to work as it always has.

Access to your website statistics – how to get it

Google Analytics logo

We’ve always subscribed to the old saying that nothing is worth doing unless you can measure it – especially when it comes to websites.

This is why every website we have built has included a statistics collecting service – Google Analytics, and you can access them at any time.

Read more

Free SSL Certificates for SiteGround-hosted clients

SSL encryption is fast becoming a web standard – and now our clients hosted with SiteGround ( that’s about 60 per cent of you) can take advantage of it without breaking the bank.

And to help you keep up with the latest standards we’re now offering free SSL Certificates subject to a small set-up cost. Heart Internet clients can also have free SSL and setup when you upgrade to SiteGround.

Read more

Heart Internet Downtime, February 2016

On February 10, without warning, Heart Internet suffered a power cut which brought down websites and emails for several hours.

As many of you know, about half of the websites we look after on behalf of our clients are held on Heart Internet’s web servers, and these were affected.

We understand websites went offline at about 2.30pm on that day, and all of our clients appeared to be back online by 10pm.

The following day, Thursday, February 11, we received reports from several clients unable to log into their Heart Internet webmail via www.outitgoes.com, and these problems were resolved later that day.

We have checked over the restored sites and no data was lost, although we had to restore one of our one page sites from a backup. Note: This is why we keep off site backups of all websites.

If you are still experiencing problems or spot a problem with your website, please put in a support ticket.

First things first

First of all we want to apologise to anyone affected by the outage and any inconvenience caused.

Secondly we want to assure you that we are doing our best to make sure this does not happen again.

We are embarrassed that more than 50 of our websites disappeared from the internet for around seven hours and we were not aware of it – because Heart Internet did not tell us.

This is the worst downtime in Heart Internet’s 11 year history, and they say they will make sure it won’t happen again.

However we are concerned at many aspects around this so we are reviewing all our services with Heart Internet and looking at alternatives.

We must stress that we don’t think there is any immediate risk of a collapse by Heart Internet, but we are concerned by a deterioration in service over time.

Does this affect me?

All our sites launched or re-developed after October 2014 are not affected by this, as they are hosted on our premium hosting service, SiteGround.

There’s an easy way to tell – follow this link: WhoIsHostingThis.com , enter your domain name and press enter. The page will tell you if you are hosted on Heart or SiteGround.

What should I do?

You don’t need to do anything yet but if you want to move services away from Heart, we already have an alternative available in the form of our SiteGround hosting package.

In the 18 months we’ve been using it, SiteGround’s hosting has been utterly reliable, and has improved performance in every respect. Our SiteGround websites have become faster, while our Heart sites have slowed down.

We are recommending all e-commerce sites should start considering upgrading to our SiteGround hosting package. Sadly, a hosting package that was suitable three or four years ago may no longer perform well enough.

To ask about moving your site, please open a support ticket.

However, there is no need to panic and we will contact you individually before any change takes place.

What happens next?

Switching services of this kind – if that’s what we choose to do – is not simple and we will make sure any migration will cause the least disruption possible.

Whatever we decide to do, we will communicate individually with each of you before we do it.

We will follow up with another post through our client newsletter before we take any further action.

Clients with Heart Internet email only

A small number of you have your website hosted on our SiteGround service, but email hosted on Heart Internet and we will move these email accounts in the next few weeks.

We will be in touch with each of you individually to arrange a convenient time.

What do Heart Internet say?

Heart’s Operations Director published a blog post five days after the event in an attempt to explain things: Information about Heart’s downtime 

Our new performance web hosting service

SiteGround - our new web hosts

Web hosting – to put it simply, providing computer space so that websites can be accessed on the web 24 hours a day – is a fundamental part of every website that can’t be ignored.

For us at Moghill it’s crucial to our business, and right from the start we chose our  hosting company carefully, based on reliability, customer service and value. When it comes to web hosting, you get what you pay for!

