Yoast SEO 10.0: Meet the new SEO analysis

It’s been in production for many months, capped off with two months of beta testing, and now it’s finally here: Yoast SEO 10.0! Yoast SEO 10.0 features a new SEO analysis, based on thorough research and fine-tuned with your feedback. More than 100.000 people helped us test this release to make it our best yet. Thanks, everyone! Please welcome to the stage: Yoast SEO 10.0 and its state-of-the-art SEO analysis.

We’d like to celebrate the release of Yoast SEO 10.0 with you. Get 10% off Yoast SEO Premium — today only!

Why change the SEO analysis?

SEO is never done. SEO changes constantly. While the basics keep fairly static, a lot of the playing field is different from years ago. We’ve learned a lot over the years about SEO in general, the importance of language, information extraction, and content analysis, among other things. One thing we learned, was that we should put more effort into researching our recommendations. Turned out we could improve communication about why we do what we do. That’s one of the things we wanted to fix in our new SEO analysis.

Almost a year of research went into Yoast SEO 10.0. We turned every nook and cranny of the SEO analysis upside down and inside out. We combined the insights of many SEO experts, linguists, developers and content specialists with research and common sense to come up with a set of improvements. All this lead to this moment, the release of a new SEO analysis in Yoast SEO 10.0. As of today, optimizing your content with Yoast SEO 10.0 is a lot more realistic.

What changed in Yoast SEO 10.0?

There were so many findings that we spread the development of features. One of the main focus points was improving the way we analyze and handle languages. Yoast SEO had to get smarter. These were no easy fixes, so these were developed separately by our team of linguists. That’s why we launched parts of the new SEO analysis earlier, like keyword distribution, word form and synonym support in Yoast SEO 9.0. The bulk of the changes coming from this project, however, are in this release, Yoast SEO 10.0.

Here are some of the changes you’ll notice once you start optimizing content with the new SEO analysis:

New assessment:

  • A new single H1 assessment: The single H1 assessment checks whether the body of the text contains an H1 at any position other than the very beginning.

Changes to the SEO assessments:

  • Keyphrase density. This assessment now takes the length of the focus keyphrase into account, because it can be much harder to use a longer keyphrase in your text. In the new version, you’ll need to use your longer keyphrase less often in the text than a shorter keyphrase to get a green bullet. In addition, if you write in English, Yoast SEO Premium recognizes various word forms of your focus keyphrase — for instance, [dog], [dogs] or [doggie]. Naturally, your keyword density becomes higher. This is not because you are trying to over-optimize your text, but just because the plugin became smarter. We adjusted the formula so that you do not get penalized.
  • Outbound links. We now show a red bullet instead of an orange one whenever we find no external links in a text. The web is built on links and you can help sustain that by adding relevant outbound links wherever it makes sense.
  • Image alt attributes. As of now, the plugin not only looks at the number of images with alt text on a page but also whether the number of images with the keyphrase in the alt text falls within a certain percentage when you have multiple images, preventing you from over-optimizing.
  • Keyphrase in title. For various languages, we’ll now filter out function words that precede the keyphrase in the title. This means that if you use words like [the], [on] or [what] before your keyphrase in the title, it won’t affect your score. The analysis will understand that you use your keyphrase at the beginning of your title and you’ll get a green bullet.
  • Keyphrase length. In the new Yoast SEO analysis, languages without function word support can have longer focus keyphrases, because there might be function words like the or for between your content words.
  • Keyphrase in subheading. Depending on whether we’ve already added support for your language, different rules apply when it comes to checking if you used the focus keyphrase in the subheading or not. For supported languages, you need to use all content words in your subheading for it to be recognized as reflecting your topic. For non-supported languages, we will check if you used at least half of the words from your keyphrase within a subheading.
  • Text length. We’ve upped the word limit for taxonomy pages to a minimum of 250. This gives you more incentive to write enough, good quality content on your tag and category pages, making it easier for search engines to rank these pages.

Gone from the SEO analysis:

We’ve deprecated the assessments that check the length of your URL and whether your URL contains stopwords.

The rest of the assessments of the SEO analysis remain unchanged. You can find all the different checks in Yoast SEO on the assessment overview page.

New Premium feature: Stale cornerstone content filter

Yoast SEO Premium users also get a new feature: the stale cornerstone content filter. We already offered the possibility to mark your most important posts as cornerstone content, but we’re adding a feature that helps you keep that content fresh. The stale cornerstone content filter helps you keep these updated. It gives you a notification in the WordPress post overview once a cornerstone content article hasn’t been updated in over six months. Here’s how you can use the stale cornerstone content filter.

People love the new SEO analysis

We’ve been beta testing the new SEO analysis with you, our valued user. Many of you gave us very detailed feedback on their experiences with the new SEO analysis. Of course, there are always improvements to be made, but in general, users are positive about the new SEO analysis. Here are a few of the reactions we got, republished with permission:

Yoast has continued to improve the way they help content producers like myself achieve better SEO with respect to our articles and reviews. I’ve grown to trust their prowess in staying up to date with changes in best practices as it relates to Google and other search engines. As a result, my SEO writing has improved, and I tend to trust their opinions when it comes to subtle shifts in content and formatting recommendations. Their newest SEO analysis changes are no exception.

Clint DeBoer, Lakeland, USA

I thought the previous version was good in that it improved the way I wrote and presented my webpages and blogs. However, in my opinion, the new version is more user-friendly and produces better results. I rate it 5 stars.

Jurie Fourie, Pretoria, South Africa

I think Yoast SEO analysis is an awesome tool that has helped improve my online writing immensely. I can’t imagine doing what I love to do without the help of Yoast’s SEO analysis. Yes, it’s a pain in the behind at times. But at the end of the day, SEO analysis is that omnipresent, yet silent content editor and writing coach we all need. Thank you Yoast for building such an outstanding product.

Rod Thomas, Lake Forest, USA

Yoast is constantly analyzing their processes to help me optimize my content. I like that they don’t waste my time with unnecessary analysis. Everything is on point and relevant.

Keith Lauby, Gainesville, USA

I think especially the live marking of text areas is a really good thing. For instance for transition words or keyword distribution, the analysis a tremendously helpful. When I change something, I see the effect it has in real time with no save or refresh necessary. It’s demanding but fun to work with Yoast!

Jacqueline Pohl, Berlin, Germany

It was a great tool before, now it feels more polished and more helpful.

Julia Kaldenhoff, Versailles, France

Keeping the SEO analysis updated

You might think we’d rest on our laurels for a bit after all this hard work, but that’s very far from the truth. Part of the why of this project was to fully update the SEO analysis and to make it easier to keep it up to date. SEO is never done, so we’re never done improving the best SEO plugin out there! We keep researching, testing and tinkering until the end of our days. And, of course, there are a couple of search engines we closely follow that sometimes like to shake things up. We’re ready for that!

