You will see the list of Best Hindi Blogs हिंदी के सर्वश्रेष्ठ ब्लॉगों की लिस्ट in a month!

Dear Hindi blogger friends,

Compilation of the 2021 edition of the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs is going on. If you have a good Hindi blog to suggest, do so now.

The directory will be released on September 1, 2021.

मित्रो,

हिंदी के सर्वश्रेष्ठ ब्लॉगों की डायरेक्टरी के 2021 संस्करण का संकलन शुरू हो चुका है. अगर आपको कोई उत्तम गुणवत्ता का ब्लॉग सुझाना हो तो शीघ्र करने का कष्ट करें
.
 
डायरेक्टरी 1 सितंबर 2021 को प्रकाशित होगी. 


top hindi blogs

What is HTTPS? How do HTTP and HTTPS protocols work?

If you are new to the world of managing a website or blog, words such as HTTP and HTTPS might confuse you. So, this article starts with the very basics such as "what is HTTPS". If you are already there on the scene for long but have ignored implementing HTTPS on your website or blog, you better brush up your knowledge and install HTTPS on your website without losing time.

For easy understanding, I have broken this article into sections. You can jump to a section by clicking on the link here:
     

WHAT IS HTTPS


HTTPS is a secure way of transmitting data between a website and a web browser.

The first expression in any web address or URL is http:// or https://. Even if the browser at times does not show this, it is there, hidden from our view.
 
Websites (static websites, portals, blogs, forums, social media entities are all different forms of websites) can be seen on the browsers of our devices because of a technical protocol (=a set of norms that are well established and which are followed by all) called Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP.
 
When you want to open a website, you either type out its URL or click on a link to that website. Your web browser instantly checks the website's basic information. If it finds that the website is following HTTP protocol, it sends a request to the website server for data. After a technical handshake, the data is provided to your web browser and the website opens on your device.
 
After some years of existence with HTTP, it was found that hackers and criminals can exploit the communication between the visitor's browser and the website's server, thus getting entry into the server, stealing data, pushing malicious data, and so on. Spy agencies and government-owned surveillance tools can intercept the communication with even greater efficiency as they have very powerful tools.
 
Different ways were (and are constantly being) devised to check this exploitation. One of the most important ways for securing communication or data transfer on the web is the introduction of HTTPS, a protocol that is essentially HTTP and has an S (=secure) layer attached to it. Thus, the communication between the two computers has to pass through a sort of security gate where the gatekeeper (security layer) checks the ID of the message and the website.

If you need a more elaborate definition of HTTP, here is how Webopedia defines HTTPS:
HTTP is the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web and this protocol defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands.



What is SSL?

HTTPS happens because of a piece of software (= security layer, security certidicate) that acts as gatekeeper for a domain/ website. The software is issued by a Certification Agency. We are discussing how to get a SSL certificate from a Certification Agency in a section below.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the most common security layer or certificate to secure a website from unwanted elements capturing the website's communication and data transfer. SSL is nothing but a certificate or a piece of software installed on the server where the website is located. TLS (Transport Layer Security) is a more recent certificate and it takes care of some vulnerabilities found in SSL. For the sake of uniformity, I will refer to both as SSL in this article.
 



How does HTTPS work?

When you enter a URL on your web browser, a communication is generated by your web server. It looks for the URL over the www through the internet, and when it finds the target server, it requests the server to pass on the information so that the website can be displayed in the web browser.  In case of HTTPS-enabled sites, this bit of request faces SSL or TLS software before further action takes place. The SSL certificate information gets passed on to the browser on which the URL was typed. The browser checks whether the certificate is trustworthy. After verification of the certificate, there is a 'handshake' between the web server and the browser - now all the data flow between the two ends during that session happens through encryption.

What follows from the above [highly simplified] discussion is that there is a security certificate at the gate of the website and there is a database of valid certificates in the browser (browsers keep updating their list of valid certificates). So, if the certificate is not valid or is corrupted, the browser will not open the website but issue a warning to the user that the website is not secure.
 
For some years now, browsers have been popping up a security warning, even if a non-HTTPS website is genuine and safe because the genuineness of the website does not guarantee that the communication between it and a web browser will be secure. When the security setting of a browser is set to maximum, such sites do not open at all.



