As a developer, you likely spend a lot of time working with code and other files on your computer. To make your life easier, there are several different automation tools available that can help you automate various tasks.

If you frequently work with the same set of files, for instance, you can use an automation tool to have those files open for you each time your development environment launches. Or, if you often need to run the same set of commands in your terminal, you can use an automation tool to create a shortcut for those commands.

Two of the most popular automation tools are Ansible and Vagrant. Ansible is a configuration management tool that can be used to automate various tasks, such as provisioning and maintaining servers. Vagrant is a tool that can be used to create and manage virtual development environments.

Both Ansible and Vagrant have their strengths and weaknesses. Ansible is typically more complex to learn than Vagrant, but it can be more powerful once you get the hang of it. Vagrant is generally simpler to use than Ansible, but it doesn’t have as many features.

So which automation tool should you use? In this article, we’ll compare Ansible vs. Vagrant and explore the main differences between them. We’ll also discuss when you might want to use each tool for your projects.

Written by: Prashant Thomas

Building an impressive website is one thing. But getting it high up in the search engine result pages is an even bigger accomplishment, because search engine optimization could be the game changer for the growth of a brand online. This is why so many webmasters focus on improving site rankings. They employ various practices they think are effective to boost rankings but doesn’t bother to check if those practices are ethical or not.

One of the most common practices to boost rankings is through link building. Link building, if done right, ensures that the website receives good amount of traffic. For this reason, many web owners simply try to grab as much links as they can get from several different sources. Most of them eventually get penalized by Google because that isn’t how link building works.

Let’s take a look at those Google link building penalties that web owners should avoid.
 

Reciprocal linking penalty

 
A pretty common strategy that web owners follow for link building is reciprocal linking. As a matter of fact, many online marketing experts actually recommend this practice to web owners who aren’t SEO savvy just to prove that their SEO tactics work. The web owner simply needs to make a pact with a different website to swap links for mutual benefits. This value exchange does deliver results, but Google doesn’t like it. It’s best to completely avoid reciprocal linking when search engine optimizing a website.
 

Low equity link penalty

 
Organic link building requires a lot of patience and dedication. Earning good links is not easy. But Google is willing to reward the effort put into link building as long as it’s ethical. But people simply ignore this when desperate for links. They accept links from all sources, neglecting the quality.

The point is to get high equity links i.e. links from reputed sources – quality websites with good traffic. Such links testify that your website’s quality and content are so good that other reputed websites are willing to vouch for the fact. On the other hand, a link from a not-so-good source counts as a low-equity link. Low equity links are now penalized by Google.
 

Private blog network (PBN)

 
This is another common practice. The private blog network is a network of websites or blogs that are owned by a single web owner simply to link everything each other on this network. In effect, these private blogs work separately as a blog source with links to the owner’s original website thus potentially boosting that website’s search engine ranks.

Though it’s seems like a sound practice, PBNs are considered to a manipulative link building technique by Google. PBNs, if found out, can get penalized ultimately damaging a website’s online reputation and search engine visibility.
 

Unnatural outbound link penalty

 
This is for those websites that carelessly allow guest posting. If the website allows guests to post blogs, the web owner should carefully and manually review the blog content before publishing them on the website. The content would most likely have links that point back to the guests’ websites. This can negatively affect the publishing website’s search engine ranks.

It’s recommended not to allow ‘Nofollow’ links in user-generated content. The web owner should also make sure that the submitted guest posts don’t have links pointing to low-quality websites. There shouldn’t be a lot of outbound links either as it would make the publishing website look suspicious to Googlebots. If the links aren’t approved, Googlebots would eventually log the website as unsafe or ‘spammy’ which would subsequently result in a drop in search engine ranks.
 

Conclusion

 
Unethical link building can incur penalties like every other black-hat SEO tactic. Sticking to Google’s Guidelines is the way to go, which means link building would take some time to show satisfactory results. Rely on trusted SEO companies in Dubai that can educate web owners on effective link building strategies and the ways to avoid getting penalized by Google.

Always remember… Google will eventually find out bad practices and that would be the end of all SEO benefits that a website managed to garner unethically.

Written by: Shibu Kumar

Search engine optimizers have access to large amounts of data and information, most of which remain underutilized. Though not all that data benefits the SEO work, some can certainly grant good leverage. However, it also presents a different challenge for the optimizer – information overload.

Data has always been at the core of good SEO, and for search engine optimization, trackability is key. Though many SEOs measure this data and track their efforts, many others tend to get overwhelmed while some others mostly don’t measure at all and make do with best practices to get through the day.

