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Rudy Giuliani, Link Builder

Posted by on Nov 18, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Rudy Giuliani, Link Builder

Rudy Giuliani, Link Builder

Four Seasons Total Landscaping non-brand rankings courtesy of SEMRush:

# of referring domains courtesy of Ahrefs:

If you need a cutting edge content marketer to round out your team, I am pretty sure Rudes will be looking for work some time in January.

The post Rudy Giuliani, Link Builder appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

How to Write PPC Ad Copy Using AI

Posted by on Nov 17, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Write PPC Ad Copy Using AI

How to Write PPC Ad Copy Using AI

It’s no secret: the world of PPC advertising is not for the faint-hearted. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up throwing money down the drain.

How can you increase the chances of the right people clicking on your ads? You need to learn how to write ad copy that converts.

Thankfully, technological advancements like artificial intelligence (AI) are here to save the day. AI tools can help you write ad copy that produces results.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Help Your PPC Campaigns?

Just so we’re on the same page, let’s quickly look at a simple definition of AI.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a multidisciplinary branch of science that includes machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), deep learning, and many other emerging technologies.

The main benefits of AI when it comes to creating compelling PPC ad copy include:

Unmatched data processing powerAbility to better “predict” click-through rates and quality scoresIdentify bids that will get the most trafficSaves you time managing campaigns

However, no matter how much data you have at your fingertips and how well you can identify lucrative bids, all that will be to no avail if your ad copy sucks.

AI can help you with that. I’ll show you how below.

6 Ways AI Can Help You Write Good PPC Ad Copy

Many tools can help you write ad copy. However, many AI-powered tools have one huge advantage: unlike their predecessors that relied on historical data, AI-powered tools give you real-time data. This process allows you to refine your copy to better suit the market situation when the content is created and published.

These are tips that will help optimize your ad copy, whether you’re advertising on Google, Bing, Facebook, or any other of the myriad platforms available.

Use AI for Audience Research

The very first thing you need to do before writing ad copy is to understand your target audience. The key to successful ad copy is to know not only who your target audience is, but also to know:

What they’re looking forWhy they’re looking for it

In short, understanding your audience will help you understand the intent behind your prospect’s search. Knowing this could help you write personalized ad copy that will resonate with your audience, eliciting a click through to your offer.

It will also help you create ads that are so targeted that only the right people will click on them. Additionally, it will help you write ad copy that addresses any objections your audience may have.

When you know how to write ad copy that speaks directly to your audience, you’ll likely enjoy a reduction in wasted clicks and an increase in your return on ad spend (ROAS).

How do you get to know your audience? This process is where AI shines best.

AI-powered audience research tools like IBM’s Watson are great for helping you with predictive audiences. These consumers may not look anything alike but have some common threads that make them relevant targets for your PPC ads. By processing data from multiple sources, AI helps you understand the type of people you should target with your ads.

These insights help you significantly reduce the risk of ad waste, as your ad copy will be hyper-personalized, making it appealing to the right people. With ad spend steadily increasing across all industries, AI will help ensure that you get a good ROI from your campaigns.

Conduct Competitor Research Using AI

Before you put pen to paper, you must study the competitive environment.

You must conduct competitor research. This data will help you understand (among other things):

The type of ad copy that generates clicksAd formats that work best in your nicheOpportunities your competitors are missing that you can leverage

The data you get from your competitors’ ad campaigns is invaluable in helping you know how to write ad copy that will perform exceptionally well.

This process is where AI-powered competitor research tools like Adthena come to play.

By gaining insights into your competitors’ PPC activity and market shifts, you’ll be better armed to write compelling PPC ad copy.

The real-time data AI technologies provide may help you gain or keep a corner the market by ensuring you’re up-to-date with trends and news that affect your market audience. Real-time data is also essential when conducting competitor analysis, as any lag in time could result in the competition cornering the market.

Don’t delay to get on the AI bandwagon, especially when it comes to writing ad copy.

AI Can Help You Discover Keyword Opportunities

Everyone knows keywords are the foundation of every good PPC campaign. Unfortunately, with more businesses vying for the same target audience, relevant keyword opportunities are becoming harder to find.

AI can help.

With the competition for profitable keywords being uber-stiff, normal keyword research just doesn’t cut it anymore. You must leverage AI to help you uncover hidden keyword gems.  

This fact is especially true since keyword research for SEO and PPC is not the same. For PPC, your money rides or sinks on the keywords you use. That’s why you must find keywords that will give you a good return when you bid for them.

AI-powered tools like BrightEdge, for example, not only help you discover profitable keywords but are also able to give insight into the intent behind those keywords.

Because they offer real-time data, you are in a better position to write ad copy based on keyword opportunities as they arise. Of course, this will give you an edge over the competition, as your ads will have a better chance of being served to users while keeping your ad spend low.  

Headline Optimization Is Easy with AI

Saying that your headline is a critical part of your ad copy is an understatement. Its value can never be overstated because it’s your first chance to hook your customers.

If your headers are poorly crafted, users will just scroll past your ad. But if you write your headline well, it will stop them from scrolling so they look at the rest of your ad copy. AI can help you craft headlines that stop people in their tracks by helping you write headlines that result in much-coveted clicks.

A great example is Persado. The AI-powered copywriting tool helped Chase Bank increase the CTR on their ads by as much as 450%. How? By crafting headlines that resonate more with their target audience.

There are AI-powered tools that are designed to help you optimize your headers to elicit users to click on your ads.

The success of your ad campaigns rides on your headlines.

The next part users look at is the ad description.

Use AI to Nail Your Ad Description

Next to your headline, your ad description is the most crucial part of your ad copy. While the headline is the hook that grabs your prospect’s attention, your ad description is the sales pitch that gets them to click on your ad.

However, there’s a catch: you have a limited number of characters to use to convince your prospects to click-through to your offer. This means every character counts. It must help elicit a positive reaction from users. That’s why you must make sure you know how to write ad copy that drives clicks.

Fortunately, AI can help you write compelling ad copy.

With AI copywriting tools like Phrasee, you don’t have to guess what kind of copy works.

Using machine learning and gathering data from different platforms, AI copywriting tools have “mastered” the art of writing great ad copy.

Using machine learning (ML), natural language generation (NLG), deep learning, and other technologies, AI-powered copywriting tools can help you create compelling ad copy that stands out from the crowd. AI takes into consideration many facets, such as language, semantics, sentence structure, and a whole lot more to help you create optimized ad copy at scale.

Another great AI-powered ad creation tool you can consider is CopyAI.

Copy AI is designed to take the grunt work out of brainstorming unique ad ideas. It will help you increase your ROAS by helping you come up with relevant audience-based copy that your customers won’t be able to resist. The deep learning platform that powers CopyAI can personalize your ad copy to suit any holiday, occasion, or campaign.

AI-powered copywriting tools are a great way to save time and money as they work faster and more efficiently. And at the end of the day, they’ll help you boost your bottom line.

Calls-to-Action: AI Can Help With That Too

Calls-to-action (CTAs) are a tricky part of writing ad copy. That’s because your CTA is usually made up of 2-5 words to inspire people to take action.

While platforms like Google and Facebook give you some CTA options to choose from as you create your campaigns, it’s always better to create your own CTAs. After all, if you use the options generated by search engines and social media platforms, you won’t stand out from the competition.

Your CTA plays a crucial role in pushing your prospects across the finish line. As such, give it careful consideration. You may get every other element of your ad copy correct, but if your CTA is weak, your hard work will be in vain.

What makes for a strong clickable CTA? One word: personalization.

Different audiences respond differently to CTAs. That’s why you must pay special attention to the language your audience uses and try as much as possible to implement it in your CTAs. This is one area where audience research pays off because it helps you craft personalized CTAs. Studies show that personalized CTAs perform up to 202% better than generic ones.

Note: make sure to create a different CTA for each campaign. Don’t just regurgitate past CTAs, even if they worked well in previous campaigns.

Yes, it may be a lot of work if you do it manually. That’s why you shouldn’t do it manually; use AI instead.

Again, tools like Persado make creating impactful CTAs easier.

Leveraging data such as sentiment analysis (or emotion AI), AI-powered tools help you create CTAs that tug at your prospects’ heartstrings. Of course, every marketer knows that it is easier to loosen your prospects’ purse strings if you can do that.

