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Cached pages is an undeniably useful tool when you come across a web page that is performing poorly, or temporarily down for some reason.

At its most basic, Google crawls web pages and then makes raw HTML copies of them -- a cached page. This can enable you to view a website that is slow or not responding, and it can also help SEO experts figure out indexation issues with a site.

What is a cached page?

When Google crawls a web page, it will take a screenshot of that page and index the content for future reference, in case the current page becomes unavailable. The cached page is essentially a back-up of the raw HTML of a page. Additionally, Google will provide the date of the last time the page was indexed on the cache page, i.e. "This page is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Feb 20, 2019".

If you've come across a page that isn't responding, or if you want to make sure your site is being properly indexed, keep reading to figure out how cached pages can help you solve both.

How to view cached pages
  1. In Google's search box, type the website or page you're trying to see.
  2. Beside the green URL, click the down arrow.
  3. Select "Cached".
  4. You are now viewing the cached page.
  5. Alternatively, type the word "cache" in front of the web page's URL. i.e. "cache:https://examplesite.com".

1. In Google's search box, type the website or page you're trying to see. Beside the green URL, click the down arrow. Select "Cached".

2. You are now viewing the cached page.

2. Alternatively, type the word "cache" in front of the web page's URL. i.e. "cache:https://examplesite.com".

It's important to note, the cache is the part of the website written in plain HTML -- it doesn't also save JavaScript. Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, John Mueller, verifies this, stating on his Twitter:

JavaScript content is typically inaccessible from the cache, but that doesn't mean it wasn't indexed -- to check how a Google bot views your website, try using the Fetch and Render tool in Google Search Console instead.

Next, let's explore how you can use Google Cache.

How to use Google Cache
  1. Use Google Cache if you're on a web page that is slow or unresponsive.
  2. Use Google Cache to check when a particular page was last visited by a Googlebot.
  3. Check how your website is indexed online.
1. Use Google Cache if you're on a web page that is slow or unresponsive.

If you're trying to find information on a website but it seems the page is down (or just slow), you might try alternating to the Google Cache version. Of course, the page might not look aesthetically identical, but you'll be able to see the HTML from the last time a Googlebot crawled the page.

2. Use Google Cache to check when a particular page was last visited by a Googlebot.

If you want to know the last time a Googlebot visited a certain page, but don't have access to server logs, you can now see when the page was last visited by checking out the Cache version of the page. It can be helpful to see the last time the page was successfully fetched by a bot -- if you've made changes that make the page unresponsive, you might need to know which changes you need to un-do.

3. Check how your website is indexed online.

You might be curious to see whether your website is cached online. If it's not cached, there are a few potential reasons -- first, you'll want to check there is no content="noarchive" attribute in the source code of the page. If the page is non-indexable or blocked from crawling, it won't be cached. Alternatively, if a page is new, it might take a little while for the cache to become available.

If it's not able to be cached, it's still visible online. But if you want your site viewers to have the option of viewing it in a cache-version if your site is slow or unresponsive, you might consider digging deeper to figure out what the problem is.

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With over 3.5 billion search queries on Google everyday, paid Google search -- where you pay Google to advertise your content on SERPs for relevant keywords -- is one of the most popular and effective types of online advertising. However, there’s enormous demand for the top ad rankings for a lot of keywords, and all your competitors are duking it out to win the top keywords in your industry. So are you supposed to compete?

Over the past three years, HubSpot has spent millions of dollars and ran over 1,200 controlled experiments on acquiring free CRM users through Google advertisements. We’ve gleaned a ton of new insights and processes along the way, so we want to share them with our fellow marketers to help everyone save their time, budget, and frustrations.

Read on to learn the eight-step process we use to optimize Google Advertising costs. And if you’re new to Google ads, check out the basics of Google Adwords in the section below. If you already know the fundamentals, feel free to skip it.

Google Adwords 101 Keywords

From a fifty-thousand foot view, you win ad impressions on Google by bidding on keywords. In other words, you’re asking Google to show your ad to a user when they type a specific search query into their search engine. These search queries are called “keywords”.

For example, if you’re advertising a free CRM, you might want your ad to show up on Google when users type “free crm” into the search engine. Every other brand who wants to win those impressions will set their bids, and based on that and various other factors, Google may choose to display your ad to its users.

Ad Groups

An Ad Group organizes your keywords into different groups. For example, if we had a “Competitors” campaign, we’d have a “HubSpot Marketing Competitors” ad group and a “HubSpot Sales Competitors” ad group. Within each of these ad groups, we might bid on keywords that consists of our competitors’ brand names plus each product we both sell.

Quality Score

Aggressively bidding on keywords is not enough to win impressions. You could bid $10 per click while your competitor bids $5 per click, and you could still lose that auction if they have a high enough quality score.

Your quality score is a metric that measures how positive and relevant of an experience you are creating for the searcher. A lot of signals are taken into account, a few of which are your landing page experience and click-through rate. This means organizations can’t acquire the top ranking for any keyword they want just because they have the biggest ad budgets. Their content has to be relevant.

Google’s top priority is providing their users with a great user experience, so they’d rather give an impression away for free than make $100 per click if the loss in revenue means they can provide a better user experience to their users.

Match Types

Google Ads offers four types of match types: broad match, modified broad match, phrase match, and exact match. Here’s a rundown of each of them.

Broad Match: With broad match, the user just needs to type in one of the words within your keyword or a “variant” of it, which can sometimes be somewhat irrelevant, and your ad could show up on their results page. For example, if you bid on “free crm software”, your ad could only show up for “crm software” and “adobe software.” Be careful with broad match, though. Bidding on these type of keywords is the easiest way to burn through a ton of cash without producing substantial results.

Modified Broad Match (MBM): MBM allows you to lock in specific keywords within a phrase. For example, bidding on “free +crm +software” will display your ad on a Google search for “no cost crm software” and “easy crm software”, but not on “adobe software”.

Phrase Match: With phrase match, your ad will appear when Google users search for the phrase that you're bidding on, as well as instances where your phrase is before, after, or in between other keywords in the search query. For example, if you bid on “free crm software”, your ad will show up on Google for “free crm software for small business”, but not for “free software crm.”

Exact Match: Exact match is exactly what it sounds like. If you bid on “free crm software”, your ad will only show up if users search for “free crm software” on Google, in addition to other close variants.

Now that we know the basics of Google Adwords, let’s get back on track.

The 8-Step Process HubSpot Uses to Optimize Google Advertising Costs 1. Pick your keywords.

When you first launch your Adwords campaign, start small. Come up with a list of 5-10 keywords and start bidding using modified broad match. For example, if you’re working on a campaign for a free CRM, the keywords “Free CRM”, “CRM Software”, “CRM Reviews”, “CRM Comparison”, and “Best CRM” would be good to start with. Modified broad match will be more expensive than exact match, but it gives Google greater flexibility to display your ads on more search queries than exact match will.

In addition to building a “unbranded” keyword list, like the one above, you’ll also want to build a “branded” keyword list (i.e. "HubSpot CRM"). You should do this for two reasons:

  1. More clicks: You’re probably thinking, “HubSpot already has the #1 spot on Google for the keyword ‘HubSpot CRM.’ Why would they pay for it?” What you’re thinking is true, but studies show if you also win the top ad spot on the SERP where you’ve already won the top organic ranking, you'll receive significantly more clicks. And given the amount of ads Google displays above the fold these days, I have no doubt in my mind this is accurate.
  2. Competitor blocking: If we don’t bid on and win “HubSpot CRM”, one of our competitors will. Even if we bid aggressively, our competitors can still sneak a win, like the example below.
2. Set up your campaigns.

There isn’t a cookie cutter approach to campaign structure, but I’m a strong proponent of a 1:1:1 campaign to ad group to keywords setup. In other words, I like to put one keyword in each ad group and one ad group in each campaign. Setting up your campaign like this can clutter your account from an organization standpoint, but here are two reasons why it’s worth it:

  1. When you use Adwords, you usually set daily budgets at the campaign level, so this type of campaign set up allows for more flexible spending, which is important because your keywords’ ROI can get maxed out. Adwords is an auction, so if you want to win more impressions, you have to bid more. At a certain point, the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) required to win more impressions won’t be worth it anymore, so you’ll want to allocate your budget elsewhere, which you can do more precisely if you categorize each keyword into its own campaign.
  2. Since Google sets your quality score at the keyword level, you’ll want to set up an ad group for each individual keyword, which are sometimes referred to as swim lanes. By setting up swim lanes for each keyword instead of putting them all in the same ad group, you’ll avoid the unfortunate situation of a few underperforming keywords dragging down the quality score of the entire ad group. If each keyword has its own ad group or swim lane, you can just pause the underperforming keywords’ campaign and no harm will be done anywhere else.
3. Craft your ad copy.

