We’ve been on quite the hiring spree at Yoast HQ and today, we’d like to introduce you to our newest Yoaster. This, however, is not just any old hire. No, it’s none other than the incredible Jono Alderson. Jono has been a leading figure in the world of SEO for some time now. He leaves his job as a principal consultant at Distilled London behind to join Team Yoast in our quest to make SEO available to everyone. So, without further ado: Meet Jono Alderson!

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

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Q. You’re a well-known figure in the world of SEO, with years of hands-on experience under your belt. What’s more, you are a keynote speaker at many SEO conferences. However, there are probably loads of people who don’t know you: could you introduce yourself?

Sure – though I suspect my story is similar to many others in the industry!

I started out as a bedroom web developer many years ago, and became a bit obsessed about code quality, standards, accessibility, and so on. Tweaking titles, refining HTML, adding alt attributes, etc. I was doing technical SEO before I’d even heard of SEO, and I loved it.

My first exposure to ‘grown-up’ SEO was when I got a job at a digital marketing agency (I lucked my way through the interview with nothing but enthusiasm – thanks Ryan Scott), and then spent five years growing and leading a team of awesome marketers. We learned as we went when SEO was still a bit “wild west,” but we were always trying to be the good guys. We did some great work for some really big clients, and I’m proud of what we achieved.

More importantly, I learned a lot about business, strategy, and other technologies and channels.

From there, I’ve just kept learning. As SEO grows increasingly more ‘holistic’ and connected to other channels, I’ve kept pushing myself out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, embrace new ideas, and to grow as a person.

Q. What did you do at your previous employer, Distilled?

jono aldersonI was ‘Principal Consultant’ in the London office for just over a year, and it was a great time and experience. I’d wanted to work for Distilled for as long as I can remember – they were one of the big influences on my learning and thinking when I started out in the field – and they’re some of the smartest people I’ve met in the industry.

I did a bit of everything – mostly floating around the edges and tackling some of the more interesting, technical or complex briefs and projects which didn’t quite fit into the day-to-day flow of the agency.

Some of the most interesting projects ranged from owning and delivering enormous strategy pieces for big brands (“What should our five-year strategy be, to win the market?”), down to very technical stuff, like un-picking flakey Angular implementations across international, multi-domain, websites.

I’m already missing the team, and the kinds of projects which we worked on – but I’m excited to be doing something new!

Q. You know Joost de Valk quite a while, right? How did you meet and when did he offer you a job?

Embarrassingly, I was once very dismissive of both Joost and the Yoast SEO plugin in a conference talk about web performance, blaming both for making website owners ‘lazy’ when it comes to optimisation.

I think word got back to him, and it made for an interesting rivalry, where I was just some upstart SEO geek calling out a legend. Oops.

I’m still a little nervous that many users of the Yoast SEO plugin just turn it on and forget about it, and how many missed opportunities that represents, but that’s something we can tackle together!

So when I first met Joost in person at SEOktoberfest 2016, I was a little nervous! But we had a great time. And after the 2017 event, we got chatting about joining forces – it all happened pretty organically, mostly over Facebook messenger in the middle of the Christmas break!

Q. What are you going to do at Yoast?

I think we’ll mostly work it out as we go! I’m keen to roll my sleeves up and start to prototype and play with some features and functionality in the plugin. I still find myself getting frustrated with parts of the WordPress editing and management experiences, so it’ll be great to attack some of that from closer to the inside. Gutenberg’s pretty exciting, too, so I’m looking forward to exploring what we can achieve in a block-based world!

I’m also going to maintain strong links with the SEO industry. I’ve made a lot of friends at agencies, tool vendors and organizations who’ll be important allies as we continue to strive to make SEO more accessible and to raise the bar on technical SEO. I’m looking forward to speaking at a bunch of conferences, too!

Q. What are you hoping to achieve at Yoast?

I really love the core mission – SEO for everyone. I want to make the web a better place, to improve the quality, accessibility and performance of websites, and just to solve technical SEO. It still astounds me how many sites have basic faults, broken links, malformed HTML, and so on. I’ll be in a position to make a measurable improvement to the quality of millions of websites and to help all of those people perform better in search. That’s awesome.

