In the latest version of Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve released a new feature: synonyms. In the next months, you can expect even more updates making our SEO analysis smarter and more advanced. These changes will help you to write awesome, engaging content that’ll rank in the search engines. In this post, I’ll explain to you why we added synonyms to Yoast SEO and what changes lie ahead.

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Why you should use synonyms

Google is getting really good at understanding what texts are about. If you want to rank for a certain term, for example for ‘SEO’, Google will know that ‘Search Engine Optimization’ is pretty much the same thing. It makes sense to use them both. Synonyms make sure a text is nice and easy to read.

A few years ago, we added the multiple focus keyword functionality to Yoast SEO. Multiple focus keywords were often used to optimize for synonyms as well. We feel that the new synonym-functionality is a better solution to optimize for synonyms. Read my post about the difference between multiple focus keywords and synonyms if you want to know more.

Why is the exact match focus keyword still important?

Google understands synonyms, but that does not mean that focus keywords are not important anymore. Every SEO strategy should start with keyword research. You should know what words your audience is using when they are searching. The exact match keyword should be the keyword or keyphrase that your audience is using most often. That’s also the thing they expect to find. The exact match is always a little bit more important than the synonyms, just because your audience uses these words instead of others.

Vocabulary people are using is important. If people are searching for volunteering, they’ll probably not click on civic participation, although the two are supposed to be synonyms. Some words are more high-end than others and might not fit your audience as well. In your keyword research, you should take this into account. What words are your audience using?

In our SEO analysis, we’ll treat the exact match focus keyword different from the synonyms. Read more about that in our release post.

Keyword distribution

Along with the new support for synonyms, we’ve added a new keyword distribution check. Before, we would just count how often you used the keyword with our keyword density check. If you used it 4 or 5 times in the first paragraph and then never again, you could have gotten all green bullets from us. That’s no longer true.

We now have a check to see whether you’ve distributed your use of your focus keyword (or its synonyms) evenly across the text. This makes sure you stay on topic throughout your text, which will increase your chance of ranking.

Roadmap for the SEO analysis

Context is the SEO word of 2018. Google is getting really good at determining what a text is about. Google understands plurals and singulars. It has a related entities database. We’re working hard to make Yoast just as smart as Google is.

Embed synonyms in our SEO analysis

We now released our keyword distribution check in which synonyms are taken into account. We’re currently determining in which other checks we should take synonyms into account as well. Of course, we’re open for suggestions and opinions.

Morphology: plurals and more

In the past weeks, our awesome developers have built morphology recognition. This enables our analysis to recognize singulars, plurals, and other forms of the same word. So, if you want to rank for the focus keyword ‘link’, Yoast SEO will (in the near future) recognize ‘links’ and ‘linking’ as a similar keyword. We’ve built this for English and are planning to do so for more languages. We’re currently testing how to integrate this new morphology recognition into our SEO analysis.

Related keywords

The multiple focus keyword functionality is not optimal yet. In the near future, we’ll change this functionality into related keywords. You can optimize your post for a specific keyword and take synonyms into account. Next to that, you can optimize for related keywords. These are not your main keywords and not exact synonyms, but you still want to use them regularly.

We know that Google has a related entities database. If you’re searching for ‘tagliatelli’, results with the words ‘spaghetti’ and ‘pasta’ could also turn up. It’s smart to focus on related keywords when you’re writing a post. So, if your post is about ‘tagliatelli’, including ‘pasta’ and ‘spaghetti’ will probably help in your ranking as well.

We are currently working on modifying our multiple focus keyword functionality into related keyword functionality.

Recalibration of the SEO analysis

In the past year, we’ve been working on a recalibration of our SEO analysis. Many of the checks in our SEO-analysis were established based on our own experience in the SEO industry.  We wanted to be able to account for every check in our analysis more thoroughly. A team of linguists, developers, and SEO-experts dove into scientific literature and SEO blogs in order to re-assess all of our checks. The recalibration resulted in some changes in the checks of our analysis. For instance: the keyword distribution check was added as a result of it. We’re planning to release the new SEO analysis in September of this year.

Big improvements in our SEO analysis are coming

Context is gaining importance in 2018. That’s why we invest heavily in improving our SEO analysis. At the end of this year, we can really account for context in your blog posts and articles. This could mean that some of your articles that get green bullets now, will have orange or red bullets later on. That does not mean that your content became worse. It only means that we’re able to give you better, smarter feedback on your writing.

