Your Guide to WordPress Favicons

Recognition is crucial for your website to succeed. From creating a great logo to developing key messaging and delivering great content, the easier it is for visitors to recognize your brand, the better the chances they’ll remember your site and make the move from content curiosity to sales conversion.

But reliable recognition isn’t just about the big things — done well, even the smallest details of your WordPress website can help it stand out from the crowd and attract customer notice. This is the role of the favorite icon or “favicon” that’s used in web browser tabs, bookmarks, and on mobile devices as the app image for your site.

Not sure how favicons work or how to get them up and running on your site? We’ve got you covered with our functional guide to favicons — what they are, why they matter, and how to enable them in WordPress.

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If you would rather follow along with a video, here’s a walkthrough created by Elegant Themes:

What is a WordPress Favicon?

The official WordPress support page defines a favicon as “an icon associated with a particular website or web page.” This description doesn’t do the term justice — in fact, favicons are everywhere and are intrinsically associated with your brand.

Let’s take a closer look at how favicons look and why they matter below. 

WordPress Favicon Size

The typical size of a WordPress favicon is 512 x 512 pixels. These icons are stored as .ico files in the root directory of your WordPress server.

But what does a favicon look like in real life? For a quick example, take a look at the browser tab of this webpage if you’re on a desktop or the area just under the address bar on your mobile device. Notice anything? That orange symbol with lines and circles is HubSpot’s favicon — and it shows up anytime you’re on our site.

In most cases, favicons are the same as brand logos scaled down to fit web and mobile browsers. Where this isn’t possible — such as cases where your logo is too complex or detailed — site owners typically opt for similar color schemes and thematic elements to ensure brand consistency.

Once you start seeing favicons you can’t unsee them; from webpages to tabs to bookmarks and mobile applications, the icon you choose for your favicon is inextricably linked to your site and your brand — so make sure you choose wisely.

Why Favicons Matter

Favicons are the visual currency of your brand. They’re everywhere — from browsers to bookmarks to mobile apps — and become an integral part of your site’s overall branding strategy.

As result, effective favicon design and deployment offers three broad benefits:

Improved Brand Recognition

Think of your favicon like your calling card — the icon needs to be simple, recognizable and consistent. The more places your favicon appears, the better, since this makes it easy for users to connect your WordPress site with your icon image.

Consistency is also key as users open multiple browser tabs and the available space for text descriptions naturally shrinks. Open enough tabs and all that’s left is — you guessed it — room for the favicon.

Increased Consumer Confidence

While visitors may not be able to define what a favicon is or how it works, these icons are inherently familiar. So familiar, in fact, that sites without favicons often stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.

Much like relevant social media content and secure site connections, favicons are critical to boosting consumer confidence in the products or services you offer on your site.

Integrated Mobile Consistency

The impact of mobile devices can’t be ignored, with smartphones and tablets now outpacing desktops as the primary means of consumer online interaction. Favicons make it possible to ensure your brand easily translates to mobile — when users create website bookmarks on mobile home screens, your favicon stands in for the link.

Favicon Creation Guidelines

Not sure how to get started creating your site’s favicon? Let’s break down some best-practice guidelines.

1. Get the size right.

As noted above, favicons are typically 512 x 512 pixels in size. While it’s possible to use a larger WordPress favicon size, the platform will often ask you to crop the image down.

2. Keep it simple.

While it’s possible to add background colors and other customization to your favicon, keeping it simple is often the best choice. Here, simplicity includes opting for transparency over background colors and keeping the number of foreground colors in your favicon to one or two at most.

Ideally, your favicon will look almost identical to your brand’s logo — if that’s not possible, try to pull elements from your logo such as shapes or color schemes that help tie in your new favicon.

3. Choose wisely.

Site owners can update their favicon at any time, but it’s a good idea to keep the number of changes to a minimum. Here’s why: If users see a different favicon every time they log on to your website, they won’t have an opportunity to associate a specific image with your brand.

Bottom line? Better to go without a favicon until you find one that works for your site and that you don’t plan on changing.

How to Enable WordPress Favicons

To get your favicon up and running on your WordPress site, you’ve got three options:

  1. Use the Site Icon feature
  2. Install a favicon plugin
  3. Upload the new favicon yourself

Let’s break down each method in more detail.

1. Use the site icon feature.

As of WordPress version 4.3, the content management system (CMS) includes a Site Icon function that enables favicons. Simply prepare your image file — which can be a .jpeg, .ico, .gif or .png file — and head to the Administration page of your WordPress Site.

Next, click on “Appearance” and then “Customize”, then click “Site Identity.” Now, click “Select Image” under the Site Icon subheading and upload the file you’ve prepared. You should see a screen like this:

Using site icon feature in WordPress dashboard to create favicon

If you like the favicon you’ve created, no further action is required. If not, you can easily remove the file or upload a new image.

2. Install a favicon plugin.

You can also use a plugin — such as Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator — to create and deploy your favicon. This must-have WordPress plugin not only lets you customize your favicon but also ensures that multiple versions are created to satisfy the requirements of different operating systems and device versions.

As long as the image you upload to the plugin is at least 70 x 70 pixels, the RealFaviconGenerator will take care of the rest.

3. Upload the new favicon yourself.

If you’d rather do the legwork yourself, you can create and upload your own favicon to your WordPress site.

First, create an image that’s at least 16 x 16 pixels and is saved as a .ico file. Then, use an FTP client to upload this file to the main folder of your current WordPress theme — typically the same place as your wp-admin and wp-content folders.

While this should display your favicon in most web browsers, some older browser versions will require you to edit WordPress header HTML code. The result? DIY favicons aren’t recommended unless you’re familiar with more technical WordPress functions.

Final Favicon Thoughts

Whie favicons form only a small part of your WordPress website build, they’re critical for website recognition. Consistent and clear favicons make it easy for visitors to remember your site and carry this mental connection across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Source :,directory%20of%20your%20WordPress%20server.

How to Send Email to WordPress Users Without Code

Do you want to send email to WordPress users from your admin dashboard?

It’s actually quite simple to use WordPress for sending emails to your registered users. This can be useful if you have a membership site and want to send email announcements or other updates to your site members.

In this article, we’ll show walk you through the steps for sending emails to WordPress users without needing any code.

When Should You Send Email to WordPress Users?

WordPress automatically sends transactional emails to your customers like order receipts and password reset links. But you can also send mass emails to your entire list of users from WordPress. While this isn’t a recommended practice, it’s a good option to have in case you don’t have a proper email list maintained in an email marketing service.

If your website allows users to register, learning how to email users right from your WordPress dashboard is always an important skill. You may want to send emails about new product updates, changes to your website, or other important announcements.

How to Send Email to All WordPress Registered Users

To send emails to your WordPress users, just follow the steps below. First, we’ll set up WP Mail SMTP to take care of your WordPress email delivery from the backend. Then, we’ll set up another plugin that lets you select your WordPress email recipients, compose an email, and send it.

In This Article

Let’s begin.

1. Set Up WP Mail SMTP

First, you’ll need WP Mail SMTP on your site to deliver your emails reliably to intended recipients.

By default, WordPress uses PHP Mail for emails which is commonly responsible for poor email delivery and spam blocks by mailing servers.

A much more dependable method for sending emails takes advantage of SMTP. In SMTP, your emails are properly authenticated, so their legitimacy is easy to verify. As a result, your WordPress emails are able to avoid spam filters and reach recipients without fail.

WP Mail SMTP for sending email to wordpress users

To install WP Mail SMTP on your site, first select a plan that’s appropriate for your needs.

You’ll be able to log into your WP Mail SMTP account area once you’ve purchased a plan and created your account. From your account area, click on the Downloads tab.Download WP Mail smtp

Now, press the Download Mail SMTP button to start the ZIP file download.

Download WP Mail SMTP ZIP file

While the download is in progress, it’s a good idea to use this moment to copy your WP Mail SMTP license key. You’ll need this later on.

WP Mail SMTP License

When the file has finished downloading, open your WordPress dashboard. Then, go to Plugins » Add New.

add new plugin

Here, you can upload the plugin file that you just downloaded. Click on the Choose File button and locate your WP Mail SMTP zip file in your download folder.

select plugin file

After selecting the file, click on Install Now. It will only take a few seconds for WordPress to install this plugin.

install plugin

Press the blue Activate Plugin to activate WP Mail SMTP on your site.

Activate plugin

Great job! Now we just have to configure a mailer with WP Mail SMTP to finish the setup.

2. Integrate WP Mail SMTP With a Mailer

WP Mail SMTP needs an API connection with a mailer service in order to deliver your WordPress emails properly.

The WP Mail SMTP setup wizard allows you to set up a connection between your WordPress site and a mailer service very easily.

After you activate the plugin, the setup wizard should launch automatically. But if for any reason it didn’t start, you can launch it manually.

From your WordPress dashboard, go to WP Mail SMTP » Settings.  Underneath the Mail section, find and click the Launch Setup Wizard button.

Launch setup wizard

The wizard will ask you to select an SMTP mailer service from a wide range of options.

Select SendLayer option

If you need a reliable and reasonably priced mailer, we recommend SendLayer. However, you’re free to choose from other available options.

When you’ve selected a mailer, click Save and Continue. You’ll need to fill out a few fields to configure the mailer connection.

If you need help setting up a particular mailer, click one of the links below for detailed instructions.

Mailers available in all versionsMailers in WP Mail SMTP Pro
SendLayerAmazon SES
SMTP.comMicrosoft 365 /
SendinblueZoho Mail
Google Workspace / Gmail
Other SMTP

In the final step of the setup, WP Mail SMTP will ask you to check the features that you want to enable. If you have the paid version, you can enable extra features like email logs (which we highly recommend for the purposes of this topic).

Email logs summaries on WP Mail SMTP

If you check the Pro features, the setup wizard will then require you to add your license key (which we copied in an earlier step). Insert your license key and then press Verify License Key.

verify license key

The wizard will now send a test email to make sure your configuration is properly set up. If all is good, move to the next step.

3. Get the Send Users Email Plugin

Now that you have WP Mail SMTP configured, you can rest assured that your emails originating from any plugin on your site will always deliver successfully.

But by default, there’s no way in WordPress to write an email and send it to your WordPress users at will.

To be able to send emails to any recipient of your choice in WordPress, you’ll need to install a plugin called Send Users Email.

Send users email

If you need help setting up this plugin, you can check out this guide on installing WordPress plugins.

When the plugin is installed and activated on your site, you can start sending emails to your WordPress users easily.

4. Send Email to Registered Users

Open your WordPress admin area and then click Email to Users » Email Roles.

email roles

You should now see a page with options to send emails to people selected by their assigned WordPress roles. If you want to send the email to all of your WordPress subscribers, checkmark the box against Subscriber.

Select subscribers

You can also select other types of users as your recipients such as administrators and authors. The email subject field lets you write a subject line for your email. There’s also a rich text field for composing the body of your email message.

After selecting recipients and writing the email, press the Send Message button,

Send message

Your email will now start sending to all WordPress users that you selected by role above.

But what if you only want to email individual users rather than mass emailing your entire list?

The Send Users Email includes a feature that lets you individually select each registered WordPress user you wish to send your email to.

To access this feature, go to Email to Users » Email Users. Here, you’ll see a list of all registered WordPress users on your site. You can simply select the users that you want to send emails to from this list.

email to individual

As before, you can use the email subject field and email message fields to customize your subject line and email content.

Press the blue Send Message button to send your email to individually selected WordPress users.

Send message

Congratulations! You now have the necessary tools to send emails to WordPress users entire individually or to your entire subscriber list.

5. Track Your WordPress Emails (Optional)

Generally, WordPress isn’t the best way to send emails and run email marketing campaigns. This is because of the inherent limitations of the platform when it comes to email functionalities.

WordPress is primarily a content management system, so its email capabilities are only basic. For the best results and much easier management, you should consider using a dedicated email marketing service (Sendinblue, Constant Contact, and MailerLite to name a few).

However, if you are going to send some of your emails from WordPress, then it’s wise to log and track your emails.

One of the many benefits of WP Mail SMTP Pro is that it includes email tracking features. With this feature, WP Mail SMTP can track how many times your emails were opened and clicked by your subscribers.

To enable this feature, navigate to WP Mail SMTP » Settings. 

WP Mail SMTP settings menu

On the top of the Settings page, click on the Email Log tab.

Email log settings tab

Here, make sure that the Email Log option is enabled.

Enable WordPress email logging

Now scroll down to view additional email tracking settings. You can enable open and click tracking to collect open and click rate data for every WordPress email you send to users.

Open and click tracking in WordPress

With email tracking enabled, you will be able to see engagement metrics for each email right within your WordPress dashboard.

Opens and clicks in WordPress email log

This information is extremely helpful as it allows you to experiment with different subject lines to produce higher engagement levels.

For more information, see our guide on tracking WordPress emails.

And that’s all! You now know how to send email to WordPress users (by role and individually) and also track the performance of your emails from your admin area!

Next, Take Email Tracking to the Next Level

There are only a few WordPress plugins that offer email tracking features. If you’d like to see a quick comparison of the best email tracking plugins, we’ve got a detailed guide just for you!

Also, if you’re being bombarded by spam on your site, check out our WordPress spam prevention tips to tackle this problem.

Fix Your WordPress Emails Now

​​Ready to fix your emails? Get started today with the best WordPress SMTP plugin. WP Mail SMTP Elite includes full White Glove Setup and offers a 14-day money-back guarantee.

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Securing Port 443: The Gateway To A New Universe

At Wordfence our business is to secure over 4 million WordPress websites and keep them secure. My background is in network operations, and then I transitioned into software development because my ops role was at a scale where I found myself writing a lot of code. This led me to founding startups, and ultimately into starting the cybersecurity business that is Wordfence. But I’ve maintained that ops perspective, and when I think about securing a network, I tend to think of ports.

You can find a rather exhaustive list of TCP and UDP ports on Wikipedia, but for the sake of this discussion let’s focus on a few of the most popular ports:

  • 20 and 21 – FTP
  • 22 – SSH
  • 23 – (Just kidding. You better not be running Telnet)
  • 25 – Email via SMTP
  • 53 – DNS
  • 80 – Unencrypted Web
  • 110 – POP3 (for older email clients)
  • 443 – Web encrypted via TLS
  • 445 – Active Directory or SMB sharing
  • 993 – IMAP (for email clients)
  • 3306 – MySQL
  • 6378 – Redis
  • 11211 – Memcached

If you run your eye down this list, you’ll notice something interesting. The options available to you for services to run on most of these ports are quite limited. Some of them are specific to a single application, like Redis. Others, like SMTP, provide a limited number of applications, either proprietary or open-source. In both cases, you can change the configuration of the application, but it’s rare to write a custom application on one of those ports. Except port 443.

In the case of port 443 and port 80, you have a limited range of web servers listening on those ports, but users are writing a huge range of bespoke applications on port 443, and have a massive selection of applications that they can host on that port. Everything from WordPress to Drupal to Joomla, and more. There are huge lists of Content Management Systems.

Not only do you have a wide range of off-the-shelf web applications that you can run on port 443 or (if you’re silly) port 80, but you also have a range of languages they might be coded in, or in which you can code your own web application. Keep in mind that the web server, in this case, is much like an SSH or IMAP server in that it is listening on the port and handling connections, but the difference is that it is handing off execution to these languages, their various development frameworks, and ultimately the application that a developer has written to handle the incoming request.

With SSH, SMTP, FTP, IMAP, MySQL, Redis and most other services, the process listening on the port is the process that handles the request. With web ports, the process listening on the port delegates the incoming connection to another application, usually written in another language, running at the application layer, that is part of the extremely large and diverse ecosystem of web applications.

