How to add HowTo Schema to your how-to article

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. Today, we’re going to look at a relatively new and exciting piece of structured data: the HowTo Schema. This is a how-to about a how-to on HowTo: HowToCeption!

Did you know Yoast SEO now comes with structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor? You can automatically add HowTo and FAQ structured data to your content! »

What is structured data?

Structured data is a sort of translator for search engines — it adds context to code. Schema.org is a so-called vocabulary, in other words, a dictionary. By adding Schema.org 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 how 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 and has now made its way to Google’s search engine. Google is always looking at structured data to do cool stuff with, so it’s easy to see why HowTo is an awesome addition to the roster. How about this, 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? Google already has an action that works with smart displays. Google has confirmed that it supports new forms of search results snippets, like FAQs or frequently asked questions, Q&As and How-Tos.

That’s cool and all, but isn’t there a lot of code involved in building a how-to page with valid structured data? Yes, but Yoast SEO has an answer to that. Read on, my friend!

How to add HowTo structured data using the WordPress content block in Yoast SEO

Looking for an easy way to add it HowTo structured data to your WordPress site? Well, you’re in luck as we have one! In Yoast SEO, we’ve introduced the concept of structured data content blocks for WordPress’ new block editor. These blocks, including one for HowTo and FAQ structured data, automatically add the necessary code to the pieces of content that you add to this block. Of course, it validates perfectly in Google’s Structured Data Testing tool. Now adding structured data to your how-to article is as easy as filling in the fields!

Here’s how to add a how-to to your site:

  1. Open a post in the block editor or add a new one

    The HowTo content block only works in the WordPress block editor.

  2. Hit the + button and pick the Yoast SEO HowTo content block

    You can add your how-to anywhere you want.

  3. The HowTo content block appears on your screen

    In the block, you’ll find a way to add a total time it takes to do this how-to (optional), a description field, a first step and a step description. You can also add an image per step, delete it and move it up and down the list.

  4. Add the first step

    Give it a relevant, descriptive title and fill in more details for the step, if necessary. Determine if you can make the how-to step made more understandable by adding a relevant image. Sometimes, it might be better to add an image to every step.

  5. Add a second step, a third step and a fourth step

    Add as many steps as you need to get this how-to task done. Need to switch steps around? Use the little up and down arrows next to the Add image button. To delete one, simply hit the trashcan button.

  6. And the structured data? It’s added automatically!

    Really? Yup! You can test it in the Structured Data Testing Tool.

  7. Ready? Check and publish!

    Once you are done, re-read the how-to and publish when ready. Check it to see if everything is in order and easy to understand for your user. If not, make improvements.

  8. Test the how-to in Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool

    You can use Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your how-to might look in the search results. Here’s an example for our article on How to build an FAQ page.

Testing in the Structured Data Testing Tool

Here you see the result in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Of course, this screenshot is truncated, as the HowTo part of the structured data is fully integrated in the graph Yoast SEO renders. This makes for a beautifully interconnected piece of code, but also very long:

A truncated screencap of the steps in the how-to

Adding structured data to your site with WordPress or Google Tag Manager

In general, adding structured data requires you to edit the code of your pages. For most people, that requires help of their developers. As you see, there is an easier way. Yoast SEO adds a lot of structured data by itself, but you can also add structured data via the dedicated Yoast SEO structured data content blocks for the block editor.

In addition, or if you don’t use WordPress, 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.

Read our Yoast SEO Schema documentation to see how we work with structured data and how you can extend this.

It’s easy to build a how-to with valid structured data

This was cool, right? Well, you can use this for yourself, but keep in mind that it might take a while for search engines to pick this up. Even then, it’s hard to predict if search engines will do anything at all with your structured data. Using the various testing tools give you a good idea of validity of your structured data, but if it leads rich results is up to search engines!

Read more: Structured data: the ultimate guide »

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Yoast SEO 11.6: HowTo Schema update and UI changes

Yoast SEO 11.6 is out today. Of course, we did the regular round of bug fixing, but the focus of this release is two-fold: a new, much easier to use tabbed interface for the meta box and an updated HowTo structured data content block for WordPress. Find out all about Yoast SEO 11.6!

Looking for an extra pair of hands to help you improve your site? Yoast SEO Premium is all you need. Get it now for 11.6% off! »

UX improvements to the meta box

This summer, we’re steadily improving the user interface and user experience of the Yoast SEO meta box. As this is the spot where you probably spend quite some time, we have an obligation to make it easy to use and discover.

After moving the focus keyphrase field to the top of the meta box in Yoast SEO 11.3 and introducing the new mobile snippet preview in Yoast SEO 11.4, you’ll now find a new menu at the top of the box, including a new set of tabs. As of today, this is how the meta box looks in the Classic Editor:

In Yoast SEO 11.6, you’ll notice that we’ve changed the old vertical alignment of menu items to a horizontal one. This makes it easier on the eyes and improves the findability of the features.

In addition, you’ll notice that the old content optimization tab in the meta box is now two tabs: one called SEO and the other Readability. Both have smiley icons that light up showing you the status of that particular post. The naming of the tabs should be self-explanatory, but inside the SEO tab you’ll find the snippet preview and SEO-related checks. The Readability tab has everything related to improving the language of your post.

Look forward to more graphical changes soon!

Revamped HowTo structured data implementation

The free Yoast SEO structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor make it incredibly easy for you to add specific content with automatically attached Schema structured data. Want to build an FAQ and get those cool new featured snippets from Google? Use our FAQ content block. Want to enhance your how-to guides with valid structured data and build a page without breaking a sweat? Use our HowTo content blocks.

In Yoast SEO 11.6, you’ll see that the new HowTo blocks are nicely following Google’s latest changes. In addition, all the structured data code generated will now also end up in the graph of your website. This tells search engines that your how-to page is connected to the rest of your site. For more information on this, please see the Yoast SEO 11.0 release post or read our Schema documentation.

An empty HowTo content block in the block editor. Just fill in the fields to get going

Schema fixes

The updated HowTo content blocks are the star of this release, but we’ve also fixed several Schema related bugs. For instance, we fixed a bug where the Schema @id for Person turned out to be incorrect on posts when author archives where disabled, or the one where the Schema would contain WebPage instead of CollectionPage for a latest posts homepage and the static posts page type. Another one concerned a bug where the Organization and Article Schema nodes outputted incorrectly when a website didn’t set the name and/or logo of the organization.

