The Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Website

The Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Website

In 2017, 71% of small businesses had a website, and 92% of businesses without a website said they’d have one by the end of 2018. Today, having a website is as necessary for a company as having a phone number.

Maybe you’re starting a new business venture or developing your personal brand. Or, maybe you’re looking to update your company’s outdated website. Whatever the case, creating a new website can feel overwhelming, particularly without technical expertise or a budget for web developers.Download our full collection of homepage, blog, and landing page examples here  to inspire your own website design. 

To alleviate any frustration you might feel, we’ve put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating a website. Best of all, you won’t need a coder, web designer, or big budget to create one — all you’ll need to do is follow the seven steps below.

How to Make a Website for Free

1. Choose Your Platform

The first thing you’ll need to do when creating a website is find the right CMS (content management system) for your business. There are plenty of free or budget-friendly site builders out there, but they aren’t all created equal, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before choosing one.

For instance, consider whether you need a platform that allows you to code, or whether you’d like to avoid coding altogether. You might also narrow your list if you want your website to support multiple languages. Perhaps you simply want to check out templates offered by different CMS systems, or price ranges to see which you can afford.

Check out 9 of the Best Free Website Builders to simplify your decision-making process. Once you’ve chosen the best CMS for your needs, continue to step two.

2. Get a Domain Name and Web Hosting

One of the easiest ways to appear illegitimate as a company is to shirk on paying for a domain name. If you were looking for a freelance writer, would you more likely hire from Carolineforsey.weebly.com or Carolineforsey.com? A .weebly or .wordpress extension is an indicator you didn’t pay for the full service, which might seem unprofessional or lower in quality — worst case, a consumer might wonder why you can’t afford the full service, and draw conclusions that you’re not fully established.

Fortunately, purchasing a domain name is typically inexpensive, and there are a few different domain sites you can use. Both Godaddy.com and Bluehost.com are cheap, secure, and effective options for buying a domain name, with added benefits such as SSL security and office 365.

Here’s where it gets tricky. You’ll need to choose a domain name as similar as possible to the name of your company, but with over 1.8 billion websites out there today, your company’s name might already be taken.

If your ideal domain name is already taken, consider using a different extension. I’d advise you to use one of the three most common extensions if you can: .com, .net, or .org. However, if it makes sense for your business, you might want to check out an alternate extension like .us or .shop.

Play around with it. Once you’ve chosen and paid for a domain name, you’ll usually also get personal email accounts attached, so make sure you’re happy to use your domain name as your main online identity.

3. Choose a Template for Your Site

Now, for the fun part.

On whatever CMS platform you chose, take the time to browse through templates and themes, and choose one you think best represents your brand.

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong if you choose something clean with straight lines, and a limited amount of text. If you need some inspiration, check out 20 of the Best Website Designs to Inspire You in 2018.

Ultimately, no one knows your business better than you. Take the time to consider which template would most likely appeal to your ideal demographic.

Within your CMS, you can probably use filters or search to narrow down on templates related to your industry.

It’s important your template is responsive, so your site will look the same on all devices. When considering templates, you also need to decide whether you want a static header or slideshow header, and how many pages you’ll need to fit in your menu bar. Stay away from hard-to-read fonts or flashy backgrounds that could distract a consumer from understanding your core message.

Once you’ve chosen a template and theme, take the time to customize it. Your site’s design and functionality is your chance to persuade an audience to take a closer look. It’s imperative your design makes sense to your ideal consumer and works to enhance your product’s success rather than hinder it.

4. Add Pages to Your Site

It’s important to plan exactly which pages you’ll need to include in your site. While it varies business to business, I’d guess you’ll need at least a “Home” page, an “About Usâ€� page, a “Services/Productâ€� page, and a “Contact Usâ€� page.

Of course, you can choose to rearrange page topics any way you want, or combine them. If you’re unsure, check out other company websites within your industry to get ideas for how to organize your navigation bar, or which pages to include and exclude.

I might be biased, but you should probably also include a blog — you know, sometimes they come in handy.

While every platform is different, it’s typically easy to add and remove pages on whichever platform you use.

5. Write Content

This is arguably the most important step. Now that you have your pages set up, what will you put on them?

I’d suggest writing rough drafts for pages like your “About Usâ€� page and landing page. Talk with coworkers and stakeholders — what message do you want to put out there? What tone do you want to set? Should you make jokes and be funny, or aim to be more inspirational?

If your online audience stumbled across your site, what questions would they have first?

Imagine your website is your only chance to have a full conversation with a potential customer. The landing page is the preliminary introduction, “Hey, we do XYZ.� Your “About Us� page digs deeper, “We are XYZ.� And your products or services pages are your big push to the finish line: “You want to work with us? Great, here’s how you’ll benefit.�

During this stage, it’s imperative you do your keyword research.

For instance, if you’re selling eyeglasses, and you notice “retro eyeglasses� has more monthly search volume than “vintage eyeglasses�, you might use this research to steer the direction of the content on your site.

If you’re stuck, check out competitor’s websites to gauge what other companies in your industry are doing.

6. Fill in General Settings

Once you’ve filled in your pages with the heavy-hitter content, you can still increase your search visibility by filling in gaps in your CMS settings.

Make sure you include a site title and tagline in the “Settingsâ€� of your website building platform. Go through, and check out the URLs — are those optimized for search?

7. Install Plugins

Lastly, take a look at your site and figure out what you’re missing. The best CMS platform will ideally offer all the integrations you need. Perhaps your business is ecommerce, in which case, it might be wise to install a Shopify plugin extension.

Or, maybe you want to ensure your website is secure, to protect client data. In that case, find a plugin that offers firewall protection and attacks malware or other threats.

Whatever the case, browse your plugin library and pick and choose a few you think will take the effectiveness of your site to the next level.

Once you’re ready, click “Publish�, and your site is ready for use.

How to Make a Website with Google

Google Sites is one of the simplest web builder platforms I’ve used, but with that simplicity comes less sophisticated templates and tools. I’d primarily suggest using Google Sites to make a website for a business event, for internal use amongst employees, or for your personal brand.

I wouldn’t suggest using it to host your business’s primary website since the tools and functions are limited. Even if you want a simpler site right now, you might want to expand down the road, and Google Sites could make that option difficult.

Having said that, it’s still an incredibly fast and easy option. Plus, it allows you to “share� with other Google accounts, similar to Google Docs, so you can collaborate on a site.

Take a look at the four steps below to create a free Google Site.

1. To create a website with Google Sites, go to
https://sites.google.com/new
. Then, click the red “+� sign in the bottom right corner.

2. Next, choose a theme from your list of options on the dashboard to the right of your Google Site.

3. Now, you’re ready to add content to your site. For instance, I added the title, “Caroline’s Consulting Businessâ€�, by using the “Text boxâ€� tool in the Insert panel. The Insert panel also includes options to embed images or links, or connect to your Google Drive or Google Docs. For example, I circled “Google Docsâ€� in the image below — I clicked that button to embed my “How to Take a Screenshot on Windowsâ€� Google Doc into my landing page.

