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The 10 Best Email Marketing Courses & Certifications (Free & Paid)

The 10 Best Email Marketing Courses & Certifications (Free & Paid)

One of the best ways to learn email marketing is to follow an online course. A good email marketing course will help you understand how to use email marketing as the medium to engage with your customers or readers, build a community around your brand, and increase your sales.

We did our research and in this post, you’ll find the best email marketing courses available online.

The courses cover a wide range of topics related to email marketing and are suitable for beginners and experienced marketers. The list includes both paid and free email marketing courses.

Who should follow an email marketing course?

In a digital world that seems to emphasize social media as a core strategy, it’s essential to remember that email marketing is just as important. While a platform like social media has uncontrollable aspects, like algorithms, your email marketing platform gives you more ownership and control of its deliverability.

If you are a digital marketing professional, knowing the best practices for email marketing is crucial in helping your clients plan their strategies.

It is also important to complete one or more of these courses if you are a business owner looking to begin building your email list of prospective clients and customers.

Why are these the best online courses in email marketing?

When we research and compile a list of online courses, we look for ones provided by reputable and credible companies. We also find ones that are diverse in content so that there is an option for all levels. We look for courses that provide actionable steps that are easy to implement.

We also know the value of certification, so each of these email marketing courses, whether paid or free, all offer certification upon completion.

Is an email marketing certification worth it?

Your time and money are valuable. So is getting email marketing training worth it?

There are a few reasons why you should choose this path. These email marketing certification courses can help you learn email marketing fast so that you can implement the different strategies into your business right away.  You can learn how to use email marketing as a sales channel which affects your business’ bottom line.

And if you’re a digital marketing professional, obtaining a certification shows potential employers or clients that you are dedicated, knowledgeable, and qualified.

Top 10 Email Marketing Online Courses

These are the best email marketing courses you can pursue and get certified online.

Email Marketing Course (Reliablesoft Academy)
Mailchimp Email Marketing Course (Udemy)
Email Marketing Certification Course (Hubspot)
Email Strategy and Optimization Course (LinkedIn Learning)
Email Marketing Basics (Google Digital Garage)
Email Marketing Free Course (YourPrimer)
Email Marketing Master Class for Beginners (Wishpond)
Email Marketing Essentials (SkillShare)
Advanced Email Marketing Certification Training (SimpliLearn)
Email List Building Blueprint Course (Aweber)

1. Email Marketing Course (Reliablesoft Academy)
Reliablesoft Academy Online Courses

We added the Reliablesoft email marketing course as the first program in the list because it is a course for beginners in email marketing.

The course starts from the beginning and explains what email marketing is, why it’s an important digital marketing channel and shows you how to get started with the most critical email marketing tasks.

By the end of this course, you’ll know:

How to create an email list
Proven techniques you can use to grow your email list fast
Tips to increase engagement with your emails
How to get started with email marketing automation
Cost-effective email marketing tools you can use
How to reduce your costs as your list gets bigger

Why enroll in this course?

You should enroll in this course if you know nothing about email marketing and want to learn what is it and it works.

You should also consider this course if you want actionable tips and advice on how to perform the most critical email marketing tasks like building an email list, increasing your email open rate, and email automation.

This course comes as part of the Digital Marketing Course Bundle which includes seven more courses that cover all areas of Digital Marketing. This will give you the opportunity to learn how email marketing can work in conjunction with other channels as a part of a unified digital marketing strategy.

Upon completion of the course bundle, you’ll also get a digital marketing certification to add your profile and CV.

You can register for this course risk-free as it comes with a 60-day unconditional money-back guarantee.

Course Name: Email Marketing Course
Vendor: Reliablesoft Digital Marketing Academy
Type: Online Training
Cost: $87
Duration: Self-paced learning
Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Certification: Digital Marketing Certification

Learn More About This Course

2. Mailchimp Email Marketing Course (Udemy)
Udemy Online Courses

Mailchimp became a popular email marketing platform because it offers a free plan for up to 2,000 contacts and integrates with pretty much any other online business platforms on the market. It’s easy to use and gets the job done if you are just getting started with building your email list.

What makes this email marketing course unique is that it focuses on the Mailchimp platform so that you can hit the ground running when using this platform.

Why enroll in this course?

If you’re just getting started with email marketing for your business and you’ve decided to use Mailchimp as your platform, this is the right course for you.

There are 4.5 hours of video content in this course and modules that include topics like:

Email Marketing Introduction & Basics
Mailchimp Set up, Management, & Audience Organization
Tutorials on Mailchimp Features
Mailchimp Integrations
Best Subject Lines
Email Marketing Analytics
Resources, Updates, FAQs, & Bonus Material

Because this course isn’t a general email marketing course but, rather, does a deep dive into a specific platform, the $49.99 price tag is justified.

One of the best features of Udemy is its 30-day money-back guarantee. So if the course is not what you were expecting or you’re not satisfied with it, you can get a refund.

There is also a Certification of Completion PDF at the end of the resources section that can be downloaded with no exam required.

Course Name: Mailchimp Email Marketing Course
Vendor: Udemy by Course Envy
Type: Online
Cost: $49.99
Duration: 4.5 hours
Level: Beginner
Certification: Yes

Learn More About This Course

3. Email Marketing Certification Course (Hubspot)
Hubspot Academy Courses

As a company that exists to help businesses grow using their CRM, marketing, and customer service tools, the Hubspot Academy is a trusted learning platform for online business.

There are a total of 9 lessons, 28 videos, 9 quizzes, and just over 3 hours of content in this course. It’s a great way to get a free email marketing certification from a reliable source.

Why enroll in this course?

In this course, you will learn email marketing strategies that will help you grow your business. It teaches the fundamentals of email marketing which makes it a good fit for you if you’re a beginner.