Security fix

Yoast SEO 11.6 also fixes a security issue regarding term pages in WordPress. Unfiltered code was allowed in some fields. This, however, does not pose a problem for single user sites. In specific cases, on multisite installs, this might become an issue because of the way user roles function.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.6

Yoast SEO 11.6 brings more structured data enhancements, including a much improved HowTo structured data content block. We’re continuing our work on the Schema standard and hope to have more to show soon. Don’t forget to check out the blocks.

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15 questions about ranking factors – Yoast webinar recap

People are always talking about ranking factors. You know, the secret ingredients to Google’s magic algorithmic formula. If you know them and find a way to please these factors, you’re well on your way to that coveted number one spot — or so people seem to think. In general, chasing all these individual ranking factors is not a good tactic. Focusing on building the best site is. We thought it’d be a cool idea to play a game of “is-a-ranking-factor” in our latest webinar. Here are the results!

Haven’t watched the webinar?

If you haven’t watched the ranking factor webinar, please do. Jono Alderson gives an incredible introduction to ranking factors, why people are talking about it, and what we should be talking about. After that, Jono and Joost get to pick cards with questions about possible ranking factors. Their answers are very insightful! You can find it on YouTube and embedded below.

The ranking factor FAQ

To guide you through this minefield, we collected some of the ranking factors we mentioned on the show in this FAQ. Let’s kick things off with an answer to the question: What are ranking factors?

What are ranking factors?

Ranking factors are all the elements that search engines take into account to rank a specific page in the search results. This concerns technical considerations, content quality, site structure, links, user signals, user experience, reputation and many, many other elements. The number of factors that search engines take into account is unknown but run in the hundreds and maybe thousands.

Is user experience a ranking factor?

Joost de Valk: User experience is a ranking factor. User experience, however, is not something you can rate on a 0 to 10 scale. The problematic thing with a lot of these factors is that they’re all both direct and indirect ranking factors. If your user experience is horrible, no one will ever link to you. If your user experience is excellent, probably more people are willing to recommend you to their friends, search for you again and go back to your website. All these things tie in together.

If UX is a ranking factor how does Google determine that?

Jono Alderson: This is interesting because they’re not on your site measuring your site are they? So there’s a lot of conspiracy theories that they might read your Google Analytics or insights from Chrome, but that’s probably not true. What they are looking at when they visit your site is content, structure, speed, layout, color schemes et cetera. Not only that, but they’re also looking for those critical short clicks, bounce backs and pogo-sticking. They do check if people visit five other web sites when they visit this one. They’re analyzing their own search results. But it’s hard for them to quantify UX because they’re not there. They’re trying to work it out from the outside in.

Is word count a ranking factor?

Jono: There’s not one true answer for this. The point is, you need the right amount of content for answering the question that the user has. There’s no answer to how many words a post should need. There’s no obvious maximum and more isn’t necessarily better but more than enough is a good answer. If you can write 500 words on a topic and that feels right, then definitely don’t stop at 200. But in some cases, a short answer is what you want. 

Joost: At some point, I chose to put a minimum word count into Yoast SEO for a reason. I think most algorithms still need a bit of content to be able to determine a topic. If you don’t have enough content, then determining a topic becomes very hard. So don’t get too hung up about an absolute amount.

Is the weather a ranking factor?

Joost: If you think about this you’d say no, of course not. The weather doesn’t impact rankings. That’s true, not directly. But if you sell air-conditioning, people search differently during a heat wave than in regular weather conditions. Now, they’re looking for “ships today” or “delivered by tomorrow.” So it’s an outside factor. The weather influences the way people click. It changes their behavior and that click behavior can dramatically impact rankings quite quickly. All because of how Google works with these things. So the weather can influence rankings, but the question is can you play into it in a good way. That’s probably a lot harder, although not impossible.

Is bold text a ranking factor?

Jono: I think once upon a time somebody thought it was. People thought it was a good idea to put the keywords they want to rank for in bold because Google would  “recognize” those and deem them important. I don’t think it ever worked like that. Somehow, there are still people doing it. Maybe it correlates as being a _bad_ ranking factor. If you’re bolding your keywords instead of thinking about how to make this text good and readable, you’re probably making things worse.

Is bounce rate a ranking factor?

Joost: I think that bounce rate is a result of a lot of things happening on your site. It’s a very measurable thing and it’s one of the results of good user experience. Bounce rate is often misunderstood. There’s a couple of different things at play here. People search, then click on your website and going back to the search results and click on the next result. They didn’t find a result they liked so they bounced back to SERPs. This is called pogo-sticking and I think that is an important thing to look at.

It’s also about bounce rate in general, because there might be a certain number of people who come to your site and immediately click away because of whatever it is you have on your site, whether that is a pop-up or you have a horrible design. Fixing your bounce rate by genuinely improving your site is helpful and it will help you regardless of whether your rankings get better. 

Jono: Obviously, there are scenarios where bounce rate is fine. If you have a great article that answers the question the user has they come to read it and go away. That’s not a bad experience, because that’s what we want to happen. Plus, there’s something worth dwelling on here, which is the mental model we all have that somebody searches something and then clicks on a result isn’t how people behave. They search than change their search, they search again, they click on five different results and they see all these different brands and all these different pages and it’s that experience that decides whether they bounce and how they feel about the experience. That’s how we need to be thinking about search and optimizing. It’s not just why did they bounce from my site, but what was their experience and what role did I play in it.

Is site speed a ranking factor?

Jono: Yes, site speed is a ranking factor. Google has confirmed in various publications that site speed affects the ranking position of your site. Now they do say that’s only the case when you are very slow, so it only affects a tiny percentage. But site speed is a huge part of user experience. All research says that people prefer fast web sites. So even if site speed isn’t a huge ranking factor the experience users have of your site is. It means they’re more likely to read, less likely to bounce, more likely to link, etc. It is a huge part of user experience.

Is having a meta description a ranking factor?

Joost: The question is, does having a meta description by itself make you rank better? I don’t know whether we can answer that with a yes or no. If you’re lucky, your pages get a meta description in the search results underneath the title of your site. If you’re lucky, because in a lot of cases Google will show something else. So changing it might not directly impact what’s shown there. If it’s shown there and it’s good, it might influence the CTR from the SERPs to your website. So it might influence the number of people reaching your site, therefore, it might help your rankings overall et cetera.

Is having a progressive web app (PWA) a ranking factor?

Jono: Regarding progressive web apps, if you do it well and you take advantage of the technology, maybe that will affect your rankings, but is it a ranking factor? You might become eligible for rich results or use functionality that’s integrated into the search results. You might get the ability to book your restaurant directly from the search results, which might mean more people have a good experience, which gets you more good reviews, which might make you rank higher. It’s a technological platform, it’s not a thing that ranks you better or not but it unlocks capabilities for sure.