Q. You are both a search strategist and a developer, not unlike Joost himself. What does this allow you to do?

I’m really uncreative. I have no dexterity. I can’t draw, kick a football, or hang a shelf.

But if you put me in front of a computer, I can dream in CSS. I can think in database structures. I can see in JavaScript. The web is where I can be creative, and I can make anything I can think of.

So joining up the ideation, strategy and business side to the development side lets me play. It’s incredibly liberating to be able to come up with an idea for a thing, to validate that it should work commercially/strategically, then to build a functioning, scalable proof of concept.

The drawback is, I’m a terrible finisher! I’ve piles of half-completed projects, where I’ve solved the problem in my head, but have got bored by the long-slog to the finishing line.

So it’ll be great to work with a team where I can do my bit, then let people who’re much better at rigorous, process-driven testing and development ship something complete!

Q. What’s your view on the current state of SEO and search in general? Which developments excite you? What should we look out for in the coming months?

I think that we’re finally starting to think beyond links, rankings and ranking factors. I’m seeing the spotlight gradually shifting to quality – conversations about rankings are talking about UX and brand/product quality, rather than links and click-through rates.

Google’s so close to having closed the gap on approximating and extrapolating ‘quality’ from link and site metrics, which means that improving that ‘quality’ means actually improving the thing you are/do/sell. That’s the kind of SEO I want to do and see.

That said, I’m also enjoying technical SEO becoming cool again. For a long time, ‘content marketing’ occluded technical SEO. But now performance, JavaScript and accessibility are just as commonly discussed – maybe more so – than content, links and ‘inbound’ stuff.

There’s so much more coming, too – the web itself is maturing and moving forwards, and SEOs will need to stay on top of the latest tech and trends. I’m excited to see more people talking about Progressive Web Apps, and some of Chrome’s newest toys (like server-side timings) are really neat!

Q. You also call yourself an amateur futurologist, so I have to ask this question: Are robots going to take over the world?

They already have! Your mobile phone already runs your life, increasingly your Alexa or Google Home will run your home, and there’s more to come. It’s no coincidence that all of the big global players are investing in machine learning, in-home devices, and mobile hardware.

I don’t think we need to be too scared, yet. We’re still a long way from any kind of Terminator scenario, and before we get to that, we’ll get some really neat stuff in scaled computation and processing.

Having said that, if I was a robot from the future wanting to take over the world, maybe I’d do it by flooding the internet with a powerful piece of distributed software, which everybody used and relied on. Then I could subvert it, and control the web. Maybe I’d call it “JonoPress.”

You can find Jono on Twitter.

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

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Something’s brewing at Yoast HQ. There’s no sign of spring yet, but we feel the need for a spring clean-up. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking critically at the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin and its many features and thinking: what’s this doing here? And should we get rid of that thing? Some of the results of that process are collected here, in Yoast SEO 6.3. But this is only the beginning.

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

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We’ve removed the meta keywords box

Meta keywords haven’t had any use for ages. In 2009, Google officially confirmed that they didn’t use them. We, however, kept the box since some of you clamored at the slightest hint that we were even thinking about deleting it. But now, after all these years, it is the time to say goodbye to the old meta keywords box. It was fun while it lasted, but it should have been gone years ago. Read why we don’t use meta keywords and why you shouldn’t either.

The “noindex subpages” feature is also gone

Since Google has gotten much better at working with paginated series, we’ve removed the feature that allows noindexing subpages of archives. According to Joost de Valk, the reasoning behind this is simple: “rel="next" and rel="prev" make sure Google sends people to the first page in a paginated series. There is one catch: sometimes it will send people to a specific page in the series, but that’s when that page is the best match for their query. This, therefore, should be better for the searcher. Noindexing all these pages leads to a lower amount of crawls for them (source), which subsequently leads to lower amounts of crawls for older articles, which is not a good idea on most sites.”

