If you own a website, you have to think about the structure of your site, whether it’s a blog or a shop. Site structure is essential to help users find their way on your site and it helps your site to rank. So your site’s hierarchy needs to make sense to both users and search engines. When you’re creating one, you might wonder if your structure is too deep or too shallow. Let’s take a look at an example.

Milada Sejnohova, emailed Ask Yoast with the following question:

“How deep can I make the site structure of my blog? Can I make it for instance:

  • Elemis
    • products
      • anti-aging?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Depth of your site structure

In the video, I answer Milada’s question:

Well of course you can!

First of all, if you have a products section, then it’s not a blog, it’s a website.

And two, your structure (products and then anti-aging) is a perfectly reasonable way of setting up your site. As long as it’s useful to users and it makes sense, you’re okay. It has to make sense for someone who has never been on your site.

What you really should be thinking about is: if I come to your site and I’m on any page on your site and I know that something should be there, do I know how to get there easily? Because that’s determined in large by your site structure. So make it as easy to understand as possible! 

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘The ultimate guide to site structure’ »

When you’re starting a business, you probably want to launch a website too. So you have to register one domain or more. Let’s say you’re registering your brandname as a domain, which extensions or TLDs (Top Level Domains) should you pick? Brandname.com? Brandname.biz? Or perhaps brandname.vip? Does it matter for SEO? We’ll help you make that choice in this Ask Yoast.

We received a question from Rob:

“Is there any benefit to having multiple extensions of a .com domain name? Like .net, .biz, .co.uk, etc.?
If so, how can you use these to an SEO advantage?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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TLD influence on SEO?

In the video, I’ll explain what to consider when selecting additional Top Level Domains:

“Well, for SEO value it doesn’t really matter, because for SEO you probably want to use one domain and one domain only, in particular a more generic one, like .net, .biz, etc. I would really recommend using just one and if you can, use the .com. But on the other hand I would buy all of them. Why?

Well, because you don’t want anyone else using them for their business. Your domain name probably relates to your business in some way and you don’t want anyone else using that for something else. So I would preregister or register a lot of them or at least the common ones, especially the easy ones like .net, .biz. You don’t have to do all the new fancy ones, like .agency… or whatever they come up with, but I would do the .net, .biz, etc. for your business.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Domain names and their influence on SEO’ »

Today, we’re releasing new versions of all our plugins, including Yoast SEO 4.9. This release brings loads of bug fixes and multiple enhancements to Yoast SEO and the News, Video, Local and WooCommerce add-ons. In this post, we’ll describe what you can expect when you hit that update button. Read on if you want to know more.

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Fixing bugs and enhancing flows

Yoast SEO received the most attention this time around. In Yoast SEO 4.9, we fixed a bug that caused certain assessments to go missing after the switch to cornerstone content. There was also an instance where certain users without sufficient rights to access the configuration wizard could see the configuration wizard button. In addition to that, we also fixed a bug with an ambiguous column ID that caused an SQL error. The last one was a bug where the category URL in the sitemap was encoded twice.  As of today, we only load the translations when the configuration wizard endpoint is called, instead of every time rest_api_init is called.

Removing noodp

Some time ago, DMOZ ceased to exist. And with it, the noodp tag died. This tag was necessary to block search engines from using the description for a page in DMOZ as the snippet for your page in the search results. Recently, Google announced that it would stop using the tag as a source for search snippet information. This prompted us to remove the deprecated advanced robots meta value.

More fixes for other plugins

Several other plugins also received bug fixes, like Yoast SEO News for example. In this plugin, we fixed a bug where sticky posts show up in the editors’ pick RSS feed without marking it as an editors’ pick and one where the date format was invalid in the editors’ pick RSS feed. In Yoast SEO for WooCommerce, we added a filter to set the primary category in the permalink and fallbacks for several deprecated warnings. We also fixed a bug where not all Yoast SEO columns were hidden when the columns output by Yoast were removed. As usual, you can find all the changes to the plugins in their respective changelog files.

Hit that update button!

