What No One Tells You About Flipping Houses

House flipping tips

Learn the secrets of house flipping. Image: Perry
Mastrovito/Getty Images

We love binge-watching house flipping shows while dreaming of
tackling a flip of our own. House flipping can be fun, and
sometimes profitable, but your favorite shows don’t tell you
everything you need to know before you jump into your first flip.
Here’s the lowdown on what you should know before you take on a
house flip:

1. It can take a long time to find a house

Flippers and investors are scouring many real estate markets
right now, looking for a good property to flip. There are entire
companies dedicated to flipping homes. These investment firms
employ scouts to find homes to flip in most markets. Expect to make
several offers and wait months to find the right home.

2. You don’t need a weekend seminar to learn how to flip a house

House flipping seminars can be valuable and give you lots of
inspiration, but even if you can’t attend one, you can still flip
houses. You’ll still need to learn everything you can before you
start flipping homes, though. Watching HGTV can inspire you, but
you can’t see all of the details that go into a successful flip.
You’ll need to learn about financing, permitting and marketing
before your first project. If you surround yourself with
professionals, they can provide you with knowledge that you can use
on future flips.

3. A standard mortgage isn’t used for house flipping

When you’re ready for your first flip, you’ll need “hard
money.” Potential flippers often ask online if they can use a
long-term mortgage for flipping a home. The answer is “no.”
Standard mortgages are structured and priced for long-term
financing. You’ll need a loan that is designed for a house flip.
Hard money lenders and investors are often project-based, rather
than credit-based, so it may be easier to qualify for hard money as
long as your potential flip meets their criteria.

House Flipping Math

Math is an important part of house flipping. Image: Natee

4. Flipping a home is all about math

Be prepared to explain the ARV (after repair value) when
you’re applying for a loan for your project. It won’t matter
how amazing your vision is for the finished project; investors are
strict about the bottom line. Your flip project must come in within
that investor’s numbers or you won’t have a deal.

5. Timing is everything when you’re flipping a house

Your hard money loan can have a 6-month to 1-year end-date,
after which you may incur penalty interest. Having an attorney
review your contract can prevent expensive surprises later on.
Unexpected construction hiccups are commonplace and permits can
take a long time. Before you sign a mortgage with a short maturity,
check with the local building authority to see how long the wait
will be for permits. It’s not unheard of to experience a 6-month
wait for permits in some areas.

6. Be prepared to account for every cent you spend on your flip

It’s crucial to keep your receipts, use a project tracking app
and stay current on your budget. Your lender will ask for this
information several times during your project as they release more
funds to you. Spreadsheet skills are especially valuable for home
flippers. Having detailed information on expenses and loan balance
can help keep your funding flowing through each phase of the

Contemporary Kitchen Flip

Learn what buyers want before you plan your house flip design.
Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

7. Step into the home buyer’s shoes

Buyers love neutral palettes and homes they can move right into,
but don’t be a carbon copy of every flipped house in your market.
For a few years, every flipped home seemed to have an aqua front
door — now yellow is the most common color. Your goal as a house
flipper is to create a home that doesn’t feel like a flipped
home. If you have to make choices when you’re creating your
budget, bath and kitchen
are buyer favorites.

8. There will be surprises

You won’t know everything about your home until you open a
wall or remove flooring, but don’t let surprises derail your
flip. Even in the most simple cosmetic flip, you will encounter
complications. Make sure your budget has a contingency for
surprises. Work to run your project efficiently so that you can
handle whatever comes your way. You can weather any complication
with a positive attitude and laser-focus on your long-term

House Flipping Tiles

Choosing the right materials is crucial to a successful house
flip project. Image: Severija/Getty Images

9. Your home’s tile work is more important than you think

Many beginning flippers miss the mark with their tile choices
and installation. Choosing attractive tile for the kitchen and
bathrooms can contribute to your flip’s buyer appeal. This is not
the time for elaborate tile designs, crazy colors or to express
your artistic vision. If you’re not experienced setting tile
precisely, hire a pro to help. Buyers want a home that is move-in
ready and don’t want to be faced with the expense and mess of
redoing the tile.

10. Set a realistic budget

Make room in your budget to include specialty contractors if
needed. (They’re usually needed on most projects.) Make sure you
understand the laws in your area for permitting and using licensed
contractors for some tasks, as it can cost you money and time. Hard
money lenders will require you to submit a detailed budget and
estimate of the work you’ll be doing, so be ready to pay a
contractor to write this up. Their experienced eye can help you see
exactly what needs to be done.

11. Flipping houses isn’t for everyone

If you’re not ready to take on a house flip, you can still use
the same ideas and strategies to sell your own home. Approaching
your home as a house-flipper would, you can create a fresh look
that buyers will notice. Visiting open houses and model homes can
give you inspiration for changes you can make in your own

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What No One Tells You About Flipping Houses
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Read more: freshome.com

The best action-packed games for Android!

Get your blood pumping with these action-packed games for Android

There are so many awesome action games in the Google Play Store, it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. But we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and after hundreds of hours of playing, we’ve rounded up the best action-packed games for Android that are worth checking out.

Many of the games on this list are paid apps which might give you pause, so you’ll need to trust us when we say these games are well worth the initial investment. Plus, it’s always good to support those teams developing great games for Android!

Looking for an awesome shooter game? Check out our list of best shooting games!

Battlelands Royale
Tesla vs Lovecraft
Suzy Cube

Death Road to Canada
Stranger Things: The Game
Death Point
Island Delta
Injustice 2
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

In Fowlst, you play as a loot-seeking owl that has somehow gotten itself stuck in Hell’s underground labyrinth. Every time you play is its own unique challenge because each chamber is randomly generated and filled with demons and other deadly traps to deftly dodge.

Controls are dead simple. You tap on either side of the screen to flap your wings in that direction and you got to keep flapping to fly. You automatically kill demons by running into them but they’re constantly trying to shoot at you so you have to dodge their attacks while setting up to swoop in on them.

Enemies drop loot in the form of money sacks along with power ups which you can trigger with a quick swipe up anywhere on the screen. You’ll want to collect as much loot as possible as you can spend them on valuable upgrades that will increase your health, give you magnetic powers for collecting loot, and also give you more attacks like egg bombs and homing rockets that shoot out your butt.

There’s a sequel — Super Fowlst — that’s free to play but has more ads that distract from the core gameplay.

Download: Fowlst ($0.99)

Battlelands Royale

Battlelands Royale is a made-for-mobile battle royale game that combines cartoony graphics and a top-down perspective with a simplistic last man standing gameplay format that works really well. This game offers a fairly unique take on the battle royale formula that is absolutely for casual gaming sessions as a match takes only a few minutes to complete. Just like PUBG or Fortnite, you parachute down onto a map with a bunch of other players — 29 opponents in this case — and must scavenge for weapons, ammo, and armor while staying in the safety circle and eliminating your enemies.

You’re limited to carrying one gun and ammo is very sparse, leading to some pretty intense moments where you need to decide whether to engage an enemy or try and sneak past them. There’s also a duo mode where you can team up with a friend or a random player. The art style and gameplay are bright and fun and this is a great little game for killing time. It’s free to play with in-app purchases for character skins.

Download: Battlelands Royale (Free w/IAPs)


JYDGE is a gritty and violent top-down twin-stick shooter that is an absolute blast to play. You are the JYDGE, a cybernetic enforcement officer who uses his Gavel (see: BIG freaking gun) to dole out RoboCop-style justice.

Each level features different challenges that are required to progress but never feel like a slogging chore. Confiscating illegal cash along the way, you’re able to upgrade JYDGE and his gavel with a deep selection of accessories. In that way, JYDGE retains the rogue-like element from its predecessor Neon Chrome by encouraging you to replay levels with different upgrade combinations until you complete all the challenges.

With a game that has you replay levels over and over again, it’s imperative for a game to find that mix of great gameplay with an interesting soundtrack that isn’t super annoying or repetitive — and JYDGE absolutely delivers.

Check out my full review if you need more convincing.

Download: JYDGE ($5.99)

Tesla vs Lovecraft

Tesla vs Lovecraft is the latest game from Finnish developers 10tons Ltd and it’s a real treat. The game pits Nikola Tesla and his hi-tech inventions against a vengeful H.P. Lovecraft who has unleashed endless waves of nightmarish monsters that will quickly swarm around you unless you fight back.

This is an incredibly polished game that uses twin-stick controls for moving and shooting. The campaign gradually increases in difficulty with well over 200 enemies spawning on screen at one time if you aren’t fast with your trigger finger. Fortunately, there are power-ups and perks aplenty which are accessible in rogue-like fashion. You collect XP as you slay monsters and get a new perk every time you level up. Power-ups and weapons randomly spawn on the map and you’ll also want to collect the six pieces required to build Tesla’s mech which can cut down any horde in short order.

The touchscreen controls feel comfortable and the game also offers great support for Bluetooth controllers which is always fantastic to see in a premium game. There’s a ton of content built into the base game, along with some DLC available that offers new monsters, weapons and much more. Don’t be worry, the game feels polished without needing to shell out more money, but once you’ve finally made it through everything that Tesla vs Lovecraft has to offer you might be glad there’s a little bit more to explore.

Download: Tesla vs Lovecraft ($9.99 w/DLC)

Suzy Cube

Suzy Cube is a game that’s been in the works for many years. Developed by an indie game developer, this action-packed platformer is a must-play game on mobile with touch controls that have no right being as good as they are. It’s easiest to compare the graphics and gameplay to Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS and is far superior to Mario’s mobile debut, Super Mario Run.

In Suzy Cube, you play the titular character who has set out on an adventure to reclaim her family’s fortune which has been stolen by block-shaped baddies. Most enemies can be defeated by jumping on their heads, while other obstacles require quick reflexes to dodge each attack.

There are a lot of ways a 3D platformer can go wrong — bad controls, shoddy camera, uninspired level design — but Suzy Cube is a rare gem that shows that a proper console-quality platformer can be made for mobile without compromise. You hear that, Nintendo?

Download: Suzy Cube ($3.99)


From its name to its app icon, ICEY is a rather unassuming entry in the Google Play Store that would be easy to overlook — but that would be a mistake.

At its core, ICEY is a 2D side-scrolling action game where you play as the titular character, a mysterious cybernetic warrior that kicks serious ass. The game plays flawlessly, with tight controls and new skills to be unlocked and upgraded as you progress through the game.

If that’s all ICEY was — a kick-ass side-scrolling action game — it would still find a spot on this list. But that’s just the beginning, there’s also an entire meta-narrative at play here exploring the relationship between the player and the narrator. The narrator will guide you around the world and tell you where you should go… but what happens if you ignore the narrator?

There are layers to this game and a sizeable list of trophies to unlock. If you love indie games and meta-humor you definitely need to check out ICEY!

Download: ICEY ($2.49)

Death Road to Canada

When you’re going to be dropping money on a game, you’re going to want to be sure it has good replay value. In that regard, Death Road To Canada is an outstanding choice.

Facing a zombie apocalypse, you must lead a scrappy squad of somewhat interesting characters on a deadly mission to the relative safety of Canada. Along the way, you’ll need to explore and loot places for supplies, while also managing your team’s health and morale.

Everything in Death Road to Canada is randomly generated, making every play-through a unique experience in this road trip action-RPG. You can randomly generate your character and buddy or custom design your starting characters with different attributes to help them stay alive.

The controls take some getting used to, and there’s a pretty steep learning curve as you learn which weapons are most effective and when it’s better to fight or run. And you will die, early and often, although that’s part of the fun of a zombie apocalypse, right?

There’s a ridiculous amount of depth in this game, including 10 different game modes to unlock. The price might seem a little steep, but if you’re a fan of rogue-like zombie games, it’s well worth the investment!

Download: Death Road to Canada ($9.99)

Stranger Things: The Game

If you’re a true fan of Stranger Things, you’ve already binge-watched the entirety of Season 2 (possibly in one sitting). But the truest of Stranger Things fans have also beaten Stranger Things: The Game, a surprisingly solid game released by Netflix that has no right being as good as it is.

Set in the town of Hawkins, Indiana you start out playing as Police Chief Jim Hopper as he heads out to search for a missing kid, but discovers much more than he bargained for. The gameplay has a classic Zelda vibe to it, and the mix of puzzles and action sections keep things feeling fresh. As you explore the town, you’ll find other characters from the show who join your party and have special abilities which allow you to reach new areas of the world.