Types of HTTPS

HTTPS prefix is a stamp that there is a SSL/ TLS certificate at the gate of the website. But it does not tell about the strength of the security the certificate provides. Certification Agencies (CAs) issue different types of certificates to cater to different levels of security. The higher level of security you demand, the costlier the certificate is.

Before issuing a certificate, the CA carries out certain security checks (=validations) for the website and the website owner, as follows:
  • When the CA only verifies the domain before issuing a certificate, it is called Domain-Control Validation (DV). As you would expect, this is the lowest level of security certificate. The CA, in this case, tells the web browser of the user: "I have checked the domain of this website. The domain is an actual domain and not a duplicate or fake or phishing domain. The data flow between this website and a web browser will be encrypted and secure." So, a domain can have this certificate even if it belongs to a criminal or fraudster.
  • In the next level of security check, the CA checks whether the organization or individual behind the website/ domain is genuine. This is called Organization Validation (OV).
  • When the website/ domain needs the strongest level of security, it would install Extended Validation (EV) certificate. In that case, the CA makes rigorous checks of the owner's identity. Only a highly trustworthy owner can get such a security certificate. Banks and other websites that deal with money and online transactions must have this level of security.
See the picture below. It shows how Google Chrome's address bar shows 4 different types of security levels (HTTP only and three HTTPS levels). The lower portion in each case is the small window that opens after clicking on the lock before the URL. (Other web browsers have more or less similar ways of depicting the level of HTTPS security.)

what is HTTPS

The first URL shown above belongs to a domain with HTTP, not HTTPS prefix. Look at the lock before the URL: it has been crossed. The second one has HTTPS certificate and therefore there is a lock preceding the URL, but some entities (e.g. images) on the website are not contained behind HTTPS security, so it gives a warning. The third URL is a common website with HTTPS security. The fourth one belongs to a bank's website. It has a lock as well as the name of the verified owner.

To make things clear again: if an HTTPS-enabled website has SSL/ TLS certificate with only domain validation, the domain can be trusted as genuine but its owner could himself be of doubtful credentials. So, sites with HTTPS certification of the first type could still be malicious. Moreover, criminals could use HTTPS-enabled websites, such as blogs, where third-party content is allowed. 

There could also be rogue or corrupted certificates getting issued or the same certificate getting used for a good and many bad sites. Some such cases have appeared in the press.

So, for confidential/ monetary transactions, you must be sure that the website uses a higher level of certification - seen with padlock. and company's name before the URL. Do not share confidential information such as credit card CVV on websites that do not have the top level security.



How to install SSL certificate on your website?

As explained above, for HTTPS security on your website, you need to get an SSL certificate. Most Certification Agencies give it at a price, and some have started giving the DV level of certificate free too.
 
An SSL certificate also comes bundled with expensive web hosting packages. On base level packages, even if they provide HTTPS free, it usually becomes a paid certificate when you renew the hosting plan.

For getting HTTPS, you have to apply for the certificate, and after some formalities and checks, the Certification Agency gives you the desired certificate. It involves installing the certificate on the web server where the website is hosted. On every web host platform, there is a straightforward procedure to install the certificate. 

The certificate needs to be renewed periodically.

LetsEncrypt is a fully-dependable FREE SSL certificate. For a normal website (on which you do not do monetary transactions or share confidential details), this basic certificate is good enough.

By the way, if your blog is on Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr or Medium free blogging platform, you need not bother about HTTPS security. On Wordpress, etc it comes automatically while on Blogger, there is an option to go for HTTPS (Go to Settings> HTTPS Redirect).

Pencil, one of the best free software for drawing shapes, website wireframes, flow-charts

We have been introducing good free software and online tools, after testing them for various parameters. The two most important aspects that we keep in mind before recommending a piece of software is its being (i) free from harmful code and (ii) sturdy and dependable. 

In this post, let's talk about a free, open-source sketching tool, Pencil, that can make documents with different shapes. [Before we move further, let us be sure to download it from the official website; on the web, old versions with limited features are available, which might not work properly.]

Pencil is very simple and highly resourceful for some simple tasks for which we do not need to buy expensive and hard-to-learn software.

