How do you explain SEO to people who don’t know the first thing about it? What is SEO really about? Before anyone accuses me of discriminating against the elderly, the title of this post is only a figure of speech. Joost’s 90-year old grandmother knows exactly what SEO is, while some of our 30-something friends have a hard time grasping the concept of SEO. So, lots of people do not understand what SEO is really about. How can you explain it to them? Here, I’ll tell show you how to explain SEO to all of your friends – and to your grandparents – in four simple steps.

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1. Explain the influence of search engines

I always start my anecdotes about what SEO is exactly with pointing out the importance, or the monopoly, of the search engines. For most people, the search engine is pretty much Google. I point out how much people use Google and for what purposes. With so many people using Google, every website wants a good position in Google. The more people find a website, the more they’ll read articles and buy products on that specific website. Explaining the importance of the search engine is a really simple thing to do. Most people – even grandparents – know about Google, right?

2. Explain what SEO stands for

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. That basically means, optimizing a website for the search engines – Google – in such a way it’ll appear in a high position in said search engine. That’s usually the second step I take in explaining SEO to my friends and relatives. The tactics SEO uses in order to optimize for the search engines differ over time and between professionals. But every SEO strategy is always aimed at aspiring a high ranking in Google.

If people understand the importance of search engines, they’ll now know why SEO is important. They’ll be now wondering how to achieve such a high position in Google. The hard part is yet to come!

3. Explain Google and Google’s mission

The third step in explaining SEO to your grandparents is to tell them about Google’s mission. In order to understand HOW you can achieve a high position in Google, you should know a bit more about Google and Google’s mission. Google’s mission is:

“to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Google wants to serve the client a result that fits his question. So, SEO tactics should be focused on making a website in such a way, that the customer will quickly find what he or she is looking for. The best SEO tactic is always to be the best search result.

What does Google do?

Google has an incredibly large database. All the content of all the sites in the world is in there. Google reads texts. By these texts, it decides what a particular site is about. So the content of a website is of particular importance. But, other parts are important too. Google likes websites that are fast and it likes websites that are linked to by many other sites. There are lots of factors that decide which websites are shown in high positions in Google and which websites are shown in a low position. But, they all boil down to the same thing: Google wants to serve the client the BEST possible result. SEO tactics should, therefore, be aimed at being that best result.

4. Give examples of SEO tactics

In the final step of explaining SEO, I usually sum up all the aspects you’ll need optimize and I’ll start with content as content is my thing. SEO means writing awesome content, content that people want to read, content that people like to read. Above that, your website should be fast and it should be user-friendly. People should be able to navigate a site easily, they should instantly know where to click. SEO also has to do with security, making sure your website won’t be hacked. Google does not like hacked websites. There are several on-page SEO tactics you can use to improve your site.

If you notice you’re explaining SEO to someone who responds really enthusiastically, you could tell them a bit about technical SEO. I usually skip that part. If you want a more entertaining touch to your story, you could tell them about buying links and Google penalties. That’s exciting stuff, but not something to use in your SEO strategy.

Conclusion

Explaining SEO to someone who’s pretty much clueless about the subject can be quite hard. SEO is something that changes over time, and that’s a different thing to different people. Even among SEO specialist, opinions on what is good SEO differ.

Read more: ‘Holistic SEO’ »

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

Hierarchical versus non-hierarchical

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

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

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

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

custom taxonomies

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

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

Custom taxonomies in WordPress

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

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

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

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

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

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Note: (Custom) Taxonomies and Gutenberg

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

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

How are you using custom taxonomies?

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

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

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

This is the fifth post in an 8-part series on how to rank your business for local searches at Google. Previously, I’ve listed the most important aspects that influence your local ranking, discussed how to get the most out of Google My Business, covered best practices for on-site optimization, and given you some ideas for building inbound links. Here, I’ll focus on another core local search ranking factor: building citations for your business. Learn why and how to do that!

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I’d like you to think back 12+ years ago to early 2005. (Scary for a guy who’s 35 to acknowledge, but some present-day readers may still have been in elementary school!)

The Internet was a very different place. MySpace, not Facebook, was all the rage, and Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram weren’t even close to launching. There was no iPhone and there was no Android.

In a nutshell, the world was far less digital. When you searched at Google, it returned “10 blue links” of webpage results. The authority of those webpages was largely determined by inbound links.

But the launch of Google Maps in early 2005, and the subsequent release of the 10-pack in May 2007, portended something entirely different. Google Maps and the 10-pack ranked business listings, not websites, which required a completely different algorithm – an algorithm which remains distinct to this day.

After studying this algorithm in detail and discussing it extensively with colleagues like Mike Blumenthal, I wrote in May 2008 that “citations are the new links.”

Google now obfuscates much of the evidence that prompted my theory. But the underlying foundation of that Maps/10-pack algorithm still seems to be in place today in the Maps/3-pack interface that has succeeded it.

What’s a citation?

My premise in that May 2008 column was that while inbound links were the dominant ranking factor for “10 blue links” results, Google’s listing-based results couldn’t rely primarily on inbound links to determine rankings.

The reason? At the time, many businesses in Google’s business index didn’t have websites (some still don’t). Without a website, there’s nothing for other sites around the web to link to. So Google had to develop an alternative ranking algorithm that wasn’t dependent on links.

Based on information in a couple of Google patents highlighted by Bill Slawski, I thought about this secondary Google algorithm. I theorized it focused on the number of times Google’s spiders found references to a business across the web largely through mentions of its Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP).

I referred to these Name, Address, Phone number mentions as “citations”. This term appeared extensively in Google’s patents, and that term has largely stuck to this day.

Fingerprint picture

Your NAP is basically your digital thumbprint – it’s how Google knows that a website is mentioning your business as opposed to someone else’s. The more times Google sees your thumbprint on reputable websites, the more confident Google is that it’s displaying a reputable business in its search results.

Key citation attributes

The core citation attributes are your Name, Address, and Phone number, along with your website. These attributes must be consistent anywhere you expect Google to pick up your thumbprint.

