Today we’re launching the Personal configuration review: an extra personal assignment you can add to the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training. You can now test if you’ve understood the subject matter of our training well and do an extra assignment – on your own site! When you’ve configured Yoast SEO on your site, we’ll check it for you and give you personal feedback. This assignment is only available in combination with our plugin training. Buy them together now for only $99!

Get The Yoast SEO Training + Configuration Review Now$99 (ex VAT) for training and assignment

What is it?

The Personal configuration review is an extension of the existing Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training. In this new assignment we’ll take you by the hand and guide you through the settings of Yoast SEO, like the Search appearance section, the integration with Google Search Console and the Social tab. For instance, we’ll help you decide which content you should have indexed and which not. Get ready to apply the skills you’ve learned in the training!

You can only do this assignment when you buy the Yoast SEO for WordPress training. We recommend doing that because it will give you the opportunity to test your comprehension of the Yoast SEO plugin. And even better, you’ll know directly if Yoast SEO is configured optimally for your type of website.

How does it work?

Adding this extra assignment to your course is easy! Just follow these steps:

  1. Buy the course and the assignment together (the assignment is only available as an extension of the training).
  2. After you’ve finished the course you’ll get access to the Personal configuration review assignment.
  3. Get started and configure Yoast SEO on your own website with help of the assignment.
  4. Once you’re done inform us that you’ve finished it and grant us access to the backend of your WordPress Install via a guest account.
  5. We’ll check your configuration and we’ll provide personal feedback by email.
  6. If you’ve set it up well, you’ll get an additional certificate and badge.

Why this assignment?

At Yoast we want to deliver the best online SEO courses. We believe good training requires some personal attention. That’s why we’ll top up more courses with assignments that will be checked by members of our team in the future. Because nothing is more valuable than true customized feedback by SEO professionals!

Get The Yoast SEO Training + Configuration Review Now$99 (ex VAT) for training and assignment

The post Personal configuration review: Train your skills and get our feedback appeared first on Yoast.

Team Yoast often attends WordCamps and other conferences. We’d like to keep you updated on the highlights of these events and share the knowledge we gained and the fun we had there. In March we went, for example, to WordCamp Oslo, WordCamp AntwerpWordCamp RotterdamWordCamp Kathmandu and The Social Conference. We’ve picked some of the highlights for you. Read on!

Want to meet us and know which events we’ll be going to soon? Check out our events page

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

WordCamp Oslo

Remkus de Vries, our remote colleague from the north of the Netherlands, went even higher up north to Norway to join WordCamp Oslo. Of the presentations he watched, the very first one by Magne Ilsaas was the one that stood out the most for him:

“Magne talked about Gutenberg, the printing press, and how it sparked a revolution some 500 years ago. But of course, he also talked about Gutenberg as the new editing experience expected to ship with WordPress 5.0 and the opportunities and possibilities it brings. It’s a presentation that sparked a lot of conversations the rest of the day. I couldn’t agree with him more: Gutenberg will, indeed, revolutionize how we’re using WordPress.”

Want to know more about Gutenberg? Follow the knowledgeable Gut Guys on YouTube. We will be publishing about Gutenberg a lot more in the coming weeks, starting with Marieke. She will publish a post on content writing with Gutenberg soon!

WordCamp Antwerp

While Remkus was traveling north, other Yoasters went south to WordCamp Antwerp in Belgium. That’s where our sales superstar Anneloes found out everyone can contribute on a contributor day, no need to be a developer! She joined the WP Marketing team – an initiative which our marketing team had already joined on WordCamp Noord Nederland – and was thrilled by the friendly and helpful atmosphere she encountered.

karin

Our awesome Karin volunteering at WordCamp Antwerp

At WordCamp Antwerp, our Research Team Lead Annelieke gave a presentation on Multilingual SEO, not the easiest of topics. She guided visitors with international websites through the Multilingual and Multiregional forest to help them make the right sites rank in the right countries. She discussed hreflang, multilingual copywriting for SEO and more. Check the highlights of her presentation on this Twitter thread.