By leveraging AI in crafting your CTAs, you increase your ad copy’s chances of achieving its goal of boosting your bottom line.

Conclusion

It’s impossible to ignore AI as a digital marketer. It’s everywhere around us. From AI SEO to AI in website design, every facet of digital marketing is becoming more efficient thanks to artificial intelligence.

As a marketer, if you’re looking to know how to write ad copy that converts, you must lean heavily on AI-powered tools to help you. From the planning stage to deployment, AI can help you optimize every part of your PPC ad campaigns.

Though remember: without good ad copy, your ad spend will be wasted. How do you write good ad copy? By using AI.

Sure, AI may not be able to handle the creative side of writing ad copy completely alone. However, it does go a long way in helping you create ad copy that sells.

Are you ready to embrace the power of AI in your ad copy creation?

The post How to Write PPC Ad Copy Using AI appeared first on Neil Patel.

Concrete steps marketers should take now to get ready for CA’s CPRA in 2023

Posted by on Nov 12, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Concrete steps marketers should take now to get ready for CA’s CPRA in 2023

Last week California voters passed Proposition 24, the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act (CPRA). It builds upon the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which only went into effect this year. CPRA is slated to replace it in 2023.

Among other things, CPRA expands the types of data covered (any data “shared” with third parties); it also spells out specific categories of sensitive personal information that require special attention. It enables consumers (and employees) to opt-out of “automated decision making technology” (machine learning). And it creates a dedicated enforcement agency to ensure compliance.

We asked a number of digital marketers and technology companies to offer concrete advice for brands, publishers and advertisers about what they could or should do now to prepare for CPRA. Our experts included Cillian Kieran, Ethyca CEO; Simon Poulton, VP of Digital Intelligence at Wpromote; Kristina Podnar, Digital Policy Consultant; Gowthaman Ragothaman, CEO of Aqilliz; and Heidi Bullock, CMO at Tealium.

Kristina Podnar, Digital Policy Consultant & Author

Introduce/Increase transparency. CPRA introduces a slew of new requirements around data uses aimed at increased transparency. This will be a bit of a GDPR throwback for marketers who went through adaptation for that regulation. But for any marketer not yet subject to GDPR, this will be a tough hill to climb. Businesses should start paying attention to data privacy by design and governance practices. Specifically, pay attention to data minimization. In other words, only collect the information you need to do the things you say you will do for the user, tell the user how long you will keep their data, don’t extend beyond that timeframe for your own marketing needs, and only do with the data what you told the user you will do with it. Marketers will need to start paying attention to what data they collect, why they collect it, and how they manage that data throughout its lifecycle.

Show what you do and don’t control. Most digital marketers are oblivious to the AI and ML advances in the marketing stack, focusing only on the front-end functionality and desired customer experience outcome. That will need to change as a result of CPRA, which now recognizes the need for increased regulation around this machine-driven capability. Marketers will now need to tell users if they are profiling them and serving up advertisements and promotions using these capabilities. Businesses need to adjust for the cross-device, cross-channel, cross-business tracking and selling that is in place today. Why? Because under CPRA users can now say “don’t track me in that way.” This should remove the “creepy” noise from the marketing system from a user perspective. However it will certainly make it tougher for marketers and cause more business to move to a zero and first party data model.

Stop controlling users. Related to the above, CPRA specifically limits businesses from engaging users in any cross-context behavior advertising. In other words, marketers need to be transparent and can no longer push users towards services or products in a passive way (e.g., marketers can’t use dark patterns for collecting agreement/consent). The task here is for marketers to rethink consent structures, including CMPs, to avoid dark patterns and implied consents that are ubiquitous today.

Simon Poulton, VP of Digital Intelligence at Wpromote

Be CCPA compliant. Since CPRA will not take effect until 2023, focus on being CCPA compliant in the immediate future (if you’re not already). In many cases, CPRA expands on what is covered by CCPA, so compliance here will still be a step in the right direction. It should be noted that all regulations covered within CPRA will be applied to all data collected from January 1st, 2022 onwards. 

Sharing = Selling. Under CCPA, some brands (e.g., Starbucks) explicitly stated that they did not view the sharing of data as selling. This is now clearly defined, and brands should be mindful of all data-sharing points. 

Inventory your cookies. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to review all of the cookies and data-sharing functions that exist on your website and catalog what they do. It’s likely your legal teams will need to review these sooner rather than later. 

Cillian Kieran, Founder and CEO of Ethyca

Review your ability to categorize data you collect, process or store. There’s lots more nuance in CPRA about how user data is categorized, and processors — including marketers — need to be able to treat different categories of personal information discreetly. An obvious example is the introduction of sensitive personal information (SPI). CPRA allows users to designate that their SPI be used only for the essential delivery of a good or service. This requires finer-grained control for data flows in backend systems. 

Review all contracts , whether you’re the contractor or contractee. CPRA requires a much greater level of specificity regarding your data relationships with partners. Any subcontractor used by a CPRA-bound business must also be able to offer CPRA-level privacy protections. Per IAPP, “Third parties, service providers or contractors [must] enter into an agreement binding the recipient to the same level of privacy protection as provided by the act, granting the business rights to take reasonable and appropriate steps to remediate unauthorized use, and requiring the recipient to notify the business if can no longer comply.”

We’ll leave you with one that’s, on the surface, a bit simpler (although you’ll need to spend plenty of time re-examining data “sales” vs data “sharing”). That “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link you placed on the homepage, tweak it to read: “Do Not Sell Or Share My Personal Information.”

Gowthaman Ragothaman, CEO at Aqilliz

Leaving third-party data — for good. A significant revision in the CPRA pertains to the amendment to the CCPA’s “Do Not Sell” clause which now covers the practice of data sharing, often leveraged as part of cross-site behavioral advertising and audience targeting. 

For marketers and big tech firms alike, who are already beginning to grapple with the impending obsolescence of third-party cookies, this should come as no surprise. At this stage, marketers should already be exploring alternatives to limit the use of third-party data for audience targeting. Investing in strategic partnerships with publisher networks that have gone on to develop first-party data pools of their own or joining data federations will be essential. Marketers must also adequately vet publisher partners to ensure that data is being obtained in a conspicuous, ethical manner.

Keeping count. Similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, CPRA demands far more stringent reporting requirements, mirroring the GDPR’s clause on the Record of Processing Activities. Firms will be responsible to disclose all the information collected about a given consumer, directly or indirectly, irrespective of where data sharing took place.

In light of this, marketers should be prepared to bolster existing tech investments to incorporate record-keeping tools. Now, more than ever, due diligence will be key. Having a historical record of the data throughout its entire lifecycle, will be crucial in ensuring that marketers are sufficiently prepared for the more rigorous reporting and disclosure required under CPRA.

Focusing on what’s necessary, rather than what’s nice to have. The CPRA has also widened the scope of what it defines as “sensitive personal information.” Beyond financial account information such as credit card numbers and government-issued identifiers, this now also expands to include racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and perhaps most significantly, “precise geolocation,” which is key for audience targeting. Under the CPRA, consumers will now have the ability to limit both the use and disclosure of sensitive personal information. 

As marketers look to the future of audience segmentation and targeting efforts, significant changes will need to be made. Though the industry has historically reveled in a mindset of data abundance, marketers will need to make a crucial shift in thinking by taking data minimization to heart. In order to ensure adequate data minimization practices, businesses should not only reexamine their data retention practices for appropriate retention times, but also consider integrating data, storage, and purpose minimization into their data management strategies. Opt-out options for the collection and use of sensitive personal information should also be included. Audience engagement strategies will need to be re-defined and to go a step further. Tech vendors and infrastructures should also now be selected on the basis of better enabling a culture of data minimization. 

Heidi Bullock, CMO at Tealium

Understand your data alongside consent. Brands need to know the exact content and source of their data, especially as we face a future filled with myriad new regulations. This includes pinpointing the types of data being collected — from call center to email and website data — and how that data flows across the company. Other factors to consider include, where the data originates, how it’s stored and how it’s being used by the brand. All of this needs to be done in the context of the individual consent that’s collected with it, which lays out the rules for how each person’s data can be used.