Can Google understand text and evaluate the quality of a text?

Marieke: I do think that Google knows what quality text is. They employ linguists. They know about language. They know that people can only have twenty words in their short-term memory, so longer sentences will be hard to read.

Joost: One of the things that our linguistic team learned while doing research, is that it’s hard to get the topic out of a text if the text is poorly written. So even if a text is more eloquent and uses more fancy words, it might actually be harder to figure out what the text is about. I think that good, readable and understandable text has a higher chance of getting Google to understand what it’s about.

Does CSS styling or the visual layout of the page influence ranking?

Jono: Google tries to understand pages like humans do. They have a famous patent called The Reasonable Surfer. Here, they look at the layout of the page and try to assess what’s what. They know that a link in a photo is probably less relevant than a link in the header. They go further than that. We know they render the page, we know they process and parse all the CSS, we know that broken layouts and hiding things impact things. So yeah, they are looking at the design. How that manifests in the system: who knows. Your CSS might impact your rankings. So if you have an ugly shade of pink as the background for your page or all your stuff is moving or half of it is invisible, that’s an issue.

Is having multiple languages a ranking factor if you offer products in more than one language?

Joost: I don’t think it’s necessarily a ranking factor. I do think that if you do all the technical stuff around multilingual SEO well and you have a page ranking well in English and you have a page in Spanish then the fact that you have an English page that hreflangs correctly to that Spanish page might be helping that Spanish page. In that case, it’s not the fact that you have multiple languages, but it’s the fact that you have multiple places in which you can rank and gather links and whatnot. Having a translated version of your website can be beneficial.

All this talk about ranking factors and no mention of links?

Joost: I still feel that links are the result of other stuff you do. So if you do PR well, if you do your marketing well, if you do a lot of these things and then you get links as a result. It is important to remember that the time of getting links artificially is over. At least for the English-speaking market and maybe in a few other languages. Unfortunately, in other languages, like in Dutch, getting a ton of spammy links still works when the other sites aren’t very good. When you have strong competition it becomes impossible to rank against them.

A final note on ranking factors

When Google was much simpler, it was easy to spot the specific tactics or patterns which you could use to get ahead of the competition. You could tweak your page titles, get some more links and what not. But that’s not how it works anymore — Google is too sophisticated. The secret is to focus less on all these individual tactics and focus more on becoming the best result for your users.

Google doesn’t want site owners trying to reverse-engineer how they rank sites. They simply want better sites. They want better results for their users and that makes it harder to know what will have impact and what not. It also means that you’ll almost always benefit from improving your site. Understand your audience and solve their problems.

We don’t want to say that ranking factors don’t exist. They do exist. They’re real, but we are saying that if you’re focusing on which ranking factors you should be optimizing for you’re probably missing the big picture. You need to work on the overall quality of your website. Every one of your pages has to be awesome and there’s no faking that. You have to be the best result for each phrase you want to be found for. Getting all of that right requires a lot of hard work and a holistic approach to SEO.

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What is a soft 404 error and what to do about it?

If you’ve been working on your site for a while, you might have come across a soft 404 error. Google Search Console might have sent you an email notifying you of a number of soft 404 errors on your site. But what are these errors? What is ‘soft’ about a 404 error? Why do they happen and what can you do about this kind of error? Read on to find out!

What is a soft 404 error?

A soft 404 error is a confusing error, so let’s break it down. First, we’ll look at what a regular 404 is:

  • A 404 error happens when a page is not available and the server sends the correct HTTP status code — a 404 Not Found — to the browser telling the page is nowhere to be found.
  • A soft 404 error happens when the server sends a 200 OK status for the requested page, but Google thinks that the page should return a 404. It may do this if the page content looks like an error, or, if there’s no content.

So basically, pages with soft 404 errors are pages that don’t or shouldn’t exist but still exists according to the CMS. Confusing, right? If it’s confusing for you as a reader, think about how search engines get confused by this. A soft 404 error is not a standard server status code, but a label that search engines add to help them make sense of these pages and to ignore these as they see fit. These errors show up in tools like Google Search Console and you should do your best to fix these.

If the regular 404 pages return a 200 OK status, these pages still seem to exist and might end up in the search engine results page if crawled and indexed. That’s not what you want. When a search result gets a soft 404 error label it will not appear in the index.

Don’t think this never happens. It does quite a lot, actually, especially in CMS’s like WordPress. There are a lot of automatically generated, totally empty and useless pages in WordPress.

Here’s a quick example. Just make a new tag in WordPress, leave it empty and visit it on your site. Open your browser’s developers tools and you’ll the page gets a 200 status message while also displaying a big nothing found message.

Tadaa, you’ve created a soft 404 error.

The page is not found and yet it gives a 200 status saying everything is A-OK

Can soft 404 errors harm SEO?

Yes, as search engines hate stumbling on dead links. They are often a sign of bad maintenance and a lack of respect for the user’s experience. In the case of soft 404 errors, these can be extra confusing for search engines because the expected result is different from the actual result. By telling the search engines that the page is real, it will get crawled and might end up in the search results.

It is bad practice having faulty, empty or thin pages crawled. Having loads of errors on your site might negatively impact your crawl efficiency  i.e. the way Google sees and crawls your site.

How can I find soft 404 errors?

You can find all the soft 404 errors on your site inside Google Search Console’s Coverage report. Here, you can click on the error marked ‘Submitted URL seems to be a Soft 404’ to see an overview of the pages that have errors.

Don’t have a Google Search Console account yet? You’re missing out on essential features that can help you improve your site. Here’s our Beginner’s guide to Google Search Console — it helps you get started.

The Coverage report in Google Search Console shows your soft 404 errors

How to fix these errors

How you fix soft 404 errors depends on the page and what you want that page to do. But when you have them, the least you should do is make sure the page with errors always sends the correct status code. Here are a couple of options:

  • If a page doesn’t exist (anymore) give it a 404 (not found) or 410 (content deleted) and make sure you have a great 404 page. Keep in mind that having loads of 404s on your site is bad practice as well.
  • If a page is available, but still gets a soft 404, Google deems this thin content and you should fix that page. Give it some solid, relevant content to show search engines that this page has value.
  • Did the page move to a new location? Redirect it with a 301 redirect.
  • You want to keep the page, but not have it indexed by Google: noindex it with Yoast SEO.

