Semantics is hard. What does a certain word mean in a specific situation? Which ‘mars’ are you talking about? Have you ever tried to discover all definitions of ‘run’? In most cases, context is everything. You can help humans and machines understand a text better by adding context. This is one of the reasons Yoast SEO is now adding support for synonyms and related keywords, giving you more flexibility to improve your text! Now available for Premium users of Yoast SEO 7.8.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

New Premium feature: Synonyms

Content SEO has long been about finding out what your main keyword was and adding that focus keyword in a couple of places in your text. While that worked pretty well, there’s a lot more going on at the moment. Not only is search intent more important than ever, but search engines get smarter and smarter every day. They increasingly ‘know’ what a text is about by looking at the context in which these focus keywords appear. This context is what makes or breaks a text.

Yoast SEO always worked by a single focus keyword or multiple focus keywords in our Premium plugin. We understand this can be a bit restrictive; we’re not even looking at plural instances of the keyword. Luckily, that’s about to change!

We’re working on some very nice new language-based SEO checks, and we’re presenting the first updates today: synonyms and keyword distribution! Yes, you read that right: Premium users can now add synonyms and related terms to check. Writing about bikes? Your synonyms will probably include ‘bicycle, cycle, ride, two-wheeler,’ and now you can add those terms. The Yoast SEO plugin will check how you use these terms in your article.synonyms in Yoast SEO 7.8

New Premium feature: keyword distribution

The new synonym feature also works in conjunction with another new feature in Yoast SEO Premium: keyword distribution. If you added a couple of synonyms for your focus keyword, Yoast SEO now checks to see if these are distributed well throughout the text. Before you could add your focus keyword in the intro a couple of times and that would be fine by us. That’s over. We’re taking the complete text in regard and want you to evenly and realistically distribute your focus keyword and synonyms. The gif below shows what the highlighting of keywords and synonyms looks like.
keyword synonyms yoast seo premium 7.8
We keep using the focus keyword exclusively to determine keyword density. In our opinion, optimizing your post for the most common keyword — the one that your keyword research uncovered as being most used by your audience — continues to be imperative. 

More on the way

This is just the start. At the moment, we’re hard at work to improve the language capabilities of Yoast SEO. Marieke wrote a post describing what you can expect from Yoast SEO in the coming months. Read about morphology, related keywords and the upcoming recalibration of the SEO analyses in Yoast SEO.

Feedback welcome!

We’ve added these new checks for you to try out. We’re very much looking forward to your feedback. How are you using synonyms and related topics in your texts? What do you want Yoast SEO to do with your synonyms? Are there ways to improve how we handle the analyses of your text? As we’ve said, this is the first step to a Yoast SEO that is far more capable of understanding language and using that knowledge to provide you with the best possible feedback. Help us get there! You can either add an issue to GitHub or comment on this post. We’re looking forward to your help!

Language improvements for French, Spanish and Italian

Yoast SEO 7.8 has turned out to be a release focused on language because we’ve also expanded the language functionality for French, Spanish and Italian. Users writing French and Spanish can now use the Flesch Reading Ease assessment to check the perceived difficulty of their texts. Users writing Italian can now improve their texts using the new passive voice assessment. French, Spanish and Italian now fully support all Yoast SEO features.

Other improvements and fixes

As always, we’ve fixed loads of bugs and improved various parts of the plugin. For instance, we’ve improved the way we determine the OpenGraph for front pages, especially in the case of static front pages. We’ve also fixed several bugs regarding the look and feel of the new snippet variables that we introduced in Yoast SEO 7.7.

Update now to Yoast SEO 7.8

Yoast SEO 7.8 is an exciting new release, one that marks a new direction for us. We’re giving you much more flexibility to enhance your articles by using synonyms and providing you with more tools to determine how well you present your keywords. This is the first step to an even more relevant, useful and indispensable Yoast SEO!

Read on: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

The post Yoast SEO 7.8: Synonyms and keyword distribution appeared first on Yoast.

A redirect happens when someone asks for a specific page but gets sent to a different page. Often, the site owner deleted the page and set up a redirect to send visitors and search engine crawlers to a relevant page. A much better approach then serving them an annoying, user experience breaking 404 message. Redirects play a big part in the lives of site owners, developers, and SEOs. So let’s answer a couple of recurring questions about redirects for SEO.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

1. Are redirects bad for SEO?

Well, it depends, but in most cases, no. Redirects are not bad for SEO, but — as with so many things — only if you put them in place correctly. A bad implementation might cause all kinds of trouble, from loss of PageRank to loss of traffic. Redirecting pages is a must if you make any changes to your URLs. After all, you don’t want to see all the hard work you put into building an audience and gathering links to go down the drain.

2. Why should I redirect a URL?

By redirecting a changed URL, you send both users and crawlers to a new URL, therefore keeping annoyances to a minimum. Whenever you perform any kind of maintenance on your site you are actually taking stuff out. You could be deleting a post, changing your URL structure or moving your site to a new domain. You have to replace it or visitors will land on those dreaded 404 pages. If you make small changes, like delete an outdated article, you can redirect that old URL with a 301 to a relevant new article or give it a 410 to say that you deleted it. Don’t delete stuff without a plan. And don’t redirect your URLs to random articles that don’t have anything to do with the article you’re deleting.

Bigger projects need a URL migration strategy. Going from HTTP to HTTPS for instance — more on that later on in this article, changing the URL paths, or moving your site to a new domain. In these cases, you should look at all the URLs on your site and map these to their future locations on the new domain. After determining what goes where, you can start redirecting the URLs. Use the change of address tool in Google Search Console to notify Google of the changes.

3. What is a 301 redirect? And a 302 redirect?

Use a 301 redirect to permanently redirect a URL to a new destination. This way, you tell both visitors and search engine crawlers that this URL changed and a new destination is found. This the most common redirect. Don’t use a 301 if you ever want to use that specific URL ever again. If so, you need a 302 redirect.