Enhancements: more context, fewer settings

In Yoast SEO 6.3, you’ll not only find loads of new enhancements that’ll improve how the plugin works, but we’ve also provided more context within the plugin so you can find out immediately what a particular toggle or feature does. By deleting a couple of features, we even said goodbye to a tab in the advanced settings. To help you find these settings, we’ve added a step in the configuration wizard for enabling (or disabling) the advanced settings. Also, we’ve improved the Open Graph copy for Facebook and Twitter in the Social settings to explain better what it does.

To help you transfer data from other WordPress SEO plugins we’ve added an importer for the SEO Ultimate plugin and the SEOpressor plugin. We already supported several other SEO plugins, like HeadSpace2, All in One SEO, JetPack SEO, WooThemes SEO Framework, and wpSEO.

In Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve also made several improvements that make it more apparent what a particular feature does. We’ve added a piece of text to the Internal Linking analyzer after completing a full site scan. This gives you more insight into what the effects are of running the analyzer. What’s more, we’ve added an explanation on entries on the features tab and links to explanatory articles on the features tab.

Doing housekeeping

In addition to all these enhancements and the deletion of some superfluous features, we’ve been busy fixing bugs and getting things ready for the next release. You can find every bug fix and feature enhancement in the changelog on WordPress.org. As I said, we’re busy as bees at the moment and cannot wait to show you what we’ve come up with.

Update now!

Yoast SEO 6.3 and its various add-ons all received nice updates today. We’re cleaning up the plugins as part of our quest for keeping our interfaces and features as easy as possible. In the coming weeks, we hope to show you more of what we’ve been up to. For now, update your plugins and stay tuned!

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

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If you want to measure the success of your content SEO strategy, you first need to establish what your goals are. What’s the purpose of your content SEO strategy? Do you want higher rankings? More traffic?

In order to evaluate your Content SEO strategy, you should identify what success means to you! Once you’ve established your goals, you can measure the success of your content SEO strategy. In this post, I’ll help you define your goals and give you tips on exactly how to measure those goals and the success of your content SEO strategy. 

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

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What’s your ultimate goal?

What do you really want to achieve with your SEO strategy? Lots of people SAY that they want to rank higher in Google. But is that really what they ultimately want to achieve? Or do they want to attract more traffic from Google to their website? Perhaps, they actually want to sell more stuff. Or, to have more return visitors. These are all different goals and these goals require different metrics to evaluate.

Ranking higher in Google for a particular search term will probably lead to more traffic. But not necessarily. We used to rank really high on the term [Google Analytics]. Most of those people were just looking for Google Analytics when they typed in [Google Analytics] in the search bar though – that was their search intent. So although we were ranking sky-high on a major competitive search term like [Google Analytics], it didn’t bring us any traffic.

In most cases, people probably want more organic traffic instead of higher rankings. And, if you have an online shop, you probably want to make more money: you’d like to attract people to your website that have a larger intent to buy. Your content SEO strategy should focus on attracting those people to your website.

Set up a content SEO strategy that fits your goals

Once you’ve established your goals and know what you want to achieve with your content SEO strategy, you should come up with a strategy that actually fits your SEO goals. If you want articles to rank higher, you should update and improve your best articles. If you want to attract more traffic to your website, you should consider a long tail keyword strategy. And if your goal is to sell more items, you should think of ways to attract buyers to your website.

Read more: ‘What is search intent?’ »

How do you measure those goals?

Once you’ve established your ultimate goal and figured out your content SEO strategy, you’ll be able to measure it. If you really want to know whether your content SEO strategy was successful you need to measure at least twice. You need to know just how you were doing before your content SEO strategy kicked in and you need to know how you’re doing afterwards. Let’s look at various goals and ways to measure them.

Higher rankings

Check the positions of your articles. For which terms are you ranking pretty well and which articles need an SEO boost? Rewrite and write new content. Add links. Do your content SEO magic! After some time, you can check your rankings again. If your articles appear in higher positions than they did before you started your content SEO strategy, your rankings will have increased. To keep track of your rankings, you can use Google Search Console.

