SEO Articles

What’s your SEO learning style?

What’s your SEO learning style?

SEO is a complex topic. Not only are SEO fundamentals complex, but we live in a world where search engines are constantly evolving. That is why in order to get a proper SEO education, you need layers of training throughout the year.

Some educational theories say that every person has a preferred learning style. For example, the VARK model highlights four common types of learning styles:

Visual: You prefer graphic elements over words.

Auditory: You prefer lectures and discussions.

Read/write: You prefer written information.

Kinesthetic: You learn through doing.

People aren’t limited to just one learning style, however. Other factors can influence how you like to consume content. One of them is your current circumstances, as this article points out:

”You’re a sales rep and you are driving to a meeting with a client. This morning, you saw that some features of a top-selling product were just updated. Would you rather listen to a brief podcast that reviews the changes; read a sales brochure; or watch an animated video that allows you to answer questions and match features to products? If you’re in your car and just need a quick update, the podcast is the most appropriate choice. Does that make you an auditory learner?”

Given the massive amounts of content created and consumed every minute, what’s the best way to get and retain an SEO education?

Information stands no chance of becoming knowledge unless it sticks.

So which format is best for your SEO learning?

If you are on a quest to up your SEO game, you need access to learning tools that suit your preferred learning style and circumstances. Here are five SEO learning formats, their pros and cons, and recommendations:

Online trainingClassroom trainingBooksSupplemental learningMembership websites

1. Online training

There are a variety of online training formats. E-learning options for SEO run the gamut from videos and webinars to full online courses with supplemental materials.

Pros: Most legitimate online training courses are self-paced so you can learn in your own time. Online courses typically cost less than in-person training or consulting, and many offer payment options.

Cons: Completion rates for online courses rarely rise above 15 percent. Video training doesn’t come with the same accountability or engagement that an in-person class does. Also, video training can fail if you don’t have access to the experts to ask questions and clarify the material.

Recommendations: Enroll in online training courses throughout the year that have an interactive component for best results (more on that later). Find the courses that will help you solve the specific issues you are facing. Visual learners will enjoy this format most, but so will busy professionals.

2. Classroom 

In-person SEO training is less likely to happen since the pandemic. If and when it’s available, it typically mimics a classroom environment — lectures, discussions and even hands-on practice. This type of training happens either at the trainer’s location, on-site at a company or at conference workshops.

Pros: Classroom SEO training can offer university-level content in a setting that allows for clarification of the materials through live discussion. As a real-time format, the curriculum can be tweaked to discuss current trends in SEO. Oftentimes, you get customized advice that is specific to your biggest SEO problems right on the spot. Plus, classroom training is the best way to sync SEO knowledge across teams if multiple members attend together.

Cons: Research shows that passively listening to lectures is not a good way to learn. To succeed with face-to-face learning, you need to be an active listener, ask questions and participate in the work. The cost of travel and missing work is also a concern for some, but many find it to be worth the investment in the long run.

Recommendations: Classroom training appeals most to auditory and kinesthetic learners. But anyone can greatly benefit from in-person SEO training to get a comprehensive understanding of the subject. I taught in-person SEO training classes for many years (pre-pandemic), and many attendees would return once per year to get a core refresh.

3. Books

With the availability of digital content today, you might expect that print books are becoming less desirable. Not so. In fact, data coming from Pew Research Center shows that print books still prevail over audiobooks and e-books.

Side note: This is why I’ve continued to update our “Search Engine Optimization All in One for Dummies” book with Wiley (now in its fourth edition). It’s a big effort at almost 800 pages, but worth it for those who learn best on paper.

Pros: Books can offer thorough, cover-to-cover insights into a topic like SEO. Also, research shows that people can comprehend information better in print versus on-screen. A good book is something you can keep on your shelf and refer to again and again.

Cons: Some books (like mine) are not something you’d likely take on a subway ride for a casual read. However, reading them at home or at work can be an issue, too. The average American only reads 16 minutes per day. Also, buying books and never reading them is a real problem. Finally, print books are not as easily updated as digital content, so they can get out of date quickly. 

Recommendations: Print books still appeal to people in the read/write category of learning. If you are dedicated to reading, you can get a lot out of a book on SEO.

4. Supplemental learning

Two popular forms of marketing content today can help enhance your SEO learning: e-books and white papers.