It’s why using tracking phone numbers is such a risky practice. It’s great to know where your incoming phone calls are coming from, but implemented incorrectly, tracking numbers can pollute your thumbprint. As can stuffing your business name with keywords because you think it will help you rank for those terms. 

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The reality is that mixing and matching your NAP leaves makes it much harder for Google to match mentions of your business. Subsequently it’s more difficult to give your business credit in the form of rankings. It can also lead to duplicate listings if those mismatches appear in prominent enough sources. This is a headache that no business wants to develop (see Troubleshooting GMB Issues).

NAP consistency – which appears twice in experts’ top 10 individual local ranking factors – is especially important between your own website and Google My Business. The Yoast Local SEO Plugin makes this two-way consistency easy.

Where to get citations

Unless you’re blatantly spamming, there really isn’t a bad website on which to acquire a citation. But as with inbound links, certain citations are more valuable than others. Let’s take a look at the most valuable citation types below.

Data aggregators

In most developed countries around the world, Google has licensed existing databases to build its local business index rather than starting from scratch. In many cases, the licensors are the largest traditional yellow pages companies in each market. For example, Paginas Amarillas in Latin America, YPG in Canada, and Telelistas in Brazil have all licensed (or appeared to license) data to Google over the years. In the United States, the primary licensors have been Infogroup, Acxiom, Neustar/Localeze, and Factual.

Why did Google choose to license data from these companies? Because they tend to vet business information more stringently than the average web directory, through phone and mailing address verification. So Google has high confidence in the fidelity of the information they license.

These aggregators also license business data to other directories and mobile apps featuring local businesses, in addition to Google. In turn, Google crawls those websites looking for citations.

The Local Search Ecosystem

These aggregators are not perfect, however. Because they’re the original data source for so many websites, an incorrect Name, Address, Phone, or website attribute can be amplified many times over. This creates all kinds of incorrect and mismatched thumbprints. To reiterate, these mismatched thumbprints actually look like different businesses to Google. So it’s critical to get your information correct at the source – the data aggregators themselves – if you want to get credit for all of your thumbprints.

Many aggregators allow businesses to correct improper information (or submit missing information) via online portals. This includes Infogroup’s ExpressUpdate and Acxiom’s MyBusinessListingManager. Others are either not publicly-accessible (Factual) or are prohibitively expensive (Neustar/Localeze), in which case it’s best to use a citation submission service (more on this below).

Consumer directories

In addition to licensing data, Google does what it does best – crawls the Internet – looking for local business citations as well. Citations from authoritative consumer directories (such as Yelp or YP.com) carry much more weight in terms of helping your rankings than those from weak directories you’ve never heard of, like USCityNet or ABLocal.

For U.S.-, U.K.-, Canada-, or Australia-based businesses, Darren Shaw and Nyagoslav Zhekov of Whitespark have put together great resources. These resources delineate the top consumer directories on which you should list your business.

The key point here is that the quality of the citation source matters far more than the quantity of sources on which you’re listed. Despite the marketing of certain business listing services touting “dozens” or “hundreds” of directories, the reality is that there are only a handful of cross-industry consumer directories on which you really need to be listed. At that point you should move on to industry and local directories – which are largely outside the network of major listing services. It won’t hurt to be listed on longer-tail directories, but they’re just not worth your time or money.

Industry directories

As with inbound links, citations from industry-relevant websites help build the authority of your business. They also give Google a sense of the types of keywords for which your business is relevant.

Chances are that U.S.-based businesses can rattle off the important vertical directories in their industry. Sites like Avvo and Findlaw for Lawyers, Houzz and HomeAdvisor for contractors, WeddingWire and TheKnot for photographers, etc. Basically, these are the directories that rank regularly for the keywords that you want to rank for.

Businesses with an optimized thumbprint on these directories stand a better chance of ranking in Google for industry terms than businesses with a messy or missing thumbprint.

The team at Whitespark has also put together a list of the top industry directories. This is a great starting point, no matter what kind of business you are.

Local directories

Citations from local directories also increase the authority and credibility of listed businesses. As I mentioned in my inbound links column, the member directories of your local chamber of commerce and neighborhood business association are great places to start.

There may also be business listing websites that are popular with local residents. In my hometown of Portland, Oregon, the Oregonian newspaper maintains a strong directory at OregonLive.comTravel Portland and Supportland also maintain robust directories, just to name a couple.

Seek out listings on similar sites in the towns and cities where your business operates. 

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Advanced citation building

One of the advantages of citation building over other SEO tactics is that it’s relatively non-technical. Any business owner with enough time can be just as effective as an agency or expert SEO consultant. It’s simply not that complicated to get your business listed on major data aggregators, consumer directories, vertical directories, and local directories. There are a couple more advanced techniques that you can use to either go beyond the basics or outbuild your competition, however.

Unstructured citations

The four types of directory citations I covered above are all what SEO professionals call “structured citations” – sites on which NAP attributes are presented in well-structured format by the sites on which they appear, perhaps even in schema.org.

But mentions of your business name or phone number in general web content (such as a blog post or media article) may be just as valuable. Provided that there’s enough context for Google to identify that it’s indeed your business being mentioned.

In terms of identifying good prospective sources of these unstructured citations, many of the same linkbuilding suggestions I gave around finding interviews and guest columns apply here.

Longer-tail industry and local directories

If you’re lucky enough to operate in an industry and a geography covered by Whitespark’s lists of top citation sources, you can probably stop reading here. But if your business is in a country or market in which Whitespark has not yet done research, you can perform similar research yourself.

Simply search Google for [your keyword] and [your city] and note the directories that appear in the top 20 (or so) organic results. You can even get more specific and add the word [directory] to the end of your string, or [submit] to the beginning.

These are websites with a reasonable degree of credibility in Google’s eyes, on which it would be helpful to place your NAP thumbprint.

Through a different, but equally effective, mechanism, Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder can automate much of this research for you.

