In Yoast SEO 9.0, we launched an innovative new way to analyze your English language text using word forms. In Yoast SEO 10.1, we added word form support for the German language. Today, we’re glad to announce word form support for Dutch. Here, you can read why this is such an awesome addition to Yoast SEO 13.4.
Back in the day, Yoast SEO used to be rather picky — sometimes it had a hard time detecting the focus keyphrase in your text. For instance, if your focus keyphrase was [vegan pancakes], the plugin wouldn’t recognise instances of the word [vegan pancake] or [pancakes for a vegan friend]. Today, however, the WordPress plugin is so much smarter.
Now, your focus keyphrase doesn’t even have to be in an identical order. The plugin finds all parts of the keyphrase even if the words are split over a sentence.
Yoast SEO Premium takes it one step further. Using the Premium analysis, something like [How to make the fluffiest pancake that even the most critical vegans love] would count as well.
One of the coolest parts of this is that Yoast SEO Premium recognises all word forms of your keyphrase: [vegan], [vegans], [veganism] and more. This way, you don’t have to keep trying to awkwardly fit your focus keyphrase in your text. Simply write naturally and let Yoast SEO take care of the rest. The goal? To write a better text, while spending less time optimizing!
The same goes that other epic feature in Yoast SEO Premium, the possibility to add synonyms and related keyphrases to your post analysis. This too, makes it easier to write a rich, high-quality post that covers all aspects of your subject.
Word forms: now available in Dutch
As of Yoast SEO 13.4, users in the Dutch language can get in on the action too. For every language we add to the plugin, we need to adapt the analysis. Every language has its own sets of rules, you know? We have a team of linguists working on this and bringing you top notch language support.
How does this work in Dutch? Well, here’s Marieke explain it all for you — in Dutch this time!
Let’s take a look at an example! In the screenshot, you see the Premium analysis at work. The focus keyphrase for this example post is [spelen met katten]. If you look closely, Yoast SEO Premium won’t just find the exact match to that keyphrase, but also several variations.
If we look at the word [kat], or cat in Dutch, the plugin now recognises variants on that word as well. So this means, [katten], [kater] and [katjes], among other things, are correct instances of that keyphrase as well.
In the Premium analysis, you can add a number of related keyphrases to make the text analysis even richer. One of the outcomes of this, is that it helps to determine if you have distributed your keyphrases well across your text. All this helps you write the awesome your audience is looking for!
To cap if off, here’s the Dutch version of our infographic that explains the differences between synonyms, word forms and related keyphrases.
Update now to Yoast SEO 13.4
Yoast SEO 13.4 brings a big feature for all you Dutchies: full word form support! This state of the art analysis helps you write better text with a lot less effort. Writing and editing a great piece of content has now become much more natural.
Writing in English or German? But not familiar with the Premium analysis yet? Try it and tell us what you think!
The outbreak of COVID-19 led to a wave of canceled or postponed events. Some events made the switch from an offline event to an online one. As everyone is scrambling to look up the latest information on events online, it is important to have all the latest details on your website. Search engines can pick up these details and post the correct information in the search results. New Event Schema helps speed up this process.
Events structured data expanded quickly
In last week’s release of Schema.org 7.0, you can find several updates to the Events structured data. You can give your event an eventStatus of EventCancelled when it’s cancelled or an EventPostponed when it’s been postponed. In addition, you can also set a rescheduled event as EventRescheduled.
A new option is available for events that moved online: you can now update the eventStatus to EventMovedOnline. Here, you can also mark events as online-only by setting the location to VirtualLocation and set the eventAttendenceMode to OnlineEventAttendanceMode.
An example for YoastCon 2020
We had a new edition of YoastCon planned for April, 2020. As everything else, we rescheduled that to a date later in the year. I thought I’d let you see how one of these additions could look in code.
Below, you can find a part of the Schema code found on the YoastCon page. I’ve added the eventStatus, plus the corresponding EventRescheduled property. Also, I’ve added the old, plus the new date. Now, search engines know this event was rescheduled to a new date and can update the listing accordingly.
"description":"Due to the recent COVID-19 health concerns both locally and among our (international) speakers, we're sad to announce that we're postponing YoastCon 2020.",
"name":"Theater 't Moza\u00efek",
"addressCountry": "The Netherlands",
"postalCode": "6602 HX",
"streetAddress": "Campuslaan 6"
Moving the event online
Many events now move to online-only, for the time being or completely. You can now let search engines know that the event has turned into an online event — or a mixed event with both an offline and an online component.
In the YoastCon example, I could move the event by adding an EventMovedOnline property, combined with a new VirtualLocation property with a link to the page where the event is happening online. Code is truncated.
Of course, you can combine both online and offline locations of the event. Simply add the MixedEventAttendanceMode to the eventAttendanceMode and set both a virtual as well as a real location for the event. This might look something like this:
SpecialAnnouncement for broadcasting announcements
The new SpecialAnnouncement type lets governments announce important happenings, like the closing of businesses and public recreation areas. While the initial offering is focused entirely on the spread special announcements during the Coronavirus pandemic, this will be extended at a further date. Both Bing and Google accept SpecialAnnouncement and will highlight these pages in the results how they see fit. You can find more information on SpecialAnnouncement on Schema.org/SpecialAnnouncement.
