Monthly Archives: April 2016
AdGooroo has released its second look at the impact of Google eliminating text ads in the right rail on desktop search results. The two analyses — one on retail keywords, another on travel keywords — tell similar stories: a reduction in the number of advertisers competing in the auctions, slight increases in cost per click (CPC) on average, but big swings at the individual keyword level. Across the set of top 20 travel keywords, AdGooroo monitors — comparing February 1–18 to February 19–March 28 — the number of advertisers bidding per keyword fell 15.4 percent, from an average of 38 advertisers bidding per keyword to an average of 32. The average CPC among the top 20 keywords increased by just three cents, on average (5.2 percent), from $2.65 to $2.68. That said, there was wide variation in performance at the individual keyword level. For contrast, note that “cancun all inclusive” CPC rose 35 percent, and “car rentals” rose 34 percent. On the whole, click-through rates increased 10 percent across the top 20 travel keywords. Just one keyword (“river cruises”) saw a slight decline of 3.3 percent in CTR. In its earlier analysis of the top 20 retail keywords earlier this month — comparing February 1–18 to February 19–March 8 — AdGooroo found that competition was cut by 27 percent. The average CPC rose seven percent, with 14 out of 20 keywords seeing increases. However, again, several keywords saw significant decreases in CPC: “mobile phone” was off by 26 percent, “shoes” fell by 14 percent. Then there was the outlier, “samsung galaxy 26,” which rose by 108 percent. Meanwhile, looking across 2,500 retail keywords, the average CPC increased just 1.8 percent, while the number of advertisers competing fell by 42 percent since the change went into effect. (Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
There are plenty of paid traffic sources on the web from where you can buy targeted traffic to your website. The best thing about online advertising (unlike television, radio, print, etc.) is that it’s totally accountable and you get to know the exact returns of every single dollar that you are spending. Online advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry and the digital ad spending in the U.S. is all set to surpass television ad spending. Paid advertising on search engines and social media accounts for over 50% of the total ad spend (dominated by Google, Microsoft, and Facebook). The good thing about online advertising is that it’s super easy to kick-start an ad campaign and it could attract a lot of targeted traffic in the shortest span of time. But the bad thing is that it may be effective only in the short-term because when you stop your ad campaigns the traffic may pause. However, online advertising is extremely flexible and efficient (in terms of ad targeting, spending, and tracking) and it basically means that if you have a solid marketing strategy then your online ad campaigns can bring in higher return on investment for the short-term as well as for the long-term. As I have already mentioned, majority of the ad spend happens on paid search because of the superior traffic quality (and hence the performance). Also, you can reach 96% of the U.S. searchers by signing up as an advertiser on Google.com (via Google AdWords) and Bing.com (via Bing Ads). Over the past several years, I have published a dozen blog posts about website monetization and it was all about selling ads on your website and rarely about ad spending. Actually, I’m a lover of organic traffic (or search traffic). But it’s also true that it takes a lot of time to get some traction that way. So if you start a new business and want to tap the online advertising space then the best way is buy paid traffic on different traffic sources like search engines, social networks, display ads, video ads, etc. Here is a curated list of some of the best paid traffic sources on the web — categorized and subcategorized. Traffic Sources: Quick Glance Search Engines Social Networks Web 2.0 Display Advertising (Quality > Quantity) (Quantity > Quality) Media Buying Content Distribution Cost Per View Pop-Unders Retargeting Mobile Search Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or more commonly known as pay-per-click advertising is all about increasing the visibility of your website in search engine results pages through paid advertising. It’s the quickest way to attract more customers to your business and apparently it’s one of the most expensive traffic source as well. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Ask.com, and AOL have a combined market share of over 95% in the U.S. search market and they account for almost 99% of the U.S. search ad spend. What makes search ads so attractive is the the fact that it follows a pay-per-click advertising model and it means that you will be charged only when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website (or a landing page). Moreover, your ads will be shown only to relevant users (as you can target them in multiple ways) and you will never overspend on your ads (as you can set a daily/monthly budget). The actual cost per click varies and it depends upon the keywords that you are bidding. For instance, it can be as low as $0.05 per click or can be over $50 per click (on Google). 1. Google AdWords Google AdWords is an advertising program that allows you to advertise your website on Google’s search engine results pages as well as on the publisher websites in the Google AdSense program. Google has over 60% search market share and its AdSense is the most popular affiliate program on the web connecting millions of advertisers and publishers. This makes Google the preferred (and most popular) online advertising platform. Google AdWords supports a variety of advertising models like Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Mille (CPM), Cost Per Action (CPA), Pay Per Call, Retargeting, Shopping Ads, Local Ads, etc. and it lets you create text link ads, banner ads, and rich-media ads. The best thing about AdWords (or almost any other pay-per-click advertising program) is that you pay only for results and you can start your campaign in minutes — without any contract or lock-in. What’s more? Google is so confident about their ad program that they offer free AdWords credits to new advertisers. Google also offers a fully automated advertising solution for small businesses called Google AdWords Express. It lets you advertise your business on Google, Google Maps, and relevant partner websites — even if you don’t have a website. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: N/A Minimum CPC: $0.01 AdWords: Sign Up | FAQ 2. Bing Ads Bing Ads is the Microsoft equivalent of Google AdWords. According to comScore, Bing now powers almost one-third of U.S. desktop web searches. And the ratio is going to get better over time as Bing now powers AOL search as well (apart from Yahoo). The best thing about Bing Ads is that its traffic quality is better than that of Google and yet the cost per click is low. It means your return on investment on Bing Ads could be higher than Google AdWords (though the traffic volume can’t be matched). And just like Google AdWords, Bing also offers free Bing Ads credits to new advertisers and supports Retargeting, Shopping Ads, Local Ads, Native Ads, etc.. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: N/A Minimum CPC: $0.05 Bing Ads: Sign Up | FAQ Don’t Miss: Bing Ads vs. Google AdWords: 10 Features Unique To Bing Ads 3. Baidu Baidu is the most popular search engine in China with a market share of over 70%. However, the global search market share of Baidu is less than 10%. So, if you are targeting Chinese audience then you should advertise on Baidu (and probably not on Google). Self-Serve: Unknown Minimum Spend: $2,000/month Minimum CPC: Unknown China Search International: Sign Up | FAQ Note: China Search International is Baidu’s international partner. 4. Yandex Advertising Yandex Advertising lets you advertise your business on the largest search engine in Russia with over 50% market share. And it also lets you advertise on millions of websites in its publisher network through Yandex Direct. Self-Serve: No Minimum Spend: Unknown Minimum CPC: RUB 300 Yandex Advertising: Sign Up | FAQ 5. 7search 7search is a pay-per-click ad network that places your ad on websites (it includes niche search engines and partner websites) across the web. 7search is an independent ad network and hence it lets you tap audience that you can’t find from Google or Bing. What’s more? The top countries for searches are U.S., Canada, U.K, and Australia and the bid prices are lower than that of Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: N/A Minimum CPC: $0.01 7search: Sign Up | FAQ 6. LookSmart LookSmart is another pay-per-click ad network that places your ad on its syndicated network of search engines and partner websites. They are offering a $50 matching coupon for new advertisers and if you’re an affiliate marketer then you get a $250 matching coupon. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $50 Minimum CPC: $0.01 LookSmart: Sign Up | FAQ Social Networks Social networks are exploding in popularity and that’s why social media ad spending is skyrocketing. It’s an excellent medium to reach active Internet users and drive traffic to your website or to increase the visibility of your brand. Image Credit: SurePayroll Here is a list of some of the best (and most popular) social networks from where you can buy ads. 7. Facebook Ads Facebook Ads (or Facebook for Business) is the advertising platform of Facebook — the biggest social network on earth with over 1.6 billion users (or over 1 billion daily active users). If there’s one thing that makes Facebook Ads stand out from its competitors or search advertising or any other advertising program then it’s their ad targeting options. Of course, both Google AdWords and Bing Ads have advanced targeting options but they do not have the ability to target audience by demographics, interest, behaviour, etc. In fact, you can even target your friends and their friends with Facebook Ads. Another interesting thing about Facebook Ads is that it’s not only good for sending traffic to your website but it can also boost the “posts” on your Facebook Page (known as Boosted Posts), get more “Likes” for your brand, get more “Installs” for your mobile app, get more “views” for your video, etc. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $1-$5 Minimum CPC: $0.01 Facebook Ads: Sign Up | FAQ 8. YouTube Ads YouTube Ads lets you advertise on the world’s most popular video sharing platform, which is also the second largest search engine. With YouTube Ads, any video that you’ve already uploaded to YouTube can be an ad or you can upload a new one. All you need is a Google AdWords account to get started. YouTube supports a variety of advertising formats and units like display ads, overlay ads, skippable & non-skippable video ads, and sponsored cards. You can go here for more details and to explore all the available options. The best thing about video ads is that you pay only when someone engages with your ad and it means if they skipped it before 30 seconds (or the end) then you won’t be charged. And it’s got built-in analytics so that you can see how your ads are performing and can make changes accordingly. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: N/A Minimum CPC: $0.01 YouTube Ads: Sign Up | FAQ 9. LinkedIn Ads LinkedIn Ads (or LinkedIn Business Solutions) lets you advertise LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with over 400 million users. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn Ads offers advanced targeting options. For instance, it allows you to reach a targeted professional audience by job title, industry or company size, seniority, etc. And you can stop your ads at any time as there are no long term contracts. LinkedIn Ads offers two ad formats, Sponsored Updates and Text Ads, and you pay for clicks or impressions. Its average CPC or CPM are on the high side but it’s the best platform for B2B targeting. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $10 Minimum CPC: $2 LinkedIn Ads: Sign Up | FAQ 10. Twitter Ads Twitter Ads (or Twitter for Business) lets you advertise on Twitter, the most popular micro-blogging platform with over 300 million active users. Twitter Ads offers unique advertising options like Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends. You can start a Twitter ad campaign to drive traffic to your website, to get more app downloads, or to gain more followers or visibility for your tweets. And there’s absolutely no minimum spend required. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: Nil Minimum CPC: N/A Twitter Ads: Sign Up | FAQ 11. Instagram for Business Instagram for Business lets you advertise on the most popular photo-sharing website on the web. Because Instagram now has over 400 million monthly active users and it’s got more advertisers than Twitter. Instagram offers a variety of ad formats like photo ads, video ads, and carousel ads. You can start an ad campaign to get more traffic to your website (and conversions), or to get more mobile app installs (and engagement), or to get more views for your posts and videos. Wait, you can create an Instagram ad campaign via Facebook as well. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $1-$5 Minimum CPC: $0.01 Instagram for Business: Sign Up | FAQ 12. Pinterest Ads Pinterest Ads (or Pinterest for Business) lets you reach more people on Pinterest with “Promoted Pins”. You can promote your best “Pins” so that it will attract more audience and you pay for engagements or visits to your website. Since Pinterest is a female-dominated social network (80% of Pinterest users are female), it’s a great platform to target women. The only problem is, Promoted Pins are available to U.S.-based business accounts only and it’s invite-only. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $1-$5 Minimum CPC: $0.01 Pinterest Ads: Sign Up | FAQ 13. StumbleUpon Ads StumbleUpon Ads are actually full web pages itself and it follows a cost per view (CPV) pricing model. It’s a great ad product for content promotion as your content is the ad and there are no click-throughs or ad copies. All you need is a URL and it can be anything — article, video, slideshow, and the like. Every paid “Stumble” becomes a visit to your website and the cost per view depends upon the targeting (it ranges from $0.10 to $0.50 per Stumble). While StumbleUpon allows you to target audience by age, gender, location, device, and interests, it can’t match the traffic quality of Google AdWords or Facebook or LinkedIn. Now the best thing about StumbleUpon Ads is that you can earn free traffic to your website (in addition to the paid traffic). Here’s how! It also means that, even though StumbleUpon has just 35 million users, it has the potential to send more traffic than any other social media platform. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: Nil Minimum CPV: $0.10 StumbleUpon Ads: Sign Up | FAQ 14. Reddit Ads Reddit Ads let you advertise on Reddit, the most popular social news website with over 200 million users. Reddit offers two advertising programs, one is self-serve and the other is managed (both follows a CPM pricing model). Self serve ads lets you buy “Sponsored Headline” while managed ads lets you buy video ads, banner ads, and mobile ads. Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $5 Minimum CPM: N/A Reddit Ads: Sign Up | FAQ 15. Tumblr Business Tumblr Business lets you advertise on Tumblr, one of the most popular microblogging platform with over 500 million monthly users. Tumblr allows brands to create content and then promote it via Sponsored Posts, Sponsored Video Posts, Sponsored Day, etc. Self-Serve: No Minimum Spend: Unknown Minimum CPC: Unknown Tumblr for Business: Sign Up Web 2.0 Why not buy (real) traffic from some of the top destinations on the web? Here is a list of some of the most trafficked websites from where you can buy native ads. 16. Yahoo Gemini Yahoo Gemini is a self-serve advertising solution that lets you advertise on Yahoo, one of the top destinations on the web with over a billion visits a month. Yahoo Gemini allows you to buy search ads as well as native advertising and you can manage your ads within a single interface. Your search ads will appear on Yahoo’s search results and your native ads will appear on Yahoo.com and its network of websites. 17. Amazon Advertising Amazon Advertising lets you reach over 300 million users who search and buy at Amazon. You can use Amazon advertising to drive traffic to your website, or to increase app downloads, or to get more sales for your Amazon listings, or to get more book sales. Amazon offers a variety of advertising solutions like: Amazon Advertising Platform — to reach Amazon shoppers programmatically at Amazon’s sites, across the web, and in mobile apps. Amazon Advertising for Apps — to get more app downloads. Amazon Display Advertising — to reach Amazon shoppers across desktop, mobile, and tablets. Amazon Sponsored Products — to promote Amazon listings (for Amazon sellers). Kindle Direct Publishing Ads — to promote books across Amazon and on Kindle e-readers. Kindle Direct Publishing Ads — to advertise on Kindle, Fire tablet, and Fire TV. Amazon Marketing Services — to drive more sales (for Amazon vendors). Everything Else — Advertise On… eBay Target Yelp Etsy Yellow Pages Pandora Display Advertising (Quality > Quantity) Display Advertising is all about ads on the web (or ads on your favorite websites). And it includes a variety of ad formats like text, images, flash, video, and audio. The idea is to reach as much users as possible in a short span of time. Display Advertising usually follows a CPC or CPM pricing model and it means you have to pay for each “click” or “ad view” (and never both). Display ads are inexpensive when compared to search advertising as the CPC is extremely low when compared to search ads. It’s a perfect choice for advertisers who want to attract massive traffic and gain quick visibility. Display ads that follows a CPC model ensures that you are getting traffic to your website while the display ads that follows CPM model ensures that your brand message is rapidly reaching more users. ROI for display ads could be on the lower side when compared to search ads as the traffic quality of display ads is not as great as search ads though it depends upon several other aspects as well like your business, landing page, user experience, etc. 18. Google Display Network Google Display Network lets you advertise your business across the web by showing your ads on the Google Network (includes Google AdSense publishers, Google properties like Google Finance, YouTube, Gmail, etc. and DoubleClick partners). It’s the most popular and biggest advertising network on the web connecting millions of advertisers, publishers, and customers. The traffic quality is not as great as search ads, but it’s a fantastic way to reach more people quickly and create awareness of your brand so that they may come to you when they need what you’re selling. With Google Display Network, you can create text link ads, image ads, video ads, and mobile ads and can choose to place the ads only on websites that you think is relevant. Google Display Network thereby enables you to place your ads on news websites, blogs, niche sites across the web to reach more eyeballs. Again, all you need is a Google AdWords account to get started. Don’t Miss: Over 41 Google AdSense Alternatives You Didn’t Know 19. BuySellAds BuySellAds lets you buy media directly from some of the most popular websites, at scale. It’s actually the easiest way to buy display ads, text link ads, and sponsored content as it gives instant access to thousands of independent publishers at-once (organized by category). Display Advertising (Quantity > Quality) It’s true that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL reaches over 90% of the Internet users worldwide. However, I have cherry-picked few more ad networks from where you can buy display ads. Most of them support multiple pricing models (CPC, CPM, CPV, CPA, etc.) and advertising options (Display Ads, Contextual Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, etc.). The traffic quality of these ad networks is low but they are cheap when compared to Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Facebook Ads, etc. 20. Adcash Self-Serve: Yes Ad Formats: Display Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Slide-In Ads, Footer Ads, Background Ads, Video Ads, In-App Ads Pricing Models: CPM, CPV Minimum Spend: Unknown Adcash: Sign Up 21. Clicksor Self-Serve: Yes Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Inline Text Links Pricing Models: CPC, CPM, CPV, and CPI Minimum Spend: $50 Clicksor: Sign Up | FAQ 22. AdMedia Self-Serve: Yes Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Overlay Ads, Interstitial Ads, Slide-In Ads, Video Ads, etc. Pricing Models: CPM, CPV, CPC, CPA Minimum Spend: Unknown AdMedia: Sign Up 23. Propeller Ads Self-Serve: Yes Ad Formats: Display Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Slide-In Ads, Video Ads Pricing Models: CPM Minimum Spend: $100 Propeller Ads: Sign Up 24. Propel Media Self-Serve: Yes Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Interstitial Ads Pricing Models: CPC, CPV Minimum Spend: $1,000 Propel Media: Sign Up | FAQ 25. Yes Advertising Self-Serve: Yes Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Inline Text Links Pricing Models: CPM Minimum Spend: Unknown YesAdvertising: Sign Up 26. Infolinks Self-Serve: Yes Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Interstitial Ads, Inline Text Links, Footer Ads, Background Ads Pricing Models: CPM Minimum Spend: Unknown Infolinks: Sign Up | FAQ Media Buying Programmatic media buying is all about buying advertisements on publisher websites, at scale, using automated ways. It involves identifying new websites, real-time bidding, and automated placements of ads. Programmatic media buying usually follows a CPM pricing model and it can