Update brand policies. It’s good to revisit CCPA policies and ensure all processes are updated to adhere to the newest regulations, including the CPRA’s new right to correction. Ensuring that policies still align with and are clear for employees and consumers helps maintain an overarching understanding of privacy across the brand. 

Maintain consumer trust. This is pivotal, especially since these regulations are in the best interest of consumers. A recent Tealium study found that, pre-COVID, 91% of consumers wanted the state or federal government to adopt strict regulations to protect their data.

Acknowledge new governance concepts. CPRA now limits the time brands can hold onto personal information in a new storage limitation requirement, so it’s important to consider this timeline when collecting, utilizing or sharing consumer data to ensure it remains within a reasonable window. The ability to govern data at an individual level in an automated, real-time manner will be critical for companies to comply with these new concepts.

Designate a privacy expert. As more and more regulations surface, it becomes crucial for brands to assign tasks internally to remain both accountable and organized. Internal processes are just as important as consumer-facing communications. Privacy experts with deep understanding for Martech are now more needed than ever, as the complexity of Martech alone kept companies busy beforehand.

The post Concrete steps marketers should take now to get ready for CA’s CPRA in 2023 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Marketing Funnel Stages Explained with SEO Strategies

Posted by on Nov 11, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Marketing Funnel Stages Explained with SEO Strategies

Marketing Funnel Stages Explained with SEO Strategies

We actually believe you should start by building a high-ROI SEO sales funnel. If you’re new to marketing funnels, we’ll show you how. 

Many of you are probably already familiar with the basic benefit of SEO. Your content ranks higher for your targeted keywords, and you end up with more organic traffic on your website. 

However, many marketers just focus their optimization efforts there. Thing is, the benefit can go so much deeper if you build and optimize a conversion funnel. 

Martin Zwilling, Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, recently said something that will completely change how you view marketing. Writing for Inc.com, he says; “If you’re still focusing on selling rather than how your customers are buying, you’re missing out on great business potential.”

And, finally, we’re vindicated!

Zwilling is simply saying the same thing we’ve repeated a thousand times by now – that buying is a process. It’s not just about prices. You need a plan for the entire journey – a robust conversion funnel.

Specifically, you can use SEO to engage your target customers as they travel through the conversion funnel. Just imagine if you can rank for all the search terms and queries that correspond to each stage of the conversion funnel, you can engage customers through the entire buying process. 

To do this, you need to integrate keyword optimization, strategic content marketing, and clear site architecture to make sure your leads are engaging with you throughout their entire buyer journey. 

In this post, we will go through each marketing funnel stages and the work you need to do to build an SEO conversion funnel. So let’s start broad. 

What is a Conversion Funnel?

There are tons of conversion funnel models out there.

But generally, a conversion funnel is similar to the traditional sales marketing funnel and is works as a visualization to help marketers plan for the different phases of digital marketing.

With a conversion funnel, you know;

What to sayWhen to say itWhere to say itHow to say it

More formally, it’s defined as “a way of representing the buyer journey through which prospects go until they make a conversion.”

An SEO conversion funnel is named so because it focuses on organic traffic generated through search engines.

What Makes SEO Conversion Funnel Important?

Many companies still market their products based solely on price. To them, selling begins and ends with your lower prices.

How wrong they are!

Although the price is still an important consideration for people who buy, everything about your product can no longer revolve around price. Why? Because the consumer has changed. Digital commerce changed everything.

Today, at the initial stages, web searchers aren’t even thinking about the price yet. In fact, maybe they’re still researching if buying a certain solution would be a great idea. In that case, you’d need to begin by convincing them on the benefits of making the purchase. 

An SEO sales funnel is designed to organize your SEO campaign to quietly rope in potential customers and gently “push” them through to conversion.

Marketing Funnel Stages Explained

The SEO conversion funnel has three main parts – the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, and the bottom of the funnel. Here’s what you need about each stage.

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

Also known as the awareness stage, the top of the funnel, this is the stage where you try to capture potential customers. Here, the consumer is just browsing around. Perhaps they don’t even realize they have a problem.

You need to do three things.

First, make them aware of their problem (if they don’t know yet that they have one) or remind them if they’re already aware.

Secondly, make them know the full cost of that problem. How much money are they losing or leaving on the table?

Lastly, let them know there’s a solution to the problem.

It might seem that to engage your leads at this stage, you should target broad key terms and create content that addresses those broad interests. 

But that’s not entirely true. Even your broad keywords can stem from your buyer keywords. For example, if you are an SEO company, you can create content on the difference between hiring an SEO and doing it yourself. 

Content in this stage should focus on agitating the pain, which in this case should emphasize more on the benefits of hiring an SEO rather than doing it yourself.  

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

The middle of the funnel is also known as the consideration phase. Here, the consumer now understands that they have a problem.

They also know that there’s a solution out there. But, they’re not actively thinking about fixing it yet. It’s not yet a priority.

So, what’s your job? To make it a priority; to convince them to get the solution now.

You want to make them know that they stand to save a lot of money if they fix the problem. Telling them exactly how they would benefit can be invaluable here.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

The bottom of the funnel, also known as the decision stage, is where the consumer is convinced about acquiring the solution. Now, all they need to do is choose a product and vendor.

As such, your job is to get them to choose your brand and product. They’re likely to come across endless ads and check out lots of websites. You need to convince them to choose you!

SEO Tactics and Strategies for Each Stage of the Funnel

You’ll need to focus on specific content types and keywords for each stage of the SEO funnel. Here are a few tips;

Awareness Stage

In the awareness stage, focus on content that makes the consumer aware of their situation and potential solutions. Some of the best performing content options for this stage include;

Educational blog postsIndustry researchAnalyst reports

With regards to keywords, “prevent,” “improve,” and “troubleshoot” work excellently as they encourage the consumer to rethink their position.

Consideration Stage

In the consideration stage, you need content that encourages the consumer to start thinking about getting the solution. Some content options that work extremely well here, therefore, include;

Expert guidesLive interactionsCase studies

As for keywords, popular options include “provider,” “service,” and “tool.” Essentially, you want to use words that tell consumers that a solution exists for their problem and that they should acquire that solution.

Decision Stage

Finally, in the decision stage, you want to focus on content that helps the consumer choose the right solution and vendor (ideally your products). So, consider;

Vendor reviewsProduct comparisonsProduct guidesWhitepapers

Some of the best keywords for this stage include “pros and cons,” “compare,” and “review.” “Free Trial” and “Test” are other words/phrases you should consider.

Map your Customer Journey with Interlinking

Beyond content and keywords, you also need to develop a flawless Information Architecture (IA) for easy and fast discovery of and access to your resources.

The Search Engine Journal has created a detailed guide on how to approach IA. In a nutshell, you need to focus on;

NavigationSitemapPage structureWireframesContent organizationStory outline

The goal is to provide the right content and use the right keywords for each stage of the funnel. Links play a central role in mapping the journey. Using links, you can direct the consumer through the different stages of the funnel until they finally convert.

Ways to Optimize SEO Conversion Funnel

There are several steps you can take to optimize your SEO conversion funnel for search engines. Consider the following;

Use your domain name frequently: Domain names are simple and easy to remember. They also boost credibility, brand recall, and direct searches.Combine SEO with PPC data: Incorporate the same keywords you use in Google AdWords and other PPC campaigns into your SEO funnel.Embrace the long-tail theory: Leveraging both head and long-tail keywords will help you cast your net wide for maximum conversions.Build a keyword funnel: An SEO marketing funnel is incomplete without an accompanying keyword funnel. You need to identify the perfect keywords for each stage of the funnel.Build a content map: A content map is a plan that outlines your content strategy. It answers the what, who, where, and when of content marketing.Do split tests to improve your campaign: Split tests will help you discover new opportunities for growth. Elements to consider for split-testing include keywords, CTAs, and headlines.

Conclusion

Every digital marketer needs a plan to generate the right traffic, drive leads, and convert sales. An SEO conversion funnel is an answer to this need. A well-designed SEO funnel attracts the right readers (in their numbers) and keeps them in the loop, right to conversion.