We’re working on this as well
As you see, it makes a lot of sense to add this to your event pages. Unfortunately, at the moment Yoast SEO doesn’t have to option to add this code automatically. We’re working on that, though! Our structured data content blocks already let you build great FAQ pages and how-to articles, but we’re also working on blocks for events and recipes, among other things. In a while, you can add events and mark these as online, offline or mixed, while the correct structured data will be applied automatically.
Other things you can do to get provide accurate and up-to-date information
In the current COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial to give people accurate information about your event or business. A lot things have changed, many people sit indoor and have to go online to find out which businesses they can still visit or which events take place when. So, please take a moment to bring all your listings up-to-date.
Please check your listings on Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor et cetera. Also update your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. In addition, it might be a good idea to put a COVID-19 related FAQ page on your website answering the most pressing questions on how your business or event is handling this crisis. The Yoast SEO FAQ content block helps you make such a page in an instant. It also automatically adds valid structured data that makes sure the FAQ shows up in Google. Use it to your advantage.
Our current string of releases focusing on improving our code is continuing with Yoast SEO 13.3. In this release, for instance, you’ll find a sizable update to how we work with languages. In addition, we have a Schema structured data addition and several improvements to how Yoast SEO handles URLs. Read on!
Improving the way we handle languages
As you know, Yoast SEO has a very advanced system for working with languages. We analyze your texts and give you tips to improve the readability or the enhance the SEO-friendliness of those articles. Yoast SEO Premium customers get an even more advanced analysis that makes it even easier to optimize your text in a natural way. All thanks to word form recognition, related keyphrases and synonyms.
Getting the analysis so smart is no small feat. Languages are hard to grasp and every language has its own rules and peculiarities. To get these analyses to function properly, we need to finetune these for each language. In Yoast SEO 13.3, we’ve drastically improved this system.
We now break down words to their stems automatically — also called stemming —, but no longer build a complete list of all the different word forms. This was a complex and time-consuming process that made it hard to scale. This new version makes it much easier for us to improve the system — and to roll out a lot more languages in the near future.
Keep in mind, the analysis itself haven’t changed — just the way we come to the end results.
Enhancements in Yoast SEO 13.3
In Yoast SEO 13.3, we’ve improved how the plugin handles URLs. Saša Todorović also submitted a number of improvements to how Yoast SEO works with URLs as well. We made sure that URLs keep human-readable, both in our forms and in the metadata Yoast SEO outputs on the frontend. Of course, they will remain encoded in the Schema structured data, because of the way JSON works with this.
Speaking of Schema, we’ve added a potentialAction entity to the WebPage and Article Schema pieces. This means we can indicate in the structured data that readers of this piece of content have the option of leaving a comment, for instance.
Update now to Yoast SEO 13.3
There you have it, Yoast SEO 13.3. This release bring a better language processing system, plus enhancements to the way Yoast SEO works with URLs. In addition, we fixed several bugs and made improvements to our code. You can find out more in the changelog for Yoast SEO 13.3. Download now!
You’ll probably have heard the term user journey a lot, but what is it exactly? And what does it have to do with SEO? The user journey consists of all the steps a user takes to reach their goal. In buying something, the user journey includes steps like reading reviews, checking prices, comparing shops etc. In SEO, you can map out the user journey and place content on all the points a user comes into contact with you. Let’s take a look.
Your user journey: how do you purchase a product?
The concept of the user journey becomes instantly clear when you are looking to buy something. Let’s say you want to buy a new tv — your 15-year old 42 inch LCD tv doesn’t cut it anymore. You do research and ask yourself some questions: how big should it be? Which screen technology? What about 4k or maybe 8k for future-proofing? Do my friends have any advice? Which shops can I go to to see some screens in action? You go through a whole lot of steps before you are ready to pull the trigger on a new tv.
That proces, from the moment you realise you need a new tv to the moment you turn on the new tv in your home — and even after that fact — is called the user journey. As an eCommerce store selling tv’s you need to know how a user might get from A to Z and prepare useful content for the moments when that user might need that content.
Now, you might think that you can simply think about which steps a user might take in any given situation and put that on some kind of timeline. Well, it’s more complicated than that. If you think about it, your process of buying something might differ completely from someone else’s. You can’t force everyone to follow the same path.
In addition, the user journey is hardly ever a straight line, more often, it’s a squiggly line moving in all directions. Users go from awareness, to research, to checking prices, to research, to talking to friends about it et cetera. Eventually, the user makes a decision — some users take hours, other months.
This also goes for how people behave on websites. They hardly ever arrive neatly via the homepage only to follow the path you want them to follow. In different stages of the journey, people need different kinds of information and they will, therefore, enter your site via different pages — probably the one buried deep in your site. After that, they can move in any kind of direction. That means that every page on a site needs to consider multiple user journeys, and act as a landing page. You can’t assume that there’s a linear/predictable flow through a site.