The e-book I’m referring to here is the type that brands use in their marketing funnels, not an e-book you purchase on Amazon, for example. These are designed to give a general overview of a topic in a short amount of time. E-books are often lighter in text and heavier on visuals and white space. 

Pros: E-books are good as an introduction to a topic. Their portable format allows for learning on any device, on the go, without the bulk of a traditional book. Interactive elements, such as links to more resources like articles and videos, allow you to explore more about the topic at your leisure.

Cons: Just like print books, e-books fall prey to being acquired but never read. Also keep in mind that most e-books are a marketing tool, so the information within them could be biased in some way.

Recommendations: E-books largely appeal to the read/write learning style or to someone who is on the go. Read an e-book on SEO to get a high-level overview of a topic, or use it as light reading when you’re standing in line.

White papers / technical content

White papers offer a well-researched, in-depth analysis of a topic delivered in a digital format. This type of content is often used to build a business case and can help a reader make a decision about a solution (whether it’s a service, product or viewpoint).

Pros: The in-depth format of a white paper allows you to get a deeper understanding of a topic or problem you may be facing. Oftentimes, these take a deep dive into one aspect of SEO; for example, you might have a white paper just on schema and its effect on search rankings.

Cons: Often used as a marketing tool, white papers persuasively present info in a way that leads the reader to the publisher’s solution or viewpoint. This is not a con unless the reader doesn’t do their own due diligence. And because white papers are text-heavy documents, they may not appeal to everyone.

Recommendations: White papers are most suited to those in the read/write category of learning. Read a white paper on SEO to get a deep dive into a particular issue — but make the time to do it.

5. Membership site

An SEO training membership site can give you the best of both worlds: a virtual format with lots of types of content for all learning styles and interactive components that can mimic the live classroom experience.

As businesses all over the world adapt to a changing environment, virtual learning is also evolving. Simply pressing play on a video is no longer what people want.

People need updated information and the ability to interact and collaborate with others, especially as so many feel isolated working and learning from home.

We’ve addressed this need with our new membership website. We’ve taken our world-famous, in-person SEO classroom curriculum and reimagined it virtually.

Our membership website offers something for every type of learner:

Online SEO training course (over 15 hours of updated video lessons)Live Q&A sessionsDiscussion forums and supportDownloadable presentationsFAQs“Ask us Anything” videosE-books and guidesMini-coursesSEO tools

You can learn more by reading It’s Time to Rethink Your SEO Training or visiting

In an age of information overload with a heavy emphasis on digital content, it’s important to think about how you like to learn. For most people, a mix of interactive, online learning and print materials fits best with their preferences, lifestyle and SEO goals.

The post What’s your SEO learning style? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Content marketing strategy for small businesses: top 11 tips

Content marketing strategy for small businesses: top 11 tips

Content marketing is creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined audience – to drive profitable customer action. The more content you create, the better your chances are for success.

60% of marketers report that content marketing generates demand/leads.81% of marketers view content as a core business strategy.

Here are 11 tips to create a smart content marketing strategy for small businesses.

1. Mission: Define your company’s mission to create a clear goal for your content. 

The mission defines the goal or purpose behind every piece of content, and not all content will yield the same results. 

Some goals may overlap, but it still needs to be inherently defined.

Generate qualified leadsBuild brand awarenessIncrease retentionIncrease customer engagementTurn leads into devoted customersBuild thought leadership

For example, if you are a local restaurant, your “why” might be to share great recipes or cooking tips.

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2. Audience: Know whom you’re talking to so you know what they want to hear from you. Not only defining your mission’s content is important, but also who the content will be targeting. 

You may have more than one audience you want to speak to, but these personas should know exactly who it is you want to attract and where they are:

Semrush (paid): Has a great content marketing platform that lets you research topics based on keyword phrases. You can even enter a domain that will assist you in finding topic ideas. Quora (free): Will also give you great ideas about what questions people are asking. It will give your insight into what people are asking and what people are responding to regarding the questions.Content Crowd (paid): This isn’t a tool but a service. If you do have some budget to invest in but do not have the time, then Crowd Content will give you access to thousands of freelance writers. This type of professional service can help you better scale your content needs.

