Keyword density is the number of times your focus keyword occurs on a web page, compared to the total text of that page. If you write a post for your blog, you should have thought about what keyword you want to rank that post for. In our Yoast SEO plugin, that keyword is what we call the focus keyword. If you have a text that is 100 words and 5 of those are your focus keyword, your keyword density is 5%. Is it that black and white? In a very strict world, that would indeed be the case. But Google is smarter than that. In this post, we’ll discuss a number of things you need to take into account when checking keyword density for your pages.

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Keyword density in Yoast SEO

In Yoast SEO free, we encourage you to aim for a keyword density of 2.5%. If 2.5% of your post is your desired focus keyword, your text will still be fairly natural to read. It won’t look over-optimized. The thing is, that in the end, you want to make sure your text is written for humans, not Google. If the keyword density of your text exceeds 5%, it will already start to look a lot like spam, or what we call keyword stuffing. It’ll start to look like it’s written for search engines more than your human visitors. Just don’t do that. This is why a keyword density of 2.5% is a nice indication of natural, yet optimized text as well.

Multiple keywords

Often, you’ll find yourself optimizing a text for more than one keyword. Especially long pages or articles can be used perfectly for multiple keywords. It’s usually hard to write two or three articles about similar keywords, so it makes sense to group these. Think along the lines of:

  • “SEO” and “search engine optimization”
  • “Review” and “Testimonial”

But also words that are a tad bit more unrelated. You might find yourself writing about a “forest” and want to include “trees” as well, for instance. The plural of a word is also something you could add as a focus keyword for your page.

Did you know that adding multiple keywords is a breeze in Yoast SEO Premium? You can add up to 5 (!) focus keywords instead of the single keyword you are used to in our free plugin! Get Yoast SEO Premium here.

When talking about keyword density, SEO and search engine optimization obviously mean exactly the same. Therefore, you should take this into account when checking keyword density for your post. If the keyword density for SEO is already at 2.5%, it would be unwise to add another 2.5% for search engine optimization. You are probably wondering how to check if Google considers two words the same or not: that’s simple. Google one word, and see if the other one is bold as well:
Keyword density: bold in Google

In this example, it’s clear that Google treats “SEO” the same as “search engine optimization”.

Synonyms

We’re so excited to let you know that synonyms are coming to Yoast SEO Premium! In one of the upcoming releases, we’ll allow for synonyms to be used to accompany your focus keywords. So, that means that besides the actual focus keyword, we’ll also let you to insert a number of synonyms, and we will adjust the keyword density calculation accordingly.

Imagine you are writing about forests. You might also want to use the word ‘woods’ to refer to the same thing. You can set ‘forest’ as a keyword and ‘woods’ as a synonym. In addition, you can also use the synonym field to add the plural ‘forests’. To set multiple synonyms, just separate them with commas.

Note that this does differ from the multiple keywords option. That option allows you to optimize for totally different words, whereas we will take the synonyms into account for keyword density and other checks in our plugin. For instance, synonyms are also used when we calculate topic distribution (more on that below).

Keyword versus topic

The terms we use in our plugin to refer to these checks, will differ, depending on which version of Yoast SEO you use. We’ll use the terms ‘keyword density’ and ‘keyword distribution’, as long as you don’t have Yoast SEO Premium and the synonyms feature. As soon as you have that feature, we will no longer refer to the ‘keyword’, but to the ‘topic’, being the keyword and the synonyms, when checking density and distribution. That brings us to the next new feature in Yoast SEO Premium: topic distribution.

Topic distribution

We will also add topic distribution to Yoast SEO Premium in that release! This is actually something we’ve been planning to add for a while. We can tell you that your page has 2.5% keyword density, but if your 2,500 words article uses your focus keyword and synonyms 62 times in just the first two paragraphs, your text will still look strange, right? If your article is about ‘plugins’, you’ll want to use that word throughout the article, not just at the beginning or end. That is why topic distribution is so important.

Just to be clear: we’re talking about topic distribution when you have included synonyms because we calculate the distribution of keywords as well as synonyms. When you don’t have synonyms, we simply calculate the keyword distribution for your keyword or keyphrase.

Keyword density is the basis

You’ll understand by now that keyword density is the basis of how well your post or page is optimized for a certain focus keyword. Keyword density, in our plugin or in one of the many tools available on the internet, will tell you if you’re over-optimizing your text or just not optimizing it enough. If you want to take it a step further and get closer to how Google sees your copy, synonyms and topic distribution will definitely be something to take into account too. Now go optimize!

