Category: Online Marketing

Online Marketing

Is It Better to Embed Videos or Link to…

Video is a powerful marketing tool—it can drive traffic, leads, and (most importantly) revenue. In fact, 78% of video marketers say video directly increases sales. 

There are currently two ways to place videos on your landing pages or website—link or embed videos. While both help you leverage the power of video marketing, they can have a distinct impact on the searchability of your video content. 

Which method should you choose? This article will compare the pros and cons of embedding or linking videos on your website and its SEO benefits. 

What’s Better: To Embed Videos or Link to Them?

Let’s discuss the difference between embedding and linking videos.

An embedded video lets you borrow the video from another platform. Visitors can watch the video on your website without leaving the current page. 

In contrast, linking a video shares the URL of the video. When readers click the link, they are redirected to the page where the video is hosted. 

If you want to include videos on a website, the better option is to embed videos. 

Now let’s dig into why that is. But first, let’s look at what, exactly, it means to embed or link to a video.  

What Does It Mean to Embed a Video?

An embedded video pulls or borrows the video content from the original platform. 

For instance, your video is hosted on YouTube, but site visitors can watch it on your webpage. 

You’ve probably encountered embedded videos. Consider this embedded video from the beauty blog “Into the Gloss.” Visitors can watch the YouTube video within the blog post without leaving the page. 

embed video - example

Embedded videos keep users on your page—which is ideal for landing pages or blog posts where you want to share information, but avoid losing the viewer to another page. 

What Does It Mean to Link a Video?

A linked video is a short URL you can paste on your landing page, website, or send directly via email or text. 

For example, here’s the shortened URL for my video titled “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2021”: https://youtu.be/KzRka1lpdb4

Upon clicking the link, you are redirected to the video’s landing page on YouTube. Here is the same video, embedded into this blog post:

In short, clicking the URL takes the viewer off your page to the platform where the video is hosted. People can also easily copy and paste URLs to send to a friend or post on social media. 

Pros and Cons of Embedding Videos 

From a user and SEO perspective, embedding images is ideal. However, it comes with a few pros and cons. 

Pro: Optimize for Online Viewing 

For those of us coming from a non-technical background, it’s easy to downplay the significance of a short embed code. However, an embed code optimizes the video for online viewing on your landing page. 

Let’s take a look at this embed code for my video:

Embed Videos - Code example

By modifying the embed code, I can alter the video’s width, height, frame size, and other elements for optimal viewing on my landing pages. 

Sure, learning the ropes could take a bit of light reading for non-coders. But most sites, like YouTube, make it pretty easy to adjust videos. 

Pro: Choose Start Time 

In this day and age, viewers want information as fast as possible. With embedded videos, you can customize the video’s start time and redirect users to the relevant portion of your video content. 

Embed Videos - How to code it

Con: Limited Control 

Videos that violate YouTube’s terms and conditions could get suspended. The good news is if you’re not violating any rules, then you won’t have to worry about any consequences. 

But, if the video gets removed, your page will still display the broken video embed. 

Con: Ads

Businesses that earn revenue through their YouTube AdSense account could find ads in their embedded videos. According to Google, there’s no way to turn off ads for embedded videos only. Your only option is to turn off ads altogether. 

An alternative option is to host videos in Vimeo for an uninterrupted and ad-free viewing experience.

Con: Limited Customization Options

Like most videos in your chosen platform, you won’t be able to change the embedded player or thumbnail design. A workaround is using JavaScript to customize the aesthetic of your video player. 

Pros and Cons of Linked Videos

Linking videos is the less desirable option, but it comes with a few advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering. 

Pro: Easier to Share 

Linking to videos makes it easier for viewers to copy the URL and share it with their network. This is especially true for mobile users sending the URL through chat or email. 

Pro: Promote Your Channel 

Clicking your video link redirects users to your YouTube channel. While this seems like a hassle, it exposes readers to your other video content. They can also click the subscribe button to get regular updates of your content. 

Cons: Less Convenient 

Redirecting users to the page of the video hosting platform can take time. Slow loading times could dissuade readers from viewing your content and lead them to leave your website. 

Cons: Decreased Searchability 

Unlike embedded videos, video links will likely not appear on search results. Hence, visitors who prefer video content may turn to your competitors instead. 

Cons: Prospects Leave Your Website

Linking a video sends prospects to your YouTube channel. However, they will also be exposed to distractions in the form of other video recommendations. If they leave the page, they may not return to your website. 

Are Embedded or Linked Videos Better for SEO?

Besides the perks mentioned above, embedded videos are also beneficial for SEO. Here are a few reasons why you should embed videos. 

1. Better Searchability 

Embedded videos improve the searchability of your content on Google. As an example, I’ll refer to my guide on YouTube marketing. 

Within the article, you’ll find my video on “How to Hack YouTube.”

Embed Videos - Are they good for SEO

Now, let’s do a quick search for my YouTube marketing guide on Google. You’ll find it on the first page of the search results. There is also a section dedicated to other video content. 

Embed videos - YouTube Marketing Guide NeilPatel

If you click the video section, you’ll also find my YouTube marketing guide near the top of the results. 

Embed videos - how do they improve searchability

The bottom line is: Embedded videos let you improve your video’s searchability on Google. 

Many users also use the video results tab to view video content over blog posts. They may prefer videos for how-to content or product assembly instructions rather than blog posts. 

As a result, embedded videos help improve traffic and attract more customers. 

2. Boost Average Time Spent on Site 

An embedded video could encourage visitors to stay on your site longer. 

74% of respondents believe videos are more effective than blog posts for lead generation, according to Databox. 

Veteran marketers will know that increasing the average time spent on your landing page will indirectly boost SEO. 

3. Video Thumbnails Improve Brand Recognition 

When you embed a video, readers will also notice your video thumbnails. 

This can help improve brand recognition and indirectly promote your channel. Current readers or subscribers may also be encouraged to click links to your videos when they spot it on search results or within the video hosting platform. 

For example, most thumbnails for my video content have my name and face. Similar to the Neil Patel website, I use the color orange so marketers can easily spot my content. 

Embed videos - video thumbnails improve brand recognition

How to Embed a Video

At this stage, you are probably ready to embed videos yourself. Here’s the step-by-step process for how it’s done. 

Most video platforms have an embed option. This guide focuses on embedding YouTube videos, since it is one of the most popular video platforms. 

First, click the share button. 

how to embed video - step 1

Next, click embed. 

how to embed video - step 2

Next, copy the embed code on the right corner.

how to embed video - step 3

You also have the option to enable embed options. You can start the video at a specified time, enable show player controls, or enable privacy-enhanced mode. 

how to embed video - step 4

Head over to your website, and paste the embed code. 

In this example, I’ve pasted the embed code on WordPress, and the platform automatically embedded my video in the dashboard. (If this doesn’t happen, click on the “Code editor” option in the right sidebar.) 

how to embed video - step 5

Here’s a preview of how it looks on a demo WordPress site. 

embed video - preview

Best Practices for Videos

I’ve embedded many videos throughout my website, and I can tell you that you’ll get better results by following video embed best practices. 

Here are best practices for embedding videos: 

1. Consider Placement 

Think about your video’s purpose within the context of your landing page or website. 

A video meant to draw readers in could be placed at the top of your landing page. However, a video set within a subsection or blog post can support your message. 

For example, my video marketing guide has a section discussing storytelling. I’ve plugged in my video on storytelling to provide more in-depth information in this section. 

Embed videos - How to embed a video

An alternative option is to create a hero video instead of the usual image background. Just like YouTube videos, when the cursor hovers over the thumbnail, a portion of the clip could start soundlessly playing. This could encourage people to click your video. 

Here’s a sample hero video from Volvo, which aims to promote their new trucks. 

2. Keep it Short 

Two minutes is the ideal video length, according to Wistia. As the video length increases, engagement gradually decreases. 

embed videos - video length engagement

A rule of thumb is to keep your video short and concise. Viewers likely won’t have the patience to finish long videos. (Though longer videos can work for detailed walkthroughs, so keep the subject in mind when deciding on length.) 

3. Choose an Attention-grabbing Thumbnail

A thumbnail is the first thing viewers will see before watching the video. 

Placing branded elements such as a logo, brand colors, or brand name to make it instantly recognizable for viewers. This way, subscribers and customers will be drawn to your videos, whether they see them through the video platform or while searching the web. 

My video thumbnails usually include my professional photo and an attention-grabbing title in bold and all caps. I use a similar thumbnail in all of my videos to make my personal brand and videos stand out from the pack.

embed videos -  example of youtube video

How to Link and Optimize Anchor Text for Linked Videos

Linking a video is easy, and you’ve probably done it several times. 

The process involves creating an anchor text. 

For starters, an anchor text is a text with a hyperlink. This usually consists of the target link and the clickable text. 

Here’s how the code looks:

<a href=”neilpatel.com”>NeilPatel.com</a>

While you can include linked videos on just about any platform, we’ll use WordPress as an example.

First, type the relevant keyword where you will link the video. 

Press Ctrl + K (for Windows users) or Command + K (for Mac users) and place the link. 

Embed videos - how to place a link

I recommend enabling the “open in new tab” option so that viewers can return to your website by switching tabs. 

Embed videos - How to link and optimize anchor text

That’s it. You’re done! 

Here’s how it looks:

Embed videos - the difference between ranking on Google vs YouTube

If you want to view the anchor text, simply select the “edit as HTML option.”

edit as HTML option

Now, you’ll be able to see the anchor text code. 

Embed videos - HTML code

Ensure the anchor text describes the link accurately so users know what they are about to click on.

Conclusion

If you want to embed or link videos, think about the advantages and disadvantages of each method. In most cases, you’ll want to embed videos. 

Embedding videos help improve video SEO and the searchability of your video content. But there’s no harm in occasionally linking videos, especially for external content. 

How will you add videos to your landing page or website? Do you think the pros of embedding videos outweigh the cons? 

The post Is It Better to Embed Videos or Link to Them? appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

How to Create the Perfect Business Listing

Local search visibility helps drive traffic, customers, and revenue. There are several ways you can improve local visibility.

The first is to ensure your business listings are included on major listing sites like Google, Yelp, and Yahoo.

The Importance of Business Listings

How often do you see a business listing pop up on Google with minimal information, no images, and few reviews? Did you trust that business enough to check out their website or get in touch with them?

Probably not.

Business listings give local businesses visibility and boost their online presence. A business listing with up-to-date information, reviews, and images attracts local users and helps convert them into paying customers.

The best part? It’s free and doesn’t require any special technical skills.

Which Channels Should My Business Be Listed On?

You’ve probably noticed there are dozens of platforms that offer business listings. Let’s look at a few of the most popular sites and explain why they are important.

  • Google My Business: Google is the number one search engine in the world, commanding more than 88 percent of the global search market. If you’re going to create a business listing, this is the place to start.
  • Bing Places: While Bing has only about 6 percent of the global search market, it still may be worth setting up your business listing there. After all, that’s 6 percent of billions of searches.
  • Yelp: Yelp is probably the best-known business review site in the U.S. Businesses with high Yelp ratings and lots of reviews grow their revenue faster. In fact, 42 percent of people who visit Yelp make a purchase that same day.
  • NextDoor: Nextdoor allows businesses to target customers with hyperlocal marketing. Businesses register for listings that are visible in their neighborhoods. According to their site, a quarter of U.S. homes use NextdDoor.
  • Yahoo Localworks: Bing actually powers Yahoo searches. You’re getting the same traffic from Bing. Although Yahoo only grabbed about 2 percent of the search market, it’s still 2 percent of a whole lot of traffic.

Keep in mind these are just the most prominent listing sites. Other sites to consider include Foursquare, HotFrog, eLocal, and SuperPages.

The key is finding the business listing sites your customers are likely to use and making sure those listings are complete and up-to-date.

With so many business listing sites, how do you keep up? There’s no way you can cover all the listing sites on your own without spreading yourself too thin.

There are two ways to handle that:

  1. List your business only on the sites that make the most sense for your business. Choose the sites, such as Google and Yelp, that give you the most visibility. Put your business on a few hyper-local sites, such as Nextdoor, as well.
  2. Use an SEO tool, like Ubersuggest, to help you optimize your information for SEO and then distribute it to multiple listing sites at once.

How to Set Up Your Business Profile

Every site has a slightly different process for claiming and setting up your business profile. Let’s look at Google My Business first, since it will help you reach the widest audience.

Here’s how to set up your business profile on Google My Business:

First, locate your business. Either search on business.google.com/add or search for your business on Google’s search engine and select “Claim this business” or “Own this business?” under the business profile.

confirm your business listing on Google

If someone already claimed your business, you can request an ownership transfer.

Allow a couple of days for your request to be approved. You’ll receive an email notification and then you can begin managing your listing.

For sites such as Yelp, Bing Places, and NextdDoor, the process is pretty much the same:

  • Search to see if there is already a listing. If there is, you can request to claim the listing.
  • If there is no current listing for your business, add one.
  • Bing will send you a PIN to verify your listing, protecting it from unauthorized changes.

Once you’ve verified your listing, your page will be published, though it may take a few days.

Optimize Your Business Listing for Local SEO

A business listing is only as trustworthy as the information it provides, so make sure to include as much information as possible.

A shining example of a great business listing is the Google listing for the Winn Memorial Library, a national historic landmark in Woburn, Massachusetts. As I go through the steps to optimize your listing, I’ll refer back to the library to show you the importance of each step.

Once your listing is complete, use the following local SEO tips to optimize your listing.

Ensure Your Business Listing Contact Info Is Up-to-Date

According to Think With Google, 54 percent of online searchers are looking for business hours, 53 percent want directions to a store, and 50 percent are searching for an address. Make sure to include this information so searchers can find what they need.

Including your address also generates a map pin on listing sites and directions to your business.

Make sure your phone number is there too, so prospective customers can quickly contact you.

The Winn Library includes all of their contact info underneath a well-written description from their Wikipedia page (if you have one, you can do the same). They even include the architectural style of the building and the first day they opened in 1879.

