First things first. Conversion isn’t SEO. Conversion is an end of the customer’s journey on your website. It’s not the end, as that customer could come back and start a new part of the journey. Conversion can be improved by good SEO, that much is true if you:

By making sure your visitor is served to his or her best needs, you will provide a warm welcome. You will establish a kind of trust, which will make it easier for that visitor to convert.

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But what is conversion?

The question remains: what is conversion? Conversion is often associated with a sale, but in online marketing, defining conversion just by that is too narrow-minded. Conversion, the way we define it, happens every time a visitor completes a desired action on your website. That could be a click-through to the next page, if that is your main goal on a certain page. It could be the subscription to a newsletter. And it could be a visitor buying your product. In short: conversion happens when someone completes the action you want them to complete.

And what is conversion rate?

If 100 persons visit your page, and 10 of them subscribe to your newsletter, your conversion rate is 10%. The conversion rate is also a number you’ll find in Google Analytics, for instance:

Conversion rate is used to monitor the conversion on a web page, depending on the thing you want to monitor. So, for instance, if you hire our conversion friends at AG Consult, they will (among other things) perform A/B tests on your website and tell you which variant has the highest conversion rate (test winner). You’d better implement that test winner asap, as you will understand :)

How about CRO?

You might even have heard of something called CRO when talking or reading about conversion. CRO is Conversion Rate Optimization. This is the process of optimizing the number of conversions compared to the number of visitors. There are a lot of ways to do this, but again, we’d rather refer you to the conversion experts instead of sharing our basic CRO knowledge. There is just so much to it.

CRO versus SEO

They clash. CRO and SEO clash sometimes. In SEO, we will always tell you to keep the visitor in mind. If you serve the visitor the best way you can, you are optimizing for a brand, for brand loyalty, for recognition in Google, for more and quality traffic. And although the next step might indeed be converting that visitor, there’s no need to shove your products down their throat, really. There is a fine line between serving the visitor and annoying him.

CRO at Yoast

You might think that we, at Yoast, are pretty focused on optimizing that conversion to the max. You see our banners in the plugin, on our website, and indeed, conversion is very important for us. More newsletter subscriptions lead to a larger reach, which leads to more attention for our products, which leads to more reviews, more downloads, more sales. And with the money made, we develop the free plugin and sponsor for instance WordCamps.

Conversion, in any possible way, helps to create a sustainable business growth. But trust me, if we wouldn’t keep that SEO, our core business, and our mission (SEO for everyone) in mind, our articles could have six buy buttons. And we could annoy you with a surplus of exit-intent popups and so on. It would upset you, increase bounce rate, trigger you to never come back, and ruin the SEO you so carefully worked on.

So, what is conversion again?

A successful conversion is every instance when a visitor completes a desired action on your website. And still feels good about your brand, your website, and your products, and is likely to come back to your site!

Read more: ‘eCommerce usability: the ultimate guide’ »

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It has been a while since we did a post specifically on AMP. Not sure whether that is because AMP is becoming a common part of the publisher’s toolkit we all use, or that there’s just not that much AMP news to share. I took the liberty to collect some of the recent developments for you. In this post, I will share some of the things that caught my eye and might be interesting for you!

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Publisher’s problems

We often discuss publishers when talking about AMP, as it’s clear what the benefit of AMP is for those kinds of websites. Reading an article when waiting for the train or metro, in a plane (some have Wifi, these days), or for instance when waiting for your kids to finish their swimming lessons. Quick reads, on the go. Now there is a problem with that for those publishers:

Six publishing sources, requesting anonymity out of fear of angering Google, said their ads load slower than their content on AMP, and that is part of the reason why they make less money per pageview from AMP than they do from their own websites (Source: Digiday.com)

I truly understand how this is an issue for publishers. To provide news to the world, you have to make money somehow. That’s much like how we have to sell premium plugins to be able to provide our free plugins. The one needs the other. I think there’s a task here for advertisement agencies, affiliate programs and so. The issue here is tracking, right? I wanted to share this particular bit of AMP news, as it’s a different way of looking at AMP. We love the speed optimization, UX possibilities, but every upside has its downside.

Tracking AMP and non-AMP pages

Speaking of tracking, Google just announced a new service called AMP Client ID API, which allows you to track your customer’s journey over Google’s pages, such as the search pages. It was already possible to track your user’s journey over AMP/non-AMP pages on your own domain, but now your domain can ‘talk’ to Google as well, so you’ll have a full understanding of that journey. It’s done by a combination of that API and Google Analytics. This service will give you many new insights, for example, if your users have ever visited you via an AMP page displayed by Google or not.

Please note you have to opt-in to this solution, and you’ll need to change your code for that. Read all about it on Google’s Analytics blog.

Products now in AMP

To think that AMP is just for publishers is an illusion. eBay recently launched 8 million AMP pages (summer 2017), which shows AMP is truly ready for that. Read that post; it’s nice to see how a huge website like eBay went about that. Let’s be honest: that AMP page does load fast and it’s clean and crisp on your new iPhone. So it only makes sense, from a visitor point of view, that AMP is used in more online fields. There are more use cases where AMP actually pushed conversion as well. I’m sure we’ll see more of these stories in months to come.

With the development of AMP pages for products, and for instance AMP for recipes, we’ll only have to wait to see what’s next.

Instant instead of AMP?

Did you see this already? Google has been experimenting with a different label for AMP pages:

It’s a tweet from a few weeks ago, but I think it’s remarkable AMP news: the label says “instant.” It’s just the label, of course, but still. It reminded me immediately of Facebook’s Instant articles. It has been a while since I have seen such consistency between the two moguls. Both serve the same purpose, right? Easily loading web pages, freed from all the fuzz that occupies some websites. I think it makes sense to align these terms/labels, and I do have a preference for “instant” over “amp,” simply because the term makes more sense to “normal” people using Google.

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Convert to AMP automatically?

It would be so much easier for publishers and website owners if AMP would just be a way of viewing websites on a mobile device. That’s not the case at the moment, with all the specific AMP tags, but Google recently acquired Relay Media, which has a tool to convert pages to the AMP format simply. You can never be sure, but this might indicate that Google intends to start automating the process for you. Just thinking out loud here. Having said that, as with a lot of things with Google, I think it will always be better to suggest things like meta tags, titles and this AMP ‘design’ to Google yourself. And keep a bit of control over that in the process. We’ll have to see how deep/fast they will integrate Relay Media’s technique into, well, everything mobile.

Update: HTTPS already required for AMP?

The final piece of AMP news I’d like to share, or better remind you of, as you might already know this, is that Google likes you to serve your AMP pages over HTTPS. In fact, Google’s Maile Ohye told the audience at the SEJ Summit (November 2016) that having an HTTPS website is going to be required for PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) and much of the AMP functionality on pages.