There’s just so much to appreciate here. Not only is it a faithful adaptation of the show, it’s available for free with no in-app purchases or annoying ads…beyond the game itself.

Yes, this game is essentially a playable advertisement for Season 2 of Stranger Things — in fact, one of the rewards for completing the game is an extended trailer for said season. But unlike other mobile games tied into movie or TV show franchises, Stranger Things: The Game can stand on its own as a great game whether you’re a fan of the source material or not.

Download: Stranger Things The Game (Free)

Death Point

Death Point is as polished a game as you’ll find on Android. It’s a top-down stealth shooter in which you play a captured spy in a post-apocalyptic world where you must sneak through enemy compounds taking out guards and sabotaging their systems as you go.

Your goal is to meet up with the only other member of your team who has survived, an operator who is able to communicate with you through technology implanted in your brain. She’s there to give you tips and info on upcoming sections, and provide some lighthearted banter and story as you get down to business getting your revenge.

The graphics are next level, and you’ll probably need a recent flagship to get the most out of this game, with great lighting effects to show you when you’re visible to guards and when you’re hidden in the shadows. You’re free to play through however you please — be extra stealthy, or go in Rambo-style — but you’ll quickly learn that this game is very unforgiving if you make mistakes making a stealthier approach the clear winning strategy.

There are 10 challenging chapters to play through that will test even the most hardcore gamers. It’s a great title that’s worth the premium price.

Download: Death Point ($1.99)


Island Delta

Island Delta was published by the fine folks at Noodlecake Studios, which alone makes it worth checking out. Developed by Mantisbite out of Finland and released for iOS in late 2016, Island Delta brings unique top-down action-adventure-puzzler fun to Android. You’re tasked with exploring a mysterious retro-futuristic island with your heroes, Zoe and Baxter, as you try to take down the evil Doctor Gunderson and his army of henchmen.

Using your anti-gravity gun, you must work your way past mechanical minions, traps, and guards as you solve puzzles to make it through to the end of each level. At times Island Delta feels like a stripped down, third-person version Portal, which is something I wasn’t aware I needed in my life.

The cartoony graphics and outstanding level design will immediately draw you in, but this game can get seriously challenging at times. Fortunately, the game is fairly forgiving with checkpoints.

Check out our full review of Island Delta for a more in-depth look at what this game has to offer.

Download: Island Delta ($0.99)


Downwell is a retro-styles rogue-like game where the goal is fairly simple — you jump down the well and see how far you can fall. Easy, right? Well, not quite — the well is filled with enemies. But don’t worry, you’re able to shoot down as you go, which also helps you kind of float.

Story? Who needs a story when all you’re looking for is action, baby! From the cool graphics and simple controls, this is a game that’s easy to jump into but hard to master. Each time you play is unique, with new weapon upgrades popping up randomly. At the end of each stage, you also get to choose an additional power-up to help you along.

But be warned this game is challenging as hell. There’s a steep learning curve as you learn how to best use your weapons and which enemies can be stomped and which need to be blasted. Since this is a rogue-like game, you can pick up and play it a different game each time.

Download: Downwell ($2.99)


Penarium is a tough-as-nails platformer created by Team 17, who you probably remember best from the Worms franchise. Whereas Worms was a slow-paced strategy game, Penarium is on the opposite end of the spectrum featuring fast-paced action and requiring quick reflexes to survive.

It tells the tale of a Willy, a portly farm boy who’s always longed for adventure. One day, a circus show rolls into town and Willy decides to run away for a bit of fun and excitement. But unfortunately, this is no ordinary circus — it’s Penarium, the sadistic circus extravaganza!

Willy’s the next contestant in their twisted game, where the goal is to smash the barrels while dodging all sorts of devious traps and weaponry. This game was originally released on Steam, but the gameplay is ideal for mobile devices. The platforming action here is really tight, with a rotating variety of traps and weapons keeping things fresh.

The graphics are beautiful without ever affecting the gameplay performance, and blends with the soundtrack to create a really polished experience. Touch screen controls are often hit or miss, but I think they work really well here as an homage to the simple penny arcades of the era. The platforming action here is really tight, and the graphics are beautiful without ever affecting the gameplay performance.

There are two game modes to play: Campaign mode which lets you unlock additional arenas and is the “story mode” so to speak; and Arcade mode, which challenges you to survive for as long as you can collecting coins which you can spend on upgrades. It’s a great game for quick casual sessions that offers a great challenge. It’s a paid app as well, so there’s no ads or in-app purchases to distract you.

Download: Penarium ($1.99)

Injustice 2

Injustice 2 is the sequel to the award-winning game Injustice: Gods Among Us, which is also one of the best fighting games for Android. If you’ve played and enjoyed the first game, you’re sure to enjoy the sequel which features more fantasy fight match-ups between your favorite heroes and villains from the DC Universe.

Unlock new heroes and build your ultimate team as you battle in 3 vs 3 fights with the ability to swap out fighters as needed. The usual suspects are here — Batman, Superman, Joker, Harley Quinn — as well as a whole slew of new heroes and villains which you’ll discover and unlock as you play.

Controls are optimized for Android and feel even better than they did in the first game. It’s easier than ever to jump, duck and shoot projectiles, with epic Super Moves available to finish off your opponents. Graphically this game really shines, powered by the Unreal engine. You start out with a Campaign mode only, with Arena, Story, Operations, and Challenge modes unlocked later on.

Like the first game, Injustice 2 is free-to-play with a stamina bar to manage and coins and crystals to collect and spend. There are in-app purchases if you’re impatient and want to unlock new characters quickly, but there’s plenty of fun to be had without spending a dime.

Download: Injustice 2 (Free w/IAPs)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto is one of those iconic video game franchises that continues to influence other games. Chances are you’ve played a GTA title before on PC or console, but they play just as nicely on Android, too!

Rockstar Games has released five great GTA titles for you to choose from and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Play through Liberty City Stories, San Andreas, Vice City, GTA III, and Chinatown Wars and get your shoot-’em-up, blow-’em-up, car-stealing fix on mobile!

They’re all great games to choose from, but I’ve decided to highlight San Andreas because it’s got that massive map and introduced a bunch of awesome features to the series that remain to this day. Reconnect with CJ and the Grove Street Families gang as you spill enemy blood on the streets of Los Santos. On that note, it’s worth stating that these games are NOT for kids. The Mature rating in the Google Play Store isn’t lying.

So, if you want full Grand Theft Auto games right on your phone, hit up the Google Play Store and go to town. Just remember that, since these are the full games you know and love, they will occupy a ton of space on your device.

Download: Grand Theft Auto San Andreas ($9.99)

What did we miss?

What’s your favorite action game for Android? Let us know in the comments!

Updated May 19: Added Fowlst and Tesla vs Lovecraft to our list!

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Lead Generation: A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way

We’ve all been through it. You know, the moment you’re about to dig into the best darn pile of spaghetti and meatballs you’ve ever seen.

Just as you twist your fork in the pasta, spear a mouth-watering meatball, and go in for the first savory bite … the phone rings. “May I speak to Lindsay Kow-low-witch?” asks the telemarketer on the other end. “This is an important message regarding your oven preferences.”

This frustrating interruption is exactly why we’re here to discuss inbound lead generation. What is inbound lead generation? It’s a solution that can save your business or organization from being that annoying, disruptive cold caller who is ruining spaghetti nights for pasta lovers all over the world.Download the beginner's guide to converting website visitors into leads for  your business here.

Let’s start with defining a lead, and then we’ll cover what online lead generation is, why you need lead generation, how you qualify someone as a lead, how you generate leads, and why inbound lead generation is much more effective than simply buying leads.

What Is a Lead?

A lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.

As a lead, you’d hear from a business or organization with which you’ve already opened communication … instead of getting a random cold call from someone who purchased your contact information.

For example, maybe you took an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. If you got an email from the auto company that hosted the survey on their website about how they could help you take care of your car, it’d be far less intrusive and irrelevant than if they’d just called you out of the blue with no knowledge of whether you even care about car maintenance, right?

And from a business perspective, the information the auto company collected about you from your survey responses helps them personalize that opening communication to address your existing problems.

Whenever someone outside the marketing world asks me what I do, I can’t simply say, “I create content for lead generation.” It’d be totally lost on them, and I’d get some really confused looks.

So instead, I say, “I work on finding unique ways to attract people to my business. I want to provide them with enough goodies to get them naturally interested in my company so they eventually warm up to the brand enough to want to hear from us!”

That usually resonates better, and that’s exactly what lead generation is: It’s a way of warming up potential customers to your business and getting them on the path to eventually buying.

Why Do You Need Lead Generation?

When a stranger initiates a relationship with you by showing an organic interest in your business, the transition from stranger to customer is much more natural.

Lead generation falls within the second stage of the inbound marketing methodology. It occurs after you’ve attracted an audience and are ready to convert those visitors into leads for your sales team (namely sales-qualified leads). As you can see in the diagram below, generating leads is a fundamental point in an individual’s journey to becoming a delighted customer.


How to Generate Leads

Now that we understand how lead generation fits into the whole inbound marketing methodology, let’s walk through the steps of the lead generation process.

First, a visitor discovers your business through one of your marketing channels, such as your website, blog, or social media page.

That visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA) — an image, button, or message that encourages website visitors to take some sort of action.

The CTA takes your visitor to a landing page, which is a web page that is designed to capture lead information in exchange for an offer.

An offer is the content or something of value that’s being “offered” on the landing page, like an ebook, a course, or a template. The offer must have enough perceived value to a visitor to merit providing their personal information in exchange for access to it.

The form on your landing page consists of a series of fields (like in our example above) that collect information in exchange for the offer. Forms are typically hosted on landing pages, although they can technically be embedded anywhere on your site. Once a visitor fills this out — voila! — you have a new lead! (That is, as long as you’re following lead-capture form best practices.)

See how everything fits together?

To sum it up: Visitor clicks a CTA that takes them to a landing page where they fill out a form to get an offer, at which point they become a lead.

By the way, you should check out our free lead generation tool. It helps you create lead capture forms directly on your website. Plus, it’s really easy to set up.

Lead Generation Marketing

Once you put all of these elements together, you can use your various promotional channels to drive traffic to your landing page to start generating leads.

But what channels should you use to promote your landing page? Let’s talk about the front-end of lead generation — lead gen marketing.

If you’re a visual learner, this chart shows the flow from promotional marketing channels to a generated lead.


There are even more channels you can use to get visitors to become leads. Let’s go into depth on these and talk about a few others.


Content is a great way to guide users to a landing page. Typically, you create content to provide visitors with useful, free information. You can include CTAs anywhere in your content — inline, bottom-of-post, in the hero, or even on the side panel. The more delighted a visitor is with your content, the more likely they are to click your call-to-action and move onto your landing page.

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Email is a great place to reach the people who already know your brand and product or service. It’s much easier to ask them to take an action since they’ve previously subscribed to your list. Emails tend to be a bit cluttered, so use CTAs that have compelling copy and an eye-catching design to grab your subscriber’s attention.  

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Ads and Retargeting

The sole purpose of an ad is to get people to take an action. Otherwise, why spend the money? If you want people to convert, be sure that your landing page and offer match exactly what is promised in the ad, and that the action you want users to take is crystal clear.


The great thing about using your blog posts to promote an offer is that you can tailor the entire piece to the end goal. So, if your offer is an instructional video on setting up Google Search Console, then you can write a blog post about how to select your marketing metrics … which would make your CTA highly relevant and easy to click.

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6 Free Blog Post Templates

Social Media

Social media platforms make it easy to guide your followers to take action, from the swipe up option on Instagram stories to Facebook bio links to bitly URLs on Twitter. You can also promote your offerings on your social posts and include a call-to-action in your caption. Learn more about social media campaigns in this post.

Product Trials

You can break down a lot of barriers to a sale by offering trials of your product or service. Once a prospect is using your product, you can entice them with additional offers or resources to encourage them to buy. Another good practice is to include your branding in your free versions so you can capture other potential customers, too.

Referral Marketing

Referral, or word-of-mouth, marketing is useful for lead generation in a different way. That is, it gets your brand in front of more people, which, in turn, increases your chances of generating more leads.

Whatever channel you use to generate leads, you’ll want to guide users to your landing page. As long as you’ve built a landing page that converts, the rest will handle itself.