also be at a fixed fee per month. Media buying doesn’t include advertising on Google.com, Bing.com, Facebook.com, etc. as they are just classified as search ads or social media ads. Here is a list of advertising networks from where you can buy traffic at scale. Matomy CBS Interactive Conversant (formerly ValueClick) RhythmOne (formerly Burst Media) Exponential (formerly Tribal Fusion ONE by AOL (formerly Millennial Media) Advertising.com (by AOL) Sovrn Vibrant Media Rocket Fuel Video Advertising BrightRoll (by Yahoo) YuMe Giant Media (by Adknowledge) Don’t Miss: The 18 Best Affiliate Programs & Networks For Anyone And Everyone Content Distribution Content Distribution platforms shows a combination of image + text ads as a recommendation on their publisher websites. It usually show ads at the end of a blog post (or a web page) as “Sponsored” or “Related” content. Such platforms uses behavioral targeting to increase the quality of the traffic and most of them follows a cost per click pricing model. It’s extremely popular among viral blogs as they use it to generate more pageviews or to make money by sending traffic to one of their sponsors. Outbrain Taboola Revcontent Content.ad Adblade Nativo LockerDome Don’t Miss: 37 Content Discovery Tools To Find Great Social Media Content Cost Per View (CPV) Cost Per View (also known as Pay Per View) is an advertising model in which you pay for “pageviews” and not for ad views, clicks, events, or conversions. The traffic sources and the costs depends upon the marketplace from where you have purchased the traffic. And the traffic can come from expired domains, parked domains, redirect traffic, referral traffic, etc. I would say it’s only good for increasing the pageviews of your website and never to get quality leads or sales as the quality of such traffic is extremely low (unless you are lucky). Also, it appears like such traffic can artificially increase the traffic rank of your website as otherwise I don’t understand why some of the big e-tailers are buying it. Or, maybe it’s just that they have allocated an advertising budget for such campaigns. Now the good thing is that the cost per view can be as low as $0.001 (we can’t expect quality traffic for just $0.001, right?). And it can be displayed as a pop-up, pop-under, or in a new browser window/tab, or something like that and it depends upon the traffic marketplace. 47. DNTX Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $50 Minimum CPV: $0.002 Traffic Sources: Parked Domains DNTX: Sign Up | FAQ 48. MediaTraffic Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $200 Minimum CPV: $ 0.015 Traffic Sources: Adware MediaTraffic: Sign Up | FAQ 49. Zeropark Self-Serve: Yes Minimum Spend: $50 Minimum CPV: Unknown Traffic Sources: Domain Redirect Zeropark: Sign Up | FAQ Pop-Unders Pop-Under ads is a form of advertising that’s closely related to Pop-Up ads and it follows a pay-per-view advertising model. It’s less annoying (but still annoying) than a pop-up ad as it shows the ad (which can be a banner ad or even a full web page) under the current browser window. Once again, it’s only good for increasing the traffic to your website and never to attract sales or leads. In fact, Facebook is also buying a lot of pop-under ads on different high-traffic image sharing and file sharing websites. 50. PopAds Minimum Spend: $10 Minimum CPV: $0.001 PopAds: Sign Up | FAQ 51. PopCash Minimum Spend: $5 Minimum CPV: $0.001 PopCash: Sign Up | FAQ 52. PopUnderTOTAL Minimum Spend: $10 Minimum CPV: $0.0001 PopUnderTOTAL: Sign Up | FAQ Retargeting Retargeting (also known as Remarketing) is a form of online advertising in which you’re targeting users who previously visited your website (but is visiting other websites), and left without taking an action. Now why should you retarget users? The reason is… less than 5% of the first time visitors convert to customers. If you have an e-commerce website and you used a pay-per-click campaign to attract targeted users, then it’s more likely that they will leave your website without buying or signing up. The bounced visitors may come back to your website once again or maybe they won’t. So you can target those users once again by showing retargeted ads and that makes it easier for them to find you. All the popular advertising platforms like Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, etc. lets you create retargeting campaigns. However, if you are looking for an independent retargeting solution then you can try any of these platforms: Perfect Audience AdRoll ReTargeter Don’t Miss: Kickstart Your First Retargeting Campaign In 5 Steps Mobile I personally do not like to see ads on a mobile device (as a user or as an advertiser), but it’s also true that we live in a mobile era — thanks to better connectivity, and the penetration of smartphones and tablets. In fact, people are spending a lot of time on their mobile device that the number of Google searches on a mobile devices is more than that of computers in over ten countries. It also means that mobile as a platform is important for advertisers as well. If you are an advertiser on Google AdWords, or Bing Ads, or Facebook Ads then you can easily target a majority of the mobile users. Anyway, I’m listing some of the mobile ad networks that are good to buy traffic from mobile apps and websites. InMobi Airpush BuzzCity Go2mobi Tapjoy Leadbolt Admoda Closing Thoughts You don’t really have to buy ads on all the above search and ad networks. Instead, focus on quality and relevancy and be where your potential customers are there. In case, you don’t have a clue about it then it’s worth to try all of them (provided you have enough budget for online ad spending) and then individually track the ROI. Or, maybe you can take some hints from your competitors and see how they have placed themselves in the marketplace. Nonetheless, the idea is to track the results of your ad campaigns so that you will be able to scale up/down your ad spend and know what’s working and what’s not. As you might have already imagined, paid traffic sources can be extremely effective if you do it the right way. The only problem is that it’s expensive and if you didn’t do it right then you end up spending a lot on advertising, possibly with a negative return on investment (ROI). However, if you have a solid marketing strategy and have a long-term goal then paid traffic can bring a lot of value to your business. Have I missed your favorite paid traffic source? If so, let me know as a comment below! Happy Advertising! :) Note: I haven’t personally tried all the above search and ad networks but the details are accurate (if not, do let me know!). You Might Also LikePerfect Audience Review: Kickstart Your First Retargeting Campaign In 5 StepsFree Pay Per Click (PPC) Ad Coupons & Credits Worth Over $500Bing Ads vs. Google AdWords: 10 Features Unique To Bing AdsGoogle AdWords Advertising Policies: What You Need To KnowLearn Exactly How To Make Money Online With Google AdWords Without A Website Over 61 Paid Traffic Sources To Buy (Real) Targeted Website Traffic is a post by Minterest
As a student, a professional, a business person, or a freelancer — you might want to remain productive all the time. And, as you probably know, there are a bunch of tools and apps on the web that can make you super-productive. Of course, I’ve already published a handful of 101 listicles featuring productivity tools, marketing tools, social media tools, browser extensions, etc. but the problem is they are all huge lists. And I obviously haven’t tried all of them personally as my goal was to find and list the best of the best tools (in each category). So today, I am sharing with you my favorite productivity tools and apparently they’re the tools that I can’t live without. And no, it doesn’t include any social networks, or instant messengers, or messaging apps, or even any paid tools. Just ten free productivity tools — and it’s for anyone and everyone. That’s it! And I’m calling it: “The Fantastic Ten”. Quick Glance: Gmail #Email Sunrise #Calendar Evernote #Notes Wunderlist #Tasks Feedly #News Pocket #Save Dropbox #Cloud Trello #Planner IFTTT #Automate Chrome #Browser Day One #Journal Office 365 #Office Don’t Miss: Over 101 Blogging Resources (Tools & Apps) I Can’t Live Without Productivity Tools: The Fantastic Ten A quick word, none of the tools that I have listed here is a desktop-only or mobile-only app. All of them works perfectly on a computer, tablet, and a mobile device — and syncs magically. And that exactly is the reason why the awesomest pomodoro timers, remote desktops, screen captures, and the like are missing here. But you can always check out my Productivity Tools 101 for (almost) all things productivity. Also, all the tools that I have listed here are free and it’s perfect for personal usage (but may not be the best choice for business users). 1. Gmail Gmail is my all time favorite. And I know what you are thinking right now. Well, you’re right! Gmail is, of course, the web’s favorite email service and is known to everyone. But I bet you must be missing many of its incredible features. I have already shared over over 71 Gmail tips and tricks and I’m sure that you will never use Gmail the way you used to once you read it. And then you will know why Gmail is on top of my list. Again, if you are a mobile centric person then you can further enhance your Gmail experience by using Mailbox (available on iOS, Android and OS X) or Outlook (available on iOS and Android) instead of using the official Gmail app by Google. And you can also try Inbox by Gmail — if you want to use Gmail as a task-manager as well. Don’t Miss: Over 71 Gmail Tips & Tricks To Make You A “Gmail Ninja” 2. Sunrise Sunrise is a calendar app for desktop and mobile that works seamlessly on all your devices. What’s so special about Sunrise is that it’s not a calendar app by itself. You need to add your preferred calendars (and task managers too) to it so that you can access and manage all of it — from within the Sunrise app. Sunrise supports a dozen of calendar and task manager services like iCloud, Outlook.com & Office 365, Google Calendar & Tasks, Facebook Events & Birthdays, Wunderlist, Todoist, Asana, Trello, Evernote, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. so that you can access everything from a single space. 3. Evernote Evernote is so popular that there can’t be productivity list without it. It’s one of the best productivity app that’s equally useful to kids, writers, entrepreneurs, professionals, homemakers, or virtually anyone who want to “Remember everything”. And if there is something that made it massively popular then I believe it’s because of its simplicity and the cross-platform compatibility (yes, it works like a charm on all your devices). Oh yeah, I have already shared over 51 Evernote tips and tricks to make you an “Evernote Ninja”. So don’t miss it and you will definitely fall in love with Evernote (if you aren’t already). Don’t Miss: What Is Evernote, Anyway? 