We proudly introduce you to yet another pre-eminent speaker at YoastCon 2017: Marcus Tandler! Marcus, also known as Mediadonis, is co-founder and managing director at OnPage.org. This award-winning SaaS Tech-StartUp helps webmasters make better websites. Marcus started working in the SEO industry about 20 years ago, so he gained a lot of experience over the years. Read in this interview why you should not focus on Google or SEO when optimizing your site!

Don’t want to miss ‘Mediadonis’ on stage? Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!
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You’ve been in the business for a very long time (since 1998). Do you think SEO changed a lot during this time? If so, what are the main lessons we can learn from those changes?

SEO has changed a lot from its early years to where we are now. When I started with SEO, keyword stuffing was the way to go. It was only about putting as many instances of a particular keyword on your page, preferably using a white font on white background to not bother the user ;)

When Google introduced its link-based ranking algorithm, the link spam games began. People were grabbing low hanging fruit via open guestbooks, forums and comments or simply buying links on high Pagerank domains. SEOs were addicted to Pagerank. For a long time acquiring links was pretty much the only thing you’d have to worry about when trying to rank a website for juicy keywords.

Brand and authority have continued to become more important throughout the years, which all started with Google’s Vince update in 2009. On-page SEO and UX have become more important as well, with Google becoming less dependent on ranking signals which can be gamed from the outside, like backlinks.

Google’s goal is to create happy users. Google has become exceptional in anticipating search intent and delivering a satisfying result.

These days, links will get you into the top 10 at best; it’s user behavior that will make it rise to the top or vanish to page two. Last year, Google Principal Engineer Paul Haahr said at SMX West:

„We run a lot of experiments, it is very rare if you do a search on Google and you’re not in at least one experiment.“

Of course, those are not all ranking experiments. Google famously tested 42 different shades of blue to find the optimal blue for their search result links.

So the main lesson is: Only try to rank for keywords, where you can deliver the best possible result – or at least the best among the top 10 ;)

Come see Marcus Tandler speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

You must have seen lots of websites in your career. What’s the biggest mistake you think website owners make when it comes to SEO?

Often people think of SEO as a tactical approach, which gets applied only after the website is up and running. It makes a lot of sense to include an SEOs opinion right from the start when conceptualizing the website or planning a relaunch.

The biggest mistake I see quite a lot is failing at indexation control and poor crawl budget management. Most webmasters are feeding Google all available pages, not thinking about whether Google should index those pages. For example, online shops with x different color variations of the same product on x different pages. Same goes for feeding a blog’s category- and/or tag-pages to Google, while most of the time these pages cannibalize other pages from the blog and provide a subpar result for the user. So basically compulsive hoarding of pages.

Ever since Google introduced the Panda, webmasters should try to cut the fat, only feeding pages to Google which provide value to a potential searcher.
With every page you should ask yourself three questions:

  • Do I need it for my users?
  • Does it need to be indexed?
  • Does it need to rank?

Although Google has almost limitless crawl capabilities, they still want to manage it most effectively. It’s all about avoiding waste of resources. Don’t become a digital compulsive hoarder.

As the co-founder of OnPage.org, the SEO tool that analyzes all kinds of on-page elements that influence your ranking, do you believe focusing on on-page SEO is the best SEO strategy?

Absolutely! Of course, you will need a couple of good links to convince Google of your site’s legitimacy and get a shot at the top 10, but only thorough on-page SEO will make your site stay there.

On-page SEO is the foundation. Your ambition should be creating a 100% perfect website. Fast loading, omni-device friendly, no broken links, broken assets or anything else that can go wrong. There are also various best practices for international websites (hreflang), handling internal duplicate content (canonical), pagination issues (rel prev / next) as well as controlling indexation with the help of robots.txt directives or the noindex-tag. The better Google can understand your website structure and content, the better you will end up ranking.

I’d aim much higher, though. Not focusing specifically on SEO but rather website quality and user experience as a whole. Users want fast loading websites that work properly on all desktop and mobile devices. Of course, Google also likes fast loading websites, because it makes their users happy. So Google should not be your focus, always focus on the user, and you’ll be fine.

SEO of the future: what should website owners focus on if they want to rank now AND in the future? Are there any important changes coming up that we should know about?