WordCamp Rotterdam

At Yoast we not only like sustainable SEO, we care about environmental sustainability too. And that’s the first thing we loved about WordCamp Rotterdam. It was held at the awesome venue BlueCity, the old swimming pool Tropicana, now a hotspot for environmentally-friendly entrepreneurs. There was no printed schedule, cookies were made from yesterday’s bread, and badges were recyclable and filled with plant seeds. Awesome!

A lot of Yoasters in Rotterdam!

At this event, Monique Dubbelman gave a live demo of Gutenberg, which is always good to increase awareness. The talk by Andree Lange on style tiles was of particular interest to the design team, offering a low barrier way to create a library of design elements for a project without having to spec out every little detail from the start. And Jules Ernst shared some illuminating examples of accessibility problems and how you can already improve your website’s accessibility a lot with a little bit of work.

The Yoast team organized the closing session of the event doing some live site reviews. Michelle, Annelieke, Tim and Judith scrutinized some of the visitors’ websites and sent them home with lots of practical tips to improve their SEO and sites in general. You can check the full session (in Dutch) on our Facebook page.

WordCamp Kathmandu

Our support engineer Suwash went to WordCamp Kathmandu in Nepal. He found the presentation of Chandan Goopta one of the most interesting:

“The talk focused on how we can optimize the server, use server commands, and add our custom scripts to monitor bottlenecks on site and fix those issues: sometimes external tools don’t exactly give the cause of why a site is acting slow. He talked not only about the optimized performance of a site but also enhanced page load time (less than 2 seconds load time) and more.”

Contributor day was the first in the history of WordPress Nepal community and there were around 115 attendees. Fond of giving support, Suwash joined as a Team Lead for Support focusing on encouraging attendees to contribute by answering support questions on the WordPress.org support forum.

Support engineer Suwash at WordCamp Kathmandu

The Social Conference

Dushanthi and Siobhan of Team Marketing also visited Amsterdam for The Social Conference, a day full of talks about different social media and how to use them. KLM kicked off with an awesome talk on using social media to give customers the best possible experience. They’re very advanced in using chatbots and providing relevant information through the most convenient channel. Another talk our team was pretty impressed by, was by outdoor gear brand Patagonia, on doing business in unconventional ways. More so: using your business as a tool for environmental activism. This talk hit home as their community building was so like our belief in Open Source.

A lot of the other talks were about changing algorithms like Facebook’s. As no-one knew anything other to say than ‘create engaging content’, we’re even more convinced of our message: as Facebook’s algorithm changes, SEO becomes crucial. The most important takeaway for us this day: if all else changes, your website is still in your control!

Go to WordCamps

We’ve had an awesome time at these conferences. We would encourage you to visit WordCamps as well. It as great oppurtunity to meet likeminded people, to contribute to WordPress and to learn a great deal from the talks. You can find WordCamps all over the world. Hope to meet you there!

Want to meet us at future events? Keep an eye on our events page

The post Yoast conference update: Where were we in March? appeared first on Yoast.

Making your website rank high can be a challenge. Making your international sites rank high can be an even bigger challenge. There are just a lot more things you have to do for multilingual SEO: create content for different markets, set up sites for those markets and implement hreflang, just to name a few. Plus there are additional choices you have to make. Like this one: on which domains will you publish your internationalized content? Here we’ll list the most common options you have, and we’ll help you decide on the best option for your situation. 

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

New: Multilingual SEO training Info

ccTLD, subdomain or subdirectory?

Let’s say you own a site for your business in the US: myepicbusiness.com. You’re expanding to Australia and want to create multiregional websites. In general, you’d say, there are 3 options for your internationalized content to reside:

  • on a country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD): myepicbusiness.au
  • on a subdomain: au.myepicbusiness.com
  • on a subdirectory: myepicbusiness.com/au

All options have pros and cons, and it all depends on your business which one will suit you best.

ccTLD

Do you have a large multinational business with lots of resources? Then, a country code domain, like epicbusiness.au is a good option for a multiregional site. It’s the most effective way of telling Google and your audience which country your targeting.

However, it also means you have to acquire the domain and have to build up domain authority from scratch. Domain authority means that Google knows your domain epicbusiness.com and sees it as a trustworthy source. A ccTLD, like .au, will not profit from the domain authority of your .com domain.