The tasks that Pencil can do beautifully and easily include:
  • Drawing flowcharts and similar diagrams. If you have MS Word or any other Office Suite installed on your computer, you can draw such diagrams using them. However, shapes do not always behave normally on Word, etc when you try to place many of them in a diagram. Pencil does that easily. In addition, it has many more shapes.
  • Drawing wireframe of a website. All website creators first make a sketch of the webpages (mostly the homepage or the theme/ template) which is called wireframe. This is very handy when you have to discuss the basic layout of the proposed website or blog with colleagues (or if you are a web-designer, to share with the client). If you are a blogger thinking of hiring a web designer, you can make a quick wireframe to tell the designer how different elements on your blog should look like. 
  • Making drawings that involves the interplay of shapes and a bit of text, e.g. for tutorials and explaining the layout of a place.
  • Making shapes for use for more complex works. For example, it is time-consuming to draw shapes in professional image editors such as Photoshop and Gimp. One can make shapes in Pencil and export them for use in these programs. In Pencil, there are many ready-made shapes and stencils that can't be expected in professional all-purpose programs (e.g. web breadcrumbs).
We compared many other free or online programs of similar nature but chose this one. It has some special features not available on others.

Main features of Pencil sketching program

  • The tool is very simple. You just have to drag a shape/ button/ web-object (These are called stencils) from the sidebar to the 'document' pane. A number of templates with objects are also available on the web.
  • Different objects can be aligned against the page or with other elements.
  • Text can be added and aligned with most common shapes.
  • Text can be overlaid on any object, and there is also a 'rich text box' which allows text to be formatted in many ways within a box.
  • You can import clipart directly from OpenClipart.
  • You can import any image by copying that image from any image-viewing or image-editing program or a webpage and pasting it on an open document.
  • It can save the drawing/ document in many formats such as PNG, SVG, PDF or even as a webpage.
  • It is available for Windows, iOS, Android and Linux OSs.
  • Pages created by Pencil can have hyperlinks, that make it possible to show how an element works within a document.
Earlier versions had poorly laid menus. The new versions (The current one is v3.1) are feature-rich and each object has a large number of options, some of which can be stored for re-use also.
 
drawing sketching tools software


How to sketch with Pencil?

There is no need for a guide as menus are intuitive and anybody who has worked on image editing software or even online sketching programs would be able to work efficiently after some experimentation. However, if you are new to such programs, this is a quick starter:
  • Download from the official website, and install.
  • Click on 'Create a new document' that appears in the middle of the screen. 
  • There is a collection of stencils on the left pane [if hidden, click on the button on the left margin]. It has many groups of collections. Click on any one object and drag it to the document. Work further on the document by dragging, reshaping, maneuvering shapes and so on. 
  • Click on the 'Properties' button on the right margin. It will give numerous options whenever an object is selected. To change dimensions by exact number of pixels, use the options that come on the top bar of the screen.
  • Complete the work. Save it for future use. 
  • Export to any format that you want, by using the menu at the top left of the screen. If you want to export a part of the drawing to PNG, select it and right click to export it to an image.
Final notes:
  • Pencil is not being actively updated. Its last version is 3.1, released way back in 2019. (But it works well with 64-bit computers.)
  • If you want to explore a highly professional program for vector graphics, go for Inkscape. It is free.

9 Engaging Tips for Brands to Gain Success by Using Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms with a vast potential for marketers to grow their business. Since Instagram has more than one billion active users monthly, you need excellent marketing tips to stand out from the crowd. Engagement is the primary tool for your business on Instagram that leads to success. Without the right content suitable for your target audiences, it isn't easy to make your brand popular among broader audiences.

The brands involved on Instagram have reached heights with correct marketing strategies suitable for their business. Instagram users aren’t only active, but they also engage themselves with exciting things. Among the active users on the Instagram platform, 59% of users visit this app daily and spend 7 hours per week interacting with their friends and brands and browsing the content.

Instagram helps to increase brand awareness by promoting your business and helps to reach your new product to millions of people. The below points will give you exciting ideas to make success for your business on Instagram.

#1. Set Your Goals For Success

Before planning your content for posting on Instagram, ask yourself the need for using Instagram. If you want to see success on Instagram, you should have a goal or objective according to your business. Make your energy, time, and investment as worth with a clear plan. The objectives may differ according to your business type. The common objectives on Instagram are listed below. Choose any of the goals to grow your business and attain success easily.