4. Once you’re happy with the way your site works, click the purple “Publish� button at the top right.

How to Make a Website on WordPress

WordPress is the fastest growing CMS, with over 500 new sites built daily. It’s one of the more popular options — it offers a large library of templates and themes to ensure you’re able to create a site that matches your brand, opportunities to mix-and-match plugins, and tools to monitor your SEO.

WordPress is easy to use and budget-friendly, and its versatility makes it a good option for anyone from a small business owner to a blogger.

If you’ve decided you want to create a website on WordPress, here’s how.

Disclaimer: For the sake of simplicity, I’m showing you how to create a free WordPress site. However, your platform might look different depending on which version you choose.

1. Go to https://wordpress.com/create/ and click the blue “Get Startedâ€� button. 

2. Fill out the Step 1 form, including your site’s name, your site’s topic, and primary goals.

3. Fill out the Step 2 form — in this step, you’ll either input a domain you’ve already bought, or you can choose a domain straight from here. I chose the free option, “carolineforsey.wordpress.comâ€�, but I’d highly recommend choosing a paid option to appear more official.

4. Choose your payment plan, depending on your goals, budget, and business type.

5. Now, your site has been created. You have a dashboard on your left, but you can also continue to follow the step-by-step instructions you’re offered on the landing page (i.e. “Upload a site icon�).

6. First, I’d suggest clicking “Themes� beside “Customize� on your dashboard on the left.

7. You can search through all the themes or search depending on your subject. For instance, I searched “subject:blogâ€� to find themes related to my business’s topic. There are free and paid options. Select one — you can always change it later.

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 10.16.07 AM

8. Next, click “Add� beside Site Pages on your dashboard, and fill out content for a page on your site. On the right, you’ll have “Page Settings�, where you can include featured images, page attributes, etc.

9. Lastly, explore the “Configure� section of your dashboard. This is where you’ll find plugins, settings, and options to add people to your WordPress site.

How to make a website with HubSpot

Lastly, let’s take a look at how to make a website with HubSpot. If you’re already using HubSpot’s CRM, it probably makes the most sense to build a website within HubSpot to integrate all your sales and marketing needs in one place.

HubSpot offers a variety of plugins and extensions, themed templates, and sophisticated tools for SEO analysis.

If you want to build a website with HubSpot, it’s easy and intuitive. Here’s how:

1. Within your HubSpot portal, click “Content� on the dashboard at the top of your screen. Then, click “Landing Pages�.

 

 

2. Next, click the orange “Create landing pageâ€� button. 

landingpagecreatenew

3. Name your page, and then click the orange “Create page� button.

landingpagecreatenew

4. Now, you’ll be taken to this “Select a template� page. Scroll through your options, search page templates, or check out the Marketplace. When you’ve found a template you like, select it.

5. This is your landing page. You can scroll over text boxes, images, or other modules to edit them. In the below picture, I scrolled over the “See The World� Banner Text, and when I click it, it allows me to edit that text.

6. You can also click the “Edit modules� tool on the right side of your screen and edit from there. For instance, I selected “Service 2 Text�, which directed me to the “Make it your own� paragraph on my landing page. You can add texts, images, sections, forms, and more from the “Edit modules� section.

7. When you’re happy with your landing page and want to move on, go back to your dashboard and click “Content� at the top of your screen, and then “Website Pages�.

8. Here, you’ll click the orange “Create website page� button and name your page, just like your landing page. Then, you’ll be taken through a similar process of choosing a template and adding content. If you want a more in-depth tutorial, check out A quick tour of website pages.

9. If you want to incorporate your social media accounts, click “Social� on your dashboard. You can monitor all your social media accounts and also publish tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, Instagram pictures, and other content straight from your HubSpot dashboard.

10. If you want to check out your site analytics, go to “Reports� and then “Analytics Tools�. You’ll need to install the tracking code, which is easy to do within the HubSpot platform by clicking the orange “Install the tracking code� button. If you’re still unsure, check out How to install the HubSpot tracking code.

11. If you want to write blog posts, go to “Content� > “Blog� on your dashboard to create, publish, and monitor your website’s blog posts.

This is a fairly broad and general overview to get you started building a website with HubSpot, but there are plenty of more in-depth features and tools you might want to explore with a HubSpot specialist, or by checking out some articles on academy.hubspot.com.

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How Your Blog Needs to Evolve in the Age of AI-Powered Voice Search

How Your Blog Needs to Evolve in the Age of AI-Powered Voice Search

Search is changing thanks to artificial intelligence.

It’s not just that search engines are using AI to categorize and deliver results (though they are).

It’s that the power of AI is making new, better types of search possible.

Searches are becoming more personalized. Search engines now aim to deliver the right result for your particular needs.Click here to download our free ebook on how to start a successful blog for  your business or project.

Location and context are becoming more important, too. We’re searching more on-the-go. We use smartphones to discover results in real-time, just before we act or buy.

Voice search is on the rise, thanks to advancements in AI. Natural language processing helps systems like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant “understand” what you say. Natural language generation helps them “respond” to your queries.

On top of all this, the usefulness of search is improving.

Says search expert Duane Forrester at Yext:

“If we look at pure search results, AI is deep in the mix, helping to sort the results we do still read. It’s not deciding what makes the cut to be in the answers we get back (yet), but it’s working to sort the order in which we see those results, effectively acting as a filtering layer based on the search engine’s collective knowledge about us.

“Did you visit X website in the last Y number of days? Google’s system knows — and seeks data on whether that visit was positive for you. If it looks to have been a good fit, the AI may decide to push an answer from that same website higher in the stack hoping to replicate your positive experience for others.�

This is all good for consumers. After all, we get even better results tailored to our particular needs, across text and voice.

It will be good for brands, too. They’ll show up more often at the right time when consumers look for topics related to their business.

But, brands need to prepare for this future to capture the benefits.

Especially brands that rely on blogging to drive awareness, leads, and sales.

As search moves towards voice, how people discover and consume content is changing.

How to Prepare Your Blog for AI-Powered Search

So how do you make sure you’re creating blog content for this new age of AI-enhanced search? Forrester at Yext says to look at your “content and its context.� He recommends several action steps to prepare your blog for this future.

  • Make sure your content is built the right way. It needs to be factual, accurate, and conversational. Says Forrester, “There is a lot of nuance and subtlety here, but this document from Google explains how their Quality Raters are trained to evaluate voice answers, for example. If you want insights into normal organic results, this Google training document helps.â€�
  • Use long-tail, conversational phrases for content keywords. Keyword research isn’t dead. But you’ll want to target more conversational terms. Speaking to a voice assistant is quite different from typing into a search bar. This is why HubSpot recommends a topic cluster approach to SEO. You want to own broad relevant categories around a topic, so you’re the go-to result for voice queries.
  • Answer lots of questions—even the uncommon ones. This has always been good advice for content creators, but it’s more important than ever now. People talking to voice assistants ask questions of them like they would a person. “Your content should resemble an answer to a question,â€� says Forrester. “You could even list the question at the beginning to ensure clarity and relevance.â€�

One thing is clear: If you’re not doing the above, it’s time to start. Artificial intelligence is here. It’s transforming search. And this is all happening faster than expected. To position your brand, big or small, for AI-powered search, now is the time.