The lessons in this online course are:

Understanding Email Marketing
Creating a Contact Management and Segmentation Strategy
Sending the Right Email
Creating a High-Performing Email
Understanding Email Deliverability
Outlining the Design of Your Marketing Emails
Analyzing Your Marketing Emails
Testing Your Marketing Emails
Developing Relationships With Lead Nurturing

When you’ve completed the course and passed the exam, you can view your free certification, download a printable copy, embed the certification badge onto your website, or add it to your LinkedIn or Upwork profile.

This makes it a great course for those who are digital marketing professionals.

Course Name: Email Marketing Course
Vendor: Hubspot Academy
Type: Online
Cost: Free
Duration: 3 hours
Level: Beginner
Certification: Yes, with Exam

Learn More About This Course

4. Email Strategy and Optimization Course (LinkedIn Learning)
LinkedIn Learning Courses

This particular LinkedIn Learning course was recently released, so you can definitely count on it having current email marketing best practices.

Why enroll in this course?

LinkedIn Learning has a membership style learning library where paying $29.99 per month (or $240 annually) gives you access to this course along with hundreds of other online courses.

However, if you’re looking to purchase just this course, you can do that for a one-time fee of $49.99.

This email marketing strategy and optimization course are for those who already have basic knowledge of the topic and are looking for more advanced strategies.

The topics in this course are:

Discover the Power of Email Marketing
Fit Email Into Any Marketing Plan
Identify All Types of Emails
Optimize Everything
Monitor and Revising

This course does offer an email marketing certification upon completion and because this is a LinkedIn platform, it’s simple to add the badge to your profile if you are a digital marketing professional.

There are 19 videos in this course and 1 hour of content. With a 30-day money-back guarantee, this LinkedIn Learning course is worth the investment, especially if you choose the monthly membership route.

Course Name: Email Strategy and Optimization Course
Vendor: LinkedIn Learning
Type: Online
Cost: $49.99 or $29.99/monthly membership
Duration: 1 hour
Level: Intermediate
Certification: Yes

Learn More About This Course

5. Email Marketing Basics (Google Digital Garage)
Google Digital Garage Online Training

Google Digital Garage is an online course library all about digital marketing and more. And although this course is one section in a larger course, it deserved a space on this list because it still has 30 minutes of concise and valuable email marketing tips.

Why enroll in this course?

As part of the ‘Promote a Business with Online Advertising’ course, you will not only have access to this email marketing basics section but to the rest of the course which has 3 hours of content including topics like display advertising, advertising on other websites, Google ads and more.

The modules included in the Email Marketing Basics section are:

Email Marketing Basics
Email Marketing Options
Crafting Great Marketing Emails
Managing Successful Email Campaigns
Measuring Success in Email Marketing

Registering for Google Digital Garage courses is as easy as logging into your Google account. This course is easy to navigate with each module consisting of one short video (along with the transcript if you would rather read) and a “Check Your Knowledge” question.

There is no certification for this course, but there is a quiz at the end of the course to be sure you retained the information and are ready to implement your new skillset.

Course Name: Email Marketing Basics (Promote a Business with Online Advertising)
Vendor: Google Digital Garage
Type: Online
Cost: Free
Duration: 30 minutes (3 hours for full course)
Level: Beginner
Certification: No

Learn More About This Course

6. Email Marketing Free Course (YourPrimer)
Google Primer Online Courses

YourPrimer is a Google-owned platform with a very large library of online courses. You can only access these free courses through the Google Primer App on your Apple or Android device.

I went ahead and downloaded the app to get a feel of the user experience, and it is a very user-friendly app and a great way to keep your professional growth right in your pocket.

Why enroll in this course?

Other than downloading the app and logging in with your Google account, there is actually no enrollment process. Once you are in the app you will have access to the entire library of online courses.

In this particular email marketing training you will learn:

Why a Business Email Address is Good for Business
Keep Customers Interesting with Email Marketing
Get to the Point: Tips for Crafting Effective Emails
The Non-Spammy Way to Build an Email List
Make Email Marketing Your Secret Weapon
Build Your Email Marketing A-Team
Get Your Emails in Shape with Multivariate Testing
Reach Customers, Not Spam Filters

Although this course does not offer certification, it’s an excellent way to gain valuable knowledge on growing your business in many different areas. If you are an entrepreneur building your business from the ground up or an online service provider, going through the steps to have this app on your phone is well worth the effort.

These courses do not have video content but were very quick and actionable. And after I went through this email marketing course, it suggested 5 other more advanced email marketing courses to move onto if necessary.

Course Name: Email Marketing Free Course
Vendor: YourPrimer
Type: Online
Cost: Free
Duration: 35 minutes (no video)
Level: Beginner
Certification: No

Learn More About This Course

7. Email Marketing Masterclass for Beginners (Wishpond)
Wishpond Email Marketing Training

Wishpond is a simple website that is easy to navigate and doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of information. They simply exist so that professionals can have access to free online marketing education.

Why enroll in this course?

This email marketing masterclass is a quick 30-minute course taught by a Wishpond digital marketing expert. It includes 7 videos, 1 survey, 7 discussion forums, and 7 downloadable items.

The course covers the following topics:

Email Campaigns
Common Email Marketing Mistakes
How to Create an Email Marketing Funnel
Growing Your Email List
A/B Testing Your Campaigns

Enrolling in this masterclass is as simple as creating a Wishpond account. The platform offers many other courses as well as access to user guides like “How to Create a Landing Page” or “Marketing Automation.”

This course is for you if you are looking to gain more knowledge on growing your business online on a budget.

Course Name: Email Marketing Masterclass for Beginners
Vendor: Wishpond
Type: Online
Cost: Free
Duration: 30 minutes
Level: Beginner
Certification: No

Learn More About This Course

8. Email Marketing Essentials (SkillShare)
Skillshare Online Courses

SkillShare is always a great option when it comes to online courses, and searching for a great email marketing course is no exception. This course is not focused on an overview of email marketing, but rather, dives into writing effective emails.

