HostingCon 2007 Coverage

Greetings fellow web hosting freaks of all shapes, sizes, bandwidths and disk capacities. I have never been to a web hosting conference and could not attend HostingCon this year held on July 23-25 at the Navy Pier in Chicago. My understanding of what takes place at these conferences is simply that a bunch of people who love web hosting get together and talk about web hosting. Simple enough description?

What’s the next best thing to being at HostingCon? I am excited that Douglas Hanna will be live blogging HostingCon 2007 for Clickfire this year! Douglas is armed with a Nikon D80 camera, a Palm Treo 700wx smart phone and a whole lot of knowledge and enthusiasm for the web hosting industry. Not only is Douglas going to physically be there, but he is speaking at one of the conference sessions. Douglas’ session will be on Wednesday July 25th at 4:30 and entitled: Customer Service as Your Competitive Advantage. Other hosting industry professionals will be speaking at sessions that I that I hope to hear about are:

  • Ben Fisher and Neil Patel, Modern SEO/SEM Site Clinic
  • Isabel Wang, Green Web Hosting…
  • Jim Boykin, SEO Techniques…
  • Derek Vaughan’s Future of Web Hosting
  • Richard Jimmerson’s ARIN
  • Troy Augustine, Future of Hosted Services
  • Adam Eisner, Rethinking Domain Name Search
  • Nicholas Mailer, Guinesss World Book Record…

Douglas has written several web hosting reviews and articles for Clickfire. He’s also written for quite a few well known web hosting sites. His blog is Service Untitled and he has a lot to say about the all important subject of customer service. He also interviews some well known execs from Dell, Best Buy, HP, Rackspace and elsewhere. I like to describe Douglas’ treatment of web hosts in his reviews here as “tough love.” I’d like to say thanks to Douglas and I hope you all enjoy the coverage. Take it away, Doug…

Hello from Chicago!

As promised, over the next three days, I’ll be covering HostingCon 2007. Expect some live blogging from the sessions, pictures, and who knows what else.

Navy Pier, Chicago HostingCon 2007

This is Navy Pier, where the HostingCon 2007 conference will be held.

–Douglas Hanna

Day 1

Some pictures from this morning and the Mini Workshop: Metrics That Mean Money And How To Track Them session.

HostingCon Screen

This is one of the screens around HostingCon providing updates.

HostingCon Workshop Room

The room in the workshop is starting to fill up.

David Snead, Jeff Stibel, Joe Bardenheir, Brian Shepard

Part of the panel. Right to left: David Snead, Jeff Stibel, Joe Bardenheir, Brian Shepard

Hillary Stiff, Isabel Wang, David Snead, Jeff Stibel

The other part of the panel. Left to right: Hillary Stiff, Isabel Wang, David Snead, Jeff Stibel


Day 2

Here are some pictures from HostingCon day 2. If any of them are blurry, my apologies. It’s really tough to take good pictures when it’s dark in a big room.

Web Hosting Talk Bottled Water
Some of the Web Hosting Talk water bottles.

Web Hosting Talk Booth

The Web Hosting Talk booth with a few seats, plenty of WHT moderators and staff, and more.

WHIR Networking Lounge

Two folks using The WHIR networking lounge. Getting some work done (hopefully).

WHIR Networking Lounge

The WHIR networking lounge. Stocked with food, tables and chairs, wifi, and more.

CEO of Demand Media

Blurry picture from the keynote on Monday. CEO of Demand Media, which owns eNom.

SEO Panel Picture

SEO panel picture.

Tuesday's Keynote

Tuesday’s keynote with folks from HostMySite, TouchSupport, cPanel, and Ensim.

Microsoft Booth

The huge Microsoft booth with presentations in the back.

Free Stuff

Some of the free stuff you can get. iPhones, Wii’s, etc. were being given away through random drawings. Hats, pens, and more were around for anyone.

Red Hat Booth

The booth for Red Hat.

Past Issues of The WHIR and their Magazines

Past issues of The WHIR and their magazines.


The guys from SoHoLaunch.

The Planet

The sales staff at The Planet promised to beat any deal on servers.

The Ping! Zine Booth

The Ping! Zine booth. They had lots of magazines and t-shirts available.

HostingCon Panel: Green Hosting Hope or Hype?

HostingCon Green Web Hosting Panel

Room 327 | Session #103 | 2:00 – 2:45 PM

Moderator: Isabel Wang, Principal,
Panelist: Sam Fleitman, Chief Operations Officer, SoftLayer Technologies, Inc.
Panelist: Doug Johnson, Director Marketing – Hosting, SWsoft
Panelist: Dallas Kashuba, Head Honcho, DreamHost

Dallas: Felt being green was a good thing to do because of personal feelings. Added some marketing with banners.

Sam: Spare parts and amount of boxes, etc. are being reduced to be more green. More efficiency is good for green and money. They are doing the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road every year. They use low voltage processors. Little things like turning off extra USB ports adds up to make big changes. Not just marketing, but also good at saving money.

Do customers appreciate it?

Sam: They don’t usually realize if it is good or bad. We want our customers to realize we are environmentally friendly, but we are in the business of selling servers.