Before you choose a ccTLD you should always properly investigate if it’s worth investing a lot in that market. You should only decide to go for the ccTLD if there are enough opportunities for growth in that country and if you have enough resources to exploit them. In general we’d say: if your .com domain ranks high and your marketing budget is limited, choosing one of the others probably is the better choice.

Subdomain or subdirectory

If the ccTLD isn’t the right choice for your business, you’ll have to choose between a subdomain or subdirectory. In that case, what would be the best choice: myepicbusiness.com/au or au.myepicbusiness.com?

Even though you might suspect differently, Google will not see a subdomain as the exact same domain. It’s not exactly clear how Google sees it, but it’s clear the domain authority of myepicbusiness.com won’t completely flow to a subdomain, like au.myepicbusiness.com. This means you can’t take full advantage of the domain authority you’ve built up for your .com domain. So in this case we’d advise to pick a subdirectory, like: myepicbusiness.com/au

Countries with multiple languages

There are countries that have two – or more – official languages. If you want to target audiences speaking multiple languages you’ll have to create multilingual sites. This will force you to make even more choices for your domain structure. In Canada, for instance, there’s a French speaking part and English speaking part. What if you want to show the French and English speaking part of Canada a different website?

ccTLD

Let’s say you’ve got a major business and plenty of resources, so you’ve selected the ccTLD. This means that for Canada you’ve chosen myepicbusiness.ca. In that case you can easily add two language variations as a subdirectory to your site:

  • myepicbusiness.ca/en
  • myepicbusiness.ca/fr

Subdirectory

If you’ve chosen to place your Canadian content on subdirectories, you could best create the URLs below. Do remember to refer to the language first and then to the country:

  • myepicbusiness.com/en-ca
  • myepicbusiness.com/fr-ca

If you want to dive deeper into this matter, we’d advise you to take our Multilingual SEO training. In this course we explain in more detail which pros and cons there are, how you can do your geotargeting well, how to easily create awesome copy in different languages and other important stuff for international SEO, like implementing hreflang. Check it out now!

Multiple countries with the same language

But what about using one website in the same language for multiple countries? Can’t you just use the same English website for, for instance, Australia and the UK?

Country websites or language websites?

If possible, we’d recommend creating different sites for different countries, even if people are speaking the same language. Although it might require more resources, it will be easier to target that specific market with the right content. Things that can differ from country to country are the local vocabulary, contact information, product availability and the currency. If you don’t create different content for the countries you’re targeting, users might get confused about what service and products you deliver in their country.

So this means that, in case of the example above, you’d choose myepicbusinness.com/uk and myepicbusiness.com/au Or, if you have enough marketing capabilities, you could use myepicbusiness.uk and myepicbusiness.au.

Don’t forget hreflang!

If you’re targeting multiple countries with websites containing content in the same language you should never forget to implement hreflang! With hreflang you’ll tell Google which of your websites should rank in which country and for which language. On top of that, it will prevent duplicate content issues, which is almost inevitable if you target countries with the same language. 

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

New: Multilingual SEO training Info

TL;DR

Choosing domains for internationalized content on your site can be a challenge. If you have a large marketing budget you should choose ccTLDs for every country your target and build strong domains for each country. If you’re not capable of doing that, you should choose subdirectories. In case you target countries with multiple languages, you can create subdirectories for each language in a country. In general, always choose country sites instead of language sites to target your audience with the right content and to prevent confusion. And, don’t forget to implement hreflang!

Read more: ‘How to create SEO friendly copy in a foreign language’ »

The post International sites: the best domain structure for SEO appeared first on Yoast.

If your online business is doing well in your country, you might consider expanding to international markets. To be successful in new markets requires some extra investments in SEO though. You’d better start thinking about multilingual SEO, if you want to be sure your website will be found and used well in other countries! Here, I’ll explain what multilingual SEO is, why it’s important and which elements it consists of.

What is multilingual SEO?

Multilingual SEO deals with offering optimized content for multiple languages or multiple locations. Let’s explain this with an example. Imagine you have an online shop: you sell WordPress plugins in many countries. To increase your sales in Germany, you’ve decided to translate your content into German and create a German site. Now, you have two variations of the same page: an English and German version. Pretty straight-forward, you’d say? Well, there’s more.