It makes all the sense in the world that Google is pushing HTTPS for AMP. With the rapidly growing number of AMP pages and Google’s (and our) wish to serve mainly HTTPS pages, I would perhaps have pushed HTTPS for even more than just a part of the AMP functionality, and even earlier. I include this subject in this AMP news update because to my knowledge it’s still not required, but strongly recommended.

That’s your AMP news for now

We’ve lined up some of the AMP news we felt worth sharing. If you have any additions, please do post these in the comments, as AMP is and will be a development we’re watching closely from both a UX, an SEO and a business point of view. Want to know more about AMP and future developments, keep a keen eye on the AMP roadmap :)

Read more: ‘Mobile SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

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Suppose you know nothing about SEO but have heard about this little gem called Yoast SEO. People told you that it is a very convenient tool to optimize your site and its pages for Google, Bing, and Yandex. It’s effortless. You want to use it. You install the Yoast SEO plugin or the Yoast SEO extension and simply follow the advice given in that plugin. Within a week, your website will be topping the charts in Google. Or not? No, to be honest. It’s not that simple.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

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Our plugin helps you to optimize your website for search engines. And it does that well, but it needs your input. In this beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO, I’ll try to explain the basics of SEO that our plugin guides you in. I’ll take you through the steps that every user, who tries our plugin for the first time takes, and help you optimize your site in the process.

It’s a beginner‘s guide to Yoast SEO

Before we start, I should point out that this isn’t a beginner’s guide to every single detail of our plugin. I’d just like to show you some things I think you should use or configure. As our plugin has quite some settings, it’s good to know which features to configure first.

The Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Our Yoast SEO configuration wizard is a great place to start. You can find the configuration wizard at SEO > Dashboard > General:

Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: Where to find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard

In that configuration wizard, we will guide you through twelve steps that help you configure our plugin, specifically for your site. Even if you have a website that is already a year or so old, I encourage you to use the wizard and see if there are some things that you might have missed. Each step includes some questions; your answers will determine specific settings. In the wizard, we have also included video material to show you even more options.

Read more: ‘The Yoast SEO configuration wizard and why you should use it’ »

But there is so much more in this SEO section of Yoast SEO!?

Unquestionably, as there are many aspects to SEO. With the help of your answers in the configuration wizard and our own SEO knowledge, we can configure most of the general settings of our plugin for you. As a result of this, you can focus on your content!

SEO analysis

When you start writing a post or page, you will find our analyses. In WordPress, our so-called meta box is right below the larger text area where you write your content:

Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: the meta box

For you, as a user, this Yoast SEO box will prove very valuable. As you can see, there are a couple of tabs here.

  • One tab where you can insert the keyword you want to optimize the page for (focus keyword), in this case: “beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO.”
  • One tab that says Readability and I’ll get into that one later.

On the tab where you can insert that focus keyword, we’ll tell you if you have used that focus keyword the right way in that specific post.

What we analyze in our SEO analysis

At present, we perform these checks in our SEO analysis:

A beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: SEO analysis

Following the image, as shown above, we analyze these characteristics of your text (from top to bottom):

  • If you want your page to rank for a specific keyword, you must write at least 300 words about it. Otherwise, it may be considered a ‘thin content’ page by Google, and you want to avoid that.
  • Add a meta description; it will invite visitors in Google to your website.
  • You want to make clear right from the start what the page is about, so start adding the focus keyword from the beginning.
  • Add images to create a vivid experience for your users. Use the focus keyword in the ALT text so that Google can relate that image to the keyword.
  • To set up a proper site structure, link to at least one other related page on your site. It keeps visitors on your site and shows them more (background) information.
  • We want sites to link to other websites as well, as this opens up the web. Point people to the websites where you get your information. It’ll tell Google what websites relate to each other on what subjects.
  • A short page title allows you to add a trigger for a visitor in Google to click to your website.
  • If you add that focus keyword at the beginning of your title, it will have the most value. Also, it will immediately stand out when your post is shared
  • Repeat your focus keyword in your URL. As a result, even without context, it will be clear what clicking that link will bring you. Furthermore, Google also likes having it in there.
  • You optimize a page for a certain keyword – not a website. Prevent competing pages! Yoast SEO will warn you if you write more than one post about the same keyword. When this happens, use a variation, or a long tail keyword.

    New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

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What’s more: Cornerstone content and snippet preview

If your page is the main page for a topic/keyword in a group of pages you plan to write, you could mark it as cornerstone content here. Not sure if that is a subject for a beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO, by the way. It might be wise to take our basic SEO course first :)

Besides all the checks, we provide an editable snippet preview, which tells you how our plugin displays your website to Google and other search engines.

Readability analysis

Since SEO is one of those areas where content is indeed king, we also provide a convenient readability analysis for you. The thing is: not all people have the same skills to process certain texts. I laughed out loud when I found out someone thought it would be wise to use our readability analysis to analyze the readability of books like Hamlet’s First Soliloquy by William Shakespeare. Oh, the time wasted! If Hemingway would have a blog, he’d probably love our readability analysis. It would allow him to translate his offline writing to a nice readable online text.

Online vs. offline

Please understand that online and offline writing are two different stories. While we take the time to read, digest and daydream about all the great stories we read in books, we tend to scan, process and use (in any way) the things we read online. Where we follow the old man on his journey over sea, struggling with that marlin for days, feel his frustration, motivation, you probably scanned this beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO to see if there’s something here you didn’t know already.

This post isn’t a page in a book. It’s information for you to process like most online pages are. With that purpose in mind, we wrote our readability analysis.

Government rulings

Our Dutch government has ruled that the text on all government websites should be at B2: Upper intermediate level. It’s a rule that makes sure that every citizen, regardless of the level of education, can read and understand the information on these websites. We aim to help them with that. Our readability analysis works for websites in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, and German, by the way.

The readability analysis itself

Let’s see what’s in our readability analysis:

A beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: Readability analysis

We analyze these things:

  • Use subheadings so that people can scan your pages faster. It helps you group topics, which makes it easier to process them.
  • The Flesh Reading Ease test makes sure every reader can understand your texts. If you are writing for a more educated audience, a lower score is acceptable – it’s a guideline, you decide how strict to follow it.
  • Transition words help to improve the ‘flow’ of your page. To put it another way, they send a signal to your visitors that something is coming up, prepare them for the next sentence. You’ll find that the recommendation of using transition words in 30% of your sentences isn’t that hard to achieve.
  • Long paragraphs in an online article are more difficult to understand. You’ll find yourself lost in all the words. Bite-sized chunks are easier to process.
  • While in a book you can stretch a sentence over half a page, shorter sentences are that much easier to read online. We use 20 words as a target length.
  • Passive voice results in distant writing. Active voice is much more engaging. It’s almost impossible to write a ‘natural’ text without any passive voice at all (IMHO), and we ‘allow’ 10% passive voice in our analysis.

