Crate More Website Content With These Steps

If you own a business and have a website you will need more content, the more content you create the better chances of ranking you will have.

If you are a webmaster you probably know that content is king right, well it sounds easy but a lot of website owners have a lot of problems creating quality content, today I will share with you how to get unique content for your business website the easy way.

Creating more content is actually very easy

Well first thing is write it yourself, yes if you want to start a new site create a website on a subject that you already know, if you are a good skateboarder then start a website about skateboarding, it does not make any sense to start a website on a subject that you do not have any knowledge on writing your own content will give you better results than just copying others people content, if you own a business then write about the products and services that you provide.

Rewrite or repurpose your articles

I do not recommend this but if you really need content and you do not want to copy or get articles from articles directories you can rewrite an article using different words, you need to be careful though some search engines are able to detect this and they can filter out your site, the key to this is to not just reuse the articles over and over, you can repurpose content from other media and create website content, even employees can contribute and create their own articles.

Hire a content writer

This is probably the best option if you want quality content for your website, you can hire friends, family or even students and pay them for unique content. The prices may vary but usually you can get a 500 word article for less than ten dollars. Always make sure that you are not paying for duplicated content since it will not have the same results that a unique article could give you.

Make a top 10 list of something for writing, yes this is a good technique for people that hate writing, if you make a list of something you can generate content for your site without having to explain much, for example write a list of the top 10 ways to make money online.

You can also find ghost writers on Fiverr and  you can pay people for unique content.

Make a short descriptions of your photos

if you have pictures in your website make a 100 word description of what happened in that picture, this is a great way to generate great content for your site, remember that search engines can not read images they can only read text. You can apply the same technique for videos.

You can also buy private label articles directly from ghost writers, they usually have pre written articles that you can purchase at a low price.

As you can see, it is very easy to come up with new content ideas for your business website, not everybody loves to write but when you apply these tips you will not have any issues creating new content that your customers will love, no matter the type of business that you have, people love to learn more and read about your business, your employees and your new products.

Increase Link Popularity Writing More Content

Content Marketing
Content Marketing

Powerful Content Creation Strategies for Exploding Traffic and Link Popularity

One of the most discussed topics today is content creation. Many influencers are jumping into the bandwagon and are trying to revive and reinvent their old writing talents to good measure.

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Best Dedicated Hosting

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Are you serious about growing your business? Your website needs to be able to grow with you.

Shared hosting limits your site’s space, and you’ll soon outgrow it. But what’s the next step?

Dedicated hosting gives you everything you need for your business. It allows for customization, more storage, and lets you make the most of your online presence.

So, how do you choose the best dedicated hosting service to give you the most value for your money?

Let’s talk about some of the best dedicated hosting options in 2021 to make things easier for you.

Top 7 Options for Dedicated Hosting

  1. Bluehost—Best for Comprehensive Dedicated Hosting Features
  2. HostGator—Best Customer Support with Dedicated Hosting
  3. DreamHost—Best for Managed Dedicated Hosting
  4. InMotion—Best Dedicated Hosting for Technical Websites
  5. A2 Hosting—Best Dedicated Hosting for Website Performance
  6. Liquid Web—Best for Customizable Dedicated Hosting
  7. TMDHosting—Best Dedicated Hosting for Quick Startup

How to Choose the Best Dedicated Hosting for You

When you choose a dedicated host, knowing the features you need will save you time. You want one that helps your website perform at its best at all times. Factoring in these additional elements of a dedicated hosting service will help your website stand out.

Managed or Unmanaged

Whether you choose a managed or unmanaged host depends on your server knowledge and how much control you want over your dedicated hosting.

A managed hosting service means that the host takes care of server problems for you. They manage the operating system (OS), control panel, setup, and anything else that comes with the platform when you buy it.

Unmanaged hosting is cheaper, but that’s because you manage everything yourself. The host still does the bare minimum when it comes to network maintenance, but they won’t help you manage software, servers, security, or errors.

An unmanaged system means you have more control, but that doesn’t mean much if you don’t know what you’re doing. Feeling comfortable with a managed hosting service can make it worth the extra cost.

Scalability

If you want to grow your business, get dedicated hosting that will grow with it. Scalable hosting allows you to configure your hosting to your individual website’s needs. It also prevents downtime associated with server limits.

Security

According to Forbes, data breaches cost companies an average of $3.9 million. A dedicated host with high-quality security helps protect your business. 

It also means your customers feel comfortable shopping with you. That way, you can avoid problems and build trust with your customers.

Availability

A dedicated host helps you keep your website’s uptime as close to 100% as possible. Downtime can cost you website traffic and, by extension, conversions. 

Find a provider that keeps up availability and guarantees maximum uptime. Ideally, you want a host with an uptime of at least 99.98% or higher. 

Administration

Dedicated hosting gives you control over configuration and software installation, so you can work your website as you wish. Administrative access helps you tailor your service to your business. You control which services you use with your dedicated host.

Operating System and Hardware

Some hosts support more than one OS, but others don’t. If you choose the wrong one, you might not be able to use it with your website.

Hardware determines whether the server can meet your business needs. Check things like the CPU model and speed, RAM size, bandwidth, and hard disk capacity before you buy.

The Different Types of Dedicated Hosting

Different types of dedicated hosting servers focus on various areas of your website. What might be an advantage for one business could hurt another. You want the right kind of dedicated host so that you have everything you need for the future.

Basic

Most people upgrade from shared hosting to basic dedicated hosting. Basic dedicated hosting is significantly better than shared hosting, but it still only gives you the bare bones of a hosting service.

These hosts usually have less RAM and customizability, and they have fewer features overall. They might not grow with your business as well as other higher-tech options.

High-End

High-end dedicated hosts bump you to the next level when basic doesn’t cut it. They offer more space, better features, and you can do more to make your website stand out. They also have higher overall performance without getting too tech-heavy.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth servers work well for sites with a lot of streaming, audio, video, and similar content. They focus on speed when people visit your site and with uploads and downloads during data transfer.

These hosts range from standard metered to unmetered bandwidth, so you have the space to run streams without overloading your site.

Database

Database hosts are some of the most complex servers. They need high-end configurations and more resources in place to manage since they hold more information. With database hosts, you can run specific databases on the server, like MySQL. 

Application

If you have a lot of apps on your site, an application server can manage them. It works with apps ranging from media files to chat software and tons of other stuff. When you have so much on your website, you want a dedicated host that can handle it.

Server-Mirroring

You’ve heard that you should back up your data, and server-mirroring hosts do it best. They synchronize your servers, so you don’t lose your hard work. They transfer your data from one server to the other and prevent data loss.

#1 Bluehost—Best for Comprehensive Dedicated Hosting Features

Bluehost is one of the best dedicated hosting services out there, and for good reason. It’s cheaper than other dedicated hosts while still giving you tons of features for your website. Its 99.98% uptime also puts it near the top of the list when it comes to performance.

Bluehost has all of the basic dedicated hosting features, plus several more advanced ones, giving you room to grow. With access control and database management, you have everything you need at your fingertips and 24/7 access to customer support if you have a problem.

You can get three different hosting packages with Bluehost:

  • Standard: $79.99 per month
  • Enhanced: $99.99 per month
  • Premium: $119.99 per month

Standard gives you four cores at 2.3GHz and 500GB of mirrored storage so you can back up your data. With 4GB RAM, you don’t get an impressive amount of storage, but it works well for simpler websites. 5TB bandwidth gives you the speed you need to keep things up and running with three IP addresses.

The Enhanced package bumps you to the next level with the same number of cores at 2.5GHz and 1TB of mirrored storage. It doubles the bandwidth to 10TB and gives you four IP addresses.

Premium, the highest tier, also gives you four cores at 3.3GHz and 1TB of mirrored storage. It once again doubles the RAM to 16GB, adds to the bandwidth for 15TB, and gives you five IP addresses.

With Bluehost, you get a free domain name for the first year, a free SSL certificate, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. The biggest downside to Bluehost is that they only have one server location. It’s in the United States, so if you run your website internationally, you might want a different host.

#2 HostGator—Best Customer Support with Dedicated Hosting

HostGator’s 99.99% uptime and unmetered bandwidth make it an attractive option for business websites. HostGator is known for its excellent customer support, which you can access 24/7/365. It also has online resources like videos and knowledge base articles to help you set up your site.

HostGator gives you three options for dedicated hosting:

  • Value Server: $89.98 per month
  • Power Server: $119.89 per month
  • Enterprise Server: $139.99 per month

The Value Server gives you four cores with eight threads and an Intel Xeon-D CPU. Its 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD make for plenty of storage.

The next level, Power Server, comes with eight cores with 16 threads and the same CPU as the Value Server. However, it doubles your RAM to 16GB and gives you a combined 2TB HDD and 512GB SSD to store bigger applications.

The Enterprise Server has the same number of cores and threads as the Power Server and the same CPU. The upgrades come with RAM at 30GB and 1TB of SSD for your most complex applications.

You can choose between managed or semi-managed hosting based on how much you want to customize your server. Plus, each of HostGator’s packages comes with unmetered bandwidth and compatibility with Linux and Windows OS.

HostGator has two servers, but like Bluehost, they’re both in the US. Despite the host’s superior performance, it’s not a great choice for businesses with primarily international customers.

#3 DreamHost—Best for Dedicated Hosting Storage

DreamHost doesn’t have the same features or performance as many other dedicated hosting providers on this list, but it does offer a lot of storage. With a fully managed server, 24/7 tech support, and 100% uptime guaranteed, the basics are definitely covered.

You can get two packages: Standard and Enhanced. The Standard plan starts at $169 per month and comes with four cores with eight threads and 4GB RAM. Its 1TB HDD and RAID 1 storage mean DreamHost has more capacity than most other hosting services.

When it comes to the Enhanced package at $299 per month, you upgrade to 12 cores and 24 threads, 16GB RAM, and 2TB HDD with RAID 1 storage. It’s a big price jump, but remember that each feature more than doubles—and, in some cases, quadruples.