If you focus on your users, you will be fine and won’t have to worry all too much about potential updates and changes. Google cares a lot about its users, so you should, too. Google is getting better and better at determining which result is the best result for the user, so you should always aim at being the best possible resource for the keywords and topics you’re trying to rank for.

It helps to be honest with yourself up front, so is your website a good resource for these keywords and topics? Do you offer anything unique over the websites which are already ranking in the top 10? Constantly ask yourself: If your website would disappear from the web, would anyone miss it?

Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?

I have a pretty unique form of storytelling racing through hundreds of slides. So besides getting up to speed on what’s happening at Google, you will hopefully have a great time getting slidestormed ;)

Follow Marcus on Twitter: Twitter.com/mediadonis

Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!
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Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

We’re thrilled to announce that CRO expert Karl Gilis will be speaking at YoastCon on November 2! Karl Gilis from AGConsult is one of the most influential usability and conversion optimization specialists in the world, and our personal go-to-guy if we need advice on these matters for Yoast.com. We’ve asked him 5 questions, or actually 6, to warm you up for his talk on YoastCon. Read on if you want to find out which trends annoy Karl the most and what the most unexpected improvement was he ever saw on a website.

Don’t want to miss the ‘conversion comedian’ on stage? Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!
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AGConsult is specialized in optimizing website conversion and usability. If you could give people only one advice to improve their site’s conversion, what would it be?

That’s a very easy question to start with :-) No, it’s an incredible difficult one. On a more generic level I would say: listen to your clients and visitors.

  • What words are they using?
  • What questions do they have?
  • What do they really like about your product or service?
  • How did it help to make their life better / easier / …?

Use these insights to rewrite your copy. Because your copy is probably written from your point of view: you talk about what you think is important. Don’t do that. Focus on what your clients think and say. Use their words. Don’t sell the way you want to sell, sell the way people want to buy.

If you want a more practical hands-on tip, I would say: get rid of all the clutter. Print a typical and important page from your website, such as a product detail page or your order form. Take a red marker and draw a big red cross on all the things that you make you wonder ‘Why is that here, isn’t this a distraction from my main message’? Remove all those things.

Less clutter will result in:

  • Faster loading times, especially when you have lots of fluffy stuff or stock photos that don’t add to your message.
  • A cleaner look. And yes: the less elements you have, the clearer your message will be. 
A great example of this is the top part of the homepage of Airbnb, especially now they finally removed the sliders and the video background.
  • More room to add things that will result in more sales. Things like social proof or a sense of urgency.

Come see Karl Gilis speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

Scientific evidence is what drives you. Do you have an example where your research wiped the floor with design trends and hypes?

Don’t get me started about design trends and hypes. Most of them don’t increase sales or conversions. They only help design agencies and designers make more money. When a design change is not driven by a business or user need, it’s a big gamble to change something.

3 examples:

  1. Sliders with different messages
    They’re part of almost every theme for WordPress and other platforms, because they’re fun to make and beautiful to look at. But they don’t convert.
Your website is not a piece of art. It’s a tool. A sales tool.
 When we removed the slider on the Suzuki homepage and showed 2 static images instead, this resulted in 55% more clicks in the same screen real estate.
  2. Flat design and ghost buttons
    A few years ago designers decided that buttons shouldn’t look like buttons anymore. They introduced so-called ghost buttons. Where a button is just a square line around some words. So it’s more inline with the design and it doesn’t attract attention.
 Excuse me: your call-to-action should attract attention. That’s what it’s there for!
 What we’ve seen is when a site went from a normal button to a ghost button, the number of clicks on non-clickable elements increased with 600%. Because users had no clue where to click.
  3. Video background
    They’re the new Flash and the new sliders rolled into one. So please avoid them.
 A moving background is always a distraction from your message. And visitors should focus on your message. 
We’ve done several tests where we replaced a video-background with a static background and saw an uplift. 
It’s no coincidence even AirBnB ditched their video background for -euhm- nothing. Yep, there’s nothing wrong with a white background.

As a consultant you must have seen changes on dozens of websites over the years. What was the most unexpected improvement that you’ve ever seen happen on a website?

Another difficult one. What probably surprises me the most is that I’m still often surprised. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned thanks to AB-testing. There are always exceptions to the rules and guidelines. Don’t get me wrong: there are best practices. But they do not always work on every website.