How did this come about?

Want to know more about the background of this project? We’ve made a documentary about the process, which you can view below. Or you can read Marieke’s behind the scenes post — she was the project’s lead.

Update now!

That’s Yoast SEO 10.0 for you. We’ve revamped the SEO analysis and made it more relevant and helpful for you. We’ve enriched the feedback you get, so you can improve your content in a more natural, realistic way. Enjoy this new release! As always, we’re open to feedback and we’ll continue to fine-tune our releases based on user feedback.

We’d like to thank all participants in our beta test and, of course, you, for using Yoast SEO!

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The stale cornerstone content filter: keep your core content fresh!

Sometimes it’s the little things that count. The new SEO analysis introduced in Yoast SEO 10.0 also comes with a new feature for Premium users: the stale cornerstone content filter. This handy little tool monitors the posts you’ve marked as cornerstone content and warns you if they haven’t been updated for six months. As you know, cornerstone content is extremely important and keeping these up to date imperative. That’s why we remind you to do so!

Need help keeping your cornerstone content in tip top shape?
You’re in luck! While celebrating the release of Yoast SEO 10.0, you get 10% off Yoast SEO Premium! Now is the best time to get access to all awesome features.

It’s your most important content — treat it so!

Cornerstone content forms the heart and soul of your site. This is your crucial content that you want to rank in search engines. This content should show how authoritative you are on your chosen subject. You should give cornerstone content extra special care and keep it updated so it doesn’t lose its edge or valuation.

But we get it — it’s easy to forget things like this. There’s always so much work do on your site. That’s exactly why we introduced this stale content filter. It helps you keep essential content on your site fresh and updated. As you’ve marked specific articles as cornerstone content — thus being very important to you and your audience —, we treat them differently. Thanks to the cornerstone analysis, we grade them stricter and now also keep track of whether you keep them updated or not. If you haven’t done that in six months, we show a notification reminding you to do that. Easy, right? If not, read our article on how to keep your content fresh.

How does the stale cornerstone content filter work?

The stale cornerstone content filter is incredibly easy to use as you don’t have to do anything! If you’re anything like us, you’ll never notice it as we try to keep our ultimate guides — our cornerstone content — updated at all times. But if one should slip through the net, we’ll now see it in the post overview of our WordPress dashboard. Just to the left of the cornerstone content filter you’ll find the stale content filter. Does it have a number next to it? Then you have one or more articles that haven’t been updated in at least six months. Click on the filter to see the posts in the post overview.

See the screenshot below:

The stale cornerstone content filter unearths all cornerstone content that hasn’t been updated in over six months

Then what? Well, that’s up to you! It’s high-time to start working on that post. The least you can do, is read it again critically to see if it is still factual, accurate and relevant. If so, and nothing has changed in your company, market or niche that could warrant an update process, just make some small changes and save the post — the notification will be gone. But in most cases, there’s a lot that can happen in six months and it will be a good idea to reevaluate your content and add, delete or rewrite parts of it. It’s also a good idea to come up with a strategy for your cornerstone content.

Always strive for the best!

If you want to rank, you need to put your heart and soul into your work. Your site must be of impeccable quality, full of high-quality, engaging and relevant content. And that’s a lot of work. We know, because we are in the same position as you. Sometimes, we too find ourselves struggling to keep up and making sense of this never-ending stream of content. Luckily, little helpers like the stale content filter helps to keeps us on our toes!

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Yoast SEO 9.7: Fixes and enhancements

Do you know what’s inching closer? The release of Yoast SEO 10.0, featuring a new and improved SEO analysis! If you’ve participated in our beta test, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, please stay tuned! It’s only a couple of weeks away. In the meantime, we’re keeping up with our two-week release schedule, so now it’s time to present Yoast SEO 9.7. This release mostly concerns bug fixes and enhancements.

Enhancements

There’s a lot happening behind the scenes at Yoast HQ — we’re hard at work at all kinds of cool stuff. Before we present some of that work, we’re going to do some more cleaning up. So let’s go through some of the improvements in Yoast SEO 9.7.

First, something new for Yoast SEO Premium users. If you fill in your related keyphrases for your article, Yoast SEO can now highlight those keyphrases in the text — just click the eye icon. This makes it easier to discover how you use your related words and concepts inside your articles.

In both versions, we’re now providing better feedback for the cornerstone assessment that checks the length of your most important articles. In our never-ending quest for a product that’s accessible for everyone, we’ve improved the accessibility and focus management for the How-To and FAQ structured data blocks. We’ve also improved the headers for the Internal Links feature on the post overview to allow for better translations and accessibility.

Turns out we were using inch marks around the search term in the breadcrumbs, we’ve now replaced these with smart quotes. We’ve also added a description of the SEO and Readability score to the posts and taxonomies overview in mobile view.

Bug fixes in Yoast SEO 9.7

In this release, we’ve fixed some specific bugs. For one, there was a bug where a Flesch Reading Ease score of exactly ninety would trigger incorrect feedback, so we fixed that. Here are some of the other bugs we fixed — you can find all changes in the changelog.

There were instances where the taxonomy sitemap provider would not handle private taxonomies as expected, which meant that sitemaps would not be accessible in specific situations. We fixed that. There were also bugs related to empty Twitter descriptions, and an ‘undefined index’ warning when saving a Facebook image. Also, some people reported the Recalibration Beta not loading on specific server configurations. All fixed!

Coming up soon: Yoast SEO 10.0!

As you can see, this is a regular bug fix release with nothing too spectacular. We’re saving the spectacular stuff for our next release. As I said, Yoast SEO 10.0 is around the corner. You can expect to hear about that real soon. We’re very excited!

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Missed YoastCon 2019? Learn from our takeaways!

YoastCon 2019 was amazing. The atmosphere was great, the venue inspiring, the speakers extraordinary and the attendees incredible. We had such a great time! Personally, this is my kind of conference. Where else can you discuss the importance of structured data and the power of entities in semantic search than at a conference like this? In case you missed it, or if you want to relive it — we asked some of our colleagues their SEO-related takeaways from this year’s YoastCon.

YoastCon was two days of SEO goodness

First, let’s take a step back. YoastCon 2019 was our two-day SEO and online marketing conference held on February 7 and 8 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. In two days, attendees saw talks about many topics, from link building to site migrations and SEO copywriting to artificial intelligence in search. There were super smart guys from Bing and Google, the latter declaring their love for the WordPress CMS. Some of the talks will be available on our YouTube channel soon, while others will be exclusive material for subscribers to our online SEO training courses.