Why Not Just Buy Leads?

Marketers and salespeople alike want to fill their sales funnel — and they want to fill it quickly. Enter: The temptation to buy leads.

Buying leads, as opposed to organically generating them, is much easier and takes far less time and effort, despite being more expensive. But, you might be paying for advertising anyway … so, why not just buy leads?

First and foremost, any leads you’ve purchased don’t actually know you. Typically, they’ve “opted in” at some other site when signing up for something, and didn’t actually opt in to receiving anything from your company.

The messages you send them are therefore unwanted messages, and sending unwanted messages is intrusive. (Remember that disruptive call I got when I was trying to eat my spaghetti? That’s how people feel when they receive emails and other messages from people they didn’t ask to hear from.)

If the prospect has never been to your website and indicated an interest in your, products or services, then you’re interrupting them … plain and simple.

If they never opted in to receive messages specifically from you, then there’s a high chance they could flag your messages as spam, which is quite dangerous for you. Not only does this train to filter out emails from you, but it also indicates to their email provider which emails to filter out.

Once enough people flag your messages as spam, you go on a “blacklist,” which is then shared with other email providers. Once you get on the blacklist, it’s really, really hard to get back off of it. In addition, your email deliverability and IP reputation will likely be harmed.

It’s always, always, always better to generate leads organically rather than buy them. Read this blog post to learn how to grow an opt-in email list instead of buying one.

How to Qualify a Lead

As we covered in the first section, a lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Now, let’s talk about the ways in which someone can actually show that interest.

Essentially, a sales lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come as the result of a job seeker showing interest in a position by completing an application, a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon, or a person filling out a form to download an educational piece of content.

Gauging a Lead’s Level of Interest

Below are just a few of the many ways in which you could qualify someone as a lead. Each of these examples shows that the amount of collected information used to qualify a lead, as well as the that lead level of interest, can vary. Let’s assess each scenario:

Job Application: An individual that fills out an application form is willing to share a lot of personal information because he/she wants to be considered for a position. Filling out that application shows their true interest in the job, therefore qualifying the person as a lead for the company’s recruiting team — not marketing or sales teams.
Coupon: Unlike the job application, you probably know very little about someone who has stumbled upon one of your online coupons. But if they find the coupon valuable enough, they may be willing to provide their name and email address in exchange for it. Although it’s not a lot of information, it’s enough for a business to know that someone has interest in their company.
Content: While the download of a coupon shows an individual has a direct interest in your product or service, content (like an educational ebook or webinar) does not. Therefore, to truly understand the nature of the person’s interest in your business, you’ll probably need to collect more information to determine whether the person is interested in your product or service and whether they’re a good fit.

These three general examples highlight how lead generation differs from company to company, and from person to person. You’ll need to collect enough information to gauge whether someone has a true, valid interest in your product or service — how much information is enough information will vary depending on your business.

Let’s look at Episerver, for example. They use web content reports for lead generation, collecting six pieces of information from prospective leads.


Episerver provides a great example for what to ask for in a lead gen form:

Full Name: The most fundamental information needed to personalize your communication with each lead.
Email: This serves as a unique identifier and is how you will contact your lead.
Company: This will give you the ability to research your lead’s industry and company and how the lead might benefit from your product or service (mainly for B2B).
Role: Understanding an individual’s role will help you understand how to communicate with them. Every brand stakeholder will have a different take and perspective on your offering (mainly for B2B).
Country: Location information can help you segment your contact by region and time zone, and help you qualify the lead depending on your service.
State: The more detailed information you can obtain without sacrificing conversions, the better. Knowing your leads state can help you further qualify them.

If you’d like to learn more intermediate-level tips on information collection and what you should ask for on your lead gen forms, read our post about it here.

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a way to qualify leads quantitatively. Using this technique, leads are assigned a numerical value (or score) to determine where they fall on the scale from “interested” to “ready for a sale”. The criteria for these actions is completely up to you, but it must be uniform across your marketing and sales department so that everyone is working on the same scale.

A lead’s score can be based on actions they’ve taken, information they’ve provided, their level of engagement with your brand, or other criteria that your sales team determines. For instance, you may score someone higher if they regularly engage with you on social media or if their demographic information matches your target audience.

Borrowing from the examples above, you might give a lead a higher score if they used one of your coupons — an action that would signify this person is interested in your product.

The higher a lead’s score, the closer they are to becoming a sales-qualified lead (SQL), which is only a step away from becoming a customer. The score and criteria is something you may need to tweak along the way until you find the formula that works, but once you do, you’ll transform your lead generation into customer generation.

Lead Generation Trends & Benchmarks

So … you’re getting web traffic and generating leads. But how are you doing compared to other companies in your industry? How many leads should you really be generating?

It’s tough to figure out if your lead generation strategy is working if you aren’t looking at industry data. That’s why we partnered with Qualtrics to survey more than 900 marketers from all different industries in North America and Europe to create a demand generation report with data on website visitors, leads, opportunities, customers, and revenue.

Did you know that 74% of companies that weren’t exceeding revenue goals didn’t know their visitor, lead, MQL, or sales opportunities numbers? How about that over 70% of companies not achieving their revenue goals generate fewer than 100 leads per month, and only 5% generate more than 2,500 leads per month? These are just a few examples of what you’ll find in the report.

For in-depth reports, download our Demand Generation Benchmarks Report. Below are some useful highlights.

Cost per Lead, by Industry

The media and publishing industries report the lowest cost per lead at $11 to $25. Software, information technology and services, marketing agencies, and financial services companies all report the highest average cost per lead at $51 to $100.


Leads Generated per Month, by Annual Revenue

Unsurprisingly, the more revenue a company has, the more leads they generate. The differences are most drastic at the highest and lowest end of the spectrum: 82% of companies with $250,000 or less in annual revenue report generating less than 100 leads per month, whereas only 8% of companies generating $1 billion in annual revenue report less than 100 leads per month.


Leads per Month

We found that 58% of companies generated 500 leads per month or fewer, and 71% generated 1,000 or fewer. However, as we saw previously, the companies having the most success are also the ones generating the most leads.

Here’s how the data broke down by company size:


Lead Generation Software

We found that the most successful teams use a formal system to organize and store leads: 46% use Google Docs, 41% use marketing automation software, and 37% use CRM software. (Hint for HubSpot customers: Google Drive integrates with both HubSpot Marketing Hub and HubSpot CRM.)


Lead Generation Strategies

Online lead generation encompasses a wide range of tactics, campaigns, and strategies depending on the platform on which you wish to capture leads. We talked about lead capture best practices once you have a visitor on your site … but how can you get them there in the first place?

Let’s dive into lead generation strategies for a few popular platforms.

Facebook Lead Generation

Facebook has been a method for lead generation since its inception. Originally, companies could use outbound links in their posts and information in their bios to attract strangers to their websites. However, when Facebook Ads was launched in 2007, and its algorithm began to favor accounts that used paid advertising, there was a major shift in how businesses used the platform to capture leads. Facebook created Lead Ads for this purpose. Facebook also has a feature that lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, helping you send Facebook followers directly to your website.

Get some lead generation tips for Facebook.

Featured Resource

50 Facebook Ad Examples We Actually Clicked

Twitter Lead Generation

Twitter has Twitter Lead Gen Cards, which let you generate leads directly within a tweet without having to leave the site. A user’s name, email address, and Twitter username are automatically pulled into the card, and all they have to do is click “Submit” to become a lead. (Hint for HubSpot users: You can connect Twitter Lead Gen Cards to your HubSpot Forms. Learn how to do that here).

Learn some lead generation tips for Twitter.

Featured Resource

How to Use Twitter for Business (+ Follower Tracking Template)

LinkedIn Lead Generation

LinkedIn has been increasing its stake in the advertising space since its early days. When it comes to lead generation, LinkedIn created Lead Gen Forms, which auto populate with a users profile data when they click a CTA, making it easy to capture information.

Get tips from our experience using LinkedIn ads.

PPC Lead Generation

When we say pay-per-click (PPC), we’re referring to ads on search engine result pages (SERPs). Google gets 3.5 billion searches a day, making it prime real estate for any ad campaign, especially lead gen. The effectiveness of your PPC campaign relies heavily on a seamless user flow, as well as your budget, target keywords, and a few other factors.

Learn more about how to setup successful PPC ads.

B2B Lead Generation

B2B is a particular business model that requires a particular approach to lead generation. HubSpot found that SEO is the top resource for capturing business leads, followed closely by email marketing and social media. Not to mention, effectiveness varies by channel.

Learn the B2B lead gen techniques for every channel.

Tips for Lead Generation Campaigns

In any given lead generation campaign, there can be a lot of moving parts. It can be difficult to tell which parts of your campaign are working and which need some fine-tuning. What exactly goes into a best-in-class lead generation engine? Here are a few tips when building lead gen campaigns.

Use the right lead generation tools.

As you saw in our data, the most successful marketing teams use a formal system to organize and store their leads. That’s where lead generation tools and lead generation software come into play.

How much do you know about the people visiting your website? Do you know their names or their email addresses? How about which pages they visited, how they’re navigating around, and what they do before and after filling out a lead conversion form?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, chances are you’re having a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site. These are questions you should be able to answer — and you can with the right lead generation tools.

There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets to use on your site:

CTA Templates: 50+ free, customizable call-to-action (CTA) templates in PowerPoint that you can use to create clickable CTA buttons to use on your blog, landing pages, and elsewhere on your site.
Lead Generation Software Tools: This free tool from HubSpot includes lead capture and contact insights features, which will scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database. It also lets you create pop-ups, hello bars, or slide-ins — called “lead flows” — that’ll help you turn website visitors into leads immediately.


Example of a slide-in lead flow.

Visitor Tracking: Hotjar has a heatmap tool — a virtual tool which creates a color-coded representation of how a user navigates your site — that helps you understand what users want, care about, and do on your site. It records visitors and tells you where they spend the most time on your site. You can use it to gather information on your lead generation forms, feedback forms and surveys, and more.
Form-Scraping Tool: A form scraping tool that collects submissions on your website’s existing forms helps you automatically consolidate all your leads into your contact database, regardless of which form visitors submitted on your website. HubSpot customers can create and embed forms using HubSpot, which automatically populate into your CMS. Non-HubSpot customers can use a form creation tool like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms, and then use HubSpot’s free collected forms feature to automatically capture form submissions and input them to a contact database.

Create amazing offers for all different stages of the buying cycle.

Not all of your site visitors are ready to talk to your sales team or see a demo of your product. Someone at the beginning of the buyer’s journey might be interested in an informational piece like an ebook or a guide, whereas someone who’s more familiar with your company and near the bottom of the journey might be more interested in a free trial or demo.

Make sure you’re creating offers for each phase and offering CTAs for these offers throughout your site.

Yes, it takes time to create valuable content that teaches and nurtures your leads down the funnel, but if you don’t offer anything for visitors who aren’t ready to buy, then they may never come back to your website. From checklists to templates to free tools, here are 23 ideas for lead generation content to get you started.

If you want to take personalization a step further — which will help boost your conversion rate — try using smart CTAs. Smart CTAs detect where a person is in the buyer’s journey, whether they’re a new visitor, a lead, or a customer, and display CTAs accordingly. Personalized CTAs convert a whopping 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action.

Keep your messaging consistent and deliver on your promise.

The highest-converting lead gen campaigns are the ones that deliver on what they promise and create a seamless transition from ad copy and design to the deliverable itself. Make sure that you’re presenting a consistent message throughout the process and providing value to everyone that engages with your lead capture.

The aspects of your lead gen campaign should mirror everything else on your website, on your blog, and within the product that you will eventually try to sell. If not, you’ll have a difficult time getting your lead to the next lifecycle stage. Your campaign should be about more than just obtaining an email address — it should be about developing a new customer.

Link your CTA to a dedicated landing page.

This may seem obvious to you, but you’d be surprised how many marketers don’t create dedicated landing pages for their offers. CTAs are meant to send visitors to a landing page where they can receive a specific offer.

Don’t use CTAs to drive people to your homepage, for instance. Even if your CTA is about your brand or product (and perhaps not an offer like a download), you should still be sending them to a targeted landing page that’s relevant to what they are looking for and includes an opt-in form. If you have the opportunity to use a CTA, send them to a page that will convert them into a lead.