A 302 redirect is a so-called temporary redirect. This means that you can use this to say this piece of content is temporarily unavailable at this address, but it is going to come back. Need more information on which redirect to pick?

4. What’s an easy way to manage redirects in WordPress?

We might be a bit biased, but we think the redirects manager in our Yoast SEO Premium WordPress plugin is incredible. We know that a lot of people struggle to understand the concept of redirects and the kind of work that goes into adding and managing them. That’s why one of the first things we wanted our WordPress SEO plugin to have was an easy to use redirect tool. I think we succeeded, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Lindsay recently said:

The redirects manager can help set up and manage redirect on your WordPress site. It’s an indispensable tool if you want to keep your site fresh and healthy. We made it as easy as possible. Here’s what happens when you delete a post:

  • Move a post to trash
  • A message pops up saying that you moved a post to thrash
  • Choose one of two options given by the redirects manager:
    • Redirect to another URL
    • Serve a 410 Content deleted header
  • If you pick redirect, a modal opens where you can enter the new URL for this particular post
  • Save and you’re done!

So convenient, right? Here’s an insightful article called What does the redirects manager in Yoast SEO do, that answers that question.

5. What is a redirect checker?

A redirect checker is a tool to determine if a certain URL is redirected and to analyze the path it follows. You can use this information to find bottlenecks, like a redirect chain in which a URL is redirected many times, making it much harder for Google to crawl that URL — and giving users a less than stellar user experience. These chains often happen without you knowing about it: if you delete a page that was already redirected, you add another piece to the chain. So, you need to keep an eye on your redirects and one of the tools to do that is a redirect checker.

You can use one of the SEO suites such as Sitebulb, Ahrefs and Screaming Frog to test your redirects and links. If you only need a quick check, you can also use a simpler tool like httpstatus.io to give you an insight into the life of a URL on your site. Another must-have tool is the Redirect Path extension for Chrome, made by Ayima.

6. Do I need to redirect HTTP to HTTPS?

Whenever you plan to move to the much-preferred HTTPS protocol for your site — you know, the one with the green padlock in the address bar — you must redirect your HTTP traffic to HTTPS. You could get into trouble with Google if you make your site available on both HTTP and HTTPS, so watch out for that. Also, browsers will show a NOT SECURE message when the site is — you guessed it — not secured by a HTTPS connection. Plus, Google prefers HTTPS sites, because these tend to be faster and more secure. Your visitors expect the extra security as well.

So, you need to set up a 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS. There are a couple of way of doing this and you must plan this to make sure everything goes like it should. First, the preferred way of doing this is at server level. Find out on what kind of server your site is running (NGINX, Apache, or something else) and find the code needed to add to your server config file or .htaccess file. Most often, your host will have a guide to help you set up a redirect for HTTP to HTTPS on server level. Jimmy, one of our developers also wrote a guide helping you move your website from HTTP to HTTPS.

There are also WordPress plugins that can handle the HTTPS/SSL stuff for your site, but for this specific issue, I wouldn’t rely on a plugin, but manage your redirect at a server level. Don’t forget to let Google know of the changes in Search Console.

Redirects for SEO

There are loads of questions about redirects to answer. If you think about it, the concept of a redirect isn’t too hard to grasp. Getting started with redirects isn’t that hard either. The hard part of working with redirects is managing them. Where are all these redirects leading? What if something breaks? Can you find redirect chains or redirect loops? Can you shorten the paths? You can gain a lot from optimizing your redirects, so you should dive in and fix them. Do you have burning questions about redirects? Let us know in the comments!

Read more: ‘How to properly delete a page from your site’ »

The post 6 questions about redirects for SEO appeared first on Yoast.

The snippet editor is one of the core pieces of technology in Yoast SEO. It helps you build snippets that truly stand out in the search results to get you traffic. To make this vital piece future-proof and to update it with new features, we needed to rebuild it. In Yoast SEO 7.7, you’ll find the result of that. Plus, a new and incredibly easy way of working with snippet variables.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

The new snippet editor in Yoast SEO

The new snippet editor offers a much better user experience. Editing your meta descriptions and titles is a breeze and checking how it all looks a joy. It’s robust and easier to use. You’ll notice it right away when you open a post. Heading over to the Search Appearance settings (Content Types, Archives or Taxonomies), you will also see the editor pop up. There, you can now visually edit the appearance of your snippet variables. More on that later.

new snippet editor yoast seo 7.7

While preparing for Gutenberg, we are steadily rebuilding all parts of the Yoast SEO interface in the JavaScript library React. This makes it easier for us to port different parts to Gutenberg and to do awesome new things with those parts.

Improved mobile snippet preview

Improving the snippet editor also made it possible for us to enhance the mobile snippet preview. It’s much more accurate and closely matches what Google shows. We now default to the mobile snippet preview. In addition, we take a critical look at how long the title that we show can be. For this, we use the longest possible character count available on all platforms.

Revamped snippet variables

You can automate some of your SEO work by using variable templates for your titles and meta descriptions. This way, you can use some existing content, for instance, an excerpt, or a focus keyword and have these filled automatically. What’s more, if you have a WooCommerce store and run Yoast SEO for WooCommerce, you can automatically fill in the product’s sku, brand and price. You can find the list of all supported template variables in our Knowledge Base.

The snippet variables in Yoast SEO are very powerful. While you can do awesome stuff with it, most sites will probably be fine using the well-thought-out default settings we provide. Previously, these variables looked kind of scary with those %% signs and lack of visual feedback. Testing various snippet variable setups meant a lot of switching between browser tabs to see the rendered end result. We’re now changing that!

Introducing the new snippet variables in the Search Appearance settings

As I said, the new snippet editor lets us do cool stuff. It made it possible for us to revamp how we use variables for titles and meta descriptions to make it instantly understandable for non-experts. This leads to huge usability benefits and a truly enjoyable user experience.

search appearance snippet variables yoast seo 7.7We’ve opted for sensible defaults fit most sites fine — for instance, for the SEO title: Title, Page number, Separator and Site title —, but you can change these if you really want. We’ve made a handy button called Insert Snippet Variable to quickly add the requested variable. You can simply pick the variable from the dropdown menu. The same goes for the Meta description field where you can automatically generate — parts of — your snippet’s meta description by adding variables. You can set sitewide variables for meta descriptions and titles in the Search Appearance settings, but you can always override them on a per post basis in the post editor.