When you’re asking for a specific case, I think of the shopping cart of an online shop selling watches and sunglasses. We took away all friction, made delivery time and shipping costs extra clear and everything that is in the classical usability book. But the results were still disappointing.

Then we added the message ‘You’ve made an excellent choice’. And whoppa: sales went up by a huge margin. Why? Because we supported the user in his choice. We took away their biggest fear: will this watch or sunglass suit me? So, don’t only focus on taking away the imperfections of your site. Give compliments too!

Your specialization is conversion and usability, ours is SEO. Do you feel these two are interconnected, or would you rather see them as two separate areas?

They are interconnected. And more people need to realize that. On a generic level this is pretty obvious. When you attract lots of people to your site but they don’t do anything (buy, subscribe, …), you’ll be out of business soon. When you have a website that converts like crazy but you don’t have any visitors, you have a problem too.

But also on a deeper level SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) are very connected. When we do AB-tests the big changes almost always come from changes in words. And I’m not talking about random changes, but using the right words that tickle the human brain. As I said earlier: if you use the same words as your clients, they’ll have the feeling you understand them. When you relate to their problems, dreams and hopes, they will more likely convert than when you use corporate lingo and only talk about features. And I guess your readers know that those things are also important for SEO. Use the same word as your audience.

In all these years I’ve never had big conflicts with good SEO specialists. I only have fights with black hat SEO people or those who use the old tricks that don’t work anymore (keyword stuffing, anyone?). Never forget: you’re optimizing for people. Not only for Google. And not for the sake of usability as such either. You’re optimizing your website for your audience.

Failure is an important part of finding out how to make things work in the best possible way. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while working for any of the big brands you’ve worked for?

Most big brands are afraid of failure. They don’t want to take risks. But that means you’ll reach a status quo. You have to take calculated risks. Based on user research and past experience you identify the weak points of site of page. And then you start making changes.

Small changes will mostly result in small results. Big, bold changes will result in big changes. Hopefully an uplift, but sometimes a drop in sales. But that’s why you test. And you learn something from those failures. What we often see is that our 2nd or 3rd test after a big failure, results in a big winner. And if you implement that winner, the gains of that will be so much bigger than that temporarily loss in sales or leads during the test. Big (and smaller) brands who understand this, will often choose to test more. And the more you test, the more you learn, and the more winners you’ll have.

Conversion optimization is not a project. Not something you do once. It’s a continuous process. And when you keep doing it, it will result in big wins. 
Just as it is with SEO. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Come see Karl Gilis speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

We assume this interview has convinced people to go see your talk at YoastCon on November 2! In the unlikely case someone is still in doubt, what’s the main reason they shouldn’t miss your talk?

Who am I to answer why people need to see me? If you insist, I think there are 3 reasons:
· My talk will be full of practical hands-on tips. Little tricks you can apply yourself and will result in more sales and conversions.
· There’s also a more strategic layer that focuses on techniques and methods that you can also apply yourself.
· You will laugh a lot. People call me the conversion comedian and I do my best to put a smile on everybody’s face.

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

Business to Business (B2B) marketing is often different from Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing thanks to the elaborate buying processes, a narrow market and more complex products and services of a B2B website. In this article about B2B SEO, I’ll compare the distinctions between the two and explain what that means for your B2B website and SEO.

When reading the above, you might think: “In both cases you’re selling products or services to a customer, and you want those products to be found and ordered, so what could be the difference?” While that might be true in case of, for example, office supplies, there are instances of B2B products and services that do require a different approach, especially when it comes to more specialized, complex, technical and expensive products, ordered by larger organizations with multiple stakeholders, so you’ll have to adapt your website to take those distinctions into account.

Differences between B2B and B2C

So, what are the main differences between B2B and B2C trading?

  • The buying process can take much longer, often involves more stakeholders and specific requirements;
  • The products and services can be more complex and more costly;
  • Professionals usually speak a certain jargon to describe their products;
  • Size of the market: the B2B market generally is much narrower;
  • Ordering scale: orders for businesses can be much larger.

How do these dissimilarities affect the goal of your site, your keyword research and the web content you present to your audience? Let’s go into detail!

