Yoast is the one-stop site for you to learn and implement better SEO practices on your website. It serves as a place to take courses, buy plugins, and get free tips, straight to your email. The Yoast SEO plugin, which is the most popular feature on the site, lets you optimize your website posts so that they can be found by Google. Almost everything on the website is paid, so don’t go expecting to get everything handed to you for free. It’s a great resource if you’re new to SEO or you’re a veteran looking to make things more streamlined.
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Yoast is the one-stop site for you to learn and implement better SEO practices on your website. It serves as a place to take courses, buy plugins, and get free tips, straight to your email.
It’s important to put some thought into your URL structure, particularly when you’re starting a new website. If you make sure your URL structure is clear and focused right from the beginning, you won’t have to face the huge task of changing and redirecting all your URLs later on. But, of course, sometimes you need to revise your site’s taxonomy, and changing things is inevitable.$89 - Buy now » InfoYou’ll be faced with many choices when you’re revising your site, and you probably hope there’s one clear-cut way to approach things. Unfortunately, often that’s not the case. In our Ask Yoast inbox, we receive many questions that are so specific to a site’s situation, history and mission, that no one but the site owner can really answer them. But of course, we can try to help by clearing some things up. So let’s get to this week’s question!
Matt Markley emailed us this question:
We are revising our site’s taxonomy. Does the order of categories and subcategories in the URL have an impact on SEO? The category keyword is more important to rank than the subcategory keyword.
Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!
The SEO impact of the order of categories and subcategories in URLs
“Well, yes it matters. Mostly because, if you’re going to change the order, the links matter. And if the links on your site change, so you need to redirect them, you might lose some rankings because of that.
Other than that, no they don’t really matter. The question is: do you truly need the category and the subcategory in your permalinks? Or could you actually go with shorter permalinks and would that be better? That’s something that you have to ask yourself, not a question I can answer for you. Good luck.”
In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.
The post Ask Yoast: Order of categories and subcategories in URLs appeared first on Yoast.
We have got something special for you, but before we release it for real, we need your help testing it: Yoast SEO 7.0. This is one of the biggest releases we have ever done, hence the jump from version 6.3 to 7.0. We’ve greatly simplified the interface, deprecated unused features and combined others into smarter features. By cleaning up our code, we have also drastically improved the performance of the plugin. Now, we need your help testing Yoast SEO 7.0 so we can fix every bug we can find before the final release two weeks from now.$89 - Buy now » Info
- How to test Yoast SEO 7.0
- What’s changing in Yoast SEO 7.0?
- But why now?
- One more thing: a new icon
- When will Yoast SEO 7.0 be ready?
How to test Yoast SEO 7.0
You can test the latest beta for Yoast SEO 7.0 by downloading it and installing it in your WordPress backend. We would advise you to install it on a test install or staging environment. Installing it on a live site is at your own risk. As always, make a backup before playing with beta software.
Please report any issues you find in our Yoast SEO GitHub repository. You can find more information about the process on the Contributing to Yoast SEO page. Together, we can make this an incredible release.
What’s changing in Yoast SEO 7.0?
There’s going to be a lot of changes in Yoast SEO 7.0, both visible and invisible. See the changelog for the full list of changes. Here, I’ll go over some of the most obvious changes within your favorite SEO plugin. It all started with a quest to simplify things…
We’re asking you simple questions
The configuration pages will be different, simpler, more user-focussed.
Old situation with Meta Robots toggle
Compare this old situation with the new one below:
New situation with user-friendly question
The “Meta Robots” setting in the old version does exactly the same as the “Allow search engines” question in the new one but is understandable to people who have less experience with SEO.
A simpler menu
The menu looks drastically different too:
Left: the old menu. Right: the new menu
In the old situation, Yoast SEO had an XML sitemaps menu item. In it, you could exclude “post types” (like Posts and Pages) and “taxonomies” (Categories and Tags, for example) from appearing in the XML sitemap. The only reason you would want to exclude post types and taxonomies from the XML sitemap is when you don’t want them to appear in the search engines. So… If your answer to the question above was “No”, I don’t want <x> to appear in the search engines, we now also exclude them from the XML sitemap. This might seem like a simple change, but it took a large portion of our options away in one fell swoop.
You could also disable XML sitemaps entirely on this menu item. This is what we call a “feature toggle”. This toggle has been moved to the Features tab on the Dashboard.
Titles & Metas becomes Search Appearance
The Titles & Metas menu item has been renamed “Search Appearance”. There are a few more settings on this page now, but in a more logical arrangement:
Old titles & metas menu
New Search Appearance menu
General & Homepage have been combined. This tab also features the contents of the “Your Info” / “Company Info” tab we had on the Dashboard before. Media is new and is explained below. Breadcrumbs and RSS were moved here from the Advanced menu item, which is now completely gone.
Media (or: Attachment URLs)
When you upload an image or a video to WordPress, WordPress automatically creates an attachment URL for it, next to allowing you to link to the media item directly. This is much the same as a post URL, but it has no real SEO value. Most sites therefore never use these attachment URLs, but because WordPress sometimes links to them, they do start being indexed by search engines.
Yoast SEO long had a feature that allowed you to redirect attachment URLs for images to the post they were embedded in. This seems logical. But an image can be embedded in multiple posts, and as the Media part of WordPress gets better, this happens more often. At this point, where do you redirect an attachment URL to?
It also means that images that are not attached to a post could not be redirected. So we’ve changed that behavior: there’s now a toggle that will disable all attachment URLs. If you enable that (which will be the default for new sites), we redirect all attachment URLs to the media item itself. Clean, simple, much better SEO wise and much easier to understand.
The Advanced menu item had three tabs: Breadcrumbs, Permalinks and RSS. Breadcrumbs and RSS have been moved to Search Appearance; Permalinks is gone. There were two features there that we kept around:
- The feature that allows removing
/category/from category URLs. This is useful in some cases, so we’ve moved it to the Taxonomies menu under Search Appearance.
- The feature that removed
Advanced features toggle
For a while, Yoast SEO had a toggle for advanced features. This felt like a good idea at the time, but instead of properly explaining features, we hid them. In Yoast SEO 7.0, we’ve improved all features that were hard to explain. Luckily there were only a few of those, and they were so old that I’ve had to delete code that I wrote myself ten years ago.
Under the hood
Under the hood, there have also been several performance optimizations. We’ve changed how we set and retrieve options. We’ve removed all functions that had been deprecated before 2017. This is old code that we no longer use but was kept around for backward compatibility. These changes lead to less memory usage and a faster plugin overall.
But why now?
Well, to be honest, I have to give credit to Yoast Academy for this one. I was recording screencasts of the backend and couldn’t stand some of the things I had to explain. So we decided to start fixing them. Our development team has worked very hard to keep up with all the ideas, and we’re very proud to show you what we’ve built.
One more thing: a new icon
Because 7.0 is a big thing, we thought we’d make it even bigger: Yoast SEO is getting a new icon. The traffic light we’ve used for so long has turned out not to be a good metaphor across all cultures. In fact, we’ve learned that traffic lights differ per country and green is sometimes on top, and sometimes on the bottom.
So, without further ado: this is the new icon for Yoast SEO:
When will Yoast SEO 7.0 be ready?
We’re planning to release the final version of Yoast SEO 7.0 on Tuesday, March 6th. Since this is such a big release, we’ve decided to extend the testing period by two weeks so we can get as many eyes as possible on this release before we push it to everyone. You can help us find and fix issues by installing the release candidate, as mentioned above and go on a bug hunting trip. Add any issue you find or feedback you have to GitHub.
Just recently, a friend of mine asked me to have a quick peek at his website, as he felt some of his keywords didn’t perform as well as before. Some other websites outranked him in Google, and he wondered why. In such a case, it often pays to do a quick competitive analysis. In most cases, it’s not necessarily your site that’s performing worse; it’s other sites doing better. Now I know he’s all about content optimization and uses our plugin. First, I checked the configuration of the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, but all seemed to be in order. What else could have happened?$699 - Buy now » Info
If you want to do a competitive analysis to optimize your SEO efforts, there’s actually quite a lot you can do yourself, without having to hire an expensive SEO consultant. Let me take you through the steps!
Step 1: Define your keywords
It’s very important to use the right keywords in a competitive analysis. If you insist on using your, possibly branded, company outing as one of the main keywords, you might not even have any competition, let alone any decent organic traffic to your website. An example: if you are offering ‘holiday homes’, but insist on using the keyword ‘vacation cottage’, you are selling yourself short. Match the words your customers use.
Proper keyword research will be of help, not just for this competitive analysis, but for the entire SEO optimization of your website, so please put some effort in it.
Step 2: Analyze these keywords
Once you have defined the keywords you’d like to check against your competitors, the next step is obvious: do a search for these keywords. See who your competitors are by writing down who ranks higher than you.
If you are on page two in Google and want to do a competitive analysis with the number one, there is probably a lot to gain. But you should probably accept the fact that your rankings will go up step by step, and that the high ranking websites, depending on the keywords, might have a higher marketing budget than you to back their ranking strategies. It could be the main reason they rank so high. Don’t give up; our mission is ‘SEO for everyone‘ for a reason. Climb to higher rankings step by step and try to increase your marketing budget along the way.
Check the keywords and make them long-tail or add local keywords (city name, region name) to them, if needed. Do a thorough analysis. Google Trends will tell you what keywords have more traffic in the target markets for your business, and (free/paid) tools like Ahrefs.com and Searchmetrics.com will give you even more keyword insights.
Climbing up in rankings a (few) step(s) at a time
Sometimes, you can achieve a big improvement in your rankings. But if your website is ranking 6, it’s easier to climb to five or four first and then target the top three. Again, that top three probably has the marketing budget to go all out, where your immediate neighbors in rankings are struggling like you. Beat them first; it’s easier. Having said that: if you have the opportunity to dethrone number 1, 2, or 3, of course, go ahead and do so.$199 - Buy now » Info
Step 3: Check technical differences
You’ll need to check a number of things to determine on which aspects your competition is ahead of you. The next step of your competitive analysis, after listing the keywords you’d like to perform this analysis for, is to see if there are any technical differences.
There are so many ways to check your site speed, which we have mentioned quite often already, like Pingdom and Google’s speed tools. No need for me to explain all that all over again. But, in a competitive analysis, speed insights will tell you if there is a huge difference between you and your main competitors in terms of serving the website and the user experience difference that goes with that. The faster the site, the happier the visitor, and the happier the search engine.
Https and SLL are about serving a secure website to your visitor. It’s becoming the default and for a good reason. Serving a secure website is about delivering the best user experience and gaining trust from your future customers. It is only logical to rank a secure website over a non-secure one. Again, there are multiple ways to check SLL/https in a competitive analysis. A nice overview is given by Builtwith.com, which gives you a ton of technical information, including SSL certificate, etc. You can obviously check your browser’s address bar for this as well, but Builtwith could give you some more insights while going over all other details. Like what CMS your competitor uses (and if he/she upgraded his/her WordPress install and you didn’t?).
A good mobile website is about getting your visitor to the right page as soon as possible. This has to do with speed, with deciding about top tasks on your website and with a clear and pleasant, branded design. Go check the websites of your competitors and see where they are clearly outperforming you. Test this, using for instance:
- Google’s mobile-friendly test
- Quick screen previews for multiple devices
- Mobile usability test in Search Console
- Ready.mobi Test for mobile devices (premium benchmark test available)
- A Google Lighthouse audit will give you even more insights. $249 - Buy now » Info
Step 4: Find content opportunities
Although technical optimizations are crucial, the quick wins will probably be in the field of content. What have you written about your company and products, and what did your competitor publish on their website?
Click all menu items
What are the main pages, what is your competitor trying to sell? And how did he/she manage to rank above you? See how focused their menu is and what pages they link to from there. We’ve found that placing ourselves in the mindset of our visitor pays off much more than writing about all the amazing SEO stuff we managed to add to our plugins, or all the SEO knowledge we share in our courses. What’s the end goal of all that SEO? It’s serving your website better to Google, which will lead to better rankings. You might not care about what schema.org does, or what XML sitemaps are, but if they benefit your business goals, you probably want to add them to your website.
See if your competitor tells a better story than you. And improve your story. The main menu of your website should be targeted at your visitor, not as much at explaining all the awesome things you came up with.
Category pages or product pages
If you have a shop, it could be interesting to do a competitive analysis of your competitor’s shop structure. Is he or she trying to persuade the customer on a product page, or already on category pages? In a market where there are a gazillion products, ranking in each and every niche is tough! It’s probably better to optimize most of your category pages. Write appealing, quality content, make these pages cornerstone and try to rank a lot of ’em. Here’s more on optimizing that category page of your online shop.
