Schema Markup: What Is It & Why Is It Important for SEO?

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This article was shared by HurDat.

Do you keep hearing about schema markup, structured data, and microdata but have no idea what it is or how to add it to your webmain site? We’ve broken down some of the basics for you so you can leave with a better understanding of what schema markup is, where you can find it, and how to test it.

What Is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is HTML code—a form of microdata—that you add to your webpage. Once the HTML code is added, schema markup helps search engines like Google, Bing, and Yandex understand the content you’re providing so that they can provide the quickest, most relevant results for each searcher in their search engine results pages (SERPs).

Schema was created back in 2011 when the three search engines started collaborating to come up with hyper user-focused search result improvements that would be standard and understood across all platforms.

What Is Schema Used For?

Simply put, schema markup is used to provide context to an otherwise ambiguous webpage. It’s used to help search engines understand what’s on the page, rather than just indexing what’s there and hoping it gets the context right.

When you add schema markup to your webmain site, it helps improve the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the description for all types of queries. These are called rich snippets and are most commonly found beneath the page title.

Rich snippets are features that highlight key information on a Google results page, going beyond the standard blue links to provide items like carousels, images, and other non-textual elements.

Types of Schema Markup

The full list of items that can have schema markup added to them is quite extensive. Below are just some of the most common use cases for schema markup:

  • Articles
  • Local businesses
  • Restaurants
  • TV episodes and ratings
  • Book reviews
  • Movies
  • Software applications
  • Events
  • Products

For something like movies, rich snippets will come in varying sizes, depending on what the webmain site is focused on. Surprisingly, a major webmain site like IMDb only has a small amount of information listed in their rich snippet, with just a rating for the movie 1917 showing up:

SERP Analysis Including a Rating Only of 1917 Film

SERP Analysis Including a Rating Only of 1917 Film

But for the movie rating main site Rotten Tomatoes, the rich snippet is much fuller. Including not just a rating, but the movie’s runtime, when it came to theaters, and even its genre:

SERP Analysis Including a Rich Snippet of 1917 Film

SERP Analysis Including a Rich Snippet of 1917 Film

This doesn’t happen by sheer luck, nor does it happen because Google decides that it will show more information from some sources and not others. It all has to do with the schema markup that’s been added to the page. The more schema you add, the more Google, Bing, and other search engines understand context.

Why Is Schema Markup Important?

As Google and other search engines continue to design how SERPs looks for different types of queries, the space for displaying organic links becomes smaller and smaller, especially on mobile. You want to take up as much real estate as possible while also enticing click-through. That’s why it’s important to use schema markup to stand out against competitors online and put yourself in a position to be more visible in SERPs.

A recent study from SEMrush showed that only 44% of Fortune 500 companies actually used schema markup on their webpages. While a study from Search Engine Watch back in 2017 stated that “ adoption still comes in at less than a third of webmain sites.” This means that there’s plenty of opportunity for you to potentially outrank and earn click-through over your competitors.

Another benefit of using schema markup is for voice search and voice-activated devices. A SEMrush study found that “the majority of answers served via voice search were marked up with some form of schema.” In fact, nearly 50% of consumers use voice for web search, meaning you need to start adopting voice search optimization tactics to keep up with consumer behaviors and stay visible in SERPs.

There are some people out there who claim adding schema to webpages can improve your rankings, but Google has come out and said using structured data is NOT a ranking signal. So at least for now, one of the main benefits of schema markup and rich snippets is making your webpage look better in SERPS and potentially increasing clicks, which indirectly could help with rankings.

How to Add Schema Markup

There are a few ways to add schema markup and structured data to your webpages. One of the most popular—and easier—ways to generate schema markup is the Google Structured Data Markup Helper (which you’ll need to be logged into your Google account to use). You will see a list of several schema types to choose from, and you can either enter the page URL you want to tag or just paste the HTML.

Once the page loads, the markup tool will provide you with a list of items to tag. From there, you highlight and select the type of elements you wish to markup. Once you’re done tagging, you finish and click “create HTML” and select either Microdata or JSON-LD from the drop-down (JSON-LD is Google’s preferred type of structured data). Finally, copy and paste your new HTML code into your source code. Use these step-by-step guides from Google for more comprehensive directions for different schema types.

So what exactly does schema look like on the back end when using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper? No matter what, your schema will lead with:

<!– JSON-LD markup generated by Google Structured Data Markup Helper. –>

<script type=”application/ld+json”>

This tells search engines that the page includes schema markup and what follows will need to be categorized in a specific way. If we’re marking up a main site article on Hurrdat, for example, the article title and author name would read as:

{“@context” : “”,

“@type” : “Article”,

“name” : “Where Should You Set Up Local Business Listings Online?”,

“author” : {

“@type” : “Person”,

“name” : “Adam Furley”}

After this, the “@ArticleBody” would follow, which will include the entirety of the article including paragraph and header tags.

If you use WordPress and are wondering how to add schema markup, one of the quickest ways to add schema markup is to download and add a plugin. A few popular plugins include All in One Rich Schema Snippets and the Schema App Structured Data. Each will generate schema markup for the whole main site but will also let you manually edit the markup yourself.

Using the Schema Markup Test Tool

Recently, Google announced an update for testing schema markup called “Rich Results Test,” which can be used to test and validate structured data by either using a URL or code snippet. This new rich snippet testing tool will take place of the original Google Structured Data Testing Tool as they begin to phase it out.

Today we are announcing that the Rich Results Test fully supports all Google Search rich result features – it’s out of beta 🥳. In addition, we are preparing to deprecate the Structured Data Testing Tool 👋 Read our main site for more

— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) July 7, 2020

Some of the new features include the ability to render both mobile and desktop versions of a result and show which search feature enhancements are valid for your markup. In addition, it’s fully aligned with Search Console reports.

Of course, you’ll want to continue testing and validating your changes until you’re error-free since uploading incorrect data can lead to unwanted Google penalties. Even if your errors come from a simple misunderstanding or mislabeling, Search Engine Journal says it could be seen as spam by Google. A couple of errors that commonly occur (and that you should watch out for) are structured data that doesn’t match on-page content and violating Google guidelines for specific data types.

Looking to improve your webmain site? Hurrdat can help brands improve their online presence with measurable SEO strategies, including schema markup. Learn more about our Search Engine Optimization services!

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How to hide Google Meet and Google Chat in Gmail

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was sourced from by MOZ.

Google would very much like you to consider using Google Meet for meetings and Google Chat for workplace chat. Maybe you’ve noticed their efforts: a bar at the bottom of Gmail on mobile, dedicated sections in the Gmail sidebar on desktop, and even a few pop-ups here and there.

The Gmail sidebar with Meet and Chat.


We like Google Meet and Google Chat. They’re among the best video conferencing apps and best team chat apps, respectively. And if you’re a Google loyalist, it’s really helpful to have access to all of your tools in one place.

But lots of people use Gmail for email and other apps for video conferencing and chat. Those people won’t love having this much screen real estate dedicated to tools they don’t use. If that’s you, here’s how to hide Google Meet and Google Chat in Gmail.

