An SEO Pro’s Guide to the Command Line

This post is exclusively published on seobytech.com

Although not an essential skill, the proliferation of coding in SEO has had a fantastic impact on the speed at which tasks can be completed.

There are, however, some foundational skills that are well worth mastering before learning to code.

Doing so will enable you to feel far more confident once you begin your journey – and in some cases, you’ll find tasks are easier to accomplish using these approaches anyway!

In this guide, we’re taking a command line interface (CLI) crash course.

How Does the Command Line Help in SEO?

Using the command line for SEO can help you more easily:

  • Identify file structure when you want to manipulate data.
  • Verify status code when the site is using a service worker.
  • Split huge files into more manageable chunks.
  • Download or transfer data directly to a server.
  • Search for a specific string of characters in a large file.
  • Slice data by fields and output to a new file.
  • And a lot more you’ll learn about below.

Specifically, we’ll cover how to navigate a file system without relying on a Graphical User Interface (GUI), and how to create and modify files and directories, manipulate data, and even interact with the web.

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You’ll learn the commands for:

  • Changing Directory
  • Listing Files
  • File
  • Making Directories
  • Moving Files & Directories
  • Removing Files & Directories
  • Touch
  • Copy
  • Head & Tail
  • Concatenate (Cat)
  • Word Count
  • Grep
  • Sort
  • Split
  • Cut
  • Stream Editor
  • Awk
  • Curl
  • Wget
  • Clear

What is the Command Line?

A command line interface – also known as a terminal, command prompt, or console – is a text-based interface that can be used to interact with a computer’s operating system (OS).

CLI’s predate the introduction of graphical interfaces. It’s a living relic of our not-so-distant past, when commands had to be typed out in order for you to navigate and activate a computer’s files.

So what possible advantages can be gained from learning to master this archaic method of interaction now for SEO?

Fair question! There are definite advantages to using a command line instead of a GUI, including:

  1. Speed: A GUI is effectively a presentation layer that sits on top of a CLI to make things more user-friendly. Ultimately, this means that it will never be as fast, and performing tasks can take significantly longer.
  2. Necessity: Sometimes it’s only possible to interact with a remote server via a CLI. The same is true for running scripts unless you go to the extra effort of creating a GUI.

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Accessing the Command Line

The way in which you access the command line is heavily dependent on your operating system.

On Mac, command line is called the terminal, and you can find it under Applications > Utilities.

On Windows, command line is the command prompt and can be located by searching cmd in the navigation bar.

It’s important to note that Windows and Mac/Linux differ on many commands, both by name and functionality. This is because Mac and Linux are both UNIX-based operating systems, whereas Windows is… well… Windows.

We’ll be focusing on UNIX, as the command line is far more developed than the Windows equivalent (unless you use PowerShell) since Windows has always heavily focused on its GUI.

If you’re a Windows user, to follow along, you’ll need to either:

  1. Enable Windows Subsystem for Linux.
  2. Install an emulator such as Git Bash or Cgywin.

The images in this post are all of Git Bash, which I’ve always used, but your mileage may vary.

What is the Difference Between the Command Line and Shell?

One final nuance worth explaining is the difference between the command line and shell.

A command line is essentially an interface that is used to send commands and display the output, whereas a shell is the interpreter that sits behind it and processes the commands.

UNIX has a range of different shells available, Bash being the most commonly used (and historically, also the default shell on macOS, until it was switched to Zsh in 2019 when Catalina was released).

Got it? Great, let’s dig in.

Note: Square brackets in the examples below signify a placeholder. They are not part of the commands.

Navigating Files & Directories

Loading up a non-Windows CLI for the first time can be intimidating. As well as being entirely text-based, it provides limited information on your current working directory — in other words, where you’re presently located.

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To find this out, enter pwd (print working directory).

Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

In my case, you can see my home directory – indicated by the tilde (~) – is /c/Users/WilliamN.BV.

To make running scripts and command line utilities easier, you’re best served storing files inside child directories within your home directory. This makes navigating to the files you require as easy as possible.

Changing Directory

Cd (change directory) is one of the most commonly used commands and is universal across both Windows and Unix operating systems.

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To navigate to a directory within your current directory, simply type:

cd [directory]

To access a subdirectory that sits below this, input the file path:

cd [directory]/[sub-directory]

Need to go back to the directory you were previously in? Navigate to it using a hyphen:

cd -

Or go to your home directory by entering a tilde:

cd ~

On a UNIX based OS, the directory you are currently in is represented by a singular dot, so specifying cd . will run but do nothing.

Two dots, however, is representative of the parent directory and can be used to efficiently navigate to directories above your existing location.

Navigate to the directory above your current directory:

cd ..

Navigate two levels above your current directory:

cd ../../

Navigate to a directory within the directory above:

cd ../[directory]

As an example, I have a “Public” folder within /c/Users and can navigate to it by inputting cd ../Public.

Changing drive in CLI.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

One final thing to note is that directories with spaces in the path need to be escaped when using cd. The easiest way to achieve this is to wrap the folder in quotation marks or apostrophes.

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cd 'my directory'

Listing Files

So far, we’ve managed to work out where we are in our directory tree and navigate around it, but what if we don’t know where specific files and directories are located?

In those instances, we need to use the list command.

ls [directory]
List command in CLI.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

The exact formatting will vary, depending on the command-line interpreter you’re using, but there is almost universally some differentiation for different file types.

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As you can see in the image above, directories are blue in Git Bash and have a trailing slash.

List the contents of a subdirectory:

ls [directory]/[sub-directory]

List only directories in your current directory:

ls -d */

List the contents of a directory and its subdirectories:

ls *

List a specific type of file using pattern matching:

ls *.[file-extension]

Options

Up to this point, we’ve gotten by with minimal optional argument usage, as the commands we’ve been running have been relatively simplistic.

But many commands, such as list, have numerous valuable options that can be specified to modify how a command functions.

The easiest way to find these out for a command is to type:

[command] --help

Useful options for ls include:

Show all hidden files (which feature a dot before the name):

ls -a

Display the size of files:

ls -s

Display files in the long listing format (file names, permissions, owner, size and time/date modified):

ls -l

Sort by file size:

ls -S

Sort by modification time:

ls -t

Sort by extension:

ls -X

It’s also possible to stack up options if you desire, either by combining these into a singular argument or specifying multiples.

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For example, inputting either of the following will display files – including hidden files – in long listing format, sorted by size.

ls -aSl
ls -a -S -l
Long list command in Linux.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

File

While ls in long listing format provides high-level information on individual files, it doesn’t provide detailed information about the file type.

This is where the file command comes in.

Find the human-readable type of a file:

file [file-name]

Find the file types for an entire folder:

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file *

Find the file type for a specific extension:

file *.[file-extension]

Find the mime type for a file:

file -i [file-name]

A good SEO use case for the file command is identifying whether CSVs are in the expected format.

Opening and saving CSVs in Excel can cause havoc with special characters. By using file, it’s easy to establish whether files are encoded with UTF-8, ASCII, or something else.

It will also highlight the presence of any BOM characters, which can potentially invalidate a robots.txt or disavow file!

Creating & Editing

Making Directories

Continually swapping between a GUI and a text-based interface can be a pain. Thankfully, there’s a command for that, too.

Make a directory:

mkdir [new-directory]

Make multiple directories:

mkdir {one,two,three}

Make a parent directory and subdirectories:

mkdir –p directory/directory-2/directory-3

The -p option enables users to define a directory structure and will create any missing folders required to match it.

As an example, if we wanted to create a directory to download some compressed log files, a second directory for the uncompressed logs, and a third folder for Googlebot requests, we could run:

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mkdir -p logs-new/uncompressed_logs/googlebot_requests
mkdir command Linux.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

In the image above, Ls -R logs is used to display the created directory tree structure.

Moving Files & Directories

As well as being used to move files and directories, the move command (mv) is also utilized for renaming and is therefore well worth remembering to avoid more pesky clicks.

Move a file:

mv [file-name] [directory]

Rename file:

mv [file1] [file2]

Move multiple files:

mv [file-1] [file-2] [directory]

Move directory:

mv [directory-1] [directory-2]

Move files with a specific extension:

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mv *.[file-extension] [directory]

Add the -i parameter to provide a prompt before overwriting an existing file, and -n to prevent a file being overwritten.

Shortcuts like the tilde and dot operators that we learned earlier can also be leveraged to move files and folders up the directory structure.

Removing Files & Directories

Very much the inverse of the move command is the remove command (rm), which is an easy one to remember because the syntax is almost identical.

A remove directory command (rmdir) also exists, but this isn’t especially helpful because it only works on empty directories.

Remove a file:

rm [file-name]

Remove multiple files:

rm [file-1] [file-2] [file-3]

Remove multiple files with a specific extension:

rm *.[file-extension]

Remove an empty directory:

 rm -d [directory]

Remove a non-empty directory and files:

rm -r [directory]

Again, the -i parameter can be specified to provide a prompt before removal on a per-file basis.

If three or more files are listed, -i will consolidate this down into one prompt.

Touch

The touch command can be used to modify timestamps and create empty files.

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Create a new file without any content:

touch [file-name]

Update a files last accessed time:

touch -a [file-name]

Update a files last modified time:

touch -m [file-name]

Set a specific access and modification time:

touch -c -t YYDDHHMM [file-name]
touch command linuxScreenshot of command window, September, 2021

Above is an example timestamp set to 22:59 on 15th December 2018.

Copy

On a UNIX CLI, the copy command (cp) is used solely to copy a file or directory from one place to another.

This is worth bearing in mind to those more familiar with the Windows command prompt, where the copy command can also be used to combine files.

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Make a copy of a file:

cp [file-name] [new-file-name]

Copy file to directory:

cp [file-name] [directory-name]

Copy multiple files to directory:

cp [file-name] [another-file-name] [directory-name]

Copy all files to destination directory:

 cp -r [existing-directory] [new-directory]

Copy all files with a specific extension:

cp *.[file-extension] [directory-name]

Once again, -i can be used to provide a prompt before a file is overwritten, and -n can be used to prevent this entirely.

Displaying & Manipulating

Head & Tail

Large files can take a long time to load when using a GUI – if they load at all…

This is where the head and tail commands come in, allowing you to preview the first – or last! – (n) rows of data.

It’s incredibly helpful if you’re about to undertake some form of data manipulation but are unsure how the file you are working with is structured.

Preview the beginning of a file:

head [file-name]

Preview the end of a file:

tail [file-name]

Both commands display 10 rows of data by default, which can be modified using the -n option.

head/tail -n 5 [file-name]

One nuance worth noting is that the tail command comes with a plus option, which prints data starting at a specific line rather than the end.

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tail +5 [file-name]
Tail command in Linux.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Cat

The cat command – short for concatenate – is used to read, combine and write files.

Print the contents of a file:

cat [file-name]

Concatenate multiple files into a combined file:

cat [file-1] [file-2] [file-3] > [combined-file]

Combine multiple files with the same extension:

cat *.[file-extension] > [combined-file]

Above, the redirection operator (>) is what indicates that the output should be saved as a new file (or overwrite the existing file). To prevent the existing data within a file being overwritten, specify >>.

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Concatenate two files without creating a new file:

cat file1 >> file2

A good SEO use case for the cat command is when you’re performing link research. Unless you’re using an API, this will entail downloading multiple exports, all of which will have the same format.

To combine, pop the exports in a folder and run a cat command with pattern matching on the extension.

Cat Linux command.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Word Count

More than just a one-trick pony, the word count command also supports the counting of characters and, more importantly for SEO, lines.

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Count the number of words in a file:

wc -w [file-name]

Count the number of characters in a file:

wc -m [file-name]

Count the number of lines in a file:

wc -l [file-name]

At this point, it’s important to introduce the pipe command. Rather than being used in isolation, multiple commands can be chained together using the pipe character (|), enabling users to perform more complex operations. When used well, this can be tremendously powerful.

As a basic example, here’s how to count the number of CSV files in a directory:

ls *.csv | wc -l

Or count the number of lines in multiple files and list the combined total:

cat * | wc -l
Cat Linux command.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

The above shows that a line count on a 73 million row dataset took < 20 seconds.

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Grep

The grep command is used to perform a search for a specific string of characters. This is incredibly useful for SEO, where extracting data from large files is an almost daily occurrence. As an example, when parsing log files.

Extract every line that features a pattern (in this case Googlebot) from a file:

grep "Googlebot" [file-name]

Extract every line that features a pattern from multiple files with a specific extension:

grep "Googlebot" *.[file-extension]

Extract every line that features a pattern from multiple files with a specific extension and write it to a new file:

grep "Googlebot" *.[file-extension] > [file-name]
Grep command.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Due to the potential file sizes involved, logs are almost universally stored in one-day increments, so using pattern matching to perform a grep on multiple files is very much the norm.

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Grep’s default behaviour in this instance is to prefix each line with the name of the file.

access.log-20200623:66.249.73.221 - - [22/Jun/2020:07:05:46 +0000] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 75339 "-" "Googlebot-Image/1.0" - request_time=24142

This information is totally irrelevant when performing log file analysis for SEO and can thankfully be removed by using the -h option.

grep -h "Googlebot" *.[file-extension] > [processed-file]

Multiple pattern matches can be performed per line by using the pipe command. A good use case for this is when requests for multiple domains are stored in the same location, and you only want one.