Your competitive analysis will tell you which of these pages are optimized by your main competitors. Optimize yours accordingly and, obviously, better.
A sitemap can show you the site structure of your competitor, be it via an HTML sitemap or XML sitemap. It can tell you, for instance, if he or she is targeting certain long-tail keywords via the slugs of the pages, and a few clicks to their pages will tell you how their internal linking is done.
You can find that sitemap on most sites at example.com/sitemap.xml or example.com/sitemap_index.xml or at example.com/sitemap. Sometimes a website simply doesn’t have that sitemap, but tools like Screaming Frog and Xenu might help you out. Crawl the site and order by URL.
The main question here is: do you have a blog? A blog makes for dynamic content, keeps your site current and, if you post regularly, Google will find all kinds of interesting, recent ‘Last Updated’ dates. If you don’t have a blog, and your competitor has and ranks better, get a blog. Your competitor has probably woven that blog into their content strategy.
Step 5: Compare UX
Great UX makes for better time-on-site, more pageviews, and a lower bounce rate. I’m not going into this too much here, as I think in a competitive analysis you should focus on other things first, but I wanted to highlight two things: call-to-action and contact.$89 - Buy now » Info
A great call-to-action helps any page. Regardless of whether it’s to drive sales or engagement, every page needs a proper call-to-action. Simply go over some of your competitor’s pages and see how they went about this. See if you can grab some ideas of this and improve your own call-to-action. Oh, and remove that slider and/or video background. That’s not a call-to-action. That’s a call to no action.
Contact page & address details
Your contact page and your address details could be the end goal of a visit to your page. If so, check how the competition created that page. Did they add structured data, for instance? Is there a contact form? Did they make it easier to find these details than you did? Adjust accordingly, if comparing this sparks some great ideas.
Step 6: Perform a backlink analysis
Last but not least: if all seems reasonably the same, and there is no logical way to explain why your competitor outranks you, it just might be that the other website has a great deal more relevant links than you do. Or simply better ones. You’d have to check Ahrefs.com, Moz’s OpenSiteExplorer or, for instance, Searchmetrics for this.
Follow-up on your competitive analysis!
At this point, you know the main differences between your competitor’s site and your site. This is the moment where you start prioritizing optimizations and get to work. First, take care of low-hanging fruit, and fix things that are easily fixed asap. Next, determine what issues might have the biggest impact on your rankings, and solve these as well. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you will have no problem with this. I’d go for any speed and content issues first, and try to get some more backlinks in the process.
If you can’t solve any of these issues, feel free to reach out to any of our partners. They can probably help you out, or perform an even more thorough competitive analysis for you!
There is so much you can do to optimize your eCommerce site for SEO, that we have written this checklist to help you. This doesn’t cover absolutely everything, but if you at least start by optimizing everything in this post, you will definitely be doing a great job :)
The first thing you should be aware of is that you should always use consistent branding. Make sure your brand or logo is clearly visible on your homepage and in your page title. This will build up trust and will help to promote and build your business, helping to trigger recognition, both offline and in search engine result pages.
2. Compelling call to action
Your homepage needs a compelling call to action. It may change over time, for example if you want to promote particular products or for seasonal promotions like a Black Friday sale, but you need to make sure it’s always easily visible and that it meets the needs and expectations of your visitors.
3. Featured products
You also need to reserve a prominent spot on your homepage for featured products or something similar: usually your core products or the items you currently have on sale. This will provide an immediate trigger for visitors, while telling them whether or not they have come to the right online shop.
4. Search option
Every online store with more than 20 products should have a search option. Make sure you put the search option in a visible spot, as this will probably be the navigation of choice for your visitors. Besides optimizing your search option, be sure to give the search result pages some TLC as well. More on that later.
5. About us
I like to know about the company I’m buying from. Who is behind it? What’s their story? What motivates them? If we share the same values and beliefs, I am more likely to return to that shop and buy more products. Adding an about us page, and perhaps a team photo, will help build a connection between your company and your customers. If you want some inspiration, Patagonia and Dopper are nice examples.
6. Shopping cart
Regardless of how noble your intentions are (see #5), in most cases, your main goal is to make as much money as possible, and that money is made through your shopping cart. For this reason alone, your shopping cart should be available and visible at all times – don’t make people look for it. I’d also recommend adding the number of products in the cart to the cart icon. It will help people remember if they have already added products to the cart.
Newsletters and social media are the easiest ways to get return visits from your customers, so be sure to draw attention to your social profiles and newsletter signup throughout your website. Add your social profiles to your footer at least (use icons, links, social widgets), but if you have space left in your header, that would also be a great spot for them. Promote your newsletter in your sidebar and use scroll triggered boxes to draw attention to it. A nice giveaway, like our free eBook, always helps motivate people to subscribe.
How you set up your categories and make these accessible for visitors matters – a lot. Categories help visitors get to different groups of products as quickly as possible, especially those who aren’t sure which specific products to buy. Amazon has a large list of categories (or departments), but makes the kind of products a category contains as clear as possible . That has a lot to do with naming these categories, and using subcategories in a logical way. Put yourself in the place of your visitors and go over your shop’s categories. Do they make sense? Are these the terms a visitor would use? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.
9. Introductory content on category pages
Besides being very clear about the name of your category, be sure to add a nice introduction to your category pages as well. This introduction is like the glue that holds the collection of products on that page together. This is really helpful in determining the subject of the page, especially for search engines. This also helps the category pages function in a similar way to cornerstone content.
10. Product thumbnails
In most cases, product images say more than a thousand words. This is especially true for those pages that simply don’t have space for a thousand words about a single product, such as your category or internal search result pages. Adding a stunning thumbnail image of that dress or painting will encourage more clicks to that page. Good thumbnail images make it easier for visitors to choose from a wide variety of products in category or search result pages.
11. Calls to action in overviews
Besides having killer product thumbnails, your overview pages also need a call to action for each product and that means the ability for a visitor to add that product to their cart right from the category or search result page. Although it isn’t always possible for every product, you should do this wherever you can. I know of online shops that allow you to choose the color and size of jeans, for example, without having to go to the product page. Choose, click add to cart and proceed to checkout. Easy :)
12. Product images
Be sure to add great product images on your product pages. They should be zoomable and give multiple views of the product. Remember that even the filename and ALT text of the product image matter for SEO. There’s a lot more on this in our detailed article on product images.
13. Product description
Optimizing your category pages is oftentimes a lot easier than optimizing all of your product pages. If you’re selling bolts, screws and nails, adding an awesome and unique product description to each page is a lot of work. If you need your product page itself to rank as well, be sure to invest some time and effort in optimizing your product descriptions for the product name and/or SKU. Our SEO plugin will come in handy if you have a WordPress site.
We recommend adding schema.org data to your product pages for technical SEO reasons. Add at least schema.org/Product and schema.org/Offer, and see if you can extend this to even more detailed schemas.
Adding schema.org markup is more technical than optimizing your product description, so if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing please ask your web developer for help. Schema.org markup will help search engines and, for example, Google Shopping understand the contents of your page better.
15. OpenGraph and Twitter Cards
Besides schema.org data, be sure to add OpenGraph and Twitter Cards as well. These ensure that when people share your content or products, they will be displayed as attractively as possible. This and more is explained in our article about product page SEO.
16. Be clear about pricing
I can’t emphasize this enough: be clear about your prices. If you add surprise costs like shipping or taxes later on in the checkout process, this will backfire and shoppers may abandon their purchase. Be clear about these additional costs (if any) right from the start. You could even leverage this by offering free shipping on orders of more than a certain value, say $20 or $50. Surprise costs are a major turnoff, plus it’s worth mentioning that they are now illegal in the EU.
17. Product reviews
Creating trust is a good thing for all online shops. Genuine product reviews help a great deal with this. One thing I would recommend for websites that include user reviews from third parties is to copy a couple of those reviews to your own website. Including third party reviews in, for example, a widget, would be a great solution. Add these near your call to action for the best results.
18. Related products
When you’ve got their interest, leverage it. If someone buys an iPhone 7 from your site, the chances are they’ll need a cover, and might even want a pair of those really expensive wireless ear pods (they are expensive, right?!). But they might feel a bit less expensive when a customer has just paid full price for a new iPhone! Adding a related products section, or an ‘other customers also bought’ section to your product page will trigger upsells, allow for bundles and much more. We highly recommend adding these.
19. Call to action on your product page
Your visitor needs to click the Add to Cart button on your product page to start the purchase. Don’t hide that button! The number of shops that accidentally disguise the Add to Cart button is, I think, lower than it used to be, but I’d still urge you to take a good look at that button and make sure it stands out. This is especially true when you also have a secondary call to action like ‘Add to wish list’. Making sure that Add to Cart button stands out the most and is the largest and first major button on your product page is absolutely essential.
20. Payment options
Just like in number 16 of this eCommerce SEO checklist, this one is all about preventing surprises. It’s so frustrating to get to the end of the checkout process, only to find that your preferred payment option isn’t available. And again, if your eCommerce shop is in the EU, it is now a legal requirement to display your accepted payment methods to customers before they get to the checkout. By the way we’re not pretending to be perfect in this, as we have only recently gone from just offering Paypal and credit card payment, to offering payment options like Giropay and iDeal as well. Much more convenient, right?!
21. SSL and security seals
Here’s one vital thing about creating trust: If your site has an SSL certificate, your site will have that nice green padlock in your visitors’ browser address bar, and you’ll let them know they are shopping in a safe environment. These things will help him or her to insert their home address, credit card details, or whatever other personal information you ask the customer to provide, with confidence. You could also add security seals and there’s more on this in our trust article.
22. In stock – or not?
These days, availability of a product drives sales. With online shops everywhere, I want to buy my things at a shop that will deliver the products I want tomorrow, or even later today. If you tell me a product is in stock, I’ll be more likely to buy. But this isn’t just about competition, it’s about managing expectations. If your website tells me something isn’t in stock, I can still decide to buy at your shop and know I’ll have to wait a bit. If I buy at your shop and I won’t get the product for three weeks because it’s out of stock, I’d rather have bought it somewhere else. Not making availability clear also reflects badly on your brand, by the way.
23. No account needed
I’ve said it before and I’m happy to repeat it – always allow customers to buy without forcing them to create an account. I really think that making customers create an account is bad practice. It’s is only valid if creating an account gives the customer perks, like easy license renewal, managing recurring payments or things like that. These are tasks I would want to do in a secure environment, so I wouldn’t mind setting up an account, but when I’m shopping for clothes, I think having an account only makes sense for convenience reasons (not having to fill in address details next time and so on) and therefore it should be optional.
Don’t forget mobile users. Here are some of our articles that will help you:
- Mobile SEO: the ultimate guide
- Optimizing your mobile content
- DIY: test your mobile site
- 10 ways to improve mobile UX
- Setting up WordPress for AMP
And there will be more to come.
When we say speed, we mean the speed of your desktop and your mobile site. People have short attention spans these days, and we’ve all got used to faster internet everywhere. However, there are loads of places around the world that have to make do with crappy mobile connections and a small data allowance. Don’t take your situation as gospel. Also, Google tends to rank faster websites higher, which is another reason to make sure your website is as fast as it can be.$299 - Buy now » Info
26. Cookie expiration times
Perhaps ‘cookie expiration times’ is a bit too narrow for what I’m trying to say. I recently updated our article on shopping cart abandonment, that will tell you a lot about how people use your shopping cart. Read that entire article and you’ll find out why it’s better to use longer cookie expiration times for your cart.
27. Meta description
As I mentioned at the start, this is not a complete list and I’m sure we’ll add more tips over the next months, if not years. But with eCommerce, more so than with all other websites, meta descriptions serve a very important purpose. Where Google is probably able to come up with a proper and keyword-related invitation to your website for information pages, the chances are your product page doesn’t have enough product information or contains details about your customer service or warranty that Google might use instead. Be sure to add a product-focused meta description to your product pages, to prevent Google from using the wrong text in search results!
This list could be a hundred tips long, and I am sure that as an online shop owner, you can come up with a bunch more as well,. Feel free to share your tips in the comments or on social media. I’m looking forward to reading them!
The post eCommerce SEO checklist: 27 tips for a better online shop appeared first on Yoast.