More traffic

If your goal is to attract more traffic to your website, you should focus on the number of unique visitors you get on a weekly or monthly basis. If the organic traffic – visitors that come to your site using the search engines – increases, your content SEO strategy is paying off. It means more people click on your snippet in the search engines. You can use Google Analytics to keep track of the visitors on your site.

More sales

Increasing the number of purchases on your site could also be the ultimate goal of your content SEO strategy. It’s hard to measure the direct effect of your content SEO strategy on your sales. A decent content SEO strategy will need some time to have an effect. Still, Google Analytics has a lot of options on just how to attribute value of sales to certain pages. If you want to dive into that, read Annelieke’s post on how to measure the success of a Black Friday sale.

Other goals

A content SEO strategy could have other goals as well. It could be aimed at making people stay longer on your website and read more articles. The time spent on site is the metric you need in that specific case. Perhaps you’d want people to come back to your website: measure the number of return visitors. A totally different goal of a content SEO strategy could be making sure people find the information they need on your website, so they don’t need to make a phone call to your call center anymore. In such a situation, you need to measure the number of received phone calls – before and after your content SEO strategy.

Always keep in mind when you’re measuring something like this: try not to change other variables – things that influence, for instance, the amount of calls you get – during your test period! Otherwise your data won’t be reliable, and you’re still in the dark about the effect of your content SEO strategy.

Conclusion

How you should measure the success of a content SEO strategy largely depends on the goal of that specific content SEO strategy. What do you want to achieve? Specify your goals, find the metrics you need, define a test period and determine whether your content SEO strategy was a success. Good luck!

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

 

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HTML <link> elements, also called HTML <link> tags, are bits in the HTML of a website that specify the relation between the current document and an external resource. They look like this: link rel= "..." and can be used for all kinds of things, like importing a stylesheet. SEO related link elements are, for instance, the rel=”canonical” link element, which is used to avoid duplicate content issues.

Getting the hang of using these can be difficult. So it’s no wonder you may ask yourself if the search engines can make sense of all the tags in the HTML of your site. Let’s look into that for this week’s question!

Ryan Howard emails us this question:

We have both rel=’amphtml’ and rel=’canonical’ links on the non-AMP pages of our site. Does Google care if there are two link rel tags on a page?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Google handling several link tags on a page

“Well, to be fair if you’re using WordPress you probably have a few more. You probably have a link to your RSS feeds and a couple of other things.

And no, Google doesn’t care. It can read very well what these things do. They all have their own purpose, it understands that, there’s no reason to worry about that whatsoever. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

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

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In our Ask Yoast case studies, we generally give SEO advise to clients who sign up for this series. This time, however, we’ve had a look at the website of Ryan Hoffman: leverageny.com. He didn’t sign up for the case study, but commented on our Ultimate guide to Content SEO. He told us nobody in his target audience reads content. So we became curious if we could give Ryan tips to optimize his website without focusing on the text only. Our main conclusion is: Ryan’s website would benefit from a more holistic SEO strategy. Read on to find out how!

What keywords does your target audience use?

First of all, setting up an SEO strategy and creating content should always start with keyword research. Writing about keywords nobody is searching for doesn’t make sense, as you probably understand. Ryan already mentioned that people searching for a keyword such as ‘How to sell a house’ probably aren’t looking for great content. Those people end up calling an agent, sell their house and that’s it.

So what type of content could attract people interested in real estate? Where would you be interested in if you were looking for a new house? List everything that pops up your mind, and you’ll probably get great new content ideas. For example, think of ‘Tips for buying a house’, ‘Should I buy or rent a house?’, ‘What additional costs can I expect when buying a house?’. 

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

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Make your keywords specific

You might notice that the key phrases I’ve added to the paragraph before are quite long. Such specific key phrases are also called long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific than main keywords, but they can be of equal value to your website. Of course, fewer people will search for such specific keywords, but if they do, they’re more likely to convert. People searching for long tail keywords usually know better what they’re looking for on the internet. This means it’s easier to meet their needs by writing specific content about long tail keywords.

We recommend checking the content of existing articles to see if you can determine a specific long tail keyword you want to rank for with that article. If you find one, try optimizing that article for it to increase the value of the traffic to that article.