1. Buying process in a B2B market

In general, the time required to close a deal in the B2B market is much longer than the time that’s needed to get a B2C order. Even the most expensive B2C products, like holidays or cars, only take a few weeks between gathering information about the product and ordering it. When it comes to ordering products or services as a business, it might take weeks or even months before the decision is taken to order the product. This mostly related to the amount of money and the number of stakeholders involved.

Let’s look at an example of buying a complex technical installation or expensive software: The user of the machine or software wants know the features and how it works. The technician has to take a look at the performance of the machine or IT has to evaluate the possibilities for integration. Finance is interested in the costs of buying and maintaining the machine and, the managing director wants to know if it will help his staff to perform better and, in the end, probably needs to give his seal of approval too.

An extensive buying process like this, influences both the goal of your website and demands some extras from your web content:

B2B and the goal of your site

On a lot of B2C eCommerce sites the goal is to get the sale done as fast as possible. People look for a product they’re interested in, find it, think about it, add it to their cart or perhaps wait a day or two, and then decide to buy it or not.

A B2B website, especially when it comes to complex and expensive products and services, is much more aimed on getting sales leads from a website. Customers won’t order a $25.000 machine or 300.000 medical gloves in a split second, so they’ll gather more information, and probably want to contact a sales rep or product specialist to get more details on the products or services as well. Perhaps they’d even like to order a sample of the product, or test it.

Obviously, you should mention all these options on your site. Make it as easy as possible for your potential customer. Display the phone number on a prominent place on every page of your site. Create easy to use forms to request for a sample, a trial or a quote. Perhaps customers can directly email product specialists or ask them questions in a chat? Whatever possibilities you offer, make sure your prospect can’t miss them!

Read more: ‘What’s the mission of your website’ »

B2B sales and your web copy

In the B2C market, the buyer is also the person who is going to use the product. This doesn’t always apply to B2B. As mentioned above, many people are involved in the purchase of larger B2B products. To ease the decision that has to be made you’ll have to address different stakeholders in your web copy. Define which stakeholders there are and make sure to provide all of them with the necessary information. Whether that’s the staff that will use the equipment, the technician, IT, finance, the manager or the director.

So your site will need quite a bit of information. Remember that, compared to B2C purchases, there is less emotional involvement with the purchase of a product or a service. This means that you want to communicate solutions, rather than the beauty and the esthetic value of the product. 

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

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2. The complexity of products and services

Another difference between B2B and B2C is that, generally, B2B products and services are more complex. Not many people use, for instance, an X-ray machine at home. But, your B2B customer doesn’t even have to buy a complicated machine or software to be interested in very detailed specifications.

I used to work at a company that sold medical supplies, like exam and surgical gloves. If you would compare buying disposable housekeeping gloves to buying medical gloves, you’ll find out that even for a ‘simple’ product like that, obviously, the requirements will be much higher. Before buying, the hospital will want to find out: What material is it made of? What’s the exact thickness? Does it contain latex (allergies)? How’s the texture? Is it tested for use with chemotherapy drugs? Is it certified? Can you scientifically prove the claims you make about this product? And so on.

Complex B2B products and your web content

Tip: Show how it works!

At Yoast, we’d like everyone to comprehend all the possibilities of our Premium plugin. Therefore we recorded various videos and screencasts to show how easy it is to use these features.

The complexity of the products and services mostly affects your web content. Clearly, describe specifications and features in detail. Also, include information that helps your prospect how to use the equipment or software. How do you work with these features? Help potential customers understand your product by adding detailed descriptions, imagery and product videos. Just show how easy it is to work with that complex machine you’re selling!

Potential customers that still have questions should be able to contact you easily through your website. So besides providing sufficient information on how to use the product, get your sales team and product specialists geared up to answer those questions. And, in case of complicated product and services, show how your support team helps your customers out, if they would encounter problems after a purchase.

Not only is well-written, explanatory content necessary to help visitors understand your product, if you write about the right keywords, it’s one of the most important assets that will get people to your website in the first place! This is closely related to the next characteristic of B2B: the use of jargon.

3. Jargon

Every field of expertise has its own language. And people in a certain industry might not even be aware that they’re using very specialized words. Nevertheless, often these will be the words they’ll be searching for when looking for products or services online. So make sure you know which search terms they’re using! This is crucial for your keyword research, as I’ll elaborate on below.