Why enroll in this course?

If you already have your list growing and are now wondering what to write, then this course is a great way to learn the details of writing emails that make an impact.

Here are the modules that are included in this course:

Introduction
Your Product
Core Principles
Voice and Tone
Written Elements of Email
What to Write
Core Types of Emails
Editing Tips
Final Thoughts

This course is only 30 minutes long, so it’s a good addition to other courses that you may have taken on this subject matter already. This class is free but does not offer an email marketing certification, so again, it’s another course that works for professionals learning to grow and scale their own business.

In order to gain access, you do have to create a SkillShare account, but you don’t have to upgrade to get premium access. While you’re there on the platform, you can search for other free courses to uplevel your digital marketing skills.

Course Name: Email Marketing Essentials: Writing Effective Email
Vendor: SkillShare
Type: Online
Cost: Free
Duration: 28 minutes
Level: Beginner
Certification: No

Learn More About This Course

9. Advanced Email Marketing Certification Training (SimpliLearn)
SimpliLearn Online Courses

SimpliLearn is one of the top leaders in online boot camps and certifications. They offer courses, boot camps, certifications, and they even partner with world-renowned universities to offer postgraduate programs.

Why enroll in this course?

The Email Marketing Certification Training will help you learn tools and strategies that will help you reach your email and digital marketing skills.

The lessons in this course include:

Introduction to Advanced Email Marketing
Write Better Subject Lines
Develop Emails that Drive Results
Optimize Your Email Content
List Management Strategies
Automating Your Emails
Create Optimal Landing Pages
Create an Email Campaign Checklist
GDPR for Digital Marketers

This course is ideal for you if you already know email marketing technology and platforms but are looking for advanced strategies to implement into your business.

With this course being $499, it is a bit of an investment, but it’s robust content, actionable steps, project assignments, exam, and certification is worth exploring to see if it’s right for you.

To receive the certification for this course you must complete 85% of the course, complete a simulation test with a passing score of 60%, and complete 3 projects.

One thing to know when you go check it out is that you are not able to purchase the course on their site. You are prompted to send in your contact information so that you can talk to a SimpliLearn expert.

Course Name: Advanced Email Marketing Certification Training
Vendor: SimpliLearn
Type: Online
Cost:$499
Duration: 20-25 hours
Level: Advanced
Certification: Yes

Learn More About This Course

10. Email List Building Blueprint Course (Aweber)
Aweber Email Marketing Course

Aweber is a well-known email marketing software service, so when it comes to the topic of email marketing, their online courses are credible and reliable.

This course in particular focuses on the first step of the email marketing funnel which is list building strategies.

Why enroll in this course?

Out of the email marketing courses on our list, this is the only one that concentrates on the list building aspect of email marketing. It will benefit you to add it to your list of courses to explore.

Whether you are building your own list or looking to get more information on list building for your clients as a digital marketing professional, learning these list building techniques is worth the 60 minutes of free course content.

The lessons include:

Audience research and picking the right topic for your lead magnet
Choosing a format for your lead magnet
The start-to-finish plan for creating your lead magnet
Selecting your sign up form
Sign up form tools that work for you
Copywriting and design strategies to make your sign up form convert

Registering is simple with just inputting your name and email in exchange for the course content. Included in the course are 6 video lessons, worksheets, simple homework, lesson resources, and easily digestible education.

This course does not offer certification, but it’s free and simple registration process along with its unique material make the time investment well worth it.

Course Name: Email List Building Course
Vendor: Aweber
Type: Online
Cost: Free
Duration: 1 hour
Level: Beginner
Certification: No

Learn More About This Course

Key Learnings

Email really is one of the best ways to connect and build relationships with your current and potential customers. It’s a platform that you own and isn’t dictated by algorithms or other social media rules.

Having a strategy to build your list, increasing your open rates with great subject lines, and engaging your audience with thoughtful and valuable email content are all crucial pieces to the email marketing puzzle.

As we’ve said before, online courses are the fastest way to increase your knowledge in the digital space.

Learning more about email marketing is no exception. In this list of the best email marketing courses and certifications, you are sure to find the one (or more) that is the perfect fit for your needs.

The post The 10 Best Email Marketing Courses & Certifications (Free & Paid) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

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Dofollow, Nofollow, Sponsored, UGC

Dofollow, Nofollow, Sponsored, UGC

A Change to Nofollow

Last month Google announced they were going to change how they treated nofollow, moving it from a directive toward a hint. As part of that they also announced the release of parallel attributes rel=”sponsored” for sponsored links & rel=”ugc” for user generated content in areas like forums & blog comments.

Why not completely ignore such links, as had been the case with nofollow? Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe content they point at. Looking at all the links we encounter can also help us better understand unnatural linking patterns. By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.

In many emerging markets the mobile web is effectively the entire web. Few people create HTML links on the mobile web outside of on social networks where links are typically nofollow by default. This reduces the potential signal available to either tracking what people do directly and/or shifting how the nofollow attribute is treated.

Google shifting how nofollow is treated is a blanket admission that Penguin & other elements of “the war on links” were perhaps a bit too effective and have started to take valuable signals away from Google.

Google has suggested the shift in how nofollow is treated will not lead to any additional blog comment spam. When they announced nofollow they suggested it would lower blog comment spam. Blog comment spam remains a growth market long after the gravity of the web has shifted away from blogs onto social networks.

Changing how nofollow is treated only makes any sort of external link analysis that much harder. Those who specialize in link audits (yuck!) have historically ignored nofollow links, but now that is one more set of things to look through. And the good news for professional link auditors is that increases the effective cost they can charge clients for the service.

Some nefarious types will notice when competitors get penalized & then fire up Xrummer to help promote the penalized site, ensuring that the link auditor bankrupts the competing business even faster than Google.

