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Creamy Zucchini Soup

This zucchini soup has an amazing savory flavor, fresh vegetables, and is topped with the perfect drizzle of cream. Healthy and hearty, each spoonful will have you hooked with its silky-smooth goodness!

Nothing warms the soul quite as well as a bowl of homemade soup. My asparagus, mushroom, and butternut squash bisque are more tried and true soups ready to ring in cooler temperatures! Without a doubt, you’ll love them all!

Zucchini Soup Recipe

Zucchini dishes have been on repeat at my house this summer. I have loved having it on hand! It can upgrade any meal and add a healthy touch. Zucchini gratin, lasagna, and zoodles are just a few of my favorites. But now that nights have been cooling down, I can feel myself going into full soup mode. This creamy zucchini soup has been the best comfort food, and even with cream added, it is a low-calorie meal! For these reasons, I have been using up all of my leftover zucchini and making big batches of zucchini soup to eat and store. It heats up beautifully! Perfect for busy nights when you don’t know what to make.

And the best part of it all? Creamy zucchini soup only needs a handful of super simple ingredients to make. When boiled down, zucchini is irresistibly creamy on its own. Because of this, you can even make a dairy-free variety and omit the cream! I think adding a pop of cream, butter, or even olive oil just gives it a little extra indulgence. Whatever route you choose, the end result is going to be rich, creamy heaven. The Italian seasoning and fresh taste of zucchini in this soup really make it shine. I know you will be obsessed with this soup like I am! It is the perfect, tasty dish to transition from summer to fall. Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients for Easy Zucchini Soup

This recipe uses the most simple of ingredients. The great thing is, it can easily be customized! You can add additional vegetables or even meat to craft the zucchini soup of your dreams. There are also dairy-free and vegetarian varieties, making this a dish for everyone! Your family will love it. Individual measurements can be found in the recipe card below!

Zucchini: Small or medium-sized zucchini work best in this recipe. You’ll want them cut down into quarter pieces.Onion: You’ll need one small onion, also cut into quarter pieces. I recommend using yellow or sweet onions here. They give soups a hint of sharp flavor with a hint of sweetness!Chicken Broth: This is the savory base of your soup. You can also use vegetable broth as a vegetarian substitute!Italian Seasoning: This is my personal blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoran, and thyme. I love making this at home to personalize my blend! It works in so many different recipes. Anything from potatoes, chicken, to vegetables, and more! You’ll love it!Parmesan: Parmesan adds a delicious sharp flavor with a hint of nuttiness. Cheese makes everything better!Heavy Cream: For a little extra richness, drizzle heavy cream into your soup.Salt and Pepper: Add to taste. Salt and pepper will help to enhance the overall flavor of your zucchini soup.

How to Make the Best Zucchini Soup

This recipe is great for using up leftover zucchini and any meat and veggies you may have in your fridge! It is beyond easy and ends up creamy and delicious every time! Honestly, this recipe is so good it’s the kind of thing you’ll want to make all year long.

Cook Vegetables and Broth Together: Let’s start! First, in a large pot, add the zucchini and onion. Next, add the chicken broth Italian seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the onion and zucchini is tender.Blend and Serve: Using a blender or immersion blender, blend until the soup is smooth and creamy. Then, add in the parmesan cheese and heavy cream and stir until heated through. Finally, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Zucchini Soup Tips and Information

Here are some tips and tricks for making the most delicious zucchini soup possible! With how healthy, easy, and absolutely delicious it is, your family won’t be able to get enough!

Extra Ingredients: This soup is so versatile! You can add basically anything you’d like, but a few of my suggestions are sliced carrots, potatoes, chopped bell peppers, and a protein of your choice.Additional Flavors: For extra richness, you can add butter and/or a drizzle of olive oil to your soup. You can also customize the flavor to your liking by adding more Italian seasoning and fresh herbs. For a little heat, sprinkle in some ground cayenne pepper!Zucchini Sizing: I recommend picking zucchini that is on the smaller size. The bigger your zucchini is, the more likely it is to be seedy. Larger zucchini also has tough skin. So if you are making soup with a big zucchini, peel it first for best results.Benefits: In addition to being absolutely delicious, zucchini is a super healthy veggie! It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and is heart-healthy! Zucchini is also full of water to help hydrate and aid your digestive system. Another reason why this soup is the best!

My Favorite Soup Sides

We all love a good soup, but what about the bread for dipping? Whether you choose crostini, toast, breadsticks, crackers, or a roll, these sides add delicious texture and a fun element to the experience of eating soup. Once you try some of these mouthwatering sides, you’ll never eat soup by itself again!