If you want to learn more about how to build and promote high-converting landing pages, then download our ebook on optimizing landing pages for conversions.

Get your sales team involved.

Remember when we talked about lead scoring? Well, it isn’t exactly doable without your sales team’s input. How will you know what qualifies a lead for sales without knowing if your defined SQLs are successfully sold? Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned on the definitions and the process of moving a lead from MQL to SQL to opportunity before you even begin to capture leads.

Also, be open to evolving your relationship with sales and how you guide leads along your funnel. Your definitions will likely need to be refined over time; just make sure to keep everyone involved up-to-date.

Use social media strategically.

While marketers typically think of social media as best for top-of-the-funnel marketing, it can still be a helpful and low-cost source for lead generation as shared in the lead gen strategies above. The key is using social media strategically for lead generation.

Start by adding links directly to the landing pages of high-performing offers within your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media posts. Tell visitors that you’re sending them to a landing page. That way, you’re setting expectations. Here’s an example from one of our Facebook posts:

You can also do a lead generation analysis of your blog to figure out which posts generate the most leads, and then make a point of regularly linking social media posts to them.

Another way to generate leads from social media is to run a contest. Contests are fun and engaging for your followers, and they can also teach you a ton about your audience. It’s a win-win. Read our step-by-step guide for growing your email list using social media contests, which covers everything from choosing a platform, to picking a winner, all the way to analyzing your results.

Remain flexible and constantly iterate.

Your lead generation strategy needs to be as dynamic as the people you’re targeting. Trends change, behaviors shift, opinions morph … so should your lead gen marketing. Use A/B split testing to see what CTAs perform best, which landing pages convert better, and which copy captures your target audience. Experiment with layout changes, design, UX, content, and advertising channels until you find what works.


There you have it, folks. Now that you know more about how to generate leads for your business, we recommend you try HubSpot’s free lead generation tool. Use it to add simple conversion assets to your site (or scrape your existing forms) to help you learn more about your site visitors and what content prompts them to convert.

The basics we’ve gone over in this blog post are just the beginning. Keep creating great offers, CTAs, landing pages, and forms — and promote them in multi-channel environments. Be in close touch with your sales team to make sure you’re handing off high-quality leads on a regular basis. Last but not least, never stop testing. The more you tweak and test every step of your inbound lead generation process, the more you’ll improve lead quality and increase revenue.

New Call-to-action

Read more: blog.hubspot.com

Again with the species tulips

T. dasystemon

Yes, every year is the same; I go on and on about these
understated members of a show-off plant group. The fact is, I still
don’t see these used enough.  They come up about the same time
as daffodils (most of them) and provide reliable spring color at a
time it’s needed most. They have cool names—sylvestris!
turkistanica! vvedenskyi!—that I find much more interesting than
“Blushing Beauty” or “Big Smile” (as worthy as these
hybrids are).

Species tulips are said to perennialize better; I am not sure I
can speak to that. I refresh my plantings on a yearly basis and can
testify that I have seen varieties like t. clusiana and t.
dasystemon persist and maybe spread over at least ten years. But,
again, I’m always planting; that’s the reality one must accept
with tulips of any kind.

These erythronium (another
favorite) are complemented by mostly nonflowering greigii foliage.

And they’re not always dainty. T. vvedenskyi has big flowers
that age very interestingly into large red claws. Tulips that I
group with species, as they are also quite early, are the greigii
cultivars. Even catalog verbiage can’t praise these enough. My
front garden never gets the baking that all tulips—but especially
hybrids— need, so, too often, after a couple years, I get
 foliage and no flowers. Not a problem with some of the greigii,
as this group produces foliage that’s almost as striking as its
blooms. Maybe just as.

T. acuminata, toward the
end of its bloom cycle

Finally, one of the species, t. acuminata (said to be a 1813
introduction), can compete with allium vineale ‘Hair’ for
weirdness. Anna Pavord calls it “spidery and mad,” and I agree.
It’s also one of the last tulips of any kind to come up, further
setting it apart. I’ve taken pictures of it in June.

Species tulips are lower in visual impact but they’re also
lower in foliage; it tends to be minimal and it declines quickly.
My goal is to have a front garden filled for a few weeks with every
different type. I’m not there yet.

Again with the species tulips
originally appeared on GardenRant on May 7, 2019.

Read more: gardenrant.com

8 Smart Rings With Fitness or Mouse Features


Wearable tech is changing the way we live our lives. Unlike watches and bracelets, smart rings are smaller, lighter, and much less obvious in their intended function. Most even look like regular jewelry.

But don’t be fooled, some smart rings can monitor your vitals like an Apple Watch would. Others can track your sleep too, like a Fitbit could. Some even let you make contactless payments like a regular bank card.

Curious? Here are the best smart rings available today.

1. Motiv

Motiv Smart Ring

Motiv Smart Ring
Buy Now On Amazon

Motiv is one of the most feature-packed smart rings on the market. The standout feature is its ability to track physical activity. This includes metrics like steps, distance traveled, heart rate, activity, and calories burned. The ring also tracks your sleep quality as it’s designed to be worn all day. The collected data integrates with Apple Health and Google Fit, so you can view all your health data in one place.

Compared with a smartwatch, the Motiv enjoys a relatively long battery life of around three days. It charges via the included magnetic charging dock in around 90 minutes. The ring itself is made of ultra-light titanium. This means it’s fairly durable, and waterproof enough to keep it on in the shower.

Unlike other wearables, a smart ring has to fit your finger perfectly. When you buy a Motiv ring, the company first sends you a sizing ring, lets you specify a color, then dispatches your custom-sized ring. They do all of that with free shipping included. Each ring comes with a 45-day satisfaction period, where you can refund or exchange your device if you’re not happy.

Despite being one of the best smart rings on the market, some users have noted issues with the Motiv. One reviewer found that the ring scratches easily, while another noticed inconsistent charging.

2. Oura

Oura Smart Ring

The Oura is a ring that focuses on three distinct areas; sleep, readiness, and activity. The ring contains a body temperature sensor, infrared LEDs, a 3D accelerometer, and gyroscope. Where the Oura excels over the Motiv is it’s sleep tracking capabilities and analysis.

By tracking your sleep schedule, Oura helps suggest optimal times for you to get some shut-eye. While you sleep the ring measures your temperature and movement to gauge which stage of sleep you’re in and when. This data is then used to provide you with daily, weekly, and monthly sleep quality reports.

But that’s not all it can do. The Oura also tracks heart rate during physical activity and while resting. Like most other fitness trackers, there’s a daily activity goal to help you move more. Inactivity alerts are designed to get you out of your seat, plus step and calorie counting can help you reach fitness goals.

Like the Motiv, Oura is made of lightweight titanium. The battery can last up to a week, which means you can wear it all day and night. Water resistance up to 100 meters makes the ring safe for bathing and swimming. There are eight different sizes from US6 to US13 to choose from.

3. Blinq

Blinq Smart Ring

While most smart rings look like discreet bands, Blinq throws that convention out of the window. The unashamedly loud design features your choice of moonstone, blue aventurine, pink jade, or grey cat eye stones.

These gemstones aren’t just for show. Blinq features a notification system which uses an LED to light up the stone. Set up custom alerts for specific contacts, and enable incoming Blinq notifications for phone calls, text messages, email, and other apps.

Blinq also has some fitness tracking features in the form of steps, distance, and calories burned. There is no heart rate monitoring or gyroscope, which means activity and sleep tracking are fairly limited. The ring is waterproof though, so you can shower and swim with peace of mind.

One standout feature that’s worth mentioning is the panic button. By setting up a custom tap pattern, you can use your ring to send an S.O.S. alert without touching your phone. When activated, Blinq sends an SMS to preselected emergency contacts and social networks with your current location.

4. Sleepon Go2Sleep

Sleepon Go2Sleep

Sleepon Go2Sleep
Buy Now On Amazon

The Sleepon Go2Sleep ring is designed to help you (wait for it) improve the quality of your sleep. This isn’t your average smart ring; you won’t be wearing it all the time. Instead, you put the Go2Sleep ring on, drift off, and get a detailed analysis of your sleep patterns.

The ring itself is oddly shaped, with sensors for monitoring blood oxygen, heart rate, apnea index, sleep efficiency, and sleep stages. Blood oxygen monitoring is particularly powerful since you can set an alert to trigger and wake you up if it falls too low.

There is one aspect of the Go2Sleep ring that perhaps goes a bit too far. I’m talking about the Family Sleep Monitoring function which lets you share and view sleep data with your nearest and dearest. Handily, all of this data can be exported and shared with your doctor or sleep specialist.

5. NFC Ring OPN


The NFC Ring OPN is a slick, understated, wearable NFC tag available in black or white. Made from scratch resistant ceramic, the OPN is both durable and stylish. Ceramic was chosen for its hypoallergenic properties. This is the same reason Apple uses ceramic on the back of all Apple Watch models too.

The OPN includes NFC Ring’s updated 2018 antenna design for improved operating range and expanded compatibility. You can write to the ring using the included app, or vastly expand the possibilities with other NFC tag writing software.

Unfortunately, you can’t use the OPN to make purchases. You can, however, use it to do just about anything else you can do with NFC tag. That includes opening doors, sharing contact information, visiting web pages, and transmitting text.

The biggest drawback to the OPN is its price. For a ring that doesn’t track activity, provide notifications, or allow you to make payments, it’s expensive. Then again, few other rings look this good or are made of such high-quality materials.

6. McLEAR Ring


The McLEAR Ring is virtually identical to the NFC Ring OPN, but with one big difference; it can be used to make payments. The McLEAR uses the same contactless technology that’s inside your bank card to allow you to make tap-and-go purchases.

Unfortunately, the McLEAR ring doesn’t link directly to a bank account. Instead, you use the RingPay app to add funds to a separate wallet. The ring then uses this wallet to make payments. It’s worth checking out their Limits and Fees page to avoid any nasty surprises.

The ring is made of the same hypoallergenic ceramic seen in the OPN. It also shares the same understated design, which is to say it looks great. It’s resistant to scratches, waterproof, and doesn’t require charging. If you lose your ring, you can quickly freeze your wallet using RingPay.

Unlike the NFC Ring OPN, you can’t use your McLEAR ring for any other NFC purposes. At present, the ring is currently available in the UK, with a waitlist available for overseas customers.

7. EasySMX Ring Mouse

EasySMX Ring Mouse

EasySMX Ring Mouse
Buy Now On Amazon

The jury is still out on whether ring mice are technically smart rings since they’re not something you’ll be wearing all day. The EasySMX Ring Mouse is a fairly inexpensive wearable pointing device. There’s a touch panel on the top of the ring that allows you to control a Mac or Windows cursor.

There are four programmable keys to play with, plus four separate DPI levels so you can adjust the sensitivity to suit your needs. It’s probably most useful as a presentation tool. The mouse syncs via a small, plug-in USB adapter, with a range of about 10 meters.

Battery life is somewhere between three and five hours, with a two hour charge time. The ring mouse can be positioned on your finger in such a way that regular typing is still possible too.

8. Emmako Wireless Finger Mouse

Emmako Wireless Finger Mouse

Emmako Wireless Finger Mouse
Buy Now On Amazon

For a slightly different take on the ring mouse, check out the Emmako Wireless Finger Mouse. It’s an optical mouse that sits on your finger. To move the pointer, simply place the mouse on a surface and drag. You can then use your thumb to control the right and left mouse buttons.

Once you’ve gotten used to the additional weight, you can type completely normally with the mouse still attached to your finger. Amazon reviewers have praised the optical tracking performance, which is always a concern with cheap pointing devices.

The Emmako Wireless Finger Mouse connects via Bluetooth and is compatible with Windows, Mac, ChromeOS, and Android 4.0 and above. If you’re having issues using a regular mouse or trackpad, this slightly unusual design may provide some relief.

The Best Smart Ring for You

Smart rings are still in their infancy. Although there are a number of options on the market, it may take a few generations for the technology to mature. That said, if you’re looking for a convenient, discreet wearable then a smart ring might be right for you.

If you’re on the lookout for a more fully-featured fitness device, you may want to consider one of the best fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring instead.

Read the full article: 8 Smart Rings With Fitness or Mouse Features

Read more: makeuseof.com

These are the very best Android games you should be playing

Don’t settle for anything less.