Extract every line that features two patterns from multiple files with a specific extension and write it to a new file:

grep -h "domain.com" | grep "Googlebot" *.[file-extension] > [processed-file]

To count the occurrences of a pattern in a file, use the -c option. It’s worth bearing in mind that this will perform a count per file though, as with wc -l. To get the total matches across multiple files, combine with the cat command.

cat *.[file-extension] | grep -c "Googlebot"
Grep -c and cat commands.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Extract every line that does not feature a pattern from a file:

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grep -v "pattern" [file-name]

Extract every line that features a pattern from a file (case insensitive):

grep -i "pattern" [file-name]

Extract every line that features a pattern from a file using Regex:

grep -E "regex-pattern" [file-name]

Sort

Of limited usage on its own, sort can be combined with other commands to sort the output alphabetically or numerically.

Order alphabetically and output to a new file:

sort [file-name] > [sorted-file]

Reverse the order and output to a new file:

sort -r [file-name] > [sorted-file]

Order numerically and output to a new file:

sort -n [file-name] > [sorted-file]

Order alphabetically on the n column (in this instance 3) and output to a new file:

sort -k3 [file-name] > [sorted-file]

Order using multiple columns and output to a new file:

sort -k[column-1],[column-2] [file-name] > [sorted-file]

Sort can also be used to remove duplicate lines:

sort -u [file-name] > [sorted-file-unique-lines]

Or stacked with word count to get a tally of unique lines within a file:

sort -u [file-name] | wc -l

Split

Struggling to open something? The split command is perfect for separating huge files into more manageable chunks.

Split a file into smaller chunks (1000 lines by default):

split [file-name]

Split a file into smaller chunks with a specified number of lines:

split -l[number] [file-name]

Split a file into a given number of chunks:

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split -n[number] file-name]

Split a file into smaller chunks with a specified file size:

split -b[bytes] [file-name]

Files can also be split based on kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes:

split -b 100K [file-name]

split -b 10M [file-name]

split -b 10G [file-name]

While the above commands will split a file, they will not automatically maintain the files extension. To do so, use the --additional-suffix option.

Here’s a more practical example of how to split a large CSV file into 100MB chunks using this option. In it, we’ve also specified the -d option and added a custom suffix. This means that the output files will follow a naming convention of ‘logs_[number]’, rather than alphabetic characters.

split -d -b 100M --additional-suffix=.csv logs.csv logs_
Split command UNIX.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

When testing a script, it’s often helpful to grab a random data sample from a file. Unfortunately, the split command does not have an option for this. Instead, use shuf.

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shuf -n [number] [file-name] > [new-file]

Cut

Cut allows you to access parts of the lines of an input file and output the data to a new file. Although it can also be used to slice by bytes and characters, the most useful application for SEO is slicing data by fields.

Slice file by field:

cut -f [number] [file-name]

Slice file by multiple fields:

cut -f [number-1],[number-2] [file-name]

Slice file by a range of fields:

cut -f [number-1]-[number-2] [file-name]

Slice file by a range of fields (from the selected number to the end of the line):

cut -f [number]- [file-name]

Cut slices using the tab delimiter by default, but this can be changed using the -d option (e.g. space):

cut -d " " -f [number] [file-name]

It’s also possible to stack multiple ranges together. To provide a more practical illustration, if you wanted to extract specific columns from multiple links files that share the same format:

cut -d "," -f 1,3-5,13-15 *.csv > cut.csv

Sed (Stream Editor)

The sed command can perform a range of useful text transformations, including filtering, find and replace, insertions and deletions.

View lines within the middle of a document (which isn’t supported by head and tail):

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sed -n '[number-1],[number-2]p' [file-name]

Perform a find and replace and save the output:

sed 's/[find-text]/[replace-with]/g' [file-name] > [new-file]

Perform a find and replace save inplace:

sed -i 's/[find-text]/[replace-with]/g' [file-name]

Perform a find, replace with nothing and save the output:

sed 's/[find-text]//g' [file-name] > [new-file]

Find and delete lines with a specific pattern, saving the output:

sed '/[find-text]/d' [file-name] > [new-file]

Find and delete blank lines (using Regex), saving the output:

sed '/^$/d' [file-name] > [new-file]
Sed command UNIX.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Delete spaces at the end of lines of text and save the output:

sed 's/[[:blank:]]*$//' [file-name] > [new-file]

Run multiple find and replaces on a file and save the output:

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sed -e 's/[find-text]/[replace-with]/g; s/[find-text-2]/[replace-with-2]/g' [file-name] > [new-file]

Awk

For really heavy-duty data manipulation using the command line, learn how to use awk. Awk is a scripting language in its own right, and is capable of a range of different transformations.

Count the unique values in a column:

awk -F '[delimiter]'  '{print $[column-number]}' [file-name] | sort | uniq -c

Below shows count of status codes in a log file.

awk command logs count Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Perform a find and replace on a column and save the output:

awk -F '[delimiter]' '{ gsub("pattern", "new-pattern", $[column-number]) ; print}'

Filter rows down based on a column meeting a condition (greater than):

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awk '[delimiter]'  '$[column-number] > [number]' [file-name]

Filter rows down using pattern matching on a column (contains):

awk -F '[delimiter]' '$[column-number] ~ /[pattern]/' [file-name]

Count word frequency within a file:

awk 'BEGIN {FS="[^a-zA-Z]+" } { for (i=1; i<=NF; i++) words[tolower($i)]++ } END { for (i in words) print i, words[i] }' *

As you can see in the examples above, the syntax for an awk query is a bit more complex than what we’ve covered previously.

Awk supports many constructs from other programming languages, including if statements and loops, but if you’re more familiar with another language, this may be the complexity level at which it’s worth transitioning over.

That said, it’s always worth doing a quick search for an awk solution first.

Interacting With the Web

Curl (Client URL)

Curl is a command line utility that allows users to download data from, or transfer data to, a server. This makes it incredibly useful for SEO, where we have to continually check status codes, headers and compare server and client-side HTML.

Get the contents of a URL:

curl [url]

Save the contents of a URL to a file:

curl -o [file-name] [url]

Download a list of URLs from a file:

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 xargs -n 1 curl -O < [file-of-urls]

Use curl with the -I option to display only the headers and status code:

curl -I [url]
Curl command head only.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Curl -I is a great way to verify status codes when a site is using a service worker, which often conflict with browser extensions.

It’s also excellent for verifying if a CDN’s bot mitigation is causing issues when you’re attempting to crawl a site. If it is, you’ll almost certainly be served a 403 (Forbidden) status code.

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To fully replicate a redirect tracing extension, enable follow redirects with the -L option:

curl -LI [url]
Curl command head follow redirects.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Get the contents of a URL using a custom user agent:

curl -A "User-Agent" [url]

Use a different request method with a custom header:

curl -X POST -H "Content-type: application/json" [url]

Test whether a URL supports a protocol (e.g. whether a site supports HTTP2, or a site on HTTP2 is backwards-compatible with HTTP/1.1):

curl -I --http2 [url]

curl -I --http1.1 [url]

Wget

Wget performs a similar function to curl but features recursive downloading, making it the better choice when transferring a larger number of files (or an entire website!).

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Wget is included in most distributions automatically, but if you’re using GIT Bash, you’ll have to install it.

Download a file:

wget [url]

Download a list of URLs in a text file:

wget -i [file-name].txt

Download an entire website:

wget -r [url]

By default, wget will only download pages recursively up to five levels deep. Extend this using the -l option:

wget -r -l [number] [url]

Or, if you’re feeling brave, enable infinite recursion:

wget -r -l inf [url]

If you want to download a local copy of a site – with the links updated to reference the local versions – then use the mirror option instead:

wget -m [url]

You can also restrict the types of files downloaded. If, for instance, you only wanted JPGs:

wget -r -A jpg,jpeg [url]

Or wanted to download all images on a website to a single directory, including those on a CDN, ignoring the robots.txt:

wget -r -l inf -nd -H -p -A jpg,jpeg,png,gif -e robots=off [url]
Wget command UNIX.Screenshot of command window, September, 2021

Cleaning Your Output

To finish things off, a bit of housekeeping is on order.

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If you’ve been following along and trying out commands, the chances are that your command line is starting to look messy. Thankfully, clearing – or quitting! – the interface is very simple.

Clear the output of the command line:

clear

Exit the command line:

exit

Taking Things Further

The above commands will have given you a good idea of the types of tasks you can accomplish using the command line, but this is really just a jumping-off point.

With the ability to chain commands together, the possibilities are virtually endless – especially if you start exploring Bash scripting.

To provide a few more ideas, you could:

  1. Automate Screaming Frog.
  2. Run web performance tests like Lighthouse in bulk.
  3. Perform en-masse image compression.
  4. Or publish a website using a JAMstack architecture.

Lastly, a degree of competency using the command line is essential when you begin coding.

It’s a skill you’ll use constantly when navigating to, and running, your scripts.

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And with the popularity of Git repositories such as GitHub and Gitlab, I hope you’ll use it to contribute to projects and share your work with the world, as well!

More Resources:


Featured image: fatmawati achmad zaenuri/Shutterstock

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fbq('init', '1321385257908563');

fbq('track', 'PageView');

fbq('trackSingle', '1321385257908563', 'ViewContent', { content_name: 'command-line-seo-guide', content_category: 'seo web-development ' });

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Google PSA:季節限定の販売イベント専用のページを用意する

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GoogleのJohnMuellerがリマインダーまたはPSAをに投稿しました ツイッター 今朝、「季節限定の販売イベント専用のページを用意することは、eコマースサイトにとっては良い考えです」と述べています。 これは、ジョンが今日繰り返している、ほんの数ヶ月前の7月からのアドバイスです。

7月に、Googleは投稿しました 取引ページのSEOのベストプラクティス そして今、ホリデーシーズンが間近に迫っているので、ジョンはリマインダーを投稿しています。

このリマインダーに関して彼が答えた追加の質問は次のとおりです。

季節限定のセールイベントが終了しても、ライブを維持します。

このアドバイスはどのくらいグローバルですか? それはかなりグローバルなようです:

でのフォーラムディスカッション ツイッター



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Google:画像の一意性は高品質と同等ではありません

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グーグルのジョンミューラーは最近言った ツイッター 画像に関して言えば、画像がユニークであることは、画像がより高品質であることを意味するわけではありません。 ジョンは、「特に画像を使用したIMOは、独自性は高品質と同等ではありません」と述べています。

したがって、自分で撮影した独自の画像があるからといって、その画像がGoogle検索で上位にランク付けされるとは限らず、特定のクエリの画像検索で画像が上位にランク付けされるとは限りません。 かもしれませんが、超人気画像になったら?

ジョン・ミューラーは前にそれが ページにユニークな画像を掲載する価値があります しかし、彼はそれがあなたがウェブ検索で直接ランク付けするのを助けないことを付け加えました、しかし全体として、それはまだ持っているのは良いことです。 ジョンはまた、次のような重複した画像を持っていると言いました ストックフォトはあなたのランキングを傷つけません

もちろん、熱心で忠実な読者を引き付けたい場合は、ユニークで興味深い画像を用意することで読者を楽しませることができます。 しかし、いいえ、それはランキング要素ではありません。

これらのツイートは次のとおりです。

でのフォーラムディスカッション ツイッター



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メール受信ボックス管理用の7つのAIツール

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あなたが電子メールの海に溺れているなら、電子メールの受信箱管理が答えかもしれません。

別のライフハックを試すだけでは不十分な場合があります。 受信トレイがゼロになるとすぐに、メールが戻ってきます。

混乱と戦うために、AIメールツールは、受信トレイを整理するための個人的なメールアシスタントとして機能することで、あなたに力を与えます。

各電子メール受信ボックス管理プログラムにはさまざまな機能と利点があるため、すべてのベルやホイッスルに気を取られる前に、AI電子メールツールで本当に必要なものを検討してください。

決定を下す前に停止して検討する必要のあるいくつかの質問を次に示します。

  • 何に時間をかけすぎているのですか?
  • 何のために十分な時間がありませんか?
  • どのタスクが私に到達するのに役立ちますか マーケティング目標
  • 他の誰かが私のために何ができると夢見ていますか?