Jargon and B2B Keyword research

When you’re doing keyword research – whether that’s for B2B or B2C – it’s essential to get to know your customers. Don’t assume you already know them! Take the opportunity to speak with customers and prospects, find out which stakeholder does the most searching for the business when it comes to finding a product like yours. Is it the manager? The user? Or the purchase department? For your website to be found, you’ll have to write enough high quality content on your site, in which you speak the same language as this stakeholder.

A mistake that businesses often make is heavily promoting a product name, instead of using the search terms their prospect use. If you’re brand is really famous for a certain product, that might work. In most cases though, you’re prospect will be searching for a type of product, so the search volume for that term will be a lot bigger. It does mean you’ll have to compete with your competitors to rank for the same search terms. But that’s when a great content SEO strategy can help you out.

One more thing on jargon: to be found you’ll need to use some specialized word. However, don’t overdo this! Balance the use of difficult, industry specific words with the use of clear and easy to comprehend language. Keep your text readable, the readability analysis of Yoast SEO will help you do so. You don’t want to scare away newbies to the industry! 

Content SEO: learn how to do keyword research, how to structure your site and how to write SEO friendly content »

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4. Size of the market

Most consumer goods are of interest to a large part of the population. Marketing these products is therefore aimed at a very wide audience. Specialized, business related products will only matter to the folks working in a certain field. This means you’re selling in a much smaller market, a so called niche.

Niche products and SEO

In terms of SEO this does have some advantages. Your target group might be smaller, but there might be less competition too. To become successful in a niche you should write great informational content on the keywords your prospects use, as described above. To increase the chance for ranking you can first focus on long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are keywords that include specifications or features of a certain product. The search volume for these terms is lower, but there’s less competition for them too, which makes it easier to rank.

Let’s go back to the example of medical gloves. Although a niche market, it is quite competitive. Ranking for the keyword [medical gloves] therefore will be difficult. Luckily there’s enough opportunity to specify your product. What if you would optimize your copy for [blue non-latex surgical gloves] and [pink nitrile exam gloves]. There will be less web content on these search terms, so it will be easier to make it rank. On top of that, you could write copy that goes deeper into certain specifications of your product, like why a hospital should choose for [non-latex surgical gloves].

The next step would be to create an awesome site structure, that shows Google the connection between all the content you’ve created. You can do so by internally linking related content and defining and linking to your cornerstone content.

Keep reading: ‘The ultimate guide to site structure’ »

5. Scale

The last characteristic of B2B trading I’ll discuss is the scale. Order quantity usually is much higher for businesses than consumers. Therefore, total costs are higher for businesses. Often, they like or even expect to negotiate their own price or, at least, get scale discounts. This means you should either present scale discounts on your website or clearly show how they can easily contact a sales person, so they can get a quote or negotiate their own discount. Preferably, you would do both.

Conclusion

Building a good B2B website is hard work. When working on it, keep the following things in mind:

  • Think thoroughly about the goal of your B2B site and translate this into features on your website.
  • Write content that addresses all the stakeholders that are involved in the buying process, and speak the same language as they do. You really need to get to know your audience to do so!
  • Explain and show explicitly how your products work.
  • Do your keyword research and write awesome content on the keywords your audience uses. Don’t forget to focus on those long tail keywords first.

Good luck! Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments!

Read on: ‘The ultimate guide to keyword research’ »

We’re approaching the end of 2016. It was an excellent year for Yoast: next week we’ll elaborate a bit on that (including a nice surprise for our loyal readers, so stay tuned!). We hope you had a great year as well, in which you took your website to the next level and managed to outrank your competitor! Not yet? During the 12 days of Christmas, we’ll share our most-read posts on our Facebook page daily. Make sure you read those, so that you can get the most out of your website. Can’t wait? Check out the ultimate countdown below!

12. Crafting good titles for SEO

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On #12 we find Joost’s post about creating titles that perform well in the search results. This post is an essential read if you want to get more traffic to your site. The title tag is the first thing a user sees in the search results. And it’s one of the most the important factors for Google to decide what the topic of a page is. This combination makes crafting good titles a necessary skill for anyone doing SEO. So read!

