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.
Whenever you click on a link to visit a site a request gets made to the server. The server answers with a status message (header) and a file list for that website. After viewing that list, the browser asks for the files one at a time. On the ‘old’ HTTP1.1 protocol, this process takes ages as there is only one line available that has to open and close after each file has been sent. HTTP/2 offers a dramatic speed boost as the line can be kept open and a lot of stuff can be sent at once. Meet HTTP/2!$39 - Buy now » Info
How does HTTP/2 work?
Let’s say you want a brand-new box of LEGO. First, you go to the store to get a specific box. When you get home, you open the box and see the instructions. The instructions say what you have to do: one brick at a time. Now, you can only get one brick at a time. You have to keep asking the instructions: “Which brick do I need now?” And the instructions will look and give you the right brick. This back-and-forth keeps happening until you have finished the entire LEGO set. Does the set have 3300 bricks? Well, that’ll take a while. This is HTTP1.1.
With HTTP/2 this changes. You go to the store to pick up your box. Open it, find the instructions and you can ask for all the bricks used on a part of the LEGO set. You can keep asking the instructions for more bricks, without having to look at the manual. “These bricks go together, so here they are.” If you want it really fast, you could even get all the bricks at once so you can build the set in an instant.
HTTP/2 can handle more things at once
HTTP/2 has a lot of cool features that can help speed up your loading times. The most important one, of course, is full multiplexing. This means that multiple requests can happen at the same time over a connection that stays open for the duration of the transfer process. Another cool thing is Server push; this starts as one request but when the server notices the HTML requires several assets, it can send these all at once without asking. This might be a good fit for your site, but that depends on factors too hard to explain here.
Like I said in the intro, with HTTP1.1 a browser requests a site -> server sends a header back -> that header contains a status message and HTML body -> for every file needed to build the site, a single connection has to be opened and closed and opened and closed. Whenever a piece of this puzzle acts up it can hold back the rest, slowing the process down even further. This is called head-of-line blocking and it sucks big time. This is one of the many reasons why HTTP1.1 can use an update.
Why HTTP/2 for SEO? Because site speed is important
Another big issues is latency — especially on mobile devices. The longer your latency is, the longer it takes for your request to reach the server and for the server to send back the response. That’s why you should always use a CDN to reduce the time it will take to get your stuff to your readers from a nearby location. While browsers can handle a small amount of multiple connections, which in itself, adds additional time to the whole ordeal, the process of sending stuff back and forth doesn’t really change.
There are some things you can do to improve site speed by fine-tuning how your server handles these things, but at its core, HTTP1.1 isn’t a very efficient process. HTTP/2 makes this process a lot easier to manage for servers and browsers, therefore, drastically speeding things up. Keep in mind that the advent of HTTP/2 does not retire HTTP1.1 as browsers will still use the old protocol as fallback.
Implementing HTTP/2 is fairly easy and it could be that your server is already using HTTP/2. Check with your hosting provider what your options are. You can also choose a Content Delivery Network, also known as a CDN, that offers a full HTTP/2 solution. HTTP/2 offers a quick performance win and it even lets you secure your site, because it uses HTTPS connections by default.
Conclusion to what is HTTP/2
HTTP/2 is a newish protocol that will drastically speed up the web. It uses new technologies to take away one of the biggest bottle necks of the web introducing full multiplexing connections. Servers can now open a single connection with a browser and keep sending all the files of a site until everything is done. After that the connection closes and the browser can render the site.
In my previous blog post, I wrote that the only way you could fail to write all those posts you had in mind was with the wrong planning. But, I knew already that I left out one tiny detail. While in theory, you’ll only need a site, ideas and inspiration to write your posts, there could be another factor you didn’t take into consideration: your inner critic.$199 - Buy now » Info
Your inner critic or inner editor is best described as a subpersonality that judges you and your abilities as you are working hard on reaching your goals. It’s often mean and can get you downright insecure.
I started writing in my early teens and became an active writer during November, better known as National Novel Writing Month — NaNoWriMo for short. In this month, it’s your goal to write a novel of at least 50,000 words. 50k is a lot, especially if your inner critic should’ve been cast in Mean Girls as Regina George’s evil stepsister. I learned about the inner critic principle during this month back in 2006. Since then I’ve known when my inner critic is talking.
I’ve struggled with my inner critic for a long time and we still don’t always get along. I found that I could have the perfect blog planning, the most brilliant ideas and an incredible amount of time, but still didn’t get started, or didn’t finish. I have 36 posts as a draft for my blog and a lot of them won’t ever see the light of day. It’s not that they are awful. Others might even think they’re good enough or funny enough and that I should just hit the publish button. My inner critic disagrees though, and that’s what’s keeping me in the past from updating my blog frequently.
Befriend your inner critic so you can silence it when it’s needed
After I learned about the inner critic, I taught myself to treat it as an enemy that should be locked up. During a NaNoWriMo event, we created an inner critic puppet and locked it up in a makeshift cage or tied it down. Whatever we did, we did it with the intention to shut it up.
I developed another strategy two years ago when I found that treating my critic as an enemy, was blocking me altogether. While it worked for almost ten years, I came to a point where I didn’t want to write anymore because of my inner critic. No matter what the people around me told me, I convinced myself that I was the worst writer ever. Now, I’ve befriended my inner critic so I can tell him to shut up — kindly.
I know this might sound strange, but I started visualizing my inner critic. Two years ago I talked to a haptonomist and she asked me why I wasn’t writing anymore. When I explained my fears and the principle of the inner critic, she asked me what it looked like and where it lived. My inner critic is big, blue and lives in a forest. It chews on and spits out whatever it finds on its path. I dubbed him my woolly monster. As I’m writing this, my inner critic, or the woolly monster, is telling me the readers might think I’m off my head. It also says I probably shouldn’t be writing this down. But if I don’t write this down, there won’t be a useful post today.
I kindly tell myself (or my woolly monster) that while I appreciate the feedback, it’s not the right time right now. It can come out after I’ve finished the draft of my blog post and am ready for editing. After that, I calmly remind it that one of my colleagues is reviewing and editing, if necessary, my writing as well. There’s no need for my inner critic to sabotage me because that’s what it can be doing.
What blogging for Yoast brought me
When I started my blog series over a month ago here on Yoast.com, I was excited to start. As I was struggling to get that first post written, Marieke told me to stop my perfectionism from ruling me. “There’s a blog team that will edit your posts if necessary,” she told me. And she was right. We have an amazing blog team and I’ve become a frequent visitor to their office the last few weeks. I meet with them to brainstorm, to explain my struggles or to ask for help. This collaboration led me to a big change for my personal blog as well: I now have my blog team.
Create a blog team
That’s right; I’ve created my a blog team. Sounds pretty professional, right? I didn’t do it on purpose by the way, but that sounds less professional. I’ve acquired people around me without them actively knowing I consider them a member of my blog team.
One of the most important members is my husband: he proofreads all my blog posts before I consider them finished. If he smiles or chuckles, I know I did a good job. And if he doesn’t like it or I face insecurities, he’s the first to provide honest feedback. The other members of my team are my close friends who have told me they love reading my posts. Sometimes I send them a draft and request feedback. Other times they send me messages telling me what they thought of my latest blog post. No matter the type of feedback I receive or request, it’s valuable to me. Not an entirely unimportant side-effect of this team: it satisfies my inner critic more and more each day.
Last week was all about Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing. There’s no point in denying that Facebook gathers lots and lots of data about individual users. That being said, all kinds of companies and governmental organizations are more than willing to use that data to have successful Facebook campaigns. So, is Facebook evil for gathering that data? And if so, aren’t websites willing to give that information to Facebook not equally evil?$89 - Buy now » Info
Regulation always lags behind
When radio first emerged, companies sponsored most of the programs. Programs were one big advertisement. We call it a soap opera because a large soap factory sponsored it! Gradually, broadcasters sold advertisements in blocks, during commercial breaks. While some countries have laws concerning advertisement and commercials, most countries have councils that provide guidelines on what is allowed in commercials and what not. Advertisers, media people, and audiences talk with each other and figure out what is allowed and what not. And I think that’s what we need to do with Facebook advertising as well. We need to think, talk and set up new rules for this advertising game. Together.
What is a tracking pixel?
A tracking pixel is an invisible 1×1 pixel on a website that records the activities of visitors. This pixel collects data about the visitor and shares it with, for instance, Facebook or Google. Often, visitors aren’t aware that the pixel is collecting their information and therefore there is quite a bit of criticism on this way of retrieving data.
The responsibility of companies
Facebook does not force a tracking pixel on websites. Nor does Google. And yet, lots of websites have one of each. That’s a choice. I am not saying it’s a wrong choice per se; I’m just saying it is a choice. And I do think that companies should take some time to think about the consequences of that choice. Do you want to use data gathered from people that visit your website to retarget these people on Facebook? You can’t be sure what Facebook does with that data, but you are handing it over to them.
