Beginner’s Help Guide To Using Yoast WordPress Search engine optimization WordPress plugin

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Guide

Anybody who starts a WordPress website and starts searching for helpful plugins will see the WordPress Search engine optimization by Yoast wordpress plugin.

And even for good reason &#8211 it&#8217s probably the most comprehensive, well-considered Search engine optimization wordpress plugin for WordPress available. It may do essentially anything an expert Search engine optimization Specialist could want (and much more).

Regrettably, that is yet another problem. Yoast Search engine optimization does everything, but by doing this, may also be overwhelming for novices (or really anybody who doesn&#8217t wish to focus on Search engine optimization). That overwhelm usually also results in non-use.

What usually happens is the fact that someone listens to there&#8217s an incredible wordpress plugin known as Yoast Search engine optimization. They do the installation&#8230and it kind of sits there as the site owner hopes it will some magic automatically  to &#8220SEO&#8221 their website&#8230which is kind of like

This is actually the essential beginner&#8217s guide on ways to use the Yoast WordPress Search engine optimization. If you would like the entire expert&#8217s guide guide by Yoast themself &#8211 you’ll find it here.

Installing Yoast is rather straightforward. You put in it like every other WordPress wordpress plugin by navigating to Plugins &#8211&gt Add New &#8211&gt Search WordPress Search engine optimization &#8211&gt Install the main one by Joost de Valk.

Installing Yoast WordPress SEO

After it&#8217s installed, first visit the Yoast Settings.

Yoast Overview

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Yoast has been doing an excellent job with creating default settings that actually work for almost all WordPress websites available. We&#8217re going to pay attention to settings you need to personalize for the site to assist search engines like google understand your website better (therefore it can have up for additional searches!)

Configure Yoast WordPress Search engine optimization for Technical Search engine optimization

The Yoast Search engine optimization settings focus mainly on technical Search engine optimization, that is a group of changes to your website to complete 3 things &#8211

  1. Crawling &#8211 Search engines like google need so that you can have the ability to click on your website efficiently to locate all of the pages.
  2. Indexation &#8211 Once search engines like google find the correct pages, they should be in a position to copy these to their index so that they show searching results
  3. Duplicate/Poor Content &#8211 You simply want search engines like google for everyone your very best pages (ie, not your login page or perhaps a blank tag page), and also you want search engines like google to locate only one form of a webpage so that they don&#8217t get confused by duplicate content.

First, around the Yoast Search engine optimization Dashboard, you can easily verify your Website owner accounts at various search engines like google. Google is an essential, but Bing offers benefits too. Pinterest users will enjoy the simplicity of this setup. Yandex is Russia&#8217s largest search engines like google, and Alexa is really a site ranking service by Amazon . com (really low priority and never necessary whatsoever &#8211 just for curious publishers)

Second, visit Titles &amp Metas &#8211&gt Other Settings. Look into the following:

  • Noindex subpages of archives &#8211 the second, 3rd, etc pages of the blog archives aren’t actually highly relevant to any searches therefore we&#8217re telling search engines like google to crawl the posts indexed by the archives, although not to really index the subpages
  • Add noodp and noydir to meta robots tag sitewide &#8211 you&#8217re telling search engines like google to apply your page description &#8211 not other directories&#8217 descriptions

Yoast Titles Settings

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Third, visit Titles &amp Metas &#8211&gt Archives and Taxonomies. The aim here’s to avoid low-quality content. Automatically &#8211 category, tag, and format (ie, galleries, asides, quotes &#8211 based on your theme) pages are merely lists of posts. They aren&#8217t particularly relevant for anything someone could be trying to find.

And getting plenty of these blank pages look spammy to look algorithms, therefore we&#8217re likely to use Yoast Search engine optimization to inform search engines like google to click on and check out all of the posts &#8211 although not to index them.

Check Meta Robots: Noindex, follow for all your taxonomy &amp archive pages.

Yoast Archives Settings

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Check Hide WordPress Search engine optimization Meta Box, that is just an administrative setting. Should you let it rest unchecked, you can check out individual category pages and hang custom title tags &amp descriptions&#8230which isn&#8217t necessary if you’re telling search engines like google not to index the page &#8211 and so i usually check Hide to help keep a tidy &amp uncluttered WordPress admin.

The default Title &amp Meta Description Template looks enjoy it&#8217s all gibberish &#8211 however it&#8217s just set to use a typical title tag with no meta description to any or all your taxonomies so that your visitors will discover a title tag. Automatically, your category/tag pages may be like: Category Name Archives The First Page Site Name.

Quick aside: WordPress category &amp tag pages will have lots of potential for Search engine optimization &#8211 however they require unique content &amp a setup that&#8217s outdoors the scope of the publish. I&#8217ve printed that guide to using category &amp tag pages for Search engine optimization here. You can observe one particualr category page I allow search engines like google to index here.

4th, visit Social and complete the appropriate fields for the social profiles so your posts appear properly in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest &amp Google+

Yoast Social

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Fifth, mind to General &#8211&gt Company Info. This provides Google with markup to become incorporated within the Understanding Graph. It&#8217s not really a huge deal for any starter blog, but worth getting into place.

Yoast Company Info Knowledge Graph

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Sixth, visit XML Sitemaps. XML Sitemaps are essentially a guide you allow to look engines to allow them to use because they crawl your website. You&#8217ll perform a couple quick things here.

  • Exclude from XML sitemaps any kinds of content that you’re Noindexing (ie, tag pages, groups, etc) &#8211 just like your settings from Titles &amp Metas &#8211&gt Taxonomies
  • Bring your XML sitemap URL and send it in to Google (and Bing) Website owner Tools

Yoast XML Sitemaps

Then mind to Search Console (remember you are able to verify your bank account w/ Yoast to really make it easy).

Google Webmaster Tools XML Submit

Seventh, double-look into the Permalink settings. Before you begin, you need to be utilising &#8220Pretty Permalinks&#8221 that you simply should enable as well as other initial settings. Pretty Permalinks are whenever your blog publish URLs appear as yourblogexample.com/my-first-publish rather of yourblogexample.com/?p=875. All things in Yoast here ought to be good automatically, but simply to exhibit things i have setup &#8211

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Yoast Permalinks

And also you&#8217re done! While there&#8217s always more small steps you can take, the rest is placed to some good default configuration for most WordPress websites.

Using Yoast WordPress Search engine optimization for On-Page Search engine optimization

Now we&#8217ll take a look at using Yoast Search engine optimization inside your everyday blog use to optimize your articles for search engines like google. On every publish type, Yoast Search engine optimization will set a &#8220meta box&#8221 underneath the Visual Editor in WordPress. Visit Posts &#8211&gt Add New and also you&#8217ll see what i’m saying.

Meta Box for Yoast

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This meta box may be the bread and butter of Yoast Search engine optimization. Here&#8217s what it really every means.

Meta Editing

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Snippet Preview &#8211 this takes your meta data (ie, the page description and title) and teaches you what it really may be like in the search engines search engine results.

Focus Keyword &#8211 &#8220what is focus keyword yoast search engine optimization&#8221 is a type of question about using Yoast Search engine optimization. It’s the keyword you most expect your publish to position for, and finest describes your publish. Quite simply, if a person looked for the focus keyword, you’d want (and expect) your publish to appear in the search engines.

Completing the main focus Keyword field in Yoast is not required, but could generally assist you to align a foreign language using the language you anticipate people searching to make use of. Yoast will require your focus keyword and operate a check to make certain you&#8217ve tried on the extender appropriately during your publish in order that it is going to be apparent to look engines what your publish is all about. Furthermore, despite the fact that Yoast Search engine optimization enables 1 field, you ought to be targeting a &#8220theme&#8221 of keywords together with your publish which means you don&#8217t start stuffing exactly the same keyword again and again. Used to do entire posts on keyword mapping here &amp market and keyword research here.

Search engine optimization Title &#8211 frequently the title you need to experience your site isn’t the most descriptive title for visitors coming through search engines like google (furthermore, your page title may be the #1 on-page factor search engines like google use to judge the relevance of the publish). Completing seo will replace your publish title within the &lttitle&gt tag while departing the primary title in your actual site. I authored a publish regarding how to write an excellent title tag here. Note &#8211 if you wish to write a title tag that’s longer that 512 pixels, you are able to. You&#8217ll need to paste it into Yoast because the meta box won&#8217t show it (though your site will).

Meta Description &#8211 seo enables you to definitely personalize the two lines of description that come in looking results (and lots of social shares). It&#8217s a terrific way to possess a descriptive &#8220advertisement&#8221 to potential people to click on. It&#8217s not really a ranking factor, but any keywords that come in it will likely be bolded to stick out a little more. I authored helpful tips for meta descriptions here.

Should you look at Content Analysis, Yoast Search engine optimization runs a fast check of the publish for Search engine optimization guidelines according to your focus keyword. Take each one of these recommendations like a very rough guide, and bear in mind that you ought to always write for that finish user, not particularly for search engines like google. That stated, these would be best practices for Search engine optimization particularly simply because they also aid the consumer. Consider the page analysis for ideas, but additionally review your publish having a critical eye towards exactly what a user searching could be searching for and the best way to answer their question.

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Guide

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And also you&#8217re done! Publish and today the only real bit remaining for the Search engine optimization would be to market your publish and obtain individuals to share it &amp connect to it&#8230which is a factor Yoast Search engine optimization can&#8217t assist with 🙂

More Possibilities

There’s a couple of more possibilities for implementing Yoast WordPress Search engine optimization you are able to bear in mind. Within the Meta Box there’s an Advanced section along with a Social section. The default configurations are ideal for most posts, but there’s a couple of awesome steps you can take &#8211 including,

  • If you’re re-posting content from another site, you should use the Canonical URL field to avoid duplicate content risks. It informs search engines like google how to locate the initial publish
  • If you’re deleting or merging posts, don&#8217t lose individuals URLs! You are able to permanently redirect them to a different URL while using redirect field.

Yoast also does lots of other fun things site proprietors have a tendency to ignore &#8211 for example,

  • Customizing category &amp tag titles on pages &amp meta descriptions (together with using redirects or canonicals). These choices are great in case your theme/wordpress plugin will help you to add completely unique content for your category or tag pages. Genesis Theme Framework performs this instantly. WordPress Custom Category is really a solid wordpress plugin in case your theme doesn&#8217t. I&#8217ve written a complete help guide to using WordPress category &amp tag pages for Search engine optimization here.
  • For those who have a very huge site (think a large number of pages), applying breadcrumbs is a terrific way to help users &amp search engines like google navigate your website. Some styles have breadcrumbs built-in, however for individuals that don&#8217t, Yoast has you taken proper care of within the Internal Links section. Important note &#8211 some styles aren’t suitable for breadcrumbs. Make sure to seek advice from your theme support or check up on an evaluation site.
  • Yoast enables you to definitely edit your Robots.txt file underneath the Edit Files section. It&#8217s great choice for those who have folders you don&#8217t want indexed.
  • Yoast results in a new column inside your database, so that you can edit a large number of pages at any given time having a bulk editing wordpress plugin (or direct database access).
  • Extensions are compensated, but frequently worth the money to instantly implement more specific Search engine optimization recommendations for example Video Search engine optimization, News Search engine optimization, Local Search engine optimization, etc.

Next Steps

Should you haven&#8217t already, go install Yoast WordPress Search engine optimization by Joost de Valk. Make certain it&#8217s configured to your website. Then apply it to every publish &amp page after creating a general Search engine optimization technique for your website.

If you would like learn to use Yoast to complete Search engine optimization across a large number of pages, then take a look at my help guide to Bulk Edits in WordPress.

If you wish to find out more regarding how to use Search Console, then read that guide here.

SEOs frequently make use of a ton of jargon &#8211 me incorporated. When there&#8217s anything within this publish that should be clarified, tell me within the comments below or via email.

The publish Beginner’s Help Guide To Using Yoast WordPress Search engine optimization WordPress plugin made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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25 Must-Have Accounting Software Integrations for 2017

Integartions

Is your accounting or invoicing software missing something? Does your current feature set not quite meet the mark?

You may be tempted to throw in the towel, but before giving up on your software completely (and dealing with the hassle of transferring all your data over to a new solution), it’s time to consider the advantage of using your current program’s integrations and add-ons.

Integrations are an excellent way to supplement your existing software; all good accounting solutions come with a number of integrations (if yours doesn’t then maybe it really is time to switch). These integrations can encompass everything from payment gateways and CRM to receipt management and tax support.

We get it—in situations like this it’s difficult to even know where to begin. So to help you get started, we have put together a list of the top 25 integrations to boost your software’s functionality and help your small business succeed in the new year. We chose integrations that are common across multiple accounting and invoicing software platforms and have divided them into categories to make everything even easier for you.

But first, let’s get some basics out of the way.

How Do Integrations (and Add-ons) Work?

The integration process is really quite simple. If it’s even remotely worth its salt, your accounting or invoicing software is already fast friends with other apps or software; like any good business partner, your accounting software should work to introduce you its third-party buddies so you can all shake hands, play nice, and begin working together. Note: Healthy (and legal) human friendships do not usually involve an exchange of money, but you will usually have to pay an extra fee for 3rd-party integrations.

Most often, there is a place to access potential integrations within your accounting dashboard. Once you’ve set up an account with the 3rd-party selection of your choice, data will automatically sync between the applications.

Makes sense, right? Okay, time to move on to the actual list…

Payment Gateways:

Between Stripe, Square, PayPal, Forte, Authorize.net, WePay, and countless other payment gateways, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all your choices. Which is the best for your company? It’s hard for me to say without knowing your exact situation, but it is easy for me to share our Merchant Maverick favorites.

1. Braintree

Compatible accounting solutions: FreshBooks, Hiveage, and Invoicera. There is also API for developers.

Braintree is a popular payment gateway and merchant account service and one of our top choices at Merchant Maverick (we’ve given it a full 5/5 stars). Braintree offers great customer service, as well as a good selection of merchant account features. Some of these features include recurring billing, international account support, buyable pins on Pinterest (still in beta), and strong mobile apps.

Pricing:

  • Credit Card – 2.9% + $0.30/per transaction

If you are interested in Braintree, check out our full Braintree review for more details.

2. PayPal

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro, Invoice2go, Harvest, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping, AND CO, Invoicely, LessAccounting, Saasu, KashFlow, ClearBooks, BillingOrchard, Sage One,  Zoho Invoice, Zoho Books, and Wave.

You knew it was coming. PayPal is a world-renowned payment gateway and merchant account used by over 192,000,000 people. The service is easy to use and is available with virtually every accounting and invoicing software. PayPal offers a mobile app as well as free invoice creation.

Pricing:

  • In Store – 2.7%/per US swipe
  • Online & Invoicing – 2.9% +$0.30/per transaction

Price discounts are available for nonprofits and charities.

There is a history of user complaints about PayPal withholding funds, so our recommendation is that you may not want to rely solely on PayPal for your processing needs. For the most part, though, the company is well-liked. To read our full review, go here. If you are interested, we’ve also written a comprehensive review of the mobile version of PayPal.

Payroll:

Your company is growing, but your accounting software can’t keep pace—not in terms of payroll. What’s a business owner to do? Never fear; check out the following integration before throwing your current software out with the bathwater.

3. Gusto                                                                                                            

Compatible accounting solutions: FreshBooks, Xero, QuickBooks Online, and QuickBooks Pro. There is API for developers.

Gusto is a full-fledged Payroll processor (we actually use it for our own payroll here at Merchant Maverick). This software works to manage part-time, full-time, hourly, and salary employees, as well as contractors (or any combination of the five). In terms of features, you can’t beat Gusto. The complete payroll package includes benefits, health insurance, 401ks, reimbursements, vacation days, and sick days. You can even organize employees and contractors by team and pay everyone via direct deposit.

Pricing:

  • Base Price – $39/mo + $6/per employee

Gusto offers a free 30-day trial. To learn more visit the Gusto site.

Project Management:

Project management can be one of the most useful features in an accounting solution (and one of my personal favorites). Sadly, very few software companies offer project management tools—not even Xero or QuickBooks Online. This is when project management integrations come in very handy.

4. Basecamp

Compatible accounting solutions: Blinksale, Harvest, LessAccounting, FreeAgent, and Invoicely. There is API for developers.