You can choose from three Standard levels and six Enhanced ones that go up to 64GB RAM.

With each package, you get root access so that you can control your settings even with a managed server. Plus, it comes with DDoS protection. 

The downside comes with the high price despite its fewer features. The most expensive option sits at a lofty $379.

DreamHost has international servers in the US, Asia, and Europe, making them a solid choice for international customers.

#4 InMotion—Best Dedicated Hosting for Technical Websites

InMotion accommodates businesses that have a lot of tech needs. This high-performance platform comes with features like:

  • 99.99% uptime
  • Tier 1 network
  • Free SSD
  • 24/7 support
  • Multi-layer defense
  • Fast start times

It might look at first like InMotion only offers basic packages, but their Bare Metal and Managed options have plenty more in store. At $99.99 per month, Bare Metal is an unmanaged server with full root access. You can choose your OS, get automation with Ansible, and get up to 15 IP addresses. You even have RAM options starting at 16GB.

The Managed option, at $139.99 per month, gives you a fully managed server with cPanel and WHM included. You also get automated backup, so you won’t have to worry about losing data. It’s Linux-based, so you only have one OS option, but you still have RAM starting at 16GB and 15 IP addresses.

InMotion offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and customized solutions for your website. Considering its features, it’s an affordable dedicated hosting service.

#5 A2 Hosting—Best Dedicated Hosting for Website Performance

A2 Hosting is known for keeping websites running at top speed. With a commitment to 99.9% uptime and 24/7 customer service, it has the tools to keep customers on your site.

A2 Hosting offers three options for management, including unmanaged and two types of managed servers. With the managed version, you have no root access. Core gives you root access to your managed server for more customizability.

They use the SwiftServer platform for faster performance and claim to give you a website up to 20 times faster than other hosts.

A2 Hosting comes with three tiers:

  • Sprint: $141.09 per month
  • Exceed: $207.49 per month
  • Mach: $290.49 per month

The Sprint package comes with 8GB RAM and 2x500GB storage with 10TB transfer. It gives you two cores with Intel 3.1+GHz.

The Exceed package offers a small upgrade with the same amount of RAM and storage. You get a 15TB transfer, plus four cores and Intel Xeon 2.4+GHz for a faster system.

With Mach, you make a wider jump to 16GB RAM, 1x1000GB storage, and 20TB transfer. This package sets you up for speed with over eight cores and the 2x Intel Xeon 2.1+GHz processor.

Unlike other hosting services, A2 Hosting has an anytime money-back guarantee.

#6 Liquid Web—Best for Customizable Dedicated Hosting

Liquid Web has fully customizable servers with real-time monitoring and root access. It looks pricey at first, but don’t let that deter you before you’ve explored what this hosting service has to offer.

Liquid Web comes with SeverSecure advanced security, Worldwide Cloudflare CDN, and business-grade storage. It also has a support team to manage its servers, and they offer 24/7/365 customer service.

You can get three packages of dedicated hosting service:

  • Intel Xeon 1230: $199 per month
  • Intel Xeon 4108: $299 per month
  • Intel Xeon Gold 6130: $499 per month

The Intel Xeon 1230 comes with four cores, 32GB RAM, and 5TB bandwidth. It gives you impressive storage with 2x240GB SSD on the primary disk and a 1x1TB SATA backup disk.

When you upgrade to Intel Xeon 4108, you double your cores, RAM, and storage on both the primary and backup disks. With 8TB bandwidth, you guarantee speed and performance.

Despite its significant price jump, the Intel Xeon Gold 6130 doesn’t seem to offer anything new in terms of RAM, storage, or bandwidth. However, you do get 16 cores.

Every package comes with 250 Acronis Cyber Backups. Liquid Web also has value bundles if the basic packages don’t meet your bandwidth or memory needs.

#7 TMDHosting—Best Dedicated Hosting for Quick Startup

TMDHosting might not be as big or fancy as other dedicated hosting services, but it does give you a quality site fast. It focuses on power and speed, so you’ll have no problem upgrading if your site struggles with lots of traffic or other changes. With fully managed servers, you don’t need to sweat the tech.

TMDHosting offers four dedicated hosting packages:

  • Starter: $159.95 per month
  • The Original: $199.95 per month
  • Smart: $249.95 per month
  • Super Powerful: $299.95 per month

For a basic package, Starter gives you an impressive 1TB storage with RAID-10. You also get four CPU cores with eight threads and 8GB DDR4 RAM, so you have plenty of space for everything on your site.

The Original upgrades you to 2TB storage and six CPU cores with 12 threads. You get the same amount of RAM, so it’s not a huge jump. Then again, neither is the price.

At the Smart level, you get the same amount of storage as the Original. The upgrades come in the form of eight CPU cores with 16 threads and 16GB DDR4 RAM.

At the top, Super Powerful comes with 2x2TB storage with RAID-10. You still get eight CPU cores and 16 threads, but with 32GB DDR4 RAM, you’ve got plenty of room for memory and storage.

Each level comes with unlimited bandwidth, free setup, premium support, and a cPanel and WHM. TMDHosting claims that they can have your website up and ready to go in 20 minutes, blowing the 24+ hours of other hosting services out of the water.

Summary

A website is only as good as its dedicated hosting service. Choose one that gives you everything you need, whether that’s speed, customization, or support when you need it. You can find dedicated hosting you trust, so explore your options and determine which one fits your business. Use this guide as a resource for narrowing down your options with our methodology and top choices.

The post Best Dedicated Hosting appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best Payroll Services (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

What would you do with ten extra hours a month?

You’d probably work on growing your business, right? Maybe you’d spend it creating new marketing campaigns to generate more revenue. Perhaps you’d take half a day off to spend time with your family. 

Regardless, the average small business owner spends five hours every pay period running payroll. That adds up to 21 full work-days a year. 

But thankfully, that’s not what your payroll process has to look like. 

The best payroll services simplify and streamline the process of paying your employees. They automate time-consuming tasks and give HR the tools they need to stay on top of taxes, benefits packages, paid time off, and other payroll factors.

Choosing the right payroll service is important, because they all do things a little differently. Let’s talk about the major features you are looking for and how to evaluate the top services available today.

The 6 Best Payroll Service Options for 2021 

  1. Gusto – Best payroll service for small businesses
  2. OnPay – Most flexible payroll service
  3. Paychex – Best for larger organizations
  4. ADP – Best payroll service with built-in HR
  5. QuickBooks Payroll – Best for QuickBooks integration
  6. Wave Payroll – Most affordable payroll service

How to Choose the Best Payroll Service for You

If you’ve spent some time searching for solutions from Google or asking for peers’ recommendations, you know there are hundreds of payroll companies to choose from. 

With so many options, it can feel like a difficult decision. 

To help you narrow things down, let’s walk through what to consider as you go through the process. 

Number of Employees

Most services charge a set monthly fee plus a small fee per employee. So, it’s essential to consider the number of employees you need to pay. 

Some payroll services may limit the number of employees on certain plans while others may forego the per-employee fee altogether. Furthermore, some may also offer features that make it easier to pay many people at once. 

You also need to consider whether you’re paying employees or contractors, because the process and fee structure may be different for each role. 

Basic Payroll Features

The best payroll services exist to simplify the process of paying your employees. So, every payroll service you consider should have a set of critical features, including:

  • Automatic payroll options
  • Self-service portal for full-time and part-time employees
  • Mobile capability to manage payroll on the go
  • Direct deposit so your employees get paid quickly
  • Automatic tax calculations and withholdings
  • W-2 and 1099 employee management

There are other advanced features you may want to consider as well, depending on what you need. This includes things like HR tools, benefits management, wage garnishments, and more. 

Tax Features

Filing tax is a complicated and time-consuming process. It can also result in unfortunate and expensive penalties if you don’t do it right. 

Many payroll services offer tax features that simplify the process, like calculating payroll tax to automatically withholding employee income tax.

So, it’s important to choose a payroll service that offers essential tax features to make your accountant’s life easier. 

Built-In HR Tools

If you offer benefits to your employees, you need a payroll service that helps you effectively manage things like time off, vacation requests, workers’ compensation, insurance, and more. 

Furthermore, services with an employee self-service dashboard make this much more manageable. Employees can log in, update their accounts, request time off, and see an overview of their benefits package. 

The cheaper options on this list tend to ditch HR features. So, carefully consider what you need against your budget before making any decisions. 

Monthly Payroll Limits

If you have salaried employees or a set payroll schedule, most payroll services are adequate. However, if you pay freelancers or contractors on an irregular basis or run payroll more than twice a month, you need to be careful. 

Some services offer unlimited payroll processing, while others limit the number of times you can issue payments every month. 

So, carefully consider how often you need to send payments when making your final decision. 

Integrations

To further simplify your business processes, it’s crucial to consider the business tools you’re already using to run your business. 

It’s important to choose a payroll service provider that integrates seamlessly with those tools. Think about your accounting software, your employee scheduling software, and other essential tools related to payroll. 

The Different Types of Payroll Services

There are several different services to consider, depending on your business’s size and your specific payroll needs. 

So, before we dive into my top recommendations, I want to talk about the different types and how to decide between them. 

1. Hiring someone to do it for you

If you can afford it, hiring someone (either in-house or as a contractor) to run payroll for you is an excellent option. This ensures you find someone who knows how to do it and that they have the time to do it well. 

However, you still need payroll software. They may have their own preferences and expertise, which may help you decide which service is right for your business. 

With that said, many small businesses don’t necessarily need to hire someone. 

The best payroll services make running payroll easy, so anyone on your team can take care of it in a few clicks. 

2. Software as a service (SaaS)

The software as a service (SaaS) model means you pay to use the software. Most service providers charge monthly or annually for this, and as long as you keep paying, you get to keep using it. 

Most SaaS tools are cloud-based, meaning you can access it from a web browser anywhere. 

However, some also offer desktop applications and mobile apps you install on a specific device. 

This is the most common type of payroll service and the most convenient to use because you and your employees can access their accounts from any device, anywhere in the world with an internet connection. 

