VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP Telephony, Internet Telephony, and Internet Calling. It is an alternative way of making phone calls that can be very cheap or completely free. The ‘phone’ part is not always present anymore, as you can communicate without a telephone set. VoIP has been named the most successful technology of the last decade.
VoIP has a lot of advantages over the traditional phone system. The main reason for which people are so massively turning to VoIP technology is the cost. In businesses, VoIP is a way to cut down communication cost, add more features to communication and interaction between employees and with customers so that to render the system more efficient and of better quality. For individuals, VoIP is not only the things that have revolutionized voice calling worldwide, but it is also a means to have fun communicating through computers and mobile devices for free.
One of the pioneering services that made VoIP so popular is Skype. It has allowed people to share instant messages and make voice and video calls for free worldwide.
VoIP is said to be cheap, but most people use it for free. Yes, if you have a computer with a microphone and speakers, and a good Internet connection, you can communicate using VoIP for free. This can also be possible with your mobile and home phone.
There are many ways of using VoIP technology. It all depends on where and how you will be making the calls. It could be at home, at work, in your corporate network, during a travel and even on the beach. The way you make calls varies with the VoIP service you use.
The great thing about VoIP is that it taps additional value from the already existing infrastructure without additional costs. VoIP transmits the sounds you make over the standard Internet infrastructure, using the IP Protocol. This is how you can communicate without paying for more than your monthly Internet bill. Skype is the most popular example of services that allow you to make free calls on your PC. There are many computer-based VoIP services out there, so many that you will have a difficult choice. You can also make free calls using traditional phones and mobile phones. See the different flavors of VoIP service that allow you to do this.
VoIP can be used for free with computers and even, in some cases, with mobile and landline phones. However, when it is used to completely replace the PSTN service, then it has a price. But this price is way cheaper than standard phone calls. This becomes thrilling when you consider international calls. Some people have had their communication costs on international calls cut down by 90% thanks to VoIP.
What makes calls free or paid really depends on many factors, including the nature of the call and the services offered. You only have to choose one depending on the nature of your communication and needs.
VoIP is a relatively new technology and it has already achieved wide acceptance and use. There is still a lot to improve and it is expected to have major technological advances in VoIP in the future. It has so far proved to be a good candidate for replacing the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System). It, of course, has drawbacks along with the numerous advantages it brings; and its increasing use worldwide is creating new considerations surrounding its regulations and security.
The growth of VoIP today can be compared to that of the Internet in the early 90’s. The public is getting more and more conscious of the advantages they can reap from VoIP at home or in their businesses. VoIP which not only gives facilities and allows people to save but also generating huge income for those who ventured early into the new phenomenon.
If you own, manage, monetize, or promote online content via Google Search, this guide is meant for you. You might be the owner of a growing and thriving business, the webmaster of a dozen sites, the SEO specialist in a Web agency or a DIY SEO ninja passionate about the mechanics of Search : this guide is meant for you. If you’re interested in having a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to our best practices, you are indeed in the right place. This guide won’t provide any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results. You’re likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they’re essential ingredients for any web page, but you may not be making the most out of them.
You should build a website to benefit your users, and any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content. Your site may be smaller or larger than our example site and offer vastly different content, but the optimization topics we discuss below should apply to sites of all sizes and types. We hope our guide gives you some fresh ideas on how to improve your website, and we’d love to hear your questions, feedback, and success stories in the Google Webmaster Help Forum1.
We hope you will enjoy the content and we hope to hear and integrate your feedback via our Google support Forums
Feel free to save, print off the guide responsibly and re-share it: let’s improve the quality of the web.
Here’s a short glossary of important terms used in this guide:
Index – Google stores all web pages that it knows about in its index. The index entry for each page describes the content and location (URL) of that page. To index is when Google fetches a page, reads it, and adds it to the index: Google indexed several pages on my site today.
Crawl – The process of looking for new or updated web pages. Google discovers URLs by following links, by reading sitemaps, and by many other means. Google crawls the web, looking for new pages, then indexes them (when appropriate).
Crawler – Automated software that crawls (fetches) pages from the web and indexes them.
Googlebot – The generic name of Google’s crawler. Googlebot crawls the web constantly.
SEO – Search engine optimization: the process of making your site better for search engines. Also the job title of a person who does this for a living: We just hired a new SEO to improve our presence on the web.
Are you on Google?
Determine whether your site is in Google’s index – Do a site: search for your site’s home URL. If you see results, you’re in the index. For example, a search for “site:wikipedia.org” returns these results2.
If your site isn’t in Google – Although Google crawls billions of pages, it’s inevitable that some sites will be missed. When our crawlers miss a site, it’s frequently for one of the following reasons:
The site isn’t well connected from other sites on the web
You’ve just launched a new site and Google hasn’t had time to crawl it yet
The design of the site makes it difficult for Google to crawl its content effectively
Google received an error when trying to crawl your site
Your policy blocks Google from crawling the site
How do I get my site on Google?
Inclusion in Google’s search results is free and easy; you don’t even need to submit your site to Google. Google is a fully automated search engine that uses web crawlers to explore the web constantly, looking for sites to add to our index. In fact, the vast majority of sites listed in our results aren’t manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically when we crawl the web. Learn how Google discovers, crawls, and serves web pages.3
We offer webmaster guidelines4 for building a Google-friendly website. While there’s no guarantee that our crawlers will find a particular site, following these guidelines should help make your site appear in our search results.
Google Search Console provides tools to help you submit your content to Google and monitor how you’re doing in Google Search. If you want, Search Console can even send you alerts on critical issues that Google encounters with your site. Sign up for Search Console5.
Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself about your website when you get started.
Is my website showing up on Google?
Do I serve high-quality content to users?
Is my local business showing up on Google?
Is my content fast and easy to access on all devices?
The rest of this document provides guidance on how to improve your site for search engines, organized by topic. You can download a short, printable checklist of tips from http://g.co/WebmasterChecklist7.
Do you need an SEO expert?
An SEO (“search engine optimization”) expert is someone trained to improve your visibility on search engines. By following this guide, you should learn enough to be well on your way to an optimized site. In addition to that, you may want to consider hiring an SEO professional that can help you audit your pages.
Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time. Make sure to research the potential advantages of hiring an SEO, as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site. Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, including:
Review of your site content or structure
Management of online business development campaigns
Expertise in specific markets and geographies
Before beginning your search for an SEO, it’s a great idea to become an
educated consumer and get familiar with how search engines work. We recommend going through the entirety of this guide and specifically these resources:
If you’re thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you’re considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.
The first step to getting your site on Google is to be sure that Google can find it. The best way to do that is to submit a sitemap. A sitemap is a file on your site that tells search engines about new or changed pages on your site. Learn more about how to build and submit a sitemap12.
Google also finds pages through links from other pages. See Promote your site later in this document to learn how to encourage people to discover your site.
Tell Google which pages shouldn’t be crawled
For non-sensitive information, block unwanted crawling by using robots.txt
A “robots.txt” file tells search engines whether they can access and therefore crawl parts of your site. This file, which must be named “robots.txt”, is placed in the root directory of your site. It is possible that pages blocked by robots.txt can still be crawled, so for sensitive pages you should use a more secure method.
You may not want certain pages of your site crawled because they might not be useful to users if found in a search engine’s search results. If you do want to prevent search engines from crawling your pages, Google Search Console has a friendly robots.txt generator to help you create this file. Note that if your site uses subdomains and you wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particular subdomain, you’ll have to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain. For more information on robots.txt, we suggest this Webmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files13.
Don’t let your internal search result pages be crawled by Google. Users dislike clicking a search engine result only to land on another search result page on your site.
Allowing URLs created as a result of proxy services to be crawled.
For sensitive information, use more secure methods
Robots.txt is not an appropriate or effective way of blocking sensitive or confidential material. It only instructs well-behaved crawlers that the pages are not for them, but it does not prevent your server from delivering those pages to a browser that requests them. One reason is that search engines could still reference the URLs you block (showing just the URL, no title or snippet) if there happen to be links to those URLs somewhere on the Internet (like referrer logs). Also, non-compliant or rogue search engines that don’t acknowledge the Robots Exclusion Standard could disobey the instructions of your robots.txt. Finally, a curious user could examine the directories or subdirectories in your robots.txt file and guess the URL of the content that you don’t want seen.