Business listing screenshot

Include All Relevant Data in Your Business Listing

Aside from your contact info, your business listing should also include:

  • Your website
  • An SEO optimized description of your business
  • Links to your social profiles
  • Photos of your business

Depending on your business and the business listing site, there may be space to add additional information.

The Woburn library Google listing features a graph that shows the busiest times at the library and the average stay time of customers.

graph showing  data  from business listings - busiest times at a library and the average time spent there

If you’re a restaurant on Yelp, you may include icons that help categorize your business for searches by type of food or seating.

highlights to include in your business listing

You should fill out the checklist for health and safety updates, as well.

Keep a checklist for health and safety updates in your business listing

Include as much information as you possibly can on each listing site. This will improve your rankings and give potential customers a clear picture of what your business has to offer.

Create Smart Campaigns in Google

Google Smart Campaigns is a simple way for businesses (particularly small businesses) to create ads in Google. When you create a Smart Campaign, you essentially hand off the work to Google.

With Google Ads, you have to figure out keyword research, bidding on keywords, geo-targeting, and a slew of other aspects. With Smart Campaigns, Google does all that for you.

You’ve probably seen Smart Campaign ads at the top of your own searches in Google. They look like this:

screenshot of a smart campaign business listing

Each ad includes a headline, description, site link, map pin, phone number, and address. Your ad will show up when someone in your area searches for keywords related to your business, or when someone outside your area searches for keywords and your location.

Basically, you give Google a description of your business, a keyword theme you’d like to target, and your budget. Google picks up the ad from there and distributes it across all of its platforms, including YouTube and partner websites.

You can run one or multiple campaigns at a time.

Add Photos to Your Business Listing

According to BrightLocal, 60 percent of consumers say good images influence their decision to patronize a business. They offer some tips on including images with your business listing:

  • Include a variety of photos so potential customers can see what your business is all about.
  • Don’t include overly polished images. Professional photos can actually seem untrustworthy to users.
  • Google finds and deletes stock photos, so don’t bother trying to use them.

Again, the Winn Library does a great job here. They include interior and exterior shots of the building and its books. I do wish they’d include shots with the staff to give the listing a human touch.

photograph tips for a business listing

Optimize for Voice Search

Digital assistants have become more sophisticated, and people rely on them more for search, especially when they’re on the go–so it’s important to optimize your listing for voice searches. Voice searches are more conversational, and use longer search terms.

Most voice searches are formed as questions, rather than the phrases you type into a search engine. Think about how to include the answers to those questions in your business listing.

Optimize Your Business Page for National/Global Customers

While your business listing is meant to help with local search, you should still have your eye on national and global searches. After all, you may have someone in another region looking to send flowers from a local shop to a relative, or someone who’s moving from across the globe may be looking for a good realtor.

You still want to be visible in those kinds of searches. Here’s how.

Reply to Customer Reviews

It’s not enough to collect reviews from customers and then just let them sit there. Responding to customers’ reviews, both the good and the bad, increases engagement, makes your brand human, and builds trust with prospective customers.

For good reviews, thank the reviewer and include an element of their text in your response. Take a look at this review for a furnace maintenance company:

I had a great experience with National Heating and Cooling when my furnace stopped. Their technician was on time and very professional. She quoted me a fair price and explained every step of the process. She even wore shoe covers to keep my white carpets clean.

Now take a look at the response from National Plumbing:

Thank you so much for choosing National Heating and Cooling! It was our pleasure to help you with your furnace! Don’t hesitate to call us for all of your heating and cooling needs. We even have discounts for customers who sign up for regular yearly maintenance.

Notice that National Heating and Cooling not only pulled in details from the review. They also included a bit of promotional text to encourage the customer to sign up for a yearly package.

While it’s important to respond to every review, it’s essential to respond to bad reviews as quickly as possible. When responding to a bad review, include:

  • A sincere apology for the bad experience.
  • An offer to replace or refund broken products.
  • A discount or gift card to compensate for bad service.
  • An offer to take the conversation offline. When you do that, listen to what the customer has to say and work with them to fix the problem.

Use Google Trends Feature

Google Trends allows you to search trends in search terms in real-time or during a specific time frame, as far back as 2004 and as recent as 36 hours before your search.

You can break your searches down by location, as well, to find sample search trends by region or by country.

Use Google Trends to inform your list of targeted keywords. For example, if I search for “libraries” and view trends in Massachusetts, I see people often search for library hours and computers, so I’d make sure to include that information in my listing.

Create a Quality Landing Page

Landing pages are the pages users come to through search. Your homepage can serve as a landing page for your business listing.

Other landing pages can be included in your Smart Campaigns. There are four landing pages listed in the plumber example: the services page, coupons, a contact form for scheduling service, and their about page.

Example business listing

Landing pages should include keywords that help users find you in search. It should include testimonials, high-quality images, and a contact form. Try to keep your text brief to avoid scrolling and don’t include too many links to internal pages. The goal of your landing page should be to encourage the prospect to take a specific action.

Here is my landing page for Ubersuggest, my tool for SEO optimization.

screenshot of Ubersuggest, a tool you can use to revise your landing pages

While a user can use the nav bar to look around or use the chat functionality, the main focus is on one action: entering a domain or keyword to get started on some serious SEO.

Conclusion

Local business listings are a fairly simple and free way to get visibility and target the right audience for your business. The trick is to keep them up-to-date with relevant, useful information that will help users become customers.

Responding to reviews will help you convert and retain customers and establish trust in your brand.

If you want help refining your business listings, SEO, or content marketing, reach out!

Now that you know just how many business listing possibilities are out there, where do you think you’ll start? Which sites are right for your business?

The post How to Create the Perfect Business Listing appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

How to Get a Free Domain Name

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

You need a solid online presence in this day and age. The best way to get this is to start a blog, a website, or an ecommerce store.

But before you can launch any of this, you’ll require a domain name, along with other things like a web host and a website builder.

But what exactly is a domain name?

Do you recognize 74.125.739.116? Probably not.

But I bet you know Google.com.

74.125.739.116 is Google’s numerical IP address, and since remembering such complicated numbers would be difficult, to say the least, domain names were introduced.

A domain name is particularly useful for establishing your brand.

You see, no two domain names can be exactly alike. They can be similar, but never the exact same. 

As a result, you get the opportunity to create a distinctive online presence exclusive to you and your business.

What’s more, you don’t have to pay to register your domain! There are several ways you can get a free domain name.

Your 2-Minute Cheat Sheet

Want a quick answer on how to get a free domain name? I’ll cut to the chase.

If you’re planning to start a blog or launch a website, you’ll need a web hosting company. When it comes to making a choice, I suggest you choose Bluehost.

Not only does the company provide excellent speed and uptime reliability, but it also offers free domain names. Moreover, unlike other companies that extend this service only as long as you are their customer, Bluehost won’t take away your domain name.

Here’s what its terms and conditions state:

“If you’re dissatisfied with your experience at Bluehost, you won’t lose your domain name. You’ll be free to transmit or simply point it elsewhere at your convenience. You retain ownership of your domain until the end of its registration period unless you elect to extend it.“

Talk about a company with good ethics. 

To create your Bluehost account, click here. The whole process takes about 60 seconds, and you’ll have a web host as well as a free domain.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can also consider using a free subdomain.

This is where website builders like WordPress and Wix come into play. The only catch is that instead of having a .com site like mine (NeilPatel.com), you‘ll have something like yourusername.wixsite.com/yoursiteaddress or yourdomainname.wordpress.com

This isn’t an ideal situation. But it can be a viable option for when you want to experiment with free features of the website builder.

And that’s it! Now, if you want to learn how the whole thing works in more detail, read on.

Step 1: Go to Bluehost’s Website

The very first thing you need to do is head over to Bluehost.

Select Hosting from the top menu bar. 

You must be wondering why you shouldn’t click on Domains when it’s a free domain that you want. This is because you don’t want to bundle your hosting plan with domain registration. 

You’ll end up paying for your domain, which is NOT what we’re aiming for.

Just trust the process.

Step 2: Select Your Hosting Type

Bluehost offers you three types of hosting plans: Shared Hosting, Dedicated Hosting, and VPS Hosting.

Shared Hosting

I would recommend shared hosting if you’re a newbie just starting out. 

Not only are the plans under this category cheap, but they can also accommodate the needs of low-traffic sites quite efficiently.

It allows multiple websites to share the same server resources. This is the main reason why shared hosting is so affordable, but it may also potentially cause slow loading times and performance issues.

This hosting type is good for someone who doesn’t expect high traffic volumes and lacks technical knowledge. 

VPS Hosting

VPS hosting stands for virtual private service hosting. This category includes plans for websites that want better performance and can accommodate a higher price point.

The good thing about this hosting type is it guarantees useful resources to you exclusively. Technically, you still share a server with other websites, but you have a “virtual“ server that includes dedicated resources. 

You can consider this hosting type if you expect sudden spikes in traffic volumes.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting gives you exclusive access to an entire server reserved for your website alone. You don’t have to share it with anyone.

Understandably, you get premium performance with this subscription plan–but you have to be ready to pay its premium price, too. 

This could be a good option if you’re a large enterprise that regularly handles high traffic. It’s also great for those who want complete control over the hosting environment.

For this guide, I’ll suggest you choose shared hosting. However, if you prefer other plans, you can go ahead with them as well.

Don’t worry! You get a free domain with any Bluehost plan.

Step 3: Select Your Web Hosting Plan

Bluehost offers four different shared web hosting plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro.

I’ll suggest opting for the Basic entry-level plan as it’s cheaper and would be better suited to beginners. 

It’s very budget-friendly, with plans starting at just $2.95 per month. However, you have to pay three years in advance if you want to get this price. This does sound scary at first, but believe me, it’s worth it.

If you plan on launching a larger site for your business, I would recommend the Choice Plus plan. Although you have to pay more money, the extra features are well worth it.

After that, click on Select under the plan that you decide to proceed with.

Step 4: Register Your Domain

After you choose a subscription plan, Bluehost will ask you to set up your domain.

This is where you’ll get two options:

  • Create a new domain
  • Use a domain you own

Select the “Create a new domain“ option. This will allow you to search for available domains.

Enter the domain that you want to buy into the search bar and choose your domain extension. Your options include the following:

  • .com
  • .net
  • .blog
  • .biz
  • .info
  • .store
  • .co
  • .us

… you get the drift.

I’d encourage you to select a .com extension as it looks more professional and helps you appear more reliable to your visitors. 

The only time that I’d consider an alternative domain extension is if the .com extension is already taken and you are absolutely set on the name.

The other reason you might consider an alternative domain extension is when the domain is out of your budget. Honestly, there are plenty of extensions cheaper than a .com domain, but sometimes the extra money is worth it.

Otherwise, .com is your best bet.

Having a .com domain is particularly important for businesses—small blogs, personal sites, and side hustles may be able to save a few bucks here.

Step 5: Finalize the Deal

After you’ve chosen an available domain name, all that is left is to create your Bluehost account and finalize your plan terms.

Pay careful attention to the Package Extras section. You don’t need everything you see, but make sure you check the Domain Privacy + Protection option. 

Doing this will conceal your name, email, phone number, and address from appearing on a public database. The $0.99 per month is worth it to keep hackers away if you ask me!

And you’re done!

You now have an excellent hosting plan as well as a free domain. If you have not already started then start now at Bluehost.

Other Methods

For the sake of comprehensiveness, I’ll also discuss two other ways of getting a free domain. Although I don’t recommend them, it’s always good to know all of the options.

Option 1: Using a Free Subdomain 

Several website builders offer subdomains, which is a personal domain that exists within an existing domain name. 

Remember that movie Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio dreams that he is in a dream? Something similar happens here. 

You end up getting a domain name within a domain name. 

Site builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly offer subdomains to their users. They have a free trial as well, so if you like their services, you can purchase their premium plans that include everything you require to build, launch, and manage a professional business website. 

Out of the several perks on offer like drag-and-drop site builder, web hosting, templates, and search engine optimization (SEO) tools, you also get a free domain name.

But why do I still say this method is not ideal?

Let’s discuss this with an example. 

Imagine you use a free website builder like Wix. You won’t have to pay for a domain, yes, but your side will have the Wix subdomain. It’ll look something like this:

yourusername.wixsite.com/yoursiteaddress

Suppose your Wix username is “My Stunning Website 123,” and the domain name you want is myblogsite. Here’s what you’ll get:

Think about it: Does that look professional? Have you seen any credible website have a domain like this?

That is why I’d only suggest this method if you want to experiment with your website builder’s free features or new updates. 

Hostinger and WordPress are your other options, and luckily, neither are as invasive as Wix. 

  • The format for a free WordPress subdomain is: yourdomainname.wordpress.com
  • The format for a free Hostinger subdomain is: example.000webhostapp.com

This is a good option for situations when one cannot spend money, but it is not a viable long-term strategy. You want your domain name to be memorable and short–both of which aren’t possible when you use a subdomain.

The fact that your visitors won’t remember your domain or find it hard to remember is another disadvantage.

Option 2: Using a Free Domain Name Registrar (Not Recommended)

I’m only discussing this option for the sake of comprehensiveness of this article and wouldn’t recommend it. 

You can get a domain name from a free domain registrar, but it’s still unsuitable. 

You see, the truly free domains use untrustworthy-looking extensions. For instance, you get .tk instead of .com. Your prospective customers would much prefer working with a domain name that reads yourbusiness.com instead of your yourbusiness.tk.

While it is entirely free, it looks unprofessional and untrustworthy and is even susceptible to hackers. Plus, you don’t own the domain name, which also defeats the purpose of launching a blog or a website.

However, if you do decide to take this route, you can check out Freenom, GetFreeDomain.Name and Dot TK.

Several domain registrars will give you a free domain in exchange for running ads on your website. There is nothing wrong with running ads, but this just isn’t the best way to do it.

You don’t have any control over the ads (the kind of ads played, the length, etc.) or their placement. As a result, your visitors may not have the best experience on your website. This may even damage your SEO ranking as well.