At Yoast, we did have a Facebook tracking pixel on our website for some time. We did little with it. It did not feel right. It felt as like we were following our audience — stalking them. We discussed the use of the tracking pixel in our company and decided to remove it. This was long before the Facebook hearing.
Ignorance is no excuse
I am afraid lots of companies do not even know whether or not they have a tracking pixel. Marketing departments or agencies may have taken care of it without explaining how such a retargeting campaign works. I do think companies have a responsibility to know and to care. We are talking about collecting data on individuals; it’s valuable data of and about your visitors.
We should educate ourselves and our children. We all witness retargeting, so we should explain how it works. This is not rocket science. My 11-year old figured it out himself. He noticed advertising for the Fortnite computer game wasn’t on my Instagram timeline, while it appeared so very frequently on his. He wondered why. We should make a real effort to explain this stuff to children, to companies and governments. If people understand, we can have a meaningful conversation and raise the questions that matter.
Have the conversation
We have to raise ethical questions. What data are we allowed to collect from our audience? And with what purpose? Do we need to tell our audience about the tracking pixel on our website?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. Different people will come up with different answers. That’s the beauty of ethical questions. I am no expert, but you should read Morton Rand-Hendriksen’s’ article on using ethics in web design if you’re interested in this kind of stuff.
The bottom line is, we all need to think about it. We all need to talk about it. And in the end, we need to come to some consensus together. We need to make — and abide by — rules or laws to deal with these kinds of things.
So.. let’s talk!
Two weeks ago, Yoast SEO 7.2 brought a solid update to the import features of the plugin. In Yoast SEO 7.3, we’ve expanded this improved importer with a slew of newly supported plugins you can import your data from. Find out which plugins we support in this post. But of course, there’s more!$89 - Buy now » Info
Importing from even more WordPress SEO plugins
We have always made it easy for users of other WordPress SEO plugins to migrate their settings to Yoast SEO. The last couple of years, we offered support for all the big players: HeadSpace2, All in One SEO, JetPack SEO, WooThemes SEO Framework, wpSEO, SEO Ultimate and SEOpressor. Today, — in addition to improving import from wpSEO — we’re adding a long list of newly supported plugins from which you can import your data:
- Premium SEO Pack
- Smartcrawl SEO
- Squirrly SEO
- Platinum SEO Pack
- SEO Framework
- Greg’s High Performance SEO
- WP Meta SEO
Yoast SEO 7.3 isn’t just about importing stuff, because it’s about translations as well. We’ve updated the translations of almost all locales, plus we’ve added quite a few new locales to our premium plugins like Local SEO, WooCommerce SEO and News SEO. We strive that everyone on earth can use our SEO plugins in their native language and this is a big step in that direction. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without our awesome community! You’re welcome to help out if you don’t see your language yet or if you can think you can improve the current translation. Please visit translate.yoast.com and get started!
Fixes and enhancements
We have enhanced Yoast SEO in several ways. Among other things, we fixed a number of bugs that caused several filters to give unwanted results. One of the new enhancements is support for Baidu Webmaster Tools verification. You can now verify your site just like you do for Yandex, Bing and Google. Find out how to add your sitemap to these search engines.
Yoast SEO 7.3 is a solid new update. We’ve fixed several issues, improved translations and added a ton of plugin support to the importer. You can now import settings from every major WordPress SEO plugin. This makes it easier for you to make the transition from other plugins to Yoast SEO. With that, I can only give you one last advice: please update!
Keyword research is your first step in optimizing your website for certain keywords. Without keyword research, you might find yourself lost in your own lingo and battling giants in your industry that can’t be beaten in the search result pages just like that. There is a variety of factors you have to take into account when doing keyword research and setting up your keyword strategy. In this article, we’ll discuss your mission, your audience and your competition.$199 - Buy now » Info
What makes your company unique?
Before you do anything, and this is key, you need to know what makes your company unique. You need to have a clear concept of the mission of your company. You need to determine exactly what you have to offer. Because that’s what’s going to make you rank. It’s that simple. SEO is just like regular business. If you’re doing everything on the same or inferior level as your competition, you’re not going to stand out. If you’re not the best result, why should people want to find you? Why should Google rank you? This seems simple, but this factor is often forgotten.
We often hear people say: we can’t come up with meaningful keywords. If you struggle with that too, take a step back and look at your business at large:
- What do you have to offer?
- What is your mission?
- What are your core values and strengths?
- How can you branch out from your core selling points to very specific bits of information or service? Use these to stand out from the crowd.
You don’t have to be better than your competition at everything, as long as you identify enough things to build a keyword strategy around. For smaller companies, this means that you probably have to be better at the things bigger fish haven’t thought of. Or at the things, these companies aren’t actively looking to do. If you can’t come up with anything, you have a bigger problem than just coming up with keywords…
The role of your audience in your keyword research
Once you’ve determined what you have to offer, it’s time to consider your audience. In the end, SEO is all about making sure your users are able to find you. So the first thing you have to do is find out what words your potential audience uses to find the information they’re looking for.
Let’s consider an example. At Yoast, we think of our courses platform as “Yoast Academy”. So at first sight, it seems very logical for us to optimize for the keyword “Yoast Academy”. However, when we analyze traffic data, it turns out that our audience uses “Yoast courses” way more. So it makes much more sense to optimize for that term instead. Every company has its own internal vocabulary, which often doesn’t match the vocabulary of its audience. Therefore, you should always choose your keywords from the perspective of your audience. You can use Google Trends to research how often search terms are used compared to other terms.
What about your competition?
Lastly, you simply can’t devise a proper keyword research strategy without taking your competition into account. Too often, websites optimize for terms they have absolutely no chance ranking for. So you need to research your competition.
You can go all overboard and make a thorough analysis of all the competitors in your field, and that can certainly be worthwhile. But let’s stick to the basics for now. It’s actually quite easy to get a general idea of your SEO competition. Just google some search terms you would like to rank for! See what companies show up and where you rank. How big are the companies you are competing with for top three rankings? Would your company fit between these results? This is all quite easy to determine using just the Google search results.
But be wary! You can’t just trust the search results because Google tailors them to your search history. So logically, your site is going to come up higher for you than for others that perform the same search. You can use an incognito screen to circumvent this, although there’s still a local search component even in an incognito screen. If that is a problem for you, you should consider using VPNs to mask your location.
Expanding your strategy step-by-step
Big sites can rank for the most general terms. Smaller sites within a very specific niche can do the same. Of course, it’s also easier if you’re writing in a language that is not spoken all over the world. For most smaller sites that are writing in English, however, the general rule of thumb is this: start with a big set of long tail keywords which have little traffic but you can rank for more easily. Then, work yourself up the rankings step-by-step. Once you’ve gained some SEO authority, start optimizing for more general keywords. And in the end, maybe you will even be able to rank for your head keywords!
Podcasts are a popular medium these days, as a great, relatively low-cost way to engage with your audience. You can make a podcast about every subject imaginable: science, health, arts & culture, family life, news and technology, to name but a few possibilities.
At Yoast, for example, the Yoast academy team releases an internal podcast every monday to get everyone up to speed on developments in the academy. Since this podcast is for Yoast employees only, it won’t show up in the search engines. But if you’re making a livelihood with your podcasts, you’ll definitely want your podcasts to rank well.$89 - Buy now » Info
Optimizing your site’s pages for podcasts can be a bit tricky because the bulk of your content will be audio content, which Google can’t listen to. Some general SEO rules still apply, for example: the title of your podcast should be clear and engaging: write titles you’re proud of! And, as always, make sure that your site is user-friendly. But is there anything else you can do to optimize your site for podcasts?
Steve Eisenberg emailed us his question on podcast SEO:
I was wondering if you have some advice on the best way to optimize for audio podcasts using Yoast SEO or another tool.
Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!
“Well, you can use Yoast SEO just fine, but you’re going to need something else, which I don’t necessarily think you’ll like. You’ll need a transcript. This is the same for videos as it is for audio podcasts. You will need a full transcript because Google really only is good at optimizing and finding content in text. It doesn’t necessarily always find stuff that you’ve spoken about. So, if you have a full transcript, then you can optimize like any other page. 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.
Usability is an integral part of holistic SEO. It influences factors such as bounce rate, time on page and conversion rate, to name a few, and many of these metrics affect your website’s SEO. Optimizing usability is essential for all sites, but even more so for eCommerce sites.