3. Objectives: Create objectives for each of your goals so you know what success looks like. For example, if an objective is to build authority, then:

Reach out to others in your industry and have them be interviewed, share that content on your site and promote it. Share educational content, how-tos tips, and more. Let’s say you’re an interior designer. Share insights on how to decorate with small spaces, trending colors, and any DIY hacks that are cost-effective and impact a space.

4. Goals: Make sure your goals are measurable and realistic. How will you measure results and your performance?

Make sure you also have tools in place and ensure they are installed properly so you can measure effectively. Some content marketing measurements can be:

Revenue: How many sales, subscriptions, or paid downloads (if applicable) has your site acquired month-over-month (MoM).Leads: Form submissions, newsletter subscriptions, conversion rate, opt-ins.Brand awareness: Site visitors, video views, engagement within your social media accounts.Loyalty: Returning customers, bounce rate, subscriptions minus unsubscribes to anything subscription-based.Engagement: Social media growth over time, reactions, comments, shares, views, retweets.

5. Resources: Figure out how much time, money, or staff you have available for content creation and promotion. Start with your budget, goals, and objectives with your content strategy.

Need additional resources? Sites like Upwork and FreeUp are a couple that could help with any needs regarding the content or virtual assistants.

6. Content calendar: A content calendar is the main tool to keep you on time and task. It doesn’t have to be done in any project management tool if that’s not accessible.

All you need is a simple spreadsheet. Form fields to include are:

TopicDatePlatform (paid social, blogs, videos, listicles, whitepapers, social media posts, etc.)Focused keywordsInspiration (preliminary research you’ve done) 

Start with the idea of what format would be suitable for the topic and decide what platform would have the most impact on this topic(s).

7. Optimize content. Keyword research is key. Start by finding keywords with high volume and low competition. 

Researching what other people type when doing research will make your content easier to find, but it will appeal to the audience. Google’s autocomplete is a quick and easy way to find ideas on what people are searching for.

Additionally, the content must be visually appealing, so put effort into the images associated with your content. Make sure your CTA (calls to action) are in the right area.

8. Repurpose content. Look into your data (Google Analytics, YouTube, social posts that got great engagement) and see if you can recycle that content into fresh blogs, social media posts, infographics or videos. This tactic can save you a lot of time, as the initial legwork has been done. 

9. Update evergreen content and pages. Make a note every quarter to go through old content and see what evergreen content needs to be updated. Every industry is different, but many industries’ rules, regulations and/or stipulations will change. Your content must be updated, so you don’t appear outdated or not abreast of what industry information is coming out.

10. Ongoing content promotion. Similar to repurposing content, evergreen or popular content should be promoted not just once or twice, but as long as possible. Make sure to spread it out. You’ve invested time, effort, and budget into the content. Make sure you get the most out of it.

11. Analyze. Once you know what you’re tracking (see step four) you can easily see what worked and what didn’t. Look into ways you can replicate it. Maybe it’s short-form content, maybe it’s the topic. If you’re constantly looking into analytics, it will uncover new opportunities that can help with your goals.

The post Content marketing strategy for small businesses: top 11 tips appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Digital Media Courses For Beginners (Reviews)

Digital media has taken the world by storm, influencing how we consume news, entertainment, and information on a daily basis. Through digital media courses, would-be marketing professionals and design leaders can learn how to connect with their audience on a variety of platforms and channels. A digital media training class can cover everything from social […]

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The Best CRM Software You Should Consider Using in 2022

The Best CRM Software You Should Consider Using in 2022

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

The best customer relationship management (CRM) software helps you provide better service and captures valuable insight about what your clients really want.

It simplifies everyday tasks for employees. They always know which customer they are speaking to, for one thing, and automatically store all information in the same account. Everything your team needs is at their fingertips–no more confusion or tracking down info.

Good CRM software can do a lot more than that, the idea is simple: you are positioning your employees to deliver a five-star experience, every time.

There are a boatload of CRM software options to choose from. They each have strengths that play better for different types of companies. Which one is actually going to help your teams?

To sort things out, I reviewed the best CRM software available and put together a brief buyer’s guide to help you make an informed final decision.

#1 – Zoho CRM Review — The Best “All-in-One” Solution

Unlike some other options on this list, Zoho CRM is an all-in-one solution. There aren’t additional modules to look through for different departments or anything like that. This makes it an excellent option for small to midsize businesses.