This concept in itself – that the applications listening on the web ports are extremely diverse and either home-made or selected from a large and diverse ecosystem – presents unique security challenges. In the case of, say, Redis, you might worry about running a secure version of Redis and making sure it is not misconfigured. In the case of a web server, you may have 50 application instances written in two languages from five different vendors all on the same port, which all need to be correctly configured, have their patch levels maintained, and be written using secure coding practices.

As if that doesn’t make the web ports challenging enough, they are also, for the most part, public. Putting aside internal websites for the moment, perhaps the majority of websites derive their value from making services available to users on the Internet by being public-facing. If you consider the list of ports I have above, or in the Wikipedia article I linked to, many of those ports are only open on internal networks or have access to them controlled if they are external. Web ports for public websites, by their very nature, must be publicly accessible for them to be useful. There are certain public services like SMTP or DNS, but as I mentioned above, the server that is listening on the port is the server handling the request in these cases.

A further challenge when securing websites is that often the monetary and data assets available to an attacker when compromising a website are greater than the assets they may gain compromising a corporate network. You see this with high volume e-commerce websites where a small business is processing a large number of web-based e-commerce transactions below $100. If the attacker compromises their corporate network via leaked AWS credentials, they may gain access to the company bank account and company intellectual property, encrypt the company’s data using ransomware, or perhaps even obtain customer PII. But by compromising the e-commerce website, they can gain access to credit card numbers in-flight, which are far more tradeable, and where the sum of available credit among all cards is greater than all the assets of the small business, including the amount of ransom that business might be able to pay.

Let’s not discount breaches like the 2017 Equifax breach that compromised 163 million American, British and Canadian citizen’s records. That was extremely valuable to the attackers. But targets like this are rare, and the Web presents a target-rich environment. Which is the third point I’d like to make in this post. While an organization may run a handful of services on other ports, many companies – with hosting providers in particular – run a large number of web applications. And an individual or company is far more likely to have a service running on a web port than any other port. Many of us have websites, but how many of us run our own DNS, SMTP, Redis, or another service listening on a port other than 80 or 443? Most of us who run websites also run MySQL on port 3306, but that port should not be publicly accessible if configured correctly.

That port 443 security is different has become clear to us at Wordfence over the years as we have tracked and cataloged a huge number of malware variants, web vulnerabilities, and a wide range of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) that attackers targeting web applications use. Most of these have no relationship with the web server listening on port 443, and nearly all of them have a close relationship with the web application that the web server hands off control to once communication is established.

My hope with this post has been to catalyze a different way of thinking about port 443 and that other insecure port (80) we all hopefully don’t use. Port 443 is not just another service. It is, in fact, the gateway to a whole new universe of programming languages, dev frameworks, and web applications.

In the majority of cases, the gateway to that new universe is publicly accessible.

Once an attacker passes through that gateway, a useful way to think about the web applications hosted on the server is that each application is its own service that needs to have its patch level maintained, needs to be configured correctly, and should be removed if it is not in use to reduce the available attack surface.

If you are a web developer you may already think this way, and if anything, you may be guilty of neglecting services on ports other than port 80 or 443. If you are an operations engineer, or an analyst working in a SOC protecting an enterprise network, you may be guilty of thinking about port 443 as just another port you need to secure.

Think of port 443 as a gateway to a new universe that has no access control, with HTTPS providing easy standardized access, and with a wide range of diverse services running on the other side, that provide an attacker with a target and asset-rich environment.

Footnote: We will be exhibiting at Black Hat in Las Vegas this year at booth 2514 between the main entrance and Innovation City. Our entire team of over 30 people will be there. We’ll have awesome swag, as always. Come and say hi! Our team will also be attending DEF CON immediately after Black Hat.

Written by Mark Maunder – Founder and CEO of Wordfence. 

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The 9 best free stock photo sites in 2022

How to find free stock images for business and commercial use

Stock photo sites are a dime a dozen, so it can be tough to know where to find free, high-quality images that aren’t also on every other website.

And as a freelancer and a business owner, I’ve done my fair share of scouring the web for that perfect stock photo. So I spent several weeks reviewing dozens of stock photo websites—and I narrowed it down to the nine best for your next project. 

The 9 best free stock photo sites

  • Unsplash for the widest variety of free stock images (and integrations)
  • Pixabay for a variety of media types
  • Gratisography for quirky images you won’t see anywhere else
  • Canva for adding simple enhancements and overlays
  • Burst for eCommerce companies
  • New Old Stock for vintage photos
  • Reshot for UX/UI designers
  • 123RF for photo sizes optimized for social media
  • Flickr for interacting with the photography community

How to find the best websites with 100% free stock photos

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

Finding images that are free for commercial use isn’t as hard as it might sound, thanks to a number of sites that aggregate photos, illustrations, vectors, and more. These sites usually let you search and filter by keyword or category, making it easy to find what you’re looking for. But that doesn’t mean every stock photo site is worth perusing.

The best free stock image sites all meet the following criteria:

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  • They must contain images that can be used without payment for both commercial and personal purposes.
  • I focused on sites that have at least 500 photos, but I favored ones that offer thousands of images.
  • A lot of free stock photo sites essentially offer the same pictures. I looked for sites that offered unique images, so your content can stand out.
  • If you plan to use stock photos for your website or branded content, you’ll need high-quality resolutions. Every site on this list offers at least one high-quality download size for its photos.
  • And of course, the website itself should be fast, easy to navigate, and from this century.

When reviewing these sites, I visited each one and signed up for an account if necessary. I explored the site’s menus and conducted a number of searches to see what types of photos would come up. I reviewed the quality of the photos and took note of things like how advanced the search filters were, whether there were high-resolution download sizes available, and if there was anything uniquely useful about the stock photo site in question.

Best free stock photos site for a variety of photos and integrations  

Unsplash (Web, iOS, Android)

Unsplash, our pick for the best free stock photos site for a variety of photos and integrations

With more than three million photos and multiple plugins, Unsplash is one of the most easily accessible and largest collections of stock photos available. 

It comes with native apps like an iOS app, an Android photo picker, Apple TV and desktop wallpaper apps, and even a Chrome extension that randomly selects a background image when you open your browser. Unsplash’s API is also already natively integrated into popular tools like Figma, Notion, Trello, and Squarespace, letting you search and use high-quality stock photos without leaving your favorite platform. 

The site is also easy to use: type a keyword into the search bar at the top of the page, and browse the results to find the best images for your purposes. And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, there are category tabs along the top of the homepage for inspiration.

Another feature that sets Unsplash apart from other free photo sites is its Collections section. Users of the site are able to create Collections—like “Christmas Traditions,” “Autumn,” and “Milkyway“—by curating photos they come across. If you want several similar photos of a specific theme, Unsplash may be your best option.

Best free stock photos site for a variety of media types

Pixabay (Web, iOS, Android) 

Pixabay, our pick for the best free stock photos site for a variety of media types

Pixabay hosts more than 2.6 million photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and videos—all of which are free to use. Click Images next to the search bar to look for images by type, or you can search more granularly by becoming familiar with Pixabay’s advanced search options. Pixabay lets you search by photographer, orientation (i.e., landscape or portrait), size, and even color. The site also features an Editor’s Choice curation section, which highlights the best images chosen by the Pixabay team. Click the Explore dropdown menu in the upper-right corner of the site to see their selections.

If you need a professional-looking illustration—i.e., a hand-drawn image or a computer-generated graphic—you should begin your search here. Royalty-free illustrations can be tricky to find on many free image sites, but Pixabay has loads of them. Just click Images, select Illustrations, enter in your search terms, and that’s that. You can also use Pixabay to search for vector graphics, videos, music, and even sound effects.

Best free stock photos site for quirky images you won’t see anywhere else

Gratisography (Web, Android)

Gratisography, our pick for the best free stock photos site for quirky images you won't see anywhere else

Gratisography doesn’t have thousands of pictures for you to browse through. What it does have is some of the quirkiest images you will find on the web—images you won’t be able to find anywhere else, like a young kid spray painting and an alarm clock that looks like it’s on the moon.

The site is pretty barebones—and its color scheme is distracting at best, with bright neon colors and cartoonish UI elements. Photos are organized into only nine different categories: Animals, Business, Fashion, Food, Nature, Objects, People, Urban, and Whimsical. And while the photo resolutions are high-quality, they only come in one size (and you have to download each photo to find out). 

But if you’re looking for an odd image that will bring your content to life, Gratisography is definitely the place to start.

Best free stock photos site for adding simple enhancements and overlays

Canva (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android) 

Canva, our pick for the best free stock photos site for adding simple enhancements and overlays

Canva is a web-based graphic design tool that makes modifying images easy. If you’re looking for stock photos for a graphic design project—like designing a social media banner or a flyer—Canva is a one-stop shop for your needs. Even with a free account, the platform offers a library of over 1.6 million free images you can use for any purpose.

If you’re planning on enhancing the images you find with simple text overlays or tweaking the transparency or vibrancy of photos on a regular basis, Canva will help you streamline the process. Find photos, and then use Canva’s built-in design tool to enhance them on the spot.

One helpful feature is that Canva automatically generates a color palette for any photo you choose. If you’re building a vision board or a design presentation, you can easily use the hex color codes to keep your project’s color scheme consistent.

Canva does come with a few downsides, though. As I was testing, I noticed that you can’t directly download a stock photo as you would from another stock photo site. Instead, you’ll have to click Use in a design. Canva takes you to the design dashboard with the stock photo on your digital canvas. While this is helpful if you intend to add text or graphics to the image, it’s an unnecessary complication if you plan to download a stock photo as-is.  

Also, many of the best stock photo sites let you choose the size of your photo before downloading it. Canva only provides one size—though the photos are all in high resolution.

If you’re looking for more stock photo sites for graphic design, PikWizard and Kaboompics are both great Canva alternatives. PikWizard is linked to DesignWizard, a design tool similar to Canva. And Kaboompics focuses on color palettes; you can even download your chosen photo along with with the color scheme it uses, which is useful for putting together vision boards and presentations. Kaboompics also lets you choose a custom pixel width when downloading an image, which is a helpful feature.

Best free stock photos site for eCommerce businesses

Burst (Web, iOS, Android) 

Burst, our pick for the best free stock photos site for eCommerce companies

Burst is a free stock photo site powered by leading eCommerce platform Shopify. The platform offers thousands of free images you can use to strengthen your content, including a large selection of business-oriented photos (e.g., retail, eCommerce, money, and products). The site serves up 28 different categories, several of which are broken down into subcategories to make it even easier to find the images you need.

Browsing, searching, and downloading are standard fare, but as an added bonus, Burst and Shopify offer advice on things like how to turn your online business ideas into reality.

Best free stock photos site for vintage photos

New Old Stock (Web) 

New Old Stock, our pick for the best free stock photos site for vintage photos

New Old Stock publishes vintage photos from the public archives. If you think old photos—like a group of men sitting outside a storefront in the late 1800s or a British dispatch rider in France—would match your brand, spend a few minutes scrolling through New Old Stock to see if anything catches your eye.

Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have as much variety as other stock photo sites—and not all of the photos are free for commercial use. The site creator advises commercial users to check with the originating institution’s rights statement through the provided link to the original Flickr posting of each photo.

The site’s search functionality also leaves much to be desired. And unlike most free image sites, New Old Stock doesn’t offer any way to filter photos. If you’re feeling lucky, though, click the magnifying glass in the upper-left corner of the site, type in a search phrase, and you may strike (vintage) gold.

Best free stock photos site for UX/UI designers

Reshot (Web)

Reshot, our pick for the best free stock photos site for UX/UI designers

Reshot is a relatively new resource for designers, whether they need stock photos, vector illustrations, or icons. The site’s collection is provided by the design team over at Envato Elements, a paid creative subscription service for templates, photos, music, and more. But Reshot provides free visual resources for designers on a budget.

Unlike many other stock photo sites, Reshot has a wide variety of vector illustrations and icons as well. The site boasts millions of images that are free for personal and commercial use. The website is minimalist in design, with a left-hand menu where you can choose to browse collections of icons, illustrations, or photos. Or if you know what you’re looking for, type your search terms into the search bar and narrow the results by media type and orientation. 

If you find an illustration you like, you have the option to download a vector or PNG—while icons come in SVG code or SVG. And since you’ll likely want to make additions or changes to these images, Reshot makes it easy to download files straight into Figma. 

One downside I noticed as I was testing is that while illustrations and icons have multiple download types, it appears that photos can only be downloaded as JPEGs—and only in one size. Those sizes are in high-quality resolution, but you can’t choose from a variety of sizes. But in general, if you’re looking for ideas or raw images for your wireframes or prototypes, Reshot is a great option. 

Best free stock photos site for optimizing images for social media

123RF (Web, iOS, Android)

123RF, our pick for the best free stock photo site for photo sizes optimized for social media

If you’re looking for free stock photos for Instagram or other social media sites, 123RF makes your search easy. The stock photo site not only provides a variety of free photos and vector illustrations, but it also lets you choose from a selection of download sizes, including Facebook cover, email header, Pinterest post, and even brochure cover. 

These pre-selected sizes can save you hours of cumulative time spent cropping and resizing images for social media. You can even apply a filter, add text, and remove the image’s background directly from the site before downloading it.

As I was testing, I did notice that you can’t reposition an image after choosing a social media-optimized size. So if you choose an image whose focal point isn’t the center, you may run into issues if you pair it with a small or narrow aspect ratio. 

Overall, the site is clean and easy to navigate. And if you’re willing to pay a few dollars per image, 123RF provides a wider variety of images as well as a variety of stock footage and audio for use in your next project.

Best free stock photos site for interacting with the photography community 

Flickr (Web, iOS, Android)

Flickr, our pick for the best free stock photos site for interacting with the photography community

Flickr is a photo sharing social network. The site—which boasts more than five billion images—brings together professional and amateur photographers from around the world.

The thing I appreciate about Flickr is that it places artists front and center. When you navigate to Flickr’s homepage, you’ll immediately see a gallery of suggested people to follow. Click into any one of their profiles to see a “Photostream,” or a feed of their latest and most popular images. Flickr is a great way to discover talented photographers, learn more about the field, and refine your own artistic eye.

The photos on Flickr are known for containing rich metadata, including geolocation information, EXIF data, tags, and more. So if you want to find photos taken in France, select the World Map under the Explore dropdown, and click on one of the pink dots that pop up in that country. If you want to find images of golden retrievers, simply type the term into the search bar in the upper-right corner of the Flickr homepage, and thousands of results will come back. Plus, Flickr lets you search by trending photos and most recently added photos. You can even explore galleries and search specific photographers’ collections by clicking on their usernames.

And if you’re a budding photographer yourself, you can even click Camera Finder under the Explore dropdown to see the most popular cameras currently being used in the Flickr community.

Keep in mind that you can’t use every photo you find on Flickr for free—especially for commercial use. But it’s easy to figure out which ones are usable. Run a search for an image, and then click the Any license dropdown menu and select Commercial use allowed.

If you get sick of seeing ads as you browse Flickr, you can upgrade to an ad-free experience for $5.54/month. The premium subscription also comes with unlimited storage (free users get one terabyte of storage). And if you want to even more with your stock photos, connect Flickr to Zapier to do things like share new Flickr photos on social media or back up new Flickr photos to Google Drive.

Share new Flickr photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

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If you’re looking for more sites that prioritize the photography community, Pexels is a great Flickr alternative. Pexels offers hundreds of thousands of photos that are free for both commercial and personal use. The site has a leaderboard and a number of photography contests for contributors, which makes it a great site for finding photographers who are engaged with the platform and constantly uploading fresh content. 

Other stock photo sites to consider

If you’re looking for something a little more unique (and you have the budget for it), you could try a paid option like ShutterstockiStock by Getty, or Adobe Stock. These sites are all very well-established resources for paid—but relatively affordable—stock photos. You can subscribe to any of these sites for $29 per month for up to ten monthly image downloads.  