If you want more insight into how we decided on all these target numbers, please read the article Content analysis: methodological choices explained.

The last step of this beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO is an advanced one

When you first install Yoast SEO, we hide all advanced settings. We don’t want to bother you with these and have set them up to our standards. But I’d like you to check just two of the settings in there. Go to SEO > Dashboard > Features. Toggle the switch as in the image below to enable the advanced settings. Don’t worry; we’ll close these advanced settings right after this section.

beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: advanced settings pages

Titles and Metas

If you set that switch to “enable” and click the “Save settings” button, your menu, which used to look like the menu on the left, (this example is in WordPress) will expand to the one on the right. You’ll now have access to the way we set up, for instance, your titles and metas for you. I want you to check that section for me. No need to alter anything, by the way. I just want you to know it’s there and realize what you can configure here.

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At “post types,” you will find the default template we use for your post titles:
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%

This simply means we will use the page/post title you use when writing posts, and add the page number if your post is divided over multiple pages. Then we add a separator, like a dash, and then the site name you have set when creating your site. The outcome for this Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO could be:
Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: page titlesNote that this example doesn’t include a page number after the page title, as this post is just one page. This is the setup we recommend. It’s focused on the page title (“Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO”) and has proper branding at the end (“Yoast”).

The purpose of me showing you this is that I want you to know it’s there, so you don’t have to look for it in the future. It explains why your titles are shown this way in Google.

Keep reading: ‘Titles and meta variables in Yoast SEO’ »

Google Search Console

You can find the search console settings a bit further down the SEO menu. Now if you have completed our configuration wizard, you most probably connected Google Search Console to our plugin already. If you haven’t done that yet, you can do it at any time using the Search Console section here.

If you’re happy with the way these two are set up, please go back to the features tab in our dashboard and disable the advanced setting pages again.

That concludes our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. I trust your website is ready for Google now, so please add awesome content!

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

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If you make a website from scratch, you need to take a few SEO related things into account. It’s incredibly important to do this right from the start, as that will prevent a vast number of future headaches. Things like speed optimization and the right use of heading tags help to improve your website for both your visitors and Google. Now, I am sure you have covered the technical basics we described in the first part of this article. Just be aware of what you are doing, add focus and you’ll be fine. The greatest challenge begins when you start adding content to your website.

In this article, we’ll go over a number of steps everyone who makes a website should take when optimizing content.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

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Filling the website with content

You can optimize the entire technical side of your site and still find it lost on page two or more in Google. SEO isn’t a trick. It isn’t something your web developer can do for you. It’s something you can get guidance in, for instance with our SEO courses, or in our Yoast SEO (Premium) plugin. But first and foremost, SEO is Seriously Effortful Optimization. A continuous process, and something you, as a website owner, should make a strategy for. If you make a website, be prepared to write valuable content about the topic/purpose of your website. And that process starts with a bit of research.

Keyword research

Speaking from experience, I have often seen product manufacturers describe a product from their point of view. Let me give you an example: our Yoast SEO Premium plugin has an internal linking feature, which analyzes what posts on your website best match the content you are writing in your new post. You can copy that link from the WordPress sidebar and paste it into your post, to optimize your site structure. How awesome is that? Well, it might not sound so awesome to the user. They’re probably wondering what exactly they’re gaining with this feature. From a developer point of view, the description matches the feature. But for the user, the description should be:

Our internal linking tool allows you to create valuable links to all pages of your website, which will help these pages to rank in Google.

And even that might be a bit technical. In your keyword research you should focus on customer lingo first: how do people call your product? Find the right keywords and start writing. Want to learn more about keyword research? Take our SEO copywriting course for more insights.

Setting up the menu and site structure

In that same SEO copywriting training, we continue the SEO process for your website with the next step: site structure. You can even take our site structure course for more on this subject. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good structure. It’s the foundation of you visible site. If you set up a proper site structure right when you start a website, you’ll make optimizing your content so much easier.

As Marieke put it:

Your users need the structure to navigate through your site, to click from one page to the other. And Google uses the structure of your site in order to determine what content is important and what content is less important.

That’s a quote from our ultimate guide to site structure. It’s as simple as that. Optimizing the site structure influences SEO, UX, crawling of your pages and, let’s not forget, the right structure makes maintenance so much easier.

Good site structure will also help highlight the most important pages for your users. Include these pages in your (main, sub or footer) menu. As with customer lingo, use the data collected from Google Analytics to find the pages your visitors like most, and use these in your menu. Read more about optimizing your menu here.

Learn how to write engaging copy and how to organize it well on your site: Combine our SEO copywriting and Site structure training. »

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One page per topic

Keyword research is done, the structure is set up, so now we can start writing. And we’ll create one page per topic. Need more pages to elaborate on a topic? Then feel free to do so, but use a new, long tail keyword for every new page.

Using one focus keyword per page, you force yourself to make a hierarchy in your collection of keywords, something you already started when doing your keyword research.

Small step back to keyword research

Now I see you thinking about this focus keyword and the analyses in our plugin during your writing process. You know that feeling when you check keyword density and wonder what to do with synonyms? The first thing to do here is to check Google Trends. Let’s say we optimize for (just an example!) “create a website”. A synonym is “start a website”. Google Trends tells us the main keyword should be “create a website”, see graph here:

Make a website - Google Trends

But we use “start a website” a lot ourselves and want to include that phrase in our post as well. In the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, I can simply insert a second focus keyword. Overall keyword density should be right in that case (check both keyword tabs), as we know Google treats them as the same keyword: If I do a search for “start a website”, “create a website” is also a highlighted (bold) keyphrase in the results. “Make a website” is also a valid synonym. Just a small peek into the way I approach this myself.

Title tags

Using the focus keyword we mentioned earlier, creating a great title for your page is easy. Google still values that title highly, so put some effort in improving it. We usually use the title as the main article heading (or the H1 we mentioned in part 1 of this post). Besides that, it’s used as the most important part of the actual <title> tag, the tag that also defines your title in Google’s search result pages. This tag is not only visible when someone shares your post on Facebook or Twitter, it’s also used when someone bookmarks your site.

Optimize the title page according to these guidelines » 

Optimize your content

Learn how to write engaging copy and how to organize it well on your site: Combine our SEO copywriting and Site structure training. »

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Here we go: use Yoast SEO to optimize your page’s content. I’m just going to tell you that again. And if you don’t use WordPress, that’s not even an excuse anymore. We have Yoast SEO for Magento 2 and Yoast SEO for TYPO3 these days (created with our partner MaxServ).