The Marketing AI Institute is a content hub that provides actionable information on AI for marketers. It features real-world use cases and expert advice from leading companies like HubSpot. Subscribe today to get actionable insights first.

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How to Become a More Adaptable Leader

When I was asked to write on this topic, adaptable leadership, I started shaking my head. I am not a huge fan of putting an adjective in front of leadership and making it a new thing. Let’s just call it leadership and then talk about how to be better at it, one day at a time.

If you are a leader and you don’t have the capacity to shift, change, or pivot from a plan or a position, frankly, I don’t know how long you’ll last in your role.

So, if you are an aspiring leader, this article is for you.

If you see yourself as a student of leadership, this article is for you.

If you don’t think you need to be adaptable in how you lead, you must read this.

At the heart of leadership is an inherent need to react to changes in your environment.

As we think about adaptability in leadership, we need to first understand its importance — why do we need to adapt?

Then, we need to look at some techniques that allow us to transform ourselves into leaders who can actually adapt.

Think about the situations you face everyday. Did everything go according to plan?

If you’re like me, the answer is: Of course not.

Business and the world in general is an incredibly complex system with so many different factors that affect on another. If we think it is possible to succinctly plan our day or lead our teams in the exact same way, I direct you to Mike Tyson:

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.�

All of those unforeseen things that occur in your day are like being punched in the mouth. So, how do we deal with this?

As former President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said:

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.�

If we can train ourselves to understand that plans will always change, but continue to work through planning exercises — for work we are doing and in terms of growth as leaders — we are ready to get punched in the mouth.

Here are some thoughts on how you can begin the effort of planning to allow you to be a more adaptable leader — or a leader who understands that one plus one doesn’t always equal two.

How to Be a More Adaptable Leader

Be Intent-Based and Outcome-Focused

When I was commissioned in the Army in the early 2000s, the Army’s leadership/command philosophy was Command and Control. It was very hands-on and directive, not very adaptive or flexible. As my career progressed, the Army doctrine changed to Mission Command.

Mission Command was a more intent-based and outcome-focused doctrine. Commander’s relied on their intent to drive operations, meaning they only told you the destination, the goal, not necessarily how to get there.

Trust was a huge part of this approach. It was reminiscent of how the Union won the Battle of Gettysburg.

Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain’s regiment was told if they were overrun, the Union Army would be defeated. When Chamberlain’s regiment was basically out of ammunition, he didn’t lose his cool. He ordered one of the most heroic battlefield exploits in US History; an all-out bayonet charge.

He wasn’t told exactly what to do, rather, he was enabled and an empowered to know what to do to reach the goal.

His ability to understand the intent and outcome his commander desired not only allowed for the Union to win the day but led to Chamberlain being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Here’s what this story means for you:

Lead with the Goal

If you’re a leader, before you issue instructions or hand out tasks, take the time to think through what you actually want to achieve.

What is the intent behind the work you want done? What is the outcome you desire? Does it matter how your team attacks it?

Once you’ve identified the answers to these questions, make sure your team understands exactly what is expected of them. Hammer home that the outcome is what you care about, and the intention behind why that outcome is huge.

This will allow both you and your team to adapt and overcome the obstacles we all know you will encounter.

Leading this way is tough, though. It takes a certain mental toughness to be ok with not knowing exactly how your team is going to attack the problem set, but it’s worth it.

You will find it easier over time to do this.

If you are ensuring your intent and desired outcome are known and understood and trust in the people on your team, you will not only grow into a more adaptive leader, you will build an adaptive team.

Do this today: Identify at least one task and the intent and outcome you want that task to achieve. Write it down and delegate it to your team.

Read Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell.

Now, if you’re an aspiring leader, ensure that you understand your boss’ intent and the outcome she/he has set.

Confirm, back brief, truly understand what that is and then get after it.

This is where initiative comes in.

Don’t be the person that wants everything told to them — do this, then that, then this, etc.

If you operate this way, you will most likely become irrelevant and not grow in your career.

Do this today: Read A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard and become Garcia. If you understand the intent and outcome desired, attack it like Chamberlain did with his historic bayonet charge!

Understand You’re Not the Smartest Person in the Room

When you meet with your team are you allowing yourself to learn from them?

To do this, you must enter the interaction with a growth mindset, being open to other points of view, and recognizing they may know something you don’t.

If we enter an interaction thinking our opinions and perspectives are the only ones of value, your team sees it. They get discouraged, knowing they aren’t being heard.

When this happens, you hurt the morale and overall effectiveness of the team.

In contrast, when you show your team you are capable of listening and abandoning your positions for someone else’s, you accelerate what it can accomplish.

You demonstrate that you respect your team members as experts in their positions and that trust them to bring the right ideas to the table.

This happens at IMPACT all the time.

Bob and I work on a 30,000-foot view of how to tackle something and then we bring it to our team.

More often than not, the team comes back to us with a significantly more effective approach. Then, when we adopt the ideas (in whole or in pieces), we have a team that knows they were listened to.

They own the decision and take it on at full speed.

When we make decisions and work through planning in a collaborative way, we set ourselves up for success when we have to pivot — which we know is going to happen.

By being truly open and receptive to the knowledge, ideas, and thoughts of others, you naturally become more adaptive — and in turn, your team does as well.

Practice in Action

Again, if you’re a leader, embrace that you have smart people on your team and that it is ok to not always be the smartest or best at your craft.

You’re a leader now. Your role is to lead, not be the best widget maker.

Actively listen, ask questions, and be open to others points of view. This will not make you less of a leader, it will make you a better leader.

Don’t focus on who has the best idea, simply find it and understand that you and your team must be flexible enough to make changes on the fly.

Do this today: In your next team meeting, only ask questions. Let the team get to the solution.

For future leaders, challenge assumptions, ask hard questions, and don’t be afraid to give a different point of view.

Don’t be insubordinate, but challenge your boss from the perspective of trying to find the best solution to achieve the outcome they have clearly identified.

Do this today: Speak up!

I also suggest reading Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Mindset by Carol Dweck.

Grow a Culture that Lives in Solutions

In my past career, I had the honor of leading some of America’s best — paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division. If you’re looking for an example of a team that must be adaptable, I can’t find a better example.

Our main mission, we trained for airport seizure, by way of airborne assault.

(Personal note, this is one of the coolest missions in the world!)

We would go through extensive planning efforts from the individual level up to the brigade level. Commanders and troopers of all levels were involved.

We would develop great plans, but as General Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless …�

This planning effort allowed us to live in solutions. We all knew the commander’s intent and knew the outcome we needed to achieve.

With this knowledge, everyone was able to adapt to the ever-changing situation we would encounter.

You see, there is no precision in a mass tactical airborne assault. You are being delivered to the battlefield and where you end up probably isn’t where you thought you’d be.

This is brought to life in Band of Brothers when we see how Paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne were dropped all over Normandy.

These troopers and their leaders needed to adapt and find solutions pretty much instantly rather than wallow in the misery of not being where they were “supposed� to be.