The mission of Yoast is ‘SEO for everyone‘. With our plugin, our online courses and our blog we try to make SEO understandable for everyone. We believe that every website -large and small- deserves a fair chance to pop up in the search engines. We strongly believe in our mission. Open Source is an important aspect of our mission. It’s one of the core values of our company. In this post, I’ll explain why we are Open Source Fanboys (and -girls).$89 - Buy now » Info
What is Open Source?
Open Source software is software that’s developed within a community. Everybody can use, alter and distribute the code. People are encouraged to participate and to improve the software project. WordPress is, as you probably know, an Open Source CMS, just like Joomla, Drupal and TYPO3 are Open Source CMSs.
3 reasons why Yoast loves Open Source
For us, Open Source is the only way to go. But why is that?
#1 Open Source is the way to new knowledge and new solutions
We believe that Open Source is the best way to get new innovations, and real solutions to the problems we face. Two heads are better than one: the knowledge of two or more people combined will always exceed that of one person alone. If people -especially people from different backgrounds- cooperate on a project, the project will benefit. Working together on a solution, simultaneously or not, will lead to better solutions. In short: we should stand on each other’s shoulders; we should take advantage of each other’s merits and talents. That’ll lead to true innovation.
#2 Open Source is not wasteful
Lots of developers around the world are working on solving the same, or similar, problems. That’s a waste of talent and skills. Why should every school have a different website? Why would every hospital need a different website? I understand that the design of those websites needs to be unique, but the backend and the functionality of these websites should be pretty much identical. It’s such a waste that so many developers are working on similar projects without working together.
We shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over again. If we’d do things the Open Source-way, we would share our knowledge about the invention of the wheel. Make other people benefit from our wheel. And let other people improve upon that wheel.
#3 Open Source is an equalizer
Open Source projects invite everybody to participate. Everybody. If you want to contribute to WordPress, you can do that. What company you work for doesn’t matter. It does not matter where you live. It does not matter how much money you have, or what you look like. Everybody has their expertise, and your talents will be recognized in the Open Source community. At Yoast, we really love that aspect of Open Source. It’s very inclusive. It offers chances to everybody, whether they have (some) programming skills, love translating, have superb organizational skills, or a great sense of community to get others involved. Everyone can contribute!
In short: Open Source should be the standard
As I’ve shown, both Open Source and WordPress are very important to Yoast. We do our part to contribute, and we strongly believe that Open Source is the best way to achieve awesome new solutions. In our opinion, Open Source is far less wasteful than closed source projects are. And, we love that Open Source is an equalizer. All in all, Open Source fits perfectly with our mission ‘SEO for everyone‘, and we hope that people will see the merits, so we can keep working on new solutions and innovations together!
Your keyword research is done and you know what to write about. Nothing is going to stop you from getting all that traffic with your new articles. But when you start writing your article, you notice it can be hard to keep your text focused. Yoast SEO Premium has a helpful little tool to guide you: prominent words in Insights. Here, I’ll show you how it works.$89 - Buy now » Info
What is Yoast SEO Insights?
Yoast SEO Insights is a section in the Readability part of the plugin that is meant to hold tools that give you more insights into what you are writing. Currently, the section holds the Prominent words check. Our plugin analyzes your text in real time and provides you with a list of words you use most in your article.
By checking the prominent words against your intended keyword(s) for this post, you should see if there are any discrepancies. If you write about ‘off-page SEO’ and the most prominent word in your text is ‘on-page SEO’ you’re probably going in the wrong direction. You can edit your text until it becomes more focused on your main focus keyword and its supporting or related keywords.
What’s more, you might find new words in that list that should really be on your keyword list. Great, add them to the list and maybe even write a new post about them.
Prominent words are not tied to the SEO and readability analyses in Yoast SEO. Follow their lead to find out if you’ve used your focus keyword correctly and use the prominent words feature to get an idea of what your artice is actually about. If it doesn’t align with your goals you can fix that.
Internal linking uses Yoast SEO Insights
The prominent words feature is a great tool to help you focus your text. While using it, you can get a good feel of where your text is going and you can make changes right away or after you’ve finished your draft. In addition, the prominent words also serve another purpose as they are used to determine which articles are suggested by our internal linking tool.
The internal linking tool is also a premium feature and it suggests links to add to your article based on what you write. These suggestions are super relevant and by automatically suggesting them, you won’t have to find them yourself. Click on the icon and paste the link over the relevant piece of text.
Want the prominent words check? Get Premium!
Both the prominent words in insights and the internal linking features are available in Yoast SEO Premium. In addition to these two cool tools, you’ll also get, among other things, a killer redirects manager, the possibility to optimize your articles for multiple focus keywords and social previews for Twitter and Facebook.
What are you waiting for, go get it!
The post How to add focus to your text with Yoast SEO Insights appeared first on Yoast.
If your online shop or business offers many products that are similar to each other, you’re probably familiar with this conundrum: how do you add content that’s diverse enough? And what to do, since you can use a focus keyword only once? These are important things to keep in mind, so you don’t end up competing with your own pages.$249 - Buy now » Info
In the case of a real estate business, you’ll probably have many pages that are similar to each other. Not having these pages at all is not an option. After all, you want potential buyers to be able to see photos and specifics for each property. So, what’s the best strategy, to have these pages and your site structure work to your advantage?
Gamal Sabry emailed us this question:
I have a real estate website and sometimes we have the same type of villa 10 times on our site. What should I write in the title to avoid competing with my own pages?
Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!
The best way to avoid competing with your own pages
“Well, those 10 villas probably each deserve their own page, because there’s something that distinguishes them. But the category page that links all these together is probably more important to you than these 10 individual pages.
So, I would spend more time on a category page that links all of these villas than on the individual pages and I would make sure that all of them link properly to that category page with the keywords that you’d want to tackle. Then you’re not competing with yourself as much; then those 10 pages are all helping your category page rank well. Good luck.”
In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to email@example.com.
Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.
The post Ask Yoast: How to avoid competing with your own pages appeared first on Yoast.
Do you have your own website or maintain the website of the company you work for? Of course, to do this right, you need to keep a keen eye on the performance of your website. Google offers several tools to collect and analyze data of your website. You probably have heard of Google Analytics and Google Search Console before. These tools are free to use for everyone maintaining a website and can give you very valuable insights about your website.$199 - Buy now » Info
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the new Google Search Console. However, since not all features are included in the new version yet, we first tell about the features in the new version. After that, we’ll switch back to the old version. Of course, we’ll update this post when more features are migrated.
Why everyone with a website should use Google Search Console
Google Search Console has been created to easily track the performance of your website. You can get valuable insights out of your Google Search Console account which means that you can see what part of your website needs work. This can be a technical part of your website, such as an increasing number of crawl errors that needs to be fixed. This can also be giving a specific keyword more attention because the rankings or impressions are decreasing.
Besides seeing this kind of data, you’ll get mail notifications when new errors are noticed by Google Search Console. Because of these notifications, you’re quickly aware of issues you need to fix.
Setting up an account
To start using Google Search Console, you’ll need to create an account. Within the new Google Search Console, you can click on ‘add a new property’ in the top bar:
However, the actual function of adding a property isn’t included in the new Google Search Console yet. That’s why GSC automatically switches back to the old version where you can add your website:
Clicking on the ‘Add a property’ button, you can insert the website you want to add. Make sure you add the right URL, so with ‘https’ if you have an https website and with or without ‘www’. For collecting the right data, it’s important to add the right version:
When you’ve added a website, you need to verify that you’re the owner. There are several options to verify your ownership. For WordPress users who use Yoast SEO we recommend using the HTML tag within the ‘Alternate methods’:
You can easily copy this code and paste it into the ‘Webmaster tools’ tab within the Yoast SEO plugin:
After saving this, you can return to Google Search Console and click on the ‘Verify’ button to confirm. If everything is ok, you’ll get a success message and GSC will start collecting data for your website.$89 - Buy now » Info
Features in the new version of Google Search Console
Now you’ve set up your account what would be the next step? We don’t think it’s necessary to look into your Google Search Console data each day. Because of the email notifications, you’ll always be aware of errors right away. Below, we’ll explain more about all features. We’ll start with the new version of Google Search Console and we’ll end with the features which aren’t migrated yet. Sometimes you’ll need to switch between the new and the old version of GSC.
Within the performance tab, you can see what pages and what keywords your website ranks for in Google. In the old version of GSC you could see the data of a maximum of the last 90 days but in the new version, it’s possible to see the data up to 16 months. Keep in mind that the data is available from the moment you set up your account.
If you check the performance tab regularly, you can quickly see what keywords or what pages need some more attention and optimization. So where to begin? Within the performance tab, you see a list of ‘queries’, ‘pages’, ‘countries’ or ‘devices’. Each of those sections can be sorted by the number of ‘clicks’, ‘impressions’, ‘average CTR’ or ‘average position’. We’ll explain each of them below:
The amount of clicks tells you how often people clicked on your website in the search results of Google. This number can tell something about the performance of your page titles and meta descriptions: if just a few people click on your result, your result might not stand out in the search results. It could be helpful to check what other results are displayed around you to see what can be optimized for your snippet.
The position of the search result also has an impact on the number of clicks of course. If your page is in the top 3 of Google’s first result page it will automatically get more clicks than a page that ranks on the second page of the search results.
The impressions tell you how often your website in general or how often a specific page is shown in the search results. For example, in the GSC account of our own website, Yoast SEO is one of the keywords our website ranks for. The number of impressions shown after this keyword shows how often our website is shown for that keyword in the search results of Google. You don’t know yet what page ranks for that keyword.
To see what pages might rank for the specific keyword, you can click on the line of the keyword. Doing this for the keyword [Yoast SEO], the keyword is added as a filter:
After that, you could navigate to the ‘Pages’ tab to see what pages exactly rank for this keyword. Are those pages the ones you’d want to rank for that keyword? If not, you might need to optimize the page you’d like to rank. Think of writing better content containing the keyword on that page, adding internal links from relevant pages or posts to the page, making the page load faster etc.
3. Average CTR
The CTR – Click-through rate – tells you what percentage of the people that have seen your website in de search results also clicked through to your website. You probably understand that higher rankings mostly also lead to higher click-through rates.
However, there are also things you can do yourself to increase the CTR. For example, you could rewrite your meta description and make it more appealing. When the description of your site stands out from the other results, more people will probably click on your result and your CTR will increase. Keep in mind that this will not have a big impact if you’re not ranking on the first page yet. You might need to try other things first to improve your ranking.
4. Average position
The last one in this list is the ‘Average position’. This tells you what the average ranking of a specific keyword or page was in the time period you’ve selected. Of course, this position isn’t always reliable since more and more people seem to get different search results. Google seems to understand better and better which results fit best for which visitor. However, this indicator still gives you an idea if the clicks, impressions and the average CTR are explainable.
A more technical but very valuable tab within Google Search Console is the ‘Index coverage’ tab. This section shows how many pages are in the index of Google since the last update, how many pages aren’t and what errors and warnings caused difficulties for Google indexing your pages properly.
We recommend checking this tab regularly to see what errors and warnings appear on your website. However, you also get notifications when Google has found new errors. When you get such a notification you can check the error in more detail here.
Errors that could appear in this section: a new URL that you’ve added is set to no-index, a redirect doesn’t seem to work correctly, Google ended up on a 404 error trying to index an URL. Clicking on the link, you can analyze the error more in depth to see what specific URLs are affected. When you’ve fixed the error you can mark it as fixed to make sure Google will test the URL again:
Below the ‘Index coverage’ you can find the ‘AMP’ tab. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages: lightning fast mobile pages. If you’ve set up AMP for your website you can check for errors in Google Search Console. Within this section you can see the valid AMP pages, the valid ones with warnings and errors:
Below the chart, the issues are listed. If you click on one of the issues you can see the affected URLs. Just as in the index section of GSC you can validate your fix if you’ve fixed an issue.
Job postings are new in Google Search Console. Within this tab, you’ll be able to list your job openings and to track their performance. If there are any errors, you’ll see them in here. It’s not the most important feature of GSC but it can be valuable for specific companies or websites.
An XML sitemap is like a roadmap to all important pages and posts on your website. We think every website would benefit from having one. Is our Yoast SEO plugin running on your website? Then you automatically have an XML sitemap. If not, we recommend creating one to make sure Google can find your most important pages and posts easily.
Within the XML sitemap tab of Google Search Console you can tell Google where your XML sitemap is located on your site:
We recommend everyone entering the URL of their XML sitemap into GSC to make Google find it easily. In addition to that, you can quickly see if your sitemap gives errors or if some pages aren’t indexed, for instance. Checking this regularly, you’re sure Google can find and read your XML sitemap correctly.