Mapping the user journey makes it easier for users to find what they need to come to a decision. For site owners, it offers a helpful guide to where what kind of content should be to help speed up this decision making process.
Classic marketing still applies
Thinking about user journeys automatically lets you think about all those classic marketing funnels. The AIDA model — over a hundred years old —, for instance, is a good fit for making user journeys insightful. AIDA stands for:
Attention: get your potential consumer to notice you
Interest: find a way to hold that attention to build interest
Desire: persuade the consumer to make them want your product/service
Action: get the consumer to make that conversion
AIDA is often appended with another letter, the S for Satisfaction — or the R for Retention. This is where you keep your customer once that sale is done, be it in excellent customer service or guiding him or her to their next purchase. You have to try and get some kind of loyalty. For many things, you don’t want to simply convert a sale, but also a customer for life and a champion of your brand.
Mapping the user journey helps structure the process
Mapping the user journey helps you make sense of what you need to do to turn that potential customer into a loyal returning one. Once you start researching, you’ll probably find a number of holes in your strategy or thought-process. You’ll have missed a couple of entry points and discover thinking that hadn’t occurred to you. Once you find this, you’ll also notice that there is a lot of content missing that should have helped potential customers in their journey towards you.
Mapping done well, you’ll have a solid story for your customer’s process and a guide that helps you take away all pain points.
How to map out a user journey?
The most important thing for mapping a user journey is getting inside the potential customer’s mind. These are the people doing the travelling and they know what they do to get somewhere. Don’t think you can make up stuff by yourself or your marketing team. Talk to people! Also find out what they’re saying on forums and social media like reddit.
Mapping a user journey can sometimes feel like releasing the kraken — it can become unwieldy, like something with a lot of tentacles. It is, therefore, a good idea to limit the scope somewhat. Set clear objectives, know when a task ends and don’t try to fit everything you do into one user journey. Research specific tasks for specific people and go from there.
Before you start, you need to have the basics questions answered. Who are you? What is your mission? Which problems does your product or service solve? Who is your audience or who do you think your audience is? Know yourself before you jump into a research project with the wrong knowledge.
With that out of the way, it is often a good idea to make a high-level overview of what you want to achieve. Consider how you think the user will behave on this particular journey. Don’t go into detail, but simply make a quick visualisation of the process — this helps you to define the scope of the user journey. Keep in mind, you won’t know the exact user journey until you do the research. Don’t stick to these assumptions, please.
By mapping out a journey from A to Z, you get everything and the kitchen sink but that’s probably not what you need. It’s often better to focus on a sub-journey powered by a specific scenario. This makes it easier to develop, maintain and improve.
For instance, if you offer SEO training courses, you might want to map a journey for people unaware of SEO that encompasses everything from becoming aware of the plusses of SEO to learning of SEO courses to finding your specific SEO course. That’s a whole lotta journey, so to say. In this case, you could make a high-level overview and fill these in with more detailed sub-journeys. That makes creating and mapping content to them easier as well.
In addition, it is good to think about who you are targeting. Are you targeting everyone? Probably not! By narrowing down the user profiles, you can get more specific in your journeys. This way, you can take the experiences of a user, for instance, into account.
Start researching what you have
If you’ve been in business for a while, it might be that you’ve done a lot of user research already — both qualitative and quantitative data. Maybe you know your customers inside out. Have you interviewed customers, cool! Asked them how they use your newsletter? Nice. Got a whole bunch of keyword research sheets? Awesome. Did eye tracking tests on your new website? Epic. Go over every bit of research you have done and collect the most valuable insights that can help advance the development of the user journey.
Take special note of your keyword research. If you haven’t done keyword research properly, you need to get to it. Search volumes and popularity of certain phrases can be helpful insight into what people want/need, and you can react accordingly. In addition, looking at the kinds of sites which rank for those keywords is useful. If the results for a particular keyword are mostly informational, for example, it’s probably worth considering that those searches are from people early on / in research phases, and your content/ui/etc should react accordingly.
Determine what you need
Once you’ve pored over the available research, you get an idea of what you need to form a full picture of your user/customer. You might notice a couple of patches that haven’t been discussed or questions that haven’t been asked by your customer. Make lists of all the questions you still need to answer before you know to fill in the user journey. Don’t assume anything. Don’t fill in the gaps yourself before doing the research.
Perform your research
It’s time to fill in the gaps. Once you’ve written your research plan, you can start your research. To get a good grasp on the way users are behaving, you can use all kinds of ways to get those answers:
Conduct customer interviews with specific questions
You can combine these qualitative insights with quantitative insights, from survey data, Google Analytics, sentiment analysis et cetera.
Structure the results
Once you’ve gathered all the data, you can start structuring the results. How you do this is up to you, but you could use the following buckets to structure your data and the user’s thoughts and expectations.
Actions: which steps does a user take to advance the journey?
Motivations: how do they feel about the process?
Questions: which questions do users ask themselves while trying to advance the journey?
Obstacles: what stops them from advancing?
Combined, you’ll get a clear sense of the user journey. In addition, you’ll also get an idea of the obstacles you need to take down to help the user progress without too much friction.
