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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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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15 Select WordPress Styles for Local Small Companies

Styles are among the “killer” options that come with using WordPress to power your site. Unlike drag website builders, starting with a precise, beautiful template with built-in features. Although some styles include feature over-kill (or perhaps a blank slate), there’s an entire world of styles customized for every kind of business imaginable.

Actually, you will find thousands of “off-the-shelf” WordPress styles for small, local companies which have stunning design and amazing functionality like beautiful galleries to show your products and services, map features, search functions and much more.

And, better still, WordPress styles are (said to be) open-source & GPL licensed which means you get access to a large community of sources and help…which means you’ll not be left dry and high with a design firm. Some need a learning curve, and a few are super-simple, but have the ability to the flexibility for any local small company that wishes an active online presence.

Listed here are 15 WordPress styles for small local companies (+2 frameworks) curated from marketplaces and theme sellers online.

Disclosure – this site receives customer referral charges from companies and merchandise pointed out on this web site. All data & opinions derive from ShivarWeb staff’s independent research and professional judgement.

Ascendio

Ascendio ThemeIf you are searching to have an elegant, clean design, Ascendio is an excellent option for any small local company. The look is responsive so it’ll look wonderful on any device, plus you are able to personalize all the elements of design. It provides a drag builder which makes creating your website very simple. Take a look at Ascendio here.

Beep

Beep ThemeBeep is yet another responsive design that actually works very well for just about any local company. The look emits an enjoyable yet professional feel and it has a lot of choices for customizing – from typography to layout to paint plan and much more. It is also compatible to produce an eCommerce site if that’s a component you’ll need. See more about Beep here.

Business

Business ThemeThere isn’t any alternative way to explain Business but fresh and modern. It’s ideal for a nearby business since it can fully capture your specific niche – be it drink and food, a nearby flower boutique, a little service business. It really works for literally anything. The look elements are customizable and it arrives with a fairly awesome contact page and maps integration. See more about Business here.

Canvas

Canvas ThemeCanvas is definitely an incredibly effective choice to construct your website on – and it is clean design is extremely customizable using the click of the couple of buttons. It’s most likely the main choice about this list for any local small company that requires a web-based store option, but it may be ideal for a lot of other companies – especially if you wish to showcase beautiful images or perhaps a portfolio. Take a look at Canvas here.

Circle Switch

Circle Flip ThemeSearching for any theme that’s ready as they are? Circle Switch is really a fabulous choice. It features a versatile, classy design with a lot of demos crafted toward specific business types. It’s fully customizable when it comes to design and appear. It features a awesome slider option and it is eCommerce-ready if you would like that being an option. See Circle Switch here.

CoPro

CoPro ThemeCoPro comes with an elegant look with design options which are very easy to personalize using the drag page builder. Additionally, it comes using more than 10 “skins” to alter the overall appearance of your website. It is also simple to add-on any little elements that you might want with shortcodes and widgets. And it is responsive, so that your website will appear great on any device. Take a look at CoPro here.

Credence

Credence ThemeCredence is among the most effective styles about this list – and it is design is unquestionably a stand-out. Actually, this theme includes several beautiful demos which make customizing your website increasingly simple. It features a stunning slider option, with an easy drag designer. And if you want eCommerce, Credence is enhanced for this! See more about Credence here.

Flatco

Flatco ThemeFlatco includes a clean, unique design plus a lot of wonderful features. Since it’s a multipurpose theme, it’ll have all of the essentials for any great local company website – and also the versatility to include other things you may want having a wordpress plugin or more. It’s very easy to personalize the look elements, plus you may create amazing squeeze pages with custom posts and also the advanced page builder. Certainly worth considering Flatco here!

Mason

Mason ThemeMason’s grid design is really a unique, fun layout that stands out of the others. The look elements like layout, font, color, etc are simple to personalize for your business and brand. And you may produce the perfect webpages unique for your business with custom posts. Should you prefer a theme that’s suitable for eCommerce, Mason may be the best selection for you! See more about Mason here.

Monstroid 2

Monstroid 2 ThemeMonstroid 2 is an additional fantastic multipurpose theme – and it is base design is really beautiful! It arrives with several amazing demos as they are that are simple to personalize for your preferences. It’s not only enhanced for eCommerce, but her functionality for forums as well as social media. Therefore it helps make the perfect option for a little local company that wishes to construct community! Take a look at Monstroid 2 here.

Multipurpose

Multipurpose ThemeMultipurpose is, well, exactly that – Multipurpose! It features a simple – yet effective design that may be changed into anything that you would like it to. It arrives with several skins that may be customized into an limitless quantity of options. You may create the right website landing page with custom posts, and also the menu and header choices are pretty. It is also ready for eCommerce. See more about Multipurpose here.

Pivot

Pivot ThemePivot includes a sleek design with a lot of demos to select from and personalize. It’s a effective theme option which will pave the way for success. It’s a fantastic choice if you are searching for social networking integration, and contains a remarkable gallery to show images and videos. All the elements of design are simple to personalize – plus you site will appear great on any device. See more about Pivot here.

Plain

Plain ThemePlain is really a refreshing design – and also the theme choices are not even close to being plain! You’ll find customizing this themes’ design details very simple using the drag editor – and you’ll come with an impressive site which will look wonderful on any device. It features a nice “feature” area that may provide a rundown of the business services or priorities, together with other wonderful features. Take a look at Plain here.

Specia

Specia ThemeSpecia is definitely an amazing theme due to its simplicity and flexibility. The look is professional and clean, and it also offers all sorts of functionality. A number of its key features are social networking integration, eCommerce compatibility, and customised squeeze pages. You may also personalize all of the elements of design for your brand. You’ll love web site pages which make site creation simpler. Surprisingly, Specia is really a download free – make sure to check Specia here.

Titania

Titania ThemeTitania is one from the better options if you are searching to have an amazing design away from the box. It’s some amazing demos to select from – and all sorts of elements are simple to personalize. It features a effective admin panel together with compatibility with eCommerce, forums, and social media in your website. Recption menus choices are pretty awesome too. As well as your final look will appear great on any device because the design is responsive! See more about Titania here.

Genesis Theme Framework

StudioPress ThemesA style framework is really a foundation for styles with consistent, wealthy functionality that enables simple design changes across a variety of styles. Genesis is among the earliest (and many leading edge) theme frameworks in the realm of WordPress. Their framework comes with an immense quantity of well-documented features and “hooks” where one can implement infinite functionality for the website.

StudioPress also offers lots of “plug and play” child styles for Genesis with several child styles that you could install as they are. Take a look at Genesis by StudioPress here.

Elegant Theme Framework

Elegant ThemesLike Genesis by StudioPress, Elegant Styles is really a large, established styles creator using their own theme framework. They likewise have an in-depth theme “club” in which you get limitless use of styles to download, try to swap out when needed. They are a good option for any small local company owner that wishes plenty of choices. Take a look at Elegant Styles here.

Conclusion

Joining the WordPress team is among the best options available for creating an online business that clients and visitors will love – plus it offers a superior great choices for internet marketing through such things as Search engine optimization. The best of this? It’s all completely controlled on your part! Make certain to make use of styles rich in coding standards, and don’t forget that the good theme is flexible and utilizes other plugins.

If you are thinking about creating an incredible site with WordPress on your own, here are a few detailed guides on how to find a theme, how to setup your site and the way to get began with WordPress.

Best of luck! Tell me for those who have any suggestions within the comments!

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BigCommerce versus. WooCommerce & WordPress: Variations & With Them Together

BigCommerce and WooCommerce + WordPress are two best-known online shop platforms. But when you’re thinking about BigCommerce vs. WooCommerce + WordPress, how can you choose which one is the greatest fit for both you and your project?