Especially if you want to target countries with similar languages or countries where multiple languages are used, this will pose some challenges. Let’s explore the situation displayed in the image below. This is a simplified example; there are obviously many more potential audiences than we’ve included, like British users.

multilingual SEO

Multilingual SEO scenario: targeting audiences with German and English content

Obviously, you want people who search in German to be directed to the German site. Maybe you even want to have a specific site for German speakers in Switzerland. It would be even better to have a French alternative for speakers of French in Switzerland as well, of course. Let’s assume for now that you don’t have the required resources for that, though. In that case, it’s probably best to send users from Switzerland who speak French to the English site. On top of that, you need to make sure that you send all other users to your English site, as they are more likely to speak English than German. In a scenario like this, you need to set up and implement a multilingual SEO strategy.

Because it’s not easy to get the right website ranking in the right market we decided to set up a Multilingual SEO training, which will be available soon! In this course we’ll guide you step by step through all important multilingual SEO elements. Don’t miss the launch, subscribe to our newsletter now!

Why is multilingual SEO a thing?

You want your website to be found with Google. In a standard SEO strategy, you optimize your content for one language: the language your website is written in.  Sometimes, however, you want to target audiences in multiple countries and regions. These audiences are probably similar, but there are always differences. This presents you with an opportunity. By targeting your audiences specifically, it is easier to address their needs. One of these differences is the language they speak. When you make your site available in several languages and target specific regions, you achieve two things:

  • You expand your potential audience;
  • You improve your chances of ranking for a specific region and in several languages.

Let’s revisit the example we discussed before in light of this. By making a German variation of your original English site, you’ve made it possible for users searching in German to find your product. In the end, multilingual SEO is all about addressing the needs of your users.

It all sounds rather clear-cut, but multilingual SEO can be hard. A lot can go wrong, and a bad multilingual implementation can hurt your rankings. This means that you need to know what you’re doing.

One of the biggest risks of multilingual SEO is duplicate content. If you present very similar content on your website on multiple pages, Google won’t know which content to show in the search engines. Duplicate pages compete with each other, so the individual rankings of the pages will go down. You can avoid this particular issue with hreflang, an element of your multilingual SEO strategy. But there’s more to multilingual SEO. Let’s discuss the main aspects below.

Multilingual SEO: content, domains and hreflang

Content for international sites

Content is a very important aspect of your multilingual SEO strategy. If you want to write content in different languages, you’ll need to adapt existing content or create new content. Adapting your content while maintaining good SEO can be a challenge.

Your content strategy should always start with keyword research for the region and language you’re targeting. You can’t just translate your keywords using Google Translate. You’ll have to get inside the heads of your new audience. You need to know which words they are using. Same words can have different meanings in languages used in multiple countries, as my colleague Jesse explained before.

Translating content is a challenge as well. Take into account the cultural differences that exist between countries. Otherwise, your copy won’t be appealing to your new audience. If possible, you should have native speakers translate or at least check your translated content to prevent your from making awkward mistakes. If you want a complete list of what to consider when translating content read Marieke’s post on how to create SEO-friendly copy in a foreign language.

Domain structure for international sites

To successfully target your audiences, you need to consider which pages you want them to land on. There are several options as to what domain structure you’re going to use. Do you need to get the ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) like example.de for Germany? Or could you create subdirectories for countries like example.com/de? Or, will you use a subdomain like de.example.com? And what about countries where multiple languages are spoken? How do you set up a domain structure for those countries?

There’s a lot you have to consider to take these decisions. This is where domain authority, but also the size of your business and marketing capacities in your target countries come into play. If you want to really dive into this, you should check out our Multilingual SEO training, that we’ll launch February 7!

Hreflang

Hreflang is the technical implementation you’ll need to put in place if you’re offering your content in multiple languages. Simply put, you’ll tell Google which result to show to whom in the search engines. It’s not as easy as it might sound though and this is something that often goes wrong, even on the big sites. Joost wrote an extensive post on how to implement hreflang the right way.

International ambitions? Get your multilingual SEO right!

Multilingual SEO focuses on optimizing content for different languages for the search engines. With a proper multilingual SEO strategy, people in different countries will be able to find your website for their market, in their native language. Multilingual SEO can be hard though and you need to know what you’re doing. It touches on a lot of different aspects of website optimization. If you really want to get it right, take our Multilingual SEO training!