There are also many niche stock photography sites out there (like Foodiesfeed, which specializes in food photography). So if you’re looking for a specific type of image, it’s worth seeing if there’s a niche site available. These sites might give you a wider range of options in the specific category you’re looking for.

If you’re publishing content on a regular basis, you’ll likely get the best results by using a combination of our recommended sites. Just be sure that you keep your branding consistent: using too many eclectic images can muddy your brand and make it hard to stand out from the crowd.

A note on copyrights

Why can’t you just scour the web for an image you like and publish it? Because creators own the rights to their images, and if you publish one of them without their approval, you may be guilty of copyright infringement. In a worst-case scenario, that could land you a $150,000 fine for each violation, and possibly even jail time. Of course, you’ll receive a cease-and-desist letter first, telling you to take the images down, but even still, you’ll waste time and effort removing them—in addition to the time and effort you wasted finding them in the first place.

But some creators are happy to share their images with others. Creative Commons offers a number of different licenses that creators can use to enable other people to leverage their work freely. Of course, it’s not all or nothing: some licenses allow for personal use, while others allow for commercial use. Some licenses require you to attribute images to creators, while others don’t. Some allow you to adapt or modify an image, while others require you to use it in its original form. When using an image licensed through Creative Commons, be sure to read the fine print and abide by the terms.

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What Is a Digital Nomad and How Do You Become One?

In the Cascade Mountains of Southern Oregon, there sits a volcano with no peak. But what takes the place of a billowing summit isn’t a barren crater — it’s an electric blue lake, surrounded by pine trees and the jagged remains of the volcano’s collapsed mouth, which crumbled during an eruption almost 8,000 years ago.

This place is called Crater Lake. It’s considered one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. It’s also where Justin Champion, a Content Professor at HubSpot Academy, spent his work day last Thursday.

A striking landscape, like Crater Lake, is a normal office view for Justin and his wife, Ariele. After working in the National Park, they headed north to Portland and spent a day in Mt. Hood. Then, they drove through Redwood National Park. And next week, they plan to work in Yosemite National Park.

Justin and his wife have been living, working, and traveling across America in a Ford F-250 with an Airstream trailer hitched to its back for the past two years. And their alternative lifestyle has helped them prioritize life experiences and close connections over material possessions. They’re modern day nomads. Or what most people call digital nomads.

What is a Digital Nomad?

Digital nomads are remote workers who usually travel to different locations. They often work in coffee shops, co-working spaces, or public libraries, relying on devices with wireless internet capabilities like smart phones and mobile hotspots to do their work wherever they want.

With 34% of remote employees working 4-5 days a week out of the office, the digital nomad lifestyle could be an exciting possibility if you’ve caught the travel bug and want to break free from the shackles of 9-5 life. Below, we’ll cover the benefits, job opportunities, and realities of this alternative lifestyle.

Let’s find out if it’s the right fit for you.

Living the Dream? 5 Benefits of Being a Digital Nomad

1. You’ll be more productive.

There’s no time to waste when you travel to gorgeous places almost every day. Exploring your new surroundings will motivate you to get your work done as soon as possible. Adventure can be one of the best types of motivation.

2. You’ll have more breakthrough ideas.

Creativity happens when you mash seemingly unrelated concepts together to form a new idea. Neuroscientists call this synaptic play, and the more incongruent the concepts are, the more synapses occur in your brain. Working in a different place everyday gives you a lot of diverse experiences that you call pull from to make these creative connections. And when your brain is chock full of these diverse inputs, your ideas are much more inventive.

3. You’ll become more adaptable.

Constantly traveling to new places pushes you out of your comfort zone. And to adapt to new environments everyday, you need to be willing to engage with different people and cultures. This makes you more open to new experiences in the future.

Traveling also improves your brain’s reaction to change. When you travel, the stress of navigating a foreign place sprouts dendrites in your brain. These dangling extensions increase your brain’s capacity and attentiveness during new and challenging situations in the future.

In a nutshell, traveling strengthens your desire and ability to learn new skills.

4. You’ll have more time to do the things you love.

Even though work can be great, we still work to live, not the other way around. Finishing work faster gives you more time in your schedule to explore your surroundings, do the things you’re passionate about, and spend more time with loved ones.

5. You’ll make lifelong friendships.

Adventure and memorable experiences forge close connections between people. When you embark on your journey, you’ll meet other digital nomads and become friends with them. And if you travel with a friend or significant other, your relationship will be closer than ever before.

Common Jobs for Digital Nomads

Today, most companies embrace remote work. 43% of American employees spent time working remote last year, and this number will only increase. But being a digital nomad and working a few days at home are two different animals. If you want to keep your day job while traveling, you need to prove to your manager that you can handle full-time remote work before you can do work on the road. Justin Champion decided to work remotely for six months before he even asked to travel.

If you’re looking for job, sift through sites that only list remote jobs, like We Work Remotely or, and ask prospective employers if the role lends itself to your nomadic lifestyle.

Freelancing is also a common role for digital nomads. Before you embark on your journey, though, you must be realistic with yourself. How will you be able to make a living? Answer the following questions to help you figure this out:

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I like to do?
  • Is there a need for my skill?
  • Can I do this job online?

Once you know how you’ll be able to make money, you can enter the gig economy by marketing and selling your services on your own, or finding work on a freelance service marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr.

Whether you chose to work for a company or yourself, becoming a digital nomad doesn’t mean pigeonholing yourself in a specific role. Your job just has to be fully digital. Listed below are some common roles that lend themselves well to a fully remote lifestyle:

  • Accounting
  • Customer Service
  • Design
  • Editing
  • Healthcare
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Quality Analyst (QA)
  • Recruiting & HR
  • Sales
  • Software Development
  • Teacher/Tutor
  • Transcription
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Writing

As you can see, there’s a lot of different industries and roles for digital nomads. Remote work is becoming commonplace, which is exciting and beneficial for the workforce. But that doesn’t mean anyone and everyone should be a digital nomad. It’s still a tough challenge. You need to be organized and disciplined, or you won’t be able to enjoy your travels — which is the point of the lifestyle, right? So how do you set yourself up for success?

How Do You Become a Digital Nomad? 5 Things to Consider Before You Get Started

1. Get rid of unnecessary expenses.

Paying for things that don’t greatly impact your life is never ideal. That’s why you need to get rid of all the expenses that you won’t need living as a digital nomad. Things like gym memberships, subscriptions, and debt are all expenses that’ll bog you down on the road. And if you’re a freelancer, they’ll be even more of a burden because you might experience some periods of inconsistent income. Getting rid of these expenses and paying off debt will allow you to fully focus on your work and travels.

2. Make sure you have income you can rely on for months in advance.

Whatever lifestyle you pursue, it’s always smart to have safety net. You never know when an emergency will arise. This rings especially true when you’re a digital nomad because you’re mostly own your own. You can’t find solace in a warm, comfortable home or family, and if you’re freelancer, you don’t have the luxury of a consistent paycheck. To widen your safety net, you should sell any unnecessary belongings, move the essentials into a storage unit, sell or rent your house, and save as much money as possible.

3. Get travel health insurance.

Traveling can give you some of the best experiences in your life, but it not always a blissful, perpetual highlight reel. It’s still real life. You’ll get sick, have emergencies and accidents, and need regular checkups. You also need immunizations to enter certain parts of the world. Your health should be your number one priority during your travels, so make sure you buy a solid health insurance plan that’s valid in all the places you visit.

4. Set yourself up for financial success.

Ample funds are the key to successful travel. American credit cards will usually charge you a fee if you use it abroad, so ask your bank for an international credit card. You should also sign up for credit monitoring services that’ll alert you if anyone tries to steal your identity.

5. If you travel internationally, unlock your phone.

Most countries have different cell phone carriers, so if you want to bounce from country to country, you need to call your current carrier and ask them to unlock your phone. You’ll be able to use your phone in any country because you can put a different sim card in your phone from each international carrier you use.

Once you square these things away, it’s time to start your new life on the road. But actually living life as a digital nomad is an entirely different ballgame than preparing to be one.

7 Tips for Living as a Digital Nomad

1. Make a budget.

As a digital nomad, your budget should be your bible. And if you follow it, you can live quite comfortably. To create a successful budget, calculate your living expenditures, the cost of traveling to each destination, staying there, the activities you’ll do there, the costs of working, and how it all affects your savings if you can’t earn a salary for a while.

2. Plan for the worst-scenario.

When you live abroad, It’s crucial to have multiple backup plans in case of any emergencies. Nothing really ever works out the way it’s supposed to. Things happen. What if your truck breaks down? Or what if you get stuck in a foreign country with no backup plan? What’s your plan B and C? You need to set these processes in place to handle the inevitable bumps in the road.

3. Join a digital nomad community.

Digital Nomad communities like Couchsurfing and Nomadlist will help you learn the nuances of the digital nomad lifestyle, and reduce its steep learning curve. Fellow nomads will be happy to answer any pressing questions about your new lifestyle and any areas you plan to visit. They’ll also teach you how to work effectively on the road. And arguably the most beneficial perk of these communities is that you can connect with other traveling professionals, which can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, and friendships.

4. Make sure you have cell reception or wifi.

If your employer lets you work remotely, show them and your team some respect by being available as much as possible online. Not having wifi or cell phone reception should never be an excuse for missing a meeting or failing to get an assignment done. The same goes for client work, if you’re a freelancer.

To make sure you’ll always have internet connection, consider investing in a cell phone booster and a mobile hotspot mifi device. Cell phone boosters can detect the smallest shred of cell phone reception and send the signal to your vehicle. Mobile hotspot mifi devices strengthen your mobile hotspot service, so you don’t have to rely on a spotty, public wifi connection.

5. Make sure you can communicate with locals.

Knowing the language of the country you’re going to or knowing that they speak your language is crucial for successful travel. Assuming that there has to be someone who will understand English is a dangerous move. But if you must go to a place where you don’t know the native language or they don’t speak yours, use Google Translate or another translation app to navigate your new environment.

6. Research your destinations.

If you’re not living in an RV, find affordable housing on AirBnB or Couchsurf before you arrive to your destination. And make sure your lodging is near a hospital, emergency room or clinic in case of an emergency. You should also research the area to find safe neighborhood to stay in.

7. Draw cash from ATMs.

Airports are notorious for charging ridiculously high currency exchange fees. If you need cash, draw it from an ATM. Your bank will charge you a fee, but it’ll be much lower than the one at the currency exchange desk.

Before you set off …

If an adventurous lifestyle sounds appealing to you, then being a digital nomad can be one of the most rewarding yet challenging ways to live. But if you arm yourself with organization, discipline, and a thirst for learning, you could enjoy an exciting and fulfilling life on the road. Just ask Justin and Ariele Champion. They’re living the alternative American Dream. And they’ve never looked back.

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How to Work From Home: 24 Tips From People Who Do It Successfully

Working from home is awesome, right up until the cat throws up on your computer. And your neighbor, who you can only assume is building a time machine, starts firing up all sorts of power tools and noisy machinery across the street.

COVID-19 has caused remote work to become a necessity instead of a luxury for many professionals. But which environment allows us to be more productive: the home office or the office office?

In the office office, your colleagues often pose the greatest threat to keeping you from getting some real, heads-down work done. They drop by your desk, engage you in conversation, and invite you to lunch — or so I hear. The social benefits are nice to have, but they can become a challenge if you’re easily distracted.

However, at the home office, while family members can be a distraction, I find that it’s easy for you to become your own worst enemy. Because without coworkers around, you’re free to drop those pesky inhibitions. At the home office, no one’s watching. You don’t necessarily feel that same peer pressure or communal obligation to get stuff done. (Also, you don’t have to wear pants.)

Download Now: How to Be More Productive at Work [Free Guide + Templates]

Below, I’ve compiled many great work-at-home tips and tricks from some of my awesome coworkers.

How to Work From Home

  1. Communicate expectation with anyone who will be home with you.
  2. Take clear breaks.
  3. Interact with other humans.
  4. Prepare meals the night before.
  5. Pick a definitive finish time.
  6. Eat and sleep.
  7. Talk to your employer.
  8. Join a remote-friendly company.
  9. Start a career as a freelancer.
  10. Start a home business.

1. Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you.

Of course, you might be working from home but still have “company.” Make sure any roommates, family members, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) respect your space during work hours. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re home.

If you share space with another work-from-home adult, you may have to lay ground rules about meeting times, shared desks and chairs, and quiet times.

CEO Sam Mallikarjunan tells how he manages to get work done even when people are around.

“If anyone else is going to be at home when you’re working, they just have to be clear that when you’re in your ‘office’ (in my case, my signal to the family is having headphones on), you’re working — even if it looks like and feels like you’re hanging out at home.”

He continues, “It’s easy to get distracted by the many things that have to be done around the house during the day.”

2. Take clear breaks.

It can be so easy to get distracted as a telecommuter that you avoid breaks altogether. Don’t let the guilt of working in the building you sleep in prevent you from taking five minutes to relax.

However rather than just opening YouTube and watching some comfort clips, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk, enjoy fresh air, or spend time with others who might also be in the house.

Take Ginny Mineo‘s advice. “Breaks, like making and eating lunch, can recharge you to do better work. Don’t assume you need to be working 100% of the time while you’re home to be more productive.”

3. Interact with other humans.

When your office starts working from home, you’ll likely miss the casual social interactions with colleagues you’re used to throughout the day. When working from home, you don’t have the small talk and other activities that make each day at the office unique.

So what can you do? Communicate.

Fight boredom and loneliness by frequent communication with other employees. Reach out to them through video chat via apps like Zoom and Slack, a hosted phone system,  or however else your company communicates.

Remember: You’re working from home, not the moon. Interacting with other people during the day is allowed, even if they’re not your colleagues. It’s a good idea to see another face during the day when most of your workday is solitary. So, use your breaks to interact with others.

“Go outside and find a human to interact with — ordering your coffee, running an errand, whatever. It keeps you sane.”

– Corey Wainwright

4. Prepare meals the night before.

When you’re in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a nice breakfast and lunch for yourself, chopping and cooking included. Don’t use precious minutes making your food the day of work — cook it the night before.

Preparing food ahead of time ensures you can use your meal times to eat and that you aren’t performing non-work tasks that spend energy better used at your desk.

Digital marketing strategist, Lindsay Kolowich, adds, “Cooking at home is time you wouldn’t have spent meal prepping if you’d been in the office that day, and I find the minutes can add up in the end. To mitigate that, I try to cook and prep my meals the night before, just like I would for a day at the office.

5. Pick a definitive finishing time.

You might be under the impression that working from home establishes more work-life balance, but be careful with that assumption.

Working from home can also feel like being at a casino — you can get so caught up in your activity, in a relaxing environment, that you lose complete track of time.

“If you work from home full-time (or regularly), it’s really easy to let your work life bleed into your personal life,” says Tyler Littwin.

He continues, “Maintaining a boundary is important for both halves of the equation.”

In lieu of coworkers, whose packing up and leaving the office reminds you to do the same, set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal workday is coming to an end. You don’t have to stop at exactly that time, but knowing the workday is technically over can help you start the process of saving your work and calling it quits for the evening.

6. Eat and sleep.

What is the biggest perk to working from home? One of the biggest benefits for some people (me), is complete access to the kitchen.

As soon as I take a break, I automatically drift towards the kitchen for some snacks.

An unhealthy diet can affect productivity and drain energy. When I switched to a healthier diet, it made me function better and get the most from my routine.

So eat well when working from home.

It’s also vital that you keep to a proper sleep schedule. Save binge-watching your favorite shows for the weekend. With the right food to keep energy levels high and sound sleep to refresh your body and mind, you can make a success of working from home.

7. Talk to your employer.

If you like your current job and don’t want to change it, the obvious step is to find a way to pivot the position.

One of the tips for doing this is folding the possibility of going remote into your next promotion cycle. Talk to your boss often about your intention to pivot.

