Scaling Your Ecommerce Business With Cloud Hosting Services

You’ve probably heard that cloud hosting is better than shared because it offers better disaster recovery, more security, server monitoring, automatic software updates, and flexibility. All of that is true. Cloud hosting occupies a paradigm above shared hosting.

Right Scale’s 2017 State of the Cloud Report found 95% of respondents are now using cloud technology as their preferred enterprise strategy. It’s popular because it scales up resources on demand, so many firms have found it makes sense to host their e-commerce website in the cloud.

Shared hosting cannot scale up your resources as needed (bandwidth is a particularly critical item), and with the cloud, you only pay for what you use. The availability of on-demand resources makes cloud hosting essential if you plan to scale your e-commerce business.

Cloud hosting supports all other efforts to scale your business

Scaling your e-commerce business requires strategy and planning to ensure your growth is supported by available resources. For example, many e-commerce businesses achieve growth by outsourcing a good portion of the development.

According to, plenty of well-known, large startups owe their success to outsourced development, including Slack, Skype, Klout, Github, Basecamp, and Opera. Outsourcing tasks to teams in other countries empowered these firms to build their infrastructure at a fraction of what an in-house team would have cost.

The money saved by outsourcing allows for faster development and expansion, and more funds are available for non-negotiable expenses. When you expand rapidly on a shared hosting account, you’re one traffic spike away from a crashed website and lost sales, unfortunately.

Shared hosting means a provider places multiple users on one server with finite resources. Shared servers can be powerful machines with 16 cores and several hundred gigs of RAM. That’s a powerhouse with plenty of resources, but providers often assign too many users to one server, and that limits the number of resources available to each website.

Scaling an e-commerce business requires available server resources

Availability of server resources to support the demands of a growing website is imperative. Your website exists as files on a server, and when someone accesses your website, that server’s resources are called up for use.

Traditionally, servers have had finite resources. Servers are computers, after all. On a shared hosting account, you’ll have access to only one server with finite resources.

When you get a surge in traffic — the way you might experience during a Black Friday sale — if that traffic demands more resources than your provider wants you to use, your site will crash.

Cloud hosting avoids this risk by connecting multiple web servers so your website can draw on the resources of a cluster, not just one. This prevents any single server from crashing and can keep your website up during periods of unexpected heavy traffic.

In other words, cloud hosting providers want you to have access to more resources when you need them. Your e-commerce website needs to be available 24/7 to customers, especially during special sales and seasonal jumps. Cloud hosting is the solution to make that work.

Moving away from shared hosting will save your business

Shared hosting plans are cheap. Some cost as little as $3.95/month, provided you’re willing to pay for three years up front.

If you’re running a small site and don’t have to process payments, shared hosting might be all right. When you’re running a professional e-commerce store and have plans to expand and maybe even dominate your industry, shared hosting could hurt you.

How shared hosting hurts your e-commerce business

  • Shared hosting isn’t really “unlimited. Shared hosting plans have appeal. They’re sold as “unlimited” because the provider knows most websites won’t use a fraction of the available resources. But there is a limit to the number of resources one account can use, if demand spikes. These limits can usually be found in the hosting provider’s Terms of Service agreement. When you exceed your limits, you won’t get a friendly email reminder; your host will shut you down and your customers will wander elsewhere.
  • Watchdog scripts meant to preserve resources actually kill your business. Many shared hosts have a watchdog script installed to monitor the resources used by each account. They run additional scripts to kill user processes when they’re using too many resources. This sounds like a good way to preserve resources, but if you’re running a business, it translates to lost sales. For example, if your website is using too much RAM, the script will terminate your processes and serve 400 “Bad Request” or 500 “Internal Server” browser errors to your visitors. Some scripts terminate processes even when the account isn’t using anywhere near its fair share of the server’s resources. It can be an arbitrary call made by the hosting provider’s automated algorithm.The bottom line is, you can’t scale an e-commerce business on a server that could make your website unavailable when you increase your traffic and are poised for success.