Always try to find out where the issues originate and see if you can prevent these errors from happening in the first place.

Site maintenance is important

Keeping your 404 errors in check is a recurring task for every site owner. Regularly check Google Search Console to see if you have new errors. If possible, fix these as soon as possible.

Want to learn more about working with crawl errors like the soft 404? Here are a couple of helpful posts:

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Yoast SEO 11.5: An updated mobile preview + favicon!

Yoast SEO 11.5 is out today. This release features a big change that gives you a better idea of how searchers see your snippets on mobile. Yep, we’ve overhauled the mobile snippet preview and brought it up-to-date with Google’s latest changes. And that, of course, includes that shiny favicon. Here’s Yoast SEO 11.5. 

Revamped mobile snippet preview

In Yoast SEO 11.5, the main star is the overhauled mobile snippet preview. This preview shows you how your search result will appear in the mobile search results. It looks exactly like a mobile search result in Google, including bolded keywords and a favicon.

In this release, we’re using the default favicon Google uses when they can’t find a favicon on your site. In a future release, we’re going to extract the favicon from your site and show it here, right in the snippet preview. How cool is that.

Of course, you can switch between the mobile and desktop views to see the differences between the search results.

The improved mobile snippet preview and the new location of the focus keyphrase in the Yoast SEO meta box

The focus keyphrase field in the block editor

We’re cleaning up the interface of the meta box and snippet preview to improve user experience and discoverability. In the previous release, we moved the focus keyphrase input field to a new location, right at the top of the meta box. Now, this all-important feature has the prominent place it deserves. You can see the new location of the focus keyphrase in the meta box in the screenshot above.

In the block editor, you’ll find the field at the top of the sidebar. See the screenshot on the right. It works the same as before, but it is now in a much more prominent place.

Only a little bit of Schema this time

After all the Schema structured data additions and finetuning, we’re taking it a bit easier in Yoast SEO 11.5. Regarding structured data, the only thing we’ve changed in this release is take out the primary image for a page of the WebPage piece and move it into its own graph piece. This way, it easier for search engines to discover the relation between the image, the page and the entities.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.5

Yoast SEO 11.5 isn’t a huge release, but the updated mobile snippet preview alone is worth the price of admission. The snippet preview is an essential tool to help you stand out in the search results, so use it to your advantage! 

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How to get a Google answer box

Did you notice Google is offering fewer options for your search results to shine? It seems like Google regularly adds a new box to the search result pages that answers searchers’ questions immediately, without them having to click on anything. For instance, type in [Blade Runner 2049] and you’ll be bombarded by four ads, a full knowledge graph panel, showtimes for the movie, top stories and Twitter feeds until you finally reach the first organic result. Google’s push to rich results not only brings challenges but also opportunities: answer boxes can make you an instant star in the search results. Find out how to get a Google answer box.

Update: Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site! A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? Read all about Yoast SEO 11.0!

What are answer boxes?

A Google answer box (or featured snippet) is a highlighted search box that answers the question you type in the Google search bar. Since this answer box is situated above the regular organic search results, everybody is bound to notice this. So, you can imagine the effect that might have. Having your content as an answer box not only brings in a lot of traffic, but it also proves your authority on the subject – Google picked you, right?

Answer boxes often appear as a paragraph or a bulleted list, accompanied by an image. The image does not necessarily have to come from the article itself. Google seems to pick it, sometimes even from the site of a competitor, although that doesn’t happen that much anymore.

Take the search result [improve mobile site] or [how to improve mobile site]; both yield answer boxes with eight tips to improve your mobile site. I wrote and structured that article with Google’s answer box in mind and it paid off. By structuring the information in an easy to understand way and by giving great suggestions, Google put two and two together and found this post to provide the best answer to the question above. You can do this too.

Featured snippets let you jump to the top of the charts

Now to understand the value of answer boxes, it’s important to see how they live within the search results page. The search results page consists of several parts, among others, the organic search results, ads, and one or more dynamic search blocks. Google is increasingly trying to keep as many clicks as they can to themselves or send them to ad partners. Ads and inline search results like answer boxes, featured snippets, knowledge graph items, et cetera increasingly obfuscate organic search results. For certain searches and industries, that leaves a lot less room to shine with your organic results.

Take that Blade Runner 2049 example I mentioned in the intro. Check the screenshot below (click to enlarge), and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, this is an extreme example, but it does prove my point. Luckily, we can try to get answer boxes to bring us an additional stream of traffic. Not to mention that answering questions is an excellent way to get your content ready for voice search.

Snippet Blade Runner 2049

How to write content for Google answer boxes

There are several ways to try and aim for answer boxes. In the list below, I’ve listed some things you need to keep in mind when writing for Google answer boxes:

  • Do your keyword research
  • Find out what people ask about your keywords/brand/product/service
  • Look at the ‘People also ask’ boxes for ideas
  • Use Answer the Public to find questions to answer
  • Check several current answers to see how it works
  • Find out where you could improve
  • Determine how to structure your content
  • Make your content super helpful and easy to understand
  • Keep your answers short and snappy, at a maximum of 50 words
  • Make the article easy for Google to digest, so use lists, subheadings, etc.
  • Mark up your article with structured data (although you don’t always need it)
  • Watch out that your content doesn’t become/feel unnatural
  • Not every search will yield an answer box (there are even regional variations)

To top it off, find a way to get people to click on the answer box. You don’t want people to read the answer box and move on. In the end, you want them on your site. Don’t give away all the answers immediately, but try to trigger people to come to your site so they can get the full picture.

Answer boxes and structured data

There’s a common misconception that you must always markup your articles with structured data if you want to get answer boxes. That’s not true. The article I mentioned above doesn’t have structured data attached to it, and it still got an answer box. In some cases, however, it is very helpful to add structured data to your content. Case in point: recipes.

If you have content like recipes, or any type of the content types listed by Google, adding the correct structured data will improve your chances of getting an answer box. It’s like telling Google what your page is about by shouting it in a megaphone. Now, Google instantly understands content that has been enhanced with structured data and will use it to show it in all kinds of cool search features. If you want to learn how to apply structured data to your site so you can be rewarded the highly valued rich snippets, you should try our Structured data training.

The old ‘Google determines everything’ adagio

As always, Google and only Google will pick the answers it shows in its search results if it shows them at all. In the end, there’s no magic formula for answer boxes. Google says the science behind it is very much in flux. Even the way Google finds and presents answer boxes is continually changing. For instance, Google is almost certainly looking at engagement and CTR when determining which answer to award an answer box. But there are also instances where Google picks an answer from a site on the second page of the results, or even further down the list. In the end, it always boils down to the simple question: “Does my answer deliver?”