I’ve had the ability to talk to clients using both BigCommerce and WooCommerce in addition to running my very own stores with BigCommerce and WooCommerce. Both are excellent platforms having a full suite of choices to operate a effective online shop.

However, both are completely different, and various companies will definitely fare better with either.

I’ve written extensively on, together with a BigCommerce review, a WooCommerce setup guide, along with a roundup of WooCommerce styles. However in this comparison, I’ll consider the core definitions of WooCommerce and BigCommerce, a few of the variations within the regions of largest consideration for eCommerce proprietors, and cooking techniques together.

Furthermore, this comparison can be really much like my Shopify versus. WooCommerce + WordPress review. As located eCommerce platforms, Shopify and BigCommerce are direct competitors with one another plus they both not directly contend with WooCommerce. We’ll talk a little more about this within the Definitions section – but it’s something to bear in mind.

In many situations, it’s easier to choose the type of platform you would like before selecting the precise software. But since BigCommerce & WooCommerce are leading solutions – it’s just like useful to check out them mind to mind (additionally to ways which you can use them together).

Seem sensible? Awesome.

If you wish to dive to some condensed recommendation, I’ll outline which is probably a much better fit for various kinds of eCommerce store proprietors in Next Steps.

Try BigCommerce for Free for fourteen days

See my WooCommerce Setup Tutorial

Let’s dive into this comparison of BigCommerce vs. WooCommerce & WordPress.

Disclosure – I receive customer referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data & opinions derive from my professional experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

BigCommerce & WordPress Definitions

BigCommerce is a located ecommerce platform.

Which means that BigCommerce takes all of the aspects of an eCommerce store including hosting (where your store’s website files live), payments, cart, content, design, support, marketing features, etc and bundles them right into a single software program that you simply sign up for like a service.

This is when the word SaaS (software like a service) eCommerce originates from.

With BigCommerce, you have to pay one cost and also you get everything you need to run an eCommerce store including hardware, software, and support.

WordPress is really a cms you install free of charge on the hosting server that you simply lease from a webhost.

Aside – observe that I’m talking about self-located WordPress – not WordPress.com. It’s confusing, I understand. But stick to me 🙂

WordPress is known for its versatility, and that i find that is why many people utilize it. Thing about this versatility originates from using plugins, that are programs that you could install on the top of WordPress that add functionality aimed at your website.

Probably the most popular and many effective plugins for WordPress is known as WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a complete suite of every function that you should operate a effective ecommerce store that “plugs in” to WordPress.

Actually, WooCommerce itself enables plugins that stretch its functionality for such things as group memberships, worldwide payment systems, and extremely anything that you could envision.

I authored a WordPress ecommerce setup guide here that utilizes the WooCommerce wordpress plugin.

Quite simply, WordPress and WooCommerce would be the critical bits of the whole eCommerce setup you need to build and manage. So rather of having to pay one cost for any bundle – you’re in control of selecting and assembling all of the ingredients for the store – that you simply own and control.

The very best example that I’ve develop to explain the main difference is by using property.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

BigCommerce is kind of just like a store inside a shopping development or perhaps a condominium.

You have, operate, and personalize within your building. That you can do anything you want. However the property comes pre-packaged with plumbing, electricity, security, and property management.

The shopping development won’t help make your store effective, plus they aren’t likely to control the way you run your company. But, they will take proper care of all of the non-business related facets of your company to be able to concentrate on selling more stuff for your customers.

Creating a store with WordPress is much like building your personal store/house by yourself land. You’re able to build the precise experience that you would like. That you can do anything you like using the property. Should you not would like it to be only a store, you may make it’s greater than a store. You may create any experience if you would like.

But everything concerning the property ultimately stops along with you. If there’s a plumbing problem, it’s your trouble. If there’s a rest-in, it’s your trouble. There’s lots of help that you could hire to assist take proper care of these problems. However, you buy and operate the whole property, so that all the problems that appear are ultimately your condition.

In most cases, in case your core competency is selecting inventory and selling product then you’ll love BigCommerce. Unlike a number of other located ecommerce platforms, they’ve solved most of the limitations, and also have a team to be around the leading edge of technical ecommerce features.

In comparison, in case your core competency is development, and building out a complete digital experience that the customers love (or if you wish to control all of your expenses), then you’ll such as the freedoms WordPress and WooCommerce better – particularly if that have sets you aside from all of your competitors.

What will the general web site located platform along with a self-located ecommerce platform seem like for individual factors? Let’s take a look at individuals each consequently.

BigCommerce & WordPress Variations

There are plenty of factors which go into selecting and building an ecommerce store, but here’s how BigCommerce and WordPress differ on probably the most critical factors.

Hosting, Speed & Security

Like I pointed out within the introduction, BigCommerce takes proper care of your products hosting in addition to speed, optimization, and security all in your monthly subscription.

There’s no need to comprehend regardless of whether you should figure out a CDN, or caching or perhaps SSL – given that they provide everything standard included in all plans.

However, with BigCommerce, you have to have compromises to ensure that BigCommerce to supply all of your technical needs.

BigCommerce Speed Tests for BigCommerce Review

You don’t have use of your server via FTP. If you wish to edit any web site files, you need to use BigCommerce’s HTML/CSS editor and/or settings. BigCommerce does a great job supplying use of every technical tool that you’ll probably need. However, without root access – you’ll never be able to perform everything.

Bigcommerce Advanced Settings

Furthermore, there are lots of edge cases that you will need to research based on your particular store. For instance, for those who have a particular inventory management system or payment processor or perhaps software provider that you’re dedicated to – you will need to test BigCommerce out and speak with a sales repetition before purchasing.

In comparison, if you are using WordPress and WooCommerce, you have the effect of your hosting speed and security needs. It’s important to select a webhost – I’ve got a fun little quiz that will help you find the correct fit here.

Plus, you’ll need to learn to make certain your site is up to date, which is safe (or you might make use of a secure third-party processor for example PayPal).

Neither hosting or speed or security is especially hard, and the majority of the changes that you may have to create are straightforward. However if you simply don’t have any development experience, even the entire process of troubleshooting can be challenging.

However, you are able to implement changes that suit how well you see perfectly with the amount of control WordPress enables. If you wish to have Global SSL by having an extended validated certificate – it can be done. If you wish to personalize your checkout in your domain, then it can be done.

If you wish to run whatever scripts and tracking scripts you using a Content Delivery Network – it can be done. If you value trying out servers and caching, you can aquire a site that most likely runs quicker than your BigCommerce site could ever run.

That stated, in case your website will get hacked, attacked or slows lower an excessive amount of, the duty for locating an answer or perhaps an expert is going to be in your plate – with no one else’s.

Development Costs

With BigCommerce, you’ve got a foreseeable monthly subscription cost. Furthermore, you can purchase premium styles or employ a designer or any other expertise to operate your website. But none of them are needed.

Since BigCommerce is well-recognized to many professionals, you’ll frequently have the ability to minimize a number of your ongoing expertise cost. For instance, since BigCommerce takes proper care of the majority of your Technical Search engine optimization, and Technical PPC needs, any Search engine optimization consultant or PPC consultant can skip towards the real marketing work instead of taking proper care of basic technical problems (I’m searching to you, Magento canonicals…).
Bigcommerce Design Editing Options

WordPress, however, may either be less expensive than BigCommerce or even more costly based on your expertise and also the time that you would like to take a position.

Since WordPress and WooCommerce have the freedom & community-supported, your main unavoidable cost is the ongoing hosting bill.

Hosting bills rely on your webhost as well as your plan level but could be less expensive than even $5 per month if you are managing a small site and prioritize cost at reputable companies.

WordPress is definitely an established platform, having a very deep global pool of talent.

You will get stunning designs free of charge, or upgrade to some premium theme that may run less than $20-30.