51+ Tips To Make You An Evernote Ninja 4. Wunderlist My favorite task manager was Todoist and I still like it because of its simplicity. But I was unhappy about its syncing and that most of the essential features were part of the premium version. For instance, you need a premium account to enable “Reminders” on Todoist. Reminder is an essential feature of any task manager app, right? In fact, even the premium version didn’t solve the syncing problem. So I was obviously looking for a free alternative and tried Wunderlist (when Microsoft acquired it). And when I started using it, I was immediately convinced that it’s the best task manager app — that’s free. And the best thing about Wunderlist is that… the syncing is perfect and almost all the features (including ones that are premium at Todoist) are free. Of course, they also have a premium version but you probably don’t need it — unless you’re an enterprise user. Also, Wunderlist is virtually available on all platforms — just like Todoist. Don’t Miss: Over 21 Microsoft Apps For Your iPhone & iPad (And Android Too) 5. Feedly We all have a list of websites or blogs that we want to follow pretty closely, right? Feedly is perhaps the only news reader app you will ever want. It’s simply the best RSS reader (or simply news aggregator) — thanks to Google Reader’s demise — that lets you read, organize, bookmark, and share content. What’s more? It’s got an intuitive interface with a lot of customization options. Feedly is officially available on all major mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Kindle) and for other platforms there are a lot of third-party applications. And it’s also integrated with over 200 third-party apps. One thing that I particularly love about Feedly mobile is that it works better than its desktop version. 6. Pocket Pocket (formerly Read It Later) is one of the most popular save for later app that lets you read articles offline. You can save articles, web pages, videos, etc. to access later — with a single-click. Whatever you add an item to Pocket, it goes to a reading list and you can delete/archive it, when you’re done. Perhaps the best thing about Pocket is that it’s available everywhere (on desktop, mobile, tablet, web, and as browser extensions) and is also integrated with over 1,500 apps and services. So all your Pocket items are automatically synced across all your devices. 7. Dropbox Dropbox is the most popular cloud storage service. In fact, it’s Dropbox that revolutionized the cloud storage for consumers. It’s got the best user interface and works beautifully across all the platforms and devices. And you won’t have to rely on a third-party client ever as there’s an official Dropbox app for almost all the desktop and mobile platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Kindle. No other cloud storage service — whether it’s OneDrive, or Google Drive, or Amazon, or Box — offers this cross-platform support. Don’t Miss: 11 Reasons Why I Love Dropbox — And You Should Too 8. Trello Trello was not among my favorites and I was not using it until a couple of months ago. But when I did, it immediately became one of my favorites and eventually replaced OneNote. Microsoft OneNote was my favorite note-taker and planner app before Evernote and Trello came on the scene. And it’s still one of my favorite productivity tool except that I don’t need it much these days. The reason is quite simple… OneNote is a superior app that’s way more sophisticated than Evernote or Trello. It’s is enriched with a ton of collaboration and notes organization capabilities, formatting options, digital tools, and a lot of other nifty features. So I would rather use it someday as an advanced note-taker or planner app — when I need to. Trello on the other side is an intuitive project management app and it can be used to organize almost anything (from ideas to recipes to shopping list to notes and what-not) and share it with anyone and work together as a team. It is so flexible that everyone can use it in their own unique way (just like Evernote). Trello basically is all about “Boards”, “Lists”, and “Cards”. I treat a “Board” as a project, and a “List” as a section or a process within a “Board”, and finally a “Card” as a micro-task or a tiny-note. Wait, we can even drag and drop cards between lists or can copy/move a card to another list (within another Board). And then there are additional features like comments, attachments, labels, reminders, etc. that lets you organize your Trello boards and lists in a more efficient way. 9. IFTTT IFTTT is an acronym for “If This Then That”. It’s a powerful tool that lets you connect almost all your web apps in a way that you wouldn’t have imagined. Once you add (or rather connect) all your apps to IFTTT, you can create rules (known as “recipes” in IFTTT). When you’re done, just browse the recipes and you will be amazed at the kinds of recipes that are doable using IFTTT. For instance, if you have connected Evernote and Pocket to IFTTT then you can create a recipe like “Save the favorited item in Pocket to Evernote”. Apart from that, you can also create recipes that doesn’t require any third-party apps. For instance, you can create a recipe to receive an email alert about a stock price. The more apps you connect, the more recipes you can create. Perhaps the loveliest thing about IFTTT is that… creating a recipe feels like coding — except that everyone can do it. Don’t Miss: Over 101 Social Media Tools (Free & Premium) You’ll Ever Need 10. Google Chrome Google Chrome is undoubtedly the web’s favorite browser. Actually, it’s much more than just a web browser. Or, what’s web without Google Chrome? I don’t know but I live in Google Chrome. I love Chrome for its simplicity, clean user interface, apps, extensions, address bar (here’s why!), password manager, and the way everything is synced across all our devices — thanks to the cloud. Don’t Miss: Top 50 Google Chrome Productivity Extensions For Bloggers The Fantastic Ten: Changelog What’s in? Wunderlist #Tasks Dropbox #Cloud Trello #Planner What’s out? Todoist #Tasks Microsoft OneDrive #Cloud Microsoft OneNote #Planner BONUS: Premium Productivity Tools 11. Day One Day One is not exactly a productivity app but a journaling app for iOS and Mac OS X. And I have decided to include it as it’s one of my favorite productivity app now. You know why? Well, I use it to convert my thoughts or anything what’s in my mind to words and that way it helps me to refine ideas. And that’s not all. Day One has got some really cool features like a Calendar View (that shows all our journal entries in a calendar), Multiple Journals, Reminders, Publish (that allows us to selectively publish a journal entry and share its link), Photos (oh yeah, we can embed photos from the web or can upload one from our own PC), Tags (it allows us to tag all our entries and make it more organized), Starred (it’s my todo — sort of — inside Day One). I ‘Star’ an entry when I want to (temporarily or permanently) bookmark a journal entry or when I enter a journal entry that’s also a to-do. Day One costs a one-time $39.99 for the OS X version and $9.99 for the iOS (iPhone & iPad) version. Note: As of now, Day One is available only on iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS X but I have listed it here as they are going to launch a Web and Android version sooner or later (though I’m not sure about its Windows version). 12. Microsoft Office Microsoft Office is obviously the most popular (and the best too) productivity suite — and it’s getting more productive, useful, and feature rich. Office suite is not free but I decided to include it as there’s Office Online (which is totally free). Office Online lets you experience almost all the Office suite apps without buying or downloading the software. And if this was a list of free as well as premium tools then I might have listed Office 365 at the top as it’s the best productivity software that’s worth every dollar that you pay. The reason is pretty simple… today even a tiny cloud service can cost at least $40-$50 a year but Office 365 costs only $99.99 per year. And it lets you install the full Office suite on 5 PCs or Macs, and 5 tablets and mobile phones. That’s not all! You also get OneDrive storage of 1 TB each for up to 5 users and also 60 Skype minutes per month, again for all the 5 users. Don’t Miss: Over 101 Productivity Tools (Free & Premium) To Get Things Done Conclusion It’s very, very likely that you already know most of the tools that I have mentioned here as they are all massively popular. But I just wanted to come up with a list and make it as useful as possible. And by the way, I’m not actively using all the above tools at any given time as I always try to use only a minimum number of tools. So I just switch according to my requirements. As of today, I’m not using IFTTT, OneNote, and Pocket from the above list. Now I’m curious to know your “fantastic ten” productivity tools. So feel free to share it as a comment below. ;) Stay focused, stay productive! First Published: September 23, 2015; Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2016. You Might Also Like3 Best Of The Best Remote Desktop Access Software That Are FreeMicrosoft iPhone. Microsoft iPad. Microsoft Android.The Best Dictation (Voice To Text) Software Is Here (And It’s Free!)The 13 Best Google Chrome Extensions I Can’t Live Without (Plus 13 I Can Live Without)iCloud Email Address: One Productivity Tip You Probably Didn’t Know (Plus 3 Things About Gmail, Outlook.com, & Yahoo Mail) The Fantastic Ten Tools (Free) To Skyrocket Your Productivity is a post by Minterest
Microsoft India is now offering both Microsoft Display Dock and a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal for free to Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL buyers. The Office 365 Personal subscription, normally Rs. 3,299/-, includes access to the latest Office apps on a mobile device, an additional PC and tablet so you can create, edit and save all your documents with ease across devices. Microsoft Display Dock costs about Rs.5445. Also, Lumia 950 is selling for Rs. 42,099 and Lumia 950 XL is selling for Rs.47,499, well below their launch price. Steps to redeem the offersOffice 365 Personal 1-year free subscription on Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL Step 1- Download/Open the Lumia Offers app on your Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL Step 2- On being directed to the list of offers available, consumers have to choose ‘1-year Office 365’. Step 3- Enter the email and tap ‘continue’ for instructions to claim the subscription. Microsoft Display Dock + HDMI cable free with Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL Step 1– Submit the online trade-in-claim on http://getdock.in followed by the IMEI number of the new Lumia 950/ Lumia 950 XL Step 2- Post the IMEI validation, consumers will be directed to fill in the address details. Step 3– An email confirmation will be sent to the consumers followed by the Display Dock and HDMI cable within 7 working days. You can order Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 from Amazon India.