Read more: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

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Last week, Google announced a new feature in their knowledge panels. You’re now able to verify your branded or personal panel and add or change some of the information in it. But what exactly are knowledge panels? Are these useful? Should your company have one?  I’ll tell you all about it in this post!

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What is a knowledge panel?

Knowledge panels contain information about businesses or people. Such a panel appears on the right in the desktop search results. It contains information about the company, for instance when the company was founded and where the company is situated. A panel also contains pictures.

There are two types of knowledge panels: local panels and branded/personal panels. Google calls both of these knowledge panels, but the process of verifying them is totally different. For the local panels, verification was already possible through Google My Business. The new feature actually only applies to the branded/personal panels.

Why should we care about knowledge panels?

If you want to be found on your brand or business name, a knowledge panel is really useful! If Google decides to show your knowledge panel,  you pretty much dominate the search results on the right side of the screen in desktop search. In mobile, the knowledge panel will appear between other results but is pretty dominant as well. A knowledge panel will thus make sure your company or brand will stand out in the search results when people are specifically searching for it. That’ll give you lots and lots of clicks. And this makes sense too: if people are searching for your brand name, they want to find your website.

How do you get a knowledge panel for your business?

As with other types of search results, Google will decide whether or not it’ll show a knowledge panel in the search results. If you’re a local business, you can do some things to increase your chances to rank with a knowledge panel. For the branded and personal panels, it is much harder to obtain such a knowledge panel.

Local panels

If you want a chance of Google displaying a local panel for your business, the first step is to open a Google My Business account.  You’ll then be able to verify that you are the owner of your business. After that, you can add or edit all relevant information about your business, such as address information, opening hours and photos.

In the end, Google will decide whether or not to show a knowledge panel. Relevance, distance, and the prominence of the business are all important aspects for Google in determining if it’ll show knowledge panels. Making sure your website is really awesome and working on a high-authority domain could enhance your chances.

Read more: ‘Improve your local SEO with Google My Business’ »

Branded/personal panels

It is not possible to apply for a branded or personal panel. Google will decide whether or not your brand is worthy of a knowledge panel.  If your brand has enough authority, a knowledge panel will appear. Brands and people who have Wikipedia pages, often have knowledge panels as well. For Yoast, we do have a knowledge panel.  Joost de Valk also has a personal knowledge panel. I do not have a knowledge panel. I’ll keep working on that level of authority.

How to verify your panel

So, Google’s news from last week was that people could now verify their brand or personal knowledge panel. Verifying is not all that hard. If you have a knowledge panel, make sure to verify it. Follow the steps Google has outlined for you in this article. You need to log in to your Google account and sign in to one of your official sites or profiles to get verification for your business. For Yoast, it was pretty easy.

Once verified, you’ll be able to make changes in the knowledge panel and make sure it looks the way you want it to look.

Conclusion on knowledge panels

Knowledge panels are a great asset to have in the search results. For local panels, you should make sure you’re doing everything you can to get a knowledge panel. For branded or personal knowledge panels, it is much harder to influence your chances of getting one. It all depends on your level of authority, and that’s something that probably won’t be fixed overnight.

Keep reading: ‘Ultimate guide to small business SEO’ »

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YoastCon 2019 is going to be epic. On February 7 & 8, we’re hosting Europe’s best SEO and marketing conference in the Netherlands! It’ll take place in the Vereeniging in Nijmegen, just around the corner of our Yoast offices. Let me tell you all about our amazing speakers and the chock full schedule we’re currently working on. You do not want to miss this!

Buy your ticket before July 1 and get it for 449 euro instead of 499 euro.

Get your YoastCon early bird ticket nowOnly €449 (ex VAT) incl. exclusive gift

Speakers

We’re still working on our schedule, but we can already confirm some amazing speakers. Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz and Spaktoro) is going to keynote at YoastCon 2019. Els Aerts (of AG consult) and Purna Virji (of Microsoft) also promised to come as well. And what about Geraldine DeRuiter (of Everywhereist) and our very own Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson?

Hot of the press: Aleyda Solis (European Search Personality of 2018, founder of Orainti and blogger for Moz and Search Engine Land), will take the stage too! Get to know all YoastCon speakers.