In fact, even if you view the situation with a more optimistic viewpoint, it still isn’t viable.

Suppose you’re successful in driving high traffic to your website, and the ads get one million views. You won’t receive a single penny from those ads–all you get is a free domain.

Not a fair trade, right?

If you’re seriously toying with the idea of running ads on your website, I’d advise you to do so through a legitimate advertising network as it can be a great source of income. Don’t exchange ads for a free domain.

Important: Don’t Forget to Renew Your Domain!

Domains expire. This can take one year, two years, or three years based on the package you buy.

Setting up a website or blog is hard work. You put in a lot of effort to find the perfect URL, design a website, and publish relevant content on it, among several other things that help it rank high and attract customers.

Just imagine the horror when you get up and realize some random stranger has bought it. The reason? You forgot to renew your domain.

Tragic.

This is why you must understand the importance of renewing your domain. Many people have made this mistake in the past, and it cost them dearly.

For instance, during one presidential election cycle, Jeb Bush and his team forgot to renew their domain JebBush.com, which Donald Trump successfully purchased and redirected Bush’s visitors to his own presidential election website. It was a stellar business move on Trump’s part, but a disaster that Bush’s team could’ve easily averted.

Make sure domain renewal is marked on your calendar a month in advance. You can also put your domain on auto-renewal just to be safe.

Conclusion

Bluehost is the best way to get a free domain name–one that you won’t have to surrender even if you switch web hosts. The other way is to use a subdomain by using reliable and reputable web builders like WordPress and Wix.

Within seconds you’ll have a reliable web hosting service as well as a new domain for free. Trust me, saving a few dollars isn’t worth the hassle of looking unprofessional, running a spammy website, or getting hacked.

The post How to Get a Free Domain Name appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

Best WordPress Plugins

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

What do sites like Bloomberg, Disney, BBC America, MTV, and Facebook have in common?

They all use the WordPress content management system (CMS) to power their websites.

Honestly, we aren’t surprised. WordPress is awesome.

But while it does offer lots of flexibility in features, there’s still a certain extent of functionality missing from the core software. 

WordPress’s core software is kind of like an incomplete puzzle. And WordPress plugins are the missing pieces.

A plugin is a bit of code that is added to WordPress. Users add them to improve their WordPress sites in all kinds of ways, including article enhancement, security, managing comments, and optimizing content to rank higher in search engines.

In short, it can make a website look more professional, run faster, and enhance functionality.

There are more than 55,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory, and that’s excluding at least a thousand more on third-party websites.

The good news? You have a ton of plugins to choose from.

The bad news? You have a ton of plugins to choose from.

How do you know which ones you need?

Every business is different, which also means they have different needs. This guide brings you the best seven plugins that we believe every WordPress user should have.

The Top 7 Options for Best WordPress Plugins:

  • WP Rocket – The Best for Speed Optimization
  • Yoast SEO – The Best for Increasing Organic Website Traffic
  • Akismet – The Best for Spam Protection
  • Wordfence Security – The Best to Handle Security Concerns
  • UpdraftPlus – The Best for Site Backup
  • MonsterInsights – The Best for Data Tracking
  • WPForms – The Best for Designing Contact Forms

How to Choose the Best WordPress Plugin for You

Let’s make one thing clear: There’s no such thing as a “must-have“ plugin.

Instead, it’s the type of plugin that matters. 

You should choose plugins based on your needs instead of blindly following a list.

We’ve compiled a list of a few factors you should consider to narrow down your search to determine the right fit for your website. 

Every plugin’s page on the WordPress Plugin Repository contains detailed information about the plugin, its purpose, how to use it, and more. Refer to this information to decide whether a specific plugin is a good fit for you.

Search the plugin directory and pick a few options you think will suit your needs best. When it comes to making the final selection, use our tips below:

Free vs. Premium

We all like free things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better. WordPress plugins are no exception.

Free plugins can be great if you don’t want to spend money right away, and most of them are enough to get the basic job done. 

However, if you’re looking for more features or higher customization, most plugins will need to be upgraded to the premium version to unlock more features. 

Contrarily, premium plugins are designed to ensure compatibility with new WordPress versions and provide better security. On top of this, you get a more comprehensive selection of features to customize and enhance your site.

If monetary commitment is something you’re worried about, you’ll be pleased to know that most premium plugins are quite affordable. So you won’t be breaking the bank anytime soon.

In the end, it’s your call. Just make sure you make the right choice for the functionality of your site.

Overall Plugin Ratings

The overall rating of a WordPress plugin can tell you a lot.

Previous users can rate a plugin up to five stars based on their experience. Skip options that don’t have an average of at least (or almost) four stars. 

Plugins with a one-star, two-star, or three-star rating are mostly glitchy and create a lot of problems. Whereas higher-rated plugins are well maintained, work well, and offer adequate support. 

Otherwise, why would any user give them good ratings and reviews?

Go Through As Many User Reviews You Can

There’s no better way to determine the quality of a plugin than directly from users. This way, you know precisely whether a plugin is successful.

We would also recommend looking at the total number of ratings. For instance, if a plugin has only been rated by five or seven people, it means it’s relatively new. If they give a decent review, the average rating will automatically be higher. It’s always better to download plugins with more users and reviewers.

So, not only should you read the user reviews, but also check the total number of reviews.

See How Active the Support Section Is

Every plugin on the WordPress plugin repository has a support forum.

Go through the support tab to check out the level of activity within these forums. Regular activity is necessary as it indicates the developer is responsive and wants to deliver an excellent experience to its users by solving user-reported issues.

If you’re evaluating a premium plugin, their official website should be your go-to instead of the support tab. 

Find out how easy it is to get support and whether it has the features you need. Send a test email to see how fast the developers respond to check out their efficiency.

If a plugin has several unresolved threads or you don’t get an answer to your test email, it probably means the plugin is abandoned or that developers are not responding to user issues. 

It could still work, yes. But you won’t get adequate support if you face problems.

Find Out the Frequency of Updates

The best plugins are updated regularly. If not, or if it has been a long time since their last update, they may not be well-maintained. 

Of course, there can be some exceptions, but regular updates are still an important consideration.

Ideally, plugin updates should be in line with WordPress’ core updates. This ensures optimal compatibility and a good level of active implication from the plugin developer. You can check exactly when a plugin was last updated by visiting the WordPress plugin repository. 

Also, check out the Active Installations section. This will give you an idea of the plugin’s popularity and whether it’s still relevant to the ever-changing market trends.

The Different Types of WordPress Plugins

It is the type of plugin that’s vital, not a specific developer. 

All plugins are designed to help boost your site’s performance and conversion rates. And while you can download as many plugins as you want, that doesn’t mean you should.

Downloading unnecessary plugins may even slow down your site and even compromise security. 

So, what should you do? Simplify.

Here are the six types of WordPress plugins you need. 

SEO

SEO WordPress plugins drive more traffic to your website or blog–provided you do it correctly.

For instance, NeilPatel.com generates 2,530,346 visitors, out of which 1,866,913 come from search engines. How? We optimized on-page SEO, built links, regularly published blog posts, and optimize for user signals.

Getting this combination right helped us increase our ever-growing Google traffic.

You can do it too by installing SEO plugins to your WordPress site. 

You can add meta tags, titles, and descriptions that will get your website and blog posts on Google’s first page without having to do tons of manual work. 

Security

Security plugins protect your side from malware, hackers, and other forms of cybercrimes. They will instantly notify you about any abnormal activities, giving you the chance to intervene before the problem escalates–and sometimes before it even begins.

Every website needs a security plugin. No one is safe from the prying eyes of malicious hackers.

Analytics 

Building and maintaining a website involves a fair amount of hard work. So, it’s a given that you would want to know whether your efforts are paying off.

Analytics plugins give you a detailed account of your visitor count, user engagement, and other crucial information to support your marketing strategies. Think of these plugins as a reliable friend that can help you make better marketing decisions.

Caching

Nobody enjoys going to slow-loading websites.

In fact, if a site takes more than three seconds to load, 53% of users will abandon it. Precisely why you need a caching plugin to counter this problem.

These plugins save data from your site to the visitors’ browsers. Whenever they return to your site, the browser loads content locally instead of fetching it from the server, making the process much faster.

List Building

For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you reap $42. Basically, email marketing is a gold mine.

For your email marketing campaign to be a success, you need to build your email list, which is what a list-building plugin can help with. These plugins can make the email collection process easier and also make contact forms.

The more attractive your contact forms, the more signups you’ll get. Isn’t this what everybody wants?

Landing Pages

Landing pages have a significant role in improving conversion rates, and it’s key to helping you score more sales leads through your digital marketing efforts.

Landing page plugins help you create effective templates to convince a user to either sign up for your newsletter or place an order for a product or service. 

Even better, you don’t have to spend tons of time and effort in preparing them, thanks to these plugins.

You can match prospective plugins to the above categories. This way, you’ll cover all the crucial plugins to enhance your site without going overboard.

#1 – WP Rocket – The Best for Speed Optimization

WordPress is a memory-capturing CMS, which increases the possibility of crashing your web server. To avoid such unfortunate situations and ensure all your site loads super fast, you need a caching plugin like WP Rocket.

WP Rocket is a simple and effective plugin designed to boost your website speed and performance. It doesn’t wait for someone to request a page to save it to cache. Instead, it automatically builds your website cache, resulting in an immediate performance boost.

The plugin turns on recommended WordPress caching settings, such as page cache, gzip compression, and cache pre-loading automatically. You can also activate other features like CDN support, lazy loading images, DNS prefetching, and minification to improve your page loading time and reduce bounce rate.

Starting at $49 for an annual license per site, WP Rocket surely isn’t cheap. More so, when there are other premium caching plugins available. But trust us, it’s worth every single penny you pay. Learn more.

#2 – Yoast SEO – The Best for Increasing Organic Website Traffic

Users serious about search optimization trust Yoast SEO to reach their goals. All you need to do is select a keyword, and the tool will then optimize your page around it.

Not only does it help you improve SEO, but it also analyzes your content readability. It gives you real-time page analysis to optimize your content, images, meta descriptions, titles, and keywords. No wonder it might be the most popular SEO tool in the WordPress plugin repository.

Further, Yoast checks the length of your sentences and paragraphs, whether you’re using enough transition words or subheadings, how often you use passive voice, and so on. It tells Google whether or not to index a page or a set of pages too.

Although there’s a free version available, you can upgrade to the premium version for $89 per year that comes with extra functions, allowing you to optimize your content up to five keywords, among other benefits.

#3 – Akismet – The Best for Spam Protection

Nobody appreciates the opinions of bots. Unfortunately, spam comments are an unavoidable price of website success.

With Akismet, though, you’ll be able to eliminate spam comments–no matter how genuine they look–effectively and effortlessly. After all, it’s the official anti-spam plugin developed by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. 

There’s a possibility of the plugin missing out on a few spam comments or not identifying false positives. You only need to tell it about them, and the plugin learns and gets better over time.

The plugin also checks your contact form submissions against its global spam database to weed out unnecessary and fake information.

Although free to download, you will need an Akismet.com API key to use the plug-in. These keys are free for personal blogs, but businesses and commercial sites will have to opt for paid subscriptions.

#4 – Wordfence Security – The Best to Handle Security Concerns

Wordfence Security is a WordPress firewall and security scanner plugin. It offers your site full protection from malicious hackers, malware, spam, and other online threats.

It searches for malware and compares code, theme, and plugin files with the records in the WordPress.org repository, allowing it to verify their integrity and report any changes to you.

The plugin comes fitted with a web application firewall (WAF) called Threat Defense Feed that helps Wordfence identify and block malicious traffic. Plus, it prevents brute force attacks by ensuring you set stronger passwords and limiting login attempts.

Wordfence firewall and security scanner will give you security risk alerts before your website is hacked, keeping it safe and secure. It also comes with login security features that enable you to activate reCAPTCHA and two-factor authentication on your website.

A free version of Wordfence is available. But you can also buy the premium plan at $99 per year to get extra security features like the real-time IP blacklist and country blocking option, along with support from professional support engineers.

#5 – UpdraftPlus – The Best for Site Backup

Many people fail to consider the importance of having a backup plugin. Don’t make that mistake.

Nearly 30,000 websites get hacked daily. Simply hoping you won’t be next on the list is just wishful thinking. You have to be prepared, which is where backup plugins come in handy.

There are plenty of WordPress backup plugins online, but only a few are as powerful and user-friendly as UpdraftPlus. It allows you to set up automatic backups and store your files on a remote location like Google Drive, FTP, email, and Dropbox.

Restoring your website from a backup is also super easy and can be done straight from the dashboard. Other features include advanced reporting, database encryption, additional storage destinations like OneDrive, Azure, SFTP, and backup scheduling. 

You have the option to either use the base version of UpdraftPlus or purchase its premium version that costs between $195-$399 a year, depending on the plan you choose.

#6 – MonsterInsights – The Best for Data Tracking

Data tracking is crucial for scaling and improving your website. Without facts, all you’ll have are assumptions.

Google Analytics helps you improve your website, content, and better user experience by giving you key insights about how every webpage performs and which online campaigns bring in the most traffic and conversions. 

Some of you may have heard of Google Analytics for WordPress. It was the former name for MonsterInsights. The name might’ve changed, but the purpose remains the same.

MonsterInsights allows you to add, customize, and manage your Google Analytics-related web tracking services–all within your WordPress dashboard. 

You can use it to view active sessions, conversion and bounce rate statistics, and keep track of outbound and internal links and downloads. Other details like your total revenue, top products, and top referral sources will also be included.

With all the information readily available, you can work on creating a data-driven strategy to grow your business.

MonsterInsights has a free version that allows you to install Google Analytics, track data, see metrics on the dashboard, and run reports. There is also a premium version that is more of an investment but includes post and page tracking, custom tracking and reports, AdSense tracking, and more. The premium version starts at $99.50 per year with the Plus plan.

#7 – WPForms – The Best for Designing Contact Forms

You can use WPForms to create appealing and highly-effective contact forms rather quickly, thanks to its drag-and-drop builder. 