This is a CRM tool that all of your employees will be able to use. That’s really important because a CRM is only as good as the information that people put into it. With Zoho CRM, your employees are not going to need significant training in order to start taking advantage of its many features right away.

I love how much you can bend Zoho to your needs. Customize dashboards for different teams or projects, create multiple pipelines to match your different customer journeys, and whip up reports in just a couple clicks that give you deep insight into just about anything you can think of.

This platform also includes key CRM features like:

Real-time sales signals and customer notificationsBlueprint business management for both on and offline processesProspect scoring capabilitiesMass emailsInventory managementAn AI assistantAdvanced customizations

Best of all, Zoho CRM is affordable. The cheapest paid plan starts at $14 per user per month, and it doesn’t skimp on the features. If you need more customization and advanced features, Zoho’s upper-tier CRM plans run $23, $40, and $52 per user per month. 

Furthermore, Zoho offers a free forever plan with up to three users. It includes essential features like lead management, document sharing, task management, workflow rules, and a mobile application.

Sign up for a free 15-day trial to see if Zoho CRM is right for you. 

Note: Zoho also recently launched a sales-centric CRM specifically for small businesses. It’s called Bigin, and it includes a robust free plan if you’d like to try it out. Bigin’s paid plans are $7 per user per month. 

#2 – EngageBay Review — The Best CRM for Continuing Client Support

A lot of CRMs do the same things. They collect and organize your contact data, have some automation tools for sending emails and posting to social, and overall make your sales team’s lives easier.

But not all of them cater to all three core departments—sales, marketing, and service. If you need an all-encompassing tool to boost all three, EngageBay might be the best solution for you.

You get a lot of the key features you need for customer relationship management. Set tasks, build a pipeline, and place automations for email sends, SMS messages, rep hand-offs, and more.

This all happens in an easy-to-grasp interface that lets you view your funnel, social media interactions and messages, email campaigns, and everything else in one place.

Plus, EngageBay syncs up with Gmail, Outlook, and Office with no pain or stress.

But what I really love is its suitability for organizations that value post-sale relationships as much as gathering, warming, and converting leads.

There’s a whole service bay module of features and tools in EngageBay that makes your support reps’ jobs a cinch.

On EngageBay’s lowest-tier plans, you get a way to manage tickets and contacts together that carries over all the information you’ve gathered during each customer’s sales journey. That way, no one’s going in blind and your support team can really turn customers into lifelong loyalists.

But with an upgrade from EngageBay’s free plan, you also unlock macros and canned responses.

I recommend their Growth plan, though, most of all. For $29.99 per user per month, you can apply the same robust automation capability—setting triggers and events that streamline workflows—that the marketing and sales teams get to customer service.

What’s great about this is that email sequences can come back into play after a service interaction.

I can see this being a boon for SaaS and many B2B operations. Not only is ongoing support vital in those fields to building long-term clients, but you can use a new drip campaign after successful service interactions to warm an existing customer up for an upgrade or add-on.

There’s a lot of potential to unlock in all three departments with a tool like EngageBay.

Get started on their free plan to get a feel for the platform and, when you’re ready, move on up to the Growth plan to really have your sales, marketing, and service firing on all cylinders.

#3 – HubSpot Review — The Best Free CRM Software

If you’re in the sales or marketing industry, you’ve probably read HubSpot’s blog or taken one of their free certification courses. However, they also offer a robust and free CRM software to streamline your customer relationship management process. 

With HubSpot, you can gain unprecedented insight into how your audience behaves. 

Need to monitor when contacts open your emails so you can optimize your open rates? No problem. Maybe you want to see how a contact behaves on your website. With HubSpot, it’s easy. 

Furthermore, they offer a wide variety of solutions, depending on your role within your company. 

These position-specific solutions include sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and owners. 

The free plan includes a robust set of features. You get all the essentials of contact management, deal tracking, and reporting that you need from a CRM.

Combined, that gives you an incredible level of insight into your sales pipeline. And HubSpot allows you to organize and utilize that insight into creating your next great strategy or campaign.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. HubSpot’s free CRM also includes:

Scheduled emails1:1 live chatMeeting schedulerWebsite activity trackingTask managementDocument sharing

These features are hard to beat on any other free plans on this list. However, HubSpot’s paid plans are well worth their price as well. 

The Starter Plan starts at $40 per month, paid annually. However, if you want to bundle all of HubSpot’s CRM software, you can get starter access to all four for $50 per month if you commit to a 12-month contract. 

