Tag: SEO

ecommerce

How To Create an Ecommerce Website with WordPress

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What would you do with an additional $39,000 in your bank every month?

Well, if you plan on creating an ecommerce website, you can expect to earn this MASSIVE amount if you do it right. 

There are, of course, ecommerce sellers who haven’t been able to make that much, but with the right ecommerce strategies and best practices, this might become your reality.

But before you can start earning, you need to first own and set up an ecommerce website.

Read on as I show you a step-by-step tutorial to create an ecommerce website with WordPress.

Your Two-Minute Cheat Sheet

Want to know how to create an ecommerce website in a nutshell? I got you.

First, you’ll have to choose a domain name and a web hosting provider that gives you your chosen domain name for free.

Since your web hosting provider determines your WordPress store’s loading speed, uptime, and other functionality, I highly recommend opting for Bluehost.

This is hands down one of the best web hosting providers that aren’t only cheap and reliable but also offer a ton of freebies like a free domain name. Choose the Basic plan and register your domain name before finalizing your deal.

Once you finish setting up your Bluehost account, install WordPress. Another reason why I recommend Bluehost is because it can install WordPress on your behalf. All you need to do is click a few buttons, and you’ll have your WordPress site up and running.

At this point, you’ll have a standard WordPress website. But to convert it into an online store, you need to install an ecommerce plugin.

I’ve chosen WooCommerce, but you can opt for other options that suit your needs better. You have to set up your store next, which includes tasks like creating store pages, setting up a locale, understanding sales tax, and selecting a payment method.

Once your store is ready, you’ll then add your products or services. After all, it wouldn’t be an online store if you don’t have anything on sale, would it?

Finally, all that’s left to do is select an awesome theme for your WordPress ecommerce store and install additional plugins that help extend your online store’s capabilities. This is based on your needs and preferences, so you can choose whatever you like.

I personally like ThemeForest for themes. Also, you can check out WordPress‘s plugin directory for installing extensions like Yoast SEO, Jetpack, and Contact Form 7. Trust me, it can work wonders for supercharging your store!

That was all for your cheat sheet. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of building an ecommerce store on WordPress.

Step 1: Get a Domain Name and Web Hosting Provider

Whether you choose to start an online store or any other kind of website, you need a domain and web hosting service.

Your domain name is your store’s unique address on the web. For instance, my website’s domain name is NeilPatel.com.

Web hosting, on the other hand, is like a remote computer that stores your website and then serves it to people whenever they visit it. 

There are several excellent WordPress hosting providers, but my go-to choice is Bluehost simply because it’s reliable, offers fast loading speeds, and includes a free domain name in its already cheap subscription plans. 

Here’s what you need to do:

Choose Your Bluehost Subscription Plan

Head over to Bluehost, and click on the huge Get Started button. 

From there, you’ll be directed to a page that shows you four hosting plan options:

Since it’s your first time launching an ecommerce website, I recommend selecting the Basic plan that costs just $2.75 per month and includes a free domain (for one year).

Pick Your Domain Name

Next up, you have to pick a domain name from your new online store. 

Click on Create a new domain, and type in your prospective domain name. Once you do this, Bluehost will automatically display a list of available or similar domain extensions.

My advice would be to go for a .com extension as it looks more professional and can help you win some extra brownie points in your visitor’s eyes.

Alternative Option:

If you already have a registered domain with a third-party domain registrar, you can continue using that instead of creating a new one. 

Click on Use a domain you own option and select Next. Then follow the prompts to transfer your domain from wherever it is now to Bluehost.

Enter Your Account Details and Finalize the Deal

Fill out your personal information to create your Bluehost account. You’ll also have to confirm your plan details and select relevant add-ons (these cost extra), and then finalize the deal.

At this stage, you’ll be asked to select the number of years you want to sign up for Bluehost. While the minimum commitment is one year, I recommend choosing the three-year option as it gets you the best bang for your buck. 

Three years may look like a long commitment, but considering the excellent service of Bluehost, it’s a great deal. Plus, you want your ecommerce store to be around long enough to make you lots of money, right? Either way, Bluehost offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. So you can always get a refund if you change your mind.

Finally, all that’s left to do is pay your subscription fee. You can either pay via credit card or look for other payment options.

At this stage, you now have a domain name and a hosting plan to go with it.

Step 2: Install WordPress on Bluehost

This is the start of your journey with WordPress, where you’ll install WordPress on your hosting account. Since it’s absolutely free, you don’t have to pay any installation charges.

Moreover, Bluehost will do the installation for you! 

After signing up with Bluehost, you’ll receive a confirmation email that has your login credentials. Use this information to log in to Bluehost, and then the hosting service will guide you through the process of installing WordPress. 

You can also go to your Bluehost dashboard to install WordPress. Click on My Sites, followed by Create Site. The installing process will start right away. 

Once the installation is complete, type in the name for your website, followed by the username and password. 

With a blank WordPress website ready, now is the time to convert it into a fully functional ecommerce store.

Step 3: Select an Ecommerce Plugin

One main difference between a WordPress ecommerce website and a standard WordPress website is the former lets you sell products directly from the website. 

Now, as there are no native WordPress ecommerce features, you’ll have to install an ecommerce plugin to extend this functionality to your website. 

My favorite? WooCommerce.

Here’s how you install the WooCommerce plugin:

#1 Navigate to your WordPress dashboard, and click on Plugins, followed by Add New

#2 Type in ‘WooCommerce’ in the search field located at the top right-hand corner of your screen. 

#3 Click on the Install Now button right next to the plugin. After a few seconds, this button will turn blue and will read Activate. Click on it.

You’ll now see WooCommerce’s on-screen launch/setup wizard that will walk you through the rest of the remaining setup process. As you would expect, the whole thing is super simple and hardly takes a few minutes.

Other ecommerce Plugin Options:

While WooCommerce is my go-to, you can opt for other plugins too. Here are two other plugins that you can consider:

WP ecommerce

Despite not being full-featured as WooCommerce, many people consider WP eCommerce as a robust choice for creating an online store with WordPress. Its features include product pages, shopping cart, checkout facility, data reporting capabilities, and inventory management.

While WP eCommerce is free, you can opt for paid extensions to add to its functionality. You can purchase premium payment gateways like Stripe and Authorize.net.

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads is specifically designed to help you sell digital products. It lets you create discount codes, avail of full tracking and data reporting of downloads, sales, and other stats, as well as place restrictions on downloads. So if you aren’t planning on selling physical products, this plugin might be a good choice for you.

You can also add new features to your storefront with extensions, along with payment processes like PayPal. Again, this plugin is free and offers paid extension options in case you want to add more functionality to your online store.

Step 4: Setting Up WooCommerce

This step has multiple tasks that involve you creating essential store pages, setting up a locale, understanding sales tax implications, and choosing a payment method. 

Let’s discuss them in more detail below:

Creating Important Store Pages

Online stores can be very specific, which is why you also need specific store pages for them to function properly. Precisely why the first step in the WooCommerce Wizard is to create these pages.

  • The Shop page will display all your products.
  • The Cart page is where your customers can adjust their order before proceeding to checkout.
  • The Checkout page is where your customers can choose the shipping/delivery method and make the final payment.
  • The My Account page is like a profile page for registered customers that shows them their order history, contact information, and other details.

All you need to do is simply follow the prompts, and WooCommerce will set up these pages for you.

Setting Up Your Locale

The locale is another crucial part of your online store setup–basically, it tells where in the world your store is based. Even online stores need to have this information set up. Your locale defines your country of origin, operating language, and preferred currency and units of measurement.

Select Continue when done setting up your locale.

Going through WooCommerce’s Sales Tax Module

In most cases, you’ll be charging sales tax, for which you have to check the main tax box. 

Make sure you go through the whole module and understand the tax rates based on your store location.

Select Continue when done.

Choose a Payment Method

WooCommerce accepts both online and offline payments. While PayPal is what I recommend, you can also choose from Stripe, COD, and bank transfer payments, among other options.

Select Continue when done.

Step 5: Adding Your Products or Services for Sale

To officially launch your store, you’ll need products, services, or downloads—whatever you sell—in your database.

Go to your dashboard, and click on Products followed by Add Product.

You’ll then see a classic WordPress content editing screen that includes fields for product name, product description, product data section, short description, product categories and tags, product image, and product gallery.

WooCommerce will show you handy tooltips to explain the purpose of every field, so you know exactly what everything is for. Click on the Publish button to add your products. 

Once you finish adding goods to your database, the end result should look something like this:

Voila! You’ve now added products (or whatever it is that you sell) to your WordPress website.

Step 6: Choose a Theme for Your WordPress Online Store

Your theme determines how your web content appears to your visitors. The beauty of WordPress is you can change and customize your themes whenever you want, giving you a completely unique design that sets your store apart from your competitors.

Beware: The customization option is only suitable for a coding pro. So if this isn’t you, it’s better to select a ready-made theme that most closely resembles your vision.

You can visit a third-party site like ThemeForest to get started. There are hundreds of thousands of themes, so you’ll never find yourself running out of options.

Installing a Theme from the Official WordPress.org Directory

#1 Go to your WordPress dashboard and click on Appearance and then Themes.

#2 Click on the Add New button to browse through the theme selection. You can also demo a few to test out how your store looks like.

#3 Click on the Install button for the theme you like. After a few seconds, the button will read Activate. Select it, and the theme is yours.

Installing a Premium Theme

#1 Download the .zip file of your chosen theme. 

#2 Log in to your WordPress dashboard, and go to Appearance, and then Themes.

#3 Click on the Add New option, which will direct you to the WordPress theme dashboard. 

#4 Select the Upload Theme option. Choose the .zip file from your computer after the prompt.

You’ll see a link to activate your theme after a success message. 

Top Tip: WooCommerce also has its own theme called Storefront. Not only does it work well with the plugin (duh!), but it also looks pretty sleek. You can simply stick to this if you don’t want any extra hassle.

Step 7: Extend WooCommerce’s Functionality

Another impressive feat of commerce is you have hundreds of extensions and plugins available to extend its capabilities. Here’s a list of a few extensions that are worth installing on your site:

  • Payment Gateways. These extensions let you accept more payment methods in addition to PayPal.
  • Shipping Extensions. These extensions can be useful if you want to integrate your store with the official shipping rates from companies like FedEx and UPS without extra effort.
  • WooCommerce Subscription. These extensions allow customers to subscribe to your product or services by paying a predetermined fee.
  • TaxJar. This extension puts your sales tax on autopilot.
  • Accounting Extensions. These extensions integrate your online store with an accounting tool of your choice.
  • WooCommerce Bookings. These extensions let customers book appointments for services directly from your site.

In addition to this, you can also install other WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO, UpdraftPlus, Contact Form 7, and MonsterInsights. You can also check out my comprehensive guide for the best WordPress plugins to learn more and pick the ones you need most. 

Conclusion

Congratulations! You now have an ecommerce website with WordPress.

You may have realized how creating your personal ecommerce store with WordPress isn’t difficult—all you need is the right guidance. I hope my guide will help you kickstart your ecommerce business and get the money rolling in.

Keep updating your online store by adding engaging content that converts. Don’t forget to optimize your product descriptions to rank higher organically too.

It’s a whole process in the end. So you have to get every step right to reap the rewards.

Have you started your ecommerce journey yet? Tell me more about your experience.

The post How To Create an Ecommerce Website with WordPress appeared first on Neil Patel.

SEO

What are Google Review Summaries?

What are Google review summaries, and how do they impact consumers’ view of your brand?

First impressions matter. When people search for a business or your specific business name on Google, one of the first things they see is your Google listing and the corresponding reviews. 

Those reviews, positive or negative, impact how they view your brand. 

What others have to say about your brand could impact how people perceive your brand. It could help them decide if they want to do business with you or not. 

It could encourage them to give you a call, visit your website, or stop by your local shop. Or it may encourage them to keep looking for a business with better reviews. 

Let’s talk more about Google review summaries and what they mean for your company.

Intro to Google Review Summaries

Google review summaries are the snippets of three customer reviews for your brand. Using an algorithm, Google automatically chooses three reviews to highlight. 

They are called summaries, because they are just one or two lines pulled from a full review. To read the whole review, searchers can click on the summary. 

Those three review summaries may be positive reviews, negative reviews, or a mixture of those.  

Where Do Your Google Review Summaries Appear?

It starts in the Google Knowledge Panel. 

Even if you aren’t familiar with that name, you probably are still familiar with the Google Knowledge Panel. It is the box of information that shows up in a Google search when you look for a particular brand, especially local or location-based businesses. 

The Google Knowledge Panel includes descriptive information, business address, location on a Google map, contact information, website, hours of operation, questions and answers, popular times, photos, social media profiles, and popular web results. 

It also includes the Google review summaries. The summaries can be found about midway down the Google Knowledge Panel, below the photos. 

Looking for Google Review Summaries

When you search for a local business, such as a store, restaurant, office building, medical practice, and more, Google provides a listing of local options. When you click on one example, the Google Knowledge Panel is displayed. 

That will provide the Google review summaries. 

You can also search directly in Google Maps. Pull up Google Maps to search your current location or type in the area you want to search. Then type in the brand or type of place you’re looking for. 

When you click on each option, you’ll see the Google Knowledge Panel. Scroll down to see the review summaries. 

Looking For Google Review Summaries

How Place Topics Shape Google Review Summaries

Place topics are an element of the Google review summary algorithm that highlights popular keywords related to your brand’s reviews. 