For those local businesses with a moderate budget, there are automated submission tools. These can help get your thumbprint on many important directories in a matter of days (or even minutes in some cases).

My former product, Moz Local, remains an excellent baseline citation submission service for U.S. businesses.

Whitespark’s service is a great option for those businesses with slightly larger budgets or more tailored submission needs.

Rule of thumb[print]

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It’s important to be represented as cleanly and as completely as possible, as many places as you can be online. However, it’s important to weigh the benefit of citations against their cost – whether in time or money.

My overriding rule of thumb[print] when it comes to thinking about citation building is “be where your customers expect you to be.” That is, if you run a deli, and every other deli in your city is on Yelp, you probably need to be on Yelp, too. If you’re a guitar instructor, and every other guitar instructor in your region is on Thumbtack, you probably need to be on Thumbtack, too.

Being where your customers expect you to be also means you’ll be where Google expects you to be. Citations beyond these obvious websites provide diminishing returns, so be wary of that fact as you evaluate signing up with new products or services.

The place of citations in the local algorithm of the future

Citations are a rudimentary ranking factor in what is an increasingly sophisticated local algorithm. Because they’re relatively easy to build, most successful small businesses will already have a strong citation profile.

In other words, citations have basically table stakes in the Local SEO poker game. You need a strong citation profile to compete. But if your business already has a strong profile, it’s unlikely that building a few more citations will move the needle much on your rankings.

Increasingly, Google is able to assess the veracity of a business’s thumbprint from users of Maps, location-enabled Android devices, Waze, and other mobile collection devices (such as StreetView cars). Thus, the future competitive differentiators are likely to be different from the structured citations of today.

My colleague Mike Blumenthal has rhetorically posed, “are words becoming the new links?” Google’s algorithm gets smarter and smarter at detecting entity mentions that appear in natural language (such as those in interviews or media articles). This could blend the disciplines of citation building, link building, and social media even further.

Summary

  • Citations are your business’s digital thumbprint. “Optimizing” that thumbprint via business name keyword-stuffing or tracking phone numbers carries substantial risk to your local rankings.
  • Your thumbprint should appear on data aggregators, as well as prominent consumer portals, industry directories, and local directories.
  • My rule of thumb[print] for citations: be where your customers expect you to be, and you’ll be where Google expects your business to be.
  • Unstructured citations are likely to become more important in the future. More and more local businesses achieve the “table stakes” of basic directory presence.

Read more: ‘Ranking your local business at Google: Introduction’ »

Today, it’s time for another Ask Yoast case study. In this edition, we’ll give SEO advice to a local business owner. We received a cry for help from Hussein Ibrahim who owns the car services site seattletowncarbestride.com. Hussein wanted to know what he could do – apart from using our Yoast SEO Premium plugin – to get excellent rankings for his business in the major search engines. Well, Hussein, here we go!

Local SEO

If you want to improve this site’s SEO you have to focus on local SEO. Since Hussein’s business is a car and taxi rental service, he’s bound to a certain area: in this case Seattle. So it’s crucial that his site ranks for people who are searching for these kinds of car services in Seattle.

Structured data

There are 3 main things to keep in mind if you want to rank locally. The first one is adding structured data to your site. It’s important to have schema.org markup on at least your contact page, and you might consider adding it to the footer as well. Yoast’s Local SEO plugin can help you out with the first. It inserts Google Maps into your contact page, as well as your business address and opening hours. In addition to that, you might see this data pop up in the search results pages as well, if Google chooses to use rich results for your site. Seattle town car best ride currently doesn’t have any structured data, so we highly recommend to add it to their site!

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In this article we’ll sum up what to pay attention to, when adding structured data to your local business site. Or learn how to implement structured data to your site with one of our online courses.

Google My Business

Additionally, you should let Google know you’re a local business owner by having a Google My Business account. This will help your site show up in the search results when people search for a car service in Seattle. Having this can also lead to rich results in the SERPs, such as a knowledge graph. Make sure that the address listed in your Google My Business account is the exact same address as displayed on your site, otherwise you won’t benefit from having this account.

Read more: ‘Ranking your local business: making the most of Google My Business’ »

Ratings and reviews

Having ratings and reviews on your site is important to make your business look trustworthy to your visitors. Moreover, it also helps Google determine whether your business is valuable for their users. Seattle Best Town Car Service should, therefore, implement a possibility for customers to give a rating for their services or write a testimonial on their site. This is something they can actively ask their customers to do after using their services.

Keep reading: ‘How to get local ratings and reviews’ »

Speeding up your site

Page speed is one of the most important ranking factors for Google, so it’s key to make sure your site loads fast. We did a page speed check for Seattle Town Cars Best Ride and this is what we found.

First of all, we’d advise Hussein to take a look at their hosting company. When using the PageSpeed Insights tool by Google, ‘reducing server response time’ was one of the recommendations. This is not something you can do yourself, but it depends on what kind of server your hosting company is offering. If they can’t speed up the response time, consider looking for a better hosting company.

Secondly, browser caching should be enabled for all types of files. This is not the case for some JPG and CSS files on seattletowncarbestride.com. Since this site runs on an Apache server, you can fix this easily within the Yoast SEO plugin. You can do this by specifying the expiration times in the htaccess file, which can be edited from within the Yoast SEO plugin. Watch this video to see how easy that is. In case your site is running on an Nginx server, you can ask your host to do this for you.

Last but not least, Seattle Town Cars Best Ride should optimize some of the images on their site. A list of the images that need compression can be found in the Pagespeed Insights tool. Compressing images will reduce the file size, which will make these images load quicker.

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

Taking care of your user’s needs

If people work on optimizing their site for search engines, they often tend to overlook user experience. But if your visitors seem to enjoy your site – which Google determines by analyzing so called user signals – this can positively affect your rankings. Google wants to offer the best search results and experience to their users. So don’t forget to always keep an eye on the usability of your site.