Links, Engagement, or Something Else…

When Google was launched they didn’t own Chrome or Android. They were not yet pervasively spying on billions of people:

If, like most people, you thought Google stopped tracking your location once you turned off Location History in your account settings, you were wrong. According to an AP investigation published Monday, even if you disable Location History, the search giant still tracks you every time you open Google Maps, get certain automatic weather updates, or search for things in your browser.

Thus Google had to rely on external signals as their primary ranking factor:

The reason that PageRank is interesting is that there are many cases where simple citation counting does not correspond to our common sense notion of importance. For example, if a web page has a link on the Yahoo home page, it may be just one link but it is a very important one. This page should be ranked higher than many pages with more links but from obscure places. PageRank is an attempt to see how good an approximation to “importance” can be obtained just from the link structure. … The denition of PageRank above has another intuitive basis in random walks on graphs. The simplied version corresponds to the standing probability distribution of a random walk on the graph of the Web. Intuitively, this can be thought of as modeling the behavior of a “random surfer”.

Google’s reliance on links turned links into a commodity, which led to all sorts of fearmongering, manual penalties, nofollow and the Penguin update.

As Google collected more usage data those who overly focused on links often ended up scoring an own goal, creating sites which would not rank.

Google no longer invests heavily in fearmongering because it is no longer needed. Search is so complex most people can’t figure it out.

Many SEOs have reduced their link building efforts as Google dialed up weighting on user engagement metrics, though it appears the tide may now be heading in the other direction. Some sites which had decent engagement metrics but little in the way of link building slid on the update late last month.

As much as Google desires relevancy in the short term, they also prefer a system complex enough to external onlookers that reverse engineering feels impossible. If they discourage investment in SEO they increase AdWords growth while gaining greater control over algorithmic relevancy.

Google will soon collect even more usage data by routing Chrome users through their DNS service: “Google isn’t actually forcing Chrome users to only use Google’s DNS service, and so it is not centralizing the data. Google is instead configuring Chrome to use DoH connections by default if a user’s DNS service supports it.”

If traffic is routed through Google that is akin to them hosting the page in terms of being able to track many aspects of user behavior. It is akin to AMP or YouTube in terms of being able to track users and normalize relative engagement metrics.

Once Google is hosting the end-to-end user experience they can create a near infinite number of ranking signals given their advancement in computing power: “We developed a new 54-qubit processor, named “Sycamore”, that is comprised of fast, high-fidelity quantum logic gates, in order to perform the benchmark testing. Our machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements in our experiment we determined that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output.”

Relying on “one simple trick to…” sorts of approaches are frequently going to come up empty.

EMDs Kicked Once Again

I was one of the early promoters of exact match domains when the broader industry did not believe in them. I was also quick to mention when I felt the algorithms had moved in the other direction.

Google’s mobile layout, which they are now testing on desktop computers as well, replaces green domain names with gray words which are easy to miss. And the favicon icons sort of make the organic results look like ads. Any boost a domain name like CreditCards.ext might have garnered in the past due to matching the keyword has certainly gone away with this new layout that further depreciates the impact of exact-match domain names.

At one point in time CreditCards.com was viewed as a consumer destination. It is now viewed … below the fold.

If you have a memorable brand-oriented domain name the favicon can help offset the above impact somewhat, but matching keywords is becoming a much more precarious approach to sustaining rankings as the weight on brand awareness, user engagement & authority increase relative to the weight on anchor text.

Categories: google

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Image Link Building — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Image Link Building — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Last week, we took you into the future with SEO expert Britney Muller to explore link prospecting in 2021. This week, we’re going back in time — all the way to 2017 — for her concrete advice on an important part of building links: image link building.

Image link building is a delicate art. There are some distinct considerations from traditional link building, and doing it successfully requires a balance of creativity, curiosity, and having the right tools on hand. Let’s dive in! 

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to go over all things image link building, which is sort of an art. I’m so excited to dig into this with you.

Know your link targets

So first and foremost, you need to know your link targets:

I. Popular industry platforms – top pages

What are those top platforms or websites that you would really like to acquire a link from? Then, from there, you can start to understand who might be influencers on those platforms, who’s writing the content, who might you contact, and also what are the top pages currently for those sites. There are a number of tools that give you a glimpse into that information. Moz’s OSE, Open Site Explorer, will show you top pages. SEMrush has a top page report. SimilarWeb has a popular page report. You can dig into all that information there, really interesting stuff.

II. Old popular images – update!

You can also start to dig into old, popular images and then update them. So what are old popular images within your space that you could have an opportunity to revamp and update? A really neat way to sort of dig into some of that is BuzzSumo’s infographics filter, and then you would insert the topic. You enter the industry or the topic you’re trying to address and then search by the infographics to see if you can come across anything.

III. Transform popular content into images

You can also just transform popular content into images, and I think there is so much opportunity in doing that for new statistics reports, new data that comes out. There are tons of great opportunities to transform those into multiple images and leverage that across different platforms for link building.

IV. Influencers

Again, just understanding who those influencers are.

Do your keyword research

So, from here, we’re going to dive into the keyword research part of this whole puzzle, and this is really understanding the intent behind people searching about the topic or the product or whatever it might be. Something you can do is evaluate keywords with link intent. This is a brilliant concept I heard about a couple weeks back from Dan Shure’s podcast. Thank you, Dan. Essentially it’s the idea that keywords with statistics or facts after the keyword have link intent baked into the search query. It’s brilliant. Those individuals are searching for something to reference, to maybe link to, to include in a presentation or an article or whatever that might be. It has this basic link intent.

Another thing you want to evaluate is just anything around images. Do any of your keywords and pictures or photos, etc. have good search volume with some opportunities? What does that search result currently look like? You have to evaluate what’s currently ranking to understand what’s working and what’s not. I used to say at my old agency I didn’t want anyone writing any piece of content until they had read all of the 10 search results for that keyword or that phrase we were targeting. Why would you do that until you have a full understanding of how that looks currently and how we can make something way better?