It comes with several cool features like smart conditional logic to ensure your visitors have an excellent customer experience, which, in turn, increases the chances of them submitting their contact information. 

Moreover, WPForms can integrate with all popular marketing and payment platforms.

The free plan lets you create a secure contact form with ease. But if you want access to more templates and advanced features to boost your lead generation efforts, the paid version would be more appropriate. The paid version starts at $79 per year for one site.

Conclusion

Choosing the best WordPress plugins can be overwhelming, but it’s an initiative you must take.

WordPress plugins can do it all, from designing and maintaining a website to optimizing it for search engines to enhance user experience. 

Use Yoast to keep your SEO on point, and block spam and bots with Akismet. Next, make sure your WordPress security remains uncompromised with Wordfence.

WP Rocket keeps loading times short, while UpdraftPlus can come to your rescue when you face compatibility issues or want to migrate your site.

Got a favorite plugin that we didn’t mention? Comment below to let us know!

The post Best WordPress Plugins appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

Best HTML Editors

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

Everybody makes mistakes. 

Some big, some small, but some of them are downright annoying.

And one of the most notorious headache-causing mistakes you make is messing up your code. 

Coding is everything when it comes to web development. So you simply have to get it right for better security and to avoid glitches in the future.

Luckily, there’s a very effective solution to ensure this. 

Just like how Grammarly and Hemingway can improve your text by checking them for spelling errors and improving readability, web developers can use HTML editors to write and improve their code.

Even those who don’t have any coding knowledge can create websites and put them online.

Coding becomes faster and easier thanks to HTML editors’ spell-checking, syntax highlighting, and auto-completion features, among others.

In this guide, we’ll look at the best HTML editors available to take your websites to the next level without much effort and time on your part.

Excited? Let’s dig right in!

The Top 5 Options for Best HTML Editors:

  • Atom – The Best for Advanced Customization
  • Notepad + + – The Best for Front-End Developers and Web Designers
  • Brackets – The Best for Beginners
  • Sublime Text – The Best for Multi-Language Support
  • Adobe Dreamweaver CC – The Best for Web Developers 

How to Choose the Best HTML Editor for You

HTML editors–both free and paid–come with several cosmetic features. Based on your business needs, you’ll find some to be absolutely necessary, while others you may not need at all.

We’ve compiled a list of features that we think a good HTML editor should have. You may not need all of them, but here is what you should be looking for when choosing an HTML editor.

Color-Coding or Syntax Highlighting

HTML has a tag-based markup language. You need an HTML editor with syntax highlighting or color-coding features to light up these tags. Doing this will help you identify the tags quickly, which, in turn, will make working with blocks of code easier.

Autocomplete and Suggestions

The autocomplete and suggestions feature helps to quickly fill in longer code at the press of a button. 

The editor gives you pop up suggestions based on your work–all you have to do is click on it, and the code will autocomplete. Think of how you type text messages on your phone or when you do a quick Google search. 

You can also automate creating closing tabs through this feature.

Find and Replace

We highly recommend looking for code editors with the find and replace feature, as it allows you to locate certain strings and replace them with something else very quickly. 

Plus, HTML is constantly changing and updating standards and deprecation of inefficient tags. So, you’ll definitely find yourself wanting this feature sometime in the future to update your website.

Version Control

Editors with version control enable you to see the previous versions of your code and rollback when needed. As a result, you can store all the copies without making separate documents, and we know how crucial this is when you’re working with other developers.

Multi-Cursor Functionality

The role of multi-cursors is simple: It allows you to write code in multiple places at once. In other words, you can edit code simultaneously. This is especially useful when you want to add duplicates of the same tag.

FTP Support and Error Detection

Getting HTML editors with FTP support lets you connect to WordPress and upload changes you want to make without any hassle. As a result, you won’t find yourself logging into FileZilla or your preferred FTP client every time we want to update anything.

Live error detection is equally important.

HTML is a markup language and not a programming language, which is why it doesn’t compile. It also means you can’t test your code. With live error detection, though, you’ll know immediately whenever you write something incorrectly.

In addition to these, there are several other features like code folding and autosave. We mentioned what we think is vital and can help increase productivity and accuracy. However, you have the flexibility to choose, depending on your requirements and preferences.

Note: If you’re looking for a code editor with advanced features and platform integration, you‘ll need an integrated development environment or IDE rather than a text editor. While IDEs are similar to HTML editors, they are more beefed up designed for advanced developers.

The Different Types of HTML Editors

HTML editors are of two types. Although the core values of both are kind of similar, they have different features. It’s why the target clientele for each category is slightly different. 

Let’s discuss this in more detail.

HTML Text Editors

HTML text editors are basic programs. You can use it to write basic coding projects, do simple HTML editing, and check for errors on the go.

You’ll find several free versions of text editors available online that are downloadable on all major operating systems. What’s more, these programs are general-purpose and can be used for multiple computing languages.

Keep in mind that basic text editors require you to write all HTML code by hand. You have to perfect every piece of syntax manually, so be prepared for a bit of trial and error.

HTML text editors are great for learning HTML. But if saving time is a priority, the next editor type would be more suitable for you.

WYSIWYG

No, this isn’t gibberish or a typo. 

WYSIWYG is an acronym for “What You See Is What You Get.” Developers pronounce it as “wis-ee-wig.” It’s a type of HTML editor that views content in the live product exactly like the preview. This helps enhance accuracy when you’re building or making changes to a website. 

Think of WYSIWYG as the halfway point between coding from scratch and an instant template builder like WordPress. 

Being more advanced than standard text editors, WYSIWYG editors allow users to write code, edit directly from the page, and insert paragraphs and headings–all the while generating HTML code automatically. Creating or updating the layout of a site is possible within seconds as well with this editor.

#1 – Atom – The Best for Advanced Customization

Atom is a free, open-source code editor developed by the GitHub team and maintained by the GitHub community. It comes with enough packages and theme collections, runs light, and loads super fast, making this HTML editor one of the best you can find.

It’s a modernized WYSIWYG HTML editor available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and is built for collaboration. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced professional, Atom is everyone’s favorite with its premium feel and customization flexibility. 

Think of it as an advanced text editor that has several features commonly limited to high-level coding programs.

It also comes with a hackable text editor! It’s a feature that enables developers to edit, extend, change, and share the program source code and design their own packages to improve Atom. 

Multiple pane support is another feature we like. You can split the interface into as many windows as you need to compare and write code side-by-side.

Other features include syntax correction and highlighting, autocompletion, project management, and Teletype (users can collaborate with other developers in real-time). 

Atom is entirely free of charge! So you don’t have to shell out any money to use this excellent editor.

#2 – Notepad + + – The Best for Front-End Developers and Web Designers

Fast working, time-tested, and foolproof, Notepad + + is one of the most popular HTML editors used by millions worldwide. It’s an open-code editor that offers multi-language support, which isn’t restricted to only HTML and CSS.

One of the primary reasons for Notepad + +‘s popularity is its feature-rich interface.

You get syntax folding, syntax highlighting, multi-view, document map, multi-document interface, auto-completion, bookmarks, and a fully customizable GUI. And even after this long list, there’s still more.

Notepad + + was developed for Windows-based machines, but Linux users can use it via Wine. As the name suggests, this editor is like an upgraded version of the Notepad software, which is already available in Windows by default. You also get its repository on GitHub. 

A mobile version is also available if you fancy that.

Environmentalists would love Notepad + + as well. It has programs that run on less CPU power in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

Notepad + + is free for all! So no extra money or hidden costs for you to worry about.

#3 – Brackets – The Best for Beginners

Brackets is another widely popular HTML editor for programmers compatible with different operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux. It comes with a built-in package manager that allows users to search and install any supported package they like.

We would highly recommend this open-source HTML editor for beginners due to its smart auto-completion feature that makes coding incredibly fast and accurate.

Bracket’s coding UI can be split into multiple panes, making writing and comparing codes between different files easy and precise. Its integrated file system browser enables you to access files within your PC.

Plus, it has a find and replace feature that allows developers to fine-tune the code when appropriate. This can be useful for novices and experienced professionals to ensure their website stays up-to-date. 

Styling and customization are super easy and simple, so coding won’t ever get boring with Brackets. 

The pre-installed syntax themes feature dark and flashy bright colors. With no shortage of packages on the platform, you can add as many features as you want, based on your use-case and preference.

Brackets is completely free! You can download it directly from the official website.

#4 – Sublime Text – The Best for Multi-Language Support

Sublime Text is the advanced version of Notepad + +. It comes with the standard features of Notepad + +, along with more modern ones to suit the sophisticated needs of the more experienced users.

You get cross-platform support, split editing, multiple-selection editing, proprietary command palette, and syntax editing to make web development simpler. The editor is incredibly powerful and promises high performance. However, you have a steeper learning curve ahead of you in exchange for this flexibility and power.

One of the more advanced features of Sublime Text is “Goto Anything.” Using this, you can find and replace the code within a considerably shorter period. The distraction-free mode is another great feature that displays only the code by hiding other elements.

You can use keyboard shortcuts to execute tasks quickly–provided you can remember them. Everything is easily customizable in the editor as well, whether you want to personalize key bindings to snippets to menus.

Accessible on Windows, Mac, and Linux, Sublime Text also supports different languages like C, HTML, C++, C#, Java, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and many more.

Sublime Text has a free version available that’s enough for beginners, but if you want access to all its features, you have to pay a one-time cost of $80.

#5 – Adobe Dreamweaver CC – The Best for Web Developers 

Most of our other options work great for front-end development, but having an HTML editor that facilitates back-end development is also necessary, which is where Adobe Dreamweaver CC comes in.

Made by renowned company Adobe, this editor is hands down one of the most famous and influential options on the market. You get all sorts of plugins and premium features that you wouldn’t normally have access to with other HTML editors. 

Whether it’s creating more responsive sites or editing the website code, Dreamweaver makes everything possible.

This editor is a closed source software, designed to work within the Adobe ecosystem. It supports both the textual and WYSIWYG methods, allowing you to choose between coding with a live visual presentation or take the traditional route. You can write code in any major programming language and enjoy access to creative cloud libraries.

Web developers would particularly love Adobe Dreamweaver CC. It automatically confirms the code and page accessibility, making it easier for developers to follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and even reviews the end product. 

Plus, the direct access to an abundant supply of assets in the Adobe ecosystem like graphics, layers, colors, words, characters, and much more, is another advantage.

Dreamweaver has a free version, but you can opt for premium plans as well. You have three options:

  • Annual Plan, Payable Monthly – $25.99 per month
  • Monthly Plan – $31.49 per month
  • Annual Plan, Prepaid – $239.88 per year

Final Thoughts

HTML editors are a must for any web development and design toolkit. Not only can you create code faster, but it also simplifies the whole process by helping you avoid errors.

The only catch is to select an option that aligns with your needs. 

You can select an option from our top picks or look for other alternatives in the market. Try to look for prospective editors that include syntax highlighting and live preview. If you want something more sophisticated, a find and replace feature will be a great asset.

The post Best HTML Editors appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

Best Knowledge Base Software

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

“Knowledge management will never work until you realize it’s not about how you capture knowledge but how you leverage it.” – Etienne Wenger.

Considering the modern world we live in, what better way to leverage knowledge than with knowledge base software. 

It tackles one of the most challenging aspects of running an online business: Supplying thorough information for your customers.

This type of software tool helps answer any doubts users have before they become paying customers. So not only do you look more efficient, but you also serve your customers better.

What’s not to love, right? 

Choose the right solution for your business that helps you establish a loyal customer base and an efficient workforce–both of which will allow you to scale your business and achieve your goals sooner.

But the question remains: What is the best knowledge base software in the market right now? 

With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to find the right software for your website, which is where this guide comes in. 

We scoured the web for the best knowledge base tools. There were many, but we managed to narrow it down to five. In this guide, we’ll discuss my top picks in more detail to figure out which is best for your business.

Let’s delve right into it.

The Top 5 Options for Best Knowledge Base Software:

  • Document360 – Best for Internal Use
  • Zendesk – Best for Larger Businesses With Technical Setups
  • Helpjuice – Best for Detailed Analytics
  • LiveAgent – Best for Handling Multichannel Support
  • ProProfs Knowledge Base – Best Free Knowledge Base Software for Beginners

How to Choose the Best Knowledge Base Software for You

Before we discuss the options, you should know the methodology behind choosing our top picks and the factors we used to narrow down our decision. You should apply the same logic when determining the right choice for your business.

Data Security and Privacy Implementation

You can deploy solutions on the cloud where the data is hosted on third-party or vendor servers, or on-premise where it’s hosted on your personal servers. Both are legitimate options. So you should review the measures for each and choose the one that suits your business better. 

Verify the security provider’s compliance certification, too, just to be safe. If you choose to opt for third-party servers, make sure the company has a good reputation.

Business Objective Alignment

Every software vendor offers solutions with distinct features to cater to different business needs. You’ll find tools that are designed to be customer help desks, while others are collaborative tools to manage projects and ideas.

Make a list of your business needs, and then match your solutions to determine their suitability before making a purchase decision.

Alignment also includes how well the knowledge base software meshes with other processes and information systems already existing in your system. We’d suggest creating a roadmap for integrating the software into your systems with minimal downtime.

Configurability with Enterprise-Grade Back-Up Support

A good knowledge base software solution should be configurable and come with enterprise-grade backup support. Easy configurability will ensure the software meets your business requirements. You can customize your data in the form of searchable, shareable, and collaborative documents. 

Developing content and documents is a very time-consuming process. Precisely why losing all that would be a total nightmare–something having a backup can prevent. You’ll have greater peace of mind knowing all private and crucial data is stored safely.

Reporting Analytics and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Software with reporting metrics and analytics can tell you how users interact with the knowledge base. You can even figure out ways to optimize the content better to maintain an effective and informative online knowledge base.

Speaking of optimization, having SEO tools in a solution would make your knowledge base easily accessible. Plus, users and prospects across the globe can find your database easily, too.