Is Google Digital Marketing Certification Worth It? (Review)

Posted by on Nov 10, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Is Google Digital Marketing Certification Worth It? (Review)

Is Google Digital Marketing Certification Worth It? (Review)

Google Digital Marketing Certification is definitely worth it. It’s a great course to follow if you want to break into digital marketing. It is offered by Google, it’s free and accredited by Open University and other organizations.

We know that searching and researching for the right online course to invest in can be overwhelming and mentally exhausting.

There are just so many options out there in the digital world. But these online courses are truly the most efficient way to grow your knowledge and skill when it comes to furthering your career or growing your business.

We’ve already given you a list of the best digital marketing courses, so now we are going to give you a more comprehensive review of one of those courses.

We are diving into the Google Digital Marketing Certification so that you can decide if it’s a good fit for you.

In this review, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Google Marketing certification.

We will talk about what this course entails, the time and money investment required, how it’s delivered, it’s features and benefits, and how to obtain that Google Digital Marketing Certification for your resume.

By the end of this post, you should have a good idea if the Fundamentals of Google Digital Marketing Certification is worth your while.

Let’s get started.

What is Google Digital Marketing Certification?
Is Google Digital Marketing Course Free?
Is it a Good Course to Follow?
What You’ll Learn in this Course?
How to become Google Certified?
Google Digital Marketing Certification Alternatives

What is Google Digital Marketing Certification?

Google Digital Marketing Certification is a certificate awarded by Google after successfully completing the requirements of the Fundaments of Digital Marketing Course. The certificate is accredited by Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University.

It is a basic yet well-rounded course for those who are looking to learn the fundamentals of digital marketing or even brush up on their digital marketing skills and knowledge.

The Google digital marketing course is offered through the Google Digital Garage library. With 26 modules of 40 hours of time investment, this is the only digital marketing course provided by Google Digital Garage that offers a certification.

Google Digital Garage is a learning platform owned by Google. It’s a library of free online courses offered by both Google’s professional trainers as well as a variety of other course platforms.

Google Digital Garage Courses

Google Digital Garage aims to give professionals a simple and flexible way to learn the real-world skills they need to succeed in business. So it’s a good idea to explore the collection of other courses that it provides.

Is Google Digital Marketing Course Free?

Yes! It’s free and simple to register for. When you click the Register button you can either log in with your Google account or register using a different email account.

Once you create your account, you can track your progress, download your certificate (after completing the course and passing an exam) and get free access to all the online lessons and face-to-face workshops available in Google Digital Garage.

Track your progress as you work through the course.
Is it a Good Course to Follow?

If you are looking for foundational information to jumpstart your own digital marketing career this course is for you. Even if your sole purpose is to learn more about how to market your own business, this Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course will move you in the right direction.

Here are some practical reasons you may want to say yes to the Google Digital Marketing Certification course:

It’s easy to use.

Not only is the registration process simple, but the layout of the course is broken down into bite-sized chunks so that it’s easy to digest. Each of the 7 sections of the course contains anywhere from 1-7 modules consisting of both videos and check-in questions to ensure you are retaining the information.

Google Certification Lessons

At the end of some lessons, there are even some action items to implement in order to move your business forward in the digital space. After you have completed the modules in each section, there is a quick quiz that follows.

Another convenient feature is being able to adjust the YouTube playback speed. If you are an avid note-taker, you can make it slower to allow yourself time. If you are looking to power through the course or are reviewing it for a second time, you can speed it up. A small convenience, but sometimes very valuable!

It covers the fundamentals of online business

The world is online, and even though it’s hard to believe, there are many local businesses that still aren’t taking advantage yet. This course is for those that are starting a new online business, or learn how to make digital marketing a career for themselves.

In this course, you will learn how to build an online marketing strategy, improve how a website ranks on search engines, and use analytics tools to understand online performance. It’s foundational, but a necessary first step.

Obtaining a certification shows that you are dedicated and willing to invest time into your professional growth

Why choose a course that provides a certification? Not only does it show potential employers that you have the knowledge and skills they are looking for, but it also shows that you are responsible, dedicated, and understand that professional growth is important to your success. It goes a long way!

It’s a reputable and credible source

Google knows what they’re talking about when it comes to digital marketing. When it comes to searching for the right course to take online, it can get overwhelming since there are many digital marketing certificate programs out there. Going with Google Digital Garage is a safe bet, especially when wanting to learn the fundamentals of online marketing.

Not only will it give you peace of mind in knowing you are learning legitimate and current information, but it will also hold some weight when putting this certification on your resume.

What You’ll Learn in this Course?

This course, although free, is robust and full of great foundational content. With 26 modules, there are approximately 40 hours of videos, check-in questions, and quizzes. The modules are broken up into 7 main sections that are titled:

Take a Business Online
Make It Easy for People to Find a Business on the Web
Reach More People Locally, on Social Media, or on Mobile
Reach More People With Advertising
Track and Measure Web Traffic
Sell Products of Services Online
Take a Business Global

Google Digital Marketing Certification Modules

Within each of these sections, there are modules that include videos, quick check-in questions, action items, and a quiz that wraps up the lesson. The videos are great, but if you prefer reading, you can simply click on the “view transcription” button to expand the text and read your way through the course. This is a great way to get your notes as well.

These 7 sections include detailed lessons on:

Building your web presence
Planning your online business strategy
Getting found on Google search
Deep-diving into social media
Discovering the possibilities with mobile
The ins and outs of online advertising
Finding success with analytics
Building your online shop
Expanding internationally

So even though this is a foundational course and the titles of the 7 main sections seem a bit basic, the content within the sections are packed with practical information to get your business off the ground or even your career as a digital marketing consultant to the next level.

How do I get Google Digital Marketing Certified?

After completing all 26 modules and passing the 40 question exam, you will earn your Google Digital Marketing Certificate to share on LinkedIn or resume.

Obtaining the certificate is as simple as downloading the PDF from the course page after successfully completing the final exam.

Google Digital Marketing Certification

This certification is accredited by Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University. It’s globally recognized which makes it beneficial for you to add it to your resume.

Google Digital Marketing Certification Alternatives

Of course, as I’m sure you know, there are many courses online that will uplevel your skills and, ultimately, your business. Sometimes a course may not be the right fit for you, and if that’s the case with Google Digital Marketing, here are some alternatives for you.

Digital Marketing Full Course by ReliableSoft Academy

This is our 8 courses in one bundle that includes our SEO, Digital Marketing, Keyword Research, Content Marketing, Google Analytics, Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and eCommerce SEO courses.

With checklists, actionable tips, and step-by-step instruction, this bundle of courses is designed to make it easy for you to take action in your business and see results right away.

Our courses are updated frequently as we continue to test the market and make the appropriate changes, so you will always have the most current digital marketing best practices.  Within the course, you will not only learn the practical tips but be inspired by real success stories.

The value of this course is $312, but we are offering it at 70% off for only $87. With our 60-day money-back guarantee, it’s essentially risk-free and worth checking out if you are looking for the best bang for your buck.

Udemy – The Complete Digital Marketing Course

This course dives a little deeper into specific platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest marketing. At $149.99 it’s a reasonable price, and if you catch it on sale, even better.

With a 30-day money-back guarantee and many good reviews, it’s definitely worth checking out if you are looking into more detailed instruction.

SEMrush Academy

If you’re wanting another free option, SEMrush is a well-known, credible, and reputable company in the digital marketing world.

They have a wide range of courses in their academy including digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, affiliate marketing, and social media marketing.

These courses do also provide a certification upon completion of an exam.

Conclusion

We’ve established that selecting and completing the right online course is not a waste of time. It is a quick, simple, flexible, and effective way to gain knowledge in the digital marketing space.

Since the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course is completely free, the question to ask yourself is whether or not it is worth your time investment.

Here is a summary of the course features:

It’s provided by a leader in the space (Google) which makes it a credible source
It’s FREE!
It has a simple registration process with no strings attached (you can opt-out of emails so that you are not on yet another email list).
It’s user friendly and easy to navigate through.
With a mix of video, text, action items, and quizzes, it’s bite-sized lessons were designed with a busy professional in mind.
Its content covers the fundamentals but is practical enough to allow the student to implement and see results in their business.
For those that are looking for digital marketing certification for their resume or LinkedIn profile, this course provides a globally recognized certification after successfully completing a 40 questions exam.