Our SEO analysis will tell you, every time you write a post or page, what can be improved on your content:

Yoast SEO analysis

Read our SEO blog, as there’s a ton of free information about content optimization in there. And subscribe to our newsletter to keep your knowledge up to date.

How about meta descriptions?

I felt the need to at least mention meta descriptions here. Most SEO plugins, plans or whatever, mention meta descriptions as a must-do. I agree to a certain level. If you can write a nice, optimized ‘invitation’ to your website, you should most definitely add a meta description to your product pages. Usually, there is so much unrelated content on a product page (dimensions, manufacturer info, terms of service, etc.) that there’s always a risk that Google creates a meta description for that product page that doesn’t give the right information. So it makes sense to serve your own.

On regular pages and posts, Google will most probably grab a piece of related content, including the keyword used in the search query. That makes a lot of sense for news sites, for example. Still, I recommend adding a meta description to all your important pages. Facebook will use it as a description as well. And usually, when you are setting up a page on your website, it’s not that much work to add it, right?

Go make a website!

So, with this second part about content optimization, we have covered the very basics of SEO related things you should take into account when you make a website. I am sure you can come up with more insights, more tools or any other help for people that want to create a new website. Please feel free to add these in the comment section below this post, our readers (and I) will appreciate that!

Now go start that website!

Read on: ‘The ultimate guide to SEO copywriting’ »

 

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After a lot of its and buts, you have finally decided to create a website. A personal website for yourself, or that long overdue website for your business. You know you have to think about design and should supply well-written texts. You’ve already been inquiring about that thing called hosting. You may even have called someone that can build your website for you. All in all, you’re pretty confident that you can now start a website without any problems. But wait. Have you thought about this little thing called SEO?

Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO 1 training! »

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Create your website with SEO in mind

A large part of the search engine optimization process starts with focus: what is your website about? You have to focus on what we sometimes call ‘top tasks’. It’s a term used in mobile UX but it most certainly also goes for that moment when you decide to create a website from scratch. What is the purpose of a visitor coming to your website? And how can we make the journey of that visitor a pleasant journey?

When we discuss SEO with people that want to create a website, we focus on two main areas:

  • The technical side of things
  • Filling the website with content

In this post, I’ll highlight a number of important technical issues. In a follow-up post, I will go into the content side of things.

The technical side of things

With WordPress, it’s easy to build a website yourself. But a lot of you have probably hired a web agency to construct your website for you. That doesn’t mean you can sit back and wait for them to finish. There are a lot of things you can check and optimize yourself.

Speed optimization

One thing you want to pay attention to is the speed of your future website. You can easily check that on websites like Google PageSpeed Insights, or Pingdom. In an ideal world, your web agency has already tested things and your own check of your site’s speed will result in nothing but greens and great ratings. If not, these tools will tell you exactly where you can improve. That could be an image of several MBs that slows down the loading of a page, or the loading of an excessive number of JavaScript files, just to name a few.

If you want to learn more about speed optimization, please read Site Speed: tools and suggestions. And make sure your new website is as fast as possible.

URL Structure

Since you are setting up a new site, you still have full control over your URL structure. In most cases, focus is your friend here. Including dates in blog URLs that aren’t related to dates is my favorite example of what not to do. You just don’t need a date in there, unless you are a news website and that date does matter.

For shop websites, focus the URL on your product. Do people use SKUs to find your products? Include one in the URL. If not, please leave them out. Ground-rule: strip your URLs from anything that’s unnecessary. And if we’re honest: /blog/ isn’t a useful addition to your URL, neither is /shop/.

A small remark about the length of your URL: if you use focus, your URL will never need to be too long. I’m not against long URLs, especially since Google seems to leave them out of the search result pages in a growing number of cases. But a shorter, logical URL is easier to remember. And easier to share offline, for that matter.

Heading tags

One of my favorite subjects: heading tags. HTML5 allows for one H1 per block element, am I right? I still recommend against that. If you use one H1 and one H1 only, you need to make very clear for yourself what the subject or focus keyword of that page is. By restricting yourself to that one H1, you most definitely will add focus to that page. It’ll help you to properly optimize – read more about that further down in this post.

It’s simple:

Make it responsive

The mobile version of your website is equally important, if not more important than the desktop version. Mobile-first, they say. Fact is, that your website probably has as many mobile visitors as it has desktop visitors, of course depending on the type of site you have. I think, therefore, that a responsive site should be the default for every website that has been built in 2010 or later. We all use our mobile devices to browse the web, and your website should be ready for that.

If your web developer tells you that the website is accessible from a mobile device, don’t just trust him/her. Go over your mobile website yourself and check if you, as a visitor, can do all you want and need to do there. I already mentioned our article on mobile UX; use that as a reference when testing your mobile site yourself.

Read more: ‘Mobile SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

Local optimization

We have written a lot about structured data. Using structured data, you can serve Google your address details in the most convenient way. With for instance JSON, or using our Local SEO for WordPress plugin, you can insert a snippet that will help Google to fix your website/business to a location. This information is used for local searches, but will also end up in Google’s Knowledge Graph:

Apple NY Knowledge Graph

So if your business or website is related to an actual location, be sure to optimize for that part of your site right from the start as well. And definitely add your LocalBusiness data right now, if you haven’t done that already :)

Track your traffic

Let’s not forget this one. I have seen my share of websites where the owner told me that conversion was low or that nobody filled out their contact form. But the owner had no idea how many people got to his/her website. No idea what the main landing pages or exit pages were.

If you are serious about your website, at least install Google Analytics or any other preferred statistics app. Collect data about your visitors, and find out what the customer journey on your website is. Find out what pages people like and which pages they dislike. If you want to know more about Google Analytics, please visit our Google Analytics archives for related posts. When you start a website, don’t wait too long before adding Google Analytics, so you can see your traffic grow from day one.

Get your technical aspects right

If you have covered the technical issues of a new website, you’ll have properly prepared your site for all the great content you’ll be adding. Adding content is the next big step in building an awesome website! We’ll deal with how to approach that in a follow-up post tomorrow.

Keep reading: ‘WordPress SEO: The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites’ »

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Have you ever done a fresh Yoast SEO for WordPress install on your WordPress website? Have you ever found yourself wondering what’s hidden in the general SEO section of Yoast SEO? In the SEO section, in the bottom half of the WordPress menu on the left of the page? Perhaps the better question would be: have you ever tried our Yoast SEO configuration wizard? Our wizard takes care of all the little things that you should configure. Things that you might forget in your eagerness to get started with your newly set up website.

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Where can I find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard?