Hide Google Meet and Chat in desktop Gmail

Click the gear icon toward the top-right. This will bring up the settings panel. Click See all settings.

More Settings in Gmail

Head to the Chat and Meet tab. You’ll want to make sure Chat off and Hide the Meet section in the main menu are both selected, then click Save Changes.

Chat and Meet settings in Gmail

Your Gmail is now, once again, all about your email.

Gmail but clean

Hide Google Meet and Chat in mobile Gmail

To hide the Google Meet and Chat bar from the bottom of Gmail’s mobile app, go to the settings for your specific Gmail account. Tap the three lines in the top-left corner, then tap Settings, then tap the email address you want to change this setting for.

Finding your settings in mobile Gmail

You’ll find two options you need to disable: Chat & rooms and Meet.

Disabling Chat and Meet in mobile Gmail

Uncheck those, then repeat the process for all of your email addresses. The bar at the bottom of your inbox is now gone so you can focus on your emails. (Open all the ones from Deb at Zapier. They’re pretty good.)

Connect Gmail with other apps

Not wanting to use Google Meet or Chat doesn’t mean you don’t want to integrate your apps with Gmail—it just means you don’t use those two specific apps. If you want to integrate other apps directly from Gmail, you can.

Here at Zapier, we recently announced our Gmail add-on, which lets you do things like quickly send emails to Slack or your to-do list, all without leaving Gmail.

You can install the Zapier Gmail add-on now, or if you’re looking for something different, check out other ways to automate Gmail.

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Focus on your job candidates with these tips from a Zapier recruiter

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was sourced from by MOZ.

Recruiting is a fast-paced business. Getting a candidate through the pipeline as quickly as possible means a better candidate experience. And, the faster you act, the less likely you are to lose a good candidate to a competing offer.

As a recruiting coordinator, automation helps me support my team to ensure an efficient, positive candidate experience. Automation helps me schedule faster, create interview documents, maintain interviewer cadence, and so much more.

Here are a few ways I use Zapier to keep our pipeline in motion.

Scheduling interviews

Let’s start at the beginning when I receive a request from my recruiters to schedule an interview. At Zapier we use a simple Google Form for scheduling requests and use automation to elevate the process. I receive a Slackbot message for every scheduling request with the request details including candidate name, position, and a link with additional details. This ensures that I don’t miss anything and can act as quickly as possible! Check it out:

We use Greenhouse at Zapier, and sometimes my recruiters will submit a scheduling request before the candidate provided their availability. So while I have the request, I might not be able to do anything about it quite yet.

I set up another Zap that sends me a Slack message when the candidate submits their availability.

I use “submitted availability” as the search term in this one, but you can set it to be whatever works for your recruiting flow.

These Zaps give me peace of mind. I don’t need to constantly monitor the situation and I know I won’t miss anything with my Zaps in place. As soon as I’m able to schedule that interview I will. In the meantime, I can focus my energy on other projects.

Preparing for the interview

Once I schedule the interview on a certain calendar, there’s an incredible number of possibilities for Zaps.

One of my favorites is creating an interview document and sharing it with interviewers in the Slack channel. I love this one because it ensures interviewers have their questions no matter what and it makes the whole process feel like a well-oiled machine.

Other useful Zaps

Remind interviewers they have an interview coming up with this Zap that sends a message in Slack for upcoming calendar events.

Update an Airtable calendar with interviewers once they’re scheduled to monitor the cadence you’re using them:

These Zaps are mostly focused on creating a great experience for our internal stakeholders, which would hopefully result in a better experience for our candidates as a result. Use these Zaps to free up time you spend on admin tasks so you can focus on the thing that matters: your candidates.

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4 automated workflows to help you be a Calendly pro

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was sourced from by MOZ.

People turn to Calendly because scheduling meetings can be an endless series of back-and-forth emails trying to find a time that works for all parties. Instead, Calendly lets participants pick meeting times from a list of pre-approved options, making the booking process easy.

But meetings are only one part of your workflow. With Zapier, you can add dozens of Calendly integrations that extend its features. Once you make it easy to book meetings with Calendly, Zapier can make it just as easy to add video conferencing, get meeting notifications, and add attendees to your email marketing with Zapier.

Note: You’ll need a paid Calendly account to automate it with Zapier.

Create meetings for new Calendly events

We’ve all experienced that moment when, after booking the perfect time, we miss the start of the meeting hunting for the right video conferencing link. That short delay gets your meeting off on the wrong foot, leaving you frazzled and apologetic before you even say hello.

Automation ensures this never needs to happen. Your link will be right there, so you never need to think about it.

Calendly gets you part of the way toward having a perfect meeting. Use Zapier to close the gap. Use these Zaps to automatically set up video conferencing for Calendly events.

As useful as Calendly is, you likely have several calendar and contact apps. Leaving these out of sync means you might start the week with a clear Google Calendar, unaware that someone scheduled a meeting through Calendly.

These Zaps connect calendar and contacts apps with Calendly, ensuring each booked meeting appears on your calendar and each invitee is in your contacts..

The more people you invite to a meeting, the more likely someone is going to misplace the appointment time—even with Calendly. Using Zapier, you can automatically send out email confirmations to attendees.

Add invitees to your CRM and email marketing funnels

A great meeting is only the first step toward a sale. After your meeting, you’ll want to continue to cultivate that relationship.

To better manage the touchpoints and interactions you’re having with prospects, make that Calendly meeting a launchpad. These Zaps automatically add invitees and contacts to your customer relationship management (CRM) of choice, so you can track relationships as they develop.

A meeting is a great opportunity to show your genuine commitment to helping your customer, but it’s not the best time for a feature tour or a walk-through of the latest industry research.

With these Zaps, you can automatically add contacts and invitees who are interested in learning more to your email marketing newsletters. This way, even when you’re not speaking to them directly, you can share value, show them compelling information, and gently convince them to convert.

Get notified about bookings and cancellations

Calendly can help you reduce the amount of effort necessary to book meetings, but it won’t always be able to help you keep on top of all the meetings you have.

According to research by Atlassian, 96 percent of people report missing meetings. But with automation, your company doesn’t have to fall prey to this statistic. You can set up Zaps that notify meeting participants by email, Slack, and SMS whenever Calendly meetings are scheduled or canceled.

Use these Zaps to send and get emails about new and canceled Calendly events.

If email isn’t fast enough for you, you can use these Zaps to get instant notifications about new and canceled bookings via Slack.

If you’re not always at your keyboard but still need notifications, use these Zaps to get instant notifications about new and canceled bookings via SMS messages.

Prepare for your meetings and debrief after they’re done

Calendly can help you book a meeting, but it can’t help you have a good meeting. That’s where automation comes in.

The same Atlassian study also showed that of the 62 meetings most employees attended each month, they considered half of them a waste of time. So, useless meetings squandered 31 hours every month per employee.