Also, look for multi-language support if you want to maintain all your knowledge base articles better. That said, this feature may not be as important for a business that doesn’t offer services and solutions in multiple regions.

We used these criteria to choose the best knowledge base software. Use them to identify a vendor that can give you a clean and hassle-free user experience, and you’ll be all set to scale.

The Different Types of Knowledge Base Software

Knowledge base tools can look very different depending on how you plan to use them. For instance, software meant for internal use comes with a different set of features than those for external customer use. 

The core values remain unchanged, though.

These tools are practically the same, where content creation, storage, and searching capabilities are concerned. Below, we’ve discussed the different types of knowledge bases and how they work in more detail. 

Internal Knowledge Base Software

Internal knowledge bases are intended for, well, internal information and practices. Companies use these systems to archive repetitive tasks, business practices, and other data related to their operations. 

Team members require explicit access to internal knowledge bases either through the company email or any other authorized email.

External Knowledge Base Software

External knowledge systems work differently from internal knowledge systems as they’re hosted on a company’s website or a separate website – one that’s wholly devoted to the knowledge base. 

These bases are either curated by the company or operate like forums where users can post tips or answer other users’ questions. They don’t require a login. 

The primary purpose here is to create a knowledge base where consumers can get information, contribute, and engage with other users and the product.

Hybrid Knowledge Base Software

You can use these knowledge bases internally and externally at your discretion. Every hybrid solution comes with different functions for each type to meet your varied needs. 

This dual-sidedness is its biggest USP, with one set of features for internal use and the other for external use. It’s a cohesive knowledge base version that can be hosted on one application for internal and external use.

Open-Source Knowledge Base Software 

These knowledge bases are open to the public and can be chargeable under certain circumstances. Such software can help your organization allow developers and programmers the chance to customize the source code whenever needed.

#1 – Document360 – Best for Internal Use

Document360 is one of the most powerful knowledge base tools with a wide range of collaboration features that makes it perfect for internal use, especially for bigger teams.

For instance, it has a markdown text editor that makes editing and styling easy. You can add links, videos, images, tables, code samples, and call outs. 

It’s very similar to Google Docs. You can add the members with different roles like owner, editor, admin, reader, and draft writer–each having the right to leave comments on articles and mention other co-workers. They also have access to the complete history of particle revisions and can restore previous versions.

There are two levels of access for external and internal knowledge bases. Plus, you can also create multiple knowledge base sites for different projects. 

Document360 offers a performance overview and searches reports to users. While the former reports on how every article performs and what percentage of customers still reach out to your support team after reading your knowledge base, the latter gives you information about popular and failed searches.

Over 10,000 people from 80 countries have used Document360, including big companies like Microsoft, Harvard University, Mambu, and Customer.io.

Pricing 

Document360 has a subscription plan for every preference and budget. You can choose from four tiers:

  • Startup – $49 per project per month
  • Business – $149 per project per month
  • Enterprise – $299 per project per month
  • Enterprise Plus – Request a quote from the company

A 14-day free trial is also available to see if it is right for you.

#2 – Zendesk – Best for Larger Businesses With Technical Setups

Zendesk lets you set a feature-rich knowledge base system while simultaneously managing customer support and creating support ticketing systems. All of this can be done using the same platform, which is both time-saving and convenient.

You can create articles in the text editor and personalize your help center with custom themes. Other features include a Google Docs importer, content history and re-storing, publishing permissions, and access control.

Zendesk Support can be useful for large enterprises that find themselves dealing with hundreds of customer requests daily thanks to its knowledge base, ticketing, and chat features. Still, there are subscription plans for every need and business size, making it a great option in general. 

With its multi-language support, you can offer your knowledge base in several languages, allowing customers from other locations to easily switch between them.

Pro Tip: Integrate Zendesk Support with Zendesk Guide to get access to the Knowledge Capture app. The app can suggest relevant content based on customer questions and create new knowledge base articles directly from a support ticket.

Pricing 

The pricing on the Zendesk Guide varies depending on the number of your agents. You have four options:

  • Lite – $0
  • Professional – $15 per agent per month
  • Enterprise – $29 per agent per month
  • Answer Bot – Starting from $50 per month

You can avail of a free trial for every plan except Answer Bot.

#3 – Helpjuice – Best for Detailed Analytics

Helpjuice is a renowned SaaS platform that provides excellent knowledge base solutions, especially for companies with big teams. 

The text editor comes with various advanced and intuitive features. It also has relevant collaboration features that enable multiple authors to work on articles simultaneously without bothering each other.

You get several access levels, such as public, internal, URL-based, and specific users. Plus, there are many customizable templates for you to choose from.

We would highly recommend Helpjuice if you want insightful analytics to improve your operations. Its powerful knowledge base analytics gives you insights into article performance in all kinds of numbers and graphs, author activities, and common search terms that people use, among other benefits.

The platform is more suitable for big companies and enterprises. But if you’re a startup that can afford to spend a few hundred dollars monthly, then you should definitely consider Helpjuice’s knowledge software features and very detailed analytics.

Pricing

Helpjuice offers leading standalone knowledge management products, which also reflects in their pricing. There are four subscription plans you can choose from:

  • Starter – $120 monthly up to 4 users
  • Run-Up – $200 monthly up to 16 users
  • Premium Limited – $289 monthly up to 60 users
  • Premium Unlimited – $999 monthly for unlimited users

A 14-day free trial is available for all subscription plans.

#4 – LiveAgent – Best for Handling Multichannel Support

LiveAgent is a software that combines communication from email, calls, and social media into one unified dashboard, making it easily accessible by your whole customer support team. It also offers knowledge base support as part of its larger support software program.

After logging into your LiveAgent account, you can start creating your knowledge base by adding articles, FAQs, videos, suggestions, and feedback. You can also have community forums in your system.

Moreover, it’s fully customizable, so you have full creative freedom. You can change themes, upload logos, modify colors, or edit the HTML to keep your knowledge base in sync with your company’s website style-wise.

LiveAgent is an excellent option for all businesses, irrespective of industry niches and sizes, and can integrate with over 40 third-party applications.

Pricing

LiveAgent has four feature-rich plants available at affordable prices:

  • Free 
  • Ticket – $15 per agent per month
  • Ticket + Chat – $29 per agent per month
  • All-Inclusive – $39 per agent per month

You can also avail yourself of a free 14-day trial of LiveAgent.

#5 – ProProfs Knowledge Base – Best Free Knowledge Base Software for Beginners

A free internal knowledge base software that’s been around since 2006, ProProfs enjoys a loyal customer base that consists of Dell, Sony, DHL, and Cisco.

It’s a powerful tool with several unique features, robust integrations, and smart settings that can help you create an online knowledge base, manuals, documentation, FAQs, help sites, and more. You also have anytime-anywhere access to information through the public or private knowledge base.

You can use the platform to streamline all aspects of knowledge management from content authoring and designing to customizing and publishing–everything you want.

ProProfs is like your English teacher from high school who grades your staff. It goes through all your knowledge base content and provides you with a readability score to improve your writing and make it more informative for future use. You can also analyze your most popular documents to gain insights.

Moreover, the software is as user-friendly as a tool can be. You don’t have to worry about HTML or coding skills thanks to its compatibility with a host of powerful tools like Freshdesk, Salesforce Desk, Google Analytics, and Wufoo.

Pricing

The pricing system for ProProfs users is different from all-in-one customer service solutions. Instead of charging per user, the company charges per page. The plans are as follows:

  • Free
  • Essentials – $.30 per page per month
  • Premium – $0.50 per page per month

You can try any plan for free for 15 days.

Final Thoughts

Now more than ever there’s absolutely no reason for businesses to compromise on customer support services.

With solutions like knowledge base software available, everyone has tremendous opportunity to provide the best possible customer service and make the most of contemporary business practices to streamline employee training and business operations.

You can select any tool from my top picks depending on your business requirements. Regardless of what you choose, knowledge base software will help you shorten training times, safely store crucial company data, and supplement your service desk.

The post Best Knowledge Base Software appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

Best Contact Management Software

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

When you’re trying to make the sale, you want to be as tactful as possible. You want to talk to your customer at the exact time they want what you’re selling. This means going beyond storing their basic contact information and tracking points of contact, rebuttals, and previous sales deals.  

That’s where contact management software can be one of your most valuable sales sidekicks. It helps you streamline your sales process so that you can close sales faster, keep your most valuable customers, and grow your business.

But how do you find the right contact manager to integrate into your sales system? Well, you’ve landed exactly where you need to be. In this extensive guide, I review five of the top contact management tools on the market and walk you through the best features as well as their price points. Let’s get started. 

The Top 5 Options For The Best Contact Management Software

  1. Salesforce – Best scalable CMS
  2. Hubspot – Best free CMS
  3. Zoho – Best for simple contact management
  4. Pipedrive – Best for visual contact management
  5. Zendesk – Best for reporting and analytics

How to Choose The Best Contact Management Software For You

Choosing the best contact management software goes beyond making sure they provide the standard CMS tools scoping anywhere from sales tracking, keeping customer notes, emails, and sales history. Your business is unique, which means your CMS needs are also unique. Because of this, it’s hard to pinpoint a one-size-fits-all CMS that you can use in any given sales scenario or industry. 

You also have to consider the size of your team, your plans for scaling and revenue growth, and what functionalities are non-negotiable in your given industry.

Beyond that, there are a few specific key factors to think through when trying to make the best choice in a sea of software. Here are a few additional factors to consider that I also used for this list to make sure you’re making the best contact management investment possible. 

Reporting and Analytics Capabilities

Some contact management systems put more emphasis on sales reporting and analytics than others. This can prove to be a valuable asset or just an extra feature to your team, depending on how you uniquely handle your sales process.

These days, contact management software is increasingly robust in terms of the analytics it can gather to help you make the best sales decisions. Some of them can measure everything from live chat interactions to sales calls, email responses, and even what you’re prospective customers say on social media about you or your competitor’s product or service. 

Deciding how deep you need your contact management analytics to go will ultimately depend on your sales goals and budget. Consulting with your sales team can be a sound idea in the process of making a final decision. 

Sales Process and Software Fit

The sales process you use to sell printers isn’t necessarily the same one you’d use to sell premium car parts. This also means you’ll want to find a CMS that fits every unique point of sale your team goes through continuously.

If done right, this can mean higher ROI, shorter sales cycles, and more revenue. This is where it’s a good idea to take the time to test drive every prospective CMS that looks appealing to your sales team. Most of them have the option for a demo or a 14-day free trial. These trials exist for a reason. I highly recommend you take advantage of as many as you can.

User Experience

The more scalable integrations and features a CMS has, the more likely it is to have a big learning curve. This is important to take into account when thinking about onboarding your sales team to the system successfully. 

Besides that, the user experience for both your front-facing customer features like contact forms and chatbots and the backend features your sales team will have to interact with daily is also a crucial part of the process as far as ease of use goes. An array of powerful features is pretty much useless if your sales team continually runs into trouble using them or if integrations prove too clunky to operate properly. 

This also raises questions about what support features your preferred CMS provides and whether they offer any accompanying training options like forums, live chats, or even training webinars. 

The Different Types of Contact Management Software

Many contact management tools on the market offer lots of the same features, with a few differentiators. They can vary by industry or by business size. That’s why it’s crucial to shop around first. 

Hybrid CMS

It’s important to distinguish between contact management software (CMS) and customer relationship management (CRM). Both tools offer many of the same functions and tools that they’re often thought to be interchangeable.  

However, a CRM can give you all the functions of a CMS while also giving you additional tools for the overall sales process and scaling your business. A CMS by itself is a bit more limited in the scope of what it can do and how it can scale in terms of sales capabilities. In the end, it’s entirely up to your discretion if you ultimately decide to go for a more comprehensive CRM tool to manage your sales contacts and beyond or stick with a CMS.

Cloud-Based vs. Open-Source Software

A lot of contact management software is cloud-based, which can prove to be convenient as a subscription. This way, it doesn’t take up additional space on your sales equipment. 

Moreover, there is also open-source software to think about. If your sales team includes in-house developers that can customize your system and take it beyond the standard features, it can be a worthwhile investment. 

#1 – Salesforce — The Best Scalable CMS

Contact management software that scales with you and offers powerful tools to take you beyond the basics? There’s a tool for that. It’s called Salesforce.

The point of a CMS is to increase the efficiency of your daily operations, so you’re never blindsided by lost sales or missed relationship-building opportunities. 

Salesforce does that by offering the tools to build a good contact management base. This means contact history, survey answers, and email responses. But they take it a step further with their social data tool to keep track of what your customer is saying about products and services. 

Not only that, but Salesforce makes it easy to collaborate with everyone in your business. You can share documents, comments, analytics and insights, sales history, and any other information relevant to your ROI. 

On-the-go contact management is also possible with its mobile app. You can hop on a call armed with plenty of preemptive information about your customer from anywhere. This awesome array of tools makes Salesforce not only a contact management tool but a sales closing system, too, which is why it’s made it on my top five picks. 

Here’s a breakdown of each plan they offer:

  • Essential – $25
  • Professional – $75
  • Enterprise – $150
  • Unlimited – $300

Each plan comes with:

  • Account, contact, lead, and opportunity management
  • Email integration with Gmail and Outlook
  • Access to the Salesforce mobile app and all it’s features

The higher the tier, the more access to customizable features and tools you’ll have. Thankfully, you don’t have to jump right into a plan without testing how they work first.

Salesforce also gives you the option of testing any pricing tier first before committing. 

Try Salesforce for free first here and see what plan fits your contact management needs the best. 

#2 – Hubspot — The Best Free CMS

Hubspot stands alone as a powerful free CMS with tons of accessible tools to enhance your sales cycle from beginning to end. 

The list of contact management tasks you can do for free with Hubspot’s software is seemingly endless. You can keep track of contact website activity, deals, company insights, manage ticketing, manage ads, email tracking and notifications, and even messenger integrations.

Hubspot’s free contact management software is an excellent stepping stone toward more varied and growth-oriented contact management as your business grows since you can always upgrade to one of their paid CMS plans without having to migrate. 