The last thing we’ve opted for in the new snippet editor is to change how the meta description preview functions when there is no handwritten meta description. We no longer mimic Google by showing a part of your content, but explain what Google does instead. Hopefully this will remind you to write those killer meta descriptions.

Check your Search Appearance settings

It’s always a good thing to dive into the settings of Yoast SEO regularly to see if everything is still perfectly set up for your site. Definitely take a look at the new Search Appearance settings page and check the different tabs to see if there’s anything to improve. While doing that, you probably discover a new setting or feature from time to time, like setting template using the new snippet editor.

Cool community contributions

For Yoast SEO 7.7, we reviewed several community contributions. There were a couple that made the cut this time. First, Laurent helped us improve the lists of French transition words, stop words, and function words for use in the readability analyses. Thanks to Matteo, we have now added support for JSON-LD breadcrumbs. You can switch on the breadcrumbs setting and see the necessary code for it generated in the source code.

Last but not east, we’ve added a wpseo_attachment_redirect_url filter to allow changing of the target redirection URL for attachments. This may be necessary to restore the redirect to the parent post. Thanks to Alex Kozack for this one. If you also have a bug, patch or feature request, please raise an issue over on the Yoast GitHub account.

Update now to Yoast SEO 7.7

There you have it: Yoast SEO 7.7 is available to all. It’s a great release with lots of new stuff to discover. The new snippet editor makes for a great user experience and the revamped template variables can give your productivity a big boost. Check out the new and improved tools and update to Yoast SEO 7.7 now! Or check the changelog here.

Read more: ‘Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium’ »

The post Yoast SEO 7.7: New snippet editor & better snippet variables appeared first on Yoast.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. In Yoast SEO 7.6, we’re reverting the longer meta descriptions in the snippet editor to comply with Google’s latest change. That’s not all though, we’ve also updated our support for the Russian language, added transition words for Catalan, redirect support for WP-CLI and fixed several bugs. Find out all about Yoast SEO 7.6.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Meta descriptions back to 156 characters

We’ve talked about Google’s decision to roll back the expanded snippet length for meta descriptions quite a bit. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, Google recently returned to their old 156 character limit for the snippets after upping it to 320 characters for about half a year. Read Marieke’s post about shorter snippets for meta descriptions if you want to know what to make of all this. Of course, this change means that Yoast SEO has to adapt as well. In Yoast SEO 7.6, we’ve changed the length of the meta description field to 156 characters. This is not a ‘hard’ limit, you’re still welcome to write longer meta desciptions, although these might get truncated in the snippets.

Keep in mind, that meta descriptions itself can be much longer — Google has said many times that there is no set limit. In addition, Google still likes to show these longer meta descriptions. It also loves to generate its own meta description if it thinks it can do better than yours. But the snippets you see in the search results pages now tend to be a lot fewer characters than before.

Read more: ‘How to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description’ »

New language updates for Russian and Catalan

In last month’s release — Yoast SEO 7.5 —, we added full language support for Russian. This made it possible for Russian language users to get feedback on their writing and to get links suggested by the internal linking tool. One piece was missing, though. The Flesch reading ease score took a bit more fine-tuning to get it to make sense for the Russian language. That work is done, so you can now use it for Russian as well.

A community effort brought us transition words for the Catalan language. You can use transition words — like ‘contràriament’, ‘resumint’ and ‘en primer lloc’ — to make connections between different parts of your text. Using them well makes your text a lot easier and more enjoyable to read. Find out more in Marieke’s article on transition words and SEO.

Yoast SEO Premium: WP-CLI commands to manage redirects

The command line interface, or CLI, is an excellent tool for developers. It gives them quick access to their whole development environment and beyond that: the world. WP-CLI is WordPress’ CLI and it helps developers to reach, update and develop WordPress sites quickly. Today, we’re introducing a new tool for these developers: WP-CLI commands to manage redirects. These commands let you view, make and edit redirects right from your CLI. Curious? Install WP-CLI and type wp yoast redirect.

Bugfixes and enhancements

With every new release, we set out to fix bugs to take away small annoyances. Also, we try to enhance the plugin wherever we can to make it run better. In Yoast SEO 7.6, we fixed several bugs concerning keyword usage, translations, warnings and an instance where the button for the internal linking counter didn’t work. Read about all the bug fixes and enhancements in the full changelog for this release.

Update now

As always, read up on the update and update whenever you feel ready. If you don’t feel confident updating your live site without testing, please try it out on a test site to see if everything works as it should. Thanks for using Yoast SEO and happy updating!

Keep reading: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

The post Yoast SEO 7.6: Shorter meta descriptions are back ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ appeared first on Yoast.

A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers in different geographic locations working together to get content to load faster by serving it from a location near the visitor. Here, I’ll explain what this all means and what a CDN can do for you and your SEO.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

What does a CDN do?

A CDN caches static content. Static content is files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and image files that stay the same for every user. These files don’t have to be dynamically generated based on a set of rules — that’s dynamic content; static files are just there and everyone uses these. By making these static files available on a CDN with many servers all around the world, you can get them to your visitors super fast.

Picture this: you’ve hosted your site on a server in San Francisco, California. I hear you asking: “But I have a web host, why would I need a CDN?” Well, whenever you load your site from your house near Oakland, it loads lightning fast. You’re physically close by, right? But do you think someone from Mumbai, India would have the same experience if he or she were to visit your site? Probably not. Why is that? Among other things, latency.