If you’re looking for the best new games available in the Google Play Store, you’ve come to the right place. We update this list whenever a new game comes out that’s worthy of being added to this list, so you’ll always know about the latest and greatest games.

Whether you’re new to Android and need some fresh, new games to start building out your Google Play library or simply looking for the latest trendy games that are worthy of your time and attention, these are the best Android games as of May 2019!

PUBG Mobile
Brawl Stars
RWBY: Amity Arena
Evoland 2
Chameleon Run

The Room: Old Sins
Tesla vs Lovecraft
HQ Trivia
Death Road to Canada

Stranger Things: The Game

Reigns: Her Majesty

PUBG Mobile

It’s pretty incredible how well PUBG Mobile plays on Android. This is a massive PvP battle royale game that pits 100 players against each other on a massive island loaded with weapons, ammo, tactical gear, and vehicles. You drop in as a solo player or as part of a team and must use all your best skills to take down your opponents until you’re the last man standing.

It’s not unheard of for a popular PC or console release to find its way to Android, but you’ll be surprised at how well PUBG plays on a smartphone. It’s the best game available for Android despite some of the more frustrating aspects of the way the coolest loot is hidden in exploitive loot boxes that are simply should not exist. Nonetheless, the game is free-to-play and accessible for so many gamers.

I like to play with maxed-out graphics, but the game also lets you scale back the graphical detail so you can enjoy smooth gameplay even playing on an older device. If you’ve got a newer device, crank those settings to the max and enjoy one of the best looking mobile games I’ve played in a long while.

PUBG Mobile somehow delivers all the epic moments you’d expect the PC game scaled down perfectly for mobile devices, and they’ve truly embraced the success of adding a zombie mode which has already spawned a sequel mode. Get your squad together, and I’ll see you on the battlegrounds!

Download: PUBG Mobile (Free)

Brawl Stars

It’s been a long time coming, but Brawl Stars has finally been launched globally in the Google Play Store. It’s a good thing, too, because it means I can include it in our final wrap up of the best games of 2018.

Developed by Supercell, Brawl Stars is a fast-paced arena brawler that is unlike most other games on the Play Store. It’s a departure from the Clash of Clans universe that has made Supercell a household name and instead lets players team up in a MOBA game that differentiates itself from others in the genre with it’s colorful and cartoony look that’s backed by great gameplay variety.

There are multiple game modes available, which rotate every couple of hours so there’s always something new to play whenever you log into the app. These modes include:

Gem Grab: teams collect gems which spawn at the center of the map, and the first team to collect and hold 10 or more gems for 15 seconds win

Heist: teams must defend their safe of gems while strategically attacking the other team’s safe.

Showdown: a Battle Royale mode with up to 10 players that’s available for solo players or duos.

Bounty: teams battle to collect stars which are earned by kill opponents. The more kills you get without dying the bigger the star bounty on your own head.

Brawl Ball: a soccer match featuring the Brawl Stars cast. The first team to score two goals wins.

Robo Rumble: a time-based special event where teams of three take on wave after wave of robot enemies that include boss robots with very high hitpoints and damage.

Individually, each game mode is fun in its own unique way and could easily be its own standalone app, but by including all six modes on a rotating basis Supercell has elevated Brawl Stars to the next level. This is a really well-made game that just recently got a major update that overhauled the graphics with a fresh 3D-style design that looks even better. The only downside is the crate unlocking and card collecting aspects of the game, but at least it’s all performance based rewards and doesn’t require you to arbitrarily wait hours to unlock each crate.

Download: Brawl Stars (Free w/IAPs)

RWBY: Amity Arena

Based on the Rooster Teeth Animation series RWBY — which, I’ll admit, I had never heard of before — RWBY: Amity Arena has proven itself to be a very popular and well-designed real-time strategy tower defence MOBA in the same vein as Clash Royale.

At its core, it’s a two-lane brawler where your goal is to destroy your opponents’ towers as fast as possible by putting down troop cards on the battlefield. Characters and creatures are based on the RWBY universe, but again you don’t need to be familiar with the source material to enjoy this game.

Matches last three minutes and feature a really good balance between the different troop types. This means that winning will come down to strategy and timing your attacks more than just spamming troops down onto the battlefield. You can choose between playing a match just for fun or working to improve your global rank in ranked matches, so there’s something for both casual players and more competitive players.

It’s a free game to download and well worth your time if you love this genre of mobile game and need more variety in your life, or if you’re a fan of the RWBY series.

Download: RWBY: Amity Arena (Free w/IAPs)


It’s hard to find a fun puzzle game that doesn’t try to sell you on power-ups or extra lives or something.

That’s just one of the reasons why Holedown is a standout game in 2018. Holedown will have you strategically blasting through to the core of celestial bodies — starting with asteroids and working your way up to the Sun — using the classic gaming formula of bouncing balls off blocks. Each brick has a number that represents the number of hits needed to destroy it, or you can destroying a supporting block clear out everything above it.

This is a pickup and play game that’s an easy concept to grasp but you quickly learn there’s an amount of strategy and skill involved. All the bricks are curved, allowing you to set up tricky bank shots to clear out massive sections of blocks in one go. This will become quite important as the screen move up one row after every shot. If the blocks reach the top of the screen, it’s game over.

Along the way, you will collect crystals which you spend on upgrades that give you more balls per shot, and more shots per round. These upgrades are crucial to completing the later planets but also let the earlier levels become more of a mindless distraction for your subway commute. All told, it won’t take you too long to max out all your stats in Holedown, but that’s mostly because it’s so hard to stop playing this game once you start.

If you’re a fan of physics-based puzzle games and are looking for a new obsession, Holedown is well worth your money!

Downlaod: Holedown ($3.99 )

Evoland 2

Evoland 2 is one of those premium games for Android that you just don’t want to put down. Initially released in 2015 on Steam, Evoland 2 is a fantastic sequel to the first Evoland and follows suit with graphics and gameplay that evolve as you progress through the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Evoland game for Android and one of my few criticisms of the game was that the story was a bit short. That’s not the case with Evoland 2, which features over 20 hours of gameplay.

While the first game in the series explored the evolution of RPGs, Evoland 2 has expanded its nostalgic scope by incorporating even more gaming genres into the game. It starts out as a pretty typical action RPG, but as you progress through the story both the graphics and gameplay take dramatic shifts which work wonderfully for keeping the game feeling fresh.

Evoland 2 will have you laughing as it constantly breaks the fourth wall and there are more gaming and pop culture references than you can shake a stick at. This is another great game for fans of RPGs and video game culture and well worth the cost to play.

Download: Evoland 2 ($6.99)

Chameleon Run


Published by the fine folks at Noodlecake Games, Chameleon Run is an auto-runner that tests your reaction time in ways that may hurt your brain a bit.

The name of the game is speed as you jump and dash across colored platforms. You have special jump skills and the ability to change color, and you’ve got to make it through each course but you’re only allowed to touch objects that match your color. Seem easy enough? Well, think again!

As pretty as the game looks when it’s running at full frame rate the real joy comes from the precise input on the two-touch controls. If you time a color switch just when you touch the platform you get a quick dash boost. Jump controls are equally precise and allow you to nail tricky double jumps with ease. Each level is designed to be non-linear, meaning there are multiple paths to take to make it to the finish, however, there’s also three special objectives to complete for each level which will keep you coming back for more.

Overall, the game is pretty short, but it’s designed to be one of those games that’s ideal for speedrunning — although there’s already some stiff competition out there. I feel like the game is missing one knock out feature — a course editor that allows players to upload their own levels. Or simply more levels perhaps with platforms of even more different colors to swap between. Still, for $2 it’s one hell of a fun game.

Download: Chameleon Run ($1.99)

The Room: Old Sins

The Room: Old Sins is the latest epic puzzle game from Fireproof Games and the 4th in the award-winning ‘The Room’ puzzle game series. You are exploring the home of an ambitious engineer who has gone missing when you find a rather peculiar dollhouse in the attic.

Using a sophisticated eyepiece you’re able to explore different rooms in the dollhouse that are filled with incredibly sophisticated puzzle boxes and contraptions. There’s something really weird going on here, so maybe if you can solve all the puzzles you’ll figure out what happened to the missing engineer and his wife.

If you’ve never played a game from “The Room” series before, just get ready for one of the more engrossing games you’ll ever play on a mobile phone. The graphics and audio come together to create a wonderfully creepy vibe as you carefully inspect intricate objects and unlock secrets to help you on your journey.

If you want to catch up with the other games, you can snag The Room, The Room Two, and The Room 3 at discounted prices.

Download: The Room: Old Sins ($4.99)


Dissembler is a colorful and abstract game that, from the outset, might seem like another standard tile-swapping match three game. Instead, Dissembler unravels itself to be one of those puzzle games that almost transcends the genre, offering a relaxing exploration of patterns in abstract designs.

It starts out nice and easy as the game lays out the basic principles before gradually presenting you with more complex puzzles — check out the trailer above to see what I mean.

With over 120 puzzles to play with no time limits, move limits, or in-app purchases or ads to deal, this game absolutely deserves a spot on this list.

Download: Dissembler ($2.99)


JYDGE is a gritty and violent top-down twin-stick shooter that is an absolute blast to play. You are the JYDGE, a cybernetic enforcement officer who uses his Gavel (see: BIG freaking gun) to dole out RoboCop-style justice.

Each level features different challenges that are required to progress but never feel like a slogging chore. Confiscating illegal cash along the way, you’re able to upgrade JYDGE and his gavel with a deep selection of accessories. In that way, JYDGE retains the rogue-like element from its predecessor Neon Chrome by encouraging you to replay levels with different upgrade combinations until you complete all the challenges.

With a game that has you replay levels over and over again, it’s imperative for a game to find that mix of great gameplay with an interesting soundtrack that isn’t super annoying or repetitive — and JYDGE absolutely delivers.

Check out my full review if you need more convincing.

Download: JYDGE ($5.99)

Tesla vs Lovecraft

Tesla vs Lovecraft is the latest game from Finnish developers 10tons Ltd and it’s a real treat. The game pits Nikola Tesla and his hi-tech inventions against a vengeful H.P. Lovecraft who has unleashed endless waves of nightmarish monsters that will quickly swarm around you unless you fight back.

This is an incredibly polished game that twin-stick controls for moving and shooting. The campaign gradually increases in difficulty with well over 200 enemies spawning on screen at one time if you aren’t fast with your trigger finger. Fortunately, there are power-ups and perks aplenty which are accessible in rogue-like fashion. You collect XP as you slay monsters and get a new perk every time you level up. Power-ups and weapons randomly spawn on the map and you’ll also want to collect the six pieces required to build Tesla’s mech which can cut down any horde in short order.

The touchscreen controls feel comfortable and the game also offers great support for Bluetooth controllers which is always fantastic to see in a premium game. There’s a ton of content built into the base game, along with some DLC available that offers new monsters, weapons and much more. Don’t be worry, the game feels polished without needing to shell out more money, but once you’ve finally made it through everything that Tesla vs Lovecraft has to offer you might be glad there’s a little bit more to explore.

Download: Tesla vs Lovecraft ($9.99 w/DLC)

HQ Trivia

It’s the app that started the new craze of live trivia game shows on your phone HQ Trivia is a daily trivia game show where you simply need to answer 12 questions to win a split of the pot. The game is still rolling on, with special trivia events aplenty and even a completely different game, HQ Words, testing your ability to spell out phrases (ala Wheel of Fortune) one letter at a time.

Each game is hosted live by a rotating crew of hosts that deliver the questions along with some entertaining banter. The app itself has steadily improved since launching in 2017 with more features that let you connect and play along with friends — and in-app purchases for buying extra lives and other little advantages. Millions of people play each week because it’s free and you just might win some cash!

That’s right, you’re playing for real cash via PayPal. Even if you only win a few bucks you can cash out at any time and buy yourself a coffee.

HQ Trivia for Android: Everything you need to know

Download: HQ Trivia (Free w/IAPs )

Death Road to Canada

Death Road to Canada is a $10 game — I want to open with that just to get the sticker shock out of the way before I talk about how awesome this freaking game is. (It’s currently on sale for a dollar, though, which makes it an even better purchase.)

Facing a zombie apocalypse, you must lead a scrappy squad of somewhat interesting characters on a deadly mission to the relative safety of Canada. Along the way, you’ll need to explore and loot places for supplies, while also managing your team’s health and morale.