So, for $10 extra dollars a month, you also get software specialized for marketing, sales, and customer service.  

However, keep in mind these prices are based on 1,000 contacts. The price increases for every additional 1,000 contacts you have. 

Sign up for a free plan to get started with HubSpot today.

#4 – Salesflare Review – Best Lead Management Tools for Small Business

Any CRM worth its salt should definitively answer one question—how does this help teams sell better?

As you see on this list, different platforms have come up with different answers to this question. Salesflare stands out for pushing lead management tools to the forefront without being bogged down with superfluous features.

If your team could use some help guiding opportunities from lead to win—and, honestly, what team doesn’t—Salesflare could be just the ticket.

It starts with the software’s intelligent information gathering. Salesflare pulls contact info, company role, and much more detail automatically from emails, social profiles, and other sources. This information is stored both in a dedicated section for each account you’re selling to and a universal contact book accessible by your whole team.

Salesflare automatically logs actions by your team—such as meetings, calls, and other touch points—and by the prospects and customers themselves, whether they open an email you sent, click a link, or visit a landing page.

In this way, Salesflare is very flexible for how your team approaches the buyer’s journey. Whether you prefer one member of your team to guide opportunities from start to finish or if you have hand-offs at various points, the information is all there.

Anyone can step in and have the latest information plus the current state of the lead based on recent actions.

When you add in the platform’s notifications for when prospects take an action or any other triggering event, your team will get really good at moving quickly on warm leads or prospects who have signaled their readiness to purchase.

The combination of simplicity and power inherent to Salesflare makes it a great tool for smaller B2B sales outfits.

Not only do you get useful automation and the tools to help really nail follow ups (and, thus, really encourage leads along the path to purchase), you get key features like:

Team-wide timeline view for tracking opportunities from lead to winPersonalized, scheduled, trackable email campaignsInsights dashboard that can be segmented by team member, pipeline, or date range

That’s all included at the base Growth plan for $29/user per month.

One step up from there is the Pro plan, for $49/user per month. With that you’ll also get:

Custom email workflow builder for multiple simultaneous campaignsUser permissions, including view-only accessCustom dashboards

There is also an Enterprise plan for $99/user per month. The main benefits of that are the additional support you get, such as a dedicated account representative and custom-made training modules for your team.

Salesflare really shines for smaller B2B businesses and the lower two pricing tiers are quite palatable for that purpose. You can give it a try with Salesflare’s free trial or request a demo today.

#5 – Freshworks CRM Review — The Best CRM for Sales Teams

Freshworks CRM is specifically built for sales teams and lead management. From cold leads to customers, Freshworks helps you make better relationships while saving time with automation. 

Furthermore, this CRM helps you find the best leads, get in touch with them via their preferred method, and close the sale. 

And Freshworks includes a built-in email and phone system to help simplify the process. 

They have a customer base of over 40,000 businesses, including some big names like Dyson and Best Western. So, despite being newer to the industry, they’re not inexperienced by any means. 

With this platform, you get:

Lead, contact, account, and deal managementTasks and appointment managementWebsite visitor trackingiOS and Android mobile apps

Organizations of any size can leverage Freshworks CRM’s detailed lead scoring and sales pipelines, allowing for better clarity and efficiency in your workflows.

It’s especially potent as a single dashboard for wrangling all your sales conversations. Team inboxes and email forwarding make sure that messages are always directed to the right people and teams can see track every interaction without them getting buried in a bunch of irrelevant emails.

Plus, Freshworks allows you to schedule emails, utilize many email templates, and set up alerts. That way you can whip up fresh messages in a snap and always be able to respond or adjust on the fly.

Aside from an impressive set of features, they also offer industry-specific solutions for 15 different industries, including retail, ecommerce, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and more. 

Their free forever plan includes access for an unlimited number of users with limited features. However, it’s a great way to try it out before investing. 

Freshworks’ paid plans are more robust, yet still affordable for businesses of all sizes. Their premium plans include:

Blossom — $12/user per month (for small teams)Garden — $25/user per month (for growing teams)Estate — $45/user per month (for large teams)Forest — $79/user per month (for enterprises)

Sign up for a free 21-day trial to see if Freshworks CRM is right for you and your sales team today.