If you wish to spend 1000s of dollars on the design, there’s also a large number of WordPress-focused design shops in the usa and round the world.

For custom development, you will get free plugins and discover yourself or hire one of the numerous WordPress Consultants or WordPress-focused Developers from around the globe.

In a nutshell, with WordPress, you are able to pay less than you would like or around you would like – it’s entirely up to you. With BigCommerce, you’ve got a greater base monthly cost that you can’t reduce however, you can move up after that if you would like.

Personalization & User-ambiance

BigCommerce is made for eCommerce store proprietors. There is a huge concentrate on making the procedure and setup as easy as possible.

Their backend has lots of options should you dig much deeper, but it’s centered on being user-friendly, specifically for beginning website proprietors.

BigCommerce Backend Screenshot for BigCommerce Review

BigCommerce enables you to definitely install apps and extensions using their Application Store. Many are free and a few are compensated. But all of the apps are simple to install and certain to work.

WordPress and WooCommerce, however, are user-friendly but they may be overwhelming using their options. WordPress is made to be able to create any type of website that you would like – includineCommercemerce store. But even though you don’t want blogs or custom publish types, individuals options will be there whether they are being used or otherwise.

Woocommerce Default Settings

When you increase the training curve of WordPress by using some good tutorials using blogging platforms or tutorials on WooCommerce, it’s very straightforward. However, it will possess a steeper learning curve than BigCommerce.

Content Tools

Like Shopify, BigCommerce is made particularly being an eCommerce platform. So that all the information tools are focused around your store/products.

They’ve tools for editing groups, collections, pages, product pages, your homepage, any regular page that you would like to setup and much more. They possess a “sort of” blogging tool. It really works acceptable for news and product updates.

If you wish to concentrate on content beyond product promotion and purchasers, BigCommerce can’t visit because it isn’t designed for that (think interactive or customized presentations).

If you wish to develop a full-featured forum together with discussions and interactive content, or other content type that isn’t typically observed in the eCommerce world – you will not have the ability to construct it with BigCommerce.

In comparison, WordPress is really a full personal cms. You are able to build anything that you would like with WordPress. It’s built-in blogging and cms, but you may also extend it to complete anything for example social media, bookings, or really whatever you can envision. Actually, WooCommerce uses custom publish types to produce the merchandise content type.

Search engine optimization & Marketing Tools

BigCommerce’s Search engine optimization and marketing tools are robust, built-in, and easy to use.

BigCommerce Marketing Tools

Aside from edge cases, BigCommerce takes proper care of just about everything – including advanced technical tools for example Schema, Sitemaps as well as SSL.

BigCommerce does not have integrations with each and every possible tool, however they perform a good job of integrating most tools directly within their software instead of via application.

With WordPress + WooCommerce – you are able to use anything you like.

There’s a strong group of free and premium plugins for each situation. Plus – with root access, you will get anything custom developed if you would like.

For instance – you should use Yoast Search engine optimization wordpress plugin, the Redirection WordPress plugin, or the other plugins that I’ve pointed out within this publish to consider proper care of really any risk you could consider.

There’s also entire firms that develop very specialized extensions & plugins for WooCommerce. I authored in regards to a situation from in the past w/ this here. You are able to perform a/B testing, conditional product displays, etc – the only real limitation is the imagination.

WooCommerce Extensions

But like hosting, speed, and security, you’re the one accountable for ultimately making everything interact.

When you get the WordPress white-colored screen of dying and crash your website due to incompatible plugin… oh, then you’re the main one accountable for setting it up back ready to go.

Design & Styles

For website design, BigCommerce and WordPress both offer limitless options. There’s no such factor like a “BigCommerce design” or perhaps a “WordPress design.”

Both of them output HTML/CSS and also have fully-featured website design editors.

With WordPress, you’ll may use PHP to edit templates additionally to editing the CSS (if you would like). With BigCommerce, you will be using their HTML/CSS editor to utilize their templates.

Both WordPress and BigCommerce offer marketplaces for pre-designed styles and templates.

Bigcommerce Design Editing Options

Both of them possess a deep talent pool for designers who are able to implement whatever design you would like based on your financial allowance.

Plus they have an array of free styles that you could install having a press of the mouse.

WordPress comes with an edge in design since, again, you could have root use of your server, however for all given purposes, BigCommerce enables any website design you can want.

Customer Care

Customer care is probably the greatest distinction between WordPress+WooCommerce and BigCommerce.

With BigCommerce, you are able to speak with BigCommerce representatives who know BigCommerce forward and backward. They even sign in and check out your whole site setup.

Bigcommerce Support screenshot for BigCommerce Review

With WordPress, you can get your hosting company’s support team. However, they might or might not have the ability to assist with specific issues in your specific WordPress installation – though they will help you trobleshoot and fix technical issues with your webhost and WordPress.

InMotion Knowledgebase Support

To the example – WordPress is much like your home. You are able to call a plumber, plus they might be able to fix your plumbing problem, however in the finish, you’re the main one responsible.

Whereas with BigCommerce, it’s just like a plumbing condition in your storefront. It’s the home management’s problem, and you may use them to have it fixed.

Growth & Future-proofing

There’s one further point about growth and future-proofing.

Since BigCommerce is really a proprietary platform, you have to consider whether you would like them like a lengthy-term choice as the store grows. BigCommerce has stores from single product stores completely as much as massive corporations using their enterprise product. They’re a sizable private company with financial stability but they’re still a business – no open-source community.

However if you simply plan to ever leave (or they’re going bankrupt), you are able to export your products data as well as your content data, but you’ll lose most anything else.

WordPress is free and community supported. And also, since you can get your database, you are able to export, reformat, and do anything you want with your data. It’s 100% yours and 100% open to you.

Returning to real estate example. It’s kind of like establishing a storefront inside a retail development. The stuff inside is up to you, however if you simply get connected to the signs or even the architecture or anything concerning the building – you cannot go along with you. That’s a bad or perhaps a bad factor, but it’s something to understand.

Using WordPress & BigCommerce Together

There’s one option that throws a wrench right into a WordPress versus. BigCommerce comparison.

That is always that you are able to technically use WordPress and BigCommerce together.

The idea is to make use of BigCommerce as the “store” and WordPress throughout your siteOrweblog.

Probably the most generally used situation is really a writer who uses WordPress for his or her writing and content but really wants to open a web-based store with BigCommerce instead of WooCommerce.

You can’t use BigCommerce and WordPress directly together on a single subdomain since BigCommerce is really a located platform – whereas WordPress endures your hosting server.

If you wish to rely on them together then you’ll need to put one install on a single subdomain and yet another on another subdomain. For instance, you’d have shop.yourdomain.com for the BigCommerce store and world wide web.yourdomain.com for the WordPress blog.

The primary factor to think about is how to give a unified experience involving the store as well as your blog with design, analytics, etc. You’ll require a unified design and analytics tracking over the two subdomains. Setting both of these some misconception try taking some planning, and wish that you simply maintain two different websites as it pertains lower into it.

You should use BigCommerce and WordPress together, but you’ll need to make another group of tradeoffs that may multiply your problems instead of solve them.

Probably the most likely scenario here is you are mainly a writer/site owner that utilizes WordPress, and you’ll need a separate store. Ecommerce is really a supplement, not really a core a part of your site (e.g. a blogger selling merch). Within this situation, getting BigCommerce on the shop.subdomain works. You’d desire a similar design, however it wouldn’t have to match exactly because the “store” is really a separate entity.

If you’re mainly an eCommerce owner though, I do not think using WordPress on the subdomain (e.g., blog.) warrants the additional site. BigCommerce’s blogging tools are usually acceptable for nearly any content strategy you’d plan – plus there is a benefit for getting that content in your store’s subdomain.

Next Steps & Related Sources

If you are beginning online shop both BigCommerce and WordPress + WooCommerce are fantastic choices.