Storing Leftover Cream of Zucchini Soup

This soup is perfect for storing. It refrigerates well and also freezes, giving you a quick and delicious option for dinners!

In the Refrigerator: Store soup in an airtight container for up to 3 days.In the Freezer: You can store your soup in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating. Some separation may occur, so give it a good stir before serving.Reheating: My favorite way to reheat this soup is on the stove over medium heat. I just stir it occasionally until it is completely warmed through. You can also pop it in the microwave! I like to start at 1 minute, stirring every 30 seconds, and then add additional time until it is completely warm. The more soup you are reheating, the longer this process will take.

Print

Creamy Zucchini Soup

This zucchini soup has an amazing savory flavor, fresh vegetables, and is topped with the perfect drizzle of cream. Healthy and hearty, each spoonful will have you hooked with its silky-smooth goodness!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword zucchini soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 332kcal
Author Alyssa Rivers

Ingredients

3 pounds zucchini quartered1 small onion quartered4 cups chicken broth vegetable also works1 teaspoon Italian seasoning1/2 cup parmesan grated1 cup heavy creamsalt and pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large pot add the zucchini and onion. Add the chicken broth Italian seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the onion and zucchini are tender.
Using a blender or immersion blender blend until the soup is smooth and creamy. Add in the parmesan cheese and heavy cream and stir until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 1111mg | Potassium: 1164mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1666IU | Vitamin C: 79mg | Calcium: 267mg | Iron: 2mg

Originally found on The Recipe Critic Read More




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7 Genius Baking Tips I Learned From Martha Stewart at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen

This was my fifth year attending the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, and while it’s always an incredible source of inspiration, fresh mountain air, and a few too many glasses of wine, this year held a particularly meaningful bucket-list moment: getting an education in baking from the legend herself, Martha Stewart. I attended the lifestyle guru’s “Fruit Desserts” panel (also the title of Stewart’s upcoming cookbookher 99th!), where I furiously jotted notes while cracking up at her wicked sense of humor. Since you couldn’t all be at the Classic with me (though if you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it), I thought I’d share some of her best kitchen hacks right here!

Read on for seven genius baking tips I learned from Martha Stewart at this year’s Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

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1. The fastest way to make pie crust? The food processor.

The fact that your food processor can produce beautifully flaky pie crust is just another reason to appreciate the magic of this versatile kitchen tool. To prove its power, Stewart actually held a competition during the session to pit handmade dough against processed pastry—the latter got the job done three times faster every time.

One key tip for time-saving bakers: pulse, don’t process. Pulsing is far gentler, and most closely mimics the process of making the dough by hand. After mixing, divide the dough into smaller portions and smear each with the heel of your hand to help distribute the fat (an often overlooked recommendation made by Epicurious). Wrap it up tightly and let the dough refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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2. Before you bake, toss your fruit with lemon juice.

The benefits are twofold: the lemon juice adds flavor and prevents fruits like apples, pears, and stone fruit from discoloring in the baking process.

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3. A cook’s best friend? Bar cloths.

You can buy a huge pack of bar cloths to have on hand and always keep a few damp ones folded on the counter next to you for easy cleanup—a far more sustainable method than forever rolling out paper towels.

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4. The one-ingredient glaze that dresses up any dessert.

Warm a half cup of preserves in a pot on the stove, then brush the glaze onto your fruit or pastry just before serving for extra lush desserts. Consider pairing an apricot glaze with apple tarts, or try raspberry with a plum crostata.

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5. Edit your pantry.

If it’s been a while since you’ve last baked, give your pantry a visit and toss anything that’s over the hill. Easy throwaways are leavening agents (baking powder, baking soda) that are over a year old, as well as spices that aren’t as fragrant as they should be. If you’re really looking to purge your pantry and make it feel organized, consider tossing out any unused pantry staples, like opened jars of nuts that people have already filtered their favorites out of. Even peanut butter can go bad if unused after about three months. Using fresh ingredients always elevates your baking.

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6. The art of scraping is a game-changer.

Seriously, don’t skimp on scraping. If you’ve ever baked a batch of cookies with a few oddballs, poor scraping is probably to blame. Serious Eats stresses the importance of scraping as part of the “creaming process,” where ingredients are aerated (folded together instead of mixed) to make a dough that’s light, fluffy, and consistent. Scrape the bowl with a good rubber spatula during the entire blending process to ensure the dough is totally homogenized.

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7. Flip your grater.