The new releases of all the plugins are now live and waiting for you to download. So, please update as soon as possible and enjoy the latest and greatest of Yoast SEO. As always, thanks for your support and we hope this release makes your work a little more streamlined.

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

We’ve said it in 2009, and we’ll say it again: it keeps amazing us that there are still people using just a robots.txt files to prevent indexing of their site in Google or Bing. As a result their site shows up in the search engines anyway. You know why it keeps amazing us? Because robots.txt doesn’t actually do the latter, even though it does prevents indexing of your site. Let me explain how this works in this post.

For more on robots.txt, please read robots.txt: the ultimate guide.

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There is a difference between being indexed and being listed in Google

Before we explain things any further, we need to go over some terms here first:

  • Indexed / Indexing
    The process of downloading a site or a page’s content to the server of the search engine, thereby adding it to its “index”.
  • Ranking / Listing / Showing
    Showing a site in the search result pages (aka SERPs).

So, while the most common process goes from Indexing to Listing, a site doesn’t have to be indexed to be listed. If a link points to a page, domain or wherever, Google follows that link. If the robots.txt on that domain prevents indexing of that page by a search engine, it’ll still show the URL in the results if it can gather from other variables that it might be worth looking at. In the old days, that could have been DMOZ or the Yahoo directory, but I can imagine Google using, for instance, your My Business details these days, or the old data from these projects. There are more sites that summarize your website, right.

Now if the explanation above doesn’t make sense, have a look at this 2009 Matt Cutts video explanation:

If you have reasons to prevent indexing of your website, adding that request to the specific page you want to block like Matt is talking about, is still the right way to go. But you’ll need to inform Google about that meta robots tag.  So, if you want to effectively hide pages from the search engines you need them to index those pages. Even though that might seem contradictory. There are two ways of doing that.

Prevent listing of your page by adding a meta robots tag

The first option to prevent listing of your page is by using robots meta tags. We’ve got an ultimate guide on robots meta tags that’s more extensive, but it basically comes down to adding this tag to your page:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow>

The issue with a tag like that is that you have to add it to each and every page.

Or by adding a X-Robots-Tag HTTP header

To make the process of adding the meta robots tag to every single page of your site a bit easier, the search engines came up with the X-Robots-Tag HTTP header. This allows you to specify an HTTP header called X-Robots-Tag and set the value as you would the meta robots tags value. The cool thing about this is that you can do it for an entire site. If your site is running on Apache, and mod_headers is enabled (it usually is), you could add the following single line to your .htaccess file:

Header set X-Robots-Tag "noindex, nofollow"

And this would have the effect that that entire site can be indexed. But would never be shown in the search results.

So, get rid of that robots.txt file with Disallow: / in it. Use the X-Robots-Tag or that meta robots tag instead!

Read more: ‘The ultimate guide to the meta robots tag’ »

“Above the fold” is a term originating from newspaper and tabloid design. It refers to the upper half of the paper that shows the most important news and photos of the newspaper. In web design “above the fold” means the part that you can see without scrolling down the page. Guidelines often state that your most important message should be above the fold. However, the Twenty Seventeen theme just allows for a large image, and we received a question about that at Ask Yoast:

Ruth Maude emailed us about the Twenty Seventeen theme – the new default theme for WordPress:

“We’ve always told our customers that their main message and call-to-action should be above the fold. The new WordPress Twenty Seventeen is all image above the fold. Isn’t the fold important anymore?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Not much action above the fold?

In the video, I’ll share how I feel about “above the fold” nowadays:

Well, Ruth, you’ve hit my single most important issue with the Twenty Seventeen theme. It’s just too big. I think something should be above the fold too. At the same time, what’s really most important is that you show people that there’s a way to scroll. If people see that there’s a way to scroll on your site, they will scroll and they will find that other stuff, if you’ve made it interesting enough for them. So really good imagery is what Twenty Seventeen is all about. That can really help. And it can give a sort of interaction with a user that can be pretty good. But I wish there was a bit more action above the fold on 2017 too. We agree.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘How to find the perfect WordPress theme’ »

Every website should have a decent internal search functionality that shows the visitors search results that fit their search query. However, those search results pages on your site don’t need to be shown in Google’s search results. In fact, Google advises against this too; it’s not a great user experience to click on a Google search result, just to end up on a search result page of your site. Learn what’s best practice to prevent this from happening!