They took initiative, understood the intent, and got after it, allowing for a successful sea invasion on the beachheads of Normandy.

As Paratroopers, we had to continually reinforce and nurture the culture of the airborne community. We had to get everyone comfortable with being uncomfortable and solving for yes.

How do we attack this?

Leaders, force your teams to have hard discussions.

Talk about the elephant in the room, but ensure you are moving the conversation to a solution. As ideas of why something won’t work are brought up, ask what will work.

Set the example. Always project a sense of calm and optimism that will allow you to find a solution.

Remember, you don’t need to have the answer right away. Simply have the mindset and attitude that highlights that a solution will be found.

In your planning efforts, you’ve likely identified possible issues and potential solutions. Get back into this mindset and work on the next one.

Do this today: When presented with the next problem don’t react, respond. Ask questions that lead your team to solutions.

Future leaders, as you identify problems, don’t simply bring them to your boss. Think about a potential solution. Feel empowered to lead the assault on the problem and make it go away.

Your boss will appreciate your efforts. Even if they don’t utilize your solution, you have given them a path to the answer they need.

Do this today: Think through the issue, develop at least one course of action, and then talk to your boss.

Here are a few others books I recommend: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden.

Plans Are Worthless

To be an effective leader, you must be adaptable. Change is going to happen daily. If you can’t adapt and remain flexible, you will struggle to achieve your goals.

By being intent-based and outcome-focused, having a growth mindset, and growing a culture that lives in solutions, you become more of an adaptable leader who will be able to attack the challenges thrown in your direction.

As an aspiring leader, take note of what your boss is doing.

If they aren’t doing these things, figure out how to bring them to the reality they that need to adapt. Work towards being an adaptable subordinate, have resilience, and, at some point, lead your team as an adaptive leader.

 


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7 of the Best Situational Interview Questions

7 of the Best Situational Interview Questions

In an interview, let’s say I asked you, “Tell me about a time you worked through a conflict with a coworker?�

You’d probably think about a past experience, consider the lessons you learned from it, and articulate what happened and how it felt. You’d likely mention any shortcomings you had, how you’ve grown, and how you’d deal with conflict with coworkers in the future.

But let’s say I asked you a slightly different version of that question instead: “How would you handle it if you were assigned a project with a coworker, and you two had differing opinions on how to proceed?�

That changes the game a bit. To answer, you could no longer rely on any fairly familiar story about yourself.Click here to download our free guide to hiring and training a team of  all-stars.

Instead, you must use your problem-solving skills and your sense of self to answer how you’d hypothetically deal with a conflict that could arise in the future, without the advantage of hindsight. And, you’d need to think on your feet.

We previously covered behavioral interview questions like the STAR method, which asks candidates to articulate past experiences and what they learned. It’s important to use behavioral questions in an interview, but there’s another method you should integrate, as well.

Situational interview questions are largely hypothetical and can be intentionally ambiguous, such as, “How would you handle X if you … ?� or “What would you do if … ?�

Situational questions give you the opportunity to evaluate your candidate’s quick-thinking skills, while seeing how she responds to curveballs, which is critical information when deciding whether she’s qualified for the role.

Here are seven situational questions you can use when interviewing a candidate, and what you should look for in the applicant’s answer.

7 Situational Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

1. How would you handle it if your team resisted a new idea you introduced? 

What to look for in a good response: You’ll want a candidate to express her respect and awareness of her team’s opinions and thoughts, while also demonstrating an ability to implement initially unpopular ideas.

Ideally, the applicant would say something like this: “First, I’d work on understanding the reasoning behind my team’s resistance. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t familiar with a new system I want to put in place, and many of them are comfortable with the old way of doing things. Once I understood their point of view, I’d put together either a presentation, or a training, to show my team why my idea is a good one. I’d do this while being cognizant of their hesitation, and incorporating their doubts into my presentation. I’d also allow my team to offer anonymous feedback, so each employee felt his or her opinions could be incorporated into the new system — I’d never want it to seem like my idea was the only way. Hopefully, research or training sessions could help my team come around to the idea.â€�

In this case, the candidate approached the situation from a place of compassion and understanding, rather than frustration. Instead of dwelling on her team’s resistance, she wisely found appropriate ways to introduce the idea to counteract her team’s doubts. She showed that she is able to problem-solve well, even when her own ideas or reputation are at stake, and even under pressure from her team.

2. How would you handle it if your employee wasn’t meeting your expectations, or was performing below average?

What to look for in a good response: If you’re looking to fill a leadership position, you’ll need a candidate who can handle tough conversations with employees. You’ll want your candidate to express honesty and transparency with each employee, while recognizing the importance of constructive feedback.

Ideally, you’ll want the applicant to say something like this: “I’ve had this happen before, and it’s never an easy conversation. However, it’s important to provide feedback to my employees and remain transparent with them when I think they aren’t performing as well as they could. That’s my job as their manager. I’d start out with something positive about their performance, to let them know I recognize their good behavior. Then I’d point out where they’re falling short, and ask them why they think that is — most of the time, the employee is already aware of her shortcomings. Finally, I’d suggest ways to improve, to show the employee I want to be a resource to help them grow.â€�

With this answer, your candidate has shown a level of maturity when delivering tough feedback. You’ll want your applicant to mention the importance of feedback, and you’ll also want her to show good communication skills when dealing with issues with her employees.

3. What would you do if you were assigned to work closely with a colleague on a project, but you two just couldn’t seem to see eye-to-eye?

What to look for in a good response: This question looks for a candidate who aims to understand her colleague’s point of view. You’ll want your applicant to demonstrate flexibility and an ability to compromise. Plus, it’s simply important to get a sense for how the candidate handles conflict.

Ideally, your candidate could say something like this: “Another project manager and I were assigned a project together. I quickly saw my colleague handled follow-up and communication with the client differently than I did. I like to follow-up often and chat on the phone at various stages of the process with the client, but my colleague didn’t see the purpose in communicating with the client so frequently. Eventually, I talked with my coworker about her follow-up style versus mine. We compromised and agreed to follow up with the client every two weeks, rather than every week, to make collaboration smoother. I was glad I approached the situation head-on, and also understood and appreciated that my colleague had a different work approach.�

Undoubtedly, any applicant you interview will eventually collaborate with someone who works differently. You’ll want a candidate to show she isn’t emotional or defensive when she runs into conflict, but rather, she approaches it from a business-perspective and communicates problems when they arise.

4. What would you do if you were working hard on a project and were almost finished when the goals or priorities were changed?

What to look for in a good response: A good answer to this question depends on the role you’re looking to fill.

First, your candidate might show flexibility by mentioning she would stay up late, adjust her priorities, and manage to finish the project the way it needed to be finished. If the position for which you’re hiring is junior level or requires someone to be adaptable to unpredictable deadlines or expectations, you’ll want your applicant to show a level of flexibility.

However, if the role is more senior or if it makes more sense for the position, you might want an applicant to show she can put her foot down. Perhaps you want to see her use more problem-solving skills to analyze those priorities and decisions, and figure out ways to hit those goals without redoing the entire project.