When zesting citrus, I always held my microplane under the fruit so that the zest would go fall right into my bowl, but I was surprised to see Stewart holding hers reversed! Holding the microplane with the blade down and the lemon underneath, she showed the audience how the inner part of the microplane collects all the zest so you add to the dessert. Just be careful not to peel too deep—the white pith under the skin has a bitter taste.

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*A Bonus Martha Stewart Tip—The Surprising Secret to Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

This isn’t baking-related, but I had to share this scrambled egg hack because my mind was blown. Stewart claims that the very best, fluffiest scrambled eggs are made in a… (wait for it) cappuccino milk frother! She told us to just pour your lightly beaten eggs into the frother, turn it on, and 90 seconds later you’ve got perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs. (Apparently, it really does the trick!)

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Have you ever tried this? If so, leave a comment and let me know if it worked for you. You can bet I’ll be trying it at home, although I feel like I need to get a backup frother to test it—the idea of scrambled egg residue in my morning coffee makes my stomach turn.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips

Air fryer sweet potato chips are the most delicious, crunchy snack! They are SOO good and much healthier than the store-bought version! This homemade favorite is something you can munch on all day long!

I love a snack that is sweet AND savory. These chips satisfy that craving and are one of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes! A few more snacks that you can make to munch on at home are these Ranch Pretzels, Baked Zucchini Fries, and my personal favorite, Green Tomatoes!

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips

The name of this recipe just SOUNDS delicious to me! Any recipe that can make my mouth water before I even cook it is a winner in my book! So, if you love sweet potatoes and are looking for a new way to cook them up, you’ve come to the right place. These air fryer sweet potato chips are absolutely delicious! They are crunchy and salty and best yet… EASY to make! All you have to do is slice them up, season them through, and pop them in the air fryer. This makes it so easy and you will have a scrumptious snack ready to go in under 30 minutes! And if you love these, you should try these other potato chips or french fries in the air fryer too!

Air fryer sweet potato chips are as yummy as they sound! Plus… they are healthy! You can buy these at the store but they won’t be as healthy or fresh as these ones. So save yourself some money and make up a big batch of these next time the craving hits! Cooking them in an air fryer also allows you to get the benefit of “fried” foods without all of the oil and grease! In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite ways to bake up normally fried recipes. I get the delicious taste without the guilt! So go ahead and try these out, I’m sure that you will agree they are a winner!

Ingredients in Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips

Well, this one is about as easy as it gets! All you need is 3 (yep you read that right… 3!), ingredients and you will be snacking on these in no time! See the recipe card below for a list of exact measurements.

Sweet potatoes: Choose medium sized sweet potatoes when you are picking these out! Olive oil: Just a small amount is needed! Salt: This will give you that salty, chip flavor!

Let’s (Air) Fry Up Some Chips!

Before you begin, you will want to make sure that you have a mandolin slicer ready to go! This will give you those thin, potato chip slices that you need for this recipe!

Slice: Using a mandolin slicer, slice the sweet potatoes into very thin slices.Soak: Soak the sweet potato slices in cold water for 20 minutes to remove the additional starch from the potatoes.Dry: Remove them from the water and pat dry with a paper towel.Sprinkle and toss: Toss the air fryer slices in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.Cook: Lay the slices in an even layer in the air fryer. Cook at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until crisp.Remove and repeat: Remove from the air fryer and repeat until all of the sweet potato slices are used.

Air Fryer Tips

If you are new to using an air fryer, here are some tips for you! These will help your food turn out just perfectly. And really, once you get the hang of it, you will never go back!

Preheat your air fyer: To get the most evenly cooked food, you should preheat your air fryer. Some air fryers have a specific preheat button. If yours doesn’t, then go ahead and set it at the cooking temperature for your recipe for 3 minutes before you put food in it! Don’t overlap: It’s best to cook in layers in the air fryer! If you do then your food will turn out better! Make sure that you don’t overcrowd the basket and that your food doesn’t overlap. Placing too much food in the basket doesn’t allow it to cook properly. It will end up soggy and not crispy!Don’t forget to flip: In *most* air fryer recipes, you are going to want to take the basket out and flip or shake the food halfway through cooking. You do this because this will help you get you the most even crisp on all of your food!

How to Store Leftovers

The best part about air fryer sweet potato chips is that (just like normal potato chips) is that you can enjoy them for a few weeks after! So go ahead and double or triple this recipe and cook up a bunch at once! You will be so happy that you did!

Room temperature: Once you are done eating your sweet potato chips, you can save them for later! Store them in a plastic ziplock bag or airtight container. You can store them in your pantry out on your counter for up to 2 weeks!