All of the recommendations on this list are SaaS payroll services. 

3. Enterprise-grade solutions

Most payroll services offer enterprise-grade and industry-specific solutions for large businesses. They come with specialized, custom pricing to match the unique needs of enterprise-grade companies. 

A software like this could be a SaaS tool or an on-premise deployment, depending on what you need and the company you choose. 

Most businesses don’t need this. But if you manage payroll for a large company or find your current solution limited, it may be a good idea to consider an enterprise solution. 

#1 – Gusto Review — The Best for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business looking for a simple payroll service, Gusto is a smart choice. And you’ll be in good company with more than 100,000+ other small businesses around the world. 

Gusto makes onboarding, paying, insuring, and supporting employees as easy as possible. And they don’t call themselves a “people platform” for no reason. 

They offer the right set of tools and services to make your life (and your employees’ lives) easier. 

Running payroll takes just a few clicks, and you can enjoy unlimited payroll runs every month. Need to pay seven different contractors at different times? No problem. 

Need to pay the same employees the same wages every pay period? You can set it up to run automatically without you having to lift a finger. 

Plus, you get access to a wide variety of features, including:

  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Built-in time tracking capabilities
  • Health insurance, 401(k), PTO, workers’ comp, and more
  • Compliance with I-9’s, W-2s, and 1099s
  • Employee self-service onboarding and dashboards
  • Next-day direct deposits (on specific plans)

And the best part? It’s affordable. 

If you don’t have W-2 employees, Gusto starts at $6 per contractor per month. But if you do have full-time or part-time employees, expect to pay a bit more. Their other paid plans include:

  1. Basic — $19 per month + $6 per person per month
  2. Core — $39 per month + $6 per person per month
  3. Complete — $39 per month + $12 per person per month
  4. Concierge — $149 per month + $12 per person per month

Gusto is perfect for most startups and small businesses. But, large companies with complex benefits packages and hundreds of employees may find it limiting. 

Get started with Gusto today!

#2 – OnPay Review — The Most Flexible Payroll Service

If you’re looking for an all-in-one payroll system with transparent pricing and virtually unlimited flexibility, OnPay is an excellent choice. 

Whether you’re a small company or a fast-growth startup, OnPay is versatile enough to suit your needs. Plus, you never have to guess how much you’re going to pay every month with their transparent pricing. 

And you can rest easy knowing you have access to every feature OnPay offers regardless of the number of employees you have because they only provide one pricing plan. 

Their software includes access to powerful features, including:

  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs
  • W-2 and 1099 capabilities
  • Automatic tax calculations and filings
  • Employee self-service onboarding and dashboards
  • Intuitive mobile app for management on the go
  • PTO, e-signing, org charts, and custom workflows
  • Integrated workers’ comp, health insurance, and retirement
  • Multi-state payroll

Plus, getting started is super easy. All you have to do is set up your account, add your employees, and start running payroll. Furthermore, OnPay automatically calculates and withholds taxes so you don’t have to worry about manual calculations or human error again. 

They also offer specialized solutions for different industries, including nonprofits, restaurants, and farming/agriculture. 

OnPay is $36 per month plus $4 per person per month. So, you can add new employees to the software for just a few dollars, making it excellent for fast-growing companies and small businesses alike. 

And while OnPay can handle large companies with hundreds of employees, there are better enterprise options available. It’s most suitable for small businesses and fast-growth companies that need simple pricing and flexibility. 

Try OnPay free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you!

#3 – Paychex Review — The Best for Larger Organizations

Paychex is an excellent choice for businesses with more than 50 employees. They also offer low-tier plans for small businesses, but they’re quite limited compared to the other small business options on this list. 

However, their midsize to enterprise plans are perfect for large companies. 

The larger your business is, the worse small discrepancies and human errors affect your tax calculations. And wrong tax filings equal harsh penalties from the IRS, even if it was an accident. 

So as a large company, it’s imperative to have a payroll service that adapts to meet your needs. Paychex is more than a payroll service. It’s a human capital management (HCM) system designed to help you save time and reduce errors. 

Their enterprise plans include features like:

  • Recruiting and onboarding
  • Performance and learning management
  • Powerful real-time analytics
  • 100% employee self-service
  • Payroll automation features
  • Direct deposit, paper checks, and paycards
  • Salary, hourly, and contract workers
  • Paycheck garnishments
  • PTO and benefits management
  • Job costing and labor distribution

All of which are scalable for enterprises with thousands of employees (or as little as 50). Plus, Paychex services more than 650,000+ companies and has more than 50 years of experience in the industry. 

So, you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands.

With that said, getting started isn’t as easy as it is with some of the other options on this list. Because each deployment is tailored to your business, you can’t get going on your own. However, they do offer a team of specialists to help you get the ball rolling. 

Contact their sales team for a custom quote to get started!

#4 – ADP Review — The Best for Built-In HR Features

ADP is the way to go if you’re looking for a payroll service with the most built-in HR features. It’s perfect for smaller companies without an HR department and growing/large companies looking to streamline the process. 

ADP works with more than 700,000 businesses in 140+ countries, making it one of the most popular payroll services for businesses of all shapes and sizes. 

They offer tailored solutions for small, midsize, and enterprise businesses, so you’re sure to find the perfect solution whether you have five employees or 1000+. 

Their lower-tiered plans include basic payroll features like automatic tax calculations, employee self-service tools, a mobile app, PTO management, and complete compliance support. 

However, ADP offers more than just basic payroll and HR. They also include time tracking, talent recruitment, HR consulting services, advanced employee benefits, and the option to outsource your entire payroll/HR department. 

You can also get unique benefits, like personalized training, legal assistance, background checks, and interview scheduling too. 

Furthermore, ADP offers industry-specific solutions for nine different industries, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Construction
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Nonprofits

Note: ADP pricing isn’t available online, so it may not be suitable for micro or small businesses interested in getting started quickly. If you need something fast and straightforward, my #1 recommendation is Gusto.

Request a free quote to see if ADP is right for you today. 

#5 – Quickbooks Payroll — The Best for QuickBooks Integration

Quickbooks Online is one of the most well-known accounting tools on the market. And if you’re already a user, QuickBooks Payroll is an excellent addition to your tech stack. 

The two tools integrate seamlessly, making account reconciliation and tax season a breeze. 

Furthermore, QuickBooks’ payroll system works in all 50 states. So, whether you have a remote team or work with contractors across the country, you don’t have to worry about making errors or mishandling taxes. 

You can also rest easy knowing your federal, state, and local taxes are automatically calculated plus paid for you every time you run payroll. Plus, the entire process is easily automated after your first round of payments. 

With QuickBooks, you get a full-service payroll system regardless of the plan you choose. 

And the user interface is aesthetically pleasing with direct deposit payments landing in your employees’ bank accounts within 24 – 48 hours. 

The Core Plan starts at $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. It includes:

  • Full-service payroll with unlimited runs
  • Automatic payments after the first run
  • Health benefits
  • Wage garnishments
  • Next-day direct deposit
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • All 50 states

So, even their most basic plan includes everything you need to simplify your HR and payroll processes. 

But if that isn’t enough, their advanced plans include:

  1. Premium — $75 per month + $8/employee per month
  2. Elite — $125 per month + $10/employee per month

Get 70% off your first three months to take QuickBooks Payroll for a test drive today!

Note: 1099 contractors and freelancers aren’t included. It comes as an add-on with additional monthly fees. So, this isn’t the most affordable choice if you frequently handle contractors or freelancers. 

#6 – Wave Payroll Review — The Most Affordable Payroll Service

If you’re on a tight budget, Wave Payroll is an affordable payroll option. Wave also offers numerous other small business tools for free, including invoicing, accounting, and receipt management. 

The different apps integrate seamlessly to create an affordable small business accounting and payroll solution. 

With Wave, getting started takes just a few minutes, and running payroll goes even faster. Plus, they offer a 100% accuracy guarantee. You can also pay hourly, salary, and contractors and automatically generate the right tax forms. 

In some states, Wave automatically files and pays your state/federal payroll taxes for you. However, in those states, Wave’s services are more expensive. 

You also get access to features, like:

  • Automatic journal entries (if you use Wave Accounting)
  • Self-service pay stubs and tax forms for your employees
  • Workers’ compensation management
  • Basic payroll reporting
  • Automatic year-end tax forms
  • Timesheets for PTO and accruals

While Wave is one of the most affordable payroll services, it doesn’t sacrifice functionality and essential features. Despite being cheaper than the other options on this list, you still get all the essentials you need to run payroll for your small business. 

In tax service states, Wave is $35 per month + $6 per contractor/employee per month. This service isn’t necessarily cheaper than the other options on this list. 

But, it’s still a great option if you’re a small business owner looking for a simple payroll solution. 

However, it’s $20 per month + $6 per contractor/employee per month in self-service states. At this price, it’s easily the cheapest option with the most features available. 

And don’t forget that Wave Payroll seamlessly integrates with Wave’s free accounting and invoicing software as well. 

So, if you don’t yet have accounting software, this is a smart choice. 

Try Wave Payroll free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you and your business!

Summary

For most users, Gusto and OnPay are my top recommendations. 

They’re all excellent for small and fast-growth businesses with the ability to scale to match your needs. Plus, they’re affordable and easy to use. 

However, different businesses require different solutions. 

So, don’t forget to use the considerations we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best payroll services for your business. 

What payroll services do you prefer?

The post The Best Payroll Services (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

How to Effectively Use Memes in Your Content Marketing

How to Effectively Use Memes in Your Content Marketing

Did you know that archeologists have traced the origin of the meme back to the year 3 B.C.?

Memes, a term coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976 to describe how ideas replicate, mutate, and evolve, are a way to carry a shared idea or trend to engage a target group. Over time, different groups take memes and tweak them to make them their own.

Memes are all about creating engagement and community by communicating something that everyone in your circle understands. It’s a way to develop a sense of belonging, something platforms like Facebook have been savvy to for years.