これらの質問は、日常業務にタスクを追加するだけでなく、どのオプションが時間を節約できるかに集中するのに役立ちます。

1. SalesHandy

SalesHandyは、販売の仕事や販売の目標を持っている人が、それらの目標をより速く、より一貫して達成できるよう支援することに重点を置いています。

の主な提供 SalesHandy 無制限の無料バージョンでアクセスできる電子メール追跡です。

メール受信ボックス管理用のAIツール-SalesHandy

電子メール追跡を使用すると、ユーザーがいつ電子メールを開いたかを知ることができます。 デスクトップに小さな通知を表示するように設定することもできるので、戻って確認する必要はありません。 誰が最も興味を持っているのか、そして人々がすぐに開店するのか、あるいはその日や週の後半などに開店するのかを学び始めます。

また、この機能を一時的にミュートまたはオフにします。 これは、セールスブリッツに参加していて、一定期間キャンペーンに集中している場合に特に役立ちます。 あなたはあなたのエネルギーを注ぎ込み、通知を受け取り、そしてあなたが他のタスクに集中する準備ができたらそれをオフにすることができます。

メールテンプレートを作成することもできるので、メールの下書きに費やす時間を減らすことができます。

前述のように、このサービスは無料ですが、1人あたり月額9ドルにアップグレードして、リンクトラッキングなどの機能にアクセスし、ユーザーがクリックしているものを確認したり、メールをマージしたりできます。 追加機能へのアクセスを提供するチームには、さらにアップグレードがあります。

SalesHandyは、GmailChrome拡張機能とOutlookの統合を提供します。

2.フロント

を使用して、チームをメールの受信トレイ管理に関与させます フロント。 フロントを使用すると、ラベルとチームメンバーをメールに割り当てることができます。

さらに良いことに、さまざまな統合とワークフローを使用してプロセスを自動化できるため、受信した電子メールの処理に費やす時間を短縮できます。

メール受信ボックス管理用のAIツール-FrontApp

フロントによると、これは応答時間と関連性を高めることで、顧客がVIPのように感じるのに役立ちます。

メールの受信トレイ内で内部的にコメントすると、他のチームメンバーが公式の返信を出す前に共同作業を行うことができます。割り当てとは、適切な人に返信を送信することを意味します。

10人以下のチームの場合、料金は1人あたり月額19ドルからです。 これにより、メールだけでなく、ソーシャルメディアやSMSメッセージをチームに接続できます。 また、基本的な割り当ておよびコメント機能を使用したり、ルールを作成したり、他のツールを統合したりすることもできます。

アップグレードされたプランは、より多くの統合、ルール、データトラッキングなどのカスタマイズされたオプションを提供するため、システムがどの程度機能しているかを確認できます。

3.ドラッグ

引っ張る Gmailの受信トレイにチームコラボレーションをもたらします。 このアプリを使用すると、顧客にサービスを提供するための一意のメールアドレスを作成し、チームとして協力してそれに追いつくことができます。

たとえば、カスタマーサービスやヘルプデスクのアカウントを設定できます。 また、営業チームやCRMにも役立つ可能性があります。 これにより、複数の人が管理できる1つの受信トレイに重要なメールを送信することで、メールを明確に保つことができます。
メール受信ボックス管理用のAIツール-DragApp
ドラッグすると、多数のツールが共有受信トレイに移動します。 あなたのチームは、あなたのアカウントに入ってきた電子メールにアクセスし、必要に応じて飛び込んで応答を提供することができます。

ドラッグは、それ自体のダッシュボードとしても機能します。 ここから、チームメンバーにメールを割り当てたり、ラベルや期日を設定したりできます。 メールが届いたときに、メールに関連付けられたメモやタスクを追加できます。チームメンバーがプロジェクトや問題についてリアルタイムで話すための内部チャット機能もあります。

このダッシュボード内で、さまざまなリストを作成し、処理中にリスト間で電子メールを移動できます。 自動化機能により、効率をさらに向上させることができます。

その他の注目すべき機能には、電子メールテンプレート、データの追跡と分析、およびToDoリストが含まれます。

ドラッグの無料オプションで基本を始めることができます。 受信トレイは1つしかありませんが、ほとんどの機能にアクセスでき、メールには「SentbyDrag」の透かしが表示されます。

送信されたメールの小さな広告を削除したり、受信トレイのロックを解除したり、その他の拡張機能を利用したりするには、有料機能をユーザーあたり月額8ドルからご利用いただけます。

4. EmailAnalytics

Gmail AIメールツールを増やす準備はできていますか? EmailAnalytics あなたがあなたの電子メールを混乱させて、それらの応答をより速く出すのを助けることを約束します。

メール受信ボックス管理用のAIツール-EmailAnalytics

EmailAnalyticsダッシュボードは、データを使用して、電子メールシステムで何が機能しているかをより正確に把握し、全体的な改善の機会を強調します。

誰が最も多く送信して応答するか、ほとんどの電子メールが何時に受信されるか、応答時間など、電子メールアクティビティの概要を確認します。 特定のカテゴリごとに電子メールの数を監視することもできます。

これは、チーム全体の状況を監視するための監視ツールとして機能し、チームのレポートを作成して、改善されたシステムに参加できるようにすることができます。

EmailAnalyticsを14日間無料で試すことができます。 これにより、製品に精通し、データがチームに役立つかどうかを確認するのに十分な時間が与えられます。

試用期間後、個々のプランは月額5ドルから始まります。 定義上、このプランは、使用状況を追跡したい個人ユーザー向けです。 より多くの機能を備えた「Pro」に移行することもできます。 チームの価格については、見積もりについて会社に直接連絡する必要があります。

5.メールをきれいにする

非常に多くの電子メール受信ボックス管理ツールには、販売またはカスタマーサービスのプロセスを順調に進めたり改善したりする機能がありますが、受信ボックスを整理して軽量に保つための支援が必要な場合があります。

クリーンなメール あなたがあなたがするものに集中することができるようにあなたがあなたが必要としない電子メールのあなたの受信箱をクリアするのを手伝うことを約束します。

メール受信ボックス管理用のAIツール-CleanEmail

この魔法はどのようにして起こりますか? 一括アクションと自動化された組織を通じて、受信トレイを改善するために大規模なスイープを行うことができます。 たとえば、特定の送信者からのメールや、ソーシャルメディア通知などの特定の年齢以上のテーマからのメールをフィルタリングしてグループにまとめることができます。 ラベルが付けられたら、まとめて削除できます。

それをさらに魔法のようにするために、これらのアクションを自動化することができます。

さらに、Clean Emailは、購読解除およびデータ保護機能を提供します。

プランは、1つのアカウントで月額9.99ドルから始まります。

6.スマートアシスト

あなたはあなたのために電子メール管理の世話をするデジタルアシスタントの準備ができていますか? スマートアシスト お手伝いします。

スマートアシストは、そのプロセスをいくつかのステップに分解します。 まず、特定の送信者や件名にフラグを立てるなど、特定のメールを認識するようにアシスタントをトレーニングします。

次に、それらの電子メールに何が起こるべきかを伝えます。 それらを削除する必要がありますか? またはソートされていますか? それともあなたはそれらに対応する必要がありますか? アシスタントが機能し始めたら、定期的にチェックインし、ワークフローを改善するために変更を加える必要があります。

基本機能の価格は、ユーザーあたり月額4.99ドルからです。 これらの機能をチームに導入するには、組織または企業レベルのサポートのために、ユーザーあたり月額$ 14.99、またはユーザーあたり月額$ 24.99を支払う必要があります。

7. SaneBox

SaneBox 名前が示すとおりに実行することを約束します。つまり、あなた(および受信トレイ)を正気に保つことです。 それは単純な概念です。 メールをカテゴリ別にフォルダにファイリングすることで、最も重要なメールに集中でき、不要なメールに気を取られることはありません。

SaneBoxはフォルダーを作成してから、電子メールをファイルします。 ファイリングアクションは、モバイル、デスクトップ、アプリなど、メールをチェックする場所ですでに発生しています。

つまり、別のアプリやソフトウェアを使用する必要はありません。 SaneBoxはネイティブに機能します。

saneboxメール受信ボックス管理AI

SaneBoxは、AIメールツールテクノロジーを利用して、新しいメールの送信先を分類するための行動を学習します。 電子メールの操作方法について学習すればするほど、サービスはより便利になります。

SaneBoxには3つの異なる価格レベルがあります。 最初の月額7ドルは、1つの電子メールアカウントで利用でき、オプションの機能を1つ選択できます。 月額12ドルで、2つのメールアカウントでSaneBoxを使用し、5つのオプション機能を利用できます。 月額35ドルで、4つのメールアカウントで使用でき、無制限の機能を利用できます。

電子メールの受信トレイ管理に関するよくある質問

AIはメールでどのように使用されますか?

電子メールの受信トレイ管理のための人工知能は、電子メールをどのように操作するか、どのようにファイルするか、またはどのようなアクションを実行するかを学習し、それらを適切に分類できます。 これにより、最も重要で緊急のメールに集中できます。

AIはEメールマーケティング戦略をどのように変えますか?

AIメールツールを使用すると、顧客とのやり取りや売り上げの促進に集中できます。 これらのツールは、電子メールをチームメンバーに委任し、応答が送信される前に共同作業するのにも役立ちます。

メールの受信トレイを管理するにはどうすればよいですか?

送信者別、優先度別、またはその他のカテゴリ別にメールを提出できるため、 ほとんどのROI。 AIメールツールを統合すると、このプロセスを自動化できるため、メールの受信トレイ管理を手動で処理する必要がありません。

Eメール管理には何が含まれていますか?

すべてのAIメールツールはさまざまな機能を提供します。 チームメンバーとコラボレーションするための機能に加えて、基本的なファイリング、ラベル付け、委任、およびクリーンアップを探します。

電子メールの受信トレイ管理:結論

メールマーケティング まだ最も効果的なものの1つです デジタルマーケティング 戦略。 時間をかけて個人的な電子メールを作成し、人々に実際に返信することは価値があります。

ただし、受信トレイが制御不能になると、行き詰まりがちになります。 これらの受信トレイ管理ソリューションの1つ以上を統合すると、時間を解放できるため、作業の遂行に集中できます。

最初に使用を開始するAI受信トレイツールはどれですか?

ニール・パテルとの相談

私の代理店がどのように推進できるかをご覧ください 大規模 あなたのウェブサイトへのトラフィックの量

  • SEO -大量のSEOトラフィックのロックを解除します。 実際の結果をご覧ください。
  • コンテンツマーケティング -私たちのチームは、共有され、リンクを取得し、トラフィックを引き付ける壮大なコンテンツを作成します。
  • 有料メディア -明確なROIを備えた効果的な有料戦略。

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The Best Help Desk Software You Should Consider Using in 2021

This post is exclusively published on seobytech.com

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

Your help desk should be nothing less than an incredible machine that responds quickly to worried clients and employees. The alternative is sluggish service that frustrates customers and puts a ton of stress on your teams.

If you don’t have help desk software in place, or you are using a system that’s not getting it done, it’s time to make a switch. Give your support teams the tools they need to ensure a rapid response to any type of request.

I’ve picked the top six help desk software options on the market today. As you’ll see from my reviews, these products are built to serve different types of teams: customer service, IT assistance, mobile field support, and more.

By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly which help desk software is right for you. 

#1 – HubSpot Review — The Best All-In-One Customer Service CRM

HubSpot interface for Best Help Desk Software

If you need a full-blown customer relationship management (CRM) tool to go along with your help desk software, HubSpot is a smart choice. 

And the best part? You can get everything you need to get started for free. 

With their free Service Hub, you get ticketing, meeting scheduling, reporting, a team inbox, live chat + chatbots, email templates, and team email connections. 

So, it includes everything you need to start optimizing your customer support process. 

But you also get several other features like tasks and activities, email tracking, contact website activity, contact management, custom fields, and more. 

While HubSpot’s free plan is excellent, their paid plans offer a fantastic suite of amazing features you can use to improve your entire support system further. 

Each pricing tier adds more advanced features, but their most affordable plan ($40 per month for two users) includes:

  • Eight hours of VoIP calling and recording
  • Conversational bots to create and route tickets
  • Simple open and close automations plus internal notifications
  • 1,000 canned responses for frequently asked questions
  • Up to 1,000 email templates
  • Ten reporting dashboards
  • 1,000 documents
  • Conversation routing
  • Two ticket pipelines
  • Up to five currencies

So, it’s quite a step up from HubSpot’s free plan. However, if you meet those limits, you have to upgrade to a higher-tiered plan. The next tier starts at $320/month, so it’s quite pricey. 

Alternatively, you can opt for their Starter Growth Suite, which includes the starter plan for HubSpot CRM, the Marketing Hub, the Sales Hub, and all the service features above. 

It starts at $50 per month, so it’s a super affordable way to get access to a ton of different marketing, sales, and CRM features if you need access to all of them. 

Note: this is special COVID-19 pricing with regular rates starting at $112.50 per month. 

Try HubSpot for free.

#2 – Zoho Desk Review — The Best for Fast-Growth Businesses

Zoho Desk interface for Best Help Desk Software

Zoho provides countless business tools to businesses of all sizes in every industry you can imagine. 

All of their software is fantastic, and their help desk software is no exception. 

From affordable plans at every level and a robust free plan to incredible support features, you can rest assured that Zoho Desk has the ability to scale alongside you as your business grows. 

At its core, Zoho Desk is a multi-channel ticketing system. So, you get top-of-the-line ticketing features that let you organize and streamline support inquiries, whether they’re coming from email, social media, live chat, phone, or an online form. 

And as your business grows, the need for a self-service knowledge base increases. With Zoho Desk, you can quickly turn support requests into knowledgebase articles in just a few clicks to continuously grow your database. 

On top of that, you also get access to a wide variety of features designed to help improve and consolidate your support processes. Some of the most popular features include:

  • Zia, an AI-powered digital assistant
  • Help center tools to design and create your knowledge base
  • Several ticket views and automatic ticket organization/prioritization
  • Advanced response editor with canned snippets
  • Visual process automation builder
  • Customization via APIs and built-in integrations
  • Dashboard headquarters for analytics and reporting
  • Custom field options for web forms

With that said, it’s important to note that lower-tiered plans don’t include every feature. So, be sure to look through each plan’s features before choosing one. 

And keep in mind that you may have to upgrade to a higher plan to get what you need. 

Zoho Desk plans include:

  1. Free — For up to three agents with email ticketing and limited features 
  2. Standard — $12/agent per month with social channels, workflows, and dashboards
  3. Professional — $20/agent per month with BPM, time tracking, and ticket sharing
  4. Enterprise — $35/agent per month with Zia, live chat, and advanced customization

Sign up for a free trial to see which plan is right for you and your team today.

#3 – Freshdesk Review — The Best for Small to Midsize Businesses

Freshdesk interface for Best Help Desk Software

If manual email and social media customer service are becoming too much for your team to manage, Freshdesk is a great way to ease the burden.

Its ticketing system is straightforward to use, and it comes with numerous helpful features.