Joost de Valk and Alberto Medina from Google talking about WordPress at YoastCon

This is what stuck with us the most:

Marieke de Rakt – CEO of Yoast

Rand Fishkin’s talk got me really thinking about brand and the importance of a good brand. Throughout the conference that resonated in many of the other talks as well. Having a strong brand and a clear mission is really important. For me, that’s going to be a big focus in 2019.”

Joost de Valk – CPO of Yoast

“What surprised me most is how everybody seemed to be on the same track again, using the website as “home” and social accounts as “outposts”. This was different from a couple of years ago and it’s a trend that I fully welcome.”

Omar Reiss – CTO of Yoast

“My favourite takeaway from YoastCon was when Wolfgang Blau presented SEO as a global interest that lacks real organization. There is no network of stakeholders and experts protecting the interest of “findability” or “information availability” on the internet. This got me really intrigued and I’m sure I’ll spend some more thoughts on this topic in the future.”

Willemien Hallebeek – Content team lead

“I love this writing hack from Kate Toon: “If you don’t know how to start your article or get stuck quickly, write with a white font. By doing this you can’t start editing before you finish your draft.” So simple, but effective!”

Sjardo Janssen – Front-end developer

“I liked Jason Barnard’s talk about getting in the knowledge graph. His advice: Make sure other sites confirm facts about you, if you want to get a knowledge graph in Google and Bing. The more sites point out facts about you, the bigger the chance! And don’t forget to claim the knowledge graph!”

Melina Reintjens – Content manager

“My main takeaway was that SEO is a lot of work and that you’re never done optimizing your site. There’s always more to improve — both technically as well as content-wise. And that’s not all: you need to invest time into building your brand, managing your reputation, all while the big players on the internet keep changing the rules. So big kudos to everyone who’s working tirelessly on their site: you’ll get there!”

Alexander Botteram – React engineer

“I loved Jono Alderson’s dystopian future. We explored a world where each of us competes over finite resources, and where an all-seeing, all-powerful AI called Global decides who wins and who loses. The main rules to live by?

– Rule 1: You should be healthy.

– Rule 2: You should be creative.

– Rule 3: You should be popular.”

Caroline Geven – Creative online marketeer

“My main takeaway was not directly related to SEO, but I did get to practice something I learnt at the conference. I was so impressed by Geraldine DeRuiter’s talk on online harassment. A week later I received my first piece of hate online, but instead of it getting me down I got inspiration for a new post on dealing with this kind of stuff.”

My takeaway

I was impressed by how many of the people I spoke were talking about Schema structured data and the underlying connectedness of everything. It seems that more people seem to understand how important this technology is to help search engines figure out what it all means. Search engines figured this content thing out pretty well — they can assess the quality and make assumptions based on what a piece of content is about. What it misses, is how everything fits together in the grand scheme of things. We can help them with that. There was even a search engine at YoastCon whose lead engineer showed how to do that — here’s Bing’s Arnold Overwijk:

“If you use markup data, you make our life much easier. We can show them as results, but we can also use it for machine learning.”

At Yoast, we share this view and that’s one of the reasons why we’re rebuilding and improving our structured data content blocks for the new WordPress editor. Soon, you’ll be able to make content powered by structured data by simply dragging a block into your content and filling in the content. Job postings, review, recipes — you name it!

YoastCon 2019 takeaways

YoastCon 2019 was a great ride. We’re sure every attendee had a fantastic time and left with a list full of SEO tips. We’d like to thank each and every one of them for coming and making it such a memorable two days. Hope to see you at the next YoastCon!

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Visual search: The future is now

We are a visually oriented species. Humans can understand pictures in the blink of an eye. In comparison, we read terribly slow and understand the text even slower. What’s more, a percentage of the world’s population consists of visual thinkers — people who also think in pictures. Considering this, it is not strange to see search move towards a more visual way. You might just start your next search by opening the camera app on your smartphone. Meet visual search.

What is visual search?

Visual search consists of every search that uses real-world images like photos or screenshots as a starting point. Every time you point your Google Lens camera at a piece of clothing, you are performing a visual search. Whenever you use Pinterest to do a style match, you are doing a visual search. Visual search answers questions like: “Show me stuff that’s kinda like that but different”, or “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it”.

It’s not just style matching that awesome outfit you saw or finding out what type of chair is in that hipster interior, it going much farther than that and still we’re only at the beginning. Photo apps can read text in images and translate it. Computer vision can recognize tons of entities, from celebrities to logos and from landmarks to handwriting. At the moment, visual search is making waves in the fashion and home decor sectors, with big brands like Amazon, Macy’s, ASOS and Wayfair leading the way.

Research shows consumers are very interested in using visual search as part of their shopping experience. What’s more, a recent Sparktoro article uncovered that Google Images is the second largest player in the search engine market with 21% of searches starting there. Images are here to stay.

Many US internet users would consider visual search a great addition to regular site search channels:

Today, people are taking pictures of everything, not just beautiful sceneries or mementos of their adventures, but stuff they need to remember or tasks they need to do. Visual search will increasingly help turn those images into actual tasks. Take a photo of a business card and automatically add the contact details to my address book. Or take a photo of my written shopping list and add the items to the shopping cart of my favorite supermarket. Everything is possible.

Visual search differs from image search

Visual search is part of something called sensory search, which consists searching via text, voice and vision. In the past, nearly every search started with someone typing in a couple of words in a text field. Today, increasingly, searches start by voice or by pointing a camera app at something. You’ll see these different types of searches converge more and more as visual search is a great addition to text and voice search.

Google Lens immediatly recognizes this cute dog as a Shiba Inu

While visual search uses visuals as a starting point, image search is different. Image search has been around forever. A classic image search starts with a typed search prompt in a search field and leads to a SERP that shows a number of images that match that specific search. These images can be narrowed down by selecting smart filters from the menu bar.

Cute fluffy Japanese dog on Google Image search
Google Image search gives great suggestions and lets you easily filter the results

How does visual search work?

People have been talking about visual search for a long time, but over the past couple of years it has really come into its own. Very powerful smartphones, increasingly smart artificial intelligence and consumer interest drive the growth of this exciting development. But how does visual search work?

Visual search is powered by computer vision and trained by machine learning. Computer vision can be described as the technology that lets computers see. Not only that, it makes computers understand what they see and to make them do something useful with that knowledge. In a sense, computer vision tries to get machines to understand the world we as humans see.

Computer vision has been around for ages, but thanks to hardware developments and vast new discoveries in the field of machine learning it is improving with leaps and bounds. Machine learning provides much of the input needed for an algorithm to make sense of images. To a machine, an image is just a bunch of random numbers — it needs context to get even the slightest understanding of what’s on it. Machine learning can provide that context.