That’s precisely why your brand should be including memes in your content marketing plan. If you can create and share on-target memes that engage your audience, you could create that same sense of community, develop brand loyalty, and even tap into new markets.

Why You Should Use Memes in Your Content Marketing

Some of the most recognizable brands in the world include memes in their content marketing strategy. Here’s why:

Memes Increase Engagement

Memes are very shareable and help people connect through humor.

If done right, they make people feel part of an inside joke, and who doesn’t like to be the one in the know?

Subscription service BarkBox has based their Instagram account on all those funny little quirks about dogs that only dog lovers know. One of their running jokes? The war between dogs and squirrels. They’ve created a series of mosaics with their Instagram posts, which is a pretty creative way to display their memes.

BarkBox Instagram Meme for Marketing
BarkBox Instagram Memes for Marketing Squirrels vs. Dogs

Not only does BarkBox keep their audience engaged, but they play off of themes that function as inside jokes between themselves and their 1.7 million followers. These are themes only dog lovers would understand, making them feel part of an exclusive group.

Memes Entertain Your Audience

Users are most engaged on social media when they’re entertained. Study-help site SparkNotes gets that, and they also understand that students aren’t always enthralled by their assigned reading.

So, SparkNotes uses pop-culture trends to liven up classic novel plots and plug their service at the same time.

SparkNotes Instagram Memes for Marketing Schitts Creek

However, you don’t necessarily have to create brand-related memes. You can make memes that simply entertain and relate somehow to your audience. In fact, in many cases, linking a meme to your brand can feel forced. Sometimes it’s better to let the meme speak for itself.

Clothing retailer ASOS is great at creating memes that play off holidays, current events, and trending topics. Although many of their memes tie to their brand, they’re not afraid to throw in a funny meme just to keep their audience entertained.

Here’s a meme they released for Thanksgiving.

ASOS Twitter Memes for Marketing Thanksgiving

It has nothing to do with the brand but everything to do with the mood of the day. It got some shares and likes and kept their brand top-of-mind on a day when most people’s minds were on their plates.

Memes Are Easy to Create

Memes like the ASOS example above are pretty easy to make, and they’re inexpensive, too. You don’t even need fancy image editing software, just a free meme generator, such as Imgur.

Meme generators let you search for images for your meme by filtering through popular memes or uploading your image.

Creating Memes for Marketing on Imgur Choose an Image

Once you choose an image (I chose Annoyed Picard), it lets you add text using that all-too-familiar meme font. They even give you suggestions from recently created memes with the same image. (Just keep in mind that not all of them are office-appropriate. I’ve blurred out some questionable ones in this example.)

Creating Marketing Memes on Imgur Choose Text

Once you add your text, you can download your meme and use it on your social platforms.

That’s it. No expensive image creation. No keyword research. Pretty simple.

Memes Let You Be Creative

You don’t necessarily have to piggyback on a popular meme that’s already trending. Frankly, it can be tough to keep up-to-date on all the latest memes.

Once you have a good sense of what your audience responds to, you can try creating your own memes from scratch. Of course, this does require more effort and more money for original, quality images, but if your audience responds well and starts sharing, it could be worth it.

Doritos fills their Instagram account with original memes, many of them tapping into nostalgia for the 80s and 90s, no doubt addressing their target audience.

Doritos Memes for Marketing

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you probably remember the popularity of friendship necklaces.

Memes Allow You to Show Your Brand’s Personality

There are two things you can do with your social accounts. You can reinforce your current brand personality or use them to create a whole new one.

Many older brands have done the latter, using the more relaxed, casual tone on social media to shed their stuffy reputations and inject their products with a fresher (or even a snarkier) persona.

MoonPie is a great example. The original treat was invented in 1917, and the company that makes them started in 1902. However, to look at their Instagram account, you wouldn’t take them for a 118-year-old company.

They’ve created a much younger, much funnier persona to cultivate a new following for the centenarian dessert.

Moonpie Instagram Memes for Marketing

8 Ways to Effectively Use Memes In Your Content Marketing

So, now you’re convinced you should include memes in your content marketing strategy, but before you jump in, there are some things to consider first. As easy as memes are to make, some planning is still involved, and some solid techniques to incorporate can make your memes relatable, shareable, and maybe even viral.

1. Know Your Audience

Have you ever seen a stand-up show where the comedian’s jokes kept missing the mark? The audience didn’t understand the jokes, or they just didn’t think they were funny? More often than not, that happens when a comedian hasn’t tailored their material for their audience.

A joke about the AARP, for instance, isn’t going to fly with a Gen Z crowd. They’re not even thinking about retirement. Meanwhile, a joke using terms like stan and salty with Gen X will most likely fall on deaf ears.

The same goes for memes.

Take Chase Bank’s tweet ostensibly advising a Millennial. While not exactly a meme, it became one when Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed them for what many called a tone-deaf and condescending post.

Chase Marketing Memes

No doubt you already know your audience’s age, cultural background, race, location, industry, and every other demographic. All that information you’ve collected for your other content marketing initiatives can help you make memes that hit the mark, too.

2. Create Original Memes

Even if you’re using a popular meme image, your message should be original and somehow related to your audience or brand. Don’t try to repurpose someone else’s joke for your audience. It just won’t work.

Some memes tap into the nostalgia factor. Whether it’s about 90s dance music or 80s fashion, a good nostalgia meme, like the example from Doritos, makes your audience feel like part of something bigger. Memes are all about community building.

Other brands use sarcasm or satire to get their point across. Still, others inject their memes with a bit of humility. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself because it can make your brand seem more human and approachable. Chipotle, for instance, has attracted a million followers with their humorous and often self-deprecating tweets and memes.

This one riffed off a meme format that trended in 2020 during the COVID lockdowns.

Chipotle Marketing Memes

No matter what, it has to be funny. Whether you’re trying to make a point or get people to reminisce about the good ol’ days, every meme does it with humor. If your meme isn’t funny, it most likely won’t be shared.

3. Do Your Take on a Popular Meme

One of the easiest pieces of content to create is a riff on an already viral meme. In 2018, Ruffles did a witty take on a stock photo that went viral a few years earlier.

Ruffles Marketing Memes

4. Stay Relevant With Memes

When a mysterious monolith appeared (and then disappeared) in the Utah desert in 2020, the memes weren’t far behind. Amazon jumped on the opportunity to show its relevance and humor.

Amazon Marketing Memes

If you can seize on an opportunity to be on-trend and make it relevant to your brand, go for it! Just don’t force it if it doesn’t work for your brand voice or your audience.

Pro Tip: If a trend is a few days to a week into its life cycle, consider skipping it and moving on to the next trend. You may have missed the train on that one, and you risk your brand looking out of touch.

5. Develop Your Brand’s Personality With Memes

Wendy’s has one of the most identifiable brand personas on social. In 2017, the fast-food chain decided to take a risk and turn their sweet-looking mascot, Wendy, into a witty snarker who trolls other fast-food brands’ accounts.

Wendys Twitter Marketing Memes

Sure, it could stop at its memes, but Wendy’s takes it a step further, jumping on the memes of other fast-food chains to maintain their rep.

Take the Twitter war that erupted when Burger King tried to throw shade on Wendy’s:

Burger King Memes
Wendys Marketing Memes Response to Burger King

6. Don’t Be Tacky

No self-respecting brand starts out thinking, “We’re going to make an inappropriate meme that gets all the wrong kind of attention.” Still, brands do occasionally stumble into a topic they shouldn’t touch.

When you try to make a funny meme on a topic that’s all wrong for your brand (or all wrong for any brand), you come off as tone-deaf at best.

I’m not sure that Dr. Suess would have appreciated this tweet from Charmin.

Charmin Twitter Memes

You can, however, turn someone else’s tone-deaf moment into an opportunity. In October 2020, Kim Kardashian received major backlash after she posted pictures of herself and her closest friends partying on a private island, just as COVID cases began to surge once again. The caption read:

After 2 weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time.

All kinds of brands, including the New-York Historical Society, leaped at the opportunity to throw their two cents in.

New York Historical Society Memes

If you try to tackle a trending topic like this, tread carefully. You don’t want to come off as insensitive or thoughtless yourself.

7. Research Your Memes

While Wendy’s generally receives high praise for its social media content, even this master of the meme can take a wrong turn from time to time. On one occasion, Wendy’s responded to a customer’s tweet by posting a Pepe the Frog meme, a symbol that has been adopted by white nationalist groups.

Wendy’s deleted the post as soon as they realized their mistake, and they eventually recovered from their gaffe. However, some damage was done, and a lesson had to be learned. Always research your memes before you post.

8. Stay on Brand

What do all of the brands highlighted in this article have in common? They’ve created a consistent brand persona and stuck with it.

No matter what you decide to do with your memes, keep it consistent. Otherwise, you risk confusing (and losing) your audience.

Conclusion

If done right, memes can become a pretty useful tool in your content marketing plan. They can help you reach new audiences and give your brand a human element through humor. Plus, they can help you connect with your audience without having to worry too much about keywords or content frameworks.

Memes can even help a brand reinvent itself. Their casual, funny tone lends a lighter, more contemporary voice to brands that may have previously been known for their serious demeanor.

Besides, memes are just fun.

What kinds of memes would be most effective for your brand?

The post How to Effectively Use Memes in Your Content Marketing appeared first on Neil Patel.

ABM: Back to basics

“When people start ABM initiatives, the question they often skip is, which accounts should I be after? In the end, ABM only works if you know which accounts are likely to buy, and what you can sell them.”

A simple message delivered by Gil Canare, former Senior Research Director at SiriusDecisions, now a B2B marketing tech practitioner again. But what’s easily understood is not always so easily implemented — even in a business environment where getting the basics right is critical.

Can these accounts buy? “Especially now,” he went on, “there are a lot of external factors, like are these accounts even in a position to buy? Are they retrenching? Are they expanding?” Companies struggling with their ABM strategy might not have figured out where best to direct their efforts.

The relevance of ABM under COVID: executives from Demandbase and Triblio speak out.