The longer the distance between a server and client — a.k.a. your browser —, the longer the latency will be. Latency is the time needed for the server to respond to a request. In suboptimal conditions that latency will keep getting worse. You can use a content delivery network — or CDN — to move your site closer to your visitor, so to say. The result? Less latency and a fast loading site. But a CDN can do a lot more, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

no cdn vs cdn wikipedia

On the left a typical situation without a cdn. Every visitor requests the site from the same server, no matter how far away they are. Right: with a cdn, every user requests the same site from a location near them. CC image: Wikipedia

What are the benefits of using a CDN?

There are several reasons for using a CDN for your site. Remember, you can do a lot of complicated stuff with a CDN, but most people will use it to get that nasty latency down and speed up the loading times of their sites. Here are several reasons to use a CDN:

  • Speeds up your site
  • Reduces bandwidth costs
  • Adds scalability: improves availability and uptime
  • Improves security

A CDN speeds up your site

For most people, the speed bump a CDN can deliver will be their main focus point. We’ve talked about that first reason already. Everyone wants a fast site and site owners do everything in their power to make their sites as fast as possible. A fast site offers a great experience for everyone. Plus, Google loves fast sites!

A CDN reduces bandwidth

The other reasons might be less obvious. A CDN helps you to get your bandwidth costs down because it serves up static content to users for their servers, not yours. This can have a drastic impact on your costs for web hosting. Often, traffic comes in waves and if the traffic exceeds the limits set by your hosting plan, you have to pay — big time. Of course, you have to pay for a solid CDN so you won’t keep a lot of extra cash in hand, but it does give you a firmer grip on what you’re spending.

A CDN can add a layer of security to your site

Adding a CDN in front of your site is a great way to improve security. The CDN provider has all kinds of tools that help with that. It can serve as a kind of firewall to protect your site from going down during a so-called Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS), for instance. It helps you guard against the most common threats out there. There are even specific settings to keep hackers out of your WordPress sites.

A CDN is scalable and improves availability and uptime

By hosting part of your website’s content, a CDN can help you enhance uptime and availability of your site. Also, many CDN providers also use tactics to make sure that your site doesn’t go down, whatever happens. Load balancing, for instance, can help your site stay online whenever you have a sudden, massive spike in your traffic.

Does using a CDN have any implications for SEO?

Your SEO won’t suffer if you activate a CDN. It might even help your rankings a bit because your site speed might get a big boost. In addition, by installing a CDN you can also use state-of-the-art technology like forcing a secure HTTPS connection and using the new HTTP/2 protocol to improve your site speed and uptime. In general, users should be happier if your site is excellent, snappy and secure. You should, however, take care that you implement it correctly. Most providers have specific instructions to set up a CDN without hurting SEO.

What CDN should I use?

There are numerous CDN providers out there. You should try and find one that offers the best mix of performance, features and price for your specific situation. We use Cloudflare at Yoast, but you could also consider some of the other well-known CDN providers like, for instance, Sucuri, MaxCDN, Microsoft Azure or Amazon CloudFront.

Most CDN providers have easy-to-follow setup instructions for WordPress sites, so you should be up and running in a couple of minutes. Some even offer WordPress plugins to improve the process even more. After setting up the account, you can get to work to improve the speed and security of your WordPress site.

Conclusion

A CDN is a great tool to improve the loading speed of your site. Not only that, but it also adds a layer of security to your site and improves uptime and reliability. If you are not using a CDN yet, you might be missing out. Pretty much every site can benefit from a CDN, so please investigate if it might help yours.

Read more: ‘What is SEO?’ »

The post What is a content delivery network (CDN)? appeared first on Yoast.

Do you have a recipe site? If so, you might already be using structured data to mark up your recipes so they can get highlighted in the search results. Good work! But, Google recently made some changes that might make your implementation incomplete. It also expanded the possibilities of structured data for recipes by bringing guidance into the mix. The result? Google Home can now read your structured data powered recipes out loud!

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

Structured data training Info

Structured data, recipes and Google Home

Google is betting big on voice search. While voice search is still in its infancy, there are signs that we are moving towards a future where we are relying much less on our screens. There are many instances where talking to your digital assistant makes much more sense than typing commands. What’s more, the AI in digital assistants will become smarter and more apt at entering into a natural dialogue with you. We’re talking about a real natural language interface here.

A lot is going on right now. Take for instance that Google Duplex demo, showing a digital assistant calling a hairdresser to make an appointment. Joost wrote a post about Google Duplex and the ethics and implications. If AI is this smart, we need to take note.

To get voice search and actions to work, Google relies on structured data. Structured data makes it immediately clear what all the different parts of a page mean so search engines can use that to do cool stuff with. Google Actions, the big database featuring things you can let Assistant do, uses structured data. For instance, here is Google’s page on recipe actions — which is the same as the regular structured data for recipes documentation. If you want to learn all about structured data, please read our Ultimate Guide to Structured Data.

New rules, new results

Earlier this month, Google announced a new and improved way of targeting people who search for recipes. By adding the correct structured data, you can get your recipes read out load. Google even said that by implementing this you might: “receive traffic from more sources, since users can now discover your recipes through the Google Assistant on Google Home.”

But, when throwing random recipes from some of the largest recipe sites in the world into the Structured Data Testing Tool, you’ll find that hardly any fully comply with these new rules yet. What’s more, even the implementation of the recipe Schema.org itself is widely different between sites. That being said, there’s still a lot to win, even for the big boys.

As of now, Google recommends four new properties in addition to the ones you probably already use:

  • keywords: additional terms to describe the recipe
  • recipeCategory: in which category does the recipe fit?
  • recipeCuisine: from which region is the recipe?
  • video: use this if you have a video showing to make the recipe

You’ll see the recommendations in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool:warnings structured data testing tool

Guidance: reading it out loud

How cool would it be if your Google Home could assist while you were cooking? Not by setting timers and the like, but by reading the recipe for you. That’s now possible thanks to guidance. In addition to the four new recommended properties for structured data for recipes, Google states that:

“To enable your recipe for guidance with the Google Home and Google Assistant, make sure you add recipeIngredient and recipeInstructions. If your recipe doesn’t have these properties, the recipe isn’t eligible for guidance, but may still be eligible to appear in Search results.”