Teaching a computer to see

Using machine learning, you can literally teach a computer what something is with a training set — starting small and then scaling up quickly. Feed it enough data and it can tell the differences between slight variations as well. To increase the knowledge of these machines, Google cross-references its finding with its knowledge graph. This way, it is becoming much easier for machines to connect the pieces of the puzzle to find out what’s in a particular image and how that image fits within the bigger picture — pun intended. Many providers also give their computer vision models OCR capabilities, meaning they understand text as well.

There are many third-party providers of this kind of technology if you want to add integrate computer vision into your software. In addition to all the third-party providers, platforms like Google’s Cloud Vision and Bing’s Visual Search Developer Platform give you various ways of incorperating visual search into your sites and apps.

Bing visual search matches intent to skills

Uses of visual search

You might be mistaken to think visual search is of not much use to the average site owner. Or maybe you think it doesn’t mean much for SEO. That would be wrong. Big brands are out there testing this and condition their consumers to use visual search. If you’re in commerce, you have to keep an eye on this development. We’ll see many more players enter the visual search ecommerce space, or quickly build their presence and power, like Pinterest with their new automated Shop The Look pins. There’s a lot happening, but visual search is still only at the beginning of its lifecycle.

Currently, the focus is on making sense of images and doing something useful with it. Soon, we’ll also see visual search come into contact with augmented reality and maybe even virtual reality? While AR and VR have been hyped to death by now, the killer application of these technological developments still has to be found. Maybe augmenting the real-world onto visual search results might be just that?

Visual search can be used for a lot of things, like helping you discover landmarks in a strange city, helping you increase productivity or find the beautiful pair of shoes that fits perfectly with that new dress you bought. It can also help you identify stuff like plants and animals and teach you how to do a particular chore. Who knows what else?

Some visual search applications

When we think of visual search there are a couple of players that immediately come to mind. It’s not so weird that almost every big brand is experimenting with visual search or doing research into what computer vision can bring for their platform.

Facebook, for instance, works on building an AI powered version of their Marketplace. They even purchased a visual search technology start up called GrokStyle that could drive that development. Apple also bought several companies active in the visual search space, mostly to improve their photo apps, while their ARKit developer program has very interesting options for working with visuals. Both Snapchat and Instagram let you buy stuff on Amazon by pointing your camera at an object.

Here are some of the most used visual search tool of this moment:

Pinterest Lens

Visual search has been around for some time, but there’s one platform that brought it into the limelight: Pinterest. Pinterest is the OG, so to say. It is an inherently visual platform as it lets users collect images in boards and helps them get inspired by looking at other peoples boards. While helpful and interesting, it was a fairly static product.

A couple of years ago, the company started investing loads in computer vision, AI and machine learning that eventually led to an app called Lens. Ongoing development brought things like Shop the Look, which was the first visual shopping tool of its kind. Things really took off for Pinterest. In 2018, a year after the release of Lens people did more than 600 million visual searches every month. That’s a 140 percent increase year over year. That suggests a meteoric rise, but its platform dependency makes it too ‘closed’ to reach critical mass. Plus, the competition is picking up speed.

Shop the Look lets you discover similar items

Google Lens

Google Lens wants to turn your phone into a visual search engine. Hit the tiny Lens icon, point your camera at an item and voila! Google is pushing Lens pretty hard. You can find it everywhere: the Photos app, Google Search app and Google Assistant. That last one is interesting, as you can use Assistant to do something with the images you capture. Take a picture of a recipe and ask Assistant to add it to your recipe book. Or use Google Translate to translate the foreign text on that sign — live, if you want.

Google Lens works in real time and recognizes over a billion products. At the end of last year, Google announced that Lens was also available for regular Image searches. The US only for now, but it is expected to be rolled out worldwide later this year.

Bing Visual Search

Bing is very active in the visual search space. Microsoft has been doing a lot of research and making lots of knowledge freely available. Not only do they have integrated their visual search in a really cool mobile app for the large platforms, but they also have a dedicated web platform. This website demonstrates the power of Bing visual search and it works very well. Just upload an image and see what Bing makes of it. Or use one of the example images to get a quick idea of how good it works.

While Bing mobile does much of the same stuff the other visual search providers do — point your camera at something and have it figure out what it is —, they have a big differentiator: skills. Developers can harness the power of visual search to append a skill to a matched image. So, if you have loads of products that Bing recognizes, you can define what a searcher should be able to do once your image has been analyzed. For this, the visual search identifies the intent of the search and requests different skills based on that intent. After that, Bing combines the skills and sends them to the app. If you have a home decor store, a search like this might not only yield a buy skill, but also a DIY skill. You can build these skills yourself. Try it on the Bing Visual Search Development Platform.

You can visual develop a skill for Bing Visual search

Amazon

Amazon is using their visual search technology mostly to provide other platforms a way of visually shopping for stuff. I’ve already mentioned they are working with Snapchat and Instagram to let shop via their camera app. For Amazon, visual search is important as it gives them a new way to have users shop. Now, if you see something in a store you can take a picture of it with the Camera Search functionality inside the Amazon app. It shows you all the relevant products that are available on Amazon and you can refine your search via visual attributes if you want.

Apparently, Amazon was working on an AI-powered shopping platform called Scout. Last month, however, Amazon announced a new delivery robot with the name Scout. As of now, it’s unclear what happened to the old Scout product. The old Scout let users build up a sort of taste database by liking or disliking products and product variants. This would eventually help them narrow down the number and uncover new products that would fit their taste.

Another interesting thing Amazon is working on, is combining visual and voice search. Products like the Echo Show and Echo Spot bring a smart voice assistant into your home, that supports the search results with visuals. Amazon also offers a lot of insights into how visual search works and how you can build your own integration on AWS.

But how does Google Image search tie into this?

Reading all this, you might think that good old image search is on its way out. Well, you’re wrong. A large part of searches happen in image search. Visual search is a kind of add-on for image search. You use it in different circumstances. The results are different as well. If you know what you need, you’ll go find an image in image search. If you see something interesting on an image, but you’re not quite sure what it is, hit that image and let visual search do its job.

Google Image search had a makeover this year. Almost every month, Google changed something or added new features. I’ve already mentioned the availability of Lens inside the image search results on mobile. Simply tap an image and see if Lens can see what it is. Image search now also has related concepts filters that let you drill down into your topic or uncover related items you never thought of. There are now badges to identify if something is a product you can buy directly. This is only a small sampling of the changes Image search underwent. O, did I mention that you can just type [fluffy Japanese dog] to come up with the search result of those cute Shina Ibu dogs you saw earlier in this post? Yay entities, yay knowledge graph!