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Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips

Air fryer sweet potato chips are the most delicious, crunchy snack! They are SOO good and much healthier than the store-bought version! This homemade favorite is something you can munch on all day long!
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer sweet potato chips, sweet potato chips
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 106kcal
Author Alyssa Rivers

Ingredients

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes1 teaspoon olive oilsalt

Instructions

Using a mandolin slicer, slice the sweet potatoes into very thin slices.
Soak the sweet potato slices in cold water for 20 minutes to remove the additional starch from the potatoes.
Remove them from the water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Toss the air fryer slices in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Lay the slices in an even layer in the air fryer. Cook at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until crisp.
Remove from the air fryer and repeat until all of the sweet potato slices are used.

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 381mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 16031IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg

Originally found on The Recipe Critic Read More




Behold: The 12 Best Indoor Hanging Plants to Breathe New Life Into Your Space

Within the lush world of indoor greenery, hanging plants may be one of the coolest options for outfitting your home. Their cascading trails add so much life to a room, all without taking up any significant square footage. The suspended beauties create a serene, bohemian touch that could even help purify the air. But what are the best indoor hanging plants?

For that, we turn to a seasoned expert with a truly green thumb, Lisa Muñoz. The founder of New York-based plant design company Leaf and June and author of the newly released House Planted graciously shared not only her favorite hanging plants but offered advice on exactly how to keep them alive.

Before we dive in, a few primers on Muñoz’s plant picks.

Feature image of Cassie Courtney by Riley Reed.

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What Makes House Plants Suited to the Indoors?

Most popular house plants (including Muñoz’s favorites below) don’t require direct sunlight, so they acclimate well to the indoors. “Many of these are also found in more humid climates or growing up the trunks of trees,” Muñoz says. “While you want to try to mimic their natural habitat, these particular options respond well to being indoors and therefore make excellent houseplants.”

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PHOTO: Emily Henderson’s home office, photographed by Sara Tramp

How House Plants Help Purify the Air

Thanks to the magic of photosynthesis, plants turn carbon dioxide into fresh oxygen, and may even be able to help remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air inside your home. Better yet: house plants can make you feel happier. “Beyond purifying the air, they help provide a sense of calm, boost your mood, and increase focus which is particularly helpful in the home or workplace,” Muñoz adds.

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The Best Food for Indoor Plants

Consider plant food like daily vitamins for your green friends. We don’t necessarily need them to live a long, healthy life, but they’re a nice boost to help us thrive.

“Plants that have been in the same pot for a very long time benefit from the extra nutrient boost, whether that’s in the form of a chemical or organic fertilizer or even a fresh top dressing of potting soil,” Muñoz explains. “As long as plant food is administered in moderation, your plant will continue to push out new growth.”

Scroll on for the best indoor hanging plants and how to care for them. 

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Hoya Publicalyx

Not to be confused with Hoya carnosa (we’ll touch on that one later), the fast-growing vine plant’s deep green leaves often beautifully spill over the side of its planter.

How to Care for It: Bright indirect light is best though they are tolerant of medium light conditions. They are drought tolerant and only like to be watered when the top one to two inches of soil are dry. They also produce clusters of waxy flowers that are truly magnificent.

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Heartleaf Philodendron

This evergreen cutie with glossy leaves is super easy to care for and grow. Naturally, it’s in the popular crowd.

How to Care for It: Medium to bright indirect light is ideal. They can acclimate to lower light conditions but may not thrive. For best results, medium to bright indirect is preferred. They’re fast growers making it easy to prune as you wish. Bonus: Pruning encourages new growth. 6 of 16

Monstera Adansonii

Commonly known as the Swiss cheese plant, the fast-growing greenery likes to climb or trail, making it perfect for hanging.

How to Care for It: Bright indirect light is best, although they are tolerant of medium light conditions. Allow soil to become mostly dry in between waterings. They also benefit from watering with distilled or filtered water, but it’s not a requirement to keeping them happy.

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Golden Pothos

Also referred to as “devil’s ivy,” pothos is notoriously hard to kill. Hang it up high and let its eye-catching foliage cascade down.

How to Care for It: Medium to bright indirect light is ideal. They can acclimate to lower light conditions but may not thrive. They’re fast growers and are low maintenance as long as you can avoid cold, drafty windows in the colder months.

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Philodendron Micans

With their deep green, velvety leaves and hearty disposition, the plant makes a groovy addition to any corner.

How to Care for It: These also do well in a range of light conditions from low to bright indirect light. Fully saturate soil when the top two inches of soil are dry. As they are fast growers, prune as you’d like to encourage new growth at the top.