With so many digital marketing courses available, we believe that the Google Digital Marketing Certification course is definitely one that is worth your while.

Definitely take the time to explore everything that the Google Digital Garage has to offer. Between its library of online courses, certifications, live training, and other tools and resources, you are sure to grow your skill or freshen up on your knowledge.

The post Is Google Digital Marketing Certification Worth It? (Review) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

Does changing your business phone number affect SEO?

Posted by on Nov 3, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Does changing your business phone number affect SEO?

30-second summary:

Although a business phone number isn’t as tough on your SEO as a complete rebrand, changing it can have an impact on your SEO.
Preserving NAP consistency should be your primary goal when changing your phone number.
Your marketing strategy can help make the transition easier for your customers, too, as you can notify them of the change ahead of time.
The key goal in addition to retaining your ranking should be to not lose the trust of your customers by changing your information – hence the need to approach the process carefully.

Much like all other aspects of digital marketing and brand positioning, SEO is a constantly changing game. With so many moving pieces and evolving trends, it’s no wonder that brands aren’t quite certain which decisions will negatively impact their SEO, and which ones are safe enough to make. 

One day, it seems that one kind of behavior is perfectly fine, while the next Google will penalize it because they’ve implemented algorithm changes. Add customer expectations into the mix, and it gets even more difficult to figure out just what’s worth the effort, and what should be left alone. 

When it comes to your business details, including your name, address, and phone number (neatly packed into the notion of NAP information), change can be good. After all, entire companies have successfully rebranded without a hitch. However, changing a single piece of information such as your phone number can change the entire customer journey if not done right.

Here, we’ll tackle a few essential steps in the process to keep in mind, so that your phone number shift doesn’t impact your ranking or your brand perception negatively. 

NAP it in the bud

Local search is a vital component of your overall SEO strategy, all the more so when you’re running a strictly local business with a physical presence, such as a pastry shop, a car repair facility, or a beauty salon. Your foot traffic heavily depends on your customers’ ability to find correct information online when they search for your services.

If they stumble upon an outdated number, they’ll call the next business in their search results with solid reviews and forget that you exist. Simply put, consistency matters. Google doesn’t want to disappoint its users, so it penalizes businesses with inconsistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information across the internet. As soon as your directories, your website and other online listings don’t show your actual phone number, your ranking will suffer.

The remedy is fairly simple. If you have decided to change your phone number or your entire communications system, for that matter, you should take the time to revise all your local business listings and directories where your company pops up. 

NAP consistency is a vital ranking factor that can either plummet your business in the eyes of search engines, or it can help you reach those topmost desirable spots in the SERPs. So, while changing your business phone number might not be a cause for worry on its own, how you distribute it will greatly matter in local rankings. 

Take care of your call tracking

Some businesses steer clear of call tracking simply because they aren’t sure how to go about it, afraid to damage their SEO in the process. Even more importantly with regards to call tracking, every business needs to adhere to those key legal requirements, such as the EU’s GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, to make sure their customers’ sensitive information is safe. But when the time comes to move from outdated landlines and change your numbers or merge them, you can also reap the benefits of this potentially SEO-beneficial process.

Wanting to unify and improve their communication systems, companies are switching to digital phone solutions such as voice over internet protocol (or VoIP for short). There are many perks of such a transition for call tracking, smarter customer support, and better customer engagement, all of which can support your SEO efforts in the long run. As you learn about VoIP and its many applications, you’ll be able to make the most of your phone-based interactions with your customers to serve your brand reputation, but also your ranking.

In addition to having more business phone numbers at your disposal if you need them, you should know that VoIP platforms come with other useful features such as call analytics, recording, emailing, and texting. Collecting all of that data and implementing SEO-safe call tracking with the help of Dynamic Number Insertion both work in favor of your SEO.

Building and preserving customer trust

When done right, changing your business phone number can be a seamless process that doesn’t do any damage to your ranking. However, it’s important to remember the reason for the ranking in the first place: search engines want to give users the best, most trustworthy results first and above all other available options online. In doing so, they reward businesses that accurately portray themselves online, and contact information is a vital component of that representation.

The basic premise goes as follows: if a customer calls you and gets a notification that the number no longer exists, they lose trust in your brand. Google and other search engines recognize that lack of trust and thus push other businesses above yours, with accurate and verified contact details available. In a sense, it’s customer trust that drives search engine ranking. 

Research has confirmed this, as 80% of surveyed respondents in BrightLocal research have stated that they would lose trust in a business with incorrect and inconsistent contact details. If you’ve decided to change your phone number, making sure it’s consistently represented across all of your digital outlets is the key piece of your SEO puzzle: to preserve customer trust and thus to preserve your ranking. 

Notifying the customer in time

Thankfully, you can make sure that your customers have the correct information in a few simple ways. If you’ve taken care of all of your business directory listings, your social media pages, messaging app presence, and your website, you can use your marketing strategy to get the word out. 

Your subscribers and return customers will want to know that your business has changed a vital piece of information. Just like you don’t want them to spend an hour going to an old address of your café only to discover a weird-looking shop for plumbing supplies, you want to have your new number added to their contacts list.

You can use your weekly/monthly newsletter to notify them of the switch, post a social media update letting customers know the new number they can reach you on, and post a little announcement on your website, too, especially if you gain plenty of call traffic from all of these outlets.

Changing a business phone number can be a simple process in itself, but its impact on your business will not be unless you prepare properly. Taking care of all the business registers where your company is listed paired with implementing search engine-approved tracking tactics as well as customer engagement will be more than enough to help you through the process. 

Emma Worden is a digital marketer and blogger from Sydney. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. You can find Emma on @EmmaRWorden.

The post Does changing your business phone number affect SEO? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

The latest news in SEO and WordPress: October 2020

Posted by on Nov 3, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The latest news in SEO and WordPress: October 2020

October is coming to an end and this means that we hosted another SEO news webinar at Yoast HQ. If you’re not familiar with this recurring event yet: it’s a monthly webinar at which our experts Joost and Jono discuss the latest news when it comes to Google, Bing, WordPress and everything related to SEO. If you missed it, or if you simply want to reread the highlights, this post will give you a recap of the topics they covered. Sit back and enjoy!

What’s new in Google?

Google Search On 2020 event

This month, Google held an online Google Search On 2020 instead of their annual Google I/O that they had to cancel earlier this year. During the Search On event, Google announced that their language understanding model BERT is now used on almost every English search query out there.

To give you some context, BERT is designed to look at every part of a search query and understand the relationship between the different words being used. This ties in with Google’s continuous work to keep getting better and better at understanding the web and its users. By using AI, such as BERT, Google focuses more on getting you the right answer to your question and not just showing you the pages where you can find it yourself.

Google ranking pages or passages

Google seems to have made a switch from showing pages in the search results to showing specific passages that can answer a user’s search query. To give you an idea of what that looks like: in the search results they highlight relevant passages in a way that almost feels like a new type of snippet. This caused a bit of a stir, as people thought that this meant that Google will now start indexing passages instead of pages. But Google itself has confirmed that this is not the case, they consider passages an additional ranking factor.

What this means for you is that it becomes even more important to have a great content structure, where every one of your paragraphs has a clear focus and topic. And if you’re a big fan of using single-sentence paragraphs, now might be the time to reconsider using them. As they will be less likely to fit in with this type of content Google is looking for.

Taking search to the real world

Another cool development that feels like it’s part of a new revolution is that Google is taking steps to take their Search into the real world. With projects like Google Duplex, Busyness and AR in Google Maps they’re working on helping people find what they’re looking for while they are out and about.

Augmented reality in Google Maps, for example, can show you the way you need to go by projecting the directions onto the street through your phone instead of on a map on your phone. And Busyness can give you live information on how busy the restaurant is that you’re pointing your phone at that exact moment. All of this is rich information, and the next big step in moving Google out of the search box and into the real world. However, Google will have to monitor these new functionalities to prevent abuse by competing businesses. So, it will be interesting to see how this will pan out.