5. How would you handle an instance of receiving criticism from a superior?

What to look for in a good response: This question enables you to assess your candidate’s ability to learn, grow, and accept mistakes. You want a candidate who uses feedback to make changes, while demonstrating emotional maturity.

Essentially, you want a candidate who’s coachable.

For instance, your applicant could say something like this: “In my last position, I often met with clients face-to-face, and I greatly enjoyed it. However, occasionally they’d call me over the phone, and in an effort to appear adaptable, I’d always speak with them immediately. My manager heard a few of those phone calls, and he eventually told me that I sounded short on the phone, and worse, I often wasn’t as prepared as I could be, because I’d been in the middle of another assignment and was caught off guard. He was completely right — I’d never considered that I could simply tell the client I’d call them back, or let the call go to voicemail. In an effort to multitask efficiently, I was actually letting my client relationships suffer. I learned from that feedback and, going forward, felt confident telling the client they’d need to set up an appointment with me even if they wanted to talk over the phone.â€�

Here, the candidate demonstrates she’s open to hearing feedback, appreciates it, and uses it to fuel her growth. She owned up to her mistake but didn’t dwell on it, and demonstrated an ability to adjust her own work style in response to that feedback, rather than becoming defensive or accepting the feedback but not changing her behavior.

6. What would you do if you were almost finished with a project on a tight deadline, when you realize you’d made a mistake back in the beginning that required you to start over?

What to look for in a good response: No one is perfect, and it’s good if your candidate can admit to a situation where she made a mistake that required a re-do of a project. More importantly, you’ll want an applicant who can be honest with supervisors about her mistake, rather than trying to cover it up.

You want to hire someone who looks at mistakes as opportunities to learn, rather than as embarrassing failures.

Ideally, your candidate would say something like this: “First, I’d investigate the problem and the source, and make a list of a few different solutions. If none of those solutions were possible without fully redoing the project, and if I thought the mistake might make me miss my deadline, I’d immediately approach my supervisor and let her know the situation. Particularly if the mistake is my fault, it’s important I’m honest and open about it — it’s a good learning and growth opportunity for me, and could prevent others from making that same mistake. Finally, I’d put in extra time if necessary to finish the project.â€�

In this example, your applicant displayed honesty, a commitment to her job and making things right, and an openness to learning from mistakes.

7. How would you handle it if you were unsatisfied by an aspect of your job?

What to look for in a good response: It’s not practical or necessary to look for a candidate who loves all aspects of her job equally. Instead, you want a candidate who demonstrates a good level of professional maturity, understands some tasks are less enjoyable than others, and appreciates the necessity of those tasks for the company’s bottom line.

For instance, you’d want your applicant to say something like this: “I love working with people, which is why I pursued a management position, but I don’t love the paperwork — does anyone? Early on, I needed to figure out how to approach stacks of paperwork so it didn’t affect the enjoyment I had for other aspects of my job. First, I took a good look at the content and realized that, while it might not be fun, it was certainly critical for ensuring my team was successful. When I could see it contributed to our department’s goal, I appreciated it more. Then, I set aside one day a week to tackle the paperwork, rather than working on bits each day. Monday morning, first thing, I’d turn off my computer and avoid distractions, and get it done. In a way, this became enjoyable in it’s own way, since it was distraction-free time.â€�

You want to feel confident your candidate is mature and professional and understands the importance of seemingly mundane tasks. You don’t want an applicant who says she gives projects she doesn’t enjoy to her coworkers or interns. Instead, you want a candidate who has the flexibility to figure out how to make unsatisfying tasks work for her without resenting the position long-term.

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Fixed Cost: What It Is & How to Calculate It

Fixed Cost: What It Is & How to Calculate It

“Business is personal — it’s the most personal thing in the world.”

These are famous words by Michael Scott from the TV show, The Office. And although this quote conflicts with the universal belief that business isn’t personal, Michael’s point of view is perfect when learning about a business’s fixed costs — or those costs that don’t change as a company grows or shrinks.Take control of your success with the help of this free business plan template  and checklist.

To identify and calculate your business’s fixed costs, let’s start by looking at the ones you’re already paying in your personal life. Then, we’ll explain how a business manages its own fixed costs and review some common fixed cost examples.

What Is a Fixed Cost?

Fixed costs are those costs to a business that stay the same regardless of how the business is performing. These costs are known as fixed costs to distinguish them from variable costs, which do change as the company sells more or less of its product.

Consider your personal routine. As a single adult, your expenses would normally include a monthly rent or mortgage, utility bill, car payment, healthcare, commuting costs, and groceries. If you have children, this can increase variable costs like groceries, gas expenses, and healthcare.

While your variable costs increase after starting a family, your mortgage payment, utility bill, commuting costs, and car payment don’t change for as long as you’re in the same home and car. These expenses are your fixed costs because you pay the same amount no matter what changes you make to your personal routine.

In keeping with this concept, let’s say a startup ecommerce business pays for warehouse space to manage its inventory, and 10 customer service employees to manage order inquiries. It suddenly signs a customer for a recurring order that requires another five paid customer service reps. While the startup’s payroll expenses go up, the fixed cost of a warehouse stays the same.

Average Fixed Cost

Keep in mind you have to keep track of your business’s fixed costs differently than you would your own. This is where average fixed cost comes into play.

Average fixed costs are the total fixed costs paid by a company, divided by the number of units of product the company is currently making. This tells you your fixed cost per unit, giving you a sense of how much the business is guaranteed to pay each time it produces a unit of your product — before factoring in the variable costs to actually produce it.

Average fixed cost formula

Let’s revisit the ecommerce startup example from earlier. Assume this business pays $5,000 per month for the warehouse space needed to manage its inventory, and leases two forklifts for $800 a month each. And last month, they developed 50 units of product.

The warehouse and forklift costs remain unchanged regardless of how many products they sell, giving them a total fixed cost (TFC) of $5,000 + ($800 x 2), or $6,600. By dividing its TFC by 50 — the number of units the business produced last month — the company can see its average fixed cost per unit of product. This would be $6,600 ÷ 50, or $132 per unit.

Fixed Cost Examples

So far, we’ve identified a handful of fixed cost examples since considering the costs we already pay as individuals. A home mortgage is to a lease on warehouse space, as a car payment is to a lease on a forklift.

But there are a number of fixed costs your business might incur that you rarely pay in your personal life. In fact, some variable costs to individuals are fixed costs to businesses. Here’s a master list of fixed costs for any developing company to keep in mind:

  • Lease on office space: As long as your business operates in the same building, your rent cost doesn’t change.
  • Utility bills: Your heating or cooling bill might fluctuate as seasons change, but it is generally not affected by business operations.
  • Website hosting costs: When you register your website domain, you pay a small monthly cost that remains static despite the business you perform on that website.
  • Ecommerce hosting platforms: Ecommerce platforms integrate with your website so you can conduct transactions with customers. They typically charge a low fixed cost per month.
  • Lease on warehouse space: Warehouses are paid for the same way you’d pay rent on your office space. They do not change in price as you store more or fewer products inside, but can have storage and capacity limits.
  • Manufacturing equipment: The equipment you need to produce your product is yours once you buy it, but it will depreciate over its useful lifetime. Depreciation can become a fixed cost if you know when you’ll have to replace your equipment each year.
  • Lease on trucks for shipment: Truck leases work the same way as a car payment, and will not charge differently depending on how many shipments you make.
  • Small business loans: If you’re financing a new business with a bank loan, your loan payments won’t change with your business’s performance. They are fixed for as long as you have a balance to pay on that loan.
  • Property tax: Your office space’s building manager might charge you property tax, a fixed cost for as long as your business is on the property.
  • Health insurance: Health insurance costs might be a variable cost to an individual if they add or remove dependents from their policy, but to a business, the recurring costs to an insurer are fixed.