There’s no need to waste so much time when there are modern automation tools available. Zapier can help you prepare for meetings and debrief afterwards, ensuring that your meeting time is as productive as it can be.

Prepare for your meetings with Zaps that automatically create tasks in your project management apps.

There’s more value to get from meetings than what occurs in the meeting itself. Make the most of your meetings with these Zaps that help you debrief and report on your conversations after they’re done.

After you implement Zaps that help you prepare and debrief for each meeting, make sure you get a big-picture view, too. These Zaps create a digest of Calendly events and deliver them to you via email or Slack.

Calendly integrations make meetings even easier

Meetings get a bad reputation. But that reputation often comes from how hard they are to schedule, set up, and complete. With Calendly, you can make the process of booking meetings almost automatic.

A few Calendly integrations can extend the powers of Calendly even further. With Zapier, you can ensure each meeting starts on time, strengthens your relationships, and stays productive.

Related reading:

7 strategies for running effective remote meetings_

4 Ways to Have Fewer Meetings at Work

Workflows for more productive meetings_

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How to run virtual icebreakers that actually work

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This article was provided by MOZ.

Years ago, I joined my first virtual meeting. The host started with the dreaded icebreaker: “your name and what you hope to get from this program.”

You could almost hear the groans.

Icebreakers have a ton of potential to elevate your meetings, but bad icebreakers can fall flat and suck the energy out of the virtual room.

My company, TeamBuilding, has run thousands of icebreakers—both internally and for clients like Apple, Amazon, Google, Johnson & Johnson, and Chipotle. So when it comes to icebreakers, we’re literally professionals. Here we’ll look at how to take your icebreakers from “ugh, not this again” to “that was actually kinda fun.” No more awkward silences. No more speaking over each other. No more wondering who is going next. Just super successful virtual icebreakers—every single time.

Looking for more tips on remote work? Take a look at Zapier’s Ultimate guide to remote work.

Why icebreakers work for virtual meetings

At TeamBuilding, we’ve always been remote. Like Zapier, we don’t have an office anywhere, so we’ve had time to address the common challenges of remote work. One of these challenges? You don’t get as much time to just chat. For example, you don’t get to say “hi” in the morning when you pass people on your way to your desk or enjoy lunch or an afternoon coffee with a colleague. Even those simple interactions are enough to develop trust.

Here’s me (second from the left) with some of my team.

When you work from home, you need to be intentional about getting that social time in. Icebreakers are one of the easiest and quickest virtual team-building activities to get started with.

The process really only takes five minutes, and that investment will lead to more engaged employees and more productive collaboration. It’s very win-win—when you get it right.

The first thing is to start with a solid framework.

The traffic light framework

There are three main icebreaker levels. At TeamBuilding, we call them green, yellow, and red to correspond with traffic lights, but you could use any combination that means easy, medium, and hard.

A traffic light icon with the words green, yellow, and red corresponding to easy, medium and hard.
  • Green. “Easy” icebreakers are for groups with new members or with low levels of familiarity. At the green level, the answer doesn’t reveal much personal info, and anyone should be able to answer quickly. For example, “dogs or cats?” or “how do you take your coffee?”

  • Yellow. “Medium” icebreakers are for groups that have been together for a while. Yellow questions reveal more personal insights or opinions about relatively simple topics. Most people will be able to answer these prompts quickly. For example, “where is your dream location to work from?” or “have you ever left a one-star review?”

  • Red. “Difficult” icebreakers are for groups that are already very comfortable with each other. This level requires vulnerability, but that vulnerability leads to strong bonds among coworkers. Example questions: “What is your most popular tweet?” or “What is the last book you read?”

Don’t skip ahead to yellow or red if your group isn’t ready for it. Instead, use a scaffolding framework where you lay the foundation with some easy green questions, and then as people become more comfortable sharing, you can escalate to a higher tier.

Once you choose the category, you can then select a question that fits your group. Here are a few favorites:

  • What was your first online screen name?
  • Which web browser do you use and why?
  • Where would you haunt for all of eternity?
  • What book did you read last?
  • Who is your oldest friend you are still in touch with?
  • What is your favorite productivity hack?

And maybe my favorite of all time, but very red level: “What is something you’ve been thinking about lately that no one has asked you about yet?”

Here is an entire list of virtual icebreaker questions for more inspiration.

The two best formats for virtual icebreakers

A screenshot from a Zoom call of a virtual icebreaker

This was taken during a virtual icebreaker we did recently.

There are all kinds of icebreaker formats, most of which involve simple prompts. We recommend starting with either a traditional sequential format or a modified version of Never Have I Ever. The sequential format takes about 30 seconds per participant, while Never Have I Ever can work with even very large groups in about one minute flat.

Sequential answers

Sequential answers are the go-to standard for icebreakers: ask a question, and then each participant answers in sequence. The problem is that many people run these as a free-for-all. No one knows who’s going next, which results in talking over each other—and anxiety for folks who are less comfortable speaking up.

Instead, start your prompt by saying something like this: “Ok, for today’s icebreaker, you’ll share your name, your role, and what you ate for breakfast. I’ll go first, and then I’ll pass to Emily with Lin on deck.”

Let’s break that down:

  1. The first portion is the prompt itself—nothing too unique about this. I do recommend you ask people to share names because it’s super helpful for new folks. Even with office veterans, it may give someone the chance to correct a wrong pronunciation that has taken over.
  2. “I’ll go first” lets participants know that you will start, and more importantly, it gives them a moment to think about their answers too.
  3. The final portion, where you name the next two people, is the key to making virtual icebreakers work. In person, you can form a circle to indicate who’s next, but on Zoom there is no circle. By naming the next two people in line, you can provide order. After each set goes, you then name the next person up and who’s on deck.

This process encourages healthy employee engagement during your call, instead of a healthy amount of fretting.

Pro tip: For an alternative, we sometimes do Icebreaker Chat Roulette, which is when the host asks all participants to drop their names in the chat box. The order the names appear is the order the icebreaker goes in, which is helpful since everyone can see the list and know exactly when their turn is.

Never Have I Ever

The second format, sometimes called “Never Have I Ever” or “Five Strikes,” is for larger groups that don’t know each other super well.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The host prepares a list of five prompts that indicate some specific life experience. For example, “Never have I ever… mixed two types of breakfast cereal.”
  2. Each player starts with five fingers up, which works well on video conference calls because there’s a clear visual and an easy way for everyone to participate.
  3. If a person has the prompted life experience, they put a finger down.

You can say the winner is the first person to put all fingers down, or whoever has the most fingers remaining; it doesn’t really matter. The mechanic that makes Five Strikes work for remote team building is that you can quickly scan and see with each prompt who has or does not have each experience. This process highlights provided experiences, which can help form bonds.

Pro tip: Make sure you choose a diverse range of questions. If your prompts are America-centric, for example, then you may exclude international team members.

Best practices for virtual icebreakers

Before we go, here are a few extra best practices to help you run successful virtual icebreakers.