If you think comfortable dealing with the backend of the website, wish to control and personalize everything or you are simply at ease with WordPress then you need to go take a look at WooCommerce. Make sure to use my WordPress eCommerce setup tutorial to find out more.

Should you not even wish to consider the technical side of running a web-based store, and you want to concentrate on selling, marketing, and inventory – then you need to go put on BigCommerce free here.

If you wish to examine all of your options, make sure to take a look at my comparison guide (w/ quiz) to ecommerce platforms.

And whichever one you select, make sure to read my inbound marketing strategy for ecommerce proprietors.

“”

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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Shopify versus. WooCommerce & WordPress: Variations & With Them Together

Shopify vs WooCommerce &amp WordPress

Shopify and WooCommerce + WordPress are two best-known online shop platforms. However if you simply&#8217re thinking about Shopify versus. WooCommerce + WordPress, how can you choose which one is the greatest fit for both you and your project?

I&#8217ve had the ability to talk to clients using both Shopify and WooCommerce in addition to running my very own stores with Shopify and WooCommerce. Both are excellent platforms having a full suite of choices to operate a effective store.

However, both are completely different, and various companies will definitely fare better with either.

I&#8217ve written extensively on, together with a Shopify review, a WooCommerce setup guide, along with a roundup of WooCommerce styles. However in this comparison, I’ll consider the core definitions of WooCommerce and Shopify, a few of the variations within the regions of largest consideration for ecommerce proprietors, and cooking techniques together.

And finally, in Next Steps, I&#8217ll outline which is probably a much better fit for various kinds of ecommerce store proprietors.

Try Shopify free of charge for fourteen days

See my WooCommerce Setup Tutorial

Let&#8217s dive into this comparison of Shopify versus. WooCommerce &amp WordPress.

Disclosure &#8211 I receive customer referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data &amp opinions derive from my professional experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Shopify &amp WordPress Definitions

Shopify is really a located ecommerce platform.

Which means that Shopify has their very own proprietary software that’s bundled using their own specifically configured hardware. Plus they supply the entire service like a subscription option.

This is when the word SaaS (software like a service) ecommerce originates from.

With Shopify, you have to pay one cost and also you get everything you need to run an ecommerce store including hardware, software and support.

WordPress is really a cms that you could install free of charge on the hosting server that you simply rent from the webhost.

Aside &#8211 observe that I&#8217m talking about self-located WordPress &#8211 not WordPress.com. It&#8217s confusing, I understand. But stick to me 🙂

WordPress is known for its versatility, and that i discover that&#8217s why many people utilize it. Thing about this versatility originates from using plugins, that are programs that you could install on the top of WordPress that add functionality aimed at your website.

Probably the most popular and many effective plugins for WordPress is known as WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a complete suite of every function that you should operate a effective ecommerce store that &#8220plugs in&#8221 to WordPress.

Actually, WooCommerce itself enables plugins that stretch its functionality for such things as group memberships, worldwide payment systems, and extremely anything that you could envision.

I authored a WordPress ecommerce setup guide here that utilizes the WooCommerce wordpress plugin.

Quite simply, WordPress and WooCommerce would be the critical bits of the whole ecommerce setup you need to build and manage.

The very best example which i&#8217ve develop to explain the main difference is by using property.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

Shopify is kind of just like a store inside a shopping development or perhaps a condominium.

You have, operate and personalize within your building. That you can do anything you want. However the property comes pre-packaged with plumbing electricity, security, and Property Management.

The shopping development won’t help make your store effective, plus they aren&#8217t likely to control the way you run your company. But, they will take proper care of all of the non-business related facets of your company to be able to concentrate on selling more stuff for your customers.

Creating a store with WordPress is much like building your personal store / house by yourself land. You’re able to build the precise experience that you would like. That you can do anything you like using the property. Should you don&#8217t would like it to be only a store, you may make it’s greater than a store. You may create any experience if you would like.

But everything concerning the property ultimately stops along with you. If there’s a plumbing problem, it&#8217s your trouble. If there’s a rest-in, it&#8217s your trouble. There’s lots of help that you could hire to assist take proper care of these problems. However, you buy and operate the whole property, so that they are ultimately your condition.

In most cases, in case your core competency is selecting inventory and selling product then you’ll love Shopify. Unlike a number of other located ecommerce platforms, they&#8217ve solved most of the limitations, and also have a team to be around the leading edge of technical ecommerce features.

In comparison, in case your core competency is development, and building out a complete digital experience that the customers love, then you’ll such as the freedoms WordPress and WooCommerce better &#8211 particularly if that have sets you aside from all of your competitors.

What will the general web site located platform along with a self-located ecommerce platform seem like for individual factors? Let&#8217s take a look at individuals each consequently.

Shopify &amp WordPress Variations

There are plenty of factors which go into selecting and building an ecommerce store, but here&#8217s how Shopify and WordPress differ on probably the most critical factors.

Hosting, Speed &amp Security

Like I pointed out within the introduction, Shopify takes proper care of your products hosting in addition to speed, optimization, and security all in your monthly subscription.

There’s no need to determine regardless of whether you should figure out a CDN, or caching or perhaps SSL &#8211 given that they provide everything standard included in all plans.

However, with Shopify, you have to have compromises to ensure that Shopify to supply all of your technical needs.

You don’t have use of your server via FTP. If you wish to edit any web site files, you need to use Shopify&#8217s editor known as Liquid. It will a great job of enabling you to edit the files you need to edit. But because any developer knows &#8211 it&#8217s never just like getting root access your server.

Shopify Themes

Furthermore, there are several small changes that you will need to compromise on &#8211 for example looking at around the checkout.shopify.com domain instead of your store’s domain. This doesn&#8217t really make a difference for many storeowners, but does affect some apps &#8211 like the Google Reliable Store program.

In comparison, if you are using WordPress and WooCommerce, you have the effect of your hosting speed and security needs. You&#8217ll have to select a webhost &#8211 I’ve got a fun little quiz that will help you find the correct fit here.

Plus, you&#8217ll need to learn to make certain your site is up to date, which is safe (or you might make use of a secure third-party processor for example PayPal).

Neither hosting or speed or security is especially hard, and the majority of the changes that you may have to create are straightforward. However if you simply don’t have any development experience, even the entire process of troubleshooting can be challenging.

However, you are able to implement changes that suit how well you see perfectly with the amount of control WordPress enables. If you wish to have Global SSL by having an extended validated certificate &#8211 it can be done. If you wish to personalize your checkout in your domain, then it can be done.

Shopify Checkout

If you wish to run whatever scripts and tracking scripts you using a Content Delivery Network &#8211 it can be done. If you value trying out servers and caching, you can aquire a site that most likely runs quicker than your Shopify site could ever run.

That stated, in case your website will get hacked, attacked or slows lower an excessive amount of, the duty for locating an answer or perhaps an expert is going to be in your plate &#8211 with no one else’s.

Development Costs

With Shopify, you’ve got a foreseeable monthly subscription cost. Furthermore, you can purchase premium styles or employ a designer or any other expertise to operate your website. But none of them are needed.

Since Shopify is well-recognized to many professionals, you’ll frequently have the ability to minimize a number of your ongoing expertise cost. For instance, since Shopify takes proper care of the majority of your Technical Search engine optimization, and Technical PPC needs, any Search engine optimization consultant or PPC consultant can skip towards the real work instead of taking proper care of basic technical problems (I&#8217m searching to you, Magento canonicals&#8230).

That stated, investing in a continuing subscription cost additionally holiday to a Shopify Application costs could be a daunting overhead for any starter store.

WordPress, however, may either be less expensive than Shopify or even more costly based on your expertise and also the time that you would like to take a position.