User experience is not the only reason to prevent Google from including these pages in their search results. Spam domains can also abuse your search results pages, which is what happened to Krunoslav from Croatia. He therefore emailed Ask Yoast:

“Some spam domains were linking to the search results pages on my WordPress site. So what could I do to block Google from accessing my site search results? Is there any code that I could put in robots.txt?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Block your search results pages?

In the video, we explain what you could do to prevent Google from showing your site’s search results:

“Well, to be honest, I don’t think I would block them. What you could do, is try two different things:

1. One is do nothing and run our Yoast SEO plugin. We’ll automatically noindex all the search result pages on your site. But if that leads to weird rankings or to other stuff that is not really working for you, then you could do another thing:

2. The second way is to block them and put a disallow:/?=s* in your robots.txt. This basically means that you’re blocking Google from crawling your entire search query. I don’t know whether that’s the best solution though.

I would try noindex first and see if that does anything. If it doesn’t, then use the method of blocking your search results in your robots.txt.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Block your site’s search results pages’ »

You would think this post would be redundant by now: people know that the meta keyword tag is useless nowadays, right? The truth is that we still see site owners using meta keywords on their website. In addition to that, people are still searching for meta keywords according to Google Trends, although there seem to be less queries than 5 years ago. That’s why we republish this post about the uselessness of meta keywords for SEO once again.

Let me give you the full history of the meta keywords tag’s demise. Already in September 2009, Google announced officially what was true for years back then: “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking”. Matt Cutts explained it in a video:

Do Yahoo! and Bing use meta keywords?

In October of that same year, 2009, at SMX East, Yahoo! announced they no longer use the meta keywords tag anymore either. This turned out to be not entirely true, as they do index them, but they won’t help you one bit.

Bing also stated in 2014:

“Today, it’s pretty clear the meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value. Sure, it might have value for contextual ad systems or serve as a signal to bots plying the web looking for topics to target, but as far as search goes, that tag flat lined years ago as a booster.”

Earlier, they even implied that using them – the wrong way – could work against you, because it’s rather seen as a spam signal than a ranking signal.

So don’t waste your time on the meta keywords tag. Instead of thinking about which keywords to put in that silly tag for 5 minutes, think about your content for 5 minutes longer. Really. It’s worth it.

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But I want meta keywords!!!

By default, there is no meta keywords input field in our Yoast SEO plugin. If you use Yoast SEO and you really can’t live without them, you can turn it on though. You’ll first need to enable the advanced settings before you can change this. For a detailed explanation on how to do this, check out ‘how to enable meta keywords in Yoast SEO‘.

turn on meta keywords in yoast seo

Don’t expect me to think you’re cool though. The reality is, that if you’re trying to rank for any term that’s even only a little competitive, meta keywords won’t help. You should write engaging, meaningful content on a technically well optimized platform and get good links and social engagement. That’s what builds great rankings, meta keywords have nothing to do with it.

Read more: ‘Metadata and SEO part 1: the head section’ »

If you’re using Yoast SEO to optimize your posts and pages, it’ll ask you to fill out a focus keyword. This is the search term you want your content to rank for. Deciding on a focus keyword can be challenging. For example, if you want to optimize your content for a long tail keyword – existing of multiple words –  what is the exact key phrase you should use? Does word order matter? In this Ask Yoast, you’ll learn how to use Yoast SEO when optimizing for long tail keywords.

Stefan Junestrand has emailed us asking:

“For long tail keywords that will be searched for with equal frequency with the words in different order, which would be best practice?
a. Use one long tail focus keyword
b. Use 5 different focus keywords with one focus keyword”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Word order of your focus keyword

In the video, we help you decide on the word order of your long tail focus keyword and how to use the multiple focus keyword functionality of Yoast SEO Premium.