How Skylands cloud hosting supports your e-commerce business

  • Access to more resources on-demand. Instead of monitoring resource usage and cutting you off, cloud hosting monitors your resource usage and allocates more resources as you need them. For example, say your traffic spikes after you’ve sent out an email promotion. A cloud hosting account will recognize that spike in traffic and call up extra resources to prevent your site from going offline, and it happens automatically. With Skylands cloud hosting, you can promote deals any time without worrying that a successful promotion might crash your site.
  • Pay for what you use. With traditional hosting plans, you pay for all the resources to which you have access, whether you use them or not. For instance, if you want to have additional resources available in case you need to cover holiday traffic, you have to pay for them year round. With cloud hosting, you pay for additional resources only as you use them.
  • Disaster recovery. If anything happens to your website, offsite backups are waiting to take over and preserve your online presence.

How cloud hosting helps you scale your business with load balancing

Load balancing is a process that uses an algorithm to distribute incoming traffic across various nodes to minimize the impact on any one resource. Load balancers also monitor the health of resources to ensure they’re sending traffic only to healthy instances. If any instance is overburdened, traffic gets directed elsewhere.

The more your business grows, the more traffic you’ll receive. Your web server needs to be able to keep up with those demands. Cloud hosting won’t let you down.

Ready to move to the cloud?

You’ve got a business to run. You need a reliable host that won’t shut you down when you start to expand. Contact Skylands today and we’ll answer all your questions about cloud hosting and why you should make the move.

5 Strategies To Grow Your Online Business

You’re probably familiar with the standard advice for growing your online business: create quality content, generate an email list, use social media, optimize your website, and deliver on your promises. This advice is solid, but there’s more to growing a business than how you deliver your product. If you’ve been following the standard advice for a while and don’t see much improvement, these five strategies will help:

#1 Focus on improving your customer service

Your customer service interactions shape customer perception, whether it’s through email, live chat, bot chats, or phone calls. You can always grow your business by improving your customer service.

Statistics show U.S. companies lose $62 billion a year due to poor customer service. A whopping 33% of Americans reported they’d consider switching to a competitor after one instance of poor customer service. What constitutes poor customer service for many people has evolved to include not responding to emails within several hours. Consumers expect an immediate or near-immediate response from a customer service inquiry. This means the first step to improving your customer service is to provide it around the clock.

The next step is to ensure the quality of service provided is top-notch. You want to resolve issues to the customer’s satisfaction and go above and beyond their expectations. For example, when a customer contacts your company for a no-questions-asked refund three days after their return period ended, give it to them anyway. They’ll say wonderful things about you to their friends, and probably write you a good review online.

#2 Improve your products and services; change what doesn’t work

Running a successful online business depends on your ability to continually make sales for as long as you want to remain in business. Your potential for growth directly depends on how well you can evolve your products or services to meet the changing needs of your customers. For example, Best Buy has been selling computer electronics since 1983, and their inventory changes based on the current trending technology. For example, in 1983, Best Buy sold VCRs. In the 1990s, they started selling surround sound systems, and in 2008, they began promoting Blu-ray discs and players. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a VCR in any current electronics store that isn’t coupled with a DVD player, and even that’s rare.

Like Best Buy, your products and services should naturally evolve based on current trends and the feedback you get from customers. Unless you’re selling household cleaning tools, your products probably aren’t timeless.

Eliminate choices, don’t add more

Many retailers mistakenly believe that offering 20 styles of the same item will help consumers find something they really like. The truth is, more choices lead to fewer purchases, as was discovered in the famous “jam experiment.”

In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper offered samples of 24 flavors of jam outside a supermarket. The next day, they sampled only 6 flavors. When just 6 flavors were offered, 30% of tasters made a purchase. The first day’s sampling of 24 flavors attracted more tasters, but only 3% made a purchase.

When working out ways to improve your products, eliminate excessive choices and options, don’t add more. With a smaller selection, you can focus on improving the existing selections or trade them out for better options.

For example, say you’re running an ice cream shop and have 40 flavors, but people rarely order the unconventional flavors. Eliminate what doesn’t sell and stick to what does. The few people who ordered pistachio fudge will probably be just as happy with another fudge flavor.