Yes, you can do it too!

Aiming for Google answer boxes can be good fun. It’s hard to predict whether it will work, but once you get one, it’s a blast. You can easily incorporate this when you are writing new content for answer boxes, but updating old posts is worth a shot too. If you have particular pieces of content, like recipes, for instance, structuring your content for answer boxes is almost a must. And while you’re at it, please add structured data for this type of content as it is very important as well. Now, get to it!

Read more: Rich results everywhere »

The post How to get a Google answer box appeared first on Yoast.

How to build a structured data-powered FAQ page using Yoast SEO

Many, many sites have an FAQ page. This is a page where a lot of frequently asked questions get the appropriate answer. It is often a single page filled to the brim with questions and answers. While it’s easy to add one, it’s good to keep in mind that not all sites need an FAQ. Most of the times all you need is good content targeted at the users’ needs. Here, I’ll discuss the use of FAQ pages and show you how to make one yourself with Yoast SEOs new structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor. You won’t believe how easy it is.

For more information on our Schema structured data implementation, please read our Schema documentation.

What is an FAQ?

FAQ stands for frequently asked questions. It is a single page collecting a series of question and its answers on a specific subject, product or company. An FAQ is often seen as a tool to reduce the workload of the customer support team. It is also used to show that you are aware of the issues a customer might have and to provide an answer to that.

But first: Do you really, really, really need an FAQ?

Usually, if you need to answer a lot of questions from users in an FAQ, that means that your content is not providing these answers and that you should work on that. Or maybe it is your product or service itself that’s not clear enough? One of the main criticisms of FAQs is that they hardly ever answer the questions consumers really have. They are also lazy: instead of figuring out how to truly answer a question with formidable content — using content design, for instance –, people rather throw some random stuff on a page and call it an FAQ.

That’s not to say you should never use an FAQ. Numerous sites successfully apply them — even we use them sparingly. In some cases, they do provide value. Users understand how an FAQ works and are quick to find what they are looking for — if the makers of the page know what they are doing. So don’t make endless lists of loosely related ‘How can I…’ or ‘How to…’ questions, because people will struggle to filter out what they need.

It has to be a page that’s easy to digest and has to have real answers to real questions by users. You can find scores of these if you search for them: ask your support team for instance! Collect and analyze the issues that come up frequently to see if you’re not missing some pain points in your products or if your content is targeting the wrong questions.

So don’t hide answers to pressings questions away on an FAQ page if you want to answer these in-depth: make an article out of it. This is what SEO deals with: provide an answer that matches your content to the search intent.

Questions and answers spoken out loud?

Google is trying to match a question from a searcher to an answer from a source. If you mark up your questions and answers with FAQ structured data, you tell search engines that this little sentence is a question and that this paragraph is its answer. And all these questions and answers are related to the main topic of the page.

Paragraph-based content is all the rage. One of the reasons? The advent of voice search. Google is looking for easy to understand, block-based content that it can use to answer searchers questions right in the search engine — or by speaking it out loud. Using the Schema property speakable might even speed up this content discovery by determining which part of the content is fit for text-to-speech conversion.

How to build an FAQ page in WordPress via Yoast SEO content blocks

The best way to set up a findable, readable and understandable FAQ page on a WordPress site is by using the structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO. These blocks for the new block editor — formally known as Gutenberg –, make building an FAQ page a piece of cake.

All the generated structured data for the FAQ will be added to the graph Yoast SEO generates for every page. This makes it even easier for search engines to understand your content. Yoast SEO automatically adds the necessary structured data so search engines like Google can do cool stuff with it. But, if nothing else, it might even give you an edge over your competitor. So, let’s get to it!

  1. Open WordPress’ new block editor

    Make a page in WordPress, add a title and an introductory paragraph. Now add the FAQ structured data content block. You can find the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks inside the Add Block modal. Scroll all the way down to find them or type ‘FAQ’ in the search bar, which I’ve highlighted in the screenshot below.yoast seo structured data content blocks FAQ

  2. Add questions and answers

    After you’ve added the FAQ block, you can start to add questions and answers to it. Keep in mind that these questions live inside the FAQ block. It’s advisable to keep the content related to each other so you can keep the page clean and focused. So no throwing in random questions.yoast seo structured data content blocks faq add question

  3. Keep filling, check and publish

    After adding the first question and answering it well, keep adding the rest of your questions and answers until you’ve filled your FAQ page. In the screenshot below you see two questions filled in. I’ve highlighted two buttons, the Add Image button and the Add Question. These speak for themselves.

    Once you are done, you’ll have a well-structured FAQ page with valid structured data. Go to the front-end of your site and check if everything is in order. If not, make the necessary changes.

What does an FAQ rich result look like?

We have an FAQ page for our Yoast Diversity Fund and that page was awarded an FAQ rich result by Google after we added an FAQ structured data content block. So, wondering what an FAQ looks like in Google? Wonder no more:

An example FAQ rich result for a Yoast page

Keep in mind that an FAQ rich result like this might influence the CTR to that page. It might even lead to a decrease in traffic to your site since you are giving away answers instantly. It is a good idea, therefore, to use it only for information that you don’t mind giving away like this. Or you have to find a way to make people click to your site. Do experiment with it, of course, to see the effects. Maybe it works brilliantly for you, who knows?

What does this look like under the hood?

Run your new FAQ page through Structured Data Testing Tool to see what it looks like for Google. Yoast SEO automatically generates valid structured data for your FAQ page. Here’s a piece of the Yoast Diversity Fund page, showing one particular question and its answer:

The first question and answer from the structured data graph

It’s basically built up like this. The context surrounding the questions is an FAQPage Schema graph. Every question gets a Question type and an acceptedAnswer with an answer type. That sounds hard, but it’s not. All you have to do is fill in the Question and the Answer and you’re good to go!

This translates to the code below as generated automatically by the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks. Now, Google will immediately see that this piece of content contains a question with an accepted answer. It will also see how this FAQ fits in with the rest of the page and the entities within your site. If you’re lucky, this might eventually lead to a featured snippet or another type of rich result.