  • Follow the “Max 15 Rule.” This rule simply states that if you have 15+ people on a conference call, you should either use breakout rooms for small group icebreakers or a large group format like Never Have I Ever. Sitting through dozens of icebreakers really disrupts the positive energy and momentum of a call—and takes forever.

  • Tag people after they answer. On platforms like Zoom, the host and co-host can edit the names of participants. For icebreakers, an easy way to track who’s already provided an answer is to add an “X” or other mark after their name. This tagging helps avoid questions like, “who hasn’t gone yet?” or “Rob, you went, right?”

  • Break the ice often. I recommend including icebreakers at the beginning of every virtual meeting you do. The entire process should take less than five minutes, and that five minutes can make a world of difference with your ongoing team-building efforts. You aren’t trying to break the entire ice block in one go—just chip away at it!

  • Be a little goofy. At every tier of the traffic light framework, there’s a decision to make: ask a boring question or ask a fun one. The audience of people that attentively listen to a boring icebreaker is very small. Instead, be willing to ask questions like “which animated character would be your BFF?” or “are you wearing socks, and why?”

  • Use icebreakers that frame your conversation. You should absolutely try to align your icebreakers with the goal of your meeting. For example, if the goal of the meeting is to introduce more tenured team members with newer folks, you might ask, “how did you join the company?” and everyone could share their origin story. At an annual all-hands meeting, you could prompt participants to share a favorite memory from the last year or something they’re looking forward to in the next one.

Icebreakers aren’t only for group meetings. They can be a great conversation starters for pair buddy meet-ups or 1:1 calls too.

As you plan your virtual icebreakers, spend a little time thinking about where you, as the leader, fit in the framework, prepare some fun questions, and let your people do the rest. From the very first prompt, you’ll start to build trust and see bonds forming, and a few meetings in, you may just be ready to tackle some red-level prompts.

Finally, to really supercharge your efforts, check out these high impact tips for maximizing remote employee engagement by TeamBuilding’s CEO.

This was a guest article from Tasia Duske. Tasia is the COO of TeamBuilding, a 100% remote company that runs local and virtual team-building activities that your people will love. Tasia has a master’s degree in Psychology from Eastern Washington University and a focus on organizational behavior. Find out more on LinkedIn. Want to see your work on the Zapier main site? Check out our guidelines and get in touch.

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Stay on top of your professional development with these 4 strategies

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was shared by MOZ.

Since graduating from college years ago, I’ve learned that I don’t know much at all. How’s that for reassurance after spending four or more years working on that degree?

But unlike college, learning new skills as part of your professional development is way more fun. Depending on your career goals, you can pick what you want to learn and the rewards are much more enjoyable. (Think promotions and raises.)

Even if you’re picking up a new skill for fun, lifelong learning is a habit any employer will find attractive because skill development requires patience, persistence, and a little discipline.

I’ll admit: Sometimes I just want to take a nap instead of learning about SEO.

Though we can’t add a new skill directly into your brain, Zapier can help you automate the tedious tasks in your day by connecting web apps. Our automatic workflows, which we call Zaps, send information from one app to another, so you can stop worrying about copy/pasting and can focus on more meaningful work. See it in action here.

We’ve collected a few Zap templates, what we call our pre-made workflows, to get you started on skill development. Just click on a template, and we’ll guide you through customizing it in a few minutes. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.

Make time to learn

Our Learning & Development team at Zapier recommends blocking out an hour in your work schedule for skill development every week. Depending on your workplace, this may or may not be feasible, but the idea stands: It’s important to schedule a time to learn.

For example, you can block off an hour a week to work through an online class you signed up for, a book on professional development, or even just playing around with a particular piece of software.

It’s not enough to just decide you’ll carve out that time. You need to fit it into your schedule, just like you would exercise or eating. This is easier for some more than others. There are three types of people: those who live by a calendar, those who prefer to get things done with a to-do list, and those who shudder at the mention of either. Wherever you may fall on that spectrum, try an automatic workflow to fit skill development into your day.

If you’re a calendar planner, it’s as easy as creating a recurring calendar event and sticking to that schedule. Sometimes you need an extra reminder though, so it can help to set up a Zap to push a reminder to another app you use frequently, such as Gmail or Slack. And if you need to protect your time against needs from your coworkers, try a workflow that will automatically update your Slack status for events in your calendar. (We chose Gmail for this post, but you can also use Microsoft Outlook or Office 365.)

I organize my work and personal life from checklists. It’s hard for me to organize and time-block daily tasks in a calendar, but sometimes it’s necessary to protect certain parts of your day from coworkers who may want to schedule meetings during learning time.

If you’re like me, you can get the best of both worlds by trying an automatic workflow that will add calendar events to your task management app of choice. With a filter step—available on our free plans—you can ensure that time you’ve blocked out for skill development will be added to your list. And if you’re particularly skilled at ignoring task reminders—or you never set them in the first place— use a Zap to send an extra reminder to Slack automatically.

If the thought of being beholden to a calendar or a checklist horrifies you, set up a Zap to get a weekly reminder through a text or Slack message. For extra accountability (and a little peer pressure), try a workflow that will publicly tweet your intentions. Tag people you know will call you out if you don’t follow through.

Make the most of your learning time

When I played clarinet in middle school band, we were required to practice 30 minutes a day and log our practice time, which our instructors reviewed. It wasn’t fun, and sometimes I’d embellish my practice time, but our instructors knew because if we didn’t practice, our performance suffered. The same thing is true for any skill you’re trying to learn for your career. You can only improve with more practice.

Time-tracking can be a great way to set yourself mini-accountability goals, such as “I’ll spend x hours a month on creative writing prompts.” A time-tracking app can save yourself the tedium of logging time, but if you’re the type who forgets to clock in or out, try one of our Zap templates to automatically track time for you based on a calendar event or an item on your to-do list.

When you’re excited to learn about a topic, boredom isn’t an issue. But there are times where you may need to learn a new skill that you know will be beneficial for your career, but it’s not exactly exciting.

For example, as a content marketing writer, I need to understand website analytics. But dear reader, I put off finishing a Google Analytics class for years. (It’s online and free! I had no excuse!) In that instance, trying something like the Pomodoro technique can help you break an unbearable hour into manageable chunks of time.

If you’re faithfully sticking to your scheduled learning time, try an automatic workflow to connect your favorite task management or calendar app with a Pomodoro app like Pomodone, so you can use your time wisely.

If you don’t want to download another app, you can also create a customized Pomodoro workflow with Zapier. Learn how to set one up here.

Review learnings with a more experienced colleague

Sometimes it helps to get feedback on your progress with a more experienced mentor. For example, if you’re learning a new programming language, you may want a more experienced colleague to review your code.

When I took a few sewing classes last year, our instructor would inspect our work as we moved along. If we stitched something incorrectly or the technique was off, we had to remove the stitches and do it again. Acting upon feedback is critical for our growth, but it can feel awkward for some people to constantly ask for it. Instead, try a Zap to automatically reach out to a colleague on a schedule to set up a feedback session.