#6 – Creatio Review — The Best Enterprise-Grade CRM Software

While some of the other CRM software on this list includes an enterprise plan, you may find them limiting if you’re managing a large operation. However, Creatio is an enterprise-grade CRM software built with businesses like yours in mind. 

They offer specific CRM solutions for sales, marketing, and customer service teams.

Marketing Creatio gives enterprise businesses everything they need to streamline their multichannel marketing campaigns and manage incoming leads. It includes features like:

Visual campaign designerWebsite behavior tracking and segmentationAdvanced trigger campaignsPersonalized email marketingEvent tracking and response management

Pricing depends on the number of contacts and the number of emails per contact. 

Sales Creatio is perfect for large sales teams taking over after marketing hands them over. It’s an end-to-end sales management platform built to simplify the process and save you time. 

It includes a wide range of features, including:

Opportunity managementCustomer profiles and buying behavior insightField sales managementPerformance and operations

Pricing starts at $30 per user per month. 

Lastly, Service Creatio is for customer service teams interested in streamlining their processes and creating excellent customer experiences from start to finish. It includes features, like:

Account and contact managementCase and knowledge managementOmnichannel communicationsService catalogContact center

Pricing starts at $45 per user per month. 

You can bundle all three CRM solutions if you need to. And you can use their online pricing calculator to estimate the total cost. 

Get started with a free trial to see if Creatio is right for you. 

#7 – Salesforce Review — The Best CRM Software for Versatility

Whether you’re a small business owner or a sales, marketing, IT, or customer support team, Salesforce has the perfect CRM solution. Known for its versatility, they offer specialized software that adapts to meet your needs. 

More than 150,000 businesses, including T Mobile, Adidas, and Yeti, rely on Salesforce to help them build strong relationships with their customers. 

They also offer specialized solutions for 14 different industries, including:

Financial servicesHealthcareManufacturingConsumer goodsEnergyCommunicationsNonprofits

The system is so versatile because you can pick and choose which apps you need to build a complete CRM solution customized to match your business. 

From marketing automation and ecommerce sales to call-center software and self-service portals, Salesforce is dedicated to providing everything you need for unprecedented customer relationships. 

Their business plans include:

Essentials — $25/user per month (basic sales and support)Sales Professional — $75/user per month (complete sales solution)Support Professional — $75/user per month (complete service solution)Pardot Growth — $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts (marketing automation)

However, you can add additional features and applications depending on what you need. They also offer other plans for sales, customer service, commerce, and marketing CRM packages with varying features. 

Start your free trial to take Salesforce for a test drive today.

What I Looked at to Find the Best CRM Software

With so many options and types to choose from, finding the best CRM software for your business can feel like looking for a four-leaf clover.

Start with this. All of these products have been built to respond to problems that businesses face every day.

Yes, there are a lot of parts to CRM software, but each has a purpose.

You know the problems you face. And by reaching out to your customer service agents, sales reps, IT team, and anyone who will be using the CRM software, you can get a rich picture of their daily challenges.

There is CRM software that will help everyone at your organization make the most out of every customer relationship.

Finding it is a matter of understanding where your company is, and where it wants to go.

Business Size

The size of your business plays a role in which CRM software is best for you. If you have separate departments for marketing, sales, IT, and customer service, you need more advanced functions than a business with five employees. 

Furthermore, you need to consider who’s going to manage the software. Choosing and paying for software isn’t the same as using it to its full potential. 

You have to set it up and take advantage of its features for the investment to be worth it. 

For small teams, it may be a collaborative effort of everyone pitching in. However, large teams may have dedicated employees to set everything up and maintain the software moving forward. 

The size of your business also plays a role in how much the software is going to cost. The more user seats you need, the more expensive the software. 

Your Challenges

What’s not working? What could be working better?

Consider what systems you want to streamline and improve. It may help to think about current inefficiencies and how a CRM can help. 

Typically, CRM software helps with sales, marketing, IT, and customer service. Which of those do you want to improve, and do you have the capacity to set everything up and maintain it?

There are specific CRM solutions for particular industries.

These tend to be more expensive, but if they are the right fit for your situation, it’s worth it. Teams will have to spend less time configuring such purpose-built CRM software, which is an ongoing savings. 

Basic CRM Features

Most CRMs include a basic set of standard features. The CRM you choose should include them as well.