And, if you’re not sure your employer will agree to working completely remotely, talk about the option of working remotely one or two days a week. When you use the work from home tips we’ve provided above, and your boss sees how productive you are, they could allow you more days to work from home.

8. Join a remote-friendly company.

If your work can be done remotely, but your current boss or organization doesn’t allow you to work from home, you might need to get a new job.

When looking for a work-from-home job, you can use the same methods you used in finding your regular office job. This includes channels like job sites, local job ads, and social media platforms.

Job sites that list work from home ads include:

Some remote-friendly firms include:

Check out these firms to see whether you meet the requirements to start working remotely for them.

9. Start a career as a freelancer.

If your current job isn’t remote work-friendly, you can go remote by starting your own business as a freelancer or a consultant.

Depending on the nature of your current job, you may start your own freelance business while still being employed.

The benefit of starting your freelance business while still employed is that it reduces the financial strain experienced by any new business.

10. Start a home business.

Starting a home business is one way to enjoy remote work.

Unlike other fields, certifications and education are not usually prerequisites. Instead, researching, having a smart business plan, and choosing the right business is more essential to the success of your business.

You can find more work-from-home tips in the books listed in this best remote work books article.

Working From Home Tips

  1. Get started early.
  2. Pretend like you are going into the office.
  3. Structure your day like you would in the office.
  4. Choose a dedicated workspace
  5. Don’t stay at home.
  6. Make it harder to use social media.
  7. Commit to doing more.
  8. Work when you’re at your most productive.
  9. Save calls for the afternoon.
  10. Focus on one distraction.
  11. Plan out what you’ll be workign on ahead of time.
  12. Use technology to stay connected.
  13. Match your music to the task at hand.
  14. Use laundry as a work timer.

1. Get started early.

When working in an office, your morning commute can help you wake up and feel ready to work by the time you get to your desk. At home, however, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be much more jarring.

Believe it or not, one way to work from home productively is to dive into your to-do list as soon as you wake up. Simply getting a project started first thing in the morning can be the key to making progress on it gradually throughout the day. Otherwise, you’ll prolong breakfast and let the morning sluggishness wear away your motivation.

Lindsay Kolowich says, “When I work from home, I wake up, put on a pot of coffee, and start working immediately — much earlier than normal working hours. I only start making breakfast once I’ve hit a wall or need a break. I’m a morning person and find I can get a ton done in the early morning hours, so this works really well for me.”

2. Pretend like you are going into the office.

The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive, and there’s no reason that feeling should be lost when working remotely.

I know that you love working in your pajamas (I do, too), but the mere act of changing clothes to something more serious will give you a signal to get work done throughout the day.

When you dress up, you give your brain a reason for dressing up, and it can keep you pumped throughout your work hours.

So when working from home, do all the things you’d do to prepare for an office role: Set your alarm, make (or get) coffee, and wear nice clothes.

Internet browsers like Google Chrome even allow you to set up multiple accounts with different toolbars on the top — for example, a toolbar for home and a separate toolbar for work.

Take to heart the words of HubSpot graphic designer, Anna Faber-Hammond, who says, “Get fully ready for the day and pretend you’re actually going to work. Otherwise, you might find yourself back in bed.”

3. Structure your day like you would in the office.

When working from home, you’re your own personal manager and can choose your working hours.

However, without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can easily lose focus or burn out.

To stay on schedule, segment what you’ll do and when for the day. If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. Google Calendar makes this easy.

Structuring your day as you would in the office also saves you from work creep. With this structure in place, working from home will not cause your work to invade your personal life.

“Are mornings for writing while you’re in the office? Use the same schedule at home. This structure will help keep you focused and productive.” – Ginny Mineo

4. Choose a dedicated workspace.

Just because you’re not working at an office doesn’t mean you can’t, well, have an office. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch in the living room — spaces associated with leisure time — dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to working remotely.

No matter the space or location, have an area of the home to work and stay committed to throughout the day. And, after choosing your dedicated workspace, make the most of it by making it quiet.

CEO, Sam Mallikarjunan says, “Have a place you go specifically to work. It could be a certain table, chair, local coffee shop — some place that’s consistently your ‘workspace.’ It helps you get into the right frame of mind.”

5. Don’t stay at home.

Is your home office just not getting it done for you? Take your work-from-home life a step further and get out of the house. Coffee shops, libraries, public lounges, and similar Wi-Fi-enabled spaces can help you simulate the energy of an office so you can stay productive even when you don’t sit in an official workplace.

Content marketer, Corey Wainwright, comments, “I get out of my home to work and go to an establishment with actual tables, chairs, and people. It helps simulate the work environment and removes the distractions I typically have at home, like the urge to finally clean my room, do laundry, or watch TV. “

6. Make it harder to use social media.

Social media is designed to make it easy for us to open and browse quickly. As remote workers, though, this convenience can be the detriment of our productivity.

To counteract your social networks’ ease of use during work hours, remove them from your browser shortcuts and log out of every account on your phone or computer.

You might even consider working primarily in a private (or, if you’re using Chrome, an “Incognito”) browser window. This ensures you stay signed out of all your accounts, and each web search doesn’t autocomplete the word you’re typing. It’s a guarantee that you won’t be tempted into taking too many social breaks during the day.

Also, many have found it helpful to shut off social media notifications during the hours they work from home.

Alec Biedrzycki, product marketer at AirTable, says, “I remove all social networks from my toolbar bookmarks… you can get sucked in without knowing it, so eliminating the gateway to those networks keeps me on track.”

7. Commit to doing more.

Projects always take longer than you initially think they will. For that reason, you’ll frequently get done less than you set out to do.

So, just as you’re encouraged to overestimate how much work hours you’ll spend doing one thing, you should also overestimate how many things you’ll do during the day.

Even if you come up short of your goal, you’ll still come out of that day with a solid list of tasks filed under ‘complete.’

“On days I’m working from home, I tend to slightly overcommit on what I’ll deliver that day. So even if I get the urge to go do something else, I know I’ve already committed a certain amount of work to my team.”- Corey Wainwright

8. Work when you’re at your most productive.

Nobody sprints through their work from morning to evening — your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. However, when you’re working from home, it’s all the more important to know when those ebbs and flows will take place and plan your schedule around it.

To capitalize on your most productive periods, save your more challenging tasks for when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier logistical tasks on your plate.

Verily Magazine calls these tasks “small acts of success,” and they can help build your momentum for the heavier projects that are waiting for you later on.

Product designer, Brittany Leaning, says about her routine, “For me, the most productive times of the day are usually early in the morning or late at night. I recognize this and try to plan my day accordingly. Also, music that pumps me up doesn’t hurt.”

The responsibility is on you to know when you are most productive and build your work schedule around the periods of maximum productivity.

9. Save calls for the afternoon.

Sometimes, I’m so tired in the morning, that I don’t even want to hear my voice — let alone talk to others with it.

You shouldn’t have to give yourself too much time to become productive in the morning, but you can give yourself some extra time before working directly with others.

If you’re struggling to develop a reasonable work schedule for yourself as a telecommuter, start with the solitary tasks in the morning.

Save your phone calls, meetings, Google hangouts meetings, video call, and other collaborative work for when you’ve officially “woken up.”

Senior Marketing Director, James Gilbert, advises that you “Take advantage of morning hours to crank through meaty projects without distractions, and save any calls or virtual meetings for the afternoon.”

10. Focus on one distraction.

There’s an expression out there that says, “if you want something done, ask a busy person.”

The bizarre but true rule of productivity is that the busier you are, the more you’ll do.

It’s like Newton’s law of inertia: If you’re in motion, you’ll stay in motion. If you’re at rest, you’ll stay at rest. And busy people are in fast-enough motion that they have the momentum to complete anything that comes across their desk.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find things to help you reach that level of busyness when you’re at home — your motivation can just swing so easily. HubSpot’s principal marketing manager, Pam Vaughan, suggests focusing on something that maintains your rhythm (in her case, it’s her daughter).

She says, “When I work from home, my 20-month-old daughter is home with me, too. It seems counterintuitive, but because I have to manage taking care of her and keeping her happy and entertained while still getting my work done, the pressure helps to keep me focused. When she’s napping or entertaining herself, I go into super-productive work mode.

The ‘distraction’ of my daughter (I mean that in the most loving way possible) means I can’t possibly succumb to some of the other common distractions of home.”

11. Plan out what you’ll be working on ahead of time.

Spending time figuring out what you’ll do today can take away from actually doing those things. And, you’ll have planned your task list so recently that you can be tempted to change your schedule on the fly.

It’s important to let your agenda change if you need it to, but it’s equally important to commit to a schedule that outlines every assignment before you begin.

Try solidifying your schedule the day before, making it feel more official when you wake up the next day to get started on it.

“Plan out your week in advance to optimize for the environments you’ll be in.”- Niti Shah

12. Use technology to stay connected.

Working from home might make you feel cut off from the larger operation happening in your company.

Instant messaging and videoconferencing tools like Slack and Zoom can make it easy to check in with other remote employees and remind you how your work contributes to the big picture.

It’s also vital to invest in the right technology. For instance, a bad-performance router can take the steam right off your enthusiasm to work, so it’s better to invest in a high-performance router.

CMO and former HubSpot employee, Meghan Keaney Anderson, remarks, “At HubSpot, we use Slack to keep conversations going remotely, Trello to keep us organized around priorities, and Google Hangouts plus Webex to make remote meetings more productive. Getting the right stack of support tools to fit your work style makes a big difference.”

13. Match your music to the task at hand.

During the week, music is the soundtrack to your career (cheesy, but admit it, it’s true). And at work, the best playlists are diverse playlists — you can listen to music that matches the energy of the project you’re working on to boost your productivity.

Video game soundtracks are excellent at doing this. In the video game, the lyric-free music is designed to help you focus; it only makes sense that it would help you focus on your work.

Want some other genres to spice up your routine and make you feel focused? Take them from startup marketer, Ginny Mineo, who offers her work music preferences below.

“When I’m powering through my inbox, I need some intense and catchy rap/R&B (like Nicki Minaj or Miley Cyrus) blasting through my headphones, but when I’m writing, Tom Petty is the trick. Finding what music motivates and focuses me for different tasks (and then sticking to those playlists for those tasks) has completely changed my WFH productivity.”

14. Use laundry as a work timer.

You might have heard that listening to just two or three songs in the shower can help you save water. And it’s true; hearing a few of your favorite songs start and end, one after another, can remind you how long you’ve been in the bathroom and shorten your wash time.

Why bring this up? Because the same general principle can help you stay on task when working from home. But instead of three songs off your music playlist, run your laundry instead.

Doing your laundry is a built-in timer for your home. So, use the time to start and finish something from your to-do list before changing the load.

Committing to one assignment during the wash cycle and another during the dry process can train you to work smarter on tasks that you might technically have all day to tinker with. And when you know there’s a timer, it makes it hard for distractions to derail your work.

People ops manager, Emma Brudner, notes, “I also usually do laundry when I work from home, and I set mini-deadlines for myself corresponding to when I have to go downstairs to switch loads. If I’m working on an article, I tell myself I’ll get to a certain point before the wash cycle ends. Then I set another goal for the dryer.”

Staying Productive While Working From Home

While you might miss the officeworking full time from home can be good for you.

For one, you don’t have to worry about commuting every day and you can better care for your loved ones by being around more often.

The work from home tips that we have provided can help you make the most of your new routine. Try out a few and you might find that you’re just as productive working from home as you are in the office.

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29 of the Best SEO Tools for Auditing & Monitoring Your Website in 2022

There’s nothing quite like a sudden Google algorithm update to leave you feeling equal parts confused and concerned. It seems as though search engines like Google wait for you to get all of your ducks in a row and then unleash an update that makes your efforts instantly obsolete.

Plus, there’s still some secrecy behind how Google evaluates websites and determines which sites appear — and how they appear — on the search engine results page (SERPs) for different queries.→ Download Now: SEO Starter Pack [Free Kit]

The good news is that there are several search engine optimization (SEO) tools out there — some free, some paid — that can help you view

your website the way search engines like Google see it — this way, you can improve your ranking and relevance for your target keywords.

Note: Some of the free tools below also offer paid plans while some of the paid tools also offer free plans — so, we recommend you check out the pricing pages for the tools you’re most interested in to determine which plan is ideal for your needs and goals.

For universal SEO tips, you can use today to grow your business, check out our video guide below.

Best SEO Tools

  1. HubSpot Website Grader
  2. Google Search Console
  3. Google Analytics
  4. UpCity Free SEO Report Card
  5. Internet Marketing Ninjas
  6. Bing Webmaster
  7. Google Trends
  8. Seolyzer
  9. SEOquake
  10. Seobility
  11. Check My Links
  13. HubSpot SEO Marketing Software
  14. Ahrefs
  15. SEMrush
  16. KWFinder
  17. GrowthBar
  18. Woorank
  19. BuzzStream
  20. Moz Pro
  21. Linkody
  22. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
  23. Remove’em
  24. AnswerThePublic
  25. Keyword Hero
  26. SpyFu
  27. Seomater
  28. ContentKing
  29. SE Ranking

Free SEO Tools

These tools are free to use, but you might find a paid option that has more features. We’ve shared some of the best features in each tool as well as how you can get the most out of them for your SEO strategy.

1. HubSpot Website Grader

SEO Tool: HubSpot Website Grader

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The goal of marketing is to generate traffic and qualified leads via the company’s website. That’s why, as marketers, we need to understand exactly what we can do to improve the SEO of that website.

With HubSpot’s Website Grader, simply enter the URL of your website to automatically receive a report card with actionable insights about your SEO efforts. From there, you can sign up for the HubSpot Academy SEO course that teaches you how to improve your website’s SEO, user experience (UX), and more.

With the HubSpot Website Grader, you can:

  • Website performance: Learn about your website’s performance in seconds, and identify specific performance issues and receive clear, actionable feedback on how you can fix them.
  • On-demand support: Receive how-to education on how you can improve your website.
  • Improve specific website issues: Gain access to a five-lesson HubSpot Academy course on Website Optimization so you can understand how to improve upon your website’s specific problem areas.
  • Optimize for mobile: Discover how to optimize your website for mobile.
  • Boost web security: Learn how you can implement website security best practices.
  • Enhance the user experience: Personalize your website’s UX to create a delightful experience for users.

2. Google Search Console

SEO Tool: Google Search Console

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Google Search Console has a number of tools available to help you appear in the SERPs for the search terms and phrases your target audience is looking for.

If you’re the owner of a business or an SEO on your marketing team, Search Console can help you conduct an initial SEO analysis from scratch or update your existing SEO strategy with fresh keywords. Google Search Console monitors, debugs, and optimizes your website — and you don’t need to know how to code to benefit from this tool.

Here are some examples of website elements Google Search Console will teach you about and help you optimize:

  • Keywords: Learn about the keywords your webpages are currently ranking for.
  • Crawl Errors: Identify any crawl errors that exist on your website.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: Understand how mobile-friendly your website is and discover opportunities to improve the mobile experience for your users.
  • Google Index: See how many of your web pages are in Google’s Index (if they aren’t in Google’s index, you can use the tool’s URL Inspection Tool to submit a page for indexing).
  • Analytics and Metrics: The website-related metrics that matter most to you, like clicks, impressions, average click-through rate (CTR), and average position.

3. Google Analytics

SEO Tool: Google Analytics

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Although Google Analytics has a paid version, the free version of the product can help you manage your website’s SEO — this is especially true if you pair Google Analytics with Google Search Console. In doing so, all of your website’s SEO data will be centrally located and compiled, and you can use queries to identify areas for improvement with the keywords and phrases that you want your website and web pages to rank for.

Other ways that you can use the free version of Google Analytics to understand and improve your SEO are:

4. UpCity Free SEO Report Card

SEO Tool: UpCity Free SEO Report

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The Free SEO Report Card by UpCity lets you analyze your website to determine how it stacks up against the competition.