Keep your notes organized

If you’re taking a workshop or class for professional or personal development, it’s really helpful to keep notes on what you’ve learned. It’s easy to have disorganized notes, though. I have notes scattered throughout dozens of notebooks, loose sheets of paper, and note-taking apps. As a result, I don’t always review my notes later.

You could tackle your notes through several automatic workflows. If you tend to forget to take notes, set up a Zap to create a note in an app like Evernote or a new Google Doc before a calendar event starts.

If you’re bad at reviewing your notes later, you could also turn on a workflow to automatically create tasks in your favorite task management app to review new notes.

Whether you’re just entering the workforce or further along in your career, anyone can learn a new skill. Use Zapier to automate some of the administrative stuff so you can focus your energy on expanding your skillset.

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Always be networking: 4 ways to automate your connections

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This post was shared by MOZ.

I don’t like networking. When I hear the word, I imagine the ultimate schmoozer, thanks to reductive platitudes like “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

My mentor put it to me in a different way: always be flirting, or ABF.

No, this doesn’t apply to romance, and you don’t need to be creepy.

The idea is that you should be building relationships, no matter where you are in your career. When the time inevitably comes when you’re looking for a new job or freelance opportunity, you won’t need to scramble through your contacts to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in years because you’ve been building connections all along.

Once I approached networking from this perspective, it benefited my career tremendously. Every job or freelance opportunity I’ve had is because of a relationship I fostered elsewhere. I had the skill to back it up, but that connection is what got me through the door, every time.

This kind of automatic networking is exhausting to put into practice, especially if you’re an introvert. Though you can’t automate real relationships, Zapier can help you automate tedious tasks and make networking an ingrained part of your routine. Our automatic workflows, which we call Zaps, send information from one app to another, so you can stop worrying about what you’ll write in that email and more time building connections.

To get started with a Zap template—what we call our pre-made workflows—click on it, and we’ll guide you through customizing it. It only takes a few minutes. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.

Organize your cold networking

Many businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software to organize leads, customers, and track deals. What if you had your own personal CRM, but for networking? Before you run away screaming (or close this browser window), hear me out.

Networking isn’t just attending meet-ups, happy hours, or conferences anymore. It’s also occurring on social media and in Slack communities. And it’s becoming less formalized, which is comforting for people who feel icky about it.

However, this decentralization can also make it hard to follow up, say, when someone tweets about a new job posting. Creating your own personal CRM can help you keep track of things you want to follow up on, and organize the professional contacts you already have. If your current method of organizing your contacts is searching through your smartphone or your email inbox, this is a tactic worth trying.

Your personal CRM—or address book, Rolodex, or whatever you want to call it—can be as simple as a spreadsheet. First, create a spreadsheet in your app of choice. It can be organized like this Airtable template, or a blank Google Sheet with a few labeled columns.

Then, whenever you see someone on Twitter or Slack mentioning a topic you’re interested in, use a Zap to add those messages to your CRM so you can hang onto them and find them later.

You can also use another automatic workflow—or if you have a paid Zapier plan, add another step to your existing Zap—to add items to a task management app.

Now, you might be wondering why you even need the spreadsheet step. If you want to get away from the extractive feeling of networking, it’s worth hanging onto contact information for people you network with online. Remember, if you’re building and fostering connections when you least need it, it will be easier to reach out when you’re in a bind.

Reach out to new people you meet

I’m shy, kind of. I’m great at having conversations with people at networking and business events, but when the day is over, and I’m staring down a stack of business cards, I freeze.

Do I reach out first? Do I wait for them? How many days? It feels straight out of a teen movie, and I don’t like it.

If you can relate, you’ll like the next few Zaps, which will take care of the follow-up.

Email reintroductions

I have a tin full of business cards I’ve received from other people. I try to reach out to new connections after an introduction, but I’m not always successful. Writing that introductory email can be nerve-wracking.

Email templates are great for nervous people like me. You have a general structure of what you want to say, and you just need to personalize it a little to make it professional, yet friendly.

Try one of the Zaps below, which automatically sends an email to new contacts you add to Google Contacts or Microsoft Outlook. You won’t forget to reach out to that person that you met at a virtual happy hour.

When customizing your message in the Zap Editor, you can create your own templated email, using the information from your contact as placeholders in your message.

A screenshot of the Zap Editor with a customized email.

Respond to Twitter follows

Work conferences are great for my Twitter game. I won’t lie; it feels good to have a bunch of retweets and new followers because I’ve been tweeting throughout a conference.

They interact with my tweets because they’re interested in what I have to say, so responding is a friendly thing to do—and builds out your network. But anyone who’s been to a conference in-person knows how hectic those events are. Monitoring your Twitter account is likely the last thing on your mind. With the move to virtual conferences recently, the pace is different. You’re not hunting for a sandwich at a coffee shop between sessions, but you’re likely juggling work (and maybe child-rearing) on top of attending.

Networking is probably the last thing on your mind, so set up a Zap to send a tweet to your new Twitter followers. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and it’s a small step to building your network while you’re trying to juggle everything else in the world.

Keep your existing network updated

Remember, networking shouldn’t be extractive. You, dear reader, have something to offer to your professional contacts too. That’s why you’ll see informal mentorships pop up in your field—some people want to give back to folks just coming up in a particular industry. You’ve likely had someone help you out along the way.

Keep your mentors—and other folks in your professional network—updated on what you’ve been doing, and offer to help them out as well if they need it. The simplest way to do so is by setting up an automatic workflow to create email drafts on a schedule to send out.

I use a template that I customize heavily to email my mentor every quarter, at a minimum. It’s a simple way for me to give back to a person who has helped me tremendously in my career.

You never know what can come out of a simple email. Maybe the recipient is hiring for a new position, saw your email, and thought you’d be perfect. You’ll never know if you don’t reach out.

It’s hard to be always “on” when you’re trying to network, but these Zaps will help you become a more proactive networker. It can only help your career.

Try this LinkedIn trick: Find Nearby

Even if your LinkedIn profile is woefully out of date, it is still one of the best places for networking and finding job opportunities. Though in-person networking is out of the question for a while, save this tip for later.

LinkedIn has a Find Nearby feature on its iOS and Android mobile apps which allows you to find the profiles of people nearby. It’s a handy feature for those in-person conferences, meetups, or networking events.

How to set up Find Nearby

These directions and screenshots are for an iPhone. The LinkedIn app on other mobile operating systems may look or function differently.

First, open up the LinkedIn app on your smartphone. Tap on My Network located at the bottom of the screen. Then, tap the floating blue button.

An iOS screenshot of the LinkedIn app showing the My Network icon and a floating blue button that lets you access these settings.

You’ll see three options pop up. Tap Find Nearby, which should be off. You’ll need to give LinkedIn permission to access your Bluetooth.

A screenshot of the My Network menu options in the iOS LinkedIn app.

Once you turn Find Nearby on, you should see this screen. LinkedIn will only search for nearby contacts if you are on this page. You can access this page by repeating these steps.