Make use of tools

In addition to listing the subjects that pop up in your mind, you can use tools to find new keywords. There are lots of tools that can be helpful by finding relevant keywords for your business. This article about keyword research tools will give you some examples of tools we use at Yoast. Our Yoast Suggest tool shows popular, relevant keywords as well as keyword ideas for every letter of the alphabet. Just take a look at these images:

Help visitors reach the main goal of your site

When visitors click on your website in the search engines, most of them will probably land on a specific article. It’s important to keep those visitors on your website and to easily reach the main goal of your website.

When we look at your site, however, it’s not completely clear to us what the main goal of leverageny.com is. Do you just want visitors to read your content or do you want them to search for an actual house on your website? Looking at the website, we think the option to search for a house is quite hard to find. If this isn’t your main goal, this is no problem. Think about what you want your visitors to do on your website and make sure you help them navigate to that goal with the right links on the right spots.

Positive user signals

In the introduction of this post, we already mentioned that we recommend following a holistic SEO strategy. This means you should strive to make every single aspect of your website great. For example, adding new content regularly is something search engines like. Keeping visitors on your website though, is probably just as important.

Google uses so-called user signals to determine if the website is a result that matches the search intent or search query of the visitor. The time visitors stay on your website can be an indicator of that match. Visitors staying for a long time on your website send a positive user signal, improving your site’s SEO indirectly and possibly leading to higher rankings.

How to keep visitors on your website

To increase your visitors’ time on site, it’s important to give them the opportunity to easily navigate to relevant, other posts on your website. Make sure you link to relevant content at the bottom of each post but also from within the texts of posts by using internal links. By adding more internal links, you can make your most important posts stronger and you’ll give your visitors the opportunity to easily navigate to other relevant posts. 

Looking at your posts, we think there might be too much distraction because of all the different elements in the sidebar and below the posts. Try to add more focus to the part you want your visitors to click on after reading a post.

In addition to that, you can  create more specific categories. Checking the XML Sitemap, we noticed that you’ve only added very generic categories:
Categorizing posts, you can make a strong ‘bulk’ of content about the same or nearly the same subject. Adding more relevant posts to a category will make it  stronger. Google will see that the content within that category is all related and therefore, valuable for potential visitors. For example, for the category ‘Home buying’ you could add subcategories such as ‘Home buying: apartments’ and ‘Home buying: cities’. Another option is adding tags such as ‘Apartments’ and ‘Beach houses’ to create specific overviews of related posts on your site. 

Categories and tags are beneficial for your site structure and for Google – to understand what content you have on your site. Moreover it helps to keep visitors on your site. When users see a link to related categories or tags they’ll likely navigate to those sections to read more relevant content. But now, the posts within the category ‘Home buying’ are probably too different to find specific posts a visitor would be interested in.  

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show your opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress plugin Info

Optimizing for local SEO

Since the business of Ryan Hoffman is focused on particular areas of New York, it’s important to optimize for local SEO as well. There are probably lots of people in the neighborhood looking for a house in one of those areas. When you optimize for local SEO your website will be more visible in the search results of people nearby.

We noticed that you’ve already added separate pages for different areas which is great! Doing this, the search engines understand what areas your business focuses on. To give those location pages even more value, we recommend adding introductory content with information about the specific area to increase your rankings in the local search results even more.

In addition to that, we think that you didn’t create a Google My Business account yet. Adding your business details to Google My Business can also be very valuable for local SEO. We definitely recommend setting this up!

The power of social media

Lastly, we would like to mention that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of social media nowadays. The amount of people having social media accounts is still increasing, so your target audience probably uses social media every day.

We think social media should definitely be part of a holistic SEO strategy. Google and other search engines can’t ignore the importance of social media anymore and this means that you can boost your site’s SEO by the right use of social media. Since you write lots of great posts, we think it would be great to promote them on social media. Give your posts attractive titles and perhaps promote them – this isn’t too expensive on for example Facebook –  you’ll lead people from social media to your website. And when they are in, you should keep them in and make them convert!