In exchange for your email address and a few data points, SEO Report Card will serve up a report that covers the following:

  • Rank Analysis: A snapshot of where your website ranks on the most popular search engines.
  • Link Building: A detailed account of the number of websites that link back to your site.
  • On-Site Analysis: A look at how successful you were in incorporating your main keyword throughout your site.
  • Website Accessibility: Information about your site’s load time and accessibility.
  • Trust Metrics: An overview of your site’s level of trust or authority.
  • Current Indexing: An indication of how many of your site pages have been indexed.

5. Internet Marketing Ninjas

SEO Tool: Internet Marketing Ninjas

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Internet Marketing Ninjas is an SEO-focused company with a variety of free tools you can use to compare your website against the competition, optimize web pages for certain keywords, generate meta tags, and increase organic traffic to your website.

Here are some examples of the free Internet Marketing Ninja SEO tools you can take advantage of:

  • Broken link tool: Identify broken links and redirects and use the site crawl feature to generate an XML sitemap of your website.
  • Image metadata: See all of your page links (external, internal, etc.) on your web pages to review what’s working well and what’s broken or needs an update.
  • On-page optimization tool: Use this to evaluate your web page content, meta information, and internal links.
  • Side-by-side comparison: Compare the SEO of your web pages versus a competitor’s web pages.
  • Page load time: Analyze page-load time and how long each component of a web page takes to fully display.

6. Bing Webmaster

SEO Tool: Bing Webmaster

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Microsoft Bing Webmaster gives you access to many tools that offer insight into your website such as reporting, diagnostic, and SEO tools. The SEO tools that you can use for free have the power to help you analyze your website, manage backlinks, and review keywords to ensure your site is well-optimized for organic search.

Here are some of the other things you can do with Bing Webmaster’s SEO tools:

  • See backlink profiles: Learn about your backlink profile to understand referring pages, domains, and anchor links.
  • Perform keyword research: Determine which keywords and phrases your audience is searching for as well as the search volumes of those keywords and phrases.
  • Use the site scanning feature: Crawl your website and identify technical SEO errors.
  • Get SEO reports: Review any errors that are on your website and individual site pages.

7. Google Trends

SEO Tool: Google Trends

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Traditional SEO tools like the ones we’ve already discussed are great for conducting research and audits when your business is already established. But what if you’re starting a new business venture and want to know what popular industries, topics, and ideas people are exploring? Google Trends is a great place to explore untapped potential that can yield a large keyword landscape for your website.

You’ll want to note that Google Trends isn’t where you’ll get granular data. This tool performs best when you use it as a compass to set a direction for your SEO strategy, and then pair those insights with a more robust software like HubSpot’s SEO Marketing Tool.

Here’s what you should look for in Google Trends:

  • Trends: Look for trends in specific countries or regions of the world.
  • Popular topics: Find popular people and long tail keywords related to them.
  • Comparisons: Compare and contrast trends over time.

8. Seolyzer

SEO Tool: Seolyzer

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Seolyzer is a free site crawling, log analysis, and SEO tool that helps you determine how search engines like Google view your website. Seolyzer pulls information that crawling bots leave in your server’s log files while browsing your site to identify and create your SEO KPIs. The tool also identifies error codes, redirects, and page speed performance.

Additionally, Seolyzer can help you:

  • Monitor SEO issues: Identify poor response time, error messages, and crawl volume so you can resolve them before serious damage is done.
  • Manage your unique KPIs: Analyze page performance, crawl volume, HTTP status codes, active and new pages, and desktop versus mobile responsiveness.
  • Segment web pages: Determine what your most crawled pages are.
  • Compare web pages: See what Google deems as the most important to the pages that are crucial to your business’s bottom line.
  • Measure SEO impact: Understand the impact of your SEO efforts on a page-by-page basis or by the category of the page.

9. SEOquake

SEO Tool: SEOquake

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SEOquake is a Google Chrome extension that automatically checks a web page’s SEO parameters quickly for free. This includes on-page SEO audits, internal and external link reviews, real-time URL and domain comparison, and data file export.

Other things you can use SEOquake for are:

  • Link Analysis: Get a detailed description of how all of your links are doing — including URLs, anchor text, and other link types — with the tools Link Examiner feature.
  • Focus on metrics that matter: Adjust the SEOquake reports you receive to display only the parameters and metrics that you care about.
  • Audit your website’s SEO: Identify any SEO-related issues that would be findable by search engines.
  • Share your findings with stakeholders: Export the results of your SEO analysis into an adjustable and shareable report.

10. Seobility

SEO Tool: Seobility

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Seobility is a free SEO-checker tool. With it, you can test your website’s level of compliance with today’s SEO guidelines. By simply entering your URL, your site will be analyzed and you’ll receive tips on how you can better optimize your website.

In addition to a detailed SEO audit of your website, you’ll gain access to 1,000 subpage audits, email reporting and alerts, and keyword monitoring.

Here are some more advantages of using Seobility:

  • Find technical errors: Resolve on-page SEO issues quickly to recover lost traffic and prevent future traffic dips.
  • Accurate SEO scoring: Receive an SEO score that accounts for various website factors including meta-information, page quality, link structure, and more.
  • Meta information analysis: Understand the specific SEO issues with your meta information such as meta titles/ descriptions, meta tags, and invalid or incorrect domain names or page URLs.
  • Optimization opportunities: Identify areas for improvement regarding your page speed and quality (related to text, duplicate content, responsive design, and alt attributes for content).
  • Link structure suggestions: Understand how your page and link structure can be improved by getting data about your headers, internal links, and incorrect anchor text.
  • Server error fixes: Identify specific server errors related to any redirects, HTTP headers, or CSS and Javascript files.

11. Check My Links

SEO Tool: Check My Links

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Check My Links is a Google Chrome extension that you can use to ensure your links on both internal or external web pages work. For instance, if you were to search a term on Wikipedia, Check My Links would be able to tell you how many links that Wikipedia page has in total and how many of those links are broken.

This is helpful because you can make corrections to broken links immediately (or hopefully, before a page goes live). Check My Links is ideal for developers, content editors, and web designers according to its creators.

Here are some more examples of what Check My Links can do:

  • Identify broken links: Check each link on your webpages and identify all invalid links.
  • Auto-highlight issues: Quickly see the good links in green and the broken links in red.
  • Export broken links for further analysis: Copy all of your bad links to your clipboard in one click.



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BROWSEO is an SEO browser that allows you to review your webpage in a limited format so you can analyze its UX and content as well as gain insight into its SEO. Once you input the URL, the output will hone in on your HTML so you’re able to understand the page’s structure, optimized search terms, and other SEO-related factors.

Examples of what you can do with BROWSEO include:

  • See the number of words on the page: Find the sweet spot for copy length on your webpages.
  • Determine the number of internal and external links on your page: This allows you to see how your linking strategy is working on each page.
  • See all of your meta information: Review title tags, alt text, and meta descriptions.

Paid SEO Tools

Next, let’s look at some paid SEO tools. (Note that some of these tools have free trial periods. Some also offer entirely free plans but with restrictions in terms of flexibility and customization.)

1. HubSpot SEO Marketing Software

SEO Tool: HubSpot SEO Marketing Software

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Price: $45/ mo for the Starter plan, $800 for professional, and $3,200 for enterprise.

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub includes an SEO marketing software tool that’s perfect for helping you build authority across your website. Since this software is integrated with HubSpot landing pages, webpages, and blog posts, you’ll never miss an opportunity to optimize your content for traffic and conversions.

No matter if you’re creating your first content strategy or you’re an expert in all things SEO, HubSpot’s SEO Marketing Software gives you the tools and the confidence to rank in the SERP and report on your performance.

HubSpot’s marketing software doesn’t keep SEO in a silo. This tool works in conjunction with:

  • Email: Send professional emails using your own branded designs.
  • Marketing Automation: Create dynamic campaigns for segmented audiences.
  • Lead Management: Track leads through each stage in your sales process.
  • Analytics: Review your campaign to identify success and opportunities for improvement.

2. Ahrefs

SEO Tool: Ahrefs

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Price: Seven-day trial for $7, $99/ mo for Lite, $179/ mo for Standard, $399/ mo for Advanced, $999/ mo for Agency

Ahrefs is an advanced SEO resource that examines your website property and produces keyword, link, and ranking profiles to help you make better decisions on your content.

Some of Ahrefs’ main features are:

  • Site Explorer: Shows you the performance of specific webpages on your website.
  • Content Explorer: This allows you to search high-performing webpages under specific keywords and topics.
  • Keywords Explorer: Generates the monthly search volume and click-through rates of specific keywords.
  • Site Audit: Crawls specified verticals within your domain and reveals a number of technical issues at the page level.

3. SEMrush

SEO Tool: SEMrush

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Price: $119.95/ mo for Pro, $229.95/ mo for Guru, or $449.95/ mo for Business

SEMrush is an elaborate dashboard that reports on the performance of domains as a whole and their specific pages. SEMrush offers numerous resources, one of which is the SEO Toolkit.

Toolkit allows you to track a website’s visibility improvement over time as well as identify which keywords it’s ranking for, what the page’s rank is for a keyword, the keyword’s monthly search volume, and more.

SEMrush also allows you to:

  • Build links: Analyze backlinks from other websites to your site.
  • Use the Keyword Magic tool: Identify all keywords you need to successfully build an SEO strategy.
  • See your competitors’ strategies: Identify the paid keywords or ad copy used in the PPC ads of your competition.
  • Receive recommendations: See how you can increase your organic traffic by optimizing your content.

4. KWFinder

SEO Tool: KWFinder

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Price: 10-day free trial; $29/mo

Sometimes you don’t need an SEO tool with all the bells and whistles if you only need to do keyword research. KWFinder is a great software that fills the gap between nuts-and-bolts SEO work and copywriting. You’ll find keywords that aren’t too difficult to rank for but still carry the potential to bring in traffic.

What makes KWFinder unique is how seamlessly it shifts between languages and regions so that you can serve your audience no matter where in the world they are.

Some of the top features KWFinder offers include:

  • Hidden long tail keyword insights: Find long tail keywords that give you more opportunities to acquire traffic.
  • Competitor keyword insights: See how your competitor’s keyword strategy compares to your own, plus find more keyword opportunities.
  • SERP analysis tool: Analyze competition in the SERP to understand what elements readers are looking for on your pages.
  • Local keyword research tool: See what searchers are looking for locally and appeal to local markets for more niche traffic.

5. GrowthBar

SEO Tool: GrowthBar

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Price: Free five-day trial, $29.90/ mo for Basic, $39.90 for Premium, and $79.90 for Agency.

GrowthBar is a Chrome extension that can help you perform keyword research, competitive analysis, and track SEO rankings. With the GrowthBar, access data points about any website directly from the search engine results pages. This allows you to assess your competitors’ performance and view the growth channels, keywords, backlinks, and ads that are working for them.

Here are some more key features of GrowthBar:

  • Use the Top Keywords and Backlinks feature: See which paid and organic keywords are driving the most traffic for your website and get a list of the most authoritative backlinks pointing to your site.
  • Get your Keyword Difficulty Score: Quickly assess how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword based on the strength of the domain authorities of the URLs ranking on page one.
  • Use the Word Count tool: View the word count of any page directly from the SERP.
  • Run Facebook Ads: Get a visual of what they look like from a search engine’s perspective.
  • Use the Keyword Suggestions tool: Get a list of related keywords you might want to rank for along with their Search volume & CPCs.

6. Woorank

SEO Tool: Woorank

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Price: Free 14-day trial, $79.99/ mo for Pro, $199.99/ mo for Premium, or contact for Enterprise quote

Woorank’s in-depth site analysis helps marketers reveal opportunities for optimization and improvement. This analysis takes into account the performance of existing SEO initiatives, social media, usability, and more.

Each report is divided into sections to help you easily analyze your site and identify targets for optimization. Here are a few features of the report:

  • Marketing Checklist: Review common marketing tasks that you can complete as part of your SEO strategy execution.
  • SEO: Analyze your SEO metrics against your goals.
  • Mobile: Decide which mobile optimization tactics to employ based on the mobile data.
  • Social: Get insight into how social media is playing a part in your traffic and SEO goals.

7. BuzzStream

SEO Tool: BuzzStream

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Price: Free 30-day trial, $24/ mo for Starter, $124/ mo for Group, $299/ mo for Professional, $999+ for Custom

Although backlinks to your website are critical to ranking well on Google, the outreach you do while link building can feel a lot like cold calling. BuzzStream makes it easy to research the appropriate people, come up with effective email messages, and track who’s accepted each link request.

BuzzStream also helps you:

  • Identify candidates for outreach: Find them based on their industry and how engaged they are across various social networks.
  • Identify candidates for backlinks: These are individuals who will likely be receptive to your backlink request for other reasons that are unique to your business’s niche.

8. Moz Pro

SEO Tool: Moz Pro

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Price: Free 30-day trial, $99/ mo for Standard, $149/ mo for Medium, $249/ mo for Large, $599/ mo for Premium

The Moz Pro subscription serves as an all-in-one tool for increasing your business’ search ranking. Moz’s collection of research tools provides subscribers with the resources they need to identify SEO opportunities, track growth, build reports, and optimize their efforts.

Moz Pro also includes:

  • Website crawler: Analyzes up to 3,000 links on a given URL.
  • Email report: Details that crawl data for the pages your site links to.
  • Insight into various “crawlability” factors: These include duplicate content and redirects that could be influencing your SEO performance.

9. Linkody

SEO Tool: Linkody

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Price: 30-day free trial; $14.90/ mo for Webmaster, $24.90/ mo for Advanced, $49.90/ mo for Pro, 99.90/ mo for Agency, and $153.90 /mo for Agency XL

The best way to understand the performance of your off-page SEO is by having a good overview of your backlinks. Linkody allows you to discover, track, analyze, and disavow backlinks all from an easy-to-use interface.

Aside from that, the tool checks your links 24/7 and informs you of any changes so you can take immediate action in case a link is lost or broken.

Other Linkody features include:

  • “Spy” on your competitors’ backlinks: Simply enter the URL of your competitor and let the tool pull all the links and metrics. The information returned will help you discover niche-relevant, high-quality backlink opportunities for your brand.
  • Gain useful insights: See your most important metrics when it comes to backlink tracking, such as the ‘rel’ attribute, Google indexation status, the website’s Domain Authority, Spam Score, Alexa rank, and more.
  • Create white-label reports: Download reports that can be shared with your team and/or clients to get a better idea of your backlink distribution and link-building progress.

10. Screaming Frog SEO Spider

SEO Tool: Screaming Frog SEO Spider

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Price: Free or €149/ year

Designed specifically for the SEO-minded, this program crawls the websites you specify, examining the URLs for common SEO issues. This program simplifies and expedites an otherwise time-consuming process — especially for larger websites. (It could take hours or days to manually evaluate the same URLs.)

Other notable features of Screaming Frog SEO Spider are:

  • Java Program: Screaming Frog includes an intuitive Java program with easy-to-navigate tabs.
  • Easy export to Excel: Further analyze your SEO data.

11. Remove’em

SEO Tool: Remove'em

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Price: $249 one-time payment for Life-Time plan, $99/ mo for Subscription (one website), or $899/ mo for Agency (10+ websites)

If you’re buying a website domain that has been used in the past, or you’re rebuilding a poor SEO strategy, you may discover some problematic backlinks while conducting your audit. Artificial or unnatural links have the potential to seriously hurt your search ranking. Remove’em helps get rid of those links.

This tool has the ability to:

  • Scan your backlink profile: Discover a list of contact information for the links and domains you’ll need to reach out to for removal.
  • Export a list of backlinks: If you wish, you can disavow backlinks by telling Google not to take these “bad” links into account when crawling your site.