Basecamp is used by over 100,000 business owners, just like yourself. The software is completely cloud-based and very user-friendly; it comes with all the features you would expect—projects, tasks, job costing reports—but also includes a lot of unexpected but very welcomed surprises. Some of these extra features include team communication tools and group chat, scheduling, to-do lists, automatic check-ins, reminders, client reviews, and gift certificates. The software also offers mobile apps for both iPhone and Android.

Pricing:

  • $99/mo

Teachers and students can actually access this software for free, and non-profits get a 50% discount. You can also receive a discount for paying annually. Basecamp offers a free 30-day trial.

To learn more about Basecamp, read our full review and/or watch this How It Works video.

5. WorkflowMax

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, MYOB, and MoneyWorks. There is API for developers.

If you are looking for something on the cheaper side, WorkflowMax, a project management and time management hybrid, might be a better choice for your business. For such a small scale software, it is surprisingly common amongst accounting software integrations. Workflow Max’s features include jobs, tasks, timelines, quotes, invoicing, job costing reports, automated notification, and the ability to track time. Pricing is broken up by number of users.

Pricing:

  • 1 user – $15/mo
  • 2-5 users – $49/mo
  • 6-10 users– $110/mo
  • 11-20 users –$170/mo
  • 21-50 users – $250/mo

Learn more about WorkflowMax on their website or read our full review and see why we gave the software 4/5 stars.

Time Management:

Another integral feature often overlooked by accounting and invoicing software is the ability to track time. But hey, that’s what integrations are for!

6. Temponia

 

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, Zoho Invoice, Zoho Books, QuickBooks Online, and QuickBooks Pro.

“When tracking time becomes saving time.”

That’s the motto of Temponia, a cloud-based time management software. Temponia offers an incredibly beautiful UI as well as scalable pricing plans. The software’s features are well laid-out and organized with a calendar interface. When you sign up for Temponia, you’ll get time tracking, budgeting, reports, reminders, timers, projects, and invoicing (that is better than even some invoicing software).

Pricing:

  • Starter – $5.90/mo
  • Team – $28/mo
  • Business – $49/mo
  • Enterprise – $122.50/mo

You can see pricing details and sign up for a free live demo here.

7. T-sheets

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, QuickBooks Online, and QuickBooks Pro. There is API for developers.

Another time management option is T-sheets—a time tracking software with an optional booking component. This software is cloud-based and provides additional mobile apps. T-sheets differs from Temponia in a few key areas. In addition to time tracking and projects, T-sheets supports job-costing, POT (paid time off) tracking, approvals, shift scheduling, employee alerts and reminders, and a see-who’s-working feature. It is a time management, project management, and booking software all in one. Pricing varies depending on number of users.

Pricing:

  • 1 user – free
  • 2-99 users – Base fee of $16/mo + $5/mo per user
  • 100+ users – Base fee of $100/mo + $5/mo per user

You can receive a discount by paying annually, and a free trial of the software is available for those interested. Check out the T-sheets website for further details.

Point of Sale (POS) Software:

Outgrowing your invoicing tools and looking for a way to take your business’s sales to the next level? Here are our top 5/5 star POS recommendations.

8. Vend

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, QuickBooks Online, and KashFlow. There is API for developers.

Vend, an intuitive SaaS program with great customer service, takes the cake for retail POS, especially for iPad users. Even though Vend is cloud-based, during internet outages the software will continue to work; it simply syncs stored data when the internet returns, which is pretty sweet if you ask me. In addition to operating as a basic POS system, Vend offers reports, inventory, stock control, customer profiles, and gift cards. Here is a basic summation of Vend’s pricing, but be sure to look at each plan in more detail to see which features you’re getting.

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Starter – $69/mo
  • Advanced – $99/mo
  • Multi-Outlet – $249/mo

There is a discount available for paying annually rather than monthly. It’s worth noting that Vend offers no API, so you won’t be able to design custom integrations. Learn more about why we love Vend in our full review and take the software for a spin with this free trial.

9. SalesVu

Compatible accounting solutions: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro. There is API available for developers.

Unlike Vend, SalesVu offers retail, restaurant, and service-industry POS—so whatever your business may be, SalesVu most likely has options for you. Like Vend, the software is easy to use and has good customer service. The system is designed for iPads and iPhones; features vary significantly depending on which type of POS you choose and include inventory, contact management, table reservations, online appointment scheduling, gift cards; you get the drift. The pricing plan is a bit confusing so bear with me.

Pricing:

  • Basic Restaurant Bundle – $75/mo
  • Basic Retail Bundle – $75/mo
  • Basic Beauty and Wellness Bundle – $75/mo
  • SalesVu for Restaurants – $150/mo
  • SalesVu for Retail – $150/mo
  • SalesVu for Beauty and Wellness – $150/mo
  • SalesVu for Professional Services – $150/mo
  • SalesVu for Wineries – $150/mo
  • SalesVu for Health Clubs – $150/mo

There is also an individual pricing module option. For those interested in SalesVu, check out our full review or contact SalesVu to schedule a demo.

Email Marketing:

There’s no monkeying around when it comes to email marketing. Okay, well maybe there is. Save yourself some valuable time and automate your email process with…

10. MailChimp

Compatible accounting solutions: FreshBooks, KashFlow, Harvest, Xero, QuickBooks Online, Sage One, Sage 50 (for Canada and US), e-conomic, Saasu, and ClearBooks. There is API for developers.

MailChimp is a powerful email marketing software combined with basic CRM features. The company processes over 5,000,000 emails every single month and is scalable for any size business. It offers an unbelievable amount of features, including analytic reports, email campaigns, contact lists, API, and a custom email designer. You can also organize contacts by different criteria (like location) and deliver emails by timezone. MailChimp supports multiple users and strong user permissions.

Pricing:

  • Forever Free
  • Growing Business – starts at $10/mo
  • Pro Marketer – additional $199/mo

To learn more about these pricing plans and to see pay-as-you-go options, click here. Check out our full MailChimp review and see why we gave it 4.5/5 stars.

eCommerce:

With more and more small businesses owners selling online, the world needs an eCommerce platform that can keep up. We’ve found just that.

11. Shopify

Compatible accounting solutions: QuickBooks Online, Bench Accounting, Xero, Sufio, Billy, AccountEdge, KashFlow, e-conomic, FreshBooks, Debitoor, and Sage 50. There is API for developers.

If you hadn’t heard of Shopify before, you have now—and I promise you will never live to regret it. Shopify is one of the biggest names in the eCommerce world, and for good reason. The company hosts over 325,000 online stores; it is easy to use and mobile-friendly. We often recommend it here at Merchant Maverick, especially because of the great features and scalable pricing plans. With Shopify, you get 100+ online store themes, branding, marketing and SEO, a shopping cart with secure checkout, payment gateway, store management, basic CRM, social media integrations, inventory management, and analytic reports.

Pricing:

  • Shopify Lite – $9/mo
  • Basic Shopify – $29/mo
  • Shopify – $79/mo
  • Advanced Shopify – $299/mo
  • Shopify Plus – call for pricing

The bigger the plan, the bigger the savings on credit card rates and transaction fees. Check Shopify pricing for more details.

Take advantage of the free 14-day trial or read our full Shopify review for more details.

Expense Tracking:

You probably got accounting or invoicing software so you could rid yourself of your Excel sheet/receipt box bookkeeping habits. So why do those receipts keep piling up? Why is your shoebox still overflowing? The answer is simple: you haven’t tried these expense tracking tools yet.

12. Receipt Bank

Compatible accounting solutions: Sage One, Xero, Twinfield, QuickBooks Online, KashFlow, FreshBooks, and FreeAgent. There is API for developers.

Receipt Bank is one of the most common expense management integrations on the market. Over 60,000 users rely on Receipt Bank to make uploading expenses easier. How does it work? Well, you simply use Receipt Bank’s mobile apps to snap a picture of your receipt. The app then extracts the important information and saves it to the expenses section of your accounting software. Pretty neat, huh? You can also set automation rules to streamline the process even more.

Single User Pricing:

  • 50 Items – $14.99/mo
  • 100 Items – $29.98/mo
  • 150 Items – $44.97/mo

Multi-User Pricing:

  • 50 Items – $25/mo
  • 100 Items – $40/mo
  • 150 Items – $55/mo

There are two larger plans available upon request. Receipt Bank also realizes that anticipating items is tricky and offers a flexible item limit policy. Additionally, you can take advantage of a 14-day free trial of the software so you can become better acquainted with this time-saving tool.

13. Shoeboxed

Compatible accounting solutions: QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Online, Xero, GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping, and Wave. There is API for developers.

Shoeboxed is another big player in the receipt management world. It is just intuitive as ReceiptBank, albeit a little different. Instead of taking pictures of your receipts, you place them in a free “magic envelope,” send them off, and everything is taken care of for you. Shoeboxed takes the data from your receipts and archives them for you automatically. In addition to expense management, Shoeboxed also offers basic CRM features and reporting. For a full list of features, go here.

Pricing:

  • Lite – $9.95/mo
  • Classic – $29.95/mo
  • Business – $49.95/mo

Learn more about Shoeboxed here.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM):

Almost all accounting and invoicing software programs come with CRM features, but the quality of these tools varies significantly between companies. If you’re looking for CRM capabilities your current software doesn’t provide, it might be worth investing in a CRM-focused add-on.

14. Insightly

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, QuickBooks Online, and QuickBooks Pro. There is API for developers.

I don’t know if I believe this company when they claim “our CRM gives you super powers,” but I do believe Insightly is a super powerful CRM. Not only does Insightly handle contact and lead management, it also boasts strong project management, a beautiful UI, and well-developed mobile apps. One of the coolest ways Insightly helps generate sales and new customers is by integrating directly with your email, social media site, and website to automatically create an address book of leads. Other features include a calendar, mass emailing features, email templates, support, reports, and the ability to track new sale opportunities.

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Basic – $15/mo per user
  • Plus – $35/mo per user
  • Professional – $59/mo per user
  • Enterprise – $129/mo per user

Insightly offers a free 14-day trial of any of the paid plans and a discount for annual subscriptions. Check out Insightly here or watch a quick overview video.

15. Capsule

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, FreshBooks, FreeAgent, KashFlow, Billiving, and ClearBooks. There is API for developers.

“There’s something to be said of the small business which caters to small business.”

Capsule is another CRM option that could be a good choice for smaller operations. Like Insightly, Capsule is easy to use and offers mobile apps. The company maintains strong security and is competitively priced. The Capsule feature set includes contact management, lead management, vendor management, sales pipeline, task management, recurring tasks, and file storage.

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Premium – $12/mo per user

Important: Capsule is not designed for large businesses. If you are interested in the software, peruse our full Capsule review and take the free 30-day trial for a run.

Booking:

Keep forgetting your day planner? Unsatisfied with the calendar app on your phone? Tired of losing post-it note scribbled appointments on your desk? Welcome to the world of booking software.

16. Full Slate

Compatible accounting solutions: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro.

Full Slate is cloud-based booking software that makes it easy to both schedule your own appointments and enable your clients to set up appointments with you. The UI is designed nicely, and everything is color coded for maximum organization. Full Slate offers different calendars for appointments, classes, and personal events (some users might hate this separation, but others seem to love it). In addition to these booking features, Full Slate also has CRM, sales tracking, basic reports, and the ability to set recurring appointments.

Pricing:

  • Just You – $29.95/mo
  • Up to 5 Staff – $49.95/mo
  • Up to 10 Staff – $79.95/mo

Have more than 10 staff members? Call for pricing.

Full Slate doesn’t offer a free trial; instead, the software is free until you exceed 10 booked appointments or 100 events. Read our full review of Full Slate to see why we gave the software 4.5/5 stars.

17. Acuity Scheduling

Compatible accounting solutions: FreshBooks, Xero, QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Online, Invoice2go, Zoho Books, and Saasu. There is API for developers.

Over 500,000 people currently use Acuity Scheduling, and for good reason. It is an easy to use, customizable booking software with a strong feature set and single calendar. And to top it off, it’s affordable. Like Full Slate, Acuity Scheduling offers CRM and recurring appointments. But in contrast to Full Slate, Acuity Scheduling supports inventory, company promos, coupons, two-way Google calendar sync, and payment gateways, as well as the ability to track order history and manage time zones.

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Emerging Entrepreneur – $10/mo
  • Growing Business – $19/mo
  • Powerhouse Player – $34/mo

Acuity Scheduling offers a free 14-day trial of any of the paid plans. Read our full review to see why Acuity Scheduling also gets 4.5/5 stars.

Customer Service:

Nothing beats service from the boss himself, but if your company is growing faster than you expect, or if you are spending more time answering customer questions than running your business, it may be time for to pass the baton.

18. Zendesk

Compatible accounting solutions: Harvest, QuickBooks Online, and Xero. There is API for developers.

Zendesk is actually the customer service tool used by several major accounting and invoicing software companies. (If it’s good for them it’s good for you right?). Zendesk offers support in the forms of phone, chat, message, text, social media, email, knowledge bases, and help desks. Pricing plans vary in the types of support service offered, so be sure to check out the pricing page before making any decisions.

Pricing:

  • Essential – $5/mo per agent
  • Team – $19/mo per agent
  • Professional – $49/mo per agent
  • Enterprise – $99/mo per agent
  • Elite – $199/mo per agent

Zendesk offers a free 30-day trial and demos that you can schedule at any time. To learn more about how Zendesk works, watch this video and check out Zendesk’s services.

Tax Tools:

Let’s face it, nobody likes tax season. You probably even cringed reading those words. But these integrations can help.

19. Track1099

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro, Xero, Zoho Books, Zoho Invoice, and Intacct. There is API for developers.

Track1099 is a robust tax support tool that allows small businesses to e-file necessary tax forms (the most notable being 1099s, W-2’s, W-4’s, and W-BENS). Come tax time, simply send the proper forms to your employees via email. They will fill them out in an incredibly user-friendly portal (I’ve done it myself and the process is easy as can be). Then you receive a copy of the form, and voila! You’ve completed your taxes as fast as Augustus Gloop can eat a pool of chocolate.

Pricing:

  • 25 Forms – $9/year
  • 150 Forms – $59/year
  • 5000 Forms – $199/year

Note: The type of form you can purchase on these plans is dependent on the plan you buy, so be sure your necessary forms are supported before purchasing. Learn more here.

20. Avalara

Compatible accounting solutions: Sage, Sage 100, Sage 500, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro, Zoho Invoice, Zoho Books, Xero, and Intacct. There is API available for developers.

Avalara is a sales tax solution for small businesses. A few accounting software companies have made Avalara a part of their system out-of-the-box, while many others offer it as an optional integration. Basically, this add-on automatically determines the sales tax for your clients based on geolocation, saving you time (and since time is money, well it’s saving you that too).

The worst part about Avalara is that they do not post prices on their site and request interested persons to call them instead. You’re probably thinking, “So I have to make a phone call? Big whoop!” Well, it wouldn’t be an issue except that the Avalara representatives are incredibly pushy and pricing can be a bit steep.

That being said, this add-on may still be worth it for the ease of automated sales tax. That’s up to you to decide. You can learn more by watching this video and the visiting the Avalara site.

Specialty Integrations:

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Here are a few more specialized integrations that might be the perfect fit for you.

21. For Nonprofits – Sumac

Compatible accounting solutions: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro.

While many software companies offer nonprofit discounts, there are few software options that are designed specifically for nonprofits. That’s what makes Sumac so great. Sumac is a locally installed program (though you can pay an extra $25/mo for use with the cloud). The software begins with basic CRM (the Bronze plan below) that is tailored to manage and store nonprofit information specifically. The feature set of the software depends on the specific plan you choose, but your choice in features can include time tracking, invoicing, email marketing, donation management, event management, grant management, booking, auctions, and more. Check the pricing plan for more details.

Pricing:

  • Bronze – Free
  • Silver – $20/mo
  • Gold – Custom price, calculate here
  • Platinum – Starts at $400/mo

Sumac offers a free trial of their software. Watch this video or proceed to their site to learn more about how this software works.

22. For Freelancers – Cushion

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero.