Calculating your fixed costs isn’t always the most fun part of growing your business. But knowing what they are, and when you’ll pay each one, gives you the peace of mind you need to serve and delight your customers.

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How HubSpot Uses Blogging to Rank #1 on Google

How HubSpot Uses Blogging to Rank #1 on Google

People are hungry for immediate answers.

Luckily, it has never been easier to find the information you’re seeking via search. 

A lot of marketers want to know: how does HubSpot optimize for search? I talked to our blogging team to find out, and put together a series of insider tips we’re eager to share with you. Check out the tactics below, and start maximizing organic traffic to your own blog.

New SEO Training Course in HubSpot Academy: Building Sustainable Traffic for  Business Growth in 2018

How to Rank #1 on Google

1. Embrace Complex Clusters

Search algorithms are ever-evolving, and in 2018 they are as smart as ever. Search engines are now capable of recognizing connections across search queries.

This has big implications for marketers. Gone are the days when the searcher typed in simple keywords. Searches today are complex, putting the heavy lifting back on Google and other search engines to connect the dots.

For example, if you type “movie about doctor clown� into Google the first result will be the movie Patch Adams, despite the fact that there is no overlap in the search terminology. The takeaway: search engines are incredibly intuitive. Google recognizes exactly what the searcher wants without the searcher explicitly stating their question. Go ahead, try it for yourself!

Topic Clusters

At HubSpot, our blogging team realized this shifting behavior, so they altered our blog strategy to focus on topic clusters, instead of specific keywords.

To do this, they first identified what topics to prioritize. They then aligned our existing blog posts into the aforementioned clusters and generated tons of new content under those clusters. Finally, they built internal and external links at every available opportunity, creating connection points between content that share the same topic cluster. In doing so, we signal to search engines exactly how the pieces fit together. While it can be time-consuming to reorganize your content, the payoff is huge.

2. Prepare an Answer for the Target Query

Let’s use the example of Patch Adams once more. If you type “movie about doctor clown� into Google, you will see a small box with a short answer summarizing the premise of the film right below the search bar. There’s no need to click into a link to see the answer; instead, Google makes it easy to get the information on first glance. This answer box is a featured snippet. And if you’re not using your blog to optimize for featured snippets, start now.

Here’s the incentive: Google pulls the featured snippet from one of the pages that ranks on page one of the search results, but the featured snippet does not necessarily need to exist in the #1 link. This is a huge opportunity to get content that is not in the #1 spot to actually appear above the #1 spot. Want to see a live example? Search “Let’s get meta� into Google, and see for yourself.

To identify which content is good for featured snippets, Google frequently serves up answers for “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How� queries. If you think your content is addressing one of the aforementioned questions, prioritize writing a golden-nugget answer, and you may just see your content sitting right below the search bar.

Patch Adams Featured Snippet

Another key reason to prioritize for the featured snippet is voice search. As voice search is on trend to become 50% of all mobile searches by 2020 — a prediction by both Google and Bing — featured snippets are now being tapped as the trigger response by virtual assistants. So, as search evolves, so should you.

3. Revamp Out-of-Date Blog Posts

There are a number of benefits to creating new content like having additional pages to be indexed by search engines, providing education to your curious users, and it is a good way to stay relevant in your industry. However, as any tenured blogger knows, new posts can take a while to build up steam. In fact, it is often slightly older posts that generate a large portion of traffic because they have had time to develop authority.

One of the most effective strategies HubSpot’s blogging team implements to boost SEO was is to historically optimize our old posts. Historical optimization is the process of taking old posts and making them new again with higher-quality, refreshed content, keywords, and links. By leveraging your already existing search authority on these posts, search engines will reward your freshness, which will then lead to a surge of new visits to your content.

Do You Know How Search Engines Determine Rank?

We surveyed 295 individuals across the United States, asking the question “Do you know how search engines, like Google, rank the results you get after a search?â€� An astounding 48% of people answered “no.â€� As a marketer, you do not want to be in that 48%. If you do not evolve with SEO, you risk losing key business opportunities to maximize your brand awareness and generate leads. It is time to understand, strategize, and capitalize on invaluable SEO tactics — like blogging — that will propel your business into success in 2018 and beyond.

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What Is the 80/20 Rule? How the Pareto Principle Will Supercharge Your Productivity

The other day, my friend asked me why I was buying another pair of yoga pants.

“Why do you need another? You pretty much only wear the same two, anyway.�

It was true. I have at least ten pairs of yoga pants, but there are two in particular I wear the most … for at least, let’s say, 80% of my yoga classes.

You might not know who Vilfredo Pareto is, and you might not explicitly recognize the 80/20 rule, but I have no doubt you’re already familiar with the concept.

Let’s back up. Before my yoga-pants revelation, back in the early twentieth century, Vilfredo Pareto was having a similar (albeit more consequential) realization of his own: 80% of Italy’s land was owned by only 20% of its people.

Allegedly, he recognized something similar occurring in his own garden. Pareto saw 80% of the peas from his garden came from 20% of his pea plants.

He concluded that 80% of all results, whether that be in business, economics, or gardening, derive from only 20% of the effort.

This Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, can be seen everywhere across marketing.

If you develop marketing campaigns, you might notice that 20% of your marketing messages account for 80% of your campaign results.

If you’re leading a major marketing project, you might realize that 20% of your initial efforts on the project are responsible for 80% of the outcome.

And if you’re a financial advisor at a marketing firm, you might feel bewildered to conclude that 80% of all your business’s profits derive from 20% of your clients.

If the 80/20 rule is inevitable, shouldn’t you learn how to use it to your advantage?

Here, we’ll explore how to use the Pareto Principle to supercharge your productivity, and become more successful while drastically cutting back on your time and effort. If the majority of your success comes from 20% of your efforts, don’t you think it’s time you stop wasting that other 80%?

Examples of the Pareto Principle

Let’s start by taking a look at some examples of the Pareto Principle, to make sure you’re firm in your understanding of the concept:

In customer service, 80% of the complaints come from 20% of your customers.

In criminology, 80% of the crimes are committed by 20% of the population.

In software engineering, 80% of the program’s functionality comes from 20% of the developer’s efforts.

In the environment, 80% of the world’s pollution comes from 20% of the factories.

Essentially, you can apply the theory anywhere — even to, say, yoga pants. Another great example I like to think about is my phone: I have about 60 apps, but of those, I typically only use 20%.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s explore how you can use the Pareto Principle to supercharge your productivity.