Missing features in the new version of Google Search Console
As you might have noticed not all features are integrated yet into the new version of Google Search Console. Google explains that this could have 2 reasons: they may have found a better way of presenting the data or they’re still in the process of migrating the feature to the new version. As said before, we’ll update this post when there’s progress made in the migration.
The old version of GSC is still available for everyone. So, why should you switch back to the old version once in a while? We’ll list the features that are missing in the new version, but that seem valuable to keep an eye on, below.
From the ‘Search appearance‘ section of the old Google Search Console, we miss the following features in the new version: ‘Structured data‘, ‘Rich cards‘, ‘Data highlighter‘ and the ‘HTML improvements‘.
If you’ve added structured data to your website we recommend checking the structured data tab of the old version regularly. Here you’ll see if all structured data is recognized by Google and errors will be listed. If you’ve added structured data meant for rich cards, you can check for errors in the rich cards tab. The data highlighter can be used to markup your pages without having to code yourself. You can read more in-depth about Google Search Console and structured data here.
In the last missing feature of the search appearance tab, the HTML improvements, you can easily check, for instance, for duplicate titles or quite short titles which can be improved. These listings can be an easy pick: optimizing your titles and meta descriptions might increase your rankings and CTR.
An improved version of the ‘Search analytics‘ tab is included in the new version of GSC. However, all other features within this tab aren’t included yet. We’re talking about ‘Links to your site‘, ‘Internal links‘, ‘Manual actions‘, ‘International targeting‘ and ‘Mobile usability‘.
Within the links to your site section, you can see how many links from other sites are pointing to your website. Besides, you can see what websites link, how many links those websites contain to your site and lastly, what anchor texts are used most linking to your website. This can be valuable information because links still are very important for SEO.
Within the internal links section, you can check what pages of your website are most linked from other spots on your site. This list can be valuable to analyze regularly because you want your most important pages and posts to get most internal links. Doing this, you make sure Google understands as well what your cornerstones are.
The manual actions tab is the one you don’t want to see anything in. When your site gets hit by a Google penalty, you’ll get noticed in here. If your site is affected by a manual action, you’ll also get a noticed in your messages and by email.
The international targeting tab is important for websites who have pages in different languages and who target people in different countries or regions. When you’ve implemented hreflang to your website, you can check for errors within this section of GSC.
Lastly, the mobile usability tab within this section shows you usability issues with your mobile website or with specific mobile pages. Since mobile traffic is rising all over the world, we recommend checking this regularly. If your mobile site isn’t user-friendly, lots of visitors will leave it quickly.$199 - Buy now » Info
The index status is already migrated to the new version of GSC. There are 2 reports left in this section: ‘Blocked resources’ and ‘Remove URLs’. The blocked resources tab shows pages which Google couldn’t enter completely. It’s important to remove those blocking elements to make sure Google can ‘see’ your pages completely. In the remove URLs tab, you can add URLs that you want to remove from the search results temporarily.
In the crawl tab, you can find the sections ‘Crawl errors’, ‘Crawl stats’, ‘Fetch as Google’, ‘Robots.txt tester’, ‘Sitemaps’ and ‘URL parameters’. It seems that you can find some crawl errors in the new index coverage tag but if we look at our account, we don’t see all crawl errors in the new version. This means that it’s important to check your crawl errors still in the old version of GSC. When you’ve fixed a crawl error you can mark it as fixed. The crawl stats aren’t included yet so you can find those stats in the old version. The crawl stats tell you something about how many pages are crawled per day, how many kilobytes are downloaded per day and how many time was spent downloading a page. If one of the graphs seem to decrease, you know it’s time to do something about it.
The fetch as Google feature gives you the opportunity to see if Google can access a specific page correctly, how it exactly renders the page and if there are blocked resources on the page. You can test your pages both for desktop as for mobile to see the differences between those.
The robots.txt tester is made to add your robots.txt and to test if any errors or warnings seem to appear. You can also add specific URLs to check whether they’re blocked or not.
The sitemaps are already moved to the new version of GSC so it’s time for the last feature of the crawl tab: URL parameters. In the URL parameters section, you can add parameters for your website and ‘tell’ Google how they should be handled. If you want to use this, we recommend reading the guidelines carefully. Don’t just add some parameters to see what happens. This can cause serious problems with your site’s SEO.
Last but not least: within the security issues tab you’ll get a notification when your website seems to have a security issue.
Do you already use Google Search Console for your website? If not, we definitely recommend creating an account so you can start collecting data of your website. Do you think something is missing? Feel free to leave a comment!
The post The beginner’s guide to – the NEW – Google Search Console appeared first on Yoast.
In our plugin, we have a check for outbound links. Is there an outbound link on your post or page? And in case there isn’t one, please add an outbound link to your content! Why do we insist on adding a link like that? Isn’t it true that you should get links to your website, and to your website only? Well… Not per se.$89 - Buy now » Info
What are outbound links?
There are a gazillion types of links. The most common ones are these, I think:
- Internal links from one page on your website to another page on your website. They can help optimize your site for search engines, we have an internal links tool for that. And with our site structure course you can learn how to do your internal linking well.
- And then, there are two types of external links:
- Links from other websites to yours. We call these inbound links or backlinks.
- Links from your website to another website. Outbound links, indeed.
Outbound links in Yoast SEO
In the meta box below your Edit post screen, you’ll find the section called “Improvements”. If not, please update our plugin as you’re using a very old version. “Very old” is pretty relative in terms of internet years, right? In that section “Improvements”, there’s this one check that says:
Consider adding some as appropriate. We really feel that every page should have an outbound link. We’re not throwing a red bullet here. We’re not forcing you to add that one to your post. But we would really like you to.
Why we want you to add outbound links to your post
You must wonder by now why we want you to add that link anyway. Our mission is SEO for Everyone. We strongly believe in equal chances for everyone on a connected web. By asking you to add that outbound link, we ask you to connect your website to the next website. And that website to the next website. By doing so, we create a web that expands and expands, from one related website to another. We help Google to connect the dots. We help Bing to get insights on what sites or better what pages relate to each other.
By connecting the web, and structuring the web with your help, we help search engines find interesting websites. We help interesting websites rank in Google. With your help. SEO for Everyone.
So.. do outbound links matter for SEO?
Outbound links most definitely matter for SEO. Not per se for your SEO, but for SEO in the most generic way there is. Your outbound link helps your neighbor, your supplier, your customer and of course, your visitor. So we strongly believe there is a good reason we have a check for them in our Yoast SEO plugin!
Keyword research is the first step in the SEO copywriting process and an essential part of any SEO strategy. Before you write your website content you need to think about which search terms you want to be found for and this means getting inside people’s heads to find out which words they use when searching. Then you can use these exact terms in your content so that you start ranking for them. This is keyword research and this ultimate guide will take you through the many steps involved.
- What is keyword research?
- Why is keyword research important?
- Doing keyword research for SEO
- Step 1: What is your mission?
- Step 2: Make a list of keywords
- Step 3: Look at search intent
- Step 4: Construct landing pages
- Long term keyword strategy
- The importance of long tail keyword strategy
- Multiple focus keywords
- Conclusion on keyword research for SEO
What is keyword research?
Before we start explaining the process of keyword research, let’s look at the most important concepts behind it.
Keyword research can be defined as the work you do to come up with an extensive list of keywords you want to rank for.
Keyword strategy is about the decisions you make on the basis of that keyword research.
Key phrases are keywords containing multiple words. We tend to use the word keyword all the time, but we don’t necessarily mean it’s only one word. ‘WordPress SEO’ is a keyword, as is ‘Google Analytics plugin’. Keywords usually consist of multiple words! So, in this guide, when we talk about keywords, we usually mean a phrase, rather than a single word.
Long tail keywords are more specific and less common because they focus more on a niche. The longer (and more specific) search terms are, the easier it will be to rank for the term. Keywords that are more specific (and often longer) are usually referred to as long tail keywords.$199 - Buy now » Info
Search intent is all about discovering what a searcher actually wants. These are not just keywords, but the underlying goals of what a searcher wants to know, do or buy.
Why is keyword research important?
Proper keyword research is important because it will make clear which search terms your audience uses. At Yoast, we frequently come across clients who use one set of words when describing their products, while their target audience uses a completely different set of words. These sites aren’t found by their potential customers because of a mismatch in word use.
It doesn’t make any sense to optimize for words that people don’t use. Good keyword research makes sure that you use the same words as your target audience and this makes the whole effort of optimizing your website far more worthwhile. In addition, by looking at search intent, you find out which questions your customer has. Those questions should get an answer in the form of quality content.
Doing keyword research for SEO
For us, there are three steps to keyword research. First, you write down the mission of your business. Next, you make a list of all the keywords you want to be found for. Finally, you create landing pages for each of those keywords. This ultimate guide takes you through these three steps in much more detail.
Step by step we’ll guide you through the entire keyword research process, and we’ll give you practical tips to easily start your own keyword research.
Step 1: What is your mission?
Before starting anything, think about your mission. Think about questions like: Who are you? What is your website about? What makes you special? And what promises do you make on your website?
A lot of people can’t effectively answer these questions at first. You have to figure out what makes you stand out from the crowd. So take your time and literally write down your mission on a piece of paper, a computer or an iPad – anything will do, as long as you do it. Once you’re able to answer these questions in detail, you will have taken the first and most important step in your keyword strategy.
Things to consider: How competitive is your market?
The market you’re in determines whether your mission will prove genius enough to sell your products to people. Some markets are highly competitive, with large companies dominating the search results. These companies have huge budgets for marketing in general and SEO in particular. Competing in these markets is tough, so ranking in these markets is also going to be tough.
Perhaps you sell cruises to Hawaii. You offer great facilities for children, making the cruises especially suitable for young or single parents. Offering great cruises to Hawaii for young parents could very well be what makes your service unique. Look for the thing that makes your product stand out from the competition. This should be your mission, your niche – and this is what you have to offer your audience.
If you’re launching into in a competitive market, you’re probably best to start out small. Once you ‘own’ a small part of that niche and become a big name in the business of cruises to Hawaii, you could try to go one level up and sell your cruises to a larger (more general) audience. Your mission will then become much more general as well.
Step 2: Make a list of keywords
The second step of keyword research is creating a list of your keywords. With your mission in mind, try to get into the heads of your potential buyers. What will these people be looking for? What kind of search terms could they be using while looking for your amazing service or product? Ask yourself these questions and write down as many answers as possible.
If your mission is clear, you will have a pretty clear image of your niche and your unique selling points (the things that set your business apart from others). These are the terms you want to be found for.
To consider: Make sure the keywords fit your site
Be aware that you should be found for terms that match your site. If we went crazy and did our very best to make yoast.com rank for ballet shoes, people would be rather disappointed to find our site. They would probably instantly go back to Google. If we ranked for ballet shoes, we would have a massive bounce rate. And a high bounce rate tells Google that people are not finding what they are looking for based on their search term. This would inevitably lead to a lower ranking on ballet shoes for our site – and that would be completely justified, because we know nothing about ballet, n or about shoes for that matter.
Tools you can use
Making a list of possible search terms is hard. Up until a few years ago you could just check Google Analytics and see the terms people used to find your website, but unfortunately that’s no longer possible. So you have pretty much no idea which terms people use in search engines to end up at your website. Luckily, there are still some other tools which make your keyword research a bit easier. Read our post about tools you can use in your keyword research for more tips and tricks.
Step 3: Look at search intent
Much of today’s SEO strategy should revolve around answering the questions people have. Whenever someone enters a search query into a search engine, they are on a quest for something. Every type of question needs a specific answer. In my SEO basics article on search intent, I said:
“Search intent has to do with the reason why people conduct a specific search. Why are they searching? Are they searching because they have a question and want an answer to that question? Are they searching for a specific website? Or, are they searching because they want to buy something?”
When planning your content, always ask yourself these questions. There are four types of intents:
- Informational intent: Just like it says on the tin, people are trying to find information on a specific topic.
- Navigational intent: People want to access a specific website by entering the term in a search engine.
- Commercial intent: People want to buy something sometime soon and are doing research before making a purchase.
- Transactional intent: People are looking to buy something after doing their commercial intent searches.
Find out which intents apply to you and try to answer these search intents by literally giving people what they want.