<script type='application/ld+json' class='yoast-schema-graph yoast-schema-graph--main'> {
    "@context":"https://schema.org",
    "@graph":[ {
        "@type": "Organization", "@id": "https://yoast.com/#organization", "name": "Yoast", "url": "https://yoast.com/", "sameAs": ["https://www.facebook.com/yoast", "https://www.instagram.com/yoast/", "https://www.linkedin.com/company/1414157/", "https://www.youtube.com/yoast", "https://www.pinterest.com/yoast/", "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoast", "https://twitter.com/yoast"]
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"WebSite",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/#website",
        "url":"https://yoast.com/",
        "name":"Yoast",
        "publisher": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/#organization"
        }
        ,
        "potentialAction": {
            "@type":"SearchAction",
            "target":"https://yoast.com/?s={search_term_string}",
            "query-input": "required name=search_term_string"
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type": ["WebPage", "FAQPage"], "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#webpage", "url": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/", "inLanguage": "en-US", "name": "How to Apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund • Yoast", "isPartOf": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/#website"
        }
        ,
        "image": {
            "@type": "ImageObject", "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#primaryimage", "url": "https://yoast.com/app/uploads/2018/03/Yoast_diversity_fund_FI__1_-1.jpg", "width": 1200, "height": 628
        }
        ,
        "primaryImageOfPage": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#primaryimage"
        }
        ,
        "datePublished":"2019-05-03T11:12:29+00:00",
        "dateModified":"2019-06-07T09:51:36+00:00",
        "breadcrumb": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#breadcrumb"
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"BreadcrumbList",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#breadcrumb",
        "itemListElement":[ {
            "@type":"ListItem",
            "position":1,
            "item": {
                "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "https://yoast.com/", "url": "https://yoast.com/", "name": "Home"
            }
        }
        ,
        {
            "@type":"ListItem",
            "position":2,
            "item": {
                "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/", "url": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/", "name": "Yoast Diversity Fund"
            }
        }
        ,
        {
            "@type":"ListItem",
            "position":3,
            "item": {
                "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/", "url": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/", "name": "How to Apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund"
            }
        }
        ]
    }
    ,
    [ {
        "@type":"ItemList",
        "mainEntityOfPage": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#webpage"
        }
        ,
        "numberOfItems":5,
        "itemListElement":[ {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800785311"
        }
        ,
        {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800831879"
        }
        ,
        {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800847830"
        }
        ,
        {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800862202"
        }
        ]
    }
    ],
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800785311",
        "position":0,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800785311",
        "name":"What type of costs are reimbursed?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Our goal is to reimburse those costs that would keep you from speaking at tech conferences. If you, for whatever reason, have costs, such as child-care or specialized transport, for example, we invite you to share those with us and we'll look at those on a per-case scenario. Examples of costs we're happy to reimburse are:\u2013 Travel and transportation, e.g. gas, car rental, taxis or flights.\u2013 Accommodation, hotel, AirBNB or similar. \u2013 Child-care costs.\u2013 Sign language interpreter.\u2013 Visa costs."
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800831879",
        "position":1,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800831879",
        "name":"How many times can I apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Our goal is to assist in increasing speaker diversity as much as possible. This means we'll focus on first-time applications mostly. However, there is no limit to the number of times you can apply."
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800847830",
        "position":2,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800847830",
        "name":"Is the fund available to all?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Yes. With the exception of Yoast employees, former Yoast employees, and contractors."
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800862202",
        "position":3,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800862202",
        "name":"When should I apply?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Applicants should apply at least one month before the event."
        }
    }
    ]
}

</script>

Structured data is so cool

Structured data is hot. It is one of the foundations on which the web is built today and its importance will only increase with time. In this post, I’ve shown you one of the newest Schema additions, and you’ll increasingly see this pop up in the search results.

For more information on our Schema structured data implementation, please read our Schema documentation.

The post How to build a structured data-powered FAQ page using Yoast SEO appeared first on Yoast.

Content design: a great way to make user-centered content

You might know about content marketing and SEO copywriting, but do you know about content design? This new process is aimed at making content production much more structured and user-centered. Content design prevents you from simply typing out 500 words about a particular keyword without really thinking that through. For this, the inimitable Sarah Richards coined the term content design. It’s a way of improving content and aligning it with user needs, while also cutting cruft.

What is content design?

Sarah Richards of Content Design London says this: “Content design is answering a user need in the best possible way for the user to consume it.” It helps your user to get that content when they need it, in the language and format they need it. Content design isn’t just a technique the help you produce better content — it’s a new way of thinking about content.

Content design is part writing, part UX and part accessibility. It helps you produce content based on real users needs. In this regard, content doesn’t have to be a piece of text — it can be anything. If your research and process tell you a video would be the best possible solution for a user need, then so be it. Content design helps you get out of that text-oriented mindset.

A content design mindset helps you produce content that adds value to the user. You shouldn’t add another new page to the billions of pages out there already because someone told you so. Think it through. Ask questions. Is this even necessary? What is the underlying problem that needs solving? Content design should give you a good sense of the problem, instead of going straight for the solution.

Wants and needs

Content design is very much a process of figuring out not just what a user wants, but what he or she needs. They might want to learn how to solve a specific problem, but they need guidance to do that. You even have to juggle the needs of your business as well. In some cases, your content shouldn’t just provide an answer to a seemingly simple question, because the underlying need is totally different. Don’t assume stuff — research. Data is your friend — so are people, ask them.

Writing stories

After doing extensive research — we’ll get to that in a minute —, you know what you have to solve. You know what language people use and which sentiments surround a topic. Plus, you know which channel people are using. Now it’s time to turn those questions into answers. Here are the main tools to help you produce user-centered content: user stories and job stories.

A user story looks like this:

  • As a [person in a specific role]
  • I want to [perform an action or find something out]
  • So that I [can achieve my goal of…]

Here’s an example:

  • As a content writer new to SEO
  • I want to find out which WordPress tool can improve my writing
  • So that I can attract more traffic from search engines

A job story looks like this:

  • When [there’s a particular situation]
  • I want to [perform an action or find something out]
  • So I [can achieve my goal of…]

An example:

  • When I change the URL of a post in WordPress
  • I want to create a redirect
  • So I can prevent users from ending up on a dead link

Your stories should include acceptance criteria as well. There should be a way to check whether the piece of content meets these criteria.

So for the story above the acceptance criterion is:

This story is done when I know how to create a redirect in WordPress

This should form the basis of how you design your content.

User stories are helpful when you have different audiences looking to consume your content. Job stories are for specific audiences with targeted actions. For most sites, job stories would probably work best. These research-based stories help you determine what your content should answer. Don’t go out and make a million stories for every need, but focus on the most important ones. Your research should tell you what the most pressing matters are.

Now you can start designing your content.