In these cases, use the noindex tag if you just want the page not to appear in Google, but don’t mind if any user with a link can reach the page. For real security, though, you should use proper authorization methods, like requiring a user password, or taking the page off your site entirely.
Help Google (and users) understand your content
Let Google see your page the same way a user does
Use the URL Inspection tool16. It will allow you to see exactly how Googlebot sees and renders your content, and it will help you identify and fix a number of indexing issues on your site.
Create unique, accurate page titles
tag tells both users and search engines what the topic of a particular page is. The tag should be placed within the element of the HTML document. You should create a unique title for each page on your site.
Create good titles and snippets in search results
If your document appears in a search results page, the contents of the title tag may appear in the first line of the results (if you’re unfamiliar with the different parts of a Google search result, you might want to check out the anatomy of a search result video17).
The title for your homepage can list the name of your website/business and could include other bits of important information like the physical location of the business or maybe a few of its main focuses or offerings.
Accurately describe the page’s content
Choose a title that reads naturally and effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content.
Choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page.
Using default or vague titles like “Untitled” or “New Page 1”.
Create unique titles for each page
Each page on your site should ideally have a unique title, which helps Google know how the page is distinct from the others on your site. If your site uses separate mobile pages, remember to use good titles on the mobile versions too.
Using a single title across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages.
Use brief, but descriptive titles
Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long or otherwise deemed less relevant, Google may show only a portion of it or one that’s automatically generated in the search result. Google may also show different titles depending on the user’s query or device used for searching.
Using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users.
Stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags.
Use the “description” meta tag
A page’s description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about. A page’s title may be a few words or a phrase, whereas a page’s description meta tag might be a sentence or two or even a short paragraph. Like the
tag, the description meta tag is placed within the element of your HTML document.
Accurately summarize the page content
Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description meta tag as a snippet in a search result. While there’s no minimal or maximal length for the text in a description meta tag, we recommend making sure that it’s long enough to be fully shown in Search (note that users may see different sized snippets depending on how and where they search), and contains all the relevant information users would need to determine whether the page will be useful and relevant to them.
Writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page.
Using generic descriptions like “This is a web page” or “Page about baseball cards”.
Filling the description with only keywords.
Copying and pasting the entire content of the document into the description meta tag.
Use unique descriptions for each page
Having a different description meta tag for each page helps both users and Google, especially in searches where users may bring up multiple pages on your domain (for example, searches using the site: operator). If your site has thousands or even millions of pages, hand-crafting description meta tags probably isn’t feasible. In this case, you could automatically generate description meta tags based on each page’s content.
Using a single description meta tag across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages.
Use heading tags to emphasize important text
Use meaningful headings to indicate important topics, and help create a hierarchical structure for your content, making it easier for users to navigate through your document.
Imagine you’re writing an outline
Similar to writing an outline for a large paper, put some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use heading tags appropriately.
Placing text in heading tags that wouldn’t be helpful in defining the structure of the page.
Using heading tags where other tags like and may be more appropriate.
Erratically moving from one heading tag size to another.
Use headings sparingly across the page
Use heading tags where it makes sense. Too many heading tags on a page can make it hard for users to scan the content and determine where one topic ends and another begins.
Excessive use of heading tags on a page.
Very long headings.
Using heading tags only for styling text and not presenting structure.
Add structured data markup
Structured data21 is code that you can add to your sites’ pages to describe your content to search engines, so they can better understand what’s on your pages. Search engines can use this understanding to display your content in useful (and eye-catching!) ways in search results. That, in turn, can help you attract just the right kind of customers for your business.
For example, if you’ve got an online store and mark up an individual product page, this helps us understand that the page features a bike, its price, and customer reviews. We may display that information in the snippet for search results for relevant queries. We call these “rich results.”
In addition to using structured data markup for rich results, we may use it to serve relevant results in other formats. For instance, if you’ve got a brick-and-mortar store, marking up the opening hours allows your potential customers to find you exactly when they need you, and inform them if your store is open/closed at the time of searching.
We recommend that you use structured data with any of the supported notations markup to describe your content. You can add the markup to the HTML code to your pages, or use tools like Data Highlighter23 and Markup Helper24 (see the Best Practices section for more information about them).
Check your markup using the Rich Results test
Once you’ve marked up your content, you can use the Google Rich Results test25 to make sure that there are no mistakes in the implementation. You can either enter the URL where the content is, or copy the actual HTML which includes the markup.
Using invalid markup.
Use Data Highlighter
If you want to give structured markup a try without changing the source code of your site, you can use Data Highlighter which is a free tool integrated in Search Console that supports a subset of content types.
If you’d like to get the markup code ready to copy and paste to your page, try the Markup Helper tool.
Changing the source code of your site when you are unsure about implementing markup.
Keep track of how your marked up pages are doing
The various rich result reports26 in Search Console shows you how many pages on your site we’ve detected with a specific type of markup, how many times they appeared in search results, and how many times people clicked on them over the past 90 days. It also shows any errors we’ve detected.
Adding markup data which is not visible to users.
Creating fake reviews or adding irrelevant markups.
Search engines need a unique URL per piece of content to be able to crawl and index that content, and to refer users to it. Different content – for example, different products in a shop – as well as modified content – for example, translations or regional variations – need to use separate URLs in order to be shown in search appropriately.
URLs are generally split into multiple distinct sections:
Google recommends that all websites use https:// when possible. The hostname is where your website is hosted, commonly using the same domain name that you’d use for email. Google differentiates between the “www” and “non-www” version (for example, “www.example.com” or just “example.com”). When adding your website to Search Console, we recommend adding both http:// and https:// versions, as well as the “www” and “non-www” versions.
Path, filename, and query string determine which content from your server is accessed. These three parts are case-sensitive, so “FILE” would result in a different URL than “file”. The hostname and protocol are case-insensitive; upper or lower case wouldn’t play a role there.
A fragment (in this case, “#info”) generally identifies which part of the page the browser scrolls to. Because the content itself is usually the same regardless of the fragment, search engines commonly ignore any fragment used.
When referring to the homepage, a trailing slash after the hostname is optional since it leads to the same content (“https://example.com/” is the same as “https://example.com”). For the path and filename, a trailing slash would be seen as a different URL (signaling either a file or a directory), for example, “https://example.com/fish” is not the same as “https://example.com/fish/”.
Navigation is important for search engines
The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important. Although Google’s search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site.
Plan your navigation based on your homepage
All sites have a home or “root” page, which is usually the most frequented page on the site and the starting place of navigation for many visitors. Unless your site has only a handful of pages, you should think about how visitors will go from a general page (your root page) to a page containing more specific content. Do you have enough pages around a specific topic area that it would make sense to create a page describing these related pages (for example, root page -> related topic listing -> specific topic)? Do you have hundreds of different products that need to be classified under multiple category and subcategory pages?
Using ‘breadcrumb lists’
A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page. Many breadcrumbs have the most general page (usually the root page) as the first, leftmost link and list the more specific sections out to the right. We recommend using breadcrumb structured data markup28 when showing breadcrumbs.
Create a simple navigational page for users
A navigational page is a simple page on your site that displays the structure of your website, and usually consists of a hierarchical listing of the pages on your site. Visitors may visit this page if they are having problems finding pages on your site. While search engines will also visit this page, getting good crawl coverage of the pages on your site, it’s mainly aimed at human visitors.
Create a naturally flowing hierarchy
Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and effectively work these into your internal link structure. Make sure all of the pages on your site are reachable through links, and that they don’t require an internal “search” functionality to be found. Link to related pages, where appropriate, to allow users to discover similar content.
Creating complex webs of navigation links, for example, linking every page on your site to every other page.
Going overboard with slicing and dicing your content (so that it takes twenty clicks to reach from the homepage).
Use text for navigation
Create a navigational page for users, a sitemap for search engines
Include a simple navigational page for your entire site (or the most important pages, if you have hundreds or thousands) for users. Create an XML sitemap file to ensure that search engines discover the new and updated pages on your site, listing all relevant URLs together with their primary content’s last modified dates.