If you’re getting started with contact management and want to do more with your contacts in terms of sales strategy on a budget, I recommend you start onboarding Hubstop’s free tools for a strong beginning. 

Start using Hubspot for free here. 

#3 – Zoho — The Best For Simple Contact Management

A small or mid-sized business doesn’t always have use for tools built with enterprises in mind. Zoho takes the prize for a simple yet reliable contact manager you can easily start with. 

A single dashboard unifies all your data points so you can make strategic decisions at a glance and manage everyone on your roster. It helps to think of it as your own personal yellow pages except for ten times more useful.

You can do things like adding your preferred tags to contacts to find what you’re looking for quickly, glance over at your expected revenue numbers, and see all your pending tasks.

Zoho makes it easier for you to close deals by scheduling follow-up activities and then closely monitoring results, all on an intuitive dashboard. 

Zoho’s simplicity bleeds into its pricing structure, too. Instead of charging you per seat, they charge you a set monthly fee.

Here’s a quick overview:

Free

  • Single user
  • 500 contacts
  • Ten deals

Smart – $12.50 a month billed annually

  • 25 users
  • 10,000 contacts
  • 1,000 deals
  • 120 custom fields

Ultra – $20.83 a month billed annually

  • 25 users
  • Unlimited contacts
  • Unlimited deals
  • 120 custom fields

Get started with Zoho here to go beyond managing a simple list of contacts. Zoho also offers a free 14-day trial to test before you invest.

#4 – Pipedrive — The Best For Visual Contact Management

Pipedrive is loved not just for the wide array of CMS tools it offers but because it makes the whole contact management and sales process straightforward and visual. It’s been used by over 90,000 companies in more than 170 countries and business giants like Vimeo, Amazon, and Re/Max. 

Pipedrive is a highly intuitive system that easily updates and automates contact tasks and sales calls. The easy drag-and-drop features and their clean and approachable interface make them an easily adaptable and usable system. 

With a visual dashboard in mind, they don’t falter in the features department, as it offers plenty of tools for powerful contact management like task automation, lead pipelines, and smart lists that track the last time you contacted a prospect. 

You can always try Pipedrive free for 14 days. It doesn’t hurt to spend a few days trying out the software’s ins and outs to see if they’re a good company match. Otherwise, the ricing plans break into four tiers:

  • Essential – $12.50
  • Advanced – $24.90
  • Professional – $49.90
  • Enterprise – $99

#5 – Zendesk — Best For Reporting and Analytics

Zendesk is a dynamic CMS that emphasizes the analytical and reporting aspects of contact management. 

The last thing you want is to grow a robust list of leads and then have no idea what to do with them due to lack of data. Zendesk’s analytics make it possible for you to engage in better conversations with your prospects with their pre-built analytics features.

With them, you can track rep activities, call response times, and live chat interactions. Their rich reporting features ensure you keep a finger on every touchpoint of your sales cycle. This makes it easy to increase the ROI of each sales rep on your team. 

Zendesk’s price breakdowns can get specific depending on the solutions and features you’re looking for. The contact and relationship management tiers start at $19 per seat. 

Here’s a quick overview of the pricing tiers:

  • Team – $19 per seat per month
  • Professional – $49 per seat per month
  • Enterprise – $99 per seat per month
  • Elite – $199 per seat per month

Get started managing your contacts with Zendesk here, or try their free trial first. 

Summary

Finding the right contact management system can make the difference between constant sales, shorter sales cycles, and more efficient business growth all around.

But it starts with figuring out what your sales needs are, how you go through your sales strategy, and what you need to optimize for higher ROI. Once you’ve figured out your key needs, you can start narrowing down your list of prospects. 

My top choices for effective contact management are Hubspot, because of their extensive list of free tools, and Salesforce, because of how versatile and adaptable they are. Make sure to use this review as a roadmap to make your final decision. 

The post Best Contact Management Software appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

How to Make a Website in 6 Easy Steps

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

The website you’re currently on gets over 2,530,346 visitors and generates over $1 million in annual revenue through its blog.

Now, that’s a lot of visitors and certainly a lot of money. But what did it take me to achieve this?

Taking the giant leap of faith and launching my website.

Making a website has gotten much, much easier over the years. It’s cheaper, faster, and more straightforward than ever before.

But what do you really need to build a website?

Detailed knowledge about web development, web design, and coding? Loads of capital?

Not exactly.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be amazing if you have the capital and the ability to speak fluent geek, but having a stable internet connection and just an hour or two of your time is just as good.

In this step-by-step guide, I’ll teach you how to make a website from scratch in just one afternoon. Just follow my tactics below to avoid making the same mistakes I made when starting at ground zero.

Ready? Let’s dig right in!

Your 2-Minute Cheat Sheet

Here’s your quickstart guide to making a website. Remember, this section doesn’t cover everything – just the crucial steps.

Start by choosing the right web host. We highly recommend Bluehost for speed and reliability.

Then you’ll need a domain name that represents what your website is going to be all about–a .com domain name is best because it helps you earn brownie points in the eyes of visitors.

Once you’ve registered your domain name, choose a content management system or CMS. You can consider WordPress, Joomla, or Wix, among others.

Finally, you’ll have a version of a website up and running. Congrats!

But you aren’t done yet.

Next on your list would be to market your business. Since branding is crucial today, you need to consider a logo, write your website copy, plan your marketing strategy, and definitely install Google Analytics.

Basically, the exciting stuff that you may know all about already.

Now let’s discuss how to build a website in more detail.

Step #1: Choose Web Hosting

Do you remember how your school library had those large categorized bookshelves?

A web hosting company is precisely like that bookshelf, while the library is the internet.

A hosting service provider or a web hosting company stores your website on a server, making everything you put up on your website visible on the internet and your visitors. 

These companies offer monthly or annual plans on shared servers, dedicated servers, or virtual private servers, allowing you to choose a plan according to your security and support requirements.

If your website doesn’t collect or store personal or financial data, you can always select the basic plan. So, you don’t have to shell out a lot of money.

But how do you know which web hosting company or service is right for you?

Site Speed

If you want to earn money from your website, you need to get a stable and fast web host.

Fast sites have many things going for them. They rank better, help with SEO, and maximize conversions. 

I would 100% recommend Bluehost, as it keeps loading time minimal and short.

That said, we would also advise you to avoid shared hosting or overly cheap services. 

Shared hosting means you’ll be sharing your web server with thousands of other sites. In other words, hosting speed will be slow–plus, you may even end up sharing the server with spammy sites, which you may end up with you facing the brunt of Google.

As for skipping cheap hosting services, the rule here is simple: You get what you pay for. 

The level of security, speed, and uptime wouldn’t be as great when you pay $5 per month, especially when you compare it to plans costing more than $120 per month.

I’m not telling you to buy the most expensive plan–just avoid the cheapest hosting.

Uptime Dependability

Your web hosting service should always operate properly. Otherwise, no one can access your website. 

A good hosting provider provides you an uptime guarantee–something like “We offer a 100% network uptime guarantee” or similar claims. 

For instance, if a hosting provider tells you 99% uptime, your site can be down for 3.5 days a year. But providers offering 99.99% or 99.999% will have about one hour and five minutes downtime, respectively.

Look for a provider that offers a guarantee for insurance. If your website goes down, you can be compensated with hosting credits. 

Customer Support

You’ll need quick and efficient backup support when technical difficulties arise. Chat, email, or telephone – there are various support methods. In my experience, though, email is the absolute worst. It’s much better to receive support by phone or live chat.

Choose a hosting provider that offers 24/7 support. This way, you’ll be able to get your business back online if something goes wrong within minutes.

You should also check your service level agreement (SLA) to get an idea of the kind of support you’ll receive. Looking at the company’s website will give you an idea about their support team too.

Scalability

Scalability is vital for two reasons. First, a hosting provider should grow organically with you, enabling you to upgrade when needed. Second, your website should be able to handle massive spikes in visitor numbers.

Consider the following questions to understand whether your web host is flexible:

  1. Will the web host upgrade you from an entry-level shared hosting plan to an intermediate VPS when your visitor numbers reach a certain level without any downtime?
  2. How easy is this upgrade process?
  3. Can the web host support seasonal fluctuations in web traffic seamlessly?

You should aim to get a solution that checks all three boxes.

Visit web hosting forums to learn about other people’s experiences with providers. Then compare services and prices to determine the right plan based on your needs and budget.

With a web host provider in place, you can move on to Step 2.

Step #2: Select a Unique and Relevant Domain Name

Don’t go looking for the perfect domain name–there isn’t one. Some names better than others, but ultimately, it’s a small part of your business. The content of your website remains most important.

A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. Mine is NeilPatel.com, and it reflects my personal brand, but yours can be anything you want it to be, provided it’s related to your business, topics that you want to write about, or your name.

The options are endless!

Following are a few rules of thumb to help you choose the right domain name:

  • Keep it relevant
  • Stick to short, memorable names
  • Avoid numbers
  • Choose a .com, .org, or .net
  • Make sure your chosen domain name is available

Find the perfect name is also possible using the following methods:

Method 1 – Brute Force Method

Many have the creativity to come up with the perfect domain name independently. If that’s you, you’ll need a domain name registrar to purchase the domain, and then search the availability of your prospective domain name.

Bluehost is a great place to start, as it gives you a free domain for one year with their hosting plans, and you can search availability. 

I’ll also advise you to avoid going for domain names that have hyphens (like neil-patel-marketing.com) even when you get it at a dirt-cheap price. It can get confusing.

Method 2 – Use a Tool

Some of us are not very creative, and that’s okay. 

If you get stuck when coming up with a domain name, try using name generators. Just enter one or two keywords, and the generator will look for ways to combine those words into a domain name.

In addition to speed and downtime reliability, Bluehost also allows you to check domain name availability. Visit the sign up now page and enter your domain name in the box, and voila! You’ll have a name.

Bear in mind that your preferred domain name may be unavailable. Try mixing up words, using a thesaurus, or adding a verb if it happens.

After you’ve chosen your domain name, you’ll next need a website building platform.

Step #3: Select a Good Website Building Platform or CMS

A quick Google search about website builders and CMS will leave you overwhelmed with the enormity of options.

CMS stands for Content Management System. It allows you to edit your website within the domain itself, helping you save tons of time and make everything way simpler. Customizing layouts, settings, content, creating new pages and posts, and so on, becomes easier thanks to ready-to-use website templates.

Here are a few options to consider:

  • WordPress. WordPress is number one when it comes to CMSs. It’s popular, user-friendly, and super easy to use. Moreover, the platform has over 58,000 plugins that allow you to do almost anything you want on your site. 

Keep in mind that WordPress.com and WordPress.org aren’t the same. While the former is a third-party site that allows you to create free blogs, the latter enables you to download the WordPress software to install on a website.

  • Wix. Wix is another website builder that makes things super easy. If you need a site with just a few pages, like restaurants, local businesses, freelancers, or portfolio sites, this could be a great option.

However, if you want to build a large site, Wix may lack the advanced features required for large amounts of traffic.

  • Drupal. Drupal is the most advanced website building solution, which is why it has a steeper learning curve. Though when you consider the level of customization it offers, the hard work seems worth it.

While I don’t recommend Drupal for beginners, if advance customization is a priority on your list, this is hands down the best option. You can always hire an expert to learn the ropes of the platform.

You’ll now have a website up and running. All that is left to do is to make it look great.

Step #4: Design Your Website to Make It Look Awesome

For any website builder, you’ll have to install a theme. Themes can be free and paid, but the latter is more professional-looking and gives you more flexibility when customizing your website. They aren’t excessively expensive as well and can be bought for less than $100.

WordPress and Wix have some great free themes, but if you want to try out the premium variety, you can give StudioPress a shot.

Themes are built on the basic CMS but are customizable to give your website a unique look and allow it to function differently. After all, shouldn’t an artist’s website look different from a SaaS or a restaurant?

Visual representation is incredibly important as your visitors judge your website in a fraction of a second based on how it looks. If your site looks obsolete, untrustworthy, or doesn’t match their expectations, your visitors will be gone in seconds.

Luckily, choosing a good theme is easy. 

I recommend reading reviews about the themes before choosing and never prioritizing visual appeal over functionality. 

Yes, you want your website to look good with all those fancy fonts and colors, but that shouldn’t be at the cost of functionality.

Additionally, you can always change the theme at a later date. Just don’t change it frequently, as it will harm SEO and branding. 

Step #5: Protect Your Website by Using a Child Theme

The best way to protect your website is to use a child theme. A child theme is a style sheet stored separately from the rest of your theme’s files on the webserver. Not only will it make your site hard to break, but it even protects you from redoing changes whenever you update a theme.

Keep in mind that different website builders have different names for creating a child theme. 

You build a “child theme” in WordPress, but you create a “sub-theme” in Drupal. Also, some websites don’t allow you to create a child theme, but you can always make a duplicate theme to serve as back up, as in Joomla.

Step #6: Configure Your Website and Add Relevant Content

At this point, you’re done with most of the technical part and can now finally focus on the more interesting things.

Start by setting up navigation to make it easier for visitors to know what your website is all about and grant them easy access to different parts of your website. Choose a couple of colors to represent your site without going overboard.

For instance, I chose orange and white.

Organize, separate, and highlight the important areas of your website to make it eye-catching and clear. You can also install plugins to help your website function smoothly.

Here is a quick checklist of things you need to start marketing your business, especially if you want to earn money from the website:

  • Get a logo. This will represent your brand, so be very careful here.
  • Write your website copy, including the home page, About Me page, and other basic pages.
  • Install Google Analytics code to your website to keep track of visitors.
  • Start planning your marketing strategy to figure out your visitor’s likes and dislikes.

As for the last pointer, you’ll have to understand online marketing, content marketing, and the often neglected link building to gain visibility, generate leads, and achieve your business goals from your website.

Conclusion

Making a website does have its fair share of struggles, but the more experience you gain, the better you’ll become, and the easier it’ll be.