Step 4: Construct landing pages
The third step towards a long term keyword strategy is to create awesome landing pages. In the past, every one of the keywords you want to be found for got its own landing page. Today, however, search engines are so smart that they mostly use search intent to give searchers the best answer to their questions. The page that answers those questions best will rank on top. Search engines also understand subtle differences between keywords so you don’t have to do your utmost best to distinguish singular and plural terms, for instance. So you can optimize a page for multiple keywords.
We would advise you to build your page structure in a well structured way – using a spreadsheet programme like Excel or Google Docs/Sheets is a great way to do this. Create a table then add your list of keywords. Using a table forces you to set up a structure and to make relevant landing pages. Put the search terms in the first column and add columns for the different levels of your site’s structure.
Then you’ll need to build a landing page for your search terms, but you don’t have to create all these pages immediately – it can be a long term thing. The more specific your search term is, the further down into your site structure the term’s landing page belongs. The most important keywords will lead to your cornerstone content articles. These are the keywords you definitely want to rank for. To do this, you create the best possible content about that keyword – authoritative and all-encompassing, just like the ultimate guide you are reading right now. All your supporting articles will link to this cornerstone content. This should be part of your internal linking strategy, which Yoast SEO Premium can help you implement.
After completing your keyword research for SEO, you should have a clear overview of the terms people use and the terms you want the pages on your site to be found for. This overview should guide you in writing content for your website.
Long term keyword strategy
No website should rely on one single keyword or one keyphrase for its traffic. You should use your mission as a starting point, then take our three steps in carrying out proper keyword research and work towards a solid base: a keyword strategy. This section of our ultimate guide explains why it’s important to have a long term keyword strategy.
How many keywords?
We can’t tell you the exact number of keywords you should have, but we can tell you that you need a lot of them – as many as you can think of. However, more than 1000 keywords is probably too many!
Even if you’re a reasonably small business, you’ll probably end up with a couple of hundred keywords. But there’s no need to create pages for all of these straight away. The great thing about having a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress is that you can add content bit by bit. Think about what keywords you want to rank for now, and which ones aren’t immediately so important. Understand your priorities and plan the creation of your content.
Ad hoc keyword research strategies
In an ideal world, you would do your keyword research, make a beautiful table and create landing pages for each one. Your site structure would be flawless and you would blog and write every day making your site rank higher and higher in Google. Unfortunately, we live in the real world.
Of course, your keyword research will not always be as extensive. And some posts or articles aren’t written as part of an awesome strategy, but just because the topic was in the news or something inspired you to write it. That’s just how these things work. But this doesn’t have to be a problem.
If you’re writing something that doesn’t exactly fit your strategy, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make that content rank. You could still use it to rank for something related to the terms in the list of your keyword strategy. Use tools like Google Trends to choose which keyword you’d like to rank for. At least take some time to think about how to make your article or blog fit your strategy. After all, if you are writing valuable content, you might as well make it rank!$249 - Buy now » Info
The importance of long tail keyword strategy
Focusing on long tail keywords should be an important part of a long term keyword research strategy. Long tail keywords are keywords or key phrases that are more specific (and usually longer) than more common keywords, often called “head” keywords. Long tail keywords get less search traffic, but will usually have a higher conversion value, as they focus more on a specific product or topic. Read our post about the importance of long tail keywords if you want to know why you should focus on long tail keywords when optimizing your site.
Multiple focus keywords
Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin allows you to optimize your content for multiple keywords – up to five per article in fact. Our post about multiple focus keywords explains why it’s important to use the multiple focus keyword functionality while optimizing your text. We’ve also written a post about why you shouldn’t use your focus keyword more than once.
Conclusion on keyword research for SEO
Keyword research should be the start of any sustainable SEO strategy. The result will be a long list of keywords for which you’d like to be found. But the hardest part is still ahead: writing all that content. You should write articles and blog posts on every single keyword you would like to be found for. That’s quite a challenge!
It’s with great pleasure that we announce the release of Yoast SEO for TYPO3 2.0. This brand new version includes functional and technical changes, making the extension easier to use and more complete! It’s now available on the TYPO3 Extension Repository, on Packagist and Github. The new version has been a team effort, and many people from the TYPO3 community contributed. Read on to learn what’s new in this release.
Yoast SEO and TYPO3
First a bit a background on Yoast SEO and TYPO3. TYPO3 is a popular Open Source CMS with users around the globe. Yoast and MaxServ have worked hard to bring Yoast SEO’s content analysis to this CMS. Those who work with Yoast SEO for WordPress are already familiar with this functionality. It helps you optimize your text for a keyword you’d like to rank for, a so-called focus keyword. You can also check what your page will look like in the SERPs, using the snippet preview. On top of that, it helps you write easy-to-read copy, giving tips and pointers as you’re writing. Basically, it helps you optimize your content for the search engines on all levels!
Almost a year ago, Yoast and MaxServ released the first version of Yoast SEO for TYPO3 at TYPO3 Camp Venlo. A milestone, preceded by an intense period of developing and testing. Since then, TYPO3 users have had the option to use Yoast SEO to optimize their website, and we’ve seen the number of users steadily increase. Now, it’s time to take Yoast SEO for TYPO3 to the next level!
What’s new in version 2.0?
Both the technical and the visual aspects of the extension have had quite an overhaul. Let’s start with the most important change. From now on, it’ll be possible to use Yoast SEO alongside extensions that aren’t based on pages, News, for example. Out of the box, there’s support for the News extension so that you can get started with that right away. As for other extensions you might want to use: in the documentation, you’ll find examples of how to integrate them.
But there’s more: besides the option to use Yoast SEO for TYPO3 2.0 with other extensions, you’ll also find improvements to the functionality in the new version. When working on a page, you can now open and collapse the snippet preview, while the page score remains visible. Furthermore, the snippet preview now allows you to see both the desktop and mobile version. These are just two examples of many small improvements and fixes in 2.0; you can read the full release changelog on Github.
Get the new version!
If you’re eager to try this new version, there are two options. If you haven’t installed the Yoast SEO extension yet, you can do that from the TYPO3 Extension Repository (TER) or using composer. The extension won’t need any further configuration!
If you’re already running an earlier version of this extension, no problem! You’ll only need to make a few small changes in the user rights, so all users will have access to the proper input fields; you’ll find more information on that in the manual.
Since SEO is such an important part of maintaining a website, we advise you to test if everything is working right. As this is an open source project, you can suggest enhancements and bug fixes at the project’s GitHub page. Your feedback is always appreciated! Happy updating!
A big thanks to the contributors!
Both Yoast and MaxServ are businesses working with an open source model, and greatly value contributions from the community. Besides our own teams, we’d like to thank the following people for their contributions to Yoast SEO for TYPO3 2.0: Bernhard Berger, Christoph Buchli, Eric Chavaillaz, Riccardo De Contardi, Totto Goldländer, Aleksi Kaistinen, Hendrik Putzek, Simon Schmidt, Preben Rather Sørensen, Kay Strobach, Stefan Varvoreanu, Timo Webler, Nikolaj Wojtkowiak-Pfänder, Cyril Wolfangel, Tobias Wollender and Giulio Zulian.
Perhaps you’d like to contribute to the extension? We’d love your help! Contact us for more information by email or on Slack.
We’ve been on quite the hiring spree at Yoast HQ and today, we’d like to introduce you to our newest Yoaster. This, however, is not just any old hire. No, it’s none other than the incredible Jono Alderson. Jono has been a leading figure in the world of SEO for some time now. He leaves his job as a principal consultant at Distilled London behind to join Team Yoast in our quest to make SEO available to everyone. So, without further ado: Meet Jono Alderson!$89 - Buy now » Info
Q. You’re a well-known figure in the world of SEO, with years of hands-on experience under your belt. What’s more, you are a keynote speaker at many SEO conferences. However, there are probably loads of people who don’t know you: could you introduce yourself?
Sure – though I suspect my story is similar to many others in the industry!
I started out as a bedroom web developer many years ago, and became a bit obsessed about code quality, standards, accessibility, and so on. Tweaking titles, refining HTML, adding alt attributes, etc. I was doing technical SEO before I’d even heard of SEO, and I loved it.
My first exposure to ‘grown-up’ SEO was when I got a job at a digital marketing agency (I lucked my way through the interview with nothing but enthusiasm – thanks Ryan Scott), and then spent five years growing and leading a team of awesome marketers. We learned as we went when SEO was still a bit “wild west,” but we were always trying to be the good guys. We did some great work for some really big clients, and I’m proud of what we achieved.
More importantly, I learned a lot about business, strategy, and other technologies and channels.
From there, I’ve just kept learning. As SEO grows increasingly more ‘holistic’ and connected to other channels, I’ve kept pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, embrace new ideas, and to grow as a person.
Q. What did you do at your previous employer, Distilled?
I was ‘Principal Consultant’ in the London office for just over a year, and it was a great time and experience. I’d wanted to work for Distilled for as long as I can remember – they were one of the big influences on my learning and thinking when I started out in the field – and they’re some of the smartest people I’ve met in the industry.
I did a bit of everything – mostly floating around the edges and tackling some of the more interesting, technical or complex briefs and projects which didn’t quite fit into the day-to-day flow of the agency.
Some of the most interesting projects ranged from owning and delivering enormous strategy pieces for big brands (“What should our five-year strategy be, to win the market?”), down to very technical stuff, like un-picking flakey Angular implementations across international, multi-domain, websites.
I’m already missing the team, and the kinds of projects which we worked on – but I’m excited to be doing something new!
Q. You know Joost de Valk quite a while, right? How did you meet and when did he offer you a job?
Embarrassingly, I was once very dismissive of both Joost and the Yoast SEO plugin in a conference talk about web performance, blaming both for making website owners ‘lazy’ when it comes to optimisation.
I think word got back to him, and it made for an interesting rivalry, where I was just some upstart SEO geek calling out a legend. Oops.
I’m still a little nervous that many users of the Yoast SEO plugin just turn it on and forget about it, and how many missed opportunities that represents, but that’s something we can tackle together!
So when I first met Joost in person at SEOktoberfest 2016, I was a little nervous! But we had a great time. And after the 2017 event, we got chatting about joining forces – it all happened pretty organically, mostly over Facebook messenger in the middle of the Christmas break!
Q. What are you going to do at Yoast?
I think we’ll mostly work it out as we go! I’m keen to roll my sleeves up and start to prototype and play with some features and functionality in the plugin. I still find myself getting frustrated with parts of the WordPress editing and management experiences, so it’ll be great to attack some of that from closer to the inside. Gutenberg’s pretty exciting, too, so I’m looking forward to exploring what we can achieve in a block-based world!
I’m also going to maintain strong links with the SEO industry. I’ve made a lot of friends at agencies, tool vendors and organizations who’ll be important allies as we continue to strive to make SEO more accessible and to raise the bar on technical SEO. I’m looking forward to speaking at a bunch of conferences, too!
Q. What are you hoping to achieve at Yoast?
I really love the core mission – SEO for everyone. I want to make the web a better place, to improve the quality, accessibility and performance of websites, and just to solve technical SEO. It still astounds me how many sites have basic faults, broken links, malformed HTML, and so on. I’ll be in a position to make a measurable improvement to the quality of millions of websites and to help all of those people perform better in search. That’s awesome.
Q. You are both a search strategist and a developer, not unlike Joost himself. What does this allow you to do?
I’m really uncreative. I have no dexterity. I can’t draw, kick a football, or hang a shelf.
So joining up the ideation, strategy and business side to the development side lets me play. It’s incredibly liberating to be able to come up with an idea for a thing, to validate that it should work commercially/strategically, then to build a functioning, scalable proof of concept.
The drawback is, I’m a terrible finisher! I’ve piles of half-completed projects, where I’ve solved the problem in my head, but have got bored by the long-slog to the finishing line.
So it’ll be great to work with a team where I can do my bit, then let people who’re much better at rigorous, process-driven testing and development ship something complete!
Q. What’s your view on the current state of SEO and search in general? Which developments excite you? What should we look out for in the coming months?
I think that we’re finally starting to think beyond links, rankings and ranking factors. I’m seeing the spotlight gradually shifting to quality – conversations about rankings are talking about UX and brand/product quality, rather than links and click-through rates.
Google’s so close to having closed the gap on approximating and extrapolating ‘quality’ from link and site metrics, which means that improving that ‘quality’ means actually improving the thing you are/do/sell. That’s the kind of SEO I want to do and see.
There’s so much more coming, too – the web itself is maturing and moving forwards, and SEOs will need to stay on top of the latest tech and trends. I’m excited to see more people talking about Progressive Web Apps, and some of Chrome’s newest toys (like server-side timings) are really neat!