Of course, you want to jump right in and configure our plugin, using that Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Once you have installed our plugin, you’ll see a notification on your Yoast SEO dashboard:

The configuration wizard helps you to easily configure your site to have the optimal SEO settings.
We have detected that you have not finished this wizard yet, so we recommend you to start the configuration wizard to configure Yoast SEO.

There is a link in this message, leading you to a tab that’s located next to your SEO dashboard: “General”. You can set a number of things here, but you’ll also find a button that takes you to the Yoast SEO configuration wizard:

Where to find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard

The wizard

Once you’ve opened the wizard, we’ll guide you through the steps via a few questions. If you answer these, we’ll implement the right settings for your website, based specifically on your answers.

Step 1: Welcome to the Yoast SEO configuration Wizard

Let’s look at the first screen of the configuration wizard:
Yoast SEO configuration wizard: Welcome

You have two options here. You can start the wizard by clicking the purple button in the left box. This will continue the process as described below in this article.

The other option, on the right, will take you to our shop. Because we can do the configuration process for you, if you feel that there’s more to configure, and want to be sure it is done right for your particular site. We’ll check all the things in the wizard, but first, we will have a quick look at your website to see how you implemented things. And how we can optimize these settings for your specific business. Especially the technical side of things may feel challenging for the average site owner. This is where the configuration service is of great help. For the best result, you can also purchase our configuration package, which also includes our Yoast SEO Premium plugin, and the installation of that plugin.

For this post, let’s assume you want to use the Yoast SEO configuration wizard first.

Step 2: Is your site ready to be indexed?

The first question determines whether you want your site to be indexed or not. Perhaps you are working on a development site, on a staging server or just don’t want the public to see your site yet:
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

The reason we ask, is that one of the most important checks in our plugin determines whether Google can index your site or not. Google needs to be able to reach your website and index it unless you don’t want that. If you don’t want that, we merely need to know. You can set your preference for this in the second step of our wizard.

Step 3: What kind of site do you have?

In the next step, we will ask you about the type of site you have. It could be a blog or an online shop, but might as well be a news site or a portfolio.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

One of the reasons we ask this question is because it’s essential you take a moment and think about this. What is your site about? Let’s take yoast.com, for example. We have two different sections on our website yoast.com:

  • Our blogs: an SEO blog and a dev blog. In these blogs, we share knowledge about both SEO and software development in all its facets.
  • Our online shop. We run an online shop and you’ll find our premium plugins and online courses in there.

What makes this question hard for ourselves, is the fact that following our mission “SEO for everyone”, both are equally important. Sharing knowledge is our main goal. Making sure all companies large and small and all individuals rich and poor, wherever on this planet, can optimize their websites and have an equal chance to rank in the search result pages. We use our products to provide even more insights or to deliver our knowledge to you in a structured package. That is also the reason we charge prices for our software that fit well into the offers of most online agencies. Charging $5,000 for a website, and including a mere $89 for our Yoast SEO Premium plugin seems like a no-brainer. Especially since it just makes your work / the work of your client so much easier. But enough with the promotional talk.

Think for yourself what your answer to this question should be. That’ll make it easier to configure several features of our plugin and, in fact, of your website later on.

For us, as plugin developers, the information we get from this question is also useful for future improvements. For instance, it can help us to prioritize future additions to our plugin for specific types of sites.

Step 4: Is it you or your company?

For the right metadata, we ask you to choose between company and person here. Is your website about you, or the company you represent? If you are a person, we would like to include your name. If you are a company, please add the name and logo.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

This information will be included in the metadata of your website, with the goal to provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is the block of information you see on the right-hand side of the search results, for instance when you do a company search for Sony or Apple. My search for “Apple” actually returned details for our local Apple premium reseller, with a sort of ‘footer’ about the global Apple company details.

To make sure you give Google proper suggestions for that Knowledge Graph, we have added this question.

Step 5: Tell us your social profiles

In addition to your name or company name, we also ask you to let us know which social profiles you have. Again, so we can provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. Google seems keen on delivering answers to their visitors right away, so you’d better make sure your information is on Google.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

With social being a part of the Knowledge Graph, and your website being linked on all your social profile pages, be sure to fill this out as completely as possible.

Step 6: To show or not show certain post types

The description in the image below is pretty clear: this is where you can set posts and pages to hidden or visible. Besides that, you can also choose to hide the Media post type.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

If you set your Media post type to ‘visible’, WordPress will generate separate pages for your images, and we will generate an XML sitemap for your images as well. Now, unless you have a very specific reason to generate these pages, we recommend setting this to ‘hidden’ instead. That way, most websites prevent the generation of a ton of pages that just contain an image and no further content. Google will spend time indexing all these pages, but they add little value to your content. Keep in mind that when an image is on your page, post, or a specific gallery, Google will find it anyway.

Step 7: How many people are publishing content on your site?

We absolutely want to know if your website has multiple authors. There’s a reason for that: when your site only has one author, WordPress will still generate author pages. But if you write all the content on your blog yourself, your blog page will show the exact same collection of posts as your author page. And that, indeed, is duplicate content.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

We call something duplicate content when the majority of a page is the same as the content on another page. Google will notice this, get confused, won’t know what page to rank first, and might decide to rank both a bit less. You obviously want to prevent that from happening. As we can guide you in this case, we added this check to our Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Step 8: Google Search Console integration

There is a ton of information about your website in Google Search Console. We have written many posts about webmaster tools like Google Search Console, but did you know we also have an integration for it in our plugin? It connects your website to Google Search Console and allows you to keep a keen eye on your 404 Not Found errors. In our Yoast SEO Premium plugin, we’ll even guide you in preventing these 404 errors by helping you change them to for instance a 301 (so redirect the page to another page), or a 410 status code (which tells Google the page is gone forever).
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

In this step of the Yoast SEO configuration wizard, we guide you in connecting Google Search Console to our plugin. After that, we’ll start showing you your 404s so you can monitor and fix them!

Step 9: Optimizing your page title

At the title settings step in the wizard, we ask you to think about your branding. The website name you enter here is the name that our default page title template will use to put at the end of each page title. The default page title template looks like this:
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%

The last part of that template is %%sitename%% and that’s what you fill out here. Be sure to add it, but keep it short, so the focus will be on the page or post title. It’s nice to have some of your branding in here so people will recognize your pages in the search result pages. If they already know you and your site, they’re more likely to click on one of your links.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

The third part of the page template is %%sep%%, which stands for separator. A page title that follows our template can be “Some title of a post – Yoast”. The hyphen in there is the separator you can set at this step in the Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Using another separator than the average person might make you stand out from your competitors in the search result pages. But beside that, you can also pick the smallest separator, which could mean you can squeeze in another character or two.