Visualize the results
The most recognisable part of the user journey is the visual that supports it. User journey visualizations come in all shapes and sizes. Pick one that you can understand and that fits what you want to achieve. Here are a couple of examples:
Once you’ve built up the user journey, it’s a good idea to try it for yourself. Maybe even let real customers or users do the journey. Ask them if it seems logical? Do the steps jump around? Maybe it’s too narrow or too broad? This all helps to validate the journey and take out any assumptions you might have made.
Map content to journey touchpoint
Now, you’ll have the full scope of the user journey in focus, so you’ll notice all the points where a user or customers comes into contact with you or your product. These so-called touch points are great entrance points for high-quality, and extremely relevant content that answers all the questions the user has at that particular moment in the user journey.
It’s time to start mapping your content to these specific touch points. We’ll explain how to do that in another post. While thinking about your content, keep the old AIDA model in your mind: how do you get attending and arouse interest? And once you have that, how do you get people from visitors to customers — and keep them there?
SEO is only part of the user journey
The user journey contains, more often than not, almost everything you do as a company. If you want to successfully help a potential customer from A to Z, you need to have everything in order. As users often start their journey by typing a query in a search bar, SEO plays an important role to get them relevant content when they need it. SEO, however, is merely a part of the machinery that forms a successful journey.
This probably goes without saying, but your product or service should be truly valuable and good. There’s no sense in getting people to try a subpar product. Marketing 101, right? The same goes for your branding. It has to be recognisable, genuine, unique and befitting of your company. Your site has to be technically awesome, filled with relevant content and looking incredible and trustworthy. The user experience should be stellar. Practice holistic SEO!
The consumer experience should be impeccable as well. Your potential customer is going to do a lot of research, both online as well as offline. So make sure that your companies profiles are well-tended. Get those five star online reviews and respond to the negative ones. Have active social media accounts that send out relevant content and respond to users’ questions.
Also, think about what you are doing offline. Are you running ads anywhere? Sponsoring events? Holding your own event? Think about ways to get into the minds of people without having to resort to the internet. Many people will want to form a good picture of how you are, what you do and if you are deserving of their money, so to say.
A primer on user journeys for SEO
This post gives you a solid overview of the use of user journeys for SEO. User journeys help you make sense of how users behave and they help you produce relevant content that answers questions and converts. Even if you don’t launch a full scale research project for this, thinking about how a user behaves and maybe even talking to a couple of them gives you great insights that might further your business.
WordPress 5.2 introduced a brand-new feature called Site Health. This is a tool that monitors the health of your site and notifies you of any issues or improvements to make. It is important for you to keep an eye on this page as this is where all major plugins will drop their notifications as well. Let’s dive in.
What is Site Health?
Site Health is a tool in WordPress that helps you monitor how your site is doing. It consists of two parts: a Status screen and an Info screen. You can find the Site Health tool via Tools > Site Health in your WordPress backend. In addition to WordPress’ checks, plugin developers can also integrate with Site Health.
As it gives critical information, you would expect it to show notifications in an additional way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. At the moment, you can’t set an email reminder for it or find a widget on the dashboard. Luckily, the latter will be added in WordPress 5.4 due to arrive at the end of March 2020.
Arriving on the Status screen, WordPress runs a performance and security analysis that checks your site and gives notifications and recommendations. At the top of the page, you’ll also notice a coloured circle that gives you an idea how healthy your site is. Seeing red? You’ve got work to do.
All the notifications are collapsable, so you can click on the title to see more information. You’ll also find links to more information about the issue and how to it.
On the second page, you’ll find an Info screen with detailed information about the configuration of your site. You can use this information to get help from your web host or developer when you run into trouble. Simply copy and past the information when needed!
Why should I care about Site Health?
Just as you should care about your own health, you should care about the health of your site. You could see Site Health as a kind of doctor — it finds problems and proposes solutions. These improvements range from upgrading your PHP version to deactivating unused plugins for security reasons and from implementing HTTPS to checking if the REST API is available. Simply click on a notification to see additional steps to take or more information about the check. You’ll also see which plugin notified you of the improvements.
In the future, Site Health will be the goto place for these kinds of checks and notifications. Increasingly, WordPress plugins will put relevant checks and notifications on the Site Health dashboard. This makes it a critical part of your journey towards building an awesome, secure and up-to-date site.
Yoast SEO & Site Health
As of Yoast SEO 13.2, you’ll find some of our checks in Site Health. For instance, you’ll find the permalink check, the paging comments check, the default tagline check and the Ryte-powered indexation check in Site Health. We’ll probably move more checks to Site Health whenever that makes sense. In addition, we also warn you if your site can’t connect to MyYoast to activate Yoast SEO Premium.
All about Site Health
Site Health might miss a little bit of visibility right now, but that doesn’t mean you can simply forget about it. A dashboard widget is on its way and there will probably be a lot more new stuff in the future to look forward to. For now, please keep an eye on Site Health so you and your site can enjoy a bit of good health!
In Yoast SEO 13.2, you’ll find a number of checks moved to the WordPress Site Health tool. Site Health was introduced in WordPress 5.2 as a way to help site owners and managers get a sense of how their site is doing, technically speaking. Find out more about these changes in Yoast SEO 13.2.