Microsoft today released the official ISOs for Windows 10 Build 14295. If you are having trouble upgrading to Windows 10 Build 14295 via Windows Update, you might want to use this ISO to manually install the OS. Additionally, you can also use the ISO to clean-install Windows 10 to get a fresh new experience. Windows 10 Build 14295 ISOs are available for download here.
Microsoft recently unveiled Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the upcoming major update for Windows 10. With the upcoming update, Microsoft is expected to introduce some new features and the company will also be introducing some new UI and UX improvements. Today, the company posted a new Quest in the Feedback Hub about an improved Start Screen and Start Menu. The company is looking to improve the All Apps list in the Start Screen and Start Menu with Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Here’s a comparison between the current Start Screen and the planned UI for the improved Start Screen: (click to enlarge) As you can see, the upcoming/planned Start Screen includes an All Apps list which looks a lot like the one in Windows 8.1. Of course, this will only show up for tablet users using the Tablet Mode in Windows 10 and I think this will provide a better experience than the current All Apps list in a tablet. Additionally, Microsoft also posted a comparison for the Start Screen which can see below: (click to enlarge) As you can see, there doesn’t seem to be any major changes there — but, Microsoft moved the Power, Settings buttons to the sidebar, which is certainly interesting. Moreover, the company is killing the All Apps list in the “normal” mode for the Start Screen — to replace it, Microsoft is combining the Most Used list and the All Apps list which should provide a better user experience. In a Sway post, Microsoft’s Peter Skillman, Brian Uphoff, Eric Papamarcos, and Jen Gentleman shared a bit more info on the design which Microsoft is considering: You saw a sneak peak of our vision in the Build 2016 sizzle video, and we’re excited to show you more. Our goal with these changes is to simplify and make your most common tasks take fewer steps. Here’s what we’re thinking: Start menu: This view is predominantly designed for PC. We’ve heard your feedback, and we’ve focused on consistency, efficiency, simplicity, and making better use of the space. The All apps list is essential to understanding which apps you have on your device. We’ve elevated this list to the top level of the UI to reduce clicking & scrolling. This makes it easier to access apps in the All Apps list. It also reinforces the consistent Start experience across form factors. Start screen: This view is predominantly designed for tablet. We’ve heard from Insiders that they feel Windows 8.1 start screen delivered a better tablet experience than what we have in Windows 10 today. We are addressing that and are looking to make the All apps list more usable in two ways: Full-screen All apps list in tablet mode. We heard your feedback that the All apps list should be full-screen in tablet mode and explored several designs that aid efficiency while taking advantage of the additional real estate when Start is full screen. Specifically, we’re striking a balance between density and “scan-ability” (i.e. how easy it is to scan the list to find the app you want).A combined “Most used” and “All apps” list view. With this approach, we hope to address the confusion that many users felt with the two very similar list views (“Most Used” and “All apps”).As part of this improvement, we’ve also made it easier and more clear how to switch between the “Pinned Tiles” and “All apps” views by adopting the navigation pane pattern used throughout Windows. If you want to submit your own feedback about the improved Start Screen and Start Menu, head over to this link. Source: Microsoft
Azure Batch is a cloud-scale job scheduling and compute management service that makes it easy to run large-scale jobs in parallel. You can just inform Batch what kind of VM you need, how to configure them, the jobs and tasks to run, and the service takes care of the rest. At Build 2016, Microsoft announced a preview of Azure Batch for Linux virtual machines. This brings the power of Batch “scheduling-as-a-service” to customers with Linux applications and workflows across industries and scientific research. Under the covers, Batch is using Virtual Machine Scale Sets to deploy and manage Linux virtual machines. The Batch agent that manages job and task execution on compute nodes is written in Python for portability. This compliments the support in Batch for Cloud Services. VM Scale Sets will provide us with additional features down the road such as custom VM images. Batch provides a consistent experience for developers across Linux and Windows virtual machines with the REST API. To better enable Linux users, Microsoft has published the Batch client in the Azure Python SDK and Azure Node.js SDK. Java support will be available soon. Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!
Microsoft today announced that Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise include Xamarin’s professional and enterprise features at no additional cost. And existing and new Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will have access to Xamarin’s advanced enterprise capabilities for free and a discounted access to Xamarin Test Cloud. Xamarin Studio is an IDE enabling development of iOS, Android, and Mac applications on Mac OS X. Microsoft today announced that they are creating a Community edition of Xamarin Studio for Mac and the Xamarin Studio Professional and Enterprise will be included in Visual Studio Subscriptions. Xamarin Studio Community is free just like Visual Studio Community for eligible customers and uses. Xamarin Studio Community includes integrated native designers for iOS and Android, as well as syntax highlighting for C# and F#, code navigation and refactoring Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise subscribers can use Professional and Enterprise editions of Xamarin Studio for Mac as a benefit of their Visual Studio subscription. Today, Microsoft is also announcing a 25% discount on Xamarin Test Cloud for Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers (Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN and Visual Studio Enterprise – annual). Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!
At Build 2016, Microsoft announced that the company is bringing an iOS emulator in Xamarin for Windows. For those unfamiliar, Xamarin is a tool which developers can use to build cross-platform apps with C# that run on Windows, iOS and Android. At the conference, Xamarin showed off an iOS emulator inside Windows which means developers can easily build and test their cross-platform apps in Windows, without having to “invest in a chair [Mac] that spins.” For those wondering, features like multi-touch are also supported. Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!
At Build 2016, Microsoft announced that Xamarin will come with Visual Studio for free. Xamarin will be in every edition of Visual Studio, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition, which is free for individual developers, open source projects, academic research, education, and small professional teams. Develop and publish native apps for iOS and Android with C# or F# from directly within Visual Studio with no limits on app size. For developers on the Mac, Xamarin Studio is now available as a benefit of your Visual Studio Professional or Enterprise subscription. Developers can use the newly-created Xamarin Studio Community Edition for free. Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!