Since WordPress and WooCommerce have the freedom &amp community-supported, your main unavoidable cost is the ongoing hosting bill.

Hosting bills rely on your webhost as well as your plan level but could be less expensive than even $5 per month should you&#8217re managing a small site and prioritize cost at reputable companies.

Quick aside &#8211 should you&#8217re searching for recommendations, go take my Weblog web hosting quiz.

WordPress is definitely an established platform, having a very deep global pool of talent.

You will get stunning designs free of charge, or upgrade to some premium theme that may run less than $20-30.

If you wish to spend 1000s of dollars on the design, there’s also a large number of WordPress-focused design shops in the usa and round the world.

For custom development, you will get free plugins and discover yourself or hire one of the numerous WordPress Consultants or WordPress-focused Developers from around the globe.

In a nutshell, with WordPress you are able to pay less than you would like or around you would like &#8211 it&#8217s entirely up to you. With Shopify, you’ve got a greater base monthly cost that you can’t reduce however, you can move up after that if you would like.

Personalization &amp User-ambiance

Shopify is made for ecommerce store proprietors. There is a huge concentrate on making the procedure and setup as easy as possible.

Their backend has lots of options should you dig much deeper, however it&#8217s centered on being user-friendly, specifically for beginning website proprietors.

Shopify Backend

Shopify enables you to definitely install apps and extensions using their Application Store. Many are free and a few are compensated. But all of the apps are simple to install and certain to work.

WordPress and WooCommerce, however, are user-friendly but they may be overwhelming using their options. WordPress is made to be able to build any type of website that you would like &#8211 including an ecommerce store. But even though you don&#8217t want blogs or custom publish types, individuals options will be there whether they are being used or otherwise.

Woocommerce Default Settings

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When you increase the training curve of WordPress by using some good tutorials using blogging platforms or tutorials on WooCommerce, it&#8217s very straightforward. However, it will possess a steeper learning curve than Shopify.

Content Tools

Sticking with the overall theme &#8211 Shopify is made particularly being an ecommerce platform. So that all the information tools are focused around your store / products.

They’ve tools for editing groups, collections, pages, product pages, your homepage, any regular page that you would like to setup and much more. They’ve a built-in blogging tool that meets most ecommerce proprietors. It truly has only the characteristics that the ecommerce owner want, no advanced writer.

Shopify Blog Post

If you wish to concentrate on content beyond product promotion and purchasers, Shopify can&#8217t visit since it&#8217s not designed for that (think interactive or customized presentations).

If you wish to develop a full-featured forum together with discussions and interactive content, or other content type that isn’t typically observed in the ecommerce world &#8211 you won&#8217t have the ability to construct it with Shopify.

In comparison, WordPress is really a full personal cms. You are able to build anything that you would like with WordPress. It’s built-in blogging and content manage, but you may also extend it to complete anything for example social media, bookings, or really whatever you can envision. Actually, WooCommerce uses custom publish types to produce the merchandise content type.

Search engine optimization &amp Marketing Tools

Shopify&#8217s Search engine optimization and marketing tools are robust, built-in and straightforward-to-use. But, they frequently don’t include edge cases and wish understanding of Shopify&#8217s platform. For instance, I needed to learn how to implement mix-collection canonicals via Liquid with one client.

But aside from edge cases, Shopify takes proper care of just about everything &#8211 including advanced technical tools for example Schema, Sitemaps as well as SSL. Towards the relief of ecommerce Search engine optimization Consultants, they take proper care of canonicals and product Schema markup.

They permit for bulk 301 redirects, however if you simply&#8217re moving a sizable store you&#8217ll still a compensated application to upload them in large quantities and also to monitor any crawl errors.

Furthermore, if you wish to make any changes to, your house, collections canonicals, you&#8217ll have to really know how Liquid works to be able to write the script to create individuals changes.

This holds for AdWords tools and Facebook tools &#8211 Shopify comes with an advanced but nonetheless straightforward implementation. They create Merchant Center, Facebook Pixel, Buyable Pins, etc all straightforward. However if you simply have edge cases, you&#8217ll have to utilize Shopify&#8217s platform and perhaps a compensated extension.

With WordPress, that you can do anything you want.

There’s a strong group of free and premium plugins for each situation.

For instance &#8211 you should use Yoast Search engine optimization wordpress plugin, the Redirection WordPress plugin, or the other plugins which i&#8217ve pointed out within this publish to consider proper care of really any risk you could consider.

There’s also entire firms that develop very specialized extensions &amp plugins for WooCommerce. I authored in regards to a situation from in the past w/ this here. You are able to perform a/B testing, conditional product displays, etc &#8211 the only real factor restricting is the imagination.

WooCommerce Extensions

But like hosting, speed, and security, you’re the one accountable for ultimately making everything interact.

When you get the WordPress white-colored screen of dying and crash your website due to incompatible wordpress plugin&#8230 oh, then you’re the main one accountable for setting it up support.

Design &amp Styles

For website design, Shopify and WordPress both offer limitless options. There’s no such factor like a &#8220Shopify design&#8221 or perhaps a &#8220WordPress design.&#8221

Both of them output HTML CSS and also have fully-featured website design editors.

With WordPress, you&#8217ll may use PHP to edit templates additionally to editing the CSS (if you would like). With Shopify, you&#8217ll be utilising Liquid to edit templates additionally to editing the CSS.

Both WordPress and Shopify offer marketplaces for pre-designed styles and templates.

Both of them possess a deep talent pool for designers who are able to implement whatever design you would like based on your financial allowance.

Plus they have an array of free styles that you could install having a press of the mouse.

WordPress comes with an edge in design since, again, you could have root use of your server, however for all given purposes, Shopify enables any website design you can want.

Customer Care

Customer care is probably the greatest distinction between WordPress / WooCommerce and Shopify.

With Shopify, you are able to speak with Shopify representatives who know Shopify backward and forwards. They even sign in and check out your whole site setup.

With WordPress, you can get your webhost&#8217s support team. However, they might or might not have the ability to assist with specific issues in your specific WordPress installation &#8211 though they will help you trobleshoot and fix technical issues with your hosting and WordPress.

To the example &#8211 WordPress is much like your home. You are able to call a plumber, plus they might be able to fix your plumbing problem, however in the finish, you&#8217re the main one responsible.

Whereas with Shopify, it&#8217s just like a plumbing condition in your storefront. It&#8217s the home management&#8217s problem, and you may use them to have it fixed.

Growth &amp Future-proofing

There’s one further point about growth and future-proofing.

Since Shopify is really a proprietary platform, you have to consider whether you would like them like a lengthy-term choice as the store grows. Shopify has stores from single product stores completely as much as massive corporations using their enterprise product. They’re a listed company with financial stability but they’re still a business &#8211 no open-source community.

However if you simply plan to ever leave (or they’re going bankrupt), you are able to export your products data as well as your content data, but you’ll lose most anything else.

WordPress is free and community supported. And also, since you can get your database, you are able to export, reformat, and do anything you want with your data. It&#8217s 100% yours and 100% open to you.

Returning to real estate example. It’s kind of like establishing a storefront inside a retail development. The stuff inside is up to you, however if you simply get connected to the signs or even the architecture or anything concerning the building &#8211 you are able to&#8217t go along with you. That&#8217s a bad or perhaps a bad factor, however it&#8217s something to understand.

Using WordPress &amp Shopify Together

There’s one option that throws a wrench right into a WordPress versus. Shopify comparison.

That is always that you are able to technically use WordPress and Shopify together by 50 percent various ways.

The very first option is by using Shopify as the &#8220store&#8221 and WordPress throughout your site / blog.

Probably the most generally used situation is really a writer who uses WordPress for his or her writing and content but really wants to open a web-based store with Shopify instead of WooCommerce.

You can’t use Shopify and WordPress directly together on a single subdomain since Shopify is really a located platform whereas WordPress endures your hosting server.