Is there a doctor in the house?
Site Health is a kind of doctor for your WordPress site — it not only checks for signs of illness, but also stimulates you to stay fit. It keeps an eye on your vitals and notifies you of any problems. Not just that, the site doctor also suggests ways to overcome an illness or to keep your site from getting it in the first place.
What’s Site Health?
Site Health consists of two parts: a Status screen and an Info screen. The first one runs a set of analyses to check how your site is doing. Once done, it’ll give you an overview of issues to fix and improvements to make. Click on an issue to see more information and how to fix it. On the second screen, you’ll find a lot of technical information about your site. You can copy this information and share it with your developer or web host in case of trouble.
Site Health runs several checks to see how fit your site is. It checks performance issues like outdated versions of PHP and security issues like the absence of HTTPS on your site. Plugins can hook into Site Health and add their own notifications and checks. All these are branded so you know which plugin was responsible for which warning or suggestion.
You can find Site Health by going to Tools > Site Health in your WordPress site. Unfortunately, you can’t set notifications or anything yet. To enhance discoverability, WordPress 5.4 will come with a new Site Health widget located on the dashboard. This release is due for the end of March.
Yoast SEO 13.2 and Site Health
Since Site Health is going to play a part in the future of WordPress, it makes sense for us to use it as well. In Yoast SEO 13.2, we’re moving several of our notifications to Site Health. This means that the following checks have now moved:
Pretty permalink check,
Paginated comments check,
Ryte indexability check,
Default tagline check,
And the Yoast SEO Premium activation check.
We kept the notification for the Huge SEO Issue: You’re blocking access to robots on the dashboard as this is too important to miss for users.
By adding a number of these checks to Site Health, these become more visible and less intrusive. For a lot of plugins, getting notifications right is hard. Putting relevant messages and checks on the Site Health dashboard makes a lot of sense. Now, you just have to train yourself to regularly check your dashboard.
Another update: Local SEO 12.8
In other updates, we’ve worked hard at improving the code-base of our Local SEO plugin. We’ve made huge number of behind-the-scenes improvements that makes the Local SEO plugin more stable, secure and future-proof. In addition, we fixes a couple of bugs and made enhancements.
Update to Yoast SEO 13.2
In Yoast SEO 13.2, we’ve moved some checks and notifications to a new home: Site Health. Here, you’ll find them in good company. Site Health is a helpful tool to monitor your site and you should make an effort to regularly see what’s going on there. An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
Search engines love entities. Entities can be people, places, things, concepts, or ideas and they will often appear in the Knowledge Graph. Lots of search terms can be an entity, but specific search terms can also have different meanings and thus, be different entities. Take [Mars] for example; are you talking about the planet entity or the candy bar entity? The context you give these entities in your content determines how search engines see and file your content. Find out how to link entities to your content using Yoast SEO.
Let’s talk semantics
Semantics is the search for meaning in words. In theory, you could write an article about Mars without ever mentioning it directly. People would understand it if you provide enough context in the form of commonly used terms and phrases. To illustrate this, we’ll take the keyword [Mars]. Mars is a so-called entity, and search engines use these to determine the semantics of a search. You can use structured data to support the discovery of entities on your page.
“a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable. For example, an entity may be a person, place, item, idea, abstract concept, concrete element, other suitable thing, or any combination thereof. Generally, entities include things or concepts represented linguistically by nouns.”
If you search for Mars on Google, you’ll most likely get results about the planet Mars. But why? Why isn’t the Mars candy bar in the top listings? Or Mars the chocolate company? Or the discovery district MaRS in Toronto? Maybe the Japanese movie called Mars? Or one of the many Mars-related movies made over the years? This is because Google makes an educated guess using search intent and your search history. Also, it uses co-occurring synonyms, keywords, and phrases to determine which page is about one of these specific search variations and which ones to show.
Co-occurring terms and phrases
Co-occurring terms and phrases are those that are commonly used to describe an entity. These are the terms that are most likely to pop up in content about that entity. Content about the planet Mars will probably contain mentions of the following terms:
‘low atmospheric pressure’
‘second-smallest planet in the Solar System’
Pages with Mars candy bar content might feature phrases like:
‘chocolate candy bar’
‘nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate’
While content about the 2016 Mars movie will probably mention its main protagonists Rei Kashino and Makio Kirishima.
All these words are co-occurring keywords and phrases. It’s a type of content that is semantically related to the main keyword, but that doesn’t contain the keyword itself. This might include synonyms but often expands on that because they clarify the knowledge of the term, instead of saying the same thing differently. Search engine spiders scan your content for these related terms to paint a picture about the nature of your page. This way, it can correctly index the page, ie. file under [planet Mars], not [Mars the candy bar].
Optimize for phrase-based indexing
Over the years, Google was awarded several patents that suggested the development of a phrase-based indexing system and systems using word co-occurrence to improve the clustering of topics. This information retrieval system uses phrases to index, retrieve, organize and describe content. By analyzing the context surrounding an entity – meaning all the phrases that are commonly connected to an entity – Google can truly understand what a piece of content is about.