Rand had also mentioned this really cool tip on if you find some keywords, it’s good to evaluate whether or not the image carousel shows up for those searches, because if it does, that’s a little glimpse into the searcher intent that leads to images. That’s a good sign that you’re on the right track to really optimize for a certain image. It’s something to keep in mind.

Provide value

So, from here, we’re going to move up to providing value. Now we’re in the brainstorming stage. Hopefully, you’ve gotten some ideas, you know where you want to link from, and you need to provide value in some way. It could be a…

I. Reference/bookmark Maybe something that people would bookmark, that always works.

II. Perspective is a really interesting one. So some of the most beautiful data visualizations do this extremely well, where they can simplify a confusing concept or a lot of data. It’s a great way to leverage images and graphics.

III. Printouts still work really well. Moz has the SEO Dev Cheat Sheet that I have seen printed all over at different agencies, and that’s really neat to see it adding value directly.

IV. Curate images. We see this a lot with different articles. Maybe the top 25 to 50 images from this tradeshow or this event or whatever it might be, that’s a great way to leverage link building and kind of getting people fired up about a curated piece of content.

Gregory Ciotti — I don’t know if I’m saying that right — has an incredible article I suggest you all read called “Why a Visual Really Is Worth a Thousand Words,” and he mentions don’t be afraid to get obvious. I love that, because I think all too often we tend to overthink images and executing things in general. Why not just state the obvious and see how it goes? He’s got great examples.

Optimize

So, from here, we are going to move into optimization. If any of you need a brush-up on image optimization, I highly suggest you check out Rand’s Whiteboard Friday on image SEO. It covers everything. But some of the basics are your…

Title

You want to make sure that the title of the image has your keyword and explains what it is that you’re trying to convey.

Alt text

This was first and foremost designed for the visually impaired, so you need to be mindful of visually impaired screen readers that will read this to people to explain what the image actually is. So first and foremost, you just need to be helpful and provide information in a descriptive way to describe that image.

Compression

Compression is huge. Page speed is so big right now. I hear about it all the time. I know you guys do too. But one of the easiest ways to help page speed is to compress those huge images. There’s a ton of great free tools out there, like Optimizilla, where you can bulk upload a bunch of large images and then bulk download. It makes it super easy. There are also some desktop programs, if you’re doing this kind of stuff all the time, that will automatically compress images you download or save. That might be worth looking into if you do this a lot.
You want to host the image. You want it to live on your domain. You want to house that. You can leverage it on other platforms, but you want sort of that original to be on your site.

SRCSET

Source set attribute is getting a little technical. It’s super interesting, and it’s basically this really incredible image attribute that allows you to set the minimum browser size and the image you would prefer to show up for different sizes. So you can not only have different images show up for different devices in different sizes, but you can also revamp them. You can revamp the same image and serve it better for a mobile user versus a tablet, etc. Jon Henshaw has some of the greatest stuff on source set. Highly suggest you look at some of his articles. He’s doing really cool things with it. Check that out.

Promotion

So, from here, you want to promote your images. You obviously want to share it on popular platforms. You want to reach back out to some of these things that you might have into earlier. If you updated a piece of content, make them aware of that. Or if you transformed a really popular piece of content into some visuals, you might want to share that with the person who is sharing that piece of content. You want to start to tap into that previous research with your promotion.

Inform the influencers

Ask people to share it. There is nothing wrong with just asking your network of people to share something you’ve worked really hard on, and hopefully, vice versa, that can work in return and you’re not afraid to share something a connection of yours has that they worked really hard on.

Monitor the image SERPs

From here, you need to monitor. One of the best ways to do this is Google reverse image search. So if you go to Google and you click the images tab, there’s that little camera icon that you can click on and upload images to see where else they live on the web. This is a great way to figure out who is using your image, where it’s being held, are you getting a backlink or are you not. You want to keep an eye on all of that stuff.

Two other tools to do this, that I’ve heard about, are Image Raider and TinEye. But I have not had great experience with either of these. I would love to hear your comments below if maybe you have.

Reverse image search with Google works the best for me. This is also an awesome opportunity for someone to get on the market and create a Google alert for images. I don’t think anyone is actually doing that right now. If you know someone that is, please let me know down below in the comments. But it could be a cool business opportunity, right? I don’t know.

So for monitoring, let’s say you find your image is being used on different websites. Now you need to do some basic outreach to get that link. You want to request that link for using your image.

This is just a super basic template that I came up with. You can use it. You can change it, do whatever you want. But it’s just:

Hi, [first name].
Thank you so much for including our image in your article. Great piece. Just wondering if you could link to us.com as the source.
Thanks,
Britney

Something like that. Something short, to the point. If you can make it more personalized, please do so. I can’t stress that enough. People will take you way more seriously if you have some nugget of personal information or connection that you can make.

From there, you just sort of stay in this loop. After you go through this process, you need to continue to promote your content and continue to monitor and do outreach and push that to maximize your link building efforts.
So I hope you enjoyed this. I look forward to hearing all of your comments and thoughts down below in the comments. I look forward to seeing you all later. Thanks for joining us on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Thanks.

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The anatomy of a negative SEO attack

The anatomy of a negative SEO attack

30-second summary:

SEO can just as easily destroy websites’ rankings as it can build them up.
Newer websites or startups with smaller backlink profiles are the most vulnerable to negative SEO attacks.
Webmasters need to regularly monitor their backlink profile to make sure their site is not keeping company with any questionable web properties.
Negative SEO can be remediated through manual outreach or Google’s disavow tool, but high-quality link building campaigns are the best way to minimize the impact of low-quality links.

In the early days of search engine optimization, a variety of black-hat techniques allowed SEOs to dominate the first page of search. Cloaking, keyword stuffing, backlink spam, and other strategies could catapult websites to the first page. But those days are long gone. Google’s algorithms are extremely powerful and can easily result in a negative SEO attack. Not only will black-hat strategies no longer work – they will destroy your site’s rankings and even prevent your domain from ranking permanently. 