Image SEO: More important than ever

As we are using images more and more to search for stuff, we need to take better care of our image SEO. Image SEO has always been something of an afterthought for many people, but please don’t be like that. You can win a lot if you just high-quality, relevant images and optimize these thoroughly. Google sees the massive potential and is putting even more weight into it. Here’s Googles Gary Illyes in a recent AMA on Reddit:

“We simply know that media search is way too ignored for what it’s capable doing for publishers so we’re throwing more engineers at it as well as more outreach.”

Gary Illyes

Last year, Google’s latest algorithmic change for Image search focussed on:

  • ranking results based on both great images and content
  • authority
  • relevance
  • freshness
  • location
  • context

It’s not hard to get your images ready for image search. We have an all-encompassing post on image SEO if you need to learn more. In short:

  • Use structured data where relevant: mark up your images
  • Use alt attributes to describe the images
  • Find unique images — not stock photos
  • Make them high quality if you want AI to figure out what’s on it
  • Add them in a relevant place, where they provide context to the text
  • Use descriptive filenames, not IMG168393.jpg
  • Add captions where necessary
  • Use the right sized images
  • Always compress them!

Our world is visual: now you can search with visuals

Over the past year, we truly see sensory search come to light. Everyone was all about voice search, but visual search is providing a helpful new dimension. Lots of the time, a visual search just makes much more sense than a spoken one. And sometimes, it’s the other way around. That’s why voice and visual will never be the default search experience: they build on the others strength and weaknesses. Combined with good-old text search, you have every possibility to search the way you want!

Now… where’s that mindreader?

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Yoast SEO 9.6: Improving our code

We’re still recuperating from an awesome edition of YoastCon last week, but that won’t keep us from releasing a new version of Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO 9.6 is a bug fix release with an additional focus on improving the code base of the plugin to better adhere to coding standards. Find out what else is new in Yoast SEO 9.6!

A reminder: The beta test toggle will be removed

Testing the new SEO analysis — due for release in Yoast SEO 10.0 — has been a great success. More than 100.000 people are helping us test the new version in real-world situations. We are in awe of those numbers — thanks everyone! All this input will give us enough feedback to improve the new analysis even further before we release it into the wild some time from now. Read more on this beta test in the release post of Yoast SEO 9.4 or find out why you should help us test.

In Yoast SEO 9.6, we will remove the toggle to sign up for the beta as we have more than enough participants and data. If you’ve already enrolled, you can continue using it. After the update, it’s no longer possible to sign up or to reactivate it once you’ve switched it off.

Improving Yoast SEO by using better code standards

One of the main improvements in this release of Yoast SEO is not a new feature or some bug fixes, but something less visible: better code through code standards. Together with the awesome Juliette Reinders Folmer, we’ve embarked on a journey to drastically improve the code of our plugins.

We’re in the process of discarding old standards and embracing new ones. There are lots of reason to use modern standards: from code that’s easier to maintain, to read and to debug. It leads to more consistency and a much more secure code base, hardening it for security risks. At the moment, Yoast SEO is on PHPCS 2.8.1, WPCS 0.10.0, YoastCS 0.4.3, PHPCompatibility 9.1.0, PHPCompatibilityWP 2.0.0.

This is an ongoing process that will eventually lead to a healthier and modern code base that is a joy to develop on. All of this will, of course, ultimately benefit users as well!

Other improvements

In this release, among other things, we’ve removed Schema output from 404 pages as that is not necessary. We’ve also improved the accessibility of the Search Console part of the interface, now show a 404 for empty feeds for non-existing pages (thanks Saša Todorović!) and improved our open source content analysis library (thanks Alexander Varwijk!). You can read the full list of changes in the changelog.

Update now!

There you have it. On the outside, this might seem like a rather small release but there are a lot of improvements under the hood. You might not see it, but adhering to new coding standards streamlines a code base, making it faster, easier to maintain and more secure. We’re continuing to improve our plugins in a two-weekly cycle and there’s a lot of cool stuff down the road.

Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

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What is a keyword strategy?

To get traffic, you need people willing to visit your site. To get them to visit your site, you need to know what they are looking for, which words they use and what type of content would fit their intent best. In short, you need a keyword strategy. In this SEO Basics article, we’ll take a brief look at what keyword strategy is and how it goes hand in hand with keyword research.

What is keyword strategy?

While many simply talk about doing keyword research to find out what terms you should use, what you do after that is just as important: this is your keyword strategy. A keyword strategy contains every decision you take based upon your findings in your keyword research project, whether it’s about the content you’re planning to write or how you are going to track the results in Analytics. Keyword strategy is about how you want to target those keywords, now and in the future. 

Read our ultimate guide to keyword research for SEO for an all-encompassing overview of all things keyword research. In addition, we have online training on keyword research as well.

A keyword strategy forms when looking at yourself and your environment

You need to have plenty of insights if you want to make informed decisions about your keyword strategy. Start by thoroughly investigating yourself, your product and your competitors.

Looking at yourself

A good keyword strategy starts with looking at yourself and your business. What are you doing and why? What are your goals? What’s your uniqueness in this world? What is the message you want to send? How’s your branding? Why would anyone want to visit your site? Better insights lead to a better understanding of what you want to achieve as to not waste resources. There’s no use focusing on the wrong things.

Looking at search intent

After you’ve fleshed out your uniqueness, it’s time to look at how. Search intent is the why behind the search that should lead to your site. Do you know your audience? Are people only looking for information or are they willing to buy stuff as well? Are there ways for you to target specific intents with focused content to influence this?

Looking at words

Words are at the center of everything. By doing keyword research, you should get great insights into the words people use to find what they are looking for. Now, you need to produce user-oriented content that fits their intent and goals perfectly. 

Looking at competition

While writing up your keyword strategy you need to take a good look at your competitors. What are they doing? How well are they ranking for terms you’d like to attack? What kind of content do they have? Are there ways for you to improve on that? Have you thought about looking at the long tail?

Looking at the search engines itself

Of course, while looking at your competitors, you’ll often use search engines to see how they are doing. Doing these types of searches can give you great insights into the strategy of your competitors. It also gives you a very good feel of what happens when you type in your main focus keyphrase. What’s the on-screen real estate like? Are there featured snippets you could target? Are there other types of rich results? Is there a local pack?

In some markets, if you track developments over time, you might see that search engines are increasingly giving answers that lead to no-click searches. Always keep an eye on search engines, but don’t go obsessing about every little algorithm update.