Green Building Certification?

Sam: Heard about it, but haven’t dug into it much.

Dallas: We’ve been in a power crunch for a couple of years. We use exclusively AMD and it makes a difference power wise. You can reduce prices through being “green.”

Isabel: How do decide when to make a server green?

Dallas: We replace them with more efficient servers as they die. We don’t rip out existing servers to replace them with more efficient servers, though.

Doug (SWSoft): The green I’m talking about is taking 10 servers and making them 1 server through vitalization. It has to be marketed efficiently. When you do that, the datacenter has all of this wasted floor space. This is a simple calculation – take my 10 servers and divide it by 10. At SWSoft, we work with people who use our vitalization software to see what type of efficiency they are seeing.

Doug: Example and explanation of power savings case study. Regular server vs. virtualizes server. You need to do the right marketing because a VPS is not for everyone. Some people need an actual dedicated server.

Sam: I don’t have the numbers, so I can’t really guess. A lot of customers are leaning towards a VPS environment because of added flexibility and savings.

Isabel: Why are they asking?

Sam: I don’t know. All types of customers are asking for VPS. Some people still don’t want to get over the mental block of it just being their own server.

Isabel: What type of companies put up the Green Hosting banner?

Sam: All types of companies and sites.

Isabel: There are ~60 million results for green hosting on Google.

Sam: There aren’t many big players in the green hosting area specifically. The biggest green hosting niche site hosts like 5,000 web sites.

Audience Question: Do we need an integrity process (like certification) to say who really is green?

Sam: We’re joining the Green Grid to see what they are using and then we provide our data back to them. Other facilities are doing it as well. The Green Grid is one of the most impressive.

Dallas: If you think long term about your business, it just makes sense to use less power.

Audience question: Green power more expensive?

Sam: I think green power is 3-4 cents per KW more.

Audience question: Any local pressures (because DreamHost is in California)?

Dallas: We don’t really feel like a local company – California is just a large population, so we have more there. We aren’t seeing much local pressure. No one is really pressuring us. The building put a restriction on how much power we could use.

Audience question: How does a smaller operation (i. e. shared or just a dedicated server?)

Dallas: We try to get as many customers as possible (without causing problems) on a server, so it is harder to virtualize. We are using virtulization to isolate problem customers. We may never offer dedicated hosting again since virttulization is getting so good.

Audience member: Some real environmentalists feel that just buying carbon credits isn’t the way to go.

Sam: For Dallas, they buy credits based on their power consumption. So if they use less power, they buy less credits.

Isabel: Out of time.

Related News on Green Web Hosting

HostingCon Session: SEO Techniques

Session Title: SEO Techniques to Boost your Google Ranking
Session #105 | 8:30 – 9:15 AM | Room 327

Find Backlinks:
Whole Site:
Certain Pages: link:

Don’t use Google to find backlinks. Google only shows a “sampling.” The sampling they shows is not really accurate and is totally worthless.

Another way is to use the Strongest Subpage Tool.

Top 10 Analysis:
The top 10 sites in Google and what they have going for them. You can use your site, a keyword, etc.

See Top 10 Analysis Tool at We Build Pages.

You can be over (too many links) or under (too few links), and that will change your placing.

Write naturally, have your keyword in phrases a normal amount of time. Have lots of text and write naturally. Don’t have writers repeat words, etc.

The older the web site, the better. Age is a huge factor in Google. Two years older is best.

Related / Similar Pages:
You can click on the related pages or type in related and then your URL in Google.

What related means means “Other web sites that link to me tend to link to these sites too.”

The sites that show up should be relevant to what you’re writing about.

Backlink and Anchor Text Analysis: We Build Pages Tools

Look at the phrases people have been using. That is your biggest advantage.

C Class Analysis:
Checks out IPs. Google looks at IP addresses, when the domain was registered, and who registered the site. That way, it can tell if they are all the same sites.

Who You Link to Matters:
Didn’t use to be that important. Now it is important. Link to quality sites that aren’t really SEO optimized or that may be trying to game the system.

Internal Link Structure and PageRank:
Navigation structure is very important. Pages you want to show up should be close to the top level of navigation. Don’t burry pages that you want to show up higher.

Supplemental Results:
Google Hell. Google has been adding pages to the supplemental results. Google mainly does it to prevent duplicate content, no content, or little PageRank. Google doesn’t regularly spider supplemental pages (as in once every 8 – 12 months). If a whole bunch of people link to the page, then Google may move it out. To get out: redo URL structure and get people to link to the pages.

Paid Links:
Google looks for words and phrases like “Paid, Ads, etc.” and will remove them from the index. Try to get link in the body of a web page in the middle of the page. Links from homepages are usually affiliations or advertising.

Why sites with 1,000 backlinks outranks a site that has 100,000 backlinks.
Not all backlinks are equal. Some are worth pennies, others aren’t worth anything. If links is in the URL, title, etc., then Google knows it is a link page. Google knows the page format. If you can get a link from a subpage with 1,000 links itself, your rankings will go way up.

Clickthrough Rate:
If you are linked #1, you get 42% of the traffic. #2 in search engine results get about 12%. #7 gets about 3.5%.