If you wish to rely on them together then you definitely&#8217ll need to put one install on a single subdomain and yet another on another subdomain. For instance, you’d have shop.Yyourdomain.com for the Shopify store and world wide web.yourdomain.com for the WordPress blog.

The primary factor to think about is how to give a unified experience involving the store as well as your blog with design, analytics, etc. You&#8217ll require a unified design and analytics tracking over the two subdomains. Setting both of these some misconception try taking some planning, and wish that you simply maintain really two different websites.

You should use Shopify and WordPress together, however, you&#8217ll need to make another group of tradeoffs that may multiply your problems instead of solve them.

Probably the most likely scenario here is you are mainly a writer / site owner that utilizes WordPress, and you’ll need a separate store. Ecommerce is really a supplement, not really a core a part of your site (e.g. a blogger selling merch). Within this situation, getting Shopify on the shop. subdomain works. You&#8217d desire a similar design, however it wouldn&#8217t have to match exactly because the &#8220store&#8221 is really a separate entity.

If you’re mainly an ecommerce owner though, I don&#8217t think using WordPress on the subdomain (e.g., blog.) warrants the additional site. Shopify&#8217s blogging tools are usually acceptable for nearly any content strategy you&#8217d plan &#8211 plus there&#8217s an advantage for getting that content in your store&#8217s subdomain.

The 2nd option is by using Shopify for the product inventory, checkout, and payments without their online shop option.

Shopify includes a Lite arrange for $9/mo that doesn’t have an online shop, but does include inventory and payments. It&#8217s intended for product proprietors who sell products via a variety of different channels, but require a single, online spot to manage all of the sales.

Shopify Lite

With Shopify Lite, you receive a little snippet of code to put in your existing website, Facebook page, Twitter profile, etc &#8211 and permit sales to checkout within that button. Consider it like PayPal however with inventory and order management.

Let’s say you sell via many channels &#8211 as well as your WordPress powered website, but don’t want to run a full-fledged online shop with product pages, collections, etc &#8211 you’ll be able to get Shopify Lite, and put the code snippet in your WordPress website.

Next Steps &amp Related Sources

Should you&#8217re beginning online shop both Shopify and WordPress + WooCommerce are fantastic choices.

If you think confident with dealing with the backend of the website, wish to control and personalize everything or you are simply at ease with WordPress then you need to go take a look at WooCommerce. Make sure to use my WordPress eCommerce setup tutorial to find out more.

Should you don&#8217t even wish to consider the technical side of running a web-based store, and you want to concentrate on selling, marketing, and inventory &#8211 then you need to go put on Shopify free here.

And whichever one you select, make sure to read my inbound marketing strategy for ecommerce proprietors.

The publish Shopify versus. WooCommerce &#038 WordPress: Variations &#038 With Them Together made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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SiteGround Hosting Review: Pros & Cons of utilizing SiteGround

SiteGround Hosting Review

SiteGround Hosting is definitely an independent website hosting company founded in 2004. They’re located in Bulgaria, but serve hosting markets globally. SiteGround positions themselves like a company offering high-quality, “well-crafted” hosting solutions.

They provide a spectrum of hosting solutions varying from shared Linux hosting (the affordable, versatile kind utilized by most websites) completely to Cloud and Server solutions for big, growing websites.

They are among the fastest growing independent (ie, not really a brand of a bigger corporate holding company) website hosts. I learned about them via their growing event participation within the WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and marketing communities.

Like my test out Website Hosting Hub, I lately were built with a couple small websites that needed their very own hosting accounts, and so i desired to give SiteGround Hosting a go according to high praise from people I respect in the market.

Here’s my SiteGround Hosting review &#8211 structured with pros &amp cons according to my experience like a customer.

Skip to direct comparisons or skip towards the conclusion.

Disclosure &#8211 I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All opinions and knowledge derive from my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Pros of SiteGround

There are plenty of SiteGround online reviews &#8211 usually with user-generated reviews according to anecdotes and private experience. That&#8217s fine however i have a different approach. Like I mention in most my hosting reviews, there’s no such factor like a “best” hosting company. It’s by pointing out right fit for the project according to your objectives, budget, experience &amp expertise. Here’s the professionals (advantages) for thinking about SiteGround.

Speed &amp Performance

If somebody types inside your website’s address, that request will get delivered to your website hosting server for that files. While there are plenty of variables in have fun with website speed, it’s mainly your hosting server’s job to transmit the requested files towards the visitor’s browser as rapidly so that as efficiently as you possibly can.

SiteGround makes lots of promises about website speed in their site. And all the tests which i ran, they meet the things they promise.

Among the primary factors of site speed ‘s time to First Byte (TTFB) &#8211 ie, how rapidly the server transmits the very first byte from the first file as a result of a request. Here’s how my SiteGround website tested out.

SiteGround Speed

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Additionally to quick server performance, SiteGround has five major data centers around the world &#8211 Chicago, London, Amsterdam, Milan and Singapore. This matters since the physical distance that the website files need to travel matters. And lots of major website hosting brands instantly assign people to their one data center &#8211 frequently somewhere in the center of the united states.

That’s fine if much of your clients are in The United States. However, in case your audience is concentrated regionally elsewhere on the planet, you would like your site files located near to them no matter where you’re located. If you are a Australian expat creating a site for that Australian/Asian market &#8211 you’ll would like your website to reside in Singapore not Utah.

Lastly, SiteGround will a solid job with allocation of sources. Obviously, a shared web hosting server is discussing sources among several customers. So it’s critical to obtain the allocation right. Many website hosts sets really low memory limits on sites to help keep a throttle on performance. So far as I can tell from my installs, SiteGround enables generous allocations with current software.

SiteGround PHP Limits screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

SiteGround’s performance, speed and reliability are major pros for his or her product.

Set Of Features &amp Integrations

SiteGround includes a strong set of features &#8211 particularly if you tend to be more technically biased. They’ve limitless databases and email options.

They are doing daily backups, that is a good safety internet feature whenever your own backups fail. SiteGround also uses industry standard cPanel to handle your server and also have a simple user account backend.

SiteGround Backend screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

SiteGround cPanel screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

For starter/beginner websites, they are doing free transfer, free website name for any year, and also have a free site builder. None of those features really stick out, however they do place them above many well-known hosting brands.

SiteGround does have many unique developer-oriented features though. They integrate well with CloudFlare&#8217s CDN. In their “GoGeek” plan, they are doing free PCI compliance and free Git &amp staging areas &#8211 each of which are seriously useful to possess integrated.

To reiterate, their WordPress staging feature around the GoGeek plan’s seriously helpful for those who have a higher traffic site. Establishing staging servers where one can edit a non-live form of your website and also the &#8220push&#8221 it live could be a discomfort to put together &#8211 even if they’re best practice. Doing &#8220hot fixes&#8221 on the live website is simple, although not ideal.

Furthermore, I love how there is a concentrate on the most widely used cms like WordPress and Joomla. It normally won’t upsell any fake “WordPress-specific” features, but rather show how their built-in features drive better performance for WordPress and Joomla.

They’re leading edge around the latest, finest product integrations.

SiteGround includes a free SSL that rolls out in a mouse click. This removes a large obstacle to going HTTPS / SSL with WordPress. They likewise have direct integrations with CDNs like CloudFlare. They&#8217re moving out investments in NGINX, HTTP/2, PHP 7, built-in CDN and Caching, and much more.

Lastly, SiteGround provides a full-spectrum of hosting solutions. For those who have a quickly growing site, you are able to increase your site together from StartUp completely for an Enterprise Server.

Like performance, if you’re centered on what your hosting can perform &#8211 instead of like a raw utility and/or website cost, then SiteGround is actually impressive.