Letting your navigational page become out of date with broken links.
Creating a navigational page that simply lists pages without organizing them, for example by subject.
Show useful 404 pages
Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn’t exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page30 that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user’s experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. You can use Google Search Console to find the sources of URLs causing “not found” errors31.
Blocking 404 pages from being crawled through the robots.txt file.
Providing only a vague message like “Not found”, “404”, or no 404 page at all.
Using a design for your 404 pages that isn’t consistent with the rest of your site.
Simple URLs convey content information
Creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website not only helps you keep your site better organized, it can create easier, “friendlier” URLs for those that want to link to your content. Visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words.
URLs like the one shown in the following image can be confusing and unfriendly.
If your URL is meaningful, it can be more useful and easily understandable in diff
URLs are displayed in search results
Lastly, remember that the URL to a document is usually displayed in a search result in Google below the document title.
Google is good at crawling all types of URL structures, even if they’re quite complex, but spending the time to make your URLs as simple as possible is a good practice.
Use words in URLs
URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site.
Using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs.
Choosing generic page names like “page1.html”.
Using excessive keywords like “baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.htm”.
Create a simple directory structure
Use a directory structure that organizes your content well and makes it easy for visitors to know where they’re at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
Having deep nesting of subdirectories like “…/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/page.html”.
Using directory names that have no relation to the content in them.
Provide one version of a URL to reach a document
To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect32 from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this. You may also use canonical URL or use the rel=”canonical”33 link element if you cannot redirect.
Having pages from subdomains and the root directory access the same content, for example, “domain.com/page.html” and “sub.domain.com/page.html”.
Optimize your content
Make your site interesting and useful
Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means.
Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.
Know what your readers want (and give it to them)
Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time football fan might search for [fifa], an acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, while a new fan might use a more general query like [football playoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. Google Ads provides a handy Keyword Planner34 that helps you discover new keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword. Also, Google Search Console provides you with the top search queries your site appears for and the ones that led the most users to your site in the Performance Report35.
Consider creating a new, useful service that no other site offers. You could also write an original piece of research, break an exciting news story, or leverage your unique user base. Other sites may lack the resources or expertise to do these things.
Write easy-to-read text
Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow.
Writing sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Awkward or poorly written content.
Embedding text in images and videos for textual content: users may want to copy and paste the text and search engines can’t read it.
Organize your topics clearly
It’s always beneficial to organize your content so that visitors have a good sense of where one content topic begins and another ends. Breaking your content up into logical chunks or divisions helps users find the content they want faster.
Dumping large amounts of text on varying topics onto a page without paragraph, subheading, or layout separation.
Create fresh, unique content
New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
Rehashing (or even copying) existing content that will bring little extra value to users.
Having duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your site.
Users feel comfortable visiting your site if they feel that it’s trustworthy.
A site with a good reputation is trustworthy. Cultivate a reputation for expertise and trustworthiness in a specific area. Provide information about who publishes your site, provides the content, and its goals. Shopping and other financial transaction websites should have clear and satisfying customer service information to help users resolve issues. News sites should provide clear information about who is responsible for the content.
Using appropriate technologies is also important. If a shopping checkout page doesn’t have a secure connection, users cannot trust the site.
Make expertise and authoritativeness clear
Expertise and authoritativeness of a site increases its quality. Be sure that content on your site is created or edited by people with expertise in the topic. For example, providing expert or experienced sources can help users understand articles’ expertise. Representing well-established consensus in pages on scientific topics is a good practice if such consensus exists.
Provide an appropriate amount of content for your subject
Creating high quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish.
Providing insufficient content for the purpose of the page.
Avoid distracting advertisements
We expect advertisements to be visib
le. However, you should not let the advertisements distract users or prevent them from consuming the site content. For example, advertisements, supplement contents, or interstitial pages (pages displayed before or after the content you are expecting) that make it difficult to use the website. Learn more about this topic.38
Putting distracting advertisements on your pages.
Use links wisely
Write good link text
Link text is the visible text inside a link. This text tells users and Google something about the page you’re linking to. Links on your page may be internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about.
With appropriate anchor text, users and search engines can easily understand what the linked pages contain.
Choose descriptive text
The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about.
Writing generic anchor text like “page”, “article”, or “click here”.
Using text that is off-topic or has no relation to the content of the page linked to.
Using the page’s URL as the anchor text in most cases, although there are certainly legitimate uses of this, such as promoting or referencing a new website’s address.
Write concise text
Aim for short but descriptive text-usually a few words or a short phrase.
Writing long anchor text, such as a lengthy sentence or short paragraph of text.
Format links so they’re easy to spot
Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Your content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them.
Using CSS or text styling that make links look just like regular text.
Think about anchor text for internal links too
You may usually think about linking in terms of pointing to outside websites, but paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links can help users and Google navigate your site better.
Using excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search engines.
Creating unnecessary links that don’t help with the user’s navigation of the site.
Be careful who you link to
You can confer some of your site’s reputation to another site when your site links to it. Sometimes users can take advantage of this by adding links to their own site in your comment sections or message boards. Or sometimes you might mention a site in a negative way and don’t want to confer any of your reputation upon it. For example, imagine that you’re writing a blog post on the topic of comment spamming and you want to call out a site that recently comment spammed your blog. You want to warn others of the site, so you include the link to it in your content; however, you certainly don’t want to give the site some of your reputation from your link. This would be a good time to use nofollow.
Another example when the “nofollow” attribute can come handy are widget links. If you are using a third party’s widget to enrich the experience of your site and engage users, check if it contains any links that you did not intend to place on your site along with the widget. Some widgets may add links to your site which are not your editorial choice and contain anchor text that you as a webmaster may not control. If removing such unwanted links from the widget is not possible, you can always disable them with “nofollow” attribute. If you create a widget for functionality or content that you provide, make sure to include the nofollow on links in the default code snippet.
Lastly, if you’re interested in nofollowing all of the links on a page, you can add the tag inside the
Setting the value of the “rel” attribute of a link to “nofollow” will tell Google that certain links on your site shouldn’t be followed or pass your page’s reputation to the pages linked to. Nofollowing a link means adding rel=”nofollow” inside of the link’s anchor tag, as shown here:
When would this be useful? If your site has a blog with public commenting turned on, links within those comments could pass your reputation to pages that you may not be comfortable vouching for. Blog comment areas on pages are highly susceptible to comment spam. Nofollowing these user-added links ensures that you’re not giving your page’s hard-earned reputation to a spammy site.
Automatically add “nofollow” to comment columns and message boards
Many blogging software packages automatically nofollow user comments, but those that don’t can most likely be manually edited to do this. This advice also goes for other areas of your site that may involve user-generated content, such as guest books, forums, shout-boards, referrer listings, etc. If you’re willing to vouch for links added by third parties (for example, if a commenter is trusted on your site), then there’s no need to use nofollow on links; however, linking to sites that Google considers spammy can affect the reputation of your own site. The Webmaster Help Center has more tips on avoiding comment spam40, for example by using CAPTCHAs and turning on comment moderation.
Use HTML image elements to embed images in your content.
Use the HTML or
Semantic HTML markup helps crawlers find and process images. By using the
Using CSS to display images that you want us to index.
Use the “alt” attribute
Provide a descriptive filename and alt attribute description for images. The “alt” attribute allows you to specify alternative text for the image if it cannot be displayed for some reason.
Why use this attribute? If a user is viewing your site using assistive technologies, such as a screen reader, the contents of the alt attribute provide information about the picture.
Another reason is that if you’re using an image as a link, the alt text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link. However, we don’t recommend using too many images for links in your site’s navigation when text links could serve the same purpose. Last
ly, optimizing your image filenames and alt text makes it easier for image search projects like Google Image Search to better understand your images.
Use brief but descriptive filenames and alt text
Like many of the other parts of the page targeted for optimization, filenames and alt text are best when they’re short, but descriptive.
Using generic filenames like “image1.jpg”, “pic.gif”, “1.jpg” when possible—if your site has thousands of images you might want to consider automating the naming of the images.
Writing extremely lengthy filenames.
Stuffing keywords into alt text or copying and pasting entire sentences.