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Satin Pothos

Much like its golden relative, satin pothos is incredibly easy to grow. The lovely velvety texture of its leaves earns the plant its name.

How to Care for It: This plant acclimates well to a range of light conditions. Fully saturate soil when the top two inches of soil are dry. Leaves curling are typically an indication that it’s thirsty though they unfurl quickly once watered.

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Fishbone Cactus

This funky little find likes to climb—stems initially grow upwards and then begin to cascade down. They may even occasionally bloom with soft pink flowers (though they don’t live for long).

How to Care for It: Bright indirect light is preferred though this plant can do well in slightly lower light conditions. Fully saturate the soil with each watering, allowing the top two inches of soil to dry out between waterings. They do enjoy humidity, although it’s not necessary for them to thrive.

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Cissus Discolor

The large, beautiful leaves range from purple and silver to every shade of green. Let the vines grow long to enjoy a colorful show.

How to Care for It: Partial sun to light shade is ideal. This plant loves the heat and struggles if it’s exposed to cold temperatures in the winter months. Allow the soil to get fairly dry between waterings.
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Philodendron Brazil

A vibrant version of the classic houseplant, this sturdy beauty can be trained to grow upwards using support, but its colorful leaves are naturally inclined to trail down.

How to Care for It: Medium to bright indirect light is ideal. They can acclimate to lower light conditions but may not thrive. For best results, medium to bright indirect is preferred. Like many philodendron varieties, they’re fast growers.

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Red Mistletoe Cactus

When a simple green houseplant won’t do, this daring succulent commands attention.

How to Care for It: Partial sun is preferred but the more light they receive, the redder the foliage becomes. Be careful to avoid too much direct sunlight. Don’t be swayed by the cactus’ name. These like thorough and regular waterings when the soil is almost completely dry.

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Hoya Carnosa Compacta

One of the most popular varieties of Hoyas, the verdant gem with trailing vines was practically built to be hung high and admired.

How to Care for It: Bright indirect, diffused light is best. They are drought tolerant and only like to be watered when the top one to two inches of soil are dry. These also produce clusters of waxy, subtly fragrant flowers.
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String of Pearls

This elegant plant’s unique leaves would make an excellent addition to your bookshelf. Place it high and let the drama unfurl.

How to Care for It: These tend to need a little bit more attention and love. Bright, indirect light is ideal. Too much intense, direct sunlight will cause the pearls to dry out. Fully saturate the soil and be sure to allow it to dry out completely in between waterings.

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For more green-thumbed insights, shop Muñoz’s book, House Planted, here.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More




8 Hacks Small Businesses Can Use to Boost Website Traffic and Sales

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Managing the SEO for small businesses can be even more critical than SEO for big brands competing for a top place in the SERPs. Since this is the case, the ideal approach is to focus on organic positioning hacks that would boost your website traffic and sales.

Here are eight hacks that will improve your small business’s SEO.

1. Optimize your website for SEO

If your website is not well optimized at the on-page SEO level, it will be much more difficult to position it correctly for the terms you want to rank for in search results.

What does on-page SEO mean? Focus your attention on the following checklist:

Use a proper server

Use the correct domain

Enable HTTPS

Provide encryption

Make sure all your links are HTTPS

Check to be sure that there is only one browseable version

Set up authenticated emails

Configure analytics

Manage broken links

Test and remove irrelevant content

Enable caching, modification, and data compression

Check for potential indexing blocks

Register your site in the Google Search Console webmaster tool

Link and share on social media

2. Create a content strategy for your small-to-medium enterprise (SME)

For the content to maximize the SEO impact of your SME, it’s essential to set the goal of providing quality content (i.e. tangible value to the user). In the case of small businesses, the need to offer added value with your content is huge.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and answer their questions, their concerns, and their doubts with your how-to guides, useful videos, in-depth ebooks, and everything else that has a place in a successful content strategy.

3. Choose and target specific keywords

To position the website of your small business effectively, it’s crucial to stand out from the competition.

Big companies like Tripadvisor can afford to target generic keywords like “travel” and easily forget more specific ones without any problem. This is not the case for small businesses. Small businesses need to opt for long-tail and more specific keywords.

Following the example of the travel sector, you can create content on specific itineraries that target particular keywords, such as “charming towns in California to visit with kids.” You can also generate certain valuable information for the traveling user, such as “vintage fashion stores in New York,” or bet on exclusive content such as “interviews with chefs from the best restaurants in Paris.”