They cannot be chosen by the brand owner, or by reviewers. They are simply generated automatically by Google, if a brand has enough reviews. Although according to Google, that threshold number is not specified. 

Here’s an example of place topics in a Google review summary for a grocery store. You’ll see some of the highlighted topics are insightful, such as “lunch meat” while others are rather generic. 

This speaks to the automated algorithm that just pulls in commonly used phrases. 

How Place Topics Shape Google Review Summaries

These are more useful when many reviewers speak about a certain product or service, or other phrase that helps viewers understand more about what makes a brand unique. 

Where Google Review Summaries Come From

They come from Google reviews that are submitted by users on Google maps. Those who have visited a specific location can log in to their Google account, find a place on Google maps, and choose to submit a review and star rating. 

Google review summaries are pulled from those reviews. 

How Impactful Are Google Review Summaries?

These review summaries can impact how customers perceive your brand, even before they contact you or stop by your location. 

They could decide to scroll by or click on a competitor, if they aren’t seeing reviews that impress them. Alternatively, they may choose to click on your website, check out your location, or contact you directly to get more information about your brand. 

Do reviews really matter to customers? 

The statistics say yes. In general, reviews influence buyers. Almost 90 percent of buyers read reviews to make their buying decisions, according to BrightLocal. According to that same report, a majority are only impacted by reviews written in the last three months. A large portion of those same consumers only consider reviews written in the last two weeks. 

A quarter of consumers look to customer reviews with every online purchase they make, according to this PowerReviews report.  

It’s not just the words that Google highlights in the reviews that people read in the summaries. A big factor in people making decisions about your brand is the star factor. The star ratings make Google review summaries stand out. 

According to this report, over half of consumers say that a star rating is the most important review factor. A large majority say that a trust-worthy brand should have three or more stars in a five-star system, like Google reviews. 

So yes, reviews do impact buyer behavior and your brand’s reputation. But there’s more to the Google review summaries than the impression they leave on consumers. 

They can also have an impact on SEO. 

According to this report, reviews actually aid in your search engine optimization strategy. Although they are only a part of an SEO strategy, reviews help with creating more generated content and rank for the right keywords.  

In addition to those Google reviews that support SEO, you can continue to boost that by responding to Google reviews. 

Google also stated that interacting with consumer Google reviews for your brand can improve visibility. In other words, staying up-to-date in responding to reviews can improve your SEO.

That means more people will see your brand, see those Google review summaries, and hopefully leave reviews so you can respond. Reviews actually create a cycle of more reviews and better SEO. 

How to Get Positive Google Review Summaries 

By design, Google reviews and Google review summaries are not something business owners have direct control over. Otherwise, everyone would go in and manipulate things to shed the best light on their business! 

Does that mean that getting positive reviews is completely outside your direction? Not at all. 

The best thing you can do is to run a business with the customer in mind. It sounds obvious, but it’s truly the best way to get the positive feedback you’re hoping for. 

In our busy world, it’s easy to lose sight of the customer, but at the end of the day, they control not only the reviews, but also your income. 

Sometimes, the old adage really does need to ring true: the customer is always right. 

Ensure Customers Have a Good Experience

The first step is to audit the entire customer service experience. This can be a part of your overall brand audit. 

Think about every touch point your customers have with your business, from first learning about your products and services, to asking questions, to purchasing, and the follow up. 

Take a step back and dig deep. Ask the hard questions. Are you still offering a quality product? Are you still meeting a market need? If you aren’t getting rave reviews, it may be time to make some tweaks to ensure you are providing products and services your target market really needs. 

Ask for Reviews

It’s simple, but effective. 

To get more Google reviews, sometimes all you need to do is ask. There are lots of ways to convince your customers to review your brand, but just asking is a good place to start. You can include a link to your Google location in an email or social media post, encouraging happy customers to share their feedback. 

Ask your most loyal customers to leave feedback. Those who are most satisfied with your product or services are often eager to share that happiness with others and are most likely to provide positive reviews. 

Of course, keep in mind that you can’t tell them what to say, and even your happiest customers may be painfully honest about a less-than-ideal experience they had with you or a bad day with your product or service. 

That’s why the first tip is the most important. Always look for ways to provide the best service you can. 

Respond to Google Reviews (Good and Bad!) 

Keep the good vibes going. When people respond well with positive reviews, you can hop in there and thank them. Responding to Google reviews adds to your social proof and brings some humanity to your brand. 

Don’t just wait for negative reviews to respond, as we will discuss below. Encourage more positive reviews by showing that you really are reading reviews and taking them to heart. 

What to Do When You Have Negative Google Review Summaries

Like it or not, negative reviews happen. 

In a customer-driven system like Google review, you don’t have full control over what is posted about your brand. In fact, negative reviews can be a good thing—they show your brand is real. 

When those bad reviews happen, here’s how to respond. 

First, Relax

No one wants to hear bad news about their brand, especially when you work hard to provide a great experience, as we talked about above. 

But there’s hardly a business owner who hasn’t come up against this kind of conflict. The first thing to do is take a deep breath and understand that businesses need negative reviews. They add to the authenticity of your brand. 

Consumers understand that not everyone is going to have a perfect experience with every brand. 

Put It in Perspective

Sometimes negative reviews can shine light on positive aspects of your brand. 

When a customer reads a review about how something didn’t work for them, for instance, other customers can learn more about what you do offer. 

Imagine a customer complaining that they couldn’t find a meat option at your vegetarian restaurant. It’s an exaggerated example, but shows how a negative review could be a positive for some readers.

Decide How to Act

Have a “negative review plan” in place, well before your first one rolls in. It’s important to remember the reputation you want your business to have, and to keep the long game in mind. Google recommends responding quickly, honestly, and with a level of positivity. 

If you think a review is inappropriate or violates Google’s policies, if it’s particularly vile, etc., you can request that it be removed. Remember, you can’t just have a review removed because you disagree with it or don’t want it out there. 

Think About the Ratios

There’s no perfect number of reviews for everyone, but when it comes to reviews think about the ratios. One bad review isn’t going to hurt you if you have dozens of positive reviews. 

To get an idea of how you’re doing, think like a customer. How will they read the negative reviews in light of your positive ones? Would one negative review impact your buying decision? In most cases, one or two bad reviews (especially if they are several months old) won’t impact your brand. 

Conclusion

Google review summaries are social proof. They give your brand authenticity and shed light on your company when people Google you. 

These kinds of online reviews help customers understand what you’re all about and how you’ve helped people in the past. To improve the quality of your Google review summaries, start by working to get more online reviews. 

Don’t forget the power of responding to reviews—whether they are good or bad. Customers expect some bad reviews, but how you respond can make all the difference. 

How do Google review summaries help you make purchasing decisions?

The post What are Google Review Summaries? appeared first on Neil Patel.

SEO

10 Steps to Blend STAT Ranking Data with Site…

Posted by AndrewMiller

Too often, we assume that SEO best practices will work in any industry against any competitive set. But most best practices go untested and may not be “best” in every situation.

We all know that tactics that worked in 2020 won’t necessarily move the needle in 2021 as Core Web Vitals (CWV) and other signals shuffle to the front. We have to do better for our businesses and our clients.

I’m a data nerd at heart with lots of battle scars from 15 years in SEO. The idea of analyzing thousands of local SERPs sounded like too much fun to pass up. I found some surprising correlations, and just as importantly, built a methodology and data set that can be updated quarterly to show changes over time.

I analyzed 50,000+ SERPs in the retail banking sector so I could make sense of the massive shifts in rankings and search behaviors during the lockdown period. We have a lot of historical data for bank websites, so comparing pre/post COVID data would be easier than starting from scratch.

I’ll share how I did it below. But first, I want to share WHY I think sharing this type of research is so important for the SEO community.

Why validate SEO best practices with data?

It’s a great time to be an SEO. We have amazing tools and can gather more data than ever. We have thriving communities and excellent basic training materials.

Yet, we often see our craft distilled into overly-simplified “best practices” that are assumed to be universally true. But if there’s one universal truth in SEO, it’s that there are no universal truths. A best practice can be misinterpreted or outdated, leading to missed opportunities or outright harm to a business.

Using the increasing importance of CWV as an example, SEOs have an opportunity (and obligation) to separate fact from fiction. We need to know if, and by how much, CWV will impact rankings over time so we can prioritize our efforts.

We can elevate our SEO game individually and collectively by testing and validating best practices with research. It just takes a curious mind, the right tools, and a willingness to accept the results rather than force a narrative.

Failing to validate best practices is a liability for SEO practitioners and shows an unwillingness to challenge assumptions. In my experience, a lack of data can lead to a senior stakeholders’ opinions carrying more weight than an SEO expert’s recommendations.

Start by asking the right questions

Real insight comes from combining data from multiple sources to answer critical questions and ensure your strategies are backed by valid data. In my analysis of local banks, I started by listing the questions I wanted to know the answers to:

  • What characteristics are shared by top-ranking local bank websites?
  • Who are banks actually competing against in the SERPs? Is it primarily other banks?
  • How do competitive SERPS change based on when/where/how users search?
  • How can smaller, local businesses gain an edge over larger competitors from outside their region?
  • How does SERP composition affect a bank’s ability to rank well for targeted keywords?
  • How important are Core Web Vitals (CWV) for rankings? How does this change over time?

You could run this same analysis by replacing “banks” with other local business categories. The list of potential questions is endless so you can adjust them based on your needs.

Here’s an important reminder – be prepared to accept the answers even if they are inconclusive or contradictory to your assumptions. Data-driven SEOs have to avoid confirmation bias if we’re going to remain objective.

Here’s how I analyzed 50,000 search results in a few hours

I combined three of my favorite tools to analyze SERPs at scale and gather the data needed to answer my questions:

  • STAT to generated ranking reports for select keywords
  • Screaming Frog to crawl websites and gather technical SEO data
  • Power BI to analyze the large data sets and create simple visualizations

Step 1: Determine your data needs

I used US Census Bureau data to identify all cities with populations over 100,000, because I wanted a representation of local bank SERPs across the country. My list ended up including 314 separate cities, but you could customize your list to suit your needs.

I also wanted to gather data for desktop and mobile searches to compare SERP differences between the device types.

Step 2: Identify your keywords

I chose “banks near me” and “banks in {city, st}” based on their strong local intent and high search volumes, compared to more specific keywords for banking services.

Step 3: Generate a STAT import file in .csv format

Once you have your keywords and market list, it’s time to prepare the bulk upload for STAT. Use the template provided in the link to create a .csv file with the following fields:

  • Project: The name of the new STAT project, or an existing project.
  • Folder: The name of the new folder, or an existing folder. (This is an optional column that you can leave blank.)
  • Site: The domain name for the site you want to track. Note, for our purposes you can enter any URL you want to track here. The Top 20 Report will include all ranking URLs for the target keywords even if they aren’t listed in your “Site” column.
  • Keyword: The search query you’re adding.
  • Tags: Enter as many keyword tags as you want, separated by commas. I used “city” and “near me” as tags to distinguish between the query types. (This is an optional column that you can leave blank.)
  • Market: Specify the market (country and language) in which you would like to track the keyword. I used “US-en” for US English.
  • Location: If you want to track the keyword in a specific location, specify the city, state, province, ZIP code, and/or postal code. I used the city and state list in “city, st” format.
  • Device: Select whether you would like Desktop or Smartphone results. I selected both.

Each market, location, and device type will multiply the number of keywords you must track. I ended up with 1,256 keywords (314 markets X 2 keywords X 2 devices) in my import file.

Once your file is complete, you can import to STAT and begin tracking.

Step 4: Run a Top 20 Report in STAT for all keywords

STAT’s built-in Google SERP Top 20 Comparison report captures the top 20 organic results from each SERP at different intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) to look at changes over time. I did not need daily data so I simply let it run on two consecutive days and removed the data I did not need. I re-run the same report quarterly to track changes over time.

Watch the video below to learn how to set up this report! 

My 1,256 keywords generated over 25,000 rows of data per day. Each row is a different organic listing and includes the keyword, monthly search volume, rank (includes the local pack), base rank (does not include the local pack), https/http protocol of the ranking URL, the ranking URL, and your tags.

Here’s an example of the raw output in CSV format:

It’s easy to see how useful this data is by itself but it becomes even more powerful when we clean it up and start crawling the ranking URLs.

Step 5: Clean up and normalize your STAT URLs data

At this point you may have invested 1-2 hours in gathering the initial data. This step is a bit more time consuming, but data cleansing allows you to run more advanced analysis and uncover more useful insights in Screaming Frog.

Here are the changes I made to the STAT rankings data to prepare for the next steps in Screaming Frog and Power BI. You’ll end up with multiple columns of URLs. Each serves a purpose later.

  1. Duplicate the Ranking URL column to a new column called Normalized URL.
  2. Remove URL parameters from the Normalized URL fields by using Excel’s text to columns tool and separating by “?”. I deleted the new columns(s) containing the URL parameters because they were not helpful in my analysis.
  3. Duplicate the new, clean Normalized URL column to a new column called TLD. Use the text to columns tool on the TLD column and separate by “/” to remove everything except the domain name and subdomains. Delete the new columns. I chose to keep the subdomains in my TLD column but you can remove them if it helps your analysis.
  4. Finally, create one more column called Full URL that will eventually become the list of URLs that you’ll crawl in Screaming Frog. To generate the Full URL, simply use Excel’s concatenate function to combine the Protocol and Normalized URL columns. Your formula will look something like this: =concatenate(A1, “://”, C1) to include the “://” in a valid URL string.