How does content design differ from SEO copywriting?

We all know a little bit about SEO copywriting, right? You do your keyword research, you look at search intent and check out search volumes. You’ll find opportunities to get your content noticed in the search engines. This’ll help you attract clicks that, eventually, lead to something. If done well, you’re writing great, natural and user-centered copy about your keywords and the surrounding concepts. Done wrong, you’re missing the point or spamming with keywords. Or worse, you’re adding one more article to the gigantic pile of crappy articles.

The main difference between SEO copywriting and content design is that one is focused answering any question a user might have by using the correct keywords in a post, while the other is more open-minded about what the end result should be.

Also, the content design process has much more hands-on tools to make sure that you are fully on target with your content. In both cases, good preparation is half the battle. Find your user, discover where they are, what channel they are using, what language they use and what they deem important.

But like I said, content design isn’t another way to produce the same old content — it’s another way of thinking about it. By following the process, you get new insights and a great deal of input from the different user stories. What’s more, you get feedback from actual people, because you include them earlier in the process.

The content design process

Content design isn’t hard, but it is forcing you to rethink the way you work. Sarah wanted it to be easy to get going and her book on content design is just that. I’d definitely recommend reading that if you have an hour or two to spare. It’ll give you all the insights you need to get started, with many practical examples. Her training is ace as well, we’ve been lucky to attend her workshop with part of the Yoast blog team.

Now, let’s go over the content design process. Don’t forget your sticky notes, people!

Research: the discovery phase

Start off with the most important part of the process: Discovery. The discovery phase is all about doing thorough research into the assignment you’ve been given or the problem you’re trying to solve, the users it targets and the way these two connect. It’s a journey into the minds of users to figure out their wants and needs. It’s also very much a journey of trying to uncover the underlying need of the assignment.

The discovery phase helps you to understand:

  • Who your audience is
  • What they want and need
  • What language they use
  • Which channel they use
  • What your organization thinks it wants
  • What your organization really needs
  • How and what to prioritize
  • What you should communicate when (and where)

But how do you get all these insights? Well, good-old research. Look through the data; use Google Trends, Google Analytics, and other SEO tools like ubersuggest.io or Answer the Public. Go out on the street and talk to your audience. Ask your support team to chime in. Have a research team on hand? Use it! Read what users are saying on forums and platforms like Reddit and Quora. Doing this in tandem with everyone involved in this process makes the outcome even better. But watch out — try to stay away from what you already know. Don’t take the easy way out to be done with the research part.

Find user needs and map the user journey

Discovering user needs is an important step in the content design process. Besides finding out who your users are, you have to find out how they behave. If you are looking to promote a solution to a problem, find out how they currently got around that problem. Discover why they are experiencing this problem and what else they run into. What are they frustrated about? What do they need to solve this and turn frustration into happiness?

Remember, always keep it real. Everything should be based on research, not made up to fit your goal.

What journey does the user take to get to your solution? (c) Rosenfeld Media

The user journey is the relationship of a user with a product or brand over time and across communication channels. This is often a visual timeline with so-called touch points where the user comes in contact with the product. The user journey gives a bird’s eye view of where communication with a user should take place. Every touch point on the user journey may need a piece of content to help users meet their needs.

Since content design originated at GOV.uk, they have a wealth of information in their Content Design and User Research sections.

Find communication channels

Where are your users? Are they desktop computer users with broadband internet or are they mobile internet users with a capped data plan? Are they heavy search engine users or do they get their information from social media? What type of sites do they visit? Are they on forums? Or maybe even offline? Who do they trust?

Determine language and sentiment

As in SEO, the language users use is of the utmost importance. You’re bound to lose a large part of traffic or don’t get traffic at all when you’re using words that don’t align with your target audience. Always find out if people search for SEO or Search Engine Optimization, for example.

Use Google Trends to find what language people use. You can also use any of the well-known tools to do keyword research as we describe in our Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research. Make sure that you know your subject inside out and that you know all about related concepts as well. Only then can you form a complete picture of what you’re dealing with.

But while you are mapping your topic, you shouldn’t forget one thing: sentiment. One of the things content design reminds you of is that language changes with people’s mood. People use different words when angry. Find out if your subject is talked about positively or negatively. If people have a concern about your product you need to address that in your content. Sentiments must shape your strategy.

Create content

When you’re done with the discovery phase and you know everything about your audience and their needs, you’re ready to start designing content. You’ll use your job stories or user stories as input to come up with the best way possible to meet those needs. Remember, content design frees you of the classic text-oriented chains. It lets you decide — based on all your research — what the best way to help those particular users.

In a lot of cases, you’ll end up writing a post, UX copy or a piece of explanatory content. Writing and structuring content is an important piece of content design. Everything is aimed at making it as easy as possible for a user to understand. If your research shows that your user is often in need of answers quickly — because of where or in which situation they need that answer —, you most likely don’t have to write a 1,000-word post with the answer buried deep within those words. Give it immediately. If needed, keep it short and snappy. Writing strategies like the inverted pyramid help you do that.

Use plain language

If you want your content to answer user needs it must be easy to understand and plain. Don’t use exotic words or phrases and leave out the jargon. Everyone needs to be able to get it immediately. Well, maybe you think eloquently written content fits your brand better? Or, you don’t want to come across childish so you think you must use difficult words. Think again. Plain language helps everyone. Sarah has a great quote:

“Generally, people want to understand — not admire your language skills”

Sarah Richards

By using plain language you are not dumbing down your content, but rather opening it up for everyone to enjoy. In addition, it makes your content accessible. Accessibility is a big issue, often misunderstood. The first thing people will talk about when they talk about accessibility is making things available for the disabled among us. It is, however, so much more than that. By combining user needs with powerful, easy to grasp content you can open up that information to everyone, regardless of skill, the device they’re on, the knowledge they have et cetera.

At Yoast, we know the power of good, easy to understand content. Not only people enjoy readable texts, but search engines as well. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve built a readability tool in Yoast SEO to help you with that.

Ask for feedback — critique the work

One of the most important steps in content design is the crit. Crit is short for content critique and it’s all about sharing what you made and getting feedback on it, preferably in person. People are often hesitant of asking for feedback, but it is a necessary step to make sure that your content is awesome and exactly what’s needed.

Not everyone is good at giving and receiving feedback, so there are rules for a successful crit:

  • Be respectful for the person and the work
  • Discuss the work, not the person who created it
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Don’t give people the need to defend a decision

Doing a crit might give you new insights that make the piece of content even better. Or, you might find something else that improves your work or someone else in the future. Who knows! Crits are very valuable — it’s a good way to remind you why you did what and to see if the outcome fits with the research.