The Request Indexing Feature

In other news related to Google, they temporarily dropped the Request Indexing feature in Google Search Console. This means that, for the time being, you can’t submit an URL to get it indexed manually. We noticed that a few people are asking how they’ll get their pages indexed now that this feature is not available. But don’t worry, you don’t need this feature to get your site indexed. Your pages will get indexed when you link to them from other pages and trust us, this is really the best way to go. Submitting URLs to this feature in Google Search Console to get them indexed will not help your rankings as your pages simply need links to them and when you have these links to your page, this feature becomes redundant.

In addition, Joost and Jono discussed the launch of Journalist Studio, the new quality rater guidelines, the lawsuit against Google, the new version of Google Analytics, Web Stories becoming available in Discover, mobile-first indexing and Google Shopping that will soon be available for everyone.

What’s new in Bing?

Site Explorer

Bing also has lots of interesting news for us this month. So, let’s kick off with the launch of their new tool named Site Explorer. This tool shows you a tree structure of your site that’s actually quite useful. It allows you to review the structure of your site and your pages in a simple way and check where potential issues in your site’s structure might live. The simplicity of this is also why it’s important to look at this once in a while, as it shows you how their crawlers perceive your site. Because Bing’s crawlers work quite similar to Google’s crawlers, this gives you an insight into how both search engines perceive your site structure.

Microsoft Bing

Secondly, Bing has rebranded itself as Microsoft Bing. Although they’ve already rebranded a few times over the past year, this one feels like a step towards positioning Bing as an intricate part of the Microsoft ecosystem. This might be meant to show people using Windows that Bing powers or is related to everything else they use already. As they put it in their announcement blog: “you will see a shift in product to Microsoft Bing, which reflects the continued integration of our search experiences across the Microsoft family.”

An intelligent question-answering feature

Thirdly, Bing or Microsoft Bing, has released an intelligent question-answering feature to more than 100 languages. This feature feels a lot like what Google has been doing for a while, as it’s designed to give you an answer to your search query right away. In the search results. Nonetheless, this is still a cool feature that will help a lot of people with their online searches and it’s available in 100+ languages. So that’s kind of cool if you use Bing for your searches, but also if you’re a business that uses structured data as this will increase your visibility in Bing.

What’s new in Facebook?

This time, we even have a bit of Facebook news. And it’s about language. Normally, the way you would translate a language is by having a frame of reference and most of the time this is the English language. To give an example, if I want to translate the Dutch word ‘koffie’ to the Spanish word ‘café‘, most language learning systems would use the English language (and in this case the word ‘coffee’) as the neutral language to link all of the right translations to each other. Now Facebook has announced that they have an AI model that allows them to translate 100 languages without relying on this English data. This means that this translation can be done a lot faster as this middle step is no longer required and it gives them the possibility to scale the number of languages up relatively easy. Google has done something relatively similar a while back, but not to this scale.

What’s new in WordPress?

Twenty Twenty-One

We have some exciting news that we’re quite proud of when it comes to WordPress. At Yoast, we have a WordPress team dedicated to WordPress core and that team has been working on the new default WordPress theme Twenty Twenty-One! This theme will launch as the brand new default theme with the release of WordPress 5.6. In the last few weeks, we actually made our WordPress team a bit bigger to make sure that this theme gets the attention it deserves. If you want a sneak peek of what the theme looks like, you can check this out on Joost’s own blog.

WordPress 5.6

When it comes to the release of WordPress 5.6 itself, it’s worth mentioning that this new release brings lots of possibilities when it comes to the data you manage. With the possibility to manage passwords and security in the 5.6 release, WordPress takes another step in becoming a platform for so much more than blogging. It might need a bit of tweaking, but WordPress can now become a piece of software that helps you manage all kinds of different websites.

Cloudflare

Lastly, it’s also good to know that Cloudflare launched automatic platform optimization for WordPress. Now Cloudflare already does a lot of things to speed your site up, for example, by shrinking your images and optimizing your JavaScript. But this new feature is specifically created to increase the performance of WordPress sites. By caching your pages when you’re not logged in and closing security holes. We’ve already heard people reporting improvements such as 90% faster initial loading times and 60% smaller pages, and so on. Of course, these improvements are things you can do yourself, but Cloudflare can save you lots of time and effort by fixing these technical things for you.

What’s new in Yoast SEO?

SEMrush powered related keyphrases

We’ve had a few interesting releases ourselves, here at Yoast. First of all, we partnered up with SEMrush for our Yoast SEO 15.1 release. Together with this team, we’ve built an integration that helps you get related keyphrases straight in your editor. Not just any keyphrases, but related keyphrases that are powered by SEMrush data. With a free SEMrush account you can make up to 10 requests for these keyphrases a day. When you need more than that, you might have to look into getting a paid SEMrush account which gives you unlimited access to these related keyphrases. This feature is already proving its worth and we can’t wait to continue our partnership with SEMrush and think of other possibilities.

Enhanced Slack sharing

This week, we had our Yoast SEO 15.2 release that comes with a bunch of new features. Since this release, our plugin supports different word forms in Swedish, which means it will recognize different forms of the focus keyword (such as singular or plural). Plus this release launches our enhanced Slack sharing. This is really cool if you have a blog and use Slack, as our plugin will now show lots of different information when you share your link on Slack. Information such as the author and estimated reading time alongside your snippet and post image. This definitely brings a whole new experience to sharing your links on Slack!

Get Yoast SEO Premium ▸Only $89 USD (ex VAT)

The post The latest news in SEO and WordPress: October 2020 appeared first on Yoast.

18 WordPress Security Best Practices

Posted by on Nov 2, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 18 WordPress Security Best Practices

18 WordPress Security Best Practices

WordPress is a web publishing application that helps you to create and manage your website or blog. It is one of the more popular web publishing platforms used and empowers more than 38.6% of the entire web. 

It is safe to say that WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, used by many businesses and organizations that operate online stores. To use it, you don’t even really need any coding knowledge. 

There are, however, a few small potential areas WordPress users need to be mindful of. One of these is when it comes to security. 

Why is WordPress Security Important? 

If you’re serious about your blog or website, you’d do well to pay attention to the WordPress security. No matter the size or nature of your business, your website will always be at risk from threats from hackers. They typically want monetary gains from selling information which they intend to obtain from your website. 

If a business website is successfully hacked, that business’s brand and reputation can be seriously damaged. Hackers do so by usually installing malicious software or viruses with the express intention to extract sensitive data from your website. Such malware can also be spreaded to your customers too.

Hackers usually use automated systems to scour the Internet for any vulnerable websites and take advantage of loopholes in their virtual defences. In some instances, some may even find themselves paying hackers to regain access to their websites. A hacked business website results in a loss of trust in the business and customers turning to its competitors. 

In the short term, you lose revenue and in the long term, you’ll need to invest more to rebuild your reputation and restore customers’ confidence. In some cases, you may even fall short with compliance requirements, thus having to pay fines and other penalties.

The fact that Google blacklists around 10,000+ websites each day for malware and around 50,000 for phishing each week would surely push you to put much emphasis on WordPress security. You need to, or risk the repercussions. Simply put, you won’t want to leave your website vulnerable to cyber criminals. 

Is WordPress Secure?

Many are convinced that since WordPress is open source, this means that it is easily vulnerable to various types of attacks. Plus the fact that WordPress is a favorite target for malware attacks does not alleviate such fears. 

In 2018, Sucuri reported that around 23,000 WordPress websites fell victim to security breaches. So, does this mean that WordPress is not secure at all? The answer is mostly ‘No’ because the main cause behind such website security breaches is the users’ lack of security awareness. 

WordPress does play its part to help, by consistently publishing security patches and software updates. But all these are futile if you don’t know how and what to make of them. Reuters was badly hacked because they were using an outdated WordPress version. 

There’s no such thing as a 100% perfectly secure system. This is impossible or impractical to achieve. Security is about risk mitigation and not a total risk elimination. It’s about implementing the right and appropriate controls. All these within reason, that helps improve your overall website’s posture and stance. 

18 Important WordPress Security Best Practices

Like any other systems, WordPress, especially with tons of theme and plugin combinations, would have its set of vulnerabilities. Admittedly, there will also be potential security issues if certain basic security precautions aren’t taken.

Here are some of the top WordPress Security Best Practices, to help you protect your website against unwanted threats.