A screenshot of the Find Nearby feature turned on in the LinkedIn iOS app.

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Google Ads 101: Your Introduction to Google Paid Search

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was sourced from by HurDat.

Thinking about advertising on Google? With billions of people using the search engine every day, it’s one of the best ways to reach your target audience online. Formerly known as Google Adwords, Google Ads allows you to communicate with customers looking for specific products, services, or information. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what Google Ads is and how your business can benefit from using this paid search platform.

What Is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an online advertising platform that gives businesses the opportunity to show up at the top of search engine results pages through paid advertising. If your ad is chosen to show up, it will be visible in one of two places: at the top or bottom of search results pages.

That means, even without having a website that may rank highly in search, you have the chance to show up ahead of other businesses. While it’s not a sure bet that your ad will be chosen to show up every day, any chance to appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) can increase the likelihood that potential customers will click on your ad, visit your website, contact your business, or make a purchase with you.

Keep in mind that 86% of all searches are conducted on Google, which amounts to a whopping 63,000 searches per second—and all those searches can lead to profitable clicks, with businesses generally making an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 spent on Google Ads.

How Does Google Ads Work?

By advertising with Google, you don’t have to compete in organic search results to get visibility, the way you would with a more traditional SEO strategy. Instead, you compete for paid search spots at the top of SERPs, where you’re able to get more instant visibility when search results load for a query.

Of course, it’s not that simple. To create paid ads with Google Ads, you need to do the following:

  • Bid on Keywords: To show up for specific search queries related to your business name and the products or services you offer, you have to select relevant keywords and bid on those keywords. Your bid will determine your placement and how much you pay for your ad. (But more on that in a moment!)
  • Create Quality Advertisements: A defining factor for your ad getting seen in Google is its Quality Score. An ad’s Quality Score is based on the expected click-through rate, its relevance to the search term, and the landing page attached to the ad. If all three are low, you’re less likely to show up in paid results. But as you improve your score, you increase your chances of getting your ad seen by more Google users.
  • Set a Budget: You’ll need to set thresholds for how much you’re willing to spend on pay per click (PPC). With a PPC campaign, you’ll pay a certain amount every time someone clicks your ad—and if you’re in a competitive industry or running an ad for a competitive keyword, your ad costs could go up quickly.

How to Build a Google Ads Campaign

Throwing money at keywords and building ads without a target audience in mind won’t help you see success with paid search advertising. You must be strategic in how you identify your best keywords, design your landing page, and compete in the Google advertising auction.

Utilize Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords to use in your paid ads is all about identifying a searcher’s intent. When your target audience enters a query into Google, what are they looking for? What problem are they trying to solve? Do they want to make a purchase? Are they researching local services?

Use the Google Ads Keyword Planner—a free keyword tool managed by Google—to see how many searches per month are conducted for terms you’re hoping to be found for. One thing to note is that, while terms with higher search volumes are more frequently searched, they’re also increasingly difficult to rank for and can often cost more in a PPC campaign.

This is where it’s good to find related keywords that tie back to your business and consider bidding on those. While related keywords may not be searched for as often, they typically have a high enough search volume that makes them worthwhile to target.

Putting together a good keyword list will require work and some trial and error, but the better your keywords match your business and your customers’ search habits, the more clicks you could receive.

Similarly, you should also identify negative keywords—those that are semi-related to what you offer, but don’t match your search terms or what you want to rank for exactly. You can tell Google what these keywords are and have them removed from consideration while bidding so these don’t affect your overall Quality Score. This is also a great way to funnel out irrelevant traffic and prevent excess spend.

Design a Great Landing Page

Though it’s only one part of the overall Quality Score that Google uses to determine if your ad should be shown or not, putting together a high-quality landing page should be a priority no matter what. Whether your ad is designed to get people to utilize a service, buy a specific product, or sign up for a current deal, your landing page should reflect that.

Google is most likely—no one really knows exactly—ranking a landing page based on its relevance to your ad, how well put together the page is, and how many customers are actually clicking through the page and not bouncing off. So regardless of your campaign goals, you want your landing page to be simple. Quickly tell people what your business does, what you offer, and how they can get it. Don’t leave anything to the imagination!

Create High-Quality Ad Copy

Every ad that shows up in SERPs is accompanied by a strong CTA and accompanying ad copy, both of which can play a large role in whether or not Google will choose your ad to show up.

No matter what, your ad copy and CTA should closely match the keywords you’re bidding on and deliver on what the searcher is looking for. On top of that, you need to get your point across quickly. Headlines only allow for 30 characters, though you can have up to three headlines; and description text is capped at 90 characters, but you’re allowed up to two descriptions. So work on a few different options beforehand so you can change course on the fly while still mentioning the right keywords and maintaining your messaging.

Place Google Ad Bids

Once you’ve selected the keywords you want to rank for, you can enter the Google Ads Auction. Here, you place a maximum bid on what your brand is willing to pay for a click related to each keyword. Google weighs your bid amount with your Quality Score to determine the “winners,” who are then placed in the prominent ads positions in Google SERPs.

You can bid in two ways:

  • Manual bidding: This puts you in complete control of your maximum PPC for your ads. Though it requires more attention, manual bidding ensures your advertising spend goes exactly where you want it to and easily allows you to make adjustments.
  • Automated bidding: This allows Google to adjust your bid based on your competitors’ actions. You set a maximum budget, and Google works within those constraints to give you the best chance at being placed in SERPs. Automated bidding can cause you to churn through your ad budget quicker if you’re not careful, though.

Interested in advertising with Google Ads? Hurrdat can manage your Google Ads campaigns and help get your business in front of more customers in relevant SERPs. Learn more about our Paid Advertising Services!

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What is a YubiKey and how does it work?

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This article was shared by MOZ.

When I got my first YubiKey, I plugged it into my laptop, tried setting it up with a few accounts, then gave up. For a year and a half. It doesn’t matter how computer-literate you are, or how much you value security—something about the YubiKey just feels confusing. But it doesn’t have to.

The YubiKey is a device that makes two-factor authentication as simple as possible. Instead of a code being texted to you, or generated by an app on your phone, you press a button on your YubiKey. That’s it. Each device has a unique code built on to it, which is used to generate codes that help confirm your identity. Press the button and you can log in.

We could get into the math, and break down the various protocols supported by devices like this, but most users don’t need to know any more than “enter your username and password, as usual, then press the button on the YubiKey to log in.”

A YubiKey is required to access many of Zapier’s internal tools, so I’ve finally gotten around to learning how to use one. I’m glad I did—here’s why, and how you can set one up too.

YubiKey isn’t the only hardware two-factor authentication device on the market—just the most popular. There are a number of similar devices out there, and most of the information outlined in this article applies to them.

What is two-factor authentication?

We’ve written extensively about two-factor authentication, but it’s necessary to go over the basics before we can explain why hardware two-factor authentication devices are a good idea.