User testing is one way to optimize your eCommerce shop, but a lot can be done just by looking at best practice, comparing that with your site and making improvements. This ultimate guide to eCommerce websites takes you through that testing process and looks at everything you need to address to give your visitors the best experience possible.$49 - Buy now » Info
In short, this usability guide for online shops will tell you all about:
- Online store homepage usability 101
- Internal search
- Category page optimization
- Landing page optimization
- Product page optimization
- Checkout page optimization
- Shopping cart abandonment
- Guest purchase
- Short forms
- Conclusion: eCommerce usability is a trade of its own
That’ll cover most if not all of your visitors’ on-site shopping experience. Let’s get started!
Online store homepage usability 101
Have you ever looked closely at the homepage of your online shop? Chances are you just went with the WooCommerce theme that your designer presented and implemented the available options. While most of these themes are nicely designed and set up with the user in mind, that might not be best for your particular target audience.
Focus on your target audience
Before setting up a design, you need to understand the needs of your target audience. Are these people looking for the best price, or do they want to read a dozen reviews before buying? Are there cultural differences you need to take into account? These things determine the setup and layout of your shop’s homepage. Do you need to highlight sale items? Are you addressing a particular niche? If so, you’ll need to make that clear from the start.
If one of the pillars of your mission is to provide the best price possible, the sale banner should probably be the most prominent item on your homepage. But, if you are selling high-quality products that people are willing to pay a bit more for, sentiment and emotion should be your focus. You could use larger images and focus on core product features and benefits.
The job of your homepage is to guide the visitor to your products. The homepage of your online store shouldn’t necessarily be set up with SEO in mind but should focus on the user instead. That also means you’ll have to create a killer call-to-action on that homepage. Here are some useful tips for setting up that call-to-action:
- Make sure it stands out from the design. Use a different color or button shape.
- Make sure it looks like a button. I wouldn’t recommend so-called ghost buttons.
- Use active text, so your button shouldn’t say ‘Submit’ but rather a variation of ‘buy our stuff’.
- Use plenty of whitespace around it, or reduce clutter.
- Using a hero image is popular these days and for good reason: it sets a mood.
After welcoming the visitor to your website, you can guide them to where you make your money: the product pages. Before we address these, let’s look at how to optimize internal search, and category/landing pages.$129 - Buy now » Info
Internal search is the most important navigational option for your online shop, and you should optimize it to the max. You’ll have noticed that the larger brands and online shops all focus a lot on their internal search. The reason is simple: if you can find the product you are looking for, you can buy it!
As well as optimizing that internal search option, you need to make sure that your search result pages look focused and give a great overview. You need to show the price and even an ‘Add to Cart’ button next to the product’s name and image, and a comparison option will come in handy if, for example, you have a shop selling Bluetooth speakers.
After the search query, online clothing shops will allow for filtering by size, gender, color – the lot. Filtering options like these, or sorting by price or availability, will help your visitor to find the product they want as quickly as possible. To read more about this and see some examples, I recommend my post Enhance online shopping with eCommerce filters.
Category page optimization
Your category pages could be even more important than your product pages because they give the visitor the option to choose and compare, much like your internal search result pages. Your shop category page should be considered a regular page for SEO, but is so much more important when it comes to usability.
Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind:
- Make sure the page has a great intro. It’s the glue that holds your products together and the main reason the potential buyer ended up here. Even if they scroll right to the product listings, they’ll appreciate the extra information (and Google certainly does).
- List all other categories as well, or at least make them accessible via a drop-down, especially when you have a lot of categories like Amazon does. It makes more sense to make them available rather than listing them all. But if your shop only has ten categories, list them, for example in a sidebar or footer menu.
- Product listings need a proper call-to-action, so don’t hide it. Add a button.
- The product image in the listing will help convince the visitor to click, buy or compare an item. Use good quality, stunning images that display the product well.
- Optimize the product title, for example by including the SKU as well. As well as having SEO benefits, people searching for specific products – like that one particular Lego set they are looking for – will thank you for it.
- State whether a product is available. Nothing is more disappointing than finally finding the product you want only to find out it’s sold out when you get to the shopping cart. Add a notice to the category page listing instead.
You should also optimize your landing pages.
Landing page optimization
A landing page is a page where your visitors end up when they follow a link from outside the site, for example search engines or social media. Landing pages on your online shop should be optimized to evoke a particular reaction from the visitor, such as buying a specific product.
Focus on one product or product bundle and optimize that page to guide your visitor to the purchase – in other words, welcome them. Make sure the visitor feels safe paying you by setting up SSL on your site and maybe adding trust signals. Add social proof in the form of testimonials, so your visitor will understand why your product is so good, and why they need it.
We strongly recommend using headings and images to deliver your message as these help a lot, particularly for buyers scanning your landing page. Make sure these deliver the right message to your visitors.
To find out more about landing pages, see our article Landing pages and why they matter.
And so, on to product pages.
Product page optimization
Generally speaking, make your product page as usable as possible. Product pages need to be optimized for SEO, by using schema.org data and perhaps OpenGraph text. Read more about that in our article on product page SEO. But when your visitor arrives on that page, you need to convince them to buy.$129 - Buy now » Info
Let’s go over some best practices for product pages:
- Create scarcity: if you have only a limited number of products available, that will encourage visitors to buy. But be honest about the numbers.
- Add ratings and reviews. Social proof helps in comparisons and builds trust.
- In stock or not? Be clear about that, as it will help manage visitor expectations.
- Add to cart AND add to wishlist. People might not want to purchase right away for budget or other reasons.
- Multiple product images. Make up for the fact that the customer can’t pick up the product and look at it from all angles by adding more than one image.
- Offer product bundles. Buy this and that, as these products belong together. You might offer a discount for that bundle as a sales promotion.
- Free shipping, or free shipping on any orders over a certain amount. It’s a nice gesture and yet another reason to buy from you.
- Related products, people who bought this product also bought that product, etc. If you show them more products, they might spend more money.
- Show people using the product (as a part of your product images). People will find it easier to relate to and see why they need your product.
Just like your homepage, your product page needs a strong call-to-action. In most cases that will be the Add to Cart button. Limit all distractions, make the text actionable, and use the right color. And if possible, add a review somewhere near that button. There’s more on calls-to-action here, and more on button design here.
There are more details and real-life examples in our product page UX article, and there are more insights on creating trust in this article: 7 ways to increase sales by creating trust. Our post on testimonials and reviews offers some great insights, and you should also read our post on The psychology of discounts.
After your product page, customers proceed to your shopping cart, which is part of your checkout process.
Checkout page optimization
Shopping cart abandonment
There are many reasons why people might leave your website without buying anything. They might even put products into their cart, only to abandon it. In our post on Shopping cart abandonment, we go over what might lead to this, like:
- “I wanted to do more research.”
- “I found it cheaper elsewhere.”
- “I wanted to wait for it to go on sale.”
For mobile carts, there are even more reasons, like loading speed and poor design. Investigating this will make your online shop better and can increase your sales.You are about to close the deal: the customer wants to buy your product, so let’s gently guide them to our payment page. The first thing we need is to tell them where we are in the checkout process, so be sure to add a progress bar.
At the start of the checkout process, we give the customer an overview of the products they want to buy. This is, of course, the same as the cart overview. There are a couple of elements that are required here:
- Product image, even a small one will confirm to the soon-to-be customer that the right product is in the cart.
- Prices, not just the price of one item, but also the number of items and the total price.
- Additional costs, like shipping costs. There should be no extra surprise costs after the cart overview.
- Payment options, just to let the customer know how they can pay.
- Security signs, like the green padlock and address bar for SSL sites, plus perhaps extra logos like Trustpilot right below the cart overview.
You should also make sure a guest purchase is possible. Having to register for a one-time sale is a deal-breaker for me.
If you need to ask for more than just an email address, make sure to make the form as short as possible. Think about useful things like a checkbox to confirm that the delivery and invoice address are the same, instead of making customers fill in their details twice.
Make payment easy by choosing a trusted payment provider and offering convenient payment options. These will vary depending on the shop and its customer base.
Finally, after that optimized shopping process, a happy customer will leave your online shop. Now make sure you keep that customer happy. There are some extra things you can do to make that happen and you’ll find more tips in our article on checkout page UX!
Conclusion: eCommerce usability is a trade of its own
Don’t trust your theme or eCommerce platform to fill in the blanks for you. Put some real effort into optimizing the usability of your eCommerce website. You’ll find that a better user experience will bring the SEO and conversion of your online store to the next level.
Perhaps you’ve read about the related entities patent which was recently granted to Google, or perhaps you haven’t yet. You should read Dave Davies post about it on Search Engine Land and find out more about it. The related entities patent gives us valuable insights into how Google identifies relationships between content. So, in this post, I’ll try to explain a bit about the patent without making it all to complicated. And, I’ll discuss the importance of the patent for your content SEO strategy.$89 - Buy now » Info
What is a patent? Why is it important?