That might sound complex, but it is something you can optimize for. And you are probably already doing that – to a certain extent. First, do keyword research to uncover the terms people generally search for and keep search intent in your mind at all times. After that, provide context in your articles.
When writing about an entity in your content, it makes a lot of sense to give search engines – and readers for that matter – as much context as possible. Use every meaningful sentence you can think of. This way, you can take away any doubt about the meaning of your content.
If your subject is the planet Mars, you need to take a look at the Knowledge Graph in Google. Scour Wikipedia. Find out what kind of common terms and phrases co-occur in search results and incorporate them into your content so you can give your term the right context. Also, run a search and open the sites of competitors that rank high for your search terms. What are they writing about and how do they describe the entity? What terms and phrases can you use in your content? By doing this, you’ll find out that there will be much overlap with what you had in mind, but there will be many new – and maybe better – nuggets for you to use.
Feed the Topic Layer
Topics are groups of terms that share the same concept. Google’s obsession with entities and knowledge graphs comes to a head in something called the Topic Layer. This Topic Layer is built on top of the knowledge graph and works as the glue that connects entities to topics making it easier for them to surface the correct content once needed. Because the Topic Layer knows a topic inside out — or it should —, it can adapt whatever it shows based on knowledge and need.
Google uses the Topic Layer to power Discover, the mobile app with an endless stream of cool stuff you are bound to like. It is meant as a tool to give you content you weren’t even looking for, so to say. To make your content stand out in this new world, you need to connect your topic to all entities and make sure that this matches what people are looking for as well.
Helpful tools to find topics, entities and concepts
Knowing your topic inside out is key in producing a piece of content that incorporates all essential terms naturally. This is why you should do research. Not just keyword research, but research your topic in general. Leave no stone unturned.
Luckily, there are a lot of tools that can help you fill in those topics, phrases and entities. Try the following to get a good idea of what you are looking for:
After you’ve found concepts related to your topic and entities, you can use Yoast SEO to write awesome content. The various analyses help you keep on topic and guide you to producing quality content that not only fits what users want but search engines as well. Yoast SEO Premium lets you do even more.
One of the things you can do with Yoast SEO Premium, is analyze and improve your text for synonyms and related keyphrases. Filling these in, makes sure that your content fully utilizes the power of relatedness.
In short, here’s how to do that:
Research your subject
Structure the topic (mind mapping rules!)
Pick your main focus keyphrase for this post
Find related keyphrases or concepts
Find synonyms for these terms
Enter your focus keyphrase in Yoast SEO
Enter the synonyms of the focus keyphrase
Fill in the first related keyphrase
Include all the synonyms for that term
And another related keyphrase, if necessary
Write an epic post!
Check the feedback you get from Yoast SEO and adjust accordingly (remember, not everything has to be green)
With enough research you know your topic inside out so you should be able to write a post that naturally encompasses all important concepts, entities and phrases. Yoast SEO Premium will now help you describe your topic as well as possible.
One more thing: no LSI keywords
Over the years, the term “LSI keywords” started to pop up again and again as a magical way to play into one of Google’s ranking factors. They are not. Yes, you have to provide search engines context. No, latent semantic indexing has nothing to do with it. There’s no evidence whatsoever that search engines have ever used latent semantic indexing to determine rankings. Latent semantic indexing was a document analysis patent from the 90’s that only seemed to work on a limited set of documents, and it has no place in SEO.
Yoast SEO 13.1 and WooCommerce SEO 12.6 are out today! In these two updated SEO plugins, you’ll find several fixes and enhancements, mostly focused at improving our Schema.org structured data implementation. In this post, you can learn more about the latest versions of Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO.
Yoast SEO 13.1
Back in Yoast SEO 11.0, we launched an innovative and expansive Schema.org implementation for Yoast SEO. For the first time ever, we can build a complete graph for a site and present it to a search engine on a silver platter. In subsequent releases, we fine-tuned the structured data implementation and we are continuously making improvements. You can find more technical detail on our implementation on Schema.org markup documentation.
In Yoast SEO 13.1, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and added a couple of enhancements in our Schema.org implementation. For one, we now set the Schema HowTo name and Article headline to the post title with a fallback to “No title”. In addition, we’ve added the inLanguage property to the Schema CreativeWork pieces. We try to determine the language of a specific piece of content in various ways, including the WordPress site language settings. This paves the way to handle a form of internationalization using Schema.org structured data.
WooCommerce SEO 12.6
Today, we’re also releasing WooCommerce SEO 12.6. This time, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced the Schema.org implementation. In WooCommerce SEO 12.5, we added the possibility to add a product identifier to your product, which makes it possible to output that number in the product Schema.org. In the 12.6 release, we’ve added some explanatory copy above the input fields for GTIN, ISBN et cetera to make this feature a little clearer.
At the end of this week, we’ll be raising the price of the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin. Are you serious about selling online? Get it today for only $49! That’ll save you some serious $$$. Don’t miss this chance…
Another enhancement to the structured data powers is the possibility to choose if you want to display the price in Schema.org structured data and OpenGraph with tax included. Simply check the box for the setting and you’re good to go.