To sum it up

In short, it’s important to do proper keyword research to really know what your target audience would like to read online. Adding more long tail keywords will probably make it a bit easier to rank. Besides using the right keywords, it’s important to make sure visitors can easily navigate to relevant content on the website. Make use of internal links and remove all the clutter. The main goal of your website should be clear and with internal links you can lead your visitors to that goal. Lastly, optimize for local SEO and make sure you benefit from the power of social media to improve your SEO and to get more traffic to your site.

Ryan’s response

When we showed the draft of this post to Ryan, we got a very nice and detailed response. Thanks and good luck Ryan!

“Great points on long tail research. With a lot of local competition, I think I could benefit from targeting more in depth keywords in an effort to drive specific traffic.

I have been a bit frustrated about how to keep my bounce rate down and keep visitors on the page. I want them to search homes for sale, but with most of my traffic coming from mobile, I have had a hard time presenting the home search ability to visitors. I want them to read articles to learn about the market, but also search. I need to make this clearer when they land.

I do have a lack of links inside articles. Maybe assuming that visitors will read to the end and navigate elsewhere is naive of me, but I also wanted them to see that I have houses for sale on the site they can click on. So far through, it hasn’t been working.

Niche specific categories and tags has definitely been something I have on my list. I need to drill down into these broad categories to get more specific for my visitors and for Google.

Another great point by Yoast here is that I need to add content to the different geographic pages of my home search. Right now these pages just offer a list of active homes for sale. But creating video or other relevant content before the list of homes in presented is something I should definitely do.

I have been working on social media, and of course my Google my business page. Sharing posts on Facebook has seen an increase of traffic, but also, my content is not specific enough to target an audience. Right now my content is for “everyone” and every area in my surrounding location. I think I would benefit from a more niches based approach.

I thank Yoast for this great case study regarding my site. Truth be told, I have studied SEO, mostly via Yoast content for quite some time, and have seen improvements in my SEO when following their best practices. I have been enlightened with this case study and learned a lot on new things to work on, but also feel like I am on the right path since Yoast mentioned a few ideas that I already had on my list, mainly because I learned them from Yoast! Thanks again for the great piece.”

Read more: ‘How to optimize your real estate site’ »

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Today marks the release of our new multilingual SEO training. If you have or maintain websites in multiple languages or meant for different regions, this course on international SEO is indispensable. By implementing the advice given in this training, Google will send your users to the correct site automatically. This is often done wrong, but we’ve made it easy. Learn how to make your international website rank!

Get this course now, as the introductory price is $169, after this week it will go up to $199!

Get Multilingual SEO training Now199 169 for course, certificate and badge

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

New: Multilingual SEO training Info

Something for everyone

Whether you’re a developer or content creator, this training will help you make the best multilingual or multi-regional site. Besides exploring the technical side, we go into setting up a multilingual keyword research strategy. Using the words your audience uses is the first step to being found, and you need to know how to do this. You simply cannot ignore this when setting up an international site! The same goes for copy: how are you going to effectively translate all those pages? Not by machine or literal translation, that’s a sure recipe for SEO disaster! But should you write everything from scratch? No: there’s a happy medium…

We also go into the domain structure you should choose: is it better to go for separate domains for each language? Or should you make one site with subdirectories? Actually, it depends on your situation! Most importantly, we think everyone should understand how a good multilingual site works, so we’ve broken even the most difficult modules up into easy-to-follow steps.

What does the multilingual SEO training contain?

This course on international SEO consists of four modules. In the first module, we’ll explain what multilingual SEO is and why it’s important. In the second module, we’ll explore content SEO: keyword research and copywriting for international websites. The third module will be about domain structure choices. In the fourth module, we go into hreflang, the code that allows you to tell Google where to send your user.

The course contains over two hours of video, including more than five screencasts that show you exactly what to do, step by step. After each lesson, you’ll take a quiz, in which you can actually practice writing the code you’ve just learned! Completing the course should take around 12 hours. At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate and badge to show on your site!

Get Multilingual SEO training Now199 169 for course, certificate and badge

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WordPress 4.9.4 is now available.