Read more: ‘Crafting good titles for SEO’ »

11. The Snippet Preview: a how-to

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Now you know how to craft a great title (with some help of post #12), Yoast SEO allows you to check what it will look like in Google’s search results! Our snippet preview functionality shows a simulation of the snippet Google will show. This means that, while working on your post, you can already amend your title, slug and meta description to create an enticing snippet that will make people click on your result! Joost will guide you step by step through this process.

Keep reading: ‘The snippet preview: a how-to’ »

Let our SEO experts analyze and optimize your site: Get Yoast SEO Care! »

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10. Site speed: tools and suggestions

best_read_10_site_speed_joost_fiWe’re very pleased to see this post on #10. We can’t stress the importance of site speed enough. It’s one of those factors that are crucial for SEO and user-friendliness. Making your website faster can lead to getting organic traffic for new posts faster and to better rankings. In this post, Joost gives some tips for tools and improvements.

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

9. Robots txt: the ultimate guide

best_read_9_robots_guide_joost_fiSpoiler alert! Apparently, you guys love to read aboutrobots.txt, as you’ll see another post on this particular topic very high in this chart. The robots.txt file is one of the primary ways of telling a search engine where it can and can’t go on your website. This guide covers all the uses of robots.txt for your website. Making a mistake in your robots.txt can seriously harm your site, so make sure to read and understand this.

Read more: ‘Robots.txt: the ultimate guide’ »

8. SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide

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In 2016 we wrote a lot about… writing. Because, content is still king, if you want to get more visitors to your site. That’s why we also launched an SEO copywriting training. In this complete guide, Marieke touches on everything that’s important for writing content that ranks. She talks you through the process of keyword research and the three stages of the writing process. A must-read if you want to write SEO-friendly and readable articles!

Keep reading: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

7. WordPress security

best_read_7_wo_security_michiel_fiMaking your website safe, for yourself and your customers, is something you should never neglect. On top of that, Google favors websites that are more secure. So we’re glad this post was a popular one. And, don’t let this topic deter you, Michiel gives a very hands-on list of how to improve security on your WordPress website.

Read on: ‘WordPress security’ »

Want to outrank your competitor and get more sales? Read our Shop SEO eBook! »

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6. hreflang: the ultimate guide

best_read_6_hreflang_joost_fihreflang tags are a technical solution for sites that have similar content in multiple languages. It tells search engines which country or language site it should show in the search results to a user from a particular country. Because, as a site owner, you want search engines to point people to the most “fitting” language. A must-read if you’re going international with your business! 

Read more: ‘hreflang: the ultimate guide’ »

5. 5 tips to write readable blog posts

best_read_5_readable_blog_posts_marieke_fiAs mentioned at #8, writing was quite a thing at Yoast in 2016. In March we added a readability check to our content analysis. Because, if you want your readers to read your entire blog post, or to interact with you, you should make sure your blog post is easy to read! As this post is featured on #5 we assume you found Marieke’s post pretty readable ;-)

Keep reading: ‘5 tips to write readable blog posts’ »

4. Setting up WordPress for AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages

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In 2015, Google started talking about it, but 2016 definitely became the year of AMP. In February, Joost wrote his first article about setting WordPress up for AMP. He introduced the Yoast SEO AMP Glue plugin, which integrates Yoast SEO into your AMP pages. Very soon he wrote a follow-up to that post to let you know where we stand, and what you should do with AMP. Both posts ended up in the top 10 of our best read posts of 2016.

Read on: ‘WordPress and AMP: part 2’ »

3. Rel=canonical: the ultimate guide

best_read_3_canonical_joost_fiLike many articles in this list, #3 is about a fairly technical SEO topic: the canonical URL. Canonical URLs are there for you out when you’ve got duplicate content issues (and you might have those without even knowing!). A canonical URL (an HTML link tag with attribute rel=canonical) tells search engines that certain similar URLs are actually one and the same. It passes the ‘link juice’ to the URL you deem most important, so Google knows which article to rank. You’d better learn how to implement them!