  • Increase brand awareness - Make your brand known to many people on Instagram with your engaging content.
  • Build audience community - Bring out a good relationship with your followers and interact with them in the right way to gather audience community.
  • Lead generation - Know the audiences who show interest in your business and get their contact information for future use.
  • Improve sales conversions - When you manufacture a product, bring out the exciting features in the view of audiences to increase sales.
  • Increase website traffic - Provide the link on your bio to improve the website traffic.

#2. Complete Bio With Attractive Content

Think of your profile as the homepage and make it attractive for viewers on Instagram. There are 150 characters provided for you to explore your creativity to gain potential followers and customers. Make a good impression for the profile viewers with engaging content and convert them to your followers quickly.

Before posting content, convert your standard Instagram profile into your business account through the setting option. You can utilize many additional features on Instagram if you have a business account. Write a killer Instagram bio by including the below points.

  • A quick and short description of your company’s process.
  • The niche of your industry like shopping, business services, restaurants, digital products, etc.
  • Your brand personality: show it with engaging and attractive content.
  • Your contact information, including mobile number, email address, and location for easy tracking by your audiences.
  • A link to your website link or your landing page where you want your followers to land.
  • Profile picture (e.g. your company logo) and an attractive username.

#3. Determine Your Target Audiences

Since millions of people are on Instagram, it is difficult to reach your brand to all audiences. Instead, know the people who show interest in your business, and approach them to attain business growth. Consider the following factors while finding your audiences:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Interest
  • Behavior
  • Language 

Find your target audiences by monitoring popular events and trending hashtags related to your business. Check their profile using those hashtags and engaging in the events. Also, watch your competitors' content and find people who interact with them. Approach those people directly and catch their eye-balls on your account since they already have an interest related to your business.

#4. Post Stories Regularly

Stories are one of the most exciting features on Instagram, and more than 500 million people post stories daily. Though stories appear for only 24 hours on your followers’ pages, it becomes easy for them to view content. Keep your content fresh to boost views for Instagram stories and increase audience engagement with your regular post. Most Instagram users check stories daily because it appears on the top of their feed. 

Stories give you the option to post content in a carousel format for 15 seconds, where you can post multiple content. The best features on Instagram stories to engage audiences are the stickers and interacting with your followers directly. The most engaging stickers are:

  • Question stickers
  • Quiz stickers
  • Music stickers
  • Location stickers
  • Poll-type stickers
  • Countdown stickers

Know the advantage of each sticker and use it on your content to increase interaction with your audiences visually.

#5. Effectiveness Of Hashtags

The most effective marketing strategy on Instagram is using hashtags. It helps to improve your brand visibility among your target audiences and increase the followers count. Use branded hashtags on your content to take your business to the next level. The advantage of using a hashtag on your content are:

  • It escalates the reach of your content.
  • It helps to gather the most relevant audiences who already have an interest in your brand.
  • It increases the visibility of your post.
  • It helps to track the content related to the particular topic.

The most important thing in choosing a hashtag is that it should be relevant to your content. Select the hashtag from the search bar on Instagram by typing the related keyword. You will find the list of hashtags at the end of your search. Choose the one that suits your content.

#6. Build Consistency

The biggest challenge on Instagram is to keep your followers engaging with your content. Maintain a loyal following by entertaining your audiences with regular posts. Random content or irrelevant posts may cause your followers to unfollow you. So invest your time in preparing content and plan your ideas for future content. 

Know the content that increases your engagement rate by using the Instagram insights feature. The insight feature shows you on which content your audiences spend more time and engage themselves by leaving comments and likes. With that information, plan your unique content to gain your audience’s attention. Post content at least once a day, making audiences remember you.

#7. Prefer Video Content

Instagram is well known for its visual content. The interesting fact is that 78% of people prefer watching videos online. When you convey your thoughts through video form, the performance will be more compared to the image content.

Instagram gives you the following features to engage your audiences visually.