Large companies often prefer not to compare themselves with the competition. But when we talk about SEO strategy for smaller companies, analyzing the competition can be very useful to learn more about the industry itself and what your audience expects from you. Take a look at your competitors’ keywords to get some inspiration, match them, or surpass them. From there, create your own keyword study to establish your content plan.

Related: How to Identify the Best Long-Tail Keywords

4. Get active and passive links

In addition to adding value to the user, creating top content will help you passively generate links.

To stand out and attract attention to get shares and links, you can include various formats such as multimedia content, infographics, podcasts, interviews, tutorials, and guest articles in your content strategy. There are also many opportunities to improve the positioning offered by link building or the active generation of links.

Some ideas for link building for small businesses include press releases, business directories, and generating content as a guest on third-party blogs.

Not all links are ideal though. Focus on:

Links that come from websites that are related to the theme of your site and your keywords. And of course, the higher the authority of the website, the better.

Links that point to your website in a natural way, providing helpful information for the user.

Links that occur because your content is worth it. Put special care in the content that you generate and think viral; in short, create engaging content that third parties want to share.

Don’t forget to set up a proper internal linking strategy as well.

5. Launch a local SEO strategy

The SEO for small businesses with a physical headquarters becomes more robust if it includes local positioning strategy, meaning keyword and location. This potent tool will bring traffic to your store since users who do this type of search are interested in a specific product or service and in acquiring it in a particular location.

Local positioning strategies depend significantly on the Google My Business tool, so don’t forget to create your GMB account.

Related: Local SEO, Fine-Tuned for Today and Tomorrow

6. Avoid traffic losses with all your might

SEO depends on many variables, and it’s essential to know them well to analyze them and keep track of the updates and changes. You may not be able to keep track of all the algorithm updates, but there should be someone who can.

Failing to keep track of all the changes in the Google algorithm (and tweaking your website accordingly) may result in a severe traffic drop.

7. Stay up-to-date on new SEO strategies for small businesses

To compete with the big boys, you cannot leave your SEO strategy anchored in the past; it must always be fresh and adapted to possible changes in search engine algorithms and new trends.

Don’t shy away from trends such as local SEO, voice or image searches, positioning on Amazon and Google Shopping, or any other available SEO tools that you could use to boost your business, such as Google Trends.

Related: 7 Ways to Use Google Trends for SEO

8. Leave your SEO strategy in good hands

Can you call yourself an SEO expert? Probably not. As mentioned before, you need someone to monitor all of the changes and updates within the Google algorithm. The same goes for having a professional managing your entire SEO efforts.

Even though your business is small, you can only benefit from employing an SEO specialist in the long run. Thanks to working remotely, you can do the hiring online and outsource this task properly without additional employee expenses.

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More




Bringing the Neighborhood Back to Business: Lessons From Mr. Rogers

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Fred Rogers is not your typical pop culture icon. If his show came out today, it would likely be set aside in favor of a binge-worthy, fast-paced and high-drama series. However, his show impacted a generation of the children who now make up the largest proportion of the U.S. labor force — including yours truly.

Bettmann | Getty Images

The 2018 HBO documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? pulled back the curtain on Fred Rogers’ life and intimate moments, uncovering the man behind the iconic sweater. It was a timely reminder of a man whose goals and intentions were to help make the world a more loving and kind place. For the generation of elder millennials experiencing a second recession amidst a global pandemic, it feels almost necessary to pause and apply Mr. Rogers’ lessons to the workplace.

How different would work look if people functioned in the spirit of Mr. Rogers? If colleagues used the teachings of Mr. Rogers on their teams? What potential could a business unlock if the message it gave to every employee was, “You don’t ever have to do anything sensational to belong here?”

Related: Why It’s Important to Build a Good Work Culture

Here are three things businesses can learn from Mr. Rogers today.

1. Redefine high potential

Not everyone is a fan of the beloved Mr. Rogers. He’s been falsely accused of creating a generation of entitled children by telling them they were remarkable for simply being who they were. In a scathing Wall Street Journal article, one critic even argued that “what often got lost in his self-esteem building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself.”

Those critiques showcase a uniquely American view. Success does not happen in a vacuum. Community, networking and connections play a significant role in upward mobility. The idea that every individual is responsible for working hard to get the things he or she wants in life is riddled with logical fallacies, gaslighting and often blame from the more privileged generations who came before. And while 90% of people born in the 1940s achieved higher wages and standard of living than their parents, only 50% of millennials born in the 1980s experienced the same. So today, for many people in the U.S., there’s “not enough wealth” to go around, no matter how hard they may work. Do we really believe people have to be exceedingly special to provide a decent living for their families? It appears so, as a whopping 62% of jobs in the U.S. today don’t provide a middle-class wage.