Cushion is a simple, easy to use freelancing solution that helps you keep track of your work. The features are limited but effective and the pricing is competitive. With a Cushion plan, you get the ability to track invoices, track jobs, view monthly income, set goals, track expenses, and to view and organize all of you projects in a calendar.

Pricing:

  • Moonlighter – $6/mo
  • Freelancer – $12/mo
  • Studio – coming soon

Check out Cushion if you are interested in this organization solution.

23. For Team Communication – Slack

Compatible accounting solutions: Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books. There is API for developers.

Communication is hard. But Slack has found a way to make it easy. Slack is a powerful communication platform (we use it here at Merchant Maverick, in fact). It allows you to have private or public team conversations, send direct messages, attach images and documents, as well as make calls.

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Standard – $8/mo per user
  • Plus – $15/mo per user

If you’re tired of jumping between emails and texts, Slack is a great, affordable solution. You can learn more here.

24. For Partial Payments – Partial.ly

Compatible accounting solutions: FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online.

As you probably guessed from the title, Partial.ly is a payment solution that allows customers to make partial payments on products or services. You can create custom payment plans for your clients who then get access to a personal client portal. The software uses Stripe as its payment gateway. Note: Before you freak out at the credit card rate below, understand that Partial.ly uses this fee to cover all Stripe fees, so you are only charged once.

Pricing:

  • Credit Card Rate – 5% + $0.30/per transaction

Learn more about how Partial.ly can work with your business here.

25. For Everything Else – Zapier

Compatible accounting solutions: Xero, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Pro, FreshBooks, Wave, FreeAgent, Zoho Invoice, Zoho Books, Saasu, LessAccounting, Hiveage, Proposify, QuoteRoller, and InvoiceNinja. There is API for developers.

I promise I’m not kidding. If your accounting or invoicing software has a Zapier integration, that means you have access to over 750+ apps and integrations. Zapier works as its own sort of API in that it gives you endless connections to apps you otherwise may not have been able to access.

Pricing:

  • Free
  • For Work – $20/mo
  • For Teams – $125/mo

Learn more about how Zapier works and how to maximize your business with Zapier here.

The End

While this may be the end of a post, there is no end to the number of accounting and invoicing integrations out there. I hope that in 2017 you are able to make the most of these powerful tools.

My own New Year’s Resolution is to continue helping business owners like you as much as I can—and preaching the gospel of these 25 hidden gems is the best way I know how. But I can always use more help getting the word out! Let me know which accounting integrations have helped you succeed and if I have missed any of your favorites!

The post 25 Must-Have Accounting Software Integrations for 2017 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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LinkedIn Company / Business Page Best Practices w/ Examples

A LinkedIn Company (or business) page is an excellent way to keep people informed about your company, brands, products and services and job opportunities. Creating a page for your business is fairly straightforward. But, like any platform, you’ll be much more effective if you dig into the manual, apply best practices, add your own creative touches, analyze then improve.

Why You Need a Company Page

LinkedIn is the premier social network for business professionals. The platform has over 460 million users throughout the world. Depending on the business your company is in, LinkedIn offers access to a key demographic.

In some ways, LinkedIn is nowhere near as sexy as other social networks. Day to day, it can feel like a haunt for recruiters and weird spammers.

However, it appears that LinkedIn users are more interested in your company, compared to other networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. A study of referral sources found that LinkedIn was responsible for 64% of all homepage referrals from social channels.

And if you are a B2B business, in the market for talent, or simply looking for new partnerships – these visits can be very lucrative. In fact, LinkedIn’s ad rates certainly confirm this idea. If you can generate free, organic traffic – then all the better.

Requirements to Create A Company Page

Creating a LinkedIn page for your company is straightforward. First, you’ll want to make sure that you meet the following criteria.

  • A personal LinkedIn account with your actual first and last name.
  • Your personal LinkedIn account must be at least seven days old.
  • Your profile has several connections on it.
  • You’re a current employee at the company you wish to create a page for.
  • You list the company in the experience section of your profile.
  • You have a company email address listed on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Your company email address is linked to a domain unique to your company (no Gmail, Yahoo, etc. email addresses.)

Unless you are the CEO setting up your page, you will need to set internal policy guidelines for access.

How to Create A Page

Assuming you meet all the requirements above, you can create your page in a few simple steps.

First, log in to your LinkedIn account. Click the link for Work at the top of your page, and then select Create a Company Page.

Create a LinkedIn Company Page

Next, add the name of your company and your company email address. Check the box to verify that you’re an official representative of your company with the right to act on its behalf by creating this page.

Add LinkedIn Company

Once you’ve entered that information, LinkedIn will allow you to begin editing your company page. Fill out every field as accurately and in as much detail as possible. Our goal is to create a dynamic, engaging place for followers of the company to come and interact with the company. The first step in achieving that goal is going to be a solid foundation of information about the company. Keep that in mind as you fill in each field.

LinkedIn Company Page Setup

Optimizing Your Business Page

So, you’ve created an engaging page for your company. Now, let’s look at some LinkedIn company page best practices. These tips will help you develop a rich, full featured LinkedIn page for your company, which will be more likely to generate organic traffic,

Add Images

The first thing you’ll want to do is add some strong imagery to your page, starting with your company logo and banner photo. LinkedIn accepts JPEG, PNG or GIF image files. For the logo, you’ll want a square image. The minimum size for a logo is 300 x 300px, but the image can be much larger than that if you wish. The logo can be up to 4mb in size.

The minimum size for a banner image is 646 x 200 pixels. It can be larger as well, with a maximum size of 2mb.

Take time to make sure that these aspects of your page look great, and that the images you’ve chosen are optimized for display on LinkedIn. Consider recruiting a member of your staff that’s familiar with programs like Photoshop or Illustrator for help creating professional looking imagery for your page. You can also look at online tools like Canva, Stencil or Pixlr.

Add A Keyword Rich Description

When adding your company description, you’ll want to focus on adding relevant keywords to your copy. LinkedIn pages are SEO friendly with permalinks, and Google and other search engines will preview up to 156 characters of your description copy. You’ll want to lead with some relevant keywords, if possible.

Optimizing your LinkedIn page is a great way to grab additional real estate in your brand search results.

You won’t be able to rank #1 for brand term w/ modifiers, but you will be able to consistently appear in the mid-section of search results for most brand + modifier searches. Since you control the content – doing this can be a solid, easy win.

LinkedIn members can search for your company by name, or they can use keywords. So, be sure to include keywords that describe your business, industry and specialties.

Create Showcases Pages Where Appropriate

One useful feature of company pages is the ability to create showcase pages. Showcase pages allow you to highlight individual brands or initiatives that fall under the larger banner of your company. Creating showcase pages for your company is one of the LinkedIn company page best practices.

Let’s use “Company X” as an example. Company X manufactures a wide range of consumer electronics products. So, within the LinkedIn company page for the company, there may be several showcase pages for the individual brands that fall under the larger umbrella of Company X.

Not only do these pages make it easy to shine a light onto the different brands your company offers, but it creates a better experience for LinkedIn users as well. Let’s go back to the Company X example again. Let’s say I’m a LinkedIn user interested in following Company X on LinkedIn. I’m interested in some of the brands Company X manufactures, but I’m not interested in all their brands. With showcase pages, I’m able to select the portions of the company I want to receive updates from. So, I could receive updates about the brands I like, without having to see updates for the brands I don’t.

Creating a Showcase Page is simple. From your company page dashboard, click the Edit icon on the right side of the page. Next, select “Create A Showcase Page” from the drop-down menu. Now, you can begin adding content to your showcase page. Be sure to add a banner image, company logo and as much relevant information as possible about the brand.

Keep in mind that your showcase pages function just like your company page. To keep followers of your company page engaged, you’ll want to share meaningful content with them. The same holds true for your showcase pages. To truly leverage the LinkedIn platform to engage with your followers, you’re going to need to make sure you’re sharing lots of meaningful content.

Go Global

LinkedIn allows you to set up your company and showcase pages in more than 20 different languages. If your business has a global audience, take advantage of this feature so that your page is easily accessible for people in other countries.

If you are testing a new market, this can be a simple way to test responsiveness, especially if you are looking for new employees and/or partners.

Set Goals

Set reasonable goals for the growth of your following on LinkedIn so you can create a plan to achieve those goals. The analytics data LinkedIn provides will make it easier for you to set goals and put your plans into action.

If you want to refer traffic to your website, then define that goal. If you want conversions on LinkedIn (ie, recruit contacts) then define that. If you want engagement from companies in your industry (ie, potential clients or vendors) – then define how you will measure that.

Delegate

If possible, identify the members of your team that are best suited to help with your company page and recruit them to help with the development of your page. Growing your team is probably going to be necessary as you begin producing more content for your page (more on that later).

Again, here is where defined goals are useful. If you can delegate management with explicit goals, then that will naturally define the type of content. You can also quickly judge return on time invested.

Create A Content Calendar

Creating a calendar for your LinkedIn updates is a great way to organize your efforts. It’s another one of the LinkedIn company page best practices. Stick to the timeline as much as possible, but feel free to deviate from it, depending on current events.

A calendar or simple editorial process allows you to have items in the “pipeline” so that they can be improved, revised and approved before a deadline arrives.

Analyze

LinkedIn provides a range of different analytical tools for you to learn more about your audience and the way they engage with your business page. These tools are invaluable when used correctly and will be very helpful to you, especially as your following grows. We’ll discuss these features in greater depth a bit later in this post.

Growing Your Business Page

Now that you’ve created your company page, you’ll want to start connecting with members of the LinkedIn community. The goal is to create a page that encourages people throughout LinkedIn to engage with your company. But, we’re going to be taking baby steps to get there. These tips should help you get your page off the ground as you begin to grow your audience.

Remember that you are more likely to to get engagement with people who use LinkedIn rather than getting your audience to engage with you on LinkedIn. That said, you do need initial traction. To get that – you can of course, pay for ads – or you can use the following groups to find people who are already on LinkedIn and are interested in your company.

Recruit Your Employees

Getting your employees on board is an easy way to get your following started. Encourage them to connect to your business page and interact with it. Beyond interacting with your page, they can also add the link to the page to their email signatures.

Tell Your Customers

Use your other marketing channels to let your customers know you’re on LinkedIn. Create a blog, include the update in a newsletter, even go the old-fashioned route and tell them over the phone that you’d like to connect with them on LinkedIn.

This tactic is not to pull customers to your LinkedIn channel, but instead to find customers in your existing audience who already use LinkedIn.

Add A Follow Button

LinkedIn makes it easy to add a follow button to your website. That way, when LinkedIn members visit your company’s site, they’ll be able to follow you with a single click.

Join LinkedIn Groups

These days, there’s a group on LinkedIn for almost anything. Identify the groups that are relevant to your business and join them. You can search for groups by keywords, which makes it easy to find the ones most important to your business.

Contribute your insight in these groups. Aim to be helpful and supportive of the community. If you’re only using groups on LinkedIn to promote your company page, it will appear transparent, and the members of the group are not likely to engage with you. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to use these groups to promote your page if the members of the group see you as a helpful member of the community.

Like Facebook Groups, these usually have either the most attention or the most spam. Find groups that truly make sense, and add to the conversation rather than viewing it as a promotion opportunity.

Content

Content is going to be the key to growing your audience on LinkedIn beyond the initial connections you make. The more useful and engaging the content on your LinkedIn page is, the easier it will be for you to expand your page far beyond the initial connections you’re able to make.

What Is Content

Content is anything you post on your company’s page. Company updates, infographics, articles and think pieces and even cute cat videos are all examples of content. On LinkedIn, the content that you share will appear on your company page as well as in the timeline of all of your followers.

Sometimes, someone within your company creates the content you’ll be sharing. Other times, you’ll be sharing content that was created by someone else but has value to your company and your followers.

What to Share

When it comes to sharing, you’ll want to make sure that the things you’re sharing make sense for your company as well as your audience. The most successful company pages on LinkedIn share content which seamlessly marries the interests of the company with the interests of their followers.

Of course, you’ll want to add any relevant updates about your company. Beyond that, you’ll want to share things that are useful to your audience. Things that are useful for your audience can include things like articles about your industry, think pieces and current events.

Your ultimate goal is to share content that engages your audience and gets them involved in the conversation. Empower your followers to weigh in on the things you share by asking open-ended questions that encourage a dialogue. When your audience engages with your company in the comments section, be sure to get in on the action!

Share “Top [X]” Lists

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last five-plus years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the huge amount of top 3, top 5, top 10, etc. lists. Believe it or not, there’s calculated reasoning behind these types of posts. Simply put, people love them.

LinkedIn studied company page updated that received 1,000 impressions or more and found that top content lists received 40% more amplification than other posts. So, creating or sharing top content lists is going to be a great way for you to reach new people, and expand your audience.

Share Videos

LinkedIn and Youtube are seamlessly integrated, which means that if you share a video from YouTube, it will play directly in your follower’s feeds when they click the video. LinkedIn found that not only do posts with videos result in more likes, comments, and shares, but they’re also more shareable than other types of content. Posts with videos receive a 75% higher share rate than posts without them. So, sharing videos can be another great way to up your engagement and expand your audience.

Ask Questions

Within your updates, ask your audience open-ended questions. These questions encourage your audience to engage with you. According to LinkedIn, updates that include questions are 50% more likely to receive comments from your followers.

When your posts receive comments, engage with your following. Getting into the comments is an excellent way to develop relationships with your audience, and it’s one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

When to Share

LinkedIn’s users are on the site primarily in the morning. LinkedIn also says they experience a bump in traffic in the early evening, around the time most people are leaving their offices for the day. LinkedIn users also primarily use the site during the week and less on the weekends.

To give your updates the best chance for success, you’ll want to do most of your posting on weekdays, in the morning or the late afternoon. If you can, avoid posting at other times, especially on the weekend.

Sharing content often will encourage your followers to engage with your content while also fostering familiarity with your company. If you can, share content more often.

Some of the most engaging and well followed LinkedIn business pages post as many as five times each day. Just make sure that what you’re sharing is relevant to both your company and your audience.

Creating Original Content

Creating your own content is one of the best ways to engage with your audience. Often, when you share content from other sources, it’s already been optimized with a lovely image or video, and a clever headline. When you create your own content, you’ll need to do that legwork on your own.

You’ll want to start by creating a clever headline and intro for your content. Be as concise as you can be while still making sure that your headline is informative. Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that encourage your audience to engage with your post.

Next, add some rich media to your posts, like a photo or video. Posts that include rich media are far more likely to engage your audience. According to LinkedIn, updates that include rich content are 98% more likely to receive comments. Updates that include video are 75% more likely to receive shares from your followers.

Lastly, double check the language you’re using in your post. You want to come off as a friendly company that came to LinkedIn to engage with people who are interested in your business. Sales-y language or promotional messages typically don’t do very well from an engagement perspective.

A final note on creating your own content: More so than any other type of content on the site, LinkedIn users want to see updates that provide industry insight.

Take pride in the content you’re creating. Not only is it useful to your LinkedIn following and essential for your growth on the platform, but it’s also highly useful for your other marketing channels as well.

Repurpose What You Already Have

Chances are, your business has been producing useful content already as part of your other marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to optimize this content for LinkedIn and use it there as well. You’ll provide the LinkedIn community with valuable industry insights, while also getting the most use out of your existing content.

Use The 4-1-1 Rule

The 4-1-1 rule is an excellent way to make sure that your page is striking a balance between the needs of your company and the needs of your audience. It’s also one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

For every one piece of content you share which directly relates to your company, you’ll want to share a piece of content from another source and four pieces of content written by others that your audience is likely to be interested in. If you follow the 4-1-1 rule, your page will feature a nice mix of important updates about your company as well as compelling content focused on the needs of your audience.

Again – this is an example of a best practice to start with and revise as you gather your own data.

Tailoring Your Content to Specific Audiences

One useful aspect of LinkedIn company pages is the ability to tailor posts to specific segments of your audience. Sometimes, you’ll find that a particular update only resonates with a portion of your audience as opposed to your entire audience.

By tailoring your posts to specific segments of your audience, you’re able to ensure you’re serving your audience with only the most relevant content. Content that they’re sure to find interesting and engaging.

Pin Your Most Important Content

LinkedIn allows you to pin your most important updates to the top of your page. That way, the most important content on your page receives the spotlight. It will be the first thing people see when they visit your page.