Schedule

We want to give a stage to the very best of the SEO industry. We’ll have 9 awesome keynote speakers (two of which we’re currently persuading to come and speak for you!).

In addition to listening to these world-class keynote speakers, you can join in three rounds of practical workshops. We’ll offer workshops on the Yoast SEO plugin, site structure, keyword research, SEO copywriting and reviewing your own website. Workshops will be offered both in Dutch and English. Team Yoast will prepare and lead the workshops. As the groups will be small, you’ll have lots of opportunity to ask practical questions.YoastCon2019 schedule

Call for speakers

We still have room in our two-day schedule to fit even more awesome speakers! Are you an expert in the field of SEO, marketing, UX, copywriting or development? Let us know and apply to speak at YoastCon 2019. We’re looking for speakers to shine on our stage! Check out our call for speakers for more information.

Venue and ticket information

YoastCon will take place at ‘de Vereeniging’ in Nijmegen, a beautiful old venue nearby Nijmegen Central Station. Tickets are 499 euro – or 449 if you get them before July 1! – and include full access to all talks, three workshops, lunch on both days, coffee and drinks on Thursday night and Friday afternoon. We’ll make sure you’ll leave with lots of new ideas on how to improve your marketing and SEO strategy.

Get your YoastCon early bird ticket nowOnly €449 (ex VAT) incl. exclusive gift

More information?

Want to know more about YoastCon 2019? Read more about it on our YoastCon page. And, do not forget to check out our video impression of YoastCon 2017! That’ll get you in the perfect mood for the next YoastCon.

Make sure to buy your ticket before July 1 and profit from a 50 euro discount! And, make sure to reserve your hotelroom as well. Due to multiple events, hotel rooms are rather scarce during YoastCon. Don’t miss out and buy your tickets today!

See you at YoastCon!

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As you might know, Google is rolling out mobile-first indexing as we speak. But what does that mean for your ranking? Should you be worried? Should you do anything? Last week, Google explained a bit more about mobile-first indexing. In this post, I’ll talk you through five things you need to know about mobile-first indexing.

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Mobile-first indexing

Last March, Google announced that they were going to start with mobile-first indexing. But what does that entail? It means that from now on, Google will base what it places in the index based on the mobile version of your site, whereas they used to index the desktop version of your site first. This switch is made because more and more searches come from a mobile device and to give those users a better experience, Google decided that it was time to prioritize mobile results. It is important to note that the mobile-first index is not a separate index, Google has only one index from which it serves the results.

1. Do not panic!

More and more sites are in the mobile index. That does not mean that anything big is happening. In fact, it probably doesn’t do anything to your rankings. If your site is in the mobile-first index, you’ll get a notice in your Google Search Console.

If your website is in the mobile-first index, Google will determine by the content available on your mobile site how you will rank — both on the desktop as well as on mobile. This sounds pretty big, but for most WordPress sites it’ll have minimal consequences. If you think about it, most WordPress sites have a responsive design. This means that both mobile and desktop display the same content. You’ll have nothing to worry about in this case.

If you have different websites for mobile and desktop and your mobile website has far less content – you do have something to worry about. 

2. Do a mobile friendliness test. Ranking without mobile is going to be hard…

You do not have to have a mobile site to be in the mobile-first indexing, as Google will index desktop sites as well. But, it’s going to be hard to rank if your site is not mobile friendly. So there’s work to do for all of you who have not yet have a mobile-friendly site.

So what do you need to do? Check out Google’s mobile friendliness test and check whether or not your site is mobile friendly. In our experience, this is a minimum requirement. If your site does not pass this test, your mobile version is bad.

3. Think about UX on mobile

A mobile website needs a different design than a desktop version to appeal to your audience. Your screen is tiny. Google explained last week that hamburger or accordion menus are perfectly fine to use. These kinds of menus make sense; they help a mobile user to browse through your website. Putting content behind a tab to make the mobile experience better is also totally fine.

Read more: ‘10 ways to improve mobile UX’ »

4. Write mobile-friendly

Reading from a screen is hard. And reading from a mobile screen is even harder than reading from a big screen. To attract a mobile audience, you’ll need to have mobile-friendly copy. This means short sentences and compact paragraphs. You need to make sure your font on your mobile site is large and clear enough, and you need to make sure to use enough whitespaces.