This maintenance release fixes a severe bug in 4.9.3, which will cause sites that support automatic background updates to fail to update automatically, and will require action from you (or your host) for it to be updated to 4.9.4.

Four years ago with WordPress 3.7 “Basie”, we added the ability for WordPress to self-update, keeping your website secure and bug-free, even when you weren’t available to do it yourself. For four years it’s helped keep millions of installs updated with very few issues over that time. Unfortunately yesterdays 4.9.3 release contained a severe bug which was only discovered after release. The bug will cause WordPress to encounter an error when it attempts to update itself to WordPress 4.9.4, and will require an update to be performed through the WordPress dashboard or hosts update tools.

WordPress managed hosting companies who install updates automatically for their customers can install the update as normal, and we’ll be working with other hosts to ensure that as many customers of theirs who can be automatically updated to WordPress 4.9.4 can be.

For more technical details of the issue, we’ve posted on our Core Development blog. For a full list of changes, consult the list of tickets.

Download WordPress 4.9.4 or visit Dashboard → Updates and click “Update Now.”

WordPress 4.9.3 is now available.

This maintenance release fixes 34 bugs in 4.9, including fixes for Customizer changesets, widgets, visual editor, and PHP 7.2 compatibility. For a full list of changes, consult the list of tickets and the changelog.

Download WordPress 4.9.3 or visit Dashboard → Updates and click “Update Now.” Sites that support automatic background updates are already beginning to update automatically.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to WordPress 4.9.3:

Aaron Jorbin, abdullahramzan, Adam Silverstein, Andrea Fercia, andreiglingeanu, Andrew Ozz, Brandon Payton, Chetan Prajapati, coleh, Darko A7, David Cramer, David Herrera, Dion Hulse, Felix Arntz, Frank Klein, Gary Pendergast, Jb Audras, Jeffrey Paul, lizkarkoski, Marius L. J., mattyrob, Monika Rao, munyagu, ndavison, Nick Momrik, Peter Wilson, Rachel Baker, rishishah, Ryan Paul, Sami Ahmed Siddiqui, Sayed Taqui, Sean Hayes, Sergey Biryukov, Shawn Hooper, Stephen Edgar, Sultan Nasir Uddin, tigertech, and Weston Ruter.

Writers tend to put some real thought into their title. For online content, titles are important for both readers and search engines. That makes them double important! If you use WordPress and our Yoast SEO plugin, you insert the post’s title in the post title input field. Your title will appear as an H1 heading on top of your post. But Yoast SEO also offers possibilities to edit and improve your SEO title separately. Why is that? What’s the difference? And how should you edit your SEO title? I’ll explain it in this post. 

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Two input fields

For some of you this will be obvious, but let’s take a look at where to find the input fields for the post title – the same as the H1 heading – and the SEO title. The post title input field can be found on top of the page or post editor in WordPress.

You can find the input field for the SEO title in the Yoast SEO metabox, which appears underneath the post input field. To edit the SEO title, you need to click on the edit snippet button. The snippet preview will then open. The snippet preview offers you three input fields. The first one is the input field to edit your SEO title. Beneath the input field you’ll – hopefully – see a green bar. That’s to say, it will be green if your SEO title is well-optimized. If it’s orange or red you should put some effort in improving it. As you can see, the SEO title has all kinds of weird %-signs in it. Don’t let this scare you off, I’ll tell you all about it later on in this post.

Purpose of the post title and the SEO title

It is important to realize that your SEO title doesn’t have the same purpose as the title of your post or page. Your post title is meant for people that are already on your site. It’s telling them what your post or page is about. Your SEO title, on the other hand, is meant for people who are not on your website yet. It will be shown to people in the search engines. It will be the title of your snippet in Google – that’s why it’s in the snippet preview. The purpose of your SEO title is to make people click on the snippet, come to your website and read your post or buy your product.

What does Yoast SEO automatically do?

Without doing anything, Yoast SEO will generate an SEO title based on the title of your post, the H1 heading. It will also put your site’s name in the SEO title. If you don’t put your site’s name in your SEO title, Google will do this for you. Yoast SEO will make sure your title isn’t too long – you’ll get a notice if your title is too long. At Yoast, we use a small bullet to separate the post title from the site name, but you could also use a dash, for example.