Iterate — keep improving

Content is never done. Remember the requirements you determined for a piece of content? Check if these are met so you can say with some kind of certainty that a piece of content is a success. After publishing you can keep track of how content is doing and make adjustments as you see fit. Try to stay on top of things and update the content within the time you set for it. Have feedback from users or other stakeholders? Use it to make a piece of content better, easier to read or more enjoyable.

Content design techniques are a great help

Content design is a great process that helps you create content that people actually need or use. You can use it for all kinds of things, from ux writing to content marketing blog posts. Everywhere you need turn user needs into content, you can use content design. Even if you just pick up some of the techniques — like working with job stories — you’re bound to find it useful. Try it!

The post Content design: a great way to make user-centered content appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph

Yoast SEO 11.4 is out today. This release features loads of structured data improvements. We’ve improved the way Yoast SEO Schema works with AMP, plus we’ve enhanced our FAQ blocks and added them to the graph. Find out what Yoast SEO 11.4 is all about!

First: Our next live SEO webinar is coming up! Be sure to join us on June 26 for the Big “Is it a ranking factor??!!” Show! »

Once again: Schema

We’re still working hard on making our new structured data implementation even more awesome. In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’re not only improving the way we handle some things, but also reintroducing our FAQ structured data blocks.

As a reminder, please read our Schema documentation if you are interested in why we’re doing this and how it all came together. The release post of Yoast SEO 11.0 has a lot of background information as well.

FAQ structured data now in the graph

One of the latest rich results Google shows is the FAQ. To stand a chance of getting these highlighted in Google, you not only need an FAQ on your page but also FAQPage structured data. Luckily, Yoast SEO comes with structured data content blocks for adding FAQ pages to your site. These only work with the WordPress block editor.

The Yoast SEO structured data blocks let you add FAQ content quickly

The blocks are incredibly easy to work with:

  • Pick the FAQ block
  • Add a question
  • Give an answer to that question
  • Add an image, if necessary
  • Repeat for all your question for this particular FAQ

Our blocks automatically generate valid FAQPage structured data in the background. Google is now ready to pick it up, like it did with this page:

The Yoast Diversity Fund page has a nice FAQ listing

In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve improved the code generated by our FAQ structured data block following Google’s latest changes. In addition, we made sure all data is nicely stitched into our graph. For FAQ pages, search engines now not only can identify these pages as an FAQ but they can also figure out how these pages fit in the grander scheme of things.

To get this done — and to make it as flexible as possible —, we’re introducing a new action and a new filter. The wpseo_pre-schema_block-type_<block-type> action allows you to change the graph output based on the blocks on the page. The wpseo_schema_block_<block-type> filter lets you filter graph output per block.

You can read more about this new API in our Gutenberg Blocks Schema documentation.

Now also on Reader mode AMP pages

The new Yoast SEO Schema implementation works perfectly well with modern AMP pages, but there where some issues with the Reader mode (formerly known as Classic mode). These issues have now been fixed.

The focus keyphrase field is now right at the top

UX improvements

We’re doing a number of design changes to clean up the sidebar and meta box in order to improve UX. In this release, we’ve moved the Focus keyphrase field to the top of the meta box and sidebar, making this essential item much easier to find. We’ve also linked the SEO and readability scores in the Classic Editor. A click on these items now leads to the corresponding fields in the Yoast SEO meta box below. Stay tuned for more UX improvements in coming versions of Yoast SEO.

Update now

In the release cycle ending with Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced our Schema implementation. The FAQ is the next item to be added to the graph and there’s more coming up. We’ve also started work on improving the UX of the meta box, making it easier to use and enhance the discoverability of the features.

Find all changes in the changelog for Yoast SEO 11.4.

The post Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.3: Even more enhancements

High-time for another release, namely Yoast SEO 11.3. This release features enhancements and bug fixes aimed at improving the way your favorite SEO plugin performs. In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about Yoast SEO 11.3! Plus, a word on supporting older versions of WordPress and helping people upgrade their PHP versions.

But first: on supporting older version of WordPress

While developing Yoast SEO, we’ve always had a rule of supporting the two most recent versions of WordPress. This helped us focus our efforts on the platforms that needed it most. With the release of WordPress 5.0, we stretched that rule. We kept supporting WordPress 4.9, because we wanted to give users ample time to get ready to switch to WordPress 5.0 and its new editor — or keep using the Classic Editor, of course.

Now, as soon as WordPress 5.3 comes out, Yoast SEO will go back to supporting the two most recent versions — WordPress 5.2 and 5.3 in this case. We’d also like to urge users to upgrade their PHP software on their hosting platforms to at least 5.6, the minimum requirement of WordPress 5.2. Better yet, if possible, we’d like everyone to make the jump to the 7 series of PHP. Everyone will thank you!

Joost wrote a post explaining why we have this policy and why we’re deciding to go back to it.

With that said, let’s move on to Yoast SEO 11.3.

Enhancements and fixes

As in the last couple of releases, we’re still fine-tuning and improving our new Schema implementation. We launched this huge addition in Yoast SEO 11.0 and we’ve been stunned by the enthusiastic reception it got. But, of course, we won’t rest on our laurels just yet.

In Yoast SEO 11.3, we’re now letting users set an image for persons as well. Just go to SEO → Search Appearance → Knowledge Graph & Schema.org and pick or upload an image. This image will now be added to the structured data graph for this particular user.

You can now upload an image, photo or logo to go with the person

In addition, we fixed several bugs in the Schema implementation. These mainly concerned issues with setting and picking the Person for the site and the Schema output it generated.

Other enhancements in the plugin include a new wpseo_should_index_links filter which you can use to disable the link indexation. Plus, we’ve added support for builtin taxonomies so you can add the blog archive page to the breadcrumbs.

You can find all changes in the changelog for this release.

Update now and be sure to come back soon

So there you have it. Yoast SEO 11.3 is a release focused on ironing out some kinks to make your experience as smooth as possible. We added several enhancements that’ll prove beneficial for our Schema implementation, for instance. Try out Yoast SEO 11.3 and update whenever you’re ready!

One more thing. Seeing all these updates make you wonder why we release so often? Would you like to know why we have a two-week release schedule? Well, you’re not the only one. Soon, our very own Caroline will go into detail on how our development process functions and how the release schedule actually works. Stay tuned!

The post Yoast SEO 11.3: Even more enhancements appeared first on Yoast.