Supply alt text when using images as links
If you do decide to use an image as a link, filling out its alt text helps Google understand more about the page you’re linking to. Imagine that you’re writing anchor text for a text link.
Writing excessively long alt text that would be considered spammy.
Using only image links for your site’s navigation.
Help search engines find your images
An Image sitemap41 can provide Googlebot with more information about the images found on your site. This increases the likelihood that your images can be found in Image Search results. The structure of this file is similar to the XML sitemap file for your web pages.
Use standard image formats
Use commonly supported filetypes – Most browsers support JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and WebP image formats. It’s also a good idea to have the extension of your filename match with the file type.
Make your site mobile-friendly
The world is mobile today. Most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. The desktop version of a site might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. As a result, having a mobile ready site is critical to your online presence. In fact, starting in late 2016, Google has begun experiments to primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content42 for ranking, parsing structured data, and generating snippets.
Understand the difference between devices
Smartphone – In this document, “mobile” or “mobile devices” refers to smartphones, such as devices running Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers in that they can render a broad set of the HTML5 specification, although their screen size is smaller and in almost all cases their default orientation is vertical.
Tablet – We consider tablets as devices in their own class, so when we speak of mobile devices, we generally do not include tablets in the definition. Tablets tend to have larger screens, which means that, unless you offer tablet-optimized content, you can assume that users expect to see your site as it would look on a desktop browser rather than on a smartphone browser.
Feature phones – On these phones, browsers lack the capability to render normal desktop web pages coded using standard HTML. This includes browsers that render only cHTML (iMode), WML, XHTML-MP, etc.
Our recommendations are geared toward smartphones, but we encourage multimedia and feature phones site owners to follow the same advice where they feel appropriate.
Choose a mobile strategy
There are multiple ways of making your website mobile ready and Google supports different implementation methods :
If your site serves lots of static content (like blog posts or product landing pages) across multiple pages, consider implementing it using AMP48 (Accelerated Mobile Pages). It’s a special flavor of HTML that ensures your site stays fast and user friendly, and can be further accelerated by various platforms, including Google Search.
Configure mobile sites so that they can be indexed accurately
Regardless of which configuration you choose to set up your mobile site, there are key points that you should take note of:
If you use Dynamic Serving or have a separate mobile site, signal to Google when a page is formatted for mobile (or has an equivalent page that’s formatted for mobile). This helps Google accurately serve mobile searchers your content in search results.
If you are using Responsive Web Design, use meta name=”viewport” tag to tell the browser how to adjust the content. If you use Dynamic Serving, use the Vary HTTP header to signal your changes depending on the user-agent. If you are using separate URLs, signal the relationship between two URLs by tag with rel=”canonical” and rel=”alternate” elements.
Avoid common mistakes that frustrate mobile visitors, such as featuring unplayable videos (for example,, Flash video as the page’s significant content).
Mobile pages that provide a poor searcher experience can be demoted in rankings or displayed with a warning in mobile search results. This includes but is not limited to full page interstitials49 on mobile that hinder user experience.
Provide full functionality on all devices. Mobile users expect the same functionality – such as commenting and check-out – and content on mobile as well as on all other devices that your website supports. In addition to textual content, make sure that all important images and videos are embedded and accessible on mobile devices. For search engines, provide all structured data and other metadata – such as titles, descriptions, link-elements, and other meta-tags – on all versions of the pages.
Make sure that the structured data, images, videos, and metadata you have on your desktop site are also included on the mobile site.
Test your mobile pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test50 to see if Google thinks your website works well on mobile devices.
If you use separate URLs for your mobile pages, make sure to test both the mobile and the desktop URLs, so you can confirm that the redirect is recognized and crawlable.
While most of the links to your site will be added gradually, as people discover your content through search or other ways and link to it, Google understands that you’d like to let others know about the hard work you’ve put into your content. Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject. As with most points covered in this document, taking these recommendations to an extreme could actually harm the reputation of your site.
A blog post on your own site letting your visitor base know that you added something new is a great way to get the word out about new content or services. Other webmasters who follow your site or RSS feed could pick the story up as well.
Putting effort into the offline promotion of your company or site can also be rewarding. For example, if you have a business site, make sure its URL is listed on your business cards, letterhead, posters, etc. You could also send out recurring newsletters to clients through the mail letting them know about new content on the company’s website.
If you run a local business, adding its information to Google My Business52 will help you reach customers on Google Maps and web search.
Know about social media sites
Sites built around user interaction and sharing have made it easier to match interested groups of people up with relevant content.
Attempting to promote each new, small piece of content you create; go for big, interesting items.
Reach out to those in your site’s related community
Chances are, there are a number of sites that cover topic areas similar to yours. Opening up communication with these sites is usually beneficial. Hot topics in your niche or community could spark additional ideas for content or building a good community resource.
Spamming link requests out to all sites related to your topic area.
Purchasing links from another site with the aim of getting PageRank.
Analyze your search performance and user behavior
Analyzing your search performance
Major search engines, including Google, provide free tools for webmasters to analyze their performance in their search engine. For Google, that tool is Search Console54.
Search Console provides two important categories of information: Can Google find my content? How am I performing in Google Search results?
Using Search Console won’t help your site get preferential treatment; however, it can help you identify issues that, if addressed, can help your site perform better in search results.
With the service, webmasters can:
See which parts of a site Googlebot had problems crawling
Test and submit sitemaps
Analyze or generate robots.txt files
Remove URLs already crawled by Googlebot
Specify your preferred domain
Identify issues with title and description meta tags
Understand the top searches used to reach a site
Get a glimpse at how Googlebot sees pages
Receive notifications of quality guidelines violations and request a site reconsideration
If you’ve improved the crawling and indexing of your site using Google Search Console or other services, you’re probably curious about the traffic coming to your site. Web analytics programs like Google Analytics are a valuable source of insight for this. You can use these to:
Get insight into how users reach and behave on your site
Discover the most popular content on your site
Measure the impact of optimizations you make to your site, for example, did changing those title and description meta tags improve traffic from search engines?
For advanced users, the information an analytics package provides, combined with data from your server log files, can provide even more comprehensive information about how visitors are interacting with your documents (such as additional keywords that searchers might use to find your site).
Webmaster Central Blog56 Get the latest information from our Webmaster Central blog. You can find information about updates to Google Search, new Search Console features, and much more.
Webmaster Help Forum57 Post questions about your site’s issues and find tips to create high quality sites from the product forum for webmasters. There are many experienced contributors in the forum, including Top Contributors58 and occasionally Googlers.
How Search Works61 See what happens behind the scenes as you search for something in Google Search. You’ll learn some really cool facts!
Get Your Business Online62 Register a free website if you have a small business in the US. GYBO is a partnership between Google and Homestead to help small businesses register a free website for one year.
With how accessible the internet is today, would you believe me if I told you the number of people who go online every day is still increasing?
It is. In fact, “constant” internet usage among adults increased by 5% in just the last three years, according to Pew Research. And although we say it a lot, the way people shop and buy really has changed along with it — meaning offline marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be.
Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means you need to meet them where they are already spending time: on the internet.
At HubSpot, we talk a lot about inbound marketing as a really effective way to attract, engage, and delight customers online. But we still get a lot of questions from people all around the world about digital marketing. So, we decided to answer them. Click the links below to jump to each question, or keep reading to see how digital marketing is carries out today.
Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers.
A seasoned inbound marketer might say inbound marketing and digital marketing are virtually the same thing, but there are some minor differences. And conversations with marketers and business owners in the U.S., U.K., Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, I’ve learned a lot about how those small differences are being observed across the world.
What is the role of digital marketing to a company?
While traditional marketing might exist in print ads, phone communication, or phsycial marketing, digital marketing can occur electronically and online. This means that there are a number of endless possibilities for brands including email, video, social media, or website-based marketing opportunities.
At this stage, digital marketing is vital for your business and brand awareness. It seems like every other brand has a website. And if they don’t, they at least have a social media presence or digital ad strategy. Digital content and marketing is so common that consumers now expect and rely on it as a way to learn about brands.
Long story short, to be competitive as a business owner, you’ll need to embrace some aspects of digital marketing.