Canare was speaking on an episode of MarTech Live back in November. It’s not only a question of targeting the right accounts, but targeting them at the right moment: they may have been in market for something like your product, but already have bought it from a competitor, or they might be putting the need on the back-burner until Q1 next year. How should you go about identifying in-market accounts?

Three things to consider. “I break that problem down into three parts,” said Canare. “The first part, which in this kind of market is really important, is capability to buy. Could they really buy? You have to look at it dispassionately; look at the firmographics, look their financials. Once you’ve figured out that, the next step is: are they looking? That’s where intent comes in. And the last part is, are they likely to buy from you, which is propensity.”

Take a deeper dive into advice from Gil Canare and ABM consultant Pam Didner here.

Another simple but important rule for marketers: find out what the sales team thinks. If marketing is not talking to sales? “That’s a giant red flag,” said Canare. The capability research discussed above can be done through third-party sources, but also through talking to your sales people, Canare explained. “That capability question is paramount right now.”

Digital engagement. When it comes to how to engage with accounts, Canare recommends taking a look at what has changed between a year ago and now. “One of the channels that has been shut off, largely, is that informal, always-on sales channel. When I was at SiriusDecisions, a lot of time was spent just hanging out in clients’ offices, and having these really serendipitous conversations that frankly the sales teams are not having right now.”

Sales teams are exploring ways to re-create that kind of spontaneous engagement. But if sales conversations are more like digital conversations now, that creates an imperative for the digital customer journey to not just be a series of discrete points in time, but to be connected to these sales conversations. “There can’t be two parallel streams any more, where you have a set of sales conversations supported by digital: now it’s all digital.”

Why we care. B2B marketing and sales teams likely have an ABM strategy in place, but as we enter year two of the pandemic, it’s critical to confirm that the basics are in place.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

The post ABM: Back to basics appeared first on Marketing Land.

Best Business Security Systems

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It’s a good idea to set up a business security system before you need it.

For too many companies, the decision to make this investment is reactive. Their company’s physical security gets compromised, resources are lost, and employees feel unsafe.

A lot of people see cost as a barrier to installing a reliable business security system. That used to be true, but today, there are tons of really affordable solutions. 

A small shop can set up basic video surveillance for under $300 for the first year. No joke. And the high-end systems cost nothing compared to the losses they prevent.

Don’t want to drill holes and run wires? That’s fine. There are DIY wireless systems available for a song. 

And, with video storage in the cloud, most business owners can monitor all their alerts and recordings from a smartphone.

I’ve put together a list of five of the best business security systems. You’ll find lightweight options that cover the basics, as well as powerful systems with competitive pricing.

In here, there’s going to be a business security system that meets your specific needs. By the end of this post, you’ll know which one.

The Top 5 Options for Business Security Systems

  1. SimpliSafe – Best for DIY Security System for SMBs
  2. Vivint – Best for Professional Monitoring
  3. Alarm.com – Best Professional Security System for SMBs
  4. Alibi Security – Best for Upgrading Existing Security Systems
  5. Wyze – Best for Affordable DIY Video Surveillance

How to Choose the Best Business Security Systems for You

Pretend you are a thief. Could you break into your own business and get away with it?

Without a full business security system in place, every office or storefront is going to look like an opportunity to the wrong crowd.

But what does it take to really secure a space?

Not that much, unless you’re trying to lock down a casino or bank. 

The typical workplace and even huge corporate headquarters can get by with a surprisingly modest amount of equipment. 

Let’s break business security systems down into their basic elements:

  • Access control
  • Intrusion detection
  • Video surveillance and recording
  • Professional monitoring
  • Installation

I’ll go over the major considerations in each section. From there, you can decide which equipment is going to work best in your space.

Access Control

One of the key responsibilities for a business security system is controlling access to the property. The products I really like have smart locks, which can be controlled remotely.

What’s more fun than having to let someone into the office on your day off?

Plus these locks can be set to open or shut at particular times, ensuring that a building is secure even if the last person out forgets.

Many smart locks come with keypads and let you assign unique PIN codes that identify who is entering. No more missing keys.

Some of the more advanced access control features include keycard systems, which create a log of everyone coming and going.

Intrusion Detection

Adding sensors to doors and windows lets business owners know when something has been opened. 

Usually, owners can configure the types of alerts they get. This means a manager might get an alert that a service door was left ajar, but only the owner would see that the safe was opened.

There are also motion sensors, which can trigger alerts or blare a warning siren to let an intruder know they’ve been detected.

Glass break sensors are triggered by the specific frequency of someone smashing a window, which can provide an alert even when a burglar is not in view or range of other equipment.

Some cameras come with built-in motion detectors, alarms, lights, and sirens. Mounting one of these cameras over an entrance can deter would-be criminals, especially if they trip the motion detector and find themselves bathed in light, frowning at a camera.

There’s actually quite a bit these cameras can do, so let’s jump to that now.

Video Surveillance & Storage

Each camera that is part of a business security system has two important jobs: capture video and store it safely. 

To accomplish both these tasks, a camera has to have the right capabilities. Let’s break down each responsibility.

In terms of capturing footage, here are the core camera features to be thinking about:

  • Resolution: the quality of the picture (look for 1080p or better)
  • Field of view: how wide an angle the camera sees
  • Pan: the range a camera can swivel from side to side
  • Tilt: the range a camera can swivel up and down
  • Zoom: the camera can reframe and enlarge part of the field of view
  • Infrared: the camera can use heat signatures to improve lowlight/night vision.

Let’s say there’s one camera pointed straight down a hallway, and another in a parking lot. The hall cam doesn’t need a wide field of view, night vision, or the ability to pan/tilt/zoom. 

The parking lot cam might need all those features, plus a higher resolution to keep image quality when zooming in on a car at the end of the property.

Now, surveillance footage is pretty much useless if you can’t access it when needed. In terms of video storage, here are some of the major things to think about:

  • Camera type: analog, cellular, IP, and WiFi cams
  • Resolution: the higher the image quality, the more storage required
  • Clip capture: whether a camera records a picture every x seconds or records for y seconds after motion is detected
  • Continuous recording: the camera is rolling 24/7
  • Storage location: recordings can be stored on a video card, in the cloud, on a DVR, NVR, or some blend of these locations.

The overarching question is, how do I make sure that every camera can deliver its recordings to a centralized place where everything can be managed?

With cellular and WiFi cameras, you really just have to get power to them. WiFi cameras have to be in range, but cellular ones can be anywhere service is available. If these are battery-powered and record to a memory card, they are 100% wire-free solutions.

When it comes to IP and analog cameras, they have to connect to a recorder. If the cameras are PoE (power over ethernet), power and recording can be delivered with the same wire. If not, you’ll need to both power the camera and wire it to the central hub.

Professional Monitoring

Some business security systems have the option to include professional monitoring. That means that emergency alerts will be routed to a security center who will contact police, fire, and/or EMS.

The cost of professional monitoring can vary widely and sometimes it is only available via a third-party service.

Installation

Some vendors offer installation for supposedly DIY systems and I recommend pricing that out. If it takes you and one other person all day to set things up, is that really more economical than paying a pro $100 to get it right before lunch?

With the more heavy-duty systems, professional installation is going to be required. Getting dozens of IP cameras wired and placed throughout a large property is not something a non-specialist should tackle.

There are also codes and regulations to consider for the non-DIY systems. Usually a sales rep will be able to answer all your questions about fire code and other laws that might affect your system.

It’s nothing to lose sleep over, just not a problem you want to discover with the inspector.

The Different Types of Business Security Systems

The breakdown of different types of business security systems is pretty straightforward. Depending on your needs, you may know exactly what type is going to work. 

Alternatively, you may fall somewhere in between these categories. Then the decision will come down to the specific equipment that makes up the system.

If anything, I’d err on the side of caution and make extra sure you are securing the entire property, rather than trying to stretch a lighter system to its limits.

DIY Business Security Systems

The so-called DIY business security systems are made up of WiFi and cellular cameras that don’t necessarily require any extensive setup.

Since the cameras record directly to the web, there’s no need to wire them to a central recorder. Mostly it’s just mounting the cameras and plugging them in to a power source.

All the cameras, sensors, locks, and other equipment are accessible from a browser or mobile app. If you are not climbing ladders, the whole installation may take no more than an hour.

DIY business security systems are really affordable, but they have their limits. They don’t typically accommodate a large number of cameras and start to lose their effectiveness at longer ranges.

Professional Business Security Systems

When it comes to business security systems that have to be installed by a professional, you’re going to get a much greater range of capabilities than with a DIY system.

For one thing, you will be able to deploy a large and complex system. This means as many cameras, sensors, and locks as necessary. All of it will be centralized in one place, regardless of the type of camera.

They’ll also have more robust access control equipment that’s designed specifically for businesses, like keycard systems. 

The cameras tend to be more expensive than their DIY counterparts, but they capture better quality images, have greater range of vision, and include enhanced night vision or other capabilities.

If you think that a DIY system won’t cut it but you’re not sure you need a  commercial-grade security solution, this category is going to cater to your needs.

Commercial-Grade Business Security Systems

The biggest difference between commercial-grade and professional security systems is the range and depth of the equipment available. These are solutions that work for casinos, airports, correctional facilities, and so on.

We’re talking thermal cameras that can record body temperature so that workers clocking in can be alerted if they have a fever. They’ll be able to recognize faces and license plates, quantify foot traffic, and come in virtually indestructible casings.

They also tend to offer a much richer system to manage video surveillance at scale. Hundreds or thousands of cameras can be linked to a unified system that uses analytics to surface the most critical alerts.

Not every business needs a commercial grade solution, but those that do shouldn’t settle for anything less.

#1 – SimpliSafe — Best DIY Security System for SMB

SimpliSafe is one of the most popular security systems for home and business. Why? The equipment is easy to install and gets the job done.

SimpliSafe’s hardware is basically plug and play, with the entire system controlled from its mobile app. From the base station, which is the core of the system, it’s possible to build out a fairly extensive system with their range of sensors and multipurpose SimpliCam ($99 indoor, $119 outdoor).