In-N-Out – Southern California’s most famous drive-through hamburger business – built an empire around simple selections. You can have a hamburger, a cheeseburger, or a double cheeseburger. Their only side is fresh-cut French fries, and their milkshakes come in chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. They’ve never given in to the craze of constantly creating new milkshake flavors as Starbucks does with their blended drinks, and they’ve been financially stable since 1948. In-N-Out’s creator, Harry Snyder, had a motto: “keep it simple; do one thing, and do it the best you can.”

#3 Stop listening to general gurus and heed advice from industry experts

General gurus are the people who say their strategies and systems will help every business owner regardless of industry. Chances are, they’ve repackaged basic business advice. It’s not that you won’t get value from their services, but they probably aren’t offering anything you don’t already know or have free access to.

The other reason general gurus aren’t the best source of advice is that there isn’t one formula that will work for everyone. The top gurus contradict each other when giving advice to business owners. Not because they’re sharing bad advice, but because they all have different ways of operating in the world.

An industry expert, on the other hand, can provide deep insight into your market and help you figure out what makes them tick. They might have ideas for how you can implement their wisdom, but once you know what to do, you’re free to get it done however you see fit.

#4 Hire an outside expert to take over your business (temporarily)

If you’re struggling in any area, hiring an outsider to take over temporarily might be your best road to recovering lost profits. It’s common to hire a consultant, but it’s most effective to allow that consultant to run the show for a short period of time.

If you resist the idea of handing over your business to an outsider, put yourself in the consultant’s position. Imagine being an expert in digital marketing psychology, and a company hires you as a consultant. You’ll be more effective if that company would give you carte blanche to make improvements than you would be if you were only allowed to make suggestions. The company could see soaring subscriber and open rates by the next day if they’d let you make immediate changes. Limited to making suggestions, you won’t see drastic results.

#5 Set clearly defined and measurable goals

You may have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals. It’s an acronym for creating specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. An example of a SMART goal would be to generate 100 new email subscribers by 8:00 P.M. next Friday. That’s a simple goal, but that’s also the point.

The problem many business owners face is having lofty goals that are not specific or time-bound, which makes them harder or impossible to meet. For example, if your goal is to become a millionaire by the time you’re 35, it’s not impossible, but you’re unlikely to achieve it the way it’s phrased. To turn that into a SMART goal, you need to start by defining exactly how much money will make you a millionaire at 35. You need to know what you’re aiming for in order to create a plan of action.

Then, you’ll need to work out how much money you need to generate each year and each month to reach your goal at 35, accounting for expenses and taxes. Chances are, with enough thought, a lofty goal will start to feel unrealistic, and that’s a good thing. It means you can narrow down your goal to something realistic and achievable, rather than living inside of a pipe dream that never comes to fruition.

You have to know what you’re trying to accomplish to create a plan of action. Without a time-bound deadline, a goal will seem open-ended and lose priority.

Experiment with different strategies

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building and growing a successful business. Heed advice from others with a grain of salt when they’re not in your industry and learn to extract the essence of their strategy rather than attempt to recreate it. The strategies that stand the test of time are the ones that focus on improving your customer relationships, and customer service is where it all begins.

How Often Should You Update Your WordPress Website?

Updating a WordPress website is a multi-faceted task. Content isn’t the only update necessary to keep your site running; security updates are equally important.

How and when you update your site matters, so here’s a look at several WordPress updates, why the updates are necessary, and how often you should perform them.

Content updates

WordPress content should be updated frequently, but the specifics should be based on your needs and visitor expectations. For example, existing content should be updated when you find an error, want to expand on or clarify your ideas, or when you’re using LSI to gain ranking in the search engines.

New content should be published regularly, but not so frequently that you can’t maintain your pace long-term. Avoid setting your visitors up to receive new content each week and then fizzling out at the end of four months.

Even when you’ve got enough content to publish weekly, you may want to cut back to twice a month until you’re certain you can maintain a faster pace.

Consider that people’s inboxes are flooded with marketing messages and many will unsubscribe from a list when just one email loses their interest. If you send out an email with mediocre content just to stay on schedule, you’ll lose subscribers. When you lose subscribers, you lose website visitors.