Five years ago we chose Heart Internet’s Shared Hosting platform, but for a while we’ve been looking for a better service – now we’ve found it in SiteGround.

What does this mean?

We can now offer a high performance hosting solution that has already produced fantastic results, in particular in terms of how quickly websites load.

SiteGround logoFaster loading websites mean:

  • Improved performance in search
  • Improved website usability
  • More customers for you!

Website load speed is becoming hugely important to the success of websites. If you want to know more we’ve put together an article on website speed here.

In short, a slow website is bad news and while our sites hosted on Heart are not slow, they are not brilliant, either.

And sadly, we have also noticed some deterioration in performance for some of our sites hosted with Heart in recent months, and we now recommend switching to SiteGround for all our online shops powered by WooCommerce.

Why we chose SiteGround

We have been looking at other hosting companies for about a year and the choice is immense. SiteGround stood out because of:

  • The huge speed improvements already covered, and capability for even more speed improvements
  • Specialist hosting of WordPress, the website software we use
  • Enhanced security features
  • Far better stability and uptime, with sites able to handle high traffic levels – at least 10 times the traffic levels of ordinary shared hosting
  • Fantastic customer support
  • Growing reputation, a sustainable business and great results in independent reviews
[caption id="attachment_1919" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Website speed tests showing the same website on Heart hosting (above) and after moving to SiteGround. Load speed drops from an acceptable 2.13 seconds to 413 miliseconds - four times faster! Website speed tests showing the same website on Heart hosting (above) and after moving to SiteGround. Load speed drops from an acceptable 2.13 seconds to 423 miliseconds – four times faster![/caption]

SiteGround also actively support the WordPress project, and we were able to visit their offices while at the European WordPress conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, in September.

Having met several of their team they impressed us as knowledgeable and friendly, while totally committed to customer service. For the last three months we’ve trialled their service and the support – usually via live chat – is instant, often fixing issues right there and then.

Since October we have moved more than 30 sites into SiteGround hosting, with barely a hitch, and with each site we’ve moved we’ve seen radically improved load times.

How to upgrade your site to high performance hosting

We have already migrated many client websites into SiteGround and all we’re building all new sites on the service.

We’re now ready to open up our SiteGround hosting package to existing clients and if you have e-commerce or any other advanced features we strongly recommend you upgrade.

Over the coming months we’ll be inviting clients to upgrade on an individual basis, but if you’re interested please fill in a support ticket, selecting ‘Request web hosting upgrade’ and we’ll get back to you.

Other hosting options

The upgrade to SiteGround is part of our philosophy of constantly improving what we can offer, and we are planning to introduce other advanced hosting options in 2015.

A note about domains and emails

Right now we’re only planning to use SiteGround to host websites, while keeping domain and email management of most existing sites with Heart Internet, along with those websites that choose not to upgrade. New sites are being set up on SiteGround.

What you need to know about .uk domain names

.uk image
[caption id="attachment_1893" align="alignright" width="152"]Your right to a .uk domain name email An example of the email .co.uk domain owners have been receiving (click to see a larger version)[/caption]

If you own any .uk domain name – that means a .co.uk, .org.uk or anything else ending in .uk – then the chances are you will have received an email offering you the chance to buy the newly-released .uk domain name.

We’ve had a few clients get one of these and ask about it, so here’s what you need to do.

What does it mean?

.uk domain names only recently became available. Briefly, it means that instead of your website address being www.mybusiness.co.uk it can now be www.mybusiness.uk .

Is the email genuine?

While there are a few scam emails regarding domain names that appear from time to time, this one is absolutely legit.

It’s from Nominet, the UK domain registration authority, and essentially they are trying to get you to buy another domain name.

Why would they do that?

Because they want your money.

Here’s what Nominet’s gushing PR prose says about it: “The new .uk domain will be defined by the people who grab it and use this exciting new territory. If you are fearless, forward-facing and ready to be part of the new UK online, this is the domain for you.”