Keep reading: ‘Copywriting for mobile’ »

5. Check out those mobile snippets

Is your audience mainly mobile? Do they come from the mobile search results to your page? Or does most of your organic traffic come from the desktop SERP’s? Make sure to check this in your Google Analytics.

If your search traffic is mostly from mobile Search Result Pages, make sure to optimize your mobile snippet in our snippet preview.

Mobile snippet preivew

Conclusion on mobile-first indexing

Don’t panic about the mobile-first index Google is rolling out. If your website has a responsive design, your content will be similar on both desktop and mobile versions. If so, the mobile-first indexing will have little consequences for your ranking.

Do take some time to evaluate the mobile version of your website. Check out its mobile parity — are your desktop and mobile site equal? Is your design good enough? Or could you improve? Are the buttons large enough to tap? What about your content? Could you make your text more readable for a mobile audience? Making sure your website has a kick-ass mobile experience is something you need to get started on. This will make a difference in your rankings shortly.

Read on: ‘How to improve your mobile site’ »

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Five years ago, I met Taco Verdonschot for the first time. He applied for a job at Yoast. He brought a cake to his job interview. So smart! He was the first developer we ever hired and probably the worst one we had. And although Taco wasn’t much of a developer, I knew right from the start that he was right for Yoast. 

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Taco is a perfect fit for Yoast. He understands Yoast. He’s a vital part of Yoast. This week, Taco is one of the co-organizers at WordCamp Europe. He has grown so much in the past five years, and I am so proud of him. Earlier this week, I asked him about his experience as an organizer of WordCamps. What are his dearest memories? Why does he like WordCamps so much? Read on and get to know Taco a bit better!

How did you get sucked into organizing WordCamps?

Only a few weeks after I started working at Yoast (almost five years ago), I was sent to WordCamp Europe in Leiden. That was my first WordCamp. I met a lot of people there. Soon afterward, I began organizing WordPress Meetups (thanks to Barry Kooij of Never5).

Right, I remember that. And after that? You started volunteering and then?

I was a speaker at WordCamp Netherlands in 2015 and applied as a co-organizer for WordCamp Netherlands in 2016. Marcel Bootsman made me responsible for organizing the volunteers, which I believe is the most fun part of organizing a WordCamp.

What is your best memory of a WordCamp?

I liked WordCamp Europe in Sofia best, the second WordCamp Europe. The city of Sofia was marvelous, and the audience pretty much knew what to expect. They all wanted to enjoy a great, laid-back event. I especially enjoyed the afterparty in which we danced the night away. Our CEO Joost de Valk and Danny van Kooten even did a limbo competition!

Really? I’ve never heard about that before. Curious.

The best thing about WordCamps is meeting ‘friends I’ve never met before’. I love the WordPress community, which is tight-knit but also very welcoming to new people. People want to help each other. That atmosphere is awesome and that’s something you feel at WordCamps. That’s the best thing for sure.

What’s so unique about this WordCamp Europe in Belgrade?

It’s the first WordCamp Europe outside of the European Union. That causes some logistic challenges for both the organizing team as well as sponsors.

Tell me about it. We couldn’t get our stroopwafels to Belgrade. It was terrible.

At the same time, Belgrade is a perfect choice. It is central and it is rather cheap. Lots of people can travel for relatively low costs and hotels are affordable. That’ll make the event accessible to people from all over Europe. And that’s kind of the idea.

Is there anything about WordCamps you don’t like? Except for missing your wife and daughter that is…

Well, I don’t like that there are still WordCamps without contributor days. During a contributor day, we all work on the WordPress project together. And whether you’re a translator, developer, marketer or a Matt Mullenweg, everybody can join and contribute to the project. On a contributor day, you’ll learn just how to do that and that enables more people to participate. Every WordCamp should have a contributor day.

Anything to add, Taco?

I talk to a lot of organizers of WordCamps from all over the world, and they all face the same problem; It’s hard to find speakers for our conferences. That’s why I would like to invite everybody to go and speak on a local WordPress Meetup or a WordCamp. Tell your story, share your thoughts on a project you’re currently working on and which challenges you’re facing. It’s so cool — and exciting — to share your experiences on stage!

Thank you so much, Taco, for your time to do this interview. And thank you for the (almost) five years you’re working for Yoast. You’re making a difference in the WordPress Community and at WordCamp Europe. More importantly, you’re a crucial part of Team Yoast and an indispensable part of my personal life as well. Thank you for five amazing years! Have an awesome WordCamp Europe!