To get your Google Home to pronounce the steps of your recipes correctly, you need to set the value of recipeInstructions using HowToStep or HowToSection. The latter, of course, should be used if your recipe instructions consist of multiple parts or sections. You can also keep everything in one block of recipeInstruction, but then you are at the mercy of Google as it has to try and work everything out itself. If you have distinct steps, please use HowToStep and/or HowToSection.

Hello keywords, we meet again

In a move straight out of 1997, we see keywords pop up again. Google now recommends using the keyword property to add context for your recipes. Now, this shouldn’t be confused with the recipeCategory and recipeCuisine properties. It is an extra way of describing your articles using words that don’t relate to a category or type of cuisine. We’ll just have to wait and see if the spammers can keep themselves under control.

Getting into that carousel

One of the coolest ways to discover content is the swipeable carousel you see when you search for certain types of content on mobile. To greaten the chance of your site appearing in this overview you can add an ItemList with one or more ListItems to your content.

Now, Google is quick to add that it might not be necessary to add this if you only want to appear in the regular search carousel. If you throw several well-known recipes sites into the Structured Data Testing Tool you will see that hardly any have added ItemList to their pages. Still, they rank high and appear in the carousel. If, however, you want to have site-specific entries — like your list of 5 best chocolate cheesecake recipes, or another type of landing page with recipes — into that carousel you need to add the ItemList structured data. There are several ways of doing this; you can find out more on Google’s documentation pages.

Applying structured data for recipes

If you look at Schema.org/Recipe, you might be starting to go a little bit green around the gills. Where do you even start? It’s massive! These are all the properties you could add, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Google requires just a couple but recommends a lot more.

These are the required properties:

  • @context: set to Schema.org
  • @type: set to Recipe
  • image: can be a URL or a ImageObject
  • name: name of the dish

That’s it! But, as you might have guessed, this won’t get you very far. By providing Google with as much data about your recipe as possible, you increase the chance that Google ‘gets’ your recipe. After that, it can apply the rich results and corresponding Actions accordingly.

Here are the recommended properties:

  • aggregateRating: average review score for this recipe
  • author: who made it? Use Schema.org/Person
  • cookTime: the time it takes to cook the recipe
  • datePublished: when was the recipe published?
  • description: a description of the recipe
  • keywords: terms to describe the recipe
  • nutrition.calories: the number of calories. Use Schema.org/Energy
  • prepTime: how long do the preparations take?
  • recipeCategory: is it breakfast, lunch, dinner or something else?
  • recipeCuisine: where in the world is the recipe from originally?
  • recipeIngredient: every ingredient you need to make the recipe. This property is required if you want Google Home to read your recipe out loud.
  • recipeInstructions: mark up the steps with HowToStep or HowToSection with embedded ItemistElement with a HowToStep.
  • recipeYield: for how many servings is this?
  • review: add any review you might have
  • totalTime: how long does it all take?
  • video: add a video showing how to make the recipe, if applicable

To show you how this all translates to code, we need an example. So, here’s Googles example recipe in JSON-LD format. You’ll see that it is all obvious and pretty easy to understand. If you want to implement JSON-LD code on your page, Google Tag Manager might be your best bet.

<!doctype html>
<html amp lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>Party Coffee Cake</title>
    <link rel="canonical" href="http://example.ampproject.org/recipe-metadata.html" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,minimum-scale=1,initial-scale=1">
    <script type="application/ld+json">
     {
      "@context": "http://schema.org/",
      "@type": "Recipe",
      "name": "Party Coffee Cake",
      "image": [
        "https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg",
        "https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg",
        "https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg"
        ],
      "author": {
        "@type": "Person",
        "name": "Mary Stone"
      },
      "datePublished": "2018-03-10",
      "description": "This coffee cake is awesome and perfect for parties.",
      "prepTime": "PT20M",
      "cookTime": "PT30M",
      "totalTime": "PT50M",
      "keywords": "cake for a party, coffee",
      "recipeYield": "10 servings",
      "recipeCategory": "Dessert",
      "recipeCuisine": "American",
      "nutrition": {
        "@type": "NutritionInformation",
        "calories": "270 calories"
         },
      "recipeIngredient": [
        "2 cups of flour",
        "3/4 cup white sugar",
        "2 teaspoons baking powder",
        "1/2 teaspoon salt",
        "1/2 cup butter",
        "2 eggs",
        "3/4 cup milk"
       ],
      "recipeInstructions": [
          {
          "@type": "HowToStep",
          "text": "Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan."
          },
          {
          "@type": "HowToStep",
          "text": "In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt."
          },
          {
          "@type": "HowToStep",
          "text": "Mix in the butter, eggs, and milk."
          },
          {
          "@type": "HowToStep",
          "text": "Spread into the prepared pan."
          },
          {
          "@type": "HowToStep",
          "text": "Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm."
          },
          {
          "@type": "HowToStep",
          "text": "Allow to cool."
         }
      ],
      "review": {
        "@type": "Review",
        "reviewRating": {
          "@type": "Rating",
          "ratingValue": "4",
          "bestRating": "5"
        },
        "author": {
          "@type": "Person",
          "name": "Julia Benson"
        },
        "datePublished": "2018-05-01",
        "reviewBody": "This cake is delicious!",
        "publisher": "The cake makery"
        },
      "aggregateRating": {
      "@type": "AggregateRating",
        "ratingValue": "5",
        "ratingCount": "18"
  },
  "video": [
     {
    "name": "How to make a Party Coffee Cake",
    "description": "This is how you make a Party Coffee Cake.",
    "thumbnailUrl": [
      "https://example.com/photos/1x1/photo.jpg",
      "https://example.com/photos/4x3/photo.jpg",
      "https://example.com/photos/16x9/photo.jpg"
     ],
    "contentUrl": "http://www.example.com/video123.flv",
    "embedUrl": "http://www.example.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123",
    "uploadDate": "2018-02-05T08:00:00+08:00",
    "duration": "PT1M33S",
    "interactionCount": "2347",
    "expires": "2019-02-05T08:00:00+08:00"
   }
  ]
}
</script>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>The best coffee cake you’ll ever try!</h1>
  </body>
</html>

Conclusion: Got a recipe site? Add structured data now!