” So you mean for example ‘WordPress SEO’ and ‘SEO WordPress’. Which one would be best practice to use? One focus keyword for each page? Or should you combine them all into one page?

You really should combine them into one page. SEO for WordPress and WordPress SEO are basically the same thing. Of course, if you’re writing naturally, you’ll probably use both combinations already. So just write one longer page and use different word orders.

If you have Yoast SEO Premium you can have up to 5 focus keywords: try and optimize for the most common variants in word order of your long tail keyword. But don’t overdo the optimizing! It might even be better to not get green bullets for all 5 combinations, if you’re optimizing for similar combinations with just a different word order. Because then your copy would become pretty hard to read. So write a natural text, make sure that you use different versions a couple of times and you should be good.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Why should you focus on multiple focus keywords’ »

Nowadays there are a lot of online platforms where you can create your business profile. The idea is that you can be found on those platforms and that the backlinks to your site will benefit your SEO. But is it really worth investing your time and money in those kind of directories? Get the answer in this Ask Yoast!

Marcial Bollinger emailed us asking:

“There are a lot of possibilities nowadays to add an online profile for your site on all sorts of directories, etc. It might give you a lot of backlinks, but are these worth anything for SEO?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Add an online profile for your business

In the video, we help you decide whether your should invest time in creating profiles on online directories. Do they boost your SEO?

“To be honest, probably not. The only reason to create profiles on sites like that is if those sites actually have traffic. If they have traffic, then having the profile probably has an SEO benefit too. Because, in that case, probably the links are worth something to Google, as they see that that site is a living thing and people really use it as a reference.

So if you can make a profile on one of those sites, by all means do. If you can make a profile on a site that you don’t think anyone would ever get to and you’re just doing it for Google, stop doing it. Stuff like that doesn’t work anymore, so don’t. Focus on sites that people might actually will find you on and if those sites are in your area or in your niche, then use them. If they don’t exist, then focus on something else.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘6 steps to a successful link building strategy’ »

Yoast SEO now supports transition words for the Italian language so the content analysis feature can give you more detailed information about the readability of your post. This is the first step in providing full support for Italian. The Insights and Internal Linking Suggestion features will soon follow. We’ve also added a new check to see if your post has at least one internal link. Find out what else we’ve done in Yoast SEO 4.7.

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First Italian addition: transition words

Transition words – or signal words – are words that guide your readers in a text. These words show that you are summarizing, comparing or concluding something. Words like because, as a result, and most of all are the cement in your text. Use these to create a pleasant, easy to read article. Yoast SEO’s readability analysis checks the use of transition words in a variety of languages, and we’re adding a new one in Yoast SEO 4.7: Italian.

It is the first step in supporting Italian for our other helpful features, like Insights and Internal Linking Suggestions. These two features use Yoast SEO’s knowledge and command of a language to give you more information on how often you use certain words. These insights are used to suggest internal links that would be an excellent fit for the article you are currently writing. With these tools, working on your site structure becomes as easy as pie. Full support for Italian will arrive in the coming months.

A brand-new check: internal links

Building a solid site structure should be an essential part of your SEO strategy. One way of building a site structure is by creating relevant internal links to other parts of your site. In Yoast SEO 4.6, we added a checkbox to determine if a certain article is a cornerstone article. These articles should form the basis of your site. All other, relevant posts should link to these articles.

Our newest addition to the site structure checks is the internal link checker: this check appears in the regular list of bullets and will warn you if your new post doesn’t seem to have any internal links.

We’d like to speak more languages

Yoast SEO is gradually speaking more languages, but we’re not ready yet. Not by a long shot. If your mother tongue is missing or has incomplete support and you’d like to help us understand it better, please contact us at the following address:



Bugfixing

In Yoast SEO 4.7, we’ve also fixed numerous bugs and made several enhancements. As always, you can find the full changelog on WordPress.org. We hope you enjoy this new release. Hit that update button!

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