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Nowadays, the majority of teens use YouTube and Instagram, instead of Facebook. And, websites are now attracting more traffic from Google – organic search – than from Facebook. Statistics aren’t looking that good for Facebook. Is Facebook getting less important for companies, blogs, and websites? And what should you do about it? In this post,  I’ll bring you up to speed on all the latest Facebook trends and help you to figure out how to act on it.

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What do the stats say?

Facebook and teenagers

According to the statistics of Pew Research, teenagers use YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, while only half of the U.S. teens have a Facebook account. And only 10 percent of the teenagers say that Facebook is the social medium that they use most often. This in contrast to three years ago, when Facebook was the dominant social media for U.S. teenagers. Social media use of teenagers has changed rapidly, and not in favor of Facebook.

Facebook as a referral

According to Chartbeat, direct mobile traffic and traffic from Google search are now more important than referrals from Facebook on mobile devices. For some time, Facebook was the most important source of traffic. For publishers, bloggers and website owners, it was critical to be active on Facebook.

However, nowadays, Google search, a.k.a. organic traffic seems to become even more significant (on mobile devices). Focussing on SEO is (now more than ever) a critical part of your strategy!

How should you deal with these changes?

Facebook is still essential, and nobody knows how these trends will evolve. In a previous post, I wrote about Facebook’s algorithm; I already suggested a few ways to increase your traffic from Facebook. I think there are a lot of ways that’ll allow you to keep getting traffic from Facebook. That said, you cannot focus solely on Facebook to get that traffic to your website. That’s why I will suggest some other alternative strategies you should check out.

Invest in Instagram and Snapchat

Do you already have Instagram and Snapchat accounts? Instagram is rather straightforward: lots of pictures, short movies, and photos. Snapchat is a bit harder and the opportunities for companies are less obvious.

Perhaps you think that Instagram and Snapchat just don’t fit your business. And maybe you’re right. However, an entire generation is growing up using these tools. So, I think you should at least claim an account and get started. You can always ask your 14-year-old nephew to help you out.

YouTube

My twelve-year-old is almost physically attached to YouTube. He uses it as often as I use Google. He doesn’t understand why you would ever read texts when you can also watch videos. To appeal to a younger audience, creating video’s will probably be a really wise move. If your content allows for it, making video’s and optimizing these for YouTube could be a great way to attract an audience to your site.

Investing in video is hard. It may even be harder than writing content. It can also be slightly awkward to stand in front of a camera at first. Once you get the hang of it, it can also be good fun!

Stories

Last week, Techcrunch reported that stories are about to surpass feed sharing. A lot of social media platforms have incorporated stories in their features. It all began with Snapchat, but now you can share stories in WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram too. Even the AMP project now has stories for the web. People are sharing their stories and watching the stories of others, even those of media companies.

Stories require a different approach than standard post for social. And the engagement with posts (for instance comments) is entirely different. But stories also give an excellent opportunity to create new innovative content. I think, focussing on stories and trying to use stories for your business could be a fantastic strategy.

Ads on Facebook

Facebook seems to generate less traffic, but it appears that ads on Facebook are still doing well. According to the latest internet trends report by Mary Meeker, the click-through rate of ads on Facebook has almost tripled since 2016.

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Advertising on Facebook isn’t all that expensive, and you can target your audience reasonably well. If you haven’t already, this is a strategy you should try out.

Keep your focus on SEO

Social media should always play an important role in your online strategy. But, focussing on your website: making sure that it has original and well-written content, that it’s fast and provides the best user experience, should be your priority. If your website has all these features, then you’ll attract traffic, from Google and other sources!

Read more: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

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Last week, I wrote about Google’s decision to shorten the meta descriptions. Now, meta descriptions are about the same size as they were half a year ago. But for a couple of months, they were much longer. We got a lot of questions and quite a few people were pretty annoyed — understandably so. Is the length of your meta descriptions that important? Do you need to follow every little thing that Google changes to do well in the search results? Here, I’ll explain why having a great website is the best long-term SEO strategy.