Google applies for a lot of patents. When the patent is granted, it gives us information on how they engineer their search engine. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, you should check out Bill Slawski’s site SEO by the Sea. This specific patent about related entities implies that related entities, related content, and relations in general are becoming more important.
It’s important to remember that we do not know exactly how Google has applied this specific patent in its search engine. We can only guess, test and speculate how Google will use it. The way the search engine works and how it serves the results to our search queries give us a lot of information though. Think of it as an educated guess.
So what does this mean? What does Google do with it?
In his post on Search Engine Land, Dave Davies explains beautifully how these related entities work. Google has an actual entity database in which it saves which concepts and which identities belong together. This database is ever growing, and Google learns more and more about how things are related to one another. This means that if certain concepts turn up together in content in various places on the internet, Google will save these in its entity database. This process is ongoing, which means that for some searches, you won’t get the same rich result as for others. Try searching for [types of cheese] and [types of shoes] to see the difference.
While Dave Davies was mainly talking about entities as big things – presidents, people, actors; I think that words, things and concepts could also be entities. Thinking of words and concepts as identities, which are also saved in that entity database, will have some consequences for copywriters and content SEOs. Of course, this is speculation. Nobody knows exactly which concepts are in fact treated as entities by Google.
After typing [types of pasta] Google now shows this entity-based rich result
Clicking on Tagliatelle leads to relevant search results. A breadcrumb path shows the connection to the main subject
Let’s look at an example to figure out what it means if words and concepts are considered entities. Google will probably notice that in content about [tagliatelle], the words [pasta] and [spaghetti] will also appear rather often. These words will probably be linked together in Googles entity database. If someone is searching for [tagliatelle] in Google, content without the words [tagliatelle] but with the words [pasta] and [spaghetti] could also pop up in the search results. This would mean that the exact word matching would become less important. It’s all about context. And, we have seen this in the past few years. Google has become more and more adept at matching a search query to content without the exact search phrase in the text.
What does it mean for content SEO?
I think that the exact matching of a search query will become less important. Concepts, words and things related to a specific topic will become more important. By using the words, concepts and phrases related to tagliatelle in your post, you’re increasing your chances to rank for the term ‘tagliatelle’.
What about keywords?
That does not mean, however, that you should not focus on keywords anymore. Google is getting better at establishing what the audience is searching for. But you should know what your audience is searching for when you are writing. You should know which words, concepts and phrases they are using. And you should use those same words as well. You want your audience to recognize your text as an answer to their search query. You should keep on using the keywords and keyphrases that your keyword research provided. Don’t go overboard though, and use your keyword carefully.
Write an awesome text
I think the most important thing to realize is that a keyword is not a topic yet. It cannot be seen as an entity as it does not have the correct context. You’ll need an angle, a specific story around a keyword, a good idea to write a blog post. An idea in which the desired focus keyword could have a prominent place. You should think about your audience. What do you want to tell your audience? What’ll be the main message of your article? And what is the purpose?
If you write an original article, an article people would want to read; you’re probably already using all of the terms that are related to your keywords. It’s rather hard to write a blog post about tagliatelle without using the word [pasta]. You’ll use the related entities, simply because they are related. It’ll probably just come natural, as long as your trying to write an original text.
Think about synonyms, related words and concepts
Although I think that if you’re writing a good text with an original idea, you’ll probably already be using all the related concepts you should be using; you should also think of synonyms to your keyword. Take a moment and try to come up with a few alternatives for your keyword. Think of things that are strongly related to your keyword. Use these words in your text and you’ll probably increase your chances to rank. Besides, your content will be more pleasant to read as well!
Keywords remain essential. However, the exact matching of a keyword will become less important. And synonyms and related concepts will become more important. We don’t have a bullet for synonyms or related words in our SEO analysis yet. I guess that’s a hard one to establish. Could we do that? Does anyone have any suggestions?
The post On Google’s related entities patent: Write awesome posts! appeared first on Yoast.
Crawl errors occur when a search engine tries to reach a page on your website but fails at it. Let’s shed some more light on crawling first. Crawling is the process where a search engine tries to visit every page of your website via a bot. A search engine bot finds a link to your website and starts to find all your public pages from there. The bot crawls the pages and indexes all the contents for use in Google, plus adds all the links on these pages to the pile of pages it still has to crawl. Your main goal as a website owner is to make sure the search engine bot can get to all pages on the site. Failing this process returns what we call crawl errors.$199 - Buy now » Info
Your goal is to make sure that every link on your website leads to an actual page. That might be via a 301 redirect, but the page at the very end of that link should always return a 200 OK server response.
Google divides crawl errors into two groups:
- Site errors. You don’t want these, as they mean your entire site can’t be crawled.
- URL errors. You don’t want these either, but since they only relate to one specific URL per error, they are easier to maintain and fix.
Let’s elaborate on that.
Site errors are all the crawl errors that prevent the search engine bot from accessing your website. That can have many reasons, these being the most common:
- DNS Errors. This means a search engine isn’t able to communicate with your server. It might be down, for instance, meaning your website can’t be visited. This is usually a temporary issue. Google will come back to your website later and crawl your site anyway. If you see notices of this in your Google Search Console at crawl errors, that probably means Google has tried a couple of times and still wasn’t able to.
- Server errors. If your search console shows server errors, this means the bot wasn’t able to access your website. The request might have timed out. The search engine (f.i.) tried to visit your site, but it took so long to load that the server served an error message. Server errors also occur when there are flaws in your code that prevent a page from loading. It can also mean that your site has so many visitors that the server just couldn’t handle all the requests. A lot of these errors are returned as 5xx status codes, like the 500 and 503 status codes described here.
- Robots failure. Before crawling, (f.i.) Googlebot tries to crawl your robots.txt file as well, just to see if there are any areas on your website you’d rather not have indexed. If that bot can’t reach the robots.txt file, Google will postpone the crawl until it can reach the robots.txt file. So always make sure it’s available.
That explains a tad bit about crawl errors related to your entire site. Now let’s see what kind of crawl errors might occur for specific pages.
As mentioned, URL errors refer to crawl errors that occur when a search engine bot tries to crawl a specific page of your website. When we discuss URL errors, we tend to discuss crawl errors like (soft) 404 Not Found errors first. You should frequently check for these type of errors (useGoogle Search Console or Bing webmaster tools) and fix ’em. If the page/subject of that page indeed is gone never to return to your website, serve a 410 page. If you have similar content on another page, please use a 301 redirect instead. Make sure your sitemap and internal links are up to date as well, obviously.
We found that a lot of these URL errors are caused by internal links, by the way. So a lot of these errors are your fault. If you remove a page from your site at some point, adjust or remove any inbound links to it as well. These links have no use anymore. If that link remains the same, a bot will find it and follow it, only to find a dead end (404 Not found error). On your website. You need to do some maintenance now and then on your internal links!
Among these common errors might be an occasional DNS error or server error for that specific URL. Re-check that URL later and see if the error has vanished. Be sure to use fetch as Google and mark the error as fixed in Google Search Console if that is your main monitoring tool in this. Our plugin can help you with that.
Very specific URL errors
There are some URL errors that apply to certain sites only. That’s why I’d like to list these separately:
- Mobile-specific URL errors. This refers to page-specific crawl errors that occur on a modern smartphone. If you have a responsive website, these are unlikely to surface. Perhaps just for that piece of Flash content you wanted to replace already. If you maintain a separate mobile subdomain like m.example.com, you might run into more errors. Thing along the lines of faulty redirects from your desktop site to that mobile site. You might even have blocked some of that mobile site with a line in your robots.txt.
- Malware errors. If you encounter malware errors in your webmaster tools, this means Bing or Google has found malicious software on that URL. That might mean that software is found that is used, for instance, “to gather guarded information, or to disrupt their operation in general.”(Wikipedia). You need to investigate that page and remove the malware.
- Google News errors. There are some specific Google News errors. There’s quite a list of these possible errors in Google’s documentation, so if your website is in Google News, you might get these crawl errors. They vary from the lack of a title to errors that tell you that your page doesn’t seem to contain a news article at all. Be sure to check for yourself if this applies to your site.
Fix your crawl errors
The bottom line in this article is definitely: if you encounter crawl errors, fix them. It should be part of your site’s maintenance schedule to check for crawl errors now and then. Besides that, if you have installed our premium plugin, you’ll have a convenient way in WordPress and/or TYPO3 to prevent crawl errors when for instance deleting a page. Be sure to check these features yourselves!
I remember my first time in Google Analytics. As a data lover, I enthusiastically clicked my way through the numerous tabs. Seeing terms like sessions, pageviews, users, bounce rate and so on. Being so enthusiastic, I didn’t really think about what these terms actually mean. And that’s pretty important, because without knowing what Google Analytics’ definition of the term is, you might draw the wrong conclusions. In this post, I’m going to discuss an important term in Google Analytics: a session.$89 - Buy now » Info
What are sessions in Google Analytics?