Because these cameras have cellular and WiFi connection, they only need power to start working right away. This cuts down on setup hassles and gives more flexibility in terms of how far you can place cameras from the base station.

From the app, you can arm/disarm your system remotely. You can also create unique PIN codes so you know who exactly is accessing the building. Create one code for cleaners, one code for each employee, and grant or deny access without ever having to come in.

A lot of SMBs lease space that someone else is responsible for. When the landline goes down or there is a power outage, they can rely on SimpliSafe’s cellular cams with battery backup to maintain security.

Some of the highlights of a SimpliSafe business security system include:

  • HD video/audio cameras
  • Smart locks
  • Sensors for entry, motion, glass break, temperature, and water
  • 105dB siren (about as loud as a car horn)
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Centralized dashboard for multi-site management
  • 24/7 alerts

I really like it for SMBs because the setup is truly DIY and covers all the bases of business security. They have dedicated business packages for offices, storefronts, and restaurants which come with tools designed to meet the challenges of each space.

Plus, the professional monitoring services are really affordable. It’s 50¢/day for Standard and 83¢/day for Interactive, which comes with a lot more features. 

With either plan, when an alarm is tripped, SimpliSafe confirms with video verification that the threat is real before dispatching police.

They also provide assistance with the permitting process for security systems, which takes another responsibility off the plate of SMBs located in cities or states with important regulations.

There are no contracts with SimpliSafe and you can cancel any time. On top of the extremely competitive price, SimpliSafe offers free shipping, free returns, and a 60-day money-back guarantee. They’ll even pay the return shipping.

That gives you basically two months to figure out if SimpliSafe works in practice. And if it doesn’t, don’t pay.

#2 – Vivint — Best for Professional Monitoring

Vivint is a great professional business security system. For companies that can’t use a DIY solution, but they also don’t need the hefty services associated with commercial-grade security, Vivint strikes the right balance.

They have a wide range of equipment and 24/7 professional monitoring comes with every plan they offer.

Vivint doesn’t outsource monitoring to a third-party service. Since it’s kept in-house, the average wait time for an emergency is eight seconds. That’s 7.5 times faster than the national average.

Cellular connection with battery backup will keep the system operational during a power outage, so the 24/7 professional monitoring remains unbroken. 

There are three motion-activated cameras that Vivint offers, all of which deliver real-time alerts to you and the Vivint security team. 

My favorite, the Outdoor Camera Pro, comes with Smart Sentry detection, which recognizes human movement. It lets off a loud chirping noise that draws the intruder’s eyes up to the camera where a red recording light lets them know you’re on camera

With the two-way voice feature, you can hear what’s happening and deliver your own choice words about the attempted intrusion.

Vivint’s outdoor camera also captures really high-quality images. With the 4k image sensor, it’s possible to zoom in on faces and license places, even in the dark.

Every camera Vivint makes is just as feature-rich as their outdoor cam, and I didn’t even cover everything that comes with it. Their other business security features are similarly robust, including:

  • Wireless security cams
  • Pan and tilt cams
  • Doorbell cams
  • Door and window sensors
  • Sensors: Door and window, recessed door, motion, tilt, glass break, temperature, and flood
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Medical pendants
  • Smart locks
  • Smart thermostats

The Vivint Smart Drive stores all captured video, automatically creating clips whenever sensors detect unusual activity. Everything stored can be viewed, managed, and controlled on the mobile app. 

The Smart Drive automatically stores 30 days of continuous footage. This is nice because businesses don’t always know something has happened immediately, even with professional monitoring.

If someone is playing funny money with the register, being able to look back and zoom in on the cash drawer can be crucial.

You can call Vivint to get a price for how much a business security system is going to cost. Be advised, the equipment is fairly expensive. 

The Outdoor Camera Pro is $399.99 purchased alone, but they offer zero-interest payment plans broken down over the course of years to help keep the monthly payment competitive.

All Vivint equipment comes with a lifetime warranty and strong encryption to prevent footage from being accessed by unauthorized users.

There’s just a lot of peace of mind you get with Vivint, because you know they are always there if something happens.

#3 – Alarm.com — Best Professional Business Security System for SMBs

Alarm.com is famous for both its home and business security systems. Their technology is used to protect more than 5 million properties and they have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. 

For business, they are focused on serving small to mid-market business owners. This means they don’t have the same range of products as commercial-grade solutions, but what they do offer is tailor-made for the challenges SMBs face every day.

Their Smarter Business Security centralizes all security cameras, lights, and locks for easy automation and control. Information that the devices capture is reported on clear dashboards from the website or mobile app.

You can set schedules to automatically lock doors at a certain time each day of the week as an extra safeguard. If there is an intrusion detected, real-time viewing allows owners to see if the disturbance warrants calling the police.

Alarm.com can be deployed across multiple sites, where the reporting features can be really helpful in ways beyond business security. 

For one, you can visualize trends, identifying rush times and customer traffic.

And since the lights and the thermostat are connected to the alarm system, the building will always be comfortable when people are there and energy-efficient when they’re not. Alerts prevent a window from not being shut all the way, which limits waste and eliminates a potential security breach. 

In terms of cameras and equipment, Alarm.com offers:

  • Indoor/outdoor cameras
  • Wired/wireless cameras
  • Fixed/Pan cameras
  • Smart locks
  • Keycard systems
  • Entry sensors

Analog cameras can be connected to your Alarm.com system and every camera they sell comes with anytime mobile access, instant video alerts, intelligent clip capture, and real-time streaming.

To purchase an Alarm.com business security system, you’ll have to reach out to an authorized service provider in your area. Depending on your needs and requirements, all of their providers offer a range of self-service and professional installation options.

Alarm.com is a step above the full DIY systems. It unifies intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, and energy management into a single, intuitive app.

Business owners are always informed and their property is always safe.

#4 – Alibi Security — Best for Upgrading Existing Security Systems

Alibi Security is an umbrella company that sells equipment from a number of high-end security brands. Because of this, they offer an incredibly wide range of devices that can tie into any system.

It’s a great commercial-grade option for companies that want to upgrade instead of replace their existing infrastructure. No matter how you have deployed your system in the past, Alibi has the tools to help you improve it.

There’s just a stunning range of top-of-the-line equipment that can be adapted to fit any scenario. Just looking at security cameras, for instance, Alibi has:

  • Cloud IP cameras
  • HD-TVI Cameras
  • Network IP cameras
  • Wireless cameras
  • Pan-tilt-zoom cameras
  • Doorbell cameras
  • Deterrent cameras
  • Hidden cameras
  • Micro cameras
  • Board cameras
  • Snake cameras

What does a hidden camera look like? Alibi has some that look like ceiling speakers, motion sensors, and even smoke detectors.

They have the video recording solutions to completely support any array of cameras—analog, IP, wireless… it doesn’t matter. All Alibi recorders have common management software, centralizing operations and decreasing the learning curve for users.

When it comes to intrusion detection and access control, Alibi has a full set of hardware and software to set up keypad, keycard, and request-to-exit systems.

Much of Alibi’s equipment is compliant with the National Defense Authorization Act, which means it’s good enough for the U.S. Military.

You’ll have to get in touch with a licensed Alibi dealer in order to get pricing. It’s going to be on the high end, like other commercial-grade security solutions tend to be.

Where it stands out from its direct competitors is the ease with which Alibi’s equipment integrates with your existing hardware. Since all of their HD/TVI recorders have Hybrid+ technology, it’s not hard to migrate from analog to HD or to install a hybrid analog/HD solution.

Adding more cameras is also easy, as many Alibi recorders support up to 64 IP channels that are each pre-licensed and fully-enabled.

Easy to tie in and easy to scale out, Alibi is the choice for companies looking to beef up their security with the latest and greatest technology.

#5 – Wyze — Best For Affordable DIY Video Surveillance

Wyze has ridiculously low priced cameras that get the job done for businesses that need to record what happens onsite. 

Really, Wyze is aimed at homeowners more than business, but if all you need is video surveillance, what’s the difference?

The latest version of the Wyze Cam is $19.99. It’s small, yet it’s got 1080p color night vision and IP65 weather resistance. The Wyze Outdoor Starter Bundle ($49.99), which comes with one outdoor cam and a required base station, lets you mount a cam anywhere. 

Really, anywhere. The outdoor cam is wire-free and powered by batteries that last 3-6 months. With Wyze, there’s a lot of freedom to get a video surveillance system set up at very little cost.

The Wyze Cam Pan ($29.99) can spin 360° in under three seconds. It also has motion detection so it can follow the action. This is essentially at one-third to one-tenth the cost of most other cameras that can pan.

Some of the Wyze smart home products are really helpful for business owners. Wyze Bulbs, for instance, connect to WiFi to give you the ability to control them at once or individually. 

Change the light color temperature to better suit the mood of a restaurant—soft and warm for the diners and then bright as day for the nighttime clean up crew. Set a schedule so lights come on during the night to make would-be intruders think someone is there.

Some of the other nice products and camera capabilities include: 

  • Doorbell camera/intercom
  • Smart thermostats
  • Smart locks
  • Motion detection sirens
  • Motion detection zones
  • Mobile app
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide alerts

Beyond the motion detection siren on the Wyze Cam, they don’t have any products for intrusion detection, though a new line of Wyze Sense products is on the horizon. 

In terms of access control, they offer the smart lock ($99) and keypad ($20) that fits over most single-cylinder deadbolts. It will give you a record of everyone who keys in and out and alert you if the door is open.

For video storage, the Basic plan is free and comes with 14-day rolling cloud storage, though it only captures a 12-second video when it detects motion or sound. There’s also a five-minute cooldown period before you can see the video.

My guess is that a lot of business owners are going to want the CamPlus plan ($1.25/month per camera). It’s a very competitive price and comes with unlimited video length recordings and no cooldown period.

At the end of the day, several Wyze cameras are going to deliver 1080p video surveillance for well under $300 in the first year, including the cost of the equipment. 

Summary

Some tasks are really hard to define. Securing a business is not one of them.