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

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You should update or delete old content on your site that has become irrelevant over time. It really doesn’t matter if that is due to new insights or truths that align better with your current business, or because you, for instance, stopped selling that specific service. Consider it spring cleaning. Update or even just get rid of these old posts and pages. There are multiple ways to go about this. In this article, I’ll give you some pointers on how to decide what the best solution is for your old content.

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Content still valid? Update your old content.

So we have this article on meta descriptions that needs updating all the time lately. We just have to make sure it keeps on track with all the things Google is doing with these meta descriptions. Sometimes it seems they can be a bit longer –we researched this– and sometimes they seem to be back to the old length again. We try to guide webmasters in writing the meta description that works best at that moment. Although the article itself might be what we call evergreen content, the content of it is adjusted to the most recent standards all the time.

You can easily create valuable, new content from your old posts if you can update it and make it current again: old wine in new bottles. You could, for example, replace older parts of that content with updates, or you could merge three old blog posts about the same subject into one new post. If you consider doing so, please keep in mind to redirect the posts that will be gone after this to the new post, using a 301 Redirect. More on that later.

No need for these old posts or pages anymore? Delete them.

It’s always possible that you encounter old posts or pages on your site that you really don’t need anymore. Think along the lines of a blog post about a product you stopped selling years ago and have no intention of selling ever again or a page about a supplier that you never want to work with again. These are just examples, but I’m sure you know what posts and/or pages I mean. This old content adds no value as such anymore, now or in the foreseen future. In that case, you want to tell Google to forget about these old posts or pages or give the URL another purpose.

By deleting old content, I don’t mean just pressing “delete” and then forgetting about it. The content might surface in Google for weeks after deletion. The URL might actually have some link value as well, which is a shame to waste.

“301 Redirect” the old post to a related one

If the URL still holds value, for instance, because you have a number of quality links pointing to that page, you want to leverage that value by redirecting the page to a related one. Say you have an old post on a specific dog breed. You want to delete it, so the logical next step would be to redirect that post to a post about the closest breed possible. If that post isn’t available, redirect it to the category page for these posts (“dog breeds”?) and if that is also not an option, redirect to the homepage. That last one might be about “pets”, for instance. It’s related, but there might be better options on your site.

Creating a 301 Redirect (f.i. in WordPress) isn’t hard, but doing this in Yoast SEO Premium is easy as pie. If you don’t have that plugin yet, find out about all the extras that are in Yoast SEO Premium here.

Tell search engines the content is gone deliberately

Another option is to make sure Google forgets about your old post entirely by serving a “410 Gone” status to Google. When Google can’t find your post, like after deletion, your server will usually return a “404 Not Found” status to the search engine’s bot. You will find a 404 crawl error in your Google Search Console for that page. That’s until you redirect the page like explained earlier. Google will find it, and the URL will gradually vanish from the search result pages. But this will take some time. The 410 is more powerful in the sense that it’ll tell Google it’s gone never to return. You deleted it on purpose, period. Google will act on that faster than on a 404. Read up about the server status codes if this is all gibberish to you.

Have any old content you want to delete?

There you have it. Three ways to get rid of old content on your site:

  1. Update the old post or page and publish it again.
  2. Redirect the old content to related content.
  3. Get rid of it entirely if there is no value to the content anymore whatsoever.

Good luck cleaning up your site.

Read more: ‘How to properly delete a page from your site’ »

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If you want to keep your page out of the search results, there are a number of things you can do. Most of ’em are not hard and you can implement these without a ton of technical knowledge. If you can check a box, your content management system will probably have an option for that. Or allows nifty plugins like our own Yoast SEO to help you prevent the page from showing up in search results. In this post, I won’t give you difficult options to go about this. I will simply tell you what steps to take and things to consider. 

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Why do you want to keep your page out of the search results?

It sounds like a simple question, but it’s not, really. Why do you want to keep your page out of the search results in the first place? If you don’t want that page indexed, perhaps you shouldn’t publish it? There are obvious reasons to keep for instance your internal search result pages out of Google’s search result pages or a “Thank you”-page after an order or newsletter subscription that is of no use for other visitors. But when it comes to your actual, informative pages, there really should be a good reason to block these. Feel free to drop yours in the comments below this post.

If you don’t have a good reason, simply don’t write that page.