If you think of the term session, what do you think it means? My definition is that it is a period in which a certain thing happens. Keep your own definition in mind and check if it equals Google Analytics’s definition of a session:
A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.
Cool, it’s pretty much the same as my definition. And that helps me with understanding what I’m looking at when dealing with sessions in Google Analytics.
Let’s break it down. If a visitor or user enters your website a session begins. Google Analytics records it and collects data from the very start. Within that session, a user can do a lot of things on your website that Google Analytics records, for instance, view pages, buy products, fill out forms and so on.
When does a session end?
Looking at the definition, you see that a session has a given time frame. This implicates that it can end after a certain period and that you can adjust when the session ends. A session can end because of one of three reasons:
- After 30 minutes of inactivity
- At midnight
- Campaign change
1. After 30 minutes of inactivity
By default, a session ends when a user did nothing on your site for 30 minutes straight. For example, a user looks at a page on your site, then reads a blog post and leaves that open without doing anything on that page for 30 minutes, the session ends. If after, for instance, 29 minutes a user interacts with the page, by clicking on a link or a menu item or something like that, the very same session is extended by another 30 minutes. So every time you interact with the site, the session is extended. If you don’t do anything for 30 minutes, it ends.
There are cases where 30 minutes is too short. If you have very long articles, for instance, people need more time than just those 30 minutes. There are also cases in which 30 minutes is too long, for instance for product pages in a shop. Luckily you can adjust the session timeout. Go to the admin section, at property level you’ll see an item about Tracking info. There you can find session settings:
As you can see, the minimum you can set is 1 minute, the maximum is 4 hours. If you want to have an idea about how long an average session on your site is, go to your audience tab, click overview and you’ll see a summary with a couple of statistics like Avg. Session Duration:
Before drawing conclusions, please check the date range you’ve set. Check for a month, or compare a couple months to see if the duration doesn’t change that much. You can use this information to set the right session timeout. Usually it makes most sense to set it at the average session duration.
2. At midnight
The second reason a session can end is simply because a new day is beginning. If a user is on your website and reads a post at 11:58 PM for instance, that session ends at 11:59:59 PM and a new session begins at 12:00 PM.
3. Campaign change
Users of your site come from different sources, like Google, Facebook or email. Sometimes they arrive on your site following a specific campaign link, for instance, if you’re running an AdWords campaign or you’ve added a utm_campaign parameter to a URL in your newsletter. Let’s say a visitor lands on your website by a certain AdWord paid keyword, then Google Analytics stores that campaign in its data. But if that same user goes to your site via a different campaign, the first session ends and a new session starts.
Just knowing how much sessions you’ve got, isn’t that interesting per se. It gets interesting when you compare it with something. For instance, if you compare last month’s sessions with the month before that. Does it follow the same trend? And if you see a spike in sessions, do you know what caused that spike? Or compare weeks, do you see a drop in sessions in the weekends? You can also compare sources, which source drives most sessions to your site? And how many pages per session does every source have? What’s your most successful source of traffic when it comes down to sessions? There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself. My tip: ask the question first, then open up Google Analytics and try to find the answer.
If you want to be able to analyze your Google Analytics data you have to understand what the variables of this tool mean exactly. A session is a group of actions of one user in a given time frame. It starts when a user enters your site and it ends after a certain time of inactivity, a change of campaign or at midnight. You can set the time after which it should end, depending on the average time a user spends on your site.
Now go have a look at your sessions! Do you see anything remarkable?
The post Annelieke’s Analytics: What are sessions in Google Analytics? appeared first on Yoast.
You might have felt some tremors in the WordPress world. There is something brewing. Something called Gutenberg. It’s the new editing environment in WordPress and the impact it’s going to have will be massive. Some welcome it with open arms, while others are critical. There is also a large group of WordPress users who don’t have a clue what’s going on. Here, we’ll introduce Gutenberg.$89 - Buy now » Info
Gutenberg is the first step for a bright new future for WordPress
It’s something many people often gloss over, but Gutenberg is not just a new editor for WordPress. It’s the start of something much bigger. Gutenberg lays the groundwork for incredibly exciting developments. Gutenberg is stage one of a three-pronged roll-out strategy. First, WordPress will get a redeveloped editor, after that the project will focus on page templates and in the final stage WordPress will become a full site customizer. You can imagine, this gives us endless possibilities and it is a necessary step to keep WordPress the #1 CMS for years to come.
Today, we’re focusing on stage one. The new Gutenberg editor will land in WordPress 5.0 sometime this year. As it stands now, it is not nearly finished, but loads of people are working around the clock to turn this editor into a solid and stable product. We have a big team working on it as well, both on the editor itself and our integration with it.
Opening Gutenberg for the first time
When you open the new editor for the first time you’re probably looking for the interface we have all grown accustomed to. That, however, is gone. We now have a very clean writing environment, with great typography and lots of space for your content to shine. On the right-hand side, you can open the settings — per document or per block — by clicking on the cog icon. Clicking on the three dots beside that cog lets you switch to the code editor so you can make your edits on the code side of things.
Now, seeing this screen might cause you to turn around and run — please don’t. We all know people have a hard time changing from one thing that they know well to something new. Even Marieke had reservations regarding writing in Gutenberg, which she addressed in a post.
People find it hard to accept change when they don’t see why it’s necessary to change something that was working ok. Well, in this case, it’s relatively easy to understand: to get ready for the future, WordPress needs to adapt. Gutenberg introduces concepts and technologies that help make WordPress future proof. Most visible right now? The concept of a block.
In Gutenberg, everything is a block
Gutenberg introduces blocks. Previously, your content lived inside one big HTML file and for every enhancement there had to be something new: shortcodes, custom post types, embeds, widgets and the like. All with their quirky interfaces and weird behavior. Now, you can build your content precisely like you make a LEGO set: all from one box, following a standardized and straightforward set of instructions. In the animated gif below, I’ll quickly show you some blocks and add an image as a block:
By using this blocks concept, you can now determine what every part of your content is. Not only that, you can define their specifications per block. So, for instance, you can turn a single line of text into a quote by changing its block type. After that, it gets a new set of options that you can set. You can change the type of quote, its placement, text decoration et cetera. This goes for all blocks. There are blocks for, among other things:
- And a ton of embeds
Every block you make can get its own layout and settings. And you can save these as reusable blocks!
One of the coolest things about Gutenberg is reusable blocks. Think of these as a completed block that you can save along with its settings. For instance, if you’ve made a cool looking layout for the intro of your blog articles, you can save this as a reusable block. After that, you only have to go to Add Block -> Saved to pick your reusable intro block. How cool is that!
This is an incredibly basic example, but you can think of a lot more complex uses for this! How about a complete gallery where you only have to drop in the images. Or a multi-column article template with great typography for killer blog posts. And of course, developers can hook into this as well, so there are bound to arrive some great blocks that’ll make our lives so much easier. There is no limit to this. This is all made possible because we have full control over all individual blocks.
Yoast SEO and Gutenberg
We’ve been heavily investing in Gutenberg since the beginning. We have several developers that are helping to improve Gutenberg full time. Also, we are actively researching how, why and where we should integrate Yoast SEO inside Gutenberg. Even for us, the possibilities are endless. We won’t be able to build everything we’re dreaming up right away, as we’re focusing on giving you the best possible basic integration from the moment Gutenberg gets released. But, keep in mind, there is a lot more to come from us!
Let The Gut Guys explain Gutenberg for you
Two of the most active Yoasters in the Gutenberg development team is our UX designer Tim and software architect Anton. These guys are so passionate about Gutenberg that we’re featuring the dynamic duo in an exclusive video series called The Gut Guys — Gut as in ‘good’. They will show you around the Gutenberg editing experience and explain the why and how of the new editor. We’re regularly adding new installments. Watch it and subscribe!
Need more? Check this essential talk
We know thinking and talking about Gutenberg can be tiring, but that’s mostly because we are keeping those thoughts in the now. We should most definitely look at the broader picture and see where Gutenberg can take WordPress. To explain that, I’d like to ask you to invest 45 minutes of your time in watching this essential talk by Morten Rand-Hendriksen.
Conclusion to what is Gutenberg?
There’s no beating around the bush: Gutenberg is coming. We’re getting ready for it and you should as well. The new editor will probably take some getting used to and it might break some stuff, but in the end, we will get a much more streamlined environment with a lot of cool possibilities down the road.
The most important thing you can do right now is installing the plugin. Play with it, test it, break it. Add every issue you find to Gutenberg’s GitHub: things that don’t work or should work better. We need as many eyes on this as we can, so we need you. Don’t just talk and yell: contribute! Your contributions will make or break this project.