The focus here should be on what we want to track and why we should track it. This is where it gets confusing.
 

Knowledge & Information

 
Marketers often confuse information with knowledge. The more information they collect, the more knowledge they uncover. Though this is true to an extent, a 2017 report from CMO Council paints a different picture. A good amount of marketers, according to the report, collect great amounts of information but not all of them find the knowledge they seek.

Information is the raw data they are collecting. Knowledge is something derived from the data after thorough analysis that gives insights on about what’s happening on and around a specific SEO account(s). Information on its own isn’t valuable. It’s what the information holds that’s off value. The point is that utilizing a lot of resources to collect information for SEO benefits isn’t what a marketer should be focusing on. Collecting the right data to unearth valuable knowledge is the key.
 

The Wiser Way

 
Every SEO campaign comes with its own share of challenges. For companies relying on a reputed SEO consultant, there aren’t a lot to be concerned about. But for those in-house marketers who try to make sense of a plethora of data to boost the success rate of a campaign, the focus should be on something else.

To improve a campaign’s effectiveness, the marketer should have a clear goal. This goal dictates what they should track, why they should track it, and how they should track it. This way they would be able to figure out how to extract actionable insights (knowledge) that matter from all that data. There’s still a chance for them to go off-course and dive head-first into information overload.

But there are ways to keep yourself in check; search engine marketing hacks from a number of experts in the industry.

  • Collect and analyze data that are on a need-to-know basis i.e. only the most relevant data should matter.
  • Make sure the data collected and about to be analyzed are high quality. The quantity doesn’t matter. You are not doing big data analysis here.
  • Focus only on the task at hand, be it analysis, technical optimization, off-page SEO etc.

 

Conclusion

 
Marketers, back in the day, never had the means to extract such insights from the data. Data wasn’t as important then as it is now. Many of them found the data overwhelming, and found it easier to just stick to the best SEO practices to get results. Now things are more efficient, but demands a different approach to SEO. The data-driven approach can give results, if the marketer doesn’t let himself get overwhelmed by the data and focus on just what’s important.

Written by: Shibu Kumar

Not every business has a budget big enough to complement their search engine marketing efforts. Many of them instead leverage free tools for the job, though there are only a few tools that are completely worth it. Many of these tools still seem to be underutilized, particularly Google Trends.

Google Trends can make search engine optimization interesting as well as efficient. However, the catch is that you’d need to understand Google Trends from the inside out to leverage it effectively.

Here are 5 effective ways to leverage the tool for better SEO results.
 

Explore topics first before narrowing it down

 
A while back, you could just enter the parameters you have in mind on Google Trends. Now the dashboard is much simpler and can give a greater overview of the topic at hand. The new dashboard prompts you to ‘Explore More’ before narrowing it down.

To do this, you can enter a big time keyword that’s associated with your topic first. From there you can narrow it down using the various filters including ‘Worldwide’, time selection, category, and search type.
 

Always add context

 
The results you get from Google Trends is relative i.e. today’s results can’t be compared to the overall popularity of the trends but with the former heights of the keywords you entered into the tool.

For instance, your keyword’s popularity might have gone down in the past 6 months which would appear in the results. But if you change the filters to past 2 years, the results could be completely different. So essentially, the context matters when using Google Trends. Use filters, and the ‘+Compare’ tool to add new keywords and subsequently add context.
 

Liberally use advanced, specific search options

 
Google Trend users generally don’t use most search options available in the tool. These options can actually provide them with advanced insights. The options include:

  • Web Search
  • Image Search
  • News Search
  • Google Shopping
  • YouTube Search

Each option yields different results based on the various segments of the user’s potential target market.

It only gets better as the tool will then offer even more options to sort popular queries. The results and insights from advanced search options in Google Trends can inspire search engine optimizers to come up with new content that embraces new trends.
 

Use long-tail keywords

 
It’s not easy to rank high in search engine result pages for a particular keyword, even if you seek the help of an expert SEO services company. Getting good results organically takes time. However, if you are using long-tail key phrases, getting to the top of Google SERPs would be comparatively faster.

If you are planning to write content for an upcoming event, you can use Google Trends to learn what’s trending – related questions that people Googled on the subject, the attendees of the event or information regarding the event host etc. Use advanced search options to identify associated queries. Cross-reference the queries you have to piece together a context. The resulting insight would help you understand what piques people’s interests regarding that event.
 