So for those out there on the internet who are not interested in seeing your domain move up the first page, black hat SEO is an easy way to harm your website. Many new site owners are so eager to get any backlinks that they can, they allow low-quality links to populate their profile without ever thinking about where those links are coming from, or why those other site owners linked to them in the first place. 

Negative SEO attacks are real. I’ve helped many clients recover from them. They can come from competitors, hackers, or seemingly out of nowhere, but without a quick response, a website’s reputation with search engines can be permanently harmed. 

Although Google algorithm updates or technical issues with your website can impact your keyword rankings, an unexpected drop could be a sign of negative SEO. The good news is, the anatomy of a negative SEO attack is clearly recognizable. If you take quick action, you can protect your website and minimize the damage.

The websites that are most vulnerable to SEO 

The reality is, every time your site moves up a spot in the SERPs, you knock another site down. It’s not fun to imagine that other people would use negative SEO to harm your efforts, but if you offer great service or product that could take business or traffic away from someone else, then your site is at risk.

Any website can experience a negative SEO attack, but local businesses and startups with less than 300 referring domains are the most vulnerable. The smaller your backlink profile, the more impactful any low-quality or unnatural links will be. If 50% of your links are spammy and you’re a brand new site, Google crawlers are going to look at your backlink profile and assume your site is trying to cheat your way to the top. 

For new webmasters, in particular, it’s critical to pay close attention to every backlink you acquire. This is also true when you pay for the services of a link building company. Some site owners are hesitant to pursue link building because they have had negative experiences with SEOs in the past who engaged in these spammy techniques that ended up tearing their site down rather than building it up. 

As your backlink profile grows, spammy links will not have as much of an impact on your domain authority or rankings. Still, it’s good to keep an eye on the referring domains and anchor text diversity of your backlink profile.

How to identify a negative SEO attack

There are a variety of common negative SEO techniques that people may use to harm your website. After handling negative SEO attacks with my own clients, these are the most common types I’ve come across and that I encourage webmasters to be on the lookout for.

1. Toxic backlinks

Backlinks from low-quality sites that have low domain authority, little relevance to your industry, or very little site traffic should always be suspect. If you receive a large influx of these low-quality links, they may be coming from a link farm that has the infrastructure to build a massive amount of links quickly. If you’re a new site with a large percentage of toxic links, Google will likely assume you’ve been participating in black hat manipulation.

2. Comment spam links

One way SEOs used to manipulate their site authority was by leaving backlinks in the comment section of blogs or forum sites. If you suddenly receive backlinks in the comment section of older blogs with no relevance or traffic, someone might have placed them there maliciously. If it’s an SEO agency that placed the link and you paid for it, fire them immediately. Google indexes those links in the comment section, and it will not look favorably upon your site if you have a lot of these unnatural backlinks.

3. Exact match or unnatural anchor text

Natural anchor text will most often include your brand name, the services or products your business offers, or more generic wording like, “Click Here.” If all of your anchor text has the exact keyword you’re trying to rank for, that will come across as manipulation to Google. If the anchor text is irrelevant, it will confuse Google bots about the content of your site. It’s important to pay attention to the most common ways that other sites link to yours so if new links don’t share at least some similarity, you can investigate them accordingly.

4. Fake negative reviews

Although negative reviews don’t have as drastic of an impact on your site authority as your backlink profile, Google does crawl and render those sites when considering whether to rank web pages. Local and small businesses with bad reviews, in particular, will not rank, so in addition to reviewing your backlink profile on a regular basis, site owners should also be monitoring the important review sites in their industry. Most major review sites allow you to report reviews if you have reason to believe they are fake.

There are other types of negative SEO that I haven’t listed here such as content scraping, links hidden in images, and more, but the above are very easily identified using Google Search Console or any type of backlink analyzer. Familiarizing yourself with the many ways that others may try to link to your site in a harmful way will help you be able to identify those problematic links right after they show up in your backlink profile.

How to perform negative SEO remediation

Digging yourself out of a negative SEO attack is never fun, but it can be done. If you’re being a responsible webmaster and monitoring your backlink profile regularly, you should have a solid understanding of what a healthy backlink profile for your website looks like, and will therefore be able to recognize the moment that something appears off.

If you believe that the influx of links is indeed the result of nefarious intentions, you have a few options to repair the damage, and hopefully, before Google penalizes your site. Some of these options are more expensive than others, but if you’re not an experienced webmaster, it is probably best to get the guidance of an SEO expert. If you remove the wrong links, you can end up performing negative SEO on your own website by mistake.

1. Request removal

The first step with any link is to reach out to the webmaster to ask for the link to be removed. Admittedly, this is not always successful. However, before you move on to option two, you want to make sure you have exhausted every effort to have the link removed before requesting Google to get involved. If the link was the result of comment spam, the owner of the blog may be willing to moderate or delete the comment. There have been webmasters who have charged my clients a fee to have links removed. Depending on the price you’re willing to pay, you can choose to do so or move on to other options.

2. Disavow file

In 2012, Google added the disavow tool in Google Search Console to give webmasters more agency in their off-site SEO. The reality is, no one can fully control the websites that choose to link to theirs in a harmful way, so it’s not really fair for search engines to penalize your site as a result. Google recognized this and created the disavow tool, however, they still advise site owners to use it sparingly.

A disavow file is essentially a list of links that you want invalidated on your domain, or that you don’t want Google to consider when evaluating the quality of your website. There are detailed instructions on how to submit a disavow file in the Google Search Console help center. Take note though that these links aren’t actually removed, Google just no longer takes them into consideration the next time they are crawled and indexed. If you’re using an SEO software that measures the quality of your backlink profile, you will likely have to submit the disavow file there as well if you want their metrics to accurately reflect how Google understands your site.