Q. You also call yourself an amateur futurologist, so I have to ask this question: Are robots going to take over the world?
They already have! Your mobile phone already runs your life, increasingly your Alexa or Google Home will run your home, and there’s more to come. It’s no coincidence that all of the big global players are investing in machine learning, in-home devices, and mobile hardware.
I don’t think we need to be too scared, yet. We’re still a long way from any kind of Terminator scenario, and before we get to that, we’ll get some really neat stuff in scaled computation and processing.
Having said that, if I was a robot from the future wanting to take over the world, maybe I’d do it by flooding the internet with a powerful piece of distributed software, which everybody used and relied on. Then I could subvert it, and control the web. Maybe I’d call it “JonoPress.”
You can find Jono on Twitter.
Something’s brewing at Yoast HQ. There’s no sign of spring yet, but we feel the need for a spring clean-up. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking critically at the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin and its many features and thinking: what’s this doing here? And should we get rid of that thing? Some of the results of that process are collected here, in Yoast SEO 6.3. But this is only the beginning.$89 - Buy now » Info
We’ve removed the meta keywords box
Meta keywords haven’t had any use for ages. In 2009, Google officially confirmed that they didn’t use them. We, however, kept the box since some of you clamored at the slightest hint that we were even thinking about deleting it. But now, after all these years, it is the time to say goodbye to the old meta keywords box. It was fun while it lasted, but it should have been gone years ago. Read why we don’t use meta keywords and why you shouldn’t either.
The “noindex subpages” feature is also gone
Since Google has gotten much better at working with paginated series, we’ve removed the feature that allows noindexing subpages of archives. According to Joost de Valk, the reasoning behind this is simple: “
rel="prev" make sure Google sends people to the first page in a paginated series. There is one catch: sometimes it will send people to a specific page in the series, but that’s when that page is the best match for their query. This, therefore, should be better for the searcher. Noindexing all these pages leads to a lower amount of crawls for them (source), which subsequently leads to lower amounts of crawls for older articles, which is not a good idea on most sites.”
Enhancements: more context, fewer settings
In Yoast SEO 6.3, you’ll not only find loads of new enhancements that’ll improve how the plugin works, but we’ve also provided more context within the plugin so you can find out immediately what a particular toggle or feature does. By deleting a couple of features, we even said goodbye to a tab in the advanced settings. To help you find these settings, we’ve added a step in the configuration wizard for enabling (or disabling) the advanced settings. Also, we’ve improved the Open Graph copy for Facebook and Twitter in the Social settings to explain better what it does.
To help you transfer data from other WordPress SEO plugins we’ve added an importer for the SEO Ultimate plugin and the SEOpressor plugin. We already supported several other SEO plugins, like HeadSpace2, All in One SEO, JetPack SEO, WooThemes SEO Framework, and wpSEO.
In Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve also made several improvements that make it more apparent what a particular feature does. We’ve added a piece of text to the Internal Linking analyzer after completing a full site scan. This gives you more insight into what the effects are of running the analyzer. What’s more, we’ve added an explanation on entries on the features tab and links to explanatory articles on the features tab.
In addition to all these enhancements and the deletion of some superfluous features, we’ve been busy fixing bugs and getting things ready for the next release. You can find every bug fix and feature enhancement in the changelog on WordPress.org. As I said, we’re busy as bees at the moment and cannot wait to show you what we’ve come up with.
Yoast SEO 6.3 and its various add-ons all received nice updates today. We’re cleaning up the plugins as part of our quest for keeping our interfaces and features as easy as possible. In the coming weeks, we hope to show you more of what we’ve been up to. For now, update your plugins and stay tuned!
If you want to measure the success of your content SEO strategy, you first need to establish what your goals are. What’s the purpose of your content SEO strategy? Do you want higher rankings? More traffic?
In order to evaluate your Content SEO strategy, you should identify what success means to you! Once you’ve established your goals, you can measure the success of your content SEO strategy. In this post, I’ll help you define your goals and give you tips on exactly how to measure those goals and the success of your content SEO strategy.$199 - Buy now » Info
What’s your ultimate goal?
What do you really want to achieve with your SEO strategy? Lots of people SAY that they want to rank higher in Google. But is that really what they ultimately want to achieve? Or do they want to attract more traffic from Google to their website? Perhaps, they actually want to sell more stuff. Or, to have more return visitors. These are all different goals and these goals require different metrics to evaluate.
Ranking higher in Google for a particular search term will probably lead to more traffic. But not necessarily. We used to rank really high on the term [Google Analytics]. Most of those people were just looking for Google Analytics when they typed in [Google Analytics] in the search bar though – that was their search intent. So although we were ranking sky-high on a major competitive search term like [Google Analytics], it didn’t bring us any traffic.
In most cases, people probably want more organic traffic instead of higher rankings. And, if you have an online shop, you probably want to make more money: you’d like to attract people to your website that have a larger intent to buy. Your content SEO strategy should focus on attracting those people to your website.
Set up a content SEO strategy that fits your goals
Once you’ve established your goals and know what you want to achieve with your content SEO strategy, you should come up with a strategy that actually fits your SEO goals. If you want articles to rank higher, you should update and improve your best articles. If you want to attract more traffic to your website, you should consider a long tail keyword strategy. And if your goal is to sell more items, you should think of ways to attract buyers to your website.
How do you measure those goals?
Once you’ve established your ultimate goal and figured out your content SEO strategy, you’ll be able to measure it. If you really want to know whether your content SEO strategy was successful you need to measure at least twice. You need to know just how you were doing before your content SEO strategy kicked in and you need to know how you’re doing afterwards. Let’s look at various goals and ways to measure them.
Check the positions of your articles. For which terms are you ranking pretty well and which articles need an SEO boost? Rewrite and write new content. Add links. Do your content SEO magic! After some time, you can check your rankings again. If your articles appear in higher positions than they did before you started your content SEO strategy, your rankings will have increased. To keep track of your rankings, you can use Google Search Console.
If your goal is to attract more traffic to your website, you should focus on the number of unique visitors you get on a weekly or monthly basis. If the organic traffic – visitors that come to your site using the search engines – increases, your content SEO strategy is paying off. It means more people click on your snippet in the search engines. You can use Google Analytics to keep track of the visitors on your site.
Increasing the number of purchases on your site could also be the ultimate goal of your content SEO strategy. It’s hard to measure the direct effect of your content SEO strategy on your sales. A decent content SEO strategy will need some time to have an effect. Still, Google Analytics has a lot of options on just how to attribute value of sales to certain pages. If you want to dive into that, read Annelieke’s post on how to measure the success of a Black Friday sale.
A content SEO strategy could have other goals as well. It could be aimed at making people stay longer on your website and read more articles. The time spent on site is the metric you need in that specific case. Perhaps you’d want people to come back to your website: measure the number of return visitors. A totally different goal of a content SEO strategy could be making sure people find the information they need on your website, so they don’t need to make a phone call to your call center anymore. In such a situation, you need to measure the number of received phone calls – before and after your content SEO strategy.
Always keep in mind when you’re measuring something like this: try not to change other variables – things that influence, for instance, the amount of calls you get – during your test period! Otherwise your data won’t be reliable, and you’re still in the dark about the effect of your content SEO strategy.
How you should measure the success of a content SEO strategy largely depends on the goal of that specific content SEO strategy. What do you want to achieve? Specify your goals, find the metrics you need, define a test period and determine whether your content SEO strategy was a success. Good luck!
The post How to measure the success of your content SEO strategy? appeared first on Yoast.
HTML <link> elements, also called HTML <link> tags, are bits in the HTML of a website that specify the relation between the current document and an external resource. They look like this:
link rel= "..." and can be used for all kinds of things, like importing a stylesheet. SEO related link elements are, for instance, the rel=”canonical” link element, which is used to avoid duplicate content issues.
Getting the hang of using these can be difficult. So it’s no wonder you may ask yourself if the search engines can make sense of all the tags in the HTML of your site. Let’s look into that for this week’s question!
Ryan Howard emails us this question:
We have both rel=’amphtml’ and rel=’canonical’ links on the non-AMP pages of our site. Does Google care if there are two link rel tags on a page?
Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!
Google handling several link tags on a page
“Well, to be fair if you’re using WordPress you probably have a few more. You probably have a link to your RSS feeds and a couple of other things.
And no, Google doesn’t care. It can read very well what these things do. They all have their own purpose, it understands that, there’s no reason to worry about that whatsoever. Good luck.”
In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.
If you want to grow your audience, it could be a great strategy to focus on a different language. Creating content in a foreign language can be quite a challenge though. In this post, I’ll discuss three ways to create content in a foreign language. I’ll also share some useful tips on how to write in a language that’s not your mother tongue.
Multilingual keyword research
SEO copywriting always starts with keyword research. Creating copy in a foreign language makes no exception to that rule. Jesse, our academy lead, wrote an awesome post in which he explains that creating copy in a foreign language could have large implications for your SEO. If you’re going to aim your content at a new foreign audience, you need to find out what words they are using when they search in Google. You’ll have to get in the heads of your foreign audience.
Because it’s not easy to get the right website ranking in the right market we decided to set up a Multilingual SEO training! In this course we’ll guide you step by step through all important multilingual SEO elements. Don’t miss it!$199 - Buy now » Info
Take cultural differences into account
Next to using the words your audience uses, you’ll need to make sure that the content you create matches the local niche of your audience. If you’re a British company and you want to get started on the French market, you’ll encounter some cultural differences. If you are a British company and you want to get started in the Chinese market, you’ll come across some really big cultural differences. Being aware of cultural differences is important if you’re going to create content in a foreign language.
Three options to create content
After you’ve focused on your multilingual keyword research, and on the possible cultural differences, you’ll want to start creating content. There are three ways to create new content:
You can translate the content you already have on your original website in the language of your choice. You can do that yourself (provided that you have mastered the language) or you can outsource this. Translating is the cheapest way to create new content. That’s a huge plus for this strategy. However, it hardly leaves any room for the keyword research you’ve done, nor for possible cultural differences.
Write new content
The second strategy for creating content in a foreign language is by writing entirely new content. Again, you can do that yourself (provided that your writing skills in the new language are up to scratch) or you can outsource this. If you choose to outsource, I would advise you to give a detailed outline of what you want your article to say. Native writers are usually best at embedding an article in a local culture. They can use examples of current affairs in a specific country. That’ll make the copy appealing.
The third option for creating content in a new language is a combination of the two other strategies mentioned: transcreation. A blog post from your ‘old’ website will be the inspiration for a new article or blog post. However, keyword research and cultural differences are taken into account. The content will not be translated literally, but in the end, the articles will pretty much have the same message. This strategy is probably is the most efficient way of creating new content in a foreign language. You do not have to come up with all new ideas, but the local culture and the specific words of your audience are taken into account.$199 - Buy now » Info
Tips for writing in a foreign language
You can only write content yourself if your writing skills in the new language are up to scratch. Otherwise, you should outsource the writing. Writing in a language that’s not your mother tongue can be quite hard. I know from experience. So, what can you do to improve your writing?
Read a lot… and after that, read some more
The best thing you can do is to read a lot. Of course, you need to read texts in the language you want to master. Read blog posts, newspaper articles, novels. Your brain will recognize patterns of words and memorize phrases, sayings, figures of speech and preferred word order.
Practice and study
Reading will help you to passively use the language. Practising by actually writing stuff will improve your skills even further. Write, correct and write some more. It will also pay off to study the basic grammar and spelling rules before you start putting pen to paper. That’ll help you to avoid the most common mistakes.
Use a tool or a native speaker
There are lots of tools out there that’ll help you with grammar and spelling in a foreign language. I always use Grammarly to correct my English. Tools like this are helpful. Another way to get feedback on your writing is to ask a native speaker for feedback. Native speakers will also be able to correct spelling and grammar, and besides that, they could give valuable tips on style and sentence construction.
Adding a language to your website could very well open your site to a whole new audience. Creating content in a foreign language can be quite a challenge, though. If you want to create this content yourself, your writing skills in the foreign language should be rather good. In any case, you should always do keyword research in a foreign language and take into account any cultural differences there may exist.
The post How to create SEO-friendly copy in a foreign language appeared first on Yoast.
In our Ask Yoast case studies, we generally give SEO advise to clients who sign up for this series. This time, however, we’ve had a look at the website of Ryan Hoffman: leverageny.com. He didn’t sign up for the case study, but commented on our Ultimate guide to Content SEO. He told us nobody in his target audience reads content. So we became curious if we could give Ryan tips to optimize his website without focusing on the text only. Our main conclusion is: Ryan’s website would benefit from a more holistic SEO strategy. Read on to find out how!