12. AnswerThePublic

SEO Tool: AnswerThePublic

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Price: $99/ mo for Monthly plan, $79/ mo for Annual plan, $199/ mo for the Expert plan

AnswerThePublic is a search listening and keyword tool that listens to autocomplete data from Google and other search engines, and then provides you with a list of phrases and questions that people are searching for around your keyword. This allows you to craft your website and content to your audience to increase traffic and conversions.

With AnswerThePublic, you can also:

  • Receive updates: See when people are talking about your most relevant keywords.
  • Monitor keyword trends: Understand keyword research behavior among your target audience and customers.
  • See real-time searches: View the keywords and phrases that your audience is researching in real-time.
  • Get ideas for your website and blog: Discover new content ideas based on relevant keyword research.

13. Keyword Hero

SEO Tool: Keyword Hero

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Price: 14-day trial for any plan, Free for Little Hero, $9/ mo for Big Hero, $49/ mo for Giant Hero, and $149/ mo for Ultimate Hero

Keyword Hero pairs your visitor’s sessions with the keywords they used to land on your page, all within your Google Analytics account. In other words, this tool gives you an understanding of the search intent of your organic traffic.

Here are some more actions you can take with Keyword Hero:

  • Identify the organic traffic and conversions: Uncover the success you receive from your intended keywords.
  • Separate traffic: Identify brand versus non-brand search traffic.
  • Optimize your position in the SERPs: Optimize your website for specific target keywords.
  • See query details: Understand whether your visitors used informational versus transactional queries to find on your website.

14. SpyFu

SEO Tool: SpyFu

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Price: $39/ mo for Basic, $69/ mo for Professional, $129/ mo for Unlimited.

SpyFu is a competitor keyword research tool for Google Ads. In addition to keyword research, it helps with PPC competitive research, SEO competitive research, and the creation of custom lists and domains.

The tool helps you drive traffic to your Google Ads campaigns and website, monitor both paid and organic rankings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and obtain reliable and accurate contact information for leads.

With SpyFu, you can also:

  • Download a competitor’s PPC keywords: Use this insight to develop more competitive PPC strategies that can compete in the ad space.
  • Download a competitor’s SEO keywords: Use this insight to develop more competitive organic keyword strategies that can compete in the SERP.
  • Review ranking trends: the ranking of a page or website for a keyword over time.
  • Discover keyword ideas: Keyword advice for your Google Ads to increase chances of conversion.

15. Seomater

SEO Tool: Seomater

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Price: Pay as You Go (starting at $5), $19/ mo for Small Business, $49/ mo for Professional, $179/ mo for Unlimited.

Seomater is an SEO auditing and website crawling tool. It assists with technical SEO analysis and SEO on-page optimization testing. Once the tool crawls your site, you’ll receive an SEO report that explains your website’s various SEO-related elements including internal and external links, backlinks, page quality and speed, social media, organic presence, and more.

Your analysis will also come with tips on how you can improve each of these SEO elements. In addition, you can:

  • Use the SEO Monitoring Alerts feature: Your website will be automatically crawled and you’ll get an immediate notification if something is problematic in terms of SEO.
  • Get detailed reports: Find insights about your on-page and off-page SEO elements.
  • Use the Domain Comparison tool: Compare two competitors’ websites to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their SEO (such as broken links, content quality, HTML tags, and more).

16. ContentKing

SEO Tool: ContentKing

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Price: $139/ mo for Basic, $319/ mo for Standard, $449/ mo for Pro, or $1,279 for Enterprise.

ContentKing is a real-time SEO auditing and content tracking tool — it tracks your website 24/7 so any issues related to SEO don’t go unnoticed for too long. The tool is cloud-based, meaning there’s no installation required and your data and reports are available whenever you need them.

With ContentKing, you can also:

  • Improve your SEO: Use ContentKing’s 24/7 website audits (and algorithms) to gain insight into your SEO and receive tasks that will help you optimize your webpages.
  • Get alerts: Get notified whenever something on your website is broken or is no longer well-optimized so you can efficiently fix the issue.
  • Track Changes: Follow the history of all your content changes on your site (such as changes on individual web pages and changes in robots.txt) and search the history of your changes.
  • Visualize data: See real-time dashboards and reports.

17. SE Ranking

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Price: $39.00/ mo for Essential, $89.00/ mo for Pro, or $189.00/ mo for Business.

SE Ranking is an all-in-one SEO platform that analyzes website health and performance keyword rankings and traffic. It also provides insights into your competitors, allowing you to better understand the SEO landscape and adjust your marketing strategy. Since SE Ranking is a white label SEO tool, you can build custom SEO reports with branding and personalization options.

Now that you’ve learned about some of the best free and paid SEO tools on the market, determine which option will help you achieve your SEO goals and get started auditing, optimizing, and monitoring your website, individual web pages, and content.

With SE Ranking, you can also:

  • Keyword Rank Check: Monitor your and your competitors’ keyword positions and provide accurate keyword rank analysis, evaluate SEO potential, and show historical data changes.
  • Website Health Audit: Evaluate all your website pages to create an in-depth report of website tech and performance errors with actionable tips on how to resolve them.
  • Competitor Analysis: Scope your competitors’ website traffic dynamics, keyword rankings, and other data in organic and paid searches. 
  • Backlinks Analysis: Analyze any website and create a complete report of the backlink profile with dynamics of new and lost site links and referring domains, anchor text distribution, and pages linked out to the most.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


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The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2022

What is the first thing you do when you need new marketing ideas? What about when you decide it’s time to find a new accounting software? Or even when you notice a flat tire in the car?

My guess is you turn to Google.

Impact Plus reported that 61% of marketers named SEO as a top marketing priority in 2021. And so, it’s a cold, harsh truth that without at least some presence on Google, your business faces a digital uphill battle. In this guide, you’ll discover a strategy to build your online presence — Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, and what you must do to position your site in search engine results.

→ Download Now: SEO Starter Pack [Free Kit]

But before we begin, I want to reassure you of something.

So many resources make SEO complex. They scare readers with technical jargon, advanced elements, and rarely explain anything beyond theory.

I promise you, this guide isn’t like that.

I’m going to break SEO into its most basic parts and show you how to use all its elements to construct a successful SEO strategy. (And to stay up-to-date on SEO strategy and trends, check out HubSpot’s Skill Up podcast.)

Keep on reading to understand SEO, or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.

  1. What is SEO?
  2. How Google Ranks Content
  3. How to Build an SEO Strategy
  4. How to Measure SEO
  5. Local and Black Hat SEO
  6. SEO Resources

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to expand a company’s visibility in organic search results. As a result, these efforts drive more visitors to the company’s website, increasing their chances for more conversions which leads to more customers and more revenue.

When asked to explain what SEO is, I often choose to call it a strategy to ensure that when someone Googles your product or service category, they find your website.

But this simplifies the discipline a bit.

There are a ton of ways to improve the SEO of your site pages. Search engines look for elements including title tags, keywords, image tags, internal link structure, and inbound links (also known as backlinks). Search engines also look at site structure and design, visitor behavior, and other external, off-site factors to determine how highly ranked your site should be in their SERPs.

With all of these factors taken into account, SEO primarily drives two things — rankings and visibility.

How Does SEO Work?

SEO works by optimizing a website’s content, conducting keyword research, and earning inbound links to increase that content’s ranking and the website’s visibility. While you can generally see results take effect on the SERP once the webpage has been crawled and indexed by a search engine, SEO efforts can take months to fully materialize.


This is what search engines use to determine where to place a particular web page in the SERP. Rankings start at position number zero through the final number of search engine results for the query, and a web page can rank for one position at a time. As time passes, a web page’s ranking might change due to age, competition in the SERP, or algorithm changes by the search engine itself.


This term describes how prominent a particular domain is in the search engine results. Lower search visibility occurs when a domain isn’t visible for many relevant search queries whereas with higher search visibility, the opposite is true.

Both are responsible for delivering the main SEO objectives – traffic and domain authority.

What’s the importance of SEO?

Why do seo? Four benefits of SEO in 2022

There is one more important reason why you should be using SEO: The strategy virtually helps you position your brand throughout the entire buying journey.

In turn, SEO can ensure that your marketing strategies match the new buying behavior.

Because, as Google admitted, customer behavior has changed for good.

As of June 2021, 92% of internet searches happen on a Google property.

What’s more, they prefer going through the majority of the buying process on their own.

For example, Ststista found that 60% of people research a brand online before making a purchase. What’s more, this process has never been more complicated.

Finally, DemandGen’s 2022 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 67% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad web search.

But how do they use search engines during the process?

Early in the process, they use Google to find information about their problem. Some also inquire about potential solutions.

Then, they evaluate available alternatives based on reviews or social media hype before inquiring with a company. But this happens after they’ve exhausted all information sources.

And so, the only chance for customers to notice and consider you is by showing up in their search results.

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How does Google know how to rank a page?

Search engines have a single goal only. They aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information.

Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. And then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.

To deliver the right information to users, search engines analyze two factors:

  • Relevancy between the search query and the content on a page. Search engines assess it by various factors like topic or keywords.
  • Authority, which is measured by a website’s popularity on the Internet. Google assumes that the more popular a page or resource is, the more valuable its content is to readers.

And to analyze all this information they use complex equations called search algorithms.

Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, and they are the focus of an SEO strategy.

When determining relevance and authority, following the E-A-T framework can help tremendously. E-A-T in SEO stands for “expertise”, authoritativeness”, and “trustworthiness”. And although these are not direct ranking factors, they can improve your SEO content which can impact direct ranking factors.

As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal links can affect your rankings and search visibility. And that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.

What is SEO strategy?

An SEO marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan to get more visitors to your website through search engines. Successful SEO includes on-page strategies, which use intent-based keywords; and off-page strategies, which earn inbound links from other websites.

What is SEO strategy?

An SEO marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan to get more visitors to your website through search engines. Successful SEO includes on-page strategies, which use intent-based keywords; and off-page strategies, which earn inbound links from other websites.

Three Core Components of a Strong SEO Strategy

To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, and links. So, let’s go through them in turn.

1. Technical Setup

For your website to rank, three things must happen:

First, a search engine needs to find your pages on the web.

Then, it must scan them to understand their topics and identify their keywords.

And finally, it needs to add them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Certainly, nothing to worry about. After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?

Unfortunately, there is a catch. A web page looks different for you and the search engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.

To a search engine, it’s nothing but text.

As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible to the search engine. And so, in spite of your website looking fine to you, Google might find its content inaccessible.

Let me show you an example. Here’s how a typical search engine sees one of our articles. It’s this one, by the way, if you want to compare it with the original.

The ultimate guide to marketing statistics in 2021 as a plain text version of the site that Google sees when crawling the site for SEO

Notice some things about it:

  • The page is just text. Although we carefully designed it, the only elements a search engine sees are text and links.
  • As a result, it cannot see an image on the page (note the element marked with an arrow.) It only recognizes its name. If that image contained an important keyword we’d want the page to rank for, it would be invisible to the search engine.

That’s where technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in. It ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems. The most important factors affecting it include:

Website navigation and links

Search engines crawl sites just like you would. They follow links. Search engine crawlers land on a page and use links to find other content to analyze. But as you’ve seen above, they cannot see images. So, set the navigation and links as text-only.

Simple URL structure

Search engines don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. So, if possible, keep your URLs short. Set them up to include as little beyond the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page, as possible.

Page speed

Search engines use the load time — the time it takes for a user to be able to read the page — as an indicator of quality. Many website elements can affect it. Image size, for example. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions on how to improve your pages.

Dead links or broken redirects

A dead link sends a visitor to a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points to a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent search engines from indexing your content.

Sitemap and Robots.txt files

A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify what pages to crawl and index. A robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines what content not to index (for example, specific policy pages you don’t want to appear in search.) Create both to speed up crawling and indexing of your content.

Duplicate content

Pages containing identical or quite similar content confuse search engines. They often find it to be nearly impossible to display any of those pages at all. If search engines do find them, your website can be penalized. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate content as a negative factor.

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2. Content

Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for content — information on a particular issue or problem, for example.

True, this content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, and even a business listing.

It’s all content.

And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.

Here are two reasons why:

  • First, content is what customers want when searching. Regardless of what they’re looking for, it’s content that provides it. And the more of it you publish, the higher your chance for greater search visibility.
  • Also, search engines use content to determine how to rank a page. It’s the idea of relevance between a page and a person’s search query that we talked about earlier.

While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing elements like page length or its structure helps them assess its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.

The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.

Keyword Research

SEO is not about getting any visitors to the site. You want to attract people who need what you sell and can become leads, and later, customers.

However, that’s possible only if it ranks for the keywords those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the top of the search results.

That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what phrases potential buyers enter into search engines.

The process typically involves identifying terms and topics relevant to your business. Then, converting them into initial keywords. And finally, conducting extensive research to uncover related terms your audience would use.

We’ve published a thorough guide to keyword research for beginners. It lays out the keyword research process in detail. Use it to identify search terms you should be targeting.

With a list of keywords at hand, the next step is to optimize your content. SEOs refer to this process as on-page optimization.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization, also called on-page SEO, ensures that search engines a.) understand a page’s topic and keywords, and b.) can match it to relevant searches.

Note, I said “page” not content. That’s because, although the bulk of on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it extends to optimizing some elements in the code.

You may have heard about some of them — meta-tags like title or description are two most popular ones. But there are more. So, here’s a list of the most crucial on-page optimization actions to take.

Note: Since blog content prevails on most websites, when speaking of those factors, I’ll focus on blog SEO — optimizing blog posts for relevant keywords. However, all this advice is equally valid for other page types too.

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a) Keyword Optimization

First, ensure that Google understands what keywords you want this page to rank. To achieve that, make sure you include at least the main keyword in the following:

  • Post’s title: Ideally, place it as close to the start of the title. Google is known to put more value on words at the start of the headline.
  • URL: Your page’s web address should also include the keyword. Ideally, including nothing else. Also, remove any stop word.
  • H1 Tag: In most content management systems, this tag displays the title of the page by default. However, make sure that your platform doesn’t use a different setting
  • The first 100 words (or the first paragraph) of content: Finding the keyword at the start of your blog post will reassure Google that this is, in fact, the page’s topic.
  • Meta-title and meta-description tags: Search engines use these two code elements to display their listings. They display the meta-title as the search listing’s title while the meta-description provides content for the little blurb below it. But above that, they use both to understand the page’s topic further.
  • Image file names and ALT tags: Remember how search engines see graphics on a page? They can only see their file names. So, make sure that at least one of the images contains the keyword in the file name.

The alt tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since ALT tag resides in the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.

Also, add semantic keywords — variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google and other search engines use them to determine a page’s relevancy better.

Let me illustrate this with a quick example. Let’s pretend that your main keyword is “Apple.” But do you mean the fruit or the tech giant behind the iPhone?

Now, imagine what happens when Google finds terms like sugar, orchard, or cider in the copy? The choice of what queries to rank it for would immediately become obvious, right?

That’s what semantic keywords do. Add them to ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches.

b) Non-Keyword-Related On-Page Optimization Factors

On-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility and authority too:

  • External links: Linking out to other, relevant pages on the topic helps Google determine its topic further. Plus, it provides a good user experience. How? By positioning your content as a valuable resource.
  • Internal links: Those links help you boost rankings in two ways. One, they allow search engines to find and crawl other pages on the site. And two, they show semantic relations between various pages, helping to determine its relevance to the search query better. As a rule, you should include at least 2-4 internal links per blog post
  • Content’s length: Long content typically ranks better. That’s because, if done well, a longer blog post will always contain more exhaustive information on the topic, thus keeping a reader on your site longer. That’s called dwell time, and it’s an important ranking factor for the search engines
  • Multimedia: Although not a requirement, multimedia elements like videos, diagrams, audio players can signal a page’s quality. It keeps readers on a page for longer just like longer content does. And in turn, it signals that they find the content valuable and worth pursuing.