Seattle Town Cars Best Ride has quite some moving elements on their site, causing distraction and possibly negatively affecting the user experience. Especially on the homepage, the moving images get a little annoying when scrolling all the way down. Toning that down will give the site a much more focused and calmer appearance.

Also, a slider is used on the homepage. This is something we advice against at Yoast. The most important reason for that, in this case, is that the call-to-action disappears and reappears if the sliders changes. This makes it harder for the visitor to get to the page you want them to get to.

Images are an essential part of your site because they can make your site more attractive. Make sure they aren’t broken or missing, especially on the homepage this looks a bit unprofessional:

image missing homepage

Moreover, the white text in the slider isn’t always readable, because of the color of the background images. Try to avoid these kinds of contrast mistakes:

Writing content for both your visitors and Google

What we like about Seattle Town Car Best Ride is that they have separate landing pages for all the services they offer. That makes it possible to optimize every service for its own keywords. Therefore, their chances of ranking for every service will increase. The service pages also have some decent content which describes what the service is about. Keep in mind that you should at least write about 300 words on a page, to show Google that you really know what you are talking about. Because Google wants to show their users the best search results as possible, you should be able to convince Google you are an expert on that topic.

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Some pages of Seattle Town Car Best Ride could benefit from some extra attention though. The ‘Reservations’ page and ‘Rates’ page are lacking introductory content. Both can be seen as “thin content” pages by Google, decreasing their chance of ranking. Moreover, the ‘Reservations’ page has little content and a broken contact form. Always make sure that your visitors can reach you, otherwise there’s no point in optimizing your site at all.

Apart from visitors that – hopefully – read your content, Google tries to ‘read’ your content as well. Headings play an important role in understanding your content. Seattle Town Car Best Ride uses H1 and H2 headings to structure their text, but it uses the H1 twice on almost every page. Google could find this confusing because it assumes that the H1 describes the subject of the page. If there are multiple H1 headings, Google doesn’t know which one you deem most important.

The meta description is another important content element for SEO. A good meta description is crucial if you want to convince possible visitors to click through to your site. With a clear description, you can inform potential visitors what a page is about.

Seattle Town Car Best Ride is lacking a meta description on a lot of pages. This doesn’t mean the pages won’t show a description in the snippet in the search results, but Google itself will just pick a sentence from your page – which doesn’t always turns out bad. Sometimes Google will do that, even if you have created a meta description. Nevertheless, we think it is worth your while to write a strong meta description. If Google chooses to show it, it can make your snippet much more appealing.

Keeping up with the times

As Google and the internet changes and evolves, so does SEO. A few years ago, most sites were running on HTTP. Nowadays, you see more and more sites that use HTTPS for secure browsing. We encourage site owners to take this step, and so does Google. Google has said that having HTTPS is seen as a ranking signal. Seattle Town Car Best Ride isn’t running on HTTPS yet, so we definitely recommend to make this change. In general, your hosting company can help you switch to HTTPS.

Read more: ‘Moving your website to HTTPS/SSL: Tips and tricks’ »

Another important development in SEO is Google switching to mobile indexing first. This probably takes place in 2018, as they announced. As a result, Google will rank your site based on the mobile version of your site, instead of the desktop version. Google is doing this because more and more users are browsing on a mobile device instead of a desktop. So having a top notch mobile site should be everyone’s top priority.

Fortunately, Seattle Town Car Best Ride looks and works fine on mobile. What they should fix though, is their site’s speed for better performance on mobile, like mentioned above.

Mobile view of their homepage

Closing remarks

All in all, Seattle Town Car Best Ride, isn’t doing bad at all content-wise. They are clear about what services they offer and make sure that their visitors know how to contact them, by using call-to-actions near every content part. But they could definitely benefit from some local optimization. Adding structured data, creating a Google My Business account, and adding ratings and reviews to their site, makes clear to Google that they are a Seattle business that needs to be taken seriously!

Keep reading: ‘Ultimate Guide to small business SEO’ »

Advanced Custom Fields, or ACF, is one of the most popular WordPress plugins to date. It makes it possible to turn WordPress into a full-blown, custom-made content management system. How? By providing an easy way to add and manage custom fields. To use the content analysis of Yoast SEO in these custom fields, you need a plugin: ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO. As of today, two existing ACF glue plugins will come together in one official plugin. Here, we’ll shine a light on the open source driven development of this new ACF plugin.

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Why use Advanced Custom Fields?

Like the name says, the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, built by Elliot Condon, makes it easier to add custom fields to any WordPress site. While custom fields may sound boring on their own, they are used to extend WordPress. What’s more, people use them to build tailored solutions to, often, complex problems. Developers love these and use custom fields to develop new and exciting products on top of WordPress. By using custom fields, you can turn WordPress into a professional CMS that accomplishes all your needs perfectly.

What does the ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin do?

The ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin makes it possible for Yoast SEO to work inside custom fields. By using this plugin, you can use the SEO and readability analysis features of Yoast SEO to check your writing and SEO score, even if they live in a complex custom field.

Marcus Forsberg built the original ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin. We later forked it to build our own solution. However, both plugins had trouble keeping up with the developments. Some time ago, we started a collaborative effort to make one, well-maintained, official ACF plugin for Yoast SEO. Viktor Fröberg, Marcus Forsberg, Thomas Kräftner and the great team at Angry Creative, helped us to merge two different ACF glue plugins and redevelop these into ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO. The team will update this plugin on a regular basis and offer continued support for ACF.

Version 2.0 of the plugin, available as of today, is rewritten from the ground up. It supports ACF 4 and 5. It offers stellar performance and supports more custom fields than ever.

Building something better, together

This is a collaborative effort. It is high time to put a spotlight on some of the team members that made sure two incredible WordPress plugins can start working together seamlessly.

Thomas Kräftner, freelance web developer:

“When Yoast SEO 3.0 came out I had a problem: I had just finished a site for a client that relied heavily on the now removed server-side analysis of content. Of course, the client wasn’t happy that all the work he paid for was wasted.