When updating your WordPress website with fresh content, follow these guidelines put together by QuickSprout to ensure your content meets search engine requirements for quality. For example, the guide notes that blogs ranging from 4-6k words typically do better in the search engines. The idea that longer content performs better is backed by research published by SerpIQ and other research companies.

The best way to create longer content is to look for ways to include more information that other sites have left out.

Basic security updates including plugins and themes

Security updates to your WordPress website should be performed on a rigorous schedule. There are a multitude of maintenance tasks you should perform weekly, monthly, and sometimes yearly.

Here’s a good basic security update routine to develop:

On a weekly basis:

  • Check automatically suggested updates. When you log into WordPress, you’ll be prompted to update plugins, your theme, and the WordPress core if new updates are available. Make sure to follow these automated update prompts to keep your site secure. Plugins and themes that aren’t updated end up being backdoors for hackers to exploit your site.

On a monthly basis:

  • Optimize your database. Did you know that each time you make an edit to a page or post, WordPress saves a revision history in the database? If you update content often, even just to add punctuation, your database grows each time you hit save. An unnecessarily large database will slow down your website and make it difficult for users to interact. A database full of unnecessary revisions will counteract your efforts to optimize performance.
  • Fix all 404 errors. 404 errors are created by renaming page and post URLs that have already been indexed by search engines or bookmarked by visitors. WordPress makes it easy to change your URLs, but doesn’t automatically forward people to the new URL. A redirect plugin will help you manage these changes as you make them. If you haven’t begun managing your 404 errors yet, check your logs to identify the 404 errors you can fix. For example, sometimes users create 404 errors by typing in the wrong address. You can’t change those errors. However, you’ll recognize the 404 errors that came from a URL change. Once you’ve fixed existing errors, stay on top of them and create redirects immediately after changing any URL.
  • Review logs. If anyone has been trying to gain access to your site via brute force, you’ll usually be able to tell from the security logs on your server. If you see anything suspicious, change all user passwords immediately.

On a yearly basis:

  • Research your plugins thoroughly. When was the last time the developer released an update? Has the plugin been abandoned? Research your plugins by browsing developer forums to see if there are any newly discovered security holes. If there’s a more recently developed plugin that is currently supported by the developer, make the switch. An abandoned plugin is an invitation to get hacked.

Updating authentication keys (salts)

 Authentication keys, also known as salt keys, should be changed at least once every few months. There’s no need to change them more frequently, with one exception, which will be discussed below.

Why changing your authentication salts matters

A 128-bit WordPress authentication cookie (AUTH_COOKIE) is used to maintain your login sessions. Unless you change your authentication keys (salts) or password, this cookie will keep you logged in until it expires. That’s great for you, but if a hacker gets ahold of your authentication cookie, they can gain access to your site without needing your password. Until you change your password or salts, a hacker could have access to your site for years.

Nearly every component in your authentication cookie is predictable to hackers. Using brute force to get this information is effortless and can be accomplished in a couple of weeks. Changing your salts will force all sessions to log out, and the cookie will become invalid. You can change salts manually or with a plugin called “Salt Shaker.”

Update your salts immediately if you used a one-click install app

If you’ve installed WordPress with a one-click application, you might not have any salts defined. That’s bad news. In the past, one-click installation programs (like Fantastico) used the same salts for each new WordPress installation, which is equally bad news. Today, many one-click installation programs omit salts completely, leaving your WordPress website even more vulnerable.

Changing passwords and usernames

Passwords don’t need to be changed as often as you think. The trick is to create strong passwords so you can change them less frequently. Changing your password once every three to four months is more than sufficient. However, if you suspect or are given notice of a data breach, you should change all passwords immediately.

If your administrator username is ‘admin,’ you should change it immediately. That makes it easier for hackers to get in. Since WordPress allows you to create a ‘nice name,’ consider making your administrator username as complex as a password. For example, ‘H8-e3$_47a’ looks like a password, but it would also make a strong admin username. Of course, don’t use the example in this article – create your own.