The 25,000+ rows in my data set are well within Excel’s limitations, so I am able to manipulate the data easily in one place. You may need to use a database (I like BigQuery) as your data sets grow.

Step 6: Categorize your SERP results by website type

Skimming through the SERP results, it’s easy to see that banks are not the only type of website that rank for keywords with local search intent. Since one of my initial questions was SERP composition, I had to identify all of the different types of websites and label each one for further analysis.

This step is by far the most time consuming and insightful. I spent 3 hours categorizing the initial batch of 25,000+ URLs into one of the following categories:

  • Institution (banks and credit union websites)
  • Directory (aggregators, local business directories, etc.)
  • Reviews (local and national sites like Yelp.com)
  • Education (content about banks on .edu domains)
  • Government (content about banks on .gov domains and municipal sites)
  • Jobs (careers sites and job aggregators)
  • News (local and national news sites with banking content)
  • Food Banks (yes, plenty of food banks rank for “banks near me” keywords)
  • Real Estate (commercial and residential real estate listings)
  • Search Engines (ranked content belonging to a search engine)
  • Social Media (ranked content on social media sites)
  • Other (completely random results not related to any of the above)

Your local SERPs will likely contain many of these website types and other unrelated categories such as food banks. Speed up the process by sorting and filtering your TLD and Normalized URL columns to categorize multiple rows simultaneously. For example, all the yelp.com rankings can be categorized as “Reviews” with a quick copy/paste.

At this point, your rankings data set is complete and you are ready to begin crawling the top-ranking sites in your industry to see what they have in common.

Step 7: Crawl your target websites with Screaming Frog

My initial STAT data identified over 6,600 unique pages from local bank websites that ranked in the top 20 organic search results. This is far too many pages to evaluate manually. Enter Screaming Frog, a crawler that mimics Google’s web crawler and extracts tons of SEO data from websites.

I configured Screaming Frog to crawl each of the 6,600 ranking pages for a larger analysis of characteristics shared by top-ranking bank websites. Don’t just let SF loose though. Be sure to configure it properly to save time and avoid crawling unnecessary pages.

These settings ensure we’ll get all the info we need to answer our questions in one crawl:

List Mode: Paste in a de-duplicated Full URL list from your STAT data. In my case, this was 6,600+ URLs.

Database Storage Mode: It may be a bit slower than Memory (RAM) Storage, but saving your crawl results on your hard disk ensures you won’t lose your results if you make a mistake (like I have many times) and close your report before you finish analyzing the data.

Limit Crawl Depth: Set this to 0 (zero) so the spider will only crawl the URLs on your list without following internal links to other pages on those domains.

APIs: I highly recommend using the Pagespeed Insights Integration to pull Lighthouse speed metrics directly into your crawl data. If you have a Moz account with API access, you can also pull link and domain data from the Moz API with the built-in integration.

Once you have configured the spider, let it rip! It could take several minutes to several hours depending on how many URLs you’re crawling and your computer’s speed and memory constraints. Just be patient! You might try running larger crawls overnight or on an extra computer to avoid bogging your primary machine down.

Step 8: Export your Screaming Frog crawl data to Excel

Dumping your crawl data into Excel is remarkably easy.

Step 9: Join your data sets in Power BI

At this point, you should have two data sources in Excel: one for your STAT rankings data and another for your Screaming Frog crawl data. Our goal is to combine the two data sources to see how organic search rank may be influenced by on-page SEO elements and site performance. To do this, we must first merge the data.

If you have access to a Windows PC, the free version of Power BI is powerful enough to get you started. Begin by loading your two data sources into a new project using the Get Data wizard.

Once your data sets are loaded, it’s time to make the magic happen by creating relationships in your data to unlock correlations between rankings and site characteristics. To combine your data in Power BI, create a many-to-many relationship between your STAT Full URL and Screaming Frog Original URL fields. 

If you are new to BI tools and data visualization, don’t worry! There are lots of helpful tutorials and videos just a quick search away. At this point, it’s really hard to break anything and you can experiment with lots of ways to analyze your data and share insights with many types of charts and graphs.

I should note that Power BI is my preferred data visualization tool but you may be able to use Tableau or some equally powerful. Google Data Studio was not an option for this analysis because it only allows for left outer joins of the multiple data sources and does not support “many-to-many” relationships. It’s a technical way of saying Data Studio isn’t flexible enough to create the data relationships that we need.

Step 10: Analyze and visualize!

Power BI’s built-in visualizations allow you to quickly summarize and present data. This is where we can start analyzing the data to answer the questions we came up with earlier.

Results — what did we learn?

Here are a couple examples of the insights gleaned from merging our rankings and crawl data. Spoiler alert — CWV doesn’t strongly impact organic rankings….yet!

Who are banks actually competing against in the SERPs? Is it primarily other banks?

On desktops, about 67% of organic search results belong to financial institutions (banks and credit unions) with heavy competition from reviews sites (7%) and online directories (22%). This information helps shape our SEO strategies for banks by exposing opportunities to monitor and maintain listings in relevant directories and reviews sites.

Okay, now let’s mash up our data sources to see how the distribution of website categories varies by rank on desktop devices. Suddenly, we can see that financial institutions actually occupy the majority of the top 3 results while reviews sites and directories are more prevalent in positions 4-10.

How important are Core Web Vitals (CWV) for rankings? How does this change over time?

Site performance and site speed are hot topics in SEO and will only become more important as CWV becomes a ranking signal in May this year. We can begin to understand the relationships between site speed and rankings by comparing STAT rankings and Pagespeed Insights data from Screaming Frog reports.

As of January 2021, sites with higher Lighthouse Performance Scores (i.e. they load faster) tend to rank better than sites with lower scores. This could help justify investments in site speed and site performance.

Some CWV elements correlate more closely with better rankings and others are more scattered. This isn’t to say CWV aren’t important or meaningful, but rather it’s a starting point for further analysis after May.

So what? What can we learn from this type of analysis?

Separately, STAT and Screaming Frog are incredibly powerful SEO tools. The data they provide are useful if you happen to be an SEO but the ability to merge data and extract relationships will multiply your value in any organization that values data, and acts on insights.

Besides validating some generally accepted SEO knowledge with data (“faster sites are rewarded with better rankings”), better use of relational data can also help us avoid spending valuable time on less important tactics (“improve Cumulative Layout Shift at all costs!”).

Of course, correlation does not imply causation, and aggregated data does not guarantee an outcome for individual sites. But if you’re a bank marketing professional responsible for customer acquisition from organic channels, you’ll need to bring this type of data to your stakeholders to justify increased investments in SEO.

By sharing the tools and methodology, I hope others will take it further by building and contributing their additional findings to the SEO community. What other datasets can we combine to deepen our understanding of SERPs on a larger scale? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Entrepreneurship

Best WordPress Security Plugin

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

If you are reading this post because your site’s been hacked, download Sucuri now and get the company’s help completely removing the problem. For everyone else, Wordfence is my top recommendation for most users to prevent an attack.

A security breach on your WordPress site can kill your business instantly. All the hard work you put into building your brand and customer trust is on the line.

How quickly will you be able to identify a problem and respond?

Using the best WordPress security plugins, you’ll be able to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. 

Bad actors will see that your site isn’t worth the trouble, given how many unprotected WordPress sites are still out there.

Don’t be one of those unprotected sites. Hacks can bleed your budget dry and destroy your company’s reputation. If your visitors’ information gets compromised, they have a good reason not to come back.

My WordPress sites are the lifeblood of my business. With seven-figure revenues on multiple sites, I know I’m a prime target. 

I’ve got a lot of experience with WordPress security plugins. I want to share some of what I have learned so that you can make sure that your site, visitors, and reputation stay safe.

Here are the top WordPress security plugins and a short guide to help you find the right one for your site.

#1 – Sucuri Security — The Best for WordPress Developers

Sucuri Security helps companies protect websites of all kinds. Its WordPress security plugin is a good way to harden your site and prevent damaging attacks.

I don’t recommend the free Sucuri plugin as a standalone solution. It doesn’t come with access to a website firewall, which I consider a fundamental element of WordPress security.

If you are a web developer or an agency that sells or manages WordPress sites for their clients, the cost of paying for Sucuri is nothing compared to the benefits it delivers.

Sites experiencing crippling DDoS attacks have installed Sucuri and been fine within an hour. After getting hacked, WordPress administrators have reached out to Sucuri and had their site clean and running before the day is done.

These are just some of the common stories Sucuri users have shared.

If you are responsible for ensuring your clients’ WordPress site protection, look no further than Sucuri. You’ll be able to get an in-depth picture of exactly what’s happening on each site and automated alerts if something goes wrong.

Sucuri is constantly scanning your sites for malware. Unlike Wordfence, Sucuri scans remotely (from their servers), so you are not drawing on your own resources for scans or loading up your database.

The other benefit of remote malware scanning is that all the data is safely stored with Sucuri, so attackers can’t delete logs to cover their tracks. You will always know exactly what happened and how.

In the event that a site gets hacked, there’s no better ally to have in your corner than Sucuri . There are zero hidden costs for complete malware removal

Unless you’re a fairly skilled software engineer, making sure a hack is 100% cleaned up is incredibly difficult. With Sucuri, it’s guaranteed.

Like I said, you have to have a paid Sucuri license to access the firewall. The reason is that it’s a best-in-breed product. Sucuri can’t just give it away.

It automatically blocks all unencrypted traffic, DDoS attacks, bots, brute force attacks, password cracking, and malicious code. You also get fine-grained control over IP whitelisting to ensure that only appropriate users have access to admin panels.

You can also block visitors from certain countries. This can be very important if you notice a high number of attacks coming from a particular location.

There are some vulnerabilities with a cloud-based firewall, which is why Wordfence’s endpoint firewall works so well. Sucuri solves this problem by including website server-side scanning. 

This protects you from phishing pages, backdoors, spam and other types of attacks that won’t get picked up by Sucuri’s remote malware scanner.

The Sucuri Security plugin is free, but to take advantage of many of the features I just listed, you will need to get the full platform. 

There are three tiers available:

  • Basic: $199/year per site
  • Pro: $299/year per site
  • Business: $499/year per site

The difference in tiers has more to do with how your service requests are prioritized. 

Business-tier licenses include a malware removal SLA of six hours. If your client’s site gets hacked in the dead of the night, it is guaranteed to be back up by the time everyone gets back to work.

With the other plans, you still get the complete malware removal, but it may take more time, depending on the complexity and severity of the attack.

All plans come with a secure 24/7 ticketing system for customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you are looking for a free WordPress security plugin, I’d go with one of the other options on this list. But if you have clients that depend on you to manage their WordPress sites, paying $20-40 for the Sucuri platform is well worth the top-notch protection and peace of mind.

#2 – Jetpack — The Best for Improving Your Whole Site

Jetpack is one of the easiest ways to make your WordPress site faster and more secure. It’s like a dozen plugins in one, allowing you to do more with less. 

This isn’t just convenient and efficient—it’s way safer. Plugins are the #1 target of WordPress hackers. Using fewer plugins decreases your attack surface.

In terms of security-specific features, Jetpack isn’t as robust as Wordfence or Sucuri, but it may have enough to get the job done for your WordPress sites. 

It covers the basics, like automated plugin updates, 2FA, brute force attack protection, spam prevention, and malware scanning. 

Anyone can find their way around the intuitive interface, no engineering chops necessary. For tech novices, Jetpack can be a refreshingly easy way to manage WordPress security:

You also get automated backups of your site. That’s a feature reserved for an add-on charge with Sucuri or another plugin with Wordfence. Oh, and you get unlimited storage for backups, which is huge for people with ecommerce sites.

Plus, the single Jetpack plugin also gives you tools to design a beautiful site and grow your traffic. 

I’m focusing on the security side of Jetpack in this post, but know that it comes loaded with design, growth, and performance features that you won’t get with other options on this list. 

Each of those features is one less plugin you need to install, which hardens your WordPress security in a real way.

Like I said, Jetpack is designed for general users. Yes it’s powerful, but it’s stupid simple to figure out. 

Even if you are not at your desk when you receive an alert, Jetpack’s mobile app will walk you through the process of setting things right:

Jetpack is actually hosted by WordPress, which means all of these great tools aren’t putting a strain on your servers. Like any plugin, it can still slow down your site, but it’s nothing compared to the 20-30 plugins you’d need to replace it.

The reason that some people complain that Jetpack is slowing their site way down is usually that it’s in conflict with another plugin, or they’ve enabled Jetpack modules they aren’t using. 

This is not hard to fix. The most popular modules are enabled by default, but you can control all your Jetpack features on one page:

Simply enable the ones you want, disable the ones you don’t, and watch the website performance issues fade into the rear-view.

Jetpack Free comes with a very helpful set of security features, including brute force attack protection, two-factor authentication, daily backups, daily scans, and automatic plugin updates.

Throw in the design, growth, and performance features, and you’ve got one of the better all-around WordPress plugins on the market.

The paid plans for Jetpack provide more security features—like spam prevention—and a much more comprehensive activity log to audit your site. 

Pricing breaks down into three tiers:

  • Jetpack Backup: $7.95/month
  • Jetpack Security Daily: $19.95/month
  • Jetpack Security Real-time: $59.95/month
  • Jetpack Complete: $79.95/month

As you might expect, the difference between Jetpack Security Daily and Real-time plans refers to the frequency of backups and scans. Instead of happening once a day, Jetpack Security Real-time scans and backs up your site continuously. 