Gutenberg is coming. It’s a really big thing in the world of WordPress. At Yoast, we are really busy making sure our Yoast SEO plugin integrates nicely with the new editor. So we talk and think and a lot about Gutenberg. But as a writer, I didn’t really use Gutenberg yet. And this made me wonder: What is it like to use Gutenberg? Does writing with Gutenberg feel any different? Is it easier? Will I have more fun? Is it a good writing experience? In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on the new editor from a writer’s perspective.$39 - Buy now » Info
What is Gutenberg?
Let’s start by answering the question what is Gutenberg? Gutenberg will become the new default editor of WordPress. The biggest change from the current editor is the introduction of blocks. In the new editor a paragraph, a title or a picture will be a block. You can add a new block, choose what kind of block it will be, and easily edit it the way you want to. Blocks are flexible and can be shifted dynamically around the page.
With the plus sign you can add a new block in the Gutenberg editor
Read more about the Gutenberg project on WordPress.org. The Gutenberg editor is going to be released in the 5.0 update of WordPress. It is not clear when exactly this update will appear, but it should happen somewhere in Spring 2018.
Starting out as a skeptic
I have to be honest. I was rather skeptical about Gutenberg. Prejudiced even. But, I installed the Gutenberg plugin on my personal website and started writing a blog post. Trying to be as open minded as possible. And, I can’t deny: it was really easy. I even forgot for a moment I was testing out a new editor. It didn’t feel weird or new to me at all. Main conclusion: I’m really enthusiastic about Gutenberg.
Intuitive and easy to use
The Gutenberg editor has an intuitive design. For me. And if it’s intuitive for me, it basically is intuitive for everyone. I am not that savvy. It didn’t take much effort to find out how to choose a new heading. It took me just a little bit of clicking to figure out how to insert a picture in my blog post. I could do all the things I do while writing a blog post, just as fast as I always do. At the same time, my screen was rather empty. I liked that. There was little distraction.
Some great advantages over the old editor
The Gutenberg editor has some great assets that could genuinely help people to write better texts. I like that every time you hit enter, a new block emerges. If you go on typing, you’ll create a new paragraph. In my opinion, most writers do not think enough about why they start a new paragraph. They just put whitespaces in when they feel like it. Hitting enter in Gutenberg will create a new block. I believe this will help people to think more about the structure of their text.
Hit enter and Gutenberg will create a new paragraph.
I also love the fact that the editing options are not hidden away at the top of your post. If I want to add a link in my text in the old editor, I have to go all the way to the top of my blog post. That’s a lot of scrolling. I think I will add much more links to my text when using Gutenberg. Because it is so much easier. And adding (internal) links to your blog posts is important for SEO. Inserting pictures has become much easier too.$199 - Buy now » Info
I understand why dynamic blocks are appealing. And I do think the flexibility of the blocks will come in handy to get the correct place for a picture or a quote. However, I do not like the fact that it’s so easy to dynamically shift paragraphs and headings. I’m a bit scared that people then feel free to shift their paragraphs while writing. And, from my point of view, the best texts are written after the author carefully established the structure of his or her argumentation. No dragging and dropping there.
Another downside was my experience as I tried to copy and paste a text from Google docs in the Gutenberg editor. In the current editor it takes a lot of work to get the formatting of your article right. That did not work perfectly in Gutenberg either. It does strip out the superfluous HTML code though. Other things went well, like transferring headings, but some paragraphs were transformed in a single block, while other paragraphs were merged together in one block. I could not figure out why. As lots of writers won’t write in the WordPress backend, but in another editor, this experience should be really smooth. A flawless experience would be a tremendous improvement compared to the current editor.
For me, writing with Gutenberg was not all that different from writing in the old editor. And, scrolling down gave me the Yoast SEO meta box, with suggestions to improve my writing and SEO. Yoast SEO already works. The Gutenberg editor offer lots of chances to improve our plugin. We’re working on awesome redesigns to make the writing experience even more awesome. So stay tuned!
Maintaining a website is hard work, and to do it right, you have to be skilled in many things: writing, editing, SEO, marketing (if you own a business) and perhaps even a bit of coding, to name but a few. But that’s not all. If you handle and collect the data of your site’s visitors, you should also familiarize yourself with relevant laws on data protection and privacy.
In April 2016, a new regulation on privacy and data protection was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council. After a transition period of two years, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become enforceable from 25 May 2018 onward. This means you can get a fine if you don’t comply with the GDPR.$49 - Buy now » Info
It’s important to note that the GDPR doesn’t just apply to organizations located within the EU. It also applies to organizations located outside of the EU, if they offer services or products to, or monitor the behavior of people residing in the EU. The consequences of this law for you and your business depend on the kind of data you handle and if (and how) you get consent for that. So, what to do when preparing for the GDPR? Let me give you my take on the subject in this week’s Ask Yoast!
Joerg Gastmann emailed us his question on the GDPR:
At YoastCon 2017, Dixon Jones mentioned that certain plugins collect data about users and this might cause problems with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What should a webmaster do to avoid legal penalties for using plugins, like Jetpack, that process statistical/user data on their servers?
Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!
Preparing for the GDPR
“Well, you don’t get a penalty specifically for the fact that these plugins are using that data. You get a penalty for not getting your user’s consent for doing that. So you should get your user’s consent, or stop doing that. Some of these things you can put into your general terms of service because they’re required for your business to work.
But if you’re doing things like profiling people based on what they visited, based on information they’ve given you them about them, then you should really dive into the GDPR. This is not something I can easily answer in a couple of minutes. It’s a lot of work. There are a lot of people that are very hard at work, making sure that we can do all the things in WordPress that you should be able to do under the GDPR. So yeah, dive in, consult a lawyer- I’m not a lawyer. 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: Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) appeared first on Yoast.
Team Yoast often attends WordCamps and other conferences. We’d like to keep you updated on the highlights of these events and share the knowledge we gained and the fun we had there. In March we went, for example, to WordCamp Oslo, WordCamp Antwerp, WordCamp Rotterdam, WordCamp Kathmandu and The Social Conference. We’ve picked some of the highlights for you. Read on!
Want to meet us and know which events we’ll be going to soon? Check out our events page.$89 - Buy now » Info
Remkus de Vries, our remote colleague from the north of the Netherlands, went even higher up north to Norway to join WordCamp Oslo. Of the presentations he watched, the very first one by Magne Ilsaas was the one that stood out the most for him:
“Magne talked about Gutenberg, the printing press, and how it sparked a revolution some 500 years ago. But of course, he also talked about Gutenberg as the new editing experience expected to ship with WordPress 5.0 and the opportunities and possibilities it brings. It’s a presentation that sparked a lot of conversations the rest of the day. I couldn’t agree with him more: Gutenberg will, indeed, revolutionize how we’re using WordPress.”
Want to know more about Gutenberg? Follow the knowledgeable Gut Guys on YouTube. We will be publishing about Gutenberg a lot more in the coming weeks, starting with Marieke. She will publish a post on content writing with Gutenberg soon!
While Remkus was traveling north, other Yoasters went south to WordCamp Antwerp in Belgium. That’s where our sales superstar Anneloes found out everyone can contribute on a contributor day, no need to be a developer! She joined the WP Marketing team – an initiative which our marketing team had already joined on WordCamp Noord Nederland – and was thrilled by the friendly and helpful atmosphere she encountered.
Our awesome Karin volunteering at WordCamp Antwerp
At WordCamp Antwerp, our Research Team Lead Annelieke gave a presentation on Multilingual SEO, not the easiest of topics. She guided visitors with international websites through the Multilingual and Multiregional forest to help them make the right sites rank in the right countries. She discussed hreflang, multilingual copywriting for SEO and more. Check the highlights of her presentation on this Twitter thread.
At Yoast we not only like sustainable SEO, we care about environmental sustainability too. And that’s the first thing we loved about WordCamp Rotterdam. It was held at the awesome venue BlueCity, the old swimming pool Tropicana, now a hotspot for environmentally-friendly entrepreneurs. There was no printed schedule, cookies were made from yesterday’s bread, and badges were recyclable and filled with plant seeds. Awesome!
A lot of Yoasters in Rotterdam!
At this event, Monique Dubbelman gave a live demo of Gutenberg, which is always good to increase awareness. The talk by Andree Lange on style tiles was of particular interest to the design team, offering a low barrier way to create a library of design elements for a project without having to spec out every little detail from the start. And Jules Ernst shared some illuminating examples of accessibility problems and how you can already improve your website’s accessibility a lot with a little bit of work.
The Yoast team organized the closing session of the event doing some live site reviews. Michelle, Annelieke, Tim and Judith scrutinized some of the visitors’ websites and sent them home with lots of practical tips to improve their SEO and sites in general. You can check the full session (in Dutch) on our Facebook page.