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Fit Google’s mission

Google’s mission is ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ While I do not always understand the decisions the lovely people at Google make, I think your best chance to rank well in Google is to make your website fit that mission. You want people to find your website because they’ll find useful information on your site. You want people to have a good experience. And you want people to be satisfied with your site if they click on your snippet. That should always be the aim of your SEO strategy. Build a website that people will want to visit. Create brilliant content that people will want to read. Make products or services that people want to have or experience. We call this holistic SEO.

Tweaking comes second

Making an excellent website comes first, but you can tweak loads of things to make your site stand out. Of course, in some niches, competition for rankings in Google can be hard. So, you’ll need to go that extra mile to get the traffic to your site. And in those cases, tweaks such as writing awesome meta descriptions could pay off.

It is important to realize though that tweaking your website always comes second. A kickass meta description can never make up for a crappy site without relevant, quality content.

Relax. Invest in quality and tweak occasionally

Do not panic if Google rolls out yet another update. If you had a good website and invested in great content, these updates will probably hardly affect your rankings. In all the updates Google does, they are trying to come closer to their mission. They want their users to find the best match to their search query. Making sure your website is that best match, will always be the best SEO strategy. If you’re doing that, you’ll have little worries.

Remember, we’re all in this game together. If Google decides to change the rules, all of your competitors will suffer as well. Take those meta descriptions; if these get shorter, they will get shorter for every website. I do think you should work on them, but please do not panic. The tweaks will not immediately lead to higher rankings and they will not directly lead to lower rankings either.

Still, a lot of little tweaks combined could make your site stand out in the search results just a little bit more. So, work on that. Steady. Calm. Composed. Yoast will keep you posted on all Google’s changes. Plus, we’ll do a lot of tweaking for you.

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

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Your meta descriptions need to be shorter. I know, just a few months ago, we told you that your meta descriptions could be longer. Now we’re saying that they should be shorter. I understand the confusion. But Google changed its mind. And whenever Google changes its mind about something, we need to adjust accordingly. It’s almost like if Google says jump; we reply with ‘how high?’. But, for better or worse, that’s the way this SEO game works. Here, I’ll explain what Google has changed concerning the meta descriptions and what the consequences will be.

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What has changed?

While Google showed snippets with long meta descriptions (around 320 characters) in the past few months, the snippets are now back to their old length (between 150 and 170 characters). A few weeks ago, we published the results of our research in which we experimented with long and short meta descriptions on Yoast.com. All of the long meta descriptions we added to articles on Yoast.com, that were visible in the search results pages earlier, are now all replaced by short ones.

Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed that Google, in fact, has changed the meta descriptions.

However, he does not say how long the new meta descriptions will be. He says that the length will be shorter, but variable. Research of Moz shows that most meta descriptions are about the same length as they were before Google decided to increase the number of available characters.

What should you do?

Don’t panic. If you’ve made your meta descriptions longer than 155 characters, I’d advise to make them shorter though. At least for your most important articles. In most cases, Google will not show the long descriptions anymore and you don’t want Google to cut off your meta descriptions in the middle of a sentence. So you’d want to rewrite these meta descriptions, making them fit Google’s new rule. If you decide to rewrite them, always keep in mind that it’s best to start with the most important information first. That way, if the length changes again, you’re pretty sure that that part won’t be cut off.

What about Yoast SEO?

If you go to the snippet editor in the Yoast SEO plugin now, you’ll see the old meta description length. By ‘old’ we mean the ‘new’ one – about 320 characters – which is outdated already. So we’ll change the meta description length. Again. It will go back to what it was: about 155 characters. This change is scheduled for the 7.6 release which will roll out in two weeks. And then, hopefully, it’ll stay the same (at least for a while).

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

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Internal linking should be one of the key focus points in your SEO strategy. It’s my favorite aspect of SEO because it’s so very actionable. The Yoast SEO Premium plugin helps you set up a great internal linking structure very easily. And now, you get a 15% discount on the Yoast SEO Premium plugin! So let me explain the importance of a great internal linking structure. Learn how to get your site indexed by Google AND get a good ranking.

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Context is the SEO word of 2018

A lot of information about how Google works comes from patents. Whenever Google comes up with new technology, the next step is often to claim a patent. Studying these patents gives us lots of information about what Google is up to. These days, what keeps coming up is context. Bill Slawski, an SEO veteran, calls context the search term of the year.