You also get a one-year activity log with Real-time instead of the 30-day archive that comes with Jetpack Security Daily.

For ecommerce and membership sites with a lot of active visitors, the additional protections that come with Jetpack Security Real-time are really valuable. If your site is a lot of static content, the Daily plan will probably be enough.

If you are just focused on security, don’t worry about Jetpack Complete. It doesn’t come with any relevant features that aren’t included with Jetpack Security. The difference is in the CRM software features, which are great for managing customer relationships, but I won’t get into them here.

All of the tools that come with Jetpack Free will work on all of the WordPress sites you manage. The paid features work, too, but you have to purchase licenses for each site. 

When problems or confusion arise, Jetpack has what they describe as a “global team of Happiness Engineers ready to provide incredible support.” It’s tantalizing, but what does it mean?

Well, Jetpack is made by Automattic—the same folks who run WordPress—so it’s safe to say you will be getting quality support from experts who know their stuff.

If Jetpack isn’t getting it done, you can request to cancel within 14 days and receive a full refund.

I highly recommend Jetpack for people who are new to WordPress, as it makes managing a site much easier. It’s also great for people who want to increase security and decrease the number of plugins they’re relying on. 

#3 – Wordfence Security — The Best for Multiple WordPress Sites

Wordfence is one of the top-rated WordPress security plugins with an outstanding free version that’s packed full of essential security features.

Simply install the free plugin available on WordPress.org and share an email address that Wordfence will use to send you notifications. Whenever there is an outdated plugin, malicious file, or virus detected, you’ll be notified immediately.

Wordfence is an especially good option for people with lots of WordPress sites to protect. Wordfence Central lets you manage security across all of your sites in a single interface. 

There are no charges or restrictions for Wordfence Central. From the intuitive dashboard, quickly track security events and configure alerts to be sent by email, SMS, or Slack.

Looking at the security capabilities at your disposal, it’s hard to imagine a better or cheaper way to protect all of your sites.

The Wordfence security scanner checks all your WordPress core files, themes, and plugins for a wide range of potential issues, such as:

  • Bad URLs
  • Backdoors
  • Code injection
  • Malicious redirects
  • SEO spam

And that’s with the free version. The only difference with the paid version is that the scanner checks to make sure your site and IP haven’t been blacklisted and it updates in real-time with the Wordfence Threat Defense Feed. 

Because Wordfence protects more than 4 million WordPress sites, the company has incredible insight into the latest threats, malware signatures, and necessary firewall rules. 

Premium Wordfence users get the latest security updates from the Threat Defense Feed in real-time. With the free version you have to wait 30 days for the updates to kick in.

The web application firewall (WAF) is really well-developed as well. Stop spam, bots, brute force, and DDoS attacks in their tracks. 

Unlike other WordPress security plugins, Wordfence uses an endpoint firewall instead of a cloud-based one, which means that the firewall actually runs on the server it is protecting.

This picture simplifies what’s going on and how a cloud-based firewall can cause problems that won’t happen with a WordPress-specific, endpoint firewall:

The combination of a strong firewall and malware scanner is further enhanced by Wordfence login security. 

You get two-factor authentication (2FA) that uses temporary one-time passwords and login page CAPTCHA forms to prevent bots from breaking into your site.

Wordfence Live Traffic, which is included with the free version, gives you a real-time picture of what’s happening on your site by producing logs at the server level. This captures a lot more information than data visualization software like Google Analytics.

The tradeoff is that enabling Live Traffic can put a serious strain on your server resources.

This is why Wordfence has a reputation as a plugin that will slow down your site. This is especially true for people on shared hosting plans.

I recommend setting Live Traffic to “Security Only,” which will only track successful logins, attempted logins, and other security-related incidents. This will decrease the load on your server.

The free version of Wordfence is going to be more than enough for most WordPress owners, even if they have a ton of different sites.

If you need the extra protection afforded by Wordfence Premium, licenses start at $99/year per site, with discounts for volume purchases and longer contracts.

Should you be unhappy with how it’s going, you can let Wordfence know within a month and they will give you a refund.

#4 – All In One WP Security & Firewall — The Best Free Forever WordPress Security Plugin

All In One WP Security & Firewall is a straightforward option that’s beloved by people who would never call themselves WordPress security gurus. I’m thinking of those who are great at using WordPress for their business but less confident with the technical backend.

Regardless of your level of WordPress know-how, All In One will make the process of protecting your site as simple and clear as possible.

The plugin is also free forever. There is no paid version. Every feature and function they list is yours upon installation, with no upsells coming your way.

The tradeoff is that you are going to have to do a lot more on your own than you would with a plugin like Sucuri. Like I said, though, All In One makes it as painless as possible to maintain your WordPress security.

Let’s dig in.

After you install the plugin, you’ll see a simple dashboard with a Security Strength Meter and a Security Points Breakdown:

No degree necessary to understand these. The score on the meter is based on the number of security features you’ve enabled. The breakdown explains how the points are scored.

It’s great to get a quick temperature read and easy to figure out how to increase your score if the needle moves into the danger zone.

There’s also a Critical Feature Status box which, as you might guess, shows you the whether or not the most important security features are enabled:

If you’ve had to disable these features for any reason, this way you won’t forget to turn them back on.

So far, not too complicated. 

What about the other features that impact your security score and protect your site?

All In One rates features as Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced according to how likely they are to cause problems on your site.

Basic features will improve security without much impact. Intermediate and Advanced features may impact other parts of your site, depending on the other plugins you are using.

With All In One, you can enable features one by one. The feature ratings let you know how careful you have to be. 

This fixes a common problem people encounter using WordPress security plugins. You mess with one firewall setting and, all of a sudden, another plugin breaks.

Some of the highlight security capabilities that you can control confidently with All In One are:

  • Password strength tool
  • Auto detect duplicate login names
  • Brute force attack prevention
  • Track and block login attempts
  • Add Google reCAPTCHA
  • Database and file security tools
  • Blacklist unwanted IPs
  • Flexible firewall
  • Scan WordPress for changes
  • Spam prevention

This isn’t even everything that’s included. You’ll notice there are some features that you definitely have to pay for elsewhere. This is because they aren’t as deep. 

The scanner, for example, will alert you to any changes that have been made to your WordPress system, but it’s not going to detect or remove malware with the precision of Sucuri.

In other words, All In One lets you know something is wrong, but you have to figure out how to fix it.

Support is also limited to posting questions on the community forum. It’s certainly not concierge service—which is to be expected for a totally free plugin. 

So your questions may get addressed in a day or two, but that’s a far cry from the on-demand customer service provided by paid plugins.

All In One is updated routinely and constantly evolving. Experts designed it for non-experts to use. It’s been a blessing to hundreds of thousands of WordPress owners who have never had to pay a cent. Maybe it’s for you, too.

What I Looked at to Find the Best WordPress Security Plugin

Keeping your WordPress protected from attack is important. Finding the right security plugin will make that task easier.

Finding the wrong one could break your site, leave it vulnerable, or slow it to a crawl.

You want the increased security without the headaches, so which one do you choose?

Use these criteria to evaluate your options. This will help you find a reputable WordPress security plugin that covers your bases and works well for your site.

Plugin Credibility

Experimenting with new plugins is a ton of fun, just not for security purposes.

Only use those that are popular and widely trusted. It’s not hard to do. You’ll find basically everything you need to know on the WordPress plugins page.

As you scan your options, you can quickly tell how many people have installed the plugin and how highly it’s rated by users:

This is all really good news. More than 4 million people are using Wordfence, and it has 4.5 out of 5 stars. That’s pretty much the gold standard of plugin credibility.

There’s no hard and fast rule about ratings and installations. Just don’t try something that only a few thousand people have used. Let other people work out the kinks.

Clicking on Wordfence, you’ll find a description of the plugin along with a closer look at some key information:

I’d steer clear of plugins that haven’t been updated in a year. Cybersecurity evolves way too quick for that kind of pace. There may be lots of new vulnerabilities since the last time it was patched.

You can also dive into the ratings and read reviews. This is a good idea for credibility, but also to see how the security capabilities work in the real-world:

Finding a highly-rated plugin will tell you whether or not it lives up to expectations.

At the end of the day, just with what’s working already for WordPress users, especially those in similar situations to yourself.

Security Capabilities

What do you need your WordPress security plugin to do? Many users know they want their site protected, but don’t know what that entails.

Here are some of the hallmark security capabilities and how they protect you:

  • Automated backups to restore your site if something happens
  • Automated updates of WordPress core and plugins
  • Security alerts that notify you immediately when something goes wrong
  • Malware scanning to ensure your site is clean
  • Spam protection for your forms and comment section
  • Uptime monitoring to alert you if the site goes down
  • Brute force protection to stop bots or attackers from cracking passwords
  • Blocklist/Blacklist monitoring ensures your site is not flagged by regulators
  • IP monitoring to block known attackers
  • Activity Log to track and audit changes on your site
  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) to secure logins
  • Web Application Firewall (WAF) to block malicious traffic before it reaches your site
  • CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It’s going to prevent bots from filling out forms or logging in to your site.

You’d be surprised how much of this is covered by the free plans on this list. The difference with the premium plans (besides the faster turnaround from customer service) is that you get a greater degree of protection and control over these capabilities.

For instance, with Wordfence free plan, the malware scanner covers core files, themes, and plugins for a range of potential cyberthreats. With premium Wordfence, your scanner is updated in real-time as new malware signatures are discovered. The free version only updates 30 days later.

Looking at your different options, there are tradeoffs. Sucuri users get blacklist monitoring for free, which only comes with premium Wordfence. 

With Sucuri, however, only premium licenses get a website firewall, whereas Wordfence includes that standard.

Assess the tradeoffs. If you already have a firewall, then the free version of Sucuri is more appealing.

Resource Usage

This is something to consider with any type of plugin, which all take up processing and server power to do their jobs. 

WordPress security plugins are notorious for hogging resources. There’s just no getting around it, malware scans and traffic logs of security incidents are going to put a strain on your system.

Think about this in terms of your hosting provider and situation. What kind of resources do you have, and what’s the cost of going over the limit?

You also want to be aware of the control you have over a WordPress security plugin. Configuring it properly may solve a lot of the resource-related issues.

For example, you can disable the live feed for Wordfence or ask it to only log security-related incidents instead of all traffic. Many users report that this is all you need to do, should Wordfence be slowing your site down.

Jetpack is hosted by WordPress. That means there’s no draw on your servers, though memory and CPU usage can be an issue. Fortunately, Jetpack  gives you fine-grained control over which modules are enabled, which can help you manage resources efficiently.

Plugin Compatibility

If WordPress is one part of your larger online platform, be sure to do a little research on how the plugin will work across your entire ecosystem.

WordPress security plugins prevent bad things from happening to your site, but sometimes the added protections can get in the way of legitimate users or cause other plugins to break.

Jetpack will play nicely with WooCommerce, as both plugins are made by the same company. In fact, Jetpack will probably increase site speed for Woo.

On the other hand, if you are using the BuddyPress plugin, which turns your site into a social media venue, Jetpack has been known to cause issues.

I recommend going back to the reviews to establish some sense of how compatible each WordPress security plugin really is:

The one-star reviews are my favorite to read. They are where you find the situations where your plugin doesn’t work well, though I tend to skip the reviews written in all caps.

There is also some degree of responsibility on your end for making sure that plugins play well together. 

I really like All In One WP Security for this because they help you understand which features of their plugin are most likely to impact other plugins you are using.

It can be hard to forecast plugin compatibility, but it’s not something you want to put off. See what you can find out ahead of time.

Responsive Support

When you select a free WordPress security plugin, you are only going to get so much in the way of support. With All In One, for example, there’s really no one to reach out to beyond the community forum on WordPress.org.

With plugins from WordFence, Sucuri, and Jetpack, you at least have someone to call, though a prompt response time is only guaranteed with their paid options. With Wordfence Premium, you get direct access to expert advice, whereas their free support may take a few days to reply.

You’re going to notice the biggest difference in customer service when something bad happens. 

After a hack, Sucuri is going to clean and restore your site. No other product I’ve reviewed includes that level of support. 

With Wordfence, for example, you have to pay for a site cleaning service that’ll run you $490 per WordPress site.

If you have suffered attacks before, or you have a WordPress that does a large amount of business, paying the higher price for Sucuri’s best-in-class customer service is more than just peace of mind. It may end up saving you and your clients a ton of money in the long run.

Conclusion

In terms of WordPress security, plugins are part of a larger battle. 

You still want to practice common sense security hygiene—strong passwords, no admin accounts named “administrator”, always updating plugins and themes, and so on.

Even if you have the best plugin, lapses in these areas can result in issues.

All In One WP Security & Firewall is going to help you stay on top of this, ensuring people are using strong passwords and alerting you when plugins need to be updated. It’s an easy way to protect your site and enforce best practices at the same time.

Using Jetpack means you can probably stop using 10-20 other plugins, which is going to make your site more manageable and secure. On top of that, you can shield your WordPress from many of the most common attacks.

Wordfence and Sucuri lead the pack in terms of security capabilities. The free version of Wordfence is definitely better than the free version of Sucuri. Between the two paid options, it’s going to come down to your specific needs.

If you own multiple sites, Wordfence is going to be very easy to use. The Wordfence central dashboard will let you track and respond to events across all of your sites in real-time.

If you are developing lots of sites for clients, Sucuri will deliver peace of mind to everyone involved. Their security auditing tools are second to none, and their reputation for post-hack response is unparalleled.