What keywords does your target audience use?
First of all, setting up an SEO strategy and creating content should always start with keyword research. Writing about keywords nobody is searching for doesn’t make sense, as you probably understand. Ryan already mentioned that people searching for a keyword such as ‘How to sell a house’ probably aren’t looking for great content. Those people end up calling an agent, sell their house and that’s it.
So what type of content could attract people interested in real estate? Where would you be interested in if you were looking for a new house? List everything that pops up your mind, and you’ll probably get great new content ideas. For example, think of ‘Tips for buying a house’, ‘Should I buy or rent a house?’, ‘What additional costs can I expect when buying a house?’.$199 - Buy now » Info
Make your keywords specific
You might notice that the key phrases I’ve added to the paragraph before are quite long. Such specific key phrases are also called long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific than main keywords, but they can be of equal value to your website. Of course, fewer people will search for such specific keywords, but if they do, they’re more likely to convert. People searching for long tail keywords usually know better what they’re looking for on the internet. This means it’s easier to meet their needs by writing specific content about long tail keywords.
We recommend checking the content of existing articles to see if you can determine a specific long tail keyword you want to rank for with that article. If you find one, try optimizing that article for it to increase the value of the traffic to that article.
Make use of tools
In addition to listing the subjects that pop up in your mind, you can use tools to find new keywords. There are lots of tools that can be helpful by finding relevant keywords for your business. This article about keyword research tools will give you some examples of tools we use at Yoast. Our Yoast Suggest tool shows popular, relevant keywords as well as keyword ideas for every letter of the alphabet. Just take a look at these images:
Help visitors reach the main goal of your site
When visitors click on your website in the search engines, most of them will probably land on a specific article. It’s important to keep those visitors on your website and to easily reach the main goal of your website.
When we look at your site, however, it’s not completely clear to us what the main goal of leverageny.com is. Do you just want visitors to read your content or do you want them to search for an actual house on your website? Looking at the website, we think the option to search for a house is quite hard to find. If this isn’t your main goal, this is no problem. Think about what you want your visitors to do on your website and make sure you help them navigate to that goal with the right links on the right spots.
Positive user signals
In the introduction of this post, we already mentioned that we recommend following a holistic SEO strategy. This means you should strive to make every single aspect of your website great. For example, adding new content regularly is something search engines like. Keeping visitors on your website though, is probably just as important.
Google uses so-called user signals to determine if the website is a result that matches the search intent or search query of the visitor. The time visitors stay on your website can be an indicator of that match. Visitors staying for a long time on your website send a positive user signal, improving your site’s SEO indirectly and possibly leading to higher rankings.
How to keep visitors on your website
To increase your visitors’ time on site, it’s important to give them the opportunity to easily navigate to relevant, other posts on your website. Make sure you link to relevant content at the bottom of each post but also from within the texts of posts by using internal links. By adding more internal links, you can make your most important posts stronger and you’ll give your visitors the opportunity to easily navigate to other relevant posts.
Looking at your posts, we think there might be too much distraction because of all the different elements in the sidebar and below the posts. Try to add more focus to the part you want your visitors to click on after reading a post.
In addition to that, you can create more specific categories. Checking the XML Sitemap, we noticed that you’ve only added very generic categories:
Categorizing posts, you can make a strong ‘bulk’ of content about the same or nearly the same subject. Adding more relevant posts to a category will make it stronger. Google will see that the content within that category is all related and therefore, valuable for potential visitors. For example, for the category ‘Home buying’ you could add subcategories such as ‘Home buying: apartments’ and ‘Home buying: cities’. Another option is adding tags such as ‘Apartments’ and ‘Beach houses’ to create specific overviews of related posts on your site.
Categories and tags are beneficial for your site structure and for Google – to understand what content you have on your site. Moreover it helps to keep visitors on your site. When users see a link to related categories or tags they’ll likely navigate to those sections to read more relevant content. But now, the posts within the category ‘Home buying’ are probably too different to find specific posts a visitor would be interested in.$69 - Buy now » Info
Optimizing for local SEO
Since the business of Ryan Hoffman is focused on particular areas of New York, it’s important to optimize for local SEO as well. There are probably lots of people in the neighborhood looking for a house in one of those areas. When you optimize for local SEO your website will be more visible in the search results of people nearby.
We noticed that you’ve already added separate pages for different areas which is great! Doing this, the search engines understand what areas your business focuses on. To give those location pages even more value, we recommend adding introductory content with information about the specific area to increase your rankings in the local search results even more.
In addition to that, we think that you didn’t create a Google My Business account yet. Adding your business details to Google My Business can also be very valuable for local SEO. We definitely recommend setting this up!
The power of social media
Lastly, we would like to mention that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of social media nowadays. The amount of people having social media accounts is still increasing, so your target audience probably uses social media every day.
We think social media should definitely be part of a holistic SEO strategy. Google and other search engines can’t ignore the importance of social media anymore and this means that you can boost your site’s SEO by the right use of social media. Since you write lots of great posts, we think it would be great to promote them on social media. Give your posts attractive titles and perhaps promote them – this isn’t too expensive on for example Facebook – you’ll lead people from social media to your website. And when they are in, you should keep them in and make them convert!
To sum it up
In short, it’s important to do proper keyword research to really know what your target audience would like to read online. Adding more long tail keywords will probably make it a bit easier to rank. Besides using the right keywords, it’s important to make sure visitors can easily navigate to relevant content on the website. Make use of internal links and remove all the clutter. The main goal of your website should be clear and with internal links you can lead your visitors to that goal. Lastly, optimize for local SEO and make sure you benefit from the power of social media to improve your SEO and to get more traffic to your site.
When we showed the draft of this post to Ryan, we got a very nice and detailed response. Thanks and good luck Ryan!
“Great points on long tail research. With a lot of local competition, I think I could benefit from targeting more in depth keywords in an effort to drive specific traffic.
I have been a bit frustrated about how to keep my bounce rate down and keep visitors on the page. I want them to search homes for sale, but with most of my traffic coming from mobile, I have had a hard time presenting the home search ability to visitors. I want them to read articles to learn about the market, but also search. I need to make this clearer when they land.
I do have a lack of links inside articles. Maybe assuming that visitors will read to the end and navigate elsewhere is naive of me, but I also wanted them to see that I have houses for sale on the site they can click on. So far through, it hasn’t been working.
Niche specific categories and tags has definitely been something I have on my list. I need to drill down into these broad categories to get more specific for my visitors and for Google.
Another great point by Yoast here is that I need to add content to the different geographic pages of my home search. Right now these pages just offer a list of active homes for sale. But creating video or other relevant content before the list of homes in presented is something I should definitely do.
I have been working on social media, and of course my Google my business page. Sharing posts on Facebook has seen an increase of traffic, but also, my content is not specific enough to target an audience. Right now my content is for “everyone” and every area in my surrounding location. I think I would benefit from a more niches based approach.
I thank Yoast for this great case study regarding my site. Truth be told, I have studied SEO, mostly via Yoast content for quite some time, and have seen improvements in my SEO when following their best practices. I have been enlightened with this case study and learned a lot on new things to work on, but also feel like I am on the right path since Yoast mentioned a few ideas that I already had on my list, mainly because I learned them from Yoast! Thanks again for the great piece.”
The post Ask Yoast case study: Appealing content for a real estate site appeared first on Yoast.
False friends are words that seem very similar but have a different meaning in different languages. Take the word sensible. It means reasonable in English but sensitive in French and Spanish. Sometimes, the same term can even refer to something completely different in two varieties of English. In this post, I will tell you why it is important for SEOs to be aware of this. I will also give some practical pointers on SEO copywriting for international websites.$199 - Buy now » Info
Multilingual sites and SEO
As SEOs, it is our job to know what search terms people use. After all, that allows us to optimize our pages for those terms. This is a challenge in our native language as it is. If you have a multilingual site, however, keyword research and SEO copywriting can quickly become a minefield.
You should be aware of the terms people around the world use to find your products. This allows you to optimize your copy for any audience. Doing so will increase your number of potential customers. Moreover, you may just be able to snag an advantage over competitors by targeting audiences more specifically.
Multi-regional sites and SEO
Striking differences also exist between regions. Just because you speak the same language, doesn’t mean you use the same vocabulary. It is important to note that Google is improving at identifying synonyms. There is still a lot of work to be done, though. Less common languages and their variations are still a work in progress. This presents a great opportunity to gain an edge!
Of course, you can’t target every variation. The UK and U.S., however, may be different and sizable enough to target separately. The same goes for some varieties of Spanish and other common languages. Plainly put, not taking variations into account can also lead to missed opportunities.
So, what’s the worst that could happen?
Sure, the theory’s fine and dandy. What are the risks you need take into account, though, when writing copy for international websites? Well, if you use the wrong term, potential customers will not find what they are looking for. Hence, your bounce rate will increase. Obviously, your conversion rates will suffer as a consequence.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. Years ago, Joost helped a company to rank number one in Belgium for the Dutch word koelkast (refrigerator). One of Belgium’s official languages is Dutch. However, the various dialects spoken in Flanders, which is the region in Belgium where people speak Dutch, are quite different from the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. Surprisingly, the company hardly converted. Turns out, the word koelkast is mostly used in the Netherlands. In Belgium, many consumers searched for the word frigo, which the Flemish borrow from French!
Because it’s not easy to get the right website ranking in the right market we decided to set up a Multilingual SEO training! In this course we’ll guide you step by step through all important multilingual SEO elements. Don’t miss it!
Multilingual and multi-regional sites: example case
Let’s look at an example case: the word vest. To keep things relatively simple, I’ll stick to Dutch, British English and American English. In this way, I can stress the importance of both multilingual and multi-regional variations.
An American vest is a British waistcoat. A British vest is called a tank-top or a-shirt in America. Incidentally, a tank-top is also a piece of clothing in the UK. Americans, however, call that a sweater vest. To top it off, the Dutch vest is either a cardigan or a hoodie with a zipper. Feeling confused? Don’t sweat it, whatever vest you’re wearing. Few examples are as complicated as this. Just know that veste means something different altogether in French and Spanish as well.
SEO copywriting for international sites: What can I do?
Researching your field and the potential risks it presents is crucial. An international clothing company will encounter more difficulties than a book store. Make sure you have a clear strategy. What audiences do you want to target and what vocabulary do they use? Invest time in researching terms you’re unsure about. You can use Google Trends to compare the frequency of search terms. It even gives you an overview of how popular each term is by region.
Although most of the world prefers the term sneaker for sporty footwear, the UK is an obvious exception, as Google Trends shows.
If you own or manage a bigger organization that has some money to spend, consider hiring a specialist or outsourcing copy translations. If you want to be cost-effective, you can also reach out to native speakers in your network. People may even volunteer to translate parts of your site if they like what you do.
The right copy for the right region and language
Writing SEO copy for international sites requires a lot of effort, especially for non-native speakers. Make sure you research what keywords particular audiences use for your products. Substitute your original copy for these terms to gain potential customers. By breaking up with false friends, you’re one step closer to realizing the potential of a multilingual site!
The post SEO copywriting for multilingual and multi-regional sites appeared first on Yoast.
Today marks the release of our new multilingual SEO training. If you have or maintain websites in multiple languages or meant for different regions, this course on international SEO is indispensable. By implementing the advice given in this training, Google will send your users to the correct site automatically. This is often done wrong, but we’ve made it easy. Learn how to make your international website rank!Get Multilingual SEO training Now$199 for course, certificate and badge$199 - Buy now » Info
Something for everyone
Whether you’re a developer or content creator, this training will help you make the best multilingual or multi-regional site. Besides exploring the technical side, we go into setting up a multilingual keyword research strategy. Using the words your audience uses is the first step to being found, and you need to know how to do this. You simply cannot ignore this when setting up an international site! The same goes for copy: how are you going to effectively translate all those pages? Not by machine or literal translation, that’s a sure recipe for SEO disaster! But should you write everything from scratch? No: there’s a happy medium…
We also go into the domain structure you should choose: is it better to go for separate domains for each language? Or should you make one site with subdirectories? Actually, it depends on your situation! Most importantly, we think everyone should understand how a good multilingual site works, so we’ve broken even the most difficult modules up into easy-to-follow steps.
What does the multilingual SEO training contain?