Because digital marketing has so many options and strategies associated with it, you can get creative and experiment with a variety of marketing tactics on a budget. With digital marketing, you can also use tools like analytics dashboards to monitor the success and ROI of your campaigns more than you could with a traditional promotional content — such as a billboard or print ad.
How does a business define digital marketing?
Digital marketing is defined by the use of numerous digital tactics and channels to connect with customers where they spend much of their time: online. From the website itself to a business’s online branding assets — digital advertising, email marketing, online brochures, and beyond — there’s a spectrum of tactics that fall under the umbrella of “digital marketing.”
The best digital marketers have a clear picture of how each digital marketing campaign supports their overarching goals. And depending on the goals of their marketing strategy, marketers can support a larger campaign through the free and paid channels at their disposal.
A content marketer, for example, can create a series of blog posts that serve to generate leads from a new ebook the business recently created. The company’s social media marketer might then help promote these blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business’s social media accounts. Perhaps the email marketer creates an email campaign to send those who download the ebook more information on the company. We’ll talk more about these specific digital marketers in a minute.
Types of Digital Marketing
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social Media Marketing
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common digital marketing tactics and the channels involved in each one.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is the process of optimizing your website to “rank” higher in search engine results pages, thereby increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic your website receives. The channels that benefit from SEO include websites, blogs, and infographics.
There are a number of ways to approach SEO in order to generate qualified traffic to your website. These include:
On page SEO: This type of SEO focuses on all of the content that exists “on the page” when looking at a website. By researching keywords for their search volume and intent (or meaning), you can answer questions for readers and rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs) those questions produce.
Off page SEO: This type of SEO focuses on all of the activity that takes place “off the page” when looking to optimize your website. “What activity not on my own website could affect my ranking?” You might ask. The answer is inbound links, also known as backlinks. The number of publishers that link to you, and the relative “authority” of those publishers, affect how highly you rank for the keywords you care about. By n
etworking with other publishers, writing guest posts on these websites (and linking back to your website), and generating external attention, you can earn the backlinks you need to move your website up on all the right SERPs.
Technical SEO: This type of SEO focuses on the backend of your website, and how your pages are coded. Image compression, structured data, and CSS file optimization are all forms of technical SEO that can increase your website’s loading speed — an important ranking factor in the eyes of search engines like Google.
This term denotes the creation and promotion of content assets for the purpose of generating brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, and customers. The channels that can play a part in your content marketing strategy include:
Blog posts: Writing and publishing articles on a company blog helps you demonstrate your industry expertise and generates organic search traffic for your business. This ultimately gives you more opportunities to convert website visitors into leads for your sales team.
Ebooks and whitepapers: Ebooks, whitepapers, and similar long-form content helps further educate website visitors. It also allows you to exchange content for a reader’s contact information, generating leads for your company and moving people through the buyer’s journey.
Infographics: Sometimes, readers want you to show, not tell. Infographics are a form of visual content that helps website visitors visualize a concept you want to help them learn.
Want to learn and apply content marketing to your business? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing training resource page.
If you’re new to social platforms, you can use tools like HubSpot to connect channels like LinkedIn and Facebook in one place. This way, you can easily schedule content for multiple channels at once, and monitor analytics from the platform as well.
On top of connecting social accounts for posting purposes, you can also integrate your social media inboxes into HubSpot, so you can get your direct messages in one place.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is a method of driving traffic to your website by paying a publisher every time your ad is clicked. One of the most common types of PPC is Google Ads, which allows you to pay for top slots on Google’s search engine results pages at a price “per click” of the links you place. Other channels where you can use PPC include:
Paid ads on Facebook: Here, users can pay to customize a video, image post, or slideshow, which Facebook will publish to the newsfeeds of people who match your business’s audience.
Twitter Ads campaigns: Here, users can pay to place a series of posts or profile badges to the news feeds of a specific audience, all dedicated to accomplish a specific goal for your business. This goal can be website traffic, more Twitter followers, tweet engagement, or even app downloads.
Sponsored Messages on LinkedIn: Here, users can pay to send messages directly to specific LinkedIn users based on their industry and background.
This is a type of performance-based advertising where you receive commission for promoting someone else’s products or services on your website. Affiliate marketing channels include:
Posting affiliate links from your social media accounts.
Native advertising refers to advertisements that are primarily content-led and featured on a platform alongside other, non-paid content. BuzzFeed-sponsored posts are a good example, but many people also consider social media advertising to be “native” — Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising, for example.
Marketing automation refers to the software that serves to automate your basic marketing operations. Many marketing departments can automate repetitive tasks they would otherwise do manually, such as:
Email newsletters: Email automation doesn’t just allow you to automatically send emails to your subscribers. It can also help you shrink and expand your contact list as needed so your newsletters are only going to the people who want to see them in their inboxes.
Social media post scheduling: If you want to grow your organization’s presence on a social network, you need to post frequently. This makes manual posting a bit of an unruly process. Social media scheduling tools push your content to your social media channels for you, so you can spend more time focusing on content strategy.
Lead-nurturing workflows: Generating leads, and converting those leads into customers, can be a long process. You can automate that process by sending leads specific emails and content once they fit certain criteria, such as when they download and open an ebook.
Campaign tracking and reporting: Marketing campaigns can include a ton of different people, emails, content, webpages, phone calls, and more. Marketing automation can help you sort everything you work on by the campaign it’s serving, and then track the performance of that campaign based on the progress all of these components make over time.
Companies use email marketing as a way of communicating with their audiences. Email is often used to promote content, discounts and events, as well as to direct people toward the business’s website. The types of emails you might send in an email marketing campaign include:
Blog subscription newsletters.
Follow-up emails to website visitors who downloaded something.
Customer welcome emails.
Holiday promotions to loyalty program members.
Tips or similar series emails for customer nurturing.
Online PR is the practice of securing earned online coverage with digital publications, blogs, and other content-based websites. It’s much like traditional PR, but in the online space. The channels you can use to maximize your PR efforts include:
Reporter outreach via social media: Talking to journalists on Twitter, for example, is a great way to develop a relationship with the press that produces earned media opportunities for your company.
Engaging online reviews of your company: When someone reviews your company online, whether th
at review is good or bad, your instinct might be not to touch it. On the contrary, engaging company reviews helps you humanize your brand and deliver powerful messaging that protects your reputation.
Engaging comments on your personal website or blog: Similar to the way you’d respond to reviews of your company, responding to the people who are reading your content is the best way to generate productive conversation around your industry.
Inbound marketing refers to a marketing methodology wherein you attract, engage, and delight customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. You can use every digital marketing tactic listed above, throughout an inbound marketing strategy, to create a customer experience that works with the customer, not against them. Here are some classic examples of inbound marketing versus traditional marketing:
Blogging vs. pop-up ads
Video marketing vs. commercial advertising
Email contact lists vs. email spam
With sponsored content, you as a brand pay another company or entity to create and promote content that discusses your brand or service in some way.
One popular type of sponsored content is influencer marketing. With this type of sponsored content, a brand sponsors an influencer in its industry to publish posts or videos related to the company on social media.
Another type of sponsored content could be a blog post or article that is written to highlight a topic, service, or brand.
Digital marketers are in charge of driving brand awareness and lead generation through all the digital channels — both free and paid — that are at a company’s disposal. These channels include social media, the company’s own website, search engine rankings, email, display advertising, and the company’s blog.
The digital marketer usually focuses on a different key performance indicator (KPI) for each channel so they can properly measure the company’s performance across each one. A digital marketer who’s in charge of SEO, for example, measures their website’s “organic traffic” — of that traffic coming from website visitors who found a page of the business’s website via a Google search.
Digital marketing is carried out across many marketing roles today. In small companies, one generalist might own many of the digital marketing tactics described above at the same time. In larger companies, these tactics have multiple specialists that each focus on just one or two of the brand’s digital channels.
Here are some examples of these specialists:
Main KPIs: Organic traffic
In short, SEO managers get the business to rank on Google. Using a variety of approaches to search engine optimization, this person might work directly with content creators to ensure the content they produce performs well on Google — even if the company also posts this content on social media.