Everything in Death Road to Canada is randomly generated, making every play-through a unique experience in this dynamic road trip action-RPG. You can randomly generate your character and buddy or custom design your starting characters with different attributes to help them stay alive, but you probably don’t want to get too attached unless you’re a really good shot.

The controls admittedly take some getting used to, and there’s a pretty steep learning curve as you learn which weapons are most effective and which times it’s better to fight or run. And you will die, early and often, although that’s part of the fun of a zombie apocalypse, right?

There’s a ridiculous amount of depth in this game, including 10 different game modes to unlock. The price might seem a little steep, but if you’re a fan of rogue-like zombie games, it’s well worth the investment!

Download: Death Road to Canada ($9.99)

Stranger Things: The Game

Stranger Things: The Game is the tie-in mobile game that other companies wish they could churn out. It’s a full-fledged action adventure game with a full cast of playable characters, tons of collectibles, and a retro graphical style that fits into the show theme and setting.

The game presents the entire town of Hawkins, Indiana along with the adjacent Mirkwood Forest to be explored. It plays like a classic Zelda-style adventure game, with the ability to switch between characters lending itself to creating complex puzzles.

Credit Netflix’s marketing team for spending the time to make sure the developers at BonusXP Inc. delivered something special for fans of the series. They’ve created a real winner here, and a true contender for game of the year — and I’m not even a huge fan of the source material.

The controls are optimized for mobile and there’s great game design on display here. The overworld is vast and filled with secret areas to explore and familiar items from the show scattered throughout as collectibles.

There’s just so much to appreciate here. Not only is it a faithful adaptation of the show, it’s available for free with no in-app purchases or ads — although you can certainly count the game itself as being an ad for the second season of Stranger Things. Here’s hoping it ushers in a new trend of substantial mobile games based on TV shows and movies.

Download: Stranger Things: The Game (Free)

Reigns: Her Majesty

Reigns was one of the best games of 2016 and actually won the first ever Google Play Indie Games contest. So needless to say we were pumped to check out the sequel.

In Reigns, you play as the monarch of the land and make decisions that affect four aspects of the kingdom: the church, the people, the army, and the royal wealth. Your goal is to keep all four in balance — if any meter fills to the max or is entirely depleted your reign is over… and a new reign begins!

The sequel plays nearly identically to the first game, except this time you play as the Queen instead of the King, complete with new characters to interact with and multiple branching storylines to discover. The gameplay is as easy as swiping left or right on cards and if it’s anything like the first game there’s a ton of great easter eggs to find along the way!

I would hate to spoil anything for this new game, but if you played the first one and are afraid that it’s going to be too similar, I can assure you there are plenty of new mechanics to make this still one of the best games on Google Play in 2019.

Download: Reigns: Her Majesty ($1.50)

Updated May 2019: Added Chameleon Run and Tesla vs Lovecraft to our list!

Android Gaming

Best Android games
Best free Android games
Best games with no in-app purchases
Best action games for Android
Best RPGs for Android
All the Android gaming news!

Read more: androidcentral.com

Instagram Link In Bio Tools: LinkTree vs FuzedLink vs TapBio

One of the things that makes Instagram unique is the lack of
clickable links in posts. People tell me that this makes for a
better user experience, but it poses a challenge when you’re
trying to run a business. Link in bio services are becoming more
popular and are sometimes more convenient for people than creating
a custom link page on their website. Inside you’ll find a
comparison of the top 3 link in bio tools.

Heads up! This post contains affiliate links, marked with an
asterisk(*). If you sign up through one of those links you won’t
pay anything extra (sometimes you’ll even get a discount or
bonus!), but I’ll get a small commission or credit that helps me to
keep delivering this awesome free content to you! I only recommend
tools that I use, like, and trust. Read my affiliate disclosure


One of the things that makes Instagram unique is the lack of clickable links in posts. People tell me that this makes for a better user experience, but it poses a challenge when you’re trying to run a business. Link in bio services are becoming more popular and are sometimes more convenient for people than creating a custom link page on their website. Inside you’ll find a comparison of the top 3 link in bio tools.If
you have a couple of different things that you promote
concurrently, switching your Insta bio link back and forth is a
pain. Here are 3 #linkinbio tools to help you out!

👉Tweet it
👉Share on Facebook
👉Pin it
👉Share on LinkedIn

When To Use a Link In Bio Tool

If you are promoting a single website, landing page, or booking
page long-term, then you likely don’t need a link in bio tool
since you won’t be changing your link very often.

However, if you have a couple of different things that you
promote concurrently (for example, your freebie opt in AND your
link for a free consult AND you host an event once a month) then
you don’t want to be constantly switching your bio link back and
forth – it’s a pain and you will forget!

Some people have complained that these tools are no good because
you can’t track analytics properly or you can’t brand it the
way you want. That’s only sort of true.

You can still see traffic on google analytics, you just have to
be aware that it’s not going to show up under “social”, but
coming from whatever tool (URL) you are using; as an alternative,
you can also give your links custom UTM parameters and track them
that way

If you want more features, you can pay for these tools

If you’d rather not pay, you can create a custom page on your
website that is branded and linked to your existing analytics

Having a custom page on your website is a great idea, but if you
are not wanting to design webpages, you don’t find your website
platform user-friendly, or you have to pay $$$ every time you need
to make a small change to your website then a link in bio tool is
generally more convenient.

Tip: these tools were all designed with Instagram in mind, but
really they can be used anywhere! Bio links on other social media
profiles, in your email signature, as a temporary website if yours
is down or being redesigned, etc.

Quick Comparison





Customization: colours


Customization: images

Paid Plans



Paid Plans

Paid Plans




Paid Plans Only: Mailchimp, Amazon Influencer Program, Google
Analytics, Facebook Pixel

YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Spotify, Soundcloud

Mailchimp, Zapier, YouTube, Twitter
Coming Soon: Instagram Shopping, Eventbrite, Meetup
Paid Plans Only: Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel

Paid Plans Start At

Coming Soon


LinkTree is not the first of these tools, but it’s definitely
the first one that got really popular with business owners. Their
focus is on regular links (not post links) and they continue to add
neat features to their paid plans.

When to use the free version of LinkTree: you
only need a user-friendly links list.

Some of my favourite things that you can only do with LinkTree
(if you have a paid plan):

Leap Links – if you have a temporary promo that is the
most important you can set your entire LinkTree bio link
to temporarily redirect to a single link for the biggest

Scheduled Links – if you use software to schedule your posts and
forget to update your link list, you can schedule your links to go
live at the same time.

Get Your Free Account Here


FuzedLink is the new kid on the block (at the time of
publishing) and their developers are incredibly responsive to
feedback from users.

When to use the free version of FuzedLink: you
need to be able to show both a links list and post

Some of my favourite things that you can only do with

Add links to your social media profiles and email address as
part of your bio.

Use it as your blogging platform if you don’t currently have a
website – if you configure a post with just a link, when people tap
on the post image they will immediately be taken to the link, but
there is a space to add text which you can format with headings,
bullets, hyperlinks, etc.

Add multiple links to a post link – this is not something you
would normally want to do, but I find it helpful when I’m talking
about a couple of tools or apps that work hand in hand and it
doesn’t make sense to create 2 separate posts for them.

Get Your Free Account Here

Tap Bio

Tap Bio generates a story-like bio link with swipeable pages
that you can essentially turn into a mini-website with a links
list, post links, single landing pages, and can display content
from other social media channels like Twitter and YouTube.

Note that with the free plan you can only have
one type of page in addition to your profile

When to use the free version of Tap Bio: you
need a bio link that is branded to your business.

Some of my favourite things that you can only do with Tap Bio
(if you have a paid plan):

Create individual landing pages with a call to action.

Because it integrates with Zapier, you can set up a Zap to add
email subscribers to any other email provider that
supports Zapier, and not just Mailchimp.

Get Your Free Account Here

Which One Will You Use?

As with all of the tools I talk about and recommend, you need to
understand what you need for your business first, and then choose
the tool that meets those needs. As your business evolves and grows
you will likely find yourself needing to switch tools and that’s

Over here
is where I track new features that are released for
these tools, so make sure to bookmark that post to keep an eye out
for awesome updates. If you want those updates delivered right to
your inbox,
become a member of School for Heartful Entrepreneurs

Link in bio services are becoming more popular and are sometimes
more convenient for people than creating a custom link page on
their website. Here is a comparison of the top 3 tools!

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👉Pin it
👉Share on LinkedIn

Want more awesome stuff?Click the image for details!
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Google strengthens Chrome’s privacy controls

Google today announced a major new initiative around its Chrome browser that will, in the long run, introduce significant changes to how Chrome handles cookies and enhance its users’ privacy across the web.

With this move, Google is making cookies more private and also adding new anti-fingerprinting technology to its browser. While some of the changes here are happening in the Chrome browser, developers, too, will have to prepare for this change and adapt their cookies to this new reality.

“We’ve been thinking a lot about this topic for a while and think it’s really important that users have transparent choice and control over how they are tracked over the web,” Google’s web platform lead Ben Galbraith said in an interview ahead of the announcement.

There will be a number of UI changes in Chrome to enable this, but the company isn’t disclosing any information about this yet. Instead, it is talking about the necessary changes in the web platform to enable this.

The overall idea here is to provide users with more control over how their data is shared. While cookies are very useful to allow you to keep a persistent login to a site or store your preferences, for example, they are also being used to track you across the web. Few users, however, would want to block all of their cookies and lose these conveniences. The compromise here is to only allow the site that originally set the cookie to access it and block third-party cookies, making it harder for others to track you using these cookies.

To do this, Chrome will move to require developers to explicitly allow their cookies to be used across websites. Using the SameSite cookie attribute, developers have to explicitly opt in to make their cookies available to others. SameSite simply stops the browser from sending it when it receives a cross-site request. There are some security enhancements that come with this, but the main goal here is to prevent tracking.

Right now, all cookies pretty much look the same to the browser, so it’s hard to selectively delete third-party cookies. Because this change also makes it easier to identify tracking cookies in the browser, though, users can then also more easily delete them.

“This change will enable users to clear all such cookies while leaving single domain cookies unaffected, preserving user logins and settings,” Google explains in today’s announcement. “It will also enable browsers to provide clear information about which sites are setting these cookies, so users can make informed choices about how their data is used.”

SameSite isn’t new, but it’s not all that widely used, especially given that browsers don’t have to respect it. In the coming months, however, it will become the default in Chrome.

That’s an important fact to stress: This isn’t just about adding a new feature to Chrome that makes it easier to block or delete tracking cookies — it’s about changing how developers use them at a very fundamental level.

Galbraith also tells me that Google will start experimenting with only allowing cross-site cookies if they are served over an encrypted SSL connection. This is currently hidden behind a flag in the Canary version of Chrome, but it’ll likely become more widely available soon, too.

None of these are immediate changes, though. “I compare this to the deliberate way we moved https to the default in Chrome,” Galbraith said. For this, Google signaled its intent for a few years before finally changing the default.

With its anti-fingerprinting technology, Google is doing something similar to what is happening with cookies. “Because fingerprinting is neither transparent nor under the user’s control, it results in tracking that doesn’t respect user choice,” Google explains. “This is why Chrome plans to more aggressively restrict fingerprinting across the web. One way in which we’ll be doing this is reducing the ways in which browsers can be passively fingerprinted, so that we can detect and intervene against active fingerprinting efforts as they happen.”

For a company that makes most of its revenue from advertising, that’s a pretty bold move. It’s also a bit late, given that users have been asking for these privacy controls for a while. Galbraith acknowledged that “this is increasingly an area of concern for users.”

In a related announcement, the Google Ads team today said that it is “committing to a new level of ads transparency.” The first step in actually providing users with better insights into how ads are personalized for them, Google will launch a browser extension that will disclose the names of the companies that were involved into getting these ads in front of you (including ad tech companies, advertisers, ad trackers and publishers) and the factors that were used to tailor the ad to the user.

This extension is going live today in the coming months and will work for all of Google’s own properties and those of its publishing partners. The company is also making an API available to other advertising companies that want to feed the same information into the browser extension.

Even though in the age of mobile apps, tracking users through browser cookies isn’t quite as important as it used to be, it’s still an important mechanism for many online advertising firms, including Google. Google’s move has wide-ranging implications for online advertising and it’ll be interesting to see how Google’s competitors in this space will react to the announcement.