For bug fixes, we fixed a bug where the internal linking and additional keyphrase functionality went missing from the product edit page. Also, we fixed a bug where the meta description and Twitter and Facebook description could still contain HTML tags and redundant spaces.
Update your plugins
That’s it for today’s releases! We’ve enhanced both Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO, while also fixing a number of bugs. Please review the changes and update the plugins at your convenience. Thanks for using Yoast SEO!
Today, we’re releasing Yoast SEO 13.0. This release is one in a series of releases focusing on improving our code and fixing issues — most of them behind the scenes. In addition, we’re also updating our Local SEO plugin to version 12.7 and WooCommerce SEO to 12.5. Let’s go over a couple of changes in Yoast SEO 13.0, Local SEO 12.7 and WooCommerce SEO 12.5!
Good quality code leads to fewer bugs and a more stable product. For some time now, we’ve been steadily rebuilding and reshaping several parts of our plugins to make them more solid and more secure. Juliette Reinders-Folmers is one of the driving forces behind this project. She helps our development teams grow and improve their work. In Yoast SEO 13.0, you can find several of Juliettes advancements, with a lot more to come.
Enhancements in Yoast SEO 13.0
A number of enhancements made it in Yoast SEO 13.0. For one, Yoast SEO now hides the Facebook settings when Open Graph is disabled. This means you no longer see something you’ve disabled yourself. Also, we’ve added a success state to the paginated comments alert that now lives in the Health Check center. This means you will also see the paginated comments check when you’ve set the paginated comments up correctly.
Improvements WooCommerce SEO 12.5
For our WooCommerce SEO plugin, we’ve improved and extended many parts of the Schema structured data implementation. We’ve updated the review and offer Schema output, plus we’ve extended the product output. Specifically, we added a productID to the product output and we’ve added different gtin (Global Trade Item Number) attributes to products.
Also, you can now set a specific product in WooCommerce SEO as a book. Giving it a valid ISBN number, it sets the Schema output to [ Product, Book ]. This way, the Product can have the attributes of both schema.org/Book and schema.org/Product, and thus it can have an ISBN attribute and a price etc.
Last but not least, we’ve added a product:condition meta tag to the OpenGraph output. The default condition is new but you can change this to, for instance, used using the new Yoast\WP\Woocommerce\product_condition filter. We’ve also added a product:retailer_item_id meta tag to the OpenGraph output for Facebook Catalog usage.
Improvements in Local SEO 12.7
Work also continues on our Local SEO WordPress plugin. Today, we launch version 12.7. In this version, we fixes a number of bugs and cleaned up the UI and UX for entering an API key and calculating the location’s latitude and longitude. This makes the whole process of determining your location and validating your Maps API a lot clearer. See the screenshot below.
Update now to Yoast SEO 13.0
Yoast SEO 13.0, WooCommerce 12.5 and Local SEO 12.7 aren’t huge releases, but they bring welcome improvements behind the scenes. We’re continuing our work in improving our processes, our code and our features to keep Yoast SEO the #1 WordPress SEO plugin for years to come.
On-SERP SEO is the process of fully optimizing the first page of a search engine to maximize the visibility of your brand. On-SERP SEO is a tool you can use to battle the increase of so-called zero-click searches. Find out all about on-SERP SEO in this article.
Rise of the zero-click search
Rand Fishkin of SparkToro has been tracking developments in Google for a long time. One of his works is researching the changes in how people search and where the clicks go, based on data by an analytics firm. From his recent reports emerges an interesting trend: less than 50% of all the searches lead to a click! These are the so-called zero-click searches.
Of course, the decline of the click can partly be attributed to the rise in rich results. For many queries, these results — like featured snippets, answer boxes and knowledge graphs — tend to answer the exact question a searcher has. Often, leaving the searcher without the need to click on to a full article. Since Google is working hard to understand languages, entities, and intents better, it is no surprise that it manages to answer an increasing number and ever harder set of questions right there.
In addition to upping their skills, Google is also expanding its own properties in search. For industries such as travel, you can almost book a complete trip without ever leaving Google. It won’t be long before that last hurdle will be gone as well. Of course, end-users love interacting with rich results as they often solve their needs immediately.
These developments are Google helping win an enormous amount of traffic to its own properties, from YouTube to Flights and Jobs to Events, leaving regular companies and individuals struggling to find room to shine in the SERPs. One of the means you could turn to combat this is called on-SERP SEO.
What is on-SERP SEO?
With on-SERP SEO, you try to get as much exposure for a query — or your brand — on Google’s front page as possible. That doesn’t mean you should write ten articles on your main topic in the hopes of them all showing up on page one of Google because that’s a pipe dream. No, it’s about owning all the areas where it counts:
A featured snippet
A highly-ranking post
The knowledge graph panel
People Also Ask boxes
And maybe run an ad or two for your brand
Combined, these SERP elements will give you maximum exposure for your brand. In addition, visibility might lead to better CTR. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea to look at sources of traffic/visibility outside of Google’s clutches.