Content Marketing Specialist
Main KPIs: Time on page, overall blog traffic, YouTube channel subscribers
Content marketing specialists are the digital content creators. They frequently keep track of the company’s blogging calendar, and come up with a content strategy that includes video as well. These professionals often work with people in other departments to ensure the products and campaigns the business launches are supported with promotional content on each digital channel.
Social Media Manager
Main KPIs: Follows, Impressions, Shares
The role of a social media manager is easy to infer from the title, but which social networks they manage for the company depends on the industry. Above all, social media managers establish a posting schedule for the company’s written and visual content. This employee might also work with the content marketing specialist to develop a strategy for which content to post on which social network.
(Note: Per the KPIs above, “impressions” refers to the number of times a business’s posts appear on the newsfeed of a user.)
Marketing Automation Coordinator
Main KPIs: Email open rate, campaign click-through rate, lead-generation (conversion) rate
The marketing automation coordinator helps choose and manage the software that allows the whole marketing team to understand their customers’ behavior and measure the growth of their business. Because many of the marketing operations described above might be executed separately from one another, it’s important for there to be someone who can group these digital activities into individual campaigns and track each campaign’s performance.
Inbound Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: Which Is It?
On the surface, the two seem similar: Both occur primarily online, and both focus on creating digital content for people to consume. So what’s the difference?
The term “digital marketing” doesn’t differentiate between push and pull marketing tactics (or what we might now refer to as ‘inbound’ and ‘outbound’ methods). Both can still fall under the umbrella of digital marketing.
Digital outbound tactics aim to put a marketing message directly in front of as many people as possible in the online space — regardless of whether it’s relevant or welcomed. For example, the garish banner ads you see at the top of many websites try to push a product or promotion onto people who aren’t necessarily ready to receive it.
On the other hand, marketers who employ digital inbound tactics use online content to attract their target customers onto their websites by providing assets that are helpful to them. One of the simplest yet most powerful inbound digital marketing assets is a blog, which allows your website to capitalize on the terms which your ideal customers are searching for.
Ultimately, inbound marketing is a methodology that uses digital marketing assets to attract, engage, and delight customers online. Digital marketing, on the other hand, is simply an umbrella term to describe online marketing tactics of any kind, regardless of whether they’re considered inbound or outbound.
Does digital marketing work for all businesses?
Digital marketing can work for any business in any industry. Regardless of what your company sells, digital marketing still involves building out buyer personas to identify your audience’s needs, and creating valuable online content. However, that’s not to say all businesses should implement a digital marketing strategy in the same way.
B2B Digital Marketing
If your company is business-to-business (B2B), your digital marketing efforts are likely to be centered around online lead generation, with the end goal being for someone to speak to a salesperson. For that reason, the role of your marketing strategy is to attract and convert the highest quality leads for your salespeople via your website and supporting digital channels.
Beyond your website, you’ll probably choose to focus your efforts on business-focused channels like LinkedIn where your demographic is spending their time online.
B2C Digital Marketing
If your company is business-to-consumer (B2C), depending on the price point of your products, it’s likely that the goal of your digital marketing efforts is to attract people to your website and have them become customers without ever needing to speak to a salesperson.
For that reason, you’re probably less likely to focus on ‘leads’ in their traditional sense, and more likely
to focus on building an accelerated buyer’s journey, from the moment someone lands on your website, to the moment that they make a purchase. This will often mean your product features in your content higher up in the marketing funnel than it might for a B2B business, and you might need to use stronger calls-to-action (CTAs).
For B2C companies, channels like Instagram and Pinterest can often be more valuable than business-focused platforms LinkedIn.
What is the role of digital marketing to a company?
Unlike most offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to see accurate results in real time. If you’ve ever put an advert in a newspaper, you’ll know how difficult it is to estimate how many people actually flipped to that page and paid attention to your ad. There’s no surefire way to know if that ad was responsible for any sales at all.
On the other hand, with digital marketing, you can measure the ROI of pretty much any aspect of your marketing efforts.
Here are some examples:
With digital marketing, you can see the exact number of people who have viewed your website’s homepage in real time by using digital analytics software, available in marketing platforms like HubSpot.
You can also see how many pages they visited, what device they were using, and where they came from, amongst other digital analytics data.
This intelligence helps you to prioritize which marketing channels to spend more or less time on, based on the number of people those channels are driving to your website. For example, if only 10% of your traffic is coming from organic search, you know that you probably need to spend some time on SEO to increase that percentage.
With offline marketing, it’s very difficult to tell how people are interacting with your brand before they have an interaction with a salesperson or make a purchase. With digital marketing, you can identify trends and patterns in people’s behavior before they’ve reached the final stage in their buyer’s journey, meaning you can make more informed decisions about how to attract them to your website right at the top of the marketing funnel.
Content Performance and Lead Generation
Imagine you’ve created a product brochure and posted it through people’s letterboxes — that brochure is a form of content, albeit offline. The problem is that you have no idea how many people opened your brochure or how many people threw it straight into the trash.
Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead. You can measure exactly how many people viewed the page where it’s hosted, and you can collect the contact details of those who download it by using forms. Not only can you measure how many people are engaging with your content, but you’re also generating qualified leads when people download it.
An effective digital marketing strategy combined with the right tools and technologies allows you to trace all of your sales back to a customer’s first digital touchpoint with your business.
We call this attribution modeling, and it allows you to identify trends in the way people research and buy your product, helping you to make more informed decisions about what parts of your marketing strategy deserve more attention, and what parts of your sales cycle need refining.
Connecting the dots between marketing and sales is hugely important — according to Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate, compared to a 4% decline in revenue for companies with poor alignment. If you can improve your customer’s’ journey through the buying cycle by using digital technologies, then it’s likely to reflect positively on your business’s bottom line.
What types of digital content should I create?
The kind of content you create depends on your audience’s needs at different stages in the buyer’s journey. You should start by creating buyer personas (use these free templates, or try makemypersona.com) to identify what your audience’s goals and challenges are in relation to your business. On a basic level, your online content should aim to help them meet these goals, and overcome their challenges.
Then, you’ll need to think about when they’re most likely to be ready to consume this content in relation to what stage they’re at in their buyer’s journey. We call this content mapping.
With content mapping, the goal is to target content according to:
The characteristics of the person who will be consuming it (that’s where buyer personas come in).
How close that person is to making a purchase (i.e., their lifecycle stage).
In terms of the format of your content, there are a lot of different things to try. Here are some options we’d recommend using at each stage of the buyer’s journey:
Blog posts. Great for increasing your organic traffic when paired with a strong SEO and keyword strategy.
Infographics. Very shareable, meaning they increase your chances of being found via social media when others share your content. (Check out these free infographic templates to get you started.)
Short videos. Again, these are very shareable and can help your brand get found by new audiences by hosting them on platforms like YouTube.
Ebooks. Great for lead generation as they’re generally more comprehensive than a blog post or infographic, meaning someone is more likely to exchange their contact information to receive it.
Research reports. Again, this is a high value content piece which is great for lead generation. Research reports and new data for your industry can also work for the awareness stage though, as they’re often picked-up by the media or industry press.
Webinars. As they’re a more detailed, interactive form of video content, webinars are an effective consideration stage content format as they offer more comprehensive content than a blog post or short video.
Case studies. Having detailed case studies on your website can be an effective form of content for those who are ready to make a purchasing decision, as it helps you positively influence their decision.
Testimonials. If case studies aren’t a good fit for your business, having short testimonials around your website is a good alternative. For B2C brands, think of testimonials a little more loosely. If you’re a clothing brand, these might take the form of photos of how other people styled a shirt or dress, pulled from a branded hashtag where people can contribute.
How long will it take to see results from my content?
With digital marketing, it can often feel like you’re able to see results much faster than you might with offline marketing due to the fact it’s easier to measure ROI. However, it ultimately depends on the scale and effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy.
If you spend time building comprehensive buyer personas to identify the needs of your audience, and you focus on creating quality online content to attract and convert them, then you’re likely to see strong results within the first six months.
If paid advertising is part of your digital strategy, then the results come even quicker — but it’s recommended to focus on building your organic (or ‘free’) reach using content, SEO, and social media for long-term, sustainable success.
Do I need a big budget for digital marketing?
As with anything, it really depends on what elements of digital marketing you’re looking to add to your strategy.