Keep It Short

There’s tons of content vying for your audience’s attention in their LinkedIn feed. You’ll want to keep your intros short and sweet. Pretend you’re working under the same limitations as Twitter; craft an intro that’s packed with value in under 160 characters.

For your intro, try pointing out a key benefit of the content you’re sharing or ask a thought provoking question designed to engage your audience and elicit a response.

Include A Call to Action

Last but certainly not least is your call to action. You could spend time crafting the most thoughtful and engaging piece of content of all time, but it’s all for naught if you don’t include a call to action.

Make sure you’re sharing content with a purpose and that your audience has clear instructions on what to do. Should they click a link? Watch a video? Answer a question in the comments section?

Whatever the purpose may be, make sure you’re communicating that clearly to the audience – and meeting your goals.

Analyze

You’ve created your page, developed an audience and added tons of great content to your page. Next, we’re going to use LinkedIn’s semi-robust set of tracking tools to analyze and refine our posts.

These tools can provide valuable insight into what your audience likes and doesn’t like, as well as what they’re most likely to respond to in the future.

Acting on the data you receive may prove vital to the success of your business page, so careful analysis is one of the LinkedIn business page best practices.

Updates

The first analytics tool LinkedIn provides is the updates section. In the updates section, you’ll see some valuable analytic information related to each of your updates.

LinkedIn Page AnalyticsPreview

This section shows a short preview of each of your posts.

Date

When each of your updates was posted.

Audience

This section shows which segments of your audience saw each update.

Sponsored

LinkedIn offers you the ability to advertise your posts to reach a larger, highly targeted audience. If any of your updates were sponsored, it would display in this section.

Impressions

This is the number of times your post showed up in your follower’s feeds.

Clicks

This metric indicates the number of times your update, company logo or company name was clicked on.

Interactions

LinkedIn defines interactions as likes, comments or shares. Interactions are a vital statistic as they show the amount of people that engaged directly with the content you’ve posted. The interactions metric provides valuable insight into how engaging your content is.

Followers Acquired

This metric shows the number of new followers you’ve acquired as a direct result of updates you’ve posted.

Engagement

LinkedIn displays this metric as a percentage. LinkedIn calculates that number by dividing the number of impressions your post received by the number of interactions your post received. The higher that percentage, the more engagement your post received per impression.

Followers

This section provides valuable analytics data that’s related to the people following your page.

LinkedIn Page Follower Demographics

Type

  • Total – This number displays the total number of followers of your LinkedIn company page.
  • Organic – These are your followers who were acquired organically. Your organic followers are the followers you gained naturally, without advertising.
  • Acquired – These are followers that you’ve gained through LinkedIn advertising campaigns.

And note that like StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Reddit and other social networks – you can often generate organic traffic with engaged acquired traffic. So if you pay to acquire an influential reader, that can lead to organic shares which lead to organic traffic.

Follower Demographics

You’ll find some of the most valuable analytics data LinkedIn collects in the follower demographics section. This area breaks down your total followers based on five types of demographic data.

  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Job Function
  • Company Size
  • And More

Follower Trends

This graph shows how your number of followers has changed over time. There’s a drop-down menu that allows you to tailor the date range.

How You Compare

This section shows how your page stacks up against similar pages in your industry. This feature is one of the more unique features on LinkedIn.

Visitors Section

The final section of analytics information is the visitors section. In this section, you can garner valuable insight into what the people who are visiting your LinkedIn page are doing once they arrive there.

LinkedIn Company Page Analytics Visitors

Page Views

This graph displays the number of times your page was viewed over the given date range. The drop-down menu at the right allows you to adjust the date range of the graph.

Unique Visitors

Similar to page views, the unique visitors graph shows the number of unique visitors your page has received. This graph targets visitors by IP address and removes visitors who have visited your page before.

Career Page Clicks

Chances are, you won’t see any reporting for this section. LinkedIn gives you the option of creating a career page which can be a valuable recruiting tool for your business. However, the career page is a paid feature, and it’s far from cheap. But, it may be something to consider if a specific goal of your company page is to drive hiring efforts.

If you do have a paid career page, this section will show how many times visitors clicked the different elements of your career page.

Visitor Demographics

Similar to the demographic information provided in the followers section, this graph provides demographic data about all of the visitors of your page, not just the ones that follow you. Be sure to use this data to improve your general personas and marketing strategy.

Using the Data

LinkedIn provides all this valuable insight so that you can analyze, interpret and take action on it. Based on the data your page is returning, you’ll be able to learn more about your audience and their likes, dislikes, and interests. This data will allow you to tailor your posts further to make sure you’re serving your audience with the most engaging content possible.

Consider Advertising

LinkedIn advertising could be a great way to drive even more engagement with your most popular content. Based on the data you receive, your updates that are already receiving lots of engagement organically within the LinkedIn community make great candidates for promotion.

LinkedIn provides several advertising options for company pages. These options include traditional display advertising, sponsored inMail, and sponsored content updates. While display ads and sponsored inMail provide additional opportunities for you to grow your audience, you’ll be focusing on sponsored content updates in this case. If you do decide LinkedIn advertising is a smart option for you, you’ll find other tracking and conversion data at your fingertips to help refine your campaigns.

Tracking Conversions

The development team at LinkedIn makes it easy to integrate code into your website or landing pages. This code will allow you to receive more actionable data about the things that visitors referred by LinkedIn are doing on your site.

Refine and React

Let the data you’ve received from your LinkedIn dashboard, as well as your other tracking efforts, inform the decisions you make moving forward. As networks like LinkedIn continue to grow and evolve, companies wishing to keep up with that growth and continue to reach their audience must evolve as well. Tweak your content, your messaging and your goals as needed to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your presence on LinkedIn, and providing value to the members of LinkedIn who follow your page.

Next Steps

Go to LinkedIn and setup and/or revise your own LinkedIn page!

You might also be interested in –

Every week, I curate the best marketing guides from around the Internet into a single email with no more than 4 links. You can sign up here.

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Ahrefs Guide: How To Use Ahrefs for SEO, Content & Link Building

The biggest problem for website owners and marketers in 2016 and beyond isn’t the tools available. It’s figuring out how to use the tools they have.

Ahrefs is one of the (if not the) most powerful suites of social media & SEO tools that I’ve ever used. Most SEOs know it as a “backlink checker” that competes with Majestic and intelligence/analytics tools with smaller indices like Moz & SEMRush. But “backlink checker” grossly undersells Ahrefs as a marketing suite.

Ahrefs has so many features that you can get lost and resort to simply staring at your own links – maybe rank tracking a few keywords. Here’s the guide to how to use Ahrefs that I wish existed when I first signed up.

*Reader’s Note 1 – this guide was originally published in Oct. 2015. It’s been updated throughout for July 2016 to reflect Ahref’s new design.

*Reader’s Note 2 – all images are clickable if you want to see the full resolution.

Glossary
Dashboard
Site Explorer (Link Data)
Site Explorer (Search Data)
Content Explorer
Keywords Explorer
Ahrefs Tools

Ahrefs Glossary

Every piece of software has its own little universe of jargon. I’ll use these words throughout the guide. So here’s a glossary of terms.

URL Rating – Ahrefs’ measure of the quantity and quality of links pointing to a given URL. Link quantity and quality correlate with higher rankings in search engines.

Domain Rating – Ahrefs’ measure of the quantity and quality of links pointing to an entire domain. Link quantity and quality correlate with higher rankings for all URLs on a domain in search engines.

Ahrefs Rank – Ahrefs’ ranking of a domain’s rating relative to all the other domains on the Internet.

Backlinks – The number of hyperlinks pointing to a URL.

Referring Page – The number of pages with a hyperlink pointing to a URL. A page can have multiple links.

Referring Domains – The number of unique domains with a hyperlink pointing to a URL. A domain can have multiple referring pages and backlinks.

Referring Content – Ahrefs’ measure of the relative traffic that a unique piece of content sends to a given URL based on the popularity of the referring content.

Anchors – The anchor text used within a URL’s backlinks.

Sitewide / Not Sitewide – Ahrefs’ categorization of a link showing whether it shows in the same location on every page of a referring domain or not.

Fresh Index/Live Index – This is a new feature rolled out in an effort to maintain a historical index of links. Here’s the full blog post and here’s the Ahrefs definition:

  • Live Index – contains all links that were “live” on Ahrefs’ last re-crawl;
  • Fresh Index – contains all links that Ahrefs’ has seen “live” in the last 3 months (including those that were “dead” on the last re-crawl).

In the post, Ahrefs also says that they are “going to add a “Historic” index, that would include all backlinks that we seen live starting from 13th of August 2015.”

Top Pages – A given URLs’ top pages based on the criteria that you sort for.

Ahrefs Dashboard

The Ahrefs Dashboard is where you keep track of all your data. You can add a URL to keep a running snapshot of a domains health. It will quickly show you any technical crawl errors, new links, new referring domains, and a snapshot of Ahrefs’ domain rating and URL ranking.

Ahrefs Dashboard

On the dashboard you can also keep track of keyword rankings, any content alerts, and any links that you are trying to disavow.

Key Features

I think the main features of the Ahrefs’ dashboard are keyword rankings and content alerts. Although I don’t think rankings are as important as they used to be back in the days of old school SEO, they can be an interesting diagnostic indicator, and another data point to factor into your analysis. Since tracking is included with Ahrefs, it’s worth adding your critical keywords.

Alerts are useful for both planning outreach and for competitive analysis. Target several phrases that are directly relevant to your website so that you can get a feed whenever a new piece of content is published around that phrase or keywords.

Ahrefs Content Alerts

Fun Hacks

Email notifications are boring, but setting them up is a great way to hack your habits and discipline so that you can use Ahrefs’ data.

Unless you are extraordinarily disciplined, it’s easy to let monitoring and alerts slide. That’s why I love setting up Google Analytics intelligence alerts and Ahrefs’ email notifications. Set them up at a useful interval, and you’ll never miss an issue.

Ahrefs Alerts

Site Explorer (Link Data)

Site Explorer is Ahrefs’ bread and butter. It allows you to enter in a URL and check that URLs backlinks – and, as of 2016, everything from organic keywords to social data to PPC data as well. This section will focus on the Link Data.

Ahrefs gets this data by running a crawler around the Web just like Googlebot. Every backlink checker tries to replicate how & where Googlebot crawls links. No backlink checker is Googlebot. And no crawler can cover the entire Web. According to analysis by some of the best technical SEOs, Ahrefs is at the front of the pack.

Why? With Site Explorer, they not only have a large link index that closely replicates the Googlebot, they also extract & overlay additional data.

They pull out anchor text (the actual text within the link), backlink type, backlink follow status, social metrics, IP Address, and HTTP status. These additional pieces of information – paired with an enormous index of URLs – sets Ahrefs apart and turns it into a marketer’s suite.

Ahrefs Site Explorer

The Site Explorer, however, is also the most daunting of all the tools because there is so much information. So here’s what I think are the key features.

Key Features of Site Explorer’s Link Data

The first key feature is Inbound Links. Search engines use Inbound Links as a proxy for human endorsement. More links from trustworthy sites on relevant pages equals more organic traffic. The links feature allows you to pull all the links to a specific URL and then sift and sort to dig up the information you want.

The second key feature is Top Content. This feature allows to look at how specific pages on a URL perform. You can sift and sort by links, shares, or Ahrefs weighted importance score.

The third key feature is Top Referring Content. This feature shows you what content on the Internet that has a link to the URL you are exploring has the most links/shares or estimated traffic. You can get a ballpark estimate of what links send referral traffic to your URL.

The fourth and last key feature appears in both Inbound and Outbound Links – and that is Broken Links. This feature shows you which links are linking to or linking out to a URL that no longer exists.

What You Can Do With Site Explorer

Whatever you are used to doing with other backlink checkers, you can do with Ahrefs. There’s plenty you can do directly in the main screen, but keep in mind that you can also do an Export to Excel / Google Sheets if that’s your native work environment.

Determine What Marketing Tactics Are Working for Competitors

You can take your competitors – big and small – and see where they are getting their links from. You can go and try to get the same links. Or (and I recommend this approach), you can use the information to understand what has been working in the industry and use it to develop your own unique tactics.

Ahrefs Competitive Analysis

You can also look at Referring Domains, which will group the links by domain.

Ahrefs Site Explorer Link Types

Determine What Content Does Well

We all browse the Internet in a “filter bubble.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a site or blog post that you love isn’t more widely shared.

Or at a more higher level, many marketers think that the content that generates shares will also directly generate links. That perception is a myth.

You can use the top content report to understand exactly what works well. Understand what pages actually get links if you are building your organic presence. Understand what gets shares. Understand what types of content gets picked up.

Top Content Report

Do press releases matter? Do infographics actually work? What’s the one piece of content for competitors or industry publications that drives 80% of their links and shares.

Ahrefs Top Content by Shares

You can answer all those questions with the Top Content report.

Identify Low-Hanging Fruit / Easy Link Opportunities

Site Explorer has a Link Intersect report that allows you to input several URLs and learn which websites are linking to competitors (or industry sites), but not your site. You can get this same data by exporting links from several sites and running a few Excel tricks. But the link intersect tool does it quickly.

Does an industry publication have links to all your competitors, but forget to link to you? Is there a reporter that interviews your competitors but not you?

Link Intersect

Link Intersect Results

Find out with the link intersect tool and discover some quick wins that will bring you up to an even playing field.

Identify Influential Marketing Prospects

You can use a combination of the Top Referring Content report and the Inbound Links report to identify influential websites that are already linking to competitors and/or industry publications. But you can take it a step further and sort by Domain or URL Rating to figure out who matters the most. In a world of limited resources and time – priorities matter.

Referring Content

But be sure to note your goals…

Referring Content

Sometimes the influencers are not in the markets you expect. In the example above – REIs biggest influencers are in the travel hacking & survivalist. niches

Conduct A Broken Link Building Campaign

Broken link-building is one of the most effective and consistent link-building tactics in SEO. The idea is to find resources that no longer exist, rebuild them, then pitch to get the links pointing at the broken resource switched to point at yours. Or, on the flipside, correct any broken links that your site has.

Site Explorer Broken Links Report

I’ve written a full guide to Broken Link Building here. You can do broken link building manually, but Ahrefs’ broken link reports allow you to do broken link building efficiently and effectively.

Pro-tip – Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO built a handy Chrome Extension called LinkMiner that pulls from Ahrefs data, allowing you to prospect quickly as you research.

Fun Hacks with Site Explorer

Quickly Find Worthwhile Broken Links

Take a giant site and look at Broken Outbound Links. You’ll quickly get a list of broken resources. Take all those URLs, and look at Inbound Links. The sites that link to your broken URLs are prospects for a broken link building campaign.

Outbound Broken Link Building

The inverse works also works well. Take a giant site – one that has plenty of resource pages. Pull Broken Inbound Links. Then pull the links pointed to those URLs. That will be your prospect list for a Broken Link Building campaign.

Explore Wikipedia & Top Publishers

Pull link metrics on Wikipedia URLs related to your industry – remember that you can search by subfolder. Create marketing ideas around the results.

Wikipedia Links

Take a publishing focused site either in your industry or related to your industry and pull a top content report. This will allow you to skip to content that you know works. It will also give you link opportunities that are outside of what your competitors have.

Explore Publishing Site Links

Take an industry publication or industry-related Wikipedia pages. Pull a Top Referring Content report. You’ll likely get list that includes mainstream media publications. Click through and do research on the journalist who linked out to the piece.

Publisher Content

Narrow Results

As I mentioned with Wikipedia, don’t forget that you can search for just a subdomain, a subfolder or a specific URL in Site Explorer.

URL Prefix

Site Explorer (Search Data)

Site Explorer’s Search Data (formerly Positions Explorer) shows what keywords a domain is ranking for, then provides estimates for what kind of traffic that domain and its pages are getting organically.

It also tracks paid positions. Think of it like rank tracking for every domain on the Internet.

Positions Explorer crawls Google search results pages (SERPs) and aggregates the data into something you can search. They also pull search volume from Keyword Planner. Then it triangulates the organic traffic going to a domain based on standard click-through rates per position.