The post Best WordPress Security Plugin appeared first on Neil Patel.

SEO

7 Advanced Facebook Search Operators

Facebook might have started as a way to connect college students, but today it is a full-fledged search engine, much like Google or Bing. The social media giant’s rise to search engine status includes the addition of advanced features, like Facebook search operators.

What are Facebook search operators, and why should you care about them?

Search operators are a powerful tool for filtering search results, but they also have added benefits for marketers and business owners.

Before we get into that, let’s first talk about what search operators are and why they matter.

What Are Search Operators?

Search operators are advanced search commands that make it easier to filter search results based on what you do (or don’t) want to see in search results.

For example, if you were looking up recipes for chicken soup but didn’t want to see results from Pinterest, you could use a search operator to remove Pinterest results by typing in:

“Chicken soup -pinterest”

facebook search operators - pinterest example

Google uses a wide range of these search functions that make it easier to use the search engine, including:

  • @: to search social media sites
  • $: to search for a price
  • : to leave a word out
  • “Quotes”: to search for an exact match
  • . . .: to search a range of numbers
  • OR: to combine searches
  • Site: to search a specific site
  • Related: to search for similar websites

You can also combine these commands if you want to get fancy. For example, you could use “@ neil patel OR kelsey jones” to search for social accounts for both Neil Patel and Kelsey Jones.

Search operators make it easier to find the exact data you are looking for, but they also come in handy for marketers.

4 Reasons to Use Facebook Search Operators

Facebook used to have a feature called the Facebook Graph Search, which allowed users to search for specific content on the platform by using sentences rather than just keywords. It also allowed you to find who liked a page or visited a specific city.

Facebook Graph was changed in 2019, making it much harder to search the platform. Search operators, however, fill that gap by allowing users to search for highly specific content.

How can Facebook search operators help marketers? Here are a few ways you can use those advanced search features:

  1. Research your competitors: See what your competition is up to, including what type of content they share and what topics they talk about. You can also find new competitors in your geographical area.
  2. Find content to share: Search for multiple topics or exact phrase matches to find content your audience will connect with.
  3. Find user-generated content (UGC): Search for your brand name (and common misspellings of your brand name) to find content users have shared about your brand, even if they didn’t tag you.
  4. Research your audience: Understanding who your audience is and what type of content they like can help you build a stronger relationship. Use Facebook search operators to find content on related topics or specific phrases.

7 Facebook Search Operators to Try (and How to Use Them)

Facebook search operators use Boolean operators, which are the basis of database logic. In layperson’s terms, Boolean operators are terms that allow you to broaden or tighten the search results. For example, you could use AND to search for two search terms at the same time.

Below, I’ll cover how to perform each type of Facebook search, explain what information it will help you find, and explore how to use the search operators to grow your business.

I know it might sound complicated, but I promise it’s pretty simple, and the results are worth the effort.

1. Basic Boolean Facebook Search

Boolean searches don’t work using Facebook search, so you’ll need to use Google to perform all the searches we’re about to cover.

Using site: before the name of a site will display search results just for that specific website. Here’s how it works in practice. Type in site:facebook and then whatever search term you’re searching.

Example:

site:facebook.com my favorite murder podcast

This will display the results of groups or posts about the My Favorite Murder podcast.

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Use this to find groups, pages, and users related to a specific topic. For example, if your target audience is small business owners, you could search for groups and pages for small business owners.

Pro tip: This search works for all websites, not just Facebook. Say you want to find a post from your favorite digital marketing blog or by a specific writer. Then you would perform a search for “site: <website URL> <the term you’re looking for>.”

2. Boolean Facebook Search for Two Terms Needing to Be Present

Using the AND Boolean search function, you can search for two terms simultaneously. For example, if you want to find information about digital marketing and small businesses, you would search:

site:facebook.com digital marketing AND small business

This will display search results related to both digital marketing and small businesses:

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search for Two Terms Needing to Be Present

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Perform competitive research for a specific niche or find groups your target audience belongs to on Facebook.

3. Boolean Facebook Search for One of Two Terms Needing to Be Present

Similar to the AND function, this search operator allows you to find results for one term or another. Unlike AND, which requires both terms to be present, the OR function allows you to find results including either term.

Let’s say you have a software company that targets customers who have SaaS (software as a service) or those who have a membership site. You would search:

site:facebook.com SaaS OR membership sites

The results will display groups, pages, and posts related to SaaS or membership sites.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Research several competitors simultaneously or search for content related to your brand using both your official brand name and a misspelling or commonly used term.

For example, site:facebook.com Moz OR Hubspot would return terms related to both brand names.

4. Boolean Facebook Search for Terms That Should Not Be Present

What if you want to search for a specific term, but you keep getting unrelated results? The NOT Boolean function allows you to remove unrelated search terms.

For example, let’s say you are looking to hire a web developer, but you keep seeing results for designers. You would search:

site:facebook.com web developer NOT designer

The results will include videos, pages, and profiles related to web developers but not web designers.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Search for employees or more specific content related to your industry by excluding specific terms. You can also use it to narrow geographical areas with the same or similar names, such as Paris, Georgia NOT France.

5. Boolean Facebook Search for Exact Phrase

Google and Facebook’s search features have gotten smarter in recent years, but sometimes they still don’t get it quite right. If you find your search results are slightly off, you can use the exact phrase match search operator.

This Boolean function tells search engines to only return matches that are precisely the same as your search.

To use this function, add quotation marks to the term you want to search.

Example:

site:facebook.com “mexican restaurant in kansas city”

A list of Mexican restaurants’ Facebook pages will appear in the SERPs, like this:

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search for Exact Phrase

Remember this is an exact match search. The search engine won’t return results that deviate even slightly. Search results for “mexican restaurant in kansas city” versus “mexican restaurants in kansas city” could be extremely different.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Find competitors in your area or look for groups or videos related to a specific key term. It might also help you find UGC if your brand name is very similar to another brand or phrase.

6. Boolean Facebook Search to Fill in Blanks

What if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for? The fill-in-the-blank function might come in handy. For example, if you’re looking for a specific person but can’t quite remember their name, you can use an * (asterisk) to tell Google to fill in the blank.

Say you work for Hardrock Cafe and are looking for UGC. Some users might type in Hard Rock Cafe, while others might use Hardrock Cafe. The fill-in-the-blank search operator will return results for both.

Here’s how to use it:

site:facebook.com hard * cafe

Note that this will turn up more than just Hard Rock and HardRock; it returns any results that include Hard and Cafe, no matter what is between them.

Facebook Search Operators to Try - Basic Boolean Facebook Search to Fill In Blanks

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Use the fill-in-the-blank function to find information about terms that are often misspelled or formatted differently, or if you can’t remember the exact spelling. This search operator is ideal when users might not remember the exact format of your brand name. It can also help with competitive research by broadening searches.

7. Boolean Facebook Search for Local Businesses

Facebook is a powerful tool for local SEO, with more than 1.85 billion daily active users in the United States alone. Using a search operator for local searches can help marketers and business owners find local businesses.

Say you are considering opening a coffee shop in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. You could use this search:

site:facebook.com coffee shop rogers park chicago

This returns a list of all the coffee shops in that neighborhood.

How to Use This Facebook Search Operator to Grow Your Business

Local businesses can perform competitive analysis or market research to find local businesses in their niche. It might also help you to find brands for a cross-promotion strategy. 

Conclusion

Search algorithms have come a long way in recent years. However, they aren’t perfect.

Facebook search operators let you filter and refine search results for competitive analysis, find content to share with your users, and even locate groups where your target audience hangs out.

If you want to improve your Facebook marketing strategy, search operators are another tool in your toolbelt. 

Have you used Facebook search operators before? Which one is most useful?

The post 7 Advanced Facebook Search Operators appeared first on Neil Patel.

Entrepreneurship

Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services

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

Make no mistake: running a website is hard.

There are so many areas to focus on, from content creation to admin, to maintaining a site via updates.

The good news is that WordPress maintenance services can take a load off users’ shoulders, keeping their sites up to date and allowing them to spend their time elsewhere.

These services offer support and can help with website downtime, theme modifications, site backups, and more.

I’ve put together a list of the best WordPress maintenance and management services to help you get started.

#1 – GoWP — The Best For Agencies

GoWP is an ideal WordPress maintenance service for agencies.

It positions itself as a white-label service, which allows an agency to layer its own branding and SOPs on top of the maintenance services GoWP provides as if those services are now part of the agency’s own back end. 

The white-label focus allows GoWP to create a dedicated mailbox using a domain, provide help and support to all requests to that email, and share a white-labeled dashboard with clients.

On top of that, you have WordPress plugin updates, security monitoring, and automatic site backups with 90 days of offsite storage.

Other powerful features of GoWP include:

  • Unlimited content edits
  • Dedicated account manager (premium)
  • Dedicated WordPress developer (premium)
  • Daily security scans and malware cleanup
  • White-label help desk

GoWP has four main tiers of pricing that come under the following sequential packages:

  • Maintenance / $29 monthly per site       
  • Content Edits / $79 monthly per site       
  • Page Builds / $1299 monthly per site      
  • Dedicated Developer / $2299 monthly per site

The second tier gives agencies access to a 24/7 team of experts, a support ticket dashboard, and Visual Validator WordPress updates.

The next tier jumps up in price but does provide you with a dedicated WordPress developer for it. Learn more at GoWP.

#2 – FixRunner — The Best For Tech Support

FixRunner is a great choice for dedicated tech support.

The service features monthly support time from two hours to four hours—this does depend on the plan you opt for—and additional help is available if you need it.

You’ll be able to use this support time to make all sorts of tweaks to a site, including full debugs, performance improvements, and more.

I was particularly impressed with FixRunner’s 30-day satisfaction guarantee that offers a full refund, no questions asked if you’re unhappy with the service.

FixRunner additionally offers:

  • Speed Optimization
  • WordPress core updates
  • Plug-in and theme updates
  • Uptime monitoring
  • Security scans

The service provides plans for both small websites and bigger, enterprise-level ones. There are three core plans available for smaller websites:

  • Premium / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $69 monthly
  • Rocket / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $99 monthly
  • Advance / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $179 monthly

For bigger websites or Enterprise-level business, we have the following:

  • Advance + / Monthly or quarterly / $300 monthly
  • Advance ++ / Monthly or quarterly / $500 monthly
  • Custom / Monthly or quarterly / Call for price

If you’re a smaller website, I think the Rocket package is a good starting point–it includes support for online shops, on-page SEO optimization, and a faster response time for sites, making it a notable offering all around.

#3 – WP Buffs — The Best For Site Security

WP Buffs is a top maintenance service for those that want full confidence in their site’s security.

When users purchase the service, they’ll be able to use the iThemes Security plugin—considered to be one of the best security plugins available.

The plugin exists to protect a site from nasty malware and spam, but it’s also useful for its cache feature that improves the loading speed of a site—something crucially important for good rankings.

Users also have the option to back up their entire site with WP Buffs and store it in the cloud for extra peace of mind.

Other key features of WP Buffs include the following:

  • 24/7 site edits
  • Speed optimization
  • Ongoing security
  • Weekly updates
  • Emergency 24/7 support

On the pricing front, WP Buffs offers multiple different plans. The four key ones are Maintain, Protect, Perform, and then a series of custom plans for those with advanced needs.

Itemized these are:

  • Maintain / Annual or monthly / $56 a month billed yearly
  • Protect / Annual or monthly / $123 a month billed yearly
  • Perform / Annual or monthly / $164 a month billed yearly
  • Custom / Annual or monthly / starts at $290 a month billed yearly

The iThemes Security Pro premium plugin is included from the second package onwards or the ‘Protect’ tier in this case. The third level of pricing, ‘Perform,’ includes four daily cloud backups, priority support, and complete malware removal.

#4 – Valet — The Best For Ecommerce Store Owners

Valet should be a top pick for those that run ecommerce stores.

It’s a comprehensive service that provides manual updates and includes uptime monitoring, security scanning, and full examinations of checkout workflows, all of which help ensure everything is running smoothly for your customers.

Some of the other highlights include:

  • Code checks
  • Reports and analysis
  • Remediation for website accessibility
  • Up to five hours of dedicated support per month

The first paid plan with Valet starts at $300 per month and includes two hours of support.

Ecommerce store owners should check out the professional plan that costs $750 a month but includes five hours of dedicated support every month.

The top tier plan with Valet is the ‘Elite Plan’ that offers over ten hours of support each month, and this is quite clearly catered towards large companies that have the extra funding available.

General consultations with Valet are available and cost $175 per month.

#5 – SiteCare — The Best For Performance Optimization

SiteCare is the best option on my list for site performance optimization. If you want a service that will optimize a site so it loads as quickly as possible, this is your top choice.

SiteCare gets to work by first looking at aspects of a site that could be causing it to slow down. This can be due to anything from poorly optimized images to faulty plugins or a web host’s quality.

Once that’s done, the service implements a series of best practices, removing the website’s weaknesses step by step until it’s responsive and efficient.

SiteCare offers the following to those that use the service:

  • Hack cleanups
  • Daily backups
  • Real-time monitoring
  • Theme and plugin updates
  • Mobile optimization

In terms of pricing, things are clear and simple. There are two key plans available: a basic plan and an advanced one.

The basic plan costs $79 a month and includes access to the essentials, such as daily backups, malware cleanup, and access to support.

The more advanced plan costs $299 a month, so quite a jump, but for that, you get access to custom development hours with a specialist and a few extras such as ecommerce support and Sucuri firewall.