Read more: techcrunch.com

MozCon 2019: Acceptance. Education. Donuts

Posted by PJ_Howland

We’re digital marketers; we make our living in a constantly
changing (and consistently misunderstood) industry. It’s easy to
feel like even those who are closest to us don’t really get what
we do. Take me, for example, I once mentioned algorithms to my
grandmother, and ever since then, she’s been absolutely (and
adamantly) sure that I work with clocks. Did she think I said

But despite the dynamic nature of marketing, Moz has always been
a solid rock at the center of the storm. It’s been here since the
beginning, a place where all the marketing nerds and SEO geeks
could hang our hats and feel understood.

And MozCon feels like the culmination of that culture of

MozCon: Helping you build your best self

As I’ve chatted with the good folks at Moz about this year’s
MozCon, it’s clear to me that they pay attention to data. Why do
I say that? Because they’re doubling down on making this year
their most actionable year ever. As a past attendee, I can say that
hearing that MozCon’s biggest focus is a dedication to actionable
tactics gets me excited.

The creative media surrounding MozCon have an under-the-sea
theme going on. These nautical nods are setting us all up for the
deep dive into digital marketing we’re sure to see this year.
Since there’s a good chance that most of us marketers never made
it to prom (just me? Okay then…), it’s kind of fun to get a
second chance to experience oceanic decor in a congregate
environment (What, you’ve never dreamed about being Marty McFly
at his parent’s Enchantment Under the Sea dance? Was I the only

The point is that the upcoming MozCon is poised to do what it
does so well: Offer a delightful mix of predictability and variety,
presented in a way that’s designed to improve us without
reforming us. New players will share the stage with established
thought leaders and strategists. Innovation will go hand in hand
with cherished tradition.

After looking at the initial agenda, here
are a few of the front runner speakers and sessions I’m excited
for in particular.

Casie Gillette — Thanks for the Memories: Creating
Content People Remember

Digital marketers like data, right?

[Cue nodding heads and incoherent mumblings]

While I certainly love data, I also struggle with data.
Sometimes I rely on the data so much that I become hesitant to take
risks. And if there’s one thing our industry as a whole can
improve on, it’s taking more risk.

Casie is taking to the stage with a mission to teach us how to
make content memorable. With the promise that MozCon 2019 will be
more tactical and strategic than ever before, I am earnestly giddy
(feel free to picture that emotion however the mood takes you) to
hear about what I can do to take a step back from the data, and
instead put it on the line for something my audience will never

Shannon McGuirk: How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital
PR Newsroom

Link-building, anyone? Yeah, it’s still a thing. After all, if
you link-build it, they will come. Shannon promises to teach us
how to set up a “digital PR room.” AKA, a link-earning machine!
It sounds like she’s pulling back the entire curtain and will be
showing us some concrete link-building tactics. I know how many
hours go into earning a single link, so I am eagerly awaiting a
process that scales.

Ross Simmonds — Keyword’s Aren’t Enough: How to Uncover Content
Ideas Worth Chasing

Like many SEOs, I’m a firm believer in the power of valuable
content. So when I hear about a session titled, “Keyword’s Aren’t
Enough: How to Uncover Content Ideas Worth Chasing,” it’s
eye-catching. Maybe more than eye-catching, it’s paradigm
challenging. I love keywords, LOVE’em! Content marketing without
keywords makes me a little uneasy. Let’s just say keywords are at
the center of most of my strategy for content marketing decisions.
I’m glad I have time to prepare my mind for what mad brilliance
Ross will be sharing this year at MozCon.

Heather Physioc — Mastering Branded Search

Before I even jump into Heather’s digital game, let’s start
with her taste in music. Her walk-on music was strong last year —
real strong.

. @HeatherPhysioc
I don’t know who chooses the walk-on music. But you win! Ready to
listen to everything you have to say.

— PJ Howland (@askPJHowland)
July 10, 2018

This year Heather is going to be chatting us up on branded
search. At one glance I’m like, “Okay, color me intrigued…”
Branded search seems so surface-level, but knowing Heather, it will
be an engaging presentation replete with answers to (what I thought
were) unanswerable questions about branded search. Heather has a
background in working with enterprise brands, so for me, the
opportunity to learn how to leverage big brand names for unique
perspectives on what many may think is a pretty straightforward
subject, is one I don’t dare pass up. Very excited for what’s
sure to be a wild ride.

Britney Muller — Topic TBD, but looking forward to it

I’ve never left a conference with more notes from a single
session that I have from Britney’s MozCon address in 2017. I
recall her sharing her trepidation about being the lead SEO for
Moz. A quick project Britney took on was gutting some old and thin
pages on Moz.com — about 70,000 community pages if my notes from
the event are correct. But shortly, Moz.com saw a modest organic
traffic bump. Britney is fearless as an SEO, and there’s
something beyond the sheer value of case studies here. As SEOs, we
too should be fearless in our work. I’m looking forward to
Britney sharing data, insights, and her gutsy spirit with all of

Moz with Benefits…

Speakers and sessions are cool and all, but can I just say that
all the little extras MozCon has to offer are amazing.

Networking is something that every conference touts. And sure we
all like networking, cause that’s what we have to say right?
What’s the phrase? “If you’re not networking, you’re not
working”? At MozCon, networking is not a chore; it’s easy and
enjoyable. Even productive. From an agency perspective, it’s a
cool place outside the office to connect with clients too.

And how have I gotten this far and not mentioned the food at
MozCon? The meals are excellent, but can I say a word about the
snacks? Moz does not skimp when it comes to eats. Sure, I talked
about some cool speakers and topics above, but you know what’s
actually stolen my heart at MozCon? Top Pot donuts. I may be that
guy that leaves a session 5 minutes early just to get a head start
on these donuts. Does that mean I might miss out on valuable
insights or strategies? Absolutely it does, and I don’t care. My
goal has always been to get a couple of donuts down the hatch
before I run into someone I know. That way, when they see me with a
donut in each hand, they think that’s all I’ve had.

“Just two donuts this time, PJ?”

“Yeah, haha, just two…” Suckers.

Donuts aside, Moz cares
immensely about their community
and has done everything
possible to make this the best year yet. So come as you are, and
leave as you were… only better. The Moz culture of acceptance and
education stands to deliver a MozCon experience that will keep you
going throughout the year.
I can’t wait to take a deep dive into the sea of SEO with all of
my fellow marketing geeks. And if you want to chat, I’ll be the
guy hovering around the donut table.

Well, what did I miss?

For all the long-time MozCon attendees out there, what are you
excited for?

Which speakers and sessions are you looking forward to most?

Do you have any favorite moments from years past?

Where are you grabbing dinner in the city?

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

Read more: moz.com

I Want To Rank Beyond My Location: A Guide to How This Works

Posted by MiriamEllis

Staff at your agency get asked this question just about every day, and it’s a local SEO forum FAQ, too:

“I’m located in ‘x’, but how do I rank beyond that?”

In fact, this query is so popular, it deserves a good and thorough answer. I’ve written this article in the simplest terms possible so that you can instantly share it with even your least-technical clients.

We’ll break rankings down into five easy-to-grasp groups, and make sense out of how Google appears to bucket rankings for different types of users and queries. Your clients will come away with an understanding of what’s appropriate, what’s possible, and what’s typically impossible. It’s my hope that shooting this link over to all relevant clients will save your team a ton of time, and ensure that the brands you’re serving are standing on steady ground with some good education.

There’s nothing quite like education as a sturdy baseline for creating achievable goals, is there?

One hypothetical client’s story

We’ll illustrate our story by focusing in on a single fictitious business. La Tortilleria is a tortilla bakery located at 197 Fifth Avenue in San Rafael, Marin County, California, USA. San Rafael is a small city with a population of about 60,000. La Tortilleria vends directly to B2C customers, as well as distributing their handmade tortillas to a variety of B2B clients, like restaurants and grocery stores throughout Marin County.

La Tortilleria’s organic white corn tortillas are so delicious, the bakery recently got featured on a Food Network TV show. Then, they started getting calls from San Francisco, Sacramento, and even Los Angeles asking about their product. This business, which started out as a mom-and-pop shop, is now hoping to expand distribution beyond county borders.

When it comes to Google visibility, what is La Tortilleria eligible for, and is there some strategy they can employ to show up in many places for many kinds of searches? Let’s begin:

Group I: Hyperlocal rankings


Your supreme chance of ranking in Google’s local pack results is typically in the neighborhood surrounding your business. For example, with the right strategy, La Tortilleria could expect to rank very well in the above downtown area of San Rafael surrounding their bakery. When searchers are physically located in this area or using search language like “tortilleria near me,” Google can hyper-localize the radius of the search to just a few city blocks when there are enough nearby options to make up a local pack.

Ask the client to consider:

What is my locale like? Am I in a big city, a small town, a rural area?What is the competitive level of my market? Am I one of many businesses offering the same goods/services in my neighborhood, or am I one of the only businesses in my industry here?

Google’s local pack radius will vary greatly based on the answers to those two questions. For example, if there are 100 tortilla bakeries in San Rafael, Google doesn’t have to go very far to make up a local pack for a searcher standing on Fifth Avenue with their mobile phone. But, if La Tortilleria is one of only three such businesses in town, Google will have to reach further across the map to make up the pack. Meanwhile, in a truly rural area with few such businesses, Google’s smallest radius could span several towns, or if there simply aren’t enough options, not show a local pack in the results at all.


To do well in the hyperlocal packs, tell your client their business should:

Create and claim a Google My Business listing, filling out as many fields as possible. Earn some reviews and respond to themBuild out local business listings on top local business information platforms, either manually or via a service like Moz Local. Mention neighborhood names or other hyperlocal terms on the company website, including on whichever page of the site the Google listing points to.If competition is strong in the neighborhood, invest in more advanced tactics like earning local linktations, developing more targeted hyperlocal content, using Google Posts to highlight neighborhood-oriented content, and managing Google Q&A to outdistance more sluggish competitors.

*Note that if you are marketing a multi-location enterprise, you’ll need to undertake this work for each location to get it ranking well at a hyperlocal level.

Group II: Local rankings


These rankings are quite similar to the above but encompass an entire city. In fact, when we talk about local rankings, we are most often thinking about how a business ranks within its city of location. For example, how does La Tortilleria rank for searches like “tortilleria,” “tortilla shop,” or “tortillas san rafael” when a searcher is anywhere in that city, or traveling to that city from another locale?

If Google believes the intent of such searches is local (meaning that the searcher wants to find some tortillas to buy near them rather than just seeking general information about baked goods), they will make up a local pack of results. As we’ve covered, Google will customize these packs based on the searcher’s physical location in many instances, but a business that becomes authoritative enough can often rank across an entire city for multiple search phrases and searcher locales.

For instance, La Tortilleria might always rank #1 for “tortilla shop” when searchers on Fifth Avenue perform that search, but they could also rank #1 for “organic tortillas San Rafael” when locals in any part of that city or even out-of-towners do this lookup, if the business has built up enough authority surrounding this topic.

With the right strategy, every business has a very good chance of ranking locally in its city of physical location for some portion of its most desired search phrases.

Ask the client to consider:

Does my location + Google’s results behavior create small or large hurdles in my quest for city-wide rankings? When I look at the local packs I want to rank for, does Google appear to be clustering them too tightly in some part of the city to include my location in a different part of town? If so, can I overcome this? What can I specialize in to set me apart? Is there some product, service, or desirable attribute my business can become particularly known for in my city over all other competitors? If I can’t compete for the biggest terms I’d like to rank for, are there smaller terms I could become dominant for city-wide?How can I build my authority surrounding this special offering? What will be the most effective methodologies for becoming a household name in my community when people need the services I offer?

Your agency will face challenges surrounding this area of work. I was recently speaking with a business owner in Los Angeles who was disappointed that he wasn’t appearing for the large, lucrative search term “car service to LAX.” When we looked at the results together from various locations, we saw that Google’s radius for that term was tightly clustered around the airport. This company’s location was in a different neighborhood many miles away. In fact, it was only when we zoomed out on Google Maps to enlarge the search radius, or zoomed in on this company’s neighborhood, that we were able to see their listing appear in the local results.

This was a classic example of a big city with tons of brands offering nearly-identical services — it results in very stiff competition and tight local pack radius.