Read more: ‘Rel=canonical: the ultimate guide’ »

Learn how to structure your site well with our Site structure training! »

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2. How to use the content and SEO analysis of Yoast SEO

best_read_2_content_analysis_marieke_fiOur second best read post is on the feature Yoast SEO is most famous for: the content analysis. In 2016, we added a readability check to our SEO analysis. So apart from checking whether you use your focus keyword often enough and on the right spots, we also check certain readability aspects of your copy. In this post, Marieke describes all features of our content analysis in detail and guides you step by step through optimizing your post.

Keep reading: ‘How to use the content and SEO analysis of Yoast SEO’ »

1.WordPress robots.txt example for great SEO

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Our best read post of 2016 is quite a technical one! As a follow up on the ultimate guide featured at #9, this post has a very practical approach: If you’re on WordPress what should you do with your robots.txt file? In a clear and comprehensive way, Joost explains what the current best practices are for your WordPress robots.txt and why. Enjoy the read!

Read on: ‘WordPress robots.txt example for great SEO’ »

Now this a quote we love: “…being patient and providing quality pays off…“. It’s one of the lessons Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, co-founder of The Next Web (TNW), shared with us in this interview.

TNW owns one of the most visited tech news sites, and they organize large tech events around the world. Besides that, TNW also offers gadgets for tech geeks, and they’re just launching a tech hub and a market intelligence platform. Boris seems to be a busy guy! Luckily he found time to answer some questions for our new series “5 questions”. In this series we ask digital entrepreneurs to reveal some of the secrets of their success.

TNW is living proof that WordPress can run large scale sites just fine. Why and how did you pick this particular CMS?

When I launched our first blog (for Hubhop, a company I sold to KPN later) I built my own blog software with PHP and MySQL. It was a lot of work, and I wasn’t good at it, so I didn’t enjoy the experience. When WordPress came out, I did like how flexible it was. I liked that at least I understood the code and what was happening behind the scenes.
So when we needed a CMS for our site, I didn’t have to think very long about what we would use. WordPress was just the obvious choice. Even more so because from the beginning, we decided we would always keep on developing and innovating. Our goal was always to be a technology company first.

Running a site of this scale means optimizing lots of processes, both on a technical level and a personal one. What measures did you take to keep the servers humming nicely and the editors happy?

We have a team of developers who work on this full-time. We serve millions of people a month, and we want to make that a seamless experience. So a lot of effort goes into making sure we can scale along if there are traffic spikes. It has been years since we ran into trouble when we hit the front page of Digg. Nowadays we can handle 20 times that amount of traffic and everything still just works fine. That’s still a bit of a miracle to me.

Interview Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten of The Next Web

A well-thought-out SEO strategy is a must-have for sites of any size and scale. What’s your secret SEO-tactic?

We also have dedicated SEO people here, and they are doing an amazing job of keeping track of everything and optimizing for search engines. And of course, we use your amazing plugin as well. We also firmly believe in creating quality content and not getting lost in SEO alone to get more traffic. It’s great to optimize great content through the smart use of SEO, but it sucks to having to promote shitty content with great SEO tactics. I’d rather invest in quality content than try to find tricks to cheat traffic our way.

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TNW is one of many high volume sites that uses Yoast SEO for optimization purposes. Can you tell us how you use the plugin and maybe share some ‘hidden’ tips on using it?

I think the most important part is making sure our writers really understand how things work. There’s a lot of contact between SEO people and writers about what the trends are and how we can optimize for SEO. And optimizing is an important word. I don’t want to write for SEO, but I do want to optimize what we write. That’s an important difference that our writers understand. They all love to see great engagement on posts, and we also love quirky and teasing titles, but try to avoid clickbait titles.

Failure is an important part of finding out how to make things work in the best possible way. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while working on TNW?

My most important lesson is that being patient and providing quality pays off. That seems logical, but most people fail at both. Lots of blogs were started with the idea of growing fast and making money fast. Pretty soon you are resorting to clickbait articles and putting all your hopes on SEO. The quality of your content degrades and soon you’ll find yourself in a negative spiral towards less quality, less traffic and less revenue.
Quality is hard, and it takes a very long time before people get used to you and you become a part of their daily digital diet. We didn’t start out with an idea to make a quick buck. That’s also the reason why we are still doing well, and have survived many of our competitors.

We’d like to thank Boris for sharing his lessons and experiences with us! Follow Boris on:
boris.to
twitter.com/Boris
facebook.com/borisvvz

Stay tuned for another interview next week!