Optimize your videos with data from Google Trends

 
To get a deeper understanding of what people expect to see and learn from your videos, you can enter your search term in the tool and select ‘YouTube Search’ option instead of the default ‘Web Search’. You can then sort the queries as required, use filters, and cross-reference them to identify what people expect to find and how they search.

This knowledge can help you tailor and optimize your videos accordingly engaging users better, and driving more traffic.
 

Conclusion

 
Google Trends has been around for a while, and has had many changes over the years. But it still serves as one of the best free tools out there for a search engine optimizer who is willing to look beyond a basic search. The insights may not always be obvious. But stick with your queries long enough, and you will start to make sense of it all. The insights can then prepare you to do SEO better.

Written by: Shibu Kumar

Website traffic doesn’t directly generate revenue for a business, unless the revenue model is plain old display advertising. However, statistically even display advertising doesn’t bring a lot of revenue per visitor compared to other models.

Many studies suggest that only close 30% internet visitors actually check out a display ad. For an online business, monetizing traffic by converting them into leads is vital. These leads can then be provided with promotional messages or mails for a product or service.

For all this, you begin by directing traffic to your website. Pre-planned content marketing can help with that. And effective content marketing requires the marketer to post blogs, send emails, and leverage social media marketing tactics. Good search engine optimization makes a website more visible to people looking for information in search engines, thus driving traffic.

Conversion comes after attracting the traffic. Let’s delve deeper into that by exploring 5 effective ways to convert traffic into leads.
 

  1. Appealing Landing Pages

 
Landing pages in a website are literally where a visitor lands after clicking a link that directs them to the website. There could be other pages in the website that provides information relevant to a visitor. But landing pages, on the other hand, are seen as one of the most effective ways to convert visitors into leads.

Building many landing pages inside a main content website for the most popular keywords can in turn increase the chances of visitors getting directed to them via search engines, direct traffic, or referral.  The key thing to note here is the fact that a landing page may not be appealing to all types of users. Analyzing the performance of landing pages can give the marketer a better idea on which landing pages attract which type of visitor.
 

  1. Popup Forms

 
You may have already seen popups just appear out of nowhere while browsing through a website. Truth is, these popups that you may just close on a whim are actually another effective way to convert traffic into leads. The key is in the effectiveness of the offer that’s shown on the popup. If it’s relevant to the visitor, and if the offer is attractive, the visitor can likely be converted into a lead.
 

  1. Notification Bars

 
These are screen-wide banners that you may see on top of a website page. Internet users tend to look at notification bars occasionally because that’s where warnings from the browser may appear like when it blocks popups or when a plugin is missing.

The bars can be configured to be displayed on top even when the visitor is scrolling down the website. Because they can catch some attention easily, it’s a wise idea to include email forms in the notification bar or some exciting offer that redirects visitors who click on it, to a different landing page for conversion.
 

  1. Opt-in Forms in Sidebars

 
Opt-in forms should be present in various sections of a website, particularly in sidebars of a blog. This is because when people find the content to be uninteresting, they may take a look at the sidebar. Again, if the offer is good, they may opt-in converting themselves into leads.

The area below the blogs are also a suitable place to include opt-in forms as this would be the first thing visitors would notice once they are done reading an interesting blog.
 

  1. Redirecting First-time Visitors

 
It’s much effective to redirect a first-time visitor of a business’ blog to one of their landing pages. The blog would attract them, and on clicking the link, they’d be redirected to a website with the display of an opt-in offer that promises something of relevance or value to them in return for opting in.

Plugins can be used for this, configuring them to redirect only the first-time users and not returning ones. However, this option is only useful for generating leads in a short time period. If not done right, this can affect user experience.

For instance, a returning visitor might be using a different device to access the website. The visitor will be treated as a new visitor by the plugin, and subsequently redirected. The plugins may not work when certain caching mechanisms are active. And if the caching mechanisms are turned off, the website may slow down. So it’s better to use this tactic in short bursts to generate leads quickly.
 

Conclusion

 
For the traffic part, businesses can either invest in their in-house marketing team or hire an integrated digital marketing solutions expert to do the job. For the conversion part, the business still needs to have an adept sales and marketing team, or rather ‘smarketing’ team.

These tips can up the chances of converting visitors into leads. The chances of failure depends on how well the marketing strategies are executed. Nevertheless, with proper analytics, the business can increase traffic and improve their lead conversion rates considerably.

Written by: Shibu Kumar
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