Can anyone else register the .uk version of my domain name?

No. At least not until 2019, when it becomes a free-for-all.

If you have owned the .co.uk version of a domain name since before June 2014, the .uk version has been reserved for you and no-one else can register it until June 2019, when it will become open to anyone to register.

Why would I want to do that?

Some people have already jumped in, including Stephen Fry, and Nominet themselves. In the case of Nominet, they are doing what most people will do with this – point their .uk domain name at their existing website.

So the idea is you buy the .uk domain name and if anyone types it in, they will be re-directed to the .co.uk.

What are Moghill doing?

Nothing. Frankly, we don’t see the point spending £40+ in buying the domain name that no-one else is allowed to buy. However, we’ll put a note in the diary for the end of 2018 to remind us to buy it before it becomes available.

Of course it’s up to you what you do, but we would advise doing the same.

What if I still want to buy the .uk version of my domain?

We can buy it on your behalf and point it at your site.

.uk domain names cost £5.99 + VAT per year (plus our admin fee of £10)

Contact us – a support ticket is fine – and tell us which domain you want. We can register it up to 10 years ahead for you.

More information

You can find out more on the Nominet website.

 

Why loading speed is so important for your website

The time your website takes to load (load speed) is vitally important to the success of your website – and it’s only going to become more important.

Why? Well a faster loading site affects every important factor, from usability – and therefore sales – to how your site is ranked in search results. In short, it affects your bottom line as a business.

You may have the best website in the world, but few people will wait more than a few seconds for it to appear

The latest research shows that people are becoming more and more impatient as far as slow loading sites are concerned, and therefore more and more likely to give up on a website they have to wait for.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640"]fast photo While searching for a suitable picture to illustrate speed we found this one of Guy Martin. It’ll do.[/caption]

A fast loading website means that visitors – your customers – are likely to spend more time on your site and look at more pages. Their overall experience is better when everything runs quickly – in effect the interface doesn’t get in the way of what they want to do.

Also, speed is becoming more and more important in how a site appears in Google searches.

One of the factors Google measures is usability, and Google sees load speed as an increasingly important factor and there have been plenty of cases where a slow loading site has jumped up search results purely from a decrease in load speed.

What is an acceptable load time?

Estimates vary, but the consensus is your website should completely load within 2.5 seconds of a visitor arriving on a page.

But in practice, and especially for a business website, load times of 1 second or less are far more desirable.

There are several reasons why load speed is having such an effect on the performance of business websites. They are:

  • General impatience on the part of website users
  • Faster broadband speeds mean a slow loading website is more obvious than ever, which (guess what?) makes people even more impatient
  • Increased use of mobile devices to view the web, often over a slower 3G connection

So, although internet connection speeds are getting both faster AND slower, a slow loading website is a disadvantage.

What makes websites load slowly?

There can be many reasons for this, but the usual culprits are:

  • A poor or average quality hosting environment – cheap hosts are usually the worst (but not always)
  • A poorly constructed website that isn’t optimised for faster loading
  • Overly complex websites with lots of clutter, excess graphics and unnecessary complexity

 How do we cover this at Moghill?

We’ve always adopted the principle of simplicity in building websites, and have optimised as much as possible.

But it’s become clear to us that the website hosting service we have been using is a limiting factor, and for a long time we’ve been looking for a replacement. Our shared hosting account with Heart Internet, who we’ve been with for five years,  offers well above average performance but it’s been clear for a while we needed something better to meet the modern challenges.

It also goes with our general philosophy of continuously improving everything we do.

This is why we have opened an account with one of the top five hosting providers worldwide, SiteGround. We have a separate blog post that explains our reasoning behind this, but the long and the short of it is that the websites we look after are loading far faster than they did on Heart’s hosting platform.

Some of our sites are loading five times faster than before

Most of our sites have easily hit the 2.5 second target until now, but after moving onto SiteGround the same sites are loading up to five times as fast

Even sites we built especially for speed are loading in less than half the time they did when they were hosted on Heart Internet.