Customer Care

Like I’ve pointed out in other hosting reviews, reviewing customer care is hard. Much like the local restaurant on Yelp, probably the most positive and many negative comments are generally useless.

Who knows when issues are customer-caused or if somebody simply experienced that certain amazing/horrible worker.

I’ve were built with a good knowledge about SiteGround. However that&#8217s very anecdotal. So, I additionally like to check out “proxies” for customer care. Quite simply, stuff that indicate something concerning the culture &amp processes of customer care.

SiteGround does especially well having a couple of of those proxies. First, they’re transparent and responsive across a variety of channels &#8211 including phone.

SiteGround Support times screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

Second, they’ve committed to a mostly custom understanding base with comments customer care monitoring.

SiteGround Knowledgebase screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

Third, it’s apparent they invest a great deal within their employees, as their employees really placed on technical occasions to coach developers.

Individuals factors plus their endorsement from much talked about WordPress core contributors puts SiteGround’s customer support within the pro column for me personally.

Transparency* &amp Community

*SiteGround comes with one challenge on transparency which i cover within the Cons section. While they perform a lot as pointed out below, do also discover the exception that If only they&#8217d fix.

SiteGround is transparent and supportive of community within an industry that’s usually pretty closed off. It’s refreshing to utilize a business that’s straightforward and supportive rather of using a giant company that’s short on details and lengthy on product upsells.

There is a simple register process.

SiteGround Transparency statement screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

Installed an uptime monitor within their primary navigation.

SiteGround Uptime status screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

They can place the IP addresses of their data focuses on their website to be able to test their speeds out of your location without getting to enroll in a free account.

I love how within their Plans under GoGeek, they upright let you know that you may have “fewer accounts in your server.” The truth that shared web hosting companies come with an incentive to jam as numerous websites on the server as technically possible is generally hushed up rather than pointed out. To gain access to an internet developer saying, SiteGround turns that “bug” right into a feature.

And like I briefly pointed out in Support, SiteGround spends considerable time and cash supporting web communities. Building and looking after communities like WordPress and Joomla requires lots of volunteer hrs &#8211 and SiteGround does a great job supporting them. They’ve backed, attended or spoke at greater than 400 community occasions Additionally, they are doing it from Bulgaria even with the travel that entails.

Their transparency and community support is really a major pro since it signifies a much deeper culture of purchase of the lengthy-term. If you are a person, that’s a great culture to purchase from.

Global Oriented

The final major pro of SiteGround is the global orientation. They’re from Bulgaria, that is neither a significant tech hub, neither is it a significant British-speaking cultural hub.

In ways, they need to be two times nearly as good to compete within the global website hosting industry. From their site copy and interface design, it appears as though they exceed to produce a global feel and look that actually works for anybody &#8211 not only a united states small company person.

They accept multiple currencies (AUD, USD, GBP, EUR) and provide multiple local toll-free lines + free country specific domains. The hosting market is typically very US-centric, which means this change is really a welcome.

I love how there is a dedicated Language site. Their distributed data center locations will also be a large advantage for companies building an worldwide audience, specifically for Asia and europe.

Cons of SiteGround

Like every hosting company, SiteGround has disadvantages. Remember, that they like the professionals, all of these are in context of the goals &amp priorities. With this stated, listed here are the disadvantages which i found while using the SiteGround.

Overall Prices Point

Like I’ve pointed out in other hosting reviews, evaluating prices across website hosts could be maddening. It’s tough to compare apples to oranges because plans generally include various caps.

That stated, I attempt to check out compare prices in line with the 3 “D’s” of core hosting features &#8211 Domains (the number of websites you are able to operate on your bank account), Databases (the number of software installs you are able to run) and Disk Space (the number of files you are able to upload for your requirements).

SiteGround’s runs 3 shared web hosting plans &#8211 StartUp ($9.95/mo), GrowBig ($14.95/mo) and GoGeek ($29.95/mo). All of them limit Disk Space. And StartUp limits you one domain.

SiteGround Plans screenshot for my SiteGround Hosting Review

SiteGround usually runs heavily discounted rates for that *any* sign-up period (here should show plans with as many as 60% off, ie $3.95/mo for StartUp).

Individuals intro costs are competitive &#8211 especially thinking about they’re for just about any signup period. However, their standard renewal prices is costly when compared to industry, specifically for their StartUp plan.

With SiteGround, you’re obviously having to pay for quality. So I wish to highlight this disadvantage is centered on their raw cost point &#8211 not overall value. However, they’re still a bit expensive than other high performing independent website hosts like InMotion (see their plans here) and Website Hosting Hub (see their plans here).

And when prices is a significant component for you personally, you will get less expensive discounting, good features (and monthly renewal prices) having a host like Bluehost (get Bluehost&#8217s discount here) or HostGator (get HostGator&#8217s discount here).

Additionally, since SiteGround prices their plans according to caps rather of features, they leave many typical top tier plan bonuses as upsells. For instance, Dedicated IP addresses are often included in greater priced plans at other hosts, but they’re an upsell service at SiteGround.

The main one exception for this disadvantage is in the realm of mid-size websites that don&#8217t actually need a VPS plan, but need a reliable, highly reliable shared server. A lot of individuals website proprietors go for managed hosting solutions like WordPress Engine (my review here). However, additionally they add lots of limitations for your plan. Within this situation, SiteGround could be in a cheaper cost point with more versatility than individuals plans.

If raw cost is your main goal, this point is really a disadvantage for SiteGround. If value prices or any other factors are essential, then your cost + features make the perfect value. That will help you sort the standards, I’ve got a Buzzfeed-style shared web hosting quiz here along with a Weblog web hosting quiz here.

Plan Limitations

On the related note &#8211 I discovered their plan limitations to become a disadvantage of and in themselves. They limit disk space across all of their shared plans &#8211 rather of databases or domains.

Shared web hosting servers usually find it difficult to handle much traffic in your site simultaneously (ie, you receive pointed out on CNN.com). So typical caps pursue the amount of websites which are getting in visitors, rather from the files that merely survive the server.

I know SiteGround has excellent arguments for capping the things they cap &#8211 also it likely makes their service more reliable. As well as in fairness, their setup can certainly handle greater than 100k visitors in case your website will get featured on the popular website like a once activity, and they’ll not suspend your bank account. Even though you&#8217ve had something go viral &#8211 you&#8217ll realize that that’s a *lot* of traffic.

And technically, no host can provide truly limitless plans &#8211 there&#8217s always abuse caps detailed within the tos. However, the reduced caps on space for storage (specifically for StartUp plans) should make some kinds of sites &#8211 image or video heavy &#8211 think hard by what they’ll be utilising, particularly when most hosts allow limitless disk space, only susceptible to policy abuse rules.

For instance, the area is okay for any typical WordPress site, which utilizes ~2GB, however a comprehensive beauty blog or social media website might need a ton more image space &#8211 even when it doesn’t generate a lot of traffic.

When I&#8217ve pointed out in other reviews with this particular disadvantage, the times of website hosts promising &#8220unlimited&#8221 are visiting an finish. If you notice that lots of website hosts now discuss &#8220unmetered&#8221 &#8211 which is why. Like a consumer, it&#8217s vital that you think through which kind of site (or sites) you&#8217re likely to have, and concentrate in your specific needs.

Developer Orientation

Every website hosting company comes with an initial target audience after which attempts to expand to complementary markets (ie, they begin with small company and expand to agencies or medium companies). SiteGround appears to put themselves for the professional developer market, ie, developers building websites for companies.

That’s not necessarily a bad factor by itself &#8211 it’s a great factor if you are a developer &#8211 however it does allow it to be harder to appeal to some more general audience. Some of SiteGround’s overall feel is straightforward and simple, a lot of their features don’t have much appeal or use for any general audience, especially when compared with other hosts like Website Hosting Hub, InMotion, Bluehost, HostGator, etc.

Their top tier plan sells a WordPress staging area and Git integration. Individuals are incredible features. But an average joe developing a website won’t use individuals. Not really small developers or agencies use individuals for a lot of clients.

SiteGround also doesn’t offer the plethora of marketing bonuses that other hosting plans include &#8211 google’s AdWords credits, Facebook ad credits, free premium WordPress styles, the disposable iStockphoto credits, etc. I did previously think individuals were universal, but they’re away from SiteGround.

Their Website Builder software programs are okay, but it isn’t free of charge. And it is nowhere close to helpful because the BoldGrid WordPress-based website builder that InMotion and Website Hosting Hub have.

To be fair, if you’re a customer who values convenience &amp onboarding greater than additional factors &#8211 i then&#8217d also recommend searching inside my website builder quiz including options beyond website hosts.

Overall, SiteGround’s attract developers is excellent. Even though you don&#8217t need all of the advanced features (which are mainly within the GoGeek Plan anyway), then you definitely don&#8217t need to use them &#8211 plus they&#8217ll exist whenever you want them. SiteGround&#8217s StartUp plan’s straightforward and simple. Again, it&#8217s by what features you’re searching for &#8211 and just what features you’re really likely to use.

Custom WordPress Install &amp Link Schemes

Editor&#8217s Note 1 &#8211 to explain this, this disadvantage is diverse from those formerly pointed out. It&#8217s this is not on componen with prices / features / etc &#8211 but falls within the bucket of something which I believe is really a negative according to my career being an Search engine optimization consultant and my philosophical bent to items that are supplied clearly without a penny &#8220hidden&#8221 underneath the hood. Make sure to read SiteGround&#8217s response in the finish.

SiteGround comes with an automatic WordPress installer like the majority of website hosting companies. However it installs a rather customized form of WordPress.

I’m generally not keen on the practice. But it is also not outdoors standard &#8211 HostGator instantly installs a widget that advertises their theme store. Other website hosts will instantly include fundamental security or caching plugins. In the two cases, the modification is apparent and straightforward to deactivate the wordpress plugin.

*Note &#8211 in every case, you don’t have to make use of the car-install. You could perform a manual install.

SiteGround requires a different approach. They instantly install WordPress having a printed page which includes general tips and links for their WordPress sources.

Being an administrative matter, I believed it was odd to utilize a printed Page visible towards the general Internet rather of simply publishing an email around the Dashboard &#8211 which is visible simply to the web site owner.

SiteGround WordPress Install

However I looked carefully in the page and observed they have some exact-match anchor-text inside the page. And also the page is printed, live on the web and crawlable to the various search engines.

SiteGround Anchor Text

Quick background. Search engines like google use links with other websites to evaluate how relevant and “authoritative” they’re. Additionally they consider the anchor-text (ie, the particular text from the link) to evaluate exactly what the web site is. Therefore if I connect to this site using the text marketing website &#8211 Googlebot will say “ok, ShivarWeb.com is really a marketing website.”

Now, during the late 2000s, this factor began getting mistreated. Google made &#8220link schemes&#8221 a breach of the quality guidelines. Google also released an formula update known as Penguin that appears for and devalues abuses of anchor-text. Whether it will get egregious, Google may even slap a “penalty” in your site.

Links really are a wonderful factor if they’re placed through the business owner or using the business owner&#8217s approval. Links which are injected with no website owner’s approval or understanding are junk e-mail. SiteGround may reason that this site is definitely deleted, but though it may be, most website proprietors do not know.

SiteGround Exact Match Links

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That’s lots of links to obtain from users who may not wish to endorse your site having a link. You will find, there’s an irony that WordPress, design agencies and theme makers make use of the same tactic (take a look at website footers). However, individuals links are visible &amp recognized to the web site owner. An instantly printed page that isn’t linked to all of your web site is suspicious and spammy. Additionally, it adds an issue of risk for his or her customers &#8211 those are the ones unknowingly taking part in a hyperlink plan.

Here’s why this matters for you.

  1. Should you not delete the page, you’re in breach of Google’s Website owner Guidelines and available to a handbook penalty.
  2. The truth that SiteGround uses customer websites for his or her internet search engine optimization without disclosure lessens the trust you could have together when compared with other website hosts.

Editor&#8217s Note 2 &#8211 this is actually the response from SiteGround&#8217s marketing team.

&#8220The motivation with this would be to really give a better client experience by pointing the needed-beginning customer to helpful sources we’ve produced. We’ve never had any complaints from customers for the default install, nor anybody continues to be penalized. As well as, our experience implies that once people start developing the website, they delete individuals pages just like they’d delete the default Hello World publish.&#8221

In either case, you are able to determine if it matters for you. Just be sure you delete that page.

SiteGround Comparisons

From the best-known hosts that I’ve utilized as a person or consultant, here’s how SiteGround compares straight to each. Or skip towards the conclusion.

SiteGround versus. GoDaddy

GoDaddy may be the greatest brand within the website hosting industry. GoDaddy has better overall and temporary prices. However, SiteGround’s support and technology are a lot better than GoDaddy, despite GoDaddy’s improvement in this region since 2013. Unless of course you’ve reasons to choose GoDaddy, you’ll get a far greater product from SiteGround.

SiteGround versus. InMotion

InMotion Hosting is SiteGround’s big independent (ie, also not of a large holding company) competitor. I personally use InMotion VPS with this website. Both of them have wonderful features, knowledgeable support and performance. However, InMotion’s prices is much better overall, especially when you element in upgrade charges. InMotion also offers an extended (90-day) guarantee, better onboarding, and clean WordPress installs. Around the switch side, SiteGround has features like automatic staging, free SSLs and global data centers. I use InMotion for many of my projects, but SiteGround is a solid choice too, particularly if you value their own features.

SiteGround versus. Bluehost

Bluehost is among Endurance International’s best-known brands. They beat SiteGround on prices. However, SiteGround does far better with performance and core hosting features whereas Bluehost has better “bonuses” and side upgrades. If performance matters more for you &#8211 then pay a little extra for SiteGround. If you are just managing a simple, straightforward project, then Bluehost is nice.

SiteGround versus. HostGator

HostGator is among Endurance International’s other well-known brands. They’re most widely known for offering good website hosting with unmetered features for very economical prices. I utilize them for small personal projects &#8211 plus they beat SiteGround on prices and core hosting features. However, SiteGround has better support and gratifaction. So again, together, opt for SiteGround for much better value &amp better performance and HostGator for much better (or temporary) prices and/or unmetered features.

Conclusion

There is a reason SiteGround Hosting is among the fastest growing independent website hosts. There is a solid product along with a great support. Being headquartered in Bulgaria enables these to be more globally oriented than many US companies and will be offering a really world-class product. When they would disclose and/or remove their auto-WordPress install, they is far better.

If you’re searching for any webhost by having an worldwide bent, an emphasis on solid technical features, along with a full road to plans for any site that will grow, and extremely don’t worry about SiteGround’s link schemes, you can aquire a discount on SiteGround&#8217s plans here.

If you’re searching for any webhost with the advantages of SiteGround &#8211 however with better prices and guarantees, I’d opt for InMotion Hosting. Get InMotion&#8217s discount here.

If you’re more confused than ever before &#8211 then take my BuzzFeed style Weblog Web Hosting quiz here, the Website Hosting Quiz here or use this site setup guide here!

SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround is really a independent webhost with developer focused features.
SiteGround Review
Date Printed: 02/21/2017
Great product specifically for globally focused websites. Cutting-edge features with higher performance. A little pricey and much more centered on developers than general audience.
4 / 5 stars

The publish SiteGround Hosting Review: Pros &#038 Cons of utilizing SiteGround made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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