Private pages

If your website contains a section that is targeted at, for instance, an internal audience or a, so-called, extranet, you should consider offering that information password-protected. A section of your site that can only be reached after filling out login details won’t be indexed. Search engines simply have no way to log in and visit these pages.

How to keep your page out of the search results

If you are using WordPress, and are planning a section like this on your site, please read Chris Lema’s article about the membership plugins he compared.

Noindex your page

Like that aforementioned “Thank you”-page, there might be more pages like that which you want to block. And you might even have pages left after looking critically if some pages should be on your site anyway. The right way to keep a page out of the search results is to add a robots meta tag. We have written a lengthy article about that robots meta tag before, be sure to read that.

Adding it to your page is simple: you need to add that tag to the <head> section of your page, in the source code. You’ll find examples from the major search engines linked in the robots meta article as well.

Are you using WordPress, TYPO3 or Magento? Things are even easier. Please read on.

Noindex your page with Yoast SEO

The above mentioned content management systems have the option to install our Yoast SEO plugin/extension. In that plugin or extension, you have the option to noindex a page right from your editor.

In this example, I’ll use screenshots from the meta box in Yoast SEO for WordPress. You’ll find it in the post or page editor, below the copy you’ve written. In Magento and TYPO3 you can find it in similar locations.

How to keep your site out of the search results using Yoast SEO

Click the Advanced tab in our Yoast SEO meta box. It’s the cog symbol on the left.
Use the selector at “Allow search engines to show this post/page in search results”, simply set that to “No” and you are done.

The second option in the screenshot is about following the links on that page. That allows you to keep your page out of the search results, but follow links on that page as these (internal) links matter for the other pages (again, read the robots meta article for more information). The third option: leave that as is, this is what you have set for the site-wide robots meta settings.

It’s really that simple: select the right value and your page will tell search engines to either keep the page in or out of the search results.

The last thing I want to mention here is: use with care. This robots meta setting will truly prevent a page from being indexed, unlike robots.txt suggestion to leave a page out of the search result pages. Google might ignore the latter, triggered by a lot of inbound links to the page. 

If you want to read up on how to keep your site from being indexed, please read Preventing your site from being indexed, the right way. Good luck optimizing!

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Local SEO is about how to optimize your website to rank better for a local audience. A website gives you the opportunity to target the entire (online) world. But if the target audience for your business is actually located in or near the city you have your office or shop, you’ll need to practice at least some local SEO as well. You need to optimize for your city name, optimize your address details. In short: you need to optimize so people know where you are located and are able to find you offline (if required). In this post, we will try to explain what local SEO is, so you can optimize your local site as well! 

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What is local SEO?

If you have a local business, like a shop, or have people visiting your office frequently, optimizing your website is also about making sure people are able to find you in real life. But even if your not actively getting visitors in your building, but are targeting an audience that is located in the same geographical area as you are, you need to optimize for that area. This is what we call “local SEO”.

Ground-rule these days is that it’s by far the easiest to optimize if you have a proper address in a region/city. The thing is that if you want to optimize for, for instance, a service area that you are not located in physically, your main tool for optimization is content. You should simply write a lot about that area. We found that oftentimes, this leads to forced articles or pages that have little to do with the business at hand, and are clearly there for SEO reasons.

Mentioning all the areas

Just recently, I heard someone say that he just mentioned a number of neighboring towns and that got him visitors from these towns.

What is Local SEO? Local SEO is about optimizing your site for better rankings for a local audience

Depending on the niche you are in, that might have some effect, to be honest. But I wouldn’t call it proper optimization. For the majority of companies, that strategy won’t work that well. It’s not really an optimization, it’s just that no-one else mentions that area and that product on his website. If there is competition, please use other methods as well.

Local SEO explained in detail

In our series on local SEO, David Mihm mentions a number of things you can do to really optimize your website for a certain geographical area:

  1. An introduction to ranking your local business
  2. The importance of Google My Business
  3. How to optimize your website for local search
  4. Why inbound links are so important and how to get them
  5. Citations for local search
  6. The impact of reviews for local ranking
  7. Social media and local SEO
  8. The impact of behavioral signals

That indeed is quite a lot to digest, but if you are serious about optimizing for your local audience, you should read all 8 articles.

Local SEO isn’t just about search engines

Yes, there is a lot you can do online to optimize your website for a local audience. But if you are running a local business, things like word-of-mouth and a print brochure etc also contribute to local SEO.