So we sat down and talked. I explained to them that they wouldn’t be the only ones with that problem. Instead of letting people reinvent the wheel, again and again, we should better make one generic solution. I proposed that my client would only pay a part of my development cost. In exchange, we’d make a completely free and open source plugin. And guess what – they thought this was a great idea!

I then also contacted Yoast, and at WordCamp Europe 2016 we agreed that they would also join in and help me maintain and support that plugin. It was a busy year, so it took until WCEU17 and also bringing Angry Creative on board to finally get us where we are today: The release of a true community built plugin.”

Viktor Fröberg, web developer at Angry Creative:

“At Angry Creative, we mainly do WordPress and WooCommerce development. As such, we often bump into both generic problems and specific problems that we fix by doing plugins. We also try to fix WordPress / WooCommerce core issues, but doing plugins helps us get solutions out there sooner rather than later.

We try to talk to our clients about the importance of open source and why this is valuable for them. A lot of our clients’ problems are shared problems, and by contributing our solutions to the community, our clients get free development time from other developers in the long run as they help improve the plugin. This pooling of resources benefits everyone.

This ACF Yoast SEO integration plugin was just like that. It was born out of a common need that almost all of our clients had. We’ve maintained it, and our clients have benefited from it. With the help of the awesome Thomas Kräftner and the Yoast crew the plugin is now better than ever, and together we’ll continue to improve it so that users can build their next big thing using WordPress with ease.”

Omar Reiss, CTO at Yoast:

“A collaboration like this is very dear to our heart. We get an incredible number of requests to add support for other plugins. At Yoast, we prefer such integrations to be backed by the community. We do our best to make it easy for third-party plugin developers to integrate with Yoast SEO. Whenever users request an integration, we mostly reach out to third-party plugin maintainers and offer our help and assistance in integrating with Yoast SEO. This works out well in many cases.

In this case, Marcus, Thomas and the folks at Angry Creative all separately leveraged the opportunity to create an integration between ACF and Yoast SEO. We happily brought everyone together to work on one integration to rule them all, reviewed, endorsed and distributed by Yoast, developed by the community.”

Open source driven development

The new ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin is a solid piece of open source driven development. Ten developers from Sweden, Austria, and The Netherlands identified problems with the current implementation and stepped up to fix it. Working together with a fantastic team from around Europe and a shared open source mindset has made it possible for them to deliver fabulous work.

Open source is at Yoast’s heart. We try help others reach for the stars while continually improving our work. Projects like the ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin give us the opportunity to learn from others and to contribute to the ever-expanding WordPress universe.

Download the plugins and tell us what you think! Thanks for supporting our work.

Read more: ‘Why there’s only one model: the open source model’ »

At Yoast, we greatly value our brilliant community. Hundreds of people voluntarily help us to improve our products by giving valuable feedback and insights into their usage of Yoast SEO. Contributors fix issues and suggest enhancements to make our work increasingly better. Today, with the release of Yoast SEO 5.3, we add another chapter to our open source driven development.

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Getting better, together

Browsing through our GitHub repository is a joy. Many helpful discussions are going on about the different Yoast plugins and Yoast SEO in particular. We greatly appreciate this as it gives us a feel of what you as a user want and what kind of problems you run into. This way, we can make calculated decisions on where the plugin could go next.

In almost every release there is at least one enhancement or fix by one of our esteemed contributors. In Yoast SEO 5.3 it’s Saša Todorović‘s time to shine, one of our most prolific contributors. But there are many, many more and we’d like to thank you all. If you’d like to contribute, please don’t hesitate and visit our repository on github.com/yoast.

Full support for Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

We’re now announcing a different kind of community open source effort: full support for the very popular Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) WordPress plugin by Elliot Condon. Together with Viktor Fröberg, Marcus Forsberg, Thomas Kräftner and the awesome guys and girls at Angry Creative, we’ve merged two different ACF glue plugins and redeveloped these into one official one: ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO. This plugin will be updated on a regular basis and will offer continued support for ACF. From now on, Yoast SEO will be able to check your content in custom fields built by ACF.

If you want to know more about this project and what it all means for Yoast SEO and Advanced Custom Fields users, you can read the blog post about this new release.

Improvements: Schema.org, readability filter, XML image sitemap

Besides fixing support for ACF, our development team made great strides with Yoast SEO 5.3. Thanks to the awesome Saša Todorović, we’ve added an XML schema for image sitemaps so these can be validated in sitemap checks. We’ve also made it possible for custom theme providers to hook after_theme_load so they can provide their own XML sitemaps during setup.

One of the coolest additions in this release is the broader use of Schema.org metadata. Schema.org structured data is getting more important by the day, so you have to work on it. In Yoast SEO 5.3, the plugin not only adds Schema.org meta data about your site, like your name, logo, etc., to your homepage but every page on your site. If you’d like to learn more about structured data, we can recommend our Structured data course.

It’s always been possible to filter your posts by SEO score, so you could easily find these to improve them. Now, you can also filter by readability score. One more way to weed out those low-quality posts!

Yoast SEO Premium: Redirect export to CSV

We’ve added one of the most requested features to Yoast SEO Premium: export your redirects to CSV. You can now get a full overview of the redirects on your site in one handy file. Check the list and use it to make adjustments if needed.

Onwards and upwards

Yoast SEO 5.3 has been a joy to build, thanks to the continued support of our lovely community. Thanks for contributing. If you’d like to contribute as well, you know where to find us. Have fun updating!

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

No matter what you’re selling: you want to use the best eCommerce system possible. So you know you’ll get optimal results and therefore have one less thing to worry about. But with all the different systems and plugins out there it can be hard to choose. In this edition of Ask Yoast, I’ll share which eCommerce plugin I generally recommend.

Topher Knoll emailed us the following question:

I’m curious what Yoast uses as its WordPress eCommerce plugin or what it recommends. I’m interested in something with plenty of SEO capability, and that has an easily customizable theme. I want to be able to encourage conversions with a good UX.
This is for ducttapedanyol.com which is an artist’s portfolio.