At Yoast we use a bullet to separate the title from the site name. Note that in this example we choose to create a short phrase instead of just our site name after the bullet.

You can set the way you want to generate your SEO title in the titles and meta section of Yoast SEO. If you do that, all your post titles will be generated in the exact same way. But, as described above, you can also edit the SEO title separately for a post. In the next paragraph we’ll explain in which cases you’d want to do that.

Should you edit the SEO title?

Personally, I never edit the SEO title of a separate post. I write a post and choose a title which is suitable for people who are already on our site, as well as people who see the snippet in the search engines. The settings to automatically generate titles in our own Yoast SEO install are – of course – totally fine.

If I want to adapt my title, maybe because I forgot to use the focus keyword in the title of my post, I always alter the title of the post. The SEO title will change along with that. For posts like this, this works fine. However, if you sell a product for example, the post or page title might not be the best SEO title. Perhaps you would like to mention the price of the product in your SEO title, but not in the H1 of your page. In these cases, editing the SEO title is necessary.

How do you edit the SEO title?

How do you edit the SEO title? And what are these weird %% signs in the input field? How can you use these?

The SEO title template

As described above Yoast SEO automatically generates SEO titles for you. You can adapt this title template to your liking in the titles and meta section of Yoast SEO. That’s what the %% signs are about. We call these %%title%% signs, magic variables. These magic variables take certain pieces of information and put them together to form the SEO title. So, if you type %%title%% in the SEO template input field, the title of a post or page will appear. The %%sep%% will take the separator sign you’ve chosen – like the small bullet we use – and put it in the SEO title.

You can find all about setting these title and meta variables in Edwin’s post. For an overview of all the magic variables, you can check our knowledge base.

For a separate post

If you’re working on a post and you want to change the SEO title, you can just click on the SEO title in the Yoast SEO meta box beneath your post. The magic variables will disappear and you’ll be able to edit the SEO title for just this post. Note that you can still use the magic variables for a separate post! For example, if you want to just amend the first part of the title, but keep the separator and the site name, you can create an SEO title like: ‘[customized post title] %%sep%% %%site name%%’. 

Conclusion

Your SEO title and your post title both serve a different purpose. In many cases, you can use your post title as the base for your SEO title. Yoast SEO will generate a nice SEO title based on your post title. In some cases, you’re better off customizing the SEO title. You can use the magic variables to create that awesome SEO title. We’re currently working on a new and improved interface for these magic variables. In the future, it will become much easier and more intuitive to edit your title. Just a little bit more patience!

Read more: ‘Crafting a good page title for SEO’ »

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Optimizing your product pages and product category pages can cause a bit of a dilemma. You want your products to shine, so they’re the first thing people notice, and in this regard, a picture usually says more than a 1000 words. On the other hand, you need to add sufficient textual content to help you rank. But adding a lot of text could direct attention away from your products, and you want to avoid that.

As I discussed in another Ask Yoast video, it often boils down to this question: do you want that product page to rank for a keyword? For most individual product pages, it’s often not necessary. But for a product category page, that’s probably the case. So you need to add a sufficient amount of text. But you still want products on that page to catch the eye. In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss some options for dealing with that!

Stefan Wohlert emailed us this question:

Should I start with a long introduction on my shop’s category page? If I write 400 – 500 words, the actual products will be pushed down a lot.

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

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Adding content on product category pages

“This is a question we get a lot. You want content on those pages to be able to rank. At the same time, your products are more important than your content. Now I would suggest having a couple of hundred words up top and then maybe allow people to continue to read by going to the bottom of the page and having a button there that takes them there.

You can play with this. You can also do different tabs. This was a big no-no in the past, but with the advent of mobile, Google has actually started indexing both tabs, even the non visible ones, because on mobile this actually makes sense. So you can play with this, see what works, see what makes your ranking change and then make it as good as possible. I would keep up the 400, 500 words per page, though. That’s a very good thing. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

(Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘eCommerce SEO checklist’ »

 

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