Server updates that affect your WordPress site

Depending on your web host, you may be required to manually update the version of PHP used by your account just to get started. A web host that sets the default PHP version too low is often the reason many WordPress users can’t get certain plugins to work. Unfortunately, this cause goes undiscovered by most users. You may also need to select an updated version of SQL (the language that runs your WordPress database). It’s not fair to the customer, but some hosting companies don’t set the proper defaults.

A reliable web host will perform all necessary server updates automatically and start you off with the right default settings. They’ll also provide backup and restore points, firewalls, load balancing, and disaster recovery services. At Skylands, we provide all this and more.

If your WordPress site isn’t working the way it should, or if you’re ready to make the switch to a more secure environment, contact Skylands today to find out how we can help.


Top WordPress Membership Plugins for 2019

Membership websites are an effective way to provide premium content to paid users while still providing value to newcomers. They’re also popular for running meetup groups, social networking sites, private coaching groups, educational platforms, and marketplace pages.

Regardless of your site’s content, hosting a membership website on WordPress is not difficult, and it’s affordable if you get the right membership plugin. Here are some of the best membership plugins to consider this year.

#1 UserPro

The top-selling WordPress membership plugin on Code Canyon is UserPro. Created by Deluxe Themes, a Code Canyon “Elite Author,” this plugin has more than 18k sales, and its 1.6k reviews give it a 4.5-star rating.

UserPro offers an array of useful and convenient features:

  • Seamless integration with Paypal, WooCommerce, BuddyPress, SVG Avatars, and MyCred
  • Email marketing integration with Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, AWeber, feedblitz, and Mailster
  • GDPR-compliant
  • Allows for custom fields on forms
  • User account verification
  • Profile layouts are aesthetically pleasing
  • Options for assigning badges and achievements to users
  • Searchable member list
  • Custom content restrictions
  • Functions as a social network; displays a timeline of posts similar to Facebook
  • Supports multi-language translation
  • Add-ons are available to add more functionality, such as a payment gateway, private messaging, media galleries, and live chat

This plugin is perfect for any kind of membership website, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who sells monthly digital content like webinars, recorded coaching sessions, and marketing courses.

Test drive the UserPro demo on Code Canyon and experience it for yourself.

#2 Ultimate Membership Pro

Ultimate Membership Pro is Code Canyon’s second-best-selling membership plugin for WordPress, with nearly 14k sold and 468 reviews for an overall 4.5-star rating.

Like UserPro, Ultimate Membership Pro is GDPR-compliant, but this plugin supplies 35 add-ons in the purchase price. It’s perfect for coaches, affiliates, and e-commerce sites that offer members-only deals.

Key features include:

  • Paid memberships with multiple payment levels; also allows free memberships
  • Content restriction for pages, categories, sections, images, and even navigation menus
  • Allows unlimited members and subscriptions
  • Multiple payment options include PayPal, Stripe, 2CheckOut, BrainTree, Authorize.Net, and Payza
  • Accepts offline payments through bank transfer
  • Users can log in through popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter
  • Restricts certain menu items to specific user groups
  • Offers discounts for paid memberships
  • Free trial for new users; you set the trial period
  • Verified accounts through email confirmation
  • Custom fields for forms
  • Integrates with 9 email marketing platforms

The features don’t end there. Head over to Code Canyon, check out the additional features and get access to the Membership Pro live demo.

#3 Private Content

As another GDPR-compliant membership plugin, Private Content protects specified content by member group, including pages, menus, categories, widgets, and comments. There’s even a lockdown mode that hides your entire website with one click.

This membership plugin boasts a few unique features. For example, it tracks what logged-in users do so you can use that information for targeted marketing campaigns.

It also provides users with a truly private sector of the site where they can post personal content that nobody else can see. This might come in handy for membership-based learning platforms where students need to take notes.

With Private Content, if you want to allow users to pay for subscriptions, you’ll need the Premium Plan add-on, which entails a monthly fee. However, the fee may be recovered when you generate enough paid memberships.

As with other plugins, the developer of Private Content offers add-ons. Other plugins will offer add-ons to enhance standard user features, but certain Private Content add-ons are more technical in nature.

For example, the Secure Links add-on generates a compact, anonymous, secure link for shared files. The original link will never be visible to anyone, so only users in the designated category will have access.