3. Link building campaigns

High-quality, contextual link building is different from black-hat SEO in that it uses original content to earn links on relevant, industry-specific publications. The best SEO agencies will increase site authority the right way, through techniques that are Google compliant and don’t harm your rankings in the long-term. If you are not actively trying to earn high-quality links for your website, not only are you missing out on the opportunity to improve your overall keyword rankings, you place your site in a more vulnerable position. If you pursue consistent link acquisition and build up a healthy backlink profile before a negative SEO attack occurs, you are more well-positioned to avoid a Google penalty.

It is certainly frustrating and unfair when negative SEO occurs, but there is really nothing that a webmaster can do to prevent it. So in the case of negative SEO, preparation is the best medicine. Knowing what to look for will help you be more prepared to take immediate action and minimize the damage. 

Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning digital marketing and SEO agency that provides SEO, paid media, and content marketing services. He is also the founder and CEO of SearchAtlas, a software suite of free SEO tools. You can find Manick on Twitter @madmanick.

The post The anatomy of a negative SEO attack appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Ahrefs Review: The Ultimate SEO Guide to Follow in 2020

Ahrefs is one of the most powerful SEO tools on the market. Today, I’m going to show you how you can use it to your organic traffic advantage (and start getting better SEO results). I love this tool and don’t know how I could function as an SEO without it. That’s why I’m going to …

Read moreAhrefs Review: The Ultimate SEO Guide to Follow in 2020

The post Ahrefs Review: The Ultimate SEO Guide to Follow in 2020 first appeared on Gotch SEO.

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HTTP to HTTPS in WordPress – Complete User Guide

HTTP to HTTPS in WordPress – Complete User Guide

The moment Google announced HTTPS as a ranking boost in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), all popular browsers started terming HTTP sites as “Not Secure” (from July 2018). That was the day when HTTPS started becoming a necessity instead of a priority.

The main motto of Google is to provide a secure environment to its users, and as per  SangFroid Web, more than 70% of the users prefer to visit HTTPS sites.

With the rise in the e-commerce industry, sensitive data like credit card information, bank account numbers, passwords, etc. are shared in abundance on the internet daily. The convenience of web shopping sitting at homes or office desks in any part of the world, attracts many visitors.

As per Sleeknote, e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.2 Trillion at the end of 2020. To protect customer sensitive data of your e-commerce store or any other online transactions, SSL security is a must.

This article will talk about what SSL is, its functioning, and how to move your HTTP site (unsecured site) to an HTTPS site (secured site) in WordPress..

What is SSL & HTTPS? How does it Function?

SSL (Secure Socket Layers) is a digital certificate that uses encryption security to secure your website data and information.

This digital certificate encrypts all communications exchanged between browser and website, keeping it safe from prying eyes.

Installation of this certificate on a website shows a padlock in the URL along with HTTPS in the address bar.

The majority of the sites nowadays start with HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) instead of HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol).

Both these signals state that the site is secured enough and helps maintain the privacy of customer transactions.

The Functioning of SSL:

Exchange of information between browser and web server is encrypted with the help of an SSL certificate. But many visitors have questions on the functioning of the SSL certificate. They are:

How does the encryption and decryption process work?
How does the plain text get coded into ciphertext and later again converted into plain text on the receiving end?

SSL security algorithms work on encryption and decryption theory. The ciphertext from the encryption process is hard to decode, and only the sender and receiver can decrypt or translate the text. That’s the main reason why cyber-thieves abandon sites with SSL certificates because they are unable to decipher the sensitive information.

Two keys shown in the above picture are used in the encryption-decryption process. They are the public key and the private key.

The message’s sender replaces the plain text with a coded text (numbers and letters) using the public key. To get the correct information of the coded text, the receiver should have the private key sent by the sender, for the decryption process. Without the correct algorithm key, the message cannot be decrypted.

Even in unfortunate circumstances, when the public key is compromised, the message is still safe, because the unknown hacker does not have the private key to decrypt the information.

The SSL certificate has all information regarding the domain name, company name, address, city, state, and country, including the CA name, and expiry date.

Why is it essential to shift website from HTTP to HTTPS in WordPress:

Secure Sensitive Information:

Your e-commerce store handles thousands of online transactions daily, and hence it becomes all the more essential to secure credit card information, login credentials, passwords, bank account numbers, etc.  

HTTP sites where SSL certificate is not installed are easily susceptible to malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, etc.

Customers trust sites with SSL certificates installed when they make financial dealings, and get an assurance about their data security.

Symbol of Trust:

Trust, Trust & Trust. Since SSL certificates provide robust encryption security and are SHA-2 enabled, they prove to be a trust symbol. Their encryption standards i.e., 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit digital signatures, prevent cyber-criminals from gaining control over customer sensitive data.

Also, browsers like Chrome have started labeling “Not Secure” on Http sites, which is a significant drawback for business.

Another added advantage is that SSL certificates come with trust badges as shown in the above picture. These trust logos are visible on all the pages of your WordPress website.

HTTPS displays Authenticity:

Research indicates that almost 90% of the customers are worried about internet privacy of transactions, and hence the importance of HTTPS cannot be challenged.

Not only does HTTPS prove trustworthy, but its padlock displays the authenticity of your WordPress website and ensures network traffic protection.

Search Engine Visibility:

When Google announced HTTPS as a ranking factor in SEO, it was hellbent of providing a secure web experience to its customers. This move of shifting sites from HTTP to HTTPS by Google, for customer benefit, has led to an increase in the importance of HTTPS.

HTTPS helps boost SEO rankings and makes your site all the more visible to visitors.

Protects your Site, Products, and Data:

HTTP ensures a secured browsing experience and secures your site and products from internet thieves. When encryption security is not enabled on the site, it becomes easy for unauthorized sources to access your information.