Plus, it’s incredibly affordable, and there’s a limited free forever plan with unlimited agents to try it out before you invest a single penny. 

With Freshdesk, you can streamline conversations across channels in one place, create contextual conversations with anyone, automate repetitive processes to save time, automatically share solution articles, and easily monitor your team’s performance. 

Furthermore, you also get access to countless support features, including:

  • Multi-channel team inbox
  • Agent collision detection
  • Custom ticket statuses
  • Scenario automations
  • Canned responses
  • Shared ownership and huddles
  • Linked tickets
  • Time tracking
  • Scheduling dashboard
  • Event and time-based automations
  • AI-powered chatbots
  • Knowledge base capabilities

On top of that, they also offer several educational courses and a fully-staffed customer support team to help you and your team get the most out of your new software. 

Freshdesk has five different help desk plans to choose from, including:

  1. Sprout — Free with limited features
  2. Blossom — $15/agent per month
  3. Garden — $35/agent per month
  4. Estate — $49/agent per month
  5. Forest — $99/agent per month

You can start with the free plan to try it out, but I highly recommend upgrading to a paid plan when you can justify it to gain access to more of their advanced features. 

Each plan comes with a free 21-day trial to test the waters before making your final decision.

#4 – Freshservice Review — The Best for IT Service Management

Freshservice interface for Best Help Desk Software

If you’re looking for a better way to handle IT support, Freshservice is one of the top options on the market. Like Freshdesk, it’s a Freshworks product, so you have a massive brand behind the software. 

However, the difference between Freshdesk and Freshservice is that the latter is built specifically for IT teams. Freshdesk helps your external customers, whereas Freshservice helps your in-house team support your employees.

With more people working from home, strong IT support is more critical than ever before. And you may even see an influx of inquiries coming through as people adjust. 

This is where Freshservice comes in and saves the day. They offer everything you need, including multi-channel support, hardware and software records, contract management, and a top-rated mobile app for iOS and Android. 

Furthermore, you can automate agent assignments and approval workflows to help streamline the process. Plus, you also get access to powerful features like:

  • Incident, knowledge, and SLA management
  • A user-friendly service catalog
  • Self-service portal and knowledgebase
  • Internal contextual collaboration
  • Problem, change, and release management
  • Project dashboards and analytical reports
  • Asset and inventory management
  • Lifecycle management
  • Asset auto-discovery
  • Interactive visualizations

And you can easily integrate any Freshworks software with Freshservice, along with tons of other third-party software integrations as well. 

So, it’s an excellent choice if you already use or plan on using any of their other business tools. 

Freshservice offers four different plans to choose from, including:

  • Blossom — $19/agent per month with essential features
  • Garden — $49/agent per month for growing teams
  • Estate — $79/agent per month for large teams
  • Forest — $99/agent per month for enterprises

These prices indicate annual pans paid in advance. They also offer monthly plans for a higher fee, except for the Forest plan. 

Try Freshservice free for 21 days to see if it’s right for you!

#5 – Happyfox Review — The Best for Mobile and Field Support Teams

Happyfox interface for Best Help Desk Software

Field agents have a unique set of challenges vs. support teams in the office or one set location. As such, you need a specialized tool that adapts to meet your needs. 

Happyfox is a field service software designed to help you track agents, schedule work, and leverage real-time communications with a fully-featured mobile interface for seamless use on the move. 

When agents are continuously traveling from one job to the next, they must have an easy way to share and track status information from one agent to the next. 

And the good news is that Happyfox does just that, with a wide range of features like:

  • Ticket ques, statuses, and categories
  • Multi-channel ticketing capabilities
  • Ticket threads and attachments
  • Canned actions and responses
  • Searchable and customizable knowledgebase
  • Agent collision detection
  • Built-in asset management
  • Auto-assignments and smart rules
  • Simultaneous routing rules
  • SMS support

And dozens of other helpful features specifically for mobile teams. 

Unlike the other options on this list, Happyfox doesn’t display their pricing online. But they offer standard per agent pricing and special packages for unlimited agents, making it suitable for field service teams of all sizes. 

For agent-based pricing, they offer four plans with varying feature sets. 

And each plan automatically includes SSL security, unlimited tickets, smart rules, knowledgebase capabilities, multilingual support, rich text formatting, and mobile applications. 

However, their unlimited agent plans cap the number of tickets you can have in a year. So, you have to decide which option makes the most sense for your situation. 

Schedule a live demo to see if Happyfox is right for you and your team today!

#6 – Cayzu Review — The Most Affordable Help Desk Software

Cayzu interface for Best Help Desk Software

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly cloud-based help desk software, Cayzu is exceptionally affordable with paid plans starting at $4 per agent per month. 

It’s also straightforward to use. With that said, it’s not the most feature-rich option, but you sacrifice some of the advanced features for an incredibly affordable price. 

At just $4 per month, you get access to all the essential features you need, including:

  • Secure data protection
  • Automatic backups
  • A mobile application
  • Unlimited customer support
  • Ticketing system
  • Canned responses
  • Knowledgebase capabilities
  • Email ticket creation
  • Multi-language support
  • Open APIs and rest APIs
  • Support widget

Or you can upgrade to one of the higher plans for just a few dollars ($9 per agent per month) and get time tracking, assignment rules, basic automations, due dates, custom SSL certificates, and more. 

And they also offer a freedom plan (up to 70 agents) if you’re interested in an easy way to get all of their features. It starts at $469 per month, but it’s probably overkill for most users. 

Plus, over 20,000+ companies (including Verizon, Yahoo, and PBS) trust Cayzu with their help desk needs. So, you’re not alone and you’re in good company when you sign up.

Sign up for a free trial to see if Cayzu’s right for you today!

What I Looked at to Find the Best Help Desk Software

Before we dive into my top recommendations, let’s talk about what makes these tools great and what to look for when deciding which help desk software is right for you and your team.

First, you are the expert on what you need. Come into this search with an idea of the experience you want for your customers and employees.

Use the following criteria make sure you haven’t missed any of the major aspects of help desk software as you start to evaluate different products.

Your Use Cases

Help desk software exists for a number of reasons, like internal employee support and external customer support. Furthermore, different tools include varying features depending on your use cases. 

So, it’s essential to consider how you plan to use the software before making a decision. 

Number of Agents

How many support agents do you have? Most help desk software charge by the agent, so you need to have a good idea of the number of seats you need.

Some providers also impose agent limits on specific plans, so you’ll have to upgrade to a higher tier if you need to add more agents to your account. This upgrade can be extremely pricey, especially if you’re not expecting it. 

So, make sure to choose a plan that offers a bit of breathing room as you grow. 

Ticket Management

Tickets help you organize, route, and store help desk inquiries. So, you should make sure your software includes basic ticket management systems to help make the process faster and easier. 

Furthermore, some software includes ticketing features for a wide variety of support channels, including email, live chat, social media, instant messaging, SMS, and more. 

An efficient ticketing system is crucial, from automatic ticket creation and organization to smart routing and everything in between. 

However, some of the options on this list limit the number of tickets you can create daily or monthly, which may be too limiting for large teams. And you may be better off choosing an unlimited plan instead.

Support Channels

What channels do you use to provide support? 

Internal support teams may use instant messaging, live chat, or email while customer service teams may utilize social media, SMS, and phone calls. 

Regardless of the channels you use, it’s crucial to implement software that handles everything you need. 

If you already have systems in place, make sure the help desk software you choose plays well. And if you don’t, consider where your customers/employees hang out and the communication methods they’re most comfortable with. 

Furthermore, you should also think about internal communication tools. One agent may need to pass an inquiry on to someone else, or they may need help answering someone’s questions. 

So, it’s important to think about how your agents communicate with each other and how you plan to share information from one department to another, as well. 

Analytics and Reporting 

Data helps managers and owners understand how your service agents perform and what your customers are asking. Advanced ticket tagging and categorization can also help with the latter. 

From there, you can optimize your support process and work on building a self-service knowledge base or in-depth how-to guides to quickly and efficiently answer common questions. 

This frees up agents and gives them more time to handle less-common requests. 

Furthermore, reports and data visualization help display information in a way that’s easy to understand. This can give you a birds-eye view of your support system and may even help you know how to better serve your team and customers. 

Other Features

The best help desk software includes a variety of helpful features beyond ticketing and communication. And it’s essential to consider which features you need to streamline and optimize your support systems. 

Some typical features and extras include:

  • Knowledgebase and self-service support
  • Escalation levels to the right people
  • Automated workflow creation
  • Open API integrations
  • Internal chat software
  • Cross-department collaboration
  • Client and contact management
  • Analytic dashboards
  • Role-based access
  • Ticket sorting
  • Time tracking

It’s also crucial to consider the specific features you need for your use cases. 

Internal teams need different things than customer support teams, so keep this in mind as you go through the decision-making process. 

Conclusion

HubSpot and Zoho Desk are my top recommendations for most users. They all offer numerous powerful features at affordable prices for businesses of all sizes. 

However, they’re not perfect for everyone. Different situations call for different solutions. 

Here’s a recap of my full list of top help desk software, and what each option works well for:

  1. HubSpot – Best all-in-one customer service CRM
  2. Zoho Desk – Best for fast-growth businesses
  3. Freshdesk – Best for small to midsize businesses
  4. Freshservice – Best for IT service management
  5. Happyfox – Best for mobile and field support teams
  6. Cayzu – Most affordable help desk software

So, don’t forget to use the criteria we talked about as you sort through choosing the best help desk software for you, your team, and your customers. 

What’s your go-to help desk software?

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The Best ERP Software You Should Consider Using in 2021

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Back in the dark days of a couple years ago, ERP (enterprise resource planning) software was only used by large corporations and multinational organizations. It was complex, expensive, and required a lot of skilled technical support.

Things have changed.

Well, ERP software for massive companies is still a pretty penny. The difference is that it is way less expensive for everyone else.

Now, it’s within reach of small and midmarket companies that used to dream of centralizing all their business tools with ERP software. Integrate accounting, compliance, project management, risk management, supply chain operations, and more–all within a single platform.

And, those who need the big-ticket ERP software are getting much more powerful and user-friendly tools. So which ERP software is the best? Find out below. 

#1 – Infor Review — The Most Versatile ERP Software

Infor splash page for Best ERP Software

Infor is a cloud-based ERP software with solutions for SMBs and enterprises alike. They have several different ERP products for you to choose from based on your industry and business needs.

Companies looking to modernize their operations will find an ERP more than up to the task. Whether they are a multi-national manufacturer focused on better supply chain management, or a restaurant chain that wants to centralize reporting, Infor can help.

With 30+ years of experience in this space, Infor’s robust and flexible technology earns them a high ranking on my list.

The ERP solutions offered by Infor are a popular choice for wholesale distribution companies, manufacturing organizations, and various service industries. Some of the notable highlights of the software include:

  • Ability to personalize home pages and dashboards
  • Intuitive role-based user interfaces
  • Unlimited financial calendars, ledgers, basis reporting, and dimension strings
  • Embedded analytics directly within different user’ workflows
  • Production planning and scheduling management
  • Optimized purchasing with advanced order controls
  • Ability to ensure maximum margins with integrated pricing modules

While Infor is definitely known for its cloud solutions, they do offer single-instance and on-premises deployment options for some of their software.

Infor also has a wide range of specific software for things like HCM, CRM, PLM, SCM, and more. So if you just have one single need, you can explore those choices as well. 

#2 – AccountMate Review — The Best Vertical Specific Solutions

AccountMate services offered page for Best ERP Software

AccountMate is branded as the “world’s most customizable accounting system.” It’s designed to help growing businesses gain a competitive edge with unique ERP software based on specific verticals. 

The software is trusted by 125,000+ companies worldwide. In addition to the software, AccountMate provides additional services to help you get the most out of your ERP tools.

AccountMate’s vertical solution catalog is extensive, to say the least. They have 30+ vertical-specific category options available. Their development partners help businesses get industry-specific functionality in addition to the base financial software. 

Some of those top categories include:

  • Billing
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Business analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • CRM applications
  • Document management
  • Ecommerce
  • Food processing
  • Human resources
  • Invoice automation
  • Job costing
  • Payroll
  • Route management
  • Sales analysis
  • Warehouse management

The list goes on and on. As you can see, these vertical-specific offerings are extremely versatile. AccountMate can ultimately provide you with a comprehensive front office and back-office solution. 

Businesses within industries like manufacturing, wholesale distribution, utilities, government, solution providers, ecommerce, and business services all rely on AccountMate for ERP.

For those of you looking for a vertical-specific solution with a core focus on accounting and finance, look no further than AccountMate. 

#3 – Epicor Review — The Best ERP Software For Manufacturing

Epicor splash page for Best ERP Software

Epicor is another industry leader in the ERP software space. They provide cloud and on-premises solutions for businesses in spaces like manufacturing, retail, automotive, lumber and building, and distribution.

With that said, the manufacturing ERP software offered by Epicor is the clear standout. 

It’s trusted by a wide range of manufacturers producing products like industrial machinery, lumber and wood, rubber and plastics, high tech electronics, aerospace and defense products, fabricated metals, medical devices, furniture, and more. 

Here are some of the top benefits you’ll get with Epicor’s ERP software:

  • Ability to track, measure, and monitor entire operation from raw materials to final product
  • Improve efficiencies with real-time visibility into plant and business operations
  • Streamline your processes to reduce costs and increase profits
  • Adapt to new strategies, changing customer needs, and new manufacturing methods
  • Implement lean manufacturing methodologies to eliminate waste
  • Make smarter decisions and prioritize customer satisfaction

Overall, the software is designed for mid-sized and large businesses in the manufacturing and distribution space. If you fall into these categories, I strongly recommend Epicor for ERP.