Organizations perpetuate the same belief that there isn’t enough for everyone by only paying the people who “provide the most value.” The view from the outside is that only these special, chosen, high-performing few deserve a better life and opportunity to build generational wealth. For a clear example of how extreme this practice has become, you only need to look at how we compensate executives whose wages have grown 1,322% between 1978 and 2020. For comparison, the top 0.1% of earners have only seen 341% wage growth, and the average employee only 18% wage growth in the same period.

Mr. Rogers provides a counter-narrative to the high-performance (HiPo) prioritization we see in most organizations. By taking a page from his book, we can redefine value at work from an artificial set of metrics that disproportionately reward a few upper-middle-class, wealthy, white men (and a few women).

The reality is that all employees can and do play a role in an organization’s success — we simply must redefine high potential. In the paper “Everyone is Equal, but Some are More Equal than Others”, Yost and Chang channel Mr. Rogers and create a guide for organizations seeking a kinder way to categorize potential:

Potential for what: By focusing on the few high-potential employees, companies neglect the importance of every employee to the success of a business. A HiPo in sales and marketing strategy would never be successful without the operational team that executes her plan. How much more human capability could we unleash if, instead, we asked, “How can organizations help everyone increase their potential?” Because there is no such thing as a high performer in isolation. Potential as place: Imagine organizations that are flatter and more dynamic. Instead of thinking of potential as “moving up,” potential can be realized through horizontal movement. Finding a match for individual capabilities with company needs (within or outside of the scope of a role) can increase potential for everyone. Potential as process: It takes time for the process to bring out potential — which, by definition, has not been realized yet. Thinking of potential as a process gives people in organizations the freedom to learn how to develop themselves and others. This can be done through an equitable distribution of access to resources that have historically been available to a few privileged people like stretch assignments, mentorship and sponsorship, formal and informal networking, robust and resourced development plans, feedback, and opportunities reflection.

By seeing a workplace as a collective of potential instead of individual performers, we can help employees be their best selves beyond performance metrics.

Related: Community Is the Best Company Culture

2. Flip the script on conflict

Fred Rogers normalized emotions. He displayed and had dialogue about a wide range of feelings and healthy reactions to the entire spectrum of emotion — even anger or disappointment. Frequently in organizations, the high-potential folks are the only ones supported in experiencing and expressing these negative emotions. However, conflict at work is often interpersonal and impacts teams and people more negatively than positively, resulting in increased stress and decreased well-being. But as Mr. Rogers taught us, the conflict has the potential for good.

Conflict can boost creativity, result in better solutions and increase learning in complex tasks. It can lead teams to unexpected results and stronger relationships. So how can people turn tension into a productive tool? By responding with curiosity, openness and warmth.

Displaying warm and inviting behaviors in the face of conflict is called non-complementary behavior –something that’s extraordinarily hard to do. But when people act in non-complementary ways, it acts as an extraordinary impetus for change.

If instead of defending or responding with aggression to conflict (i.e., asking “What’s wrong with you?”), get curious (i.e., “What happened to you?” “It seems like you’ve had a unique experience here”), and you will likely change a hostile situation into a warm one.

By channeling Mr. Rogers, we can cultivate healthy conflict and drive cultures of curiosity, allowing people to be more fully themselves at work. Emotions are not something to defend against if we reframe them in his pedagogy: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”

3. Build community

Fred Rogers’ childhood was not always easy. He was overweight, shy, had low self-esteem and suffered from asthma in a heavy industry town. Often stuck inside during summers due to air congestion, he felt isolated both physically and emotionally. While he learned to have self-confidence later in life, those childhood experiences stuck with him. They greatly influenced the adult he became and led him to build community with and for children (and adults) who had experienced adversity growing up.

Now imagine the CEO of your company held that view — that our job as a community is to help other human beings navigate and grow through the ebbs and flows of their lives. That your CEO believed in this idea so strongly he or she assigned a chief neighborhood officer and a team of people whose sole function was to build community, care for the humans who interact with the organization and lift people up within and outside of organizations.

Being in positive relationships with others is essential to health, happiness and even has positive outcomes for the organization. Having a best friend at work is linked to seven-fold increases in engagement, higher levels of well-being, better customer interactions and higher quality work. For many of us, work is our modern-day neighborhood, and if we aren’t supported in overcoming our own challenges, how can we model that behavior and pass it on to others?