Another example is the User Data add-on, which equips you to create unlimited fields to record as much information from your members as you want. This add-on is great for collecting information you can use to segment participants for more targeted email marketing.

Private Content also possesses an extensively documented API with dozens of actions and filters for customization.

Private Content features:

  • Multi-language support on the front end and back end
  • Front-end elements are already translated into 23 languages
  • Automatic plugin updates
  • Great support; tickets are generally answered in less than 12 hours, 7 days a week
  • New features are added continually
  • Frequent updates quickly address bugs
  • Unlimited user levels
  • Google Analytics integration
  • Direct WordPress users bulk import
  • Content restriction systems based on user categories or custom definitions through the API
  • 1-click website lockdown
  • User self-deletion box

To learn more and launch the Private Content demo, check out Private Content on Code Canyon.

#4 WP Ultimo

WP Ultimo is a basic membership plugin that has standard features such as unlimited plans and add-ons to expand functionality. It stands apart from other membership plugins by offering some user-centric features:

  • Create trial memberships and coupons easily
  • Refund payments with one click
  • Users can select a template on signup or you can assign a template to each user group

WP Ultimo does have limitations, however. For instance, payment gateways are limited to Stripe and PayPal, though the developers have announced plans to add more gateways in the future.

Although it’s basic, this is perfect when you desire simplicity above all. Meetup groups, for example, don’t need the complexities in other plugins.

Additional plugins to test drive

Other WordPress membership plugins you might find useful are MemberPress, LearnDash, Restrict Content Pro, and S2Member. WPBeginner compares these plugins to break down the pros and cons, usability, and cost.

These plugins entail more limitations than the ones above, but are still worth looking into. You might not need a wide array of features if your requirements are fairly simple.

Your membership site doesn’t have to be expensive

You don’t have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to build a custom membership site from scratch. WordPress furnishes a strong foundation for developers to create plugins that do the job.

While you’re figuring out which plugin will power your membership site, don’t forget to test each demo thoroughly from the front and back end. Request an admin demo if one isn’t offered.

If you can’t test the back end, but you’re excited about the plugin, make the purchase only if you can stand to lose the cash. Most membership plugins cost between $20 and $40, so if you buy the wrong one, you’ll recover.

Remember to choose your membership plugin based on what you need, not how much it costs. Don’t assume a higher price means you’ll get more features.

Make a list of the features you absolutely need, and others you’re willing to compromise on. Ideally, you should only have to build your membership site once, so make sure you’ve got the best plugin for your objectives before the launch.

Reasons You Should Move From Shopify To Magento Platform

Setting up an e-commerce website on any platform takes a significant amount of time and effort. No matter how easy a platform is to set up, they all have administrative control panels that have a unique structure for adding categories, products, and prices. For many people, Shopify is an e-commerce option that looks deceptively easy.

In recent years, Shopify has become a popular choice, powering more than 500,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world. Although, a platform’s popularity doesn’t equal a merchant’s success, as many Shopify users are beginning to find out. With extremely high fees, inflexible payment processing requirements, and designs that can’t be easily customized, business owners are looking for other solutions.

There’s one solution that’s always been an option, though it’s been pushed to the backburner in light of the demands for a hands-off approach to e-commerce. That solution is Magento. Not only has it been around longer than Shopify, but it’s also more powerful and doesn’t leave business owners frustrated.

You might be opposed to switching from one platform to another since you’ll most likely need to rebuild your product catalog from scratch. That’s understandable. Given the long-term benefits of moving to Magento, it’s worth the effort to migrate. The longer you wait, the harder it will be later on.

If you’ve jumped into using Shopify without understanding its limitations, here are several good reasons to move to Magento sooner than later:

Magento is an open-source platform; Shopify is closed

The biggest difference between Shopify and Magento lies in the ability to access the source code and customize it. Shopify is a closed platform with templates written in a proprietary language that can’t be customized at the root. Shopify used Ruby on Rails to build its template language called Liquid, but you or your website developer will need to learn a new, complex language to customize it.

Magento is built in PHP, one of the most common programming languages there is. Anyone who knows PHP can customize a Magento theme, or create one from scratch.

