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5 small steps to configure MX records for Google Mail

MX records can be thought of along the lines of a physical address, for this example you can imagine that an MX record is the address of your home. Now imagine that you had 2 address, one address for your home and one address for a shop that you own (your website). You decide that rather than receiving mail that is destined for your shop you instead decide to get all of your mail delivered to your house instead. So.....you need to tell the source that delivers your mail that anything with both your shop address and your home address needs to all go to the same place you have chosen, this is a rough approximation of the function of the MX record. 

A lot of website owners prefer to use an email system such as G Suite (Google Business account) rather than a mailbox that is tied to their server. We have listed 5 easy steps to take below that will aide you when making changes to your MX records: - 

1) Accessing your MX records - You can initially access your MX records via the Zone Editor within cPanel ( find the editor within the 'Domain'). You will find a table containing a list of domain(s) that are assigned to this cPanel account - scroll until you find the domain which you wish to assign the MX record to.

2) Adding MX records - Alongside the domain select the '+ MX record'  option, you will be asked to enter a 'priority' and a 'destination'.  In regards to the priority setting the value assigned to this is an integer, the lower the integer the higher the priority of the record. '0' is assigned to the MX record which is to be the highest priority. The destination entry is the email server which will be assigned to that particular MX record. Below is a table with the MX records for G Suite: - 

 

Priority Destination
1 ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM
5 ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM
5 ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM
10 ALT3.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM
10 ALT4.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM

 

3) Delete your current MX record - Deleting a current MX record is straight forward, head back to the list of domain(s) within the zone editor and select the 'manage' option to the right hand side of the domain you wish to delete the MX record from. You will navigate to a table containing the zone records for this domain. The MX record is usually around second in this list (do take care to make sure you select the right record to delete!). The delete option is in the right hand margin of the table, simply select 'delete' to delete the record you have chosen.

4) Authenticate Google to allow emails to be sent using new MX record - Once you have added the MX record you will be required to authenticate it so that Google can send emails using the new MX record. To do this go back to cPanel and scroll down to the 'email' area and select 'authentication'.  Once onto the authentication page you will come across a section labelled 'SPF', scroll down the table until you find 'Include List'. Select the 'add' button then add the following: - 

'_spf.google.com'

5) Check that your email routing is set to remote - This is usually automatically set for you but is worth double checking. To check this go back to cPanel, back to the 'email' section and select 'email routing'. This page will display several option, the top option is a toggle to allow an automatic configuration. The configuration should look like this  'Automatically Detect Configuration: Remote' if this is stated then everything is working correctly. If you see 'Automatically Detect Configuration: Local' there is a problem with the configuration.

The steps above should aide you in setting up MX records relatively easily, should you have any difficulties or would like more information around this topic please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us by launching a support ticket with our hosting department here (open a ticket) . We will get back to you as soon as possible!

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5 turbo steps to speed up your WordPress site

As with all modern websites there is a great emphasis placed on the amount of time taken for a given website to load up, internet users are busier than ever and only the most attractive and quick to load websites reign supreme! It is therefore extremely important to take measures to ensure that your website is loading up in the smallest amount of time possible.  Fortunately there are many ways to achieve this so I have selected 5 very simple ways that we use here at Peters Web HQ: -

(To give an example of how well these steps work we recently worked with a client who's website was loading up in around 5 seconds, according to GTmetrix  this measured at a low grade (F). Using the simple steps stated below we reduced the load time to just over a second (resulting in a revised GTmetrix grade of A))

1) Use W3 Total Cache  - When thinking of the steps we would use for speed/optimisation this one came to mind first off, 'W3 Total Cache' is a free plugin you can add via the plugin section (Wordpress admin area) which has a variety of options available to enable caching and various methods of optimisation - to give an example one of the toggle options allows you to enable 'http/2' push, http/2 push anticipates what files you will ask for along with the original web page request thus reduces the amount of respond/request between the web browser and the web server.  When the 'W3' plugin is used correctly it can have the largest effect in terms of the performance of your website. For more information about caching please see our post here.

2) Use Cloudflare - Cloudflare is another free resource that is well worth looking into to help you further streamline your WordPress site. Cloudflare is a reverse proxy and also acts as a content delivery network, you can find more in depth information regarding Cloudflare here. I have placed an example below of a page rule that can be applied within Cloudflare: - 

https://example.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/*, Browser Cache TTL: 3 days, Cache Level: Cache Everything, Edge Cache TTL: a month

The above rule states to Cloudflare - "hey you know all of those pretty uploads I have, would you mind holding onto a copy of them for me for a month?" at the same time Cloudflare communicates to the browser something along the lines of "will you keep these pretty images I have here for 3 days?". This operation will dramatically decrease the time it takes to load the affected content as the content can be loaded from the Cloudflare network rather than having to trace the content from the original server. You can think of this another way - if you need something from a particular store but the nearest one was across the other side of the city where you live, every time you wanted to buy something you had to travel quite a distance to get it thus taking a lot of time up. Then a new store opened just around the corner from you and had everything you needed from the original store. You start using the new store and your shopping trip becomes much quicker - this is a loose analogy but roughly explains how Cloudfare works!

3) Lazy load your images - Make images that appear above the fold line a priority when loading the page, images below the fold line are only loaded after the images above the line have completed loading - you can do this by installing 'Lazy Load' by WP Rocket

4) Compress your images - To save on server space and to allow images to load more quickly you can make images smaller, or render them at a lower resolution. Use this method with care as its best to have images or graphics that are in important places (e.g your homepage) to be of as a high a quality as possible. I would advise using this method on images that are placed in other areas of your website - basically areas where the quality of the image can be slightly compromised to allow the page to load up faster.

5) Keep WordPress up to date - As with all software and plugins its best to keep up to date with the latest version that is available to you. This not only protects you in terms of security but provides you with updated versions that may have amendments made to the original coding - fixing any bugs etc that were present in the previous version.

The suggestions we have made above are by no means exhaustive, they are some of the quick and easy methods we use when using Wordpress and seem to have worked well for us in the past! As always please feel free to get in touch with us should you like any more information on this topic. You can contact us by launching a support ticket with our hosting department here - (open a ticket).

 

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5 simple ways in which a small business can avoid the corporate curse....

Here at Peters Web we consider ourselves to be a small business, we have no intention of growing into a huge corporate machine (£££)! We feel that we operate in the best way for our clients by being a small, client focused company and provide better support as a result. Another bonus of being so small is we feel that we get to know our clients personally and can get much more of a feel for how best to meet their needs. Here's my top 5 reasons why small businesses rock.......!

1) People love a feel good story - Everyone likes to know how you started as a business and where you have come from.....a small business seems to give off a certain approachable kind of vibe that invites clients and visitors alike to find out more about your company.  You can also take this opportunity to spread the word about other small businesses that you are associated with and promote the message that clients are better off dealing with smaller companies. A small business tends to give the impression that the organisation is still in its infancy and clients are getting involved with you right from the beginning, everyone likes to be there at the start right?

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2) Good client recommendations speak volumes - . Always try to stick with any offers or agreements that you initially made with each client e.g. allowing an early client to make alternative payment arrangements that are not advertised in an original offer. As a small business you can afford yourself a degree of flexibility when working with clients and can work more on a case to case basis, your clients will think highly of you for taking the time and effort to accommodate their needs.  Essentially its great practice to think of your clients as the foundation of your business - if a house was built without solid foundations it would collapse under the weight of its own construction!  

3) You don't have shareholders attached to your organisation - A business that has shareholders attached to it gives the impression that the business in question is a sizeable one, and is most certainly orientated towards making a profit for the benefit of said shareholders. This isn't a bad thing as every business needs to be in a position to make a profit but your standard small scale business will only consist of the business owner and a very small tight knit team. From personal experience I find that more care is afforded to the client when the business is smaller (and only has a few people attached to the running of the business).

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4) You have to be you're own motivator - So you could say this one is a double edged sword! When you own a small business you have to be your own best friend, that means motivating yourself at all times.  Overall I would say this is one of the best things about running your own small business, you have a connection to every nuance of how the business operates and have a bird's eye awareness of every aspect of day to day operations - if something goes wrong although its squarely on your shoulders you know exactly what the problem is (and hopefully know how to fix it!). If motivation for one particular task is difficult then there will be another 5 tasks that will aid you in getting motivated to tackle everything that should crop up along the way. Finally this also feeds back into having a more personal connection with your client base which in turn increases the chance of positive relationships.

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5) Easy for us to reach out to other similar sized businesses (each business being the expert in its given field) - Each small business has its own ring of expertise, its own specialist subject. What happens when a client is looking for something extra? Something that the small business in question doesn't involve in their service? Easy.....the small business points the client to another small business that specialises in the missing subject! Being a small business has the benefit of being able to link up with other businesses of a similar size and form a network. This can mutually benefit each business as clients can be pointed in the direction of another business depending on their needs, this ensures that clients are transferred to all of the businesses in a given network. Large businesses can sometimes have a 'jack of all trades' approach, so whilst they are able to solve an issue for a client they will not be able to solve it with the same care and attention to detail that a small, specialist organisation can.

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As a footnote clients seem to appreciate it when you are honest , forthcoming and can admit when you don't have the answer - as long as you put every effort into helping the client find what they are looking for!

As always we are happy to chat if you have any questions relating to this article (or if you just fancy....a chat). Please get in touch via a support ticket (open a ticket) to our hosting department and we will do our best to get back in touch with you as soon as possible.

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