Recipe sites are in a very cool position. It seems that they get everything first. By marking up your recipes with structured data, you can get Google to do a lot of cool stuff with your recipes. You can get them to pronounce it via Google Home or try to find other ways of interacting with them with Actions via the Assistant database. And this is probably only the beginning.

Read more: ‘Structured data: the ultimate guide’ »

The post Structured data for recipes: getting content read out loud appeared first on Yoast.

The Russian language is huge; 265 million people have Russian as their first or second language, making it the world’s eight most used language. What’s more, according to W3Techs Russian is the second most used language online — following English by a huge margin. As of today, all of the Russian language WordPress users can get their content checked thanks to new language support in Yoast SEO 7.5.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Russian language readability analysis and internal linking

We’ve been steadily growing the number of language we support in our readability analysis and internal linking tools. We started out with English, but now support a rapidly expanding roster of some of the world’s most used languages, like French, German, Spanish and Italian. The next language to join that club is Russian.

Now, Russian is a complex language that has its own set of rules and needs to be addressed differently. Natalia Shitova, one of our developers, researched, built and tested the Russian language support for Yoast SEO. I asked her how she did it.

Building the Russian language support

“When I joined the Yoast team two months ago I was the first Russian-speaking member. It was immediately clear that my #1 task would be to develop the Russian readability analysis. Our lovely Russian-speaking users could use something more than SEO checks and I could have fun with developing an analysis for my mother tongue,” Natalia says.

Working with Russian morphology

“The hardest part was the famous Russian morphology – think different forms of words that you need for different cases, numbers, tenses, voices, and combinations thereof. For instance, the word “mom” in English has two forms – “mom” and “moms”. The Russian “мама” has nine. And how many ways are there to use the word “one” in English? I see two again – “one” and “ones”. The Russian analog (fasten your seatbelt now!) has 13. Thirteen! Any meaningful content analysis will have to deal with morphology. After all, you need to know that all these 13 forms are the same word. Luckily, the Russian morphology is very well described in books, but we had to think about how to feed that monster to our butterfly plugin, which should work on the fly inside your browser. So this release is our first attempt to build lightweight yet powerful content analysis for a language with a mind-blowing morphology. More improvements are coming soon!”

“This release is our first attempt to build lightweight yet powerful content analysis for a language with a mind-blowing morphology”

russian readability analysis yoast seo 7.5

No Russian Flesch Reading Ease check yet

Russian support is almost complete, but you won’t find the Flesch Reading Ease score yet. According to Natalia, it’s quite a challenge to adopt the well-known Flesch Reading Ease check to produce something that’s useful for the Russian language. Natalia explains:

“You might notice that contrary to other supported languages we did not include Flesch Reading Ease check in the Russian readability analysis. Yes, there is a well-established formula for calculating Flesch index for Russian. No, we were not happy with how it worked. We tested the formula using a massive corpus of texts and it was almost impossible to receive a score above 50. This means no green bullet for you unless you write for small kids. “That is not kind,” we thought, “not encouraging, and totally not helpful!” I adjusted the formula a little, so that it returns a somewhat more realistic estimate of readability. With that recalibration you can use our Flesch readability check from the next release onwards.”

This work is now done and we’ll add the results in the next release, Yoast SEO 7.6.

Bug fixes

It’s always great to add support for a new language, but that’s not all we did. As always, we’ve fixed a number of bugs. Also, we improved the accessibility of the plugin. For instance, we fixed a bug that treated sentences ending in multiple sentence marks, exclamation marks or ellipses as multiple sentences. We’ve also fixed a bug where OpenGraph images with specific aspect ratios were causing unexpected results if you wanted to share these on Facebook. For the time being, we’ve removed the aspect ratio check completely. Of course, you can find all bug fixes and enhancements in the changelog on WordPress.org.

Update now to Yoast SEO 7.5

So there you have it: Yoast SEO 7.5 is another great update. This update brings our readability analysis to millions of Russian language users. As a result, each and every one our users can now improve their online content using the world-famous green bullet system. Here’s to better Russian language online content!

Keep reading: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

The post Yoast SEO 7.5: Привет, Россия appeared first on Yoast.

Please welcome to the stage: Yoast SEO 7.4! In this release, we’ve squashed a number of bugs and focused on enhancing the way Yoast SEO works with OpenGraph images. We also made some other enhancements that improve the way the plugin functions. Happy updating! 

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Improved handling of images

Images are very important for several reasons: not only do your readers love to see them while reading your post, but they are indispensable if you want to do well in image search — which is becoming more important by the day. Image SEO, therefore, is a thing. There’s another reason images are important: social images can attract a great deal of traffic to your site or social media profile. Luckily, Yoast SEO can help you up your social image game.

For some years, you have been able to preview how your social posts will look when shared with Yoast SEO Premium. Most social media platforms use the OpenGraph protocol to determine what should be shown and how. In Yoast SEO 7.4, we’ve made some improvements to how the plugin handles OpenGraph images. For starters, we now add OpenGraph image dimension-meta tags to more images. We also exclude images in OpenGraph meta tags that are larger than 2MB as we want to keep everything running smoothly. Yoast SEO can now also append the image alt tag to the OpenGraph output, using the meta tag og:image:alt. Last but not least, we’ve added caching for images in posts to reduce load time. We’re diving deeper into how different platforms use OpenGraph to handle images and we’re hoping to do more with images in the future.

If you want to really dive into this and learn more about the choices we made and why we made them you should definitely read this post on open graph tags by Jono!