Apart from protecting customer data, it also protects online retailers and prevents identity fraud too. Hence HTTPS sites are far safer than HTTP sites because they minimize the risks of online business.

Increase in Website Speed:

HTTPS is undoubtedly faster than HTTP sites. Just check out on https://www.httpvshttps.com/, which states that HTTPS has a slightly fast page load speed and hence is another favorable factor for SEO.

Page load speed is also a ranking factor in SEO, and hence HOBO indicates that 53% of the visitors abandon sites having more page load speed (more than 3 seconds).

Since HTTPS’s importance is established, let’s check out the steps involved in shifting the site from HTTP to HTTPS.

Steps required for shifting the website from HTTP to HTTPS in WordPress:

Website Backup:

Before making any major transformation to your site, website backup is an essential process. Though it may be lengthy and time-consuming, depending on your site content, images, and pages, it’s worth the time and money.

Advantages:

Safeguards human error
Prevents data loss
Help take care of Malware Infections
Protection against cyber-attackers
Ensures continual Revenues
Reduces damages

There are many more advantages and many website backup services available, which may help you keep your website safe and secure.

Order &Purchase SSL Certificate:

You need to Buy an SSL certificate and purchase the same from a reputed Certificate Authority for your WordPress website.

Steps:

Set up your server for SSL installation
Update your WHOIS record with the correct information i.e., company name, address, contact number, email id, etc.
Generate the CSR request on the server
Submit the CSR and other required information to the CA
Get your company and domain name validated
Receive your SSL certificate and Install the same

Free SSL and Paid SSL certificates are available in the market. Consider your business requirements and select your SSL wisely.

Install SSL Certificate:

Many business owners are hesitant to spend on SSL certificates. Many WordPress hosting companies offer free SSL to their customers. Let’s Encrypt is one such Certificate Authority that provides free SSL certificates.

BlueHost, HostGator, WP Engine, etc are some WordPress Hosting Companies that offer free SSL certificates along with their hosting plans.

WordPress offers free SSL plugins like Really Simple SSL, SSL Zen, Auto-Install Free SSL, etc. for securing your website with encryption.

Installation Process:

Login to Web Host Manager (WHM)
Enter User name and Password
In your WHM homepage, click SSL/TLS button
In SSL/TLS button, click Install an SSL certificate on a Domain
Type your Domain name in the Domain name field
Input your certificate file
Later click Install.

Your SSL certificate is successfully installed on your WordPress website.

Many cheap SSL certificate providers provide paid SSL certificates in different validations i.e. DV, OV &EV. Install SSL certificate from ClickSSL, and get the best discounts on SSL certificates.

Configuring HTTPS in WordPress Admin Area& Update Site Address:

To change your WordPress website URL from HTTP to HTTPS you need to follow the below steps.

Login in WordPress Dashboard
Later go to Settings > General
Check whether the WordPress URL and Site URL is HTTPS or not. If not, add HTTPS in both the URL as shown in the image below.

Later click Save.
Go to site’s wp-config.php file and defineForce_SSL_Admin to true

This command will force all logins, URLs, and admin sessions to move over SSL.

Change URL links in Content, Images, and Templates:

Old HTTP links can lead to errors in your site. While migrating a website from HTTP to HTTPS, many times, it may happen that some links related to images, videos, templates, etc. are not processed,; which may lead to Mixed Content Error.

Dr. Link Check is one such Checker tool for locating all HTTP links on your site. To know more about this tool, click here.

Set 301 Redirects in .htaccess:

The main purpose of setting 301 redirects is to forward visitors directly to the secured version. For that, a command needs to be written in the .htaccess file located in the WordPress root directory.

Since this file is hidden by default, unhide all files in the WP root directory and click .htaccess.

Write the below mentioned command in the file.

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite.com [NC,OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.yoursite.com [NC]

RewriteRule^(.*)$ https://www.yoursite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

This will land all visitors on the secured HTTPS version of your WP site. It is essential to ensure that duplication of pages (in both versions) does not prevail, to benefit SEO.

SSL Test:

SSL Server Test is used for checking whether your SSL certificate is installed properly or not. Insert your domain name in the hostname and click “Submit”.

You will get a summary of the overall rating of your website including issues needed for fixation.

You can also use the SSL Checker tool, to diagnose SSL installation problems.

Update your Site Environment:

Last few steps for completing the transfer procedure from HTTP to HTTPS are:

Update the sitemap, add in robots.txt file and update all the links
Add the HTTPS version of your website to all the webmaster tools, upload the new sitemap.
Update your CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Switch the new version in Google Analytics in Admin > Property Settings > Default URL.

Submit your HTTPS version to Google Search Console:

For Google, HTTP and HTTPS versions are 2 different websites. You need to inform this search engine giant that your website has been moved to HTTPS to gain SEO benefits too.

Process:

Go to Google Search Console account, click “Add a property button”
Add new HTTPS address of your website in the popup
Verify the ownership of your website with multiple options given in Search Console

To know more about the same, click here.

HTTPS Troubleshooting Tips:

A few things need to be taken care of post the shifting process.

Mixed Content Error:

Though minute details are taken care of while moving the site from HTTP to HTTPS, there may be a few non-secure links on secured pages. This may give the Mixed Content Error message.

Install and enable the SSL Insecure Content fixer to track down the links and fix the error. Detailed information on resolving Mixed Content Error in WordPress is available on here.

Wrapping Up:

Being a website owner, you need to ensure that your website and network traffic are secured from cyber-criminals. This tutorial will give you a complete picture of the importance of SSL certificate, how to install it, how to move your site from HTTP to HTTPS, things to be taken care of, and how to resolve errors or queries in the transfer process.

I hope this guide suffices in making your site more secure by successfully adding HTTPS and SSL, thus giving a secured environment to your visitors.

The post HTTP to HTTPS in WordPress – Complete User Guide appeared first on WP Fix It.

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