I know you want it… More organic search traffic. Who doesn’t want free, high quality traffic, that comes in month after month? That’s why SEO is such a big deal and one of the main topics I focus on—here, on Quick Sprout. I believe that most marketers should be dedicating a significant portion of their time and resources towards SEO. There are many things you can do that have a direct impact on your search traffic. However, there is more to marketing than just SEO, and you probably know that. The thing is, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Just because some of your marketing isn’t specifically done to improve search traffic, that doesn’t mean that it can’t. And this type of situation is more common than you might think. In this post, I’ll go over four ways that can indirectly improve your search rankings. You can try these 4 indirect ways to improve your search rankings. This means that the primary benefit of these marketing techniques is not to improve search traffic, but there’s a good chance that, if done right, they might help you with your search traffic too. 1. Following up with customers leads to extra benefits This is a great place to start because there doesn’t seem to be an obvious connection to SEO. But I assure you there is. Getting feedback from your customers is always a great idea, but it can eat up a lot of time. Some businesses figure they don’t have the resources to follow up continuously with customers and would rather dedicate them all to sales/marketing channels such as SEO. However, if you get customer feedback and use it correctly, it can lead to some great backlinks in a few different ways. Here’s the simple 2-step process you’ll need to follow: Step #1 – Contact customers immediately after the sale: You have very few opportunities to open up communication with customers without annoying them. After the sale is one of them. Once someone purchases something from you, they’re usually excited to hear from you and possibly want reassurance that everything went well. Send them an email that confirms their order and lets them know whom to contact if they need help. Step #2 – Follow up after they’ve had time to use your product: The more important part, when it comes to potential SEO benefits, is to follow up with customers again. Once they’ve used the product, they can tell you if they’ve had any problems or complaints. This is the main reason why you’d want to follow up—these issues are important to address if you want to retain happy customers. In addition, ask for their feedback on their experience. If someone says that they’re thrilled, that’s great. Then you should ask them to share their experience with others. Since they enjoyed your product or service so much, you’ll get a high percentage of these customers willing to help you out. You have a few options that can help with SEO. If you’d like to ask for a simple favor, ask them to leave a review on a big review site in your niche. For most niches, this will include sites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages. Let’s look at an example of a search for a carpenter in New York: The top result is a Yelp business page, while the second result is Yelp’s internal search results for carpenters (another search listings page). The second is most interesting here: This page orders businesses based on several factors, e.g., the number of reviews they have and how positive the reviews are (in addition to price). As long as you fall into the default filters, the more good reviews you have, the higher your profile will appear. Why does this matter for SEO? Because the more prominent (higher) a link is on a page, the more weight it has. This page has a lot of search engine authority (that’s why it can rank at #2), and it passes that authority mostly to the top profiles that it links to. Those profiles all have links back to their corresponding websites, which, of course, improves those websites’ search authority. Not only will reviews get you more direct business on these review sites, but that extra link power can help your rankings in search engines. Not by a ton, but by enough that you will notice it after a while. The second option, which is best for high priced products, is to create a case study of the results your customer got. Brian Dean at Backlinko does it all the time, both for his readers and actual customers: Case studies are typically really easy to promote, and they can get a ton of traffic and links. I’ve created an extensive guide to creating effective case studies that you should read if you take this approach. 2. Get out of your shell and go to events Just about every industry has several conferences throughout the year. No doubt you can find a few local events to attend if you wanted to. Now, conferences can be a huge waste of time, but they can also be incredibly valuable. Obviously, you go primarily to learn, but a huge secondary result can be the relationships you come back with. Events are a great way to meet other people in your industry and explore opportunities to work together. But guess what else happens? When you email them down the line, asking them to check out your latest piece of content, most will be happy to read it and give feedback. What’s even better is that if they have a chance to link to it within their own content, they usually do. These links can have a big impact on your search rankings if you make several connections per event. Finally, even if your connections don’t manage their content, they can introduce you to the content manager for their business. You can explore collaboration opportunities or offer to create guest posts for them (which will give you more links to your site). All of these potential benefits are important if you have to convince your boss that it’s worth sending you to conferences. Finding conferences is easy: I won’t spend much time on this, but I’ll show you quickly how to find conferences. Start by Googling: (industry) conferences (year) You could also try “events” instead of conferences: Typically, you’ll find a roundup of all the best events, often multiple. Each of these results will give you a listing of events, separated by date, location, and audience: I recommend going through more than one list so that you don’t miss any good ones. Remember that conferences can be either worthless or extremely valuable. The difference depends on how you spend your time at them. That’s why I wrote the Beginner’s Guide to Conferences in the past. Give it a quick read. 3. Hire the best help you can get If you’re truly creating “epic” content, chances are that you’re not doing everything on your own. In most cases, you’re hiring freelance writers and designers to help fill in any gaps in your skillset. Obviously, if you’re hiring the best freelancers you can afford, it’s because you primarily want to create great content. That kind of content is the easiest to get to rank. However, the very act of hiring freelancers will make it easier. Let me explain… Type #1 – Writers: Whether you hire a freelancer or offer them an attractive opportunity to collaborate, these relationships will often get you some extra high-quality backlinks. A good set of examples are my ultimate guides (sidebar of Quick Sprout). For these guides, I teamed up with experts in each of the subjects. I had some help from Kathryn Aragon writing The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing, for example: When someone helps create a piece of content of that quality, they, of course, want to show it off. How? By talking about it and linking to it. It makes them look great to say they wrote or co-wrote an amazing piece of content. Because of this, I didn’t have to ask Kathryn to link to the guide; she’s mentioned it dozens of times in her posts on other sites and social media (linking to it most of the time): Essentially, your writer will help you with the content promotion. Type #2 – Designers: More commonly, marketers hire freelance designers to help create images for content. The exact same principle applies here: If you hire a freelancer to create something great, they will want to show it off in their portfolio, leading to great backlinks for your content. Continuing with the example of my guides, I needed professional help to design them. My designer had accounts on sites such as Behance and Dribbble, both of which are authoritative sites in the design niche. Of course, they shared the images with links to those guides: Those links are the indirect benefit of working with great freelancers. 4. User experience optimization is a great use of your time Creating a great user experience on your site and with your products is valuable for many reasons. Typically, the main motivation for working on improving your users’ experience has to do with the conversion rate. It’s a good reason. What most don’t consider is that this often inadvertently plays a big role in improving search rankings. There are a few reasons why, but most applicable here is the concept of pogo sticking. Basically, if a Google user clicks on your page but then goes right back to the search results for another, it indicates to Google that your content didn’t satisfy the user. Conversely, if most users stop on your page, you did a good job and are rewarded with better search rankings. If you improve the user experience of your website, you’ll usually end up increasing the number of visitors that you fully satisfy, decreasing pogo sticking. This can indirectly improve your rankings. User experience is extremely complicated, but there are three common factors we can focus on and look at the ways they affect pogo sticking. Factor #1 – page load speed: Studies have shown that people will not wait for pages to load. Even a fraction of a second can affect 5-10% of people who will leave before they even see your content. Ideally, you want your pages to load in less than 2 seconds. You can test page load speed by using the Quick Sprout tool or a tool such as GTmetrix. Improving page load speed will have a huge effect on pogo sticking, but it’s also a direct ranking factor confirmed by Google. It’s not a huge one, but factoring both of these aspects together, speed can make a big difference in rankings. Searchmetrics found a huge correlation between a quick load time and the top Google positions: Factor #2 – clutter: One thing that makes a big difference in user experience is the amount of clutter on the page. Most people are looking for one specific thing, so everything that’s unrelated on the page only serves as a distraction. Compare that to a site like Medium, where the content is essentially the only thing on the page: It’s no surprise that Medium posts rank well in Google. When a user clicks through, they easily find exactly what they’re looking for, leading to less pogo sticking. Try to declutter your layouts as much as possible, taking out anything that your visitors don’t need to see. Factor #3 – site architecture: Site architecture refers to the way all the different pages of your website are organized in relation to each other. For our purposes, good site architecture essentially means you have organized internal linking. Here’s what a good structure looks like: Everything is organized into topical silos. When search engines crawl the site, it will be easier for them to determine the relevancy of your pages, which often leads to better rankings. Conclusion By all means, you should spend a lot of time and resources directly on SEO. However, you can still focus on other areas of your business while also getting SEO benefits. I’ve shown you four great business practices that accomplish valuable things plus give you indirect improvements to your search rankings. I encourage you to incorporate as many of these as you can, without fearing that you’re neglecting your SEO work. If you have any questions about the subject of this post, let me know in a comment below.