Domaining and SEO’s: The Perfect Match
Domainers should get into the SEO and optimize their sites.

The Future of Web Hosting

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM – Session 102 – Room 327

Speaker: Derek Vaughan, Chief Marketing Officer, TechPad Agency
11:16 AM – session is full.
11:18 AM – introduction. TechPad Agency is an ad agency for web hosting companies.
11:22 – web hosting is a “what was” industry. Early adopters were technically savvy and the sites didn’t require much.
11:23 – Four “Megatrends

  • Internet Everywhere
  • Computer and Television Screen Merge
  • Convergence of Internet, Video, and Teleophny
  • Dawn of Perfect Information

Two – four years out
11:26: artificial intelligence and how that will continue to grow. Computers may not think on their own, but they will be able to get a lot of information much quicker.

11:27: Internet Everywhere

  • All access – all the time
  • Low cost or free
  • High bandwidth

11:28: Computer and Television Screens Merge

  • Full motion and programs in one place
  • Network TV and Hollywood movie content will be side-by-side with User-generated content.

Line is blurring between what is full motion TV (that we use televisions for) and what computers are used for.

11:30: Internet, Video, and Telephony Merge

  • Look at the iPhone. It does all of that.
  • Dick Tracy TV wrist phone is here.

11:31: The Dawn of “perfect Information”

  • Efficient frontier and MPT
  • Ratings – like Expedia reviews (Derek had problems finding hotel rooms until Expedia started reviews. Reviews are written by people who have stayed there recently. They are informative and you can enough perspectives to get an idea).
  • Social media and networks like Digg (People sharing a lot of information, but are trusting each other to report real facts they are thinking about buying so that everyone can have a better buying experience).
  • Why “perfect” isn’t “perfect” (People try to game and manipulate the systems).
  • What does your brand look like? (They aren’t thinking about search results of Pay Per Click, but the overall brand instead).

11:34 AM: Universal Search with Google (YouTube videos, images, etc. in search results)

11:35: Web Hosting Customers in the Future

  • Always on internet connection wherever they go
  • Can access data from different locations and tools
  • Groomed to expect more entertainment and feedback from the information they are getting out of the screen.
  • Network of trusted sources they can go to in order to guide informed decisions

11:36: Web Hosting Marketing in the Future

Brand is more important aspect. It isn’t about buying ads, but your brand is far more important. Engaging in reciprocal conversations as opposed to one way.

11:37 AM: Think Like a Television Network

Going to have to entertain people. No longer enough to just have a miniscule font with all of your specs on it. Programming, audience, what entertains them, what are they expecting, who is the face of your message, be true to your friend, On the customer service (offer video-centric products).

11:39: Will It Blend?

Internet troubles. Trying to get on the Internet to view the video.

11:42: Will it Blend video playing on their site.

11:43: Not quite. A bit of lag in the Internet connection. Got it working. Blending transformers. Obviously, blended into pieces.

11:45: Replaying video to see it all the way through (without problem).

11:46: BlendTec (Will It Blend Maker) stats:

  • Launched in November of 2006
  • Based on ‘destruction room’ testing at the factory. Engineer figured it out that everyone would always come and watch
  • $50 cost for first video
  • Generated 6 million visits to their web site in 5 days
  • Interaction with viewers lead to iPhone blend – in one week there were 1.1 million + views on YouTube (after a week)

11:47: Value First – Profit Second

Poster child for that is Google.

  • Create something of value that is unique
  • Give it away free
  • Get users to interact with your brand
  • Build confidence and trust

11:48: Conclusions

11:49: Question and Answer

  • Regarding giving things away for free: Example of Google Analytics and how it adds value to Google’s advertising customers
  • Giving away for free didn’t work: maybe it was because what was given away wasn’t good for the customer
  • Timeline about how fast the changes will be (may not be 2 years, may be more like 5 years)

More HostingCon 2007 Pics from Doug Hanna

Thanks again to Douglas Hanna for the HostingCon 2007 coverage…

HostingCon is all over, but I still have two pictures from the Future of Web Host Marketing session:

Future of Web Hosting - Derek Vaughan

Future of Web Hosting - Derek Vaughan

And here are some from the Rooftop BBQ on Wednesday:

HostingCon Rooftop BBQ

HostingCon Rooftop BBQ

And one more shot of Navy Pier and the beautiful Chicago skyline:

HostingCon Navy Pier and Chicago skyline

Douglas Hanna

Douglas Hanna is a former writer for Clickfire and other publications who went on to become CEO of a major web hosting company.


  1. Douglas, that’s a very beautiful view. The conference sounds really fun, I wish I could be there to follow the events. Take care, sure sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. Thanks for your coverage of my presentation!

  3. I like the image of the sea/pier with the flags in it… it’s got a certain artistic quality. And the rooftop… beautiful architecture! You should post this to flickr!

  4. I visited the navy pier about a year ago – very beautiful place.

    I wasn’t able to attend this conference, but maybe next time around!

  5. Etta

    Good to see such talent at work. I can’t match that.

  6. This is awesome. I love the pictures.

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