If you mention your website and social profiles on your offline communication/promotion as well, your Facebook likes might go up, your Twitter followers could increase and the direct traffic on your website will get higher. One way or another, this will be visible to Google as well, beit indirect perhaps.

So, local SEO consists of a number of factors that help you address your local audience by better rankings in search engines. It’s not just optimizing your address or your social media strategy, it’s all these things combined that we call local SEO. Good luck optimizing!

Read more: ‘Ultimate guide to small business SEO’ »

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Keyword research is your first step in optimizing your website for certain keywords. Without keyword research, you might find yourself lost in your own lingo and battling giants in your industry that can’t be beaten in the search result pages just like that. There is a variety of factors you have to take into account when doing keyword research and setting up your keyword strategy. In this article, we’ll discuss your mission, your audience and your competition. 

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What makes your company unique?

Before you do anything, and this is key, you need to know what makes your company unique. You need to have a clear concept of the mission of your company. You need to determine exactly what you have to offer. Because that’s what’s going to make you rank. It’s that simple. SEO is just like regular business. If you’re doing everything on the same or inferior level as your competition, you’re not going to stand out. If you’re not the best result, why should people want to find you? Why should Google rank you? This seems simple, but this factor is often forgotten.

Meaningful keywords

We often hear people say: we can’t come up with meaningful keywords. If you struggle with that too, take a step back and look at your business at large:

  • What do you have to offer?
  • What is your mission?
  • What are your core values and strengths?
  • How can you branch out from your core selling points to very specific bits of information or service? Use these to stand out from the crowd.

You don’t have to be better than your competition at everything, as long as you identify enough things to build a keyword strategy around. For smaller companies, this means that you probably have to be better at the things bigger fish haven’t thought of. Or at the things, these companies aren’t actively looking to do. If you can’t come up with anything, you have a bigger problem than just coming up with keywords…

The role of your audience in your keyword research

Once you’ve determined what you have to offer, it’s time to consider your audience. In the end, SEO is all about making sure your users are able to find you. So the first thing you have to do is find out what words your potential audience uses to find the information they’re looking for.

Let’s consider an example. At Yoast, we think of our courses platform as “Yoast Academy”. So at first sight, it seems very logical for us to optimize for the keyword “Yoast Academy”. However, when we analyze traffic data, it turns out that our audience uses “Yoast courses” way more. So it makes much more sense to optimize for that term instead. Every company has its own internal vocabulary, which often doesn’t match the vocabulary of its audience. Therefore, you should always choose your keywords from the perspective of your audience. You can use Google Trends to research how often search terms are used compared to other terms.

What about your competition?

Lastly, you simply can’t devise a proper keyword research strategy without taking your competition into account. Too often, websites optimize for terms they have absolutely no chance ranking for. So you need to research your competition.

You can go all overboard and make a thorough analysis of all the competitors in your field, and that can certainly be worthwhile. But let’s stick to the basics for now. It’s actually quite easy to get a general idea of your SEO competition. Just google some search terms you would like to rank for! See what companies show up and where you rank. How big are the companies you are competing with for top three rankings? Would your company fit between these results? This is all quite easy to determine using just the Google search results.

But be wary! You can’t just trust the search results because Google tailors them to your search history. So logically, your site is going to come up higher for you than for others that perform the same search. You can use an incognito screen to circumvent this, although there’s still a local search component even in an incognito screen. If that is a problem for you, you should consider using VPNs to mask your location.

Expanding your strategy step-by-step

Big sites can rank for the most general terms. Smaller sites within a very specific niche can do the same. Of course, it’s also easier if you’re writing in a language that is not spoken all over the world. For most smaller sites that are writing in English, however, the general rule of thumb is this: start with a big set of long tail keywords which have little traffic but you can rank for more easily. Then, work yourself up the rankings step-by-step. Once you’ve gained some SEO authority, start optimizing for more general keywords. And in the end, maybe you will even be able to rank for your head keywords!

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

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Crawl errors occur when a search engine tries to reach a page on your website but fails at it. Let’s shed some more light on crawling first. Crawling is the process where a search engine tries to visit every page of your website via a bot. A search engine bot finds a link to your website and starts to find all your public pages from there. The bot crawls the pages and indexes all the contents for use in Google, plus adds all the links on these pages to the pile of pages it still has to crawl. Your main goal as a website owner is to make sure the search engine bot can get to all pages on the site. Failing this process returns what we call crawl errors.

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Your goal is to make sure that every link on your website leads to an actual page. That might be via a 301 redirect, but the page at the very end of that link should always return a 200 OK server response.