3. Links

From what you’ve read in this guide so far, you know that no page will rank without two factors — relevance and authority.

In their quest to provide users with the most accurate answers, Google and other search engines prioritize pages they consider the most relevant to their queries but also, popular.

The first two areas — technical setup and content — focused on increasing relevance (though I admit, some of their elements can also help highlight the authority.)

Links, however, are responsible for popularity.

But before we talk more about how they work, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.

What is a backlink?

Links, also called backlinks, are references to your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site.

For example, this article in mentions our Not Another State of Marketing Report page. It also links to it allowing their readers to see other stats than the one quoted.

An example of a backlink from to HubSpot's Not Another State of Marketing Report

Google uses the quantity and quality of links like this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its logic behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.

But note that I mentioned link quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.

Links Quality Factors

Low quality or suspicious links — for example, ones that Google would consider as built deliberately to make it consider a site as more authoritative — might reduce your rankings.

That’s why, when building links, SEOs focus not on building any links. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.

Naturally, just like with the search algorithm, we don’t know what factors determine a link’s quality, specifically. However, over time, SEOs discovered some of them:

  • The popularity of a linking site: Any link from a domain that search engines consider an authority will naturally have high quality. In other words, links from websites that have good quality links pointing to them will yield better results.
  • Topic relevance: Links from domains on a topic similar to yours will carry more authority than those from random websites.
  • Trust in a domain: Just like with popularity, search engines also assess a website’s trust. Links from more trustworthy sites will always impact rankings better.

Link Building

In SEO, we refer to the process of acquiring new backlinks as link building. And as many practitioners admit, it can be a challenging activity.

Link building, if you want to do it well, requires creativity, strategic thinking, and patience. To generate quality links, you need to come up with a link building strategy. And that’s no small feat.

Remember, your links must pass various quality criteria. Plus, it can’t be obvious to search engines that you’ve built them deliberately.

Here are some strategies to do it:

  • Editorial, organic links: These backlinks come from websites that reference your content on their own.
  • Outreach: In this strategy, you contact other websites for links. This can happen in many ways. You could create an amazing piece of content, and email them to tell them about it. In turn, if they find it valuable, they’ll reference it. You can also suggest where they could link to it.
  • Guest posting: Guest posts are blog articles that you publish on third-party websites. In turn, those companies often allow including one or two links to your site in the content and author bio.
  • Profile links: Finally, many websites offer an opportunity to create a link. Online profiles are a good example. Often, when setting up such a profile, you can also list your website there as well. Not all such links carry strong authority, but some might. And given the ease of creating them, they’re worth pursuing.
  • Competitive analysis: Finally, many SEOs regularly analyze their competitors’ backlinks to identify those they could recreate for their sites too.

Now, if you’re still here with me, then you’ve just discovered what’s responsible for your site’s success in search.

The next step, then, is figuring out whether your efforts are working.

How to Monitor & Track SEO Results

Technical setup, content, and links are critical to getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.

Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:

  • Organic traffic growth
  • Keyword rankings (split into branded and non-branded terms)
  • Conversions from organic traffic
  • Average time on page and the bounce rate
  • Top landing pages attracting organic traffic
  • Number of indexed pages
  • Links growth (including new and lost links)

Local SEO

Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in search results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.

And it’s well worth it.

46% of Google searches are for local businesses. They look for vendor suggestions, and even specific business addresses.

What’s more, they act on this information: 72% of searchers visit a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search.

But hold on, is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking about all along?

Yes and no.

Search engines follow similar principles for both local and global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need to analyze some other ranking factors too.

Even local search results look different:

  • They appear only for searches with a local intent (for example, “restaurant near me” or when a person clearly defined the location.)
  • They contain results specific to a relevant location.
  • They concentrate on delivering specific information to users that they don’t need to go anywhere else to find.
  • They target smartphone users primarily as local searches occur more often on mobile devices.

For example, a localpack, the most prominent element of local results, includes almost all information a person would need to choose a business. Here are local results Google displays for the phrase “best restaurant in Boston.”

Local SEO example of a localpack featured snippet in the SERP

Note that these results contain no links to any content. Instead, they include a list of restaurants in the area, a map to show their locations, and additional information about each:

  • Business name
  • Description
  • Image
  • Opening hours
  • Star Reviews
  • Address

Often, they also include a company’s phone number or website address.

All this information combined helps customers choose which business to engage. But it also allows Google to determine how to rank it.

Local Search Ranking Factors

When analyzing local websites, Google looks at the proximity to a searcher’s location. With the rise of local searches containing the phrase, “near me,” it’s only fair that Google will try to present the closest businesses first.

Keywords are essential for local SEO too. However, one additional element of on-page optimization is the presence of a company’s name, address, and phone number of a page. In local SEO, we refer to it as the NAP.

Again, it makes sense, as the search engine needs a way to assess the company’s location.

Google assesses authority in local search not just by links. Reviews and citations (references of a business’s address or a phone number online) highlight its authority too.

Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones to get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.

What is black hat SEO?

The final aspect of SEO I want to highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to use. I mean it.

Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.

Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding keywords in code so that users don’t see them, but search engines do), and buying links.

So, why would someone use black hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.

Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of link building, for example. Keyword stuffing helps users to rank one page for many keywords, without having to create more content.

But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.

And the reason I mention it here is that I want you to realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good to be true.

Should you outsource SEO or keep it in-house?

Whether you work on SEO yourself, delegate it to another team member, or outsource it completely, you’ll want to make this decision with as much knowledge as possible.

Doing SEO Yourself

Be honest with yourself — are you interested in learning SEO? Do you have time to learn the basics? Do you have the resources to bring in help if you redesign your website and accidentally deindex several pages? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you might not want to take on the responsibility of SEO yourself. SEO is a long term play, and just like a muscle, you have to work at it consistently to see results. That can take a substantial amount of commitment. If you have any doubts, try the next best thing — delegating the work.

Delegate SEO to a Team Member

If you’re not quite sure about taking on SEO yourself, consider delegating the work to a team member. If you have a person who’s interested in growth marketing, development, or even web design, this would be a valuable skill to help grow their career. You could also hire a full-time search engine optimization specialist if you have the budget.

The person in this role can report to the marketing team, development team, or even design team. Because SEO touches nearly every function of a business while maintaining a unique set of skill requirements, this position won’t be subject to frequent changes if departments need to be restructured later on. The person you delegate to this job will contribute cross functionally more often than not, so you’ll have some liberty with managing them.

Outsource SEO to an Agency

You don’t have the interest in SEO, your team’s at full capacity, and you can’t spare the budget to fill a full time SEO role. Now what? The best bang for your buck is to outsource SEO to a reputable consultant. Why? First, a well-respected SEO consultant is highly skilled in bringing organic traffic, leads, and conversions to businesses. They do this day in and day out, so they won’t need the ramp up time that you or a member of your team would need in order to learn the basics.

Second, a consultant can be less expensive than hiring someone full-time for the role because they don’t require insurance benefits, payroll taxes, etc. But how much exactly would you be looking at for outsourcing your SEO?

SEO can cost between $100 and $500 per month if you do it yourself with a keyword research tool. It can cost between $75 and $150 per hour for a consultant, and up to $10,000 per month if you hire a full-service marketing agency. Small businesses generally spend less on SEO than big brands, so be sure to take that into account.

Incurring SEO costs can mean one of two things: the investment in your organic search strategy, or how much you pay for paid search engine marketing (SEM) services like Google Ads. If you’re paying for a tool, consultant, or marketing agency to help you optimize your web content, your bill can vary wildly with the depth of the services you’re receiving.

SEO Resources & Training

This guide is just a starting point for discovering SEO. But there’s much more to learn.

Here are online training resources to try next if your or someone on your team wants to take on this skill:

You can also pick SEO knowledge from industry experts and their blogs. Here are some worth reading:

Over To You

Without actively positioning its content in search results, no business can survive long.

By increasing your search visibility, you can bring more visitors, and in turn, conversions and sales. And that’s well worth the time spent becoming an expert in SEO.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


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How to Fix and Prevent XSS Attacks in WordPress

Are you worried about hackers attacking your website?

Cross-site scripting, also called XSS, is one of the most common attacks on WordPress sites. Hackers find vulnerabilities on your site and use them to steal information and misuse your website.

What’s worse is that if you don’t fix it immediately, these hacks could lead to more severe damage – the kind that’s really hard to recover from.

You can prevent these hacks by installing a firewall on your WordPress site.

If your website is already under attack, we’ll show you how to fix it right away in simple beginner-friendly language. We’ll keep cybersecurity jargon to the bare minimum in this tutorial. We’ll also show you how to prevent future attacks.

First, let’s quickly understand what happens in an XSS attack so that you’ll be better equipped to handle it.

What is an XSS Attack in WordPress?

XSS stands for Cross Site Scripting which is a kind of injection attack where hackers inject malicious scripts into a website.

These scripts are disguised as good code on a trusted website. Next, when a user lands on this website, their browser executes all the code, including the malicious script, because it thinks it’s all trusted instructions.

In simpler terms, imagine you’re a spy and you’ve just received an official email from the government about a top-secret mission. It contains all the instructions you need to follow down to the T.

What you don’t know is that someone intercepted that email and added a few more instructions of their own. The government has no clue about it and you don’t bother to double check because you trust the source.

Some of it doesn’t make sense but you’re trained to obey every order to achieve your mission.

In this scenario, the government is your website, and the spy is the user’s browser. The browser follows the instructions from your website and can’t differentiate between the good and bad scripts.

These scripts are usually in Javascript, one of the most popular and widely-used programming languages. Although, these attacks can take place using any client-side language.

Now there are many ways to carry out an XSS attack. One way is to send a link to unsuspecting users to get them to click on it. Once they click on it, the attack can possibly do one or more of the following:

  • Redirect users to a malicious site
  • Capture the user’s keystrokes
  • Run web browser-based exploits
  • Steal cookie information of the user logged into an account

If the hacker is able to steal cookie information, they can completely compromise the user’s account. For instance, if you’re logged into your website’s wp-admin panel, the hacker can steal your credentials and log into your site.

What you need to do to prevent these attacks is to make sure all user data is validated and sanitized properly before it enters your website. That way, no user input can be malicious Javascript code. Added to that, you need to make sure there are no XSS vulnerabilities on your site that can allow a hacker to attack.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of XSS attacks but we hope you have a decent understanding of how a WordPress XSS attack works. Now if you suspect your site is hacked, follow our easy step-by-step tutorial below.

How to Find and Fix an XSS Attack in WordPress

To find any kind of malware or hacks on your site, you’ll need to run a deep scan on your entire website including its files and database.

We’ll be using Sucuri to scan and clean up your hacked site. Sucuri gives you a robust security setup including a firewall, malware scanner, and malware cleaner.

Sucuri offers a free website malware scanner that you can install inside your WordPress site by navigating to Plugins » Add New tab.

We recommend using the premium server-side scanner. This will turn your website inside out to find any trace of malware.

Added to that, here are a few of its highlights:

  • Monitors spam and malicious scripts
  • Checks for hidden backdoors created by hackers
  • Detects changes made to DNS (domain name system) and SSL
  • Checks for blacklists with search engines and other authorities
  • Monitors website uptime
  • Instant alerts via email, SMS, Slack, and RSS

For more details, read our Sucuri Review.

Sucuri comes with a price tag of $199.99 per year. If that’s out of your budget, you can try other security plugins. See our list: 9 Best WordPress Security Plugins Compared.

While selecting a security plugin, make sure it gives you all the cyber security features you need to find and fix malware infections and protect your website.

Step 1: Scanning Your Website

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for a plan with Sucuri. Then, log in to the Sucuri dashboard where you can add your site.

Add site in Sucuri

Here, you’ll need to connect your website by entering your FTP credentials. If you don’t know your FTP credentials, you can get them from your web host.

Connect site to Sucuri

When your site is connected, Sucuri will automatically run a thorough scan of your website. Once done, it will show you a detailed report under the ‘My Sites’ tab.

Sucuri dashboard site infected

Now you can click on the ‘Details’ button next to the warning message. This will open up the Monitoring page where you can view the details of the hack or infection.

Step 2: Requesting a Malware Cleanup

On the Monitoring page, you can see what kind of malware has infected your site. Sucuri adds a rating to indicate the risk level. So if it’s a critical or high risk, you know that you need to fix it right away. Added to that, it will also show you if your site has been blacklisted by any search engines.

Clean up site with Sucuri

Now that you know your site is infected, you need to clean it up and Sucuri makes this really easy for you. To get started with the process, click on the ‘Clean Up My Site’ button.

Malware removal request in Sucuri

On the next page, click on New Malware Removal Request button and a form will appear where you can enter your site’s details.

Malware removal request form in Sucuri

Simply fill out the form and submit it. Once done, Sucuri’s security experts will clean up your site for you. In case you don’t know any of the details you need for the form, you can ask your web host for them.

Now you may be wondering how long would it take to get your site cleaned.

Sucuri gives first preference to users on the Business plan. They assure a turnaround time of 6 hours. For other plans, it depends on how complex your site’s infection is and the volume of requests they have in queue.

Immediately after an attack, we strongly recommend logging all users out of your site and changing your login credentials to be on the safe side.

How to Prevent XSS Attacks on Your WordPress Site

It’s always best to protect your website and prevent these kinds of malware attacks on your site. It’s much easier and cheaper than trying to fix a hacked website. Here are our top recommended steps to prevent XSS attacks on your site.

1. Enable a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

Sucuri has one of the best firewalls for WordPress sites. It not only blocks XSS attacks but all sorts of other malware attacks like DDoS, Brute Force, Phishing, and SQL injections.

The firewall will sit in front of your website and scan every user coming through. It will identify and block bad bots before they reach your site.

To enable the Sucuri firewall, navigate to the Firewall tab on your Sucuri dashboard.

Select your site, and you’ll see setup instructions that you can follow. Sucuri gives you 2 options to set up the firewall:

1. Automatic Integration: Simply enter your hosting credentials using cPanel or Plesk. This method requires you to give Sucuri access to your website’s server to automatically set up the firewall on your site.

Sucuri firewall waf

2. Manual Integration: You can set up the firewall on your own without granting internal access to Sucuri. To get started, click on the internal domain link and make sure that it loads.

check internal domain link

Next, you can configure your DNS to point your web traffic at the Sucuri firewall. For this, you’ll need to access the DNS records in your hosting account. Here, you can change the ‘A’ record of your site and enter the IP addresses that Sucuri provides.

sucuri dns ip addresses

If you’re stressed that this is all too complicated, you can ask your web host for help and they will guide you through the process. Added to that, you can also raise a support ticket with Sucuri and their support team will help you change the DNS records.

To open a ticket, you’ll find a link inside the manual instructions on the same page.

open a ticket sucuri

Once you’re done setting up the firewall, it usually takes a few hours for the changes to reflect. You can expect a maximum wait time of 48 hours.

When you enable the firewall, it will automatically add security headers to your site to protect it from XSS attacks.

If there’s an attempted XSS attack Sucuri will block it and report it to you in the Reports tab.

Now what we love about the Sucuri firewall is that it’s so easy for anyone to use, including beginners. You don’t have to be a cyber security expert or know any coding.

You can enable all sorts of protection features with just a click in the Settings » Security tab.

So for instance, you can enable DDoS protection and geoblocking to make it harder for hackers to attack your site.

Emergency ddos protection

To enable a security feature here, all you have to do is check the box and save your settings. When you need to disable it, you simply have to uncheck the box.

Aside from this, the Sucuri plugin will:

  • Regularly scan and monitor for spam and malicious code
  • Alert you of any cross-site scripting vulnerability
  • Block bad bots and hackers
  • Check for blacklists with search engines and other authorities
  • Monitor website uptime
  • Detect changes made to DNS (domain name system) and SSL
  • Send you instant security alerts via email, SMS, Slack, and RSS

So your site will be protected at all times.