1. Use a Good Hosting Service Provider

Not all hosting companies and their hosting product offerings are created equal. Whatever it is, the one thing that is for sure – you need to work with a reliable, high-quality and safe hosting provider to host your website. This can make a huge difference. 

In general, there are a few types of web hosting services, namely shared, dedicated and cloud-based. Smaller businesses usually go for a shared type, as this is more economical but you will be sharing with others. 

You can choose to upgrade to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) which uses virtualization technology, giving you dedicated resources on a server with multiple users. This is a more secure and stable solution than a simple shared hosting. Since it is on a smaller-scale, it is affordable.

A dedicated server is basically one server totally reserved for your business alone. In the past, this was costly and so, was mostly used by large conglomerates expecting high traffic. However, dedicated servers are now comparatively less expensive, so you can consider getting this if it makes economic sense to your business. 

Since the cloud has greatly impacted the business environment, business web hosting has now also embraced the cloud. This is an alternative to the usual traditional hosting methods. The strength about cloud hosting is in the flexibility it offers; you can easily expand anytime with no downtime to your business.

Having said this, it is an unfortunate fact that most of the time, you won’t know if your hosting provider is taking your website security seriously until incidents like increased hacker attacks, frequent downtime and low performance occurs. However, in general, the more you pay, the better your hosting service should be, although there are also some budget options you can consider.

2. Update WordPress Regularly

WordPress is an open source software. It is maintained by third-party developers who regularly release updates. Such updates include latest security patches, enhancements and bug fixes, to help combat the ever-increasing cyber attacks. These improvements also apply to the plugins and themes.

A study where over 1,000 WordPress website owners who fell victim to attacks were interviewed, confirmed that plugin vulnerabilities represent 55.9% of the known entry points for hackers. They merely exploit bugs that have been fixed. So, it is a shame that such bugs weren’t fixed in time before such attacks began.

These updates are essential in ensuring the security and stability of your WordPress website. While WordPress automatically implements minor software updates, you’ll need to manually install any major updates. Always be on the lookout for new updates in the ‘Updates’ section of your WordPress admin panel as using outdated software is an outright recipe for disaster. 

3. Strong Passwords and User Permissions

One of the most common WordPress hacking attempts uses stolen passwords. You can make it harder for them by creating stronger and unique credentials in your passwords for WordPress admin, FTP accounts, database, hosting account and your email addresses which use your website’s domain name.

If you don’t, your website becomes vulnerable to brute force attacks which is typically a cyber attack that uses a trial-and-error approach to guess your login credentials. There are password managers that you can use to help manage your WordPress passwords too.

Be mindful on how you set the user permissions. Give your staff access to your WordPress admin account only if you absolutely need to. Have an in-depth understanding of the user roles and capabilities in your team, before you add new user accounts to your WordPress website.

4. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Utilizing 2FA adds an extra layer of protection that requires users to obtain a unique code from an authentication application. Users will need to input the correct login credentials along with this code to access their account.

WordPress offers several 2FA plugins. The notable ones include Google Authenticator, Two Factor Authentication and Two-Factor. You need to decide what the 2FA implementation entails. It can be a regular password followed by a secret question, a secret code or the more popularly used which is sending a code to your phone. 

5. Use the Latest PHP Version

PHP is the essential backbone of your WordPress website. Therefore, using the latest version on your server is crucial. Each major release of PHP is usually fully supported for two years after its release. During these 2 years, any bugs and security issues will be fixed and patched regularly. 

As of September 2020, anyone using PHP 7.1 or below, no longer has the needed security support. This, in turn, exposes them to unpatched security vulnerabilities.

The diagram above clearly shows that around 33% of business owners are still using PHP 7.1 or below. As such, they are vulnerable to attacks.

6. Change WordPress Database Prefix

SQL injection attacks comprise around 80% of hacking attempts launched per month. This is a high figure. Your WordPress website database is the most frequented target for SQL injection attacks. When successful, this attack forces the database to execute the injected malicious code, allowing hackers to access and modify the data. 

The default prefix for your WordPress database is ‘wp_’ . You’ll need to immediately change this. If not, hackers can easily guess your table names and then gain unauthorized access to wreak havoc in your database.

7. Protect the wp-config.php File

The wp-config.php file is the heart and soul of your WordPress installation and thus the most important file when it comes to WordPress security. It contains all crucial WordPress installation information, such as your database login details and encryption security keys.

Therefore, you need to secure this file as this is akin to securing the core of your WordPress website. All you need to do is move this file to a higher level than your root directory.

8. Protect the wp-admin Directory

The wp-admin directory is the most important directory of any WordPress website. If this gets breached, then your entire website can get hacked into and damaged. To do so, you’ll need to 

password-protect this directory. 

Once done, you’ll need to submit 2 passwords when attempting to access the dashboard. One password secures the login page, while the other protects the WordPress admin area.

9. Disable PHP Error Reporting

It is understandable why many would like this PHP error reporting function activated, as it helps to locate errors within the PHP files much faster. However, this comes with a cost, as it also allows others to see your website’s vulnerabilities. 

This is why it is highly recommended to disable this function. By default, this is disabled. However, if it has been enabled for some reason, you’ll need to disable it manually via the wp-config.php file. 

10. Disable Directory Browsing

Although directory browsing provides you with a quick access to the website’s individual directories, this function can backfire on you if others are able to access it. 

Hackers often use this function to find vulnerable files, plugins and themes, to try to gain access to your website. It is advised to disable this function to safeguard your website.

11. Configure Website Lockdown Feature

This feature is great to prevent continuous brute force attempts. Whenever several failed login attempts are encountered, this lockdown feature will be triggered and the website is locked. This helps to ward off any hacking attempts with repetitive wrong passwords. 

12. Hide Your WordPress Version

Older WordPress versions are usually plagued with more vulnerabilities. Therefore, making your WordPress version public isn’t a wise step to take. This is because if hackers see any outdated WordPress installation versions, you might as well hang up the ‘Welcome’ sign at your door. 

Your WordPress version is visible at the bottom right of your admin panel and also the page source. It also appears in the header of your website’s source code. In order for you to completely remove your WordPress version number from both your head file and RSS feeds, you’ll need to do some editing in your functions.php file.

If you always ensure that your WordPress installation is up to date, you don’t have to worry about this.

13. Disable File Editing

WordPress allows you to modify the plugin and theme scripts via the built-in file editor. Unfortunately, this feature can endanger your website. 

If a user with malicious intentions, has admin access to your WordPress dashboard, they can edit the files which includes all plugins and themes. Therefore, it is highly recommended to disable this function by editing in the wp-config.php file.

14. Perform Regular Backups

It is always a good practice to create backups regularly. It is as important as securing the website. If you have a backup, you can easily and quickly restore your WordPress website to a working state. 

This reduces your downtime significantly. Having regular backups is perhaps the best antidote to no matter what happens.

15. Use SSL to Encrypt Data

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypts and secures data transfer between browsers and the server. This makes it more difficult for hackers to breach the connection. Thus, implementing a SSL certificate is a great way of securing your WordPress website, including the admin panel. 

In addition to this, the SSL certificate impacts your website’s Google rankings as Google tends to rank sites with SSL higher. This translates to more traffic which is awesome. You’ll need to either purchase a SSL certificate from a trusted and licensed 3rd-party company (Certification Authority) or check if your hosting solution provider offers one for free.

In most cases, enabling SSL on your WordPress site, requires you to install the Really Simple SSL plugin. You’ll need to activate it.

16. Automatically Log Users Out When Idle

Imagine leaving the wp-admin panel of your website wide open on any computer screen. Don’t you think that this can pose a serious security threat? Any passerby can gain unauthorized access to the information on your website.

This can be prevented by configuring your website to log people out after they have been idle for a certain interval of time. The plugin BulletProof Security allows you to set a customized time limit for idle users. After the time is up, they will automatically be logged out.

17. Block All Hotlinking

The concept of hotlinking involves another person using your image and stealing your server’s bandwidth to display the image on his/her website. When this happens, you’ll notice slower loading speeds on your website and the potential for higher server costs at your end.

You can prevent this via a WordPress security plugin – all in One WP Security and Firewall plugin which includes built-in tools to block all hotlinking or to manually add a few lines to your your .htaccess file

18. Monitor your Audit Logs

If you’re running a multi-author website, it’s crucial for you to know and understand all behind- the-scene user activities. You do so by checking the audit log. This helps you to check if your admins and contributors have done anything without approval.

Conclusion

Cyber threats and attacks are not backing down anytime soon. So, especially If your website is a business, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your WordPress security. Just like how business owners are responsible to protect their physical store buildings, you, as an online business owner, also need to protect your business website.

Fortunately, there are many easy and effective best safety measures that you can undertake to improve your WordPress website’s overall security. On the whole, they are relatively inexpensive and do not require advanced technical knowledge to carry out, which is great.

In short, the more you care about your WordPress security, the harder it becomes for a hacker to break in.

The post 18 WordPress Security Best Practices appeared first on WP Fix It.

It’s time for Plan C: Adjusting your marketing budgets in crisis times

Posted by on Oct 31, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on It’s time for Plan C: Adjusting your marketing budgets in crisis times

It’s time for Plan C: Adjusting your marketing budgets in crisis times

The sudden global upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed industries to the brink, and many companies have had to throw Plan A and even established Plan B strategies right out the window. That’s because, when it comes to managing your marketing organization through a crisis of this scale, it means starting with “Plan C”.

“It is always going to be more effective for you to have options that you can start with that you build before you’re panicked because you’re going to make more rational decisions in the early stages,” said Michael Trapani, senior director product marketing for Acoustic.

According to Trapani, who shared these insights during his presentation entitled “How to Manage a Marketing Budget During a Crisis” at the recent MarTech conference, the key is to create a Plan C before you need it. 

For those caught off-guard by the pandemic, now is an important time to make sure you aren’t blindsided again since many organizations are deep in fall planning for the January 1 start of the next fiscal year.

“Now, this doesn’t need to be a solo act, it should be a team activity. And the best ideas are going to come from people who think differently from you,” he said. 

“You may not be thinking about all the scenarios, especially from other functional organizations, not just in marketing. But what happens if you lose some of your sales staff. Well, now you need to change your model if your pipeline is going to support that sales staff right. So it’s important for all of us to think about the other opinions and points of view that might help in the creation of this Plan C.” 

Breaking down scenarios

While the pandemic may be the most recent example of a crisis, there are multiple reasons that a company may need to make quick reductions in budgets. In the case of how you might manage that for your organization, Trapani said it is important to evaluate your options.

“I would suggest whenever it comes to producing a dramatically different budget than what you had originally planned that backs into your goals cleanly is to not produce one budget but to produce three,” he said.

“Let’s say your ask was a 20% reduction. Scenario one is going to be about 5% to 10% higher than the asked reduction.”

Essentially, that is a scenario you present to a CFO that satisfies the request to cut some budget but also ensures your department can hit current performance goals.

Even if the CFO doesn’t go for it, “it’s important that you have an option that includes your best attempt to hit your existing goals before whatever crisis took place. And in the event that things change from the financial team’s perspective, you already have a shovel-ready plan in case things change,” he said.

Then there’s scenario two, where you make the full budget reduction as requested. In this case, strategic shifts will have to be made in the department.

The third scenario is just for you and should not be shared with your CFO. In this case, create a budget that’s even lower than what was originally requested. 

“It is not entirely unlikely that you will need to reduce it one more time,” said Trapani. “Having this scenario will really help you think hard about what you might need to do if the absolute worst case takes place. As a bonus, it’ll make you feel better about only cutting 20%.”

Adjusting your strategies

As Trapani said above, making requested cuts in the marketing budget will likely mean changing your strategies to reflect the lighter purse you’re pulling from. It is never going to be an easy process.

“You can’t try to do Plan A with Plan C money,” he said. “You need to start doing more things for the right amount of money, and that will mean that your target will be lower and the goals that you plan on reaching will be less than what you went in with.” 

For starters, prioritize the big numbers first. Those are things like paid media, marketing activities at large events, and investments in martech. But even in those areas, Trapani said, make sure you are being thoughtful about getting the most out of your investments.

“Make sure that you’re bringing your A-game to every single opportunity because that is what’s actually going to be most effective.”

Secondly, let goals drive your decisions. 

“Everything from the business objectives you have, whether those are our sales, whether those are conversions, whether those are renewals or increasing the loyalty of your customers … back those goals into your decisions,” he said.

Lastly, let marketing tools help drive you towards those goals. That includes using tools like automation platforms to help you do more with less. Personalization engines are also good for automating content discovery and project management platforms can help teams operate more efficiently.

“There’s a lot of tools out there that can really help you work smarter, especially if you are working with a reduced staff or with a reduced budget.”

Like Trapani said earlier, these are hard decisions, but you should approach them with confidence.

“You got this,” he said. “With the right skills and the right practices, you can take this difficult situation that you’re in, learn from it and get the outcomes for your business, your company, and for your team that you’re looking for.”

“So take a deep breath, breathe in, and get to work.”

The post It’s time for Plan C: Adjusting your marketing budgets in crisis times appeared first on Search Engine Land.

CallRail’s Lead Center is a virtual phone system and contact center for SMBs

Posted by on Oct 29, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on CallRail’s Lead Center is a virtual phone system and contact center for SMBs

CallRail’s Lead Center is a virtual phone system and contact center for SMBs

When the COVID lockdowns began in March, Google local business profiles saw a massive drop-off in directions requests and a corresponding spike in local calls and website clicks (61% increase in calls). Since that time, call volumes fluctuated but, according to CallRail, have now stabilized at levels that are 27% higher than the pre-pandemic peak.

Small businesses (SMBs) as a group have historically not done a good job answering the phone and returning calls. A 2016 study of SMB phone activity found that only 38% of calls received a live answer; another roughly 38% were sent to voicemail and 24% received no response at all. Remarkably, the study found that 70% of businesses answered less than half of their calls.

Missed or unreturned calls means lost revenue. There’s a very real cost to this poor service. Research compiled by UK-based Aircall says that “roughly 85% of people whose calls are not answered will not call back” and almost 70% of people will stop dealing with a firm whose customer service is poor.

Total weekly call-volume growth

Source: CallRail (2020)

Missed or non-returned calls equal lost revenue for most SMBs. This is one reason that Google My Business is testing a 45 day call history log. It’s very basic and operates like the missed calls feature on smartphones. There’s no advanced functionality, analytics or call transcription.

Virtual contact center for SMBs. Considerably more sophisticated is CallRail’s new Lead Center. It takes the company’s call tracking and analytics tools and packages them up in a new softphone system and virtual contact center for SMBs. It also combines sales-enablement and CRM elements.

The company says it’s ideally for businesses with between 3 and 20 employees, and is intended to help them manage these COVID-related increased call volumes. It operates as a total replacement for a physical business phone system.

Call routing to any device. Calls can be routed to any device, whether mobile phones or computers; it doesn’t require a physical phone system. The platform relies on Call Rail’s call-tracking numbers to initiate or receive calls, with tracking numbers serving as outbound caller IDs. The system remembers which numbers are used by specific callers and chooses “the number used during the most recent interaction with any given customer” as the ID.

Lead Center dashboard customer interaction history

Source: CallRail

Not trying to be Salesforce. It doesn’t aspire to be a compete CRM system. But there are a range of interesting sales-enablement and marketing functions, including:

Capturing the customer interaction history with the businessTracking the original marketing source or search keyword and most recent landing page visited before the customer initiated the callAny tags or notes from previous agent/employee interactions with the prospectAudio recording of all calls (or selective recording if preferred)Automatic creation of a searchable database of all contacts

Lead Center also captures form fills and text messages and integrates them into the contact’s record. Chat coming in Q1 2021. A mobile app will also launch soon.

Why we care. There are numerous competitors in the business contact center and VoIP phone (“cloud communications”) segments; among them, Vonage, Aircall, RingCentral and several others. CallRail is essentially entering a new market with this product. It seeks to help SMBs escape using spreadsheets to track customer interactions, improve the customer calling experience and ensure leads are more effectively pursued.

What’s most interesting for marketers is the ability to connect conventional call tracking, tied to specific media or marketing sources (including paid search campaigns or organic landing pages), to a sales-enablement tool designed for simplicity and aimed at relatively small companies.

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