If you’re focusing on inbound techniques like SEO, social media, and content creation for a preexisting website, the good news is you don’t need very much budget at all. With inbound marketing, the main focus is on creating high quality content that your audience will want to consume, which unless you’re planning to outsource the work, the only investment you’ll need is your time.
You can get started by hosting a website and creating content using HubSpot’s CMS. For those on a tight budget, you can get started using WordPress hosted on WP Engine and using a simple them from StudioPress.
With outbound techniques like online advertising and purchasing email lists, there is undoubtedly some expense. What it costs comes down to what kind of visibility you want to receive as a result of the advertising.
For example, to implement PPC using Google AdWords, you’ll bid against other companies in your industry to appear at the top of Google’s search results for keywords associated with your business. Depending on the competitiveness of the keyword, this can be reasonably affordable, or extremely expensive, which is why it’s a good idea to focus building your organic reach, too.
How does mobile marketing fit into my digital marketing strategy?
Another key component of digital marketing is mobile marketing. In fact, smartphone usage as a whole accounts for 69% of time spent consuming digital media in the U.S., while desktop-based digital media consumption makes up less than half — and the U.S. still isn’t mobile’s biggest fan compared to other countries.
This means it’s essential to optimize your digital ads, web pages, social media images, and other digital assets for mobile devices. If your company has a mobile app that enables users to engage with your brand or shop your products, your app falls under the digital marketing umbrella, too.
Those engaging with your company online via mobile devices need to have the same positive experience as they would on desktop. This means implementing a mobile-friendly or responsive website design to make browsing user-friendly for those on mobile devices. It might also mean reducing the length of your lead generation forms to create a hassle-free experience for people downloading your content on-the-go. As for your social media images, it’s important to always have a mobile user in mind when creating them as image dimensions are smaller on mobile devices, meaning text can be cut-off.
There are lots of ways you can optimize your digital marketing assets for mobile users, and when implementing any digital marketing strategy, it’s hugely important to consider how the experience will translate on mobile devices. By ensuring this is always front-of-mind, you’ll be creating digital experiences that work for your audience, and consequently achieve the results you’re hoping for.
I’m ready to try digital marketing. Now what?
If you’re already doing digital marketing, it’s likely that you’re at least reaching some segments of your audience online. No doubt you can think of some areas of your strategy that could use a little improvement, though.
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Phone calls are too difficult. Tied to landlines on a desk in your office, traditional phone systems don’t fit the way we work today. After all, if you’re not in the office—for a meeting or because you work remotely—how will you answer a desk phone?
Smartphones fixed this issue for personal phone calls. The most drastic difference between a traditional cellphone and the first iPhone was the Phone app. Suddenly, the phone was just another app. Your number is still tied to a physical SIM card, but you don’t have to use the phone app. Today you can make calls using FaceTime, Messenger, Google Voice, or dozens of other call apps—and the Phone app is nearly obsolete.
Virtual phone systems do the same for your office number. Sure, your company still needs a company-wide phone number and answering service to route calls to the correct department and team member. What you don’t need, however, is a physical phone on every desk.
Here are the five best virtual phone systems for your team, the tools that can make your office phone smart again.
Why Virtual Phone Systems?
Small businesses often start out by purchasing a single landline with a dedicated business number. This line is shared by all employees and, when it’s busy, you have to wait your turn. Teams could also rely on personal cell phones—which works fine until you need to transfer a call, or need to keep clients from calling a former employee after they’ve left the company.
That’s often when the company decides it’s time to purchase a traditional office phone system like those from NEC or Ooma. These systems require a phone server, desk phone for each employee, an answering system to route calls, and lots of cable—along with a budget of around $1000 for a server and cables, $50 per phone, and $20/month per line for service. Oh, and that’s not including installation and maintenance costs.
Virtual phone systems replace all that equipment with an app. Instead of a dedicated server and miles of cable, they move your calls to the cloud. For a much lower setup cost and often lower monthly fees, you’ll have a phone system that works anywhere your team may be.
What is a Virtual Phone System?
Virtual phone systems are essentially Skype on steroids. Instead of a physical phone server, you’ll have an online admin app to manage your company’s numbers and menu system that routes calls to the right person. Additionally, instead of purchasing a desk phone for each employee, your employees will use your virtual phone system’s app to make and receive calls to their work number from their personal smartphone.
If an employee leaves your team, you can forward their number to someone else within the company. If you record calls, you can listen to them from the admin panel online. If you’re away on vacation, routing your calls to a colleague takes only a tap—and the list goes on. This gives your company a full stack of voice communications and ensures clients are never left with a dead number.
They aren’t perfect though. Virtual phone systems route calls either over the internet or by redirecting them through your phone’s standard phone network. Internet calls get better by the day, and cell routed calls are even more stable, but neither are quite as reliable as a traditional landline phone. You’ll also need to keep employee cost in mind, as work calls might use up their personal cell minutes or data cap.
But that’s like comparing email to fax. Even with these downsides in mind, virtual phone systems are the way to modernize your business’ phone system, and are the perfect way to add a company number to a small team. And, they’ll only take an hour or two to set up.
The 5 Best Virtual Phone Systems
During our research, we tested fifteen virtual phone systems and narrowed our list down to five. We looked for apps that work great on Android and iOS smartphones—that’s the easiest way to use a business phone system today. We also looked for those with unique features that set them apart from standard office phones, and work well with distributed teams.
And, it’s worth noting that all of the services included in this list have no minimum user requirement, come with a company phone number for no extra cost, and bill you on a month-to-month basis. Additionally, all services require that calls be started in either the service’s mobile or desktop apps; none currently offer web apps for making calls.
From the creators of UberConference comes Dialpad, a phone system built for companies using G Suite. The service has everything you need from a corporate phone along with handy extras like instant messaging.
It’s especially useful if you already use G Suite. Emails and Google Docs you’ve sent to co-workers or other contacts will automatically appear in the sidebar of the Mac and Windows apps when on the phone or texting those people. This is useful for reviewing documents and contracts with your team and client—or just remembering what you discussed in your last email thread.
Dialpad also offers a company directory that’s pre-filled with employee information including profile pictures and email addresses from G Suite. You can use that address book from the mobile and desktop app to easily make one-click phone calls to your co-workers.
Additionally, Dialpad’s apps have a ton of nifty usability features. One of my favorites is the ability to switch calls between devices mid-call. Start a call on your laptop and need to catch the train? No worries—just press the “switch call” button and the call will automatically resume on your iPhone.
Making calls using Dialpad’s mobile app is simple too. Just launch the Dialpad application and use its dialer to place a call from your work number. Calls can be placed over your phone’s cellular or data network—a useful option to have if you find yourself in a place with a strong Wi-Fi but poor cellular connection. And, the iOS app integrates with your iPhone’s Phone app so you can see incoming calls on your lock
screen or in your Recent Calls list, and call people back without opening Dialpad’s app.
Dialpad Price: From $15/month per user Standard plan that includes unlimited calls, texts, and intra-office communication
Fun fact: If Dialpad sounds familiar, that’s because its domain has a history dating back to the turn of the century. Dialpad Communication was originally an online calls app, later acquired by Yahoo!. Today’s Dialpad dates back to 2011 and the Firespotter Labs calls app Switch that was later rebranded as Dialpad.
RingCentral (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac)
Best for a virtual phone system with integrations
RingCentral offers everything you’d expect from a virtual phone system, but with one cool twist: It integrates with tons of third-party services including Zapier, to make your phone system far more powerful. For example, you can use Zapier to log all of your RingCentral calls in a Google Sheet for easy call tracking. Or, you can log calls directly to your CRM, or use its Outlook integration to place calls right from your inbox. The service has a public API too, so your developers can create their own RingCentral apps.
The RingCentral mobile app routes all calls over your phone’s internet connection. To make a call, launch the RingCentral application and use its built-in dialer or company directory to dial-out; incoming calls appear as notifications, and can be picked up by simply swiping on the notification.
Unlike other services on this list, RingCentral has an Apple Watch app too. This companion app shows text messages, transcribed voicemail, and a list of missed calls directly on your wrist. You can even reply to RingCentral texts on your Apple Watch using your standard quick responses.