#4 – IFS Review — The Best Agile ERP Software

IFS interface for Best ERP Software

IFS is a bit unique compared to other ERP solutions on the market today. The software isn’t as complicated and rigid as other tools that you’ll come across. 

Instead, IFS gives you the ability to adapt in real-time as market landscapes change, and new technology becomes available. This approach helps maximize the agility of your organization.

The full IFS suite of tools works beautifully, across any Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android device.

IFS has pre-configured ERP solutions for areas like supply chain management, human capital management, project management, financials, service industries, and manufacturing.

Within those categories, some of the noteworthy highlights of the ERP software include:

  • Risk and opportunity management
  • Digital asset lifecycle journey
  • Contract management, variation order management, and payment applications
  • Real-time planning and scheduling optimization 
  • Sales forecasting and demand planning
  • Multisite and multi-entity supply network visibility and planning
  • CRM and SRM
  • Financial accounting, management accounting, project accounting, and strategic accounting

Again, all of these tools and functionality are designed to keep your organization agile as the market changes. You’ll be able to gain a competitive edge and make strategic decisions in real-time using IFS for enterprise resource planning. 

#5 – Deltek Review — The Best ERP Software For Small Business

Deltek splash page for Best ERP Software

As I mentioned, ERP software is no longer reserved for global enterprises. There are now a handful of really excellent tools designed for growing companies that want to leverage these solutions.

Deltek is one of those options for small businesses, and it’s my top recommendation in this category.

Not every small business needs an ERP by any means. I’d look at Deltek if your current project management solution isn’t capturing all the information you need. You’re not able to track costs, personnel, or other factors the way you want to. Having these blindspots is going to cause problems in the long run.

Deltek is a great option for project-based businesses seeking an ERP solution. They have a wide range of products and modules in categories like:

  • Information management and collaboration
  • Business development
  • Project and portfolio management
  • Human capital management

They even offer niche-specific solutions like costpoint for government contractors or project lifecycle management for small architecture and engineering firms. These examples showcase the versatility of Deltek. 

The cloud-based deployment makes it easy for smaller businesses to implement as well. 

What I Looked at to Find the Best ERP Software

ERP software essentially combines all of your business tools into a centralized console. It encompasses components like accounting, HR, CRM, supply chain management, and more. 

By consolidating your business tools into a single ERP solution, it’s much easier to manage.

It also gives you tons of extra value from a big-picture point of view that you normally wouldn’t see from standalone software. 

In order to find the right ERP software for your business, you need to understand what to look for as you’re shopping around.

There’s not really a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Use these feature sets and considerations to start narrowing down potential options.

Business Processes and Modules

ERP software encompasses various types of business processes. These typically come in the form of modules as you’re customizing an ERP solution. 

Some companies might only need a handful of these processes, while others could be looking for a dozen. It really depends on your business size, existing tools, and future goals for resource planning. 

Examples of modules and processes to keep an eye out for include HRMs, financial management tools, CRM, SCM, inventory management, purchasing and supplier management, sales and marketing tools, and more. 

There are even industry-specific processes for things like manufacturing or engineering. These will include crucial functionalities for product planning, production scheduling, bill of materials, shop floor planning, etc. 

Make sure the ERP software you’re evaluating has the capacity to handle your needs with modules for these types of functions. 

Reporting, Analytics, and Dashboards

The best ERP software on the market today has advanced reporting capabilities. These go above and beyond basic spreadsheets and PDF downloads. Look for a solution that includes real-time data and smart filters.

Some tools might even have agile reporting and ad hoc reporting, so you can quickly adapt to ever-changing needs without interruptions. 

You should be able to manage these complex reports and analytics through a simple dashboard. If you can’t figure out the dashboards, you’ll never get the most out of these reports (which renders them useless). 

Dashboards should also display KPIs and let you analyze different data with just a few clicks. For example, you might want to compare qualitative vs. quantitative data based on departments or users within your organization. 

Integrations

Your ERP software must seamlessly integrate with your existing tools and software.

From simple file transfers to complete integrations, it’s crucial that these all work together. For example, you should be able to sync your existing CRM with your new ERP software.

Or you might want to link an ERP payroll module to an HRMS software that you’re already using. 

ERPs that provide flexible integrations can expand the functionality of your existing tools or completely replace them after a smooth file migration. 

Custom Capabilities

Customization is crucial when it comes to evaluating ERP software. Otherwise, you won’t get the most of the potential benefits; here’s why.

Each department will have different business workflows. These could potentially have contradictory priorities and goals.

For example, marketing teams will focus on spending while accounting teams will be focusing on saving money. Sales teams will be prioritizing a monthly quota, and production departments prioritize daily output.

It’s impossible to configure these various workflows into an all-in-one solution. 

So your ERP software should have configurable workflows and custom dashboards for each department. This will allow those decision-makers to define specific KPIs and goals based on custom parameters. 

Setup and Deployment

It’s no secret that ERP software can be complex. Unlike other business tools, it’s not really a “sign up today and deploy in seconds” type of tool. This is largely due to the custom nature and different modules required to run smoothly. 

But with that said, some ERP software providers are definitely easier to set up and deploy than others. If you don’t want to install anything locally, look for a cloud-based ERP solution. You’ll still need a custom solution, but this will be easier overall. 

Between cloud-based SaaS solutions and on-premises deployment, you’ll have different options to consider. 

Training and Support

Again, ERP software isn’t always easy. You need to find a provider that offers you the resources required to hit the ground running. 

In most cases, they will need a proper installation by someone with technical expertise. So if your business doesn’t have a dedicated IT team, make sure you review your SLA. 

In many cases, the installation could be charged entirely separately from the ERP license or subscription. Cloud-based ERPs are definitely easier to set up (as mentioned earlier), but it might still require some training. 

What happens when you have a question or need some assistance? Will your software vendor be there to help you out?

These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself as you’re evaluating different options. 

Summary

There are dozens of vendors out there offering ERP software. But after extensive research and testing, I can only recommend the five options:

  1. Infor — Most Versatile ERP Software
  2. AccountMate — Best Vertical Specific Solutions
  3. Epicor — Best ERP Software For Manufacturing
  4. IFS — Best Agile ERP Software
  5. Deltek — Best ERP Software For Small Business

Which one is the best? It depends on your situation.

Make sure you follow the methodology I described earlier in this guide to narrow down your options as you’re shopping around. This will make your life much easier and ensure you make the right decision for your business. 

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Best Dropshipping Companies You Should Consider Using

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Dropshipping makes it possible to sell products online–without having to purchase, store, or ship inventory. That’s right, you can operate an ecommerce site from your couch without ever touching the products you’re selling. 

But in order to do this successfully, you’ll need to find a dropshipping company to handle the logistics of fulfilling orders. 

Whether you have an existing ecommerce business or you’re new to selling online, this guide will help you find the best dropshipping company for your unique needs.

Continue below to learn more about my top recommendations and strategy for evaluating different options. 

#1 – SaleHoo Review — The Best Wholesale Directory

SaleHoo splash page for Best Dropshipping Companies

SaleHoo is one of the most popular wholesaler directory platforms on the market today. A membership grants you access to 2.5+ million products from 8,000+ suppliers.

With SaleHoo, you can find products and start selling them online in a matter of minutes.

For 15+ years, more than 137,000 people have used SaleHoo to sell online with dropshipping services. Here are some other reasons why they come so highly recommended:

  • All suppliers have been pre-vetted
  • Unlimited dropshipping training
  • Award-winning customer support
  • Plans are backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee
  • Market research tools for hot products and high profit margins
  • Easy to navigate with a modern interface
  • Ability to automate your online store

Annual pricing for the SaleHoo supplier directory costs $67. Alternatively, you can pay a one-time fee of $127 for lifetime access. Try it risk-free

#2 – Oberlo Review — The Best for Shopify Stores

Oberlo for Shopify for Best Dropshipping Companies

If you’re using Shopify to sell online, look no farther than Oberlo. The platform integrates seamlessly with your Shopify store, so you can start dropshipping with ease.

More than 100 million products have been sold online with Oberlo. 

Oberlo is free for basic use, but you’ll definitely want to upgrade to a paid plan, or you’ll be limited with what you can accomplish. Some of the top features include:

  • Unlimited monthly orders
  • Free Oberlo Chrome extension
  • Bulk orders
  • Real-time order tracking
  • Variant mapping
  • CAPTCHA solver
  • Ebooks, guides, and free learning tools
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Customizable listing information 
  • Powerful product data

Paid plans start at $29.90 per month. This entry-level plan supports up to 10,000 products. You can join Oberlo for free to get started. 

#3 – Dropified Review — The Best for eBay Sourcing

Dropified interface best dropshipping companies - Best Dropshipping Companies You Should Consider Using

Dropified is another popular dropshipping solution. It seamlessly integrates with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and more.

Unlike other dropshipping tools, Dropfied is also compatible with eBay and AliExpress. 

If you’re using eBay or AliExpress for inventory, Dropfied eliminates the need to copy and paste customer order details. These orders can automatically be shipped to your customers directly from the supplier. 

Other top features and perks of using Dropfied include:

  • Automatic order fulfillment
  • Automatic price change updates
  • Dynamic Facebook feeds
  • Automatic product availability updates
  • Simple product variant setups
  • Easy product filtering
  • Product and inventory sync
  • Add to your ecommerce store with a single click
  • Product customization
  • Automatically import product reviews from vendors
  • Easy to change vendors for different products

This list of features and benefits goes on and on. It’s quite extensive, to say the least. Dropified plans start at $47 per month. The entry-level plan supports 15,000 products and unlimited monthly orders. Try it free for 14 days.

#4 – Inventory Source Review — The Best Dropshipping Automation Software

Inventory Source interface for Best Dropshipping Companies

Inventory Source is a bit unique compared to other dropshipping companies on our list. They provide software to facilitate dropshipping automation.

To improve the logistics with your existing suppliers, Inventory Source will be a great option for you to consider. 

Here’s why I like Inventory Source so much:

  • Integrates with 25+ ecommerce platforms (Shopify, eBay, Amazon, Walmart, Magento, WooCommerce, etc.)
  • Full product data integration
  • Dropship order automation
  • Automatic inventory sync
  • Free directory of 230+ suppliers
  • Ability to add your own suppliers outside of the Inventory Source directory
  • Bulk feed management tools

Overall, the software is really easy to set up. It will benefit you and your suppliers alike. Plans start at $99 per month. You can create an account for free to browse supplier product feeds, automation tools, and integrations.

#5 – Wholesale2b Review — The Best Free and Simple Dropshipping Company

Wholesale2b splash page for Best Dropshipping Companies

More than one million products are available on Wholesale2b. The platform makes it easy for anyone to integrate dropshippers to their online store.

Wholesale2b is compatible with multiple sales channels and online marketplaces like Amazon, WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, Ecwid, eBay, Magento, and more.

You don’t have to sign up with dozens of suppliers to get what you want–your single Wholesale2b account will give you access to more than 1 million products.

Here are some of the other top reasons why Wholesale2b ranks so high on my list:

  • Free to sign up; no credit card required
  • Easy to get started
  • Extensive product catalog with options from multiple categories and industries
  • 100+ dropshippers in the Wholesale2b network
  • Automatic order imports and inventory tracking
  • Ability to create a new turnkey ecommerce site from scratch

Whether you have an existing online store you’re planning to start a new ecommerce business, Wholesale2b has you covered. Sign up and try it today—it’s free.  

#6 – Megagoods Review — The Best for Consumer Electronics

MegaGoods splash page for Best Dropshipping Companies

Megagoods is my top recommendation for online retailers in the consumer electronics space. 

They provide fast shipping, efficient processing, and have a great selection of brand name electronics products. 

Here are some of the most popular product categories offered through the Megagoods platform:

  • Headphones
  • Alarm clocks
  • Car audio
  • Televisions
  • Speakers
  • Home theaters
  • DVD players
  • DJ products
  • Bluetooth products
  • PA systems
  • Portable electronics
  • Gaming products

In addition to the extensive electronics options, Megagoods also supplies items like watches, kitchen appliances, cutlery, cookware sets, and more. 

The interface is a little outdated, but a Megagoods subscription costs just $14.99 per month. This membership fee gives you access to exclusive pricing. Try it free for 30 days. 

#7 – Doba Review — The Most Versatile Dropshipping Company

Doba interface best dropshipping companies - Best Dropshipping Companies You Should Consider Using

Doba is one of the most popular dropshipping services on the market today. Its popularity is largely due to the fact that it can accommodate such a wide range of ecommerce shops with varying needs.

With Doba, you’ll have access to millions of products from hundreds of suppliers in a single online catalog. Keep all your products for sale synced, even if you’re selling across eBay, Shopify, Amazon and other online marketplaces.

Other noteworthy highlights of Doba include:

  • Compatible with 100+ ecommerce platforms including Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Volusion, eBay, Amazon, etc.
  • Information on each supplier (average processing time, fulfillment rates, cost, etc.)
  • Manage product lists and discover trending products
  • Advanced search and filtering
  • Data exports in a wide range of formats
  • Inventory management tools
  • Proactive inventory and price change alerts

Plans start at $29 per month. If you sign up for an annual subscription, you’ll get two months for free. Try it free for 30 days. 

What I Looked at to Find the Best Dropshipping Company

There are hundreds, if not thousands of different dropshipping companies on the market today.