#6 – The WP Butler — The Best For Custom Plans

Only want specific parts of a service? Well, The WP Butler is unique because it allows users to customize their service plan.

For example, maybe you’re just looking for caching and speed improvements but don’t require anything else.

Monthly services with The WP Butler include malware scans, daily or weekly backups, and plugin or theme updates.

The itemized one-off service includes everything from configuring HTTPS to a custom security inspection.

Additional features of The WP Butler include:

  • Weekly site reviews
  • Uptime monitoring
  • 30 minutes of development time on retainer
  • Emergency site restoration
  • Security plugin configuration

As there are quite a few options with The WP Butler, pricing varies significantly depending on what you need.

If the monthly packages are more suited to you, these come in the following tiers:

  • The Basics / $39 a month
  • The Solopreneur / $69 a month
  • The Small Business / $129 a month
  • The Company / $299 a month
  • The Enterprise / $599 a month

One-off services range from $100 to $250, and there’s even the option of a monthly retainer. With this, you pay for a set number of hours of development work each month. Lots to choose from here.

What I Looked at To Find the Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services

Before deciding which of these WordPress maintenance and management services to go for, it’s worth knowing how I chose them.

The first thing to mention is that there are two primary forms WordPress maintenance can take.

Generally speaking, there are WordPress maintenance services like the ones featured in this list, and there is “managed WordPress hosting.”

If a site is part of managed WordPress hosting, then there’s a good chance you won’t need maintenance service on top of that. Examples include WP Engine, Bluehost, SiteGround, and WordPress.com (not WordPress.org). If you’re hosting your WordPress site with any of these, maintenance services may not be necessary for you. 

Since you’re reading this post, though, you’ve probably chosen to use a WordPress maintenance service outside of your hosting platform (or are hosting your site with a platform that doesn’t provide those services), so here are some of the features I looked at to pick out the best maintenance services. 

Security Monitoring

It goes without saying how important security is for a site in the internet age. With the increase in threats and cyberattacks, knowing someone has got your back can bring great comfort.

Most of the maintenance services on this list include top security monitoring as part of their monthly packages, although not every service will. Some, for example, might include this as an optional extra.

How essential this is depends on the size of a company, but in most cases, monitoring a site for threats and knowing what to do if attacked is key. A maintenance service removes a great deal of worry here, so I think it’s a vital area to consider.

Site Optimization

Site optimization is a broad term, but in the case of WordPress maintenance and management services, I’m mainly talking about making a site more responsive and quicker to load.

A slow website can lead to people leaving sites rapidly in today’s fast-paced world, not to mention that Google actively penalizes slower websites by pushing them down in the search results.

A WordPress maintenance service can optimize a site to load quickly, making it responsive and pleasurable to use. This is important for every single site on the internet.

Almost all of the WordPress maintenance services on this list include site optimization in some form, though the exact service carried out can vary.

Backups

A site that’s a victim of a cyberattack could find itself damaged and beyond repair—that’s where site backups come in. These allow users to restore a healthy and fully working version of said site.

In fact, it might not be a cyberattack, mistakes that delete files or whole databases can happen, sometimes inexplicably.

Having a maintenance service ready and waiting to install a healthy backup of a site if something goes wrong is beyond useful. It removes a lot of the stress from potentially losing everything.

Companies of most sizes will find this a vital feature, although site backups are easy enough to do if you’re an informed solopreneur—in the case of the latter, they might not need this particular service.

Conclusion

WordPress maintenance and management services can be crucially important to the right person. There’s a considerable amount of choice out there too, and knowing where to start can be difficult.

My list covers all of the key areas to consider:

  • GoWP — The Best For Agencies
  • FixRunner — The Best For Tech Support
  • WP Buffs — The Best For Site Security
  • Valet — The Best For Ecommerce Store Owners
  • WP Site Care — The Best For Performance Optimization
  • The WP Butler — The Best For Custom Plans

These are respectable choices, and thinking about exact needs can help make the decision process a little bit quicker.

There’s a lot to think about when running a site, from site backups to security and optimization.

WordPress maintenance services will allow the process to become more manageable, saving precious time for use elsewhere.

The post Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services appeared first on Neil Patel.

ecommerce

What Are Google Customer Reviews?

With the competition becoming fiercer every day, e-commerce businesses need to pull all the stops to ensure they continue beating the competition.

One simple yet powerful marketing tool you can use to your advantage is the Google Customer Reviews feature.

Research shows that 70 percent of people trust online reviews more than they trust advertisements. That’s why getting as many reviews as possible from your customers can be one of the best things you can do for your business.

Google has made that easy with Google Customer Reviews.

Let’s dive right in and see what these reviews are all about.

An Overview of Google Customer Reviews

Google Customer Reviews is a service that allows businesses to collect reviews on their website. To participate in Google Customer Reviews, you must have a Google Merchant account.

Google does most of the heavy lifting by helping collect customer feedback for you. To do that, Google sends your customers an email asking if they want to provide feedback on their experience with your brand. Customers who choose to participate then receive a short survey form to fill out.

The reviews and ratings that customers provide in the surveys can be displayed on your website and other marketing platforms. They also help determine seller ratings that Google gives to merchants, including the average star rating and the number of ratings. The higher the rating, the more trusted the merchant is.

A replacement of the retired Trusted Stores program, Google Customer Reviews is an excellent way to prove to prospects that they can trust you to deliver on your promises.

Why Are Google Customer Reviews Important?

If you’re wondering whether you should even bother with the Google Customer Reviews program, let me quickly give you three important reasons why you should.

Help Build Social Proof

One of the essential ingredients to running and growing a successful e-commerce business is to gain your customers’ trust.

That’s what Google Customer Reviews helps you do.

The customer reviews you gather are great for building social proof you can use to gain the trust of new customers. Social proof simply means evidence that other people trust you to provide them with a positive shopping experience. It makes other customers feel comfortable shopping with you. As a result, this positively impacts your conversion rates.

Participating in Google Customer Reviews allows you to build social proof and add a badge with the Google brand on your website, helping drive conversions.

Help Build a Better Brand and Products

Besides helping you win your customers’ trust, Google Customer Reviews is also an excellent way of getting feedback from your customers. You can use this feedback to improve your product and service delivery. As a result, you can build a better brand and create buyer journeys that your customers will love.

Boosts Your Local SEO

Want to boost your local SEO? Then leverage Google Customer Reviews.

Search engines, particularly Google, want to serve up the most relevant businesses in local search queries. To do so, they consider what your brand does.

Most importantly, they value the opinions left by people who have had a first-hand experience with you.

That’s where Google Customer Reviews come in. They help search engines know which businesses to recommend to users. Google rewards brands with better reviews by ranking them higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google Customer Reviews also helps users decide which brands to do business with. To get a fair share of the business, you’ll need to have more positive reviews than your competitors.

Ignoring Google Customer Reviews could deprive you of the opportunity to give your business and marketing more mileage. That’s especially true as studies show that 87 percent of people read online reviews when researching local businesses.

How Does Google Customer Reviews Work?

How does this program work? Thankfully, it’s much simpler than Trusted Stores. All it takes for you to get a customer review are three simple steps:

1. Google Asks Your Customers to Opt-In

When a customer buys something from you, Google sends them an email around the day they’re expected to receive their purchase. The purpose of the email is to ask the customer to opt-in to receive a survey about their experience shopping on your site.

2. Customers Take the Survey

Customers who opt-in are then directed to a survey consisting of a star rating system (from one to five). There’s also space for additional comments if customers wish to provide more information about their shopping experience.

Example of a Google Customer Reviews survey being filled.

3. Google Aggregates the Reviews and Data

Once the survey information is submitted, Google aggregates it to form star ratings for your business. These are displayed on your website and in organic and paid search results.

While Google Customer Reviews is a Google initiative, it benefits you as a merchant.

Try as much as possible to encourage your customers to participate. This way, you get more reviews, and more reviews mean a better seller rating (Google’s average rating for your store).

That, in turn, will encourage more people to shop from your business.

What Can You Do With Your Reviews?

You’ve managed to collect some reviews using the Google Customer Reviews program. What’s next?

Well, this is where the fun begins, as you can use these reviews for many things. Here are just a few ideas:

Incorporate Them in Your Business Listings

Your reputation is one of your most valuable business assets. What better way to show customers that you’re a reputable business than by showing them what other customers say about you?

Include your reviews in all business listings of your business across the web to build customer confidence.

Display Them on Your Website

One of the first things you can do with your reviews is to display them on your website. Doing so helps earn your customers’ trust. It also lets customers see that you’re transparent, a value that 81 percent of customers look for in brands.

Use Them on Social Media

We all know social media can be a very powerful marketing tool. When you run your social media marketing campaigns, you can leverage your reviews by incorporating them into your posts or ads.

You can use your reviews on any marketing platform and with any marketing strategy. The whole point is to demonstrate to potential customers that your business is reputable and is known for delivering good customer experiences.

So, if you feel your marketing message could benefit from a review or two, pull one up from your Google Customer Reviews.

How Is Google Customer Reviews Different From Google Product Ratings?

Another Google program you can participate in is the Google Product Ratings program.

Participating in Google Product Ratings allows you to collect customer reviews on the products you sell. Like customer reviews, the product reviews’ results are aggregated and can be used across other marketing platforms like Google Search and Shopping Ads.

Example of Google Product Ratings, which is similar to Google Customer Reviews. These are meant to rate how satisfied a customer is with a product.

The main difference is that product ratings are not a reflection of your business. Instead, they reflect how satisfied customers are with the product.

As you’ve already seen, customer reviews are a rating of your customers’ overall experience with your brand. This can take into account the product (and its ratings), shipping, and customer service, among many other factors.

To put it simply, product ratings help other customers pick quality products, while customer reviews help other customers choose reputable sellers.

Product ratings and customer reviews are two different programs. However, you can edit your Google Customer Reviews code snippet to include certain products, so your customers can rate them in the same survey.

What to Do When You Get Negative Google Customer Reviews

Negative reviews are inevitable in business. There will always be a customer or two who are not satisfied with their experience with your brand. Legitimate or not, these negative comments can impact your business.

What do you do when you get a negative Google customer review?

First of all, don’t ignore the review. While you must respond to all reviews posted, negative reviews must be handled with extra care. That means:

Respond Quickly

Don’t let a negative review sit unanswered for a long time. Doing so results in everyone who reads the review either believing it or drawing a conclusion. Both can be harmful to your business.

Before you rush to respond, however, make sure to assess the feedback your customer has left. Use it to come up with a positive and helpful response.

Respond Carefully

When you respond, make sure to personalize the response by mentioning their name and the product they purchased.

It’s also crucial that you don’t turn a negative review into a debate or finger-pointing battle. Instead, thank the reviewer for taking the time to offer their feedback.

Also, make sure to apologize for the negative experience. By accepting the blame, your customers will see there’s an empathetic human behind your brand.

Move the Conversation Offline

Another vital step to dealing with a negative review is to ask the reviewer to get in touch with your customer support department. Moving the conversation from the Google Customer Reviews platform can help you take care of the customer’s gripe in a better environment.

It also shows prospective customers that you care about providing the best experience.

Do it well, and they may end up changing their review and leaving a good one. What customers really want is to know that you care about them.

If you can go out of your way to provide a good customer experience (CX), the chances of them becoming loyal to your brand increase.

Offer a Solution

When a customer leaves a negative review, it’s a sign they’re not happy about an aspect of their experience with your brand. Besides just leaving your response, you should offer a solution to rectify the situation. Offering a solution also shows that you truly empathize with the customer.

The way you respond to negative reviews can either make or break your brand. If you do it well, you can reduce customer churn. You can also increase the chances of your customers leaving glowing reviews and becoming your brand ambassadors.

Conclusion

Google Customer Reviews is a great way to boost your brand’s credibility and visibility.

As an e-commerce business, reviews are the lifeblood of your business. Yes, even the negative ones, as you can leverage them to show your brand’s human side.

Take advantage of Google Customer Reviews and give your customers a voice. Doing so will let your customers know that you value them and can also help boost conversions.

What’s your experience with Google Customer Reviews?

The post What Are Google Customer Reviews? appeared first on Neil Patel.

SEO

Featured Snippets Drop to Historic Lows

Posted by Dr-Pete

On February 19, MozCast measured a dramatic drop (40% day-over-day) in SERPs with Featured Snippets, with no immediate signs of recovery. Here’s a two-week view (February 10-23):

Here’s a 60-day view, highlighting this historic low-point in our 10K-keyword data set:

I could take the graph back further, but let’s cut to the chase — this is the lowest prevalence rate of Featured Snippets in our data set since we started collecting reliable data in the summer of 2015.

Are we losing our minds?

After the year we’ve all had, it’s always good to check our sanity. In this case, other data sets showed a drop on the same date, but the severity of the drop varied dramatically. So, I checked our STAT data across desktop queries (en-US only) — over two million daily SERPs — and saw the following:

STAT recorded an 11% day-over-day drop. Interestingly, there’s been a 16% total drop since February 10, if we include a second, smaller drop on February 13. While MozCast is desktop-only, STAT has access to mobile data. Here’s the desktop/mobile comparison:

While mobile SERPs in STAT showed higher overall prevalence, the pattern was very similar, with a 9% day-over-day-drop on February 19 and a total drop of about 12% since February 10. Note that, while there is considerable overlap, the desktop and mobile data sets may contain different search phrases. While the desktop data set is currently about 2.2M daily SERPs, mobile is closer to 1.7M.