How to Use the 80/20 Rule to Your Advantage

The 80/20 rule says 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

That isn’t to say you should come into work only one day a week, give it a fair 20% shot, and leave.

No, the Pareto Principle isn’t suggesting you work less. It has nothing to do with time. Instead, it’s indicating you need to focus your efforts, and work harder in the areas that matter most, while accepting it’s sometimes okay to let the smaller stuff slide.

How to Apply the Pareto Principle to Your Life if You Work Alone

If you’re a freelance writer, the Pareto Principle assumes 20% of your clients are responsible for 80% of your profits.

If that’s true, then you’ll want to focus your time and efforts on pleasing and developing strong relationships with those clients. Reach out to them first. If you have a long to-do list, circle your highest-paying 20%, and write articles for them before tackling your other to-do’s.

That isn’t to say you should become unprofessional, or disrespect your other clients. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed or tight on time, it might be necessary to recognize where you’re receiving most of your results (i.e., profits), and dedicate more of your time and effort to that.

Lesson one: Don’t expand a list of contacts just to have a large network. Figure out from whom you’ll benefit the most, and focus your time and energy on developing and maintaining those relationships.

Speaking of your to-do list, let’s say you have a list of ten items.

The 80/20 rule assumes that even if you spend equal time on each item, two of those items in particular will carry the bulk of the results you want.

So don’t make an equal to-do list. Instead, write a to-do list with your heavy-hitters first. Figure out which items are most likely to deliver your biggest results, and start there.

If you’re anything like me, you probably wouldn’t normally do this. I take a look at my to-do list and start with what’s easiest or quickest to accomplish.

Unfortunately, that might mean I run out of time or don’t have the energy to accomplish the tasks with the largest return on investment.

Lesson two: Tackle two or three of the biggest projects, tasks, or commitments on your to-do list first. Use your energy and time on those. Prioritize them, and recognize you’re doing so because those two or three tasks will likely give you 80% of what you want.

It goes one step further than that.

The Pareto Principle states that when you’re working for a long time on a task, like an article, you’ve likely hit most of your goal after you’ve expelled 20% of your effort, right?

That doesn’t mean you should write for 20 minutes and call it a day.

Here’s how I’d break it down. When you’re writing an article, let’s say you’re focusing on these five individual steps:

  • Write the draft.
  • Look for grammatical errors and add links.
  • Find a good image for the draft.
  • Ensure it’s formatted correctly on the website.
  • Set a publish date and time.

The 80/20 rule says you’ll have the majority of your results from 20% — can you guess what that 20% is?

More than likely, writing the draft itself will give you the biggest return.

The smaller details account for only 20% of your outcome. While they’re important, they aren’t worth stressing over or wasting time on.

In economic lingo, this is known as the diminishing marginal benefit. It means the longer you work, the less power your effort will have on the final result. Quality over quantity … if you work three hours, most likely, you made the most significant progress in hour one.

Lesson three: Make a bulleted list, identifying each small task required to complete a goal. Circle or underline your 80% player, and spend the majority of your time and effort on that. The details are nice, but they aren’t the reason for most of your results.

While I used a freelance position as my example in this article, I hope you’re able to take the bolded advice and use it tangibly in whatever industry you work.

How to Apply the Pareto Principle to Your Life if You’re a Manager

Okay, so working alone and using the 80/20 rule makes sense when it’s your own tasks, your own deadlines, and your own results at risk.

What about when you’re in charge of a team?

For instance, let’s say you’re the director of a marketing team, and your team is tasked with a major project.

You know a few things: first, 20% of your team’s efforts are going to achieve 80% of your intended results.

So, let’s identify those intended results, and work backwards. If you want your project to showcase how well your SEO strategy played out on social media, collect that information first.

Take it a step further and make a list of individual tasks you’ll need to complete.

Brainstorm and recognize that 80% player. Write a list of everything you need to do to have a “perfect� project:

  • Collect information.
  • Format it into a graph.
  • Display it on a Powerpoint slide.
  • Make the design attractive.
  • Designate a speaker.
  • Have speaker jot down points to bring up during speech.

Now, let’s say you were suddenly told instead of three weeks, you have 24 hours to complete the project. How would that change your strategy?

You’d probably start with the biggest piece of the pie first, and say “hopefully we get to it� to everything else.

You should still do that. Work on your heavy-hitters first (in this case, collecting and formatting the information), and come back to minor details later.

Lesson one: Brainstorm with your team and identify the biggest tasks you’ll need to complete to hit the majority of your goal. Visualize as if you were short on time: what would you do first, and what would you be okay leaving behind? Start with that #1 item, and work backwards towards the smaller details later.

Now let’s apply the 80/20 rule somewhere else: 80% of the work will be completed by 20% of your employees.

While this might seem unacceptable (“Why did we hire them then?â€�) it’s not — it’s how the Pareto Principle works, but it’s not set in stone.

More than likely, many of your employees don’t feel the need to be part of that 20% because you have some stronger, more aggressive personalities in the room. Those people have already claimed responsibility for the biggest parts of the job. That doesn’t mean your other employees don’t want to help out.

Tackle this issue by delegating tasks fairly, or even dividing those “power players�, if you know who they are, and assigning one to each smaller group.

Encourage increased collaboration, or assign separate tasks to different people and check in with each person individually to ensure everyone feels equally responsible for their part of the equation.

Better yet, switch up who gets to contribute to that largest 20% of the equation. If the same employees on the team are always in charge of collecting the information and creating the graph, maybe spread the task out: do you have other employees who are capable of putting the information into graph form, and have you asked them if they’d like to help out?

Your employees will be encouraged to work harder if they know they’re contributing to the biggest piece of the rewards — not just the smaller details.

Lesson two: Don’t let 20% of your employees carry the team. Delegate tasks, create smaller groups, and assign those power players individually to each team. Better yet, check in individually with each employee on your team to ensure he or she feels equally responsible to reach the team’s goal, or switch up which employee gets assigned the “biggest tasks� each time your team has a project.

Remember, the numbers 20% and 80% are not exact statistics, just estimations. The point isn’t the numbers: the point is, everything in life is not created equal, and there are a few things that are weighted with far greater reward than others.

Spend your time chasing those items, and you’re likely to increase rewards while diligently cutting back on wasted time.


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The Beginner's Guide to Google Tag Manager

Collecting data using tools like Google Analytics is critical for expanding your business’s online reach, converting leads into customers, and optimizing a digital marketing strategy to create stronger relationships with your audience.

However, collecting data is easier said than done. Google Analytics and other similar analytics tools aid the process, but they work more effectively with the addition of tags.

Tags, in a general sense, are bits of code you embed in your website’s javascript or HTML to extract certain information.

For marketers, necessary tag information typically includes how long users visit a page on your site, form submissions, how they arrived on your site, which links they clicked, or even what products they removed from their shopping cart.

Each tag tracks something different. For instance, you might create a tag just to see how many people fill out the form on your “Contact Us� page. That tag can then send more precise information to Google Analytics, or AdWords, or another third party.