There are two types of SEOs: Those who love the technical stuff… …and those who hate it. If you fall into the first category, you’re probably already experienced with HTTPS. If you’re in the second category of SEOs, you might be a little intimidated by it. If you are intimidated, it’s for a good reason, and I completely understand it. There are some parts of HTTPS that are complex, but most of it is simple. Furthermore, you don’t need to understand the exact behind-the-scenes work going on in order to implement HTTPS on a website. Are you concerned about HTTP and HTTPS? This step by step cheat sheet will teach you how you can implement HTTPS in your site. What’s the deal? Is HTTPS important or not? The idea of HTTPS has always been a good one, and most leading businesses implemented it a long time ago. However, somewhat recently, Google announced that HTTPS is a ranking factor. Obviously, that got SEOs talking about and debating the subject. At the time, it was a very small ranking factor, affecting less than 1% of global searches. Even now, it’s not a big factor. However, security is something that Google takes very seriously, and it’s likely to become more important in the future. Some SEOs jumped right on it and made the switch. Most saw little to no improvement, but there was certainly anecdotal evidence of ranking improvements: There is a potential benefit of making the switch. On top of search rankings, you also get a pretty lock symbol in Chrome and Firefox. If your site isn’t HTTPS, you don’t get this symbol, and sometimes visitors may get warnings about the security of your site on certain types of pages. HTTPS: Explain it to me as if I’m five I’m not going to pretend to know all the technical details behind HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), but I can certainly tell you the basics. The main benefit of HTTPS is that it makes your site more secure for your users. More specifically, it’s more secure when a user is giving you any sort of information. It’s essential on pages where users are required to give their credit card information and/or other personal details. However, it’s a good thing to have on all pages. The real change happens when a user submits their data. HTTPS is able to provide multiple layers of protection to that data: encryption – the data is worthless to anyone who somehow manages to intercept it because they don’t have the key to decrypt it (you do). data integrity - data can’t be corrupted, which is a good thing. authentication - it prevents “man in the middle” attacks, which means that it’s not possible for anyone to trick your customers into thinking they’re providing you data when they’re really giving it to a scammer. This is what your SSL certificate (more on that soon) is for. Do you need HTTPS? As an SEO or business owner, you understand that using HTTPS is a good thing. But is it really necessary? Well, there are two benefits to having it: a small boost in rankings (possibly larger in the future) a more secure site for your users If you run a big site such as Quick Sprout, even a small boost in SEO results in tens of thousands of visitors per month. That’s one reason why HTTPS definitely made sense for Quick Sprout. However, if you’re starting out, you’re not going to see a real difference in your search traffic. In the future, it could make a bigger impact, but for now it won’t. All in all, if you’re expecting to get a significant amount of search traffic in the next few years, you should plan on switching to HTTPS. What about security? If you just have a blog and all you require from your users is to enter their email addresses to opt in to your email lists, you probably don’t need HTTPS for security reasons. However, if you accept payments or important personal information for any reason, you need HTTPS on those pages at a minimum. Between those two factors, you should know whether you need to implement HTTPS on your site at all. A large portion of sites should have it, but not all do. If you do need to implement HTTPS, I’m going to show you the steps you need to follow. I’ll provide as many specifics as I can, but there are many parts that will vary based on your site choices (I’ll lay it out for you). Step 1: Pick a type of SSL certificate SSL? What’s that? SSL is the protocol that HTTPS uses. Basically, you need to install an SSL certificate on your site in order for it to use HTTPS. There are three different types of certificates you can get: Domain validation – the cheapest and most basic; it only really covers encryption (from the three things we went over earlier). Organization validation – the middle choice in terms of price, which also includes authentication. If you’re collecting personal information, you probably want at least this option. Extended validation – the top of the line option, which provides the best security you can get with HTTPS. This is mainly for big e-commerce sites and sites that collect really important private information. Here’s a nice little summary: Google recommends that you use 2048-bit encryption certificates, so keep that in mind if you go with an organization validation certificate (which offers different levels of encryption). Where to buy an SSL certificate: You can buy a certificate from a ton of different websites. They will offer different types at different prices, so you can shop around if you’d like. However, I recommend buying one from your hosting company. Why? Because most hosting companies offer them in the first place, and many of them will also help you install them. So for convenience sake, start by looking at them. For example, Hostgator sells a few different types of certificates: You can see that the prices aren’t too steep. Once you’ve bought one, you can then get them to install it for you on your hosting server (provided you have a dedicated IP): If that’s not possible…Not all hosting providers will install the certificate for you. At this point, see if they have an installation guide by Googling: (hosting company) + SSL certificate installation If that doesn’t bring up anything useful, contact their support. The process of installing a certificate differs from host to host, which is why I can’t give you specific steps here. Step 2: Create a URL map of your site and redirect Take an example URL of: http://www.example.com Then compare it to: https://www.example.com The only difference is one “s” in the URL, and it’s before the actual domain name. But it makes a difference. These are two entirely separate URLs. What that means is that you need to create copies of all your site’s pages and then redirect all of your old “http” pages to your new “https” pages. Although a pain, it’s pretty simple. A URL map can just be a simple spreadsheet, containing a list of old URLs with a list of the corresponding new URLs beside it. If you wanted to make changes to your site structure or URL format, now would be a good time to do it. If you’re using WordPress, you can add all the 301 (permanent) redirects to your .htaccess file. Each line should look something like this: Redirect 301 /oldpage.html https://www.yoursite.com/newpage.html You just need to fix the bolded parts. If you’re planning to move to a brand new domain while you’re doing this, refer to my guide to moving a WordPress site for step-by-step instructions. 3. Update your internal links You’re not quite done with linking yet. You likely have many internal links throughout your site. These may point to your old “http” pages. Ideally, you want these to point directly to your HTTPS pages. Introducing relative URLs: If you’re lucky, you’ve been using relative URLs all along. These don’t specify an absolute (entire) URL; instead, they tell your browser to add something to the end of the domain. For example, if this link: Link was placed somewhere on our domain example.com, clicking it would take you to: http://www.example.com/page2 When you switch to “HTTPS,” the same link would take you to: https://www.example.com/page2 which is perfect. If your site wasn’t built like that and instead uses absolute links: Link then you’ll need to find each link and add the correct new URL to it. 4. Update image and other links It’s not just links to pages on your site that you need to worry about. It’s also any other link to resources such as images, stylesheets, and scripts. If you right-click any of your site’s pages and click “view source,” you’ll see all kinds of tags like this: The problem is that you need to ensure that all files used and served on your site also use HTTPS. If those sources and image locations exist on your domain, you need to point them to the correct HTTPS locations. If you have both HTTP and HTTPS URLs, you can use protocol relative URLs, which look like this: The double slash in front tells your browser to use HTTPS in front of that URL when the file is being requested from an HTTPS page. Don’t forget about your CDN: If you use a CDN, you need to make sure that your CDN supports HTTPS. Most CDNs do support HTTPS by now, but not all of them. For example, Cloudflare does. If they don’t have detailed instructions on how to implement HTTPS, so you’ll again have to contact their support. Then, you’ll have to go back to your new HTTPS site and make sure that the source for all images is pointing to the HTTPS image location on your CDN. To ensure that you don’t miss any links or images, I recommend using a site crawling tool like Screaming Frog SEO. You put your domain in the spider text box at the top, and it will extract a ton of information from your site. Then, click the “internal”, “external”, and “images” filters along the top to see what’s on your site. If they’re all HTTPS, you’re good to go. 5. Add your site again in WMT Now that your site is basically whole again, you want to get Google crawling it as soon as possible to limit the chances of your traffic being negatively affected. You need to re-add your site to Google webmaster tools (Search Console) because the HTTPS site is considered a completely different site. Then, you should submit your new sitemap in your new listing. On top of that, re-submit your old sitemap (in your old WMT property) because then Google will see the 301 redirects and update its listings. 6. Do some quick testing to make sure everything went well If all goes smoothly, you should see no change or a small positive bump in search rankings. If traffic drops off significantly for more than a day or two, you likely have a problem and should go through this guide again (and ask your host or an SEO consultant for help). First you should make sure that your SSL certificate is installed correctly. To do that, use this free SSL server test: Just put in your new homepage URL, and it’ll do a thorough test: Other than this, you want to watch your rankings to make sure you spot issues. Finally, you should click around various pages on your site and make sure that the HTTPS lock shows up correctly (green) in Chrome. Conclusion I know that you might not love technical SEO, but it’s important. By now you should know whether or not HTTPS is needed for your site and how to implement it. Although questions about the actual migration can be difficult to answer, if you leave me questions with as much detail as possible in a comment below, I’ll try to answer them.
Notifications from your Android phone will soon appear on your Windows 10 PC, thanks to a new feature, announced at Build 2016, that Microsoft is planning to bring to both platforms in the near future. Getting notifications to appear in Windows 10's notification center will be possible through Microsoft's Cortana app for Android. When users have the app installed on their phone, Cortana will essentially store any notifications received in the cloud, which can then be sent through to any associated Windows 10 devices. You'll be able to do more than just view notifications too: the feature will allow users to reply to notifications from within Windows 10, as well as dismiss those deemed unnecessary. This functionality will also understandably be available for those with Windows 10 Mobile devices, but it will no longer be exclusive to Microsoft's mobile platform. Where you won't see this feature supported is iOS, as Microsoft simply lacks deep access to iOS notifications thanks to Apple's restrictions. Microsoft only stated that this feature will be available in a "future version" of Windows 10, but it seems likely that it will be part of the OS's Anniversary Update. You'd assume that Microsoft will also need to update their Cortana app on Android.