Google divides crawl errors into two groups:

  1. Site errors. You don’t want these, as they mean your entire site can’t be crawled.
  2. URL errors. You don’t want these either, but since they only relate to one specific URL per error, they are easier to maintain and fix.

Let’s elaborate on that.

Site errors

Site errors are all the crawl errors that prevent the search engine bot from accessing your website. That can have many reasons,  these being the most common:

  • DNS Errors. This means a search engine isn’t able to communicate with your server. It might be down, for instance, meaning your website can’t be visited. This is usually a temporary issue. Google will come back to your website later and crawl your site anyway. If you see notices of this in your Google Search Console at crawl errors, that probably means Google has tried a couple of times and still wasn’t able to.
  • Server errors. If your search console shows server errors, this means the bot wasn’t able to access your website. The request might have timed out. The search engine (f.i.) tried to visit your site, but it took so long to load that the server served an error message. Server errors also occur when there are flaws in your code that prevent a page from loading. It can also mean that your site has so many visitors that the server just couldn’t handle all the requests. A lot of these errors are returned as 5xx status codes, like the 500 and 503 status codes described here.
  • Robots failure. Before crawling, (f.i.) Googlebot tries to crawl your robots.txt file as well, just to see if there are any areas on your website you’d rather not have indexed. If that bot can’t reach the robots.txt file, Google will postpone the crawl until it can reach the robots.txt file. So always make sure it’s available.

That explains a tad bit about crawl errors related to your entire site. Now let’s see what kind of crawl errors might occur for specific pages.

URL errors

As mentioned, URL errors refer to crawl errors that occur when a search engine bot tries to crawl a specific page of your website. When we discuss URL errors, we tend to discuss crawl errors like (soft) 404 Not Found errors first. You should frequently check for these type of errors (useGoogle Search Console or Bing webmaster tools) and fix ’em. If the page/subject of that page indeed is gone never to return to your website, serve a 410 page. If you have similar content on another page, please use a 301 redirect instead. Make sure your sitemap and internal links are up to date as well, obviously.

We found that a lot of these URL errors are caused by internal links, by the way. So a lot of these errors are your fault. If you remove a page from your site at some point, adjust or remove any inbound links to it as well. These links have no use anymore. If that link remains the same, a bot will find it and follow it, only to find a dead end (404 Not found error). On your website. You need to do some maintenance now and then on your internal links!

Among these common errors might be an occasional DNS error or server error for that specific URL. Re-check that URL later and see if the error has vanished. Be sure to use fetch as Google and mark the error as fixed in Google Search Console if that is your main monitoring tool in this. Our plugin can help you with that.

Very specific URL errors

There are some URL errors that apply to certain sites only. That’s why I’d like to list these separately:

  • Mobile-specific URL errors. This refers to page-specific crawl errors that occur on a modern smartphone. If you have a responsive website, these are unlikely to surface. Perhaps just for that piece of Flash content you wanted to replace already. If you maintain a separate mobile subdomain like m.example.com, you might run into more errors. Thing along the lines of faulty redirects from your desktop site to that mobile site. You might even have blocked some of that mobile site with a line in your robots.txt.
  • Malware errors. If you encounter malware errors in your webmaster tools, this means Bing or Google has found malicious software on that URL. That might mean that software is found that is used, for instance, “to gather guarded information, or to disrupt their operation in general.”(Wikipedia). You need to investigate that page and remove the malware.
  • Google News errors. There are some specific Google News errors. There’s quite a list of these possible errors in Google’s documentation, so if your website is in Google News, you might get these crawl errors. They vary from the lack of a title to errors that tell you that your page doesn’t seem to contain a news article at all. Be sure to check for yourself if this applies to your site.

Fix your crawl errors

The bottom line in this article is definitely: if you encounter crawl errors, fix them. It should be part of your site’s maintenance schedule to check for crawl errors now and then. Besides that, if you have installed our premium plugin, you’ll have a convenient way in WordPress and/or TYPO3 to prevent crawl errors when for instance deleting a page. Be sure to check these features yourselves!

Read more: ‘Google Search Console: Crawl’ »

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Tags and categories help us structure our content. You can often find these in the visual metadata at for instance blog posts, or in a list of clickable links in the sidebar of a website. Tags are sometimes represented as a tag cloud, although most websites refrain from using that element these days. There is a clear difference between tags and categories, but a lot of users mix them up. Now in most cases, that won’t matter for the end user. But for instance, in WordPress, there are some benefits by using categories for certain segmentations and tags for others. Here, I’d like to explain the difference between tags and categories.