Our support engineer Suwash went to WordCamp Kathmandu in Nepal. He found the presentation of Chandan Goopta one of the most interesting:
“The talk focused on how we can optimize the server, use server commands, and add our custom scripts to monitor bottlenecks on site and fix those issues: sometimes external tools don’t exactly give the cause of why a site is acting slow. He talked not only about the optimized performance of a site but also enhanced page load time (less than 2 seconds load time) and more.”
Contributor day was the first in the history of WordPress Nepal community and there were around 115 attendees. Fond of giving support, Suwash joined as a Team Lead for Support focusing on encouraging attendees to contribute by answering support questions on the WordPress.org support forum.
Support engineer Suwash at WordCamp Kathmandu
The Social Conference
Dushanthi and Siobhan of Team Marketing also visited Amsterdam for The Social Conference, a day full of talks about different social media and how to use them. KLM kicked off with an awesome talk on using social media to give customers the best possible experience. They’re very advanced in using chatbots and providing relevant information through the most convenient channel. Another talk our team was pretty impressed by, was by outdoor gear brand Patagonia, on doing business in unconventional ways. More so: using your business as a tool for environmental activism. This talk hit home as their community building was so like our belief in Open Source.
A lot of the other talks were about changing algorithms like Facebook’s. As no-one knew anything other to say than ‘create engaging content’, we’re even more convinced of our message: as Facebook’s algorithm changes, SEO becomes crucial. The most important takeaway for us this day: if all else changes, your website is still in your control!
Go to WordCamps
We’ve had an awesome time at these conferences. We would encourage you to visit WordCamps as well. It as great oppurtunity to meet likeminded people, to contribute to WordPress and to learn a great deal from the talks. You can find WordCamps all over the world. Hope to meet you there!
Want to meet us at future events? Keep an eye on our events page!
After (re)defining the niche of my blog and creating a proper site structure with the needed categories, I felt as if I had reinvented my blog. I decided I wanted to publish at least three articles each week. This meant I would have to write 156 blog posts a year. That number sounds extremely daunting, as there have been times the past year I was struggling to come up with just a single blog post idea. How would I ever come up with enough ideas for cool blog posts? It’s all about finding inspiration. Today, I want to share my best tips so you can keep generating useful ideas.$39 - Buy now » Info
Tips and tricks for finding inspiration
I’m always amazed at bloggers who have a few hundreds or thousands of blog posts on their site. Where do they get their inspiration? How do they know what to write? I dove in, had a lot of fun, worried about my niche again, worried about the health of the people who inserted certain search queries and ended up with a list of blog post ideas. Let me show you how I did that.
Performance report in Google Search Console
Google Search Console shows you more than your crawl errors. Only recently I learned about the Performance report in GSC. It was once again my coworker Patrick who showed me this, although I could’ve known, as we have blog posts on this very subject. No wonder I heard my colleagues laugh when I kept staring at my screen in amazement and uttering: ‘Wow, this is so cool. This is awesome. I had no idea. This is brilliant! Thank you!’
The Performance report shows you the search queries people use that your site ranks on. There could be queries on the list that you have never even thought about writing about.
After looking at my list, I saw someone searched for [milkshake during pregnancy]. I’ve written about pregnancy and milkshakes, but not in that combination yet. This means that an article on milkshake recipes you can make at home that are safe to consume during your pregnancy could be a good idea. Another search result is [time capsule baby]. I don’t even know what it is. It got me worried at first, but now I’m excited to find out what it is. I’m sure the person who searched for this, didn’t want to put a baby inside a time capsule because that’s weird.
Content Idea Generator
Content Idea Generator won’t give you ready to go article ideas. At best it will point you in the right direction, at worst it will provide you with a few laughs. For example, I entered the term [baby]. As a mom, this is something that’s apparently on my mind all day — it’s not, by the way. The subject most on my mind is probably sleeping. And wine. Content Idea Generator gave me the following title: ‘Why babies are scarier than dating Taylor Swift’. I’m not sure what dating Taylor Swift is like, but I do know babies can be quite scary.
A content idea about [wine] gave me ’17 unexpected uses for wine’. I’d think it’s to drink, all other 16 uses would be a waste of good wine to me, but what do I know? Perhaps there are other ways than just to drink it!
Entering the [sleep] subject just left me kind of sad, because I ended up with ‘Why you’ll never succeed at sleep’. That’s disappointing. And accurate at the moment.
While the Content Idea Generator won’t give you immediately what you want, it’s sure to get your creativity flowing. If we take the last subject I entered, which is [sleep], I ended up with the following blog ideas in under two minutes:
- How to fall asleep faster.
- How to sleep like a baby — hah, see what I did there? I combined two subjects!
- The definite guide to get your baby to sleep through the night — oh yeah, did it again!
- Sleep problems? Try these six tips – and perhaps combine this with wine and link this to the ’17 unexpected uses for wine’. Double win!
Days Of The Year
I am in love with Days Of The Year. This site collects all the funny, bizarre and nice holidays the world has. Browsing their calendar gave me a list of close to thirty post ideas and that was only because I was being extremely picky. For example, today, April 5, is both caramel and deep dish pizza day. I didn’t even know deep dish pizza was a thing.
It’s also ‘Tell a lie day’ today. I could twist this one into a blog post for my niche and could write an article about all the lies I tell my son each day, or the lies I tell myself. You can easily lose a couple of hours while scrolling through that site. Keep your pen and notepad at hand, though, because it is bound to give you tons of inspiration. There are days available for every niche. Are you a fan of mythical creatures? April 9th is unicorn day. There’s also a leprechaun day and a howl at the moon day.
May 25th is towel day, which can give travel bloggers and lifestyle bloggers ideas for posts. Think of blog posts such as: ‘How to keep your towels soft’ or ‘With this information you will never buy the wrong towel again’. Or throw the word [towel] in the Content Idea Generator I described above, which will lead to hilarious posts such as: ’17 facts about towels that will impress your friends’. Or this one: ’18 things Spock would say about towels’; brilliant, as Towel Day is on the same day as Geek Pride Day.
Pinterest is a beautiful source of inspiration, especially for bloggers! I rediscovered Pinterest a few weeks ago. I had abandoned my account for quite some time, but after I read article after article about why Pinterest is important to bloggers, I got active again. I’ll cover my journey on Pinterest in another blog post, as I’m still trying a lot of things to see what it can do for me as a blogger.
Pinterest can help you find enough input for your next subjects. Search for keywords such as [blog post ideas], [blog ideas], or [what to blog about]. To get even more inspiration fast, include your niche in the search results. For example: [blog post ideas for moms], or [blog post ideas for lifestyle bloggers]. Bloggers like you and me write these guides, so often you can learn what works and what doesn’t. But please, be cautious as well. In my opinion, Pinterest is clickbait heaven. Falling into the trap of quantity over quality is easy. Keep your focus or you’ll lose track of time.$89 - Buy now » Info
Other ways to generate ideas
This is not the definitive list for generating ideas of course. There are a lot more ways to find inspiration, for example:
- Find bloggers that inspire you. Make sure you do not copy their ideas, though. And give credit where credit is due.
- Join Facebook groups that are related to your niche.
- Join Facebook groups for bloggers.
- Follow the ideas described in these posts:
With the above lists, I generated over 70 blog post ideas, and it took me only ten minutes of brainstorming. While not all of them are ready to turn into blog posts just yet as I need to do research, the goal to write at least three blog posts a week won’t be dependent on lack of ideas. The only way this could fail, is with the wrong planning.
The post Caroline’s Corner: Finding inspiration for your next blog post appeared first on Yoast.
Tags and categories help us structure our content. You can often find these in the visual metadata at for instance blog posts, or in a list of clickable links in the sidebar of a website. Tags are sometimes represented as a tag cloud, although most websites refrain from using that element these days. There is a clear difference between tags and categories, but a lot of users mix them up. Now in most cases, that won’t matter for the end user. But for instance, in WordPress, there are some benefits by using categories for certain segmentations and tags for others. Here, I’d like to explain the difference between tags and categories.$39 - Buy now » Info
WordPress uses taxonomies for content grouping. The most common, default taxonomies in WordPress are categories and tags, but it’s also possible to create a custom taxonomy. We have written about these custom taxonomies before, so for background information, please read the post “What are custom taxonomies?”
A taxonomy can be defined as “orderly classification” (Source: Merriam Webster). This indicates some hierarchy or structure, which often goes into categories. In WordPress, categories can be parents or children of each other. Often, tags in WordPress don’t have that structure and are often used quite randomly. If you don’t control how you add tags to posts, you will probably end up with a huge number of tags on your website. The downside of this is that a lot of tags are used only once, which makes the tag page the same as the post where you added the tag. This may create duplicate content or at least thin content.
