wordpress hosting with google-cloud

WordPress Hosting on Google Cloud

We are going to share our experiences as we take on the challenge of moving our WordPress web site hosting from our current provider to the Google Cloud.  We currently host about 25 WordPress separate websites (not multisite) on our Mac server hosted by Macstadium. This solution costs us around $150 a month.

The Google calculators show a single WordPress hosting at around $24 a month.  As you can see that is a much more expensive solution that our current but, that is based on using a 1vCPU & 3.75 GB memory setup, their recommended setup.  There are 2 more lower setups, micro (1 shared 1vCPU & .6 memory) and small (1 shared 1vCPU & 1.7 memory).   We put one of our low traffic websites on the small setup and so far the site has been working just fine. Based on a few weeks of use, it appears that this setup is going to cost more if the range of $14 a month.

We did try putting a WordPress website on the micro selection and the minute we tried to make some site modifications in the WordPress admin panel, plug in maintenance and such, the commuting machine became overloaded and the site would not load, eventually timing out.  We log into the Google Cloud Console and it displays that the VM is being over computed and gives you the ability to upgrade to the next level.  We set the site using the small setup and so far everything is good. We did learn that when you upgrade the commuting machine, it changed our IP address. Once we changed the DNS settings we were back in business.

In another post we will document the steps to start the process.  Going down this path you must have some command line computer abilities.  The WordPress hosting on Google Cloud is Linux and you are using SSH to communicate with the hosting.  You upload files to your home location and then have to copy them into the hosting folders.

online chat on TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor solution

After a dismal reporting of Q2 for TripAdvisor it has the research team out speaking with hotels asking for more attractive solutions.  The conversation covers many topics and includes suggestions for all of the current solutions in place.

The introduction of online travel agencies into the hotel TripAdvisor pages was a turning point in the relationship between TripAdvisor and hotels. TripAdvisor sees this opportunity and hotels cringe as this was a primary stream of direct reservations taken from the TripAdvisor website directed to their own site for internal bookings is now gone. Hotels are seeing a huge drop of traffic from TripAdvisor as they change the style of the pages to keep them on their website and entice people to not only do reviews, but to also book hotel stays, tours and more.

One recommendation we provided was the addition of online chat to the TripAdvisor page and let the hotel staff manage this traffic.  This is truly a win win for both TripAdvisor and hotels.  The hotel staff can log into a online chat portal and handle all the chat inquires on their TripAdvisor hotel page.  Of course TripAdvisor has concerns that the potential guest is not being handled correctly but that can be easily monitored by an end of chat review.  The question now is how much will the hotels pay to subscribe to the online chat service?

top 10 wedding hotels by TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor integrity fail

We have always been TripAdvisor advocates but it seems that TripAdvisor is spiraling out of control. We recently found a glaring content mistake. On the TripAdvisor Owner page (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Owners) there is a testimonial. The testimonial content comes from a TripAdvisor insights video  and the thumbnail picture represents the property El Taj Condo Hotel, where as the name and location displayed in the testimonial is completely wrong.  The testimonial was not done by Dario and Ambra in Naples, Italy but from Kenneth Schmidt in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

TripAdvisor Fail

We also found that if you do a internet search on “top wedding hotels in [any city]” TripAdvisor now has many links to pages that will list the top wedding hotels for the city you typed in.  When we inquired to TripAdvisor about this new listing, the answer was that the search engine optimization department are creating these pages based on review content.  In all fairness they mentioned that there is possible some other criteria that goes into the page.

When TripAdvisor started they were simply a travel review site.  Over the years they saw opportunities to get into the reservation business and now have added all the online travel agencies, constantly inventing ways to get people to book on TripAdvisor with less focus on their core business, reviews.

In reality there is not allot of integrity in the actual reviews since there is no real verification of the stays, the content on the pages can now be questioned by this glaring testimonial fail and now TripAdvisor is creating pages on reviews with keywords.

wordpress hacked, hacked wprdpress - Automated Contacts

WordPress Website Security

wordpress hacked, hacked wprdpress - Automated ContactsIt appears there is a whole lot of WordPress website hacking going on.  We recently fell victim to a brute force attack.  They were able to compromise one of the websites that was hosted on our platform.  The reason we were compromised was due to one of the websites we hosted was well behind in the updates of WordPress and without a security plugin.  The result of an attack is a huge pain.  We caught the compromise fairly quickly and were able to rectify the problem.

Ironically shorty after our situation, we received a number of requests from friends and colleges who ran into the same situation.  So we took a moment to document one of these clean ups to help those of you that may have run into this problem.

How to clean up a hacked WordPress site

Important: these instructions may or may not fix your hacked site.  We are not responsible for any damages or liable if you follow these directions and you break your site.

  • First we installed the Securi Security plug in.  Click on the Malware Scan tab and click the Scan Website button.
    • At this point we had a confirmed malware issue.
  • We then ran the core integrity file checker in Securi Security found on the dashboard and either deleted or restored the files that the checker found.  If you are unsure to restore or delete, find someone that knows.
  • Then we installed Anti-Malware and Brute-Force Security by ELI
    • you register the site and download the latest definitions (no need to pay to check the core files, you just did that with Securi Security Plugin)
    • run the scan (takes some time)
      • our scan found a number of infected files
    • quarantine the known vulnerabilities not the potential
    • go to quarantine section and delete the files
  • Go back to Securi Security, click on the Malware Scan tab and click the Scan Website button.
    • at this point our site came up clean
  • We went to the Hardening tab in Securi Security and selected Harden on most of the options
    • Website firewall is a premium pay feature
    • We did not select the Database Tabel Prefix – BE SUPER CAREFUL, this will break the site!!

If you have a WordPress site and don’t have a security plugin installed, we would recommend you download one of the following plugins right away.  They are all free and offer premium (pay) services if you are willing to pay for additional security.

Recommended WordPress Security Plugins

WordFence, Securi Security and iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)