Read more: ‘Titles and meta variables in Yoast SEO’ »

Step 10: Awesome tips and new products in your inbox

As SEO is an ongoing process, our goal is to keep you up-to-date on any changes in Google’s search result pages or Google’s algorithm. We do that by posting on our SEO blog, but also with our newsletter. In the newsletter, we highlight new developments in search, in WordPress and in our company – if relevant.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Simply insert your email address, and we’ll keep you in the loop on all things SEO!

Step 11: Upsell: buy our Premium plugin

Call it whatever you want (upsell, spam, useful information), but we have to tell you about our premium plugin in our configuration. Because we deliver incredibly useful SEO extras with that premium plugin, for a reasonable price. To name but a few:

  • What about a redirect manager? We’ll not only show you your 404s, but will also make it very easy to redirect, and thereby fix ’em.
  • An internal linking tool that will help you optimize your site structure to the max. Link suggestions and an easy way to copy these into your text. Optimize your cornerstone content even further.
  • Social previews, so you’ll know exactly what your website will show on Facebook and Twitter, and the option to tweak that.
  • A year of updates for all premium features, so your entire plugin will always be 100% up-to-date.
  • Email support for as long as you have Premium. This means you can email our 24/7 support team with any questions you have about the plugin.

Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Next to that, we offer some hands-on online courses to improve your SEO game even more. Be sure to check them out; you can always decide later if they add value for you, right? We think they do :)

Step 12: Even more free information about the plugin: then you’re ready to get started!

All the steps above have one goal: prepare you and your website for SEO. These steps are focused on the general settings of our plugin.

If you have used our plugin before, you’ll know it also provides a thorough SEO analysis in real time, while you write your posts or pages. On the page/post edit screen, where you write your content, you’ll find a so-called meta box with our SEO and readability analysis. For more insights on both, we finish our Yoast SEO configuration wizard with a helpful video, which tells you more about that specific part of the plugin. Be sure to watch that video!
Yoast SEO configuration wizard: finished

The configuration wizard makes things easier for all of us

All in all, I trust this article gives you a pretty good insight in why you should give our Yoast SEO configuration wizard a spin. And why we ask what we ask in there!

And again, if you want us to configure the plugin for you, feel free to use our Yoast SEO configuration service instead.

Keep reading: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

The post The Yoast SEO Configuration Wizard appeared first on Yoast.

At Yoast, we think SEO only works when you use a holistic approach. Just optimizing your page titles isn’t enough. It’s also about site speed and user experience (UX), and great content is obviously a huge part of it. In a holistic approach, SEO has a lot of “teammates” that have to work together. In this post, we’ll go into a number of areas where SEO and UX meet. Come to think of it, in a lot of ways, SEO simply targets the search engines and UX targets the visitor, both with a shared goal: to provide the best experience possible.

Learn how to write engaging copy and how to organize it well on your site: Combine our SEO copywriting and Site structure training. »

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Common page elements that influence both SEO and UX

If you just look at the basic elements on a page that influence your SEO, you’ll find a close relation between SEO and UX. I’ll list a few elements that are important for both SEO and UX below.

Page titles and (sub)headings

An optimized page title and related, visible <h1> element will tell Google what your page is about. That page title also informs the visitor what that page is about, already on Google’s result page. So does that <h1> element, obviously. Subheadings like <h2> help both Google and your visitors to scan a page and grasp the general idea of that page.

Read more: ‘How to use headings on your site’ »

External links

An external link in your content tells Google that you respect your sources. It can also increase the odds that your sources will link back to you in their content. For your users, external links will provide a way to access background information, for instance.

Great content

If you provide quality content, people want to link to you, and visitors want to read you. And stay on your pages to finish reading. These incoming links and the time-on-page is something Google will notice. Google could start to consider your content as the main source of information on a certain topic. Just like we are for WordPress SEO. Images and videos create rich content, which both Google and your users enjoy. All in all, it’s clear that there are many areas where SEO and UX meet, right there on your pages.

Keep reading: ‘The importance of quality content for SEO’ »

Site structure

When a visitor ends up on any one of your pages, you want to make sure they know where they are on your website. It should be clear to them that there’s more to explore on your site. If you initially fail to answer the user’s question in Google, at least be so polite as to direct them to it. You want to prevent that click back to the search result pages. That click back to the search result pages is called a bounce. And a high bounce rate can have a negative influence on your SEO. It indicates to Google that you may not be answering your visitors’ search query.

One way to prevent a bounce is to make sure your site structure is clearly reflected on your page. That has to do with an optimized menu, but I think even more with just making sure your website has a good structure. Do keyword research, and set up that site structure the right way. Take our site structure course for more in-depth information on that. Setting up the right site structure, means, for starters, that you make sure that your structure is clear from your breadcrumbs and, at least, reflected your menu. You can also think along the lines of related posts and products, for instance.

By building a nice, hierarchical site structure, you make sure that Google can efficiently crawl your pages and visitors can easily find what they are looking for. SEO and UX are naturally influenced by this.

Site speed

Yes, we also have to address site speed, again and again. It’s one of the things that heavily influences both SEO and UX. Google wants to spend only a certain amount of time each time it’s on your site to crawl it. Visitors don’t like waiting for your content to load. When an SEO recommends lazy loading of images, this improves the experience of both users and Google. If you defer parsing of JS and CSS files where possible, you make sure there is something to see on your page as soon as possible. Again, for both Google and the visitor. It’s not rocket science, right?

Read on: ‘Site speed: tools and suggestions’ »

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Mobile experience

What goes for site speed, goes for your mobile website as a whole. Yes, it should be fast, but it should also be well-designed and have a killer navigation, so users and Google can find what they are looking for in a heartbeat. That doesn’t involve cramming everything you have into your website menu. But it could mean that you have to think hard about your mobile homepage. Does it cover the main areas of your website, for your user? Does it set a mood and lure or invite your visitors, and any search engine, into the rest of the website as well?

Even button sizes on your mobile website could be of influence here. I’ve written a post a while back on mobile UX you should read. Every one of those recommendations influences mobile SEO as well, directly or indirectly. And feel free to ask Google’s opinion on your mobile website via their Mobile-friendliness test, for instance.

Conclusion: SEO and UX go hand in hand

As you can see, there are many areas where SEO and UX meet. When you keep in mind that Google is becoming more and more human, or at least mimics human behavior more accurately, it’s only logical to see all the overlap SEO and UX have, right?
I think it’s fair to say that almost all optimization you do for your users (UX) has a positive effect on your SEO. This applies the other way around as well: if you deliver a poor user experience, you might see this reflected in the search result pages! Obviously, the impact of that effect may differ from optimization to optimization. But SEO and UX are clearly a great match in our larger concept of holistic SEO!