The difference between tags and categories
Back to our original questions: what’s the difference? In an ideal world, we would use categories to group the content on your website into — say — eight to ten global segments. On our blog, these segments are for instance Analytics, Content SEO, eCommerce and Technical SEO. By maintaining a limited set of categories, you can keep your website, and your content focused. Now, of course, you can dissect the content even further, going to more particular groupings. For that, you should use tags.
WordPress describes the difference exactly like that:
- Categories allowed for a broad grouping of post topics.
- Tags are used to describe your post in more detail.
The fact that categories can be hierarchical means that there’s a bit more content structure to be made with just categories if that’s what you are looking for. You can have a group of posts about trees, and have a child category or subgroup about elms. Makes sense, right? It also means that you can have URLs like /category/trees/elms, which displays that structure right in the URL already. You can’t do this with tags. The tag in this example could be “Boston”. It’s unrelated to the tree’s characteristics but could indicate where for instance a photo of an elm in that post is located.
At least one category per post is required
There is one more difference between tags and categories in WordPress: you need to add at least one category to a post. If you forget to do so, the post will be added to the default category. That would be “Uncategorized” unless you set a default category in WordPress at Settings > Writing:
Please do so, as you will understand the default “Uncategorized” makes no sense to your readers. It looks like poor maintenance, right? With tags, you don’t have this issue, as tags are not obligated at all. You could even decide to refrain from using tags until you need them and even then perhaps use a custom taxonomy instead. In that case, you will have that second layer of segmentation without the limitation of tags. I hope that clarifies the difference between tags and categories!
The post SEO basics: The difference between tags and categories appeared first on Yoast.
These past few weeks were all about the 7.0 release of Yoast SEO. That release brought many changes and made a lot of SEO work easier to understand and do. In 7.1 we fixed some bugs, improved the importers and added a new language to our roster: Portuguese. Yoast SEO 7.2 — out now — is taking it a bit easier. No substantial new features, but enough improvements all around.
Better import from All in One SEO Pack
Over the past few releases, we’ve been steadily improving and enhancing the data importers in Yoast SEO. We’re slowly getting there and Yoast SEO 7.2 adds another new enhancement to one particular importer: the one for All in One SEO Pack. As of now, we can import noindex, nofollow and OpenGraph tags from this WordPress SEO plugin. Also, we’ve fixed a bug that could overwrite existing Yoast SEO data when importing data from All in One SEO Pack.
Bug fixes in Yoast SEO 7.2
As always, we ran into bugs that we needed to fix. Some we uncover ourselves, while others are handed to us by our highly valued community. In Yoast SEO 7.2, we needed to fix several bugs. Some are very small, like the Ryte notification that didn’t go away when users turned the feature. But some are more serious, like a bug where attachments connected to password-protected posts ended up in the sitemaps.
A couple of other fixes were related to the
wpseo_robots filter where setting a page to
noindex did not correctly remove the
canonical element. In Yoast SEO Premium, there were issues regarding the handling of changes in parent/child relationships of pages; we have resolved these all. Of course, you can check the changelog for Yoast SEO 7.2 to see what else was fixed.
What are you waiting for: update now!
With every release, we keep the ball rolling at Yoast HQ. We’re finetuning, fixing and improving anywhere we can. Since Yoast SEO is open source, you can help us make Yoast SEO even better. Why don’t you follow our GitHub account to see what we’re working on? If you have issues, features request or enhancements don’t be afraid to post them. Please follow the instructions in the Yoast Contribution Guidelines.
This wraps up our bi-weekly release update. We now just have one more assignment for you: update now!
Yesterday we released a new add-on to Yoast SEO: Fact check for Yoast SEO 1.4. Were you getting excited to use it already? Then we’re very sorry to disappoint you, but it’s an April Fools’ joke. Or is it…? Our dear colleagues Danny and Irene genuinely built this plugin. Read this short interview and learn why and how they did that!
Is the Fact Check plugin a joke?
Yes. We’ve created Fact Check as an April Fools’ joke. The plugin is not to be taken seriously, except when you are planning on writing posts about conspiracy theories.
Irene and Danny, doing some daily fact checking
Why did Yoast make this plugin?
A couple of years ago, when we were writing the code for the Yoast SEO readability analysis, we thought of all the cool things we could do with the text analysis. Almost all the building blocks we needed for this April Fools’ plugin were already there in our library. We even came up with almost all of the current conspiracy checks back then. However, we’d never built it. Until now. We thought it was a fun idea for an April Fools’ joke. Besides, it gave us the possibility to learn some things about Webpack, Grunt and Babel and extending the existing Yoast SEO plugin.
Will the plugin do my website or my SEO any harm?
No, not at all. The added checks in Fact Check for Yoast SEO only add some bullets with feedback. As long as you don’t actually add conspiracies in your texts, having this plugin in your WordPress install will not change a thing.
How could we have known that this is a joke?
The plugin was released on April 1st. That should be a dead giveaway. Furthermore, the version is 1.4. Also, in the release video we’ve put a couple of hints. The most visible hint was the ‘I want to believe’ wallpaper on the computer in the background. Next to that, there was a Beatles record on the table. The cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is rumored to contain a number of hints that confirm that Paul McCartney is dead. We’ve also put a subliminal message on one of the screens. In the shots of the screen of the notebook, you can read ‘Don’t let Google fool you, buy Yoast SEO Premium!’ if you pause the video at the right moment. Finally, the outro of the video contains a number of beeps. These beeps are morse code, and spell out “April 1”.
Can I still trust Yoast?
Of course you can. We like the occasional joke, but we understand a lot of people use our software daily and rely on our feedback in Yoast SEO or Yoast SEO Premium. That is why we created a separate plugin for this joke, instead of interfering with the workings of Yoast SEO itself.
What can I use this plugin and its code for?
The Fact Check plugin is a nice example of how easy it is to extend the Yoast SEO plugin. The plugin is, like most of our software, open source, and everyone who would like to know how it works, can take a look at the code, or fork it into a new project. You can find the code on GitHub.
While developing and benchmarking for new releases of Yoast SEO, we keep a keen eye on requests made by users. An issue that consistently raises concerns is the uprise of fake news. So today, we present Fact Check for Yoast SEO 1.4 Beta, a free add-on for our Yoast SEO plugin.
Why this add-on?
Fake news is on the rise and it’s a world-wide problem. People and companies are losing grip on on the authenticity of sources and the trustworthiness of their message. What sources are authentic? What makes a source reliable? And more importantly: how do you decide for yourself?
Currently, the Yoast SEO plugin runs several checks on your content. Readability, the use of keywords and internal linking: we help you optimize your text. Today, we’re launching an add-on that adds multiple new checks to the original ones: so-called fact checks.
At Yoast we believe that you should be the best result. And the best result has to be true. Fact Check for Yoast SEO integrates seamlessly with Yoast SEO and Yoast SEO Premium. This plugin scans your text and gives you feedback about the stated facts. This will allow you to only write believable content.
Test our beta!
Please help us test this beta, so we can publish it on the WordPress repository soon. If you find a bug or would like to help improve this plugin, you can leave your feedback by creating an issue here. Like Yoast SEO, the Fact Check add-on is open source. The source code can be found on GitHub.
1. Download the zip above.
2. In the WordPress backend, go to Plugins > Add new > Upload plugin.
3. Click ‘Choose file’ or ‘Browse’ (depending on your browser).
4. Select the zip and click ‘Install now’.
5. Click ‘Activate plugin’, and you’re ready to go.
The post Get our new free plugin: Fact Check for Yoast SEO 1.4 Beta appeared first on Yoast.
Today’s Ask Yoast will discuss a problem that may be familiar to you if your site is in a non-ASCII language, like Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and many other languages. You work hard to write good, SEO-friendly URLs, so people will click to your website. However, when your site is linked to or shared, for instance on social media, the slug doesn’t show the right characters. Instead, it changes into a long string of percent signs, capitals and numbers.
To give you an example: check out this link to an Arabic Wikipedia article on SEO. In the address bar, it looks good:
However, when I try to copy it into this post, it turns into this:
Of course, a slug like that looks weird and a bit unsettling: it doesn’t tempt people to click, and doesn’t reveal much about the content of a page either. So, if you come across this problem with your non-ASCII slugs, what are your options for dealing with this?$89 - Buy now » Info
Ahmed Saad emailed us on this subject:
My site’s content is in Arabic and that means that the slug looks very bad when it’s shared on social media. Should I change the URL language to English so it looks better or does that hurt my SEO?
Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!
Dealing with bad slugs for Arabic URLs
‘I honestly don’t have a good answer to that because this slug is not good for your SEO either. This slug doesn’t really entice people to click. I guess that the best solution would be to get the shortest slug as possible in Arabic, because you can have i18n URLs. But support for that is not always as good across CMSes.
If that doesn’t work then you can certainly fall back to English, or to an English ‘way’ of writing your Arabic strings, which is something that a lot of Indian languages do. 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.