Dropping support for PHP 5.2

In Yoast SEO 7.3, we’re now showing a message warning you about dropping support for the ancient PHP 5.2 in an upcoming version. As you might know, anything before PHP 7.0 is quickly running towards end-of-life. There are, however, still a lot of people and hosting companies that use ancient software to power their servers. Please upgrade your servers if possible! Here’s how Joost put it some time ago:

“The why is three-pronged: security, speed, and future-proofing. PHP 5.2 hasn’t been updated for years and has serious issues. PHP 7 is lightning fast, up to 400% faster than 5.2. You might even regard this as a green move; you can use 50% fewer servers to get the same results from PHP 7. Last but not least, developers can finally use all the modern technologies to bring WordPress to the next level.”

Other improvements and fixes

To more rigorously determine if posts and pages are viewable and accessible, we’ve added the is_post_type_viewable WordPress function to improve support for the wpseo_accessible_post_types filters. Among other things, we’ve fixed some bugs that kept some database tables from being removed when you deleted a sub-site from a multisite environment. To cap it off, we’ve fixed a bug where deleting multiple posts could cause performance issues. Thanks to Abolfazl Moeini for finding and fixing that.

Please update

As always, our advice is to update to the newest release of Yoast SEO so you can get the latest and greatest. In Yoast SEO 7.4, we’ve improved how we handle OpenGraph images and added several other enhancements that make the plugin better. Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

The post Yoast SEO 7.4: Enhanced image support appeared first on Yoast.

You might know that structured data in the form of Schema.org can do wonders for your search results. It also forms the basis for an ever-increasing amount of new and exciting developments on the search engine front. Google has said many times that structured data is beneficial. You can even introduce structured data that Google doesn’t officially endorse yet onto your page. Today, we’re going to look at a new and exciting piece of structured data: the HowTo. This is a how-to about a how-to on HowTo: HowToCeption!

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

Structured data training Info

What is structured data?

Structured data is a sort of translator for search engines – it adds context to code. By adding Schema.org code, search engines can instantly figure out what every piece of content means, semantically speaking. This gives search engines the power to do cool stuff with your content, like highlighted snippets in search results, the Knowledge Graph or the carousel. There’s structured data for books, articles, courses, events, jobs, local businesses, music, recipes, products, reviews et cetera. Structured data is getting more important by the day and we’ll see more types emerge in the coming years.

If you want to learn more about structured data and find out ow to implement it yourself so you can win those coveted rich results, you can enroll in our Structured data training!

What is HowTo structured data?

According to Schema.org, a HowTo is “an instruction that explains how to achieve a result by performing a sequence of steps.” You can use HowTo structured data to mark up articles that come in a how-to form, but that are not recipes. If there is an element of consumption, it should be a recipe.

HowTo Schema.org was introduced in April 2017, but there is no sign of it yet in search engines. But since Google is increasingly looking at structured data to do cool stuff with, it’s not hard to predict that HowTo will follow soon. Think off it this way, since your Google Home can now read your structured data powered recipes out loud, why shouldn’t it be able to read that how-to on how to fix a leaky faucet or change the busted lights in your kitchen cabinet? There is already talk of Google getting partners interested in a sponsored how-to video deal, as reported by CNBC, which might just be powered by HowTo Schema.org.

Experimental and no support — yet!

This tutorial is purely to let you see what this HowTo structured data is all about. There’s no need to rush out right away and start adding this to your site. But do keep an eye on this, though, because we think it will arrive sooner rather than later. We also don’t know yet how Google will support it and which properties and it will required to get it to function. So, don’t take this post as gospel. With that said, let’s get going!

HTML code

To start, we need a piece of HTML to test our HowTo on. This is going to be a very simple example of a basic page with some content. We are going to base our content on a Knowledge base article about connecting Yoast SEO to Google Search Console. We’re going to mark up every piece of the HTML with HowTo Schema.org in the form of JSON-LD, as this is the preferable format. The content is nothing special, just a couple of steps following instructions. Below you can find the HTML for this page, slightly truncated.

<div>
	<strong>How To Add Your Website To Google Search Console</strong>
	<div>Cost: Free</div>
	<div>Time needed: About 10 minutes</div>
	<div>Necessary items:</div>
	<div>Yoast SEO</div>
	<div>Google Search Console</div>
	<div>
	<div>Preparation</div>
	<div>
		<div>
		<img src="yoast_seo_search_console.jpg" />
		Install Yoast SEO and activate your Google Search Console.
		</div>
	</div>
	<div>
		<div>
		Tip: Did you know you can check and fix crawl errors directly from Yoast SEO?
		</div>
	</div>
	</div>
	<div>
	<div>Adding your site to Search Console</div>
	<div>
		<div>
		Go to Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools), sign into your Google account and click the red button to add your website.
		</div>
	</div>
	<div>
		<div>
		<img src="yoast_seo_search_console_2.jpg" />
		Copy the code for the HTML tag under the Alternate Methods tab.
		</div>
		<div>
		Tip: Please make sure you enter your complete url.
		</div>
	</div>
	<div>
		<div>
		Copy the code for the HTML tag under the Alternate Methods tab.
		</div>
		<div>
		Log in to your WordPress website and cick on ‘SEO’ in your menu. After that, click on General.
		</div>
		<div>
		Click on the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab and add the code under ‘Google Search Console’. Click ‘Save Changes’.
		</div>
		<div>
		Switch back to Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and click ‘Verify’.
		</div>
	</div>
	</div>
	<div>
	<div>Finishing up</div>
	<div>
		<div>
		Congratulations! You’ve connected your website to Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools)!
		</div>
	</div>
	<div>
		<div>
		Now that you’ve verified and connected your website, you can submit your sitemap!
		</div>
	</div>
	</div>
</div>

Adding Schema.org

In the example, we’re breaking up the how-to in three parts: preparation, step-by-step directions and finishing the project. All three steps can be wrapped in a HowToSection, with individual HowToSteps and HowToDirections. You can even given an extra HowToTip if you want to add a relevant tip that can improve the job, but is not necessary for the end result. These are the building blocks that define the structure of the data.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the parts used to build this how-to. Remember, there’s more to find on Schema.org/HowTo. These are some of the parts you will use often:

  • HowTo: To define that this data is a set of instructions to achieve something
    • Name: What’s the project called?
    • EstimatedCost: How much do the tools cost for instance?
      • MonetaryAmount: What currency is and for which amount?
    • TotalTime: How long does the job take? You can also specify a prepTime for preparation.
    • HowToTool: Which tools do you need? Maybe a hammer?
      • Supply: Do you need supply as well, like nails?
    • HowToItem: Which items do you need?
      • Name: Name of the item, list ‘em all
  • HowToSection: Is it preparation, starting or finishing up?
    • HowToStep: Every step needs its own type
      • HowToDirection: Descriptions for the step
      • BeforeMedia: An image of what the starting point looks like.
    • DuringMedia: You can add images or videos per step
    • AfterMedia: And even an image showing the endresult
    • HowToTip: if you want to give extra tips and tricks

You’ll see that the code is fairly straightforward: everything has a clear description. You can expand this code with a lot of properties from CreativeWork and some from Thing as well.

And now, the JSON-LD code

As you might know, JSON-LD is Google’s perfered data format for adding structured data. It’s easy to add since it isn’t embedded in the HTML code. In addition, it is very readable for humans. When running the code through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool you might see that some variations give errors. For instance, if you use howToItem to determine which tools you need, you get an error, but if you use HowToTool it works perfectly fine. Same goes for supply and howToSupply. Keep in mind that the difference between supply and tool is that the former is consumed while doing the job. A hammer is a tool, while nails are its supply. You need both to finish your work, right? In our example, I could add a ‘computer’, an ‘internet connection’ or a ‘website’ as supply if I wanted to. You can also add a yield to determine what the outcome of the workshop is.

Get the most out of Yoast SEO, learn every feature and best practice in our Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training! »

Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training Info

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
	"@context":"http://schema.org",
	"@type":"HowTo",
	"name":"How To Add Your Website To Google Search Console",
	"estimatedCost":
	{
	"@type":"MonetaryAmount",
	"currency":"USD",
	"value":"0"
	},
	"totalTime":"00:10:00",
	"tool":
	[
	{
		"@type":"HowToTool",
		"name":"Yoast SEO WordPress plugin"
	},
	{
		"@type":"HowToTool",
		"name":"Google Search Console account"
	}
	],
	"steps":
	[
	{
		"@type":"HowToSection",
		"name":"Preparation",
		"itemListElement":
		[
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			[
			{
				"@type":"HowToDirection",
				"description":"Install Yoast SEO and activate your Google Search Console.",
				"duringMedia":
				{
				"@type":"ImageObject",
				"contentUrl":"yoast_seo_search_console.jpg"
				}
			},
			{
				"@type":"HowToTip",
				"description":"Did you know you can check and fix crawl errors directly from Yoast SEO?"
			}
			]
		},
		{
		}
		]
	},
	{
		"@type":"HowToSection",
		"name":"Adding your site to Search Console",
		"itemListElement":
		[
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			{
			"@type":"HowToDirection",
			"description":"Go to Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools), sign into your Google account and click the red button to add your website."
			}
		},
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			[
			{
				"@type":"HowToDirection",
				"description":"Copy the code for the HTML tag under the Alternate Methods tab.",
				"duringMedia":
				{
				"@type":"ImageObject",
				"contentUrl":"yoast_seo_search_console_2.jpg"
				}
			},
			{
				"@type":"HowToTip",
				"description":"Please make sure you enter your complete url."
			}
			]
		},
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			{
			"@type":"HowToDirection",
			"description":"Copy the code for the HTML tag under the Alternate Methods tab."
			}
		},
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			{
			"@type":"HowToDirection",
			"description":"Log in to your WordPress website and click on ‘SEO’ in your menu. After that, click on General."
			}
		},
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			[
			{
				"@type":"HowToDirection",
				"description":"Click on the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab and add the code under ‘Google Search Console’. Click ‘Save Changes’."
			},
				{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			{
			"@type":"HowToDirection",
			"description":"Switch back to Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and click ‘Verify’."
			}
		}
			]
		}
		]
	},
	{
		"@type":"HowToSection",
		"name":"Finishing up",
		"itemListElement":
		[
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			{
			"@type":"HowToDirection",
			"description":"Congratulations! You’ve connected your website to Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools)!"
			}
		},
		{
			"@type":"HowToStep",
			"itemListElement":
			{
			"@type":"HowToDirection",
			"description":"Now that you’ve verified and connected your website, you can submit your sitemap!"
			}
		}
		]
	}
	]
}
</script>

Adding structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager

Adding structured data requires you to edit the code of your pages. For most people, that requires help of their developers. There is an easier way, though. You can add structured data via the tags, triggers and variables available in Google Tag manager. What’s more, this way of adding your data gives you an extra amount of flexibility as you can save your variables and reuse them or even dynamically fill them. There are loads of options to explore. Annelieke wrote a post on how to add structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager.

A fun experiment

This was cool, right? Well, you might try to apply this on a live site, but keep in mind that search engines probably won’t do anything with it. Also, keep in mind that badly written or faulty structured data can do your site more harm than good. But — and there’s a big but —, since Google is heavily focusing on structured data and voice search via its Assistant, it’s fairly safe to say that howTo Schema.org will be next in line. As this is a new Schema.org, we’ll just have to wait for the official word from Google to arrive so we know how to apply this properly.

Read more: ‘Structured data: the ultimate guide’ »

The post How to add HowTo structured data to your how-to article appeared first on Yoast.

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!

Get the most out of Yoast SEO, learn every feature and best practice in our Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training! »

Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training 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.

http1.1 vs http2

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

We need speed. Site speed has been an SEO ranking factor for years. Now, with the introduction of the mobile-first index Google will take a critical look at the loading speed of your mobile site. Over the past few years, sites have only gotten bigger. Big sites have loads of assets like HTML, JavaScript, CSS, images et cetera and that equals longer loading time.

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

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.

Read more: ‘Performance optimization in an HTTP/2 world’ »

The post SEO basics: What is HTTP/2? appeared first on Yoast.