Note: Last week, Google changed how they handle duplicate URLs for posts that have a featured snippet. In the past, the featured snippet was at position 0, but now it is basically number 1. The regular result from that featured snippet is dropped from the results, leaving only the featured snippet. This might impact how you approach your work and it might make it harder to ‘own’ the SERPs.
How can it benefit your site?
The main reason for working on your on-SERP SEO is enhancing the visibility of your brand. Not everything is about traffic! It does beg to differ if you can make the investment in on-SERP SEO. It doesn’t always lead to more traffic, so you must ask yourself if you can live with not getting traffic from that high-profile featured snippet.
For many searches and industries, it is hard to occupy a load of search results page features. So, what you can do depends on who you are — or who you are working for, of course. Non-branded searches make it hard to get into the knowledge graph, for instance. Do investigate and see what you can achieve!
How to start with on-SERP SEO
The process of on-SERP SEO consists of several parts. First, you need to find out how you are doing. Where are people coming from? How are they finding you? What’s the CTR for your main keyphrases? Plus, how are all these numbers trending?
When you’ve painted a picture of your situation, you start looking at the SERPs and try to find opportunities to stand out.
Look at the SERPs
Looking at the SERPs is incredibly rewarding — and an essential task. Not only will it give you an idea of what’s going in your industry, for your keyphrases or your brand, but it will also signal opportunities. You also have to look at what’s not there. When you finally know your SERPs inside out you see the changes Google makes unfolding before your eyes. What’s more, you might be ready to act if needed.
You’ll notice rich results — like featured snippets — pop up and disappear, and you’ll see different elements move around the page. Plus, you see what your competitors are doing. You’ll also notice ranking changes when they appear. Several SEO suites — like Moz Pro and SEMrush — provide tools to track what happens to SERPs and which SERP features appear for certain keyphrases.
If you have a solid understanding of your relevant SERPs you might pick up a chance to shine along the way. Be sure to act if it makes sense!
There are many answers to be found in the SERPs, but don’t be scared to start thinking outside the box. There are several ways to increase your site’s visibility in search. Let’s go over a couple of ones.
Improve search intent-based content
A very helpful tool in your arsenal is search intent research. Try to find out how and when people end up on your site and map that to your customer journey. Did you miss a couple of spots? Can you appear earlier in the journey? What do the SERPs look like for every step of the journey and does your content match does touchpoints?
Improve your keyphrase-based work
Search engines are getting better at defining what a query is actually about, but they are nowhere near faultless in matching that with a correct response. This means that you should still provide search engines with every detail you can think about. So, it makes sense to look into search intent, but it also makes sense to do old-fashioned keyword research. But now, don’t simply look at which words have the highest traffic potential, but also a good chance at a click!
Research featured snippets
A prominent spot at the top of the search results — who doesn’t want that? Getting a featured snippet is a good way of getting in the spotlights. It’s not always easy to get clicks from a featured snippet, but if you do the results can be interesting to see. It might not even be necessary to do it all for the clicks, because featured snippets can also be used to build trust or increase brand awareness.
Getting a featured snippet takes work and is a lot easier if you already rank on page one with your content. That means you should prioritize getting featured snippets for content that’s already doing well. Don’t forget to check if your research is pointing you to new chances.
Enhance visual and video search
On-SERP SEO also means improving the findability of your images and video. For your main keyphrases, your visual content needs to come out on top. Don’t have visual content pop up on image search for your brand or keyphrases? Don’t have videos? Well, you know what to do if you want to fully occupy the SERPs. The Yoast Video SEO add-on helps you get those videos in search.
Manage your social media
Your social media can appear in searches for your brand — tweets in search and links in the knowledge graph panel —, so it’s good to put work in those profiles. They don’t really push traffic, but people may view these profiles to form an opinion on your business.
Add structured data
Structured data is incredibly important for search engines to truly understand what your site is about. By using structured data correctly for any given topic (recipes, events, jobs et cetera), search engines might even reward you with a rich result listing. This means your search result is highlighted, meaning it will take up more real estate in the SERPs. Yoast SEO automatically adds a lot of Schema structured data to your site for the most important properties. You can also use the Yoast SEO content blocks to build FAQ pages and how-to articles that stand out in the search results.
Improve your local listing
It’s important to look at what your site is doing locally. Google My Business is a must-have if you want your business to stand out in the local results. Curate your listing, manage reviews and finetune your photos. Having a lively local profile can really help your visibility and brand awareness.
Take out ads for your brand
Ever since Google is running ads right under the search bar, it is a good idea to take out ads for your own brand — or keywords, if they are affordable. This way, you get an extra spot at the top that Google can’t take away from you. In addition, it prevents a competitor from advertising in your name.
Conclusion about on-SERP SEO
In the age of declining clicks, you need all the help you can get to stay visible for the searcher. One of the things you can do is look at the SERPs to try and find ways to occupy a lot of real-estate. On-SERP SEO can help you increase brand awareness. It also helps you gain new insights into what’s changing in Google and how you can react to that.
It doesn’t make sense to go all-out with on-SERP SEO for all your keyphrases. But, it does make sense to make your brand stand out, which is easier because you have most of the tools available to get that knowledge panel and ad listing.