A couple caveats – and this goes for every “traffic estimation tool” including SimilarWeb, Compete, SEMRush, etc – everything in this tool is ballpark estimation. I do not recommend you use it for reporting. There are many variables in play – each with a lot of margin of error. Don’t let the exactness of the numbers lull you into a sense of certainty. Ahrefs pulls keyword data fast & frequently, but be sure to check key rankings manually & against Keyword Planner.

With that said, I’ll go ahead and state that this is Ahrefs’ most underestimated tool. Either that, or the marketers who know about it aren’t talking about it. Regardless, here we go.

Key features

Keyword Site Explorer

The most obvious feature is Ahrefs’ estimation for how many significant keywords (i.e., they have search volume) a domain is ranking for and their estimation of traffic based on those keywords.

That overview feature is interesting, but again, not super-useful without some context.

The feature that provides 80% of this tool’s value is the Top Pages feature under both Organic and Paid sections.

The other notable features are the Top Competitors, which shows what domains most frequently share the same search results as the domain you’re looking for. And also the PPC ads, which shows you a sample of PPC ads in the SERPs.

What You Can Do With Positions Explorer

Understand Top Content for Other Websites

Although the exact numbers in Positions Explorer are not accurate, the relationships and differential among the pages & keywords is accurate.

In other words, even if a given URL doesn’t drive XX visits per month, if it is listed as the Top Organic Page – that position is accurate. The difference in traffic between the top URL and the second URL is accurate as well – both for a couple reasons.

First, because even if the traffic numbers aren’t exactly right, their relative volumes are correct. Head terms show more volume than long-tail terms. Second, because on the landing page level, nearly every site’s traffic will conform to the 80/20 pattern – 20% of pages will drive 80% of the traffic. And so on for every given set of URLs.

Why does this matter?

This data is invaluable because you can discover and build off competitor or other industry websites. You can learn from all their content and go straight for the best terms.

Keywords Competitiveness

In the example above, you’ll see that for whatever reason, this company gets almost all their non-brand organic traffic from a (not so special) Garage Kit category page. It would make an excellent target for anyone in that industry.

Or you get to find out that your favorite website’s biggest winner is a throwaway post that happens to rank for a really broad but noncompetitive term.

Content Traffic

Either way, you get to learn from your competitor’s best (and worst) content. Ahrefs did a video tutorial on this feature –

Do Better Keyword Research

The toughest challenge of keyword research is thinking laterally. Making the jump from different variations of a single obvious keyword to complementary or semi-synonymous keywords that reflect the real intent of your audience.

For example, it’s the insight that helps you make the leap from “winter gloves”…”gloves for winter”…”gloves for cold weather” to “mittens.” Or if you’re in the plumbing industry, making the leap from “outdoor faucet” to “sillcock.”

Those leaps are tough. Google’s Keyword Planner is mediocre at the job. And often it means using tools like Google Correlate in ways they aren’t traditionally used.

But Ahrefs’ Position Explorer solves this issue by allowing you to take top pages and viewing what other keywords those pages are ranking for. It gives you a bigger seed list & introduces more diversity into your keyword research process.

Keyword Research

Steal Ads

You can use the Paid section of Positions Explorer to swipe ad ideas from competitors. If you can see the angle/benefit that competitors are using, you have a direction to either copy or play off or test both.

Steal Ads

Find Competitors for Keyword / Link Research

Most SEOs are familiar with telling clients that their SERP competitors are different from their real-world competitors.

But outside of scraping a few head or vanity terms, it’s fairly difficult to find SERP competitors systematically. You can use Ahrefs’ Positions Explorer to at least add a few new ones to the mix.

Fun Hacks

For marketers who love Excel and/or Google Sheets, you can export keywords under both Top Pages and Organic Keywords.

If you want to remove brand & noisy terms, go to Organic Keywords and filter by phrase length and by keyword included. Longer phrases will often give you more insight.

Long Tail Content

Content Explorer

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer shows the most shared content around any topic. It’s like Site Explorer’s Top Content report…but for the entire internet. For marketers who read a bit – it’s basically BuzzSumo but you get it in addition to Ahrefs’ link data.

But like Site Explorer, the key to Content Explorer is understanding the features’ functionality. That will take it from a trivia tool to a marketing tool.

Key Features

The key – and really only feature of Content Explorer – is the ability to search by topic. You enter a phrase and it tells you the most shared / linked to content about that topic across the Internet.

In the original versions of Content Explorer, you would quickly notice that there’s a wide gulf in the results you get. If you enter a broad topic, you get a lot of meaningless noise (re-posted clickbait stuff). If you enter a specific topic, then you’ll get very few results.

Content Explorer

Ahrefs has dramatically improved the tool so that you can easily find relevant content. However, you can find exactly what you want when you understandhow to narrow & curate the results. And that is where Boolean Operators and Advanced Search filters (ie, “search everywhere / in title / in content”) come in.

I can feel your excitement.

But really if you’ve ever used Google Search Operators like site: or even putting a phrase in quotes, you’ll know how you use these. Just navigate to Advanced Search in Content Explorer.

Boolean Operators in Ahrefs

The ones I’ve found most useful are exclude a word, filter a site and define date range (especially for seasonal ideas).

To use boolean operators effectively though, you have to approach Content Explorer with a goal in mind. It’s fun – and sometimes useful to just click around – but it’s most useful when you are looking for a specific piece of data to support a strategy.

For example, you want to create a blog post that drives Facebook likes. Or, you want to create an infographic that drives links. Or, you need to understand what type of Christmas content stands out in December. If you have a specific goal in mind, you can mix, match and combine boolean operators to focus your search.

Content Explorer

What You Can Do With Content Explorer

Inform PR Strategy

“Press release and pray” is not an effective PR strategy, especially if you want a quality pick up from a major publication.

The best angle for getting a press pickup is that the piece will bring in readers. You can use Content Explorer to figure out what pieces do well and what type of content a publication likes.

Seasonal Ideas

You can even drill down to figure out what a specific journalist likes to write about – and what content they were most successful with.

Custom PR Pitch

In 2013, I got a personal blog post to go viral with exactly 1 email pitch to a 1 journalist. I knew what the journalist wrote about. And I knew what drove pageviews for them. It was a perfect fit for both of us.

*Note – this feature is still in the early days for Ahrefs. You’ll get the most out of it by pairing it with Google search operators.

Understand a Topic

“The curse of knowledge” is a concept that says the more familiar you are with a topic, the less you understand how to think about a topic from the perspective of those less familiar.

And it’s a huge problem in content marketing. You can use Content Explorer to understand what angles, language and facts resonate with people on any given topic.

Look for Top Performers’ Commonalities

On a related note, you can use Content Explorer to figure what form your content should be in. Many times a text post won’t work but a video will. Or an infographic will work in one industry but not in another. For example, if you run Content Explorer and see that every top performer has a video included…you should probably include a video in your content.

Content Explorer Commonalities

Set Benchmarks

Every company would love for a positive story to “go viral” but that term is basically meaningless because it can mean anything to anybody depending on context and a dozen other factors.

In a study of content by Moz and BuzzSumo, they found that 75% of content got zero shares and zero links. Zero.

And then, on any given day, BuzzFeed will be able to manufacture 1 million plus shares across every platform.

Purina Cat Food might be able to create a piece of content that generates a hundreds of thousands of shares because they are a huge brand operating in the cat market.

Cat Market

GE is an even bigger brand than Purina but they won’t get a million shares because they make stuff like aircraft engines.

Either way, Content Explorer can at least give you a ballpark benchmark for a successful campaign. If your goal is shares and the best campaign in your industry generated a 1000 shares – “success” might be defined as 100, not 10,000.

Pergola Shares

Understand Platform Types & Goals

As Moz & BuzzSumo found in their study, links do not always correlate with shares. And shares on one platform do not always correlate with other platforms, e.g., Facebook Shares vs. Twitter Tweets.

Use Content Explorer to figure out what content fits your marketing goals. For example, if it’s a campaign to drive organic traffic, sort by links – not by overall shares.

Fun Hacks

Click-through to Author

On the Content Explorer results, you can click through to look at a specific writer. This is useful for tracking down guest post opportunities or finding freelance journalist who write at a range of publications.

Export Twitter Sharers

Also on the Content Explorer results, you can view & export people who have tweeted each piece of content in the last 7 days (the 7 days is to ensure you’re only getting people who remember Tweeting it – you can still get a larger export from Topsy). This opens up a whole new world of Twitter marketing opportunities.

Twitter Sharers

But the most immediate uses are to:

  • Create a custom audience for Twitter advertising. If you know they tweeted one piece of content on a topic, they are probably interested in another. I did this for a small giveaway experiment.
  • Create Twitter lists for manual outreach later. If you identify a few highly influential accounts, you can set them aside for further research and outreach.
  • Take the data and send it to one of the dozens of Twitter tools for analysis of personas, related interests, best time to tweet, related followers, etc.

*Note – I’ve found this feature to be amazing but still buggy.

View URL Data

Lastly in the Content Explorer results, there’s a little drop down that will show you detailed link data and the keywords that the content most likely ranks for. That data is invaluable for planning a well-rounded piece of content.

Content Data

Content Keywords

Keywords Explorer

Keywords Explorer is Ahrefs’ tool to pull and manipulate keywords generated in Google Search Autocomplete (aka type a keyword, hit space but not enter). For SEOs who know their tools, it’s like Ubersuggest or KeywordTool.io.

In November 2016, they launched a huge new revision called Keywords Explorer 2.0.

It’s the most useful keyword tool that I’ve seen yet. I’ll cover a few key ideas here, but I highly recommend reading their comprehensive introductory post to get a sense of all the definitions & features.

Key features

There’s one key feature to this tool: pulling a ton of keyword variations straight from the source. Google Autocomplete is one of the most useful keyword research tools because the variations not only give you longer-tail, more specific terms to target, but they also provide a window into user intent.

Ahrefs’ goes a step further and matches the keyword variations with search volume data from Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner. In that respect, it makes the tool similar to the paid version of KeywordTool.io…except for that it’s built into your Ahrefs subscription.

Here’s the catch though with Keywords Explorer – like Ubersuggest and KeywordTool.io, it relies on Google’s Autocomplete API. Google announced that they were going to discontinue public access on August 10th, 2015.

With the launch of Keywords Explorer 2.0 – Ahrefs pulls in ClickStream data. ClickStream data gets a little technical – if you are interested, you can learn more about it here. For our purposes, it’s sufficient to say that Ahrefs’ keyword data is accurate enough to make marketing decisions with.

In other words, don’t assume that the exact volumes are correct, but you can assume that they are accurate enough to decide what you should target & prioritize when choosing target keywords.

Thus far, all the tools seem to work accurately. What Ahrefs does with the tool after they no longer have access remains to be seen.

What You Can Do With Keyword Explorer

Either way, in the meantime, you can quickly do a lot of interesting keyword research all within Ahrefs. Take a broad keyword, and run it through Keyword Explorer to get a lot of useful variations on your broad keyword.

Do In-depth Keyword Research

Contemporary keyword research goes beyond finding search volume and modifiers (e.g. “blue winter gloves” has 1000 searches per month, and we should also mention “navy blue winter glove”, “light blue winter glove” on the page).

Those details are important. But more important now are understanding things like –

  • what broad topic is the keyword is a part of
  • what type of page the typical searcher wants to see
  • what lateral & complementary terms are relevant (e.g., “blue mittens”)
  • what type of site the searcher wants to see
  • what terms people also ask before and after that specific query
  • etc, etc, etc

This doesn’t mean that keyword research is difficult or mind-blowing. But it is usually tedious to do it correctly at scale.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer speeds up the process by integrating full SERPs, phrase match ideas, Parent Topic, Search Suggestions, and pages also rank for directly in the Dashboard.

Keywords Explorer Overview

Judge Keyword Difficulty

One of the toughest (and tedious) parts of keyword research is figuring out whether your website could rank for a certain theme of keywords.

There’s no sense investing in new content or high volume topic targeting if there’s no way that you can win. And even if you can compete – it’s critical to know what you’re going to need to compete (e.g., links to that page, answer box considerations, etc).

Judging keyword difficulty is a skill that is not necessarily complicated. It’s mostly just tedious. For non-SEOS, it requires pulling link data and really looking at each SERP. Veteran SEOs can quickly open up a SERP, scroll through and make a quick judgement call. But even that takes time when you are considering thousands of keyword opportunities.

The Keyword Difficulty score is extremely useful to make the “first cut” in your keyword research process. Ahrefs uses a 0 to 100 scale based on their link data to score what it would take to rank for a certain keyword. Ahrefs explains this metric here.

Within the Dashboard, use this feature heavily to sift & sort not only low-hanging fruit but also to create realistic content promotion strategy to get your content visible.

Keyword Difficulty

Estimate Return on Investment

Predicting a return on investment for SEO is notoriously difficult (and arguably impossible). But you have to have something to help prioritize opportunities – even if you can’t say exactly what those opportunities will bring.

Keywords Explorer’s number on Clicks, Return Rate and Clicks per Search are ballpark accurate enough to make these sorts of judgment calls.

With Return Rate and Clicks per Search – you can get a good snapshot of what kind of visibility and traffic levels you’ll get if you rank well for a specific keyword.

Fun Hacks

Find Guerrilla Keyword Angles

The biggest wins in keyword research are when you can make a “lateral” move to a relevant target keyword that is not competitive. I’ve written about how to use all sorts of tools from Google Correlate to Google Books to Wikipedia and more to find these golden nuggets of SEO.

I still use those sources – but Ahrefs makes these finds even easier & faster to find than ever before. You simply have to click to the right places and keep your eyes open.

Guerrilla Hacks

Find SERP Competitors

In SEO, you’ll often find that your industry competitors are not the same as your SERP competitors. And that’s an issue as you continue your search for broader & more in-depth keywords.

Enter Keyword Explorer’s Traffic Share feature. Search for a broad topic that you’re trying to compete in. You’ll get a full list of domains. Now you can take those domains and reverse engineer them for the best keyword opportunities.

Mining Keywords

Toss Broad Nets w/ Include & Exclude Features

This last “hack” is simple, but ridiculously powerful. Instead of searching for a keyword – search for a modifier.

Then use Ahrefs’ menu of include & exclude features to find very high volume keywords (then rank for them).

Broad Keyword

Ahrefs Tools

Ahrefs Labs is Ahrefs’ collection of apps that take Ahrefs’ data and put it into something useful. It includes Ahrefs’ API, the Link Intersect tool, the Domain Comparison tool and others.

Key Features

If you are trying to manipulate data at scale quickly, Ahrefs Labs is where to go. Most of the tools are either specific use, or are mentioned in Site Explorer.

The SEO Toolbar is useful to have installed on your browser, so that you can get a sense of marketing data as your browse the Internet. It’s a great way to get immersed in SEO/Social data and develop an intuitive sense of what matters on a webpage.

The SEO Toolbar also has a SERP overlay function that will pull data and overlay it on your Google Search Results Page.

The Ahrefs Top tool is interesting, but I’ve yet to find a good use for it.

Under Apps, I highly recommend Jon Cooper’s Link Miner app. If you are doing broken link building, it’s a must have. It syncs up with Ahrefs and pulls data straight to your broken link scan.

Next Steps

Ahrefs is fairly pricey, but it has a giant feature set. Like most marketing tools, its usefulness is only limited by your creativity and understanding of the feature set.

Approach Ahrefs with specific marketing goals in mind, and you’ll get a lot of value out of it. Be sure to use it as more than a backlink checker.

If you are curious about other marketing tools, here’s how I categorize the universe of Ahrefs’ competitors. They generally all specialize in 1 channel, but overlap with a secondary channel.

Ahrefs = Primarily SEO with Social components and some PPC data.

Moz = Primarily Analytics/Education with SEO and Social components.

SEMRush = Primarily PPC with SEO components.

BuzzSumo = Primarily Social with SEO components.

Majestic = Exclusively SEO with focus on penalty analysis. Great complement w/ Ahrefs.

SpyFu = Primarily PPC with SEO components.

Raven Tools = Primarily Analytics with SEO and Social components.

If you have any interesting Ahrefs hacks – tweet at me @nshivar

Fun quizzes for SEOs – 

What Superhero Represents Your Off-Page SEO Style?

What TV Character Represents Your Technical SEO Style?