  • Instagram feed: It is a common place for viewing others’ posts like other social media sites. You can upload videos for 15-30 seconds on feed.
  • IGTV: It is mainly for businesses and brands to explain their products and thoughts to the audiences clearly. The video length allowed on IGTV is up to 15 minutes.
  • Reels: On reels, you can post short videos of 15 second duration. People scroll these videos for entertainment purposes. You can upload videos to showcase your talent and  uniqueness.
  • Stories: Before posting a long video, prepare a snippet content of the long video as a teaser and post it on stories to gain engagement.

#8. Reach Audiences Through Ads

Instagram advertisement feature provides a great way to reach your target audiences. Put your content in front of new audiences who already have an interest in your business. You have options to choose your target audiences on placement according to age, gender, behavior, interest, and location. Select the optimum bid amount to boost your content performance. Remember, the money spent on ads is an investment in your business.

using Instagram for brand success

Instagram gives three main advertisement options:

  • Photo ad: The photo ad looks like a normal image with captions but with a sponsored label at the top right corner of the ad.
  • Video ad: It displays content in video form for 15 seconds on your feed, with a sponsored label.
  • Carousel ad: It is the same as a photo ad but has multiple images in a sliding format. 

You can also include a CTA button on your ad like shop now, buy now, and sign up options according to your goal. 

#9. Collaborate With Influencers

Influencers are the people with a huge loyal following.  With their authentic and original content, influencers gain followers who trust their content. There are plenty of influencers on Instagram having different areas of interest. Find the influencers who have your target audiences as their followers and make a partnership with them to grow your follower count.

When your business is small, joining with micro-influencers will quickly promote your brand. Though they have fewer followers compared to macro-influencers, micro-influencers have already built loyalty and trust on their accounts. When they start promoting your brand, you will also gain loyal followings. The important thing to gain those followers is to publish original content.

Final Thought

A great place to make your brand popular among a large number of people is Instagram. Use your creativity and unique talent to keep audiences engaged with your content. Follow the above points to grow your business with loyal followers and gain potential customers. Instagram is the perfect social media network to increase audience engagement and promote your brand. Incorporate the correct marketing strategy suitable for your business and reach your brand name to people globally.

This is a guest post by Caterina Taylor. She is an experienced social media marketer and writer who works at PlanYourGram.com. She loves to work on content creation for social media blogs and has the potential to deliver engaging content on various platforms and networks.

Top Indian Blogs in 2021 - 11th edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs is out!

The 11th edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs [in English] has been released today, the 15th of June 2021. The Directory has about 242 top Indian blogs. These blogs excel in content quality, regularity and overall blog resources, and meet a minimum design standard. They also show the blogger's commitment to blogging. 

While we call the blogs listed in the Directory as the best blogs in India, there are many more that go under our radar or we have to exclude them. It is partly due to their content or regularity not meeting our standards. Partly it is due their becoming too business-like and maintenance of the blog like a stand-alone website (a static home page/ no archives/ etc). Yes, it is also partly because we have not been able to discover them. We look into blogrolls, other lists of good blogs, recommendations... We also receive hundreds of submissions on email. But we have to be discreet in choosing 'the best blogs in India'. 

If you are an Indian blogger interested in submitting your blog for the blog listing and in knowing the criteria for selection of blogs. do visit this page: Directory submission: Guidelines and Selection Criteria. If your blog deserves to be in the top Indian blogs list but does not find a place, you can write to us at kp.nd.2008@gmail.com. If you do not display the archive of blog posts on the blog, please also submit a list of posts, date wise, that were published in the last 12 months ending May 2020.

If your blog finds a place in the blog list and you wish to put an ITB badge on your blog, the code is given at the end of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs page.

Are you interested in giving/ taking blogging help and support?


While announcing the 10th edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs in 2020, we had proposed to have a Facebook group. Unlike other blogger groups, we decided to not indulge in spamming but ask questions/ share issues and receive answers/ solutions on blogging. We opened this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/blogginganswers, but not many blogger friends joined. Even those who joined did not engage well with others. The group still exists but unless we use it for helping each other, it will be of little use. So, if you feel like getting help from experienced bloggers OR helping other bloggers, consider joining the group and engaging with others at least once in a while.

top Indian blogsIf you are an Indian blogger in English, you deserve to be in the Directory. If you maintain an excellent blog but it is not there, submit it to us.