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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The most complete eCommerce plugin

“Well, let me answer that. We currently use Easy Digital Downloads and we are in the process of switching to WooCommerce. Both are fine systems.

We have outgrown Easy Digital Downloads a bit because we do so much more than digital downloads and we wanted a more complete eco-system. 

I think by now, I would probably recommend most people on WordPress to use WooCommerce and nothing else, because it has the most complete eco-system, the most plugins, etc.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.
(note: please check our knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be 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’ »

The permalink is the full URL you see – and use – for any given post, page or other pieces of content on your site. It’s a permanent link, hence the name permalink. A permalink could include your domain name (www.yoast.com) plus what’s called a slug, the piece of the URL that comes after the domain name. This might include a date or a category or anything you please. A simple permalink makes a URL easy to understand and share. In this SEO basics article, we’ll take a closer look at the permalink.

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Permalinks should be SEO friendly

Permalinks are an important part of your site as both search engines and visitors use these URLs to index and visit your site. The type of permalink you pick influences the way these two parties see and value your site. A URL with a load of incomprehensible gibberish at the end is a lot less shareable and enticing than a short and simple SEO-friendly URL. An example permalink could be:

https://www.yoast.com/category/post-name

It could also be something like:

https://www.yoast.com/10/10/2017/post-name

or

https://yoast.com/post-name

By default, WordPress uses a permalink structure that’s not SEO-friendly. These look something like this:

https://yoast.com/?p=101

The number you see is the ID WordPress had in mind for this particular article. It’s article number 101 in the database of your site. While Google still understands the content on that page, a URL like this does nothing for your SEO. It does not describe what kind of content the page offers and it’s not something that users are inclined to share. And did we mention that it’s not very professional looking? If your URL contains relevant words, this provides users and search engines with more information about the page than any ID or parameter would.

permalink common settings

Common permalink settings in WordPress

Considerations for your permalinks

Make sure you pick a permalink structure that fits your goals. If you have a news site, it might make sense to add the publication date of the article to the URL. If, however, you are planning to write killer cornerstone content that has to stand the test of time, it’s not recommended to use a date in the URL as this could make the content look ‘old’.

We recommend using a simple and clear permalink structure. For most sites, it makes sense to append the post name to the domain name. So in WordPress that would be the /%postname%/ option. In some cases, a category will help create a hierarchy in the URLs. Keep in mind that this could also result in too long URLs.

Yoast SEO and permalinks

Yoast SEO is a must have tool that makes SEO available to everyone. It’s an easy to use tool that gets out of the way and helps you make a perfect website. For instance, if you install WordPress and don’t change the default permalink settings Yoast SEO will urge you to change it.

Yoast SEO has several other options that can help you clean up those permalinks, like keeping stop words from appearing in the slug or stripping the category base (usually category). You can find the permalink options in the advanced settings of Yoast SEO. Last but not least, Yoast SEO Premium has a brilliant redirects manager that helps you to fix your redirects.

Finally, a word of warning

Pick your permalink structure wisely. Don’t change your permalink structure for the sake of it. Incorrectly redirecting your old URLs to the new URLs might lead to problems and could get you dropped from the rankings. Please think about your permalink structure before launching your site. Should you need to change your permalinks you can find more information on how to change your permalink structure or visit Google’s page on moving your site.

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

This is the fourth post in an 8-part series on how to rank your business for local searches at Google. Previously, I’ve listed the most important aspects that influence your local ranking, discussed how to get the most out of Google My Business, and covered best practices for on-site optimization. Here, I’ll focus on another essential asset for local SEO: earning inbound links to your local business website. Learn why and how to do that!

Since the ascent of Google as the world’s #1 search engine, links have been the primary concern of most SEO practitioners. The seminal idea behind Google’s ranking technology makes it clear that inbound links are the primary vehicle by which Google discovers new pages and websites on the Internet, and they’re the primary way Google assesses the credibility of a given website.

Google’s emphasis on links is the most significant area of overlap between its organic and local ranking algorithms. According to the experts of the Local Search Ranking Factors survey, links make up the biggest piece of the pie in localized organic results. They’re the #1 competitive difference-maker across all types of local results.

Local businesses can’t be fully evaluated on the basis of links, for reasons you’ll see in my next post. But there’s no question that a strong inbound link profile (links pointing from other websites to yours) has a positive impact on how well your business ranks. 

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Why links in the first place?

I know you’re probably thinking, “hey, I want to rank #1, just tell me what to do!” But understanding why Google values links so highly can help you assess the strength or weakness of your own link profile. This can help you determine your link acquisition strategy.

Google’s robots, or “spiders,” crawl the Internet by “clicking” one link after another after another. They discover new pages and websites as part of that crawl, and store the content of each of those pages in a giant database.

In addition to storing the content of each page, Google also stores how its crawlers arrived on the page. In other words, it remembers the pages and websites that were linking to it. A link from one site to another is like a vote or endorsement for the credibility of the second website.

google crawling links

Diagram courtesy of Aaron Weiche, GetFiveStars

Sites with the most endorsements (green circle) tend to rank better than those with few or no endorsements (yellow circle). Especially links from websites that are heavily-endorsed themselves improve your ranking. You need endorsements in order to get elected, and you need links in order to rank well.

Link attributes

Topical context

Google counts thousands of PhDs as employees. And while its algorithm over the years has been incredibly vulnerable to abuse by spammers, increasingly it’s taking into account the context in which a link appears. Google largely devalues links that appear on completely unrelated websites. For example, a personal injury lawyer that receives a link from a Russian real estate forum. In fact, increasingly these kinds of links put you in jeopardy of a Google penalty.

Conversely, links that you acquire or earn that are likely to refer you actual customers are increasingly the ones that Google values. For example, a personal injury lawyer that receives a link from a neighboring chiropractor’s website.

Eric Ward a.k.a. “Link Moses,” was building links before Google was even a gleam in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s eyes. As such, his still-highly-relevant advice is to build links as if Google didn’t even exist. Living by this “first commandment” of link building makes it incredibly unlikely your site will ever be penalized by Google. And, it will make the impact of your link building more permanent and effective.