Read more: ‘What is on-page SEO’ »

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In an ideal world, every single page of your website would be accessible from that one, site-wide website menu. But as you, as a web developer or website owner, undoubtedly know, the real world of websites is far from ideal. We struggle with multiple devices, fixed-width websites, themes that can hardly be changed without creating new problems, and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, the website menu is the most common aid for navigation on your website and you want to make the best possible use of it. Here, I’ll address a number of useful best practices that allow you to optimize your website menu for both your users and SEO.

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Website menus

First of all, I think we should forget the assumption that a website can only have one menu. I think we have become used to the small links in the upper bar on a website.

Website menu: greenday.com

Like so many other websites, Greenday.com has a first menu in the black bar, whereas the red bar also contains a number of links to internal or external pages. Social profiles, Apple Music and Spotify links, but also a newsletter subscription.

Website menu: Manhattan College

Manhattan College has a clear second menu leading to internal pages, aimed at specific audiences. It just goes to show that these extra menus are everywhere.

My point here? Don’t put everything in one menu. Doing that clutters your website and makes your main menu a poor reflection of your site structure. Focus on the most important content. For instance: I do like a ‘Contact’ link in a menu. But only add one if your main goal is that your visitors contact you. Otherwise, that link can be placed in a second website menu without a problem.

The downsides of too many links in your website menu

Too many links, anywhere on your page, isn’t recommended. Yes, Google may allow up to 250 links and perhaps even more on a page without any problems. But your website’s goal’s probably not to make sure your visitors can’t see the wood for the trees. We recommend against:

  • Tag clouds (what’s the use, really?)
  • Long lists of monthly links to your blog archive (don’t use date archives!)
  • Infinitely scrollable archive pages with links to articles (at least add excerpts and load more articles on scroll)
  • A hundred categories in a list (why so many!)
  • Menus with submenus and sub-submenus and so on

Why do we recommend against this? Having too many links on a page messes up your link value, for one. With so many links on a page, every link from that page is just a little less valuable for the page it links to. Besides that, it messes up the focus of your visitor. With every link, you add a diversion from the main goal of your website.

In my opinion, you do need to have a solid reason to add more than one submenu. And if you feel you need that extra level in your menu, monitor the number of clicks that menu gets and adjust if needed. I think you are much better off creating good landing pages for your submenu items, in many cases.

Read on: ‘How to clean up your site structure’ »

The perfect menu

Of course, there is no template for ‘the perfect menu’. Much of it depends on your site and on what your goals are. In any case, there are two important questions you should ask yourself when optimizing your menu:

  • What is the best menu structure for my site?
  • What menu items should at least be in my menu?

Two more tips we can give you is to use a drop-down menu for important sub items. And don’t add too many links to your menu, or they will lose their value. Do you have other tips for a good site menu? Let us know in the comments!

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

The post Optimizing your website menu for SEO appeared first on Yoast.

In WordPress, content can be grouped using categories and tags by default. WordPress calls these groups taxonomies. When you are serious about your content and have a lot of it, it will pay off to create other groups as well. By creating these custom taxonomies, you’re making your life as a content writer easier. More importantly, you’ll structure your website to your best effort for your visitors. They’ll be able to locate content that’s relevant to them and find related content more easily. This article will dive into the use of custom taxonomies.

Hierarchical versus non-hierarchical

WordPress introduced the concept of tags in version 2.3. As described by Wikipedia, a tag is ‘a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information.’ This means WordPress has had a hierarchical way of classifying information (categories), and a non-hierarchical way of organizing information (tags) since version 2.3. As far back as 2006 (!), people were discussing the fact that tags are not categories. The problem is that WordPress calls them both ‘taxonomies,’ but that’s not entirely correct. The word taxonomy assumes a hierarchy of sorts, as explained on another Wikipedia page

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With version 2.8, WordPress introduced custom taxonomies. Or actually, allowed easier access to the already available backend for custom taxonomies. These custom taxonomies can be either non-hierarchical (e.g. ‘tag’-like) or hierarchical (e.g. ‘category’-like). But for now, only the non-hierarchical taxonomies benefit from the smooth integration. These are more like actual taxonomies though, as they add a kind of hierarchy to the tag structure.

Let me give you an example: you could have a ‘People’ and a ‘Places’ taxonomy. Say, you write a new post and decide to add a keyword in the ‘People’ taxonomy. By doing that, you’re saying that it’s a keyword (or tag, if you want) of the type ‘People,’ so it is hierarchical in a way. But it also makes the keyword that much more informative, as it adds another layer of information.

Some years ago, Roy Huiskes made this visual for us by making a graphical explanation of the subject:

custom taxonomies

Fun fact: That People taxonomy section in the image above would include some more branches nowadays.

You can imagine using this for locations, or employees on a company site, but also writers on a book site, destinations on a travel site, etcetera. It groups items in a convenient way, both for maintenance and your visitors.

Custom taxonomies in WordPress

Adding custom taxonomies in WordPress isn’t that hard. To manually register a taxonomy, you can use the register_taxonomy() function. Most WordPress developers have probably used this one time or another, right?

WordPress.org has an example of how to approach this for a People taxonomy:

function people_init() {
	// create a new taxonomy
	register_taxonomy(
		'people',
		'post',
		array(
			'label' => __( 'People' ),
			'rewrite' => array( 'slug' => 'person' ),
			'capabilities' => array(
				'assign_terms' => 'edit_guides',
				'edit_terms' => 'publish_guides'
			)
		)
	);
}
add_action( 'init', 'people_init' );

This piece of code adds a meta box to your WordPress post edit screens, that looks like the tag box. It even works in the same way. I’m not a fan of tag clouds, but yes, in theory, you could even create a cloud for your new taxonomy. For a more in-depth explanation, check this post by wpmudev.org (2016).

These custom taxonomies can be public and private, which also makes them extremely useful for internal grouping of elements as well. I can imagine grouping VIP users, social influencers; you name it. 

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Note: (Custom) Taxonomies and Gutenberg

As Matt Cromwell describes, “Gutenberg is the future of content in WordPress. It will deliver the elegance of Medium but with far more power and flexibility of layouts and content types”. But Gutenberg is currently in development, and 99% of WordPress users probably won’t see any of it until it’s finished.

However, just last week, my colleague Tim added an issue to the WordPress/Gutenberg Github repo: Gutenberg shows private taxonomies in Category and Tag lists. Just dropping this here as a note, as I am sure the development team fixes this before releasing Gutenberg to the public. But if you are test-driving Gutenberg on a live site, and you are using custom taxonomies somewhere on that site, it could be something to check. Just to be sure!

How are you using custom taxonomies?

So, in conclusion, custom taxonomies can be very useful. If you have loads of content and want to create order, for both yourself and your users, you could use them.

That leaves me with two questions: Are you using custom taxonomies and if yes, how did you add these to your site? I’m looking forward to your answers in the comments!