Passwords are terrible. Most are too easy for hackers to guess, and the rest are too long or complicated for humans to remember. Even secure passwords are useless once they’ve been leaked, and leaks are basically inevitable. For these reasons, and more, it’s a good idea not to rely entirely on passwords. That’s the entire idea behind two-factor authentication (often shortened to 2FA).

With two-factor authentication, you need two things to sign in: your password, yes, but also something else that proves you are who you say you are. You’re probably familiar with two ways of doing 2FA:

  • SMS or email codes. Apps send you a code, which you need to enter before you can log in. This is the easiest method to set up because you don’t need to install any software or purchase any hardware. It’s also the least secure because email and SMS are both unencrypted and easily compromised.
  • Authentication apps. Apps you want to log in to will ask you for a code that you can retrieve by opening an app on your phone, like Google Authenticator or Authy. This is far more secure than relying on SMS or email, but it’s not exactly convenient—you need to grab your phone, open an app, then type out a code.

The YubiKey represents a third way of doing two-factor authentication: hardware authentication. Apps ask you to plug a tool like a YubiKey into your device and press a button. The YubiKey sends a unique code that the service can use to confirm your identity. This is more secure, because the codes are much longer, and more convenient, because you don’t have to type out the codes yourself.

There’s a lot more nuance than this, of course. But for the most part, you just need to know that it’s 2FA that’s more secure and easier to use.

Why is a YubiKey better than other 2FA?

We’ve gone over this a little, but let’s talk about why a YubiKey (and similar devices) is better than other forms of 2FA. To name a few:

  • Convenience. SMS, email, and authentication apps all require that you copy and paste, or manually enter, a code. With the YubiKey, you just press a button on a device attached to your computer.
  • Much longer codes. Other 2FA methods typically only send you a six-digit code to confirm your identity, basically because it would be unreasonable to expect humans to type much more than that. YubiKeys don’t ask you to manually type a code, so they’re free to use much longer codes. That’s more secure.
  • Easy to migrate. Did you get a new computer? Just unplug your YubiKey from the old one, plug it into the new one, and you can log in to all of your apps, same as before. You can also use one key to log in to your account on multiple computers. I’ve found the process to be much easier than migrating other 2FA.
  • Really hard to hack. It’s relatively easy for hackers to compromise your email or SMS. It’s a lot harder—close to impossible with current technology—to fake the codes generated by a unique hardware device.

Again, there’s a lot more nuance here, but these are the broad advantages of the YubiKey over other forms of 2FA.

How to set up your YubiKey

Setting up your YubiKey isn’t that different from setting up app-based two-factor authentication. If you’re actually using a YubiKey (not another hardware authenticator), here’s what you need to do:

  1. Plug in your YubiKey.
  2. Head to and click your device.
  3. Browse the list of supported apps and found what you want to secure.
  4. Follow the instructions.

How this works is going to vary from app to app, but I’ll use Google as an example. Follow the instruction for Google, and you’ll found a link with instructions for adding your YubiKey to your Google account, which offers a link for adding your key.

Google YubiKey setup

You will be asked to plug in your device and press the button on it.

Google confirm YubiKey

Do that. Your browser may ask for permission to access your key, but once you give that permission, you should get a confirmation that your key is set up. You can optionally give it a name, which is useful if you have multiple YubiKeys.

Google YubiKey working

That’s it. You can now use your YubiKey to log in to your Google account on any device. Repeat this process for every account you want to lock down in this way.

How do I stop accidentally triggering my YubiKey?

Yubikeys of all shapes and sizes

YubiKeys come in all shapes and (small) sizes.

I own the YubiKey 5C Nano, which is a tiny USB-C dongle. I leave it plugged into my MacBook Pro, and it’s surprisingly easy to trigger accidentally—particularly when picking up my laptop. It’s not so much a button as it is a thin strip of metal that triggers when touched. When you touch it, it thinks you’re trying to log in to something, which results in a secure code being entered in whatever text box you have open, and then the enter key being “pressed.” The result, on Slack, looks like this:

What happens if you press your YubiKey in Slack

Yes, this happens so often that we have a custom emoji for it.

These codes are generated by OTP, which is one of the protocols that your YubiKey uses to connect to servers. You could stop this from happening altogether by turning off OTP, but that might break your ability to log in to some services. I think, for most users, it’s better to configure OTP to not trigger unless you hold the button for three seconds. This is a little complicated, but doable. YubiKey offers instructions for fixing this, but they’re kind of hard to follow, so here’s a summary.

To get started, download YubiKey manager on your computer. Install it, open the program, hover over Applications and click OTP.

YubiKey Manager

You should see two slots for OTP: the Short Touch, in Slot 1, and Long Touch, in Slot 2. Click the Swap button, so that OTP shows up in Slot 2. Like this:

YubiKey swap OTP slots

In some cases it won’t be this simple, but only if you’ve configured Slot 2 for some other purpose. You can read more on the YubiKey website if that’s you.

Is accidentally triggering my YubiKey in a chat room really bad?

If you accidentally paste a code into something like Slack or a text editor, that’s not a reason to immediately panic—it’s not completely obvious who it belongs to or what it can be used to log in to (and, if you articleed it on Slack, hopefully your coworkers aren’t trying to hack you).

Having said that, there’s always a chance a leaked 2FA code could enable a particularly creative hacker, so you don’t want to make a habit out of this.

You’re also not helpless if it happens. Every YubiKey code is unique, and becomes invalid every time you use the device to log in to something. You can manually invalidate codes, if you’re worried. Just head to this website and paste the leaked code there.

At Zapier people accidentally article YubiKey codes on Slack…a lot. It’s an internal meme at this point. It’s funny, and probably harmless, but our security team set up an automated system to invalidate all such codes just in case. You can set it up if you want—click here to get started.

Can I use one YubiKey with multiple devices?

Yes! Just plug your YubiKey into any computer and log in the way you normally would. That’s really it—you’ll be able to log in to all of your accounts, same as before. You can use your YubiKey to log in on as many devices as you want, so long as there’s a slot for it. This is nice if you own multiple devices, and also nice when you get a new computer.

What if I lose my YubiKey?

It’s not great. Without your YubiKey you probably won’t be able to log in. But there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk.

  • Most services that support 2FA (including YubiKey) allow you to create backup codes. Make sure you do this, and that you keep the codes somewhere secure—ideally offline. Consider printing them and putting them in a lockbox, if you can.
  • You could also add some other kind of 2FA to any service you set up with your YubiKey, as a fallback. This could be app-based verification, or you could buy a second YubiKey, add it as an option for all of your services, then store it somewhere safe (a different lockbox than the one your backup codes are in, maybe?).

If you don’t have backup codes or a second 2FA method, and have already lost your YubiKey, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Most services that offer 2FA have some kind of verification process for logging in after losing your credentials, but be warned: it’s going to take a while, and it’s going to be a lot of trouble. It’s far better to be prepared, so make sure you have backup codes somewhere secure or a second 2FA method set up.

Also: make sure to remove your lost YubiKey as a 2FA method after you regain access to your account. Odds are whoever founds your YubiKey won’t know which accounts it provides access to, but better safe than sorry.