In my opinion, Bill is right. Context is what helps Google make sense of the world around us. For instance, Google does not rank a text on the term ‘ballet shoes’ just because you use the word ‘ballet shoes’ in every other sentence. Google is getting better and better at figuring out what a text is about and how to fit it in the grand scheme of things. Google can read texts, so understanding of the context, synonyms, related words and concepts becomes critical. My post about related entities contains some more thoughts on this matter.

The context of internal links is important

The context in which we embed internal links is also becoming increasingly important. Google can determine whether or not links are useful to a reader, on the base of the text in which we’ve embedded these links. Relevant links are helpful for the user. Links that make sense will help with rankings of a post. If a post has lots of good contextual links from other pages, it will have a higher chance of ranking. So the context of a link, for example, the sentence in which we use a link is crucial for Google to establish whether or not a particular page should rank well in the search results pages. Text links within blog posts are, therefore, more valuable than random links in a footer.

Internal linking matters in two ways

Internal linking is imperative for SEO because of two reasons. For one, it is essential to get your site indexed. As Google crawls links, you’ll need links to every post and page on your site to make sure that Google comes around often enough to get your site saved in the index. Two, and more importantly, you need internal links to get your site ranked well. And that’s where the context of the internal links comes in. Links embedded in a meaningful context will help rank your site more than links in the footer of a text.

Internal links are a necessity to get your site indexed. The context of internal links is essential to get your site ranked — and how it gets ranked.

Yoast SEO helps with internal linking

Linking related content can seem daunting, especially if you’ve written a lot of articles. The internal linking tool of Yoast SEO Premium will help you set up an excellent, coherent and contextual internal linking structure. Our internal linking tool analyzes your texts and uses word analysis to determine which blog posts and articles are on similar topics. We show these suggestions to you in the sidebar, making it very easy to add related text links to these articles in your blog post. We have a couple of posts on why you should use it and how to use the internal linking tool.

Get started right away!

Improving your internal linking structure isn’t that hard. You can start enhancing your site today! Yoast SEO Premium will analyze all of your blog posts and makes suggestions for internal links to add to your posts. So, stop making excuses and get to it! And if you buy Yoast SEO Premium today, you’ll benefit from a 15% discount!

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

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We’ve added a free course to our curriculum of online SEO courses. It is an SEO course for beginners. If you’re an SEO-newbie or your SEO skills have become a bit rusty, then this is the course for you! Our free online SEO course offers lots and lots of training videos, reading material and challenging questions. We’ll really make you sweat for those right answers. That sounds amazing, right? Or is it too good to be true? Why do we offer a free SEO course? Is there a catch?

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

There really isn’t any catch. I would even say that this course is the best course we’ve created so far. In this post, I’ll explain all about why we offer that free online SEO courses at Yoast.

SEO for everyone

The main reason why we decided to make a free SEO course is because of our mission. We offer a free plugin because we believe that everyone, even that small weblog with no money at all, should stand a chance in the search engines. Our plugin takes care of a lot of the important SEO stuff. But if you want to do more, if you want to understand more, you needed to read about it, for example on this blog. And our many articles will tell you everything you need to know in order to set up a successful SEO strategy. But the journey through these articles, the search to find the information you need to get started can be quite the hassle. Our SEO for beginners course helps you to make sense of all the information. We’ll talk you through the important aspects of SEO, step by step. After following our course, you know what it takes to set up a successful SEO strategy.

Get to know our courses

Another reason for offering a free online SEO course is because we are really proud of Yoast Academy. We want more people to experience our online courses. In the past year, we hired new people, set up our very own studio and really invested in developing the best learning materials. We now offer a very high-quality online training. We have many -mostly rather short- video’s in which a topic is explained and we offer reading material covering the same topic. But most importantly, we test whether or not you really understand the material. You’ll be challenged by our questions at the end of each lesson. In order to get the certificate, you’ll really need to master all of the topics we discuss.

Our free SEO for beginners course will offer you a real Yoast Academy experience. Of course, we hope people will get hooked and buy one of our other online courses as well. Lifelong learning it is ;-).

More free courses?

The SEO for beginners course is the first free online course Yoast offers. However, we are already thinking about making another one. The second free online course is planned to be released at the end of 2018 and will be a course covering the basics of the workings of the internet. We would like to address the question: how does the internet actually work? This might sound basic, but for an SEO it is really important to have a correct understanding of the workings of the internet.

Read more: ‘What is SEO?’ »

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