Read more: ‘How to create SEO friendly copy in a foreign language’ »

 

The post What is multilingual SEO? appeared first on Yoast.

You might have heard us say it before: the UX of your site is essential for SEO. But what is UX? And why is it important for SEO? In this article, we’ll explain what it is and why you shouldn’t forget working on it if you want to rank high in Google. On top of that, we’ll shortly give you some pointers what to do to keep the users of your website satisfied.

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What is UX?

UX stands for User eXperience. As you might have figured, it’s all about how users experience a product. This can be a website, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be an app, a mobile phone or any other physical product that you can use, even a milk carton. It’s all about how someone feels when using a particular product. Does the product make you feel excited or happy, is it a joy to use it, does it help you effortlessly achieve what you’ve been aiming for? Or does it make you feel angry and frustrated because it doesn’t work or look the way you expected it to?

UX or usability?

UX and usability are sometimes used interchangeably. They’re both used to describe the ease with which a visitor uses your site. However, UX is often considered to be broader than usability. If a website is very usable – or user-friendly – visitors will be able to find or do what they want to do easily. A great user experience involves more, for example, esthetics. A website can be straightforward to use, but boring at the same time. This means the usability is excellent, but the user experience could be improved.

For instance, the illustrations of our blog posts are not necessary to improve usability. However, they do contribute to the experience users have on our site. I’m quite a fan of the drawings our illustrators Erwin and Tim make, and I hope they make you think or smile too. These images contribute to the UX of our site. Without them, you would experience our site differently. This way, UX can be part of a branding strategy, even more than usability.

Why is it important for SEO to improve UX?

So why should improving the usability and UX of your site be part of your SEO strategy? Google, or other search engines, want to provide people with the best result for their query. The best result does not only mean the best answer, but it also means the best experience. For instance, if you’re looking for the answer to “What is keyword research?” Google wants to give you the best answer in a swift, pleasant and secure way. So even if you’ve written an excellent answer in a post, but your site is slow, a mess or unsafe, Google won’t consider your post the best answer.

How does Google know?

Google uses different methods to make an educated guess about how users experience your site. They look at elements like site speed – there’s almost nothing more annoying than a page that takes ages to load -, mobile friendliness, the way you’ve structured your content and the internal and external linking of your pages. Lots of high-quality links to your web page probably indicate people had a pleasant experience with it, right?

In addition to that, Google uses user signals to find out how visitors experience your website. User signals are behavioral patterns that Google sees on your site. If a lot of people leave your website very quickly, they might not have found what they’re looking for. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, read Annelieke’s post on bounce rate to find out which. Some other user signals are the time spent on a page and how often people return to your website. If these are high, visitors most likely enjoy your site or find it useful. You can check these kinds of statistics for your site with Google Analytics and other website analysis tools.

It’s no coincidence that the factors mentioned above are important both for UX and SEO. Google tries to grasp how humans experience a website. That’s why a positive experience on your site can contribute to your rankings. If you want to learn more about this, you should read Michiel’s post on the relation between SEO and UX.

Holistic SEO

So should you work on usability and UX just for search engines? I think you can guess our answer to that… At Yoast, we advocate holistically looking at your website. This means you’re striving to make your website excellent in many ways: great content, easy to use – also on mobile – and secure. You’re making these changes for your visitors. In the end, it’s the user who’s going to buy your products, come to your event or subscribe to your newsletter.

Where to start?

As always, start by thinking about the goal of your website and specific pages. What do you want visitors to do on your site? Buy stuff? Read your articles? Donate money to your charity? The purpose of your website or a specific page on your site should be on the top of your mind when you’re making improvements. Your design and content should support this goal. Having a clear goal in mind will also help you prioritize the improvements for your site.

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

Site structure training Info

If you want to improve the UX on your site also try to look at it from a user’s perspective. Ask yourself some questions – and be honest:

Most people develop blind spots if they work a lot on their site. You should, therefore, take the opportunity to ask people to evaluate your site, whenever you can! Try to get people from your target group to test your site and ask them if it worked as they expected it to. You can also use questionnaires on your site, or, if you don’t want to bother them too much, use an exit intent question and ask them why they’re leaving your site. Another option is to do some A/B testing to find out which design of your page gives the best results.