Without a buying guide to follow, narrowing down your options can seem like an insurmountable task. To make your life easier, follow the methodology that I’ve outlined below. 

These are the factors that you should take into consideration as you’re researching and evaluating different dropshipping solutions.

Type of Dropshipping Company

There are a few different kinds of dropshipping companies. The first thing you need to do is determine what type of company will meet the requirements and goals of your business.

Do you need a manufacturer? Wholesale supplier? Supplier directory? In some instances, you might just be looking for dropshipping software to facilitate your existing supplier relationship.

Here are some of the major types of dropshipping options you are likely to encounter:

  • Dropshipping Marketplaces are online platforms with a network of different dropshipping companies. You’ll be able to facilitate your entire operation and manage the relationships between different dropshippers from a single place.
  • Manufacturers may let you buy straight from them, getting the lowest possible whole inventory prices. Not every manufacturer will let you dropship—you may have to use dropshipping software and set up the arrangement yourself.
  • Supplier directories don’t actually handle dropshipping. Similar to an online marketplace, it’s a single location for you to find various suppliers. Typicall, you have to pay a membership fee to the directory.
  • Dropshipping software is a great way for online stores to automate order fulfillment with their suppliers and manufacturers. These tools eliminate the need for ecommerce shops to manually enter order details after something is purchased through their online sales channels.

Ecommerce Platform

Next, you need to make sure that the company you’re considering supports your ecommerce platform. It’s worth noting that not all dropshipping solutions are compatible with every ecommerce website. 

For example, online stores using Shopify won’t necessarily be using the same dropshipping company as a business selling via eBay or Amazon. A brick-and-mortar retailer that wants to add an online sales channel won’t have the same needs as new business selling via Wix or WooCommerce. 

So verifying the compatibility between your online sales channel and the dropshipping company’s logistics will be a great way to narrow down your choices. 

Wholesale Pricing

In addition to the logistical benefits of dropshipping, you’ll also have access to wholesale rates. But like any type of inventory, those prices will vary from supplier to supplier. 

Some dropshipping companies force you to pay a monthly or annual membership for access to wholesale pricing. In many cases, these membership fees are well-worth the discounts you’ll get as a result. But usually, the manufacturers will offer the best rates if you buy directly through them. 

You’ll have to walk the line between what makes sense for your convenience vs. profit margins. 

Industry and Products

What products are you selling? What are you planning to sell online?

The answer to these questions will definitely impact the dropshipping company you choose. If you’re selling shirts and hats, you probably won’t have the same dropshipping needs as an online store that sells computers, headphones, and other electronics. 

Are you selling brand name products? Or will you be putting your own logo on inventory? 

These are other questions to consider as you’re evaluating prospective solutions. 

Process Automation

The best dropshipping companies leverage automation, which allows you to be as hands-off as possible. 

You need to understand the logistics between how orders get processed from company to company. What happens after a customer buys something online? How does that order ultimately end up at their doorstep? The answer varies depending on the solution you choose.

In some cases, you’ll have to manually enter those order details from your own website to the dropshipping platform. But with an automated process, you won’t have to do anything. An online order will automatically be sent to the supplier without any extra steps on your end. 

For those of you who already have relationships with suppliers, you can leverage dropshipping software to automate your fulfillment process. 

Quality and Speed

Even though you’re not touching the products with dropshipping, your company is still responsible for the product itself. 

The customer doesn’t care where the product came from or who shipped it. They expect high-quality products delivered quickly. If the dropshipping company you’re using takes weeks to ship and delivers defective products, it’s going to be a poor reflection of your company—not theirs.  

So choose a company with an established reputation in this space. You might have to pay a little extra for the inventory, but it’s worth it to keep your customers satisfied. 

Conclusion

The concept of dropshipping is extremely appealing for anyone interested in selling online. But it only works well if you’re using the right dropshipping company. 

Which dropshipping company is the best? It depends on your needs. Let’s review my entire list of recommendations:

  1. SaleHoo — Best Wholesale Directory
  2. Oberlo — Best for Shopify Stores
  3. Dropified— Best for eBay sourcing
  4. Inventory Source — Best dropshipping automation software
  5. Wholesale2b — Best free and simple dropshipping company
  6. Megagoods — Best for consumer electronics
  7. Doba — The most versatile dropshipping company

So Wholesale2b is my top overall pick. It’s going to work really well for most businesses. But as you can see, other options may work better depending on how your business is set up.

Just use the recommendations and buying guide explained in this post to find the best dropshipping services for your online store. 

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The Best Accounting Software You Should Consider Using in 2021

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

The best accounting software will streamline bookkeeping, minimize costly mistakes, and provide a clear, real-time picture of your company’s financial health.

An employee swipes a card or makes a sale–the transaction’s captured automatically. Want to view a sales tax summary or income statement? It’s a few clicks away.

I think you’ll be surprised at how easy modern accounting software can be to set up. If you’re not happy with your current product, there’s no reason to stay frustrated.

I’ve reviewed the top five best accounting software options on the market right now. These are easy to get started and effortless to maintain. After the reviews, use my buyer’s guide to determine which one will fit best with your business.

#1 – FreshBooks Review — The Best for Freelancers and Solopreneurs

FreshBooks splash page for Best Accounting Software

If you’re a freelancer, solopreneur, or small business, FreshBooks is a great accounting software to consider. To date, they serve more than 10 million businesses around the world. 

And the software complies with double-entry accounting standards, providing you with more in-depth insight into your finances and business transactions. 

FreshBooks specializes in invoicing, but the tool also includes small business features, like:

  • Time and expense tracking
  • Recurring invoices
  • Automatic payment reminders
  • Automatic late fees
  • Multiple currencies
  • Project management
  • Client proposals
  • Tax calculations
  • Reporting and analytics

Furthermore, your account dashboard includes a birds-eye view of your business’s financial health. It shows outstanding invoices, total profit, revenue by source, expenses, and unbilled time all in one centralized location. 

Plus, you can manage your books on the go using their robust mobile app. 

And the software integrates with over 200+ business tools like Shopify, G Suite, Stripe, Zoom, Squarespace, and Gusto. So, you don’t have to worry about incompatibility with most of the tools you already use. 

But like most accounting software, FreshBooks charges a transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for credit cards and 1% for ACH transfers. However, these fees are pretty standard across the industry, and you don’t have to worry about any additional hidden costs. 

Their paid plans start at $13.50 per month for up to five clients. 

freshbooks pricing best accounting software - The Best Accounting Software You Should Consider Using in 2021

However, FreshBooks can scale alongside your business with other plans, including:

  1. Plus — $22.50 per month for up to 50 clients
  2. Premium — $45 per month for up to 500 clients
  3. Select — contact sales for custom pricing

Sign up for a free trial to take FreshBooks for a test drive today! Alternatively, you can save 50% off your first three months. However, you have to choose one offer or the other. 

#2 – QuickBooks Review — The Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses

QuickBooks splash page for Best Accounting Software

If you’re running a small business or starting a new business from scratch, QuickBooks is a popular choice — and for a good reason. In fact, over 5.6 million users around the world trust them for their accounting needs. 

From small businesses to self-employed individuals, QuickBooks offers an array of excellent accounting solutions to match your needs. 

Furthermore, you can choose from cloud-based, desktop, or POS system deployment, depending on your situation. However, I highly recommend the cloud-based solution for most businesses. 

Plus, the online software integrates with apps like PayPal, Square, and Shopify to simplify cash flow management in one centralized location. 

With their online solution, you can easily access your account anywhere globally with an internet connection. Plus, you can use the mobile app to take pictures of your bills and receipts rather than filing a heap of paper receipts in your office. 

You also get access to features like:

  • Customizable invoices
  • Income and expense tracking
  • GPS mileage tracking
  • Automatic sales tax calculations
  • Bank and credit card integration
  • Expense categories
  • Standard reporting

And you can easily upgrade to an advanced plan if you outgrow the basic plan or need more advanced features. Some of their advanced features include 1099 management, inventory management, and time/attendance tracking. 

So regardless of what you need, there’s a plan to suit your needs. 

QuickBooks Online pricing page for Best Accounting Software

The cheapest plan starts at $25 per month, but you’ll get the first three months at 50% off. And you can add payroll services to your plan, starting at an extra $45 per month + $4 per employee per month with more advanced options available.

Furthermore, QuickBooks charges $0.25 + 2.9% for invoices, 2.4% for swipes, and 3.4% for keyed payments per transaction. Alternatively, they charge 1% for ACH transfers. And you can save up to 40% on transaction fees if you charge more than $7,500 per month. 

Like FreshBooks, QuickBooks offers a 30-day free trial OR 50% off your first three months. 

Get started with QuickBooks today!

#3 – Zoho Books Review — The Best for Businesses with 50+ Customers/Vendors

Zoho Books splash page for Best Accounting Software

If you manage many clients and vendors, Zoho Books is one of the most affordable accounting software to consider. Their cheapest plan includes up to 50 billable clients, and they also have packages for up to 500 billable clients as well.

So, you don’t have to worry about exceeding your monthly limits. 

Furthermore, Zoho Books includes access to powerful features like:

  • Tax compliance tools
  • Custom quotes and estimates
  • Automatic payment reminders
  • Vendor and expense tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Automatic bank feeds
  • Time tracking
  • Customizable invoices
  • Role-based access
  • 40+ integrations

Zoho Books also offers an intuitive mobile app for managing your accounts on the go. With the app, you can track your mileage, reach out to customers, track your time, create invoices, and more. 

Each plan also includes a private client portal for accepting payments, unlimited phone and email customer support, free SSL encryption, and open rest APIs to connect with third-party applications. 

Furthermore, Zoho offers a wide range of other business tools that integrate seamlessly together. Running a subscription-based business? Or need advanced inventory management? Maybe you need extensive expense reporting for your team. 

Odds are, Zoho offers what you need. You can bundle tools together to save money and create a custom business management system for your business. 

I highly recommend starting with the Standard Plan ($15 per month) and upgrading to an advanced plan when and if you need to. The Basic Plan includes two separate user accounts and five automated workflows to simplify your accounting processes. 

zoho books pricing accounting software - The Best Accounting Software You Should Consider Using in 2021

Zoho’s advanced plans include:

  • Professional — $40 per month for up to 500 contacts
  • Premium — $60 per month for more than 500 contacts

All of which are very affordable for businesses of all sizes. Furthermore, you can add extra users and 50 auto-scans for $2.50/month and $8/month, respectively. 

Sign up for a 14-day free trial to see if Zoho Books is right for you today!

#4 – Sage 50Cloud Review — The Best Desktop Accounting Solution

Sage 50Cloud splash page for Best Accounting Software

Sage 50Cloud is a desktop accounting application seamlessly connected to the cloud. So, you get the speed and reliability of a desktop software paired with the flexibility and remote accessibility of using the cloud. 

Furthermore, Sage offers cloud-based accounting software, so you’re not limited to the desktop application if that’s not your thing. However, their desktop solution is where they really shine. 

You can securely access your accounts anywhere, anytime, allowing you to work when you want and how you want. So, you’re not limited to your desktop computer despite the benefits of using desktop software. 

Plus, as the #1 rated accounting solution for small businesses, it includes features like:

  • Cash flow management
  • Flexible invoicing
  • Recurring invoices
  • Pay Now functionality
  • Accounts payable + banking
  • Automatic reconciliation
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Job and project costing
  • Payroll processing

As you can see, Sage 50Cloud includes a robust set of features you typically have to pay extra for with the other options on this list (i.e., payroll). 

And with those advanced features comes an advanced price tag. 

So if you’re looking for basic accounting software, you’re better off going with FreshBooks or QuickBooks. However, if you need these advanced features, you can get a year of Sage 50Cloud at a steep discount—40% off your first year on annual plans.

Sage 50Cloud pricing page for Best Accounting Software

Their paid plans include:

  • Pro Accounting — $340 per user for the first year, $567 per user per year after
  • Premium Accounting — $510 per user for the first year, $850 per user per year after
  • Quantum Accounting — $842 per user for the first year, $1,404 per user per year after all features

Additionally, you can subscribe to Microsoft 365 for an extra $150 per year. 

You can try Sage’s cloud-based accounting software free for 30 days with no installations and no credit card required. After that, you can purchase Sage 50Cloud if it’s a good fit for your business. 

Get started today!

#5 – Wave Review — The Best Free Accounting Software

Wave splash page for Best Accounting Software

If you have a tight budget or need a simple accounting solution, Wave is an excellent choice. It’s an award-winning finance software for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes. 

Plus… their accounting features are entirely free with no hidden fees or monthly payments. However, they charge a standard transaction fee of 2.9% (3.4% for American Express) + $0.30 for credit cards and 1% for ACH transfers. 

You can also add payroll services starting at $20 per month. But accounting, invoicing, and receipt scanning are all free forever. 

This free accounting software includes features like:

  • Unlimited income and expense tracking
  • Unlimited collaborators and accountants
  • Double-entry accounting system
  • Powerful reporting and analytics
  • Bank + credit card connections
  • Tax categories
  • Recurring invoices
  • Automatic payment reminders
  • Unlimited receipt scanning
  • 2-business-day payouts

Plus, you get unlimited email support, as well. And if you’re wondering how Wave stays in business, it’s through their transaction fees and payroll services. So, yes. The software really is free forever, with no hidden fees. 

Furthermore, you can download Wave’s mobile app to access and manage your accounts on the go from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Get a free demo of Wave to get started today!

What I Looked at to Find the Best Accounting Software 

Choosing the best accounting software isn’t easy, thanks to the thousands of options that all promise to make your life easier.