Looking at data

Of course, analyzing data plays a big role in the success of your keyword strategy. Both before and after, Google Analytics provides invaluable insights into the performance of your site. Even Google Search Console can give a lot of stuff to think about and opportunities to pursue!

How are you targeting your keywords?

Checking your analytics regularly to keep track of your SEO performance is incredibly important, but can’t have performance without content tailored to the specific needs and goals of your strategy. If you’ve ran through all the steps and did a thorough keyword research, you should have an idea of what you should target and how you should do that. You can use these insights to create the content you need to make a success of your strategy. There’s a lot you can do:

  • Make landing pages
  • Create specific types of content for the different search intents
  • Maybe make specific content to get featured snippets
  • Or maybe voice search is something that might fit your strategy?
  • Or apps?
  • Video?
  • Something else entirely?

Many roads lead to Rome, but some roads are more difficult than others. You could say that you get to Rome fastest via the highway, but there you might run into a traffic jam because everyone wants to take that route. Sometimes, it’s better to take that rarely traveled mountain pass — the results might wow you!

Update your keyword strategy

On the way, there’s a lot that can happen and your keyword strategy should take that into account. Regularly re-evaluate your keyword strategy. Have there been significant changes in the world around you that need to be assessed? It might be that your users’ language changed or that a new competitor is gobbling up market share. Keep an eye on things and adjust where necessary!

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Yoast SEO 9.5: Hej Sverige!

It’s great to help people write better content in their own language. Of course, Yoast SEO works with any language, but languages that have full readability support get access to an even better content analysis. In Yoast SEO 9.5, we’re adding a new language to our roster: Swedish! In addition, we also improved the transition word support for German. Find out what else is new in Yoast SEO 9.5.

An improved understanding of Swedish

There’s an ever-increasing quest for quality. We know customers value a flawless piece of content aimed at wherever they are in their journey to find out what they need. But, we’re also increasingly aware of how much search engines value a great piece of content — and they can judge quality more easily every day. Luckily, our content tools can help you improve your content. What’s more, the Yoast SEO content analysis even has checks that are tailored to specific languages. Today, we’re adding a new one: Swedish.

Swedish joins a growing list of language that fully supports the specific Yoast SEO readability checks. The list as of today consists of English, Russian, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and French, with more on the way. For these languages, we understand and recognize, among other things transition words and passive voice, so we can calculate an accurate Flesch Reading Ease score, give relevant suggestions for related links and generally give better feedback on how to improve your writing. English language users can also enjoy the awesome word form support, which we’re developing for other languages as well.

Besides providing readability support, we’re also improving the keyword functionality. This means that we can make a distinction between content words and function words, so we can provide better feedback based on words that have true meaning.

Reminder: Help us test a new SEO analysis!

Almost 80.000 people are helping us beta test the new SEO analysis that will arrive in Yoast SEO 10.0. Can we add you to the list? The more the merrier!

Our new analysis is the result of months of hard work by a dedicated team of experts looking to align the plugin with research. This gave us a lot of insights into what works and what doesn’t, what’s old and outdated and what’s missing. We used these insights to improve the analysis in Yoast SEO. At the moment, we’re testing this before we roll it out.

You can start testing by switching on the toggle in SEO > General > Features. You’ll be added to a special mailing list which we only use to send you a couple of questionnaires. Read all about the upcoming changes in Yoast SEO and more about why you should help us test.

Update to Yoast SEO 9.5

While Yoast SEO 9.5 mostly consists of bug fixes and enhancements — which you can find in the changelog —, we’ve added a new language to our roster and updated support for German. Flawless content is incredibly important in this day and age and we hope our tools can help you to improve yours!

If you haven’t signed up for testing the new analysis of Yoast SEO, please do. Together we’ll make Yoast SEO 10 an incredible release. Thanks!

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Yoast SEO 9.4: Help us beta test the new SEO analysis!

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about SEO. We felt the impact quality content and a technically flawless site has on a successful SEO strategy, so we built tools that help you to improve your own site. We’ve developed a strong set of defaults that can be applied to a broad spectrum of sites. As with everything, after a while, you need to evaluate what you are doing and see if you can make improvements. That’s what we did — in Yoast SEO 9.4, you’ll find an updated SEO analysis that you can beta test. It will be released in Yoast SEO 10.

Help us test the new SEO analysis, due for Yoast SEO 10

SEO is always changing. What worked years ago, might not work anymore. Sometimes ‘rules’ have become stricter, while other times looser. Since there is no SEO rulebook, we need to rely on experience, common sense and expert insights to make the right decisions. We need to keep up-to-date so we can keep our plugin up-to-date so we can keep you up-to-date, so to say.

Our latest project does just that. We carefully selected several Yoasters from different backgrounds — SEO experts, content specialists, linguists and developers — to form the research team that needed to align Yoast SEO with the latest insights in SEO. The outcome of this research, combined with your feedback, inform the choices we make that will result in the release of a new and improved SEO analysis in Yoast SEO 10.

Ready to help? Great! Activate the beta analysis and fill in the questionnaires you’ll receive. We’ll use your feedback to make the final version even better! Here’s more information on why you should test the new SEO analysis.

We need you!

As mentioned, we need feedback. We’re not going to change anything without your input. By activating the beta analysis, you can provide us with insights into how you experience the new analysis. Please use the new version of the SEO analysis like you normally do and report back. You’ll notice that it grades your content slightly different. We’ve made it extremely easy for you to take part in our beta test. Here’s how you can start:

  • Switch on the toggle for the new SEO analysis in SEO > General > Features
  • We’ll automatically add you to a special mailing list
  • Start using the new SEO analysis
  • Fill out the questionnaires we send you periodically
  • Success!
  • Done testing? Simply turn off the beta analysis

What’s changing in the new Yoast SEO analysis?

The project team thoroughly researched current SEO knowledge. They evaluated other SEO tools and writing software and carefully looked at all the analyses in Yoast SEO. Together, they came up with a solid set of improvements for the plugin. You can read more about the project or watch the documentary that gives a great overview of the how and why.

We launched parts of the updated analysis already, like keyword distribution, word form and synonym support in Yoast SEO 9.0. The bulk of the changes, however, will be in Yoast SEO 9.4 — which will eventually become Yoast SEO 10. Here are some of the changes you’ll notice once you activate the new SEO analysis:

New assessment:

  • A new single H1 assessment: The single H1 assessment checks whether the body of the text contains an H1 at any position other than the very beginning.

Gone from the SEO analysis:

  • The assessments that check the length of your URL and whether your URL contains stopwords.