Read more: ‘Using category and tag pages for SEO’ »

One of the most frequently asked questions by fellow SEO consultants probably is: “What online marketing tools do you use?” In the ever-changing SEO world, it was time for us to update our list with the present day tools we use on a very frequent basis in a variety of projects. Some of these tools are mainly for SEO use, but they all come in handy for every website owner. Use them to check on your site’s health, improve communications and keep track of your traffic. And these are, of course, all important aspects of online marketing. So let’s dive straight in!

Google Analytics

The heart of many a search engine optimization/search engine marketing campaign is Google Analytics. You can use it to track the clicks on your website and the impact of the things you change over time. It is, for example, effective to track how successful your advertisements, email blasts, and SEO campaigns are.

To install Google Analytics on your site you have to put the Google tracking code on every page of your site. If you use a CMS like Joomla, Drupal or WordPress to create your site, you should find this easy to do, using one of the freely available extensions, like MonsterInsights.

Online Marketing tools - Google Analytics

Page Analytics by Google

This handy little Chrome extension is an online marketing tool that will help you read your Google Analytics data on a per page basis. There are more extensions like it, but this one is from Google. You can use it for any site that you have Google Analytics access to.

Online Marketing tools - Google Analytics extension chrome

Google Analytics Tracking Code Debugger

If you want to take your Google A=/=nalytics tracking to a more advanced level, the tracking code debugger extension for Chrome is very helpful. It allows you to see what Google Analytics tracks for the current page.

GetClicky

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Get Clicky is another great online marketing tool for analyzing the traffic on your site. Especially if you’re one of those people that don’t want to use Google Analytics. It has one nifty feature that GA doesn’t have: you can watch users navigate your site in real time. This means you can see what pages they land on, what they click on, what they download and where they leave. Using the Spy tool you can even track a given IP address on your site in real time. This will help you check what content on your site is attractive to people, and what content they ignore.

Tip: There’s a free WordPress plugin for Clicky (by Yoast) that makes it easy to install on every page.

Clicky Screenshot

Google Search Console

Google Search Console has many useful options for analyzing and evaluating your site’s performance. It’s still underused by people all over the web. We have written several articles about Google Search Console, so go read if you want to learn more. You’ll also find a few articles about Bing’s webmaster tools there, by the way.

Search Console Structured Data

A nice section to check is the Structured Data section, under ‘Search Appearance‘. See if your shop is well-configured in terms of structured data. This helps search engines understand your site, you can read more about that here. You can also check out our online course about Structured Data for more insights.

Fetch as Googlebot is one of our favorite features, because it allows you to fetch a page exactly the way Googlebot would. It then shows if there are any issues that prevent Googlebot from accessing your content.

Google Cache (Text Only Version)

To check how Google sees your site you can also search for your page, then click the small triangle next to the URL in the search results and click ‘cached’.

This will show you a (hopefully) recent version of your page. Click on ‘Text-Only version’, in the upper left corner of your page (in the gray area), to see the text on your page as Google sees it.

Google Cache

When indexing your site, Google looks for keywords in the domain name, in the Title tag, in the Heading (H1, H2, H3…) tags, etc. So check how Google sees your site to ensure that everything is clear. If you want to sell Motorcycles on your site, but all the keywords are Sales, Training and Special Offers, Google won’t send you much traffic. Also, when your content is buried under loads of paragraphs about other stuff, it won’t work well for your online marketing.

Wirify

Wirify allows you to see the relationship between text and graphics on a page. This is practical when you’re looking at complex pages and you want to see the relationship between the number of graphics and the amount of text on a site. Wirify lets you see where these elements appear respective to one another in a schematic way. It’s also a useful tool if you just want to use the layout of another site as inspiration for your own site. 

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To use this tool, just visit the Wirify page, drag the Wirify by Volkside link into your bookmark toolbar. Visit any page and click the link to see a wireframe version of your site.

MajesticSEO

MajesticSEO lets you see all the people who link to your site. Incoming links from other relevant and well-linked websites are crucial to ensure that your page will rank well in Google listings. This tool is also useful to see who links to your competitors. Checking that will give you new people to contact for your link building. Recently, we interviewed Dixon Jones, Marketing Director of Majestic, and he shared his views on link building and using Majestic. You can read it here.

Alternatives are Open Site Explorer and aHrefs.

Google Trends

Some search terms are just better than others, and search term value changes over time. Google Trends lets you rank keywords against each other, allows you to see their performance over time, by geographic location if desired.

Online marketing tools: Google trends

From a marketing perspective, the best thing is to have a website that focuses on a keyword that is starting a meteoric rise. For example, if you are the only cell phone accessory store with content about the iPhone, the week the new iPhone is announced, and your site is equipped to close sales, you’ll likely draw a lot of traffic and sell loads of products.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Another important tool for evaluating the usefulness of keywords is to examine them with Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You input a series of search terms and Google shows you how many people searched for those terms, and related terms, both globally and locally. Click on the headings at the top of the table to sort by keyword, by the number of searches or by competition.

Keyword Planner Google AdWords

Competition is a measurement of how many people are actively marketing that term through Google Adwords. This gives you an idea of how hard it may be to rank for the term.

BrowserStack

Online marketing tools: Browsershots

As time goes by, the number of browsers people use to surf the Internet increases. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Mozilla, IE, Opera… and for every browser a dozen or more versions. BrowserStack (free trial) makes it easy to see how your page looks in all these browsers, highlighting any issues that may make the site unusable.

An alternative online marketing tool with the same purpose is BrowserShots, see screenshot.

Contrast Ratio Calculators

For anyone who creates websites, Contrast Ratio Calculators are critical. These allow you to check colors, and indeed entire pages, to conform to international accessibility standards. One such test is Lea Verou’s Contrast Ratio. It will instantly tell you if two colors are a match or not.

Contrast Ratio test

Remember when choosing colors for your website that a pretty large percentage of men around the world is, at least partly, color blind. Having good, contrasting colors in your design is important for them!

Quix

Quix is an extensible bookmarklet, developed by Joost himself. It allows you to easily access all your bookmarks and bookmarklets, across all your browsers, while maintaining them in only one spot. All you have to do is remember the shortcut for the bookmarklet.

Basically, it is a command line for your browser. So you can type ‘bitly’, and bring up a tool to shorten with bit.ly, etc. If, like most developers, you have fifty browser-based analysis and editing tools you use every day, Quix will save you many clicks and key strokes.

Share your tools!

The web is always coming up with new tools, new techniques, and new utilities, but this list provides a quick overview of things we use and refer people to regularly. We hope it proves useful for your online marketing efforts. Of course, we understand that this list might be a bit basic if you’ve been doing SEO for years. So feel free to drop your suggestions in the comments. Thanks!

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