On Heart we had to work really hard to get a site to load in less than a second. On SiteGround we launched a new website last week with a homepage load time of just over 300 milliseconds.

This is just the start and if you need your site to load even faster there are more things we can do.

Needless to say, we are building all new sites on the SiteGround platform, and moving all our premium clients onto it too. This website will follow too shortly.

If we move your site we’ll tell you when you’re doing it.

If you would like this new service and haven’t heard from us, just open a support ticket and we’ll get back to you.

Photo by Nathan E Photography

Banish contact form spam… with a honeypot

In recent months we’ve noticed a big increase of spam submissions via contact forms on our websites – basically people trying to sell you things you don’t need through your website.

[box]Since we wrote this post in 2014, things have moved on a little and our preferred method of stopping contact form spam is to ask people to do a simple sum before the form will submit.[/box]

Often these are from people promising to get your site up to the top of Google and by doing this making you lots of money, but often they advertise fake goods.

Here’s a typical example:

[typography font="Droid Serif" size="14" size_format="px"]Dear Website Owner,Greetings of the day!Are you getting the best out of your website? If no, then we can help you by enabling your business gain a better presence on Google, transforming your website into powerful advertisement tool. We provide competitive SEO, a proven model, designed to make your website outshine its competitors and be the first to reach out to real prospect. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…. (this is not what it actually says but it seems that way!)[/typography]

 

Sometimes these go into overdrive and we’ve had clients contact us for help after receiving up to 100 of these submissions in a single day!

Why contact form spam?

Contact form spam follows the same principle as e-mail spam. Spammers know that most people will ignore and delete their messages, but a tiny fraction will act on it so they send out thousands upon thousands of emails (or contact form submissions) a time – by automating the process.

They set up programmes called bots that crawl through websites looking form contact forms and when they find one, they fill it in. As an aside, we came across a UK based company which sells this service. If you have a look at their website you can see exactly why this happens – as with all spam there’s money in it!

Or at least people think

[caption id="attachment_1768" align="alignright" width="236"]Typical contact form Captcha field Typical contact form Captcha field[/caption]

How to stop contact form spam

Up until recently, the main way to stop it has been through adding a Captcha field to the bottom of the form (see picture).

This works because bots can’t read Captcha (this is because bots are stupid) and most of the time are unable to read the characters and fill in the form.

If they get it wrong, or more likely, fail to see the Captcha field at all, then the contact form won’t submit.

But there’s a problem with Captcha

And the problem is that Captcha doesn’t just put off the bots – it can put off genuine enquiries also. Many people complain the Captcha message is hard to read – and it has to be to stop the bots – so they can discourage as many real enquiries as spam submissions.

Obviously, since we go on at great length about how websites should be as easy as possible to use – and make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact the website owner – Captcha just makes it harder and more frustrating.

This is something we have struggled with for a while, although we have been adding Captcha to clients’ forms on request until recently.

[caption id="attachment_1770" align="alignright" width="150"]Contact Form 7 Honeypot Contact Form 7 Honeypot[/caption]

So here’s the solution

What we needed was something that would stop contact form spam in its tracks, while being undetectable to ordinary website visitors. And now we have it.

For the past six weeks we’ve been testing Contact Form7 Honeypot, an ingenious free WordPress plugin that uses a clever technique to deal with the problem.

Put simply, it relies on the principle that bots are stupid, and blindly find forms on websites blindly filling them in. So this plugin adds an extra field that is hidden from human website users. Therefore if anything fills in that form field, it’s a bot and its submission is rejected. And it works.

What this means for you

If you previously had a Captcha field on any of your contact forms, you’ll notice that it’s gone because we’ve replaced it with the honeypot. We’ve also added to it any site that’s reported a problem with contact form spam and, of course, we’ve added it to every site we’ve built since mid July.