“For Gamers. By Gamers” has long been the tagline for San Diego-based Razer. Diverging from its usual modus operandi however, the company has introduced its first ultrabook, the Razer Blade Stealth. For the record, this is not a gaming machine out of the box. Rather, Razer has unapologetically prioritized mobility over gaming with a 12.5 inch touchscreen and integrated Intel HD 520 graphics. In fact, the Stealth’s specifications are in line with a number of other premium non-gaming ultrabook offerings, namely the Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo Yoga 900. As yet another entry in a crowded market segment, does the Blade Stealth have what it takes to stand apart? Razer Blade Stealth Starts at $999.99, $1,399.99 as tested Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core CPU with HT @ 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz (Base/Turbo) Intel HD 520 Integrated Graphics 8GB dual-channel onboard memory (LPDDR3-1866MHz) 256GB M.2 M.2 SSD 4K UHD Display - 12.5" IGZO 16:9 aspect ratio, with LED backlight, capacitive multi-touch 1 x Thunderbolt 3.0, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI 1.4b, 1 x TRSS 3.5mm Bluetooth 4.1, Killer Wi-Fi 802.11ac Built-in webcam (2.0MP) Chroma RGB anti-ghosting keyboard with individually backlit keys Built-in 45Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery Approx. Weight: 2.75 lbs. / 1.25 kg Approx. Size: 0.52” / 13.1 mm (Height) x 12.6” / 321 mm (Width) x 8.1” / 206 mm (Depth) Aluminum Unibody $1399 as configured Whether it was stolen prototypes or product delays, Razer’s eventual entry into the notebook market was anything but uneventful. Despite those early challenges, Razer has proven an ambitious competitor in gaming notebooks. Innovations like the SwitchBlade UI and aggressive portability for gaming laptops has helped the company stand out. This makes the Blade Stealth particularly interesting -- made by gamers, but for who? Although the company’s first take on an ultrabook, the Stealth feels anything but experimental or beta. Everything about the Stealth looks and feels purposeful. Measuring just 0.52 inches thick, the Blade Stealth is similar in thickness to Apple’s MacBook Air. The CNC-milled aluminum unibody design lends absolute rigidity to the chassis. The design is tight and creates a premium hands-on feel comparable to the best notebooks experiences out there, including those of a certain fruit-themed manufacturer. When it comes to looks, the Blade Stealth is quintessential Razer: a sleek matte black design with the company’s glowing serpentine triskelion stamped on the lid. The overall aesthetic is clean and simple with just a few embellishments aimed at tickling the fancies of gamers. One issue that takes away from the Stealth’s sharp aesthetics is fingerprints; the matte finish instantly betrays greasy fingertips. It wasn’t long before the Stealth was an undesirable patchwork of unevenly glossy splotches. Note to self: don’t eat french fries while using the Stealth. Connectivity includes 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) charging port and HDMI 1.4b. Thunderbolt 3 delivers 40Gbps of bandwidth making it capable of driving two concurrent 4K 60Hz displays. Of course, there’s Bluetooth as well as a 3.5mm jack (headphone + mic). The Blade Stealth’s bottom rubber pads run nearly the entire length of the notebook. A small touch, but I found this preferable in most situations over a traditional four corner pad design. I wouldn’t mind seeing more laptops designed this way. 4K Display Customers have two choices when it comes to touchscreen displays: 12.5 inch QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) or 12.5 inch UHD 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels). Our review unit shipped with the 4K option. Although both are glossy touchscreens and both are IGZO-based IPS, the 4K model boasts some impressive specs with a remarkably high 352 PPI pixel density and 100% Adobe RGB coverage. The QHD panel, by comparison, claims only 234 PPI and 70% RGB coverage. Even so, those are still some solid specs. The term “IGZO” comes from the semi-conducting materials contained within the panel backplane: Indium, Gallium and Zinc Oxide. IGZO isn’t a panel type necessarily (e.g. IPS, TN) but actually describes the transistor technology being used. When compared to typical panels, IGZO typically provides faster response times, more passthrough light, less power draw and a more uniform image. Subjectively, the 4K touchscreen is absolutely gorgeous. Colors are vibrant and rich without appearing artificially oversaturated. When compared side by side with a calibrated Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM, a semi-professional QHD display with 79% Adobe RGB coverage, the Stealth’s IGZO panel looks fantastic. Colors look true to form; contrast is excellent and blacks are deep with even lighting. This is also perhaps the brightest panel I’ve seen on a notebook. Although I can’t speak for the QHD model, Razer’s 4K screen (manufactured by Sharp) is one of its best features, setting it apart from most notebooks out there. One criticism regarding the display is the thick black framing that surrounds the panel. I would love to see an edge-to-edge or near borderless design, not unlike Dell’s recent XPS 13. It would have also been interesting to make the Stealth a convertible, but as it is, the display has a somewhat limited range of opening. The touchscreen adds some weight to the laptop and is, of course, glossy.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall of more than 100,000 Panasonic-branded battery packs that shipped with 39 models of Toshiba laptops sold between June 2011 and January 2016. The faulty lithium-ion batteries can overheat which poses burn and fire hazards. To date, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has received four reports of battery packs overheating and melting. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported. The recall affects Toshiba Protégé, Satellite and Tecra models sold at Office Depot, Staples and other electronics stores nationwide in addition to systems sold through Toshiba’s website and at other online retailers. On average, systems ranging in price from $500 to $1,000 are most likely to be impacted by the recall. Some battery packs were also sold separately and installed by Toshiba's repair division. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission urges users to visit Toshiba’s website to download a utility to check and see if their model is impacted. Optionally, consumers can perform a manual check using the laptop and battery pack’s model, part and serial numbers. Packs included in the recall have part numbers that begin with G71C (G71C*******). If a user’s system is part of the recall, they’re encouraged to power off the laptop, remove the battery pack and follow the instructions to receive a free replacement battery pack. In the interim, consumers can still use the laptop by simply plugging in the AC adapter. Roughly 91,000 batteries impacted by the recall were distributed in the US plus another 10,000 in Canada.
Apple earlier this week said it was working to fix a web link crashing issue whose presence appeared to coincide with the arrival of iOS 9.3 on March 21. Today, the company made good on that promise with the release of iOS 9.3.1. As Mac Rumors points out, the exact cause of the problem isn’t publicly known although some have speculated that it is related to Universal Links and the Shared Web Credentials daemon. I’ll spare you the full details for the sake of brevity but 9to5Mac has a solid write-up on the technical details for those interested in digging deeper. The bug was causing pre-installed and third-party apps to crash or freeze whenever a user tapped or long-pressed on a web link. It seems that the majority of affected users were running iOS 9.3 although there were reports of similar behavior from users with older versions of Apple’s mobile operating system. The latter may simply be due to the fact that iOS 9 currently has an adoption rate of 79 percent, thus making it seem as though iOS 9 users are being affected more than those with earlier versions installed. The update is available as of writing over-the-air for all iOS 9 users and can also be had through iTunes. It’s the seventh update to iOS 9, following in the footsteps of iOS 9.0.1, iOS 9.0.2, iOS 9.1, iOS 9.2, iOS 9.2.1 and of course, iOS 9.3.
Square Enix has given Final Fantasy fans a ton of new content to look forward to in the coming months. During its hour-long Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event in Los Angeles, the studio revealed a Final Fantasy-themed anime series, a feature length CG movie, a minigame for mobile devices, an unusual demo, a trailer for Final Fantasy XV and the game’s intended release date. The animated miniseries, Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, is perhaps best described as a prequel. It tells the story of protagonist Noctis and how he became friends with the three other characters that’ll accompany him in the main game. The series will consist of five episodes – each 10 minutes in length – that’ll be published free of charge on YouTube. In fact, the first episode is already live and embedded above. All episodes are expected to debut ahead of the game’s launch later this year. There’s also a CG-based, full-length feature film in the works. Directed by Takeshi Nozue, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV focuses on the events that transpire in the life of King Regis (Noctis’ father) after his son departs the capital of Crown City. The film will run parallel to the game and feature voice work from Game of Thrones stars Lena Headey and Sean Bean as well as Aaron Paul, best known for his portrayal of Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. It’s unclear if the film will be released in theaters or online but we do know it will arrive ahead of the game. Justice Monsters Five is a new pinball minigame for Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices. It’s said to combine role-playing elements with some of the franchise’s most iconic monsters. Square Enix said the game will land in respective app stores in the near future and will be absolutely free to play. Interestingly enough, the minigame will also be playable inside Final Fantasy XV by visiting an arcade. Turning its attention to the main game (well, sort of), Square Enix has released a rather peculiar game demo dubbed the Platinum Demo. Free to download on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the short demo plays out in the mind of Noctis when he was a young boy. The plot, which is said to tie in with the aforementioned anime series, involves a hybrid fox / unicorn creature that communicates via smartphone, miniature drivable toy cars and rapid aging. It would seem that the intent of the demo is to give gamers a feel for how the main game’s combat system will work. For those not up to speed, Final Fantasy XV deviates from the turn-based battle system that has defined much of the series to date. Instead, the Active Cross Battle system leans towards real-time action that is said to be fast and fluid. Square Enix has also released a new trailer for the upcoming game. Running nearly three minutes in length, it blends fast-paced action with more touching moments involving Noctis and his crew. If this isn’t enough to whet the appetite of Final Fantasy fans young and old, I’m not sure if anything will. Final Fantasy XV is scheduled to land on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 30, 2016.
Seagate recently introduced a new external hard drive it’s calling Innov8. The massive 8TB drive connects to your computer via a single USB Type-C connector, making it the world’s first USB-powered desktop hard drive according to the drive maker. Being able to tote around a drive of this size certainly has its benefits. For one, you won’t need to hunt down a free electrical socket to power the drive as it pulls enough energy to operate from the USB connection. What’s more, the drive cuts down on the number of cables you’ll need to transport and manage as again, it only requires a single USB cable. Seagate says the 8TB drive can hold more than two million songs, four million photos and 800 HD movies. The drive includes Seagate’s Dashboard software which offers one-click on-demand or customizable, scheduled backups of connected devices. What’s more, each drive comes with 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage. Seagate designed its Innov8 drive in partnership with design firm Hugh-Design. Bill Webb from Hugh-Design said the new drive builds on Seven’s success to once again convey the functional beauty of an internal hard drive but with enough capacity to ensure seemingly endless space to store the memories we all love. The Seagate Innov8 goes on sale next month for $349. It’ll be sold through Seagate’s website as well as on Amazon and at other retailers.
Microsoft is committed to making the Windows developer experience better than ever, which is why they're bringing the popular Bash shell, alongside the entire Linux command environment, to Windows 10 in the upcoming Anniversary Update. Developers have been able to use Linux command shells like Bash for years through third-party tools, but this is the first time that Microsoft has actually implemented the functionality directly into Windows. The company partnered with Canonical, known for the Linux distribution Ubuntu, to ensure the Bash experience is just as good in Windows as it is in variants of Linux. During Microsoft's Build 2016 keynote, it was revealed that developers will be able to download the Linux command line from the Windows Store when the Anniversary Update becomes available. Microsoft's Kevin Gallo stated during the event that "this is not a VM" or "cross-compiled tools" but a fully-fledged Linux shell running in Windows. Ars Technica believes that the way Microsoft has implemented this functionality could allow developers to natively run Linux programs on Windows without any major modifications. This, along with tools like the Bash shell, could really entice developers more comfortable with a Linux environment to develop on Windows 10. When Microsoft announced that the Bash shell would be coming to Windows, the news received a huge round of applause from the Build 2016 crowd. Microsoft are definitely listening to what developers want, and this is a great step towards making Windows a more friendly development environment.