Note that the MozCast 10K keywords are skewed (deliberately) toward shorter, more competitive phrases, whereas STAT includes many more “long-tail” phrases. This explains the overall higher prevalence in STAT, as longer phrases tend to include questions and other natural-language queries that are more likely to drive Featured Snippets.

Why the big difference?

What’s driving the 40% drop in MozCast and, presumably, more competitive terms? First things first: we’ve hand-verified a number of these losses, and there is no evidence of measurement error. One helpful aspect of the 10K MozCast keywords is that they’re evenly divided across 20 historical Google Ads categories. While some changes impact industry categories similarly, the Featured Snippet loss showed a dramatic range of impact:

Competitive healthcare terms lost more than two-thirds of their Featured Snippets. It turns out that many of these terms had other prominent features, such as Medical Knowledge Panels. Here are some high-volume terms that lost Featured Snippets in the Health category:

  • diabetes
  • lupus
  • autism
  • fibromyalgia
  • acne

While Finance had a much lower initial prevalence of Featured Snippets, Finance SERPs also saw massive losses on February 19. Some high-volume examples include:

  • pension
  • risk management
  • mutual funds
  • roth ira
  • investment

    Like the Health category, these terms have a Knowledge Panel in the right-hand column on desktop, with some basic information (primarily from Wikipedia/Wikidata). Again, these are competitive “head” terms, where Google was displaying multiple SERP features prior to February 19.

    Both Health and Finance search phrases align closely with so-called YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content areas, which, in Google’s own words “… could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” These are areas where Google is clearly concerned about the quality of the answers they provide.

    What about passage indexing?

    Could this be tied to the “passage indexing” update that rolled out around February 10? While there’s a lot we still don’t know about the impact of that update, and while that update impacted rankings and very likely impacted organic snippets of all types, there’s no reason to believe that update would impact whether or not a Featured Snippet is displayed for any given query. While the timelines overlap slightly, these events are most likely separate.

    Is the snippet sky falling?

    While the 40% drop in Featured Snippets in MozCast appears to be real, the impact was primarily on shorter, more competitive terms and specific industry categories. For those in YMYL categories, it certainly makes sense to evaluate the impact on your rankings and search traffic.

    Generally speaking, this is a common pattern with SERP features — Google ramps them up over time, then reaches a threshold where quality starts to suffer, and then lowers the volume. As Google becomes more confident in the quality of their Featured Snippet algorithms, they may turn that volume back up. I certainly don’t expect Featured Snippets to disappear any time soon, and they’re still very prevalent in longer, natural-language queries.

    Consider, too, that some of these Featured Snippets may just have been redundant. Prior to February 19, someone searching for “mutual fund” might have seen this Featured Snippet:

    Google is assuming a “What is/are …?” question here, but “mutual fund” is a highly ambiguous search that could have multiple intents. At the same time, Google was already showing a Knowledge Graph entity in the right-hand column (on desktop), presumably from trusted sources:

    Why display both, especially if Google has concerns about quality in a category where they’re very sensitive to quality issues? At the same time, while it may sting a bit to lose these Featured Snippets, consider whether they were really delivering. While this term may be great for vanity, how often are people at the very beginning of a search journey — who may not even know what a mutual fund is — going to convert into a customer? In many cases, they may be jumping straight to the Knowledge Panel and not even taking the Featured Snippet into account.

    For Moz Pro customers, remember that you can easily track Featured Snippets from the “SERP Features” page (under “Rankings” in the left-hand nav) and filter for keywords with Featured Snippets. You’ll get a report something like this — look for the scissors icon to see where Featured Snippets are appearing and whether you (blue) or a competitor (red) are capturing them:

    Whatever the impact, one thing remains true — Google giveth and Google taketh away. Unlike losing a ranking or losing a Featured Snippet to a competitor, there’s very little you can do to reverse this kind of sweeping change. For sites in heavily-impacted verticals, we can only monitor the situation and try to assess our new reality.


    Update: Drop by word-count

    I realized that we could look at word-count in the STAT data to test the theory that shorter search queries (which are generally both more competitive and more ambiguous) were hit harder by this update. Here’s the breakdown of STAT’s 2M desktop (en-US) keywords …

    There’s not much nuance here — 1-word queries were clobbered in this update, 2-word queries dropped substantially higher than the STAT average, and 3+-word queries were hit much less. Why these queries were hit isn’t as clear, but the impact on very short queries is clear.

    Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

    Entrepreneurship

    NameCheap Review

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

    Starting a site and need a cheap domain name? Namecheap is the best option out there as far as affordable domain names go. 

    They start as low as $8.88 a domain for your first year with plenty of helpful add-ons.

    It goes beyond just domain names and provides reliable hosting for more than 1.5 million websites of all shapes and sizes. This includes big clients like Buffer, Figma, and Imgur. 

    In short, Namecheap is one of the top domain name registrars out there as an affordable and reliable domain and hosting option. 

    Namecheap Compared to the Best Domain Registrars 

    With millions of domain names at very low prices, Namecheap is a no-nonsense domain registrar that offers a slew of additional site hosting and management services. 

    Every domain registration comes with free privacy protection, domain name security, around the clock support, full DNS access, and a detailed knowledge base in case there’s something you need further clarification on. 

    I’ve also put together a list of the best name registrars, which you can look through to find one that works best for your needs. 

    I looked at a list of key criteria spanning from registration renewal rates, number of domains, domain management, transfers, and extension options to put it together. You can see my top picks here. Namecheap did make the list!

    For now, here’s a closer look at Namecheap and all it has to offer. 

    Who is Namecheap Best For?

    Namecheap is best for you if you’re looking to get a hold of a number of domain names affordably or if you’re simply trying to find the best deal on your domain registration, keeping in mind that it’s something you’ll have to renew yearly (though Namecheap lets you buy extended plans you can pay for upfront). 

    If you want to buy a domain name and hosting all in one place at an affordable rate, Namecheap is excellent for that. It has plenty of hosting options to choose from. 

    Namecheap: The Pros and Cons

    Like any other name registrar on the market, there are pros and cons to Namecheap’s offers, and how important they highly depend on what you’re specifically looking for. 

    Pros

    Easy to use: Namecheap has an easy user interface where you can purchase what you’re looking for relatively fast without confusing hoops to jump through. If tech isn’t your area of expertise, this is a great plus. 

    Free domain privacy: One of the best features of Namecheap is its forever free domain privacy. Other options like GoDaddy offer domain privacy for an extra fee and an add-on you have to continue to renew every so often if you want to keep it. 

    Free migration: Namecheap helps you move your WordPress website to its hosting services for free within 24 hours. All you have to do is fill in and submit a request with a few of your site’s details.

    Affordable all around: Namecheap differentiates itself in price, which is great for beginner sites that want to get their start without burning through too much of their budget. 

    Updates to TLDs: Namecheap continually updates its list of top-level extensions so you can be sure you can always take your pick from extensions you might be interested in other than the popular .com. 

    Free apps: Namecheap offers site-building apps that are both free and paid you can use for the success of your site, including logo building apps, site speed optimization, and even apps that help you with forming a proper LLC.

    Great support: Namecheap offers live chat or a support ticket option if you run into site trouble and need someone to walk you through any troubleshooting you might need. 

    Guides and videos: If you’re stuck and are a DIYer, Namecheap offers plenty of how-to guides and videos, along with an extensive and detailed knowledge base. 

    Easy domain transfer: Want to transfer your domain to Namecheap? You can easily do it by submitting a ticket with all the necessary details. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to six business days. 

    Cons

    Downtime issues: Namecheap provides site uptime monitoring that checks for problems every five minutes and then logs your site’s performance on your personal dashboard. However, some users have had problems with cases of downtime, despite other periods in the 99% uptime range.

    Higher renewal rates: If you have experience with domain registrars, you’re probably familiar with the fact that most of them include higher renewal rates after your initial domain registration period is over. In this area, Namecheap is no different. 

    Domain transfer fees: While it’s easy to transfer your domain registration over to Namecheap, it does charge a fee that can vary depending on if you have a coupon code for a discount. 

    Namecheap Pricing

    It’s easy to see Namecheap differentiates itself in pricing. It is constantly one of the most affordable ways to meet your web hosting and domain needs. 

    Here’s a look at the initial domain prices for different extensions:

    Some of their most popular extensions go for:

    • .Com – $8.88 with a $12.98 renewal rate
    • .Net – $10.98 with a $14.98 renewal rate
    • .Org – $9.18 with a $14.98 renewal rate
    • .Io – $32.98 with a $34.98 renewal rate
    • .Co – $7.98 with a $25.98 renewal rate
    • .Ai – $58.98 with a $68.88 renewal rate
    • .Ca – $11.98 with a $13.98 renewal rate

    If you take the time to compare these to other prominent domain registrars, like Bluehost or GoDaddy, you’ll see just how much cheaper Namecheap can be. After all, the word “cheap” is in its name for a reason.

    It’s worth taking a look at its web hosting prices, too. 

    Shared Hosting

    • Stellar – $1.58 a month
    • Stellar Plus – $2.68 a month
    • Stellar Business – $4.80 a month

    All shared hosting plans come with unmetered bandwidth, free website builder, domain name and privacy protection, free automatic SSL certification, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

    Reseller Hosting

    • Nebula – $19.88 a month
    • Galaxy Expert – $36.88 a month
    • Universe Pro – $54.88 a month

    All Reseller Hosting plans come with unmetered bandwidth, Free cPanel/WHM, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

    WordPress Hosting

    • EasyWP Starter – $3.88
    • EasyWP Turbo – $7.88
    • EasyWP Supersonic – $11.88

    All WordPress Hosting plans also come with handy features like 99.9 percent uptime, faster site load times, easy backups and restores, SFTP and database access, and easy WordPress installation. 

    Email Hosting

    • Starter – $0.74 a month
    • Pro – $2.12 a month
    • Ultimate – $3.49 a month

    All Namecheap email plans include custom domain-based email, anti-spam protection, Safe access with 2FA, Unified Inbox, POP3/IMAP/Webmail access, and HTML signatures.

    VPS Hosting

    • Pulsar – $9.88 a month
    • Quasar – $15.88 a month

    Though Namecheap doesn’t offer a ton of VPS hosting options, its two plans both include full root access and operating system (OS) selection, your choice of server management, top security standards, free transfers of existing websites, and, of course, a 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with its service. 

    Dedicated Hosting

    • Xeon E3-1240 v3 – $40.88 a month
    • Xeon E-2236 – $78.88 a month
    • Dual AMD EPYC 7282 – $255.88 a month

    These are only a few of the dedicated server options Namecheap offers. They don’t stop there. If you want to take a look at all of its plans, you’ll want to spend some time on this dedicated server page, where you can personalize plans by the amount of CPU you need, your price range, RAM, and more. I love this feature because it means you can get specific with your dedicated hosting plan. 

    Namecheap’s shared hosting plans are some of the most affordable out there. Especially if you take into account what you get beginning with its starter tier. At $1.58 a month, you can start hosting up to three websites with unmetered bandwidth and privacy protection.

    You also get free automatic SSL installation, which can save you installation headaches. If you have experience with hosting providers, the process of successfully installing SSL certificates can sometimes be a real pain because of how clunky and confusing the process can be. 

    If you’re going for affordable shared hosting, though, I’d recommend its shared cloud Stellar Business plan at $4.48 a month. Once you’re signed up, you’ll have access to:

    • 50 GB SSD
    • Host unlimited websites
    • Automatic backups and cloud storage
    • A discounted .com domain name

    Hands down, it’s the shared hosting plan that’ll get you the most bang for your buck, even when you compare it to competing shared hosting providers. 

    You can check out each shared hosting plan in detail at Namecheap.

    Namecheap Offerings

    Namecheap offers plenty of solutions for website management— from hosting to affordable domain names to apps and even dedicated security features. 

    Namecheap Domains

    What makes Namecheap such a great option for buying all your domains isn’t only how affordable it is but how easy they are to manage once you’ve registered them, along with the free perks you get through Namecheap like free privacy protection, which I personally love. In the age of the internet, privacy protection is never a bad idea and is always a plus. 

    Namecheap WordPress Hosting

    With Namecheap’s WordPress hosting plan, you can start hosting your WordPress site by paying $1 for your first month. 

    Namecheap ensures a 99.9% WordPress site uptime as well as an easy-to-use dashboard where you can manage all your WordPress websites. Namecheap is an affordable and convenient option for WordPress optimized hosting because of how low its monthly hosting costs are, beating out competitors like Bluehost and GoDaddy. 

    Namecheap Apps

    What exactly are Namecheap apps? Namecheap apps are a relatively new feature that lets you buy applications to help make your site a success.

    Many of the apps they offer are free, and you can start using others for relatively low monthly fees. Some of my favorites include its website builder at only $3.99 a month, its free logo maker, and its website uptime monitoring app, which is also free to use. 