Which one offers everything you need, without a slew of confusing features you’ll never use? 

If you’re not sure how to answer that question, you’re in the right place. As diverse as the market for accounting software may be, there are really only a few important factors you need to consider when making your decision.

Let’s walk through each consideration in detail to help you evaluate the different products available.

Number of Clients, Vendors, and Users

Certain plans limit the number of clients and vendors you’re allowed to have. This isn’t a major consideration for everyone, but companies that work with a lot of partners and distributors should ensure that they’re not going to hit annoying limits.

It may be the case that you have to upgrade to a premium plan in order to accomodate a large number of vendors or clients, so that’s important to look for if it is going to be an issue.

You also want to think about the number of user accounts you need. How many people in HR will need administrative control? What about other departments?

Client Management

The best accounting software includes intuitive features that let you follow up on invoices and a portal where your clients can pay you.

Minimize the number of steps necessary for a client to complete a payment, and send reminders automatically when invoices are past due.

Direct integration with your CRM software is an obvious plus, as you will be able to tie your accounting and customer database together.

Billing and Invoicing

Most accounting software includes invoicing functionality but in different capacities. Some offer highly customizable invoices while others are easier to use with fewer customization options. 

Furthermore, the software you choose should make paying invoices as easy as possible for your clients. Some other billing and invoicing features to consider include:

  • Automatic payment reminders
  • Payment due dates
  • Late fees
  • Recurring invoices
  • Ability to save client information
  • Payment processing options
  • One-click payments

Lastly, consider the payment processing fees associated with each software. Most charge a set percentage plus a small fee for credit card transactions and 1% for ACH transfers. 

Receipt Management

Many modern accounting tools make it easy to categorize and store digital versions of your receipts. All you have to do is snap a photo of your receipt and attach it to the associated expense in your account. 

However, not every software includes this. So, if this is something you’re interested in, be sure to choose an accounting software with receipt management capabilities.

Wave, my favorite free accounting software, offers unlimited receipt scanning with no setup charges or hidden fees.

Banking

Connecting your bank accounts and credit cards to your accounting software makes account reconciliation a breeze. It also reduces the chances of human errors when making manual entries. 

However, not every software offers this capability on basic plans (but all of my top recommendations do). 

So make sure you opt for a software that includes this functionality. 

Mobile Accessibility

Make sure the software you choose offers a mobile app so you can manage payments, invoices, and cash flow on the go.

It may not seem like an important feature now, but you never know when (and where) you need to access your accounts or send an invoice.

Integrations

It’s important to consider the tools you’re already using to run your business. Why? Because the best accounting software for you integrates seamlessly into your tech stack with minimal hassle or headache. 

So before you get started, make a list of everything you need and the tools you already use. 

Then, make sure the top contenders on your list include your full requirements and the necessary integrations. 

You can even schedule a call with a sales rep for each accounting software to walk through your list of requirements to make sure they can handle everything you’re looking for.

Summary

Out of the hundreds of options for accounting software, my top five options are:

  1. FreshBooks – Best for freelancers and solopreneurs
  2. QuickBooks – Best accounting software for small businesses
  3. Zoho Books – Best for businesses with 50+ customers/vendors
  4. Sage50 Cloud – Best desktop accounting solution
  5. Wave – Best free accounting software

I recommend FreshBooks (for freelancers and individuals) or QuickBooks (for small teams). These two solutions are suitable for most users. They’re incredibly affordable, easy to use, and scalable. Plus, they include all your essential accounting features.

And if you’re on a tight budget, Wave is an excellent free alternative. 

However, the best accounting software for you depends on what you need and what you can afford. So, feel free to use the characteristics we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the right software for your business. 

What’s your favorite accounting software?

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Best Agile Project Management Tools You Should Consider Using

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Running an agile team effectively is nearly impossible without the right software. 

Agile project management tools can make a big difference. Instead of trying to fit operations into an old fashioned framework, these products are purpose-built for agile workflows.

Whether you are running sprints in Scrum, working off a Kanban board, or simply trying to adopt a more agile practices at your organization, having an appropriate project management tool is key.

It will make it easier for everyone to work efficiently, communicate, and meet deadlines. 

I’ve reviewed my top five picks for the best agile project management tools. The reviews are followed by a short guide that will help you evaluate my recommendations to find a solution that fits your needs.

#1 – Monday.com Review — The Best for Agile Beginners

Monday.com splash image for Best Agile Project Management Software

Monday.com has quickly become one of the most popular agile project management tools on the market today. Unlike Jira and some of the other products I looked at, this isn’t just aimed at developers. Anyone who is looking to bring more agility to their organization can use Monday to get it done.

This is a great choice if you’re new to agile management and need a solution for basic projects. New users will not struggle to get a footing. If they can use Facebook, Monday will be a breeze for them.

It’s one of the easiest ways to plan, track, and deliver team projects from a single workspace. Here are some of the other reasons why I like Monday so much:

  • Deploy in minutes with hundreds of customizable templates
  • Integrates with tools like Slack, HubSpot, G Suite, LinkedIn, Teams, and more
  • Automate repetitive tasks to save time and avoid human error
  • Visual data with Kanban boards, timelines, maps, calendars, and more
  • 24/7 customer support with a 10-minute average response time
  • Track the progress of your projects and make data-driven decisions
  • Set project goals and empower stakeholders

Monday.com makes it easy for teams to collaborate. You’ll benefit from features like file sharing, task assignments, task priorities, visual boards, and other ways to see what everyone is doing at a glance. 

It’s a popular choice for remote work, marketing, creative teams, HR, sales, and more. While Monday does have tools for software development, IT, and construction projects, it’s definitely better for simple projects.

Plans start at just $8 per seat per month (with a minimum of three seats). You can try Monday.com free for 14 days with an unlimited number of users; no credit card required. 

#2 – VivifyScrum Review — The Best All-in-One Agile Management Tool

VivifyScrum interface for Best Agile Project Management Software

VivifyScrum is a versatile agile management solution. It’s trusted by small teams and large organizations alike.

Regardless of your team size and project complexity, this tool can help manage everything from a single platform. 

Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider VivifyScrum:

  • Unlimited Scrum boards, unlimited Kanban boards, and unlimited items
  • Custom boards with built-in team collaboration tools
  • Built-in features for invoicing clients and tracking payments
  • Time tracking and team management features
  • Create custom workflows with agile boards
  • Reporting and analytics with burndown charts, Scrum metrics, and more

The software comes with mobile apps, API access, file storage, unlimited integrations, unlimited active sprints, and so much more.

VivifyScrum starts at $49 for small teams. Contact the sales team for more information on Enterprise pricing.  

#3 – Forecast Review — The Best Collaboration Features

Forecast splash page for Best Agile Project Management Software

Forecast is an all-in-one project management and resource management solution. It’s built for project-driven companies that want to empower teams, automate operations, and unite all projects into a single tool. 

With Forecast, you can automate tasks for project planning, resource allocation, and more. The software is powered by AI technology to help simplify monotonous tasks. 

Here are some of the top reasons and why Forecast ranks so high on my list:

  • Keep the big picture in mind with real-time operational visibility
  • Analyze decisions and financial health of projects
  • Admins can set different permission levels for each user (clients, collaborators, etc.)
  • Simple and organized backlog of project tasks
  • Easy to plan sprints and track progress
  • Automatically get notified about key updates in your workflow
  • Continuous and fast delivery of products and tasks

Overall, Forecast has everything agile teams need to improve communication. Create and assign task cards, file sharing, dependencies, subtasks, comments, and priority lists are just a handful of examples.

It’s a popular choice for agencies, consultants, and software teams. Forecast also has solutions for project accounting and business intelligence. The software seamlessly integrates with other popular tools that your team is using.

Forecast’s AI will learn from your previous projects and suggest the number of hours that should be allocated to similar tasks. 

Plans start at $29 per seat per month (with a minimum of 10 seats). Try it free for 14 days; no credit card required. 

#4 – Mavenlink Review — The Best for Agile Management at Scale

Mavenlink interface for Best Agile Project Management Software

Mavenlink is another all-in-one solution for project management and resource management. It’s a modern way for teams to collaborate from anywhere, which is perfect for remote work.

In addition to improving your team’s productivity on the operational end, Mavenlink provides deep insights into the financial performance of your projects and business as well.

Some of the top features, benefits, and noteworthy highlights of Mavenlink include:

  • Rich insights for data-driven business decisions in real-time
  • Flexible way to manage resources and project tasks
  • Real-time automation tools
  • See all projects at a glance with complete project portfolio view
  • Easy to assess the health and status of specific projects or portfolio of projects
  • Reusable templates to replicate success
  • Consistently deliver projects on-time
  • Improve project performance
  • Extend workspace with popular integrations (Salesforce, Xero, Slack, HubSpot, etc.)

Mavenlink is great for larger teams that need to manage projects across multiple departments. This works fine if you’re just using it for a handful of projects. But it works just as well if you have a project portfolio of 500+.

For small teams and enterprises alike, Mavenlink has a plan for everyone. Rates aren’t available online, so you’ll need to contact their sales team for more information. 

Try Mavenlink free for ten days.

#5 – Jira Review — The Best Agile Project Management Tool for Development Teams

Jira interface for Best Agile Project Management Software

Jira by Atlassian is a bit unique compared to some of the other tools on my list. This agile project management software is built specifically for software development projects.

With Jira, software teams of all sizes can plan, track, and release exceptional products.

You can get started today for free–not just a free trial. Jira is free forever for up to 10 users, which is about as big as a single Scrum team should get.

Let’s take a closer look at Jira’s top highlights for agile management:

  • Plan sprints, create user stories, and distribute tasks for software teams
  • Prioritize complete team’s work in context with full visibility for everyone
  • Real-time visual data reporting
  • Choose a pre-built workflow or create your own custom solutions
  • Integrate with hundred of developer tools out of the box
  • Connect software team’s work to your product roadmap
  • Scrum boards, Kanban boards, roadmaps and agile reporting

Jira is arguably the safest project management tool on the market today in terms of data encryption and compliance. It integrates with 3,000+ apps in the Atlassian marketplace as well.

Software teams, look no further—Jira is the best option agile project management tool for you. 

The tool is free for up to ten users. Paid plans start at just $7 per user per month. Try it free for seven days.  

What I Looked at to Find the Best Agile Project Management Tools

There are certain factors that must be evaluated as you’re shopping around and assessing different tools.

By following the buying guide I’ve outlined below, you’ll know exactly what to look for and what’s important in an agile project management solution. 

Agile Framework Preferences

The very first thing you need to consider is the agile framework you plan to use. For those of you who are already familiar with the concepts of agile management, you probably have a preferred methodology.

Do you want to use Scrum or Kanban? Lean? Crystal? Are you using agile framework variations such as Scrumban?

Depending on the answer, you’ll be able to find an agile tool that specializes in your preferred framework. What kind of reports are you expecting to pull? Do the roadmaps and templates line up with the way you work, or are you going to have to design stuff from scratch?

It’s worth noting that not every agile project management software supports all agile management frameworks. So make sure the options you’re considering offer the methodology you need to implement. 

Collaboration Features

Team collaboration is a crucial component of agile management. You want to make sure the software you’re considering comes out-of-the-box with collaboration tools. 

Most solutions should come standard with features like team tagging, comments, file sharing, and other basic tools. Some software will have more advanced features, depending on your project type, industry, and team needs. 

Team Size

Just because an agile project management tool offers collaboration features, don’t assume that the tool will be robust enough for your specific team.

There are solutions on the market made for small teams with a handful of users. Those won’t be ideal for businesses that have multiple teams, hundreds of users, and multiple projects across several departments. 

It should be relatively easy to determine if the tool in question is built to scale. If not, you can always express those concerns with the sales team during a free trial or demo. 

Project Type

The complexity of your projects will also play a significant factor in choosing the best software for your team. 

For example, software development teams and internal IT departments typically have more advanced needs since these projects have a higher level of complexity. In these cases, you should avoid beginner tools and look for industry-specific solutions tailored toward your project needs. 

On the flip side, managers and teams who are just starting out with agile project management should be seeking basic solutions to manage simple projects. 

Reporting

The best agile project management software will provide you with detailed reports and advanced analytics about your projects. 

You can use these dashboards as a way to learn more about your team’s productivity, find out if the project will be completed on time, and if you’re staying on budget. As a project manager, this information is crucial to the big-picture operation of your business. 

Usability

The usability of an agile management tool is often overlooked during the evaluation process. But it’s definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration.

What is your technical experience? How tech-savvy is your team?

If you choose a rigid solution that’s tough to use, it can do more harm than good.

So you need to find a balance between a tool that’s robust enough to handle your project complexity while still easy for your team to navigate.

This is another reason why you should always take advantage of free trials and demos as you’re narrowing down different options. 

Summary

The only way to effectively manage an agile team is with the right project management tool. Which agile project management software is the best?

Let’s take one last look at all of my top recommendations:

  1. Monday.com — Best for agile beginners
  2. VivifyScrum — Best all-in-one agile management tool
  3. Forecast — Best collaboration features
  4. Mavenlink — Best for agile management at scale
  5. Jira — Best for development teams

Even for such a niche category like agile project management tools, there are still important differences between products.

It depends on what you’re looking for. Factors like project type, team size, and other considerations must be evaluated for you to make an informed decision.

Follow my methodology and recommendations described in this guide to find the best agile project management tools for your unique situation.

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What Matters Now in SEO & Where to Focus Next [Survey Results]

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Where should you focus your SEO strategy in the next year?