In Shopify, you can’t access any more than what the developers allow. You can access basic HTML and CSS for your pages, but you can’t get further than that. With Magento, you can access everything.

Inside the Shopify admin panel, you can only customize certain elements with preset options. For example, you can change the color of your theme using preset layouts, adjust minimal typography elements, add your header and footer images, and slightly adjust several other elements. You can’t create your own custom theme from scratch, or customize a basic Shopify theme to your exact specifications.

For an extra fee of $17.99/month, on top of your regular monthly fee of $29-$299/month, Shopify will allow you to customize products in ways that should be available for free. You have to pay to customize products with unlimited options like dropdown menus, text input fields, radio buttons, and checkboxes. You have to pay an extra fee to implement per-option pricing that determines the price of your product based on the options selected (ex: size, color). Without paying this fee, you can’t make bulk changes to products, create option templates for later use, or define fields as optional or required during checkout.

Magento, on the other hand, is fully customizable from top to bottom. Open source software has publicly available source code that can be modified by its users. Most open source software is continually being improved by multiple developers, and new updates are shared with the public.

Open source supporters claim the software is more useful and stable because the creators aren’t concerned with financial gain. The developer community collaborates to fix bugs and improve features from a broader perspective. As developers customize open source software, it helps the creators understand what people want, and they’ll often build those features into the software on the next release. This ensures the software continues to evolve according to what users want. That’s precisely the journey Magento has taken over the years since its first release in 2007, and why it’s packed with features you won’t find with Shopify.

Shopify is bad for SEO

Having limited access to files places severe limitations on your ability to implement basic SEO strategies. If you don’t do your own SEO, you’ll be in for a big surprise when your marketer tells you they can’t help you because you’re using a closed platform.

Here are some of the biggest ways Shopify impedes your ability to implement standard SEO strategies:

  • Access to robots.txt is blocked. This file tells search engines which pages to crawl, and which to skip. Unfortunately, you can’t decide which pages should be skipped – Shopify decides that for everyone.With Magento, you can create a custom robots.txt file and instruct the search engine spiders as you please.
  • Access to .htaccess files is blocked. Access to the most important configuration file for search engine optimization is blocked by Shopify.With Magento, you have access to and can create .htaccess files as you wish. If you’re not familiar with their use, your developer can create and edit them for you.Every serious e-commerce business owner needs access to their .htaccess files. This is a directory-level configuration file that allows you to override certain server configurations in ways that make your site more visible to search engine spiders. Editing your .htaccess files can give you cleaner, SEO-friendly URLs, turn 404 errors into 301 redirects, and increase the caching capacity of your website, which brings up the next point:
  • Shopify doesn’t support browser caching. One of the most important strategies to implement when using a dynamic content management system like Shopify is caching.Since dynamic templates are pieced together on command, pages take more time to load than static HTML.Slow loading pages critically damage your site’s SEO value, so webmasters speed up page load times by caching dynamic web pages (as long as the content doesn’t change often). Visitors are served a static, cached version of those pages rather than dynamically generated pages. Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t support browser caching.Magento is a dynamic content management system that fully supports browser caching.
  • Product pages are difficult to get indexed. Due to the product URL structures for most Shopify themes, search engine spiders can’t find the canonical URL within the normal parameters of your site, outside of the sitemap. This results in product pages not being indexed. There’s a way to fix this, but it requires a lot of work that just isn’t necessary with Magento.
  • You don’t get FTP access. If you’ve never had FTP access to your website, you don’t know what you’re missing. Using an FTP client to access, update, and upload your files is faster than messing around with your control panel’s file manager. File managers limit the number of files you can upload/download at once, while FTP allows you to highlight all of your directories to download it at once.A self-hosted, and even most managed installations of Magento will give you FTP access to your site.

Experience the flexibility of Magento in a hosted environment

If you’re looking for a powerful content management system that won’t wall you off from your most critical files, Skylands has several options for Magento hosting that won’t let you down. We can get your Magento site performing at top speed, so you don’t have to worry about losing SEO value. Contact us today to find out how we can help you make the switch.