So, no excuses anymore. Start working on the UX of your site, and you might boost your rankings too!

Read more: ‘How to perform an SEO audit. Part 1: Content SEO & UX’ »

The post SEO basics: What is UX (and why bother)? appeared first on Yoast.

Today we’re launching My Yoast, a new customer environment where you can view and manage the purchases you’ve done at yoast.com. These last few months, our development team worked very hard to create this easy-to-use user portal. Read here how My Yoast will make your life as a Yoast customer easier.

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

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What is My Yoast?

My Yoast is an easy-to-use interface to view and manage your Yoast purchases. At a glance, you can see your order history; which products you’ve bought and what the status of that product is. In addition, you can manage your plugin subscriptions and download your eBooks now. In the future, we’ll gradually expand the functionalities of My Yoast so that it will be the go-to place where you can access all your Yoast products, including SEO courses.

Since we now have a fully functioning WooCommerce store with multi-currency support, at some time, we will be accepting more of the world’s most important currencies. For now, we’re only accepting Euro’s and Dollars.

Watch this video and see how it works! If you have any more questions about My Yoast, please see our knowledge base.

Plugin overview

Forget about copy pasting your plugin license key or going through your email archive to retrieve it. From now on, you can activate your Yoast plugins directly on my.yoast.com, so you won’t need a license key anymore. If you log in to My Yoast you can:

  • access your downloads;
  • manage your subscriptions (previously known as licenses);
  • find your order history.

On top of that, you can indicate which plugins run on which of your websites. Just enter the URL of your website and set a plugin to active if you have it running on that site. This way, you’ll enable updates for the Yoast plugins on your site, and, in case you own multiple site subscriptions of one plugin, you’ll always know how many subscriptions you have left for other sites.

sites overview My Yoast

No more renewals

Did you ever forget to renew your license? That won’t happen anymore. We’ve transformed licenses into subscriptions, which means that, from now on, you’ll get a subscription to a plugin. This entails that you won’t have to go through the entire payment process again once you’ve bought a plugin.

subscription overview My Yoast

Existing licenses have been converted to subscriptions which will remain valid until the original license expires. We’ll ask you to setup a new subscription for those before they expire.

Sounds great! So how do I get in?

New customers

From now on, if you purchase on yoast.com, you’ll receive an account on My Yoast where you can access your downloads and manage your subscriptions. You’ll need this account to receive updates for your Yoast plugins.

Existing customers

In case you’re a Yoast customer, you’ll receive an email to access your My Yoast account in the upcoming week. When you first log in to My Yoast, a screencast will guide you through this new environment, to make sure you’ll understand how everything works.

Can’t wait until next week to get access? Go to my.yoast.com and get access to your account now. You can do so by filling out the email address you’ve used when you’ve purchased a product and by clicking ‘reset my password’. After verification of your email address and resetting your password, you’ll be able to access your account.

Go to My Yoast »

The post Introducing My Yoast: our brand new customer portal appeared first on Yoast.

Today we’re releasing Yoast SEO 5.2. In this brand new version you’ll find some feature enhancements, accessibility improvements and a couple of bug fixes. In addition to that, we’ve laid some groundwork that will help us make Yoast SEO work well with the plugins our users use most. Read about all the improvements here!

Accessibility

Web accessibility is something we always urge website owners to think about and improve. As we can’t let our own products fall behind, we regularly work on the accessibility of the plugins we develop. This time, we scrutinized the accessibility of the onboarding wizard of Yoast SEO and improved it so everyone will be able to use it well. 

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

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Redirects for private posts

The redirects manager of Yoast SEO Premium is one of the features we’re most proud of. It makes creating redirects – and therefore preventing 404s – so much easier, and helps site owners to be less dependent of developers. As of this release, we’ve added an enhancement to this feature. From now on, if you trash a post that’s set to private, Yoast SEO Premium will also ask if you want to redirect the old url to a new one. 

Compatibility

One thing that keeps challenging plugin developers like us is to make plugins work with all the different plugins that our users use. There are so many plugins out there – not even to mention the various combinations of plugins that exist. To improve the compatibility of our plugins, we’ve added tracking to find out which other plugins our Premium users have installed. This will help us tremendously in making Yoast SEO work flawlessly on more WordPress installs. For the same reason, we’re tracking which PHP version our user’s websites are running on.