My advice in a tough scenario like this would revolve around one of these three things:

Becoming such a famous brand that the business could overcome Google’s famous biasSpecializing in some attribute that would enable them to seek rankings for less competitive keywordsMoving to an office near that “centroid” of business instead of in a distant neighborhood of the large city.

Your specific scenario may be easier, equal to, or even harder than this. Needless to say, a tortilla shop in a modestly-sized town does not face the same challenges as a car service in a metropolis. Your strategy will be based on your study of your market.


Depending on the level of competition in the client’s market, tell them they will need to invest in some or all of the following:

Identify the keyword phrases you’re hoping to rank for using tools like Moz Keyword Explorer, Answer the Public, and Google Trends combined with organized collection and analysis of the real-world FAQs customers ask your staff.Observe Google’s local pack behavior surrounding these phrases to discover how they are clustering results. Perform searches from devices in your own neighborhood and from other places around your city, as described in my recent post How to Find Your True Local Competitors. You can also experiment with tools like BrightLocal’s Local Search Results Checker.Identify the top competitors in your city for your targeted phrases and then do a competitive audit of them. Stack these discovered competitors up side-by-side with your business to see how their local search ranking factors may be stronger than yours. Improve your metrics so that they surpass those of the competitors, whether this surrounds Google My Business signals, Domain Authority, reputation, citation factors, website quality, or other elements.If Google’s radius is tight for the most lucrative terms and your efforts to build authority so far aren’t enabling you to overcome it due to your location falling outside their reach, consider specialization in other smaller, but still valuable, search phrases. For instance, La Tortilleria could be the only bakery in San Rafael offering organic tortillas. A local business might significantly narrow the competition by being pet-friendly, open later, cheaper, faster, more staffed, women-led, serving specific dietary restrictions or other special needs, selling rarities, or bundling goods with expert advice. There are many ways to set yourself apart.Finally, publicize your unique selling proposition. Highlight it on your website with great content. If it’s a big deal, make connections with local journalists and bloggers to try to make news. Use Google My Business attributes to feature it on your listing. Cross-sell with related local businesses and promote one another online. Talk it up on social media. Structure review requests to nudge customers towards mentioning your special offering in their reviews. Do everything you can to help your community and Google associate your brand name with your specialty.
Group III: Regional rankings


This is where we typically hit our first really big hurdle, and where the real questions begin. La Tortilleria is located in San Rafael and has very good chances of ranking in relation to that city. But what if they want to expand to selling their product throughout Marin County, or even throughout several surrounding counties? Unless competition is very low, they are unlikely to rank in the local packs for searchers in neighboring cities like Novato, Mill Valley, or Corte Madera. What paths are open to them to increase their visibility beyond their city of location?

It’s at this juncture that agencies start hearing clients ask, “What can I do if I want to rank outside my city?” And it’s here that it’s most appropriate to respond with some questions clients need to be asking themselves.

Ask the client to consider:

Does my business model legitimately lend itself to transactions in multiple cities or counties? For example, am I just hoping that if my business in City A could rank in City B, people from that second location would travel to me? For instance, the fact that a dentist has some patients who come to their practice from other towns isn’t really something to build a strategy on. Consumers and Google won’t be excited by this. So, ask yourself: “Do I genuinely have a model that delivers goods/services to City B or has some other strong relationship to neighbors in those locales?”Is there something I can do to build a physical footprint in cities where I lack a physical location? Short of opening additional branches, is there anything my business can do to build relationships with neighboring communities?
First, know that it’s sometimes possible for a business in a less-competitive market to rank in nearby neighboring cities. If La Tortilleria is one of just 10 such businesses in Marin County, Google may well surface them in a local pack or the expanded local finder view for searchers in multiple neighboring towns because there is a paucity of options. However, as competition becomes denser, purely local rankings beyond city borders become increasingly rare. Google does not need to go outside of the city of San Francisco, for example, to make up complete local results sets for pizza, clothing, automotive services, attorneys, banks, dentists, etc. Assess the density of competition in your desired regional market. If you determine that your business is something of a rarity in your county or similar geographical region, follow the strategy described above in the “Local Rankings” section and give it everything you’ve got so that you can become a dominant result in packs across nearby multiple cities. If competition is too high for this, keep reading.If you determine that what you offer isn’t rare in your region, local pack rankings beyond your city borders may not be feasible. In this case, don’t waste money or time on unachievable goals. Rather, move the goalposts so that your marketing efforts outside of your city are targeting organic, social, paid, and offline visibility.Determine whether your brand lends itself to growing face-to-face relationships with neighboring cities. La Tortilleria can send delivery persons to restaurants and grocery stores throughout its county. They can send their bakers to workshops, culinary schools, public schools, food festivals, expos, fairs, farmers markets, and a variety of events in multiple cities throughout their targeted region. They can sponsor regional events, teams, and organizations. They can cross-sell with a local salsa company, a chocolatier, a caterer. Determine what your brand’s resources are for expanding a real-world footprint within a specific region. Once you’ve begun investing in building this footprint, publicize it. Write content, guest blog, make the news, share socially, advertise online, advertise in local print, radio, and TV media. Earn links, citations and social mentions online for what you are doing offline and grow your regional authority in Google’s eyes while you’re doing it. If your brand is a traditional service area business, like a residential painting company with a single location that serves multiple cities, develops a website landing page for each city you serve. Make each page a showcase of your work in that city, with project features, customer reviews, localized tips, staff interviews, videos, photos, FAQs and more. As with brick-and-mortar models, your level of rarity will determine whether your single physical office can show up in the local packs for more than one city. If your geo-market is densely competitive, the main goal of your service city landing pages will be organic rankings, not local ones.
Group IV: State-wide rankings


This is where our desired consumer base can no longer be considered truly local, though local packs may still occasionally come into play. In our continuing story, revenue significantly increased after La Tortilleria appeared on a popular TV show. Now they’ve scaled up their small kitchen to industrial strength in hopes of increasing trade across the state of California. Other examples might be an architectural firm that sends staff state-wide to design buildings or a photographer who accepts event engagements across the state.

What we’re not talking about here is a multi-location business. Any time you have a physical location, you can simply refer back to Groups I–III for strategy because you are truly in the local running any place you have a branch. But for the single location client with a state-wide offering, the quest for broad visibility begs some questions.

Ask the client to consider:

Are state-wide local pack results at all in evidence for my query or is this not the reality at all for my industry? For example, when I do a non-modified search just for “sports arena” in California, it’s interesting to see that Google is willing to make up a local pack of three famous venues spanning Sonora to San Diego (about 500 miles apart). Does Google return state-wide packs for my search terms, and is what I offer so rare that I might be included in them?Does my business model genuinely lend itself to non-local queries and clients willing to travel far to transact with me or hire me from anywhere in the state? For example, it would be a matter of pure vanity for me to want my vacuum cleaner repair shop to rank state-wide, as people can easily access services like mine in their own towns. But, what if I’m marketing a true rara avis, like a famous performing arts company, a landmark museum, a world-class interior design consultancy, or a vintage electronics restoration business?Whether Google returns state-wide local packs or only organic results for my targeted search terms, what can I do to be visible? What are my resources for setting myself apart?
First, let’s take it for granted that you’ve got your basic local search strategy in place. You’re already doing everything we’ve covered above to build a strong hyperlocal, local, and regional digital and offline footprint. If Google does return state-wide local packs for your search phrases, simply continue to amp up the known local pack signals we’ve already discussed, in hopes of becoming authoritative enough to be included. If your phrases don’t return state-wide local packs, you will be competing against a big field for organic results visibility. In this case, you are likely to be best served by three things. Firstly, take publication on your website seriously. The more you can write about your offerings, the more of an authoritative resource you will become. Delve deeply into your company’s internal talent for developing magazine-quality content and bring in outside experts where necessary. Secondly, invest in link research tools like Moz Link Explorer to analyze which links are helping competitors to rank highly in the organic results for your desired terms and to discover where you need to get links to grow your visibility. Thirdly, seek out your state’s most trusted media sources and create a strategy for seeking publicity from them. Whether this comes down to radio, newspapers, TV shows, blogs, social platforms, or organizational publications, build your state-wide fame via inclusion. If all else fails and you need to increase multi-regional visibility throughout your state, you will need to consider your resources for opening additional staffed offices in new locales.
Group V: National rankings & beyond


Here, we encounter two common themes, neither of which fall within our concept of local search.

In the first instance, La Tortilleria is ready to go multi-state or nation-wide with its product, distributing goods outside of California as a national brand. The second is the commonly-encountered digital brand that is vending to a multi-state or national audience and is often frustrated by the fact that they are being outranked both in the local and organic results by physical, local companies in a variety of locations. In either case, the goals of both models can sometimes extend beyond country borders when businesses go multinational.

Ask the client to consider:

What is my business model? Am I selling B2B, B2C, or both? Which marketing strategies will generate the brand recognition I need? Is my most critical asset my brand’s website, or other forms of off-and-online advertising? Am I like Wayfair, where my e-commerce sales are almost everything, bolstered by TV advertising? Or, am I like Pace Foods with a website offering little more than branding because distribution to other businesses is where my consumers find me? Does my offering need to be regionalized to succeed? Perhaps La Tortilleria will need to start producing super-sized white flour tortillas to become a hit in Texas. McDonald’s offers SPAM in Hawaii and green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico. Regional language variants, seasonality, and customs may require fine-tuning of campaigns.
If your national brand hinges on B2C online sales, let me put the e-commerce SEO column of the Moz blog at your fingertips. Also highly recommended, E-commerce SEO: The Definitive Guide. If your national brand revolves around getting your product on shelves, delve into Neilsen’s manufacturer/distributor resources and I’ve also found some good reading at MrCheckout. If you are expanding beyond your country, read Moz’s basic definition of International SEO, then move on to An In-Depth Look at International SEO and The Ultimate Guide to International SEO. This article can’t begin to cover all of the steps involved in growing a brand from local to an international scale, but in all scenarios, a unifying question will revolve around how to cope with the reality that Google will frequently rank local brands above or alongside your business for queries that matter to you. If your business has a single physical headquarters, then content, links, social, and paid advertising will be the tools at your disposal to compete as best you can. Rarity may be your greatest strength, as seen in the case of America’s sole organic tulip bulb grower, or authority, as in the case of this men’s grooming site ranking for all kinds of queries related to beards.You’ll be wanting to rank for every user nationwide, but you’ll also need to be aware of who your competitors are at a local and regional level. This is why even national/international brands need some awareness of how local search works so that they can identify and audit strong local brands in target markets in order to compete with them in the organic SERPs, sometimes fine-tuning their offerings to appeal to regional needs and customs. I often hear from digital-only brands that want to rank in every city in the nation for a virtual service. While this may be possible for a business with overwhelming authority and brand recognition (think Amazon), a company just starting out can set a more reasonable goal of analyzing a handful of major cities instead of thousands of them to see what it would take to get in the running with entrenched local and digital brands.Finally, I want to mention one interesting and common national business model with its own challenges. In this category are tutoring businesses, nanny services, dog walking services, and other brands that have a national headquarters but whose employees or contractors are the ones providing face-to-face services. Owners ask if it’s possible to create multiple Google listings based on the home addresses of their workers so that they can achieve local pack rankings for what is, in fact, a locally-rendered service. The answer is that Google doesn’t approve of this tactic. So, where a local pack presence is essential, the brand must find a way to staff an office in each target region. Avoid virtual offices, which are explicitly forbidden, but there could be some leeway in exploring inexpensive co-working spaces staffed during stated business hours and where no other business in the same Google category is operating. A business that determines this model could work for them can then pop back up to Groups I-IV to see how far local search can take them.
Summing up

There may be no more important task in client-onboarding than setting correct expectations. Basing a strategy on what’s possible for each client’s business model will be the best guardian of your time and your client’s budget. To recap:

Identify the client’s model.Investigate Google’s search behavior for the client’s important search phrases. Gauge the density of competition/rarity of the client’s offerings in the targeted area.Audit competitors to discover their strengths and weaknesses.Create a strategy for local, organic, social, paid, and offline marketing based on the above four factors.

For each client who asks you how to rank beyond their physical location, there will be a unique answer. The work your agency puts into finding that answer will make you an expert in their markets and a powerful ally in achieving their achievable goals.

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

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