While the specifics of each feature vary from software to software, there should be a system in place to help you handle things like:

Contact and lead managementDocument sharing and storageWorkflow automationInteraction trackingMobile access

Look for these core CRM features before making any final decisions. It’s probably also a good idea to watch some videos of how these users manage these features.

Something like contact management is handled differently in each platform. Which one fits best with the way your teams work?

Advanced CRM Features

It’s also important to consider advanced CRM features that can have a big impact on your business.

The ability to automate routine workflows, process payments, and send invoices can save countless hours from every employee’s day.

Really rich automation capabilities are only available with high-tier plans. There’s definitely an added cost, but what about the benefit?

In the end, having advanced features for marketing automation and lead scoring can really drive revenue. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Also, note that these advanced features are not distributed the same way by vendors. One may offer the high-end tools you need as part of a mid-level plan.

Third-Party Integrations

To really streamline and automate your business processes, your CRM tool needs to play well with the tools you’re already using to run your business.

Make a list of the tools you use and double-check to make sure your CRM integrates with them. I’m talking about:

Email platformsSocial media toolsInternal communication softwareCustomer service toolsCalling/video chat softwareShopping cart (for ecommerce)Contract/proposal softwareConnectors (i.e., Zapier)Analytics toolsCalendar

Once you have your list, you can use it to narrow down your choices to the right CRM software. You can also use it when speaking with a sales team to make sure they offer everything you need. 


Having the right CRM software can make a huge difference very quickly. It makes staying organized easier and keeps customers happy. To recap my top picks:

Zoho CRM – Best for small to midsize businessesEngageBay – Best CRM for continuing client supportHubSpot – Best free CRM softwareSalesflare – Best lead management tools for small businessFreshworks CRM – Best CRM for sales teamsCreatio CRM – Best enterprise-grade CRM solutionSalesforce – Best CRM software for versatility

Zoho CRM, HubSpot and Salesflare are my top recommendations for most businesses. Each one offers a wide range of features suitable for teams from all departments, including sales, marketing, and customer service. 

Furthermore, they’re all affordable, easy to set up, and easy to use.

However, the best CRM software for you depends on your business’s size and the features you need. So, use the criteria we talked about above as you go through the process of making your final decision. 

Which CRM software do you use?

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Microsoft Bing drops anonymous sitemap submission due to spam issues

Microsoft Bing drops anonymous sitemap submission due to spam issues

Microsoft Bing will no longer accept XML sitemaps that were submitted anonymously through HTTP requests, Fabrice Canel from Microsoft Bing announced today. The reason Bing will no longer allow anonymous sitemap submission is due to abuse by search spammers.

How anonymous sitemap submission worked. Microsoft explained that since the inception of XML sitemaps with Bing, Bing allowed for anonymous submission through using a HTTP request, such as

No longer supported. Microsoft is doing away with HTTP request anonymous submission of Sitemaps starting today, May 13, 2022. Fabrice Canel wrote that Microsoft Bing is “deprecating the ability for anonymous sitemap submissions starting today.”

Why is it going away. SEO and search spammers have been abusing the anonymous submission of Sitemaps and thus, Microsoft is no longer going to support it. Fabrice Canel wrote “recent evaluations have shown that it was often subject to misuse by spammers.”

How to submit a sitemap to Bing. You can still submit your sitemaps using robots.txt on your domain name and/or through Bing Webmaster tools.

robots.txt: Add a reference to your sitemap in the robots.txt file located at the root of the host to inform all search engines. Example: Sitemap:

Bing webmaster tools: Alternatively, you can submit your sitemaps in Bing Webmaster tools

Don’t forget IndexNow. Microsoft Bing of course would still love for you to push content to them using IndexNow, so you have that as an additional and supplemental option.

Why we care. If you have been using the anonymous XML sitemap option for your site through HTTP requests, you should be aware that will stop working sometime today. Switch over to using robots.txt or Bing Webmaster Tools for submitting your sitemap going forward.

The post Microsoft Bing drops anonymous sitemap submission due to spam issues appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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10 Best Coursera Certificates Worth Pursuing in 2022 (Reviews)

Coursera partners with top companies and universities to offer accredited certifications covering a wide range of subjects. One of the most important advantages of a Coursera certificate is that it provides students with job-ready skills and resources to help them apply for related jobs. We did our research to find the best Coursera certificates that […]

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