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How To Plan A Local Business Marketing Strategy (for free!)

Local Business Marketing Strategy

I get a lot of hyper-specific local marketing questions, e.g. “should I get more links?” “how do I rank #1 on Google in my area?” or “I just launched website and want to try Twitter ads.” They are great in a way – I’m a huge fan of experimentation.

But most local store owners haven’t developed an effective inbound* marketing strategy at all. They miss the forest (how everything works together) for the trees (specific tactics) so to speak.

*Inbound = the industry jargon for marketing that focuses on being where your customers are so that they buy from you “naturally.” Inbound contrasts with outbound marketing, which focuses on finding, interrupting and cold pitching potential customers.

The exciting opportunity about local marketing is that even in major metros – few businesses have a consistent idea about what they are doing.

And unfortunately, the local agencies they hire either have no idea what they are doing either…or they remain focused on a single (billable) tactic.

So – if you are a local business owner and can take the time to develop a single comprehensive marketing strategy (don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as it sounds), you can take all in a winner-take-all-world of digital marketing for not that much money.

I’m going to outline the the exact inbound marketing strategy for local business that I recommend to every reader and client I’ve ever worked with. I’m focusing on local but 80% of this applies to every business (I even wrote a similar post for ecommerce here).

This post is 4400 words. It’s meant for reference as you tackle each part. The 5 step short version of the strategy is –

  1. Decide exactly who you are selling to (e.g., “hotel managers in the Charlotte metro region” or high-income women in Buckhead, Atlanta” or “people stranded in a grocery store parking lot around Los Angeles”).
  2. Build a website with Analytics enabled with pages that address problems & services your target market will need.
  3. Systematically claim & build out local profiles that your target market is likely to look at.
  4. Launch small ad campaigns on Google AdWords to get data & feedback on your site.
  5. Systematically build out new content & new promotional channels based on what you are good at & your market wants.

Definitions & Business Goals

Before you decide to do anything, you have to figure out what you have, what you want, and who you are going to market to.

This part of the strategy can be a big slowdown for people; so many action-oriented people immediately jump to trying stuff. That is true, but there’s a balance. It’s just as important to shoot in the right direction as it is to pull the trigger once you’re generally right.

There’s 3 things that you have to figure out. You can figure all of them out simultaneously or in any sequence, but you do have to have a general idea of your product offering, marketing personas and revenue goals. The good news is that the “local” part of your business makes this process simpler.

Product

What are you offering? What’s your brand? What do you have access to that’s different in any way?

Remember, you’re defining your product offering, not your grand life mission. Your product offering needs to be simple, clear and straightforward. Your offering should be something that is different in some way – ie, a competitor shouldn’t be able to copy + paste and be you.

If your sole offering is that you are the product provider at X address and not at Y address, that’s fine…but you should keep that in mind in your marketing. Your product is still competing for time and attention. For example, the only hot dog stand in Downtown is still competing with packed lunches from home. The only shoe store in the local mall is still competing with free shipping from Zappos.

Personas

Personas are the foundation of marketing and are simply process of developing a composite of your ideal customer. You can read very in-depth guides to personas or listen to episodes on personas but you can also keep it short, simple and straightforward (especially for local marketing).

Outline the wants, needs, likes, dislikes, habits, and information of someone you think would definitely buy your product offering. Outline where they hang out, what they read, who they pay attention to, etc.

Don’t just armchair imagine this. Ask potential customers what neighborhood they are from? What other shops do they visit? What local organizations do they volunteer with? What problems do they have that your business solves?

Make 2 to 4 very specific personas. Remember that your initial market is not your total market. Even if you start out by targeting a very specific geographic area or a very specific customer doesn’t mean that you can’t expand. It’ll just give you more focus.

Your initial target market/persona is simply your initial market. It’s small enough that you can effectively reach them but big enough that you can get some sales and feedback to polish your product and brand while rolling out to a bigger market. Nearly every business started this way – including famous local businesses. Shake Shack’s owners started by focusing on 5 minute walking area in New York. Zingerman’s Sandwiches started by focusing on college students in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Revenue

You have to put real money goals in place. Even if you feel like your budget is arbitrary…you still need a budget if only to give yourself some frame of reference. Outline all your product costs, profit margins, and what kind of marketing spend gives you a positive return. Here’s a more extensive post on “quant-based marketing.”

For local businesses based on leads, the data might be harder to collect. But some ballpark is better than nothing. If you can look at the last week’s inquiries and convert that to sales – that’s better than many businesses.

Website Structure, Analysis & Data

Now that you have an idea of what you are marketing, who you are marketing to, and how valuable that marketing is – it’s time to get a good digital foundation in place.

Some local businesses miss the days of Yellow Pages when local marketing was much simpler. And it was. However, the switch to digital research has become so complete that if you can navigate the foundation – you can go far beyond where you could have gone in the Yellow Pages days for far less money.

Like setting definitions and business goals, this part of the process can slow things down. But they don’t have to, as long as you keep the end goal in mind, which is:

To attract and accurately measure enough conversions (aka sales) to fund and improve your product offering, personas and revenue.

Setting Up Website

Even though you are selling in the physical world, you still need a solid website to do really well. If you are going super-lean, you can sell from a Facebook page or Yelp profile. But going without a decent looking website will put you behind the curve and place limitations on what you can do with your brand & marketing.

I recommend setting your own website up with a common, well known software like WordPress and hosting it on your own hosting account. I have a simple guide to doing that from scratch here.

That route will give you a good technical foundation with fast, simple setup. It will also allow you to implement a customized off the shelf design – “themes.” Themes allow you to have a website that looks good enough to make a sale without spending months and lots of money on a 100% custom design. Creating a website on something like WordPress also allows you to implement a 100% custom design when that time comes.

Setting Up Goals

The key part of setting up a website though is Analytics. There are a ton of options, but Google Analytics is the go-to solution (also – free).

If you are using WordPress, installing the Google Analytics plugin by Yoast will give you further flexibility to track clicks to call and more.

Click To Call for Local Phone Numbers

The key is to make sure you have goals setup. At minimum, have your contact form redirect to a Thank You page – and make the Thank You page a goal completion.

Thank You Page Goal Completion

Next, you should also link Google Analytics to Google AdWords and set up a retargeting audience with Google Analytics.

Then, you should set up a Facebook Ads account and place the Facebook pixel on your website. This will allow you to run retargeting campaigns on Facebook & track goals.

Then, be sure to add a Twitter retargeting pixel to your site.

*note all these are fairly simple if you are using WordPress and a theme like Genesis that makes adding code to the correct section simple.

Header Footer Editing in WordPress

Lastly, be sure to verify your website with both Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools to track any errors & improvements that you can make.

Setting Up Local Profiles

If you are in local marketing (at least in the USA), you know all about Yelp, Google My Business, etc.

In local marketing, those local directories serve a three fold purpose in your marketing strategy –

First, they can drive customers to your website & directly to your business. Many potential customers skip to their favorite local directory before Googling.

Second, those local directories rank very well for potential customers looking for a local/product service. Do a search for your local product/service. Half the search results are probably Yelp, Yellow Pages, UrbanSpoon, etc. If you are the “result within the result” – you get to piggyback on those directories’ marketing prowess.

Yelp Ranking

Third, Google & Bing use directory profiles (aka “citations”) as a factor in their local search algorithms. It is very hard for search engines to verify the existence & quality of a business in the physical world. So they use these directories as proxies for both existence & quality.

Aside – a great post on how Google is now using & serving up local data now that Google+ is gone.

So what do you do?

Manually claim, verify & fill out every. single. profile.

Yes – the process is tedious, repetitive and a bit maddening. But it’s how this piece of local marketing works. On the flip side – your time investment in getting these profiles right creates a large barrier to entry that many competitors simply aren’t willing to do.

Start with Google. You can get a full list of the most common local directories here. If you are a restaurant, keep in mind that there will be others (e.g., UrbanSpoon).

So what exactly are you doing with these profiles? A few things.

The most important item is to claim & verify the profile then edit it so that every single profile has the exact same Name, Address & Phone number (your “N.A.P.” in marketing jargon). There shouldn’t be a single comma difference among your profiles. Ideally, your public business name will be the same as the name on your government-issued business license.

Next, make sure the profile links to your website. Fill out every field as best you can. Write a detailed description of your business.

Don’t buy ads or promotions yet. Just get everything verified & filled out.

Don’t outsource this to an agency or service like Yext. It’s tempting to have a tool do it automatically, but (speaking from a lot of experience) it’s simply not worth it. At best, it won’t be done right & will take a very long time. At worst, you will lose control of your own business listings in the future.

*side note – if you have more than ~20 locations, then look solutions like Moz Local and SweetIQ in addition to Yext. They all have tradeoffs, but once you are over ~20 locations, then you do have to start looking at tools, especially for your non-Google profiles.

If you need to save time, get an intern, a college student or your agency’s account manager to come on-site next to the owner/decision-maker. Set up a spreadsheet, a phone and a computer and have them knock it out.

Setting Up Focused Pages

Next, you need to create high-quality focused pages on your website. In addition to your Home page, About page, and Privacy page, you need landing pages to address specific needs.

When I say “landing pages” – don’t think of anything too complex. I’m simply referring to pages that visitors can land on from a search engine or an ad and find exactly what they are looking for.

Because why? Here’s pro tip that few website owners will admit to: nobody cares about or even sees your homepage. Your homepage is for people who already know you who are. For local businesses in a single specific service, you can use it to “rank” for your main industry term. For example, if you are a florist, your homepage might be titled “Bella’s Flowers: Florist for Downtown Atlanta, GA”

Landing pages go beyond your homepage.

Landing pages are for new (or returning) visitors to land on and convert. Before you build out all your website pages, you should develop focused landing pages that sell to one or all of these buckets:

Service specific – These pages are all about the product benefit for who you are selling to. They should “target” a term that potential customers are searching for. Keeping with the florist example, you should have pages about “Floral Arrangements for Funerals in Atlanta, GA” and “Birthday Floral Arrangements for Atlanta, GA”

Each service landing page should have content addressing all your persona’s concerns (ie, delivery, process, options, etc).

Local / Logistics specific – These pages are all about the location service & logistics of obtaining your products & services. If you are a restaurant, think your menu page. If you are a service area business, think neighborhood pages that you serve. For everyone, think directions page.

These pages are tough to do well. If you have the same page with one word swapped out, they look spammy. And are generally not useful. Learn how to do them well with this guide. Build them out over time based on your priorities.

The goal here is to sell to people at the very bottom of the marketing funnel – the customers most likely to convert. These pages will both rank organically – and you can use them for paid ads.

Getting Traffic

Now – you have to get people to your website. And this is where a lot of people get way too detailed…way too fast. Why?

Because not all marketing channels operate at the same speed. They also all have different strengths and weaknesses. Think of all marketing channels in terms of complementing or supplementing each other instead of competing. It’s all about how you put it together.

For example, the US Navy’s main war-going unit is the Aircraft Carrier Group. But it’s not just made up of an aircraft carrier. Instead, it’s a grouping of different types of ships that all do different things at different speeds so that the whole group together is nearly invincible.

A lot of local business owners want to start with only SEO or with a fully fleshed out social strategy…usually because the clicks are nominally free. To keep to the analogy, that’s like sending your battleship and aircraft carrier to scout out for the rest of the group.

Not usually ideal. Battleships (aka SEO) and Aircraft Carriers (Social) take a while to get going and to turn. Save those until you know where you’re going. For SEO, if you have built out a few key landing pages with the right keywords and titles and have your local profiles set up, your SEO strategy is already in motion.

For social, treat it like a customer support channel and/or dedicate minimal time to it until you have enough traffic to figure out what works.

Start with channels that can speed up, slow down and change direction at will. That means 2 things: direct outreach and paid traffic.

Direct Outreach

I call this channel direct outreach, but other people would call it “just hustlin’”. This channel consists of all the tedious and tough pitching that you know you need to do…but don’t want to do.

This means emailing and Facebook messaging people that you know might be interested. And sending them to your landing pages to buy or subscribe to an email list (for discounts, etc).

It means looking in your immediate area or niche social networks like NextDoor to see if there’s any way you can help neighbors (who are already fans) help you.

Paid Search Traffic

Yes, “inbound marketing” is usually associated with getting people to your website for “free.”

But I think search marketing is a bit of an exception. You are doing inbound marketing – being where your customers are when they are interested in buying – but you are just paying Google to be at the front of the line.

AdWords can be expensive for a good return on investment, especially for the close to converting keywords that you should try to buy. But your goal is slightly different.

You are buying data. Lots of data. And spending some money to acquire this data is a lot more effective than spending tons on an local content strategy right out of the gate.

Plus, if you run a well-structured, hyper-local campaign (remember those focused landing pages?), you can run a very cost-effective local campaign.

You should be doing a few things with your new traffic.

  • Look at what keywords are driving sales. AdWords gives you this information. Try using modified broad match for your keywords. Many times customers are using a wider variety of keywords than you’d guess.
  • Run your ads very focused on geography. If you have a landing page for a neighborhood, set up a campaign for that area.
  • Look at what landing pages are driving sales & calls.
  • Look at what areas are driving sales.
  • Test ad copy and figure out the right messaging. You can use this data to inform any print or display campaigns.
  • Test things like free coupons, events and offers in ad copy.
  • Testing related products to try to increase average order value.
  • Set up Google retargeting campaigns – not generic “buy, buy, buy” campaigns but interesting retargeting ads that you can afford to do when your traffic is small. Think retargeting repeat customers for a review. Think neighborhood specific coupons.
  • Set up Facebook retargeting campaigns – again, you can do some very interesting things with Facebook including all the same ideas for Google, but more focused.
  • Remember that you can setup retargeting cookies to last up to 540 days. That’s more than a year. If you have a long repeat sales cycle, you can bring back repeat customers every year.
  • These retargeting campaigns are all with people who have come to your website & are familiar with your brand. They’ve heard of you.

Now that you have some sales and some data, you should have some sense about where to head next. You can move to Organic Search – or keep moving with more paid options.

Other Paid Options

Facebook – you can run hyper-targeted local campaigns. Pair that with persona data, and you can end up paying very little per click for an extremely targeted ad. Facebook can put Yellow Pages and traditional advertising to shame.

Twitter – Like Facebook, Twitter can put traditional advertising to shame when it comes to hyper-local targeting options.

Google Display (w/ click to call) – Most top publishers run some ads brokered by Google. This means that you can test advertising on local publishers on a cost per click basis. You can even pair it with a click to call option.

If you aren’t sure about budgeting, options & time – move to organic search.

Organic Search (SEO) Traffic

Organic traffic (SEO) still might not be the best next channel to pursue after paid traffic.

And yet, most website owners do have a strong sense of the sheer volume of traffic that Google organic search can drive. For most, a successful SEO campaign would be a huge win. They just need to execute in the right context.

Google processes 4 billion queries with local intent per month. And for most queries, more than 80% of the clicks go to an organic result. And you’ll know from your AdWords campaigns that clicks for commercial keywords can be quite expensive. That’s a cost you don’t have to pay if you rank in the organic results.

So I won’t hide my enthusiasm for SEO. It’s my specialty and is the giant battleship that will keep on going once it’s headed in the right direction.

When you are setting your local inbound marketing strategy, you just have to know what it takes to get organic traffic and what it will take on your part to get it done.

SEO boils down to 3 components:

The first component is technical SEO.

Technical SEO is all about ensuring that Google/Bing bots can crawl and index your website effectively. It’s about making sure you’re not generating tons of duplicate content.

The good news is that if you are using WordPress or an HTML-based website builder (aka not Flash or Wix), you have the big barriers taken care of.

If you are already using a different platform, a technical audit might be the SEO item worth paying for. Mentioning a “stand-alone technical audit with recommendations” to an SEO expert can be valuable if you’re on a custom built site. Just don’t let them sell you on “ranking #1 tomorrow!”

If you are running WordPress, install WordPress SEO by Yoast and run through my guide for using it effectively.

As mentioned earlier, you should have Google Webmaster Tools verified. It will tell you if you have any major problems.

The second component of SEO – on-page content and optimization – is all about “targeting” the right keywords and ensuring that your website is laid out in a coherent way that is understandable by search engines and users browsing your website.