While we’ve covered all the necessary details for building your first website, if you find yourself getting stuck anywhere, you can turn to Google or YouTube to solve your problem. 

Trust me, there are tutorials for almost everything out there on the internet.

Choosing a web host and CMS, designing your website, and marketing is just the tip of the iceberg. You can’t expect overnight success, but was just a bit of patience, you’ll see real progress.

The post How to Make a Website in 6 Easy Steps appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Using UTM Parameters

Do you know which online marketing campaign drives the maximum traffic and business to your website?

Sure, you might be keeping tabs on various referral sources inside your Google Analytics (GA) reports. But, wouldn’t it helpful to have an advanced tracking option that keeps you on top of the marketing campaign that drives maximum traffic for you?

That’s where UTM parameters come into play.

By tagging your URLs with UTMs (Urchin Tracking Module), you can understand how your visitors interact with your website.

Here’s how these UTM parameters appear at the end of your URL.

UTM parameter link example

So, what can these snippets of text tell you, after appending your URLs?

I’ll tell you the traffic aspects you can track in the next section. First, let me tell you one catch associated with them….

UTM parameters are stubborn entities that stick to your links, even when you switch to different networks and mediums.

That means if a visitor picked your link (tagged with a UTM) from Twitter to share on Facebook, it would still count as a share from Twitter.

According to research conducted by BuzzFeed , content actually spreads across the social web in a branching tree pattern.

how content spreads the ultimate guide to UTM parameters

Research by 33across found that 82% of online sharing is done by copy-pasting URLs.  This means that UTMs stick around and can give misleading data for cross-platform social media sharing.

There’s a potential solution – cleaning the URLs by stripping UTM codes at the end, once sharing on one social platform has occurred.

But, if this clean URL then gets shared on private social media (think Email, WhatsApp and Messenger), it appears as direct traffic in your analytics.

Again, this is misleading information – which becomes a part of your dark social traffic.

With this limitation, I just wanted you to understand that UTMs aren’t the end-all solution to understanding the performance of your content.

But, they sure make your marketing campaign picture less chaotic.

So, let’s start with generating custom URLs for your campaign and some UTM best practices. Then, we’ll move on to live UTM use-cases. 

But before we dig in deep, let me clearer on the basics.

What Are UTM parameters?

Here’s a succinct and super helpful definition from Kissmetrics:

“UTM parameters are simply tags that you add to a URL. When someone clicks on a URL with UTM parameters, those tags are sent back to your Google Analytics for tracking.”

Are you ready to get going on your UTM campaign and figure out how these insights might shape your marketing effort?

How to Generate URL Parameters With Google’s URL Builder

UTM parameters are a great way to figure out which URLs are most effective in attracting visitors to your content. So, is there a systematic way to append them to your URLs?

Fortunately, yes.

Say hello to Google’s URL builder — but there are now three different ones depending on whether you want to track data in GA, Google Play, or the Apple App store.

We’ll look at the one inside the Google Analytics help center (looks like the screenshot below) for setting up your URLs.

google's UTM builder example

Here are the five form fields that you need to complete:

  • Campaign Source: The platform (or vendor) where the traffic originates, like Facebook or your email newsletter.
  • Campaign Medium: You can use this to identify the medium like Cost Per Click (CPC), social media, affiliate, or QR code.
  • Campaign Term: You’ll use this mainly for tracking your keywords during a paid AdWords campaign. You can also use it in your display ad campaigns to identify aspects of your audience.
  • Campaign Content: If you’re A/B testing ads, then this is a useful metric that passes details about your ad. You can also use it to differentiate links that point to the same URL.
  • Campaign Name: This is just to identify your campaign. Like your website or specific product promotion. Here’s an example screenshot with the campaign names you might see when you navigate to Traffic Sources >> Sources >> Campaigns.
UTM parameters traffic source data

You can also use the Effin amazing UTM Builder Chrome extension (now called UTM.io) to create UTMs. It auto-populates the URL and saves your most used terms as presets.

UTM parameters builder example

UTM Parameter Best Practices

Here are three best practices that you must follow for tagging your URLs. It will help you easily identify where traffic comes from.

1. Create Standard Naming Convention for UTM Parameters

If you stay consistent, you can avoid a lot of confusion and ensure that your UTMs are reportable.

First, use dashes over underscores, percentage (representation for spaces inside GA), and plus signs in your URLs. Google algorithm doesn’t penalize you for using them and they work better – Matt Cutts explains why here.

Second, stay consistent with lowercase throughout all of your campaigns. For example,

utm_source=LinkedIn is different from utm_source=linkedin.

Changing to uppercase, camel case, or any other capitalization gives you an additional responsibility of remembering this convention. So, it’s better to stick with lowercase and not let human error creep in.

Third, keep your URLs clean, descriptive, non-redundant and easy to read.

For example, you might mistakenly put the same values inside source and medium parameters.

UTM parameters example

Or, you can put the specific originating aspect under medium (like the example below), but still manage to confuse yourself with the double use of ‘facebook.’

UTM parameters example

The best way is to simply make the UTMs flow like a normal sentence sans any redundancy. See how easy it is to decipher your campaign details in the URL below.

The traffic source is Facebook with post as the medium and a part of the new admin dashboard 2014 April campaign.

UTM parameters example

Here is a visual summary of the points I just mentioned.

best practices for UTM parameters

Note: Once you’ve taken sufficient time to create data-rich URLs, I recommended that you shorten them, using tools like bit.ly or Google Link Shortener. A long and bulky URL does not make for a good user experience and might even come across as spammy.

Also, the UTM parameters are visible to the users in their address bars. So, be transparent and don’t use values that you don’t want to be seen by the user.

2. Track Your UTM Links Inside a Spreadsheet

Keeping a record of the tagged links will ensure that your marketing team stays on the same page. You can use this free spreadsheet template by Sam Wiltshire or this free link tagging tool by Rafflecopter to get started.

Additionally, create a naming convention guide document that lays out clear instructions for tagging links. This can be an iterative and expanding guide – if you come across a new scenario, you can add the example to this document.

3. Next Steps After Establishing a UTM System

The most important aspect for a business isn’t the number of clicks and traffic generated by various sources; it’s revenue.

So, once you know your way around UTMs, it’s useful to connect your tracking data with your CRM. It shows you a clear picture of how various online marketing channels are affecting your bottom line.

Alternatively, you can also set up goals inside GA. For example, if you want to measure reader loyalty and engagement, I show you the process in this article.

I recommend, though, that you track more concrete conversion-focused metrics, like leads generated and email signups.

Alright, now that you’re aware of these best practices, let’s talk about when to use UTM parameters.

Where to Use UTM Parameters

Here are tjree UTM parameter use cases you can implement right away.

1. Insert UTM Parameters to Social Media Links

Suppose you want to find your highest ROI-yielding social media platform and which links on that platform perform the best, traffic-wise. Then, UTMs can help you analyze your social media referral traffic.

For example, on Twitter, you have four options to promote your links – a regular tweet, a promoted tweet, a website field, a and profile/bio description.

Barring the profile link (since it displays the first part of the URL you enter), you can track all of these link clicks separately.

UTM parameters example of link

Here are example UTM parameter strings, based on Twitter with different medium values.

?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=profile&utm_campaign=email

?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=email

?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=promoted&utm_campaign=email

Once you’ve generated a custom URL, you can shorten the link, using shorteners I mentioned earlier and save the precious 160 character real estate.

Similarly, on Facebook, you can create separate UTM links for promoted posts, profile contact info, posts in a group, organic posts from your page and more. Kristin Hines shares UTM parameters for major social media here.

Once you start getting data and if you create goals (as I mentioned in the best practice 3 above), then you’ll get an enriching GA report like the one below.

UTM parameters data example

2. Test Clicks From Your Email Newsletters

Want to understand the parameters inside your newsletter that contribute the majority of traffic to your website?

Then, appending UTMs to your URLs can help.

Let’s look at an example instant update email by Redfin.

UTM parameters example in email

All of the links inside the above email share these UTM parameters:

utm_campaign : instant_listings_update

utm_medium : email

utm_source : myredfin

But, Redfin has correctly set up different utm_content values for all of their links (the screenshot above displays the unique values for each link). So, even when the subscribers of the myredfin list go to the same page, redfin knows the link they have clicked.

Now, let’s look at a bad example of UTM.

Here’s an email from Pinterest, recommending certain boards to follow.

UTM parameters example from Pinterest

As you can see, every board has an author, 5 images and a follow board CTA.

All of the above links share the following UTM parameters:

utm_campaign : weekly_wkly_130722

utm_medium : email

utm_source : sendgrid.com

Note that the utm_camapign value at 13 07 22 represents the date it was sent on (22/07/2013). It’s a useful piece of information.

But, other than that, Pinterest fails to impress with its UTM implementation.

  • There’s no way to find out the specific images and CTA buttons inside the email where the audience clicks. So, Pinterest doesn’t even know which of their “Follow Boards” buttons work well. The utm_content can be employed to gain this insight.
  • The utm_campaign value adds a confusing overhead with double usage of ‘weekly’ and ‘wkly.’ And, sendgrid.com as utm_source does not add any value, from an analytics perspective. It’s the email service provider that Pinterest uses and they are already aware of that.

I recommend that check out the UTM analysis of 8 more companies, by Puru Choudhary, here.

You can further implement UTM parameters inside your email signature to track if it leads visitors to your website.

Gniewko Oblicki created a company-wide signature template, appending UTM parameters. Here’s how it looks in CodeTwo Exchange Rules HTML editor.

UTM parameters case study

He ran five footer campaigns in the company and found that users engaged incredibly well on their website. Here’s the GA report showing the results of 1682 sessions initiated by the five campaigns.

utm parameters case study

3. Track the Most Effective Banner Advertisements

If you regularly perform paid marketing, then I am sure you would like to know the banner ads that perform the best.

With UTMs, you can not only find out the external website that brings the most traffic, but you can even find out the banner placement, design, size, color and banner types that are most effective.

For example, suppose you use two banner sizes, 300px and 600px, for advertising on a third-party website, Koozai.

Here’s how the UTM might look if it is 300 px wide.

UTM parameters link example

Here’s how it would look when it is 600 px wide.

UTM parameters example

Once you’ve tagged both sizes, you can easily find the one that’s more effective and double down on it.

Kristi uses 320px banner ads in her blog’s sidebar. And, here’s how they perform against other clicks on her eBook.

UTM parameters traffic insights

Once again, I want to emphasize that if you’ve set up goals inside GA, then you can find the most valuable piece of info that affects your business.

For example, Kristi navigated to ‘Goal Set 1’ to find out how her banner ad converts to sales. And, she can compare it with her eBook sales through other links.

UTM parameters example of traffic growth

Conclusion

UTM parameters provide extremely valuable insights into your traffic. You can uncover a goldmine of behavioral data to help boost your sales and refine your overall marketing strategy. 

To recap here, to create UTM parameters for your links, use Google’s URL builder. It’ll help you start campaign tracking. And, remember to keep the best practices in mind as you do so.

Have you ever used UTM parameters for campaign tracking? Did it lead to insights about building a custom campaign? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.  

The post The Ultimate Guide to Using UTM Parameters appeared first on Neil Patel.

Online Marketing

The Best Website Builders (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.

Finding the right website builder is like choosing a life partner or career, only more important.

Whether you are setting up a small non-profit or are itching to take over the world with your handmade jewelry, the quality of your site will be a key factor in your success.

With a good website builder, someone with no technical experience can spin up an amazing site in no time.

Knowing what’s good is the first step, but the top options on the market have different strong points. The next step is figuring out which of the best website builders is the right fit for your needs.

I’ve been building websites for years. Let me walk you through the different types of website builders and how to choose between them.

After that, you can use my in-depth reviews of the top four options to make an informed decision.

The Top 4 Best Website Builders

  1. Wix — Best for general use
  2. Weebly  — Best for beginners
  3. Shopify — Best for ecommerce
  4. WordPress — Best for content management

The Different Types of Website Builders

Why are you starting a website?

There are a multitude of reasons to want to start a website and they will affect the services and features you will need. 

For instance, is your goal to set up shop as an ecommerce entrepreneur, dropshipping items from abroad? 

Do you want to start a simple blog documenting your travel adventures?

Think deeply about what you want now, but also your roadmap for the future. Once you commit to a particular website builder, it can be difficult to change later on. 

After getting a clear idea of your needs, you will then need to consider the different types of web builders available. 

Keep in mind that many website builders fit multiple categories, serving each need to a different extent. 

General-purpose website builders

There are thousands of reasons to create a website, and nowadays, it seems like every person and organization has one. 

To service such great demand, some website builders have taken a holistic approach in terms of appeal and their tools.

For example, these sites typically have a lot of features that other types of website builders have, such as the ability to blog.

However, as they are multi-purpose in nature, you cannot expect these features to not be as in-depth and robust as more specialist platforms. 

Some use cases for general website builders include:

  • Information websites – If your goal is to simply host information online, these general website builders can be quite useful. For instance, you may have a kitchen renovation company and want to start reaching potential customers online. 
  • Personal branding – Managing your personal brand is becoming more important every day. It is particularly important for independent workers and entrepreneurs as well as for employees applying for jobs.

Here’s a good example of how an organization can use their website to push their brand identity.

General-purpose website builders are great for creating and maintaining an online presence. Keep all your readers, followers, and customers up-to-date.

Content management platforms 

Content is what drives the web, and one of the oldest yet still most relevant forms of content is the blog post. 

Considering blogging is such a crucial part of the web, some website builders have been designed with a content management system in mind.

In the case that you want to get your thoughts out there; ideally, in a serious and sustained way, a blog website builder may be the right option for you. Use cases include:

  • Professional writing – This goes without saying, but if you want to be a writer, you actually have to write. Typically, you need a place where you can showcase your talent. Whether you are a business writer or journalist, maintaining a personal blog is important.
  • Thought leadership – In many industries, it is useful for people of prominence to share their unique insights on a public platform. Setting up a blog with a strong content management system helps to get ideas out in a sustained way. 