Speaking of PHP, if your site is running on PHP version 5.3 or lower, you couldn’t have missed the notice to urge you to move to a newer version since our 4.5 release. Does this WHIP notice keep annoying you? Then we have some good news for you. You can now dismiss the notice. After 4 weeks it will pop up again though, as we still believe upgrading to a newer PHP version is the best way to go.

That’s about it. Go update to 5.2 and enjoy this brand new version of Yoast SEO!

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

“If nobody writes about it, then the content is a tree falling in the forest without anyone there to listen.” That’s how Dixon Jones, Marketing Director of Majestic, illustrates the importance of getting the right links to your content. We proudly announce that Dixon will be speaking at YoastCon 2017 on November 2!

Learn link building from the best! Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!
Tickets

Dixon Jones has worked at the forefront of search marketing since 1999. He became the Marketing Director of the world’s largest link analysis engine, Majestic, in 2009, transforming the SEO industry by providing link intelligence on a scale not previously open to the industry. Here, you can discover what he has to say about link building in 2017.

Majestic is all about links. If you compare links to other ranking factors, like content on a page or technical optimization, how would you rate the importance of links? Any examples to illustrate this?

In March 2016 Google’s Andry Lipattsev revealed that links remained one of Google top three ranking factors. In February 2017 Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that the PageRank algorithm that made Google what it is today was still part of the algorithm. So yes – links are highly important, but these days there is a big difference between “a link” and “a link that counts”. Most links are hardly worth the screen they are written on.

Over the years link building changed a lot. Obviously, buying links is not the way to go. But what do you advise site owners if they want to get valuable links?

In a white hat world, you really should be considering the nature of the people that will be reading the page that the link is on. Are they real people? Is it a real story that relates to them? Does the link add to the story and is it a continuation of the user’s quest for knowledge? Is your content the END POINT for that quest?

Come see Dixon Jones speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

Some site owners might find it easier to get links from Facebook or Twitter than from other websites. How do social links compare to links from other websites? What would you invest in more?

Facebook and Twitter create short term noise, but unless that noise translates into others writing evergreen content that links to your site, the benefits are transitory on social. But I think of Social links as a stepping stone to long term success. They give you a tannoy to broadcast a new message… but if the wrong people listen, then nobody will write about what you have to say. If nobody writes about it, then the content is a tree falling in the forest without anyone there to listen… does it make a sound?

When a site owner analyzes their site with Majestic SEO they’ll get a trust and citation flow score. How can they put these metrics to use to help them optimize their site?

Understanding how we create those metrics really helps. The data is not simply scraping Google or looking for some sort of reverse engineering of Search Visibility. Trust Flow really is a score that relates at scale to the quality of a page. The simple workflow is:

  • Find candidate sites for getting links to your content.
  • Find the influencers on these sites.
  • Convince them of the merits of your business and content.

You can start by just typing in a keyword into Majestic to find the candidate sites or you can look at up to 10 competitors and find the hubs of authority for your niche. Both strategies can work well.

Majestic is often used for competitor analysis. Is there a set workflow in Majestic that you can recommend to a new Majestic user who wants to analyze the competition?

Yes. Many people use the “Clique Hunter” to look at sites that link to three or four or more competitors but not to themselves. For some businesses, this creates quite a list, but re-sorting the list can put the best candidates near the top. To the right of each domain is a little cog. Use the cog to select candidate sites to approach and select the “add to bucket” button. You can do this all day, and when you are ready, click on the bucket icon at the top of the screen and you can export all the sites out as a .csv file to approach the influencers for these sites.

Alternatively (and indeed – in addition) I strongly urge users to set up a campaign dashboard as soon as they have an account on Majestic. This starts tracking their niche and from these dashboards, you can easily analyze the sites in any of Majestic’s tools by using the “Export Sites To…” button.

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

The chart below shows how our Gamification system has distributed 1 Million “badges” on Majestic. Only 3% of all badges were for areas of our site related to comparing websites. This tells us that most users are really only scratching the surface of what Majestic can do for them. Yoast’s conference is a chance to go deeper. You’ll find out things about links analysis you never knew was possible.

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

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’ »