Unfortunately, manually coding tags can be a tedious and difficult process for marketers without much development or coding experience, and it’s time-consuming to fill out tickets for the IT department.

With Google Tag Manager, your whole tagging process becomes much easier. All you do is embed a code into your site pages once, and then each time you want to create a tag, Google Tag Manager codes it and embeds it for you.

Google Tag Manager does a few things: first, it allows your developers and IT department to focus on bigger-picture tasks by eliminating the burden of coding each individual marketing tag.

Second, since Google Tag Manager codes the tags for you, it significantly reduces the possibility of human error.

And third, Google Tag Manager enables your marketing department to take complete control over the tags they create and monitor. Giving your marketers full reign over their tags increases efficiency. Plus, using tags improves the accuracy of your analytics system, guaranteeing higher-quality reports and a better sense of your true online audience.

With all that said, it’s still a tool you might want to try for yourself before deciding if it’s a perfect fit — perhaps you already have a tagging system in place, or you don’t feel you need that level of organization, since your website doesn’t usually need new tags.

Google Tag Manager is free, so you can try it out virtually risk-free. Here, we’ll show you how to set up an account, how to create a new tag, how to use Google Tag Manager with your Google Analytics account, and how to embed the tool in WordPress.

After that, you can decide for yourself if it’s the right system for your business.

Google Tag Manager Tutorial: Set Up an Account

Setting up a free account is an easy two-step process, but it’s separate from any of your other Google Analytics or Gmail accounts. To ensure a painless set-up for you, we’ve recorded our process for setting up an account.

Here’s what you do:

1. Go to https://www.google.com/analytics/tag-manager and click the green “Sign Up for Free� button. It will ask you to input your account name (company), country, and website URL, as well as where you want to use Google Tag (web, iOS, android, AMP). When you’re finished, click the blue “Create� button.

2. Next, you’ll be given codes and instructions to include one code high in the <head> of your page, and the other after the opening <body> tag. You can do this now, or apply the codes to your site later (they are accessible in your dashboard). Once you’re done, click “Okâ€�. 

Google Tag Manager Tutorial: Set Up a Tag

Once you have a Google Tag Manager account, the first thing you’re going to want to learn is how to set up a tag.

You can create unlimited configurations of tags in Google Tag Manager.

This is helpful for creating in-depth reports on your audience’s behavior, but it can become inefficient if you don’t organize your tags properly.

Google recommends using the following naming convention: tag type – name of app – detail.

Perhaps you name one tagging configuration, “AdWords conversions – iOS – 2018-02 campaignâ€� and then another, “Google Analytics – CTA – About Us pageâ€�.

This way, you can correctly identify and collect data related to specific campaigns or pages.

For instance, the second tag, “Google Analytics – CTA – About Us page,â€� tells you how well your About Us call-to-action button is performing. That information is valuable, and might be lost if you named your tags more generally, like, “CTA buttonâ€�.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s check out how to set up a tag:

1. Within your Google Tag Manager dashboard, click the “Add a New Tag� button, circled below in red.

2. Title your tag, and then click anywhere in the top “Tag Configuration� box, to choose a tag type.

3. There are dozens of tag types (they are not all displayed here, and you can also customize a tag type). I chose “Classic Google Analytics�.

 

4. If you want your tag tracked in Google Analytics, the next step will be to input your Web Property ID, found in your Google Analytics account. Then, select a “Track Type�. I chose “Page View�, but there are plenty of other options.

5. Next, choose a trigger (a trigger means when you want the tag recorded, i.e. “every time someone visits the pageâ€�). I chose “All Pagesâ€�, to get insights every time someone views any of my web pages, but this varies depending on your purposes. 

6. When you’re happy with the information in the “Tag Configurationâ€� and “Triggeringâ€� boxes, click the blue “Saveâ€� button. 

7. Next, click the blue “Submit� button. Your tag won’t work until you do so.

8. When you click “Submit�, you’ll be taken to this “Submission Configuration� page. There are two options: “Publish and Create Version� or “Create Version�. Since I’m ready to push the tag onto all my site pages, I selected “Publish and Create Version�, and then I pressed the blue “Publish� button in the top right.

9. Finally, you’ll be shown this “Container Version Description�. To keep your tags organized, add a name and description to understand what you’re trying to record with this tag.

10. Ensure your tag appears in your “Version Summary� report.

 

 

Now, you’ve successfully created your first tag.

Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics

If you want to use Google Tag Manager in conjunction with Google Analytics, there are a couple steps you need to take. However, it’s a worthwhile endeavor — embedding tags in your site will increase the precision of your Analytics reports.

First off, you’ll need to remove your GA code from your site pages. You’ll only need your Google Tag Manager tag code embedded — if you use both, it’ll just report everything twice and mess up your data.

Second, you’ll probably want to create a variable for your Google Analytics Tracking ID. A variable is a Google Tag Manager tool meant to increase your efficiency by saving additional (optional) data you provide.

If you save your GA Tracking ID as a variable, you won’t have to look it up every time you create a new tag for Google Analytics (which makes the lazy-person in me very happy).

How to Create a Variable in Google Tag Manager

1. Click “Variablesâ€� on your Google Tag Manager homepage. 

2. Under “User-Defined Variables�, click “New�.

3. Name your variable — I named it “GA Tracking IDâ€� so I’d remember. Then, click the “Variable Configurationâ€� box.

4. Choose “Constant� as your variable type, since you don’t want the ID to change for different tags.

5. Now, input your Google Analytics Tracking ID number into the “Value� box, and then select “Save� in the top right.

Next, let’s edit our “TestTag1� that we created earlier in this post, and include the new variable you just created.

How to Edit a Tag and Change its Value

1. Back on your homepage, select “Tags� from your side bar. Click on the tag you want to edit (I clicked “TestTag1�).

2. Click the grey “+� icon beside the “Web Property ID� box.

3. A “Choose a variableâ€� box will pop up, and the first option, “GA Tracking IDâ€�, is the variable we just created. Select that. 

4. Now, your tag’s “Web Property IDâ€� should say (or whatever you named your variable). Click save, and your tag is updated. 

Google Tag Manager for WordPress

If your business uses WordPress to host its website, there’s an easy two-step process to integrate Google Tag Manager into WordPress.

There are plug-ins available if you’ve paid for a business version of WordPress, such as DuracellTomi’s Google Tag Manager.

However, if you’d rather do it manually, it’s relatively simple to do. It will only get tedious if you have a ton of different pages of your site and want to use tags on all of them — you’ll have to copy and paste a code below the <body> tag on each page.

Here’s what you do:

1. Copy the Google Tag Manager code you are given during the set-up process. If you’ve already set up your account, click the blue “Google Tag Manager� code beside “Workspace Changes� on your Google Tag Manager homepage (circled below in red). That blue code will also supply you with your specific Google Tag Manager code.

2. Now, paste that code below the <body> tag of each page on your WordPress site.

Images courtesy of WordPress.org

Now, your WordPress site is prepped for any tags you want to create within Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager will automatically code future tags and embed them in whichever page you’ve selected.


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