RingCentral also includes a suite of useful intra-office communication tools. You can start audio and video conferences with other employees on your team—something especially useful for remote teams. Additionally, you can use RingCentral to host live webinars for an added fee. This is useful for employee training and virtual tradeshows as you can live broadcast audio, webcam video, and slideshow decks to up to 3,000 viewers from the same tool you use for business calls.
RingCentral Price: From $25/month per user Standard plan that includes unlimited calling and app integrations
AirCall (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac)
Best for support and sales teams
AirCall is a virtual phone system built for sales and support teams. The service has an advanced robo-operator with skill and time-based call routing to send a call to the person who knows how to answer their question, or who just has time to take the call.
It includes excellent call tracking and analytic tools too—an important feature for managing support teams. AirCall lets you view client call-in history, make notes about clients and support tickets, and track performance using analytics. This will help your support agents more effectively assist your clients and help leadership better understand your team’s productivity.
AirCall also works just as well for normal office phone calls. Making calls using AirCall is simple: Just launch the mobile or desktop application and use its dialer to place a call. All calls are routed over the internet, so you don’t have to worry about roaming charges or using up your employee’s phone minutes. Inbound calls appear as notifications on your phone or desktop.
Finally, unlike others on this list, AirCall lets you get a business phone number in over 40 countries around the globe. Your company mainline and single employee lines can be assigned numbers in multiple countries, so your company can have a local presence just about anywhere.
AirCall Price: From $30/month per user Premium plan for support center features and inbound calls are unlimited and free of charge on geographic
FreedomVoice CloudPhone (Android, iOS)
For an internet-powered phone on your desk
Unlike the rest of the list, FreedomVoice CloudPhone is designed to work with a physical phone. It includes a (barebones) Polycom VVX 301 desk phone for each user on your team. These phones come pre-configured and plug into an ethernet jack; no on-site phone server or IT involvement is needed. Best of all, there’s no contracts or upfront cost for the deskphone as the phone is covered by your monthly plan.
You’re not tied to the desk phone though. CloudPhone’s mobile app includes all the functionality of the desk phone and can be used anywhere in the world. It’s strictly a phone system, though, without text messaging or internal office communications, so you’ll still need a team chat app for that.
One thing to note about the mobile app is that it routes all incoming and outgoing calls through your cellular connection, so it will use your phone plan’s minutes when on the go. However, the provided deskphone or desktop apps route calls over your office internet connection.
CloudPhone has one more interesting (albeit a bit dated) feature: Faxing. You can send and receive faxes using your CloudPhone number, then view incoming faxes on the mobile app, CloudPhone’s website, or via email. Sending faxes is easy too—just scan in your document and send it using CloudPhone’s website.
CloudPhone Price: $29.95 per user per month for CloudPhone with unlimited calls and faxes, and a Polycom VX301 desk phone
Grasshopper (Android, iOS)
An inexpensive and barebones phone system for small teams
Grasshopper is different from the other virtual phone systems on this list. The service assigns one number to your company and gives each employee and department a unique extension. Customers are greeted by a robo-greeter when they dial your company, and can then dial in the extension of the employee they want to speak with. Calls are then forwarded to the respective employee’s phone. Dialing out is simple too: Just launch the Grasshopper app on your mobile on your and make a call using its dealer.
Unlike other virtual phone systems on this list, Grasshopper solely relies on the cell network for all inbound and outbound calls. Like mentioned earlier, this is better for call reliability, but may put a damper on employees who have limited minutes on their phone plan.
Even though calls are routed over the cell network, Grasshopper still includes voicemail. You can record your greeting through the service’s website or mobile app and, when you miss a call, Grasshopper will skip your personal voicemail and send the recording right to your email inbox.
Grasshopper Cost: From $12/month for Pay as You Grow with pay as you go calling (6 cents a minute), one phone number, and unlimited extensions
Alternative Cloud Phone System Apps
Still can’t find the perfect phone app for your team? Here are some other services
Dash is a virtual phone system that has a few tricks up its sleeve. One of our favorites is Follow Me Calling; after your desk phone rings a certain number of times, it automatically forwards to your mobile.
A full office telephony suite that offers virtual meeting tools and intra-company communication, designed to work with most office phone hardware and conferencing systems.
What Phone System is Best For Your Team?
Do you need stellar office communication features? RingCentral is the way to go. With messaging, video chat, and virtual meeting software—and webinar software if you need it—all of your company’s communication can be handled by one service.
Do you need a low-cost solution? Grasshopper is your best bet. At only $12 a month for all of the users on your team, the cost simply can’t be beat. However, the cost per minute—and potentially needing to reimburse employees for cell minutes—can add up. Additionally, team members will only have phone extensions rather than dedicated numbers. Regardless, it works well as a phone system for newer companies who want a dedicated company number.
Do you need integrations with other cloud services? RingCentral can’t be beat. It links in with tons of other cloud services like Zapier and Zoho CRM, and offers a great API that your team’s developers can use to integrate RingCentral with internal services.
Enjoy Your Stress-Free Phone System!
There you have it: The best cloud-based virtual phone systems. Whether you run an entire remote team or are an independent contractor, these services take the hassle out of managing a business phone system and ensures that your team never misses a call.
Has your team moved to a cloud phone system? Let us know what service you use in the comments.
A managed IT service is an information technology (IT) task provided by a third-party contractor and delivered to a customer.
In a managed service arrangement, the managed service provider retains responsibility for the functionality of the IT service and equipment, and the customer typically pays a monthly fee for receipt of the service. There are many different types of managed IT service offerings, but the idea behind all of them is to transfer the burden of maintaining IT from the customer to a service provider. In an effective managed services relationship, a customer benefits from predictable pricing and the ability to focus on core business concerns rather than IT management chores.
What services are most commonly used?
The remote monitoring and management of servers, desktops and mobile devices is a common type of managed IT service. Remote monitoring and management is often a basic, foundational service for a managed services provider. And since many managed services provider firms offer this service, there’s heavy competition and pressure on profit margins.
The commoditization of basic managed services has compelled managed services providers to differentiate their offerings. One popular direction is managed security services. Customers increasingly demand IT security assistance from their service providers. Accordingly, services providers are developing managed security services practices or partnering with security vendors to provide cybersecurity services.
With the advent of cloud computing, managed IT services have also evolved to include cloud services. Service providers, for example, may focus on infrastructure as a service (IaaS), providing managed public cloud services in conjunction with cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and Microsoft. Service providers may also market managed platform as a service (PaaS) offerings or partner with software as a service (SaaS) vendors such as Salesforce in the CRM space and ServiceNow in the service management market.
A provider of managed IT services may also seek differentiation in the communications arena. Examples include managed IP telephony services in which a managed services provider assumes responsibility for voice services within a customer account.
Managed IT service contracts
A master services agreement often sets the terms and conditions under which a managed services provider works with customers. Another important document when offering a managed IT service is the service-level agreement (SLA), which identifies what services the provider will furnish and how successful delivery of services will be measured.
The SLA may be incorporated into a service provider’s master services agreement.
A service provider can charge for a managed IT service in a number of ways. Per-device, per-user and all-inclusive pricing are among the typical pricing models.
A remote monitoring and management service, for example, may be billed on a per-device basis, with the service provider charging a flat fee for each device it manages. A service provider may adjust its pricing to a per-user model if a customer’s users work with multiple devices — laptops, tablets and smartphones, for instance.
All-inclusive pricing, meanwhile, establishes a flat fee for all of the managed IT service offerings a service provider delivers to its client.
Managed IT services are typically billed on a regularly scheduled basis, with monthly fees a common approach. A flat fee billed on a consistent schedule provides customers with predictable pricing and gives the service provider the stability of a monthly recurring revenue stream.
Channel partners historically dependent on an hourly billing rate face a challenging transition when they begin offering managed IT services for a flat fee billed monthly. But aspiring service providers can make a stepwise progression toward a managed services pricing model, taking care to cultivate predictable and repeatable processes.
History of managed IT service providers
The origins of managed IT service providers date back to the 1990s and the advent of application service providers (ASPs), which offered remote application hosting services. ASPs set the stage for companies that would provide remote support, versus on-site support, for customers’ IT infrastructure.
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