One of the most effective levers you can pull to boost your quality score is Click-through-Rate (CTR). And one of the most effective levers you can pull to boost your CTR is crafting compelling ad copy. One of the most important principles of writing Google Ads copy is that you need to signal to Google and their users that your ad is relevant to what they’re searching for. For example, if you’re bidding on the keyword “CRM Software”, you’re going to design a completely different ad and landing page than if you’re bidding on the keyword “CRM Reviews”.

4. Set up your ad extensions.

There are a lot of useful Google ad extensions, but if there’s one you should always launch with, it’s sitelinks. Sitelinks are the 4-6 links under most Google ads. They take up a significant amount of real estate, boost your CTR, and, best of all, you don’t have to pay any extra money when people click on them.

5. Setup “negative” keywords.

Negative keywords inform Google that you don’t want to bid on a keyword if the user enters a specific word alongside your keyword. There are a lot of different use cases for setting up negative keywords, but here are three big ones to look out for:

  1. Irrelevance: I helped market a pre-workout at my last company called “volcaNO”. Needless to say, I didn’t want our ads to show up on Google for the keyword “volcano lava”, so I tagged “lava” as a negative keyword.
  2. Competing with yourself: Remember, Adwords is an auction. So if you have one campaign bidding on “CRM Software” on MBM and another bidding on “Free CRM Software” on exact match, you’ll be competing with yourself if a user searches for “free crm software”. Tag “free” as a negative keyword in the “CRM Software” campaign to avoid cannibalizing your own clicks.
  3. Low quality: To understand who your business’ ideal buyer is, talk to sales about the type of people who aren’t good fits for your products or services and try to filter them out.
6. Find your top performing keywords.

After you run your campaigns for a while, it’s time to optimize them. The most important Adwords tab in regards to optimizing your campaigns is the “search term report”. The search term report lists out the exact search queries that you’ve paid for for a given keyword. Remember, if you bid MBM on “free crm”, you’re going to show up on Google for the keywords “free crm for SaaS companies”, “best free crm”, “free crm to replace excel”, and potentially thousands of others. The search term report will help you filter out your top performing keywords.

If you notice a specific search query performing particularly well, tag it as negative keyword so you don’t bid it against your other keywords, and then break that keyword out into its own campaign. This is the time to double down. You’ll give that keyword its own budget, it’s own ads, it’s own display URL, and if you have the bandwidth, even it’s own landing page.

7. Look for negatives on demo data.

Most people know about negative keywords, but they often overlook negatives on demo data. For example, maybe you notice men under 25 or woman over 60 aren’t converting (all of this data is available in Adwords). You can exclude these segments by adding negatives or bid modifiers to them, which we’ll explain below.

8. Setup bid modifiers.

A bid modifier lets you adjust your bids for specific criteria without having to change the targeting of your campaign or ad group. For example, if you see mobile converting 50% worse than desktop, you can add a -50% bid modifier on mobile clicks. That’ll lower your ad’s bid on mobile impressions, lead to less placements of your ad on mobile, and optimize your budget. Other cool bid modifiers include:

  • Age & gender
  • Locations
  • Hours of the day
  • Days of the week
  • If someone has visited a page on your site in the last X days
  • If someone is on a lead list
The only silver bullet to Google Adwords is testing and learning.

While the process above is what has worked best for HubSpot’s paid acquisition team, the only way to know what works best for your business is to test and learn. So feel free to implement our strategy as a starting point, but we highly recommend you monitor your data closely and develop a process that's more tailored to your own business.

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If I were to ask you to list the most valuable things you own, what would you say? I guess this would be another way of asking the infamous “What would you grab if your house was on fire?” question.

As for me, I’d grab an old keepsake box filled with things from my childhood, a necklace from my boyfriend, my phone and computer (for pictures and writings!), and an old Iowa sweatshirt of my dad’s.

But I’d also have to say that my identity, social security number, credit cards, and bank accounts are valuable to me. While these things can’t exactly burn down in a fire, they can be stolen … and if I were to ask a computer hacker what he or she thought my most valuable possessions were, they’d probably quote the intangible.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide on cybersecurity. Below, we’ll talk about why you should care about cybersecurity, how to secure your and your customer’s digital data, and what resources to follow to stay up-to-date with emerging tech.

Personal data is incredibly valuable. Hackers know it, and businesses know it. That’s why both go to great lengths to collect it — albeit one following a much more legal and moral avenue to do so.

Unfortunately, as technology and data collection practices progress, so do the methods that hackers follow to steal data. As business owners, we have a special responsibility to protect our customer’s data and be transparent with our practices.

Why You Should Care About Cybersecurity

In 2017, organizations providing online services (a.k.a. e-commerce companies) contributed to the largest number of compromised credentials: over 2 billion. 🤯

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are especially at risk. You might see corporations like Target and Sears topping the headlines as top data breach victims, but it’s actually SMBs that hackers prefer to target.

Why? They have more — and more valuable — digital assets than your average consumer but less security than a larger enterprise-level company … placing them right in a “hackers' cybersecurity sweet spot.”

Security breaches are frustrating and frightening for both businesses and consumers.

Studies show that, after a company data breach, many consumers take a break from shopping at that business — and some consumers quit altogether.

But cybersecurity is about more than just avoiding a PR nightmare. Investing in cybersecurity builds trust with your customers. It encourages transparency and reduces friction as customers become advocates for your brand.

Keep your business ahead of the tech curve with the tips, systems & recommended resources in our guide to staying current on emerging tech.

Cybersecurity Terms to Know

Cybersecurity is a very intimidating topic, much like cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence. It can be hard to understand, and, frankly, it sounds kind of ominous and complicated.

But fear not. We’re here to break this topic down into digestible pieces that you can rebuild into your own cybersecurity strategy. Bookmark this post to keep this handy glossary at your fingertips.

Here’s a comprehensive list of general cybersecurity terms you should know.

Authentication

Authentication is the process of verifying who you are and why you need access to an account or software. Many organizations use two-factor authentication, which we cover later.

Backup

A backup refers to the process of transferring important data to a secure location, such as the cloud or a physical, offsite server in case of a cyber attack or system crash.

Data Breach

A data breach refers to the moment a hacker gains unauthorized entry or access to a company’s or an individual’s data.

Digital Certificate

A digital certificate, also known as an identity certificate or public key certificate, is a type of passcode used to securely exchange data over the internet. It’s essentially a digital file embedded in a device or piece of hardware that provides authentication when it sends and receives data to and from another device or server.

Encryption

Encryption is the practice of using codes and ciphers to encrypt data. This algorithmic technique changes important data to a “language” that’s only able to be read by certain software.

HTTP and HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is how internet browsers communicate. You’ll probably see an http:// or https:// in front of most websites you visit. HTTP and HTTPS are the same, except HTTPS encrypts all data sent between you and the web server — hence the “S” for security. HTTPS is used for e-commerce websites and other places that you submit sensitive data online.

Vulnerability

A vulnerability is a place of weakness, either digitally or physically, that a hacker might exploit when launching a cyber attack. Vulnerabilities might include the check-out page on an e-commerce site where users enter delicate information or an outside bank ATM where users insert debit cards and enter PIN numbers. Defensive cybersecurity measures (like the ones we talk about later) can help prevent attacks on these vulnerabilities.

Types of Cyber Attacks
  • Brute Force Attack
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack
  • Malware Attack
  • Phishing Attack

A cyber attack is a deliberate and typically malicious intent to capture, modify, or erase private data. Cyber attacks are committed by external security hackers and, sometimes, unintentionally by compromised users or employees. These cyber attacks are committed for a variety of reasons. The majority are looking for ransom, while some are simply launched for fun.

Here are the four most common cyber threats.

Brute Force Attack

A brute force attack is when a hacker overloads a system or computer until they ultimately gain access. This is typically done by continually guessing passwords manually or through a computer application. Consider this type of attack the digital equivalent of beating on a door until it breaks. (This is why super strong passwords are so important, as we talk about later.)

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is when a hacker floods a network or system with a ton of activity (such as messages, requests, and traffic) in order to paralyze and officially exploit the system. This is typically done through bots and botnets, which are networks of computers infected by viruses that allow a hacker to control and use them as bots for other forms of attacks.