Perhaps some of you already have people or community teams doing similar work and have felt the impact of care, compassion and collective growth as a core value of your workplace.

If we prioritize building and cultivating community as Mr. Rogers did, we can create systems that lift people up and empower them to do the same for others.

Related: 5 Ways to Harness the Power of Community to Grow Your Business

Bringing the neighborhood to your business

Regardless of where your organization is today, I encourage you to take a step back and think about where you find kindness and community in your workplace. And, where we can, take a page from Mr. Rogers and build even more. When it comes to the workplace, his wisdom still holds true: “Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.”

Fred Rogers has been a role model for how to live and work for me and others for many years, but sharing his lessons now feels more pertinent than ever. Over the past two years, we have experienced an unprecedented transition in how we gather, relate to one another and how work happens. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk through the portal and imagine a new way of being — guided by heroes of our childhood who envisioned a place where no one had to be extraordinary to be valued.

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More




How to use VPN to access blocked websites?

Governments and regimes across the globe use censorship as a tool to control the flow of information. This article highlights easy ways to bypass censorship, especially how one can use VPN to access blocked websites. If your country censors the internet and blocks sites like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube then a VPN is what you need.

When you visit a website, you may find that it is blocked. This can be frustrating because you want to access online content for numerous purposes but you can not access it. And you think it seems like a joke that you might need to look up how to unblock websites.

That’s because we have freedom of expression. But, there are different reasons why a website may be blocked. One reason might be that you live in a country with strict rules.

SEE: Top 10 worst countries for Internet freedom & censorship

Another reason might be that you were trying to access some content from school or work and they have restrictions on what can be seen there and like this, there are many more reasons that we will discuss later in this article.

When you start searching you will find that there are a variety of websites that you may not be able to access. Then you start searching for the solution, for which you are here and reading this article because this is a solution to the problem you are facing right now.

Well, there are various methods for overcoming this barrier. There are several solutions available, but utilizing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is the most dependable option of all.

Originally, VPNs were made to help people stay safe when they are online. Nobody should know where you are. If you use a VPN, your ISP or hacker can’t see what you do. But nowadays there are a lot of reasons to use a VPN.

There was a time when VPNs were only used for security and privacy. Now, people use them for entertainment. For example, VPNs also let you enjoy Netflix and many more services like this.

We mentioned in the text above that VPNs have been increasing in popularity and you can do a lot with them. Here are some reasons that we came up with:

Bypass restrictions on websites to get around geographic limitations.
Streaming media like Netflix and Hulu.
To protect yourself from untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots.
You can stay anonymous.
Protect yourself while torrenting.

A VPN is a way to connect to the internet with less risk. It protects you so you can access your private connection remotely. Therefore, all your traffic will be on the private network even if you’re connecting through a public connection.

Imagine your Internet connection as a long, transparent tube. Information runs through the tube freely. Using a VPN is like putting another smaller tube inside of the larger one. When you do this, you can make sure that all of your traffic goes through it and not out to other sites or servers on the Internet.

Some people have slower internet because of encryption and how far they are from the server. If this happens, more information is available about how to boost your VPN connection and make your internet faster.

But let’s get back to our topic now we are going to mention the steps how you can unblock blocked websites

You need to pick a good VPN service.
Download and Install VPN on your device
Register yourself then log in with your credentials
Select a server location and connect to it.
Once you connect to their servers, your traffic will appear to originate from another country, allowing you to access the website.
Now you are browsing anonymously.

Why should we use VPN to access blocked websites?

A VPN may be the best method to unblock websites. This is especially if you need to access content that cannot be accessed on websites.

VPNs are used to protect your information. They use encryption for internet traffic and can help you access geo-blocked websites, like US Netflix. It is also a tool that people can use to get around censorship on the internet. You do not need a VPN every time you go online, but it is a good idea if you need it.

VPNs help keep you safe and private online. They keep people from seeing what you do on the internet. This means that your Internet Service Provider won’t know anything about what you do.

Why do popular websites get blocked?

Many countries, such as China, UAE, Iran, and Turkey, block access to websites. Governments do this for many reasons. They might want to stop the flow of information or suppress uprisings. Regardless of their reasons, censorship is a tactic used to control internet access. With VPNs, you can bypass these restrictions and have free internet without surveillance from your police or government agencies in your country.

Is it legal to unblock websites?

The legality of unblocking websites and torrenting files and media depends on where you live. Different countries allow VPNs. For more information about specific countries, research what local laws say about VPNs. If you are downloading copyrighted media, that’s always illegal, whether you’re using a VPN or not.

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Originally found on Feedzy. Read More