We’re happy to add it to your site free for no charge.

So if you are having a problem with spam contact form submissions then put in a support ticket and we’ll install Contact Form Honeypot on your site for you.

 

Our support service – and what it means for you

We use a system called Freshdesk to manage our support services, prioritise them and ensure we meet our support delivery time guidelines as much as possible.

It also means that if you have asked for help from us you can log in at any time and see the progress of your request and even add comments..

This service is for you if you have a problem with your website, or if you need something changed or updated.

What difference does that make to you?

In truth, not a lot. If you have an urgent query or support request in office hours, then still the best option is to phone us.

But if you need help out of office hours or it isn’t that urgent, then you can open a support ticket in one of three ways:

  • By clicking on the tab marked Open a support ticket on this website  – this opens a support form
  • By sending an email to help[at]moghill.co.uk (replace the [at] with @

How do I use it?

Any of these methods will generate a support ticket via e-mail. You can then respond to or add to the information in the ticket just by replying to the email or logging in to our support portal.

Sometimes, if you phone us with a non-urgent query or problem, we will create a support ticket for you to keep track of the issue.

The first time you use the system, you will receive an email with activation instructions that you should follow to be properly set up, however, if you prefer you can respond to tickets by replying to the email.

Service standards

Service is important to us, and we have been busy setting up new systems in order to serve you better. That’s why we now have target times for responding to and dealing with support requests:

[table id=1 /] [caption id="attachment_1558" align="alignright" width="423"]Give us your feedback Give us your feedback[/caption]

There’s a lot more information on support and how we do it in our Support Policy.

We want your feedback!

When we resolve your issue, whatever it may be, we will send you an email telling you so. If you need to, you can re-open your ticket by replying to the email.

At the bottom of the email you will see three faces and a link asking you to rate our support service.

Please give your feedback and help us improve our service to you.

 

Directories for free SEO – use with caution

Links are the lifeblood of the internet, which is why Google likes to see sites that are linked to from others. Therefore if there are no links pointing to your site, then your site will not do well in searches.

However, linking must be done with caution, thanks to years of people trying to trick Google into ranking sites higher than they should. Thousands, hundreds or even a few dozen links from random websites can seriously count against you – Google may penalise your site (or even remove it from search results entirely) if you get it wrong.

[box]

Website Health Warning!

Adding your website to multiple directories used to be a great way to improve visibility in searches, but not any more.

Since we first wrote this post, Google has progressively downgraded directories themselves and penalised sites that appear on poor quality directories (i.e. most of them) and this post was edited in 2017 to reflect that.

There will be a full post on directories soon on the main Moghill site. [/box]

What Google is looking for

thedroidswerelookingfor450Google (which accounts for 90 per cent of UK searches) is looking for three main things: Relevanceauthority and quality.

Google also wants to know your business is genuine – which is why sites on newly registered domain names tend to take a few months before they reach their natural position in searches.

A technique that we have found works is to list websites on a handful of well-chosen directory sites such as Yell.com. Despite downgrading of directories in search results, Yell still seems to score well.

Just go to Yell.com, create an account and set up a free listing for your business, not forgetting a link to your website.

We don’t recommend paying for Yell’s services, or any directory for that matter. Yell, like others, use their directory for lead generation, so be prepared to receive at least one sales call offering an enhanced listing and probably a new website, too.

Don’t be tempted – just take the free services and run!

Don’t overdo it!

Please don’t go mad and submit to multiple directories, as too many listings could be flagged by Google as being suspicious.

There are also a lot of spammy directories who have themselves been blacklisted or marked down, so there is a big difference between directories.

Always consider whether a directory is relevant to your line of work before submitting.

Find your niche

You may also know of directories specific to your line of business, and listings on these could be useful for what you do, for example directories run by a professional association.

Local directories – at least in Shropshire -are a complete waste of time as most, if not all, don’t appear in search results.

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc