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      How To Securely Manage Secrets with HashiCorp Vault on Ubuntu 20.04


      Introduction

      Vault is an open-source tool that provides a secure, reliable way to store and distribute secrets like API keys, access tokens, and passwords. Software like Vault can be critically important when deploying applications that require the use of secrets or sensitive data.

      In this tutorial, you will:

      • Install Vault and configure it as a system service
      • Initialize an encrypted on-disk data store
      • Store and retrieve a sensitive value securely over TLS

      With some additional policies in place, you’ll be able to use Vault to securely manage sensitive data for your various applications and tools.

      As with any service that manages sensitive information, you should consider reading additional documentation regarding Vault’s deployment best practices before using it in a production-like environment. For example, Vault’s production hardening guide covers topics such as policies, root tokens, and auditing.

      Prerequisites

      Before you begin this guide you’ll need the following:

      Note: Vault generates a self-signed TLS certificate when you install the package for the first time. If you do not have a domain name or TLS certificate to use with Vault but would like to follow the steps in this tutorial, you can skip TLS verification by adding the -tls-skip-verify flag to the commands in this tutorial, or by defining the VAULT_SKIP_VERIFY environment variable.

      This option is only suitable for experimenting with Vault and should not be used in a production environment.

      Step 1 — Installing Vault

      HashiCorp provides Vault as a typical Debian/Ubuntu package, so we’ll go through the normal steps of adding their package repository to our server’s list of package sources:

      First, add Hashicorp’s GPG key to your package manager, so that your system trusts their package repositories:

      • curl -fsSL https://apt.releases.hashicorp.com/gpg | sudo apt-key add -

      Then add the repository itself to your list of package sources, so it’ll be checked for regular updates:

      • sudo apt-add-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://apt.releases.hashicorp.com $(lsb_release -cs) main"

      Then install the package:

      You can now use the vault command. Try checking Vault’s version to make sure it works.

      Output

      Vault v1.8.5 (647eccfe0bd5817bdd8628f3c3171402dfc8a8fc)

      The Vault executable is installed on your server, so the next step is to configure it to run as a system service.

      Step 2 — Configuring Vault

      Installing the Vault package automatically creates a vaultvault user on your system and sets up a system service for running Vault in the background. We need to make a couple of changes to its default configuration in order to use the HTTPS certificates generated by Let’s Encrypt.

      Note: In this tutorial and by default, Vault uses the filesystem backend to store encrypted secrets on the local filesystem at /opt/vault. This is suitable for local or single-server deployments that do not need to be replicated. Other Vault backends, such as the Consul backend, will store encrypted secrets at rest within a distributed key/value store.

      Vault’s default configuration is stored in /etc/vault.d/vault.hcl. You’ll use this file to control various options in Vault, such as where encrypted secrets are stored.

      Open vault.hcl using nano or your favorite text editor.

      • sudo nano /etc/vault.d/vault.hcl

      Find the listener "tcp" section of the file that contains this block. If you are using nano, you can press Ctrl+W then enter listener “tcp” to find that line directly:

      /etc/vault.hcl

      listener "tcp" {
        address       = "0.0.0.0:8200"
        tls_cert_file = "/opt/vault/tls/tls.crt"
        tls_key_file  = "/opt/vault/tls/tls.key"
      ...
      }
      

      Edit the tls_cert_file and tls_key_file lines to point to your Let’s Encrypt certificate and key files. Don’t forget to substitute in your own domain name in place of the highlighted your_domain part of each line.

      /etc/vault.hcl

      listener "tcp" {
      ...
        tls_cert_file = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/your_domain/fullchain.pem"
        tls_key_file = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/your_domain/privkey.pem"
      }
      

      Note: You should also change address = "0.0.0.0:8200" to address = “127.0.0.1:8200” to prevent external connections to this server for now. 127.0.0.1 is a reserved address for localhost only. This is to ensure that the service is not exposed to the public internet before it has been properly secured. You can update this later, but for now, this configuration change will let us use the vault command and correctly resolve the HTTPS-secured domain name.

      Save and close the file. If you are using nano, press Ctrl+X, then Y when prompted to save the file, and Enter to confirm.

      Next, the vault system user also needs permission to read these certificates. By default, these certificates and private keys are only accessible by root. To make these available securely, we’ll create a special group called pki to access these files. We will create the group and then add the vault user to it.

      Update the permissions on the two directories in the /etc/letsencrypt directory to allow members of the pki group to read the contents.

      • sudo chgrp pki /etc/letsencrypt/archive
      • sudo chgrp pki /etc/letsencrypt/live
      • sudo chmod g+rx /etc/letsencrypt/archive
      • sudo chmod g+rx /etc/letsencrypt/live

      Then add the vault user to the pki group. This will grant Vault access to the certificates so that it can serve requests securely over HTTPS.

      • sudo usermod -a -G pki vault

      As a final step for convenience, add a rule in /etc/hosts to direct requests to Vault to localhost.

      Replace your_domain in the following command with the domain you acquired the Let’s Encrypt certificate for:

      • echo 127.0.0.1 your_domain.com | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts

      This command appends the line 127.0.0.1 your_domain.com to /etc/hosts so that any HTTP requests that you make on your Vault server to your_domain.com ignore DNS and are sent to localhost directly.

      With the Vault service set up and the Vault configuration file complete, we’re now ready to start Vault and initialize the secret store.

      Step 3 — Initializing Vault

      When you first start Vault, it will be uninitialized, which means that it isn’t ready to receive and store data. In this section of the tutorial, you will start the Vault server, and then initialize it with a set of secret keys that will be used to unseal (open) Vault’s secret stores.

      The first time you start Vault, the backend that actually stores the encrypted secrets is uninitialized, too. Start the Vault system service to initialize the backend and start running Vault itself.

      • sudo systemctl start vault.service

      You can run a quick check to confirm the service has started successfully.

      • sudo systemctl status vault.service

      You should receive output similar to the following:

      Output

      ● vault.service - "HashiCorp Vault - A tool for managing secrets" Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/vault.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled) Active: active (running) since Tue 2021-11-16 21:55:13 UTC; 22s ago Docs: https://www.vaultproject.io/docs/ Main PID: 104207 (vault) Tasks: 7 (limit: 1137) Memory: 179.3M CGroup: /system.slice/vault.service └─104207 /usr/bin/vault server -config=/etc/vault.d/vault.hcl

      The output of that command should include several pieces of information about the running service, such as its process ID and resource usage. Ensure that the following line is included in the output, which indicates that the service is running correctly.

      Output

      . . . Active: active (running) . . .

      If the service is not active, take a look at the accompanying log lines at the end of the command’s output to see Vault’s output, which can help pinpoint any issues.

      Next, we’ll set an environment variable to tell the vault command how to connect to the Vault server. In Step 1 you configured Vault to only listen on the local loopback interface, so set the VAULT_ADDR environment variable to the local HTTPS endpoint.

      • export VAULT_ADDR=https://your_domain:8200

      The vault command can now communicate with the daemon. Note that defining the actual hostname instead of simply localhost or 127.0.0.1 is necessary to properly validate the HTTPS certificate.

      Confirm that the vault server is in an uninitialized state by checking its status.

      The server should return some output so that you can tell it is working but not yet initialized.

      Key Value
      --- -----
      Seal Type shamir
      Initialized false
      Sealed true
      Total Shares 0
      Threshold 0
      Unseal Progress 0/0
      Unseal Nonce n/a
      Version 1.8.5
      Storage Type file
      HA Enabled false
      

      There are two pieces of information that Vault will expose at initialization time that will not be available at any other point:

      • Initial root token. This is equivalent to root permissions to your Vault deployment, which allows the management of all Vault policies, mounts, and secrets.
      • Unseal keys. These are used to unseal Vault when the daemon starts, which permits the Vault daemon to decrypt the backend secret store.

      More specifically, Vault’s unsealing process decrypts the backend using a key formed by key shares. When you first initialize Vault, you may choose how many unseal keys to create and how many are necessary at unseal time to successfully unseal Vault. To learn more about Vault’s sealing mechanism, you can refer to the Vault documentation.

      A typical configuration for the unseal parameters would be to create three keys and require at least two of those keys at unseal time. This permits the important key shares to be separated and stored in distinct locations to ensure that compromising one is not sufficient to unseal Vault.

      In other words, whenever Vault is started, at least two unseal keys will be required in order to make the service become available and ready to use. While sealed, the files that store the actual secret values will remain encrypted and inaccessible.

      Initialize Vault with three unseal keys using the -key-shares=3 option, and require at least two keys to unseal the vault with the -key-threshold=2 flag::

      • vault operator init -key-shares=3 -key-threshold=2

      You will receive output like the following:

      Output

      Unseal Key 1: eZcJeydRrqeSMZ1zTN+VVll9TFT2KvJy7VlnxUgtvuz5 Unseal Key 2: ntmqCKq8rgNnKT1YSLCjVmCCZBAA3NwUeqxIyRpYD4Wm Unseal Key 3: 3FK1+Hsorh4p8/L9mki3VskaEU2eQhLqGOI/pJkTHMbx Initial Root Token: s.hY0ieybfDqCadz7JpL88uO3x

      Be sure to save each unseal token and the initial root token in a secure way. You will not be able to retrieve these keys and root token again. For example, one option would be to store one unseal key in a password manager, another on a USB drive, and another in a GPG-encrypted file.

      If you examine vault status again, the Initialized status will now be set to true, and the Total Shares and Threshold values will reflect the number of key shards and minimum number of keys that you will need to unseal the vault.

      Output

      . . . Initialized true Sealed true Total Shares 3 Threshold 2 Unseal Progress 0/2 . . .

      Note that the Unseal Progess line shows the value 0/2. Begin unsealing Vault using your newly created unseal tokens. Run the vault operator unseal command and input any of your keys when prompted:

      The command will ask for an unseal token:

      Output

      Key (will be hidden):

      After entering it, the output from the command will indicate that the unsealing is in progress, but still requires one more unsealing key before Vault is ready for use.

      Output

      Key Value --- ----- Seal Type shamir Initialized true Sealed true Total Shares 3 Threshold 2 Unseal Progress 1/2 Unseal Nonce 0f3a328b-e0c6-6294-d6a2-56da49271dff Version 1.8.5 Storage Type file HA Enabled false

      Notice how the Unseal Progress 1/2 line has changed in the output. Run the unseal command again.

      And enter a different key than the one you already used:

      Output

      Key (will be hidden):

      The command’s output indicates that the unseal process had completed successfully.

      Output

      Key Value --- ----- Seal Type shamir Initialized true Sealed false Total Shares 3 Threshold 2 Version 1.8.5 Storage Type file Cluster Name vault-cluster-3042c7bc Cluster ID c3e9d814-cf2a-2901-f0e4-ebc52d29e5cc HA Enabled false

      Vault is now unsealed and ready for use. These unseal steps are necessary whenever Vault is started or restarted.

      However, unsealing is a distinct process from normal interaction with Vault (such as reading and writing values), which are authenticated by tokens. In the next steps, we’ll create the necessary access tokens and policies to store secret values and read/write to specific paths in Vault.

      Step 4 — Reading and Writing Secrets

      There are several [secret backends]](https://www.vaultproject.io/docs/secrets/index.html) that you can use with Vault, but for this example we will use the kv secret backend. This backend stores simple key/value pairs in Vault. However, it is not enabled by default.

      In this section of the tutorial, you will enable the kv secret backend, and then learn how to read and write secrets to it.

      First, save the previously generated root token to a shell variable for ease of use.

      • root_token=your_root_token_here

      Next, while authenticating with the root token, enable the kv backend:

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$root_token vault secrets enable kv

      You will receive output like the following if the command is successful:

      Output

      Success! Enabled the kv secrets engine at: kv/

      You can then verify that it’s been added to your local list of available secrets backends:

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$root_token vault secrets list

      You should receive output like the following:

      Output

      Path Type Accessor Description ---- ---- -------- ----------- cubbyhole/ cubbyhole cubbyhole_abc1631b per-token private secret storage identity/ identity identity_631fe262 identity store kv/ kv kv_4d5855c8 n/a sys/ system system_79b13f2f system endpoints used for control, policy and debugging

      Note the highlighted line that indicates the new kv backend is enabled. Now we can store some data with this backend.

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$root_token vault write kv/message value=mypassword

      In this command, the highlighted kv/ prefix indicates that we are writing to the kv backend mounted at the kv path, and we are storing the key value at the path message with the value mypassword. We used the root token, which has superuser privileges, to write the generic secret.

      Check the secret that you created using the vault read command:

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$root_token vault read kv/message

      You should receive output like the following, with the contents of the secret that you created:

      Output

      Key Value --- ----- refresh_interval 768h value mypassword

      However, creating, reading, and otherwise interacting with Vault using the Root Token only is not secure, scalable in a team setting, and does not allow for fine-grained access control to secrets. In the next section you’ll learn how to define policies and create additional access tokens to restrict how users can interact with Vault.

      Step 5 — Creating an Authorization Policy

      In a real-world scenario, you may store values like API keys or passwords that external tools can consume. Although you may read the secret value again using the root token, it is illustrative to generate a less privileged token with read-only permissions to our single secret.

      In this section of the tutorial you will create a Vault policy that will enforce read-only access to secrets. To create the policy you’ll need to edit a file and then load it into Vault using the vault policy command.

      To get started creating a policy, open a file called policy.hcl using nano or your preferred editor:

      Populate the file with the following Vault policy, which defines read-only access to the secret path::

      policy.hcl

      path "kv/message" {
           capabilities = ["read"]
      }
      

      Save and close the file, then write this policy to Vault. The following command will load the policy.hcl file into Vault and create a policy named message-readonly with the read-only capability

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$root_token vault policy write message-readonly policy.hcl

      Next, create a token that you will use for read-only access to Vault. Add the -policy=”message-readonly” flag to the vault token create command to use the new policy that you created:

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$root_token vault token create -policy="message-readonly"

      The output will look like this:

      Output

      Key Value --- ----- token your_token_value token_accessor your_token_accessor token_duration 768h0m0s token_renewable true token_policies ["default" "message-readonly"] identity_policies [] policies ["default" "message-readonly"]

      Save the highlighted your_token_value value to an environment variable called app_token:

      • app_token=your_token_value

      You can use the value of app_token to access the data stored in the path kv/message (and no other values in Vault).

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$app_token vault read kv/message

      Output

      Key Value --- ----- refresh_interval 768h0m0s value mypassword

      You can also test that this unprivileged token cannot perform other operations, such as listing secrets in Vault.

      • VAULT_TOKEN=$app_token vault list kv/

      Output

      Error reading kv/: Error making API request. URL: GET https://your_domain:8200/v1/secret?list=true Code: 403. Errors: * 1 error occurred: * permission denied

      This verifies that the less-privileged app token cannot perform any destructive actions or access other secret values aside from those explicitly stated in its Vault policy. If you would like to continue using the read-only token, be sure to record it somewhere safe for future use.

      Conclusion

      In this article you installed, configured, and deployed Vault on Ubuntu 20.04. You also created a sharded key to unseal Vault, enabled the kv backend secret store, and defined a read-only policy to limit how a user can interact with Vault secrets.

      Although this tutorial only demonstrated how to use an unprivileged token, the Vault documentation has more examples of additional ways to store and access secrets as well as alternative authentication methods.

      These instructions demonstrated how to deploy and use some of the core features of Vault. Your needs may require other configuration changes and more complex policies. Be sure to read the Vault documentation and make appropriate configuration changes for your needs. Some production-ready changes may include:

      • Generating lesser-privileged tokens for everyday use. The specific policies that these tokens should use depends on your specific use cases, but the example app_token in this tutorial illustrates how you can create limited-privilege tokens and policies.

      • If you are deploying Vault as part of a service that will be used by a team, initialize Vault with unseal keys for each team member. This approach can ensure that Vault’s storage is only decrypted when more than one team member participates in the process.



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      11 Secrets to Making a Successful Website


      Affiliate Disclosure: DreamHost maintains relationships with some of our recommended partners, so if you click through a link and purchase, we may receive a commission. We only recommend solutions we believe in.

      Whether you’re a writer looking to reach a wider audience, a boutique manufacturer needing to boost sales, or you’re someone who just wants to make money online — you’re going to need a website. And not just any website — a great website.

      Unfortunately, the World Wide Web has been saturated with sites for some years now.

      Standing out. Making your mark. It’s not easy.

      But here at DreamHost, we know a fair bit about websites and what makes them work — so here are our 11 secrets to making a successful website.

      1. Defined goals
      2. A good domain name
      3. Quality web hosting
      4. A clear description
      5. A top-notch CMS
      6. A great e-commerce platform
      7. Engaging web design
      8. SEO optimization
      9. High-quality content
      10. Using Google Analytics
      11. A site maintenance plan

      1. Define your goals

      Before you do anything else, you need to decide what you want to achieve from this website.

      • Is it going to be an e-commerce website that you use to sell products?
      • Are you looking to promote a service?
      • Do you want to make money via affiliate links?
      • Are you simply after a platform to share your thoughts and ideas?

      It can be hard to change the direction of an established website. Make sure you know what type of website you want to create and what you need to get out of it.

      2. Choose a good domain

      Picking a good domain name is easier said than done. It’s also seriously important since it’s tricky to change it once you’ve started establishing your site and brand. (Yes, you can migrate to a new domain, but that comes with all sorts of complications.)

      So what is a good domain? What does a good domain look like?

      • It is your brand name or includes your brand name.
      • It’s memorable.
      • It’s easy to spell.
      • It’s short (ideally under 14 characters; but the shorter, the better).
      • It’s free of numbers, hyphens, or other unusual characters.
      • It has a recognized, trustworthy extension (.com is the ideal).

      It can also be a good idea to choose an SEO-friendly domain that includes one of your most important keywords.

      3. Get secure, quality web hosting with good tech support

      It can be tempting to skimp on web hosting and choose the cheapest service you can find. Don’t do this.

      A cheap web host can cost you in other ways: excessive downtime, slow site speeds, limited or non-existent support.

      It’s not worth it.

      If you’re serious about making your website a success, invest in quality web hosting you can rely on. You won’t go wrong with DreamHost web hosting.

      4. Include a clear description of your business

      This is something a lot of companies get wrong. They know their industry and their business, inside and out. That’s great. But it often means they forget how to describe it to people that don’t.

      Ideally, you should be able to sum up what you do in a couple of sentences. This summary should be displayed prominently on your homepage. And anyone should be able to read it and understand it.

      If you have any doubts, ask someone who knows nothing about what you do what they think. Better yet, enlist the help of a professional copywriter.

      5. Use a top-notch content management system

      A content management system (CMS) is where you’ll manage your website’s pages and content. The right one can make this quick, easy, and fun. The wrong one can be the source of endless headaches and can even limit what you’re able to do.

      Good content management systems allow you to build pages and posts on a site with no prior knowledge of coding. They cut down the barrier to entry and enable anyone to create their own site.

      But how do you know which is the right one for you?

      The following questions will help you decide:

      • Do I want a basic website with no frills?
      • Do I want to be able to build the website in the future to have more features?
      • What’s my budget?
      • Will I want to add the ability for a website visitor to buy products in the future?
      • Am I happy to pay ongoing costs, or do I just want to pay a one-off fee?
      • Do I need to integrate with other parts of my business (such as a lead generation tool or a payment platform)?
      • Is it SEO-friendly?
      • Will it scale with my business?
      • Can I use a website builder to make the design process easier?

      Depending on what you want to use the CMS for, you may have other questions, but these basic ones should set you off on finding the right content management system for your needs.

      6. Choose a great e-commerce platform

      If you know that you’ll want to sell products on your site, you need to know what e-commerce platform you need to choose. You can choose from many platforms, but not all of them are built to scale or fit for your purposes. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

      If you’re running a business website, you need to make sure that the platform you choose is reliable and sturdy. You don’t want to deal with customer complaints because you chose a platform that can’t deliver.

      Before selecting a platform, ask yourself the following:

      • Is it SEO-friendly? While there are many cheap and easy-to-set-up e-commerce platforms, not all of them are particularly SEO-friendly.
      • Is it mobile-friendly? We live in a mobile-first world, and if that platform is even a little bit clunky, you’re going to be losing out on revenue.
      • Is it a trusted and secure platform? One of the most important considerations for customers is that their details will be safe when purchasing. Your platform needs to be fully secure, and it needs to communicate that to potential customers.
      • Will it scale? We all have high hopes for our businesses, and while not all succeed, a fair few do. When choosing an e-commerce platform, ensure that it will scale with your online business.
      • How do the systems work? One of the critical areas to investigate is how well the platform deals with product and order management. You need it to be swift so that you aren’t wasting time on the back end, and you can get on with delivering the best service to your customers.

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      7. Create a beautiful, engaging, accessible website design

      When you imagine a design that matches usability, one company usually springs to mind: Apple. They have managed to combine both of these into a wildly successful business.

      Users appreciate good design, and when it’s combined with solid usability, you have a winner. A site that people want to revisit. A site that people want to buy from.

      Google has always said that you need to create websites with the end-user in mind — and it’s more true today than it’s ever been.

      Here are a few tips for creating sites that ooze design quality.

      • Know your target audience and design accordingly — what features would they want, and how design-savvy are they?
      • Don’t skimp on cost. With design, you get what you pay for. Don’t try to cut corners. Use a professional, experienced designer (like team of pros at DreamHost).
      • Look at the competition. Find some sites in your niche that perform well and study them. Google will rank sites based on niches, and design is crucial. If your competitors’ websites are winning with simplistic colors and designs, take notice. Then make yours better.

      8. Optimize for search engines

      One of the simplest, fastest ways to help make your site successful is to optimize it for search engines. While search engines might be smart — and every day they get better at understanding the meaning and context of web pages, their content, and users’ intent — they still need us to help them along.

      In most cases, the first step to optimizing for search engines is keyword research. This will help you identify the sort of keywords you should be targeting through optimization.

      Popular keyword research tools include:

      If you want to take a more sophisticated approach to keyword research, try Semrush. It’s a great tool for advanced digital marketers, and it’s accessible to people with less experience too. We love it so much, we’ve set up a free 14-day PRO trial for our readers!

      SEMrush

      Semrush’s keyword research section works similarly to most other keyword research tools; however, in addition to keyword suggestions, search volume, and difficulty scores, you also get global volume data, keyword variations, and questions linked to your starting keyword. You also get insights into the current state of the SERPs.

      How to Choose Which Keywords to Target

      The right keywords to target can generally be determined by three things:

      1. Search volume
      2. Difficulty/competitiveness
      3. Relevance

      Ideally, you want to target keywords that lots of people are searching for (how many searches you can realistically expect this to be will depend on your industry), that have low competition (which increases the odds that you’ll be able to rank), and that, of course, are relevant to your site!

      How to Optimize for Target Keywords

      The main places for including your target keywords are:

      The title tag

      This forms part of the snippet of information that appears in the search results. For example, this is the title tag for the DreamHost homepage:

      <H> tags

      H tags are header tags. You might know them as H1s, H2s, H3s, and so on. They are used to help organize the information on a page, particularly in terms of hierarchy.

      While search engines use all the text on a page for ranking, H tags have extra weight behind them — particularly the H1 tag. Include keywords in them where you can (but never, ever be spammy about it!).

      On-page content

      Search engines use all of a page’s content when determining its subject matter and what it should rank for. It goes without saying that keywords should be included here. Just be tactical about how you do it.

      Use words and phrases naturally. Use permutations where possible. Consider entities. And most importantly of all, write for users, not search engines.

      If you need more help with optimizing your website, consider adding SEO toolkit to your hosting plan for $4.99/month. It’ll help you improve your search engine rankings and drive more customers to your site with its suite of DIY tools, helpful analytics, and a step-by-step SEO plan.

      9. Create high-quality content

      It’s hardly a secret that websites with high-quality content have a better chance of performing well than those with poor-quality content.

      Great content should be informative, well written, and easy to understand. It should be formatted in a way that guides the user through the copy.

      But “create high-quality content” sounds somewhat subjective, doesn’t it?

      It’s not quite as subjective as you might think. Here are some ways you can ensure you’re writing high-quality content for your niche.

      • Invest in good writers — as with many points in this guide, cutting corners won’t help your website succeed in the long run. Our SEO marketing service can help.
      • Have experts write your content — Google has been working towards making sure only the best and most accurate content reaches the top of the search results. Middle-of-the-road content isn’t going to cut it for much longer.
      • Conduct deep research — you need to find out what your customers want, not what you think they want. Many websites miss this point entirely. If you don’t satisfy your users’ needs, you can’t really call your content high-quality.

      It’s not just about the words — you need to make your content sing. Make sure it appeals to different users. If it’s right for your target audience, then introduce videos, images, infographics, and charts.

      10. Track your progress with analytics

      It’s tricky, if not impossible, to know whether your site is a success if you’re not tracking your progress. While many tools allow you to track your website and even spy on the status of others, there is arguably no better website tracking tool than Google’s own Analytics.

      To get started with Google Analytics, you will need to:

      And that’s pretty much it. You can create filtered views of the data to help you hone in on specific data elements, but the above is all you need to do for Google to start gathering extremely detailed data that will enable you to assess the performance of your site and adapt your strategy accordingly.

      11. Set up a site maintenance plan

      What do you do once your site’s up and running? Should you sit back, relax, and let the visits/leads/money roll in?

      No.

      Depending on your goals, you may be able to slow down. But you can’t just forget about your website. Things will go wrong.

      Instead, implement a maintenance plan, like what we offer as part of our DreamCare service. Your maintenance plan should include a list of periodic must-dos and when you will do them. The most important will likely be:

      • Running security scans
      • Backing up your site’s data
      • Checking Webmaster Tools, primarily for any glaring errors that have gone unnoticed

      Another thing we’d advise is to run Hotjar or another tool that monitors user behavior. While you can use its findings to gain a deep understanding of your website’s user experience (UX), you can also use it periodically to pinpoint specific issues or points of contention.

      Get Our Best Tips to Boost Website Traffic

      Whether you need help optimizing a landing page, crafting the ideal social media strategy, or creating buyer personas, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.

      Your New Website Is Waiting

      As you can see, creating a successful website isn’t quick, and it isn’t particularly easy — but knowing the secrets to a successful website will help.

      Get started with these key takeaways.

      1. Define your goals. Decide exactly what you want your website to achieve.
      2. Choose a good domain name that’s relevant, memorable, short, and has a trustworthy extension.
      3. Invest in quality web hosting that’s secure, with great tech support.
      4. Describe your business clearly on your homepage, and anywhere else it’s relevant.
      5. Use a quality content management system: one that’s robust and easy to use.
      6. Choose a good e-commerce platform that can grow with your business.
      7. Create a beautiful website design that’s one step above your competitors.
      8. Optimize for search engines. Ensure they understand what your site’s about and the terms it should rank for.
      9. Create high-quality content; substandard content doesn’t rank.
      10.  Track your progress, starting with Google Analytics.
      11.  Create a site maintenance plan, including backing up data and checking Search Console.

      Ready to get started with your website? If you’re starting from scratch, we can help with our Pro Services. Our expert team can design, build, manage and market your website — everything you need to launch yourself or your brand online. Learn more about what DreamHost can do for you here.



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      Secrets to Building and Scaling SRE Teams


      Video

      About the Talk

      Tammy Bryant, Principal SRE at Gremlin, shares how she’s built tech solutions in emerging ecosystems. From setting yourself up for success as you scale to efficiently handling millions of global users, Bryant shares her best advice for onboarding all customers, no matter what stage your business is in.

      What You’ll Learn

      • How to set yourself up for success from the moment your onboard your first customer
      • Enabling your teams to build scalable and standardized solutions
      • Three secrets to efficiently scaling your infrastructure

      Resources

      About the Presenter

      Tammy Bryant (Butow) is a Principal SRE at Gremlin. Tammy loves building scalable solutions and has helped efficiently scale companies from seed round to post-IPO. Previously, Tammy was the SRE Manager for Databases and Block Storage at Dropbox where she led her teams to effectively scale from 400 million to over 500 million users in 1 year (with a small team of 5 engineers!). Tammy’s passion is working with small wise teams to scale effectively.



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