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WordPress taxonomies

WordPress uses taxonomies for content grouping. The most common, default taxonomies in WordPress are categories and tags, but it’s also possible to create a custom taxonomy. We have written about these custom taxonomies before, so for background information, please read the post “What are custom taxonomies?

A taxonomy can be defined as “orderly classification” (Source: Merriam Webster). This indicates some hierarchy or structure, which often goes into categories. In WordPress, categories can be parents or children of each other. Often, tags in WordPress don’t have that structure and are often used quite randomly. If you don’t control how you add tags to posts, you will probably end up with a huge number of tags on your website. The downside of this is that a lot of tags are used only once, which makes the tag page the same as the post where you added the tag. This may create duplicate content or at least thin content.

The difference between tags and categories

Back to our original questions: what’s the difference? In an ideal world, we would use categories to group the content on your website into — say — eight to ten global segments. On our blog, these segments are for instance Analytics, Content SEO, eCommerce and Technical SEO. By maintaining a limited set of categories, you can keep your website, and your content focused. Now, of course, you can dissect the content even further, going to more particular groupings. For that, you should use tags.

WordPress describes the difference exactly like that:

  • Categories allowed for a broad grouping of post topics.
  • Tags are used to describe your post in more detail.

The fact that categories can be hierarchical means that there’s a bit more content structure to be made with just categories if that’s what you are looking for. You can have a group of posts about trees, and have a child category or subgroup about elms. Makes sense, right? It also means that you can have URLs like /category/trees/elms, which displays that structure right in the URL already. You can’t do this with tags. The tag in this example could be “Boston”. It’s unrelated to the tree’s characteristics but could indicate where for instance a photo of an elm in that post is located.

At least one category per post is required

There is one more difference between tags and categories in WordPress: you need to add at least one category to a post. If you forget to do so, the post will be added to the default category. That would be “Uncategorized” unless you set a default category in WordPress at Settings > Writing:

tags and categories: set a default post category

Please do so, as you will understand the default “Uncategorized” makes no sense to your readers. It looks like poor maintenance, right? With tags, you don’t have this issue, as tags are not obligated at all. You could even decide to refrain from using tags until you need them and even then perhaps use a custom taxonomy instead. In that case, you will have that second layer of segmentation without the limitation of tags. I hope that clarifies the difference between tags and categories!

Read more: ‘SEO basics: (The importance of) site structure’ »

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One page websites have been popular for some time now. Basically, it’s your entire website on your homepage. It’s fancy, it’s streamlined. By dividing your homepage into multiple sections, and adding a menu that allows visitors to jump to the section they want to visit, you create an entire website experience on that one single page. Having just one single page also means that you probably need to rank that page for multiple keywords. And that’s where one page website SEO differs from regular website SEO: there are just fewer things you can optimize.

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Why use a one page website?

Truth be told: I don’t like one page websites. There are a lot of people that like all their content crammed into one page, but I just can’t see the benefit of it. The page loads slower, there is less focus, I detest loading the JavaScript/CSS scripts that make unnecessary visual movements or automatic scrolling possible. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing against having long pages. I love ’em and write ’em. But I’d like to keep these pages focused on one subject.

One page website SEO tips and tricks

Is there anything you can do to optimize your one page website for SEO? Of course, there is. There always is. I’m just not sure you’ll enjoy that single page website for your company in the long run. One page website SEO is tough. I think the only reason you’d want a website like that, is when you need to set up a quick promotional site. Say for a particular product or a temporary collaboration with another brand. In that case, you’ll be driving traffic from flyers, TV ads and the works, and are less dependent on search engines.

If you insist on using a single page website, you need to pay attention to the way you set things up.

Optimize per section

Before starting to write your content, you need to do some keyword mapping. As you have only one page to tell your story, group related content. Create a <div> or <section> for each keyword and assign a proper ID to it. If a section is about trimming hairy dogs, use trim-hairy-dogs as the ID, as this will be like the slug of that particular section. Your internal links on that page will link to example.com/#trim-hairy-dogs. Choose that slug wisely.

That section needs content and a heading and as we think of all these sections as “pages”, you should add an <h1> tag to these sections. That indeed means multiple H1s per page, but hey, you wanted an unfocused website.

If you use images, optimize image file names and ALT tags per section as well.