I wrote about the concept of keyword mapping and some basic on-page SEO concepts (like title tags and meta descriptions) previously.

For local marketing, there are a ton of different pieces of content that can bring in visitors. Your early focus should be on your focused landing pages. But there’s nearly unlimited potential to “localize” questions & answers about your products and services.

The idea here is to take pre-qualified content ideas and put a local spin on it. You will stand out if you put some research and thought into it.

Your content should bring in new people AND support sales. Don’t create keyword-stuffed content that won’t help customers on your website make a decision. Make the authoritative content that addresses problems, questions, etc of your market.

The great part about creating the best content is that it will naturally drive the third component of SEO – off-page factors.

Search engines use off-page factors as 3rd party endorsements to judge quality and relevance (aka to rank your site higher).

In local marketing, there are three distinct sets of off-page factors – customer reviews, local citations & links.

Getting Customer Reviews

Reviews on your local profiles are important. They are also incredibly hard to get. There are dozens of ideas on getting more reviews – from review handout packets to email follow-ups to retargeting ads.

However, many successful businesses that I’ve seen stick to the “hard way.” That is – doing an incredibly good job; going above and beyond for every customer; and when the time is right, making a sincere, specific ask from a that single customer.

Getting customer reviews is hard – but it’s equally hard for everyone. And every review that you get is an asset that you get to keep. It’s like building a moat around your local market share.

Getting Local Citations

Local citations are 3rd party mentions of your Name, Address & Phone Number. Most citations will occur in the local listing profiles that you’ve already claimed. However, they also occur outside of the typical local listing directories. Search engines look at these citations to verify that you are who you say you are in the physical world.

Your goal with citations is to make sure you have as many consistent citations as possible. If your name is listed somewhere, then it should likely include your phone number and address. If your phone number is somewhere, then it should include your business name – etc.

The simplest way to research citations is to do Google searches for your Name, Address and Phone Number separately. Look at all the results. Do email outreach to have them fixed.

There are also some tools such as WhiteSpark and Places Scout that can help speed the process.

Getting Links

Sketchy links, the type that you buy for $5, can actually harm you. However, quality links placed on a related or well-known website are the primary factor for getting better visibility in search results.

There are a lot of ways to get local links. But the best ways that I’ve found for local businesses are:

  1. Working closely with organizations, partners, events & complementary businesses to get a recommendation or sponsorship. If you are part of the Downtown Business Association, be sure to get the link that you are probably supposed to get.
  2. Hustle PR promotion – Local press is almost always looking for a good story. Take steps to establish a working relationship with the local press. Don’t focus on pitching your business. Focus on being a reliable source & providing good stories. Think back to localizing content…where you get to be the source.

Social & Reputation Management

If SEO is your giant battleship, I think of social as your aircraft carrier. It’s easy to burn a lot of energy flying planes for no reason, but nothing gives you a tactical edge and far reach like your aircraft.

Social media experts make social out to be rocket science. It’s really not. Unless you’ve started a business that you know nothing about…then you should know where your audience hangs out.

And if you know where your audience hangs out, don’t think that you have to be 110% present on every single social network. The key to social media is having direct interactions where you build relationships and learn more about your audience.

Claim and put your branding across all the various social networks, but choose the one or two that will generate an outsize impact on sales, links, and awareness (for local it’s usually Facebook).

Learn how to setup & automate the other profiles so that you have a presence even if you aren’t interacting directly. Many times customers see fully built out social profiles as evidence of legitimacy.

Don’t forget that many local directories have a social element as well. Respond to reviews – especially negative ones. Prove to prospective customers that you do actually listen.

Next Steps

That’s the local business marketing strategy that I’d work on for nearly any local business. It’s a long post, but it’s a plan that you can implement quickly.

Immediate next steps – start defining your product offering, personas, and revenue goals. Then break the rest into small, achievable steps that you can work on.

Check out Moz’s Local Marketing Options for more ideas.

h/t to Jeremiah Smith’s piece and Noah Kagan’s piece that provided inspiration and resources for this.

Image Courtesy EZ Dent

The post How To Plan A Local Business Marketing Strategy (for free!) appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Using WordPress Category & Tag Pages for Search engine optimization

WordPress Categories &amp Tags

One amazing, but undervalued, feature of WordPress are Category and Tag pages. If you write a brand new publish, you can include that publish to some category or tag the publish.

Whenever you add you publish towards the category/tag, WordPress creates accurate documentation of all of the posts for the reason that category or with this tag. You’ll find them under Posts &#8211&gt Tag or Posts &#8211&gt Category around the WordPress Dashboard.

These category and tag pages are blank and just a summary of posts automatically. For individuals browsing your website, they may be helpful should you&#8217re in line with your categorization &amp tagging&#8230but for anybody unfamiliar with your website, they may be pretty useless.

Actually, for those who have plenty of random groups and tags &#8211 it can produce a poorOrreplicate content issue &amp appear spammy to look engines. Within my publish regarding how to use Yoast&#8217s WordPress Search engine optimization wordpress plugin, I suggested NOINDEX, FOLLOW category &amp tag pages to avoid any Search engine optimization-related penalties (ie, that informs search engines like google to click on for your posts, although not for everyone them searching results).

But category &amp tag pages is really so a lot more for your potential customers &amp search engines like google. And extremely, they simply take some completely unique content explaining the course or tag. Here&#8217s why you need to build your category &amp tag pages &#8211 and how to make use of WordPress category &amp tag pages for Search engine optimization&#8230

Why You Need To Build Out Category &amp Tag Pages

Which page you think more helpful?

WordPress Category Page with Content

Or&#8230

Unoptimized WordPress Category Pages

Explains Groups &amp Tags to Readers

Before searching at Search engine optimization implications, consider yourself like a new readers on the blog you happened upon &#8211 let&#8217s say its a do it yourself Plumbing blog. You&#8217re keen on the publish to read through &#8211 and also you want more. Exactly what do you read next?

The thing is a huge tag cloud within the sidebar with &#8220Faucets&#8221 as you. You&#8217re outfitting your bathrooms, which means you click. There&#8217s a summary of apparently random posts &#8211 that kind of seem sensible&#8230but not necessarily. All of the posts mention Faucets&#8230but you don&#8217t understand precisely what may be here or on-page 2. Which means you leave.

That&#8217s the default behavior of WordPress &#8211 and frequently the tags simply seem sensible towards the author, and not the readers. But if there have been some content &#8211 perhaps a Faucet overview with that page with a few finest blog hits, and content explaining the writer&#8217s thinking and method of posts associated with faucets&#8230the page might have made much more sense towards the readers.

Helps Search Engines Like Google Understand Context

Putting concepts in context could be useful for humans (see previous point), but it’s essential for search engines like google. Despite the fact that Googlebot can parse context &amp semantics &#8211 coaching the formula always helps the procedure along.

Searching at what pages connect to other pages helps Googlebot know very well what each publish is really about. Which&#8217s a job your category &amp tag pages can enjoy. They previously connect to relevant posts, if you can also add completely unique content that can help Google comprehend the category they’re linked from&#8230it can help your individual posts.

How Googlebot Can Use WordPress Categories &amp Tags

For instance, suppose that in your plumbing blog, you’ve got a publish on installing a sillcock on the brick wall. Now, a sillcock is plumbing jargon to have an outside faucet. Humans might grasp that rapidly having a picture&#8230but a internet search engine may not be 100% confident that your publish should rank well for &#8220how to set up a faucet on the brick wall.&#8221 However, should you have had a Faucets category page with completely unique content&#8230and you from the sillcock publish, that link will be a helpful signal search engines like google can use to parse the context &amp relevance of the sillcock publish.

More Prone To Rank well for Broad Searches

Ranking for broad terms is really a particular problem for blogs. Every individual publish is generally in regards to a specific subject that may rank well for specific keywords, however it rarely is sensible to possess a publish of posts targeting an extensive term. For instance, this publish is really a WordPress tutorial, but it’ll never come in search engines like google if somebody searches &#8220wordpress tutorials&#8221 since they’re searching for any list of helpful WordPress tutorials.

Now, I possibly could produce a page about my WordPress tutorials and connect to every one I write. I&#8217d need to update it each time I authored a replacement, also it&#8217d rapidly be a discomfort. OR&#8230 I possibly could use my WordPress category to focus on that broad term. I&#8217ve got plenty of tutorials &#8211 also it&#8217d make total sense to simply add content to that particular page, and then try to have it to position when individuals look for variations of &#8220wordpress tutorials.&#8221

Which means you&#8217re offered on spending some time building your category &amp tag pages. However, automatically, individuals pages are pretty useless. Here&#8217s how you can incorperate your amazing happy to all of individuals pages.

How You Can Add Happy to Category &amp Tag Pages

Before you decide to spend some time writing for your groups &amp tag pages:

  • Spend some time really organizing them and ensuring they create sense. It&#8217s very simple to at random add tags &amp groups which can produce a rat&#8217s nest of confusion for everybody.
  • That you can do either groups or tags or both, or individual groups &#8211 or all things in between. Don&#8217t get overwhelmed thinking you need to do everything at the same time.

Enable Displaying Content on Category &amp Tag Pages

There are many ways to achieve this &#8211 listed here are my top picks so as of simplicity.

Option 1: Via Theme Settings

Plenty of styles permit you to enable archive page content within their settings &#8211 or just get it built-in automatically. The theme framework I personally use &#8211 Genesis by StudioPress makes this very easy.

Before you need to do other things, look at your theme settings. Or simply visit Posts &#8211&gt Groups &#8211&gt Edit and try to add content &amp save.

Protip: WordPress includes a description field automatically, and a few styles use that to drag the on-page content. Complete it, save, and find out contrary seems in your category page.

Genesis Category Page Settings

However this setting isn’t restricted to Genesis &#8211 it&#8217s present in an array of styles. Before you decide to use a wordpress plugin, browse around your theme settings or go edit your Category page to find out if content could be joined that turns up around the page.

Option 2: Via WordPress plugin

WordPress plugins are pretty simple to install. And WP Custom Category Pages is easy and lightweight to make use of. Searching for this in Plugins &#8211&gt Install. Once you do the installation, you can check out the course of your liking to edit, enable content within the drop-lower after which write your articles within the box.

WP Custom Category Content

Option 3: Via Category.php

Should you aren&#8217t scared of messing with PHP (and when you don&#8217t understand what PHP is, then skip this method), you’ll be able to also just give a line for your category.php (or archive.php) file to allow content joined within the default description field.

&lt?php echo category_description( $category_id ) ?&gt

You’ll find additional tips &amp methods with PHP over at WPMUdev.

Write Completely Unique Content

You can now navigate to Posts &#8211&gt Groups or Tags, pick a specific category or tag, search for the information box, and supply completely unique content that provides an introduction to the page. Take a look at my Search engine optimization category to determine a good example of the way it looks within my theme.

Use Yoast Search engine optimization to Optimize

Next, you ought to have WordPress Search engine optimization by Yoast installed and configured. Within my original Yoast tutorial, I suggested hiding the meta box and examining the NOINDEX, FOLLOW box under Titles &amp Metas &#8211&gt Taxonomy settings since category &amp tag pages are thin pages automatically.

Now that they’re helpful and relevant &#8211 uncheck both individuals boxes to ensure that search engines like google will begin indexing the page and serving it for relevant searches. Also, unhide the meta box to be able to go back to edit a particular category or tag and write a distinctive title tag and unique meta description.

Yoast Category SEO Settings

Next Steps

Building your category &amp tag pages is really a win for the visitors in your website, for search engines like google, as well as for new visitors who come across your website via search.

Begin by going for a hard review your tags &amp groups. Get them organized around topics that you simply consistently talk about, and find out should there be any apparent possibilities to show the category or tag pages directly into archives.

Next, enable quite happy with either your theme, wordpress plugin, or editing the PHP. Add unique detailed, descriptive content then optimize it with WordPress Search engine optimization by Yoast.

For those who have any queries, comments or suggestions &#8211 tell me below or via email when the comments have instantly closed.

The publish Using WordPress Category &#038 Tag Pages for Search engine optimization made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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Volusion Review: Pros & Cons of utilizing Volusion for Ecommerce

Volusion is among the leading located ecommerce platforms. They concentrate on supplying a complete toolkit for ecommerce proprietors who would like a located solutions. Their features lean for the operational side of the ecommerce store (ie, inventory management, customer managment, etc) over marketing-brought features.

There are plenty of Volusion reviews online &#8211 usually with user-generated reviews according to anecdotes and private experience. That&#8217s fine however i have a different approach. Like every option, it&#8217s likely to possess some pros and a few cons and can really come lower to whether it&#8217s a great fit for the specific business. Within this Volusion review, I&#8217ll concentrate on 6 pros and 6 cons which will most likely most affect your decision.

Get Volusion&#8217s free trial offer here.

Editor&#8217s Note &#8211 This review was initially printed in November 2014. It&#8217s been upgraded throughout by Feb 2017.

However &#8211 a fast summary of theonline store software landscape. Like I covered within my selecting a web-based store platform publish, ecommerce platforms exist on the spectrum with many different technical factors that may have as big of the effect on your web business as the store type &amp location can within the physical retail world.

Although the technical factors aren&#8217t as immediately associated with your ability to succeed as sales, service &amp product &#8211 it may be the variable that can help or hinders your daily and particularly lengthy-term growth. That stated, much like selecting a particular location leasing versus. owning or going mall versus. solo storefront within the physical world &#8211 there&#8217s no &#8220top&#8221 or &#8220best&#8221 choice. There&#8217s just the choice which makes probably the most sense given your financial allowance, expertise, conditions and goals.

Around the spectrum of search engine optimization, Volusion endures the finish that’s all-inclusive and offers all you need to start, run &amp increase your online shop while supplying your personal online &#8220space&#8221 that you simply control and may personalize.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

It&#8217s as opposed to solutions in which you buy, install, manage but wholly own different bits of why is your store your store (think obtaining a server &amp installing WooCommerce or Magento). As well as contrast to platforms that in which you only have an inventory within their space rather of the store of your (think eBay, Amazon or Etsy).

Using Volusion is kind of like leasing an outlet having the ability to personalize your store the way you like. You control everything business-wise like sales, marketing and merchandising however, you leave the plumbing, security, construction and maintenance towards the landlord.

Aside &#8211 I built a whole Buzzfeed-style ecommerce platform quiz to mirror each one of these factors.

Volusion (see Volusion plans here) mainly competes using the other two big located ecommerce platforms:

  • Shopify: See their plans here and my Shopify review here
  • BigCommerce: See their plans here and my BigCommerce review here

And Volusion competes not directly with non-turn-key options like WordPress + WooCommerce (observe how to put together here) and Magento. Let&#8217s take a look at Volusion pros &amp cons overall however with a tilt towards their direct competitors.

Quick aside &amp disclosure &#8211 I recieve customer referral charges from the companies pointed out within this publish. My opinions derive from my experience and research like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Pros of Volusion

Listed here are the factors which i believe are a benefit towards the Volusion platform according to my experience.

Built-in Education &amp Services

When I pointed out within my BigCommerce review, there&#8217s an abundance whatsoever of methods to guides, e-books, courses, and newsletters that will help you run your web store. And there’s no lack of freelancers, design agencies, and specialists who can sort out design, development or marketing.

Normally the real issue is curation and specialization &#8211 researching information which applies particularly for your store can be difficult to locate. You will probably find some good Search engine optimization or Facebook store advice, however it&#8217ll be very difficult to really implement in your [name your platform] store. Finding and vetting a freelancer discussion your store&#8217s platform could be even tougher (and much more costly when you purchase the incorrect one).

Utilizing a company which has built-in on-boarding materials and experienced account specialists can certainly justify the additional price of utilizing a platform, which&#8217s a place where Volusion really excels. They are doing the shop setup email sequence and knowledgebase similar to BigCommerce and Shopify.

Volusion Support

But Volusion goes one step further using their account specialists &#8211 they have a direct curiosity about your store and becoming it setup right. Even stores in a smaller sized cost point appear to obtain some attention.

Volusion also does something a little different with expertise that is one huge disadvantage &#8211 as well as the advantage of the doubt, we&#8217ll address it like a pro. That pro is they provide professional service directly through Volusion to assist with everything else from design to Search engine optimization to PPC shopping feeds.