This course on international SEO consists of four modules. In the first module, we’ll explain what multilingual SEO is and why it’s important. In the second module, we’ll explore content SEO: keyword research and copywriting for international websites. The third module will be about domain structure choices. In the fourth module, we go into hreflang, the code that allows you to tell Google where to send your user.
The course contains over two hours of video, including more than five screencasts that show you exactly what to do, step by step. After each lesson, you’ll take a quiz, in which you can actually practice writing the code you’ve just learned! Completing the course should take around 12 hours. At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate and badge to show on your site!Get Multilingual SEO training Now$199 for course, certificate and badge
hreflang tags are a technical solution for sites that have similar content in multiple languages. The owner of a multilingual site wants search engines to send people to the content in their own language. Say a user is Dutch and the page that ranks is English, but there’s also a Dutch version. You would want Google to show the Dutch page in the search results for that Dutch user. This is the kind of problem hreflang was designed to solve.$199 - Buy now » Info
In this (very long) article we’ll discuss:
- What hreflang is for.
- The SEO benefit of hreflang.
- What hreflang is.
- What hreflang achieves.
- Whether or not you should use hreflang.
- Which architectural decisions you should make.
- The basic technical ideas about hreflang you should know.
- Implementation decisions you should make.
- Which other technical things we need to account for, like:
- Which tools to use when developing and testing your implementation.
- How to make sure your implementation keeps working once you’ve set it up.
hreflang tags are among the hardest specs I’ve ever seen come out of a search engine. Doing it right is tough and takes time. The aim of this guide is to prevent you from falling into common traps, so be sure to read it thoroughly if you’re embarking on an hreflang project.
Need help implementing hreflang as part of your international SEO project? Our Multilingual SEO training is designed to help you understand the process and put it into practice. You’ll have a killer international SEO strategy in no time.
What are hreflang tags for?
hreflang tags are a method to mark up pages that are similar in meaning but aimed at different languages and/or regions. There are three common ways to implement hreflang:
- Content with regional variations like en-us and en-gb.
- Content in different languages like en, de and fr.
- A combination of different languages and regional variations.
hreflang tags are fairly commonly used to target different markets that use the same language – for example to differentiate between the US and the UK, or between Germany and Austria.
What’s the SEO benefit of hreflang?
So why are we even talking about hreflang? What is the SEO benefit? From an SEO point of view there are two main reasons why you should implement it.
First of all, if you have a version of a page that you have optimized for the users’ language and location, you want them to land on that page. Having the right language and location dependent information improves their user experience and thus leads to fewer people bouncing back to the search results. Fewer people bouncing back to the search results leads to higher rankings.
The second reason is that hreflang prevents the problem of duplicate content. If you have the same content in English on different URLs aimed at the UK, the US and Australia, the difference on these pages might be as small as a change in prices and currency. Without hreflang, Google might not understand what you’re trying to do and see it as duplicate content. With hreflang you make it very clear to the search engine that it’s (almost) the same content, just optimized for different people.
What is hreflang?
hreflang is code, which you can show to search engines in three different ways – and there’s more on that below. By using this code you specify all the different URLs on your site(s) that have the same content. These URLs can have the same content in a different language, or the same language but targeted at a different region.
What does hreflang achieve?
Who supports hreflang?
hreflang is supported by Google and Yandex. Bing doesn’t have an equivalent, but does support language meta tags.
In a complete hreflang implementation, every URL specifies which other variations are available. When a user searches, Google goes through the following process:
- it determines that it wants to rank a URL;
- it checks whether that URL has hreflang annotations;
- it presents the searcher with the results with the most appropriate URL for that user.
The user’s current location and his language settings determine the most appropriate URL. A user can have multiple languages in his browser’s settings. For example I have Dutch, English and German in there. The order in which these languages appear in my settings determines the most appropriate language.
Should you use hreflang?
Tip: homepage first!
If you’re not sure on whether you want to implement hreflang on your entire site, start with your homepage! People searching for your brand will get the right page. This is a lot easier to implement and it will “catch” a large part of your traffic.
Now we’ve learned on what hreflang is and how it works, we can decide whether you should use it. You should use it if:
- you have the same content in multiple languages;
- you have content aimed at different geographic regions, but in the same language.
It doesn’t matter whether the content you have resides on one domain or multiple domains. You can link variations within the same domain but can also link between domains.
Architectural implementation choices
One thing is very important when implementing hreflang: don’t be too specific! Let’s say you have three types of pages:
- German, specifically aimed at Austria
- German, specifically aimed at Switzerland
You could choose to implement them using three hreflang attributes like this:
- de-de targeting German speakers in Germany
- de-at targeting German speakers in Austria
- de-ch targeting German speakers in Switzerland
However, which of these three results should Google show to someone searching in German in Belgium? The first page would probably be the best. To make sure that every user searching in German who does not match either de-at or de-ch gets that one, change that hreflang attribute to just de. In many cases, specifying just the language is a smart thing to do.
It’s good to know that when you create sets of links like this, the most specific one wins. The order in which the search engine sees the links doesn’t matter, it’ll always try to match from most specific to least specific.
Technical implementation – the basics
Regardless of which type of implementation you choose – and there’s more on that below – there are three basic rules.
1. Valid hreflang attributes
The hreflang attribute needs to contain a value that consists of the language, which can be combined with a region. The language attribute needs to be in ISO 639-1 format (a two letter code).
Wrong region codes
Google can deal with some of the common mistakes with region codes, although you shouldn’t take any chances. For instance, it can deal with en-uk just as well as with the “correct” en-gb. However, en-eu does not work, as eu doesn’t define a country.
The region is optional and should be in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format, more precisely, it should be an officially assigned element. Use this list from Wikipedia to verify you’re using the right region and language codes. This is where things often go wrong: using the wrong region code is a very common problem.
2. Return links
The second basic rule is about return links. Regardless of your type of implementation, each URL needs return links to every other URL, and these links should point at the canonical versions, more on that below. The more languages you have the more you might be tempted to limit those return links – but don’t. If you have 80 languages, you’ll have hreflang links for 80 URLs, and there’s no getting around it.$299 - Buy now » Info
3. hreflang link to self
The third and final basic rule is about self-links. It may feel weird to do this, just as those return links might feel weird, but they are essential and your implementation will not work without them.
Technical implementation choices
There are three ways to implement hreflang:
- using link elements in the <head>
- using HTTP headers
- or using an XML sitemap.
Each has its uses, so we’ll explain them and discuss which you should choose.
1. HTML hreflang link elements in your <head>
The first method to implement hreflang we’ll discuss is HTML hreflang link elements. You do this by adding code like this to the <head> section of every page:
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="en" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb/" hreflang="en-gb" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au/" hreflang="en-au" />
As every variation needs to link to every other variation, these implementations can become quite big and slow your site down. If you have 20 languages, choosing HTML link elements would mean adding 20 link elements as shown above to every page. That’s 1.5KB on every page load, that no user will ever use, but will still have to download. On top of that, your CMS will have to do several database calls to generate all these links. This markup is purely meant for search engines. That’s why I would not recommend this for larger sites, as it adds far too much unnecessary overhead.
2. hreflang HTTP headers
The second method of implementing hreflang is through HTTP headers. HTTP headers are for all your PDFs and other non-HTML content you might want to optimize. Link elements work nicely for HTML documents, but not for other types of content as you can’t include them. That’s where HTTP headers come in. They should look like this:
Link: <http://es.example.com/document.pdf>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="es", <http://en.example.com/document.pdf>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="en", <http://de.example.com/document.pdf>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="de"
The problem with having a lot of HTTP headers is similar to the problem with link elements in your <head>: it adds a lot of overhead to every request.
3. An XML sitemap hreflang implementation
The third option to implement hreflang is using XML sitemap markup. It uses the xhtml:link attribute in XML sitemaps to add the annotation to every URL. It works very much in the same way as you would in a page’s <head> with <link> elements. If you thought link elements were verbose, the XML sitemap implementation is even worse. This is the markup needed for just one URL with two other languages:
<url> <loc>http://www.example.com/uk/</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://www.example.com/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-au" href="http://www.example.com/au/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="http://www.example.com/uk/" /> </url>
You can see it has a self-referencing URL as the third URL, specifying the specific URL is meant for en-gb, and it specifies two other languages. Now, both other URLs would need to be in the sitemap too, which looks like this:
<url> <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://www.example.com/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-au" href="http://www.example.com/au/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="http://www.example.com/uk/" /> </url> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/au/</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://www.example.com/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-au" href="http://www.example.com/au/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="http://www.example.com/uk/" /> </url>
As you can see, basically we’re only changing the URLs within the <loc> element, as everything else should be the same. With this method each URL has a self-referencing hreflang attribute, and return links to the appropriate other URLs.
XML sitemap markup like this is very verbose: you need a lot of output to do this for a lot of URLs. The benefit of an XML sitemap implementation is simple: your normal users won’t be bothered with this markup. You don’t end up adding extra page weight and it doesn’t require a lot of database calls on page load to generate this markup.
Another benefit of adding hreflang through the XML sitemap is that it’s usually a lot easier to change an XML sitemap than to change all the pages on a site. There’s no need to go through large approval processes and maybe you can even get direct access to the XML sitemap file.$199 - Buy now » Info
Other technical aspects of an hreflang implementation
Once you’ve decided your implementation method, there are a couple of other technical considerations you should know about before you start implementing hreflang.
x-default is a special hreflang attribute value that specifies where a user should be sent if none of the languages you’ve specified in your other hreflang links match their browser settings. In a link element it looks like this:
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="x-default" />
When it was introduced, it was explained as being for “international landing pages”, ie pages where you redirect users based on their location. However, it can basically be described as the final “catch-all” of all the hreflang statements. It’s where users will be sent if their location and language don’t match anything else.
In the German example we mentioned above, a user searching in English still wouldn’t have a URL that fits them. That’s one of the cases where x-default comes into play. You’d add a fourth link to the markup, and end up with these 4:
In this case, the x-default link would point to the same URL as the de one. We wouldn’t advise you to remove the de link though, even though technically that would create exactly the same result. In the long run it’s usually better to have both as it specifies language of the de page – and it makes the code easier to read.
hreflang and rel=canonical
If you don’t know what rel=”canonical” is, read this article!
rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”markup and rel=”canonical” can and should be used together. Every language should have a rel=”canonical” link pointing to itself. In the first example, this would look like this, assuming that we’re on the example.com homepage:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/"> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="en" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb/" hreflang="en-gb" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au/" hreflang="en-au" />
If we were on the en-gb page, only the canonical would change:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/en-gb/"> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="en" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb/" hreflang="en-gb" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au/" hreflang="en-au" />
Don’t make the mistake of setting the canonical on the en-gb page to http://example.com/, as this breaks the implementation. It’s very important that the hreflang links point to the canonical version of each URL, because these systems should work hand in hand!
Useful tools when implementing hreflang
If you’ve come this far, you’ll probably be thinking “wow this is hard”! I know – I thought that when I first start to learn about it. Luckily, there are quite a few tools available if you dare to start implementing hreflang.
hreflang tag generator
Aleyda Solis, who has also written quite a lot about this topic, has created a very useful hreflang tag generator that helps you generate link elements. Even when you’re not using a link element implementation, this can be useful to create some example code.
hreflang XML sitemap generator
The Media Flow have created an hreflang XML sitemap generator. Just feed it a CSV with URLs per language and it creates an XML sitemap. This is a great first step when you decide to go the sitemap route.
The CSV file you feed this XML sitemap generator needs a column for each language. If you want to add an x-default URL to it as well, just create a column called x-default.
hreflang tag validator
Once you’ve added markup to your pages, you’ll want to validate it. If you choose to go the link element in the <head> route, you’re in luck, as there are a few validator tools out there. The best one we could find is flang, by DejanSEO.
Unfortunately, we haven’t found a validator for XML sitemaps yet.$199 - Buy now » Info
Making sure hreflang keeps working: process
Once you’ve created a working hreflang setup, you need to set up maintenance processes. It’s probably also a good idea to regularly audit your implementation to make sure it’s still set up correctly.
Make sure that people in your company who deal with content on your site know about hreflang so that they won’t do things that break your implementation. Two things are very important:
- When a page is deleted, check whether its counterparts are updated.
- When a page is redirected, change the hreflang URLs on its counterparts.
If you do that and audit regularly, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Setting up hreflang is a cumbersome process. It’s a tough standard with a lot of specific things you should know and deal with. This guide will be updated as new things are introduced around this specification and best practices evolve, so check back when you’re working on your implementation again!