To clarify: your Yubikey doesn’t store identifiable usernames and does not store any of your passwords. Anyone who founds your YubiKey would have absolutely no way of knowing which accounts it can log in to. This changes a little if the person who “founds” it knows it’s yours—say because they stole it from your house or office. But anyone who founds a YubiKey on the street, or in an airport, won’t be able to figure out whose key it is.

The YubiKey seems intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Set up your apps to use it, and you’ll found that it’s actually easier than other forms of two-factor authentication. Take it from someone who put it off for a long time—it’s worth it.

Photo by Andre A. Xavier on Unsplash.

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Feedback at work: How automation can help you handle criticism like a pro

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was shared by MOZ.

Feedback is like a multivitamin—really good for you, but hard to swallow. You may be a little hurt by constructive criticism from a supervisor, so you ignore the actual thing you need to work on. On the other hand, you might forget about that glowing review from a client and fail to bring it up in a job interview or an annual review.

When we don’t use feedback to our advantage, we end up hurting ourselves. We forget about our accomplishments, struggle to answer behavioral questions in a job interview, or worse—stunt our professional growth.

Tracking anything manually can be annoying, but Zapier can do the tracking for you. Our automatic workflows, which we call Zaps, send information from one app to another, so you can do things like sending any feedback you get through Slack straight to a feedback spreadsheet.

Read more about how Zapier works and then sign up for free.

Meet the brag sheet

We often don’t think about our accomplishments until it’s time for a performance review or a job interview. A former coworker of mine recognized this and introduced me to the concept of a “brag sheet.” A brag sheet is a living document or spreadsheet where you keep track of your work accomplishments. This can be feedback, projects you’ve worked on, presentations, customer testimonials, work samples, and more. Your occupation will likely influence what you want to track.

Instead of scrambling to find those testimonials and project samples, by maintaining a brag sheet, you’ll have your accomplishments and key metrics at the ready for whatever situation you might face.

Your brag sheet is also a place to track feedback—both positive and constructive—and how you’ve acted on it.

Why should you track feedback? Behavioral questions are common in job interviews, and there are several ways you can approach them. The STAR response method—which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result—is one of the most popular techniques for tackling behavioral questions. You describe a specific situation that you faced, the task you needed to do, the action you took to complete the task, and sum up the results.

Inevitably, you’ll be asked how you handle feedback. By tracking feedback, taking action, and documenting it, you already have a few STAR answers at the ready for your next interview. Plus, general themes can come up when you receive feedback, and can clue you in to some weaknesses you need to work on—something that comes up a lot in interviews.

Even if you aren’t planning on applying for a new job, you should still be tracking feedback, so you’ll have a compelling argument for a raise or promotion at your next performance review.

How to set up your brag sheet

Your brag sheet can be a document or spreadsheet. I recommend a spreadsheet because it’s easier to organize information—and set up Zaps for it. I use Airtable for my personal brag sheet, but you can use whatever spreadsheet app you like.

A screenshot of an example brag sheet in Airtable

I track my published work in my brag sheet.

Decide what you’ll track, and put each category in a different sheet within your spreadsheet. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure feedback is in a sheet separate from anything else you may want to track.

You’ll need the ability to categorize your feedback as either positive or constructive. I use the single-select field type in Airtable, but you can also create dropdown options in Google Sheets, Excel, and other spreadsheet apps.

A screenshot of an Airtable base.

I tend to only remember the constructive criticism instead of the praise.

I also find it helpful to include a checkbox to check off whether I’ve acted on the feedback or not.

Collect your feedback

Now that you have your spreadsheet ready to go, think about whom you receive feedback from. This could be customer testimonials, formal reviews from supervisors or direct reports, or one-offs from your colleagues.

Then, consider all of the channels you receive this feedback from. This might be email, a chat app like Microsoft Teams or Slack, or even an old-fashioned paper review.

We’ll use Zaps to populate your brag sheet. To get started with any of the following Zap templates—what we call our pre-made workflows—just click on it, and we’ll guide you through customizing it. It only takes a few minutes. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.

Email feedback

Instead of ignoring critical or complimentary emails, set up labels in your inbox for constructive and positive feedback. Then, use a Zap to filter these emails into your brag sheet. Whenever a message has a specific label, the Zap will automatically add it to your spreadsheet.

You can also use a Zap to automatically add emails matching a search.

This workflow serves two purposes. First, it ensures that you save positive feedback. Self-promotion can feel awkward, but less so if it comes from other sources.

Second, the Zap puts constructive criticism into a “time-out.” As a writer, I get feedback all the time. I’ve developed somewhat of tough skin, but even for me, constructive feedback can still sting. Putting some distance for a day or two will allow you to cool down and re-evaluate the critique with a level head.

Slack feedback

As is the nature with work chat apps, it’s easy to lose messages. Use a Zap to add saved messages from a chat app like Slack into your brag sheet.

You can also add messages into your spreadsheet if you react to a message with a specific emoji.

To ensure you don’t forget which emoji to use, you can create your own. I edited my face over a star for my personal emoji I use to save good feedback.

A cut-out of the author's head in the center of a star.

In my head I’m a star.

Paper feedback and digital copies

At a previous job, my performance reviews were conducted on paper, so of course, I misplaced them within a week.

If you really are handed a paper performance review—or you receive a handwritten note—you can take a photo of the document on your phone and upload it to Dropbox or another cloud storage app. Then, you can use a workflow to automatically add a file link in your brag sheet. (If you receive a digital copy of your review, such as a PDF file, even better. You save yourself a trip to the recycle bin.)

Follow up on feedback

There’s no point in collecting this feedback, especially constructive feedback, if you don’t act on it. And you’re not going to act on it if you don’t add it to your to-do list.

Use a Zap to send new brag sheet feedback to your favorite task management app. If you include a due date, remember to give yourself a “cooling-off period” between the time you received that feedback and when you look at it again.

With these workflows, you’ll tell the Zap which type of feedback you want to send over—just constructive, for example. Then, whenever a new row is added to your sheet that’s marked as constructive, Zapier will automatically send it to your favorite task management app.

Once you’ve acted on the feedback, you can check it off in your spreadsheet.

Track your projects or clips

Remember, your brag sheet is also a place to actively track the work you’ve done—not just stuff other people said you did. Don’t forget to capture projects, presentations, published work, or other evidence of your awesomeness.

Whether you’re a thought leader, prolific writer, or you just like to dabble with blogging, you don’t want to forget about published work. Use a Zap to capture new posts from an RSS feed or a WordPress blog in your spreadsheet.

Took the lead on a big project that you’re proud of? Gave a stellar presentation? Upload relevant files to your favorite cloud storage app, and use a Zap to add project links to your brag sheet.

And remember, you can always customize these Zaps to work with whatever apps you use.

Now go off and be awesome—but don’t forget to track it. You never know when you’ll need to provide the receipts.

If you’re actively looking for a job, here’s how to make the job search less of a full-time job.

Hero image by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

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