    Not many other domain registrars offer apps that help you beyond the process of simply registering a domain and purchasing a hosting plan. Here’s a look at the Namecheap apps you can use:

    • Supersonic CDN – Ensures your website is running as fast as possible
    • Validation.com – Verify and ID online customers
    • EasyWP – Easy WordPress site builder that’s great if you aren’t tech-savvy
    • Namecheap VPN – Protects your privacy online
    • G Suite – a centralized email solution for all your online communications
    • Business Card Maker – Need an online business card? You can design one with their business card maker
    • Logo Maker – You can create professional logos without having to hire a designer
    • Strikingly – An easy-to-use website builder for all your site design needs
    • Weebly – Easily build a website with Weebly
    • Ghost Machine – A blog building app that makes creating a blog a breeze
    • Namecheap Uptime Monitoring – You can keep track of your site’s uptime and downtime occurrences
    • Namecheap Legal – With Namecheap Legal, you can easily incorporate your business and form a proper LLC 
    • Canvas -An easy website builder you can start using in minutes

    Namecheap Security

    Without a doubt, one of Namecheap’s best differentiators is its dedication to privacy and site security. Features like two-factor authentication, the ability to safely unblock content with its VPN service, and personal privacy and browsing protection ensure your safety online. 

    Other domain registrars don’t put as much care into their safety features and not many offer free privacy protection when you purchase a domain from them. 

    The Best Domain Registrars

    Don’t forget to check out my top picks for the best domain registrars you can use to register all your domain names.

    1. Bluehost – Best for bundling with web hosting
    2. Domain.com – Best for long-term registrations
    3. Namecheap – Cheapest domain registrar
    4. NameSilo – Best for buying domains in bulk
    5. Google Domains – Best for Google integration

    Affordable and easy with a side of security and privacy protection is the name of the game for Namecheap. It offers unbeatable domain name prices and even competitive renewal rates once your registration period is over. This is what makes it a favorite in my list of top picks for best domain registrars.

    Ready to get everything Namecheap has to offer? Get started here!

    The post NameCheap Review appeared first on Neil Patel.

    Entrepreneurship

    GoDaddy Review

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

    GoDaddy hosts millions of websites all over the world as a giant in the hosting and domain name selling game. Its long list of products offers just about anything you might need to get a website up and running on a shoestring budget, at least for the first year. 

    After lots of research, comparison, and consideration, it’s safe to say GoDaddy satisfies most of your website needs, especially if it’s your first time building a site and you want affordable VPS hosting. 

    Beyond that, and as with any other web hosting and domain name provider, there are solid pros and cons to its plans and packages. 

    GoDaddy Compared to The Best Cheap Web Hosting

    I curated a top list of affordable web hosting providers, so you know your options if you need to start a website on a budget. GoDaddy is one of the best choices if you want hosting that’s a step above shared hosting with its affordable VPS hosting plan. For the price that some hosting providers would charge for shared hosting, you can get VPS hosting through GoDaddy. 

    But, if you’re trying to find a more robust web hosting solution for your web project, GoDaddy does start to get expensive quickly. That’s why I deem it a great option for starter sites that can do with either shared or dedicated hosting and that don’t need tons of server power to run well. 

    You don’t have to make a hosting decision in a hurry, though. See all of my top picks to make a more informed decision. 

    Who is GoDaddy Best For?

    GoDaddy is great for beginner website owners that want an affordable and convenient start for their websites with generous storage. GoDaddy also does well with around-the-clock site security monitoring, but perks like SSL certificates are add-ons you’ll have to purchase as extras. 

    This is why it’s a great hosting option for smaller and beginner websites working with a budget and don’t need too many robust website solutions. 

    GoDaddy: The Pros and Cons

    There’s no question GoDaddy is one of the biggest names out there as far as how recognizable it is. It also houses the most domains globally, with over 17 million domain names on its roster. 

    Still, there are pros and cons to choosing GoDaddy as your web hosting provider. Here are the more prominent ones to take into account.

    Pros

    24/7 support: GoDaddy ensures it’s always within reach if you ever need a hand or run into trouble with your site. You can either reach them by phone or use its handy chat support option. 

    Lots of storage: When you look through and compare GoDaddy’s hosting plans, it’s generous with its unmetered bandwidth feature for all tiers.  

    Affordable .com domain: GoDaddy offers you the chance to snag a domain for only 99 cents  for the first year, which can save you money as you begin. 

    Unlimited site hosting: Most GoDaddy plans let you host an unlimited number of websites except for its cheapest Economy plan. 

    Convenience: Since you can manage your domain and website in one place, GoDaddy offers convenience in managing both from one dashboard. 

    Cons

    Constant upsells: GoDaddy is notorious when it comes to its upsells through every step of the checkout process. While it does honor the prices for each tier if that’s all you’re going for, it’s quick to suggest add-ons and extra features you might not need. 

    Expensive renewal rate: This is one of the reasons why I think GoDaddy is great for beginner sites that just want to get their foot in the door with hosting. Once that initial year is up, GoDaddy’s renewal rates can start to get costly for what you get. 

    Charges for add-ons: Other hosting providers throw in free first-year domain registration, for example, or include free SSL certification as part of its plans. GoDaddy does not always include these features depending on the plan you choose and can charge extra for them.  

    Inconsistent customer support: Support for GoDaddy isn’t always top-notch as convenience and reliability are concerned. There is always the possibility of long wait times to be connected to the right person. 

    GoDaddy Pricing

    GoDaddy’s prices can be broken down into two main categories: Domain name purchases and hosting plans.

    Domain Names

    One of GoDaddy’s strengths is its huge list of domain name extensions. Its cheapest .com option, which is also one of the most popular extensions, is affordable for only 99 cents for the first year. 

    If you happen to choose a hosting plan that doesn’t include a free domain name, a 99-cent .com extension isn’t a terrible price to pay. 

    GoDaddy makes it easy to create, search for, or check on your domain name’s availability. GoDaddy offers some of the most affordable domain name plans out there as far as introductory pricing goes. 

    Hosting Plans

    Here’s a closer look at each of GoDaddy’s hosting plans:

    Web Hosting

    • Economy – $5.99 a month
    • Deluxe – $7.99 a month
    • Ultimate – $12.99 a month
    • Maximum – $19.99 a month

    WordPress Hosting

    • Basic – $6.99 a month
    • Deluxe – $9.99 a month
    • Ultimate – $12.99 a month
    • Ecommerce – $15.99 a month

    WordPress Ecommerce Hosting – Starting at $15.99 a month

    Business Hosting

    • Shared Hosting – $5.99 a month
    • Business Hosting – $19.99 a month
    • VPS Hosting – $4.99 a month

    VPS Hosting

    • 1 vCPU – $4.99 a month
    • 2 vCPU – $19.99 a month
    • 4 vCPU – $39.99 a month
    • 8 v CPU – $69.99 a month

    Dedicated Server

    • DS 32 – $129.99 a month
    • DS 64 – $169.99 a month
    • DS 128 – $299.99 a month
    • DS 256 – $399.99 a month

    Windows Hosting – Starting at $5.99 a month

    • Economy – $5.99
    • Deluxe – $7.99
    • Ultimate – $12.99

    Reseller Hosting – Starting at $39.99 a month 

    • Enhanced – $39.99
    • Grow – $49.99
    • Expand – $64.99
    • Established – $89.99

    It’s safe to say GoDaddy offers a ton of hosting plans that cover anything you might need. A giant list of 27 different hosting plans leaves little to be desired. 

    I highly recommend you spend the time carefully walking through each hosting option and its corresponding tier according to your site’s needs. 

    If you know you’re going to be using WordPress as your CMS, then you’ll want to pay special attention to its WordPress solutions. They’re geared for SEO compatibility, speed, and ease of use once you sign up for a hosting account. 

    I’d like to highlight GoDaddy’s VPS hosting plan, as it’s one of the most affordable on the market. Other big-name hosting providers don’t even come close to how affordable GoDaddy’s VPS hosting plans are. You can’t beat a $4.99 price point for a self-managed virtual private server plan. 

    GoDaddy Offerings

    GoDaddy hasn’t gotten as big as it has without offering an extensive list of website building and hosting options. Once you land on the homepage, it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to start. 

    To simplify its long list of plans and tools, there are three main categories its product offerings fall under. Let’s take a closer look at each one and how they stack up. 

    GoDaddy Name & Protect

    GoDaddy Name & Protect offers some useful domain tools:

    • Domain name transfers
    • Domain name generator
    • Domain name search and WHOIS tools
    • SSL Certification
    • Website backup tools
    • Protect against malware and site attacks

    If you’re starting a website, you know you’ll need a domain name, and this is where GoDaddy shines. It’s the biggest repository of domain names, and it’s sure to have the domain name you’re looking for.

    If you happen to want a domain name that’s taken, you can try out its domain brokerage services or try the domain name generator to come up with a new site name.  

    Like any other reputable hosting provider, GoDaddy also offers SSL certification, website backup tools, and your standard protection against malicious cyber attacks. 

    Because GoDaddy offers plenty of usable domain tools, it’s frequently rated as one of the most popular hosting providers out there. 

    But the fun doesn’t stop there. GoDaddy also offers plenty of website building and growth tools. 

    Go Daddy Build & Grow

    GoDaddy’s Build & Grow product offerings include:

    • Website builder
    • Online store builder for ecommerce sites
    • An extensive array of hosting options
    • Email and Microsoft 365 tools
    • Second mobile phone number
    • Digital marketing suite
    • GoDaddy marketing services

    If I were to list every single tool GoDaddy offered its customers, we’d be here forever. As a web host and domain name registrar, GoDaddy seems to have taken the route of going wide instead of going deep with its key features and offerings. 

    This can either appeal to you as a customer or turn you off and onto other hosting providers. It all comes down to what you value in a web host and what you’re willing to invest or need to manage your site successfully. 

    The most important feature in GoDaddy’s Build & Grow product offering is its buffet of web hosting options. Here’s a more in-depth look at each.

    Web Hosting: GoDaddy’s most basic hosting plan starts at $5.99 a month. Not quite as cheap as other beginner-friendly hosts, but still considerably affordable and great for starter sites that want to build their online presence. 

    WordPress Hosting: WordPress hosting is specifically optimized for WordPress users in terms of speed and accessibility. WordPress plans start at $6.99 for basic hosting perks, including 30 GB of storage along with a free domain, free business email, and free SSL certificate. This plan works for you if your site hoovers around the 25,000 visitor mark. With three additional WordPress tiers, the deal only gets sweeter the more you pay per month. 

    WordPress Ecommerce Hosting: GoDaddy has solutions for ecommerce hosting as well, with plans starting at $15.99 a month along with free WooCommerce extensions. Once you sign up to one of its WooCommerce tiers, you’ll easily be able to download and install WordPress and WooCommerce together to get up and running in no time. 

    Business Hosting: A business hosting plan comes with more dedicated resources, but with a simplified control panel, so you don’t need a full IT team to manage your site. Plans start at $5.99 a month for shared hosting, which you can eventually upgrade as your site grows.

    VPS Hosting: GoDaddy’s self-managed virtual private hosting plan is definitely one of its redeeming offers because of how affordable it is for developers and system administrators that want a more hands-on approach to their websites with plenty of customizable options. Plans start at just $4.99 a month, and it comes with one CPU Core, one GB RAM, and 100 GB SSD Storage. This is a steal when compared to what other websites charge for similar VPS hosting packages. 

    Windows Hosting: Yet another solid GoDaddy option for Windows fans that starts at just $5.99 a month and comes with a free domain, 100 GB of storage, and a free Office365 email for your first year. If you’re already using Windows products, this can be a great plan to integrate into what’s already working. 

    Reseller Hosting: Are you a reseller looking for reliable hosting resale options? GoDaddy lets you use its servers to build your own hosting business, starting at just $39.99 a month. If you’re in a unique position where you need more hosting options, you’ll have to give them a call to strike a deal with its sales team. 

    Dedicated Server: GoDaddy has over eight powerful dedicated server plans you can choose from, each with its own set of isolated resources at your disposal. This is perfect for system developers and agencies looking for fast and reliable server capabilities. 

    Plans can start as low as $129.99 a month. If you’re a beginner building a website for the first time, plans like these aren’t necessary to successfully build and grow your site. But it’s still good to know you have the option of powerful dedicated servers if you were to need it in the future. 

    GoDaddy doesn’t hold back in giving you plenty of customized web hosting options. But it’s up to you to decide which tiers are right for you according to your website goals. 

    This is what makes GoDaddy so beginner-friendly. It caters to basic hosting needs as well as more advanced options with specific server needs.         

    GoDaddy Pro

    The GoDaddy Pro dashboard is where developers and resellers can manage client projects. A hub where you can manage all your tools, content, support, and discounts, as well as get in touch with GoDaddy support. 

    Since I’m recommending GoDaddy as a great host provider for beginners, the GoDaddy Pro dashboard might not be a necessary tool for you if you aren’t a webmaster or reseller. But it’s a free option if you’re interested in signing up for it. And it’s another way to get in touch with support. 

    The Best Cheap Web Hosting Provider

    My team and I have created an in-depth review for the best cheap web hosting providers on the market you’ll want to read before making any real hosting decisions that you can see here. Here’s a quick recap:

    1. Hostinger — Best Web Hosting Plan Under $1
    2. Bluehost — The Best Value in Web Hosting
    3. A2 Hosting The Best Customer Service
    4. HostGator — The Best Cheap Cloud Hosting
    5. iPage — Best Cheap Web Hosting Features
    6. GoDaddy — The Best Cheap Hosting for Beginners

    Overall, GoDaddy is a great cheap hosting provider for beginner websites who’d like affordable VPS hosting, especially in their first year. It’s a more budget-conscious option than others out there, and it offers plenty of add-ons you can choose to include in your plan, so you’re never left without the hosting tools you need to succeed.

    Once you’ve made up your mind on a hosting plan, you can get started with GoDaddy here.

    The post GoDaddy Review appeared first on Neil Patel.

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