Since things are provided through Volusion (and never not directly via freelancers like Shopify&#8217s Expert directory), you will know they are fully aware everything about supplying that service around the Volusion platform.

Volusion Design Services

Now, that may be easily a spot to upsell customers, but it is also a useful arrangement &#8211 kind of like Ikea where one can purchase the furniture and do-it-yourself or simply outlay cash to get it done. Should you&#8217re the kind of person who hates upsells, then this is a large disadvantage, but otherwise the choice as well as the well-done education is really a solid pro for implementing Volusion.

Customer Care &amp Onboarding

Customer care is among the toughest things to check out when reviewing a business. Merely a company can tell its internal culture and just how it treats customer support. Any comments or ratings that you simply see will just trend towards the extremes (ie, either naively positive or absurdly negative).

To try and work out how a business views customer support, I attempt to check out such things as availability, quantity of channels, and just how they solve the &#8220onboarding&#8221 problem (ie, will they solve potential challenges before they become problems).

Here&#8217s the first onboarding email that you will get from Volusion at register &#8211

Volusion Onboarding

Volusion offers support via phone, email, chat, ticket system, etc 24/7. In my opinion, they&#8217ve been awesome and incredibly responsive. They appear to possess invested a great deal in worldwide phone lines, their knowledgebase and chat software.

Their customer support doesn&#8217t stick out above BigCommerce or Shopify. But &#8211 most significantly &#8211 the 24/7 customer support is a big pro versus. hosting and piecing together your personal ecommerce site in which you don&#8217t have dedicated customer support. It&#8217s kind of like having a physical store inside a mall with 24/7 plumbing available versus. an outlet you build, own &amp operate that may get flooded should you burst a pipe. And also, since Volusion helps with their platform &#8211 they are more inclined to have the ability to solve the main issue.

Volusion Support

This time really segues nicely in to the next pro of utilizing Volusion &#8211 speed &amp security.

Speed and Security

If you’re building your personal store by yourself hosting account (ie with WordPress &amp WooCommerce), 2 of the very most challenging issues is going to be making your website fast and which makes it bulletproof secure.

Like I pointed out both in my Shopify and BigCommerce review, speed is very essential in ecommerce. Customers only have no persistence awaiting a webpage to load. Comprehensives research points that conversions plummet when you are getting in to the 4ish second page load time.

It&#8217s essential that Google really built it to their search formula. And becoming speed right online with a lot of graphics along with a large database (as all ecommerce stores have) could be tricky should you don&#8217t know where or how you can look. By utilizing Volusion being an ecommerce platform, your store is located on their own servers that are particularly enhanced to operate your website rapidly. This is actually the speed test using my Volusion development site:

Volusion Speed

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This pro comes with a caveat that neither BigCommerce nor Shopify has. Volusion caps the bandwidth (eg, the information transferred in the server for your customer&#8217s browser) that come and continue your bank account &#8211 even around the premium plans. For those who have large store on Volusion with a lot of traffic, then you’ll have to enter into the tricky speed optimizations anyway (ie, using CDNs, etc) if perhaps to reduce Volusion bandwidth usage.

Security is another related issue to hurry because it&#8217s something which is prime to managing a modern ecommerce store. You can’t accept charge cards unless of course your internet site is secure. There are many methods to delegate the safety to PayPal, or a variety of providers but to simply accept and process cards in your site together with your credit card merchant account &#8211 you need a safe and secure setup.

Volusion makes that provision by requiring a set up of the SSL certificate. Their setup is different from BigCommerce and Shopify &#8211 who provide shared, built-in SSL certificates for those their stores whereas Volusion helps make the SSL unique for you.

It&#8217s an additional fee (that will come into cons later), but it is also a professional because you own the SSL and checkout is going on completely in your domain rather of Shopify.com or BigCommerce.com.

Volusion provides you with additional control over your security and checkout while which makes it simple to apply and providing support to make sure your security is definitely set properly.

Intuitive Dashboard

When you’re first establishing your store on any platform, it may be frustrating to determine wherever things are. Lots of platforms &amp CMS&#8217s their very own lingo and different layout (like WordPress&#8217 Dashboard).

Volusion Dashboard

Volusion isn&#8217t the best for this, however they will have a towards an intuitive interface, thoughtful navigation and simple setup. The backend design continues to be lately updated. The actual interface is solid and simple enough for novices to make use of, however with enough choices for mid to large size ecommerce operations.

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Integrated Marketing Features

No ecommerce feature matters when the store can&#8217t drive sales. While your online marketing strategy matters greater than the various tools, getting a proven method is important.

There’s a couple of new ways to supply the numerous marketing tools to online storeowners. Shopify likes to accept &#8220app&#8221 approach where they build within the essential features, however require online storeowner to include the characteristics heOrshe really needs. BigCommerce loves to provide everything on this page &#8211 fully integrated. Which&#8217s the approach that Volusion takes too.

Volusion Marketing Options

Volusion doesn’t have each and every marketing feature that you desire, however they have most &#8211 and they’re seamlessly built-into the woking platform.

I won&#8217t dive deep on every feature, and can look carefully in their Search engine optimization toolkit.

Volusion is definitely an ASP-based platform. That’s development jargon for which programming framework the program is made on. And normally I wouldn&#8217t call that out aside from the truth that anybody that has labored in Search engine optimization for some time recognizes that ASP usually produces websites very unfriendly for Search engine optimization.

But, that isn&#8217t the situation for Volusion. It’s some Search engine optimization risks to prevent (especially duplicate homepages and incorrectly implemented HTTPS redirects), but overall Volusion includes a robust Search engine optimization set of features and it is technically solid as they are.

Volusion SEO Options

There&#8217s built-in fields for simple meta implementation, content boxes on category pages, XML sitemaps, and canonicalization options. It&#8217s not far above Shopify and BigCommerce &#8211 but it’s solid enough to become a strong pro for Volusion (especially when compared with a lot of other available choices with a lot of Search engine optimization problems like Magento).

Volusion SEO Instructions

There’s one caveat to think about with regards to hiring Volusion&#8217s ongoing Search engine optimization services &#8211 they (not their located stores though) happen to be penalized by Google for link manipulation.

The majority of Volusion&#8217s marketing features overlap with Search engine optimization &#8211 well-considered and fully integrated. But &#8211 that does assume they have the marketing feature, that is something I&#8217ll cover within the cons section.

Ecommerce Operations Features

Ahh inventory management. Administrative tasks. Crm. SKU tagging, warehouse communications, shipping and logistics. It&#8217s the boring backend of the store, but really kind of the reason behind its existence. When you can&#8217t possess a store without marketing &amp sales &#8211 companies are actually created to last with operations.

It is really an area where Volusion really excels for me. The things they lack when compared with competitors in marketing features, they create up here.

Actually, this pro really implies that Volusion is made for storeowners who’ve a complete presence both on and offline &#8211 who do retail instead of &#8220running a web-based store.&#8221

Volusion takes proper care of small things like product option updates &#8211

Volusion Updating Options

And larger such things as getting built-so as type functionality.

Ordering Types

Volusion also offers intuitive administrative controls for ecommerce stores with multiple employees and different responsibilities.

Volusion Admin Control

Inventory abilities are simple to access and integrated well in to the platform. It syncs across other platforms (like Amazon . com, eBay, etc) with no application.

Volusion eBay Linking

Volusion Amazon Integration

And there are many other operations style features, but when compared with BigCommerce and Shopify &#8211 Volusion includes a strength there.

Cons of Volusion

Listed here are the disadvantages which i&#8217ve found with Volusion.

Prices

It may really difficult to compare all of the prices factors for any new online shop &#8211 regardless of what kind of solution you select. But of all-inclusive ecommerce platforms like Volusion, it may be maddening to determine what cost comes even close to what since nobody&#8217s tiers align whatsoever. Here&#8217s the way i bust out the prices to try and compare apples to apples.

First, your monthly cost. This is actually the sticker cost you have to pay for any certain group of features. It’s a specific item on prices pages. Volusion&#8217s plans begin a $15/mo and increase to $135/mo.

Second, your platform transaction charges. Some intentions of all platforms charges you a transaction fee on every purchase (above charge card processing charges). Volusion does not charge transaction charges.

Third, your charge card charges. These was once pretty standardized, however more platforms like Volusion, Shopify and BigCommerce are establishing their very own charge card processing. These charges visits the charge card companies regardless, so any discount or versatility here will be a win &#8211 but nonetheless something to plan for.

4th, your add-on charges &amp exclusions. El born area is what you truly have to check out. Whether or not this&#8217s the price of add-on apps, bandwidth charges, or even the exclusion of key features, these charges can definitely impact your &#8220walking out of the door cost.&#8221

Here&#8217s how Volusion compares on every when compared with direct competitors.

Monthly prices &#8211 Volusion is extremely competitive at the very top and bottom tiers. In the centre tiers, they cap products and don&#8217t start adding some features versus. competitors. The center tiers could be competitive or otherwise based on for those who have lots of products or intend on using individuals features (particularly Amazon . com/eBay).

Transaction charges &#8211 Volusion doesn’t do transaction charges on any tier. Big plus to think about.

Charge card charges &#8211 Volusion provides a service known as Volusion payments with low processing charges (as good as Shopify) additionally to integrating along with other processors. All set here.

Add-on charges &#8211 And&#8230this is how Volusion really falls lower. They perform a couple of not necessarily awesome things. To begin, they cap your bandwidth (even at top tiers). Bandwidth with just how much data could be transferred between Volusion&#8217s server as well as your customer&#8217s browser. When you review your bandwidth&#8230you get billed for overages.

For many websites that wouldn’t be a problem, however for ecommerce websites (that have plenty of images, products, etc) it’s really a huge concern. Plus staying away from bandwidth overages results in integrating with increased complex solutions like CDNs which have a price and expertise to cope with. Other competitors offer limitless storage and limitless bandwidth.

Further, Volusion mandates that you buy an SSL certificate for on-site charge card processing &#8211 these usually run at $100 each year. It features a benefit as your full checkout happens in your domain and never, say, Shopify.com (which supplies free, shared SSL certificates) &#8211 however it does give a it for your fee every month as well as your &#8220walking out of the door cost.&#8221

Volusion Fees

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Lastly, Volusion has past hitting retailers with random charges. In 2013, they billed retailers having a $25 PCI compliance fee. Until very lately (and just once they were penalized by Google for link manipulation), they accustomed to charge $20 to achieve the &#8220powered by Volusion.com&#8221 link taken off your store&#8217s footer. Nothing huge &#8211 and surely an indication of too little cost transparency.

Blog, CMS &amp Analytics Set Of Features

For many online retailers, your site begins and finish together with your store catalog. However for others, your catalog is just area of the full website experience you need to offer &#8211 whether or not this&#8217s custom pages, content types or perhaps a built-in blogging solution.

And on a single theme, more often than not a fundamental install of Google Analytics is okay. However for others, adding conversion pixels, tweaking the analytics code or making edits is essential.

Regrettably, Volusion really falls lower around the latter issues. Not too competitors like BigCommerce or Shopify have world-altering cms or built-in blog setups, but a minimum of they’ve them available. Volusion doesn&#8217t have the choices available.

Volusion CMS

And even though you go the suboptimal route of getting your blog.yourstore.com with WordPress/Drupal/etc for any CMS (or getting your Volusion setup at store.yourwebsite.com) &#8211 Volusion still falls flat on easy analytics implementation. It needs to be hard-coded out of all page templates rather of adding a snippet to some &lthead&gt or &ltfooter&gt section. If you’re awesome with hacking with code &#8211 it&#8217s fine, but otherwise it&#8217s a significant disadvantage.

This can be a big illustration of marketing features that merely aren&#8217t area of the platform. You will find others &#8211 which rely on what specific solutions you already use &#8211 but suffice to state, it&#8217s worth searching having a trial to try to obtain the features you would like within the platform.

Mobile Site Setup

Or no business owner understands any online trend, it&#8217s the shift to mobile. Individuals are browsing and purchasing on from their iPhone 6 for their HTC Someone to their Android Tablet for their Universe Note for their PC Desktop.

Volusion stores possess a built-in mobile site, that is fine, with the exception that it&#8217s a mobile site &#8211 not really a responsive form of your site.

It may sound just like a small difference, but in my opinion it&#8217s a significant disadvantage. A mobile site implies that your clients are redirected to some m.yourstore.com out of your world wide web.yourstore.com. Sure, they obtain a custom experience, however it&#8217s completely different than your own personal store experience. Furthermore, the mobile website is only triggered by display size. There&#8217s no among sizing for that Notes, iPads, and tablets around the globe. Your store is gorgeous around the iPhone or on the desktop &#8211 but bad on other things.

The net has gone to live in responsive design because the best practice by far &#8211 also it&#8217s something which Volusion is still building to their platform

Design Options

Playing from the mobile site disadvantage, Volusion&#8217s entire design features will also be very restricting. The down-side of Volusion begins with a limited limited, but growing (thoug costly) template store.

Design Templates

Unlike other competitors, Volusion&#8217s templates are hard-coded and placed in a tough to browse file structure. It&#8217s fine to edit for those who have strong CSS or HTML skills, however it&#8217s not really a healthy for any solo DIYer (or someone attempting to click and tweak HTML). Unlike competitors like Shopify &#8211 they don&#8217t have drag to compensate for the possible lack of templates.

Volusion Templates

For any self-serve platform, I&#8217d want to see an simpler design editing interface.

third party Apps &amp Extensions

When I pointed out within my Shopify &amp BigCommerce Review, your store will evolve and alter with time. Whatever platform you select shouldn’t have only the set of features you’ll need in advance, but additionally afterwards. Shopify solves this problem having a huge add-on application store. BigCommerce also offers an application store, but additionally has a lot of built-in functionality.

Volusion doesn&#8217t genuinely have that expansion capacity. They’re certainly expanding the set of features, but there&#8217s no strong application store or giant listing of amazing features (see blog for example). Volusion includes a set of features to begin your store, but absolutely nothing to add-on and adapt. There&#8217s capacity for developers to construct onto it, however, that&#8217s not optimal for any solo DIYer or perhaps a small store that’s selecting an exciting inclusive platform particularly to prevent developer charges.

Easy Implementation

The final major disadvantage about Volusion is implementation. I&#8217ve discussed this in a number of points, but overall it&#8217s not very simple to get stuff implemented in Volusion &#8211 particularly if you aren&#8217t web savvy. Even right from the bat, obtaining the SSL installed properly could be a challenge. From your audit of even Volusion&#8217s featured customers &#8211 even they are able to&#8217t obtain the SSL installed properly.

Which theme continues right through to design, technical Search engine optimization, and analytics implementation. It&#8217s difficult to just get stuff in. If you’re a site that has development sources, it&#8217s fine&#8230but i then&#8217d also question the reason why you aren&#8217t running your personal custom store by yourself hosting. If you’re a DIYer or small company, the entire reason for selecting an exciting-inclusive platform is to possess a &#8220click, click, done&#8221 setup &#8211 and also the freedom to create edits without developer help.  DIY implementation is really a major disadvantage of Volusion.

Volusion Review Conclusion

If you are a online shop that &#8211

  • has some developer sources
  • uses a robust located platform for everyone as the catalog/shopping cart software
  • wants checkout to occur in your domain
  • wants solid operations features

&#8211 then Volusion is a superb fit. Get Volusion&#8217s free trial here.

For those who have marketing or design features like a priority, i then&#8217d recommend searching at Shopify (obtain free trial offer here see my review here) or BigCommerce (obtain free trial offer here my review here) for located platforms.

Or provide a shot at building &amp hosting your personal store with WordPress + WooCommerce wordpress plugin (my guide regarding how to here).

If you’re more confused than ever before, I produced a Buzzfeed-style ecommerce platform quiz that will help you decide according to your objectives, expertise &amp priorities.

Volusion Review

Volusion is among the leading located ecommerce platforms having a concentrate on operations features.
Volusion
Date Printed: 02/16/2017
Very robust inventory and customer features with same domain SSL integration. Limited design features though. Good fit for stores with a few development or design sources, not for novices or DIYers.
3.5 / 5 stars

The publish Volusion Review: Pros &#038 Cons of utilizing Volusion for Ecommerce made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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