Malware Attack

Malware refers to all types of malicious software used by hackers to infiltrate computers and networks and collect susceptible private data. Types of malware include:

  • Keylogger malware tracks everything a person types on their keyboard. Keyloggers are usually used to capture passwords and other private information, such as social security numbers.
  • Ransomware encrypts data and holds it hostage, forcing users to pay a ransom in order to unlock and access the infected files.
  • Spyware monitors and “spies” on user activity on behalf of a hacker.
  • Trojan horses infect networks through a single entry point, often disguised as a legitimate download or link, and give hackers complete control of users’ computers.
  • Viruses corrupt, erase, modify, or capture data and, at times, physically damage computers. Viruses can be unintentionally installed by compromised users.
  • Worms are designed to self-replicate and autonomously spread through all computers connected to an infected network.
Phishing Attack

A phishing attack is when hackers disguise their identity and intent through a seemingly legitimate download, link, or message. It’s a very common type of cyber attack — over 75% of organizations fell victim to phishing in 2018. Phishing is typically done over email or through a fake website; it’s also known as spoofing. Additionally, spear phishing refers to when a hacker pretends to be a particular person or business, instead of using a general name or identity.

Cybersecurity Best Practices: How to Secure Your Data

Cybersecurity can’t be boiled down into a 1-2-3-step process. Securing your data involves a mix of best practices and defensive cybersecurity techniques. Dedicating time and resources to both is the best way to secure your — and your customers’ — data.

Defensive Cybersecurity Solutions

All businesses should invest in preventative cybersecurity solutions. Implementing these systems and adopting good cybersecurity habits (which we discuss next) will protect your network and computers from outside threats.

Here’s a list of six defensive cybersecurity systems and software options that can prevent cyber attacks — and the inevitable headache that follows. Consider combining these solutions to cover all your digital bases.

Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is the digital equivalent of taking that vitamin C boost during flu season. It’s a preventative measure that monitors for bugs. The job of antivirus software is to detect viruses on your computer and remove them, much like vitamin C does when bad things enter your immune system. (Spoken like a true medical professional …) Antivirus software also alerts you to potentially unsafe web pages and software.

Learn more: McAfee, Norton. or Panda (for free)

Firewall

A firewall is a digital wall that keeps malicious users and software out of your computer. It uses a filter that assesses the safety and legitimacy of everything that wants to enter your computer; it’s like an invisible judge that sits between you and the internet. Firewalls are both software and hardware-based.

Learn more: McAfee LiveSafe or Kaspersky Internet Security

Honeypot

A honeypot is a fake server set up for the sole purpose of enticing malicious software. It’s used as a decoy to lead hackers away from the actual high-value servers on the network. Honeypots are also valuable as businesses can watch their activity and learn about hackers’ techniques without actually falling victim to them.

Learn more: KFSensor, HoneyPot, or Honeyd

Single Sign-On (SSO)

Single sign-on (SSO) is a centralized authentication service through which one login is used to access an entire platform of accounts and software. If you’ve ever used your Google account to sign up or into an account, you’ve used SSO. Enterprises and corporations use SSO to allow employees access to internal applications that contain proprietary data.

Learn more: Okta or LastPass

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a login process that requires a username or pin number and access to an external device or account, such as an email address, phone number, or security software. 2FA requires users to confirm their identity through both and, because of that, is far more secure than single factor authentication.

Learn more: Duo

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A virtual private network (VPN) creates a “tunnel” through which your data travels when entering and exiting a web server. That tunnel encrypts and protects your data so that it can’t be read (or spied on) by hackers or malicious software. While a VPN protects against spyware, it can’t prevent viruses from entering your computer through seemingly legitimate channels, like phishing or even a fake VPN link. Because of this, VPNs should be combined with other defensive cybersecurity measures in order to protect your data.

Learn more: Cisco's AnyConnect or Palo Alto Networks’ GlobalProtect

Cybersecurity Tips for Business

Defensive cybersecurity solutions won’t work unless you do. To ensure your business and customer data is protected, adopt these good cybersecurity habits across your organization.

Require strong credentials.

Require both your employees and users (if applicable) to create strong passwords. This can be done by implementing a character minimum as well as requiring a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. More complicated passwords are harder to guess by both individuals and bots. Also, require that passwords be changed regularly.

Control and monitor employee activity.

Within your business, only give access to important data to authorized employees who need it for their job. Prohibit data from sharing outside the organization, require permission for external software downloads, and encourage employees to lock their computers and accounts whenever not in use.

Know your network.

With the rise of the Internet of Things, IoT devices are popping up on company networks like crazy. These devices, which are not under company management, can introduce risk as they’re often unsecured and run vulnerable software that can be exploited by hackers and provide a direct pathway into an internal network.

“Make sure you have visibility into all the IoT devices on your network. Everything on your corporate network should be identified, properly categorized, and controlled. By knowing what devices are on your network, controlling how they connect to it, and monitoring them for suspicious activities, you'll drastically reduce the landscape attackers are playing on.” — Nick Duda, Principal Security Officer at HubSpot

Read about how HubSpot gains device visibility and automates security management in this case study compiled by security software ForeScout.

Download patches and updates regularly.

Software vendors regularly release updates that address and fix vulnerabilities. Keep your software safe by updating it on a consistent basis. Consider configuring your software to update automatically so you never forget.

Make it easy for employees to escalate issues.

If your employee comes across a phishing email or compromised web page, you want to know immediately. Set up a system for receiving these issues from employees by dedicating an inbox to these notifications or creating a form that people can fill out.

Cybersecurity Tips for Individuals

Cyber threats can affect you as an individual consumer and internet user, too. Adopt these good habits to protect your personal data and avoid cyber attacks.

Mix up your passwords.

Using the same password for all your important accounts is the digital equivalent of leaving a spare key under your front doormat. A recent study found that over 80% of data breaches were a result of weak or stolen passwords. Even if a business or software account doesn’t require a strong password, always choose one that has a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols and change it regularly.

Monitor your bank accounts and credit frequently.

Review your statements, credit reports, and other critical data on a regular basis and report any suspicious activity. Additionally, only release your social security number when absolutely necessary.

Be intentional online.

Keep an eye out for phishing emails or illegitimate downloads. If a link or website looks fishy (ha — get it?), it probably is. Look for bad spelling and grammar, suspicious URLs, and mismatched email addresses. Lastly, download antivirus and security software to alert you of potential and known malware sources.

Back up your data regularly.

This habit is good for businesses and individuals to master — data can be compromised for both parties. Consider backups on both cloud and physical locations, such as a hard drive or thumb drive.

Cybersecurity Resources

To learn more about cybersecurity and how to better equip your business and team, tap into the resources below. Check out some of the most popular cybersecurity podcasts and cybersecurity blogs, too.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

NIST is a government agency that promotes excellence in science and industry. It also contains a Cybersecurity department and routinely publishes guides that standards.

Bookmark: The Computer Security Resource Center (CSRC) for security best practices, called NIST Special Publications (SPs).

The Center for Internet Security (CIS)

CIS is a global, non-profit security resource and IT community used and trusted by experts in the field.

Bookmark: The CIS Top 20 Critical Security Controls, which is a prioritized set of best practices created to stop the most pervasive and dangerous threats of today. It was developed by leading security experts from around the world and is refined and validated every year.

Cybrary

Cybrary is an online cybersecurity education resource. It offers mostly free, full-length educational videos, certifications, and more for all kinds of cybersecurity topics and specializations.

Signing Off … Securely

Cyber attacks may be intimidating, but cybersecurity as a topic doesn’t have to be. It’s imperative to be prepared and armed, especially if you’re handling others’ data. Businesses should dedicate time and resources to protecting their computers, servers, networks, and software and should stay up-to-date with emerging tech. Handling data with care only makes your business more trustworthy and transparent — and your customers more loyal.

Note: Any legal information in this content is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so we insist that you consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. In a nutshell, you may not rely on this as legal advice or as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding.

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After strolling out of my Computer Science I final during my freshman year of college, I knew I’d never code anything in my life again. My computer science class was incredibly interesting when we learned about the theory of programming languages. But when we had to put theory into practice, the only programing I was doing was texting my friend to email me the code of whatever project I was working on (sorry Professor Harms!).

If you have the same sentiment toward programming as me, but you need to build a website for your business or your personal portfolio, don’t fret. There are affordable, intuitive website builders that can help you develop a robust website without any coding knowledge. And we’ve rounded up the seven of the best ones for 2019 below.

Best Website Builders
  1. WordPress
  2. Wix
  3. Squarespace
  4. Weebly
  5. Google Sites
  6. Shopify
  7. HubSpot's Content Management System
1. WordPress

Image Credit: WordPress

G2Crowd Rating: 4.3/5.0 (1,670 reviews)

Pricing:

Personal - $5 per month

Premium - $8 per month

Business - $25 per month

eCommerce - $45 per month

Powering over 30% of the websites on the internet, WordPress is arguably the most popular website builder out there. Whether you want to develop a website for your business or your own personal projects, you can use WordPress’ intuitive editor to build an entire website and blog.

With WordPress, you can also easily add images to your website with their drag-and-drop editor and embed audio, video, and documents in your website. If you want visibility into your website’s analytics and SEO data, WordPress has these features built into their platform.

Additionally, WordPress offers hundreds of themes that you can leverage to build a beautiful website without much coding knowledge, as well as an online store builder.

2. Wix

Image Credit: Wix

G2Crowd Rating: 4.2/5.0 (947 reviews)

Pricing:

Combo - $11 per month

Unlimited - $14 per month

Pro - $19 per month

VIP - $29 per month

Wix is one of the most versatile website builders on the market. The website builder offers the ability to build a website specifically for stores, musicians, events, and restaurants.

If your business doesn’t operate under one of the previously mentioned categories, don’t worry, Wix is still a viable option. Their code-free editor is robust and intuitive, providing over 500 website templates, over 100 fonts, scroll effects, an app market, and a drag-and-drop functionality, letting you build a website for nearly any type of organization.

If you’d rather have full control over your website’s functionality, you can build custom web applications on your website with Wix’s Code APIs and JavaScript. Wix also offers Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI), which uses a questionnaire you fill out and artificial intelligence to design a personalized professional website for you.

3. Squarespace

G2Crowd Rating: 4.4/5.0 (753 reviews)

Pricing:

Personal Website - $12 per month

Business Website - $18 per month

Basic Online Store - $26 per month

Advanced Online Store - $40 per month

With award-winning, fully customizable website templates designed by their own team of web designers, Squarespace gives you the ability to craft some of the most visually aesthetic websites that a website builder can possibly develop.

Squarespace also offers some robust marketing tools, like email campaigns, SEO features, blogging, social integration, analytics, lead capture features, a map of your store location, calendars, and an online store builder.

Additionally, Squarespace offers dozens of integrations to amplify your design and marketing efforts, like Getty Images, Unsplash, Eventbrite, Disqus, PayPal, OpenTable, Google Maps, Google AMP, and more.

4. Weebly

Image Credit: Weebly

G2Crowd Rating: 4.2/5.0 (374 reviews)

Pricing:

Free - $0 per month

Connect - $5 per month

Pro - $12 per month

Business - $25 per month

Performance - $38 per month

Weebly is an intuitive website builder that offers over 50 website themes and a drag-and-drop editor. With custom fonts, an image editor, video backgrounds, and animation effects like parallax and reveal, you can truly build a visually pleasing website. If you’d rather customize your entire website, Wix gives you the option to employ your own custom HTML/CSS & JavaScript.

Wix also lets you store your contacts in a contact database, write blog posts, create and send emails, share content on your social profiles, analyze your SEO, and examine your website analytics. If you have an online store, you can even create Facebook ads inside of their platform.

Additionally, Weebly will host your website on their servers for free, transfer your domain from another website builder, keep your website safe by offering SSL security and DDoS protection, and provides 24/7 email & chat support.

5. Google Sites

Image Credit: Google My Business

G2Crowd Rating: 4.4/5.0 (247 reviews)

Pricing: Free

in June 2017, Google gave every business with a Google My Business account access to a free, intuitive single-page website builder. The tool is fully customizable, automatically updates with the account user's GMB listing information, and works with AdWords Express.

Tailored for small businesses, Google Sites can automatically generate your company’s information on your website with information from your Google My Business profile. You can also customize your website’s text, photos, and design themes. Additionally, Google Sites are mobile responsive, can use custom domains, and can display your Google Maps location.

6. Shopify

G2Crowd Rating: 4.3/5.0 (2,386 reviews)

Pricing:

Basic Shopify - $29 per month

Shopify - $79 per month

Advanced Shopify - $299 per month

Powering over 500,000 businesses that have generated more than $40 billion in sales, Shopify is the leading online store builder for retailers. And for good reason, too. Shopify’s eCommerce functionality is second-to-none, offering advanced inventory management, store management, and selling and shipping solutions.

Shopify also provides over 70 website themes, customizable templates, a blogging platform, and access to your website’s HTML and CSS, which allows you to intuitively build a robust website for your online store. Additionally, Shopify enables you to build your brand by offering SEO tools, social media integration, the ability to sell your products on Facebook, analytics reports, and an integration with Google Analytics.

If you need help building your store, Shopify can connect you with a retail expert to photograph your inventory, market your store, set up your website, and even help you create 3D models of your products.

7. HubSpot's Content Management System

G2Crowd Rating: 4.5/5.0 (1,503 reviews)

Pricing: Contact Sales

WIth HubSpot's content management system, or CMS, you can create blog posts, landing pages, website pages, and emails in one platform, and then manage, optimize, and track your content’s performance in the same exact place.

HubSpot's CMS also automatically optimizes your content for mobile and search engines by leveraging responsive design and a built-in SSL. Additionally, you can personalize your content for each website visitor based on location, source, device, language, or any other detail stored in your HubSpot CRM, from demographic information to your contacts’ interactions with your brand.

You can either buy HubSpot’s CMS as a standalone product, or as an add-on to HubSpot's all-in-one marketing software.

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When a job seeker begins her search, one of the first things she's going to Google is this -- "Top companies to work for in 2019" or, alternatively, "Top companies in X industry."

It makes sense -- nowadays, a company's reputation matters more than ever. In fact, 86% of workers would not apply for, or continue to work for, a company that has a bad reputation with former employees, or the general public.

Ultimately, you spend plenty of time creating a compelling, incentivizing brand story surrounding your products or services. But how long do you spend cultivating a powerful employer brand to ensure you attract and retain top talent?

Here, we're going to explore what employer branding means, examples of good employer branding, and how you can implement your own employer branding strategy, today.

What is employer branding?

At its most basic, an employer brand is your reputation as a place to work, as well as your employees' perception of you as an employer.

In other words, employer branding is how you market your company to job seekers, as well as internal employees. The better you are at employer branding, the more likely you are to attract top talent. Additionally, a positive employer brand can also help you retain top talent.

Let's say you've done a phenomenal job building up a strong brand in relation to your products or services. Unfortunately, that alone won't convince someone to work at, or stay at, your company. You need to implement the same branding strategy when it comes to communicating your company's leadership, values, and culture.

If a job seeker asks an employee at your company, "What's it like to work there?" the employee isn't going to say, "We've built some awesome merchandise." Instead, he's going to lay into the day-to-day of people management, company values, and workplace culture. To ensure a good employer brand, then, you need to tell a compelling story.

However, it goes deeper than storytelling -- you also need to walk the walk. Telling your employees, and the general public, that your company is a great place to work because you have ping-pong tables isn't going to cut it.

At this point, you might be wondering, Does this really matter to me and my company? 

Actually, employer branding is critical to your bottom-line. A good employer brand can reduce turnover rates by 28%, and cut your costs-per-hire by half. Additionally, candidates who apply for roles are 50% more qualified when the company has a good employer brand.

Ultimately, an employer brand can help you greatly reduce recruitment and hiring costs, while ensuring higher morale and more productivity among members of your teams. Plus, you have an employer brand whether you've put effort behind it or not -- so why not put effort in, to ensure it's a brand you can be proud of?

Next, let's explore how you can implement an employer brand strategy today.

Employer branding strategy

An employer branding strategy allows you to control and positively change the dialogue surrounding your company, to ensure higher talent acquisition and retention. At its most basic, employer branding is how you market your company to job seekers, and what employees say about your company as a workplace. A good employer branding strategy can help you attract better talent, cut down on hiring costs, and reduce employee turnover.

1. Know your company's unique value proposition.

To create a powerful employer brand, it's critical you start by focusing on your company's mission statement, values, vision, and culture. It could be helpful to identify what your business needs are, and then work backwards to understand what type of talent you need to acquire to fulfill those objectives.

For instance, consider Teach for America's mission statement -- "One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education."

Using this statement as a guideline, Teach for America is then able to tell a compelling brand employer story on their Values page. Among other things, they promise employees the chance for continuous learning, stating, "We operate with curiosity and embrace new ideas to innovate and constantly improve. We take informed risks and learn from successes, setbacks, and each other."

In this way, they've aligned their values, and their employer brand, with their business goal.

2. Conduct an employer brand audit.

You might not be fully aware of the reputation your company has among job seekers or even your own employees. Send out internal surveys, conduct social media searches, check out sites like Glassdoor to read reviews, or hire a firm that administers reputation monitoring.

Ultimately, your research should uncover your employees' favorite aspects of your company culture that you can focus on highlighting, as well as any areas for improvement to ensure a strong employer brand.

3. Write an employer value proposition.

Once you've done your research and cultivated a list of values and benefits your company offers, you'll want to create an employer value proposition. An employer value proposition is a marketing message and a promise -- so you shouldn't say anything that isn't true, or that your employees wouldn't agree with. You might use your employer value proposition on your website, recruitment materials, or LinkedIn company page.

Additionally, your employer value proposition is something your recruiters and HR team can discuss with potential candidates.

Your employer value proposition should have nothing to do with compensation. Instead, you want to evoke passion in potential candidates by expressing your company's positive impact on the world, or deeper purpose. People want to feel their work is meaningful, often even at the expense of a bigger paycheck.

For instance, Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm, created this employer value proposition, which they've displayed prominently on their Careers page -- "Help build the future. Be yourself, make a difference. Work where you’re inspired to explore your passions, where your talents are nurtured and cultivated. Innovate with leading-edge technologies on some of the coolest projects you can imagine. And get the tools you need to keep learning and growing so you stay continually ahead of the game while making a difference in the world."

4. Leverage current employees.

When job seekers want to learn more about your employer brand, they're going to want to hear from and see real employees at your company. Leverage your employees by conducting employee interviews or testimonials to share on your website.

You also might leverage employees by asking them to post on their social media accounts when your company does a fun giveaway or company outing. For instance, perhaps you create a Women in Tech event and hold a panel discussion. Afterwards, you might simply ask your employees to post a picture on Instagram or Facebook with a hashtag you've created. This is a fun yet powerful way for your own employees to share your company's culture with their own networks.

5. Cultivate a strong onboarding process.

According to an infographic by O.C. Tanner, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years after a great onboarding experience.

Ultimately, instilling a positive company brand image starts with a good onboarding process. It's critical you get employees engaged and excited about their roles, and their teams, from the start. By arming your new employees with the instructions and tools necessary to excel in their roles, you're ensuring a smooth transition, lower turnover rates, and more productive teams.

6. Offer learning and development opportunities.

In 2018, the number one reason people left their jobs was because they were bored, and needed a new challenge. Ultimately, this should be a relatively easy fix.

If you allow employees to pursue learning opportunities and become proficient in new skills, you're demonstrating your company's emphasis on continuous learning and improvement. And by challenging your employees, you're ensuring they won't get bored in their roles -- which could lead to higher retention rates.

Plus, as they develop new skills, they become more valuable employees for your company. A win, win.

7. Use video, blog posts, photos, and slideshows to tell your company story.

When you're implementing a strategy to improve the market's perception of your product or service, you don't just communicate your message through one channel. Instead, you provide videos, photos, slideshows, blogs, and other forms of messaging to ensure you're reaching the largest audience on whichever platform they want to be found.

Similarly, it's critical you use high-quality videos, photos, and text to tell your company story. You might consider putting employee interviews on your job page, or a slideshare created by your CEO on your About Us page.

8. Create a strong diversity and inclusion initiative.

If you want to create a strong employer brand, it's critical you show your commitment to building diverse teams. There are plenty of company benefits to investing in D&I initiatives, including more innovative ideas, a stronger workplace culture, and better customer service. However, it's also necessary for cultivating a positive employer brand, by ensuring your extending your brand's reach to new groups of people.

Employer branding examples
  1. Starbucks
  2. HubSpot
  3. SoulCycle
  4. Eventbrite
  5. Jet
1. Starbucks

Starbucks does a good job ensuring they cultivate a strong community among their employees. For instance, they refer to current employees as partners, instilling a sense of pride in each employee. Additionally, Starbucks created Instagram and Twitter accounts specifically for @StarbucksJobs, which they use to promote their employer brand and interact with job seekers.

By creating social media accounts with the sole purpose of demonstrating appreciation for current employees and evoking passion in potential candidates, Starbucks shows its commitment to being more than just a product.

Rather than posting about their drinks, Starbucks uses its social media accounts to share their company mission, congratulate employees on college graduation, and share personal employee stories. The company also uses the platforms to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

2. HubSpot

HubSpot's Culture Page begins with a document called the Culture Code, which publically pronounces every vision and value HubSpot hopes to promote and instill in its employees, candidates, and customers.

Moving further down the page, you'll find sections discussing opportunities for learning and development, HubSpot's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and interviews with real HubSpot employees. The language also consistently focuses on the job seeker -- "Here's how we can help you grow".

The page ends with a "day in the life" video made by HubSpot employee Matthew Watkins, demonstrating HubSpot's relentless commitment to communicating its culture via its employees. Ultimately, the page is a powerful example for how you might use interactive media to promote your employer brand.

 
3. SoulCycle

SoulCycle isn't just transforming the boutique fitness space -- it's also aiming to transform the traditional corporate culture, by offering benefits it feels will evoke a sense of purpose and belonging in each of its employees.

For instance, Soul gives its employees two paid business days off per year to volunteer at a charity of their choice, with the hope that the charity days will help employees feel happy and more fulfilled.

Additionally, Soul offers free classes (about a $30-per-class value) to employees whenever it suits their schedule. This displays Soul's deeper commitment to making fitness fun, and using exercise as an outlet to de-stress and connect with the community.

With high ratings in each category on Indeed, including four stars on work-life balance and four stars on management, SoulCycle has undoubtedly cultivated a strong employer brand.

4. Eventbrite

To demonstrate its commitment to recruiting high-quality talent, Eventbrite created a web page to introduce job seekers to its recruitment team. The bios are funny and relatable, with fun facts about each recruiter.

Additionally, the Eventbrite recruitment team page states, "Interviewing shouldn't be nerve-wracking -- it should be exciting. It should spark great conversation. We believe in respect, transparency, and timely responses (we don't leave anyone in the dreaded recruiting black hole)."

Their language reflects their values, likely inspiring job seekers to apply.

5. Jet

The ecommerce site Jet created this inspirational, employee-focused video to spread awareness for its fun, engaging, motivational workplace. The video is especially powerful because it uses real employee interviews, giving the job seeker a sense for Jet's work culture and values.

Additionally, the video is likely empowering and pride-evoking for current employees, who can see their company's clear commitment to carrying out its mission statement through videos of its workers.

Come Join Jet! - YouTube

Featured image courtesy of SoulCycle Instagram.

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Google rich snippets. What the heck are those?

They're these awesome things that can help you improve your website's SEO and generate more site traffic from search engine results pages (SERPs), and in this article, I'm going to tell you how to set them up.

Let me first pose a question to you: Have you noticed that when doing a Google search, certain listings just look a little sexier than others? For example, if you were doing a search for "apple pie," which of these listings when you rather click on?

I'll bet you chose option #2. If you didn't, you must really not like apple pie.

Between the thumbnail image and the five-star rating scale, what are these sites doing to make their Google listings include this extra media? The secret to these fancy pieces of information are rich snippets, which these websites have optimized for using the HTML of their website pages.

Google Rich Snippets

Google rich snippets are enhanced search results that produce more details about a website than the average link. This "rich" media can include images, ratings, authors, dates, locations, and more. Publishers can give Google these details by including structured data in the backend of their webpages.

Google rich snippets -- also called "rich results" -- extract information from your website to display on your site's listing in the search results, in addition to the typical page title, page URL, and meta description.

Each search result is guaranteed to display these three pieces of information, making up an individual snippet. The thinking is, the more information included in a search result's snippet, the more likely users are to click on that result. With enough structured data on the page, you can earn a rich snippet.

Rich snippets are often overlooked in businesses' SEO strategies because they are more difficult to implement than traditional on-page SEO. But with how complex Google search results look today, it would be worth your while to spend a little time learning how to do this. Adding this content-rich information to your Google search listings draws the eye and can increase your listings' click-through rates, even when you're not ranking in the #1 position.

There are a few options for how to install rich snippets, but I'm going to show you the easiest method: using microdata.

Keep in mind this process won't guarantee that you'll get a rich snippet. But giving these details special treatment can dramatically increase your chances of enhancing the appearance of your search result -- and, in turn, the traffic you get from it.

How to Create Rich Snippets
  1. Identify which details you want Google to focus on.
  2. Define your webpage using Google's Structured Data Markup Helper.
  3. Create microdata for your webpage using your selected data type.
  4. Create new HTML from this microdata.
  5. Tag your content with this microdata.
  6. Test your rich snippet.
  7. Be patient.
1. Identify which details you want Google to focus on.

Your webpage's topic and format will dictate which types of information you want Google to display in its search results. Are you writing an article? An event page? A book review? A product page? Here are some examples of details included in rich snippets for the several types of snippets available to you:

  • Article: You can add tags for the article title, author, meta description, publish date, featured image, and more.
  • Restaurant pages: You can add tags for food items, item prices, item descriptions, item images, item calories, and more.
  • Product page: You can add tags for product names, product ratings, product prices, product availability, product images, and more.
  • Event page: You can add tags for the event name, event speakers, event schedule, event dates, and more.
  • Recipe: You can add tags for recipe rating, ingredients, image of final product, cooking duration, total calories, and more.
2. Define your webpage using Google's Structured Data Markup Helper.

So, how do you create the tags listed above? Unfortunately, it's not as easy as writing "Here's the product's price" in your webpage's HTML and expecting Google to take the hint. To properly communicate this information to Google, the company offers a handy tool for creating structured datasets based on the type of webpage you're publishing. It's called the Structured Data Markup Helper. Use it here, and see it below.

As you can see, above, you'll start by selecting the attribute that best describes the content you're creating. Then, at the bottom of this page, enter the existing URL of the webpage to which your content has been published. (Note: To use this tool, you'll publish your content first, and then retrieve the URL so you can structure your data accordingly.)

3. Create microdata for your webpage using your selected data type.

Microdata is a way to label content to describe what this content represents. An event, for example, has all sorts of information associated with it, including the venue, starting time, name, and category. You can then use a bit of code to basically tell Google, "Here's my event and the most important information people would need to know about it."

How Microdata Can Be Used

Microdata wraps your text in very simple HTML tags, such as <span> or <div> tags, to assign descriptive terms to each bit of information. Here's an example block of HTML showing some basic information about me -- the author of this article -- below.

<p>My name is Diana Urban, and I was born and raised in New York. I'm on the marketing team at HubSpot, an all-in-one marketing software company in Cambridge, MA.</p>

See those <p> tags at the beginning and end of the copy, above? This denotes text that is in standard paragraph style. There's nothing unique about the text above compared to any other paragraph in this article. This makes it hard for Google to interpret it the way you might want it to be interpreted.

Now, here is the same HTML tagged with microdata:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Person">
My name is <span itemprop="name">Diana Urban</span>, and I was born and raised in New York.
I'm the <span itemprop="title">Head of Prospect Marketing</span> at <span itemprop="affiliation">HubSpot</span>, an all-in-one marketing software company in Cambridge, MA.</div>

Those bold tags in the HTML above tell Google what each piece of my author bio actually is. The "person" tag indicates this is about a person. The "name" tag indicates the following text is my name. The "title" tag indicates the following text is my job title. The "div" tags single out the entire section of HTML so Google knows it can highlight it in my article's snippet, given the appropriate search term a user might enter.

Creating Your Microdata

Once you've selected your data type in the previous step, you'll be taken to a page where you can automatically associate certain details of your webpage with microdata that describes those details. To create microdata for an article's author, for example, you'll highlight the author's name on the webpage -- which Google projects on the lefthand side of the tool -- and select "Author" in the dropdown that appears. See how this looks, below.

4. Create new HTML from this microdata.

Next, you'll create new strings of HTML from the microdata you created in the previous step. Once you've finished assigning each part of your webpage a proper tag, click the red "Create HTML" button on the top-righthand corner of the tool, as shown below.

5. Tag your content with this microdata.

With your HTML successfully created, you'll see every tag you created in step 3, above, listed in a block of code you can then insert into your article's HTML. You'll insert this code in your content management system (CMS).

Google recommends adding the HTML it created for you into the "head section" of your article's HTML. If you use HubSpot's CMS, you'll find separate HTML boxes designed just for this occasion, as shown below.

Learn more about adding HTML to webpages in HubSpot Academy.

Want another way to tag your HTML with various pieces of microdata? Review the different examples of rich snippets below this list of instructions. Each of these rich snippets link to separate Google instructions on how to optimize for each type of rich snippet. (When you load their page, always select the "microdata" approach to get the right instructions.)

6. Test your rich snippet.

Google Webmaster Tools has another nifty feature that lets you test your rich snippet. Click here to use their Structured Data Testing Tool. This will confirm whether or not Google can read your markup data and whether your rich snippets are appearing in their search results.

7. Be patient.

If you don't see your rich snippets in Google's search results right away, don't freak out. It actually takes Google as long as a few weeks to crawl and index this new data. So go to the beach. Sip a margarita. Soak in some sun.

Okay, it's more likely that you'll just keep working on other stuff in the meantime, but a girl can dream ...

Rich Snippets Examples

Let's run through some of the different types of rich snippets that are available to use on your website. Each section links to Google's instructions on how to actually install the rich snippets -- remember to select the microdata option for the easiest installation process!

Business and Organization Snippets

A rich snippet about a business or organization can include location information, contact information, price ranges, hours, and customer reviews, if there are any available.

Learn how to create rich snippets for organizations >

Event Snippets

Event snippets include the date, location, and time of the event. If there are more than one option for the events, up to three will be displayed.

Learn how to create rich snippets for events >

Music Album Snippets

Using music album rich snippets will display links to individual songs in an album, or even lyrics to the song if available.

Learn how to create rich snippets for music >

People Snippets

The people snippet displays information such as a person's job title, the company they work for (a.k.a. affiliation), and location. It can also display a photo, nickname, and more.

People snippets are different than author snippets. Here is the difference, with an example of yours truly.

Learn how to create rich snippets for people >

Product Snippets

Product rich snippets include things like a picture of a product, ratings, and price range of the product.

Learn how to create rich snippets for products >

Recipe Snippets

Recipe rich snippets provide users with additional information about a specific cooking recipe, such as the ratings (1 to 5 stars), cook/prep time, and calorie information.

In order to qualify as a recipe, you must have at least two of the following tags in place:

  • A photo of the dish
  • The tag: prepTime, cookTime, totalTime, or ingredients
  • Calories
  • Review
 
Review Snippets

You've already seen a bunch of examples of snippets that have 5-star ratings included. But you can also set up a snippet that is just the review portion.

Learn how to create rich snippets for reviews >

Video Snippets

If you want a thumbnail of a video to display next to your search listing, the markup works a little different. Google recognizes the Facebook Share markup code, so you might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Learn how to create rich snippets for videos >

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Trust and transparency are fundamental to business success. A recent survey by Ernst & Young found that less than half of global professionals trust their employer, boss, team or colleagues. A host of factors improve trust in the workplace -- from diversity and inclusion to individual leaders being more open and transparent with their teams.

To discuss trust in the workplace, I spoke with best-selling author Marcus Buckingham, who recently finished his latest book Nine Lies About Work (co-authored with Ashley Goodall).

Our conversation, coupled with my own experience, solidified 4 keys to help leaders build trust and transparency with their team, while also reinforcing why it matters in the workplace:

1. Build connection through swift and focused frequency.

One of the biggest takeaways from my conversation with Marcus is the importance of holding quick and frequent check-ins or 1:1s with your team. Trust starts with honest, open dialogue, and the frequency of that dialogue matters just as much as the content itself.

“Building trust isn’t just about intent, but also frequency and detail,” shares Buckingham. “Employees need to know that you have their back and that only happens through regular check-ins or light touch, individualized communications. If you meet with employees once a week for 10-15 minutes and simply ask, ‘what are you working on and how can I help?’, it goes a long way toward building trust.”

Create a foundation of trust through regular communication and engagement. “People want to know where they stand with you as a manager, and every employee knows that’s a moveable feast,” notes Buckingham. “When you take time to hear from each team member on their near-term priorities, while also letting them know ‘we don’t need to solve everything this week’, you move the relationship forward, and see stronger engagement and performance as a result.”

2.  Build transparency into culture.

Employees want to work for leaders who are authentic and transparent -- who openly seek new solutions and ideas. However, many leaders struggle with consistency in this area. Trust takes commitment. Embracing transparency requires leaders to openly share both good and bad news. Effective communication, listening, and clear and quality feedback go a long way in creating a positive and open dialogue.

Many leaders hesitate to be transparent because they worry they’ll be viewed as less authoritative or directional as a leader. This is completely false. People want to connect with their leaders.

Leaders have to exhibit behavior they want their team to imitate, and openly share problems they’re facing and lessons they’ve learned. They should take stock of how the team is performing and what issues need to be addressed and what areas will require change. When leaders do this in an open and constructive way with their team, it builds trust.

When leaders aren’t open to discussing challenges facing their business, or the picture they paint doesn’t match the team’s day-to-day experience, the gap can create a loss of trust. Once trust is lost, it is extremely difficult to rebuild.

3.  Activate experimentation.

Building a foundation of trust with employees requires leaders to create a positive environment, where everyone on the team feels empowered to openly speak and problem-solve. Great leaders give team members the space, autonomy and feedback they need to be successful with specific projects they are owning.

Fear of failure prompts behaviors that can diminish the effectiveness of a team. In absence of trust, employees are guarded, less engaged and less likely to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones. Empower employees to experiment. This flexibility demonstrates your trust in your team and in turn their trust in their leader.

Focus on creating an environment that empowers employees to succeed. This means providing a safe place for exploration, experimentation and risk-taking, which translates into success for the organization, increased profitability and talent attraction.

4. Encourage and empower.

Enthusiasm is contagious and it’s a force multiplier. Negativity impacts energy and optimism with decreases motivation and productivity by creating stress and pressure.

Maximize every opportunity you can find to provide positive encouragement. Doing so requires some effort, but the results are impactful. In my experience, employees will find ways to deliver results beyond expectation, when leaders express encouragement and sincere appreciation for their accomplishments.

By recognizing employees for their performance, you give them the opportunity to shine through projects, which increases motivation and confidence.

Empower your team and amplify their strengths. Organizations that put people first and allow team members to leverage their individual strengths will see stronger results, better employee engagement and lower turnover.  

Why This Matters

With transparency and trust, comes higher levels of performance. When leaders and teams focus on transparent and frequent communications, authentic relationships develop naturally. With a foundation of trust, people work better together and develop faster as a team – making it much easier to build momentum, retain high performing employees and attract new talent.

Ultimately leaders who focus on each of these areas position themselves to succeed in motivating their teams to do their best work, while building relationships that are vital to the success of their business in the future.

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In 2018, the advertising duopoly of Google and Facebook seemed to dominate the market once again, owning 37% and 20% of the pie, respectively, while Amazon owned a measly 7%. However, if you dig a little deeper into the numbers, Amazon isn’t actually the third wheel in this equation.

While they own significantly less market share than Google and Facebook, Amazon’s advertising revenue skyrocketed by 250% in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of 2017. And some industry experts predict that the long-standing advertising duopoly of Google and Facebook will turn into a triopoly as soon as next year, with Amazon charging right behind these established incumbents.

One of the biggest reasons brands are dedicating more advertising spend to Amazon is because it has become the central hub for online shopping. In fact, 44% of shoppers start their online shopping sessions on Amazon (which is 11% more than Google) and 40% of Americans buy products on the website at least once every month.

If you’re in the ecommerce industry, advertising on Amazon is your best bet for maximizing your revenue. So to help you start advertising on Amazon, we’ve created this simplified guide that fleshes out each type of ad you can run on Amazon and some of their best practices. Read on to learn how to advertise on the eCommerce platform in 2019.

Amazon Advertising Strategy

Even though we’ll be describing five unique types of Amazon advertisements that all have different best practices, here are three general tips for shaping a successful Amazon advertising strategy.

1. Determine your goals.

Whether you want to drive more sales or boost brand awareness, Amazon allows you to align your targets with your goals. For instance, you can deem your Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS) as your metric of success if you’re focusing on driving more sales. Alternatively, you can deem impressions as your metric of success if you’re focusing on boosting brand awareness.

2. Choose the right products to advertise.

Advertising your most popular products gives you the best chance to convert clicks into purchases. You should also make sure these products are in stock and priced competitively.

3. Craft clear, concise, and compelling product detail pages.

Amazon ads can entice shoppers to visit your product detail pages, but the product detail page is what will ultimately turn those shoppers into customers. To craft a persuasive product detail page, consider including accurate and descriptive titles, high-quality images, and relevant and useful product information.

Amazon Sponsored Ads

Image Credit: Shopify

Amazon Sponsored Product Ads are pay-per-click, keyword-targeted display ads for individual products that appear on search results and product detail pages. With Sponsored Product Ads, there are three types of keywords you can bid on if you decide to leverage manual targeting: broad, phrase, and exact.

Broad keywords can include words before and after the target keyword, like “white hand mixers”, if you sell hand mixers. Targeting these keywords will expose your ads to the greatest amount of traffic.

Phrase keywords focus on how the sequence of the words you use changes the context of a query. For example, “stainless steel hand mixer” indicates you sell hand mixers. But “hand stainless steel mixer” indicates you sell stainless steel mixers, but not necessarily stainless steel hand mixers.

Exact keywords are the most constraining type of targeted keyword -- a shopper’s search query must contain the exact keyword for your ad to show up and no words can come before or after the keyword. For example, if you choose to target exact keywords, you can target an ad for “hand mixer”, but it won’t show up for the query “electric hand mixer”.

Using Sponsored Product Ads, you can also use automatic keyword targeting, which leverages an algorithm to target the most relevant keywords for your product ads.

To gauge the performance of your ads, Sponsored Product Ads offers a reporting tool that displays your ads’ clicks, spend, sales, and advertising cost of sales (ACoS).

Amazon Sponsored Ads Best Practices Targeting

With Amazon Sponsored Product Ads, you can find keywords that have low conversion rates and flag them as negative. This way, Amazon will stop showing your ad to shoppers who search for those queries. Ensuring you flag certain keywords as negative is critical -- even if these keywords have a high click-through-rate, their low conversion rate means they’re probably not reaching the right type of shoppers.

Bidding

Available in Manual Targeting ad campaigns, you can leverage Bid+ to boost the odds of your ad appearing at the top of search results. You can only use Bid+ on ads that are eligible to appear at the top of search results, but when you do, you can increase your default bid by up to 50%, keeping your top performing campaigns competitive, without having to constantly adjust your bids manually.

Amazon Headline Search Ads (Now Known as Sponsored Brand Campaigns)

Image Credit: Amazon Advertising

Currently known as Sponsored Brand Campaigns, this type of Amazon advertising allows you to promote keyword-targeted ads of multiple products above, below, and alongside search results. Using Sponsored Brand Campaigns, you can target three types of keywords: branded product keywords, complimentary product keywords, and sponsored products automatic targeting keywords.

Branded product keywords are a combination of your brand name and a product you sell.

Complimentary product keywords are a bundle of two individual products that influence the demand for each other and can be sold together (like ketchup and mustard).

Sponsored products automatic targeting keywords are search queries that you’ve already experienced success with while running automatic targeted sponsored product campaigns.

Sponsored Brand Campaigns also lets you feature up to three unique products in your ads, customize your ads’ image, headline, and landing page, and even tests these elements.

To determine how much you pay for Sponsored Brand Campaigns, Amazon uses a pay-per-click, auction-based pricing model, so you’ll never pay more than you bid per click. In addition to manual bidding, you can choose automated bidding, which will optimize your ads for conversion.

If you want to know how well your advertisements are performing, Sponsored Brand Campaigns offers a reporting feature that displays your ads’ clicks, spend, sales, estimated win rate for keywords, and ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sales).

Sponsored Brand Campaigns Best Practices Ad Creative

It's a good idea to feature three top-performing products in your Sponsored Brands Campaign to increase the amount of clicks and sales your ads generate.

Amazon also recommends including your product’s top benefit in your ad’s headline because mobile shoppers can only see the ad’s main image and headline.

Additionally, when describing your product, try not to claim your product is “#1” or a “Best Seller” -- your ad won’t get approved.

Testing

To run the most accurate and fruitful tests, consider only changing one variable at a time, run them for at least two weeks, and anchor the success of your tests to business goals.

Landing Page Design

With Sponsored Brands, you can direct shoppers to your Amazon store or a customized product page. Consider testing how different product pages convert visitors into customers, as well as the order in which your products appear.

Amazon Product Display Ads

Image Credit: CrazyLister

Product display ads are pay-per-click ads that appear on product detail pages, customer review pages, on top of the offer listing page, and below search results. You can also place these ads on abandoned cart emails, follow-up emails, and recommendations emails. Their main objective is to cross-sell or upsell your customers.

Using product display ads, you can use two types of campaign targeting: product and interest. Product targeting is a contextual form of targeting, so you can target specific products and related categories. Interest targeting is a behavioral form of targeting, so you can target shopper interest and reach a larger audience.

Product display ads also let you choose which in-category detail pages you want to advertise on, customize your creative, and offers a reporting tool that displays your campaigns’ clicks, spend, sales, advertising cost of sales (ACoS), detail page views, spend, units sold, total sales, and average cost-per-click (ACPC).

Amazon Product Display Ads Best Practices Targeting

Use product targeting on competitor pages, complimentary product detail pages, and your own product detail pages to cross-sell and upsell similar products. Using product targeting on related categories also extends your reach to sections of Amazon’s catalog that are related to your products.

Ad Creative

When crafting your headlines, Amazon allows you to include phrases like “Exclusive”, “New”, “Buy Now”, and “Save Now”, but making claims like “#1” or “Beat Seller” will get your ad rejected.

Amazon Native Ads

Amazon Native Ads are ads that you can place on your brand’s own website. There are three types of native ads: recommendation ads, search ads, and custom ads.

Recommendation ads are ads you can place in product article pages on your website. These ads are dynamic, so Amazon will populate your most relevant product recommendation based on your web page’s content and visitors.

Image Credit: Amazon Associates

Search ads are ads that populate on your website based off keywords that your customers search for on Amazon or on your website.

Image Credit: Amazon Associates

Custom ads allow you to select your own assortment of products you’d like to promote and place them on your product article posts.

Image Credit: Amazon Associates

Amazon Native Ads Best Practice

Just like a call-to-action on a blog post, make sure your native shopping ads are extremely relevant to the pages you place them on. This way, when your website visitors finish reading your post, the ads are a natural next step and can lead to more conversions.

Amazon Video Ads

Amazon Video Ads are ads that you can place on Amazon-owned sites like Amazon.com and IMDb, Amazon devices like Fire TV, and various properties across the web. You can buy Amazon video ads regardless of whether you sell products on Amazon or not, and you can set your ad’s landing page as an Amazon product page, your own website, or any other web page on the internet.

Image Credit: Amazon Advertising

If you want to work with Amazon’s video ad consultants, you can sign up for their managed-service option, but to be eligible, you usually need to spend a minimum of $35,000 on video ads.

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When you begin implementing a social media strategy for your business, one of the first questions you'll ask yourself is this one -- Should my business be on Twitter, or Facebook?

Both social media sites offer considerable opportunities to connect and engage with a network, increase brand awareness, and drive traffic to your site. But they're also incredibly different in terms of purpose.

Ultimately, Facebook's purpose is to connect people with their friends and family. People use Facebook to share photos, videos, and general updates on their lives.

Twitter, on the other hand, is used to share ideas, real-time information, and trending news. While people may also use Twitter to connect with friends and family, they largely use it for a bigger purpose -- to connect to the wider world as a whole, and hear what's happening (in 140 characters or less).

Of course, this still begs the question -- where does your business fit into all this? To explore the pros and cons of Twitter vs Facebook, we've created a comprehensive breakdown of both.

Keep reading to figure out which platform is a better business investment for your company.

Twitter vs Facebook Users Twitter vs Facebook Demographics

To start, let's consider the potential demographic your business could reach on each platform.

The total number of U.S. adults who use Twitter is 24%. By comparison, Facebook undoubtedly reaches a wider demographic, with nearly 70% of U.S. adults on the platform.

Twitter typically appeals to a younger demographic -- 40% of Twitter users are between the ages of 18-29, while less than 20% of people ages 50 and up use the platform.

While Facebook also appeals to the 18-29 age group (attracting over 80%), it proves more popular for an older demographic, as well. 65% of people ages 50 and up use Facebook.

In terms of mass appeal, then, Facebook wins by a landslide.

Twitter vs Facebook Engagement

It's equally critical you determine quality over quantity -- how long does each site's audience stay on the platform? Or, alternatively, how many minutes per day do they spend on each?

Here's a quick breakdown -- roughly 46% of Twitter users are on the platform daily, and 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day.

Since Twitter is popular with journalists, politicians, and celebrities, many users turn to Twitter for trending news. In fact, 74% of Twitter users say they use Twitter to get their news.

Additionally, Twitter accounts for 16% of referrals to longer articles from social sites and 14% for shorter news articles.

With all this in mind, you might ask yourself -- does your business have content that aligns well with Twitter's fast-paced community? If you have quick, easily digestible business tips or news articles you're eager to share with your audience, Twitter might be a better bet.

However, it's important to note, Twitter is meant for quick, compelling 140-character statements that can quickly get buried under new Tweets. To build brand awareness, Twitter might be a good platform. However, its fast-paced nature might make it difficult for you to gain traction on a post for long.

In terms of long-term engagement, then, Facebook is a superior alternative. For instance, for every one million Facebook followers, brands can expect to receive about 700 likes, comments, and shares. Alternatively, for every one million Twitter followers, brands can expect about 300 interactions.

Additionally, people tend to check their Facebook an average of eight times per day, compared to just five for Twitter. If Facebook is more addictive by nature, it makes sense you might consider putting more effort into appealing to a Facebook audience, instead of Twitter.

Image courtesy of Smart Insights.

Twitter vs Facebook Usage

With less than 140 characters to convey your brand's message, you might think of Twitter as your business' "elevator pitch". What do you want to get across to your audience quickly and succinctly?

While this might feel stressful, think of it this way -- today, many of your consumers are oversaturated with content, and easily distracted. This attention-deficit lends itself well to Twitter's platform, where you're able to quickly engage with your consumers with less risk of losing their attention halfway through.

Alternatively, Facebook is your opportunity to engage more in-depth with an audience. You can create full business pages, share videos and images, and further incentivize prospects to engage with your brand by offering 10% off if they "like" your business page, for instance.

When you consider their vastly different purposes, then, it makes sense to try both. Twitter can be seen as your initial handshake, while Facebook is that first full-length conversation.

Twitter Ads vs Facebook Ads

In general, advertising on Facebook allows you to reach a larger audience. Additionally, Facebook ads comes with some impressive targeting tools, so you're able to narrow down salary, purchase behavior, hobbies, Facebook communities, and more.

Facebook advertising's interface is relatively easy and intuitive for the user. Facebook ads can be relatively cheap, as well -- in fact, Facebook boasts "Some people spend more on coffee each day than they do on their ad campaigns". While it depends on the campaign you're running, you can often set a budget as little as $2 to $3 per day.

Twitter also offers targeting capabilities, including purchase behavior, language, interest, and followers. However, Twitter advertising is typically more expensive than Facebook.

It may be worth the extra money, though -- according to AdWeek, engagement rates for Twitter ads can be as high as 1-3%, much higher than Facebook’s average CTR of 0.119%.

Twitter vs Facebook

It's important to consider the different purposes of Twitter vs Facebook. Twitter is primarily meant for sharing ideas, while Facebook is meant for connecting with friends and family. Additionally, Facebook has a larger audience of various age ranges, while Twitter's audience is largely between the ages of 18-29. It's critical you determine which one your audience prefers, however, and tailor your content to match either platform.

Ultimately, it's likely best to try both Twitter and Facebook for a while if you're unsure which one works better for your brand. Over time, you'll gain valuable insights into how well your posts perform on either site, enabling you to dedicate more time to one over the other. Since they're both free to use, there's no harm in initially trying both.

Once you see true, valuable engagement on one, you might then consider implementing an advertising strategy to turn that traffic into conversions.

Alternatively, try researching which platform most of your competitors use. If you work for a PR agency and most PR professionals use Twitter to promote their clients, it's critical you also appear on the tool. Alternatively, if you work for a retail store and you find Facebook is often used for promoting retail products, it's probably best to put effort behind Facebook.

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As a video marketer, choosing the right music can be the difference between crafting a video that grips your audience from start to finish and one that they can barely get halfway through. Play a fitting soundtrack, and you’ll be able to evoke the exact emotions you want your audience to experience while watching your video. Neglect the musical aspect of your video, and it might not even be able to hold your parents’ full attention.

Music can make your videos much more captivating, impactful, and, in turn, convincing. Whether you’re creating fun social media videos, persuasive product videos, or even serious training videos, music can separate your video from the rest of the pack.

If you need a refresher on how to add music to your videos or you want to learn how to do it, we’ve got you covered. Check out our quick and easy rundown of adding music to videos in Adobe Premiere Pro. 

How to Add Music to Videos 1. Download music onto your computer.

If you don’t have any music saved on your computer, check out our roundup of the best royalty-free music sites. By signing up for their services, you pay a monthly fee to get access to thousands of songs rather than paying an individual fee for each song you download.

2. Import the music into Premiere.

Once you’re in Premiere, select “Window”, “Workspaces”, and then “Audio”. After you do that, open the Media Browser panel by choosing “Window” and then ”Media Browser”.

In the Media Browser panel, right click on your audio file and press “Import”.

Image Credit: Adobe

3. Add the music to your Timeline panel and edit accordingly.

After you import your music into Premiere, open up the Project panel by selecting “Window” and then “Project”. You will see your imported audio files stored there. Next, drag your audio clips under the video clips in the Timeline panel. You can trim your audio clips and adjust their volume just like you can with a video clip.

Image Credit: Adobe

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