The goals are clear and the stakes are high. Offices, shops, restaurants, and warehouses are responsible for keeping their shared space safe.

It’s not just about protecting assets. A business’ reputation with staff and customers are on the line.

For SMBs that want a security system they can set up themselves, SimpliSafe is a really great option. It’s got the full range of intrusion detection, access control, and video surveillance necessary, yet the system remains easy to deploy and manage.

If you only need video surveillance, the best DIY option is definitely Wyze. The price is impossible to beat and the cameras are surprisingly good.

Should DIY security systems not rise to the challenge, Alarm.com can outfit a business completely. Whether they protect one or many sites, owners get total oversight of their business security in the sleek interface.

Vivint is an excellent choice for businesses that need professional monitoring. Their equipment is really solid and their security team will verify the incident over video before alerting the authorities. Cutting down on false alarms is huge for ensuring a quick, reliable response.

Looking at commercial-grade solutions, Alibi Security is a really strong choice. Not only do they offer best-in-class security solutions, they’ll integrate seamlessly with your existing stack. For businesses that want to evolve their security in the right direction, Alibi is it.

The post Best Business Security Systems appeared first on Neil Patel.

Should You Add Buy Now, Pay Later Options to Your E-commerce Site?

Should You Add Buy Now, Pay Later Options to Your E-commerce Site?

There have never been as many ways to pay online as there are today. Nor has it ever been more important to make sure you offer your consumers their preferred option.

For some, that might be a long-trusted Visa or Mastercard. Others may prefer Apple Pay, PayPal, or another digital wallet. And, increasingly, consumers are choosing to use buy now, pay later solutions when they checkout.

But what is this payment solution? And is it time you added buy now, pay later to your website? Read on to get my views on the topic.  

What is Buy now, Pay Later?

The name says it all. “Buy now, pay later” literally lets consumers buy a product and have it delivered while delaying payment until a later date.

This option is very similar to the old-school layaway method, in which stores let consumers reserve an item while paying it off in installments. Once all payments were made, they’d then be able to take the item home.

Buy now, pay later offers an even more consumer-friendly alternative to layaways. There’s no need to wait to access the item until it’s paid off in full—consumers only have to wait for their items for as long as they take to reach their doorsteps.

You’ve probably seen buy now, pay later payment options at checkouts in many places you shop. Mattress company Leesa partners with Affirm. Anthropologie partners with Klarna. Sezzle partners with Bodega.

Unlike layaways, consumers don’t necessarily use buy now, pay later to fund expensive purchases. They use the payment method to buy all kinds of things, from everyday needs like clothing and homeware to big-ticket items like fitness equipment.

Buy Now Pay Later Apps Peloton

While there are several options for buying now and paying later, they all broadly offer the same thing. The consumer gets to make repayments over several installments (typically between two and four) or in full within 14 to 30 days. Failing to pay will usually result in a fee, but not always.

One of the reasons buy now, pay later solutions are proving so popular is because they offer consumers an easier way to access credit. Unlike credit cards, which require users to hand over a lot of information and pass a rigorous credit check, buy now, pay later providers only ask for a consumer’s name, email address, date of birth, and billing address.

The solutions also mirror the purchasing habits of young consumers who are more likely to buy a selection of items, try them out at home, and then return the ones they don’t want. Returns are often more manageable and less stressful using a buy now, pay later solution since consumers don’t pay for the products in the first place.

6 Reasons to Add Buy Now, Pay Later Options to Your E-Commerce Site

It’s not just consumers who like buy now, pay later solutions. There’s a lot to like about them from a store owner’s point of view, too.

Here are six benefits to buy now, pay later.

Potential Sales Increases With Buy Now, Pay Later

When you allow consumers to spread out payments, they may be more likely to make a purchase. Consumers don’t even have to have the money in their account to buy your products.

They just have to be confident they can pay for them in the next few weeks. This is particularly handy for capturing consumers with paydays on the horizon.

The increase in conversions can be particularly dramatic if your items are higher priced, as consumers may be more willing to buy something pricey they otherwise wouldn’t when they can split the payment into manageable chunks.

Buy Now, Pay Later May Entice New Customers

More and more consumers are choosing this payment option. Even if they have the cash in their banks, there is little downside to spreading the payments out when they aren’t charged interest.

That means some consumers might actively look for stores that offer their favorite buy now, pay later options. Recognizing this, many buy now, pay later providers offer lists of where the service can be used. Some, like Klarna, even have apps allowing consumers to shop online directly through them.

Buy Now, Pay Later Could Build Trust

It used to be almost impossible to get a trial period for many consumer products, but buy now, pay later often makes this possible. By purchasing via a buy now, pay later solution, consumers can test out your product without committing to the purchase.

If they like it, they can pay as usual. If not, they can return it without having to worry about getting a full refund since they haven’t spent much, if anything, yet.

A small increase in free returns may cost you more in the short-term, but the long-term benefits of increased consumer loyalty can be substantial.

Customers may see you have enough confidence in your products to risk the possibility of returns and trust them enough to make good judgment calls for themselves, free of the questioning they may get in stores.

You May Decrease Cart Abandonment With Buy Now, Pay Later

Around 6% of cart abandonments are caused by a lack of payment options, according to the Baymard Institute. If you increase payment options by including a buy now, pay later solution, you may see a decrease in your abandonment rates.

Buy Now Pay Later Apps can lower cart abandonment

That’s not all, though.

Buy now, pay later can also make your checkout process much smoother. Consumers don’t have to enter card details or a billing address; they only need to log in with their Klarna or Affirm account. This fact is important because 28% abandoned their carts because they didn’t want to create an account, and 17% didn’t trust the sites with their information.

Your Competitors May Already Use Buy Now, Pay Later

If your competitors haven’t already integrated at least one buy now, pay later solution into their checkout, the chances are high they will do it soon. Research shows one-third of US-based e-commerce stores plan to integrate a purchase finance option over the next one to two years.

If you fail to keep up with consumer demands, you’ll inevitably lose customers to competitors that do keep pace.

Buy Now, Pay Later May Give Consumers a Better Credit Solution

The fact of the matter is buy now, pay later is a much more affordable finance solution than credit cards for many consumers. Not only that, they are often a much safer form of debt than credit cards or payday loans.

The former can have double-digit interest rates, while the latter can trap you into a spiral of debt. And if your customers need those to pay for things, they may hesitate to make purchases at all or end up in a financial situation where they can’t become a repeat customer.

You may worry about selling to customers who can’t afford the products up front, but don’t worry: like credit cards, buy now, pay later companies pay you when the transaction is made, and it’s on them to pursue non-paying customers.

3 Reasons Not to Add Buy Now, Pay Later to Your E-commerce Site

Buy now, pay later tools aren’t perfect for everyone. As a consumer finance solution, there are some issues you need to consider.

Buy Now, Pay Later Services Often Require Higher Fees

There’s a cost for the increased conversion rates and new customers that buy now, pay later can bring. They come in the form of higher fees. Klarna, for instance, charges a $0.30 fee and a variable charge of up to 5.99%. That’s significantly higher than almost all Visa and Mastercard payment gateways.

It’s not just the higher fees you need to worry about. There’s also the opportunity cost of listing another payment solution. Every time consumers use a buy now, pay later option, they are choosing not to use another payment option with lower fees.

Buy Now, Pay Later Could Encourage Consumer Debt

While buy now, pay later solutions are marketed as consumer-friendly finance products, some critics believe they are just another way to trick consumers into taking on more debt than they need.  

This is true whether you sell t-shirts at $10 a pop or mattresses for $1,000. Buy now, pay later encourages consumers to take out credit agreements with third-parties even if they can already afford to pay for the product in cash.

You Could Risk Your Reputation if Buy Now, Pay Later Problems Arise

Owing to the issues above, buy now, pay later solutions have received a lot of negative media coverage. There’s every chance these solutions may be looked on favorably in the future given the value they provide for some consumers—but only time will tell.

If negative media coverage of these solutions grows, and public opinion turns against these options, brands that facilitated these payments may become targets.

However, this coverage could disappear or improve as people become more used to these products, so it’s something to consider but not necessarily something to panic over.

Best Buy Now, Pay Later Tools

Competition in the buy now, pay later space is fierce and growing. That means consumers have more options. You’ll probably want to consider having more than one buy now, pay later option to keep consumers happy.

Here are some of the leading players you should consider integrating into your checkout.

Klarna

Buy Now Pay Later Apps Klarna

Klarna is a Swedish bank and one of the most prominent players in the buy now, pay later market, partnering with thousands of businesses in almost 20 countries. The platform offers users two ways to make repayments: “slice it” and “pay later.”

With slice it, consumers pay for purchases in four installments over six weeks. With pay later, consumers receive a bill for the full amount after 30 days. The payments are interest-free for consumers who qualify. Brands using Klarna include Uniqlo, H&M, and Anthropologie.

Affirm

Buy Now Pay Later Apps Affirm

Affirm is designed to help consumers finance purchases of all sizes. It supports small, everyday purchases like the rest of the solutions in this list, with interest-free payments split over weeks or months.

It also helps consumers make more significant purchases or needs like car repairs with interest-bearing loans spread over six to 18 months. How long consumers spread out the payments is up to them.

Affirm also doesn’t charge any fees, including late and repayments fees. There’s no fee to open or close an account, either. Brands using Affirm include Peloton, Walmart, and adidas.

Quadpay

Buy Now Pay Later Apps Quadpay

Quadpay lets consumers split purchases into four installments paid over six weeks when they shop online or in-store. Approval is instant and performed using soft credit checks.

There’s no need for store owners to install Quadpay at their checkouts. The payment tool is available anywhere Visa is accepted because the company provides users with their own Quadpay Visa card numbers.

All your customers need to do is choose the retailer and enter the purchase amount—Quadpay takes care of everything else.

Sezzle

Buy Now Pay Later Apps Sezzle

Sezzle lets consumers split purchases into four interest-free payments due over six weeks. There are no fees if consumers pay on time, and there’s no impact on their credit ratings.