Changes to the SEO assessments:

  • Keyphrase density. This assessment now takes the length of the focus keyphrase into account, because it can be much harder to use a longer keyphrase in your text. In the new version, you’ll need to use your longer keyphrase less often in the text than a shorter keyphrase to get a green bullet. In addition, if you write in English, Yoast SEO Premium recognizes various word forms of your focus keyphrase — for instance, [dog], [dogs] or [dogged]. Naturally, your keyword density becomes higher. This is not because you are trying to over-optimize your text, but just because the plugin became smarter. We adjusted the formula so that you do not get penalized.
  • Outbound links. We now show a red bullet instead of an orange one whenever we find no external links in a text. The web is built on links and you can help sustain that by adding relevant outbound links wherever it makes sense.
  • Image alt attributes. As of now, the plugin not only looks at the number of images with alt text on a page but also whether the number of images with the keyphrase in the alt text falls within a certain percentage when you have multiple images, preventing you from over-optimizing.
  • Keyphrase in title. For various languages, we’ll now filter out function words that precede the keyphrase in the title. This means that if you use words like [the], [on] or [what] before your keyphrase in the title, it won’t affect your score. The analysis will understand that you use your keyphrase at the beginning of your title and you’ll get a green bullet.
  • Keyphrase length. In the new Yoast SEO analysis, languages without function word support can have longer focus keyphrases, because there might be function words like [the] or [for] between your content words.
  • Keyphrase in subheading. Depending on whether we’ve already added support for your language, different rules apply when it comes to checking if you used the focus keyphrase in the subheading or not. For supported languages, you need to use all content words in your subheading for it to be recognized as reflecting your topic. For non-supported languages, we will check if you used at least half of the words from your keyphrase within a subheading.
  • Text length. We’ve upped the word limit for taxonomy pages to a minimum of 250. This gives you more incentive to write enough, good quality content on your tag and category pages, making it easier for search engines to rank these pages.

You can find all the different checks in Yoast SEO on the assessment overview page. Please use the new SEO analysis like you always do and give us your feedback. Together, we make Yoast SEO better than ever!

What else is new in Yoast SEO 9.4

Yoast SEO 9.4 is mostly about the new SEO analysis, but you can find plenty of other enhancements and bug fixes under the hood. For instance, we’ve improved the accessibility of the analysis results and the Title Separator settings. We’ve fixed numerous bugs, including one where pagination elements were not shown in the Genesis theme. In addition, we’ve had a lot of help from Saša Todorović for this release, mostly with WooCommerce related improvements. You can find all the changes in the changelog for this release.

Update and help us improve the next generation SEO analysis!

There you have it. Yoast SEO 9.4 gives you a glimpse of what’s coming to Yoast SEO 10 in the near future. We took a long hard look at the current state of SEO and how Yoast SEO fits into that picture. Where necessary, we made changes that bring Yoast SEO into the now and maybe even the future. What’s more, you can help build that future! We would love for you to help us improve this new SEO analysis. Thanks!

Read on: Why try out the new Yoast SEO analysis? »

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SEO in 2019: Improve, improve, improve

For most sites, SEO in 2019 is not much different from the past couple of years: you still need to improve the same stuff, but you do need to set the bar higher and higher. Competition is getting fiercer and Google — and your potential client — is getting better at recognizing true quality. Also, you need to take a step back to see if you are still reaching the right people at the right time. Search intent needs to determine your keyword research and content marketing decisions. Here, you’ll get a quick overview of SEO in 2019.

It’s all about quality

2019 is all about quality. Improving quality across the board should start with determining what exactly it is you do. Evaluate your products and services, and the way you describe these. Have trouble describing what you do? Well, maybe you need to go back to the drawing board. Your product must be excellent, as there is no use in trying to rank a sub-par product. No-one would fall for that. A killer product needs a killer site and a killer plan to get that site noticed.

SEO in 2019

I could talk about the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning or conversational interactions, but I’m not going to do that. You should take note of these developments to see where search is heading, but for this moment, for most sites, it’s all about improving what you have right now. Site quality is key. So, these SEO trends for 2019 is not hyped up stuff, but subjects we’ve been hammering home for a while. Remember Holistic SEO?

A few weeks ago, we hosted our first live webinar titled ‘SEO in 2019’. Many of the points mentioned here were discussed in the webinar, so please watch it if you haven’t yet.

Mobile-first, yeah really

First up, 2019 is the year mobile-first truly is the default. Since Google switched over to mobile-first indexing, it judges your site by how it works on mobile, even when a lot of your traffic is from desktop. Give your mobile site special care. You should test whether your mobile site works just as well as your desktop site. Is the structured data functioning and complete? Do images have relevant alt-texts? Is the content complete and easy to read? Make it lightning fast, easy to use and useful.

Improve site quality

If you’ve been playing this game for a while, you’ve been working on your site for a long time. Over the years, there’s been a lot of talk about all the things you really should focus on because that’s what the search engines would be looking at. Experts claim to know a lot of the factors search engines take into account to rank a piece of content for a specific term. That’s simply not possible. While nobody knows exactly what happens behind the scenes of a search engine, you can look back over a greater period of time to determine trends. One thing that always keeps popping up?

Quality.

In 2019, your site needs to be technically flawless, offer a spectacular user experience and great content, targeted at the right audience at the right time in their user journey. And, of course, your site’s speed needs to improve. It also means incorporating and improving Schema structured data, as Schema.org is one of the key developments for next year.

Let’s go over some of the things you need to focus on in 2019.

Improve site speed

Site speed has been an important factor for a couple of years, but it is going to become critical. If you can’t keep up with your competition now, you’ll soon find yourself having a harder time keeping up if you’re not speeding up your site. If one of your competitors becomes a lot faster, you become slower by comparison, even when you’re not actually becoming slower. Improving loading time is a lot of work, but as it might make you much faster than the competition, it’s a very good tradeoff.

Enhance the user experience

Is your site a joy to use? Can you find what you need in a jiffy? Is the branding recognizable? How do you use images? Improving the user experience is a sure-fire way to make your — potential — customers happy. Happy customers make happy search engines!

Untangle your site structure

Loads of sites were started on a whim and have grown tremendously over time. Sometimes, all those categories, tags, posts and pages can feel like the roots of trees breaking up a sidewalk. It’s easy to lose control. You might know that keeping your site structure in check is beneficial for your visitors, as well as search engines. Everything should have its right place and if something is old, outdated or deprecated, maybe you should just delete it and point it to something relevant.

This year, you should pay special attention to your site structure. Re-assess your site structure and ask yourself if everything is still where it should be or are there improvements to be made? How’s your cornerstone content strategy? Is your internal linking up to scratch? Are redirects screwing with the flow of your site?