What are the emergent factors you can leverage to get ahead of the competition?

You might have guessed that many feel that Core Web Vitals is the predominant emerging factor that will impact SEO.

But what other up-and-coming factors should you pay attention to, and where are the differences in priorities between B2B and B2C niches and agency vs. in-house brands?

Having insight into what is coming down the line in SEO and which areas to watch enables you to build them into your strategies for the coming year.

In Search Engine Journal’s recent State of SEO 2021 survey, we asked over 2,800 SEO professionals to share the most important factors that contribute to SEO success and what they intend to focus on over the next twelve months.

Read on to find out:

  • What are the most important factors for ranking?
  • Emergent SEO trends and factors.
  • What SEO professionals are focusing on for the next 12 months.

What are the Most Important Factors for Ranking?

Ranking factors are a contentious issue! There are varying opinions across social media about what impacts ranking and what doesn’t, including the validity of studies trying to measure ranking factors.

Correlation or causation – it’s the eternal question.

We asked our audience of SEO professionals what they thought had the most impact on ranking.

These results are a reflection of what 2,800 working SEO professionals have experienced over the last 12 months.

Ranking FactorPercentVolume
1On-page (meta titles/descriptions, H1)23.8%763
2Organic user behavior (CTR, bounce, time on site)30.9%720
3Depth & accuracy of content24.6%572
4Structured data (schema)21.1%490
5Content freshness19.0%442
6Mobile-friendliness17.9%417
7Brand awareness17.8%413
8Topic relevance17.5%406
9Links17.4%404
10Site speed13.8%320
11Internal linking13.7%318
12Domain authority12.4%289
13Site security (HTTPS)11.9%278
14EAT9.4%218
15Social signals7.1%164

The most important factors for ranking are still considered to be meta titles, descriptions, and H1s on the page.

Over a third of respondents thought on-page factors were the most important factor for ranking.

Barry Adams, founder of Polemic Digital agrees that on-page is key to SEO:

“Recently Google seems to rely less on off-page ranking signals (i.e., links) and has put more emphasis on relevancy and quality of content, so I agree with this consensus that on-page is now the single most important area of SEO.”

Echoing Barry’s comment, in our survey, brand awareness was considered more important than links as a ranking factor.

Jamie Indigo from Deepcrawl also believes that on-page is important as it supports your site being indexed:

“That which does not render, cannot rank. If your site is properly indexed (read as: all pages [and only those pages] intended for index are indexed), then yes it seems quite reasonable that on-page factors are the most important!”

Thirty-one percent thought that user behavior such as click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate, and time on site is the second most important factor.

There might be divided opinions on the impact of CTR and bounce affecting ranking, but just under a third of SEO pros thought it counted.

Just under a quarter of survey respondents thought that the depth and accuracy of content made a difference to ranking.

The quality of content is an important factor in SEO and Google is making strides towards favoring accurate content, especially in YMYL SERPs.

Mindy Weinstein from Market Mindshift told us:

“The depth of content around a topic is a big deal. If you want to rank for a particular topic (i.e., keywords), you should provide detailed, relevant content to satisfy the searcher’s query. I also think technical factors, such as speed, crawlability, etc. are pretty high up there on the ranking factor list.”

Barry Adams also thinks that relevancy is absolutely crucial, and said:

“Google wants to rank the best answers for any given question someone may type in, so a website’s content needs to answer those questions as best it can. The dynamic needs to change from ‘how can I maximize my profit from search’ to ‘how can I best help my audience.’ Rankings need to be earned.”

Structured data was the fourth most important factor for ranking, according to our survey. Jamie Indigo shared:

“SEO is a vast field. One of my greatest strengths is acknowledging what I don’t know. I get sites to the index. In my experience, strong semantic markup and ARIA attributes make a page easy to understand. A well-executed piece of structured data markup goes a long way as well.”

Surprisingly, E-A-T was only considered to impact ranking by 9% of SEO pros. Despite the connection with the accuracy of content and Google’s drive to push for credible content producers, E-A-T still has more traction to gain.

Izzi Smith of Ryte thinks that brand awareness, relevance, and being able to satisfy the users’ needs are more important than chasing ranking factors. She said:

“Relevance, satisfaction, brand awareness, uniqueness – I’m sorry, these are nothing you can directly measure! But these goals are much more important to strive for than an arbitrary ranking factor. Google tries to serve the best possible resource for a query, and I will always aim to be that resource,” she told us.

Social signals were at the bottom of the list, with just over 7% thinking that it is an important factor for ranking.

Kevin Indig was surprised to see that even a small amount of respondents thought that social signals were the most important ranking factor. He commented:

“I thought we left this behind us. Maybe it’s a sign that some beliefs are hard to eradicate in SEO.”

Although the impact of social media as a ranking factor is questioned, social does help SEO in many ways.

When we compared B2B and B2C insights from our results, we found that:

  • 18% of B2C SEO pros think internal linking is an important ranking factor compared to 11% B2B.
  • 19% of B2B SEO pros think links were an important factor compared to 14% of B2C.
  • 24% of B2C SEO pros think structured data is an important factor compared to 19% of B2B.

Data also revealed that in-house SEO professionals are more focused on content production and on-page elements.

Agencies are more focused on the technical and potential of structured data.

  • 37% of in-house SEO pros think on-page factors are important compared to 30% of agencies.
  • 24% of agencies think structured data is important compared to 17% of in-house.
  • 21% of in-house SEO pros think content freshness is important compared to 15% of agencies.
  • 24% of freelancers thought site speed was an important factor compared to 11% of agencies.
  • 23% of freelancers think content freshness is a factor compared to 15% of agencies.
  • 11% of freelancers think social signals are a factor compared to 6% of agencies.

SEO Emergent Factors to Watch Over the Next Two Years

The foundations of SEO are built on understanding what a user wants and delivering an experience that answers and satisfies their needs. A website should support ease of use, make itself visible and offer trustworthy information.

“Above all, a great SEO strategy should start by putting yourself in the user’s shoes and asking yourself if the content is truly valuable, the brand is trustworthy, and the website is easy to use (especially on mobile).”

– State of SEO Survey respondent

Sounds simple. But achieving this involves the sum of many parts.

We all know there are still ways to game the search engines. However, to ensure sustained visibility and a viable organic search presence, it’s important to pay attention to what Google wants.

Everything that Google is striving towards is based on the user having the best experience they can — and most SEO trends are an extension of this.

The big development this year has been Core Web Vitals, and there is no surprise that right now this is the most important emergent factor in SEO.

However, industry opinion is divided on how much impact this is having on ranking and visibility.

We asked our audience: In the next two years, what will be the most important emergent factors in SEO?

Ranking FactorPercentVolume
1Core Web Vitals36.6%850
2Structured data25.4%591
3EAT & trusted sources24.9%580
4Machine learning/AI23.9%557
5Voice search22.8%531
6Mobile SEO20.9%487
7Google Discover19.1%445
8Automation (tools)18.2%424
9Site security14.8%344
10Knowledge graph and entities14.6%340
11SERP features13.9%324
12Video search13.3%308
13Google Passages13.2%307
14Don’t think there will be any1.8%42
15Other (please specify)0.8%19

Kevin Indig of Shopify was surprised to see CWV at the top of the emergent factors and had this to say:

“​​That’s a shocker! From experience and early analyses, I think it’s fair to say that there is no indicator that CWV have even remotely the same impact as content, links, or even meta titles.”

Barry Adams also shares Kevin’s opinion and said:

“I think Core Web Vitals is overhyped and doesn’t play as big a role as some might think. There has been a lot of fuss about CWV for very little effect. Voice search has also proven to be a bit of a dud and doesn’t seem to have any impact on how we do SEO.”

However, Izzi Smith does believe CWV is a factor to pay attention to. Not necessarily as any impact on ranking but considering the user perspective.

She said:

“I’m still not convinced that the ranking impact will be game-changing, but I think the focus on performance and website UX is.”

If we consider that only 9% currently think that E-A-T is a ranking factor, yet a quarter (25%) think it’s emergent, this is an area to watch for growth.

Barry Adams shares this opinion and told us that:

“Proving your E-A-T as a website will continue to become ever more important. There will be various new ways websites can showcase their authority, which we as an industry haven’t yet considered. Individual expertise and authorship is an interesting area that I think will be more prominent.”

Mobile SEO is considered an important emergent factor by nearly 21% of SEO professionals and Jamie Indigo sees this as the area for Google’s expansion:

“Google is going to continue its push for the next billion users. Those users are on mid-range mobile devices that *cannot handle* the obscenely bulky scripts we ship on every page. The most important emergency factor in the next few years? It’s going to be ‘can real humans actually use this page?’”

Indigo also recommends working on your site to meet Page Experience requirements that will benefit the move to mobile:

“While Google brands it as Mobile-First, the Mobile-only index is coming. Googlebot inherits core requirements from its web rendering service, Chromium. Your site has to meet these requirements — which have been delightfully packaged together for SEOs as Page Experience.”

Mindy Weinstein expected to see machine learning and AI higher on the list and said:

“I think machine learning/AI is going to be one of the stronger factors over the next few years and it will touch many aspects of our work as SEO professionals, such as identifying search intent, determining relevant keywords, and informing an SEO content strategy.”

When we compared responses from B2B and B2C SEO pros about emergent factors, we found that:

  • 25% of B2C SEO pros think Google Discover is a more important emergent factor than 16% of those in B2B.
  • 39% of B2B SEO pros think Core Web Vitals are important, compared to 33% of those in B2C.
  • 17% of B2C SEO pros think Google Passages is important, compared to 11% of those in B2B.

The differences for emergent factors among agenciy SEO pros compared to those who work in-house were:

  • 24% of in-house SEO pros think mobile is an important emergent factor compared to 15% of agencies.
  • 22% of agencies think Google Discover is important compared to 15% of in-house SEO pros.
  • 21% of freelancers think site security is an emergent factor compared to 12% of agencies.

Another area not on our survey list to consider as an emergent factor is mindset. Izzi Smith thinks that SEO as an industry needs to take a more holistic approach to see success:

“[We need] a change of mindset. I’m positive this is already happening after seeing that User Experience is considered the most important topic for the next year, and I’m really hoping we uphold that.

We need to take more holistic approaches to succeed in SEO, and I think it’s crucial to develop growth strategies and optimizations that consider user experience and accessibility at the forefront.”

What SEO Professionals are Going to Work On in the Next 12 Months

We asked State of SEO survey respondents what areas they intended to work on over the next 12 months, to get a true picture of what SEO pros think really matters.

Trends and emergent factors are important, but it’s important to watch what others are doing.

We asked: In the next year, what are the top areas that you intend to focus on?

Ranking FactorPercentVolume
1User experience34.7%823
2Content production27.2%645
3On-page factors26.9%638
4Search intent for pages25.7%609
5Link building20.9%497
6Lead generation20.8%493
7Building a subscriber list17.8%423
8Digital PR17.7%420
9Workflows and processes16.2%384
10Paid search15.4%365
11Social media13.9%329
12User journey11.0%261
13Demonstrating ROI10.5%250
14Better understanding the audience9.8%232
15Other (please specify)1.2%28

Unsurprisingly, user experience topped the list, which connects with Core Web Vitals and the Page Experience update.

Kevin Indig is pleased to see this result and commented:

“I loved seeing that most SEO pros will work on user experience over the next 12 months, which seems to have a growing influence on the performance of organic search and conversions.”

Also, over a quarter of SEO pros are focusing on content production. Again, this is unsurprising as the dominance of content marketing is known. However, as the production of content increases, so does the competition — maybe this could also be a threat to success?

Barry Adams is considering placing more emphasis on E-A-T, he said:

“As always, my SEO efforts will gradually evolve as Google’s algorithms evolve. I may place even more emphasis on E-A-T, content quality, and topical expertise. Beyond that, most will stay the same.”

Comparing what B2B and B2C SEO pros will be working on over the next 12 months:

  • 30% of B2B SEO pros are going to focus on content production, compared to 22% of those in B2C.
  • 25% of B2B SEO pros are going to focus on lead generation, compared to 16% of those in B2C.
  • 23% of B2C SEO pros are going to focus on digital PR, compared to 16% of those in B2B.

We found that there are differences in focus between agency and in-house SEO pros, as well:

  • 31% of in-house SEO pros are going to focus on content production, compared to 23% of agencies.
  • 21% of agencies are going to focus on building an email list compared to 14% of in-house SEO pros.
  • 24% of in-house SEO pros are going to focus on lead generation, compared to 17% of agencies.
  • 18% of SEO freelancers are going to focus on demonstrating ROI compared to 8% of in-house SEO pros.

As a final thought, other areas of focus that some of our industry experts are focusing on include UX and accessibility.

This is an area that Izzi Smith told us she will be working on:

“I’m focusing a lot on helping companies bring crucial topics together in aligned website UX strategies, and demonstrating how SEO supports that.

I also want to dedicate more time on accessibility topics, as well as supporting businesses in creating more carbon-reduced and sustainable websites.”

Jamie Indigo is continuing her Web Rendering Service education by following the Chromium updates and communities. She believes that, “The future of technical SEO won’t label itself as SEO.”

Certainly, that is something to consider.


Download the full State of SEO 2021 report with survey results, opportunities, and threats. You’ll find insights such as:

  • What SEO pros think is the most important emergent factor for the next few years.
  • Which two Google changes are considered the biggest threat to SEO.
  • What a third of SEO pros think has the most impact on ranking.
  • Where just under a half of SEO pros and agencies find new business.
  • Where SEO pros plan to focus for the next year.

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