Page / domain authority

The source of a link matters a great deal to how much weight it carries in Google’s algorithm.

Going back to my earlier analogy, endorsements from major groups and figures help politicians earn votes more than do endorsements from anonymous individual voters. In the same way, links from pages and websites that are themselves heavily linked-to (such as BBC.com or WashingtonPost.com) are going to benefit the linked site much more than a link from a hobbyist blog or tiny startup.

In particular, links from government, school, and non-profit websites tend to be particularly powerful. These are high-trust websites that aren’t going to link to low-trust businesses or scam artists very often. So websites that earn links from these high-trust, high-authority websites, have a leg up on their competition.

Anchor text

I mentioned the concept of anchor text briefly in my last column. Anchor text are the words that make up the link itself. Such as “my last column” in the previous sentence.

The text of the link helps provide Google additional context about the topic of the linked page, i.e. what keywords that page should rank for. So links that contain keywords related to what you sell or where you’re located – and even links for your brand name – are going to help you rank. They’ll help you more than links using generic terms like “click here” or “read more.”

You have complete control over anchor text on your own website, and you should use it to your advantage. But you don’t really have control over what text people use on other websites. In general, it’s not the best use of time for local businesses to influence what anchor text others are using. It’s just a ranking factor to be aware of.

Assessing your existing link profile

Any number of tools exist to analyze your existing link profile, but in my experience the one that gives the most complete picture for local businesses is aHrefs. It’s a robust product that provides more information than the average local business needs. But just take a free trial and capture a high-level summary of your link profile. Most small businesses won’t need to continue usage beyond a day or two.

hrefs for inbound links local seo

 

The key aHrefs numbers are in the top row of the screenshot above: UR, DR, and referring domains. UR and DR refer to Page / domain authority. The number of referring domains is the best heuristic for most local businesses as to how strong their existing link profile is. Click the number under Referring Domains to view a list of the sites that are already linking to you. Are there obvious sites not in that list that should be linking to you? Consider reaching out to them to let them know how much a link would help your business.

During your free trial of aHrefs, I also recommend researching the profiles of the sites that rank above you for your target keywords. Take a look at their DR and number of referring domains. In particular, comparing those two metrics will give you a rough sense of how much link building work you’ll have to do to move the needle on your rankings.

Links that move the needle in local search

Google likes to pretend that great content, and great websites, will naturally acquire links. But for 99.999% of businesses, that’s terrible advice. The old question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?” applies to content and links.

If you produce great content, but no one’s there to see it, does it acquire links? The answer is a resounding no. Businesses need to be proactive about acquiring links. As long as you follow Eric Ward’s first commandment and acquire links that will actually send you customers, you shouldn’t fear a Google penalty.

Over the years, many local businesses haven’t followed Eric’s advice, have fallen victim to scam artists selling hundreds of links. Or have otherwise been too aggressive about acquiring links. The reality is that, for many businesses, 10-20 high-quality links will lead to top rankings in short order – sustainable rankings will last for years. Take the time to earn these high-quality links and don’t pursue those over-aggressive tactics.

Industry-relevant links

Industry-relevant links are often the easiest links for small business owners to acquire. Many of them simply involve asking your existing contacts at companies or organizations with whom you do business.

Local business and neighborhood associations

Are you a member of your local chamber of commerce, business association, or neighborhood association?  Most groups like these operate a member directory, and you want to make sure that directory is online, visible to the public, and to Google’s spiders.  If the websites of these groups are not showing up in your aHrefs backlink profile, bring up the issue with the director or marketing manager of these associations and ask them to put up a webpage that links to each member.

Regional/national certification boards and industry organizations

Depending on your industry, you may also be licensed by, or participate in, a regional or national organization.

Don’t just display your certification on your website. Link to your business’s online profile on the websites of these certifying boards and industry organizations. This not only increases the credibility of your business to potential customers, but helps Google’s spiders discover and crawl your profile on these highly-trusted sites.

Distributors (directories or announcements)

For those of you who are retailers, think about the products that you sell in-store. Are you unique, or one of the few stores in your local market that carries a particular product? If so, consider asking the manufacturer or distributor of that product for a link from their website. Preferably from a “where to buy” directory. At the very least these companies should partner with you on a press release – containing a link to your website. For example, to announce to their customers (and Google!) where people can buy their product in your area.

Vendors (testimonials)

Are there particular vendors from whom you purchase a lot of goods or services? Ask them if you can contribute a testimonial to their website, and if they really appreciate your business, that testimonial will contain a link back to your site.

Interviews and guest columns

Getting featured in a trade publication is not only a great driver of business – especially referral business – but can provide a powerful link back to your website. These links are a little more difficult to acquire, as they require building a relationship with authors or influencers in your industry.

To get started, see if a friend can make an introduction on your behalf to one of these key columnists.  Intelligence Software offers this free tool that taps some of Facebook’s more advanced search capabilities. (LinkedIn Premium offers some of the same features, but it’s a paid product.)

Essentially, you want to search for writers and editors who are employed at some of the key publications in your industry to see if and how you’re connected to them through friends. Once you see how you’re connected, you can ask specific friends to put in a good word for you.

Here’s an example of the output of an Intelligence Software search for employees at Third Door Media (the parent company of Search Engine Land, one of the top news outlets in SEO):

https://www.facebook.com/search/str/third%20door%20media/pages-named/employees/present/intersect

As you can see, the search would be pretty complicated to type in, but the tool from Intelligence Software makes it easy.

Locally-relevant links

Charities—or schools—to which you’ve donated money or goods, or volunteered with.

Many of you, and perhaps many of your employees, are likely involved in local charities on non-profit organizations. These links are highly-valued by Google, as charities tend to be trusted institutions in the offline world as well as online.

You want to make sure your involvement is acknowledged online.  As my friend Mike Blumenthal likes to say, “You don’t need a thank-you from the executive director. You don’t need a plaque. If they really want to thank you for your involvement, they’ll give you a link from their website.”