Implement Schema.org structured data

Structured data with Schema.org makes your content instantly understandable for search engines. Search engines use structured data to make connections between parts of your page and the world around it. It helps to provide context to your data. Besides making your site easier to understand, adding structured data to your site makes your site eligible for so-called rich results. There are many types of rich results, from star ratings to image highlights, and search engines continue to expand this. Structured data forms the basis of many of the most exciting developments of this moment, like voice search (speakable Schema!).

Implementing structured data is not very easy, but we’re working to get that problem solved. Our new structured data content blocks for the new WordPress block editor lets you automatically add valid structured data by simply picking a block and filling in the content. We now offer blocks for FAQ pages and How-to articles, with more on the way. In addition, we also have an online course on structured data.

Content quality

There is a ton of content out there — and there’s a lot of new content published every day. Why should your content be in the top ten for your chosen focus keyphrase? Is it really good enough to beat the competition?

Keep search intent front and center

Search intent is the why behind a search. What does this person mean to do with this search? Is it to find information or to buy something? Or maybe they’re just trying to find a specific website. Or is it something else entirely? Search engines are getting better and better at understanding this intent and the accompanying user behavior, although we need to help search engines pick the right version of our content. By determining the intent behind a search, you can map your keyword strategy to the specific intents a searcher has. Map these intents to your content and you’re good to go.

Re-do your keyword research

It’s high time to re-do your keyword research. There is bound to have been an enormous amount of changes in your market. Not only that, your company itself is bound to have changed. Not updating your keyword research is missing out on important opportunities. So go back and ask yourself these questions:

  • What changed in my company?
  • What changed in and around my audience?
  • What changed in people’s language?
  • What changed in where people search?

Content is context

Context is one of the most important words of the past year. Context is what helps search engines make sense of the world. As search engines become smarter and smarter, it is becoming more important to provide them with as much related information as possible. By offering the necessary context about your subject and entities, you can help search engines make the connection between your content and where that content fits in the grand scheme of things. It’s not just content; the links you add and how you add these links also provide context that helps search engines. Also, Schema provides another way to show search engines what’s connected.

By mapping the context of your subject, you might find you have a hole in your story. It could be that you haven’t fully explored your topic. Or maybe you found new ways of looking at it, or maybe science threw you a curveball. Who knows! Stay on top of your topic and incorporate everything you find. Sometimes, it also means going back through your old content to update, improve or fix things — or delete stuff entirely.

Re-assess the content and quality of your most important pages

If you are anything like us, you have been at this game for a while and produced loads of content in that time. That’s not a bad thing of course, unless you are starting to compete with yourself. Keyword cannibalization is one of the big issues these days. Content maintenance is a thing. Keep an eye on the search results of your chosen focus keyphrase. Do you have multiple articles in the top ten for a specific keyphrase? Well, that’s probably not what you want.

To find out how you are doing, you need to re-assess your content. Is everything in tip-top shape? Do you need to write more? Or less? Maybe combine several weaker articles in one strong one? Content pruning is going through your posts to see what you can take out to improve the rest. Sometimes, the best SEO strategy can be not to write more, but to improve what you have!

Hone those writing skills!

Quality content is well-written content. Quality content is original, in-depth and easy to understand. Search engines are getting better at determining the text quality of an article and make decisions based on that. Also, readers value well-written texts more and get a sense of trust from them. If content reads well and is factual and grammatically correct, it will come across more professional and people will be more likely to return to read more of your content. So, brush up those writing skills! We have an awesome SEO copywriting guide and an SEO copywriting course if you need help.

Search is on the move

As much as we’d like everything to happen on our website, it’s not. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing: your search engine optimization might need to happen elsewhere and not specifically in Google. For some searches and actions, search is moving beyond the website or social media platform. There are loads of devices that can answer a spoken question with a spoken answer. Devices that can book tickets for you or reserve a table. There are huge e-commerce platforms that seem to get the majority of product searches, not to mention all those app-based services out there. Visual search is also on the rise. Maybe these have value for you?

Conversational search (voice, assistants, bots)

Did you see that Google Duplex demo? That virtual assistant that called a barbershop to make an appointment for its owner? How cool was that, right? Well, that’s one type of conversation we can expect soon. Virtual assistants will become mainstream and voice search one of the easiest ways to search for stuff. We will even be able to turn a single question into a dialogue, complete with action points.

Conversational searches differ from the searches we type in the text field. When we ask a question out loud, we make it a full sentence, which we hardly do while typing. Not to mention that we often use a location and add a value to the voice search. It has to be seen if every company should adopt a voice search strategy. It is something you should look at, though. If it makes sense for you, please do!

(Progressive web) apps

Links to apps are continuing to pop up in search, especially on mobile. Loads of sites bombard you with links to their apps on the home screen. Some services are app-only, like Uber. Apps are everywhere, even Google is now testing structured data for software apps. What’s more, Google is expanding its own homepage on mobile with a Discover feed app.

Where’s an app, there’s a customer to reach. Uber might be the ultimate taxi hailing service, but why can’t a local taxi company replicate that? Apps offer another way — and sometimes better way — of reaching your audience. Depending on your product and market, it might be a good idea to look into apps. If you’re not willing to go down the native route, there’s always progressive web apps — which we’ll see a lot off this year!

Other platforms

Traditionally, a lot of search happens not on search engines, but social media and other types of platforms. Now, this past year we’ve seen a steady decline in traffic and conversion coming from social media. Totally different platforms are taking their place. YouTube is a powerful search engine, as is Amazon. And did you see the meteoric rise of alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo? People are getting more privacy-aware, which is a good thing! Depending on the searcher and his/her goal, platforms like these are becoming increasingly important. Surely, something to think about!

One system for getting traffic in 2019

Now, if we’d recap all this, what does it all boil down to? We know it sounds easy when you read it like this, but this is what you should keep in your head at all times:

  • You should have a fast, easily usable, technically flawless website with high-quality content that truly helps visitors.
  • This website needs to be supported by a brand that offers high-quality products and services.
  • Depending on your niche, this might also mean that you need an app strategy or a strategy for an external platform.

SEO in 2019: What’s next?

It’s easy to say that your site must be better than ever in 2019, because it’s true! Those ten blue links and rich search results are what it’s all about for most sites. The majority of traffic will still come from organic search. Social media traffic is down, conversational search is on the rise, but not big enough to put a dent in organic. So you have to keep improving your site in all the right places.

Of course, there’s a lot of other stuff happening at the same time and most of it concerns an ever-changing Google. Next year, we’ll start to see Google less as a search engine and more as a visual assistant — a person who lives in your phone and solves problems for you. And that’s what they want to get to. It’s been a promise for a long time, but now we’re starting to see it with all these rich results and answer boxes. This will be interesting to watch.

Have a great 2019!

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