Optimize page speed

This one is vital for your one page website SEO: optimize page speed. It’s even more critical if you have a page like that since you are serving all kinds of different sections with possibly all types of different layouts and design elements, so your page doesn’t look like a Word document, right? Most of these elements simply take time to load, and you want to optimize that. Here are some articles that will help you optimize speed.

One page website SEO: Add fresh content

Fresh content for the win

You are probably still not convinced that you’d better create multiple pages on your website. But you will understand single page website SEO is pretty hard and limited. You have one page in search result pages, one canonical link, one page that needs to rank for everything you want to rank for. Fresh content, dynamic content, is always a good idea and it is possible on a one page website. Rewrite your sections now and then to align them with current events, for instance. If your website is set up once, and never changes, you have this one static page that needs to do all the work. Changing its content from time to time will certainly help.

One more thing: Analytics

It is possible to track internal links on that page: track per section. But that’s fairly hard for the average Google Analytics user. And Google would rather track per page as well, judging from this article. This is yet another reason why I don’t like one page website SEO. It’s harder to implement SEO recommendations and harder to analyze your efforts.

Come to think of it; it’s probably your PR agency or sales department that likes that one page website so much. So please, please reconsider setting up a page like this. It’ll make your SEO so much easier.

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

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There are multiple ways to implement hreflang. Perhaps your content management system supports it, or you are using a plugin or extension to add hreflang in any way to your pages. No matter how you implement them, it’s obviously good that you do! hreflang is the glue that binds pages that are the same except for language together. In this post, I’ll show you an hreflang example in a website and break that apart to explain what you should check after implementing this meta tag. 

Optimizing your site for multiple languages? You need our Multilingual SEO training! »

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International websites

If your websites target more than one language or multiple geo locations with the same language, chances are you have heard of the hreflang tag. If not, here’s some reading material for you:

With hreflang, you can indicate in what language the current page is, and in what other languages, or even dialects or local variations, the content is available.

An hreflang example

Let’s dive right in with this example of a website you probably know: Hubspot.com. Hubspot is available in:

  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Japanese and
  • Brazilian Portuguese (and yes, that is different from Portuguese spoken in Portugal)

I know this because of the language switcher in their header, but also because their source code tells me so:

<!-- INTERNATIONAL -->
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.hubspot.com" hreflang="x-default">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.hubspot.com" hreflang="en">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.hubspot.de" hreflang="de-DE">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.hubspot.es" hreflang="es">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.hubspot.fr" hreflang="fr-FR">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.hubspot.jp" hreflang="ja-JP">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://br.hubspot.com" hreflang="pt-BR">

That’s your hreflang tag right there. By the way, this is one of the multiple ways to implement hreflang on your website. This one goes into your <head>, but another option is to serve it from your XML sitemap or HTTP headers. More on that can be found in the ultimate guide to hreflang I mentioned earlier.

To analyze this example, we break it down into three elements:

  1. Alternates
  2. URLs
  3. Languages

There is a default language, which is probably set in the <html> tag in your template, and we have a couple of alternates. Again, these pages contain the same content as the default page, but in another language. hreflang tells search engines the URL where the alternate content can be found and for what language it is. “de_DE” means German in Germany, “pt_BR” means Portuguese in geolocation (region where the visitor is located) Brazil and another variation in this hreflang example is “es”, which means Spanish in every Spanish speaking region all over the globe. Regions or languages that are not defined, fall back to the default language.

Testing your hreflang

Now that you know what to check in your source code, you might want to use Google to check if the right page is served to a visitor from, for instance, Brazil. Here’s where a bit of knowledge of Google’s URLs comes in. If we look at this URL, two things stand out:

https://www.google.com/search?hl=pt&q=hubspot&gl=BR

And not because I colored them. hl is interface language (or host language) and gl is geolocation. What we are suggesting here, is that Google boosts results from Brazil that are in Portuguese. If you use Google Chrome as your browser, you get this result:
Google Chrome - hreflang example: pt_BR

As you can see, the Brazilian site is shown, judging from the URL of the site https://br.hubspot.com. The hreflang tags seem to work! Test likewise for German, Japanese and French, etcetera, just to be sure :) You could even test a language that’s not included like Italian to see if your fallback works. It does at Hubspot.

I hope this hreflang example gives you a way to test the hreflang implementation on your own multilingual site for yourself. If you want to know more about multilingual, you should consider our Multilingual SEO training!