Groups for whom you host events at your physical location

Hosting events for outside groups is one of the lowest-cost, lowest-work link building initiatives you can undertake. Chances are good that the business or group hosting the event at your business will link to your website’s contact/directions page when they post their invitation online. Someone else is doing your link building for you – and who knows – some of the attendees may even turn into customers!

Complementary businesses

You probably have colleagues in related industries to whom you refer business, and from whom you’re referred business, regularly. Make sure these referral relationships are represented online in the form of links. That way Google knows that your businesses vouch for each other just as you do in the offline world.

Interviews and guest columns

Local publications like newspapers and alternative weeklies or monthlies are terrific places to get your business featured. And the chances may be better, especially in smaller towns or tightly-knit neighborhoods, that a friend of a friend works at one of these companies.

Using the same Intelligence Software tool, you can perform searches to get a list of journalists (or columnists) in your city. See how you’re connected to them through friends or family:

https://www.facebook.com/search/str/journalist/pages-named/employees/present/intersect/str/portland%2C%20oregon/pages-named/residents/present/intersect

The future of links and rankings

Some SEO professionals have been predicting the demise of links for a several years. But there’s little evidence to support this trend so far. Certainly Google has gotten better at penalizing low-quality links over the course of various algorithm updates, but if anything, high-quality links have been that much harder to come by, and even more valuable to their recipients.

Links may very well become “democratized” as they become less representative of the overall sentiment of the online world. A very small percentage of internet users has ever published a link on a website or blog. Also, more and more non-link signals are available for Google to assess the popularity and credibility of a local business. More on these signals coming in the final installment of this series!

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More on links

You can truly go crazy with link building, and there are entire companies and agencies devoted to this SEO niche. It’s probably not the highest and best use of your time as a local business owner, or even a local business marketer. But it is important that every local business has a reasonable link foundation underpinning their other marketing initiatives.

Here are four amazing resources for those of you wanting to take an even deeper dive into link building:

Neil Patel has this great summary of link building tools and techniques that have helped him build his own, and his clients’, businesses.

The aforementioned aHrefs has published this excellent guide on the discipline their company was founded to help master.

Phil Rozek has a terrific series of questions you can ask yourself as you try to identify what low-hanging link opportunities might be available to you.

And Megan Hannay of ZipSprout has created an awesome product to help you identify non-profit organizations that recognize supporters and volunteers online.

Summary

  • Inbound links pointing from other websites to your website are critical to establish the credibility of your business in Google’s eyes.
  • Build links as if Google didn’t even exist – links that will bring you customers in addition to rankings.
  • Assess your existing link profile, and the profiles of your competitors with aHrefs. Pay special attention to DR (Domain Rank or authority) and the number of referring domains.
  • Seek out industry-relevant and locally-relevant links from groups and websites with which you already have an offline relationship.
  • Ask for introductions from colleagues, friends, and family to key influencers who write for industry and local publications.

Read more: ‘Ranking your local business at Google: Introduction’ »

Our mission is ‘SEO for everyone’. We keep that in mind, in everything we do. But what do we mean by it? And why is it our mission? In this post, I’d like to explain Yoast’s mission.

A little bit of history

To understand why we pursue this mission, we’ll have to go back in history. Let’s start in 2006: Joost de Valk was building SEO plugins because he strongly believed that everyone could benefit from the SEO knowledge he had collected in his work for large agencies. As a WordPress fanboy, he could quickly translate his technical SEO skills into a useful plugin for WordPress. 

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The WordPress SEO plugin, which was rebranded to Yoast SEO later on, got an enormous amount of users. What’s more, Joost received an overwhelming number of support requests and was unable to handle those, as he was still working for an agency as well. At that point, Joost decided to start his own company. Selling premium plugins and doing a little bit of consultancy enabled him to further invest time and resources into the free Yoast SEO plugin as well. This allowed us to improve the quality and features of our products, and also resulted in a growing company. Moreover, it meant we could further define our mission.

WordPress’ mission and Yoast’s mission

The mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing with open-source GPL (General Public License) software. Yoast’s mission builds on WordPress’ mission, just as Yoast’s software is an extension of the software of WordPress. Everybody can create a website using WordPress. However, not everyone is able to rank in the search engines. In some niches, the search results are dominated by large companies with even larger marketing budgets. The Yoast SEO plugin, combined with the SEO knowledge Yoast shares, enables small entrepreneurs to compete with these large companies.

A ‘fair’ chance in the search results

We believe the web will benefit from all people having an equal chance in the search results. We would love for great new ideas and inventions to spread over the world. And great ideas don’t always come from large agencies but are created everywhere around the world. That’s why we believe that every idea should have a fair chance in the search results. WordPress and Yoast SEO cover most of the technical SEO challenges of a website. But to seriously compete with the big boys, every website owner still faces content SEO challenges. In our blog posts, we explain to our audience how to write awesome and SEO-friendly content and how to set up a decent site structure. Using the Yoast SEO plugin and reading our posts should help everyone to have a fair chance in the search results. That’s what ‘SEO for everyone’ is all about.

Making money and maintaining the mission

Pursuing our mission doesn’t mean we’re not making any money while doing so. On the contrary: the company Yoast is thriving. The money we make enables us to keep on pursuing our mission. We continue to tweak and improve our plugins and we write more and more articles about SEO. Making money makes pursuing ‘SEO for everyone’ easier. We can have a bigger impact. And, it allows us to contribute more and more to WordPress core.

The premium version of Yoast SEO has some practical features, which will make SEO a lot easier. However, all essential features you need to have that fair chance in the search engines, are available and will remain in our free plugin. Our online courses are powerful to quickly learn about (one or multiple aspects) of SEO. But all the SEO information you need is also available in our many blog posts. It’s important to us that everyone – even if you haven’t got much money to spend – can benefit from our SEO products.

Read more: ‘Victory of the Commons’ »