Sezzle partners with over 24,000 stores, including Brandless, YoungLA, and GHOST, and integrates with all leading e-commerce platforms.

Afterpay

Buy Now Pay Later Afterpay

Afterpay lets consumers make interest-free purchases and repay the amount with four equal payments due every two weeks. If consumers miss a payment, Afterpay charges them $10. A further $7 will be charged if they fail to make payment within a week.

Afterpay differs from some lenders on this list by approving users for every purchase rather than approving an account. The company has stated its algorithm has been programmed to favor users who have previously used the service and paid on time. Participating brands include Jimmy Choo, lululemon, and UGG.

Conclusion

It’s essential to provide as many payment options as possible and give your consumers their preferred choices. Integrating a buy now, pay later solution can result in more sales, decrease cart abandonment rates, and build trust.

You also need to consider drawbacks, like the higher rates that come with buy now, pay later options.

Will you be adding a buy now, pay later solution to your site, and if so, which one?

The post Should You Add Buy Now, Pay Later Options to Your E-commerce Site? appeared first on Neil Patel.

Getting off on the right foot with DAM

“It’s critically important to start the process before you even look at a piece of technology.” Advice on getting started with digital asset management from founder of The Codified DAM Consultant, Mark Davey.

He was speaking on a recent episode of MarTech Live about getting started on the DAM journey the right way. The data model and the information architecture needs to be right — or as right as possible: “It’s an iterative process,” he said, “like mowing the grass. You’ve got to keep doing it, keep refining it, keep looking at the people, the processes and the systems to make those things work.

Call for librarians. There’s a role in enterprise DAM systems for librarians, Davey said. “The thing about librarians is, they love to share to knowledge in a way that’s understandable, a bit like a teacher. Sadly, there aren’t enough librarians doing the taxonomy and vocabulary work. They tend to end up being keyword taggers. Keywords are an important part of this, but we’re talking about information, knowledge and information being distributed in a format that everybody can understand — and then serve up curated experiences using that knowledge.

“For me,” he went on, “librarians and information architects are a must have.”

Watch all the 2020 episodes of MarTech Live here.

Best practices. Davey went on to talk about best practices for getting started. “Step one is gap analysis, using people, process, information and systems. Where are your people? What are the technical capabilities of your people? Is [your DAM] ad hoc, is it incipient, is it formative, is it operational, is it optimal? You can do a self-assessment on that.”

Davey referred to the DAM Maturity Model, something he had some past involvement with. “It helps you gauge where you are on that spectrum.”

As an enterprise consultant, he tries to identify pain-points. “How long are they searching for content, how many different systems do they have to use, how frustrated are they, and when do they just give it to the agency?” Metrics like these can form a basis for understanding ROI on a DAM investment.

Davey’s consultancy recently performed an assessment for a large pharmaceutical organization which involved surveying some 12,000 people about gaps in the business about gaps in the content lifecycle. After the assessment and gap analysis comes a resource audit: “How many tools, systems and processes are in effect for the lifecycle of content; and at the same time you’re starting to think about the governance around the data model. Then you start to build use-case scenarios.” If a vendor is not able to fulfill requirements identified in use-case scenarios, “they’re not going to help you for the long journey.”

Why we care. All marketing is essentially content marketing, and content marketing can’t be done efficiently if content assets (which today means primarily digital assets) aren’t effectively managed.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

The post Getting off on the right foot with DAM appeared first on Marketing Land.

How to Boost Your SEO by Using Schema Markup

How to Boost Your SEO by Using Schema Markup

One of the latest evolutions in SEO is called schema markup. This new form of optimization is one of the most powerful but least-utilized forms of SEO available today. Once you grasp the concept and method of schema markup, you can boost your website in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

My goal in this article is to show you exactly how to get started using schema markup for your website.

What is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you place on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about.

Here’s an example of a local business that has markup on its event schedule page. The SERP entry looks like this:

google search result schema for SEO

The schema markup told the SERP to display a schedule of upcoming hotel events. That, for the user, is exceptionally helpful.

Here are some facts about schema markup:

Schema Tells Search Engines What Data Means

The content on your website gets indexed and returned in search results. Obviously. But with schema markup, some of that content gets indexed and returned in a different way.

How? Because the markup tells the search engine what that content means. For example, let’s say the word “Neil Patel” appears in an article. The search engine sees this, and produces a SERP entry with “Neil Patel.”

However, if I put the right schema markup around the name “Neil Patel,” I’ve just told that search engine that “Neil Patel” is the author of the article, not just a couple of random words. The search engine then provides results that display better information for the user who was searching for “Neil Patel.”

Schema.org explains it this way:

Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, <h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means — “Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.

Schema Markup Uses a Unique Semantic Vocabulary in Microdata Format

You don’t need to learn any new coding skills. Web pages with markup still use HTML. The only difference is adding bits of schema.org vocabulary to HTML Microdata.

Schema.org, the Website for Schema Markup, is a Collaborative Effort by The Teams at Google, Bing, and Yahoo

what is schema.org

It’s not too often that competitors come together to help each other, but Schema.org is exactly that kind of inter-industry collaboration. What you have, then, is an agreed-upon set of code markers that tells the major search engines what to do with the data on your website.

Schema Markup Was Invented for Users

When a website has schema markup in place, users can see in the SERPs what a website is all about, where they are, what they do, how much stuff costs, plus plenty of other stuff. Some people have taken to calling schema markup “your virtual business card.”

This is a user-focused improvement. Search engines exist for users to gain the information they need. Schema markup does exactly that.

Why is Schema Important?

Schema markup helps your website rank better for all kinds of content types. There is data markup for a ton of different types of data, including:

  • Articles
  • Local businesses
  • Restaurants
  • TV episodes and ratings
  • Book reviews
  • Movies
  • Software applications
  • Events
  • Products
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

There are hundreds of markup types—from toy stores to medical dose schedules. If you have any type of data on your website, there’s a good chance that it will have an associated itemscope and itemtype.

Websites that use schema markup will rank better in the SERPs than companies without markup. One study determined that websites with markup rank an average of four positions higher in the SERPs than those without schema markup. While it’s not totally clear that this higher result is due to the markup alone, there is obviously some correlation.

Right now, one-third of Google’s search results incorporate rich snippets, which includes schema markup. However, according to recent research, less than one-third of websites use schema markup.

In other words, there are millions of websites missing out on a huge source of SEO potential. If you use schema markup, you’ll automatically have a leg up on the majority of your competition.

How to Use Schema Markup for SEO

Now, let’s talk about how to use schema markup. Your goal is to rank better, look better, and do better in the SERPs and in front of users.

Schema markup will help you. With your website in hand, follow these steps.

1. Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper

google structured data markup helper

2. Select the Type of Data

There are several options listed. This list is not exhaustive. For the sample below, I’m going to use “Articles” since it’s one of the most common types of content.

3. Paste the URL You Want to Markup

If you only have HTML, you can paste that instead. Then, click “Start Tagging.”

structured data markup helper

The page will load in the markup tool and provide you with the workspace for the next phase of markup—tagging items. You’ll see your web page in the left pane, and the data items in the right pane.

schema structured data markup

4. Select the Elements to Mark Up

Since this piece of content is an article, I’m going to highlight the name of the article in order to add “Name” markup. When I finish highlighting, I select “Name” from the tooltip.

structured data markup schema for SEO

When I select “Name,” the tool adds it to “Data Items” in the right pane.

structured data markup schema for SEO

5. Continue Adding Markup Items

Use the list of data items as a guide, and highlight the other items in your article to add them to the markup list. You probably won’t be able to tag every item in the list. Just add what you can.

6. Create the HTML

Once you’ve finished, click “Create HTML.”

create html for schema for SEO

In the following page, you will see the HTML of your page with the relevant microdata inserted in the spots that you selected.

google structured data markup helper schema

7. Add Schema Markup to Your Site

Next, you will go into your CMS (or source code if you’re not using a CMS) and add the highlighted snippets in the appropriate spots. Find the yellow markers on the scrollbar to find the schema markup code.

yellow bars that point to the correct markup schema

A simple alternative is to download the automatically-generated HTML file, and copy/paste it into your CMS or source code.

structure data markup download for schema

When you click “Finish,” you will be presented with a series of “Next Steps.”

next step for adding schema to your website

8. Test Your Schema

Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to find out what your page will look like with the added markup.

Instead of analyzing a published web page, I’m going to analyze the code that the tool generated for me, and which I downloaded.

structured data tool for schema

Once the code is pasted, I click “preview.” The testing tool shows me what the article will look like in Google search results:

14 structured data testing tool for schema

In addition, I can inspect every markup element that I added.

schema item type property

If necessary, I can edit the HTML directly in the testing tool in order to update the schema and preview results again.

Tips for Using Schema Markup for SEO

The purpose of this article was to get you started in the world of schema markup. It’s a big world.

The next few tips will show you how to dive even deeper, and gain even richer results from schema.

Find The Most Commonly Used Schemas

Schema.org provides a list of the most common types of schema markup. You can visit the Organization of Schemas page to see this list. Check out the types that are best suited to your business.

organization of schemas

Use All The Schemas You Need

As I mentioned previously, there is a myriad of markup types. To get the full list, visit The Type Hierarchy. This master list provides most of the markup types that are available.

schema.org the type hierarchy

The More Markups, The Better

Schema.org’s instructions explain clearly, “the more content you mark up, the better.” When you start understanding the vast array of item types, you begin to see just how much there is on your web page that you can mark up.

Keep in mind the disclaimer, however: “You should mark up only the content that is visible to people who visit the web page and not content in hidden div’s or other hidden page elements.”

Final Thoughts on Schema Markups

As simple as schema markup is to implement, it’s surprising how few businesses and websites have taken advantage of it.

Schema markup is one of those SEO techniques that will probably be with us for a long time. Now is the time to learn and implement the relevant microdata to improve your search results. Doing so right away will put you ahead of the curve, giving you a leg up on the competition.

How do you use schema markup for your company’s website?

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