2. Use Secure Forms

On a vulnerable website, forms are one of the most common targets for hackers. If your form is unsecured, this means anyone can simply enter malicious code in your form fields.

Our recommendation for securing your website’s forms is WPForms. It is the #1 WordPress form builder that has built-in security so your forms are protected right from the start.

anti spam protection in WPForms

By default, the forms have anti-spam protection turned on. Plus, you can even add CAPTCHA to your forms to block spam bots.

Advanced noCaptcha and Invisible Captcha

You can enable an invisible captcha or the type where a user will have to solve a little puzzle or tick a box to prove they’re human.

3. Set User Role Permissions

When you have multiple people working on your website, it isn’t wise to give everyone admin access. It’s better to assign them roles based on what permissions they need.

WordPress lets you create roles for:

  • Super Admin
  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber

Now if a hacker gets control over a user’s account, they’ll be limited in what they can do on your site.

4. Auto-logout Inactive Users

Hackers can gain access to user accounts by hijacking their browser sessions and stealing cookies.

You can minimize this risk by logging out inactive WordPress users.

Many security plugins have an idle session logout feature or you can use the Inactive Logout plugin.

5. Update Your Website Regularly

WordPress plugins, themes, and even your WordPress installation get updates regularly. You’ll see them inside your WordPress dashboard when they’re available:

updates in wordpress

Many website owners ignore updates for a long time but this can expose your website to hackers. Updates usually carry bug fixes, new features, and improvements to the software. They can also have security patches. You can see if an update carries a security patch by viewing the details of the update.

view version details of update

This means a vulnerability was found in the software that hackers can use to attack your site. When developers find security problems, they patch them up and release a new version of the software.

All you have to do is update the software on your site.

So if you see it’s a security patch, update it immediately to avoid any risk of being hacked.

security update

One of the main reasons site owners ignore updates is that they can sometimes break your site or cause incompatibility issues. We recommend that you test the update on a staging site and then run it on your live site.

With that, you’ve learned how to fix and prevent XSS attacks on your WordPress site.

Before we wrap up, we’ll give you one more security tip. Always take regular backups of your website.

Even with the strongest security measures on your site, there are many things that can go wrong. For instance, a user can make a simple human error that crashes your website.

You can set up automated backups using a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus. For more options, see our list of the top WordPress backup plugins.


1. Is WordPress vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks?

The WordPress core software is developed and maintained by some of the best experts in the world. Their software is pretty rock solid but keep in mind that no software is free from vulnerabilities.

The reason WordPress websites are attacked often is that the platform is so popular. And most users install tons of third-party themes and plugins. Vulnerabilities can develop in any of these elements and hackers can exploit them to hack your site.

2. Are there different kinds of cross site scripting attacks?

Yes. There are 3 main types of XSS attacks:

  • Stored XSS (also know as persistent XSS): Attackers stores their payload on a compromised server, causing the website to deliver malicious code to other visitors.
  • Reflected XSS: The payload is stored in the data sent from the browser to the server.
  • DOM XSS: Here, the server itself isn’t the one vulnerable to XSS, but rather the JavaScript on the page is.
  • Self cross-site scripting: Attackers can exploit a vulnerability that needs really specific context and manual changes. The victim here can only be yourself.
  • Blind cross-site scripting: In these attacks, the vulnerability commonly lies on a page that only authorized users can access. The attacker can’t see the result of an attack.

3. How do I make sure there are no other security issues on my site?

Make sure you always have a security plugin installed on your website. This is a must for all kinds of websites including WooCommerce, blogs, and small business sites. We recommend Sucuri, but you can also check out Wordfence, MalCare, and SiteLock. See more of our top recommendations here: 9 Best WordPress Security Plugins Compared.

That’s all we have for you today. We hope this post has given you everything you need to secure your website.

For more on website security, see our resources on:

These posts will give you more ways to seal vulnerabilities and protect your website from all risks.

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Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics: Full Comparison 2022

Do you want to know what’s new in Google Analytics 4? How is GA4 different from Universal Analytics?

There’s a lot that’s changed in the new Google Analytics 4 platform including the navigation. Google has added new features and removed a number of reports you’re familiar with. And that means we’ll need to relearn the platform.

In this guide, we’ll detail the differences between Google Analytics 4 (GA4) vs. Universal Analytics (UA) so that you’re prepared to make the switch.

If you haven’t already switched to Google Analytics 4, we have an easy step-by-step guide you can follow: How to Set Up Google Analytics 4 in WordPress.

What’s New Only in Google Analytics 4?

In this section, we’re detailing the things that are new in GA4 that aren’t present in Universal Analytics at all. A little later, we’ll go into depth about all the changes you need to know about.

  1. Creating and Editing Events: GA4 brings about a revolutionary change in the way you track events. You can create a custom event and modify events right inside your GA4 property. This isn’t possible with Universal Analytics unless you write code to create a custom event.
  2. Conversion Events: Conversion goals are being replaced with conversion events. You can simply mark or unmark an event to start tracking it as a conversion. There’s an easy toggle switch to do this. GA4 even lets you create conversion events ahead of time before the event takes place.
  3. Data Streams: UA lets you connect your website’s URL to a view. These views let you filter data. So for instance, you can create a filter in a UA view to exclude certain IP addresses from reports. GA4 uses data streams instead of views.
  4. Data filters:  Now you can add data filters to include or exclude traffic internal and developer traffic from your GA4 reports.
  5. Google Analytics Intelligence: You can delete search queries from your search history to fine-tune your recommendations.
  6. Explorations and Templates: There’s a new Explore item in the menu that takes you to the Explorations page and Template gallery. Explorations give you a deeper understanding of your data. And there are report templates that you can use.
  7. Debug View: There’s a built-in visual debugging tool which is awesome news for developers and business owners. With this mode, you can get a real-time view of events displayed on a vertical timeline graph. You can see events for the past 30 minutes as well as the past 60 seconds.
  8. BigQuery linking: You can now link your GA4 account with your BigQuery account. This will let you run business intelligence tasks on your analytics property using BigQuery tools.

While this is what’s unique to GA4, there are a lot more changes than this. But first, let’s take a look at what’s gone from the Universal Analytics platform that we’re all familiar with.

What’s Missing in Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 has done away with some of the old concepts. These include:

  1. Views and Filters: As we mentioned, GA4 is not using Data Streams and we explain this in depth a bit later. So you won’t be able to create a view and related filters. Once you convert your UA property to GA4, you’ll be able to access a read-only list of UA filters under Admin > Account > All Filters.
  2. Customization (menu): UA properties have a customization menu for options to create dashboards, create custom reports, save existing reports, and create custom alerts. Below are the UA customization options, along with their GA4 equivalent.
    • Dashboards: At the time of writing this, there isn’t a way to create a custom GA4 dashboard.
    • Custom reports: GA4 has the Explorations page instead where you can create custom reports.
    • Saved reports: When you create a report in Explorations, it is automatically saved for you.
    • Custom alerts: Inside custom Insights, which is a new feature in GA4, you can set custom alerts.
  3. Google Search Console linking: There isn’t a way to link Google Search Console with a GA4 property at the time of writing.
  4. Bounce rate: One of the most tracked metrics – the bounce rate – is gone. It’s likely that this has been replaced with Engagement Metrics.
  5. Conversion Goals: In UA, you could create conversion goals under Views. But since views are gone, so are conversion goals. However, you can create conversion events to essentially track the same thing.

Now that you know what’s new and what’s missing in GA4, we’ll take you through an in-depth tour of the new GA4 platform.

Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics

Below, we’ll be covering the main differences between GA4 and UA. We’ve created this table of contents for you to easily navigate the comparison guide:

Feel free to use the quick links to skip ahead to the section that interests you the most.

New Mobile Analytics

A major difference between GA4 and UA is that the new GA4 platform will also support mobile app analytics.

In fact, it was originally called “Mobile + Web”.

UA only tracked web analytics so it was difficult for businesses with apps to get an accurate outlook on their performance and digital marketing efforts.

Now with GA4 data model, you’ll be able to track both your website and app. You can set up a data stream for Android and iOS.

GA4 data streams

There’s also added functionality to create custom campaigns to collect information about which mediums/referrals are sending you the most traffic. This will show you where your campaigns get the most traction so that you can optimize your strategies in the future.

Easy User ID Tracking

Turning on user ID tracking in UA was quite a task. But that’s all been simplified in GA4 with the new measurement model. You simply need to navigate to Admin » Property Settings » Reporting Identity tab.

reporting identity in GA4

You can choose between Blended and Observed mode. Select the one you want and save your changes. That’s it.

In GA4, the reporting interface remains familiar and the navigation menu is still on the left! That keeps things familiar but there are quite a few menu items that have changed.

First, there are only 4 high-level menu items right now. Google may add more as the platform is further developed.

GA4 main menu

Next, each menu item has a collapsed view. You can expand each item by clicking on it.

Now when you click on the submenu items, it will expand the menu to reveal more sub menus.

Submenu in ga4

In GA4, you’ll see familiar menu items you use for SEO and other purposes but in different locations. Here are the notable changes:

  • Realtime is under Reports
  • Audience(s) is under Configure
  • Acquisition is under Reports » Life cycle
  • Conversions is under Configure

GA4 also comes with completely new menu items as listed below:

  • Reports snapshot
  • Engagement
  • Monetization
  • Retention
  • Library
  • Custom definitions
  • DebugView

Measurement ID vs Tracking ID

Universal Analytics uses a Tracking ID that has a capital UA, a hyphen, a 7-digit tracking code followed by another hyphen, and a number. Like this: UA-1234567-1.

The last number is a sequential number starting from 1 that maps to a specific property in your Google Analytics account. So if you set up a second Google Analytics property, the new code will change to UA-1234567-2.

You can find the Tracking ID for a Universal Analytics property under Admin » Property column. Navigate to Property Settings » Tracking ID tab where you can see your UA tracking ID.

In GA4, you’ll see a Measurement ID instead of a Tracking ID. This starts with a capital G, a hyphen followed by a 10-character code.

GA4 stream measurement id

It would look like this: G-SV0GT32HNZ.

To find your GA4 Measurement ID, go to Admin » Property » Data Streams. Click on a data stream. You’ll see your Measurement ID in the stream details after the Stream URL and Stream Name.

Data Streams vs Views

In UA, you could connect your website’s URL to a view. UA views are mostly used to filter data. So for instance, you can create a filter in a UA view to exclude certain IP addresses from reports.

GA4 uses data streams instead. You’ll need to connect your website’s URL to a data stream.

But don’t be mistaken, they are not the same as views.

Also, you can’t create a filter in GA4. In case your property was converted from UA to GA4, then you can find a read-only list of UA filters under Admin » Account » All Filters.


Now Google defines a data stream as:

“A flow of data from your website or app to Analytics. There are 3 types of data stream: Web (for websites), iOS (for iOS apps), and Android (for Android apps).”

You can use your data stream to find your measurement ID and global site tag code snippet. You can also enable enhanced measurements such as your page views, scrolls, and outbound clicks.

data streams in ga4

In a data stream, you can do the following:

  • Set up a list of domains for cross-domain tracking
  • Create a set of rules for defining internal traffic rules
  • Put together a list of domains to exclude from tracking

Data streams will make a lot of things easier. But there are 2 things that you need to be aware of. First, once you create a data stream, there’s no way to edit it. And if you delete a data stream, you can’t undo this action.

Events vs. Hit Types

UA tracks data by hit types which is essentially an interaction that results in data being sent to Analytics. This includes page hits, event hits, eCommerce hits, and social interaction hits.

GA4 moves away from the concept of hit types. Instead, it’s event-based meaning every interaction is captured as an event. This means everything including page, events, eCommerce transactions, social, and app view hits are all captured as events.

There’s also no option for creating conversion goals. But GA4 lets you flag or mark an event as a conversion with the flip of a toggle switch.

Toggle conversions on in GA4

This is essentially the same thing as creating a conversion goal in Universal Analytics. You can also create new conversion events ahead of time before those events actually take place.

In GA4, Google organizes events into 4 categories and recommends that you use them in this order:

1. Automatically collected

In the first event category, there’s no option to turn on any setting for tracking events so you don’t need to activate anything here. Google will automatically collect data on these events:

  • first_visit – the first visit to a website or Android instant app
  • session_start – the time when a visitor opens a web page or app
  • user_engagement – when a session lasts longer than 10 seconds or had 1 or more conversions or had 2 or more page views

Keep in mind that we’re only at the start of GA4. With Google’s ever-advancing and machine-learning technology, more automatically collected events may be added as the platform progresses.

2. Enhanced measurement

In this section, you don’t need to write any code but there are settings to turn on enhanced measurements. This will give you an extra set of automatically collected events.

To enable this data collection, you need to turn on the Enhanced measurement setting in your Data Stream.

enhanced measurement in ga4

Then you’ll see more enhanced measurement events that include:

  • page_view: a page-load in the browser or a browser history state change
  • click:  a click on an outbound link that goes to an external site
  • file-download: a click that triggers a file download
  • scroll: the first time a visitor scrolls to the bottom of a page

3. Recommended

These GA4 events are recommended but aren’t automatically collected in GA4 so you’ll need to enable them if you want to track them.

We suggest you check out what is in the recommended events and turn on tracking for what you need. This can include signups, logins, and purchases.

Before we move to custom events, if you don’t see these 3 event types – automatically collected, enhanced measurement, and recommended – in your dashboard, you should ideally create a custom event for it.

4. Custom

Custom events let you set up tracking for any event that doesn’t fall into the above 3 categories. You can create and modify your events. So for instance, you can create custom events to track menu clicks.

You can design and write custom code to enable tracking for the event you want. But there is no guarantee that Google will support your custom metrics and events.

No Bounce Rate

The bounce rate metric has vanished! It’s been suggested that Google wants to focus on users that stay on your website rather than the ones that leave.

So this has likely been replaced with engagement rate metrics to collect more data on user interactions and engaged sessions.

No Custom Reports

UA properties have a customization menu for options to create dashboards, create custom reports, save existing reports, and create custom alerts.

A lot of this has changed in GA4. To make it easier for you to understand, here are the UA metrics and their GA4 equivalents:

  • Custom reports can be found in the Explorations page.
  • Saved reports are automatically created when you run an Exploration.
  • Custom alerts can be set up inside custom Insights from the GA4 home page.

One more thing to note is that you also won’t find a way to link Google Search Console with a GA4 property (at the time of writing). And that’s all the key differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.

Now you may be wondering whether you HAVE TO make the switch to GA4. A lot of our users have been asking us this question so we’ll tell you quickly what you need to do.

Do I Have To Switch to GA4?

Google will retire Universal Analytics in July 2023. You’ll have access to your UA data for some time but all new data will flow into GA4. If you have a US property set up, you’ll see this warning in your dashboard:

universal analytics warning

So you have to set up a GA4 property sooner or later and we recommend that you do it sooner. This is because your UA data won’t be transferred to GA4. You have to start afresh.

You can set up your GA4 property now and let it collect data. In the meantime, you can continue to use Universal Analytics and use the time to learn the new GA4 platform. Then when we’re all forced to make the switch, you’ll have plenty of historical data in your GA4 property.

If you haven’t set up your Google Analytics 4 property yet, we’ve compiled an easy step-by step guide for you: How to Set Up Google Analytics 4 in WordPress.

Want to skip the guide and use a tool? Then MonsterInsights is the best to set up GA4. It even lets you create dual tracking profiles so you can have both UA and GA4 running simultaneously.

Get MonsterInsights Now »

After setting up GA4, you can go deeper into your data with these guides:

These posts will help you track your users and their activity on your site so that you can get more valuable insights and analytics data to improve your site’s performance.

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