Here’s a not-entirely-random example of a content-centric website.

Essentially, blog website builders are a good choice if you plan on writing long term and it is one of the things you focus on. 

Ecommerce platforms 

Another type of website builder are ecommerce platforms.

As you might expect, these are perfectly designed to help people build and manage online stores through the ability to list goods, fulfill orders, and take payments. 

These website builders are useful for:

  • Side hustles – Perhaps you are interested in selling some goods in addition to your day job and don’t have the time to dedicate to the operational side of things. These website builders are great to solve this problem, as they handle the backend of your business. 
  • Digitizing your store – Maybe you already have a brick and mortar store and are looking to make your stock available online. In this situation, this type of website builder will take all the technical complications out of setting up online.

An example of an ecommerce website.

How to Choose The Best Website Builder For You 

Now it is time to take a closer look at some of the specific features to consider when evaluating a website builder.

Remember that although some website builders may fall into the same category, each may suit your needs differently.

For instance, you may be setting up an online shop and your primary consideration may be a low learning curve, whereas somebody else may be thinking about a platform that can allow them to scale easily. 

Here are some features you should consider.

Ease of use 

Things to consider:

  • Intuitiveness – Some website builders are easy to use and have simple interfaces with drag and drop functionality. This is useful as you won’t have to Google changes you want to make with the tool.
  • Learning curve – If you are not great with technology, it is unlikely you will want to spend hours learning how to set up a website. Some website builders are much easier than others.
  • Setup time – Similarly, you may want to get your site up and running immediately, particularly if it is an event you want to promote. 
  • Ongoing management – Needing external help to manage your site defeats the purpose of a website builder. It must be easy to manage in terms of updates. 

If you are new to setting up online or are time-constrained, how easy it is to get started will likely be your primary concern. 

Scalability 

Things to consider:

  • Custom code – Website builders use standardized code, which are the building blocks of a website. These allow you to easily create a site with various features. In some cases, however, you may need your own custom features and the ability to write your own code.
  • Migration – At some point, you may want to host your website yourself. However, not all website builders allow you to easily make this move. In some cases, you may have to redevelop your site from scratch.
  • Integrations – You will probably create new goals as your website grows, such as running ads or embedding social feeds. Some website builders are more compatible with other platforms and are easier to integrate.

You should think strongly about scalability if you are already an established business looking to create an online presence. This is particularly true if you are already selling products at scale in the real world. 

Startups in the fundraising process and are looking to scale fast or even change core features of their product should also take caution here. 

Support 

Things to consider: 

  • Support channels – You will need to consider the different ways you can get in touch with support teams such as live chat, email, and phone. In-depth FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) are also important.
  • Responsiveness – If your site breaks at 5 PM eastern time, but their support only works European hours, then you are in trouble. Some teams may also respond much quicker than others. 
  • Engagement – Unfortunately, some support teams are useless. Maybe they are being paid very little so they do not care, or they are overworked. Either way, you need support that can actually solve your problems.

If you plan on running a site with a lot of visitors and it happens to go down, the last thing you want is an unresponsive support team. This is especially true if you plan on driving a lot of traffic at a given time.

A website builder with a strong support team is also useful if you are just getting started online, considering you may still get stuck, even with simple interfaces. 

Price 

Things to consider: 

  • Cost – Some website builders can be more costly, with some reaching upwards of $299 a month (for landing pages, for instance). Others are permanently free with the option to upgrade for a small monthly fee. 
  • Trial – Before you commit, it can be useful to take advantage of a trial offer to play around with the tools. You will likely find that some are a better fit than others.
  • Hosting & domain – Most website builders will host your website on the web, which is typically included in the price. Some may also offer a domain as part of the package. Otherwise, you would have to purchase these yourself. 

If you plan on making money from your website, either by selling products directly or to capture leads, then price should not be a key consideration for you. Make an investment in the best service for your needs. 

However, if you just want to set up a small information site, then you could do with the cheapest options. 

Generally, website builders that have feature depth are typically more expensive as they solve more specific problems. 

Features 

Things to consider: 

  • Ecommerce shop – If you plan to sell things online, you need a website builder that allows you to do so. Consider sub-features such as payment processing and product catalogs.
  • SEO – Some website builders have tools that allow you to rank better in Google searches.
  • Marketing tools – You may also need other marketing tools, such as forms, pop-ups, and chat boxes.  
  • Community – In some cases, you may want to expand your website into a community where people can communicate and network (otherwise known as a forum).
  • Analytic tools – Website builders may also offer analytic tools that help track traffic on your website or at least integrate with other tools that do.
  • Niche features – Perhaps there are some special features you are looking for such as the ability to set up a crowdfunding campaign in addition to having a standard website.

The features of a website builder are the main thing to consider when deciding which route to follow. This is because they will have the most impact on your specific goals.

For instance, if you want to set up a landing page for a specific product, trying to optimize with a generic site builder will be a pain. It will probably lack the in-depth analytic tools that a dedicated landing page builder would have. 

Also keep in mind that there are some features that you may not need now, but you could need in the future, such as if you plan on running paid ads to your blog posts. 

Design 

Things to consider: 

  • Themes and templates – Website builders allow you to start with a predesigned website that is customizable to various extents. Some themes serve different purposes in terms of branding and utility. 
  • Mobile-friendliness – You will need to ensure that your website builder automatically makes your website easy for mobile users, typically with responsive design.
  • Customization – It is likely you will want to make some changes to your template. You will need to consider the various customization tools available. 

Regardless of your goal, you should always be concerned with providing a great user experience to the people who are visiting your site. It simply makes logical sense – if your site is hard to navigate, people won’t get the most out of it.

The actual design and branding are important too. For instance, some designs are more corporate while others are more welcoming. There may be a design template that really suits your particular brand.

And if you are selling something, you need to ensure that the design is optimized to increase conversions.

Now that you have a good understanding of the types of website builders and the features to look out for, it is time to take a look at some of the best website builders on the market. 

#1 – Wix — Best for General Use 

If there is one website builder that you have likely heard of, it is probably Wix. The effort that Wix puts into their marketing is phenomenal. Wix is so successful, in fact, that they have featured high profile celebrities like Jason Stratham in some of their campaigns. 

Not only that, but Wix has results to show for it too, with over 160 million websites hosted by the company. 

Wix is the best website builder if you don’t have a specific need in mind. Even in the opposite case, this is true, such as if you have broad needs and are aiming for different functionality. 

Wix is truly the “jack of all trades” in the sense that it does everything well, but nothing is truly exceptional. However, it serves its purpose for the average person looking to set up a website.

Pros of Wix 

Here are the best things about Wix:

  • Powerful app market – Wix has an enormous amount of add on features that you can access through their app market. Want to book meetings directly on your site? They have got you covered. Want a live chat pop up box? Simply click and install it on your site.
  • Covers every need – Wix covers most of the needs of people looking to set up a website. This includes setting up an ecommerce store, blog, or even just a simple information website.
  • Lots of templates – Wix has a wide variety of templates that you can choose from to get your website up and running quickly. Their templates are well designed and take the user experience into consideration. 

Cons of Wix 

Here are the weaker parts about Wix:

  • The user interface can be difficult – Although Wix is aimed at the mass market, the user interface can be quite tricky especially if you want to customize your site. You will often find yourself having to Google how to complete certain tasks. .
  • No migration – A huge downside with Wix is that you’re locked in, so you cannot take the code of your website somewhere else later on. This can cause problems if you quickly need to scale your business. 
  • Jack of all trades, master of none – Wix’s main strength is also its weakness. Although it has many features, it cannot compete with the quality of niche website builders.

Who should use Wix?

  • Small businesses – If you are offering a service such as legal advice or marketing, Wix is a solid website builder that will handle all of your needs. If your focus is selling products online, avoid Wix. 
  • Freelancers and professionals – In a similar manner, Wix is great for professionals who want to showcase their personal brand. It will allow you to cover all the potential bases of highlighting your portfolio, such as taking meetings and even blogging.

Try Wix for free today.

#2 – Weebly — Best for Beginners 

Next, we have Weebly, which is a drag and drop website builder that prides itself on its ease of use. Weebly currently powers over 50 million websites and has been around since 2006, which is a huge achievement and testament to how effective the platform is. 

So, what has caused Weebly to be consistently favored among users? It comes down to the simple user experience and short learning curve. Weebly does not bombard you with features or a complicated interface.

Instead, it does not scare you away and allows you to get straight to the point of setting up your website.

Pros of Weebly

Here are the best things about Weebly:

  • Simple and easy to use – Weebly has a simple interface with drag and drop mechanics that just work. Everything feels natural and intuitive. It also helps that they have an onboarding mechanic with email and popup explanations when you get started.
  • Migration – If you decide you want to host your own website, Weebly makes it easy for you to take your site off their platform. 
  • Affordable – Compared to other generalist website builders, Weebly has one of the most affordable pricing structures. 
  • Great customer support – Weebly has a powerful customer support team who are active every day of the week. They typically reply within 1 day by email or even quicker via their live chat or phone lines.

Cons 

Here are the weaker parts about Weebly

  • Lacks diversity of function – The tradeoff of using Weebly is that it is not as powerful as Wix. For example, there are fewer features. In addition, some features such as their content management system and analytic tools are much weaker than competitors. 
  • Limited customization – As Weebly uses a drop and drop interface and themes, the customization can be quite limited. Wix also has this problem, but they have more tools at their disposal to solve this issue.
  • Scaling problems – Weebly is simply not a great platform if you have plans to grow your website in a significant way: it is just a simple website builder for day to day users. 

Who should use Weebly?

  • People who need simple websites – As a rule, you should use Weebly if you are not very tech-savvy and want to set up a simple website quickly. One category of users would be associations or clubs who want to set up an information site about their group.

Try Weebly for free today.

#3 – Shopify — Best for Ecommerce

If you plan on selling any type of product online – from jewelry to electric scooters – then your best bet will be to use a dedicated ecommerce platform and website builder. 

Without a doubt, the number one in this category is Shopify. The platform powers over 1 million merchants in 175 different countries, and is the third-largest online retailer in the US, trailing behind only Amazon and eBay. 

The Shopify software represents a complete end to end platform that allows you to set up, manage, and promote a store online. You can easily list your goods for sale, take payments, and fulfill orders – all under one roof. 

Pros 

Here are the best things about Shopify:

  • Ecommerce specialty – The main draw of Shopify is that it is a niche website builder focused on setting up an ecommerce store. This means that all their features and processes are geared toward that end, resulting in a powerful platform that can help maximize sales. 
  • Security – If you are going to be handling transactions, you need ways to keep your site safe and customer data secure. Shopify stores have strong cybersecurity measures in place which a self-hosted website would typically lack. 
  • Integrated sales channels – Shopify has strong integrations with other platforms, such as Facebook and Amazon. This allows you to streamline your sales by managing your catalog on each platform under one roof. 

Cons 

Here are the weaker aspects of Shopify:

  • Niche focus on ecommerce – Because the focus is on ecommerce, Shopify lacks some of the features and finesse of other website builders. For instance, their content management system is very limited compared to WordPress.
  • Transaction fees + monthly fees – With each sale you make on Shopify, there is a transaction fee that ranges from 2.4% – 2.6%. Combined with payment provider fees, this can eat into your margin. 

Who should use Shopify?

  • Brick and mortar stores – If you have an in-person store and are looking to sell your products online, Shopify will offer you a solid footing into the digital world.
  • Ecommerce startups – Entrepreneurs that are starting new brands or drop shipping will also benefit from the quick end to end set up that Shopify offers.

#4 – WordPress — Best for Content Management

One of the oldest and most reliable website builders is WordPress. The platform has come a long way since it launched in 2003 and is the most popular content management system on the web today.

In fact, WordPress powers a whopping 37.6% of all websites. 

As WordPress was around during the earlier days of the web, its focus revolved around content, which was the most prominent form of website at the time. 

It maintains that focus to this day, with WordPress having arguably the best content management system out of all the different website builders.

An important caveat is that WordPress is divided into platforms:

  • WordPress.org – This is the open-source (free version) of WordPress that comes with greater flexibility, but is harder for non-technical users.
  • WordPress.com – This is the paid version. You can get help with the installation of themes and management but is generally less customizable.

Pros 

Here are the best things about WordPress:

  • You have full control – Unlike other website builders, WordPress is fully customizable as the site is developed directly with code, as opposed to drag and drop interfaces. This means that you have much more flexibility in terms of design and function.
  • Robust blogging and CMS – WordPress is built front the ground up with content in mind. It has some of the best tools for publishing and managing content including team management, advanced scheduling, and categorizations. 
  • Lots of plugins – There are over 52,000 plugins available for WordPress. You can measure and boost your SEO with plugins such as YoastSEO, or you could even add a new function such as a shopping cart. 

Cons 

Here are the weaker aspects of WordPress:

  • You may need help – As your WordPress site is developed with code, you will likely need help to install and update your WordPress theme. This can come with a hefty cost, particularly if you want ongoing changes.
  • Learning curve – If you want to manage and update your site yourself, it can take some time to learn how to do so. Managing and scheduling posts are relatively easy, but updating how your site looks or installing a plugin is much more difficult.
  • Security issues – As your WordPress site is self-hosted, you are more vulnerable to cybersecurity issues. Some of the plugins for WordPress also can act as a risk as well. 

Who should use it

  • Bloggers – If writing is your main focus, then WordPress is a great choice. The platform is designed for bloggers, optimizing content management, and SEO. WordPress will allow you to scale and get the most out of your content.
  • Content centric businesses – Likewise, if you are building a business that is content-heavy, such as a new website, WordPress will help you to manage the operational side of content production much easier. 

Think about your goals

An important thing to keep in mind is that the website builders listed above can serve multiple functions, so this article has provided an overview for you, you will need to look into the details of each platform. 

The best choice for you will come down to both your needs at the moment and where you plan on taking your website in the future. 

After reading reviews like this one, make sure you take a step back and put your particular needs at the forefront of the decision before you commit. 

The post The Best Website Builders (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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