Read more: ‘hreflang: the ultimate guide’ »

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Some of the pages of your site serve a purpose, but that purpose isn’t ranking in search engines or even getting traffic to your site. These pages need to be there as glue for other pages, or simply because whatever regulations require them to be accessible on your website. As a regular visitor to our website, you know what noindex or nofollow can do to these pages. If you are new to these terms, please read on and let me explain what they are and what pages they might apply to!

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What is noindex or nofollow?

Both are settings you can add to your robots meta tag. We did quite an extensive ultimate guide on the robots meta tag that you should read.

In short:

  • It looks like this in most cases:
    <meta name="robots" content="[VALUE1,VALUE2]">
  • VALUE1 and VALUE2 are set to index, follow by default, meaning the page at hand can be indexed and all links on that page can be followed by search engine spiders to index the pages they link to.
  • VALUE1 and VALUE2 can be set to noindex, nofollow as well. noindex means that the page shouldn’t be indexed by search engines, but doesn’t mean the search engines shouldn’t follow the links on the page. nofollow means that it also shouldn’t follow the links.

Pages that you might want to noindex

Author archives on a one-author blog

If you are the only one writing for your blog, your author pages are probably 90% the same as your blog homepage. That’s of no use to Google and can be considered duplicate content. To keep these out of the search results, you can noindex them.

Certain (custom) post types

Sometimes a plugin or a web developer adds a custom post type that you don’t want to be indexed. At Yoast, we use custom pages for our products, as we are not a regular online shop that sells, for instance, kitchen appliances. We don’t need a product image, filters like dimensions and technical specifications on a tab next to the description. Therefore, we noindex the regular product pages WooCommerce outputs and are using our own pages. Indeed, we noindex the product post type.

By the way, I have seen shop solutions that added things like dimensions and weight as a custom post type as well. These pages are considered to be low-quality content. You will understand that these pages have no use for a visitor or Google, so need to be kept out of the search result pages.

Thank you pages

That page serves no other purpose than to thank your customer/newsletter subscriber. Usually thin content, or upsell and social share options, but no added value content-wise.

Admin and login pages

Of course, your login pages are not in Google. But these are. Keep them out of the index by adding that noindex. Exceptions are the login pages that serve a community, like Dropbox or similar services. Just ask yourself if you would google for one of your login pages if you were not in your company. If not, it’s probably safe to say that Google doesn’t need to index these pages.

Internal search results

Internal search results are like the last pages Google wants to point its visitors to. If you want to ruin a search experience, you link to other search pages. But the links on that search result page are still very valuable for Google, so all links should be followed. The robots meta setting should be:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

The same setting goes for all the examples mentioned above, there is no need to nofollow the links on these pages. Now, when should you add a nofollow to your robots meta tag?

Pages that you might want to nofollow

Google roughly indicates that there are three reasons to nofollow links:

  1. Untrusted content
  2. Paid links
  3. Crawl prioritization

For instance, we add a nofollow tag to links in comments. We don’t know what all of you are dropping in there, right. It could be anything from the #1 and #2 above. With regards to number 3, this could, for instance, apply to login links, that we sometimes find on WordPress websites, see image on the right. It’s no use having a Googlebot go over these links, as for search engines, they add no value. These are nofollowed.

All of the above is very much on a link level. But if you have for instance a page that shows SEO books, with a surplus of Amazon affiliate links, these might add value to your site for your users. But I’d nofollow that entire page if there’s nothing else that matters on the page. You might have it indexed, though. Just make sure you cloak your links the right way.

To be honest, on a regular website, I don’t think there are a lot of pages I’d set to nofollow. Check for yourself if you have any content that mainly contains links like the ones Google indicated, and decide if Google should follow them or not.

Changing SEO insights

At Yoast, we always try to keep you on top of your SEO game, without per se bugging you about it. One of the settings in Yoast SEO that we have had for years, the “Noindex subpages of archives” checkbox is one of those. It made all the sense in the world to noindex, follow these, and have Google index just the main page, the first page of your (f.i.) category archive.

We were always aware that Google was getting better and better at understanding rel="next" and rel="prev" on these subpages of archives. Yoast SEO adds these tags as well. At this point, we know that rel="next" and rel="prev" cover the way archives should be indexed and noindex-ing subpages isn’t necessary anymore, so we’ve removed that setting from our plugin altogether to make sure it’s done right on your site!

Read on: ‘Prevent your site from being indexed, the right way’ »

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